Tuesday, March 27, 2007

GOLIAD

I have another Texas history lesson for y'all today. Anything in the following in quotation marks is drawn from Lone Star by T.R. Fehrenbach. The rest is drawn from my memory.

Everyone has heard the battle cry, "Remember the Alamo." There was another cry uttered with as much feeling, "Remember Goliad." How many of you have ever heard of Goliad?

Goliad was the fortress originally called La Bahia. The 500 men there were commanded by Colonel James Fannin. William Travis wrote to Fannin from the Alamo, requesting assistance. Captain Juan Seguin, friend of Jim Bowie and Sam Houston and commander of a group of native born fighters, went personally to Goliad to appeal to Fannin. His dithering and doubts delayed him several days. Then, when he did finally set out, one of his wagons broke down four miles from the fort. Fannin took this as a "sign" that relief efforts of the Alamo were doomed and returned to his own, supposedly safe haven in Goliad.

Unknown to Fannin, General Don Jose' Urrea was already closing on his position. We can sit in judgement on Fannin now, but had he joined Travis when first requested, in the middle of February, the Battle in Bexar may have ended differently, and Fannin and his men may have died differently as well. But he stayed in Goliad and every man in the Alamo died fighting and Fannin stayed ensconced at Goliad and wrung his hands and dithered and doubted and worried more about his safety than the security of Texas. Do I sound a bit harsh? The man was supposed to be a LEADER! He was in charge of the largest force of troops, at that time, in the battle for Independence. He could have made a difference by fighting at the Alamo, or by fighting from a defended position at the fortress he was defending there in Goliad. However, when Fannin got word from Houston on March 11, to "blow up the fortress and retreat; he needed Fannin's 500 men." Fannin again delayed, dithering and doubting Houston, his orders and himself.

This delay was to prove deadly. The time he spent pondering whether or not to obey his Commander's order, and her never did blow up the fortress, by the way, gave Gen. Urrea time to consolidate his forces, come even closer, and gather intelligence. Fannin sent a third of his troops to Refugio to aid in evacuating the civilians. However, they were killed by elements of Urrea's force.

Fannin, still ignorant of the presence and proximity of the Mexican forces, marches away from the safety of Goliad's walls, the concealment of woods, and the support of a nearby water supply. He gets caught in an open field to do battle with the Mexican Army; all day, under the hot Texas sun. ". . . unnerved all night by the cries of his suffering wounded, begging for water." Fannin raises a white flag and asks for terms of surrender.

Fannin surrendered "at discretion." The Supreme Government of Mexico and Santa Anna had "standing orders" to execute these rebellious settlers, but Fannnin was assured by Urrea and the American [read: paid and the only English speakers] officers fighting under him, that they would be granted the "honors of war". Fannin understood this to mean they, he and all his men, would be relieved of their weaponry and sent back to the United States.

What General Urrea had not counted upon was the ruthless heart of Santa Anna. Urrea risked execution himself by refusing to take part in what happened on Palm Sunday, March 27. First, Fannin's men were marched out in columns of three. And shot. Then his officers were marched out and shot. Finally after knowing that his "honors of war" were not to be granted, knowing that his troops and officers had just been slaughtered, Colonel James Fannin was executed. And thrown into the common grave with the rest of his dead men.

Santa Anna didn't know it, but he had once again snatched a Moral Defeat from the jaws of Military Victory. In approximately three weeks and a few days, he would learn just how dearly this and his "victory" at the Alamo were to cost him.

Remember Goliad!

4 comments:

G Bro said...

And all this time I thought it was an Aussie reminiscing about a soccer match: "Crikey! Do you remember the goal 'e 'ad?!"

phlegmfatale said...

what a chilling slice of history.

Anonymous said...

That was the best post that I have seen on this site. History actually can be interesting. Good post, holly.

Eric

HollyB said...

Thank you, Eric. I enjoy Texas history. I enjoy sharing it with others. I will turn the keyboard over to the Dearly Beloved for the San Jacinto Battle. He's the History Major. Be sure to tune in on April 21.