The Battle of Coleto Creek was extremely significant to the cause of the Texas Revolution even though it was a miserable defeat for Fannin’s Texas volunteers.
Fannin thought Goliad would be an important victory for Texas. He put a lot of effort into fortifying the old Spanish fort. In his mind, it was Fort Defiance. When plans changed, he couldn’t accept that his position was no longer important. He didn’t want to leave and waited until his superiors ordered him to abandon the fort. Even when he received direct orders from General Sam Houston, himself, Fannin dragged his feet. He rationalized that he was waiting for the return of a rescue party he’d sent out to Refugio, but when he received word on March 17 that his men had been captured, he still did not leave.
He spent March 18 skirmishing with the advancing Mexican forces. That night, when it was obvious that the fort would be surrounded, he kept his men on alert but still made no attempt to retreat. The oxen were hitched to carts, ready to carry his troops and equipment to Victoria, but his men forgot to feed them.
Finally on the morning of March 19 Fannin’s men started out. The fog was heavy, which might have been some help to them, but rather than packing food and water, Fannin insisted on taking loads of artillery and muskets he’d collected. The hungry oxen balked at pulling such heavy carts. Fannin didn’t start until 9:00, but by noon he ordered his men to stop and rest the oxen.
General Urrea’s Army easily overtook them.
Realizing he was in danger, Fannin ordered his men to form a square and keep moving. The attempt was useless.
Fannin defended his position with about 300 men, but Urrea had more, and reinforcements arrived the next morning. Fannin’s forces were outnumbered 3 to 1.
Low on food, water, and ammunition, Fannin looked for a way to surrender with honorable terms, but Santa Anna considered all “foreigners” pirates and had ordered that they be shot. Fannin and most of his men were NOT foreigners. They were Texans–citizens of Mexico–but that did not matter to Santa Anna.
It must be said that General Urrea had no stomach for executing captives. He wrote a letter to Santa Anna asking him to consider a mercy for the Goliad prisoners, then he continued on his way to Guadalupe Victoria, leaving Fannin’s Texas volunteers in the care of Colonel Portilla.
The Battle of Coleto Creek was important because what happened at Goliad became a rallying cry for the Texas freedom-fighters.
- Some people say that “delayed obedience is disobedience.” Discuss.