Overshadowed by the fall of the Alamo was an even deadlier slaughter of Texas rebels that occurred three weeks later on March 27, 1836. The Goliad Massacre claimed the lives of nearly 350 captured soldiers but rallied support for Texas independence.
We all “Remember the Alamo” but so few “Remember Goliad,” a town that was just as important in securing a Texan victory during the Texas Revolution. Check out why it’s worth remembering.
The major historical sites in Goliad make this town worth remembering and well worth visiting. Start at Presidio La Bahia, a Spanish fort that became the location of the Goliad Massacre when Colonel Fannin and 341 other Texian men were executed within and surrounding the fort’s walls. While in the area, also check out the Zaragoza House which was the birthplace of the Mexican hero of Cinco de Mayo.
And don’t miss Mission Espiritu Santo residing just down the road inside of Goliad State Park and Historic Site. The mission will give you a history lesson on why Goliad is considered the “Birthplace of Texas Ranching.”
Goliad State Park is located on the San Antonio River. Activities within the park include camping, picnicking, hiking, fishing, and historical study. The park offers a floating dock and river access for kayaks and canoes, and is a take-out point for the Goliad Paddling Trail, a 6.6 mile stretch of the San Antonio River.
The campground serves as a home base for visiting the Mission Espíritu Santo, the Presidio La Bahía, the Ignacio Zaragoza Birthplace State Historic Site, Fannin Battleground State Historic Site, the Goliad Historic District, and Mission Rosario State Historic Site.
The city of Goliad offers a quaint town square featuring the recently renovated Goliad County Courthouse, which has been restored to its original 1894 appearance. Many of the buildings on the Courthouse Square, now housing a pharmacy, antique shops, gift shops, and private residences, date back to the early 1800s.
Goliad is one of the oldest municipalities in Texas. In 1749, the Spanish government transferred Mission Espiritu Santo and its royal protector, Presidio La Bahia, to the site of a small Aranama Indian village, which they named Santa Dorotea; this mission served the Aranama, Tamique, and their allies for 110 years, longer than any other Spanish colonial mission in Texas.
A small villa grew up around the walls of the presidio, and was called La Bahia.
This area was occupied by the Spanish until 1821, when Mexico won its independence from Spain. The name of the town was officially changed to Goliad in 1829. Goliad is a phonetic anagram of Hidalgo, the name of the priest who became a hero during the Mexican Revolution. Mexican soldiers occupied Presidio La Bahia from 1821 to 1825.
The first great cattle ranch in Texas is said to have its beginnings at Mission Espiritu Santo. Along with its sister, Mission Nuestra Senora del Rosario, Mission Espiritu Santo possessed the largest longhorn herds in the state, at times owning more than 40,000 head.
The first offensive action of the Texas Revolution occurred here on October 9, 1835, when local colonists captured the fort and the town. The first Declaration of Texas Independence was signed on the altar of the presidio chapel on December 20, 1835.
As 92 citizens signed the document, pledging their support to the cause of freedom, the “Bloody Arm” flag, first flag of Texas independence, was hoisted above the town. The flag, described as a white ground, in the center of which “…was a sinewy arm and hand painted red, grasping a drawn sword of crimson,” symbolized the Texians’ willingness to make any sacrifice, no matter how great, to win their freedom from the tyranny of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.
During the 1836 Texas campaign, Colonel James Walker Fannin’s force surrendered in defeat at the Battle of Coleto Creek.
The Texian soldiers were imprisoned in the presidio for a week. On Palm Sunday, March 27, Col. Fannin and his 341 men were marched outside the walls and shot, making Goliad the site of the largest single loss of life in the cause of Texas independence.
The Goliad Massacre, which accounted for twice the loss of life as that at the Alamo, was, in part, the inspiration of Gail Borden’s headline, “Remember Goliad! Remember the Alamo!”, which become the rousing battle cry of the victorious Texians at the Battle of San Jacinto.
Texas Spoken Friendly
Remember Goliad! Remember the Alamo!