Texas Military Forces Historical Sketch

Fannin And His Men

One of the most debated maneuvers of the fight for independence was the Matamoros expedition under the command of Colonel James W. Fannin. Its results were almost disastrous to the cause of the Texans. Its shed of human blood and sacrifice of brave men were even greater than at the Alamo.

The command was engaged in many small skirmishes by a division of Santa Anna's army under the command of General Urrea. It was in these small skirmishes that the great majority of this command was killed or wounded. One historian labeled this phase of the war the "useless but heroic sacrifice of Refugio, Victoria, and Goliad."

The fateful blow that wiped out Fannin's command was struck at Goliad. Fannin and his men were retreating to Victoria from Goliad, when General Urrea with one division of Santa Anna's army attacked them on March 19. A fierce engagement followed. The attack was renewed on the morning of March 20, when Fannin and his men surrendered as prisoners of war. They were taken back to Goliad. It was one week later, on March 27, when they were massacred.

This small Texas army under Fannin had been brought together from all parts of the American Southwest. Its units, considered in the order of their arrival at Goliad, were:

1. Westover's Company. (a) A small company of regulars enlisted from among Mexia's Tampico men, and (b) 14 men enlisted in the Irish colonies.

2. Small volunteer company of 29 enlisted at Bexar.

3. Six companies organized at Bexar (San Antonio Greys, Mobile Greys, United States Independent Cavalry Company, Louisville Volunteers, small artillery company enlisted in New Orleans, company of infantry, including San Augustine and United States volunteers.)

4. The Huntsville Volunteers, from Huntsville, Alabama, and Paducah Volunteers.

5. The Georgia Battalion of four companies--First Company, enlisted at Columbus, Georgia, Fannin's home town, with men from Alabama and Mississippi; Second Company, Georgia; Third Company, Georgia, with several men from Mississippi and Alabama, and the Alabama Greys.

6. A small company of Kentucky riflemen and a small company of Mexican artillery.

7. Red Rovers, Alabama; 15 men from Tennessee and Mississippi, Company of Refugio Militia, Matagorda Volunteers and approximately 10 additional men.

From the component parts of the army, it can be seen that the Texas fight for independence was not fought by the regular army, that the men who bore arms and gave their lives for Texas independence were volunteers, men who were ready, just as the members of the Texas National Guard today are ready to fight for what they think right. It was at the Alamo, at Goliad, at San Jacinto, that the spirit of the present Texas National Guard was born.

Following the massacres at the Alamo and at Goliad, following the defeats of the Texan army in small skirmishes, when dark clouds hovered over the Texan's fight for independence, Sam Houston, "man of conquest," fighter for liberty and justice, took active command of the Texans. His tactics were disputed and severely criticized by many. A later historian, though, declared:

"His principle was sound in the highest degree--to lure the enemy to the banks of the Sabine, far from the base of supplies and source of recruits, and give him battle on a broader land where the Texans could confidently expect military aid from the United States."

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