“Come and Take It!”

Today in History, October 2, 1835:

Mexican soldiers attempted to retrieve a cannon from American-Mexican settlers in the Village of Gonzales in Tejas.

The settlers fought back and kept their cannon. The Texas war for independence had begun. The Mexican government had encouraged immigration by Americans into the Mexican territory of Tejas in hopes that they would become loyal Mexican citizens.

Instead they continued to speak their native language and maintained loyalty to their native country.

It wasn’t long before Texas was a sovereign nation destined to become an American state.

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.

Texas Rangers Become Official

Today in History, November 24: 1835 –

The provincial legislature of Texas, before Texas was a nation or a state, orders the creation of companies of “Rangers” to patrol the range, or frontier. Their job, continuing a less official group of rangers begun by Stephen F. Austin in 1823, was to protect citizens from Indians and bandits.

The Rangers would see success at fighting Commanche and bandits. When the Texas war for independence came they served as scouts and couriers.

During the Mexican-American War they would earn more fame (or infamy depending on your position…the Mexican populace referred to them as los Diablos Tejanos, or Texas Devils) for their fighting acumen and scouting for the US Army. How many police agencies can say they were recruited as a unit to fight alongside the military at war?

Over the next century and a half the Rangers would have their highs and lows…being all but disbanded during the Civil War and due to politics on other occasions.

But when it counted they were there to track down bad guys like John Wesley Hardin, Sam Bass and other terrors as the West was settled, and Bonnie and Clyde during the thirties.

The Rangers were known for their relentless tactics against the Native American tribes and others. They also took the fight to the KKK and against lynchings.

Today the Texas Rangers are much different. They are still the elite response unit…but as part of the Texas Department of Public Safety they are the investigators working with the patrol arm of the Highway Patrol.

What a Life, What a Hero


Today in History, September 5: 1836 – Sam Houston is elected the President of the new Republic of Texas. What a life! Born in Virginia, his family moved to Tennessee. As a boy, Houston ran away and lived for several years with the Cherokee tribe. His involvement with the Cherokees would resurface twice; once when he was placed in charge of their removal to the Arkansas Territory, and again when he would go to Washington to plead their case. Houston would serve in the War of 1812 and later be elected to the House of Representatives from Tennessee and then Governor of the state. Assigned by President Andrew Jackson in 1832 to obtain treaties with native American tribes in the Mexican state of Tejas, in order to secure the safety of American border traders, Houston soon became a leader of Americans living in Tejas that wanted independence from Mexico. He led the Texas army after the defeat at the Alamo and secured independence after taking General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna prisoner. He later acted as part of delegation which resulted in Texas becoming a US state. When the Civil War came, he was Governor of Texas. He argued against secession and lost. In 1861 he refused to swear allegiance to the Confederacy and was deposed as Governor. A true patriot to the end.