From the Annals of the Revolution – In 1836, Col. James W. Fannin raised a flag over the mission at La Bahia in Goliad with the words “Liberty or Death”. Fannin, now generally regarded as an inept commander who had lost the confidence of his men, was prophetic in his announcement. Unfortunately for Fannin and his men it would by “Death.” In fairness to Fannin, he was facing Mexican General Jose de Urrea – by far the best of the Mexican commanders. If Urrea had been in command during the revolution, it is very likely to have been easily suppressed. Urrea’s forces were never defeated in battle during the war and remained ready to fight after the Battle of San Jacinto. Fannin was originally ordered by Sam Houston to relieve the Alamo and then later ordered to retreat to Victoria. He delayed in his retreat and during that action he was cornered on open ground with limited supplies and forced to surrender. Held back at Goliad, Fannin and his men were massacred on the orders of Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. Urrea strongly objected to executing prisoners of war, but the order was carried out by subordinates. Fannin was among the last to be shot.
From the Annals of the Revolution – In 1836, Texas declared its independence from Mexico. Following a meeting on March 1 at Washington-on-the-Brazos of delegates from the seventeen Mexican municipalities of Texas and the settlement of Pecan Point, George C. Childress and a committee of five were tasked with preparing a resolution calling for independence. In the early morning hours of March 2, the convention voted unanimously to accept the resolution prepared by the committee. Fifty-eight members of the delegation signed the document announcing to the world that Texas had declared itself to be the independent Republic of Texas. Less than two months later after the Battle of San Jacinto, actual independence was secured. The Republic would last only about 10 years until Texas was annexed by the United States.
From the Annals of the Revolution – In 1835, the Texas revolutionary army launched their first major assault on the Mexican Army units encamped at San Antonio de Bexar under the command of Gen. Martin Perfecto de Cos. Cos had gathered his troops at Bexar following the defeat at Gonzales and was cut off from the coast. By early December, the siege of Bexar had been under way for several weeks with action at the Espada Mission and elsewhere. Morale was low on the Texian side with winter approaching. However, reports from a captured Mexican soldier and escaped Texian prisoners alerted Maj. Gen. Edward Burleson of the Texian Volunteer Army that Mexican morale was just as low. Burleson ordered a two-column attack. One attack was to be carried out by troops under the command of Ben Milam, and the other was to be carried out by those of Colonel Francis W. Johnson. On December 5, Milam and Johnson launched a surprise attack and seized two houses in the Military Plaza (one of the houses seized belonged to the in-laws of Jim Bowie). The Texians were unable to advance any further that day, but they fortified the houses and remained there during the night, digging trenches and destroying nearby buildings. The Battle for Bexar continued with house-to-house fighting until December 10 when the besieged Mexican troops surrendered.
Map of Siege of Bexar from The Handbook of Texas Online.
From the Annals of the Revolution – In 1836, about 340 Texians under the command of Col. James Fannin were executed by firing squad at La Bahia in Goliad. As rebels and “perfidious foreigners” according to Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the Mexican dictator had decreed that all those in arms against the Mexican government were to be treated as traitors. Most of those executed had been trying to escape the onslaught of Mexican forces under Gen. Jose de Urrea but had been surrounded on open ground without adequate supplies largely because of Fannin’s incompetence as a military leader. After the two-day Battle of Coleto, the men voted to surrender thinking they would be exiled to the U.S. Other prisoners had been captured in minor skirmishes with Urrea’s forces. After capture, Urrea, who had previously executed other prisoners he considered to be mercenaries, pleaded for clemency – but Santa Anna ordered the mass execution when Urrea was away from Goliad. The “Goliad Massacre” was carried out by Lt. Colonel José Nicolás de la Portilla – whose enthusiasm for the deadly work has been debated by historians. On Palm Sunday, Portilla had between 425 and 445 Texians marched out of the Mission in three columns on the Bexar Road, San Patricio Road, and the Victoria Road, between two rows of Mexican soldiers. The Texians were shot point blank, survivors were were hunted down and killed by gunfire, bayonet, or lance. About 30 men escaped by feigning death and another 20 or so were granted clemency to act as doctors, workers and interpreters. Another 75 men were marched to Matamoros for imprisonment. Remember Goliad – along with Remember the Alamo – became the rallying cry for the remaining Texian Army.
March to the Massacre from the Texas State Historical Association.
From the Annals of the War Slogans – In 1836, Col. James W. Fannin raised a flag over the La Bahia mission at Goliad with the words “Liberty or Death”. Fannin and his followers got death at the hands of Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and against the express wishes of Gen. Jose de Urrea who pleaded for clemency and was outraged at the massacre. Some Texans ultimately got Liberty. Others remained slaves as one major focus of the Revolution was to protect the institution of slavery in Texas.
From the Annals of the Revolution – In 1836, the San Antonio de Valero Mission better known as the Alamo, was stormed after a 13 day siege by the Mexican army. The Mexican troops were under command of General Antonio Lòpez de Santa Anna who had pledged no quarter to the rebels. The early morning assault caught the defenders of the makeshift fortress relatively unaware. The battle lasted only 90 minutes during which time the Alamo was taken and all the Texian forces were killed. The crumbling chapel – which is the iconic symbol of Texas Independence – fell last. The historians debate whether the most famous Alamo defender David Crockett – who had arrived in San Antonio days before the siege – was killed or captured along with a handful of survivors. Crockett did not fancy himself a military figure and was likely surprised to be among the fighters in a hopeless situation. Santa Anna might have been anxious to take a valued captive. Regardless of whether Crocket was killed or executed after the battle, his sacrifice and the sacrifice of the other 185 defenders inspired the continued fight for independence from Mexico.
A romanticized version of Crockett’s death from Robert Onderdonk’s The Fall of the Alamo – at the Texas State Archives.
From the Annals of the Republic – In 1836, the convention at Washington-on-the-Brazos which was comprised of delegates from the seventeen Mexican municipalities in Texas and the settlement of Pecan Point voted for Texas independence from Mexico. On March 1, George C. Childress presented a resolution calling for independence, and the chairman of the convention appointed Childress to head a committee to draft a declaration of independence. In the early morning hours of March 2, the convention voted unanimously to accept the resolution. After fifty-eight members signed the document, Texas became the Republic of Texas. Actual independence required some fighting.