William Barret Travis
Born in South
Carolina on 9 August 1809, William Barret Travis will always be remembered as
the Texas commander at the Battle
of the Alamo. He spent his childhood in Saluda Co., SC, which was
also the home of James Butler Bonham, another Alamo defender.
Travis studied law
and became a practicing attorney for a brief time before marrying Rosanna Cato
at the age of nineteen. Within a year, when Travis was barely twenty years old,
they had a son, Charles Edward Travis. Remaining in the area, Travis began
publication of a newspaper, became a Mason, and joined the militia. The marriage
soon failed, however. Travis abandoned his wife, son, and an unborn daughter,
and headed for Texas.
After arriving in
Texas in early 1831, Travis obtained land from Stephen
F. Austin. He set up to practice law first in the town of Anahuac,
and afterwards at San Felipe.
developed between Texas and Mexico, Travis was one of the first to join the
Texas forces. When Mexican General Martin Perfecto de Cos demanded the surrender
of the Texan's cannon that resulted in the Battle
of Gonzales, Travis was one of hundreds to come to the its defense.
He arrived too late, however, to take part in the action.
On orders from
Provisional Governor Henry
Smith in January of 1836, Travis entered the Alamo with about 30 men.
Within a few days, he found himself in command, when then commander James C.
Neill took leave to care for his family.
Travis commanded the
Texas defenders during the Siege and Battle of the Alamo. His Appeal
from the Alamo for reinforcements has become an American symbol of
unyielding courage and heroism. Although a few reinforcements arrived before the
Alamo fell, Travis and over 180 defenders gave their lives for Texas
independence on 6 March 1836.