Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Massacre at Goliad

It was Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836.  Texas’ independence had been declared only 25 days earlier. The Battle of the Alamo had occurred on Mar. 6.  On Mar. 19, Col. Fannin, who had occupied Goliad, was on his way with his troops to Victoria, Texas as ordered by Gen. Sam Houston, when they were overtaken by Mexican General Urrea. Fannin eventually surrendered. His army of 400 men, made up of a few Texans but mostly volunteers from other states, were taken back to Goliad, along with another 120 previously uncaptured men who had eluded Urrea. These troops, now numbering over 500 were incarcerated in the fort at Goliad.  Urrea put the men to work rebuilding equipment and the fort.  While Mexican President Santa Anna had ordered that all men held at Goliad be executed, Urrea could not imagine killing such a large number of men in cold blood and 
allowed the men to continue working on rebuilding.  When Santa Anna learned that Urrea had not executed the men, Santa Anna sent word to Urrea to comply to his order to which Urrea replied with a request for clemency.  Santa Anna replied, by way of message carried by Col. Jose Portilla, to execute the men. Upon Portilla’s arrival at Goliad, he found that Urrea was away from Goliad on other business, but had sent a message to Portilla instructing him to allow the men to continue their work at the fort. Portilla, although conflicted by the widely divergent commands understood the superiority of the President’s command to Colonel’s, and moved all the men out of Goliad on the morning of March 27, 1836.  They were organized into three groups, each heading a different direction.  Santa Anna’s cruel, Napoleonic commands were about to be carried out, even though the captives, themselves, believed that they were marching to New Orleans, and would be released to return to their families.  Not far outside of Goliad, the Mexican soldiers, who flanked the volunteers on either side, ordered them (in Spanish) to kneel, then turned shooting the men at point-blank range. Only a few who were able to run away under cover of the smoke from the shooting survived. The injured, who had remained back at the fort, were carried outside and shot, or fatally wounded with sabers and bayonets.  Fannin, himself, was shot at the very last.  According to  John Crittenden Duval’s account of Goliad as taken from The Quarterly of Texas State Historical Association, 526 men died at Goliad that day, more than double the number killed at the Alamo.  One hundred and eighty-three men died at the Alamo. From Feb. 27 to Mar. 27, 1836, a total of 709 men died defending Texas against Mexico.

Resources include:
Corner, W., and Duval, B. H. (1897). John Crittenden Duval: The last survivor of the Goliad Massacre, The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, 1(1), 47-67. Retrieved from:

"Goliad surrender and massacre at (March 19-27, 1836)." Encyclopedia of the Alamo and the Texas Revolution. Jefferson: McFarland, 2007. Credo Reference. 10 May 2012. Web. 26 Mar. 2013. Retrieved from:

Other resources available through Dick Smith Library:

Brown, G. (2000). Hesitant martyr in the Texas Revolution: James Walker Fannin. Plano, TX: Republic of Texas Press.

Stout, J. A. (2008). Slaughter at Goliad: The Mexican massacre of 400 Texas volunteers. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press.

Carradine, D., & Verklan, L. M. (2005). Massacres II [electronic resource]/produced, written, and directed by Laura Verklan. [United States]: History Channel: A&E Television Networks: [New York]: Distributed by New Video, c2005.

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