A classic account of the Mexican War by an American horse soldier
The author of this book—now rare and hard to find on the antiquarian book market—has left posterity a substantial and in depth insight into the war between the United States and Mexico. He has combined an overview of its causes, its campaign and its terrain with his own experiences as a serving cavalryman—a Twelve Months Volunteer—of the 1st Tennessee Cavalry Regiment, a proud member of Company 'G'—the Eagle Guards. This thorough book has been divided into two volumes for this modern edition. Filled with useful information, regimental rolls and casualty lists together with highly entertaining first hand account experiences, immediate dialogue and much anecdotal material. This book will an invaluable find for any enthusiastic student of this conflict.
This town of Goliad, was founded by La Salle, the great explorer, in 1682. It flourished for several generations, and once contained ten thousand inhabitants;—now was entirely deserted.<br>
In the old church and fortification, were Fannin's men confined, for a week previous to their massacre. The whole of this business was an ill-judged, and unfortunate affair, on the part of the Texan commander; and of the utmost brutality and treachery, on the part of the Mexican officers.—The whole of the responsibility of this bloody assassination, of unarmed prisoners, rests with Santa Anna; of which we will take notice.<br>
The history of the affair, in a few words, is this:—Fannin, who had occupied this post for some time, determined to hold it, after he was apprised of the approach of a large Mexican army, and after, too, that army had, a month previous, appeared before the town of San Antonio, the next post, and shortly after, stormed the fortress of the Alamo, putting its garrison to the sword; when, besides, he had no provisions, or means of standing a siege.<br>
The road lay open for him to retreat, but he thought he could hold the place until he might be reinforced. He continued in his determination to hold the fort, until a strong body of cavalry and infantry under General Urrea, were on the march for the place, and close to it. And then, to cap the climax, in the face of this army, he altered his determination; and, abandoning his strong-hold, attempted to retreat; but too late!<br>
The little force had marched but four miles, when they were overtaken, and attacked; and, in six miles, were compelled to halt and entrench, without water, in the open plain; and, of course, to surrender; which surrender was made on the morning of Sunday, March 20th, 1836, on condition that they should be well treated, and sent to the United States.—With two other detachments, under majors Ward and Miller, captured separately, in all about 420 men, they were confined in the church for one week; when, on Sunday, March 27th, on the information that they were to be marched to the coast, to go to New Orleans, they were conducted, in three columns, out between lines of Mexican soldiers; one column going east—one south,—and one west; and, at given signals were suddenly shot down, without warning;—from the butchery, some few endeavoured to escape by running; some of these were overtaken and killed; others finally escaped.—Colonel Fannin was shot, in the yard, by himself; and the spots where the numerous balls struck the stone wall behind him, after passing through him, are still pointed out.<br>
When Fannin capitulated to Urrea, that General immediately sent a dispatch to Santa Anna, then at San Antonio, informing him of the capture of the detachments and asking what he should do with the prisoners. Instead of replying to him, to observe the terms of capitulation, that he, as commander of that division, had entered into with the prisoners—according to the established rules of warfare, in civilized nations, Santa Anna, wishing them destroyed, but yet too cunning to have such an act laid at his door, wrote back no answer at all; but sent to General Urrea a copy of an act of congress of Mexico to the effect that no prisoners should be taken, and that all persons, found in arms against the government, should be put to death.<br>
Urrea took this as his answer.—Santa Anna, after his fortune had changed, upon being interrogated, with regard to this butchery, by President Jackson, at Washington, endeavoured to deny that it was by his order or connivance that it had been done.<br>
He, who obeyed the laws of congress only when it suited his own convenience, and who was, in effect, a dictator of all the laws, and who hesitated not, when his purposes required it, to prevent that congress, by the point of the bayonet from meeting, seemed suddenly to find himself under such strong obligation to an old law, that never had, in all their numberless revolutions been practised, as to force him to command the barbarous, cold blooded murder of four hundred men; to whom the honour of the Mexican nation, about which he speaks so much, had been pledged in a fair and open capitulation, for the performance of that agreement, upon which they laid down their arms.<br>
He must violate all this, now that the prisoners were in his power, to satisfy that old law, to which he himself, several times, as a revolutionist, had been amenable, if it had ever been put in force.<br>
If it is said that he acted on the clause that had been passed at the commencement of this Texan war, viz: “that no prisoners should be taken;” then, upon that, there was, even if he had been ever so scrupulous with regard to adherence to the law, no reason to justify the massacre of the prisoners; for these had already been taken, under a solemn promise of the Mexican nation, so far as a commander of a separate division of its army is the representative of that nation, of fair and honourable treatment.—No! he wished them shot;—he cared not for capitulations.—He had killed every one of those found in the Alamo, after they, by ten days' hard and gallant fighting, had slain hundreds of his soldiers.—He wished these shot also; but, as said before, wanted not the odium of the act; and he therefore adopted a measure for that end, fully as effective as though he had sent a positive order to General Urrea; and then because he did not send such positive order, he has the impudence to endeavour, after his defeat, to exculpate himself from the responsibility of the deed. And what is more strange, is, to see an American statesman and writer endeavouring to palliate the act, and excuse him in this occurrence, as well as others, endeavouring, (to be sure not in direct terms), to make it out that it was unavoidable, on the part of Santa Anna.<br>
Any American, who can excuse or palliate, on such a trifling pretext, this wholesale murder of his countrymen, this open violation of the most sacred capitulation, must have really a singular personal preference for the author of the outrage.—But we are digressing; and, merely mentioning the almost miraculous escape of Judge Hunter, from the massacre, we will return to our encampment for the day.—He was in one of the columns, when they heard the volley, from one of the others, that was sending his comrades to eternity. Quick as this was heard, the prisoners in that one suspected the truth, and one man, with a desperate resolve, broke from the line and ran. Several shots were fired after him, but unavailing; he escaped.<br>
At the same instant, the large column of the soldiery were ordered to fire upon the prisoners; which they did immediately; and the line of unarmed men fell before the fire. Hunter threw himself on the ground, in time to avoid it; two of his comrades, in their death agonies, fell upon him, and covered him with their blood; he remained still; but moving a little, afterward, was discovered, stabbed, his throat cut, and his skull broken with the butts of their muskets; and being stripped of his clothing, as the others, was left for dead; but, despite his severe wounds, fate had not yet decreed his death.<br>
In the night, he came to his senses, and crawled off down to the river; which he managed to cross, and after incredible suffering, got to the house of a Mexican woman, who dressed his wounds, and sent him off, under the charge of her son, on horseback, to a place of more safety, another Mexican family, on the Guadeloupe. Here they secreted him; and by good nursing, and strict attention, he recovered.