Accounts of Fannin's Death


About this time Col. Fannin, who had a room in the church for his use, came out of the church for a particular purpose, when a Mexican captain of the battalion, called Tres Villas, with six soldiers, came up to Spohn, and told him to call Col. Fannin, at the same time pointing to a certain part of the yard, where he wished him to be taken; Spohn asked him if he was going to shoot him, and he cooly replied, —'Yes.'—When Spohn approached Fannin, the Colonel asked what was that firing, and when he told him the facts he made no observation, but appeared resolute and firm, no visible impression on Colonel Fannin, who firmly walked to the place pointed out by the Mexican captain, placing his arm upon the shoulder of Spohn for support, being wounded in the right thigh, from which he was very lame.

When Colonel Fannin reached the spot required, the N.W. corner of the fort, Spohn was ordered to interpret the following sentence: "That for having come with an armed band to commit depredations and revolutionize Texas, the Mexican Government were about to chastise him." As soon as the sentence was interpreted to Fannin, he asked if he could not see the commandant. The officer said he could not, and asked why he wished it. Colonel Fannin then pulled forth a valuable gold watch, he said belonged to his wife, and he wished to present it to the commandant. The captain then said he could not see the commandant, but if he would give him the watch he would thank him-and he repeated in broken English, "tank you-me tank you." Colonel Fannin told him he might have the watch if he would have him buried after he was shot, which the captain said should be done-"con todas las formalidades necessarias"-at the same time smiling and bowing. Col. Fannin then, handed him the watch, and pulled out of his right pocket a small bead purse containing doubloons, the clasp of which was bent; he gave this to the officer, at the same time saying that it had saved his life, as the ball that wounded him had lost part of its force by striking the clasp, which it bent and carried with it into the wound; a part of a silk handkerchief which he had in his pocket, and which on drawing out drew forth with it the ball. Out of the left pocket of his overcoat, (being cold weather he had on one of India rubber) he took a piece of canvass containing a double handful of dollars, which he also gave to the officer. Spohn was then ordered to bandage his eyes, and Col. Fannin handed him his pocket handkerchief. He proceeded to fold it, but being agitated he done it clumsily, when the officer snatched it from his hand and folded it himself, and told Col. Fannin to sit down on a chair which was near, and stepping behind him bandaged his eyes, saying to Col. Fannin, in English, "good, Good"-meaning if his eyes were properly bound-to which Fannin replied, "yes, yes." The captain then came in front and ordered his men to unfix their bayonets and approach Col. Fannin he hearing them near him, told Spohn to tell them not to place their muskets so near as to scorch his face with the powder.

The officer standing behind them after seeing their muskets were brought within two feet of his body, drew forth his handkerchief as a signal, when they fired, and poor Fannin fell dead on his right side on the chair, and from thence rolled into a dry ditch, about three feet deep, close by the wall.


Col. Fannin, on account of his wound, was not marched from the fort with the other prisoners. When told he was to be shot he heard it unmoved, and giving his watch and money to the officer who was to superintend his execution, he requested that he might not be shot in the head, and that his body should be decently buried. He was shot in the head, and his body stripped, and pitched into the pile with the others. The wounded lying in the hospitals were dragged into the Fort and shot. Their bodies with that of Col. Fannin, were drawn out of the fort about a fourth of a mile and there thrown down.

Samuel T. Brown. One of its members [of those left at Goliad], Mr. Coy, told me the particulars of Ward and Fannin's death, as he said he was an eye-witness. After all the men had been shot, the time of the officers came. Colonel Ward was ordered to kneel, which he refused to do; he was told, if he would kneel his life might be spared. He replied, they had killed his men in cold blood, and that he had no desire to live; death would be welcome. He was then shot dead. Colonel Fannin made an address to the Mexican officer in command, through an interpreter; handed him his gold watch, to be sent to Colonel Fannin's wife, also a purse to the officer to have him decently buried. He sat on a chair, tied a handkercbief over his eyes and requested that be might not be shot in the head, and that the marksmen should stand far enough off for the powder not to burn him. He was shot in the head and expired.


When he was informed of the order for his execution, he received it calmly and merely asked for enough time to write a farewell letter to his wife and another to General Santa Anna, in which he declared that he was not for the independence of Texas and that had died a victim of his love for the Constitution of 1824, under the auspices of which he had come to the country and for which he went to the sacrifice gladly.

Fannin marched to the place of execution, a few paces from the room where he was lodged, with great courage and firmness, which brought on the admiration of those who led him to the sacrifice and who witnessed it. There he requested that they call Lieutenant Colonel Nicola's de la Portilla, commander of the post, so that he could give him his watch and request that it, together with the letter he had written, be sent to his wife as his last manifestation of tenderness; but the captain of Tres Villas, Don Carolino Huerta, who was to order the execution, cruelly denied him this favor, though he knew that all requests should be granted to those agonizing in their last moments. Adding to his baseness, not to call it crime, he kept for himself the watch and also the ten pesos Fannin gave him to comply with the request that they aim at his head and his heart.

[La Peña footnote: There is no doubt that this took place, although I have found it impossible to locate copies of these documents and I do not know that they reached the persons to whom they were addressed. Write to Portilla concerning them].

Some have increased this amount to seventy, and I have been assured of this by a captain belonging to the same corps as Huerta, but depositions taken from several persons reaffirm the first statement. Fannin was one of those who had trusted our supposed humanitarianism; one had often heard him say, "Oh, I have great faith in the honor and character of all Mexicans."


Col. Fannin, who was confined to his quarters by a wound he had received at the fight on the Coletto, soon after the massacre of his men, was made to prepare for immediate execution, he merely observed that he was ready then, as he had no desire to live after the cold-blooded, cowardly murder of his men. He was thereupon taken out to the square by a guard, where he was seated on a bench, and his eyes blindfolded. A moment before the order to "fire" was given, I was told (though I cannot vouch for the truth of the statement) he drew a fine gold watch from his pocket, handing it to the officer in command of the guard, requested him as a last favor to order his men to shoot him in the breast and not in the head. The officer took the watch, and immediately ordered the guard to fire at his head. Col. Fannin fell dead and his body was thrown into one of the ravines near the fort. Thus died as brave a son of Georgia as ever came from that noble old State.


I learned from the interpreter, that Col. Fannin was the last doomed captive of vengeance; that he was ordered to communicate the fact to him; and that Fannin met his fate in a calm and soldier-like manner: that be handed his watch to the officer who superintended his murder with it request that he would have him decently interred; and that he should be shot in the breast, and not in the head; with all of which the officer solemnly promised to comply; that Fannin was then placed in a chair, tied the handkerchief over his eyes with his own hands, and then opened his bosom to receive their balls. Major Miller, who knew Fannin, informed me that the next day he saw him lying in the prairie among a heap of wounded; and that he was shot in the head!

Courtesy of : Sons of Dewitt Colony Texas
See Also: "Notes from an Unfinished Study of Fannin and His Men..." by Harbert Davenport