When the Texian Army swarmed the Mexican camp at San Jacinto, the afternoon of April 21, 1836, they terrified the Mexican soldados with the battle cry, “Remember the Alamo! Remember La Bahia! Remember Goliad!”
Few Texans (or USians, really) have ever forgotten the Alamo – there are books and novels and comic books, movies and TV serials. It’s a staple story of heroism in the face of unavoidable defeat…
Goliad, however, is almost unknown, outside of a few minutes in grade school Texas History classes and a small segment of historians and re-enactors, many of whom assemble at the site annually to recreate the battle and honor the fallen.
What happened at Goliad, was, by any standard, a war crime.
On Palm Sunday of 1836, Mexican troops, under orders from dictator Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, marched several hundred Texian captives, who had surrendered after being promised they would be treated as prisoners of war, out of the Presidio La Bahia at Goliad – and shot them all. Mexican muskets being mostly old Napoleonic-war era Brown Bess models, however, a handful of Texians escaped to tell the tale, which turned the event into a full-scale disaster for Santa Anna…
As was said of Napoleon’s execution of Louis Antoine, the Duke of Enghien: “it was worse than a crime; it was a blunder.” Until the massacre at Goliad, Santa Anna had retained some supporters among both Tejanos and Anglo Texans, some of whom considered their prospects as a somewhat autonomous part of a larger Mexican nation better than going it alone. After the massacre, the Texians were united in a way that would probably never have happened otherwise. The Alamo and Goliad, both technically Mexican “victories,” revealed the nature of the man in command, and thus ultimately sealed the Mexican defeat.
The re-enactment event has been on the “gotta go to this” list here at TOT for – well, since before there WAS The Other Texas.
This year, affairs fell into place so “go to this” could happen, after a fashion. We missed Saturday, due to a bad judgment call on the part of the publisher, but on Sunday we made it to Presidio de la Bahia just in time to see the “prisoners” and the Mexican troops assembling in the parade ground.
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