Mexican massacre of Texians at Goliad provides a lesson for today

Pratt on Texas - copyright Pratt on Texas all rights reservedToday in the history of Texas Liberty provides an example of why authority of government should always be held in-check by a citizenry that is armed heavily enough to cause those in authority to think twice before abusing such.

James Fannin had surrendered to Mexican forces after the Battle of Coleto, the culmination of the Goliad Campaign in 1836, in the Texas Revolution. His expectation was that he and his men would be treated as prisoners of war in the manner consistent with the recognized traditions and rules of war of civilized nations of the time.

The Mexican general accepting surrender, José de Urrea, attempted to convince Antonio Lopes de Santa Anna, the Mexican dictator and supreme military commander, to abide by proper custom in the case but, the tyrant was having none of it and ordered Urrea to execute Fannin and his soldiers. To ensure such happened, Santa Anna sent separate orders to Colonel Portilla, who Urrea had left in charge of the prisoners, demanding their execution.

The Goliad Massacre by Norman Mills Price via

On Palm Sunday, 27 March 1836, those prisoners able to walk were formed into three groups and marched into three different directions and then executed by their guard. “The prisoners held little suspicion of their fate, for they had been told a variety of stories-they were to gather wood, drive cattle, be marched to Matamoros, or proceed to the port of Copano for passage to New Orleans,” according to the Handbook of Texas.

It is now believed that 342 under Fannin’s command were executed at Goliad.

If El Presidente, the vile Santa Anna, believed there to be a strong chance he and his power-crowd might have suffered from his brutal decision to murder Fannin’s troops, it is far more likely that he would have shared the opinion of his field general, Urrea, and treated them according to custom.

The lesson is that government authority is most just when forced to fear just and effective retribution from those governed; that is why we need to be armed.

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