|Part of the Goliad Campaign of the Texas Revolution|
"Goliad Executions" by illustrator Norman Mills Price
|Location||Goliad, Coahuila y Tejas, Centralist Republic of Mexico (territory claimed by Republic of Texas), present-day Goliad, Texas, US|
|Date||March 27, 1836|
|Mass murder by firing squad and wounded being clubbed and knifed to death|
|Deaths||425–445 Texian Army prisoners of war under the command of Colonel James Fannin who was also killed|
|Perpetrators||Mexican Army under orders of General and President of the Centralist Republic of Mexico, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna were not treated as soldiers but given no quarter as rebels|
Part of a series on the
|History of Mexico|
Part of a series on the
|History of Texas|
The Goliad massacre was an event of the Texas Revolution that occurred on March 27, 1836, following the Battle of Coleto; 425–445 prisoners of war from the Texian Army of the Republic of Texas were killed by the Mexican Army in the town of Goliad, Texas. Among those killed was commander Colonel James Fannin. The killing was carried out under orders from General and President of Mexico Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. Despite the appeals for clemency by General José de Urrea, the massacre was reluctantly carried out by Lt. Colonel José Nicolás de la Portilla.
After Santa Anna learned a force of Texas rebels was heading toward Matamoros, he sent General Urrea to make his way north to Matamoros and then to march north along the coast of Texas to stop them.Urrea arrived in Matamoros and worked to secure cooperation from the local inhabitants on January 31, 1836. Meanwhile, Sam Houston had persuaded all but 70 to 100 men and their leaders, Frank W. Johnson and James Grant, to give up on the expedition and to defend locations in Texas, principally Goliad. On February 12, 1836, Colonel James Fannin took most of the men to defend Presidio La Bahía at Goliad, which he renamed "Fort Defiance".
On February 16, 1836, Urrea crossed the Rio Grande with 188 cavalry and 205 infantry.He recruited about 200 Tejano volunteers from the area, including some previously sympathetic to the Texians, to join him.
At 3:00 a.m. on February 27, 1836, Urrea's advance patrol surprised Johnson and about 45 men, initiating the Battle of San Patricio, where Urrea's force killed 16 and took 24 prisoners. Johnson and four others escaped in the darkness and rejoined Fannin's command at Goliad where they retold a story, which they first told at a ranch where they had taken refuge after the escape, that all the prisoners had been executed. Urrea had sent 18 of the prisoners to Matamoros where they were sentenced to death but were later released. This news persuaded Fannin to abandon any further attempt to send relief to the Alamo or to try to secure badly needed supplies waiting at Matagorda but to prepare Presidio La Bahía at Goliad for defense against the advancing Mexican Army.
On March 2, at the Battle of Agua Dulce, Grant was killed, as were about 20 other men under his command.
On March 6, the Mexican force under Santa Anna stormed the Alamo and killed the garrison.
On March 14, Colonel William Ward and 200 men, who had been sent to help Captain Amon B. King evacuate colonists at Refugio, were surrounded by Urrea's force. Although Ward and his men fled that night during a blinding rainstorm, the Mexicans overtook part of Ward's force, killing 18 and capturing 31.
King and a group were executed on March 16 at Refugio, but some 15 to 18 prisoners were marched to Goliad to serve as blacksmiths or mechanics.[ citation needed ]
After capturing one of Fannin's messengers with dispatches that told of his plan to wait at Goliad then retreat after King and Ward returned, Urrea ordered the execution of 30 prisoners he decided were mercenaries, but freed over 20 others he determined to be Mexicans or colonists so he would not be hindered by taking prisoners along on his advance on Fannin's force.
On March 19, Urrea had quickly advanced and surrounded 300 men of the Texian Army on the open prairie, near La Bahia (Goliad). The two-day Battle of Coleto ensued, with the Texians holding their own on the first day. However, the Mexicans received overwhelming reinforcements and heavy artillery. In this critical predicament, Fannin and the majority of the men voted to surrender the Texian forces on March 20.Led to believe that they would be paroled and released into the United States, they were returned to the fort at Goliad, now their prison.
Albert Clinton Horton and his company had been acting as the advance and rear guards for Fannin's company. Surprised by an overwhelming Mexican force, most were chased off and escaped, but 18 were captured and marched back to Goliad.
The 75 soldiers of William Parsons Miller and the Nashville Battalion were captured on March 20 and marched in on March 23. They were kept separate from the other prisoners, as they had been unarmed and surrendered without a fight.[ citation needed ]
On March 22, William Ward and the Georgia Battalion (80 men plus Ward) surrendered after escaping from the Battle of Refugio. About 26 men were retained at Victoria as laborers, but 55 of the prisoners were marched into Goliad, on March 25.
The Mexicans took the Texians back to Goliad, where they were held as prisoners at Fort Defiance (Presidio La Bahia). The Texians thought they would likely be set free in a few weeks. Urrea departed Goliad, leaving Colonel José Nicolás de la Portilla in command. Urrea wrote to Santa Anna to ask for clemency for the Texians.
Under a decree pressured by Santa Anna and passed by the Mexican Congress on December 30 of the previous year, armed foreigners taken in combat were to be treated as pirates and executed. Urrea wrote in his diary that he "...wished to elude these orders as far as possible without compromising my personal responsibility." Santa Anna responded to this entreaty by repeatedly ordering Urrea to comply with the law and execute the prisoners.He also had a similar order sent directly to the "Officer Commanding the Post of Goliad". This order was received by Portilla on March 26, who decided it was his duty to comply despite receiving a countermanding order from Urrea later that same day.
The next day, Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836, Portilla had between 425 and 445 Texians marched out of Fort Defiance in three columns on the Bexar Road, San Patricio Road, and the Victoria Road, between two rows of Mexican soldiers; they were shot point blank, wounded survivors were clubbed and knifed to death.
Forty Texians were unable to walk. Thirty-nine were killed inside the fort under the direction of Captain Carolino Huerta of the Tres Villas battalion, with Colonel Garay saving one, Jack Shackelford. Fannin was the last to be executed, after seeing his men killed. Aged 32, he was taken by Mexican soldiers to the courtyard in front of the chapel, blindfolded, and seated in a chair (due to his leg wound from the battle). He made three requests: that his personal possessions be sent to his family, to be shot in the heart and not the face, and to be given a Christian burial.The soldiers took his belongings, shot him in the face, and burned his body along with those of the other Texians who died that day.
The entire Texian force was killed, except for 28 men who feigned death and escaped. Among these was Herman Ehrenberg, who later wrote an account of the massacre,William Lockhart Hunter, also of the New Orleans Greys, who would survive despite being bayoneted and clubbed with a musket, and four members of Shackelford's Red Rovers- Dillard Cooper, Zachariah S. Brooks, Wilson Simpson, and Isaac D. Hamilton, who would escape after days on the run.
Owing to the intervention of Francita Alavez (the "Angel of Goliad") and the courageous effort of Garay, 20 more men were spared to act as doctors, interpreters, or workers,including Shackelford.
Also spared were the 75 soldiers of Miller and the Nashville Battalion. They were later marched to Matamoros.
Spared men were given white arm bands, and while wearing them could walk about freely. They were advised not to take off the arm band, since Mexican troops were hunting for those few who had escaped from Coleto, Victoria, and the massacre itself.[ citation needed ]
The massive number of Texian prisoner-of-war casualties throughout the Goliad Campaign led to Goliad being called a "massacre" by Texian forces and fueled the frenzy of the Runaway Scrape.[ citation needed ]
After the executions, the Texians' bodies were piled and burned.Their charred remains were left in the open, unburied, and exposed to vultures and coyotes. Nearly one month later, word reached La Bahia (Goliad) that Santa Anna had been defeated and surrendered while trying to flee at the Battle of San Jacinto.
General Thomas J. Rusk found the remains of the massacre victims in June 1836 and gave orders for a formal military funeral. The remains were interred at the location southeast of the Presidio la Bahia where the Fannin Memorial Monument now stands. The whereabouts of the gravesite was forgotten until years later when human bone fragments were discovered by a group of boys.
The massacre is commemorated in Walt Whitman's poem Song of Myself , section 34, which features in his collected poems titled Leaves of Grass .
In 1939, the Fannin Memorial Monument by Raoul Josset was erected at the gravesite. It features an art deco relief sculpture and the names of the men who were slain.
The Texas Revolution was a rebellion of colonists from the United States and Tejanos in putting up armed resistance to the centralist government of Mexico. While the uprising was part of a larger one that included other provinces opposed to the regime of President Antonio López de Santa Anna, the Mexican government believed the United States had instigated the Texas insurrection with the goal of annexation. The Mexican Congress passed the Tornel Decree, declaring that any foreigners fighting against Mexican troops "will be deemed pirates and dealt with as such, being citizens of no nation presently at war with the Republic and fighting under no recognized flag." Only the province of Texas succeeded in breaking with Mexico, establishing the Republic of Texas, and eventually being annexed by the United States.
Martín Perfecto de Cos was a Mexican Army general and politician during the mid-19th century. Born in Veracruz, the son of an attorney, he became an army cadet at the age of 20, a lieutenant in 1821, and a brigadier general in 1833.
The Goliad Campaign was the 1836 Mexican offensive to retake the Texas Gulf Coast during the Texas Revolution. Mexican troops under the command of General José de Urrea defeated rebellious immigrants to the Mexican province of Texas, known as Texians, in a series of clashes in February and March.
The Battle of Coleto, also known as the Battle of Coleto Creek, the Battle of the Prairie, and the Batalla del encinal del Perdido, was fought on March 19–20, 1836, during the Goliad campaign of the Texas Revolution. In February, General José de Urrea led a branch of the Mexican army up the Gulf Coast of Mexican Texas toward Goliad, where a large contingent of soldiers from the Texian Army were garrisoned under Colonel James W. Fannin. Simultaneously, Mexican president Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna led a larger force into the Texian interior, where on March 6 his troops won the Battle of the Alamo. After learning of the Alamo's defeat, Texian general Sam Houston ordered Fannin to retreat from Goliad and join the rest of the army in Victoria.
Manuel Fernández Castrillón was a major general in the Mexican army of the 19th century. He was a close friend of General and Mexican President Antonio López de Santa Anna. During the Texas Revolution, Castrillón advocated for mercy for captured Texian soldiers. He was killed at the Battle of San Jacinto, despite attempts by Republic of Texas Secretary of War Thomas Rusk to save his life.
James Walker Fannin Jr. was a 19th-century American military figure in the Texas Army and leader during the Texas Revolution of 1835–36. After being outnumbered and surrendering to Mexican forces at the Battle of Coleto Creek, Colonel Fannin and nearly all his 344 men were executed soon afterward at Goliad, Texas, under Santa Anna's orders for all rebels to be executed.
The Battle of Goliad was the second skirmish of the Texas Revolution. In the early-morning hours of October 9, 1835, Texas settlers attacked the Mexican Army soldiers garrisoned at Presidio La Bahía, a fort near the Mexican Texas settlement of Goliad. La Bahía lay halfway between the only other large garrison of Mexican soldiers and the then-important Texas port of Copano.
The Battle of Refugio was fought from March 12–15, 1836, near Refugio, Texas. Mexican General José Urrea and 1,500 Centralista soldiers fought against Amon B. King and his 28 American volunteers and Lieutenant Colonel William Ward and his approximately 120 Americans. The battle, a part of the Goliad Campaign of the Texas Revolution, resulted in a Mexican victory and splintered Texan resistance.
The Battle of San Patricio happened because of the outgrowth of the Matamoros Expedition. The battle marked the start of the Goliad Campaign, the Mexican offensive to retake the Texas Gulf Coast. It took place in and around San Patricio.
The Battle of Agua Dulce Creek was a skirmish during the Texas Revolution between Mexican troops and rebellious colonists of the Mexican province of Texas, known as Texians. As part of the Goliad Campaign to retake the Texas Gulf Coast, Mexican troops ambushed a group of Texians on March 2, 1836. The skirmish began approximately 26 miles (42 km) south of San Patricio, in territory belonging to the Mexican state of Tamaulipas.
José Cosme de Urrea y Elías González or simply José de Urrea was a Mexican general. He fought under General Antonio López de Santa Anna during the Texas Revolution. Urrea's forces were never defeated in battle during the Texas Revolution. His most notable success was that of the Goliad Campaign, in which James Fannin's 400 soldiers were surrounded and induced to capitulate under terms, but were massacred in Urrea's absence on the orders of Santa Anna. Urrea also fought in the Mexican–American War.
The Runaway Scrape events took place mainly between September 1835 and April 1836, and were the evacuations by Texas residents fleeing the Mexican Army of Operations during the Texas Revolution, from the Battle of the Alamo through the decisive Battle of San Jacinto. The ad interim government of the new Republic of Texas and much of the civilian population fled eastward ahead of the Mexican forces. The conflict arose after Antonio López de Santa Anna abrogated the 1824 constitution of Mexico and established martial law in Coahuila y Tejas. The Texians resisted and declared their independence. It was Sam Houston's responsibility, as the appointed commander-in-chief of the Provisional Army of Texas, to recruit and train a military force to defend the population against troops led by Santa Anna.
The Presidio Nuestra Señora de Loreto de la Bahía, known more commonly as Presidio La Bahia, or simply La Bahia is a fort constructed by the Spanish Army that became the nucleus of the modern-day city of Goliad, Texas, United States. The current location dates to 1747.
The Battle of Lipantitlán, also known as the Battle of Nueces Crossing, was fought along the Nueces River on November 4, 1835 between the Mexican Army and Texian insurgents, as part of the Texas Revolution. After the Texian victory at the Battle of Goliad, only two Mexican garrisons remained in Texas, Fort Lipantitlán near San Patricio and the Alamo Mission at San Antonio de Béxar. Fearing that Lipantitlán could be used as a base for the Mexican army to retake Goliad and angry that two of his men were imprisoned there, Texian commander Philip Dimmitt ordered his adjutant, Captain Ira Westover, to capture the fort.
Philip Dimmitt (1801–1841) was an officer in the Texian Army during the Texas Revolution. Born in Kentucky, Dimmitt moved to Texas in 1823 and soon operated a series of trading posts. After learning that Mexican General Martín Perfecto de Cos was en route to Texas in the year 1835 (??) to quell the unrest, Dimmitt proposed that the general be kidnapped on his arrival at Copano. The plan was shelved when fighting broke out at Gonzales, but by early October, 1835, it had been resuscitated by a group of volunteers at Matamoros. Not knowing that Cos had already departed for San Antonio de Bexar, this group decided to corner Cos at Presidio La Bahia in Goliad. Dimmitt joined them en route, and participated in the battle of Goliad.
The Matamoros Expedition was a planned 1836 invasion of the Mexican port town of Matamoros by rebellious Texians. As the Mexican government transitioned from federalism to a centralized government in 1835, many federalists offered armed opposition. In Mexican Texas, settlers launched a full rebellion, known as the Texas Revolution, in October. By the end of the year, the Texians had expelled all Mexican soldiers from their territory. Confident that there would be no more fighting within their lands, Texans began looking for ways to extend the fight.
Plácido Benavides (1810–1837) was an early Mexican-born settler in De Leon's Colony, Victoria County, Texas. Benavides earned himself the sobriquet of the Paul Revere of Texas for his 1836 journey from San Patricio to Goliad to Victoria, warning residents of the approaching Mexican army. He was twice elected alcalde of Victoria, Texas. He married into the powerful De León family, and with his wife Agustina became the father of three daughters. Benavides fought against the dictatorship of Antonio López de Santa Anna, but did not feel Texas should be separated from Mexico.
Francita Alavez was known as the "Angel of Goliad," for saving the lives of Texas prisoners of war in the "Goliad Massacre" and at Copano and Victoria, Texas, by interceding on their behalf and persuading the help of Mexican officials.
Dillard Cooper (1814-1896) was an American farmer and Texas Revolutionary soldier who survived the Goliad massacre. Born in South Carolina, Cooper married his first wife, Lucinda, and moved first to Tennessee and then to Courtland, Alabama.