FANNIN'S MASSACRE. - ACCOUNT OF THE GEORGIA BATTALION.
FANNIN'S MASSACRE. - ACCOUNT OF THE GEORGIA BATTALION.
(The following letter from Capt. Kennymore, who was among the few survivors of the Massacre of the Georgia Battalion at Goliad, in 1836, gives assurance that the accompanying account of that massacre is correct, and we have additional authority for giving the subjoined list of the killed, and survivors, as entirely correct.)
City of Galveston, Texas, Feb. 5th, 1859.
Editors of Texas Almanac: Gentlemen: Accompanying this note you will please find a roll of Col. Fannin's command, which I look upon as correct. It has been in my possession years, and deeming it an act of justice to the lamented dead, hope you will publish it in your next issue. Also in giving a description of the battle of the Mission del Refugio, Lieut. Col. Wm. Ward, (of Georgia,) commanding, I inclose a letter of Mr. Samuel T. Brown, a nephew of Col. Ward, giving a narrative of the battle, etc.
It appears to me that the world at large, and the people of Texas in particular, should know something that would throw light upon the movements of Col. Fannin. Mr. Brown's description of the battle of the Mission del Refugio is correct, also in regard to the order for Col. Fannin to abandon Goliad, of which so much has been said.
I fully corroborate the statements of Mr. Samuel T. Brown as to the time the order reached Col. Fannin at Goliad. It was on the night of the twelfth March, 1836, the Georgia Battalion was ordered to go to the relief of Capt. King, who had been sent out for the purpose of protecting the women and children at the Mission. A good number of us were on camp-guard the night of the twelfth, and our officer of guard was Capt. Jack Shackelford, who had us relieved by details from other companies, and told us to hurry off and be back soon as Gen. Samuel Houston had ordered Col. Fannin to abandon and blow up the Fort at Goliad, and join him at Victoria.
These are all the facts pertaining to that transaction that I know of. I refer you to the only survivors that I now know to be living. Gen. Samuel G. Hardaway, (of Bullock's Cove,) now living in Montgomery City, Ala.; Thomas I. Smith, Richmond, Texas; A. J. Hitchcock, of Shreveport, Louisania [sic]; and L. P. Tresvant, of Carroll Parish, La.; these are the survivors.
Such as it is, is at your service, and I can bear testimony as to the skill and ability of Col. Fannin and Ward as military men, and at all times subordinate to their superiors. Misfortune befell them; bloody scenes followed: and I hope their memory will be spared and held sacred by the patriotic people of Texas.
Respectfully, J. C. P. Kennymore,
The following letter was addressed by Mr. S. T. Brown, to his uncle, Thomas Ward, Esq., brother of the late Col. Ward of the Texas Army, and appeared first in the Voice of Sumpter, (an Alabama newspaper,) of November twenty-eighth, 1839. It was written at the suggestion of a friend, who gives the following summary of the various companies, showing what disposition was made of each:
Speaking of Mr. Brown, the writer says:
"Having formed his acquaintance soon after his return from Mexico, I suggested to him the propriety of publishing a narrative of his adventures, in the form of a letter to Thomas Ward, Esq., brother of the late Col. Ward of the Texan Army. Viewing it as a piece of history to be relied on, I desire you to give it circulation in your columns. Mr. Brown was a young gentlemen of intelligence and veracity. He is now dead. I always attributed the kindness with which he was treated by the Mexican General, to his rare personal beauty -- his dark, piercing eyes, his bronze complexion and graceful figure giving him the appearance of a Spanish cavalier. He was a native of Georgia, and a nephew of Col. Ward."
Mr. Brown's letter is as follows:
Livingston, Ala., Nov. 1, 1837.
Dear Sir: Having been among the first who voluntered from Georgia in the service of Texas, under the command of your brother, the late Col. William Ward, whose name is destined to occupy a place in history, I have thought that a communication of my adventures in a form you might preserve, would not be unacceptable or improper. All I have in view is to give the facts which came within my own observation and knowledge; and if they can be deemed of interest as occurring to one of my years, (twenty at the present time,) I shall feel perfectly satisfied in having related them.
About the twentieth November, 1835, I left Macon in the stage for Columbus, where I joined Capt. Ward's company, which had rendevoused at that place, from whence we marched to Montgomery, Alabama, and took passage for Mobile on the steamer Ben Franklin. Remaining in Mobile five or six days, near which a public dinner was given us, we embarked on the steamer Convoy for New-Orleans, where we halted about a week, and received some addition to our number, making the company about a hundred and fifty strong. Here Capt. Ward laid in supplies for his men, and chartered the schooner Pennsylvania to take them to Velasco, where we arrived on the twentieth of December, 1835, and found Capt. Wadsworth's company, fifty strong; and the two companies were organized into a battalion, of which Capt. Ward was elected major, called the Georgia Battalion. Capt. Ward's original company was divided into two equal parts, as near as practicable, the command of one of which was given to Capt. Uriah J. Bullock, of Macon, and that of the other to Capt. James C. Wynne, of Gwinette county. Major Ward lost no time in reporting in person his battalion to Gov. Smith at San Felipe de Austin. Our troops encamped about two miles from Velasco, on the Brazos river, where they subsisted on the two months' provision laid in at New-Orleans. After a week's absence to the seat of government, Major Ward returned with commissions for the several officers. We remained in the camp near Velasco, until first February, 1836, when the battalion was ordered by the then acting Governor Robinson, to repair to Goliad on the San Antonio River, and it was forthwith transported by the schooner Columbus, U. S. vessel, to Copano, on Aransas Bay, after five days' passage. There we were furnished with supplies by the government and four pieces of artillery, two six and two four-pounders. From Copano to Goliad the distance is forty-five miles, and about half-way the battalion halted at the Mission, where we were joined by Capt. Ticknor's company of Montgomery, Alabama, making our ranks about two hundred and fifty strong. From there we marched to Goliad, took possession, and repaired the Fort, and were joined by the La Fayette Battalion, made up from North-Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Previous to this, the lamented Col. Fannin had not taken any part in service, but was actively engaged in collecting and diffusing information highly useful to the cause of Texas. At Goliad the two battalions were formed into a regiment, between five and six hundred strong, of which Fannin was elected Colonel and Ward Lieutenant-Colonel; Dr. Mitchell, of Columbus, commanded the Battalion, in the place of Major Ward, promoted.
For some purpose, Capt. King, of the La Fayette Battalion had been dispatched by Col. Fannin to occupy the Mission, about twenty-two miles off, who found himself annoyed in his new position by a party of Mexican cavalry, and sent an express to Goliad for a reinforcement. Lieut.-Col. Ward, with one hundred and twenty men, of which I was one of the number, was directed by Col. Fannin to support Captain King at the Mission. This was on the twelfth March, and the next day Lieut.-Col. Ward's command reached the Mission, at which a large Catholic church built of stone, made a very good fort, in which we took protection. The Mexican cavalry that reconnoitered the Mission and tried to attack it, was estimated at two hundred, and on the night of the nineteenth, a party of fourteen men under Capt. Micknor [Ticknor], surprised their camp, a mile from the Mission, killing eight of them and putting the rest to flight. Among the slain was recognized a Mexican Lieutenant who had been with Col. Fannin at Goliad, pretending to have joined the Texans with eighteen men. On the morning of the sixteenth, Lieut.-Col. Ward and Capt. King differed as to who should command at the Mission, the latter claiming it by being there first. A large majority of the troops declared they would serve under Lieut.-Col. Ward only, which induced Capt. King with his original company of twenty-eight men to withdraw, and was followed by eighteen of Lieut.-Col. Ward's command, who had been detailed from Capt. Bradford's company at Goliad, leaving Col. Ward one hundred and seven men. About ten o'clock in the morning, a party of fifteen with myself, was sent to a river about two hundred yards off, with oxen and cart, to bring two barrels of water into the fort. We had just filled the vessels and were leaving the river when we were fired upon from an open prairie on the other side, by General Urrea's army of eleven hundred men, about half a mile distant. We made all possible speed for the fort, holding on to the water, except about half a barrel, which was let out by one of the bullets piercing the head. The enemy kept firing as they crossed the river, and marched within fifty paces of the church, when Col. Ward ordered his men to fire, which drove the Mexicans back and left the ground pretty well spotted with their dead and wounded. They made four regular charges, both cavalry and infantry, about half of each, and were as often repulsed with great slaughter.
At four o'clock in the afternoon they retreated, leaving between four and five hundred of their dead upon the field. Col. Ward had only three of his men wounded, one of them an Irishman who resided at the Mission. When the attack was made in the morning, Col. W. sent an express (James Humphrey, of Columbus, Ga.) to Col. Fannin at Goliad; and orders were received at ten o'clock at night, to abandon the church, take a north-east course for Victoria, on the Guadalupe, twenty-five miles beyond Goliad, where Col. Fannin would join him. About twelve o'clock at night we left the fort silently, formed five deep, marched without a guide in the open prairie, and were only eight miles from the Mission at day-light. For two days we had nothing to eat, and on the third we killed some cattle near the San Antonio, which revived us a good deal. On the twenty-first of March we reached Victoria, and had advanced within one hundred yards of the town, expecting to find Col. Fannin and his men there, when to our utter dismay it was in possession of the enemy, who fired upon and caused us to retreat to the swamp. Col. Fannin had set out to meet us in due time, but his whole command was taken prisoners by a large force within six miles of Goliad, and carried back to the fort. We had expended all our ammunition at the battle of the Mission, and very few of our men had a single cartridge! In this dilemma we marched a night for Dimmit's Point on the La Bacca river, near Matagorda bay, where supplies were landed for the Texan troops.
Next day, twenty-second March, we halted to rest and conceal ourselves within two miles of our destination, sent two men to the Point to see who was in possession and await their return. The remnant of the Mexican army that attacked the Mission, and was hovering over this quarter under Gen Urrea, took the two men prisoners and surrounded us. The two men came within speaking distance of us, stated our situation and the power of the enemy, and desired Colonel Ward to see Gen. Urrea upon the terms of surrender: upon which Col. Ward, Major Mitchell, and Capt Ticknor, had an interview with Gen. Urrea and returned, making known to us the offer of the enemy, if we surrendered prisoners of war, that we should be marched to Copano without delay, and from thence to New-Orleans, or detained as prisoners of war and be exchanged. Col. Ward addressed his men and said he was opposed to surrendering, that it was the same enemy we had beaten at the Mission, only much reduced in numbers, and that he thought our chance of escape equally practicable as it was then. He proposed that the attack on us might be evaded until night, when he might possibly pass the enemy's lines and get out of danger. At all events, he thought it best to resist every inch, as many of us as could save ourselves, and if we surrendered, he had doubts of the faith and humanity of the Mexicans; that he feared we should all be butchered. The vote of the company was taken, and a large majority were in favor of surrendering upon the terms proposed; Col. Ward informed them that their wishes should govern, but if they were destroyed, no blame could rest on him.
The same officers as before, to wit: Col. Ward, Major Mitchell, and Captain Ticknor, again saw Gen. Urrea, and I understood a paper was signed by the Mexican General, to dispose of us as above stated, on condition that we should never serve Texas any more; one copy in Spanish and another in English. Then came the hour for us to see all our hopes entirely blasted. We marched out in order and grounded arms, cartouch-boxes, and weapons of every kind. Our guns were fired off, the flints taken out, and returned to us to carry. When we left the Mission, on the night of the 14th of March, we had about a hundred men; at the time of the surrender we had only eighty-five, the others having left us on the route from the Mission to Victoria -- a most fortunate thing for them. We were put under a strong guard, and the next morning, 23d March, proceeded to Victoria, where we were engaged the next day in bringing the baggage of the Mexican army across the Guadalupe, about four hundred yards from the town, and hauling it up. On the morning of the 22d, we were marched toward Goliad, where we arrived next day late in the evening. There we found Col. Fannin and his regiment prisoners in the fort. All the Texian troops then in the fort as prisoners, belonging to Fannin's command, after we were brought in, amounted to four hundred and eighty men. Early on the morning of the 27th, we were all marched into line and counted, and divided into four equal parts of one hundred and twenty each. The nearest to the door of the fort marched out first, and were received by a strong guard and placed in double file, going we knew not whither nor for what purpose. I was in this division, in the right-hand file, and about half a mile from the fort we were ordered to halt; the guard on the right then passed to the left, and instantly fired upon the prisoners, nearly all of whom fell, and the few survivors tried to escape by flight in the prairie and concealing in the weeds. The firing continued, and about the same time I heard other firing towards the fort and the cries of distress.
At the time our division of prisoners was shot, Drury H. Minor, of Houston county, Ga., immediately on my left, was killed; and just before me, next in file, Thomas S. Freeman, of Macon, was killed. As I ran off, several poor fellows, who had been wounded, tried to hide in the clump of weeds and grass, but were pursued, and I presume killed. Soon after I made my escape, I was joined by John Duval and _______ Holliday, of the Kentucky volunteers, both of whom were with me at the massacre, but not until I had swam across the San Antonio, about half a mile from the butchery.
For five days we had nothing to eat except wild onions, which abound in the country; when reaching the Guadalupe found a nest of young pigs, and these lasted us several days. In the course of a few days, wandering at random in the open country, often wide off of our supposed direction, we saw fresh signs of cavalry, and withdrew to the swamp, but had been perceived going there, and were taken by two Mexicans armed with guns and swords; that is, Duval and myself were captured; Holliday lay close and was not discovered. One of the men seized me and held on; Duval was placed between them to follow on. He sprang off, and one man threw down his gun and ran after him in vain. Duval made his escape, and I have not seen him since. I was taken to their camp close by, when they saddled their horses in a hurry and rode off without me. From their actions I judged they were of opinion a party of Texians was near, and so made off. I then went to the swamp where I was taken, and found Holliday in his old position. Next day we came to a deserted house on the La Bacca River, apparently that of an American settler, where we found plenty of provisions, such as meat, corn, lard, chickens, and eggs, upon which we feasted there two days, camping at night a little way off. Taking with us a good stock of provisions, we traveled quite refreshed, and in four days reached the Colorado. From almost constant rain and exposure, I had lost the use of my right arm and shoulder, and could not swim the river. Holliday swam across with the provisions, and promised to return and help me; but he was so weak and exhausted from the cold and rapid current, that he was not able to do so. Thus we parted, and I never saw him afterwards.
I went up the river, and next day found a canoe in which I crossed, and then wandered till I got sight of the Brazos, on the 20th April, where I was taken by a party of twenty Mexican cavalry, who carried me to the main army at Ford Bend, under Gen. Sesma, and put me under guard with other prisoners they had picked up. I recollect the names of but three of them, and they had resided several years in Texas: Johnson, from New-York, Leach, an Englishman, and Simpson. Fort Bend was about thirty miles from San Jacinto, where the battle was fought the next day, 21st April. The night after the battle a Mexican officer, who escaped from San Jacinto, brought the news into camp, and the army instantly retreated. When I was brought to the camp, I pulled off my boots to dry and relieve my swollen feet; my boots were stolen, and I had to march barefoot through the mud and water, nearly knee-deep all over the prairies, the rain falling in torrents pretty much all the time. The army returned to Victoria, where I saw four of the Macon company, who had been detained there after the surrender, on account of their being mechanics: William Wilkinson, John C. P. Kinnymore, _______ Barnwell, and Callahan.
I was then taken to Goliad, where I remained five days, and saw the places where the four divisions of prisoners had been butchered; some of the carcases remained, many burnt, and others mangled; all so disfigured that I could recognize no particular person. A company of eighty-two men, from Tennessee, under Capt. Miller, of Texas, who had been taken prisoners the moment they landed at Copano, and whom we left in the fort at Goliad at the massacre, still remained there on my return. One of its members, 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. Col. 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. Col. Fannin made an address to the Mexican officer in command, through an interpreter; handed him his gold watch, to be sent to Col. Fannin's wife, also a purse to the officer to have him decently buried. He sat on a chair, tied a handkerchief 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.
Leaving Goliad in the month of May, with a dozen other Texian prisoners, under a guard of cavalry attached to the main army, then about three thousand strong, we marched to San Patricio on the Nueces river, where Cols. Teale and Carnes, of the Texian service, came under a flag of truce, and obtained passports from General Felisola to go to Matamoras, where Col. Teale informed me I should be discharged. I was kept with the main army, until Gen. Felisola received orders from Mexico to hasten there. He took with him a body-guard through the Indian country, about fifty cavalry, who had charge of me ever since leaving Goliad, and they still held on to me. General Felisola left his guard at Saltillo, and took the stage to the City of Mexico, where the cavalry arrived with me, their only prisoner, in August, 1836. I was then confined in the "Quartede," or barracks, until the first of February, 1837, and about that time Gen. Felisola expected to leave the city to take command of the army at Matamoras. His interpreter, an Italian named Quarri, often visited the barracks, and treated me with great humanity. He said he would get my release, and took me to Gen. Felisola's house to accompany him to Matamoras. From some delay he did not start until the 28th of March, during which time I was a member of the family and treated with perfect kindness, under orders, however, (for my own safety, it was said,) not to leave the guard alone.
I may be allowed to say a few words about the City of Mexico and the manner of my detention. I was put in the barracks among a number of Mexican prisoners, who were confined for various offenses; and from the time I entered, in August, 1836, until I went to Gen. Felisola's house, in February, I had no other food than boiled beef.
The water in the barracks was fresh and pure, brought there by an aqueduct which supplies the whole city twelve miles from the mountains. The city itself is quite pleasant, clean, and the buildings durable, if not elegant. What I viewed as a great blemish to the houses, (which were nearly all of stone and rock,) were the images of saints and idols carved in endless variety.
On the 25th March last I left the City of Mexico in company with Gen. F., his staff, and a small guard, and arrived at Matamoras the first of June, a distance of nine hundred miles from one place to the other. Gen. F., it was said, declined the invasion of Texas with his army, on hearing of the death of Gen. Montezuma at San Luis, and sent a large portion of it to quell the insurgents. On the 17th June, Gen. F. gave me a passport, and on the 1st of July I embarked for New-Orleans on the schooner Comanche, Capt. Briddle, where I arrived in due time.
This unpretending narrative is at your service, and you have my permission to make what use of it you think proper.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant, S. T. Brown.
Thomas Ward, Esq., Sumter Co., Ala.