My interest in the three men whose biographies form the principal part of this book goes back to that fortunate day I first read Davy Crockett's Own Story as Written by Himself. Most people who read that book, particularly when they are young and impressionable, never forget it. And they are apt to be enthusiastic about it. The section on Crockett was written a number of years ago in just such a mood, and it is based largely on this "autobiography." If it causes only one reader to go to the original, I shall be well rewarded for having written it.
As the two other best-known men who fell at the Alamo, Bowie and Travis almost automatically claim the attention of anyone interested in Crockett. But neither of them left an autobiography. The threads of their lives are tangled and scattered; consequently, in preparing even a brief biography of either, one has to sift through a large body of material. And there are some so-called controversial aspects of their lives. Except where these disputed matters have considerable interest in themselves -- for example, that subject of indestructible appeal, the "invention" of the Bowie knife -- they are dealt with only briefly.
Any life of Travis is bound to be in some measure a pioneering effort, even though some good work, published and unpublished, has been done on him. I hope I have brought him at least part way out of the mists of hero worship that have obscured the man.
Where possible, free use has been made of diaries, personal letters, and eyewitness and other reasonably authentic accounts. It is believed the reader will prefer these to "warmed-over" narratives that cannot possibly convey as well either the subjects of biography or the times in which they lived.
I cannot conclude these brief remarks without expressing appreciation to some of the people who have been of help to me in writing this book. First thanks go to Col. Willard Webb, Mr. Gordon Patterson, and Mr. Alvin Moore, of the Stack and Reader Division, Library of Congress, and to their colleagues in the Rare Books, Prints and Photographs, Loan, and Serial Divisions. Especial thanks go to Miss Winnie Allen of the Eugene C. Barker Texas