Birthday: August 1, 1809
Died At Age: 26
Sun Sign: Leo
Also Known As: Buck Travis
Born Country: United States
Born in: Saluda County, South Carolina, United States
Famous as: Military Leader
Spouse/Ex-: Rosanna Cato (m. 1828)
father: Mark Travis
mother: Jemima Stallworth
siblings: Alexander Randelson Travis, Andrew Jackson Travis, Emily Katherine Travis, James C. Travis, Margaret A. Travis, Mark Butler Travis Jr., Nancy Ann Adeline Travis, Nicholas Stallworth Travis, Prior Smallwood Travis, Sarah Ann Jemima Travis
children: Charles Edward Travis, Susan Isabella Travis
Died on: March 6, 1836
place of death: The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas, United States
Cause of Death: Gunshot Wound
U.S. State: South Carolina
Who was William Barret Travis?
William Barret Travis, also known as Buck Travis, was an American lawyer and soldier in the 19th century. A celebrated war hero, he died young at the Battle of the Alamo during the Texas Revolution. A county called Travis County and a park called Travis Park were formed in his memory in Texas. In the Texas Revolution, Travis was one of the first persons to join the battle when friction started developing between Mexico and USA. At the time of his death, he was a lieutenant colonel in the Texas Army. Travis wrote a letter titled “Victory or Death” during the Battle of the Alamo that was addressed to all the people of America. This letter motivated the Texas Army tremendously and aided in receiving help for America from across the world. It also permanently cemented the position of Travis as a hero in the minds of Americans. Travis was considered to be extremely handsome. Though he was a war hero, his personal life was a troubled one. His marriage was not a happy one as he was forced to be away from his young wife for long periods. The couple eventually divorced.
Childhood & Early Life
William Barret Travis was born in South Carolina on 1st August 1809, to Mark Travis and Jemima Stallworth. He was their first child. The couple later had nine other children. His grandfather and grandmother were Berwick Travis and Anne Smallwood.
He spent much of his childhood in Saluda County before his family moved to a farm in Alabama. He received most of his early education from Sparta Academy which was formed by his uncle Alexander.
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William Barret Travis studied law as a young man and was admitted to the bar. But he couldn’t support himself and ended up teaching at a school as well. When he was studying, he also wished to join the high ranks of Claiborne Society.
He went on to start a newspaper called ‘Claiborne Herald.’ This newspaper published stories on issues ranging from the activities of the Congress to stories of adventurers across the world. This newspaper was operated by Travis himself, but it couldn’t provide a steady income to him for long. He soon fell deep into debt.
On February 27, 1829, he went on to pass his law exam and was permitted to practice law. He borrowed money and opened his own office. This led to his debts increasing even further.
To avoid the debtors and being sent to jail, Travis moved to Texas leaving behind his pregnant wife and son. He moved to Texas as he had heard stories about Texas having a lot of land speculation and immigration issues which means more demand for lawyers.
He arrived in Texas in May 1831. Texas was a part of northern Mexico and he went on to purchase land there and set up a practice in Anahuac. He also helped in starting a militia mainly to oppose the oppressive Mexican rule. This made him a famous figure in the Anahuac Disturbances. He was even imprisoned for his involvement in this issue.
Soon, Travis was commissioned as a lieutenant colonel in the Legion of Cavalry in the Texas Army. He was also made the chief recruitment officer for all the new regulars who would join the army.
Henry Smith, who was the governor, ordered Travis to raise a bunch of soldiers mainly to reinforce the Texas Army. The army was under the command of James Neill. Travis disobeyed his orders and stated that he would not go to the warfront with such limited resources and people.
James Bowie reached the Alamo along with 30 men on January 19, 1836. After reaching a compromise with Bowie, Travis took command of eighteen regulars and Bowie took command of volunteers. But owing to Bowie’s deteriorating health, Travis became the commander of the entire Alamo garrison.
A thirteen-day siege ensued and an assault was made on the Alamo in the predawn hours. Travis fought until the end and stopped only when he was killed by the enemies.
Death & Legacy
William Barret Travis died along with his entire troop fighting in the war at the young age of 26. A year after the battle, General Felix Huston and Colonel Juan Seguin ensured that the abandoned ashes of all the fighters in Alamo were reclaimed. On March 28, 1837, a public ceremony was held to give a proper Christian burial to the ashes.
Though the ashes were buried near the Alamo, the exact location was not known to anyone. While building a new altar in the Cathedral of San Fernando, human remains which were believed to be of the fighters of the Alamo were found. The remains were then re-interred inside a marble sarcophagus and placed inside the cathedral.
Family & Personal Life
While teaching in a school, William Barret Travis married one of his students, Rosanna Cato, on October 26, 1828. After a year, Cato gave birth to their first son, Charles Edward. Later, she gave birth to their daughter, Susan.
Their marriage was an unhappy one and the couple eventually divorced.