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Today in Texas History -- March 2nd
The Alamo Remembered - 13 Days to Glory!
Day Nine– Wednesday, March 2, 1836
The Alamo - Day 9 - March 2, 1836
The siege continues. Unbeknownst to defenders of the Alamo, the provisional Texas government at Washington-on-the-Brazos declares independence from Mexico. (see above post)
Travis receives a report that there is corn at the Seguin ranch. He sends a detachment headed by Lt. Menchaca to retrieve it.
Mexican forces discover a hidden road within pistol shot of the Alamo and post the Jimenez battalion there to cover it.
David (Davy) Crockett
In early February Crockett arrived at San Antonio de Béxar; Antonio López de Santa Anna arrived on February 20. Susanna Dickinson, wife of Almaron Dickinson, an officer at the Alamo, said Crockett died on the outside, one of the earliest to fall. Joe, Travis's slave and the only male Texan to survive the battle, reported seeing Crockett lying dead with slain Mexicans around him and stated that only one man, named Warner, surrendered to the Mexicans (Warner was taken to Santa Anna and promptly shot). When Peña's eyewitness account was placed together with other corroborating documents, Crockett's central part in the defense became clear. Travis had previously written that during the first bombardment Crockett was everywhere in the Alamo "animating the men to do their duty." Other reports told of the deadly fire of his rifle that killed five Mexican gunners in succession, as they each attempted to fire a cannon bearing on the fort, and that he may have just missed Santa Anna, who thought himself out of range of all the defenders' rifles. David Crockett proved a formidable hero in his own right and succeeded Daniel Boone as the rough-hewn representative of frontier independence and virtue. In this regard, the motto he adopted and made famous epitomized his spirit: "Be always sure you're right-then go a-head!"
Today in Texas History -- March 3rd
The Alamo Remembered - 13 Days to Glory!
Day Ten – Thursday, 1836
James Butler Bonham arrives with news of reinforcements, he is the last friendly person to enter the Alamo. Bonham reports that sixty men from Gonzales are due and that an additional 600 would soon be en route. Travis receives a letter from his friend Major Robert M. “Three-Legged Willy” Williamson carried in by James B. Bonham that details efforts to send aid to the Alamo. In the letter, Williamson asks Travis to hold out a little longer until help arrives.
The Texians fire several shots into the city in celebration.
Santa Anna receives word of Mexican General Urrea's victory at San Patricio. In celebration, the Mexcians ring church bells and there is revelry in the camp.
The lead elements of General Gaona's Brigade arrive, Santa Anna receives 1,100 reinforcements These are reinforcements needed for a successful assault. They now have 2400 men and 10 cannons.
Travis sends out his last known appeals for assistance, stating, “I am determined to perish in the defense of this place, and may my bones reproach my country for her neglect.”
Rank: Second Lieutenant
Birthplace: South Carolina
Bonham reached Texas in November 1835 and quickly involved himself in political and military affairs. On December 1, 1835, he wrote to Sam Houston from San Felipe volunteering his services for Texas and declining all pay, lands, or rations in return. On December 20, 1835, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Texas cavalry, but apparently was not assigned to any specific unit. He had time to set up a law practice in Brazoria and was advertising the fact in the Telegraph and Texas Register by January 2, 1836.
Bonham and Houston quickly developed a mutual admiration. On January 11, 1836, Houston recommended to James W. Robinson that Bonham be promoted to major, for "His influence in the army is great–more so than some who `would be generals'." Bonham probably traveled to San Antonio de Béxar and the Alamo with James Bowie and arrived on January 19, 1836. On January 26 he was appointed one of a committee of seven to draft a preamble and resolutions on behalf of the garrison in support of Governor Henry Smith.
He was sent by Travis to obtain aid for the garrison at Bexar on or about February 16, 1836. He returned to the Alamo on March 3, bearing through the Mexican lines a letter from Robert M. Williamson assuring Travis that help was on its way and urging him to hold out. Bonham died in the battle of the Alamo on March 6, 1836. He is believed to have died manning one of the cannons in the interior of the Alamo chapel.
Here are some little known, very interesting facts about Texas:
1. Port Arthur to El Paso : 889 miles. Port Arthur to Chicago: 770 miles
2. Brownsville to Texline (north of Amarillo): 956 miles. Texline to Canada: 960 miles
3. El Paso is closer to California than to Dallas
4. World's first rodeo was in Pecos, Tx July 4, 1883.
5. The Flagship Hotel in Galveston is the only hotel in North America built over water. Destroyed by Hurricane Ike - 2008!
6. The Heisman Trophy was named after John William Heisman who was the first full-time coach at Rice University in Houston, Texas .
7. Brazoria County has more species of birds than any other area in North America.
8. Aransas Wildlife Refuge is the winter home of North America 's only remaining flock of whooping cranes.
9. Jalapeno jelly originated in Lake Jackson in 1978.
10. The worst natural disaster in US history was in 1900, caused by a hurricane in which over 8,000 lives were lost on Galveston Island.
11. The first word spoken from the moon, July 20, 1969, was " Houston ," but the Space Center was actually in Clear Lake City at the time.
12. The King Ranch in South Texas is larger than Rhode Island.
13. Tropical Storm Claudette brought a US rainfall record of 43" in 24 hours in and around Alvin in July of 1979.
14. Texas is the only state to enter the US by TREATY, (known as the Constitution of 1845 by the Republic of Texas to enter the Union ) instead of by annexation. This allows the Texas Flag to fly at the same height as the US Flag, and Texas may choose to divide into 5 states.
15. A Live Oak tree near Fulton is estimated to be 1500 years old.
16. Caddo Lake is the only natural lake in the state.
17. Dr Pepper was invented in Waco in 1885. There is no period in Dr Pepper.
18. Texas has had six capital cities: Washington-on-the Brazos, Harrisburg , Galveston , Velasco, West Columbia and Austin .
19. The Capitol Dome in Austin is the only dome in the US which is taller than the Capitol Building in Washington , DC (by 7 feet).
20. The San Jacinto Monument is the tallest free standing monument in the world and it is taller than the Washington Monument .
21. The name ' Texas ' comes from the Hasini Indian word 'tejas' meaning "friends". Tejas is NOT Spanish for Texas .
22. The State Mascot is the Armadillo. An interesting bit of trivia about the armadillo is they always have four babies. They have one egg, which splits into four, and they either have four males or four females.
23. The first domed stadium in the US was the Astrodome in Houston.
24. The Beck family ranch land grant is one days ride by horse (25 miles) in each direction from the headquarters.
25. The name of the XIT ranch in Dalhart Texas stands for "ten in texas". That means 10 counties in Texas!
Today in Texas History -- March 4th
The Alamo Remembered - 13 Days to Glory!
Day Eleven – Friday March 4, 1836
Santa Anna gathers his officers for a council of war.
It is decided that when the final assault takes place, that they will take no prisoners. The time for the assault will be determined tomorrow.
Having been consolidated into two batteries, the Mexican artillery, is brought to within 200 yards of the compound.
Today in Texas History -- March 5th
The Alamo Remembered - 13 Days to Glory!
Day Twelve – Saturday, 1836
Santa Anna issues orders for the assault to begin on the following day utilizing four assault columns and one reserve column.
Santa Anna calls for reconnaissance to determine Mexican attack positions and approaches.
A messenger arrives at the compound with the grim news that reinforcements aren't coming.
Travis gathered his command together one final time to offer them the chance to leave. According to one account, Travis draws a line in the sand and asks the garrison to make a decision to stay or leave. Only one man, Moses Rose, chooses to leave.
To Jesse Grimes
March 3, 1836
Do me the favor to send the enclosed to its proper destination instantly. I am still here, in fine spirits and well to do, with 145 men. I have held this place for ten days against a force variously estimated from 1,500 to 6,000, and shall continue to hold it till I get relief from my country or I will perish in its defense. We have had a shower of bombs and cannon balls continually falling among us the whole time, yet none of us has fallen. We have been miraculously preserved. You have no doubt seen my official report of the action of the 24th ult. in which we repulsed the enemy with considerable loss; on the night of the 25th they made another attempt to charge us in the rear of the fort, but we received them gallantly by a discharge of grape shot and musquertry, and they took to their scrapers immediately. They are now encamped in entrenchments on all sides of us.
All our couriers have gotten out without being caught and a company of 32 men from Gonzales got in two nights ago, and Colonel Bonham got in today by coming between the powder house and the enemy's upper encampment....Let the convention go on and make a declaration of independence, and we will then understand, and the world will understand, what we are fighting for. If independence is not declared, I shall lay down my arms, and so will the men under my command. But under the flag of independence, we are ready to peril our lives a hundred times a day, and to drive away the monster who is fighting us under a blood-red flag, threatening to murder all prisoners and make Texas a waste desert. I shall have to fight the enemy on his own terms, yet I am ready to do it, and if my countrymen do not rally to my relief, I am determined to perish in the defense of this place, and my bones shall reproach my country for her neglect. With 500 men more, I will drive Sesma beyond the Rio Grande, and I will visit vengeance on the enemy fighting against us. Let the government declare them public enemies, otherwise she is acting a suicidal part. I shall treat them as such, unless I have superior orders to the contrary.
My respects to all friends, confusion to all enemies. God Bless you.
W. Barret Travis
From Traces of Texas
As I sit here early this morning, contemplating how they must have felt, I wonder: did they really realize that today, this day, was going to be the end of their earthly existence? Did they say to one another that this is it, that Santa Anna's army had drawn so close that there would be no salvation now? I reckon that most had come to terms with the fact that no help would be coming. And so what did they say to each other? Did they whisper or did they abide in stoic silence? What was the mood in the final days? Were most of them asleep when the attack finally came? So many things I would like to know. We learn about them in 4th grade and again in 7th grade but so much of what I would like to know is, in fact, forever unknowable. To weep for them seems so beneath them. And so we stand out in the early morning light as the sun slowly creeps in from the east and we plead with the fates to let us be worthy of them, to stand silently and peacefully with one another and to request their blessing, that this great experiment that we call "Texas" might be allowed to continue. Remember The Alamo.
My front view ... faces the direction San Antonio ... the Alamo sets 42 miles from my house.
Remember The Alamo
From wherever you are in Texas the Alamo stands tall and proud.
It means a lot to us Tennesseans also.
I loved a woman in Texas once.
Today in Texas History -- March 6th
The Alamo Remembered - 13 Days to Glory!
Day Thirteen – Sunday, 1836
At Midnight on March 5, 1836, Santa Anna's troops began moving into position for their planned attack of the Alamo compound. For several hours, the soldiers lay on the ground in complete darkness. About 5:30 A.M., they received the order to begin the assault.
The massed troops moved quietly, encountering the Texian sentinels first. They killed them as they slept.
No longer able to contain the nervous energy gripping them, cries of "Viva la Republica" and "Viva Santa Anna" broke the stillness.
Inside the compound, Adjutant John Baugh had just begun his morning rounds when he heard the cries. He hurriedly ran to the quarters of Colonel William Barret Travis. He awakened him with: "Colonel Travis, the Mexicans are coming!" Travis and his slave Joe quickly scrambled from their cots. The two men grabbed their weapons and headed for the north wall battery. Travis yelled "Come on boys, the Mexicans are on us and we'll give them Hell!" Unable to see the advancing troops for the darkness, the Texian gunners blindly opened fire; they had packed their cannon with jagged pieces of scrap metal, shot, and chain. The muzzle flash briefly illuminated the landscape and it was with horror that the Texians understood their predicament. The enemy had nearly reached the walls of the compound.
The Mexican soldiers had immediate and terrible losses. That first cannon blast ripped a huge gap in their column. Colonel José Enrique de la Peña would later write "...a single cannon volley did away with half the company of Chasseurs from Toluca." The screams and moans of the dying and wounded only heightened the fear and chaos of those first few moments of the assault.
Travis hastily climbed to the top of the north wall battery and readied himself to fire; discharging both barrels of his shotgun into the massed troops below. As he turned to reload, a single lead ball struck him in the forehead sending him rolling down the ramp where he came to rest in a sitting position. Travis was dead. Joe saw his master go down and so retreated to one of the rooms along the west wall to hide.
There was no safe position on the walls of the compound. Each time the Texian riflemen fired at the troops below, they exposed themselves to deadly Mexican fire. On the south end of the compound, Colonel Juan Morales and about 100 riflemen attacked what they perceived was the weak palisade area. They met heavy fire from Crockett's riflemen and a single cannon. Morales's men quickly moved toward the southwest corner and the comparative safety of cover behind an old stone building and the burned ruins of scattered jacales.
On the north wall, exploding Texian canister shredded but did not halt the advance of Mexican soldiers. Cos's and Duque's companies, now greatly reduced in number, found themselves at the base of the north wall. Romero's men joined them after his column had wheeled to the right to avoid deadly grapeshot from the guns of the Alamo church.
General Castrillón took command from the wounded Colonel Duque and began the difficult task of getting his men over the wall. As the Mexican army reached the walls, their advance halted. Santa Anna saw this lag and so committed his reserve of 400 men to the assault bringing the total force to around 1400 men.
Amid the Texian cannon fire tearing through their ranks, General Cos's troops performed a right oblique to begin an assault on the west wall. The Mexicans used axes and crowbars to break through the barricaded windows and openings. They climbed through the gun ports and over the wall to enter the compound.
That first cannon blast ripped a huge gap in their column. General Amador and his men entered the compound by climbing up the rough-faced repairs made on the north wall by the Texians. They successfully breached the wall and in a flood of fury, the Mexican army poured through.
The Texians turned their cannon northward to check this new onslaught. With cannon fire shifted, Colonel Morales recognized a momentary advantage. His men stormed the walls and took the southwest corner, the 18-pounder, and the main gate. The Mexican army was now able to enter from almost every direction.
In one room near the main gate, the Mexican soldiers found Colonel James Bowie. Bowie was critically ill and confined to bed when the fighting began. The soldiers showed little mercy as they silenced him with their bayonets.
The Texians continued to pour gunfire into the advancing Mexican soldiers devastating their ranks. Still they came.
When they saw the enemy rush into the compound from all sides, the Texians fell back to their defenses in the Long Barracks. Crockett's men in the palisade area retreated into the church.
The rooms of the north barrack and the Long Barracks had been prepared well in advance in the event the Mexicans gained entry. The Texians made the rooms formidable by trenching and barricading them with raw cowhides filled with earth. For a short time, the Texians held their ground.
The Mexicans turned the abandoned Texian cannon on the barricaded rooms. With cannon blast followed by a musket volley, the Mexican soldiers stormed the rooms to finish the defenders inside the barrack.
Mexican soldiers rushed the darkened rooms. With sword, bayonet, knife, and fist the adversaries clashed. In the darkened rooms of the north barrack, it was hard to tell friend from foe. The Mexicans systematically took room after room; finally, the only resistance came from within the church itself.
Once more, the Mexicans employed the Texians' cannon to blast apart the defenses of the entrance. Bonham, Dickinson and Esparza died by their cannon at the rear of the church. An act of war became a slaughter. It was over in minutes.
According to one of Santa Anna's officers, the Mexican army overwhelmed and captured a small group of defenders. According to this officer, Crockett was among them. The prisoners were brought before Santa Anna where General Castrillón asked for mercy on their behalf. Santa Anna instead answered with a "gesture of indignation" and ordered their execution. Nearby officers who had not taken part in the assault fell upon the helpless men with their swords. One Mexican officer noted in his journal that: "Though tortured before they were killed, these unfortunates died without complaining and without humiliating themselves before their torturers."
Santa Anna ordered Alcalde Francisco Ruiz to gather firewood from the surrounding countryside and in alternating layers of wood and bodies the dead were stacked.
At 5:00 O'clock in the evening the pyres were lit. In this final act, Santa Anna's "small affair" ended.
To David Ayers
March 3, 1836
Take care of my little boy. If the country should be saved, I may make for him a splendid fortune; but if the country be lost and I should perish, he will have nothing but the proud recollection that he is the son of a man who died for his country.
W. Barret Travis
Lt. Col. Com
The letter to David Ayers is the last known letter written
by Travis before the fall of the Alamo on the morning of
March 6, 1836.
William Barret Travis died at his post on the cannon
platform at the northeast corner of the fortress.
He was 26 years old.
Ordinary men doing extraordinary things for a place many of them traveled across continents and oceans to get to. May God bless Texas and keep her aligned with the principles these brave men stood for and exhibited.
God Bless Texas and her heroes. This may be the end of the Alamo BUT it's not the end of the story...………..
Today in Texas History -- March 7th
Bluebonnet proclaimed state flower
On this day in 1901, the Texas legislature proclaimed the bluebonnet the state flower. In the 1930s the state began a highway-beautification program that included scattering bluebonnet seed beside roadways, thus extending the flower's range. The flower-called in some Indian lore a gift from the Great Spirit-is the subject of countless photographs and paintings. It usually blooms in March and April.
That's my son's backyard in Willow City!!
Today in Texas History -- March 8th
Birthday of the "Paul Revere of the Texas Revolution"
On this day in 1798, Mathew Caldwell was born in Kentucky. He settled in Dewitt County, Texas, in 1831. Caldwell earned the name "Paul Revere of the Texas Revolution" because he rode from Gonzales to Bastrop to call men to arms before the battle of Gonzales in October 1835. He was also called "Old Paint" because his whiskers were dappled. He was a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. Caldwell commanded a company in the defense of Goliad. He was captured during the Santa Fe expedition and imprisoned in Mexico. He died at his home in Gonzales in 1842 and is buried there. Caldwell County was named in his honor.
Creuzbaur's brave plans for Sea King
On this day in 1862, the battle of the Civil War ironclads Merrimack and Monitor near Chesapeake Bay sounded the death knell for a Texas gunboat before it ever got out of the planning stages. Texas mapmaker Robert Creuzbaur had proposed an innovative design for an iron-plated gunboat called Sea King in November 1861. With a hot-air engine that powered propellers at the stern, this wood and iron vessel, Creuzbaur estimated, could reach a speed of 18 mph. Topside armaments would provide ample defense, but the ship’s most unique weapon was a gun beneath the waterline. This “submarine cannon” would surely blast through the Union fleet’s vulnerable wooden hulls. Fifty years before its time, the inventive cartographer envisioned a version of the modern torpedo tube. Governor Francis R. Lubbock appointed a scientific committee, and soon Texas legislators, excited about the great military potential of Sea King, appropriated $500 for Creuzbaur to present his plan to the Confederate War Department. But when the ironclads later engaged in their historic showdown all realistic chances for experimentation on a project like Sea King were lost.
Black traildriver born into slavery
On this day in 1850, George Glenn, black traildriver, was born into slavery, probably in Colorado County, Texas. He was raised on the ranch of Robert B. Johnson of Columbus and trained in ranching skills and as a trail cook. After the Civil War and emancipation, Glenn evidently continued at the Johnson ranch as a cowhand. In the spring of 1870 he accompanied Johnson on a cattle drive to Abilene, Kansas. At the Red River, when a fresh group of cowhands displaced the original ones, Johnson and Glenn continued with the new group to Abilene, where they sold the herd. Johnson fell ill and died at age thirty-six in Abilene in July 1870. Glenn had his employer embalmed and buried in a metal casket in the area. The following September he decided to bring Johnson's body back to Texas for burial and had the casket disinterred and placed in a wagon. Reportedly, Glenn traveled alone with Johnson's body for forty-two days across three states, arriving in Columbus in November 1871. He did not continue as a cowhand but maintained a lifelong friendship with his former employer's nephew, Texas Ranger and cattleman John Edwards Folts. Glenn died in 1931; his death certificate lists his occupation as "laborer." He was honored as one of the handful of black members of the Old Trail Drivers Association at the 1924 and 1926 annual meetings.
Today in Texas History -- March 8th
The Texas Revolution Continues.....
March 8, 1836
Travis's letter penned on March 3 reaches Washington on the Brazos. Sam Houston sends orders for Fannin at Goliad and Neill at Gonzales to go to the aid of the Alamo. Sam Houston and his staff head for Gonzales.
At the Alamo, Mexican Generals Antonio Gaona, Adrián Woll, Vicente Filisola, and Juan Arago arrive with artillery and the remainder of the First Brigade.
Today in Texas History -- March 15th
Mexican army captures Texas Masonic soldier
On this day in 1836, Texas Revolutionary soldier Lewis T. Ayers was captured by the Mexican forces of Gen. José de Urrea. Ayers was involved in the series of skirmishes between March 12 and March 15 that came to be known as the battle of Refugio. He was serving with Captain Amon King in an action against the Mexican rear guard when he was captured. Ayers was one of thirty-three prisoners subsequently led out to be shot, but was saved by the intervention of one of Urrea's subordinates, Col. J. J. Holzinger, who halted the execution so that German prisoners might be reprieved. Though he was not a German, Ayers was spared, and afterward set free, reportedly because he gave a Masonic sign that was recognized by the Mexican general.
The Texas Quote of the Day:
"No day can be counted entirely lost which begins with the smell of a mesquite fire at dawn and the taste of coffee boiled over it."
---- J. Frank Dobie, Texas historian and folklorist
Today in Texas History -- March 10th
I've really been slacking so let me get caught up
The Battle of Refugio
Colonel James Fannin and his men had improved the fortifications at the old Presidio La Bahía in Goliad and renamed it "Fort Defiance." News of the fate of Texians under Frank W. Johnson at the Battle of San Patricio and James Grant at the Battle of Agua Dulce created confusion rather than stirring the volunteers gathered at Goliad into action. Centralist sympathizers in the area had gathered and raided Victoria earlier in the month. To make matters worse, Fannin learned that some colonists who supported the revolt were in danger from Urrea's advance.
On March 10, he sent William C. Francis on area patrol and sent Amon B. King with a small force and wagons to collect families and escort them back to Goliad. March 11 was spent gathering families and loading carts for the return trip. However, on the 12th, King decided to confront the Centralista forces of Carlos de la Garza and the rancheros who rode with him. The opposition forces proved to be greater than imagined and King asked Fannin to send help.
King and the Kentucky Mustangs took refuge in the old Nuestra Señora del Refugio Mission at Refugio on March 12. Receiving word, Fannin dispatched William Ward, commanding a group from Peyton S. Wyatt and the Georgia Battalion to assist King. Ward made his stand at the mission and a furious battle ensued. Although successful in breaking up the siege on the 13th, the arrival of Ward at Refugio led to a conflict over command between the two officers. This dispute caused the insurgents to break into several smaller detachments. King left and ventured to attack a nearby ranch, believed to be occupied by Centralistas, killing 8.
As more of Urrea's troops arrived, the fighting with Ward's men continued. The groups held their own on the 14th, repelling four assaults, killing 80 – 100 Mexican troops and wounding 50. The Texians suffered light losses, (about 15), but were now short on ammunition and supplies. King returned from his raid in the evening but could not get to the mission for safety. They had to fight from a tree-line across from it, near the Mission River, where they also inflicted heavy losses upon the Mexican army. Ward sent courier James Humphries to Fannin for orders. Edward Perry returned word from Fannin to fall back to Victoria, where Texian forces were to later regroup.
At night, the groups attempted the escape. The wounded and a few others would remain behind. Their flight seemed successful at first, but there were overwhelming numbers of Mexican troops in wait. Each group was subsequently defeated and its survivors captured by Urrea's troops. After battling for twelve hours and inflicting heavy casualties on their enemies, the last group of fleeing Texians only suffered one killed and four wounded. King and thirty-two men surrendered on the 15th because their remaining powder had become unusable after crossing the river. They were returned as prisoners of war to the Refugio Mission. On March 16, fifteen men were executed; King and the remnants of his company, and several of Ward's men. Juan José Holzinger, a German-Mexican officer, saw fit to save Lewis T. Ayers, Francis Dieterich, Benjamin Odlum and eight men from local families. The remaining fifteen men were spared to serve the Mexican army as artisans (blacksmiths, wheelwrights, mechanics).
Ward and the bulk of his men escaped toward Copano, then turned at Melon Creek and headed for Victoria, where he thought Fannin should be, hearing the gunfire on the Coleto Creek as they moved on. At Victoria, they found no time for rest; it was overrun with Urrea's troops. The group was forced to scatter after a short skirmish with Urrea's cavalry. Staying off the main roads, they moved toward Lavaca Bay, with ten of them eventually escaping. The remainder were captured on March 22 by Urrea, two miles from Dimmit's Landing. Informed of Fannin's surrender, Ward's group was marched back to Victoria, where Holzinger again saved twenty-six men, by conscripting them as laborers for Urrea. Urrea had left Colonel Telesforo Alavez, in charge of Victoria. Señora Francita Alavez intervened with her husband as well, to make sure the captive laborers' lives would be saved. The remainder were sent to Goliad by March 25.
Today in Texas History -- March 19th
The Battle of Coleto - Day 1 - March 19, 1836
Colonel James Fannin was the commander of the Texan troops at Fort Defiance in late 1835 and early 1836. During the siege of the Alamo in February 1836 he attempted a march of 100 miles to relieve the Texan forces at the Alamo but due to poor preparation for the journey and word that General Urrea's Mexican forces were approaching Goliad, he turned back. After the Alamo fell to Santa Anna's forces the Texians received orders from General Sam Houston to fall back to Victoria. Fannin therefore abandoned the fort but proceeded without adequate supplies and without haste on his retreat.
By 09:00 on March 19 they began their retreat from Goliad, during a period of heavy fog. The Texan force included the San Antonio Greys, the Red Rovers, the Mustangs commanded by Burr H. Duval, a militia from Refugio commanded by Hugh McDonald Frazer, Texan regular soldiers commanded by Ira Westover, and the Mobile Greys. Nine heavy artillery pieces with different calibers were ordered by Fannin to be taken by the Texans, along with 1000 muskets, but he neglected to ensure that a good amount of food and water was transported. Carts loaded with heavy equipment were being pulled by hungry and tired oxen. Urrea did not realize the Texians had left until 11:00. The two hour lead was removed, when a Texan cart crossing the San Antonio River broke, a cannon had to be brought out of the river, and Fannin ordered that the oxen be allowed to graze for a period of time after the Texans had proceeded about a mile past Manahuilla Creek, resulting in the retreat being stopped. John Shackelford, Burr H. Duval, and Ira Westover opposed Fannin's decision to allow the oxen to graze, arguing that they should continue their retreat until they reached the protection of the Coleto Creek timber. Shackelford would state that Fannin argued that the Mexican army against them was poor, and that Urrea would not follow them.
In an effort to catch Fannin's troops Urrea left his artillery, and some of his men, in Goliad. He began his pursuit with, according to Mexican sources, 80 cavalrymen and 360 infantrymen. Mexican mounted scouts determined the location of the Texans, and reported the size of the force, which Urrea concluded was smaller than he originally thought. As a result, he ordered 100 of his soldiers to go back to Goliad to help secure Presidio La Bahía. He also ordered the artillery he left in Goliad to be brought to him, and that the artillery would be escorted by some of the soldiers he was sending back. Meanwhile, Albert C. Horton's 30 cavalrymen were serving as advance guards, and were positioned to cover all sides of the Texan force. The rear guard was not alert, and did not detect the Mexican cavalry that was approaching the Texians. Shortly after they resumed their march another Texan cart broke down, and its cargo had to be transferred to another one, delaying the retreat again. Shortly after, Fannin had sent Horton to scout the Coleto Creek timber that was in sight, then the Mexican cavalry overtook Fannin's Texians. As the Texans tried to get to high ground 400 to 500 yards away from the position they were in when the cavalry overtook them, the ammunition cart broke.
The Texan soldiers formed a square against the Mexicans. The high grass of the prairie meant the Texan view of the Mexicans was impaired. The Texians had little water. Each Texian soldier received three to four muskets. The square was three ranks deep. The front line contained the San Antonio Greys and Red Rovers, whilst Duval's Mustangs and Frazer's Refugio militia formed part of the rear line. The left flank was covered by Westover's regulars, whilst the right was protected by the Mobile Greys. In the corners of the square, the artillery had been positioned. Fannin stood in the rear of the right flank. In addition, a number of sharpshooters were deployed around Abel Morgan's hospital wagon, which could no longer be moved after the ox that was moving it was killed by Mexican fire.
The Mexican soldiers then attacked the square. The left of the Texian square was confronted by the rifle companies under Morales, and the right was assaulted by the grenadiers and part of the San Luis Battalion. The Mexican formations involved in this attack on the right of the square was under the personal supervision of Urrea. The Jiménez Battalion under Col. Mariano Salas fought the front, and Col. Gabriel Núñez's cavalry was ordered against the rear of the square. By sunset, when Urrea ordered the Mexicans to cease any more major attacks against the square due to a lack of Mexican ammunition, the majority of the action of 19 March was over. The Mexicans had assaulted the square three times. Making effective use of their bayonets, multiple muskets, and nine cannons, the Texians had prevented the Mexicans each time from breaking the square. Urrea said that he was impressed with the fact that the Texians had managed to maintain the square against the three charges, and he was also impressed with the Texian weapon fire. Dr. Joseph H. Barnard, a Texian, recorded that by sunset seven Texians had been killed. He also recorded that sixty Texians, including Fannin, had been wounded. Forty of the sixty had been wounded several times.
After sunset, Urrea ordered Mexican sharpshooters to be positioned in the tall grass around the square, and that they fire at the Texians. Before Texian sharpshooters were able to remove the threat posed by the Mexican sharpshooters, by firing at the flash caused by the Mexican guns, the Mexican sharpshooters were able to inflict more Texian casualties. As a result of all the fighting that occurred on 19 March, the Texians had suffered at least ten dead and sixty wounded, whilst the Mexicans suffered an unspecified high amount of casualties. The fighting of 19 March had not demoralized the Texian soldiers. They were encouraged by the thought that Horton would succeed in getting Texian reinforcements from Guadalupe Victoria to Fannin. However, Horton had not been able to break through the Mexican defenses. During the day's fighting the Texian soldiers that were retreating to Guadalupe Victoria after the earlier battle of Refugio were close enough to Fannin to hear gunfire. However, they were exhausted and hungry, and did not move to the square. Urrea stationed three detachments of Mexican troops around the square, to prevent the Texians in the square from escaping, and during the night Mexican false bugle calls were sounded to keep the Texians alert.
The Texians' lack of water, and the inability to light fires in the square, meant the wounded Texians could not be treated. The pain being experienced by the wounded resulted in the general decrease in morale amongst the Texian soldiers during the night. The poor weather during the night further lessened the morale of the soldiers. The lack of water also meant that the artillery could not be used effectively the next day, because water was needed to cool and clean the cannons. The fighting of 19 March had also left many Texian artillerists casualties, and ammunition for the cannons was low. All these factors contributed to the conclusion by Fannin and other officers during the night that they could not sustain another day of fighting. An idea for the Texians to escape to a more defendable position under cover of darkness, before Urrea received reinforcements, was rejected because it was decided that those who were too injured to escape, which included friends and relatives of unwounded Texians, should not be left behind. It was therefore decided that the Texians should attempt to make another stand from their current position the next day. As a result, during the night, the Texians dug trenches and erected barricades of carts and dead animals. Urrea, meanwhile, had been reinforced with munitions, fresh troops, and two or three artillery pieces from Goliad. He positioned the Mexican artillery on the slopes overlooking the Texian square.