Comment Of The Day: The Alamo, March 3, 1836

Michael West’s dedicated account of the last days of the Alamo in 1836 continues with Day 10 of the siege, March 3. Michael’s mention below of the Alamo couriers reminds me of what I found to be the most moving of the commemorative bronze plaques at Alamo National Monument in San Antonio. It lists the couriers, and reminds us that every one of them headed back to the make-shift fort, knowing what was probably in store for them.

As far as I can determine, two of Travis’s final couriers didn’t arrive in time to participate in the final battle, and thus lived to tell the tale. James L. Allen (1815-1901) was probably the last courier to be sent by Travis, as he carried a final appeal to Fannin at Goliad. He reached Goliad on March 8, and was preparing to return to the Alamo when he learned that it had fallen. John William Smith  (1792-1845), who had been sent out from the Alamo by Travis previously, was sent again on March 3 1836. Smith was returning with 25 volunteers from when the Alamo fell. In John Wayne’s movie, Smith is played by Frankie Avalon, and is a composite of Allen, who was young (21) like Frankie, and the real Smith, who actually made it back only to find that the battle was over. Frankie’s big scene occurs when, having delivered a message relaying the fort’s dire situation to Sam Houston (Richard Boone), Houston offers him food and rest. “No sir!” “Smitty” says, turning his horse. “I gotta get back to the Alamo!”

Here’s Michael’s Comment of the Day on Day 10 of the Alamo story...


Today, the Alamo garrison received the news it hoped for. James Butler Bonham had returned from courier duty. Among the depressing news that Fannin was likely not coming, he mentioned from another Texan gathering soldiers, that 60 men were en route to the Alamo that very moment, to be expected in days and that 600 more were organizing to begin their march to the Alamo as well.

The Texans, so boosted, did not feel they were facing hopeless odds, nor were they digging in to die some sort of Greek heroic death.

Outside the walls, one of Santa Anna’s brigades that had been on the march this whole time (his army had actually been strung out for several days along the road from Mexico) also arrived at San Antonio that same day. Both forces were bolstered – the Texans ready to hold out longer and Mexicans finally the strength to attack.

Travis sent his final courier from the Alamo with one more heartfelt appeal for aid.

His final letter (one of several sent with the last courier) to the Ayres family that he had left his son with ended:

“Take care of my little boy. If the country should be saved, I may make for him a splendid fortune; but if the country be lost and I should perish, he will have nothing but the proud recollection that he is the son of a man who died for his country.”

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