Letters from the Alamo
Born in North Carolina in 1794, Micajah Autry had served in the War of 1812 as a young man. He moved to Tennessee in 1823 and was admitted to the bar several years later. A resident of Jackson, Tennessee, at the time of his death in the Battle of the Alamo, Autry came to Texas in search of opportunities offered by the changing events there. This letter is one in a series he sent to his wife Martha on his journey to San Antonio de BÈxar.
Mrs. Martha W. Autry
Nacogdoches, Jany. 13th, 1836
My Dear Martha,
I have reached this point after many hardships and privations but thank God in most excellent health. The very great fatigue I have suffered has in a degree stifled reflection and has been an advantage to me. I walked from nachitoches whence I wrote you last to this place 115 miles through torrents of rain, mud and water. I remained a few days in St. Augustine when Capt. Kimble from Clarksvelle, Ten, a lawyer of whom you may recollect to have heard me speak arrived with a small company of select men, 4 of them lawyers. I joined them and find them perfect gentlemen. We are waiting for a company daily expected from Columbia, Ten. under Col. Hill with whom we expect to march to head quarters (Washington) 125 miles from here, where we shall join Houston the commander in chief and receive our destination. I may or may not receive promotion as there are many very meritorious men seeking the same. I have become one of the most thorough going men you ever heard of. I go whole hog in the cause of Texas. I expect to help them gain their independence and also to form their civil government, for it is worth risking many lives for. From what I have seen and learned from others there is not so fair a portion of the earth's surface warmed by the sun.
Be of good cheer Martha I will provide you a sweet home. I shall be entitled to 640 acres of land for my services in the army and 444 acres upon condition of settling my family here. Whether I shall be able to move you here next fall or not will depend upon the termination of the present contest. Some say Santa Anna is in the field with an immense army and near the confines of Texas, others say since the conquest of St. Antonio by the Texans and the imprisonment of Genl. Cos and 1100 men of which you have no doubt heard, that Santa Ana has become intimidated for fear that the Texans will drive the war into his dominions and is now holding himself in readiness to fly to Europe which latter report I am inclined to discredit, what is the truth of the matter no one knows or pretends to know.
Tell Mr. Smith not to think of remaining where he is but to be ready to come to this county at the very moment the government shall be settled, as for a trifle he may procure a possession of land that will make a fortune for himself, his children and his children's children of its own increase in value and such a cotton country is not under the sun. I have just been introduced to Mr. McNeil a nephew of Mr. S. who is now in this place and appears to be much of a gentlemen. Give my most kind affection to Amelia and Mr. Smith and to my own Dear Mary and James give a thousand tender embraces and for you my Dearest Martha may the smile of heaven keep you as happy as possible till we meet.
Tell Brothers J. & S. I have not time to write to them at present as Mr. Madding and Sevier by whom I send this can not wait. Tell brother Jack to think of nothing but coming here with us; tell him to study law as this will be the greatest country for that profession, as soon as we have a government, that was ever known.
P.S. We stand guard of nights and night before last was mine to stand two hours during which the moon rose in all her mildness but splendor and majesty. With what pleasure did I contemplate that lovely orb chiefly because I recollected how often I had taken pleasure in standing in the door and contemplating her together. Indeed I imagined that you might be looking at her at the same time. Farewell Dear Martha.
P.S. Col. Crockett has joined our company.
_________________________________1This letter originally appeared in the Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association (XVI), 319-20. It was reprinted in John H. Jenkins, ed., Papers of the Texas Revolution (10 vols.; Austin: Presidial Press, 1973), 3:502-4. Back to Text
2[Samuel A. Mitchell], An Accompaniment to Mitchell's Reference and Distance Map of the United States (Philadelphia: Mitchell & Hindman, 1834), 91, 293. Middleburg was located 183 miles west of Nashville, Tennessee, on the stage route to Memphis. Back to Text
3William C. Pool, Edward Triggs, and Lance Wren, A Historical Atlas of Texas (Austin: Encino Press, 1975), 44, 45, 47; "NATCHITOCHES, LOUISIANA." The Handbook of Texas Online.http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/view/NN/hrn1.html; "GAINES FERRY." The Handbook of Texas Online. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/view/GG/rtg1.html. One of the principle routes into Texas from the East passed through Natchitoches, Louisiana. Travelers crossed the Sabine River, which formed the eastern border between Louisiana and Texas, at Gaines Ferry, before passing on to San Augustine and Nacogdoches. Back to Text
4"BAILEY, PETER JAMES III." The Handbook of Texas Online. http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/BB/fbach.html; "CLOUD, DANIEL WILLIAM." The Handbook of Texas Online.http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/view/CC/fcl49.html. Two of the lawyers traveling with Autry were Peter J. Bailey and Daniel Cloud, both of whom were to die at the Alamo. Back to Text
5Eugene C. Barker, "The Texan Revolutionary Army," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association (April 1906), 234. With no money to paid an army, officials of the new Texan government planned on offering land in exchange for service. Back to Text
6"BEXAR, SIEGE OF." The Handbook of Texas Onlinehttp://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/view/BB/qeb1.html. Autry is actually in error as General Cos and his men were not imprisoned after their surrender to the Texans following the Battle of BÈxar in early December 1836. They were instead paroled with the promise that they would leave Texas and take no other part in the revolution. For a first hand description of the Battle of BÈxar, see http://www.thealamo.org/William_R._Carey_Letter.htm. Back to Text
8"CONVENTION OF 1836." The Handbook of Texas Online.http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/view/CC/mjc12.html. Delegates were scheduled to met at Washington-on-the-Brazos on March 1, 1836, to decided Texas' future. Independence from Mexico was declared on March 2. Back to Text
9John H. Jenkins, ed. Papers of the Texas Revolution (10 vols.: Austin: Presidial Press, 1973), 4:11, 13-14. Autry and Crockett are among the men who enlisted at Nacogdoches on January 14, 1836, in the [Texas] Volunteer Auxiliary Corps for a term of six months. Crockett and his traveling companions joined forces wit Autry and his band. The group was known as the Tennessee Mounted Volunteers by the time it arrived at the Alamo in early February. Back to Text