Sometimes winning a battle can cost you the war.
Have you ever heard that expression?
Santa Anna’s “victory” at Goliad is a perfect example of how this can happen.
The Goliad Massacre was legal under Mexican law…but only because dictator Santa Anna wrote the decree that armed rebels must be executed as pirates and insisted that the Mexican congress pass it on December 30, 1835–shortly before he left to quell the Texas rebellion.
With conflicting orders from two generals, Portilla got little sleep but concluded that he must obey Santa Anna’s order and have his Texas prisoners shot at dawn.
At sunrise on Palm Sunday–March 27, 1836–the prisoners were arranged into three groups and marched out of the fort under heavy guard.
The prisoners had been told that they were going out to gather wood or to drive cattle, to be marched into Mexico or down to the port of Copano to board a ship. They believed this because General Urrea, hoping to seize a ship for his own use, had taken Colonel Fannin to Copano to try to charter a ship. The colonel had returned only the night before, reporting to his men that the Mexicans must be making arrangements for their departure, and the men had begun to sing “Home Sweet Home.” The prisoners had no idea what lay in store.
At selected spots on three different roads about half a mile from the presidio, the three groups were halted. Their guards turned and fired upon them at point-blank range. Those who ran or did not die immediately were pursued and shot or run through with bayonets or lances. Colonel Fannin and those Texans who were wounded were executed within the presidio walls. The actual numbers vary, but it’s estimated that 342 men were slaughtered, 28 escaped the firing squads, and 20 others were spared as physicians or others considered useful or because of personal intervention.
Texans were outraged! Houston rallied his Texas army to victory at the Battle of San Jacinto less than a month later with cries of “Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!”
- Why is it important, even in a fight, to “fight fair” and show mercy?