Presido La Bahia and the Battle Of Goliad
The Battle of Goliad was the second skirmish of the Texas Revolution. In the early-morning hours of October 9, 1835, Texas settlers attacked the Mexican Army soldiers garrisoned at Presidio La Bahía, a fort near the Mexican Texas settlement of Goliad. La Bahía lay halfway between the only other large garrison of Mexican soldiers (at Presidio San Antonio de Bexar) and the then-important Texas port of Copano. In September, Texans began plotting to kidnap Mexican General Martín Perfecto de Cos, who was en route to Goliad to attempt to quell the unrest in Texas. The plan was initially dismissed by the central committee coordinating the rebellion. However, within days of the Texan victory at the Battle of Gonzales, Captain George Collinsworth and members of the Texan militia in Matagorda began marching towards Goliad. The Texans soon learned that Cos and his men had already departed for San Antonio de Béxar but continued their march. The garrison at La Bahía was understaffed and could not mount an effective defense of the fort's perimeter. Using axes borrowed from townspeople, Texans were able to chop through a door and enter the complex before the bulk of the soldiers were aware of their presence. After a 30-minute battle, the Mexican garrison, under Colonel Juan López Sandoval, surrendered. One Mexican soldier had been killed and three others wounded, while only one Texan had been injured. The majority of the Mexican soldiers were instructed to leave Texas, and the Texans confiscated $10,000 worth of provisions and several cannons, which they soon transported to the Texan Army for use in the Siege of Béxar. The victory isolated Cos's men in Béxar from the coast, forcing them to rely on a long overland march to request or receive reinforcements or supplies.
Backstory and Context
In early 1835, as the Mexican government transitioned from a federalist model to centralism, wary colonists in Texas began forming Committees of Correspondence and Safety. A central committee in San Felipe de Austin coordinated their activities. The Texans staged a minor revolt against customs duties in June; these Anahuac Disturbances prompted Mexican President Antonio López de Santa Anna to send additional troops to Texas. In July, Colonel Nicolas Condelle led 200 men to reinforce Presidio La Bahía. The following month, a contingent of soldiers arrived in Béxar with Colonel Domingo de Ugartechea. Fearing that stronger measures were needed to quell the unrest, Santa Anna ordered his brother-in-law, General Martín Perfecto de Cos to "repress with strong arm all those who, forgetting their duties to the nation which has adopted them as her children, are pushing forward with a desire to live at their own option without subjection to the laws".
Cos landed at Copano Bay on September 20 with approximately 500 soldiers. Cos briefly toured the port at Copano Bay and the small garrison at nearby Refugio and left small groups of soldiers to reinforce each of these locations. The main body of soldiers arrived in Goliad on October 2.
Unbeknownst to Cos, as early as September 18, several Texans, including James Fannin, Philip Dimmitt, and John Linn, had independently begun advocating a plan to seize Cos at either Copano or Goliad. As soon as Cos's warships were spotted approaching Copano Bay, Refugio colonists sent messengers to San Felipe de Austin and Matagorda to inform the other settlements of Cos's imminent arrival. Concerned that a lack of artillery would make the presidio at Goliad impossible to capture, the central committee chose not to order an assault.
Although Fannin, Dimmitt, and Linn continued to push for an attack on Goliad, Texan attention soon shifted towards Gonzales, where a small group of Texans refused to obey orders from Ugartechea. Colonists eagerly rushed to assist, and on October 2 the Battle of Gonzales officially opened the Texas Revolution. After learning of the Texan victory, Cos made haste for Béxar. He left with the bulk of his soldiers on October 5, but because he was unable to find adequate transportation most of his supplies remained at La Bahía.
As the combined Texan force prepared for battle, they sent a messenger to instruct the alcalde. of the city to surrender. At 11 pm, the alcade responded that the town would remain neutral, neither surrendering nor fighting. Several of the locals did, however, supply axes to the Texan militia. The Texans divided themselves into four groups, each assigned a different approach to the Presidio. In the pre-dawn hours of October 10, the Texans attacked. The lone sentinel managed to give the alarm but was immediately shot dead. The Texans quickly hacked through a door on the north wall of the fortress and ran to the interior courtyard. Hearing the commotion, the Mexican soldiers had lined the walls to defend the fort.
The Mexican soldiers opened fire, hitting Samuel McCulloch, a former slave whom George Collinsworth had freed, in the shoulder. Texans returned fire for approximately 30 minutes. During a pause in the fighting, a Texan spokesman yelled out that they would "massacre every one of you unless you come out immediately and surrender." The Mexican garrison immediately surrendered.
Roell, Craig H. (1994). Remember Goliad! A History of La Bahia. Fred Rider Cotten Popular History Series. Austin, Texas: Texas State Historical Association. ISBN 0-87611-141-X.
Huson, Hobart (1974). Captain Phillip Dimmitt's Commandancy of Goliad, 1835–1836: An Episode of the Mexican Federalist War in Texas, Usually Referred to as the Texian Revolution. Austin, Texas: Von Boeckmann-Jones Co.
Hardin, Stephen L. (1994). Texian Iliad – A Military History of the Texas Revolution. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-73086-1. OCLC 29704011