October 25-26, 2010
Austin, TX to Corpus Christi, TX
En route from Austin to the coast, I passed through a region of great historical significance. The small towns of Gonzalez and Goliad were key locations in the Texas Revolution’s battle for independence.
Gonzalez, along the Guadalupe River, was first established as a an American land grant colony within the Mexican state of Texas. The settlers were given a canon by their Spanish rulers, in order to protect
the colony and the frontier from Indian attacks. Ten years later, when revolutionary sentiment against the Mexican General Santa Anna began to circulate among the American-born Texans, the dictatorial government felt it prudent to take that means of defense back. The people of Gonzalez raised a flag and a resistance, declaring “Come and Take It!” In October of 1835, ten revolutionaries successfully fought off hundreds of Spanish troops, and retained their canon. It now resides in the historical museum in Gonzalez, along with many other artifacts of the time, well-defended by a conscientious curator who is more than happy to dispense stories of Texas’s revolutionary period.
Later that same year, “Texians” took control of the Presidio (fort) of La Bahia, outside of Goliad, and began the siege of San
Antonio. However, in March of 1836, the revolutionary Texians received a set-back when they were defeated at The Alamo (which I did not get to in my travels), and a retreat began. En route, they set fire to the towns they passed through, including Gonzalez. Just outside of Goliad, Mexican troops
caught up with the Texians, and a group of men led by Col. James Fannin surrendered. Rather than being detained as prisoners of war, they were all executed the following day, which caused significant resentment among the revolutionaries. It inspired the remaining troops to greater strength, and on April 21, 1836, with the cry of “Remember Goliad!” they defeated Santa Anna’s Mexican army at San Jacinto.
Today, Gonzalez, Goliad, and other East Texas towns are sleepy American hamlets with old-world architecture. Yet the flags of the revolution continue to fly proudly over them, reminding passers-by of their glorious moment in history.