On Saturday, a special memorial ceremony was held at the Fannin Monument near the Presidio La Bahia – Goliad, Texas. It marked the date in June of 1836, when Texas General Thomas Jefferson Rusk found the remains of 350-380 Texas POWs. They had been slaughtered by Mexican forces on Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836.
The attendees at Saturday’s event honored the fallen. Some were dressed in modern military uniforms, some in period costumes. They were reminders of a war that was bloody and hard fought, against a ruthless, evil foe.
Everyone knows about the Alamo from an early TV series by that name. But the Goliad Massacre was even more tragic, and the death toll nearly double that of the Alamo- the men could not fight back.
The Texas soldiers, led by Col James W. Fannin, Jr, were vastly outnumbered by Gen Jose Urrea’s 1,400 Mexican troops. Fannin’s men surrendered on March 20 at Coleto Creek after a failed attempt to retreat.
Fannin was assured by the Mexican General that they would be sent to New Orleans and released. General Santa Ana had a different plan, however, his 1835 decree that all Texans would be treated as pirates meant that they would be executed.
The survivor’s account of the massacre
These portions are a survivor’s first hand account from a local newspaper in 1853:
“… the word was soon given to halt. It came like a sentence of death; for at the same moment it was uttered, the sound of a volley of musketry echoed across the prairie. We then thought of our comrades and our probable fate.
“Kneel down!” Now burst in harsh accents from the lips of the Mexican commander. No one stirred. Few of us understood the order, and those who did would not obey. The Mexican soldiers, who stood at about three paces from us, leveled their muskets at our breasts. Even then we could hardly believe that they meant to shoot us; for if we had, we should assuredly have rushed forward in our desperation, and, weaponless though we were, some of our murders would have met their death at our hands.
The sound of a second volley, from a different direction then the first just then reached our ears, and was followed by a confused cry, as if those at whom it had been aimed, had not all been immediately killed. A thick cloud of smoke was wreathing and curling towards the San Antonio River.
The blood of our lieutenant was on my clothes, and around me lay my friends convulsed with their last agony. I saw nothing more. Unhurt myself, I sprang up and, concealed by the thick smoke, fled along the hedge in the direction of the river, the noise of the water for my guide.
On I went, the river rolled at my feet, the shouting and yelling behind. “Texas forever!” And without a moment’s hesitation, I plunged into the water. The bullets whistled round me as I swam slowly and wearily to the other side, but none wounded me.” Hermann Ehrenberg in the Gonzales Inquirer, December 1853
Col. Fannin was shot in the face, bayoneted and burned along with his men. The Mexicans even took his watch as a war prize. Their remains were found in June of 1836 by Gen Rusk.
The Battle of San Jacinto ultimately won the Independence of Texans from the harsh rule of Mexico. Cries of “Remember the Alamo, Remember Goliad” were rallying points for the rebel forces.
Today we hear Mexicans waving their flag and demanding that Texas and California be “given back.” It is as if the war has begun once again. But as the tip end of Texas wars against drug cartels and others who vie for control, let it be known – Mexico will NEVER rule over American soil again.