| The impassioned
letters Col. William B. Travis sent by courier from the Alamo
are dramatic pieces of writing, but they are not the only surviving
words of someone who died in the old Spanish mission on March 6, 1836.
two months earlier, former Congressman David Crockett wrote
his "Sone and daughter" from San
Augustine. Opening his letter with the explanation that this was
the first time he had "opertunity to write you with convinience,"
he went on to report he was in "excellent health and...high spirits."
Everyone in Texas had been most cordial, receiving him "with open
cerimony of friendship." The ladies had honored him with a dinner
party both in Nacogdoches
and San Augustine.
"At this place [San
Augustine] the Cannon fired...on my arrival and I must say as
to what I have seen of Texas it is the garden spot of the world,"
The Tennessean waxed on about the plentitude of good but inexpensive
land. With his background, he clearly expected to figure in the politics
of a new republic.
"I am rejoiced at my fate," he continued. "I had rather be in my present
situation than to be elected to a seat in congress for life. I am
in hopes of making a fortune yet for myself."
Crockett had enrolled as a volunteer in a company he expected would
be part of a Texas expedition to capture the Mexican city of Matamoros.
Instead, of course, he ended up at the Alamo.
"I hope you will all do the best you can," he concluded to his children,
"and I will do the same."
Jan. 13, five days after Crockett posted his letter, another Tennessean
took pen in hand to write his wife. Micajah Autry was 42, a
little younger than Crockett, but just as optimistic about the future.
Autry's trip to Texas had been cold and wet. He was tired, but in
good health. Like his fellow Tennessean, Autry yet had no idea that
he would end up in San
Antonio. But no matter where he would serve, "I go whole hog in
the cause of Texas."
He expected to help the province gain its independence from Mexico
and "to form their civil government, for it is worth risking many
Clearly, something about Texas captured the imagination of new arrivals.
"From what I have seen and learned from others," Autry continued,
"there is not so fair a portion of the earth's surface warmed by the
For serving in the army, he told his wife, he would be entitled to
640 acres, plus an additional 444 acres "upon condition of settling
my family here."
Of course, he and the other volunteers had a little work to do first.
"Whether I shall be able to move you here next fall or not will depend
upon the termination of the present contest."
Some speculated that Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna "with an immense
army" already was "near the confines of Texas," Autry continued. Others
had the Mexican general holding back below the Rio Grande, "intimidated
for fear that the Texans will drive the war into his dominion." That
school of thought held that the general was preparing to flee to Europe
if Texas invaded, Autry wrote.
Autry correctly said he was "inclined to discredit" the latter theory.
Even so, the volunteer from Tennessee seemed to have no sense of foreboding
that his dream of moving Martha to "a sweet home" in Texas would never
"We stand guard of nights and night before last was mine to stand
two hours during which the moon rose in all her mildness but splendor
and majesty," Autry wrote in a post script. "With what pleasure did
I contemplate that lovely orb chiefly because I recollected how often
I had taken pleasure in standing in the door and contemplating her
together. Indeed I imagined that you might be looking at her at the
same time. Farewell Dear Martha."
© Mike Cox
12 , 2004 Column
See The Alamo
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