Massacre at Goliad--Abel Morgan's Account & Pension Claim
As I have received many solicitations from my friends who live at a great distance from me to give them a written account of the battle and massacre at or near Goliad, which is also called Labide; and as my mental faculties appear to be in a better condition at present than they have been since the fatal event, I feel it my duty to state what I can now remember concerning that transaction.
Some time in March 1836, perhaps about the 10th, Col. Fanning received an express from Gen. Houston, ordering him to evacuate the fort at Goliad and come on to him. But it was reported that Col. Fanning said he would take the liberty to disobey the order, and risk a battle, as he had something like 500 men at that time. A few days afterwards he received an express from St. Antonia de Bexar from Col. Travis, requesting some help from him; and I suppose about 200 of our men started and crossed the river and struck their camp in sight of us remaining there until the next evening and then returned to us again within the fort. By this time Col. Fanning had concluded to obey orders and leave the fort, when he received a petition from a man by the name of Ayes who lived at the Mission, perhaps 20 miles off, to send a guard to escort him and his family to Goliad as he wished to go with us. Captain King went with his company. Arriving there, he found about 200 Mexican soldiers. He sent back for help. Major Ward went to assist him with the Georgia battallion, and they had a considerable battle. Ward made out to retreat with his men, but the Mexicans drove King and his company into an old Church. There King and his men bravely fought until they were all killed. Major Ward retreated into the Warloop river bottom.
Two days after Fanning's capitulation with the Mexicans they took Ward and his men and put them into prison with us. This left us but about 360 men. I think it was on the 19th of March in the evening, there was a smoke discovered about two miles up the river on the North side in the timber. We had but about 40 horsemen. They were volunteers from Matagorda, sent out to see what discovery they could make. After a little while they came dashing back pursued by a considerable force of Mexican Horsemen. Our men took shelter in an old Church on the opposite side of the river from us, about six or seven hundred yeards from us. The men in the fort then turned out to their assistance to the number of 200. The Mexicans then fled, and our brave little squad (of) horsemen pursued them. When our men would turn to come back the Mexicans would pursue them until they would get within gun shot of our footmen, when they would turn and our men they pursue again.-They kept alternately chasing and being chased until dusk when the Mexicans left. Our men returned into the fort, all having escapted without injury. What damage was done to the Mexicans we never learned.
Previous to this time, for about a month, I had been kept in the hospital and had charge of three sick and one wounded man. The latter was shot by one of our guard in the night, because he would not answer him. His name was solomon Hamilton from Mississippi. The sick men were John McGowan from Alabama who had the dropsy, McCoy from Mobile, who had consumption, and Debusk from Alabama. I had a young man to help me take care of these men, but that night, after this skirmish was over, the officer of the guard came to the room that we made us of as a hospital and told me that I was requested to stand guard that night and to take the first watch on the North East bastion.
Accordingly I went and took my station. I suppose in about half an hour Col. Fanning and Capt. Westover came to me, Col. Fanning asked me what I thought about retreating and leaving the fort; I told him that my opinion was that is was too late; for I made no doubt from what we had seen that we were entirely surrounded by the enemy, and that we had something like six weeks provisions and men enough to keep the enemy from breaking in for some time, as we had then about 360 men. Col. Fanning seemed to have his mind unsettled about it. Capt. Westover agreed with me, and said if we had left some three or four days before, he thought we might have escaped; but he made no doubt that we were surrounded now. Capt. Westover was Captain of the Regulars, and I belonged at that time to his company. I had served a volunteer four years previously. Capt. Westover told me he thought that if they attacked us that night that they would be very apt to attack the place where I was, as there was a kind of a gully leading from the river to that point. I told him if they undertook it while I was there I should turn loose the cannon on them for an alarm gun. He said it might take too much time to get the match.-I told him that I did not want the match. I could turn down the apron of the cannon, stand aside and turn the lock of my musket in it and fire it off. He answered "give me you yet." They left me. When my tour was out I went to the room where I used to mess before I was put into the hospital. All hands were busy, and stated that we were to start in the morning to leave the fort.
The Battle and Capitulation at Coleto Creek
In the morning it took until about 8 or 9 o'clock to get breakfast, and to destroy our stock of provisions. When we got to the ford of the river our largest cannon got into the river and we were detained, perhaps an hour. We had to haul our cannon with oxen, and they were wild and contrary, and by the time we had gone three or four miles we had to stop and rest them. We lost some time in this way when we got about seven miles from Goliad we entered a prairie perhaps from three to five miles across and by the time that we got about one mile into the prairie the whole Western border of the prairie was lined with Mexicans, and by the time that we got half a mile further they broke in a cloud as it were ahead of us to the East. We had nine cannon of different sizes along. We halted and fired several rounds with one of the cannons and then geared in again and went on perhaps a mile further. By this time the Mexicans had surrounded us except one little gap to the South, then we were ordered to halt and prepare for a general battle. Then our few horsemen left us with the expectation of returning with a reinforcement from Victory on the Warloop river which was near by. But the Texas forces that were stationed there had left before they got there as we supposed, as they never returned to us.
There was immediately a square formed, and as they took the oxen from the cannon instead of securing them they were turned loose and got away; for they went right off to the Mexicans; I had my sick men and the cripple in a wagon. The four men and their sacks filled it. I had two yoke of oxen and was the foremost team. So when they halted and formed a square, I was left forty or fifty yards from the square to the East. On the way one of the officers told me to give him my gun and he would put it in the baggage wagon for it would be as much as I could do to attend to the sick.
There was a Mexican employed to drive the oxen, and as soon as he was ordered to halt he let the wild cattle go and ran off to the Mexicans. I was left to head the oxen or let them carry the sick men right into the enemy's ranks. About the time that I got ahead of the oxen, the one of them received a ball that stoped the wagon. Soon after another one of the oxen was crippled so bad that I knew my wagon was safe. I looked around and found there was no chance for me to get water for the sick ones and saw that I could do them no further service. I walked into the square. I knew we had some new muskets in the ammunition wagon. I selected me one of them and catched up two packs of cartridges and walked out to my wagon again where the balls were whizzing about like bees swarming.
About that time after I had fired eight or ten times of myself there came out four more men, and we formed a platoon of five, an Irishman by the name of Cash was at the head of the platoon. I was next. A Dutchman by the name of Baker next. A young fellow from Georgia next. A man by the name of Hews next. The last had a rifle. I suppose he is alive yet as he escaped the massacre. He was a Georgian. He was not a soldier but a visitor and had his horse and gig along. After a few rounds Cash received a ball in the corner of his head and as he fell he handed me his gun, saying, "take this, she wont snap," My gun had got muckey with powder, and missed fire, and he had noticed it. I took it and kept it the balance of the day. The ball cut the size of it out of his head but did not kill him. In a short time Baker who stood at my left hand, was shot down. He had his thigh broken; and before he was carried into the square he got another ball in the body. The both were carried into the square, when Hews took advantage of the wagon to rest his rifle on. There was a low tree, from 140 to 170 yards distant where the Mexicans would creep up and shoot at us. Hews killed two and wounded a third at that tree. I went and looked at them next morning.
The young Georgian and myself were left by ourselves. The Mexicans came up tolerably close and there was a fine drest fellow maneuvering as if urging his men on mightily. We both agreed to take aim at his head, as soon as he would halt. We did so; or at least I know I did, and the fellow tumbled from his horse. His men turned and retreated some distance. This daring fellow laid his musket against the wagon and run and took from the dead Mexican a purse of money about seven or eight inches long. He came up shaking it. I told him that was a fool hardy trick, for the Mexicans were mounted and if they had looked behind and discovered him they would have turned upon him and cut him to pieces. He then took his musket and went to the square. After he went to the square another rifle-man came out to the wagon and stayed with me a while. I think it was Doctor Bernard. If it was, I hope he is still alive. He is one of the four Doctors who were saved at the Massacre. I then went into the square after some more cartridges and to see if Cash was dead, but he had revived as the film of the brain was not broken, but I was much mortified to see so many fine fellows laid down there with their blankets spread over them.
At this time four of our cannon were idle, because the regulars were wounded or killed, and Capt. Westover said that the volunteers did not like to undertake to man them, and allowed that they could do as much good with their rifles. I suppose it was something like 1 o'clock when the square was formed, and we began to turn loose our 9 cannon on them. We kept that place in a continual tremor. From that time until after sun down our men appeared to be just as much composed and as busy as they had been at no other work, but it looked like a great odds to see 360 men in a little band surrounded by something like 1900, and 7 or 800 on horse-back. But many were the Mexicans I saw leave their horses that day who never were to mount them again. It was generally supposed that we killed about 200 Mexicans that day.
After sundown the Mexicans quit firing, retired to a distance of about a mile, and struck camp in the edge of the timber. We went to work ditching. Every animal we had was killed or wounded except two of the oxen that I had in the wagon. We took the dead mules and horses, and laid round and made breast works by ditching and throwing dirt on them. Even our knapsacks were piled on to help, and some trunks. We soon had one square fortified and then we had to look to our dead and wounded. We had nine men killed and fi(f)ty-one wounded, besides Col. Fanning who received a ball in the abdomen near his hip in the early part of the engagement. He did not give up for it, but kept about most of the time. Capt. Westover, Doctor Shackleford, and several other officers walked around the square and attended to their business in a brave and honorable manner. Doctor Shackleford was Captain of the Alabama volunteers. He was one of the Doctors who were saved at the Massacre. I hope he will live to forget the trouble he saw therefor he is a brave, high minded, noble hearted man.
We had 12 or 15 Mexican prisoners with us. So soon as the square was formed they got bayonets and began to dig holes in the ground and soon let themselves down under ground and so escapted being hurt. My reason for mentioning this is that I have been twice asked by men who have seen our battle ground, what we dug those round holes for. This will explain why the holes were dug. As soon as dark came on the whole prairie resounded with the sound of bugles and they kept it up all night. After night a while there was a vote taken whether we should retreat and leave our wounded or stay with them. I soon put the question to myself, if I had an arm or leg broken and my comrades were to leave me defenseless that I never could forgive them. I told them if we could not manage to take the wounded men with us that I was for staying with them. We had a large majority on that side of the question. We then prepared ourselves to guard against cavalry. Many of us had two muskets. We were down on one knee behind our little embankment with one musket in our hands and braced against our knees and the other leaning against the embankment. Our orders were if they came to charge on us that night, to let them come close enough so as to be sure to kill one out of each fire, for every man, and then to use the bayonet.
We remained in the position all night, and the Mexicans continued to blow bugles. About midnight we saw and heard some persons on the North side of the square perhaps 100 yards or more off, but they came no nearer. It was a misty night and we could not see very far. The next morning early they fired a chain shot out of a large cannon at us which made a wonderful whizing over our head. Directly they fired another and then quit, and hoisted a white flag. Col. Fanning had one hoisted, and the interpreters passed and repassed. At length a Mexican Colonel met Col. Fanning, and they made a capitulation, to which Genl. Urrea who was commander of the Mexican forces at that place agree.
I asked Col. Fanning upon what conditions he was to surrender his arms. He told me that our lives and our private property were guaranteed to us; that we were to give up to the Mexicans all of the Texas property that was in our possession, and that as soon as they got their provisions out of their vessels that were at Copino, that all of us who belonged in the States were to be sent to New Orleans; and that what few prisoners they had, that belonged to Texas they were to retain as prisoners of war until exchanged. That, I think, is about what he told me.
As soon as they were done writing we marched out, and laid our muskets in one pile, and then marched a little further and laid our pistols and durks. I laid down a pair of nece brass barrel pistols that I had belted around me, and as I drew out my butcher knife I opened my mouth and showed the officer that I had but two or three teeth and motioned to him that I could not eat without the knife. Then he motioned to me to keep it. As soon as we had given up the square to the Mexicans (our ammunition wagon was in about the centre of the square and while we had been fighting the day before there was hundreds of cartridges dropt and the dry grass was very high and it got trampled down and hid the cartridges) they drowded in with their segars in their mouths and directly the dry grass took fire and the wind sprung up and in about five minutes the whole square was in a flame. Every moment there was a volley of cartridges bursting. About this time you might have seen Mexicans and Americans at the top of their speed leaving the square, expecting the wagon to blow up. But it did not take fire. There were some few of our men still in the square. Two got badly burned by the bursting of the cartridges. Of all the mad people ever I saw the Mexicans were the most enraged, for they thought that we had done it on purpose.
After the business was arranged we were started back to Goliad. Now we had not had a drink of water or a morsel to eat from Sunday morning, and this was Monday evening. About dusk we got the chance to drink, for we had to wade the Stanton river about armpit deep, and then marched up to the Church dripping wet to sit flat down on a stone floor. One sat and leaned on your back you leaned on another's back. There we sat until next evening. We had then been without food from sunday morning until Tuesday evening. We were taken out of the Church and put into what might be called a pen or certain boundary with guards all around. This evening we were to draw rations. I got a bit of fresh beef boiled it in my tin cup, and when it was done it was a not bit bigger than a turkey egg, I had no salt, no bread, nothing but to eat the beef and drink the broth from it. That was the first I had eaten from Sunday moming. I can not say that I suffered with hunger. About that quantity was what we all got and-but once a day until after the massacre. About this time the Mexicans took Major Ward and his men and put them in prison with us. Major Miller landed about the same time at the Copino with about 80 men. The Mexican officers took Col. Fanning down to Copino to get Miller to surrender.
I do not know what arrangement was made but Miller and his men came up to Goliad and were stationed out about a quarter of a mile from us and had the privilege of working about for themselves. I think our wounded men were hauled in from the battle ground on Tuesday evening, to Goliad, and were put into the old Church, twelve of us were put in their to wait on them. We had 51 wounded men and the four that I had before in the wagon made 55 we had to wait on. On the next day the Mexicans hauled in their wounded. How many there were I cannot say, but they had two hospitals out side of the fort and they placed 57 in the Church where ours were. The wounded Americans filled one side of the Church and the Mexicans filled the other. Our men lay quietly and it was seldom that you would hear them complain; but as soon as the Mexicans came we had musick enough. To me it was tiresome; for there was no end to it day or night. The Mexican officers would not let the Mexicans who lived there sell our men any thing to eat if they saw them. What they sold was at an extravagant rate. I saw them give four bits for a tortilla, a little corn cake not larger than the top of a saucer, and not as thick as a knife blade. A hungry man would have eaten a dozen of them and then not have had enough. We had to make soup in a large copper boiler for all the wounded. I was attending to it one day and a Mexican came to the cooking place with a calf that had been taken out of a beef cow. He hung it up and skinned it, and cut off one quarter, and then motioned to me to put the other quarters into the soup, which I did. I cut the feet off and threw them down close by the kettle and some of our men came and picked up those feet and roasted them and ate them hide and all.
I think we lived at this starving rate until the next Sunday. I think our battle was on Sunday and that the Massacre was on the next Sunday. Early in the morning the word was, that all of our men but a few, were to be sent down to the Copino. Just enough were to be left to nurse the wounded and the rest were to go to the copino to build a fort. The men put on their knapsacks and were mustered out-side. I suppose that there was something like three hundred of them taken out at that time. We who were attending the wounded were ordered to take them out and lay them on the yard before the door. They said they were going to put them in another room. As I was passing though the room where they lay I saw one of them sitting up and saw the tears dropping off his cheeks. I asked him what was the matter. He said those men they have carried out are to be shot, and we all will be shot in an hour. I went out and told the rest of the nurses that we had as well cease carrying out the men, for we were all to be shot. We then quit. About that time, we heard the guns. Directly the Mexicans came to the hospital and took away ten of the nurses and left only myself and a man by the name of Wm. Shirlock. Directly an officer came and took Shirlock and me to the Calaboose, and motioned to us to hide behind the door shutters. The shutters were very wide but they were pushed so close back against the wall that when Shirlock stept in first and hid, the shutters would not quite hide me. The man who put us there went into town. After a little while the Mexicans came in and brought the rest of our men, except the wounded. They formed a line in front of the Calaboose. As an officer passed he saw me, and he stormed out and motioned to me to come to him. I say at once that there was no chance for me and I sprang up and went to him for fear that as he came after me he might see Shirlock. I was placed at the end of the row. As they were about starting off, the officer who put me behind the door shutters happened to be passing into the fort and saw me. I suppose he knew me by my hat for I had a hat made in Louisiana that was larger than common and of the natural colour of the fur, so that it was different from the hats worn by my comrades. In passing he turned around and talked a while with the other officer. Then he walked up to me and give me a push and motioned to me to go back behind the shutters again. I did so. I suppose we stayed there about one hour and a half.
We heard the guns firing in the fort where they were killing the others. We did not see any of it. After they were done killing them, they came into the Calaboose---It was a long building and there came in as many as could get in there, and sat down flat on the floor, which was made of brick. There they laid down the bloody clothes and knapsacks that they had taken from our dead men, and they put a kind of seat for me and Shurlock and took us from behind the door and put us to sit facing them. The knapsack that was in front of me had the name of Wingate on it. There was a pile of boards in the Calaboose, and one of our men by the name of Voss who understood Spanish, found out that the Mexicans were about to shoot us, and he hid himself under the boards. At this time he came out. They cursed awhile at him and then brought him and sat him by us. There was some soup brought to the soldiers in little wooden bowls. They commenced eating. But I noticed several officers who could not eat, but were shedding tears by which I was convinced that there were some human beings among these savages. Near where we sat there was a little boy eating. He was about 7 or 8 years old. He would take a sup or two and look up at us. At length he got up and stept to me and offered me his bowl of soup. I shook my head, but he would not desis until I took three spoonsful of it, and handed it to Shirlock. He took one spoonful and shook his head. We handed it back to him. The little fellow pointed at our foreheads and shook his head to try to let us know that we were not to be shot.
After they were done eating they brought an interpreter and told me and Shirlock that we were saved for the purpose of waiting on the Doctors that they had saved to doctor their wounded. Voss was given to an officer to wait on him. They then brought some bleached domestic and tore it into strips about two inches wide and about two feet long, and tied them round our left arms. They told us that if we lost them, the first soldier who saw us would kill us. Then they took us through the yard of the Calaboose to the old Church, and as we passed along I saw our poor wounded men laying dead, stripped of all their clothes. They were throwing them into a wagon to haul them out of the fort. When we got to the church we found some more of our poor comrades here still alive, saved to wait on the Mexicans.
They fixed up a barrell, that I suppose would hold about forty gallons, with ropes and a pole, Shirlock and I were sent down to the river from 200 to 500 yards to pack a barrel of Water. When we got there I suppose there were from 200 to 300 Mexicans strung along the river bank washing the clothes that they had taken from our murdered men. The edge of the river, where it was about ancle deep, was red with blood that had come out of the clothes of the dead men. We waded in about knee deep before we put the barrel down to get our water. While we were getting our water they were making signs that we ought to be killed.
From that time Shirlock and I had to pack water for all in the fort---to undo the bandages of all their wounded, wash their wounds and tie on the bandages, as the Doctors would put on the plasters, and at night he or I had to be always up to wait on them. What time we got to sleep was by turns, for we had but one blanket and had to lay on a stone floor, among wounded Mexicans and they smelled as bad as if they were dead already; for in spite of all that could be done for them, the wounds were full of large worms. They were all allowed to lie out in the prairie until their wounds were fly blown before they were hauled in.
I will name those that were saved. All that I can remember. The four Doctors were Doct. Shackleford, Doct. Bernard, Doct. Fields and Dict. Hale. There was one interpreter saved named Spawn. Hews, the rifleman and Pete Griffin. Griffin bargained with a Mexican officer to save Hews for a large sum of money. Pete could talk Spanish and the officer had to save Pete also. Besides these I have mentioned there was an Irishman named Phagin (Fagan), a black smith, two dutchmen who were carpenters (I do not know the German's names) and the young man who told me we were to be shot, whose name was Andrew boyle. He was one of Westover's men, and messed with me, before I was placed in our hospital.
Perhaps Doctor Shackleford had as hard a trial as any man there. He had a son, a young physician just grown, a nephew, and a student all shot. None of Major Miller's men were shot. But our men who fought in the prairie, and Ward's men made together about 420 men. All these were shot except 14 of 15. A few however, who were carried out and shot at made their escape. Doct. Shackleford. wrote to me after I got home that three of his men who were to be shot, got away and reached home before he did. Shirlock and myself had to pack wood as well as water. The interpreter ordered us to go and pull up pickets from the Mexican fences and sometimes, when we would get almost to the fort with a load a Mexican would meet us and make us carry it back. In one of our hunts after wood we got out to where one Division of our men were shot. I suppose from appearances that about one hundred were shot at that place. Their bones were mostly hanging together, though the flesh appeared to be entirely gone. We looked at them in silence a while, and then walked away. Six or eight days after our men were shot, Santa Anna, sent orders for the Mexicans to shoot Miller's men, and those of our men who were saved from the massacre. I believe that the Mexican soldiers were as glad of it, as if they had received a great bounty; for they were all singing and rubbing up their guns, and very full of fun and frolic. Indeed we were all amazed for we knew by their manoeuvers that their was something on hand. Shirlock and I went down to the river after water and Shirlock observed to me, "old man, they are going to make a clean turn of us in the morning." About that time I felt as if it would not make much difference with me; for we were kept at work day and night and if we could have had time to sleep, who could have slept while there were hundreds of wolves and dogs eating the remains of our fellow soldiers, in our hearing?
The next morning another courier came from Bexar with orders, countermanding the bloody directions received the day before. Then the Mexican officers told our interpreter to tell us all about it, and that we need not be uneasy. About this time Doct. Fields was missing. Whether he got away or was killed by some of the Mexicans I cannot say. The report was both ways. Three of the Doctors were now gone. The Mexicans had observed that when I had finished washing the wounds I would assist our Doctors in spreading plasters and putting them on so they said I was a doctor, and gave me fourteen of their wounded men to attend to altogether. By this arrangement I go clear of packing water, wood, the soup kettle, and all.
I had not been acting as Doctor very long before one of my patients took the cholic. I asked Pete what ailed him that he kept such a fuss. Pete thought he had the cholic. I went to the medicine chest and got a bottle of camphor and rubbed the sick man's stomach with it. In a little time he was speechless, and presently two of the Mexican Doctors came in and began talking at a mighty rate. I asked Pete what they were going on so for. He said I would soon find out if that fellow died, for they would have me shot. Pete stated further that my patients had told their Doctors that I had a bottle there and that the Doctors suspected that I had given him something to kill him. The fellow lay insensible about half an hour, and then revived. One of the guard went and brought the same Doctors, and they questioned him closely. I got Pete to attend and listen to them. The fellow told them that I had not given him any thing to take, but had rubbed his stomach with something without which he would have died. They were well pleased and said they knew all the time that I was a Doctor, but that I did not want to let them know it. The Mexican got his knapsack and took out a dollar for me. I did not care much to take it; but he told Pete that I must accept so as a compensation for saving his life, and that he knew it would get me some sugar or something to eat. But I made up my mind afterwards that if they all died with cholic, I would do no more doctoring for them, further than to dress their wounds. I was very near being shot at that time, for the old fellow did not live long not long after they came near shooting Pete Griffin. He had all the labor of washing bandages to perform, except what little help he received from Shirlock, who sometimes aided him when he was not otherwise engaged.
They worried Pete and made him so mad that he cursed the whole of the Mexican officers and soldiers for a set of blood-thirsty savages, to their faces, in the Spanish language. They took him with the avowed intention of shooting him. Pete defied them, for he felt that his condition could not be made worse. This is what Pete told us afterwards, for neither Shirlock nor myself understood three words of Spanish at that time. They put him into the Calaboose three or four days and then took him out again and set him at his old task of washing the bandages. At the time of the massacre they took all of our clothes from us.
The interpreter told us that the Mexican Physicians had said that if we could find any of our clothes we should have them. I went to searching and found one of my shirts and one blanket. I do not think that any of the rest got any thing at all. Mine were marked. Pete had not change of cloths and his employment caused him to be very offensive, as he was careless about keeping himself clean. So soon as the Mexicans heard that General Houston had taken Santa Anna they piled up the skeletons of our men, and made a fire with their fences, and burned up the bones. About this time some of Miller's men were at work near the road that leads from the Warloop to the Nueces river, to St. Patricio, and they saw a movers family of Irish, and they told Miller's men that General Houston had captured Santa Anna and the greater part of his army. They came in and brought us the good news. They went into a grog shop and got to drinking, and began to boast about this occurrence. The Mexicans I suppose were frightened, for they sent round and got all the rancheros to come in. They told our men that the rest of Santa Anna's men had overtaken Houston, and had taken Santa Anna and Houston and all his army. That they intended to bring Houston and his army here to be shot. Three large church bells were placed in the fort, and the Mexicans commenced firing guns and ringing bells with desperate enthusiasm. I heard as much racket that evening as ever I did in the same length of time in my life. When the noise began I had just bought a little parched coffee from a soldier and was sitting on a block in the church preparing my coffee with handle of my knife and a tin cup. When I had put my tin on the fire with my coffee I began to look about for my comrades. Doct. Hale, Shirlock and Pete were all gone. I went to the door and looked out but I could not see one of our men or Miller's men; I began to think they were shot.
The bells and guns kept a wonderful racket. I walked back to where my coffee cup was on the fire and commenced blowing the coals. One of the soldiers who was standing guard at the door quit his post and came to where I was. I had taken my hat off and laid it beside me, and I had a very good silk handkerchief in it. He took my handerchief out and motioned to me that I was to be shot and that he was going to take my handkerchief. I laid hold of him and took my handkerchief and put it back on my hat and motioned to him to goway. He pointed his finger to his forehead three times and went back to his post at the door. I drank my coffee and their walked the floor back and forth. While the noise of the bells and guns continued the wounded Mexicans lay as still as mice. I had no trouble with them at all. This was the only time that I ever had observed them all quiet at one time while I was with them.
After dusk Hale, Shirlock and Pete all came in. I asked them where they had been, they said they had been to see the old Major. This was a Mexican officer who could talk good English, who appeared to be tolerably friendly to us, but still did not let us know but what their tales about the recapture of Santa Anna and the taking of Houston were facts. We were not long in learning that it was all done for fear we would rise and take the fort; which could have been easily done if we had known the facts. The wounded were hurried off in carts and sent down to the Copino, and placed on board of a vessel. When we were about to leave Goliad the interpreter told us that Hale, Shirlock, Pete and myself could have our choice to go on with the wounded and their guard and remain loose, or we might be tied two and two together and walked to Matamoros with Miller's men. We four agreed to by sea. There were fourteen saved when Lewallen's and Pearson's men were killed at St. Patricio, on the Nueces river. While they were taking care of their horse, the Mexicans came on them and killed them all but fourteen. Next morning they were brought into town as prisoners, Urrea was about to have them shot and asked the Irish priest in what part of the town they should be executed. He told Urrea if he had them shot there he would never say another Mass in the town. They were then sent to Matamoros to be shot. Finally they were spared. This affair happened at San Patricio some eight or ten days before our battle at Goliad. A few days previously to this disaster, Major Grant and eighty men, except five who were to be killed by the Mexican army. Shirlock who was saved to act as a nurse was one of these. This happened in March 1836 and in January previous to this, General Houston overtook some 3 or 400 of our volunteers.
We had left Bexar about the last of December 1835 with the intention to take Matamoros. He overtook us at the Mission and spoke to the men at some length of time and told them that they had better desist at that time, and go back and fortify Goliad and stay there until he would sent them word to leave and come to him. He said we would be a check to keep the Mexicans out of the Colonies. He told them to stay together for if they went about in small bodies the Mexicans would kill them, and they would not be able to help it. But Major Grant, Captain Lewallen and Pearson would not stop. I enlisted under Captain Westover. I had belonged to Captain Lewallen's company. I suppose about half of us went back to Goliad and repaired the fort, and other volunteers kept coming to us until we had about 500 men. We made a bridge across a street, and put a cannon on top of a stone house so that we could rake round an all directions. We built what was called an infernal machine, clear across the gangway through the calaboose, by framing musket barrels into timber somewhat like candle moulds and cut grooves to prime them, so that we could fire them all at once. This was the condition we were in about the time we retreated from Goliad,. except we had lost Captain King and his company, and Major Ward and his battalion.
Mr. A BLEDSOE COMPTROLLER Request to be furnished with instructions for preparing application for pension and blank oath of Identity---you wil please send me a copy of the pension and oath and instructions necessary so that I can obtain my pension and obly yours. Abel Morgan
I wil write you a few of the particulars I entered the army of Texas in the fall of 1835 in the name of Thos. Smith and served untell the last of December or 1st of January following and I got a certificate from Robt. or Robt. C. Morris stating that Sr. Thos. Smith having served his time out is now honorable Discharged and in a short time after that in January 1836 enlisted under Capt Westover in the same name and continued with him untell the battle and massacre at the time of the massacre Dr. Jack Shackelford Dr. Bernard Dr Fields and Dr. Hale and myself and Wm T Kevlacth saved to wait on the Doctors and as nurses I waited under Dr Shackleford you will find two certificates of Dr Shackleford in the archives at austin one is sworn to and Morris Discharge and affadavit of George Vops and a certificate by........D B McCloud for the value of my horse they sent Dr Shackleford to San Antonio and made me take his share of cripples to Doctor and When they heard that St annei was taken they sent their crippled of and sent me with them took shipping at Copino and carried me and the cripples to matamoras, and kept me there untell the 1st of april 1842 the furlow and passport is in Spanish filed there and instead of puting both names as I told them they put it down Abel M. T. Smith but by the proof that was before Congress they granted me my land in the name of Abel Morgan but they only gave me a third of a League instead of a league and labor I hope that wil be corrected as a had a family in Mcudenken County Ky. a wife 2 children plantation and five negroes at the I voted for a Mexican and american as delegates to form the constitution of the Republic previous to the battle and masacre and there is filed them certificates filed there from No Carlina States I was in office as a justice of the peace when I left home me and Kenlock had wood to pack and water to in a barrel and to one at a time to sit up and wait on the cripples all the time I could not belived for all Texas again as I did I wrote a small pamphlet and directed one to your honor but I dont know whether you got it or no my donation plot of land the patents reads that it shall not be liable to Execution or Sale during the lifetime of the said Abel Morgan for participating in the battle with Col Fannin on the 19 March 1836----I am now in my 79 hear of age and a little help would be very acceptable to me Yours truly Abel Morgan