Disobeying a direct order from Sam Houston, commander of the Texas army, is not something that most people would consider, but most people are not William Barrett Travis. As the commander of the Alamo, he was ordered, by Houston, to destroy it, retreat, and reconnect with the Texas army. Travis believed that “the Alamo’s twelve-foot-high, two-foot-thick walls offered considerable protection to defenders.”1 The problem was that there were not enough men to defend such a large mission. “One hundred and eighty three men defended”2 the Alamo, unsuccessfully. As the commander of the Alamo, Travis should have called for an evacuation and followed Houston’s orders, even though his troops thought otherwise. Travis may not have been a trained solider, but as an attorney, he should have understood the importance of doing what his superiors instructed him to do.3. Travis was stuck in an extremely difficult situation with no way to win. If he retreated, like Houston wanted, he ran the risk of his troops revolting and over throwing him, but if he stayed, he would be ignoring a direct order and putting everyone in the mission’s life at risk. As easy as it is to say that Travis made the wrong choice, that those people should not have had to die, it might not have been. If Travis had abandoned the Alamo and joined up with the Texas army, the revolution may not have turned out the way it did. “Remember the Alamo”4 became a battle cry across Texas and gave Texas the courage and determination to gain its independence. The Alamo one of the events that has made Texas what it is today. It sounds callous and wrong to say that those one hundred and eighty-three men had to die, but without their sacrifice, Texas would look very different.
1 Randolph Campbell, Gone to Texas (New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2012), 142.
2 Michael Anderson, “Defenders of the Alamo: Who Were They, and Why Did They Do It?,” Torch Magazine 89, no. 3 (Spring 2016): 8.
3 Ibid., 9
4 Richard Flores, “The Alamo: Myth, Public History, and the Politics of Inclusion,” Radical History Review 77 (2003): 93.