Bejar, Feby. 24th. 1836
To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World—
Fellow Citizens & compatriots—
I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna — I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man — The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken — I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls — I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch — The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country — Victory or Death.
William Barrett Travis.
Lt. Col. comdt.
At dawn on March 1, 1836, the only reinforcements to respond to Travis’s urgent appeal fought their way into the Alamo. The Gonzales Ranging Company of Mounted Volunteers, a hastily organized cadre of boys and men ages 16 to 54, forged through a line of 4,000 to 6,000 Mexican soldados, dodging fire from their compatriots atop the mission’s walls.
All but three of the Rangers rode into history as the Immortal 32.
The story started months earlier in Gonzales, a town in DeWitt’s Colony. Established in 1825, Gonzales became known as “the Lexington of Texas” when the first shot in the Texas Revolution was fired there Oct. 2, 1835. The Battle of Gonzales began over a cannon the Mexican government had given to the Texians in 1831 so they could protect themselves from frequent Indian attacks. In September 1835, as disputes between the Texians and the Mexican government heated up, the governor of Coahuila y Tejas sent 100 Mexican soldiers to retrieve the cannon.
The men of Gonzales — all eighteen of them — refused to give up the artillery. Defiant to the core, they told the soldados “Come and take it.” The Mexicans tried, the men of Gonzales — later known as the Old Eighteen — held their ground until reinforcements arrived, and the resulting skirmish went to the Texians.
The Mexican Army did not take the defeat well.
Four months later, when Travis, already besieged, sent his final appeal, the men of Gonzales and the surrounding area felt honor-bound to go to the defense of the Alamo defenders. Twenty-five men left Gonzales on the evening of February 27. More joined the group as it traveled. When they reached San Antonio de Béxar, they spent two days trying to figure a way past the sea of Mexican troops. At 3 a.m. on March 1 — knowing their chances of survival were slim — the Rangers made a mad dash for the mission gates, braving the fire of Alamo sentries who mistook them for enemy combatants.
The Immortal 32 fell with the Alamo on March 6. They composed about 20 percent of the Anglo casualties. Mexican troops burned the bodies of all the Alamo defenders, whom they considered traitors.
A crypt in the San Fernando Cathedral purports to hold the ashes of the Alamo defenders. Historians believe it is more likely the ashes were buried near the Alamo.
The majority of the Immortal 32 were husbands, fathers, and landowners. Five had been among the Old Eighteen, and one was the younger brother of an Old Eighteen member.
The Immortal 32:
Isaac G. Baker, 21
John Cain, 34
George Washington “Wash” Cottle, 25 (brother of an Old Eighteen)
David P. Cummins, 27
Jacob C. Darst (Old Eighteen), 42
Squire Daymon, 28
William Dearduff , 25
Charles Despallier, 24
Almaron Dickinson (Old Eighteen)
John Flanders, 36
Dolphin Ward Floyd, 32
Galba Fuqua, 16
John E. Garvin, about 40
John E. Gaston, 17
James George, 34
Thomas Jackson (Old Eighteen)
John Benjamin Kellogg II, 19
Andrew Kent, 44
George C. Kimble, 33
William Philip King, 16
Jonathan L. Lindley, 22
Albert Martin (Old Eighteen), 28
Jesse McCoy, 32
Thomas R. Miller (Old Eighteen), 40
Isaac Millsaps, 41
George Neggan, 28
William E. Summers, 24
George W. Tumlinson, 22
Robert White, 30
Claiborne Wright, 26
Three men who rode in with the Immortal 32 survived because they were sent out March 3 as couriers or foragers. All three were attempting to return to the Alamo when it fell.
Byrd Lockhart, 54, later served in the Texas army.
John William Smith, 44, became the first mayor of San Antonio.
Andrew Jackson Sowell, 21, became a Texas Ranger.
A monument in the Alamo Shrine commemorates the valor of the Immortal 32, as does an entire cemetery in Gonzales’s Pioneer Village.
“Remember the Alamo.”