SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
1997-2010, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved
Alamo Defenders-Index

The DeWitt Colony Alamo Defenders
The Immortal 32 Gonzales Rangers A-E F-K L-Z
Members of the Garrison & Surviving Couriers & Foragers
Alamo Widows & Mothers

Mary Maverick's Alamo DrawingAt dawn on the first of March [1836], Capt. Albert Martin, with 32 men (himself included) from Gonzales and DeWitt's Colony, passed the lines of Santa Anna and entered the walls of the Alamo, never more to leave them. These men, chiefly husbands and fathers, owning their own homes, voluntarily organized and passed through the lines of an enemy four to six thousand strong, to join 150 of their countrymen and neighbors, in a fortress doomed to destruction. Does American history, or any history, ancient or modern, furnish a parallel to such heroism? ......They willingly entered the beleaguered walls of the Alamo, to swell the little band under Travis, resolved "never to surrender or retreat." In after many years it was my privilege to personally know and live near many of their widows and little ones and to see the latter grow into sterling manhood and pure womanhood. I never met or passed one without involuntarily asking upon him or her the blessings of that God who gave the final victory to Texas--John Henry Brown in History of Texas.

The obstinancy of Travis and his soldiers was the cause of the death of the whole of them, for not one would surrender. The struggle lasted more than two hours, and until the ramparts were resolutely scaled by Mexican soldiers---Centralista Mexican dictator Santa Anna

For Biographies, Search Handbook of Texas Online

Appeal to DeWitt Colonists. About 4 PM on 23 Feb 1836, Launcelot Smithers left the Alamo and made the 76 mile ride to Gonzales where he announced the arrival of the Mexican army in San Antonio de Bexar with a note from Alamo Commander, Col. William B. Travis, to alcalde Andrew Ponton appealing for reinforcements:

Commandancy of Bexar, Feb 23rd. 3 o'clock P.M., 1836, To Andrew Ponton, Judge and Citizens of Gonzales: The enemy in large force is in sight. We want men and provisions. Send them to us. We have 150 men and are determined to defend the Alamo to the last. Give us assistance. W.B. Travis---Col. Commanding. P.S. Send an express to San Felipe with news night and day.


William Barrett Travis

These six depictions of Col. William Barret Travis are illustrations seen in various Texas history works and displays. According to most historians, there are no known photos of Travis or verified authentic depictions. The sketch at top left is the only contemporary purportedly done by Wiley Martin in Dec 1835, but is of questionable accuracy. Second from left is a painting which is probably the most well-known depiction by artist H.A. McArdle, next is a painting by Charles B. Norman.   At lower left is a likeness in the Texas State Archives, next  is a depiction in Sturmburg's Historic San Antonio AD 1542 and at the lower right is a depiction that has more often been referred to as a likeness of Ben Milam which is probably the subject of discussion in the San Antonio Express article of 1933.   One or more ot the bottom three likenesses have also been referred to as Col. James Fannin.


On the same day of arrival of the message, Acting Commissioner and Aide-de-Camp to the Provisional President of the Republic of Texas Byrd Lockhart completed the muster of 23 into the Gonzales Ranging Company of Mounted Volunteers which he had been commissioned to do in Gonzales on 4 Feb. The Gonzales Rangers were officially attached to Col. Travis' command within the provisional Republican Army. The official muster roll in the Texas Archives below was completed on 23 Feb, however most individuals who joined the Gonzales Alamo Relief Force on 24 Feb and thereafter are often listed as members of the company even though no official muster roll is available.

Gonzales Ranging Company of Mounted Volunteers

OFFICERS
Lt. George C. Kimble (K)
First Sargent William A. Irvin

PRIVATES
John Ballard, John Davis (K), Andrew Duvalt (K), Jacob Darst (K), Frederick C. Elm, Galba Fuqua (K), William Fishbaugh (K), John Harris (K), Andrew J. Kent (K), David B. Kent, John G. King, Daniel McCoy, Jesse McCoy (K), Prospect McCoy, Isaac Millsaps (K), William Morrison, James Nash, Marcus L. Sewell (K), William Summers (K), Robert White (K)
(Capt. Byrd Lockhart and Lt. Col. William B. Travis (K), superior commander, were also attached to this roll)

(K = Killed in Action in the Alamo)

 

On 24 Feb courier Launcelot Smithers wrote from Gonzales:

Gonzales, Feby, 24 1836, To all the Inhabitants of Texas: In a few words there is 2000 Mexican soldiers in Bexar, and 150 Americans in the Alamo. Sesma is at the had of them, and from the best accounts that can be obtained, they intend to show no quarter. If every man cannot turn out to a man every man in the Alamo will be murdered. They have not more than 8 or 10 days provisions. They say they will defend it or die on the gorund. Provisions, ammunition and Men, or you suffere your men to be murdered in the Fort. If you do not turn out Texas is gone. I left Bexar on the 23rd. at 4 P.M. By the Order of W.V. Travis. L. Smithers.

On 24 Feb, the passionate and alarming appeal of Colonel Travis in his own handwriting to all people of Texas and all Americans was carried to Gonzales by Captain Albert Martin who first delivered it upon his arrival on the 25th to Smithers who carried it on to San Felipe on the 27th.  It is believed that Smither may have left the original copy with alcalde Ponton while moving on to other sites with extracts or copies.  Ponton distributed copies or the essence of the letter to other muncipalities in Texas where broadsides and flyers were made for distribution as well as printing in the newspapers The Texas Republican and Telegraph and Register on 2 Mar and 5 Mar, respectively.

Travis Signature on Appeal

Commandancy of the AlamoBexar, Fby. 24th, 1836     To the People of Texas and 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 Barret Travis Lt. Col. Comdt.   P. S. The Lord is on our side---When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn---We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels & got into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves.

On the back of the letter, Capt. Martin penciled in

Since the above was written I heard a very heavy Cannonade during the whole day   think there must have been an attack made upon the alamo  We were short of ammunition when I left   Hurry all the men you can in haste. Albert Martin (signed). When I left there was but 150 determined to do or die  tomorrow I leave for Bejar with what men I can raise [illegible] at all events [illegible]  Col. Almonte is there the troops are under the Command of Gen. Seisma

An additional note by Smithers was handwritten sideways to the above

Nb   I hope that Every One will Rondevu at gonzales as soon poseble as the Brave Solders are suffering   do not neglect this     powder is very scarce and should not be delad one moment   L. Smither

According to Dr. John Sutherland in his personal memoirs, The Fall of the Alamo, he also left the Alamo under order from Travis between 3 and 4 PM on 23 Feb and arrived in Gonzales at 4 PM on Wednesday 24 Feb with courier John W. Smith.

Gonzales Rangers Respond. Two appeals to Col. Fannin at Goliad had resulted in an aborted start toward San Antonio with his force of 350 men when Fannin heard of the approach of Gen. Urrea's army. Responding to Col. Travis' appeals, the main contingent of the Gonzales Alamo Relief Force departed the town square of Gonzales at 2 PM Saturday 27 Feb, led by commanding officer Lieutenant George C. Kimble of the Gonzales Rangers. The senior officer accompanying the relief force was courier Capt. Albert Martin who had delivered the appeal to both Smithers and Gonzales. The force was guided by Alamo courier John W. Smith, a resident of San Antonio de Bexar. According to Dr. John Sutherland, the group consisted of 25 men who left Gonzales and increased to 32 with those who joined along the way, in particular near Cibola Creek. On 29 Feb, the group prepared to find a way into the Alamo through the surrounding Mexican forces. Dr. John Sutherland relates the story that

"on reaching the suburbs of the city they were approached by a man on horseback who asked in English, 'Do you wish to go into the fort, gentlemen?' 'Yes' was the reply. 'Then follow me,' said he, at the same time turning his horse into the lead of the company. Smith remarked, 'Boys, it's time to be after shooting that fellow,' when he put spurs to his horse, sprung into the thicket, and was out of sight in a moment, before a gun could be got to bear on him."

After being shot at by Alamo sentries, the gates swung open and the Gonzales force made their dash into the fort at 3 AM, Tuesday 1 Mar 1836.

The Gonzales Alamo Relief Force consisting of primarily the men of the DeWitt Colony listed here was the only organized force in Texas which effectively responded without question to the appeals of Travis to aid their doomed colleagues in the mission. Some were single men, but most were husbands and fathers of large families. Concern for families short and long term safety, loyalty to the Constitution of 1824 as Mexican citizens, the hatred precipitated by their betrayal by the centralista dictatorship of Santa Anna, the committment to Texas Independence and suspicion that the Alamo might be a lost cause in the larger war of independence caused great personal conflict in making the choice to join the Relief Force. Fathers and sons, some in their teens, argued over who should go and who should remain with family (see King and Kent).  Patriotic mothers and impending widows, some pregnant (Kimble) and one blind mother of multiple small children (Millsap), agonized, but consented and encouraged husbands to go to the aid of their neighbors. Of the 23 DeWitt Colonists who were mustered into the Gonzales Ranging Company of Mounted Volunteers on 23 Feb, 12 are believed to have entered the Alamo with the Gonzales Alamo Relief Force and all but one of the 12 died there.  It is currently believed that at least 32 of the Alamo casualties entered the Alamo on 1 Mar 1836 in the relief force of which 27 and possibly 31 are believed to have been DeWitt Colony residents.  David Cummings, a surveyor, joined the group near the Cibola as they approached Bexar.  It is possible that individuals now included in the relief force were already in the garrison at the time of arrival of Santa Anna's forces and that others listed as in the garrison arrived with the force.  It is possible that other individuals, currently unknown, joined the group along the way.  Of the 27 members of the Gonzales Alamo Relief Force who can be clearly verified as DeWitt Colony residents, the oldest was Andrew Kent at age 44, 4 were over 40, 5 aged 31-40, 14 aged 21-30 and four (Fuqua, Gaston, Kellogg and King) were teenagers, the youngest of which was 16. San Antonio historian Charles Merritt Barnes related that

"....One, a lad of but sixteen, was the bravest of them all, for he fought after his weapon's were useless. He died throttling an antagonist, not relaxing his grip on the latter's throat even when death seized the boy. He and his foe died together.....they had to tear the boy's hands from the throat of his assailant,"

the latter referring to when the bodies of the defenders and Mexican Army casualties were being separated for disposal.

Records show at least seventeen had been engaged in prior military engagements in service of Texas, primarily in the Battles of Gonzales, Concepcion and Bexar. At least 22 were homestead and property owners (or members of families who were) of record in the colony. Three were civil servants of record (Kent, Miller, Millsaps), most were farmers and ranchers, two (Kimble and Miller) were merchants and two (Almeron Dickinson and Jacob Darst) were skilled blacksmiths with shops in Gonzales. Seven within the group were related to at least one other member and several had multiple relations in the group. At least ten more DeWitt Colony residents were defenders of the Alamo and died there. Several more were couriers not present in the final moments of battle. By any estimate, participation of the DeWitt Colonists in the Battle of Gonzales and the Battles to remove the centralistas from San Antonio de Bexar, the ancient capital of Texas, culminating with the Battle of the Alamo was larger per resident than any other single municipality or district of Texas. Members of families of the Municipality of Gonzales, who comprised only about 4% of the total population of Texas, accounted for 20% of the casualties at the Alamo. Put another way, over 4% of the total population of the DeWitt Colony, among them some of their most productive landholders, ranchers and farmers as well as merchants and civic leaders, died in the Alamo while total Alamo casualties represented less than 0.5% of the total population of Texas.


Alamo Defenders-Index
SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
1997-2010, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved