Letters from the Alamo
Daniel William Cloud, a twenty-four-year-old lawyer from Kentucky, was
traveling with several other future members of the Alamo garrison at the time he
wrote this letter to his brother, I. B. Cloud1
December 26, 1835
A long time has elapsed since we
parted and long before this period, I expected to write to you, but continual
traveling, and employment have prevented it. After leaving Uncle Sloan's in
Missouri which we did on the 29th of November, we journeyed South. I
left the family well except Grandma, who was extremely ill. I have no idea that
she lives yet. I left upwards of $30.00 with her besides the $10.00 sent her by
Uncle William, which I deem sufficient in the event of life or death. She had
blankets and every kind of comfortable clothing and all that aunt could do to
alleviate her suffering was done. We set off before Aunt Rice and her family
arrived, but were informed that they had good health and enough to eat and wear.
Now you wish me to say something of
the country through which we have traveled, Viz, Illinois,3Missouri,4 Arkansas5 and Louisiana.6
The soil of Ill. North of 38 degrees
is the best I ever saw and from all I can learn, the best body of land on earth
of the same extent. The water is abundant and may be called good, many parts I
regard as healthy, and the ridgeland between Ill. and the Mississippi River, I
believe to be as healthful as the allegany mountains.
Yankees, Kentuckians and Ohion's
etc., are filling up the state with a rapidity unparalleled in the History of
the West. I saw fine farms, good houses, barns, wagons, plows, horses, men,
women, children, beds, tables, and furniture in Ill. as I ever saw in KY. I view
this State at no distance day far in advance of any western State except Ohio.
The reasons which induced us to
travel on were briefly these, First our curiosity was unsatisfied, second, Law
Dockets were not large, fees low, and yankee lawyers numerous, Third the
coldness of the climate. Missouris, like Ill. has too much prairies and unlike
her, has very poor prairies, West of 15 degrees, west longitude from Washington
city, the lands of both sides of the Mo. River about the depth of one County,
including Boon, Howard, Carroll, Ray, Clay, and Clifton on the North, and
Cooper, Saline, LaFayette, Jackson, Van Buren, etc on the south are very rich
and well settled already.
Our reason for not stopping in Mo.
were first we were disappointed in the face of the country and the coldness of
the climate, but most of all the smallness of the docket. There is less
litigation in this state than in any other state in the union, for its
population as I was informed, by one of the judges of the Supreme court, Judge
Tomkins, and what is going on rebounds very little to the emolument of the
practitioner. I was happy to find such a State of case existing, but while
following the chase like other hunters, wish to go where game is plentiful,
large and fat, we rode through Mo., from North to South, about six hundred miles
the weather was growing cold we knew we could not settle, it was out of our way
to go through Boonville7 and we had not
an opportunity of presenting ourselves to Col. Boon8 and Mr. Grubbs, but we thank Brother Grubbs, for the letter of introduction
which he gave us and which we yet keep.
We wish you to acquaint him with
these facts, and to present our love and compliments to him and his family.
We found Ark. Territory, in some
places rich, well watered, and healthy and society tolerably good, but the great
body of the country is stony sand and mountains. In passing I through we
traveled ten days constantly in crossing the Mountains. On Red River the lands
are immensely rich, and planters also many of them worth two hundred and three
hundred thousand dollars, had we chosen to locate in Ark. we would have made
money rapidly, if blessed with health and life. Dockets and Fees being large.
The reason for our pushing still further on, must now be told and as it is a
Master one, it will suffice without the mention of any other. Ever since Texas
has unfurled the banner of freedom, and commenced a warfare for liberty or
death, our hearts have been enlisted in her behalf. The progress of her cause
has increased the ardor of our feelings until we have resolved to embark in the
vessel which contains the flag of Liberty and sink or swim in its defense.
Our Brethren of Texas were invited by
the Mexican Government, while Republican in it's form to come and settle, they
did so, they have endured all the privations and sufferings incident to
the settlement of a frontier country, and have surrounded themselves with all
the comforts and conveniences of life. Now the Mexicans, with unblushing
effrontery call on them to submit to a Monarchial Tyranical, Central despotism,
at the bare mention of which every true hearted son of Ky. feels an instinctive
horror, followed by a firm and steady glow of virtuous indignation.
The cause of Philanthropy, of
Humanity, of Liberty & human happiness throughout the world call loudly on
every man to come to aid Texas.
If you ask me how I reconcile the
duty of a soldier with those of a Christian, I refer you to the memorable
conversation between Col. Marion and DeKalb,9 on this point, and the sentiments of the latter I have adopted as my own.
If we succeed, the Country is ours.
It is immense in extent, and fertile in its soil and will amply reward all our
toil. If we fail, death in the cause of liberty and humanity is not cause for
shuddering. Our rifles are by our side, and choice guns they are, we know what
awaits us, and are prepared to meet it.
My Dear Brother, I am in the hands of
the omnipotence and rejoice in the hope of his favor and protection. Oh how I
would have rejoiced to receive a letter from some of you in Jefferson City in
compliance with the request I made in my letter from Springfield, Ill.
I waited ten days and nothing came. I
have not heard one syllable from home since the day of our departure.
I now say again if you or any of our
relatives will write to us and direct your letters to Nachitoches, La., we may
get them, and would thank you most sincerely for them. If you have any affection
for us you will attend to this request, I now commission you to bear me as a
Son, as an affectionate Son, to my beloved Mother and her husband, kiss sister
and all the children for me, Mr. Slack and Mr. Lewis must do the same with their
children, to Uncle Samuel and William, and their families, remember me and
inform them to Grandma's condition.
Dear Brother, we are of the same
origin, the blood of the same Parents flows through our veins, and the same
material tenderness watched over our infant slumbers, and the same councils
instilled principles into our minds.
Many times have we slept the live
long night locked in each others arms, May our united petitions to a throne of
divine grace invoke the same bread of life and our souls united in love, finally
nestle under the protecting shield of the same all-wise and all merciful
Remember me to all the Brethenss and
acquaintances, who inquire and say to them that scarcity of paper prevents me
from writing them personally.
We cannot go to Nachitoches for paper
on account of the Small pox. In a few days we shall be in Texas and then having
no means of writing you may not hear from us for many days, but when we can, we
will write. The deed I made you on the 20th day of October for the 64 1/2 acres
of land, is hereby confirmed.
Request Uncle Samuel, to inform D.
Fishback by letter that he has his books, some of you must take the trouble of
informing me at length of all that has occurred in Logan County. I am extremely
anxious to hear.
Tell Brother Isham to write. I will
sometime write to Brother Anderson, tell him I think well of the country about
Quincy, Ill.10 I think he will be
pleased if not too cold for him. My health has been tolerably good. I have
suffered a great deal with my stomach, but am now considerable improved.
I hope I shall recover entirely the
hardships I am destined to undergo. Mr. Bailey11 has fine health, we have been traveling ten weeks, and have gone over about
twenty five hundred miles.
If I were with you, I could talk
enough to tire you. I hope we shall meet.
D. W. Cloud
1.Wallace O. Chariton, 100 Days
in Texas The Alamo Letters (Plano, TX: Wordware Publishing, Inc., 1990),
71-74. Daniel Cloud's original letter can be found in the Daughters of the Republic
of Texas Library on the grounds of the Alamo. back to text
2.Samuel A. Mitchell, An Accompaniment to Mitchell's Reference
and Distance Map of the United States (Philadelphia: Mitchell and Hinman,
1834), 99. The 1830 Census listed the population of Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana,
home of the town of Natchitoches, as 7,905. back to text
3.Mitchell, Mitchell's Reference and Distance Map, 312-314.
Illinois, formed from the Old Northwest Territory, entered the Union in 1818.
By 1830 it held a population of 157, 575. In addition to farmland, Illinois
had deposits of coal and lead. back to text
4.Mitchell, Mitchell's Reference and Distance Map, 318-320.
Missouri, formed from land obtain in the Louisiana Purchase, was not suited
for plantation agriculture due to the rough topography, divided as it was by
the many streams and rivers that flowed though the state. Admitted into the
Union in 1820 as part of the Missouri Compromise, the state contained valuable
deposits of mineral such as lead and iron. Missouri was the gateway to the West
at this time in history. back to text
5.Mitchell, Mitchell's Reference and Distance Map, 287-289.
Arkansas was still a territory in 1835 and would not become a state until the
following year. The principle overland route to Texas from the United States
passed through Arkansas. Total population in 1830 was 30,388. back
6.Mitchell, Mitchell's Reference and Distance Map, 284-287.
Louisiana had been occupied by both the French and the Spanish prior to passing
into the hands of the United States in 1803. Statehood was granted in 1812.
New Orleans was one of the most important ports in the nation, serving as a
gateway to Texas via the Gulf of Mexico. The state also served as one of the
overland routes into Texas. The population of Louisiana in 1830 was 215,739.
Commerce, plantation agriculture, and herding formed the basis of the state's
economy. back to text
7.Mitchell, Mitchell's Reference and Distance Map, 21.
Boonville was the seat of Cooper County, Missouri. back to
8."Col. Boon" was the son of the famous Kentuckian,
Daniel Boone, who had relocated his family to Missiouri in 1799 while it was
still under the control of the Spanish. back to text
9.The men mentioned are Francis Marion, renown as "The
Swamp Fox," and Baron Johan DeKalb, both were generals who played prominent
roles in the Southern Campaign during the American Revolution. back
10.Mitchell, Mitchell's Reference and Distance Map,
119. Quincy was the seat of Adams County, Illinois. back to text
11.James Peter Bailey was a fellow Kentuckian and lawyer with
who Cloud was traveling. He, too, was killed at the Alamo. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/view/BB/fbach.html back to text