Friday, May 12, 2017

‘Remember Goliad!’

The Alamo wasn’t the only massacre during the Texas Revolution.

Presidio la Bahía today. In 1836,
the Texians who died there called it Fort Defiance.
On March 19 and 20, 1836, two weeks after the Alamo fell, Col. James Fannin and a garrison of about 300 Texians engaged a Mexican force more than three times as large on the banks of Coleto Creek outside Goliad, Texas. Without food or water and running low on ammunition, unwilling to run and leave the roughly one-third of his men who were wounded or dead, Fannin surrendered.

Led to believe they were prisoners of war and would be allowed to return to their homes within a couple of weeks, the Texians were marched to Goliad, where they were imprisoned in their former fortress, Presidio Nuestra Señora de Loreto de la Bahía, which they had christened Fort Defiance. Unbeknownst to the Texians, on December 30 of the previous year the Mexican congress had decreed all armed insurgents were to be executed as pirates.

Diagram of Fort Defiance by Joseph M. Chadwick,
March 1836. Tents mark the location where various
companies camped. Chadwick was among those
executed. The U.S. federal government reprinted
the map in 1856 with the locations of Fannin’s
and Chadwick’s executions marked.
On Palm Sunday, March 27, acting on orders from Mexican President Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, Col. José Nicolás de la Portilla separated into three columns the 303 Texians who were well enough to walk. Sandwiched between two rows of Mexican soldiers, the men were marched out of Fort Defiance along three roads. There, they were shot point-blank. Any who survived the fusillade were clubbed or stabbed to death.

Inside the fort, thirty-eight who were wounded too badly to march, were executed by firing squad.

Fannin, 32, was the last to die, after watching the executions of the men who served under him. As the commandant of the garrison, he was allowed a last request. He asked three things: that his possessions be given to his family; that he be shot in the heart, not the head; and that he be given a Christian burial.

The soldiers took his possessions, shot him in the face, and burned his body along with the bodies of the other 341 executed prisoners.

The Goliad massacre galvanized the Texians. Three weeks later, on April 21 — shouting the battle cry “Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!” — the ragtag Texian army, under the command of Gen. Sam Houston, captured Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto. Disorganized, demoralized, and leaderless, the Mexican army retreated.

Urged to execute Santa Anna as revenge for the depredations at the Alamo and Goliad, Houston decided to let el presidente live. On May 14, Santa Anna ceded Texas to the Texians in the Treaties of Velasco.

Though Goliad was one of the seminal events of the Texas Revolution, more than 100 years would pass before the State of Texas erected a monument to the men who died. In 1936, as part of the Texas Centennial celebration, the state earmarked funds for a memorial. The monument was built over the mass grave of Fannin and his men, and dedicated in 1938. The pink granite marker, bearing the sculpted image of the Goddess of Liberty lifting a fallen soldier in chains, bears the names of the executed Texians and their comrades who died at the Battle of Coleto.

This Monument marks the common grave where the charred remains
of the 342 Texians massacred at Goliad are buried.
Though “Remember the Alamo!” is famous around the world, those with the blood of Texas in their veins still recite, with reverence, the whole battle cry: “Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!”

A Texan to the bone, Kathleen Rice Adams spends her days chasing news stories and her nights and weekends shooting it out with Wild West desperadoes. Leave the upstanding, law-abiding heroes to other folks. In Kathleen’s stories, even the good guys wear black hats.

Her short story “The Second-Best Ranger in Texas” won the Peacemaker Award for Best Western Short Fiction. Her novel Prodigal Gun won the EPIC Award for Historical Romance and is the only western historical romance ever to final for a Peacemaker in a book-length category.

Visit her hideout on the web at


  1. The story of Goliad is one of my favorites--next to The Runaway Scape, which I've posted about. Goliad--it gives me cold chills in the telling, making it one to remember. We visited Goliad years ago, so that I could say I have visited the Alamos, Goliad, and yes, the San Jacinto Monument. Wow.
    Those Texans were a hardy lot with hearts full of love for the Texas they wanted. What a sad, disgusting story of how the men met their demise.
    Thanks for this reminder.

  2. I don't think I ever heard that story. The rules of war have never been obeyed, but if people were polite I doubt we'd have wars. That is a horrific, brutal story. My heart goes out to those men and their families, who lost their loved ones, almost 200 years ago.

  3. What a wonderful chunk of history. I never heard of this Texas battle or the atrocities following their surrender. I am so happy to learn these brave men had a monument dedicated to their memory.
    All the best to you, Kathleen. I hope you are well and happy.

  4. Makes me sad to think of their deaths. Thank you, Kathleen, for reminding us of Goliad.

  5. What a horrible way to die. I saw the monument several years ago. I need to get to Goliad one day.


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