Battle of the Alamo Begins 186 Years Ago: February 23, 1836

by HB Auld, Jr.

On this day, 186 years ago, February 23, 1836, one of the bloodiest battles of the Texas War for Independence began:  The Battle of the Alamo. At the end of the 13-day battle, more than 187 Texians (as they were called back then) lay slaughtered in and around the San Antonio mission, along with 400 to 600 Mexicans who died or were wounded in the assault on the Mission.   This battle generated the battle cry: “Remember the Alamo,” which resonates with Texans, even today.

At the end of the 13-day siege (February 23 – March 6, 1836) Mexican President and Army commander of more than 1,500 Mexican attackers, General Antonio Lopez de Sana Anna claimed victory over the Alamo’s Texian defenders, all of whom were either killed in the onslaught or executed after the battle.   This bloody massacre was soon followed by the Battle of Goliad and later the Battle of San Jacinto where Santa Anna (as he was called) was defeated in a battle that lasted just 18 minutes by Texas General (and first Republic President) Sam Houston on April 21, 1836.  The rallying cries, “Remember the Alamo” and “Remember Goliad” echoed throughout this final battle for Independence.  The Battle of Goliad was fought at sunrise on Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836. The Mexican Army marched most of the captured Texian army from the Persidio La Bahia near Goliad out in three groups. A short distance later, the Mexican army opened fire on the unarmed Texian defenders and executed 342 of them. Forty of the executed soldiers were too wounded to march.  

Travis became the sole commander of the Alamo on February 24, 1836. 

In February, 1836, the garrison at the Alamo, a Spanish mission near San Antonio, Texians led by 26-year old Colonel William B. Travis, James Bowie (originator of the famed “Bowie Knife”), Tennessean Davy Crockett and others, prepared to defend the mission.  James Bowie had originally been ordered to the Alamo on January 19, 1836.  He arrived with orders to destroy the complex.  Instead, he took command of the garrison as its co-commander, along with Colonel William Barret Travis.  Travis became the sole commander of the Alamo on February 24, 1836. 

Texians, enraged by the slaughter at the Alamo and later Goliad, joined the Texas Revolution cause across the state.  A little more than a month after the fall of the Alamo, Texas General Sam Houston made his stand on the banks of the Buffalo Bayou and the San Jacinto Bay near the present-day city of Houston, and defeated Mexican General and Commander, Santa Anna in a battle that lasted just 18 minutes.  General Santa Anna was captured while disguised as a mere foot soldier and Private, but was recognized and cheered by his men as he was paraded through the other Prisoners of War.  Santa Anna was presented to General Sam Houston and just three weeks after the battle, was forced to sign a peace treaty which dictated that the Mexican Army would depart the area to south of the Rio Grande River.  The Republic of Texas then became an independent country, General Samuel Houston became a national celebrity, and the rallying cries “Remember the Alamo,” and “Remember Goliad” became legendary in Texas history. 


Remember Goliad!

by HB Auld, Jr.

“Remember Goliad.”

No, it does not have the same ring as “Remember the Alamo,” but it is just as important.

On this day, March 27, 1836, a Palm Sunday, more than 340 “Texians” under the command of Colonel James W. Fannin, were either marched or (in the case of the wounded), carried out behind the Presidio de Goliad mission and executed at point-blank range by the Mexican army. This, after surrendering with the condition that they be treated as Prisoners of War and spared. Colonel Fannin was one of the last to be executed, forced to watch as his men were executed. He had but three requests: Do not shoot him in the face, send his belongings to this family, and give him a Christian burial. He was promised all three and then all three requests were violated. A dark day, indeed, for the fight for Texas Independence from Mexico.

But a brighter day was coming. Just 25 days later, General, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was defeated by Texas General Sam Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto.

Remember the Alamo.

Remember Goliad.

God bless Texas.


(Some of the information for this post was provided by Texas historian and writer, Tara Ross, on her daily history post.)

Remember Goliad! The Goliad Massacre, 183 years ago today

by Tara Ross

On this day in 1836, the Goliad Massacre takes place. Most of you have heard “Remember the Alamo!” Did you know that “Remember Goliad!” was another battle cry used by Texans?

The events at Goliad occurred just two short weeks after Texans were defeated at the Alamo.

Colonel James Fannin was then at Goliad, building reinforcements around the presidio there. When the Alamo fell, Fannin received orders from Sam Houston to withdraw. But Fannin was in a bit of a bind. Against orders, he had sent some of his soldiers to help with other expeditions. He awaited their return, and he seemed oblivious to the danger that was so quickly approaching him: Mexican General Jose de Urrea was marching toward his position with 1,000 men.

Fannin did eventually attempt a retreat, but he procrastinated too long—with fatal results.

As Fannin’s men attempted a go, they were met by Urrea and his men. A two-day battle ensued. The Texans took losses, but held their own on the first day. And to their credit, they did not attempt to escape in the middle of the night, when they could have, because they did not want to leave their wounded behind. But the next day, Mexican reinforcements arrived and the Texans were overwhelmed. Fannin surrendered on March 20, on the condition that his men be treated as prisoners of war.

Now Urrea was the one with a problem. He was not authorized to agree to such terms. The Mexican Congress had passed a law requiring that captured Texans be treated like pirates—i.e. they were to be shot. Fannin and his men were marched back to Goliad. Accounts vary, but apparently many of them thought that they would be treated honorably like prisoners of war.

Urrea wrote Mexican General Santa Anna, asking for clemency, but he apparently failed to mention that he’d agreed to Fannin’s terms. Santa Anna wrote back with an order that the Texans be executed. Not trusting Urrea to comply, he then ordered Col. José Nicolás de la Portilla to perform the execution.

Finally, on Palm Sunday, March 27, those Texans who could walk were marched out of Goliad. They were told various stories about where they were going. Less than a mile out, the guards stopped the captives and began firing at close range. Those who were too wounded to march were executed, separately, behind the presidio. Roughly 340 men were massacred that day. A little less than 30 men escaped. A few, such as doctors, were spared because of the services that they could provide.

Fannin was among the last to be shot. He had just a few requests: He did not want to be shot in the face, he wanted his personal belongings to be sent to his family, and he wanted a Christian burial. He was denied every one of these requests.

The Alamo and Goliad were dark days for the Texan effort. But the Battle of San Jacinto was just around the corner! Texans were mere weeks away from earning their independence.

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Guest author today, Tara Ross, is a mother, wife, writer, and retired lawyer. She is the author of The Indispensable Electoral College: How the Founders’ Plan Saves Our Country from Mob Rule,Enlightened Democracy: The Case for the Electoral College, co-author of Under God: George Washington and the Question of Church and State (with Joseph C. Smith, Jr.), & We Elect A President: The Story of our Electoral College. She is a constitutionalist, but with a definite libertarian streak! Stay tuned here for updates on pretty much anything to do with the Electoral College, George Washington, & our wonderfully rich American heritage.