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Goliad Massacre-Index | Independence-Index

 

Massacre at Goliad--Captain Jack Shackelford's Account
Commander Alabama Red Rovers

Dr. Jack Shackelford

About midnight, on the 14th, King's express reached Goliad, and Col. Fannin immediately despatched Col. Ward's Battalion to his relief. This was the beginning of our trouble; and the only act for which I ever blamed Fannin......an unworthy prejudice which has been created in the minds of many, that Fannin wished to forestall Houston in the command of the army, and therefore disobeyed his orders.....he committed an error in separating his forces. Had he not done this, we should have been prepared to fall back on Victoria, as ordered, with a force sufficient to contend with every Mexican we might have encountered. Fannin's great anxiety alone, for the fate of Ward and King, and their little band, delayed our march....not the result of any wish to disobey orders....

....I remonstrated warmly against....[stopping to rest], and urged the necessity of first reaching the Coleta, then about five miles distant......was overruled.....urged the necessity of getting under the protection of timber....Col. Fannin and many others could not be made to believe that the Mexicans would dare follow us.....too much contempt for their prowess...too much confidence in the ability of his own little force....

I assert most positively, that this Capitulation was entered into without which a surrender never would have been made....Col. Fannin was quite cheerful, and we talked pleasantly of the prospect of our reaching the United States....my ear caught the sound of music....The tune was "Home, Sweet Home"...... It was their last earthly evening....

.....This officer spoke the English language as fluently as I did myself....requested I go over to his tent...I saw Ward's men in line, with their knapsacks on.....stated that they were to march to Copano and...home!.......could [later] hear their screams...Col. Guerrear [Garay] appeared....were [they] murdering our men? He replied that "it was so"-but that he "had not given the order; neither had he executed it".....done all in his power to save as many as he could; and that if he could have saved more, he would have done so....

....."Boys, they are going to kill us---die with your faces to them, like men!"......two other young men, flourishing their caps over their heads, shouted at the top of their voices: "Hurra for Texas!" Can Texas cease to cherish the memory of those, whose dying words gave a pledge of their devotion to her cause?

 

[Jack Shackleford was born in Richmond, VA in 1790, educated a physician and surgeon, in 1811 he moved to Winnsboro, SC and married Maria Young.  He served on Andrew Jackson's staff in the War of 1812 and moved to ShelbyCo, AL where he was a member of the State Senate and plantation owner.  He organized a company recruited from the best families of Northern Alabama who were outfitted in a red jean and termed the Alabama Red Rovers.  He departed Bexar after release by the Mexican Army and returned to Alabama where he received a hero's welcome, having been counted among the dead and given a funeral service.  He visited Texas several times after his return to Alabama and died in Courtland, AL in 1857.  Shackelford County is named in his honor.]

Flag of the Alabama Red RoversHaving lost all my papers and memoranda, I am unable to give precise dates, or to go minutely into detail. I promise, however, to give the truth in substance.   Some time in the early part of March, 1836, Col. Fannin had under him command, at Goliad, upwards of 400 men, consisting of Ward's battalion from Georgia, and the following companies under command of Major Wallace of the Texan army, who had recently been elected Major of the 2d Battalion, composed of the following companies, viz: New Orleans Greys, Capt. Pettis; Mustangs, Capt. Duval, of Kentucky; Mobile Greys, Capt. McManeman; Huntsville Volunteers, Capt. Bradford; - Volunteers, Capt. King; and Red Rovers from Alabama, Capt. Shackelford. In addition to these, there was a regular company of Artillery, Capt. Westover; - Hurst, Screnichi, and Cornika, (Polanders,) and Moore, Capt. of Guns. The companies were all small, excepting the Red Rovers, which numbered nearly seventy. About the 12th of March, Captain King's company was sent to the Mission of Refugio for the purpose of bringing off some families that were in a state of alarm. At the Mission, King encountered a large force of the enemy. Having taken protection in the church, he despatched a message to Fannin, and with his little band of 28 men, maintained himself against a large party of the enemy.

About midnight, on the 14th, King's express reached Goliad, and Col. Fannin immediately despatched Col. Ward's Battalion to his relief. This was the beginning of our trouble; and the only act for which I ever blamed Fannin. Those families should have left the Mission before they did, and Fannin should not have divided his forces; but that he was actuated by the best feelings, none can deny. Ward reached the Mission on the evening following, and cut his way through a large force; against which, King had been gallantly contending all day. The next day the enemy withdrew some distance across a small stream, and were pursued by Ward and King, who unfortunately separated. This event led to the capture of King and his company, who were, as I have been informed by one present, marched a short distance and massacred in a cold-blooded manner; King meeting, his fate with the intrepidity of a soldier. Ward returned to the church, and after having expended the greater part of his ammunition, retreated silently, and under cover of the night, and made his way to the East in the direction of the Guadaloupe. This manoevure eluded the vigilance of the Mexicans, as they had laid in ambuscade for him in the direction of Goliad. He reached Victoria on the 21st, after great suffering and being four or five days without anything to cat. At this place he expected to find the Texan army, and was not apprised of his mistake until surrounded by a large force of Mexicans under General Urea. One of his men, who made his escape, has assured me that Urea capitulated with him, and pledged himself to afford him every guarantee according, to the usages of civilized nations; and that even then Ward was unwilling to capitulate until a majority of his officers consented to do so.

On the morning after Ward left Goliad for the Mission, to relieve King, Col. Fannin received Gen. Houston's order to evacuate Goliad and fall back on Victoria. He took immediate steps in making preparation to obey this order, by dismounting several guns and burying them, sending out one or two parties of men, accompanied by officers, to procure teams and carts, and making other arrangements for in immediate retreat. An express was likewise forthwith sent to Ward, commanding him to return with as little delay as possible, and stating to him the nature of Gen. Houston's order. This express was followed by another, and yet another, who were all taken prisoners by the enemy; and it was not until the evening of the 18th that we received any intelligence from Ward, and that not of a satisfactory character. I have mentioned this circumstance, if possible, to dissipate an unworthy prejudice which has been created in the minds of many, that Fannin wished to forestall Houston in the command of the army, and therefore disobeyed his orders. I have said, that he committed an error in separating his forces. Had he not done this, we should have been prepared to fall back on Victoria, as ordered, with a force sufficient to contend with every Mexican we might have encountered. Fannin's great anxiety alone, for the fate of Ward and King, and their little band, delayed our march. This delay, I feel assured, was not the result of any wish to disobey orders.

On the 16th of March, Colonel Albert C. Horton, of Matagorda, with twenty-seven men under his command, arrived at Goliad, bringing with them some oxen, to enable us to take off our stores and munitions. A fourth messenger was despatched to Col. Ward, urging his immediate return, while we were busied in making preparation for a retreat. On the 17th, Horton was ordered to examine the country towards San Antonio, and keep scouts in every direction. On his return, Horton reported a large, force, a few miles from the fort, moving on slowly and in good order. We immediately dug up our cannon, which had been buried, and re-mounted them, expecting an attack that night, or early the next morning. During the night, the guard was doubled, and every arrangement made by the commanding officer, to prevent surprise. On the 18th, the enemy was still roving about the neighborhood of the fort, and during the day a large reconnoitering party showed themselves on the opposite side of the river, in the vicinity of the old Mission. Horton was immediately sent over with his company, and a few others who could procure horses. I posted myself on a commanding bastion of the fort, where I had a full view of the encounter that ensued. Horton behaved in a very gallant manner, and made a furious charge upon the enemy, drove them into the timber, and after encountering a very large force of infantry, fell back and formed his company in good order, immediately in front of the Mission. In this encounter, young Fenner, of my company, shot a spy-glass from the hands of an officer. When I saw Horton in the midst of such peril, contending against such fearful odds, I obtained Col. Fannin's permission to go with my company to his relief. Such was the enthusiasm of the men, that they waded the river up to their arm-pits, although by taking a little more time, we could have availed ourselves of the benefit of a flat which was at the ford. So soon as we reached the Mission, and were about to flank the enemy, they made a precipitate retreat into the woods although they outnumbered us ten to one. This was, no doubt, in part, the result of a cannonading from the fort, which which unfortunately commenced about this time. I say unfortunately, for we had every advantage of position, and could we have met even that force on such terms, I should not have feared the result. The cannonading from the fort, was done at the instance of the officer commanding the guns.  sdct

Retreat toward Victoria and The Battle of Coleto Creek

On the morning of the 19th, we commenced the retreat very early, the Red Rovers leading the van, and Duval's company covering the road. The lower road had been well examined by Horton's videttes, who reported all clear. At the lower ford of the San Antonio, much time was consumed in consequence of the inability of the team to draw our cannon up the bank. I waded into the river myself, with several of my company, assisting the artillerists by putting our shoulders to the wheels, and forcing the guns forward. We then moved on briskly and in good order, Horton's scouts examining the country in front and rear. We had advanced about six miles, when our scouts came in with a report that the route was still clear.

As our teams had become somewhat weary, and very much in want of food, from having been kept in the fort for the last twenty-four hours, Col. Fannin determined to halt and graze them, and that we also might have time to take a little refreshment. I remonstrated warmly against this measure, and urged the necessity of first reaching the Coleta, then about five miles distant. In this matter I was overruled, and from the ardent manner in which I urged the necessity of getting under the protection of timber, I found the smiles of many, indicated a belief that at least I thought it prudent to take care of number one. Here let me state one thing, lest I may be misunderstood: Col. Fannin and many others could not be made to believe that the Mexicans would dare follow us. He had too much contempt for their prowess, and too much confidence in the ability of his own little force. That he was deficient in that caution which a prudent officer should always evince, must be admitted; but that he was a brave, gallant, and intrepid officer, none who knew him can doubt.

We halted near an hour, and then took up our march. Horton's Company was sent in advance to examine the pass on the Coleto. We had advanced about four miles, when a large force of cavalry were seen emerging from the timber, about two miles distant, and to the West of us. About one half of this force (350 men) were detached and thrown in front of our right flank, with the intention of cutting us off from a skirt of timber, about one mile and a half in front. Our artillery was ordered to open upon them and cover our rear. Several cannon were fired at them, but without effect. About this time, we discovered a large force of infantry emerging from the same skirt of woodland, at which their cavalry had first been seen. Our guns were then ordered to be limbered; and we had purposed to reach the timber in front, but the enemy approached so rapidly, that Col. Fannin determined to make an immediate disposition for battle.

The prairie, here, was nearly in the form of a circle. In front was the timber of the Coleto, about a mile distant; in the rear, was another strip of timber, about six miles distant; whilst on our right and left, equi-distant, four or five miles from us, there were, likewise, bodies of timber. The order of battle was that of a hollow square. But, unfortunately for us, in endeavoring to reach a commanding eminence in the prairie, our ammunition-cart broke down, and we were compelled to take our position in a valley, six or seven feet below the mean base, of about one fourth of a mile in area. I have said the order of battle was that of a hollow square; I should more properly say an oblong square. We had several pieces of artillery which were judiciously posted.

Flag of the Alabama Red RoversSketch: Field of Coleto (Encinal de Perdidos)

The Red Rovers and New Orleans' Greys formed the front line of the square; the Red Rovers being on the extreme right. Colonel Fannin took a commanding position, directly in rear of the right flank. Our orders were, not to fire until the enemy approached in point blank shot. The cavalry on our right dismounted, about 350 strong, and when within about a quarter of a mile of us, gave a volley with their scopets, which came whizzing over our heads. They still continued to advance, and from the proximity of the second volley of balls to our heads, I ordered my company to sit down, which example was followed by all, excepting the artillerists. The third volley from their pieces wounded the man on my left, and several others. About this time, Colonel Fannin had the cock of his rifle shot away by a ball, and another buried in the breech. He was still standing erect, a conspicuous mark, giving orders, "not to fire yet," in a calm and decided manner. The enemy had now advanced within about one hundred yards of us; they halted and manifested a determination to give us a regular battle. At this moment we opened our fire on them, rifles, muskets, and artillery. Colonel Fannin, at the same time, received a severe wound in the fleshy part of the thigh, the ball passing obliquely over the bone, carrying with it a part of his pocket-handkerchief. At this crisis, the enemy's infantry, from about ten to twelve hundred strong advanced on our left and rear.

Those on our left were the celebrated "Tampico permanent Regiment," of which Santa Anna said "They are the best troops in the world." When at a convenient distance, they gave us a volley and charged bayonet. So soon as the smoke cleared away, they were received by a piece of artillery, Duval's riflemen, and some other troops, which mowed them down with tremendous slaughter. Their career being thus promptly stopped, they contented themselves with falling down in the grass and occasionally raising up to fire; but whenever they showed their heads, they were taken down by the riflemen. The engagement now became general; and a body of cavalry, from two to three hundred strong, made a demonstration on our rear. They came up in full tilt, with gleaming lances, shouting like Indians. When about sixty yards distant, the whole of the rear division of our little command, together with a piece or two of artillery, loaded with double canister filled with musket-balls, opened a tremendous fire upon them, which brought them to a full halt and swept them down by scores. The rest immediately retreated, and chose to fight on foot the balance of the day. Our guns had now become hot---we had no water to sponge them---many of our artillerists had been wounded, and we had to rely alone on our small-arms. These were industriously handled, as all our men were kept busy during the balance of the day.

The action commenced about one o'clock, and continued, without intermission, until after sunset. Our whole force did not exceed two hundred and seventy effective men. That of the enemy, (from all the information we could get) was reckoned at seven hundred Cavalry, and twelve hundred Infantry! Our loss was seven killed, besides several mortally wounded, and sixty badly wounded. We had many others slightly wounded. Out of the number killed, four belonged to my company; and more than one half of my company were struck with balls during the battle.

The courage of all was of that character which would have done honour to veterans. I might particularize many young men whose daring was conspicuous; but from motives of delicacy, I refrain from doing so. My company was more immediately under my view than that of any officer. I feel no hesitation in saying, the cool and undaunted courage, the fearless intrepidity and chivalrous bearing of many, very many, would have done honour to Rome and Sparta in their proudest days of military glory. The enemy's loss was immense; but as we have no correct account of the number, it must be conjectural. Many hundreds must have been killed and wounded; and General Rusk has informed me, that papers fell into his hands after the battle of San Jacinto, which make the enemy's loss even more than we understood it to be.

Having stated our force it only two hundred and seventy five men, I deem it proper to give you the names of the companies engaged in the battle of the Prairie, otherwise called, "Fannin's battle." Colonel William Fannin and Major Wallace. Red Rovers Captain Shackelford, Orleans Greys Pettis, Mustangs Duval, Mobile Greys McManeman, Regulars-Artillery Westover. Captain Fraser, who likewise commanded the militia of San Patricio, had a few of his men with him; Drs. Barnard and Field were likewise both engaged in battle. The former had the cock of his gun shot away, and calmly took a musket from the hands of one of his wounded companions, and resumed his duty with perfect coolness. Captain F. L. Desauque, the bearer of General Houston's express, was also actively engaged.

Here, I mention, with much pleasure, three other young men: Chadwich, Brooks, and Brister. The last mentioned was at the taking of San Antonio, in the first conflict, and was our Adjutant; the two former were in Colonel Fannin's staff'. Chadwich was from Ilinois---Brooks from Virginia; they were both gallant and gifted young men. During the battle, Brooks received a severe wound, having a musket ball buried in the centre of his thigh. I afterwards found him at Goliad, in the quarters of some Mexican officers; and the night before the massacre, I extended the limb, and dressed his wound. When that horrid scene was passing this gallant young man was dragged out, in the presence of several Mexican officers, by two soldiers, and put to death with the bayonet. sdct

I have said that Col. Horton had been sent in front to reconnoiter the road about the Coleto; and as much censure sure has been cast upon this officer by scorn, for his subsequent conduct, I will relate what I have learned from my second lieutenant, Francis, who was with him, and from one of my company, Joseph Fenner, who was likewise with him. They are both as fearless and gallant fellows as were in the army. They state, that so soon as our firing was heard, Horton ordered all "to horse," having called a halt, and immediately retraced his steps to the edge of the prairie, where they had a view of our engagement, then going on; and from the direction in which the enemy and ourselves were placed, it had very much the appearance of our commingling together, as they saw troops immediately in our front, and others on our rear, and on our flanks;-that Horton's lieutenant, Moore, objected to going to our assistance; stating as his belief, that the enemy were within our lines, and that we must be cut to pieces; and immediately dashed off, taking the greater part of the force with him: that Horton manifested a willingness to go in; but after nearly all his men had left him, concluded the attempt, with the few men who remained, would be an act of desperation; that they immediately retreated to Victoria, where they expected to unite with a Texan force; but on reaching that place, found that the troops who had been stationed there, had retreated; and that a large force of Mexicans was but a few miles off. From the statements of these two men, I did not in the least blame Horton. He might have made the attempt to get in; but I candidly believe, even with the whole of his force, he could never have cut his way through such an immense number of Mexican cavalry.

Flag of the Alabama Red RoversSketch: Field of Coleto (Encinal de Perdidos)

During the night, the enemy occupied the strip of woodland in front of us; and we entrenched ourselves on the ground where we fought. It has been often asked, as a matter of surprise, why we did not retreat in the night. A few reasons, I think, ought to satisfy every candid man on this point. During the engagement our teams had all been killed, wounded, or had strayed off; so that we had no possible way of taking off our wounded companions. Those who could have deserted them under such circumstances, possess feelings which I shall never envy. I will mention another reason, which may have more weight with some persons, than the one already given. We had been contending for five hours, without intermission, with a force more than seven times larger than our own; had driven the enemy from the field with great slaughter; and calculated on a reinforcement in the morning from Victoria, when we expected to consummate our victory.

The morning of the 20th came; but instead of a reinforcement, as we had anticipated, the reverse was the fact. The enemy had an accession to their remaining number of about five hundred men. Their whole force was then displayed in the most impossible and pompous manner; together with about three hundred pack mules keeping, however, concealed, some pieces of artillery. These, being, masked, were placed upon an elevated piece of ground, and were poured upon us; but without any effect. They took care to keep without the range of our rifles. Our cannon had become cool and we could have returned their fire; but perhaps with no effect, and therefore reserved all for close quarters. Here let me remark, that I have read Gen. Urea's pamphlet on this subject, in which he says the firing of the artillery was only the signal for a general charge. On this point, as well as his denial of any capitulation, I never read a more villainous falsehood from the pen of any man, who aspired to the rank of General.

After they had fired a few rounds at us, they raised a white flag which was soon taken down. We then had a consultation of officers, a majority of whom believed that we could not save our wounded without a capitulation; and but one solitary man in the ranks would have surrendered at discretion. We then raised a white flag, which was responded to by the enemy. Major Wallace was then sent out together with one or two others who spoke the Mexican language. They shortly returned, and reported that the Mexican General could capitulate with the commanding officer only. Col. Fannin, although quite lame, then went out with the flag. When he was about to leave our lines, the emotions of my mind were intense, and I felt some anxiety to hear the determination of the men. I remarked to him, that I would not oppose a surrender, provided we could obtain an honourable capitulation; one, on which he could rely: that if he could not obtain such--come back---our graves are already dug---let us all be buried together. To these remarks the men responded in a firm and determined manner; and the Colonel assured us, that he never would surrender on any other terms. He returned in a short time thereafter, and communicated the substance of an agreement entered into by Gen. Urea and himself. Col. Holsinger, a German, and an engineer in the Mexican service, together with several other officers, then came into our lines to consummate the arrangement. The first words Col. Holsinger uttered after a very polite bow, were: Well, Gentlemen, in eight days, liberty and home. The terms of the Capitulation were then written in both the English and Mexican languages, and read two or three times by officers who could speak and read both languages. The instruments which embodied tile terms of Capitulation as agreed on, were then signed and interchanged in the most formal and solemn manner; and were in substance, as follows

"1st. That we should be received and treated as prisoners of war according to the usages of the most civilized nations. 2d, That private property should be respected and restored: that the side arms of the officers should be given up. 3d. That the men should be sent to Copano, and thence to the United States in eight days, or so soon thereafter as vessels could be procured to take them. 4th. That the officers should be paroled and return to the United States in like manner."

I assert most positively, that this Capitulation was entered into without which a surrender never would have been made. I know, that when Santa Anna was a prisoner he flattered many into a belief, that no Capitulation was made; and those who were disposed to distrust the solemn asseverations of' their unfortunate and much injured compatriots, in arms, and take the bare word of an unprincipled tyrant as blood-thirsty as ever foully disgraced the annals of civilization, are welcome to all the benefit of such confidence and credulity. After our arms had been given up mid the necessary arrangements made, all who were not so badly wounded as to prevent their marching, were posted off to Goliad under a strong guard. We reached there a little after sunset, and were driven into the church like so many swine. We were compelled to keep a space open in the centre for the guard to pass backward and forward, and under the penalty of having it kept open by a discharge of guns. To avoid this, we had literally to lie one upon another. Early in the morning, their soldiery commenced drawing the blankets from our wounded. I resisted an attempt of this sort near me, and had a bayonet drawn and thrust at me.

So soon as it was sufficiently light to see well, I commenced (with what little means I could to procure), dressing and attending our wounded; but I was soon summoned by some Mexican officers, who came to the church door, to attend them. From that moment I found that I had to labor in the hospital, and that scarcely an hour in the day would be allowed me to attend to my wounded companions. On the second day a after our arrival, Col. Fannin and the wounded who were left behind arrived at the Fort; the men having scarcely any water, being compelled to bring it from the river in canteens; nor had we any other food than a scanty pittance of beef without bread or salt. Col. Fannin was then under the protection of Col. Holsinger. On passing from one part of their wounded to another, I made it convenient to see Fannin, and stated to him how badly we were boarded. He immediately wrote to Gen. Urea, adverting to the terms of the Capitulation, and to our treatment. He told me a promise was given him, that every comfort in their power should be provided for us in future. Let me here ask, if there had been no Capitulation, why did not Gen. Urea advert to the fact, when Col. Fannin urged upon him the immediate observance of its requirements? The next day Col. Fannin went in company with Col. Holsinger, on their way to Copano for the purpose of chartering a vessel, then said to be there, to take himself and men to the United States. When they reached that place, however, the vessel had departed. This, I afterwards learned, was a stratagem to get possession of one of the vessels belonging to Uncle Sam's folks; thinking the old fellow too good-natured to resist any little breach of the kind. On the 23d, Major Miller and about seventy men were brought in, having been taken at Copano; and on the 25th, Col. Ward and command, taken, as I before said, near Victoria.

Our treatment did not vary much during the week, except that the men were marched into an area of the Fort, without any protection or covering; and the Church filled with a part of their wounded; ours occupying the barracks, or rather one room. On the 26th, Col. Fannin returned. That night I slept in a small room with him and some other officers. This room was in one corner of the Church, and was where we kept our medicines, instruments, bandages, & c. Col. Fannin was quite cheerful, and we talked pleasantly of the prospect of our reaching the United States. I cannot, bore, resist an inclination to mention one more incident of that evening---the last evening of many, very many gallant spirits. It had a peculiar effect upon my feelings, and never can be erased from the tablet of my memory. Many of our young men had a fondness for music, and could perform well, particularly on the flute. In passing by them to visit some wounded, on the outside of the Fort, my ear caught the sound of music, as it rolled in harmonious numbers from several flutes in concert. The tune was "Home, Sweet Home." I stopped for a few moments and gazed upon my companions with an intense and painful interest. As those "notes of mournful touch" stole upon the breeze, the big tear that rolled down many a manly cheek, which had glowed in battle and burned in the rage of conflict, told the heart's irrepressible emotion; for the image of home and friends came over the mind "like the pressure of a spirit-hand." Poor fellows! It was their last earthly evening. Little did they then dream, that the next morning, Treachery would consign them to their everlasting home! Subsequent events rendered it easier for me to forget all the scenes of a thousand days of pleasurable enjoyment, than to cease to remember this one incident of those few lonely minutes of grief.

27th March,-Palm Sunday.-Never whilst the current of life rushes through this poor heart of mine, can I forget the horrors of this fatal morning. At dawn of day we were awakened by a Mexican officer calling us up, and saying, he "wanted the men to form a line, that they might be counted." On hearing this, my impression was, that in all probability some poor fellows had made their escape during the night. After leaving the Church, I was met by Colonel Guerrear [Garay], said to be the Adjutant General of the Mexican army. This officer spoke the English language as fluently as I did myself; and to his honour be it said, he seemed a gentlemen and a man of feeling. He requested that I would go to his tent in company with Major Miller and men; and that I would take my friend and companion, Joseph Bernard, with me. We accordingly went over to his tent, about one hundred yards off, in a south-westerly direction. On passing the gate of the Fort, I saw Ward's men in line, with their knapsacks on. I inquired of them where they were going; some of them stated that they were to march to Copano, and from thence to be sent home! After reaching, Colonel Guerrear's tent (to attend to some wounded, as we expected,) we sat down and engaged in familiar conversation with a little Mexican officer who had been educated at Bardstown, Ky. In about half an hour, we heard the report of a volley of small-arms, towards the river, and to the east of the Fort. I immediately inquired the cause of the firing; and was assured by the officer that he "did not know, but expected it was the guard firing off their guns." In about fifteen or twenty minutes thereafter, another such volley was fired, directly south of us, and in front. At the same time, I could distinguish the heads of some of the men through the boughs of some peach trees, and could hear their screams. It was then, for the first time, the awful conviction seized upon our minds that Treachery and Murder had begun their work. Shortly afterwards, Col. Guerrear appeared at the mouth of the tent. I asked him if it could be possible they were murdering our men? He replied that "it was so"-but that he "had not given the order; neither had he executed it." He further said, he had done all in his power to save as many as he could; and that if he could have saved more, he would have done so.

The men were taken out in four divisions, and under different pretexts; such as, making room in the Fort for the reception of Santa Anna,-going, out to slaughter beef, and being marched off to Copano, to be sent home. In about an hour, the closing scene of this base and treacherous tragedy was acted in the Fort; and the cold-blooded murder of all the wounded, who were unable to be marched out, was its infernal catastrophe. 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! We were marched into the Fort about 11 o'clock, and ordered to the Hospital. Had to pass close by our butchered companions, who were stripped of their clothes, and their naked, mangled bodies thrown in a pile. The wounded were all hauled out in carts that evening; and some brush thrown over the different piles, with a view of burning, their bodies. A few days afterwards, I accompanied Major Miller to the spot where lay those who were dear to me whilst living; and whose memory will be embalmed in my affection, until this poor heart itself shall be cold in death;-and Oh! what a spectacle! The flesh had been burned from off the bodies; but many hands and feet were yet unscathed---I could recognize no one.---The bones were all still knit together, and the vultures were feeding upon those limbs which, one week before, actively played in battle.

I will here relate an incident which I received from the lips of one of my company who made his escape. When the division of the army to which he belonged was brought out and made ready for the work of destruction, the men were ordered to sit down with their backs to the Guard. Young Fenner (the same who had shot the spy-glass from the hands of the officer, as before mentioned, rose on his feet, and exclaimed "Boys, they are going to kill us-die with your faces to them, like men!" At the same moment, two other young men, flourishing their caps over their heads, shouted at the top of their voices: "Hurra for Texas!" Can Texas cease to cherish the memory of those, whose dying words gave a pledge of their devotion to her cause?

Many attempted to escape; but were run down by the Cavalry or shot; and, considering the nature of the place of butchery, with all the difficulties by which they were surrounded, it seems like a miracle that even a solitary one should have succeeded; and yet some did escape. From all the information I could get, from as many of these as I have conversed with, and from other sources, I herewith subjoin the names of those who escaped, and also of the companies to which they belonged:

Orleans Greys.

1. Wm. L. Hunter,

2. Wm. Brannan,

3. Jno. Reece,

4. David Jones,

5. B. H. Holland.

Huntsville Volunteers

6. Bennet Butler,

7. Milton Irish.

Mustang's.

8. Wm. Morer

9. Jno. C. Duval,

10. Wm. Mason,

11. Jno. Holliday,

12. - Sharpe,

13. Jno. Van Bibber,

14. Charles Spain.

Burke's Company

15. Herman Eremby,

16. Thos. Kemp,

17. N. J. Devany.

Horton's Company.

18. Danl. Martindale,

19. Wm. Haddon,

20. Charles Smith.

Red Rovers.

21. Isaac D. Hamilton,

22. D. Cooper,

23. L. M. Brooks,

24. Wm. Simpson.

Company not recollected.

25. N. Hosen,

26. Wm. Murphy,

27. Jno. Williams.

The physicians who were retained were Dr. Joseph J. T. Bernard, of the Red Rovers, who had been appointed by Col. Fannin, Surgeon to the Garrison; Dr. Field, who had been sent on by the Government; Dr. Hall, who was a member of Maj. Miller's command; and myself, whose professional services, as before stated, had been called into requisition by the Mexicans. We had previously detailed several men from the ranks as assistants in the Hospital; of the number, Bills, Smith, Griffin, and Skerlock, were alone left. Our situation at this tune was truly deplorable; having everything stolen from us but the clothes on our backs; without ally of the comforts of life;-compelled to labor in the Hospital day and night;-exposed to a piercing March-wind, and no blankets to cover us during the night;-having- little or no food, and that of the most revolting kind;-covered with vermin, worn down with fatigue, and a prey to the most heart-rending forebodings. But still, under every discouragement, we sustained ourselves with becoming fortitude. The officers, in their intercourse with us, evinced great politeness, which they seemed to consider the sum total of their duty. On one occasion they invited Dr. Bernard and myself to eat with them; but we gave them such a demonstration of American appetite, as to admonish them in future of the bad policy of extending to us such acts of hospitality.

I consider it not inappropriate here to mention one female, Pacheta Alevesco; the wife of Captain A. She was indeed an angel of mercy---a second Pocahontas. All that she could do to administer to our comfort, "-to pour oil into our wounds," was done. She had, likewise been to Major Miller and men, a "ministering angel." Our regular routine of service was kept up until about the 20th of April, when an express arrived from the Alamo, requesting the attendance of some physician who could amputate a limb, as many had died at that place for the want of some person possessing that skill. My friend, Dr. Bernard, was selected for that duty, and I gladly availed myself of Col. Ugartachea's consent to accompany him. Horses were provided for us, and we set off under the guard of a Sergeant and private of Cavalry. I have been often asked, why we did not then make our escape? One answer will suffice. These men were extremely kind and attentive to us; seemed to repose perfect confidence in our integrity and honour---had not been engaged in battle against us; and had done us no injury. The chance of escape, without taking their lives, was doubtful;-to do such a deed in cold blood, was what we revolted at. Arrived at San Antonio on the fourth evening after leaving Goliad. Was immediately conducted to the head-quarters of Gen. Andrada [Andrade]. Found him wearing a fine fur cap, which had been the property of some of our gallant countrymen who had fallen in the Alamo; smoking a cigar held by golden tongs; and was surrounded by some of his principal officers. From the immense crowd of men, women, and children, that followed us, it was evident we were objects of as much interest as a caravan of wild animals would be, if led through one of our principal cities. The General received us politely; read the letters which had been sent by us; conversed in French with Dr. Bernard, and promised us our passports, so soon as some few who were badly wounded, should do well. These passports were never given us. Dr. Bernard was taken to the house of Don Navarro; and I was conducted to that of Don Ramon Musques [Ramón Músquiz]. We were politely received, and kindly treated by them and their families. I say this with much pleasure, as it awards to those families a tribute justly due them. A new era in our destiny seemed now to open upon our astonished senses. We were here disencumbered of the cannibals which had been preying upon our poor carcasses for the last four or five weeks; obtained, if not decent, at least clean clothes, and met with smiling and pleasant faces in officers, men, and inhabitants generally.

Our duties were confined to the Hospital, but we had assistants, and they were not of a very arduous character found about four hundred wounded men at this place commenced practising medicine among the inhabitants; although the pay was of a very low grade. We remained here until the battle of San Jacinto. That event seemed, at first, to throw no little consternation into their ranks; but it was soon forgotten. We applied to the General for passports, but could not get them. The army made preparation to leave, and join Filisola on his retreat. No confidence seemed to be placed in the arrangement made by Santa Anna with the Cabinet of Texas. One company was left behind; and the care of the wounded was committed to us. Two days after the army departed, we put off, early in the morning; having first provided ourselves each with a good horse, guns, pistols, and ammunition. These arms were procured in a manner that would not have been deemed proper under other circumstances. We made directly for Goliad; passed the army of Andrada in the night; and kept clear of the road until the third day. We are greatly indebted to Dr. Alsbury and family for their friendly aid in this matter. The third morning, we met in the road an officer of the lancers and six men. They were within a short distance of us before we discovered them; and we were fearful of a reencounter against such odds; but rode directly up to them, and by a little address "threw sand into their eyes," and passed on. Reached Goliad next morning, and found there about fifteen Texan troops. Here we rode over the ground which had drunk the heart's blood of our mangled companions. Their bones were bleaching on the prairie;-the rage of battle had passed and all was calm in the stillness of death. Imagine our sensations. "When the tumult of battle is past, the soul in silence melts away for the dead."

That night we met a part of General Rusk's army about five miles from Goliad, and encamped with them. The next morning we met General Rusk, and requested of him, as a last sad duty, that he would have the bones of our fallen companions interred, with the honours of war. This he promised, and faithfully performed. We then went on to Velasco, where we found the Vice-President, Zavala, President Burnet, and many other distinguished men. Here, too, was that fiend incarnate, Santa Anna, then a prisoner, whose deeds had called aloud to heaven for vengeance and just retribution. He was treated with that kindness which should have been shown by him to a gallant, but unfortunate foe. Genius of Fannin! come forth and confront the lying dastard! Murdered companions of Goliad I call on your country for vengeance!

Here I obtained an honourable discharge, and hurried home to console a bereaved and disconsolate family, for the loss of a son, a brother, and others who were dear to them. My friend, Bernard, remained behind. This gallant fellow, who had nobly fought by my side, who had been my companion in every trial and difficulty, determined to stay and aid the cause he had espoused, with his last dying effort.  sdct

On reaching home, I found, so strong was the universal conviction produced by the report of my death, that I had been buried with the honours of war, together with most of my company; and my life, and deeds, and last days, had passed in review before a multitude, which assembled to hear a funeral sermon that was pronounced upon the mournful occasion. JACK SHACKELFORD.  [From Henry Foote's Texas and the Texans, 1841; Photo modified from Texan Iliad by Stephen Hardin, original from Kevin Young collection, San Antonio, TX]


Footnote by author Foote:  Captain Shackelford has been long most intimately known to me. He has enjoyed, for many years past, a standing and popularity in the State of Alabama, of which any of his contemporaries either there or elsewhere might feel justly proud. I would dwell in detail upon the many high and splendid qualities which adorn and beautify the character of Captain Shackelford both as a private and public man, were I not apprehensive of wounding that singular delicacy of mind with which I know him to be imbued, and which would render even deserved commendation, from one standing to, him in the relation which I occupy, more annoying than agreeable. I feel bound to mention one fact though. Nearly five years since, I chanced to be sojourning, for a few days; upon that romantic mountain known as the classic site of the promising College of La Grange; and one morning, I was standing upon a lofty eminence, looking down with delight upon the beautiful valley of the Tennessee, which expands here to the East and West as far as the eye can reach; when my ears were surprised with the unwonted sound of Artillery, which seemed to be proceeding rapidly along the line of the Rail-way that connects the towns of Tuscumbia and Courtland, like a "young volcano" in motion. I inquired of those who were near me into the cause of what had awakened my surprise. What was my delight to learn, that my old and dearly-loved friend Dr. Shackelford, the renowned though unfortunate Captain of the valiant Red Rovers, the companion in arms of the thrice-glorious Fannin, had just returned; and that his fellow-citizens of the river-bank were escorting him rejoicingly to his own home with military honours! I afterwards heard that on his arrival in Courtland, he found a vast multitude convened to receive him, as it were, from the dead. Among these were the Fathers, and Brothers, and Mothers and Sisters, of those noble young heroes who had been lately committed to his charge, and whose bones he had been fated to see interred in the distant wilderness. All had come out now to congratulate him on his wondrous escape. But when he gazed upon the crowd, and remembered the past, his sensibilities were overpowered, and he burst into tears, and all around him wept in unison. Never can that delicious yet doleful season of "mirth in funeral, and dirge in marriage," pass away from the recollection of those who were then present!


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