© 2022 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

'Victory or Death' Letter Back In San Antonio For 13-Day Exhibit

Sheriff Travis.JPG
Baron Wiley

The William B. Travis “Victory or Death” letter from the Battle of the Alamo is back in San Antonio. The letter will be on exhibit at the Alamo for 13 days -- the same length of time the fortress was under siege -- and then will be returned to the state archives.

Under the watchful eyes of dozens of police officers, state troopers carried the letter into the Alamo before an audience of hundreds.

The fourth-generation great-nephew of Col. William B. Travis read a transcript of his uncle’s letter as it was carried past the crowd and into the Alamo shrine.

"I shall never surrender or retreat. And I call on you in the name of liberty, patriotism, and everything dear to the American character to come to our aid with all dispatch," Travis read.

Col. Travis’ namesake, Sheriff William Barret Travis of Denton County in North Texas, said he got goosebumps while reading the letter.

"It was a humbling moment," Travis said.

Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson said returning the letter to the Alamo created a struggle in the state capital over security concerns for the document.

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission, however, finally gave its okay and the letter came back to the fortress for the first time since it left with a courier on horseback in 1836.

“20 years from now, if I'm still living, this might be the thing that got done while I was land commissioner that I can be most proud of," Patterson said.

Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.