SAN ANTONIO (February 23, 2013)—William Barret Travis’ iconic "Victory or Death" letter was on display Saturday at the Alamo, to which it was returned Friday for the first time since it was dispatched on horseback at the start of the famous siege in 1836.
A box truck escorted by motorcycle officers transported the letter from Austin to San Antonio on Friday.
The yellowing, single-page letter will be on display for 13 days through March 7 in a specially built cabinet.
In the letter, the Alamo commander sought help for his badly outnumbered rebel Texans at the old Spanish mission.
A courier on horseback smuggled the single-page letter from the old Spanish mission where Travis and his men had taken up defense against Mexican army forces sent to put down their rebellion.
It was widely published in newspapers and pamphlets, but although the call for reinforcements was heeded, it was too late to help the roughly 180 men defending the Alamo, who were all killed.
The Alamo fell two weeks later on March 6, 1836.
The following month, Gen. Sam Houston defeated elements of the same Mexican army to win Texas' independence.
A webcam has been placed to stream a live view of the letter in its protective case.
"Col. Travis had the boldness to address his letter to the People of Texas and All Americans in the world, but his letter took months to reach its audience," Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson said.
"Now it will reach them anywhere in the world in a fraction of a second."
The display is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. through March 7.
Admission is free.