Murder…War Crimes…at Goliad

Today in History, March 27, 1836:

The Goliad Massacre.

In the preceding days, several battles had been fought between the Mexican Army and Texians fighting for their independence.

Among others, James W. Fannin had to surrender his forces faced with overwhelming Mexican force and artillery.

He and his men had been promised surrender terms that included good treatment and “parole” back to the United States. They were not aware that in December of the previous year Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna had asked for and received from the Mexican Congress a law declaring that any Texian or American soldiers that were captured would be treated as pirates and executed.

In spite of pleas from one of his generals, Santa Anna ordered the men executed. Deprived of the ability to fight to the end by false promises of parole (parole was a common military practice – those that surrendered simply promised not to take up arms again), 303 men that were ambulatory were marched out of Fort Defiance in Goliad along three separate roads.

They were told that they were to gather wood, or that they were being taken to a port to be shipped to New Orleans. Many of the men joined in a chorus of “home sweet home” the night before. After marching about 3/4 of a mile, they were halted. Their Mexican guards turned and, on a prearranged signal, shot the unarmed men down. Only 28 managed to play dead and survive.

Forty more, including Fannin, were too injured to join the march and were executed within the fort. The Mexicans saved Fannin for last, setting him on a chair in the courtyard due to his injuries. He asked only that his property be returned to his family, that he be shot in the heart, not the face, and that he be given a Christian burial. The Mexicans shot him in the face, shared his effects, and burned his body where it lay. The other murdered soldiers were piled up and set afire, their remains left for the vultures.

After the Battle of San Jacinto and Santa Anna’s surrender, the Mexicans returned and attempted to destroy the evidence. The Massacre did a great deal to gain support for the Texian cause for independence from the United States.

Mexico Could’ve Declared War on US in Exchange for Western States…

Today in History, February 26, 1917:

President Woodrow Wilson is informed of the “Zimmermann Telegram”.

German Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmermann had sent the telegram to the German Ambassador to Mexico, Count Johann von Bernstorff, authorizing him to offer Mexico a great deal of money if they would become allies with Germany should America enter the war.

To top it off, Germany offered to give Mexico Texas, New Mexico and Arizona should they agree.

Wilson ordered American shipping to be armed and authorized the release of the telegram to the media. News of the treachery enraged the American public, who were already angry over German submarine attacks on American ships. By April 6th Wilson had asked for and received a declaration of war.

Texas Statehood

Today in History, December 29, 1845:

The United States annexes the Republic of Texas, the only US state to have been an independent nation. The Republic had gained quite a bit of debt in it’s short life, and part of the bargain was for the Republic to relinquish parts of modern day Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming to the US in exchange for ten million dollars in bonds. As a sovereign nation, the new state of Texas gained rights most other territories and states did not, which is why Texas has profited from her oil rights on land and off her shores.

Heck no…They All Have Guns! The Zimmerman Telegram

Today in History, March 1, 1917:

The Zimmermann Telegram is made public by the United States, on the authority of President Woodrow Wilson.

The German government had sent the telegram to their envoy in Mexico City in January, in anticipation of beginning unlimited submarine warfare in the North Atlantic Ocean on February 1st.

Germany wanted the United States, and her supply of men and materiel, to stay out of the war. And, should she enter the war, Germany wanted to limit her ability to assist Great Britain.

And that is what the Zimmermann Note was all about. It was an offer to the Mexican government; if Mexico would open up a “second front” for the United States by siding with Germany, the Germans would provide monetary support and promise to return Texas, New Mexico and Arizona to Mexico.

Germany hoped the second front would distract the Americans from shipping men and equipment to Britain, and that the sinking of what ships did venture forth by U-Boats would strangle the UK, forcing her to sue for peace.

The Mexican government actually established a committee to study the proposal…things had not been good between the US and Mexico, what with Gen. John Joseph “Black Jack” Pershing chasing Poncho Villa around Northern Mexico in recent years.

Mexico decided against the offer…because America was too powerful, because she would anger her neighbors, and (I find this VERY important), because they considered the fact that the citizens in the suggested states WERE ALL ARMED.

British intelligence managed to obtain a copy of the telegram and give it to the Americans. Our ancestors in the beginning of the 20th century shared our isolationist views and were not excited about involvement in a European War.

The release of the Zimmermann Telegram and unrestricted submarine warfare against our shipping helped change public opinion…and we were soon headed “over there”.

The Gadsden Purchase Drama

Today in History, December 30: 1853 –

The Gadsden Purchase. The last major expansion of continental US territory takes place when US Ambassador to Mexico James Gadsden and Mexican President General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna sign a treaty giving over a large segment of what is now New Mexico and Arizona from Mexico to the US for 15 million dollars to facilitate a southern US railroad, because a more northern route was too mountainous. The story seems pretty plain. But as I researched it, I found more and more intrigue and drama to be involved.

Gadsden was an ardent slavery proponent, sent on this mission by then US Secretary of War Jefferson Davis to negotiate the agreement on behalf of President Pierce. Gadsden and Davis, of course, shared views that more slave holding states should be added to the Union.

This was a point of major contention in the Congress, which debated the treaty extensively for those very reasons. Santa Anna, having lost badly in the war for the independence of Texas (Tejas) and the Mexican-American War, had been in and out of office repeatedly. Ironically, he was willing to sell additional Mexican territory to the United States so that he could afford to fund a Mexican army to defend against…the United States.

This last purchase established the current continental boundaries of our nation. Primarily because southern business interests didn’t want to depend upon a northern railroad route to ship their goods to California, not trusting the Yankees in this pre-Civil War era.

Too Armed to Take

Today in History, March 1: 1917 – (2nd Amendment friends take note!) The Zimmermann Telegram is made public by the United States, on the authority of President Woodrow Wilson. The German government had sent the telegram to their envoy in Mexico City in January, in anticipation of beginning unlimited submarine warfare in the North Atlantic Ocean on February 1st. Germany wanted the United States, and her supply of men and materiel, to stay out of the war. And, should she enter the war, Germany wanted to limit her ability to assist Great Britain. And that is what the Zimmermann Note was all about. It was an offer to the Mexican government; if Mexico would open up a “second front” for the United States by siding with Germany, the Germans would provide monetary support and promise to return Texas, New Mexico and Arizona to Mexico. Germany hoped the second front would distract the Americans from shipping men and equipment to Britain, and that the sinking of what ships did venture forth by U-Boats would strangle the UK, forcing her to sue for peace. The Mexican government actually established a committee to study the proposal…things had not been good between the US and Mexico, what with Gen. John Joseph “Black Jack” Pershing chasing Poncho Villa around Northern Mexico in recent years. Mexico decided against the offer…because America was too powerful, because she would anger her neighbors, and (I find this VERY important), because they considered the fact that the Anglo citizens in the suggested states WERE ALL ARMED. British intelligence managed to obtain a copy of the telegram and give it to the Americans. Our ancestors in the beginning of the 20th century shared our isolationist views and were not excited about involvement in a European War. The release of the Zimmermann Telegram and unrestricted submarine warfare against our shipping helped change public opinion…and we were soon headed “over there”.

Where There’s a Will…

Today in History, February 21: 1896 – It was illegal. The Governor of Texas called a special session of the legislature specifically to make sure it didn’t happen in Texas. The Governor of Arkansas threatened to enlarge the state penitentiary to hold anyone that was involved. The Federal Government ruled that it would NOT happen in Indian Territory. No other state would step up to allow it. But the promoters were tenacious…and Judge Roy Bean had a reputation for making money. The World Championship Boxing champion from 1895 had retired…after watching his sparring partner being dropped within seconds by a young up-and-comer Irish boxer named Peter Maher. So the challenger, Australian Bob Fitzsimmons wanted to fight Maher. In an attempt to find a place for the “prize fight”, which was illegal in the US and Mexico, So Judge Roy Bean and other promoters arranged for the viewers to meet in El Paso, where they would be taken to a secret location for the fight. Would it be on a barge in the Gulf? A special train left El Paso and stopped at Langtry, Texas. The entire party…fighters, promoters, audience, soldiers, Texas Rangers, soon found themselves at a ring Bean had set up on a sandbar in the middle of the Rio Grande River…where the Army, the Rangers and the Mexican Federales could not stop it. Within seconds, Fitzsimmons, bruised by a quick attack by Maher, blitzed in return and took Maher down, becoming the World Heavyweight Champion before the Edison Kinetoscope could even be set up to film the event.