Honor and Dishonor

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 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. 40 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, they 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.

Battle of San Jacinto

Today in History, April 21: 1836 – During the Battle of San Jacinto, Texian militia led by Gen. Sam Houston surprises and routs the army of professional Mexican soldiers led by Gen. Antonio L√≥pez de Santa Anna. Santa Anna was captured and held as a prisoner of war, soon agreeing to a treaty that ostensibly recognized Texas as an independent nation. Houston was an instant national (Texas and America) hero. Usually history is seen as snapshots in time, but there are so many stories expanding from here. As for Santa Anna, he was like a cat…he seemed to have 9 lives and repeatedly came back from defeat. Fast forward about 25 years and Houston was Governor of the State of Texas…and would resign the post rather than swear allegiance to the Confederacy, perhaps because he had fought so long and hard to make Texas part of the Union. Today, you can visit the battlefield at San Jacinto, and while you’re at it tour the USS Texas, the only remaining battleship to have served in both WWI and WWII.