Important ADS written just three days before the beginning of the Battle of the Alamo, signed “W. Barret Travis, Lt. Col. Comdt.,” one page, 8 x 7.5, February 20, 1836. Headed at the top “Commandancy of Bexar,” the document reads, in full: “Received of Luciano Navarro 640 lbs of coffee; 370 lbs tobacco, 3 large Bars of lead and 25 lbs of powder, valued at four hundred & fifty Dollars & one real, which will be paid to said Navarro on presentation to the proper department the above articles having been received for the use of this Garrison.” Docketing on reverse reads, “5323 $450.13, Luciano Navarro, filed 27th Nov. 1837, Examined admitted to audit for $450.122,” signed by the auditor. Docketing continues “20th February 1836, In. 28th Nov 1837, No. Draft 6446 W.,” and “approved 29 Nov 1837, E. M. Pease Controller.” A smaller docket, in Spanish, incorporates the words, “General de Texas.” Intersecting folds, mild toning, mainly along folds, light show-through from endorsements on reverse, and a few stray spots, otherwise fine condition.
Travis signed this receipt for the last supplies before the siege of the Alamo on February 20—only three days before the arrival of Mexican forces in Béxar. Essentially a promissory note under the circumstances, the receipt provides specific details about what the defenders had at hand during the ensuing battle. This document, along with other receipts for lumber for planking and other supplies, offers strong evidence that Travis was laying the groundwork for his fateful encounter with Santa Anna and compels modern audiences to reconsider the popularly-held notion that he was taken by surprise.
The contents of the delivery, purchased from local merchant Luciano Navarro, are especially revealing about how the men of the Alamo spent their final days. Coffee fueled the defenders’ night labors to improve the compound’s defenses. To cope with the stress of the battle, tobacco steadied the nerves of the beleaguered defenders. Gunpowder was especially needed because of the poor condition of much of the garrison’s captured supply. Additionally, raw lead was essential given the Texans’ preference for personal rifles and pistols. Given the paucity of lead at the Alamo, it is almost certain that the lead from this shipment was used by the garrison’s defenders.
This is certainly one of the most significant privately-held Alamo documents known to exist.
The Robert Davis Collection.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.