Goliad, Texas, 27 March, 1836
0 comment Saturday, November 22, 2014 |
Each year on this day, I remember an incident in Texas history called the Goliad Massacre, also the 'Palm Sunday Massacre' because Palm Sunday fell that year, in 1836, on 27 March. I will reproduce part of my last year's entry on this event, so for those of you who were here last year, I hope you will forgive the repetition. But to me this is something we should remember, especially when it seems the Mexican war never really ended, but simply passed into another, more insidious phase.
But on this day, March 27th, in 1836, 330 Texans of some 357 who were prisoners of the Mexicans were slaughtered at the town called Goliad in south Texas.
Here is a link to some survivor accounts of the massacre, with the excerpt below from the account of Dillard Cooper.
"Our detachment was marched out in double file, each prisoner being guarded by two soldiers, until within about half a mile southwest of the fort, we arrived at a brush fence, built by the Mexicans. We were then placed in single file, and were half way between the guard and the fence, eight feet each way. We were then halted, when the commanding officer came up to the head of the line, and asked if there were any of us who understood Spanish. By this time, there began to dawn upon the minds of us, the truth, that we were to be butchered, and that, I suppose, was the reason that none answered. He then ordered us to turn our backs to the guards. When the order was given not one moved, and then the officer, stepping up to the man at, the head of the column, took him by the shoulders and turned him around.
By this time, despair had seized upon our poor boys, and several of them cried out for mercy. I remember one, a young man, who had been noted for his piety, but who had afterwards become somewhat demoralized by bad company, falling on his knees, crying aloud to God for mercy, and forgiveness. Others, attempted to plead with their inhuman captors, but their pleadings were in vain, for on their faces no gleam of piety was seen for the defenseless men who stood before them. On my right hand, stood Wilson Simpson, and on my left, Robert Fenner. In the midst of the panic of terror which seized our men, and while some of them were rending the air with their cries of agonized despair, Fenner called out to them, saying: "Don't take on so, boys; if we have to die, let's die like brave men.''
That last part of the account never fails to move me to tears, while at the same time it makes me proud.
I had one kinsman that I know of among those massacred; one of those 'boys' who died like brave men. He was part of Captain Winn's Company, which was the 1st Regiment, Texas Volunteers. His name is among the lists on this page.
According to other sources
The dead were then stripped, and their naked bodies thrown into piles. A few brush were placed over them, and an attempt made to burn them up, but with such poor success, that their hands and feet, and much of their flesh, were left a prey to dogs and vultures! Texas has erected no monument to perpetuate the memory of these heroic victims of a cruel barbarism ; yet they have a memorial in the hearts of their countrymen more durable than brass or marble.''
There is now a memorial to the heroic dead at the site of the massacre.
The story of the Alamo, and the tragic end of the defenders there, is well-known to most Americans, but Goliad is probably not a familiar name to anybody except Texans. We learned about it in school. Texas History was a part of the seventh grade curriculum when I was growing up; it still is, although I hear it has been completely politically corrected.
At this time, I am not inclined to give in to the pressure to forget the bitter history of this era; the Mexicans have not given up their claim on the Southwest, and increasingly it looks as though they intend to claim the whole continent. But I have not forgotten the Alamo and Goliad.
To the Mexicans, the war has merely shifted to another front, and is fought by other means, like unarmed invasion and demographic takeover and the use of our liberal courts and laws against the citizens of this country, But make no mistake; the Mexican 'reconquistas' see this country as theirs by right. It's only we who have seemingly surrendered, or who think we are at peace with Mexico.
Goliad, for all the tragedy of the loss of 330 men, was a precursor to a major victory for the Texans at San Jacinto a few weeks later, on April 21, 1836. 'Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!' were the cries heard at San Jacinto. Gen. Sam Houston, on the eve of that battle, wrote these words: "To the People of Texas: We view ourselves on the eve of battle. We are nerved for the contest, and must conquer or perish´┐ŻWe must act now or abandon all hope."
Are we of this generation 'nerved for the contest' as Sam Houston and his men were back then? Do we recognize our perilous situation, as they did?
Thus I ended my blog entry last year. This year, sadly, finds me somewhat more discouraged as it seems obvious that too many of us don't recognize our perilous situation, and we seem even weaker as a country and as a people than we were in 2007. But Sam Houston's words, 'We are nerved for the contest, and must conquer or perish...We must act now or abandon all hope." Houston and his men did act, and they prevailed. Now we have to carry on that determination.

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