� 1997-2007, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved
Goliad Massacre-Index | Independence-Index

Previous page 1

Massacre at Goliad--Diverse Accounts

For Biographies, Search Handbook of Texas Online

On Nicholas W. Eastland and Capt. Horton's Troop
From Recollections of Early Texas:  Memoirs of John Holland Jenkins having foundered, his company left him, and he thought he would have to remain with the main army. An old soldier seeing his trouble, however, informed him that nothing was better medicine for a foundered horse than running.....So putting out at full speed he did accomplish both results, and was once more at his proper post in Horton's company.

It seems but justice to insert a few words by way of tribute to judge N. W. Eastland, now a resident of Bastrop County, who has given and suffered much for Texas. He is now eighty-two years old, having served under Andrew Jackson in the Seminole War. He came to Texas in 1833, and has been a devoted and active participant in all of her struggles and triumphs since then. A gentleman of fine military education, of varied experience, and rare conversational powers, he is even now, despite his extremely advanced age, agreeable and entertaining, giving in detail and from personal experience, many important incidents connected with our past history.

Two son's and a brother went out from the old man's house to battle for Texas, and were killed. His oldest son, Robert M. Eastland, a man of sterling qualities, was killed in the Dawson Massacre, but made a brave and heroic struggle for his life. Nat [Nathaniel W.] Faison, who is still living, saw him fall. He says Robert Eastland was first struck by a grapeshot, which broke his leg just above the ankle. In this condition he leaned against a mesquite tree for support and fought on, loading and shooting several times, until the Mexicans crowded on him and killed him.

By the way, judge Eastland had quite an interesting experience about the time of Fannin's massacre in 1836, which is worthy of note. He joined Fannin's body of men near Goliad, just as the officers were about to hold a council as to what measures of action to adopt. Having been an old friend and roommate of Fannin at West Point, he was invited to be present at this council of officers, by Fannin, whose tent served as council chamber. The discussion was hot and earnest. At last a vote was taken as to whether they should take immediate action-that is go on that night, evacuate Goliad, and attack the Mexican force of cavalrymen, then about six miles off, or wait until daylight for further action. The latter motion prevailed, although a number of the officers, together with Eastland, were in favor of the former plan. Alas! If they had pursued that plan, Fannin's unfortunate band might have been spared their terrible fate, for the Mexican forces would have been surprised; besides, during the night they received heavy reinforcements under General Urrea, thus increasing the fearful odds that awaited the brave band of Texans, whose names will be cherished among the many martyrs to Texas' liberty.

They waited for daylight, and after evacuating Goliad started east to attack the army. Judge Eastland belonged to the advanced guard, a company of cavalrymen under Albert C. Horton, whose name is not unknown to Texas history, and whose conduct some have criticized, though unjustly, for he acted as he was compelled by circumstances. "Truly," a small incident brings wonderful results," and Eastland's experience, then, is a case in point. His horse having foundered, his company left him, and he thought he would have to remain with the main army. An old soldier seeing his trouble, however, informed him that nothing was better medicine for a foundered horse than running, and advised him to try it, saying he might thereby not only cure the animal but also overtake his company. So putting out at full speed he did accomplish both results, and was once more at his proper post in Horton's company.

As they left Goliad, they came first to the fresh trail showing the march of a larger reinforcement of Mexicans, and very soon could see Mexican spies going to and fro. Everything indicated not only the close proximity of the enemy, but eager interest and action. The company of scouts halted at a fire they found in their march, when suddenly a loud and terrible roaring was heard. Some said it was the noise of an approaching storm from the north, but it proved to be the tread of the Mexican army bearing upon Fannin's doomed band. This was indeed a critical situation. Horton's small company of men found themselves separated from the main army of Texans by a force of three or four thousand Mexicans. They stood helpless, but unhurt, until two or three charges had been made. They could see some sign of the brave fight made by Fannin's men, as ever and anon from the din and smoke of battle a Mexican horse would come charging back without a rider, but they knew the terrible odds of the struggle, and felt that the fate of their fellow soldiers was sealed.

The Phantom Dr. Harrison
(From Remember Goliad by Clarence Wharton)

It is odd that so much confusion has arisen about the identity of a son or an alleged son of a president of the United States. But such is the case and after exhausting every source of research I am perplexed to know if there ever was such a person. My library shelves contain hundreds of volumes about the early history of Texas, and from them the detail of the lives and doings of those who were here in the revolutionary period can be well ascertained. My first glimpse of Doctor Harrison was from the diary of Fairfax Gray, who came into Texas early in the year 1836 to negotiate a loan to the revolutionary government, which was organized at Washington on the Brazos in March of that year.

In those troubled days there was no newspaper published in Texas. When Santa Anna's army approached San Felipe, the Bordens suspended their weekly paper, and it was not published again until in the following autumn when the Capitol was established for a time at Columbia. Fairfax Gray was not in the army. He was at Washington on the Brazos when the provisional government was set up, and when President Burnet and the members of his interim cabinet left for Harrisburg as Santa Anna came galloping into the heart of the colonies. Gray went along with them and each day he made a faithful note of what he saw and heard, and his diary is one of the most interesting and dependable sources of information about those stormy days.

Houston camped on the Brazos for three weeks after the interim government and Fairfax Gray fled to Harrisburg. Gray reached that place about April 1, and mingled with the folks who were hurrying to and fro along the bayou. Hundreds of people from the plantations on the Brazos and Colorado were hurrying this way headed for the Louisiana border, At one time there were 5000 people waiting to cross the Lynchburg ferry. Steamboats were plying up and down the bayou going out to Galveston and along tire coast. On April 15, Fairfax Gray was at Lynchburg, and after an exciting day wrote two pages in his loquacious diary:

"This morning rode out to meet the president . . . A great number of fugitives are still passing. One lady from the West was delivered in a canebrake on her flight. . . . At night the steamboat came down and on it all the inhabitants of Harrisburg. Doctor Harrison also came on the steamboat, the son of Gen. William H. Harrison, who was reported to have been massacred at Victoria. He was taken prisoner, but General Urrea, having been minister from Mexico to Colombia at the time General Harrison was also minister there from the United States, out of respect and regard for the father, he protected the son. He was entertained in the general's tent and was permitted to return to the United States on parole. The general on his departure gave him a fine riding horse, $100, a cloak and permission to bring off an American prisoner as a servant. He brought off Ben Mordaci of Richmond, Va., who was thereby saved from the general massacre that took place of Fannin's men. Colonel Garay conducted him away from the Mexican camp and at parting gave him a sword. He speaks highly of Urrea and of Garay---latter is governor of Durango and commands the Southern division of the invading army Siezma (Sesma) commands the center, which is now at San Felipe. The Northern division is destined for Nacogdoches, and Harrison says the report in camp was that this division had proceeded up the Colorado 300 miles without meeting a white man. It will strike across the upper country to Nacogdoches. He says Urrea was very indignant at the massacre of Fannin's troops, said it was done with out his orders or knowledge, an that he intended to resign his command and return to his government as soon as the army reached Brazoria. Speaks highly of Garay. He confirms the report of a revolution in Mexico which had caused the return of Santa Anna."

This is all that the diarist says in this entry about Dr. Harrison. But he continues:

"I also saw Captain Holland who was an officer in Fannin's artillery. He escaped the massacre by his prowess and courage. Captain Wallis was his file leader. Suspecting what was about to happen from his knowledge of the language, he proposed to Wallis that they should make an effort to escape. Wallis declined and said, 'Let us meet our fate like men." But Holland watched his opportunity, knocked down one Mexican, jostled and overturned and ran over a second and seized the scopet of a third, wrested it from him, knocked him down and in the confusion that ensued ran off. To his surprise and dismay he found there was an outer line of guards, one of whom raised his scopet to shoot him. Hollanad at once lowered his gun and shot off the fellow's skull. As he passed him he dashed the scopet on him and continued his flight without any further interruption. He suffered much in an attempt to reach the settlements. Nine of Fannin's men are known to have escaped. I this day bought a horse of George B. Wilson for $50 and am ready to start."

Thus ends the faithful Fairfax's narrative of the 15th.  The opening entry of Saturday, April 16 reads:

"The steamboat went down (the bayou) this morning with the members of the cabinet in it and Dr. Harrison on his way to the United States."

The passengers on this boat which reached Lynchburg on the night of the fifteenth and "went down" on the early morning of the sixteenth brought news that Mexican troops had reached Harrisburg. It was this information which prompted the purchase of the horse from George Wilson and true to his recitation of readiness to start in the closing entry of the fifteenth, Fairfax Gray was on his way to the Louisiana border "after breakfast" on Saturday, the sixteenth.  After reading this interesting account of Dr. Harrison I searched the records of Fannin's men I found that there was no Dr. Harrison enlisted in any of the several companies which composed the ill-fated army. The names of the doctors who were saved are well known. They were Dr Shackleford of the Red Rovers, Dr Bernard, Dr. Fields, but no Dr Harrison. Ben H. Modaci was a private in Captain Bullock's company of Georgia troops and is marked "escaped."  At that time General Harrison was one of the most prominent figures in the United States, and in that year he was the Whig candidate for President of the United States, but was defeated by Martin Van Buren. Four years later (1840) be defeated Van Buren and became the ninth president. It seemed odd that no other mention than Fairfax Gray's story of his son's venture into Texas history had ever come under my observation in my many years of research, so I looked further.

Among the Papers of President Lamar (recently published) is the original of a letter from James W. Robinson to President Burnet dated April 6, 1836. At that time, Burnet was at Harrisburg. On that day Mosley Baker, with 40 men after burning San Felipe, had crossed the Brazos and camped on the opposite bank, where they watched Santa Anna march into San Felipe on the 8th and out again on the 9th. Houston's,army was then up the river at Groce's. Robinson, who had lately been lieutenant governor of the first provisional government and acting governor after the impeachment of Henry Smith, was now a private in Mosley Baker's company. He had come to Texas from Ohio a few years before and had known General Harrison, who was for a long time governor of the territory of Indiana.   Governor Robinson's letter follows:

To His Excellency, D. G. Burnet, President of the Republic of Texas. Camp Opposite the Ruins of San Felipe, April 6, 1836. This moment information has been received here that Colonel Fannin surrendered on the express condition that they should march back to Goliad and lay down their arms and pass their parole of honor not to fight against Mexico during the present war, that they should then forthwith be sent to New Orleans by way of Copano at the expense of Mexico, which condition was not complied with. On the. contrary, company after company were ordered out and shot. So say four out of the first company who fell down among the dead and afterward ran away and there being no cavalry present, made their escape and are now with Colonel Ward and his 100 men at Fort Settlement on the Brazos. Thus the whole of the men and officers that were surrendered by Colonel Fannin are now among the dead, shamefully murdered in utter contempt and violation of an article of capitulation and the usages of civilized and Christian nations. It is my solemn opinion that you ought to make this artocious act of punic faith known at the city of Washington to our agents there and ask the recognition of our independence and the protection of the United States. If done at all, it is important that it be done soon, as the congress will probably adjourn next month.

There is a recent case in point in the war carried on between Don Pedro and Don Carlos, wherein a subject of Great Britain was shot under much less aggravated circumstances and the government of Great Britain interfered to obtain redress and all Europe acquiesced in its justice. General William Henry Harrison had a son, Doctor Harrison, recentIy inhumanly butchered at Victoria, who was not in arms or in any hostile attitude whatsoever. It would be well to inform his father of his melancholy fate and ask his interference in our behalf. "He was literally cut to pieces on a log like a mess of pork," so says an informant, just arrived from the scene of slaughter, where two or three other North American shared his fate. . . . Colonel Ward of the Georgia Battalion is now at Columbia, as I am informed, with about 100 men. James W. Robinson.

This letter of April 6, if delivered to Burnet, must have reached him at Harrisburg about the same time that "Doctor Harrison" came and they were both in Lynchburg on April 15.  Herman Ehrenberg gives quite a lively narrative of Doctor Harrison who was with Urrea when Ehrenberg was recaptured on the Navidad. He says Harrison was found by Mexican cavalry somewhere in the Guadalupe Valley and soon won the favor of Urrea; that

"he was a very peculiar person and up to this time (1842) his appearance in the prairie has been a riddle. That he was not the son of old General Harrison has been long proven but who he was and why he was wandering around alone in the wild West is yet to be solved."

He says that Doctor Harrison persuaded Urrea to issue an amnesty proclamation to the colonists and to send him ahead to present it to them. He writes at length an account of how the doctor addressed a gathering of colonists telling them of the greatness and goodness of Urrea and how the colonists heckled him and ridiculed him and made ready to ride him on an 18 foot rail, and how the Doctor talked them out of it and scampered on east.

Ehrenberg was much impressed with the shrewd Yankee, as he calls him, and concludes his narrative.

"In his narrow shouldered figure and Lord's Prayer face the gigantic and ever active face of the Yankee nation lived. This Doctor X as we may call him disappeared and no one ever heard who he was, what he was, where he went or from whence he came."

The stirring events of the San Jacinto campaign which ended in the battle of April 21 at Lynchburg, wiped out for a time many of the details that had gone before and Doctor Harrison was forgotten. The only trace of him after he went down on the steamboat on the morning of April 16 about the time Fairfax Gray left for Louisiana on the horse he bought from Wilson, is a short notice under the heading "Texas Items" published in the Louisiana Courier June 21, 1836:

"Young Zavala and Doctor Harrison, (son of General Harrison), came as passengers on the Good Hope."

At that time General Harrison was a candidate for president of the United States and was one of the best known men in all North America. Next to General Jackson he was the outstanding living military character in the States. That the presence of his son in Texas and his awful fate, or his miraculous escape, would attract so little attention seemed marvelous to me. Other men from the States who returned from Texas during these stormy days told and retold their experiences and their names and exploits found their way into print. But not so with Doctor Harrison or Ben Mordaci. After the Good Hope docked at New Orleans June 21, the doctor passed out forever as far as I can find.

What became of his servant Mordaci? May 30, 1836, W. D. Redd, who was with the army of the republic at Victoria, wrote Lamar that he was buying "head rights of individuals who are judiciously entitled to them," and that he had conditionally given Mr. Mordaci, a member of the Georgia Battalion, $300 for his land rights. He offered to let Lamar in on the speculation. Redd was evidently short of cash and suggested that if Lamar desired to go into the enterprise he could pay Mordaci $100 and he and Redd would give him a joint note for the balance. Some years later Lamar wrote one of his business associates engaged with him in the speculation in Texas lands:

"The Mordaci land has never been located. He died before he obtained a certificate."

Mordaci was living in Victoria in 1840 when the Comanches made their awful raid to the coast, and was a victim of their wrath. The Colorado Citizen, published at Matagorda, carried a news item in August, 1840, that B. H. Mordaci, late of this place, was killed on the Garcitas River by the Comanches. Redd was killed in a duel in San Antonio in the same year. Men passed out so rapidly in those perilous days that they made few records of current affairs.

But what about Doctor Harrison? No one ever claimed any land for his services and in all the subsequent annals of early Texas there is no mention of his name.  General Urrea published a diary of his Texas campaign after he returned to Mexico (1837) and a search of it reveals the following.  After his great victory at Goliad in March and the massacre of Fannin's men on Palm Sunday, he pushed on east to Victoria and Matagorda and was camped on the Colorado at Cayce's Crossing on April 9.

"On that day," he notes, "I sent young Doctor Harrison, my prisoner, the son of a general of the United States, to the colonies with the special mission of speaking to the colonists who had not taken up arms, offering them guarantees and the protection of the army. It will be seen that this measure was not fruitless."

The entry of April 22 recites:

"I marched into Brazoria at 10 a.m. Many English, American and German colonists awaited me there with their families as a result of the commission I had given Doctor Harrison on the Colorado to allay their fears. They expressed satisfaction with the treatment accorded them. . . . They offered to turn Galveston Island over to me. . . . It is homage due to justice to confess that Doctor Harrison had contributed very decisively to the good disposition that was noticeable among the colonists. He thought on his part that he owed me his life and omitted no means to express his gratitude even to the extent of risking it a second time because he thought he owed it to me."

On April 23 Urrea was about to descend on Galveston Island where there were a thousand refugees (among them Doctor Harrison) when he received "a mysterious message from General Filisola." telling of a disaster to Santa Anna on the 21st.

Fairfax Gray's diary lay unpublished for 70 years. Herman Ehrenberg's memoirs were published in a foreign language and he was later killed by Indians in Arizona. Urrea's diary was not published in English until 1929 and Doctor Harrison was a forgotten tale.   Excited by these conflicting reports as to his identity and his fate, I decided to find out more about him. So in 1929 I wrote Russell B. Harrison of Indianapolis, son of Benjamin Harrison, the twenty third president, who was a grandson of Gen. William Henry Harrison, the ninth president, to know if his great-grandfather had a son who was a doctor, and if so, was this doctor in Texas in the days of the revolution. I had a prompt reply from him that he was well informed about the Harrison family and knew its history since the days of Oliver Cromwell and the restoration nearIy 300 years before; that his greatgrandfather had no doctor son and that none of his sons was in Texas at any time. To prove his positive assertion, if proof were necessary he gave the names of the five children of the ninth president and the date of birth of each and when and where each died. There were three sons, John Cleves, who died in 1830; William Henry, a lawyer, who died in 1838, and John Scott, who was his father's father.

This accurate information from the last survivor of the illustrious family confirmed Herman Ehrenberg's suspicions and mine, and upon proof which would have proved the issue in any court, I wrote in my "History of the San Jacinto Campaign" (published in 1930), that Doctor Harrison was a myth. Later I had occasion to make a careful study of the Harrison family for a sketch of the lives of our 30 Presidents which I prepared for broadcasting. It is one of the most illustrious in American history. Benjamin Harrison, father of the ninth president, was governor of Virginia and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He was descended from Thomas Harrison, one of the generals in Cromwell's army and one of the judges who condemned Charles I to die. His father was a butcher at New Castle. When Charles II became king of England he seized upon the regicides and Thomas Harrison was one of the first to fall into his royal clutches and the first victim of his right royal wrath.

Samuel Pepys. like Fairfax Gray, wrote a diary (but it is neither so well written nor so interesting), and, like Fairfax, he made a note about the Harrison family. The entry of October 13, 1660, reads:

"I went to Charing Cross today to see Major General Thomas Harrison hanged, drawn and quartered; which was done there, he looking as cheerful as a man could do In that condition. He was presently cut down and his head and heart shown the people, at which there were great shouts of joy. It is said that he said he was sure to come shortly at the right hand of Christ to judge them that now judged him and that his wife do now expect his coming again. Thus it was my chance to see the king beheaded at Whitehall and to see the first blood shed In revenge at Charing Cross."

What Samuel Pepys saw done to Thomas Harrison on October 13, 1660, was just what Governor Robinson's informant assured him had been done to Doctor Harrison at Victoria. In March 1836, it hardly seems probable that he got the events confused. In my Harrison research I found that President John Quincy Adams had sent General Harrison as our minister to the new revolutionary Republic of Colombia. In 1826, where he served for a time and that General Urrea was at that same time Mexican minister there.

I ransacked old book stores for biographies of the early presidents and found that H. Montgomery had written and published a splendid life of President Taylor in 1847 and a fairly good one of General Harrison in 1852. The Taylor biography had run through 20 editions. My knowledge of Taylor's campaigns enabled me to judge that Biographer Montgomery was painstakingly accurate. In a carefully prepared appendix he gave an account of the death and funeral of the ninth President, giving the names of the members of the family present and those absent and the children who had died before. He lists the three sons named by Russell B. Harrison and two others:

"J. C. S. Harrison, who married Miss Pike (both dead)," and Dr. Benjamin Harrison, a son who died in 1840.

Was this the doctor son who was in Texas?  January 1, 1932

[Footnote 48 in the 1997 reprint of the Diary of William Fairfax Gray, edited by Paul Lack:  There has been considerable skepticism expressed about this story, but the circumstances described by Gray are corroborated by other evidence. Dr. Benjamin Harrison (1806-1840) was the sixth of ten children fathered by William Henry Harrison. He suffered from alcoholism and family turmoil and failed a cure designed by his father in the form of an extended western trapping expedition in 1833-34. In all likelihood he arrived on the Texas coast in March of 1836 and quickly fell into the hands of the Mexican army. Harrison returned to Ohio, where he died on June 17, 1840. Harbert Davenport, "Dr. Benjamin Harrison."  According to The Handbook of Texas, Benjamin Harrison (1806-1840) joined an expedition with Upper Missouri French fur trader Charles Larpenteur in the hope of overcoming the habit. He came to Texas about 1834 and married Mary Raney. He had a previous marriage with a Louisa Bonner. ]

Wonderful Narrative of Lieut. Harrison
By Lieutenant E. J. Harrison New Orleans, October 1847

Preface.  This unusual little pamphlet is both a bibliography rarity and an historical curiosity.  Herschel V. Jones described it in his Adventures in Americana as the only known copy.  Since that time only one more copy has appeared.  It was included in the great western collection of W.J. Holliday, and was acquired by Mr. Beinecke at the memorable sale of that collection.  That such an ephemeral piece of literature should have survived at all is remarkable; that it should be in nearly pristine condition, with its original wrappers still present, is even more noteworthy.  Written to capitalize on the popular interest in Texas and the Mexican War, the historical authenticity of the narrative is open to grave doubts.  It may stand, however, as a mirror of the popular literature and absrobing interests of its day.   A.H.  Three hundred copies printed for Frederick W. Beinecke, Christmas, 1957.


And only escaped the treacherous murder of his companions by the inhuman Mexicans, to be transferred to a punishment worse than death, namely, The Mines of Mexico; From which he succeeded in making his escape, and subsequently joining Col. Doniphan's command, on its way from California across the mountains, by which means he again reached the United States.  Full particulars are given, in the book, of his trials, sufferings, and brutal treatment in the mines, which are also accurately described; together with the prisoners; the overdseers; mode of living; rations; their chastisements; chains; punishment in the black hole, etc., etc. Cincinnati:  Published by the Author, 1848. [Only the portion the narrative describing capture and escape at Goliad is reprinted here--WLM]

It is not my purpose, in the present pages, to say any thing of myself, farther than is absolutely necessary to make my story interesting to the reader; therefore I trust I shall be pardoned for omitting all account of my earlier career, and coming at once to the last and most eventful years of my life.  The fall of the Alamo and the massacre of its one hundred and forty inmates, among whom was the lamented Colonel Travis, which took place in the latter part of February, 1836, and the subsequent battle of San Jacinto, and the murders at Goliad, form three bloody epochs in the history of Texas, which are already recorded and known throughout the world. It is of the latter that I am now going to speak---I being at that time an officer in one of the unfortunate regiments which surrendered to the blood-thirsty Mexicans.

I do not know the precise number of my companions, but I think there were in the neighborhood of four hundred. We had been completely surrounded and hard pressed at Goliad for some days, during which time we could get no tidings of any reinforcement being at hand, when one morning to our surprise we saw the bearer of a flag of truce approoaching and all was anxiety to know the cause---some anticipating one thing and some another. At length it was made known that Santa Anna (a curse upon the incarnate fiend) wished to hold a parley with our commander for the purpose of effecting a peace and saving further bloodshed. This to us, who were completely surrounded by an enemy of ten times our number, and who could scarce hope for any thing short of eventually being cut to pieces---proved, as will readily be imagined, most joyful tidings. The interview desired was readily granted, during which a proposition was made by Santa Anna himself, to the effect that, if our gallant little army would surrender ourselves prisoners to the Mexicans, we should have good treatment and be shipped back to the United States--most of my companions as well as myself being from there---at the expense of the Mexican government. This to soldiers in our condition, many of us thousands of miles from home, and, as before said, hemmed in by an enemy who, should they succeed in capturing, would put us at once to the sword---this, I say, under the circumstances, was joyful news, and seemed a liberal offer; so much so, that after a slight consultation among the superior officers, it was accepted, and the articles of capitulation signed---those on the part of the Mexicans by Santa Anna himself.

Never did I experience more joy than at the prospect of once more returning to my native land; and this I could perceive also in the faces of my companions; for we had all endured uncommon hardships during the preceding winter, many of us being almost naked, and sometimes entirely destitute of food. Where but a short time previous were seen nothing but looks of gloom and despondency, I now beheld happy faces wreathed in smiles, and eyes that sparkled with the brilliancy of by-gone days; but, alas! too soon to roll in horror, and glaze in the agonies of a terrible death, brought about by treachery and murder.

One article of the treaty was, that we should yield up our arms;----and accordingly so soon as the surrender was made, we were left entirely at the mercy of our foes. The night following our surrender passed off quietly; and contrary to the expectation of some, who at first apprehended treachery, the Mexicans treated us with great care and kindness, and every suspicion was lulled to rest. But it was only the deceitful calm which hangs around some ill-fated vessel and glasses the sea, ere the terrible winds burst upon and hurl her to destruction. The morning following our surrender we were all marched out together, for the purpose as stated, of making provision for, and embarking us on our homeward voyage. Never, during my whole campaign, had I seen so many really happy faces among my companions. Some sung, some danced, some smiled, as it were to themselves; but each appeared in his own peculiar way uncommonly exhilarated.

The course which we took led to a large open plain or prairie, some two or three miles distant from our encampment, whither we were conducted by a party of' armed Mexicans, and where we arrived in something less than an hour. Ere we reached the plain, we were somewhat startled and surprised, many of us, by seeing large bodies of armed Mexican soldiers and guerrillas moving about as if stationing themselves on the outskirts of an imagined circle. This alarmed some of our superior officers, who instantly demanded of our conductors the meaning and were answered that it was only a military parade, gotten up by order of Santa Anna, for the purpose of making a display and showing off his knowledge of military tactics owing that we would be likely to give description of it in the public prints, when we reached the United States. This was all natural enough, for Santa Anna was known to be a vain man (as events have since proved him a great diplomast and coward) and again suspicion was lulled, if not entirely discarded; ---at least we endeavored to make it appear so, for we knew we had gone too far to retrograde, were entirely at the mercy of our captors, and did not wish to think they meant to act towards us a dishonorable part: ---yet notwithstanding all this, there were many serious and some pale faces, as we slowly neared the ill-fated spot, and none appeared in the hilarious spirits with which we had 

As we marched upon the ground selected for our destruction, we again perceived, with considerable alarm, that the soldiers on the outskirts of what appeared a large circle, gradually marched in toward the centre, thereby narrowing it and making their columns more dense as they approached us. We now began to see---but alas! too late---that something terrible was about to follow; for now that there was no longer any need of caution on the part of the dastardly cutthroat Mexicans, we perceived their faces grow dark with malignant and hellish expressions of triumph, their ugly brows lower, and their black snake-like eyes look red and fiery with their thirst for blood. A few moments of awful suspense, and the bloody signal was given; and then began a scene of horror God send I may never witness again. From all sides, with a simultaneous yell of horrible ferocity, more like the supposed yell of Hell's demons than earthly habitants, they, armed to the teeth, mounted and Oil foot, rushed in upon us weak, defenceless beings, and the inhuman ferocious butchery of the innocent victims was begun.

At first, so horror stricken and taken by surprise was that I stood perfectly still, unable I believe for some minutes, to have moved, even had I seen the blow about to fall which was to launch me into eternity. Then I started, and every sense seemed more acute for its previous paralyzation. Oh, horror of' horrors! what an awful work was going on around me!! My countrymen, my companions, were falling by tens, even by hundreds, beneath the red reeking blades of their treacherous foes; while shrieks, groans, and the most horrible yells and curses resounded on every hand. At this moment of carnage, I saw a mounted Mexican rushing towards me with a drawn sabre to one hand and a pistol in the other.

Expecting death at every moment, I as it were instinctively---for I do not think I reasoned on the subject---looked around for some means of' escape, when, to my, joy, I saw a dead Mexican by my side, killed I never knew how, with a cutlass and pistol in the belt around his waist. Now, thought I, here a chance left for fight, and I will sell my life as dearly as possible. To spring to the dead soldier and seize upon his weapons was the work of an instant; and the next to look upon my own defence, for my adversary was already close upon me. As I turned, I saw him leveling his pistol, and again, as it were instinctively, I threw myself upon the earth, just as the weapon went off, the ball of which, though whizzing close to my head, left me untouched. This movement, simple as it was, saved my life; for seeing me fall, my adversary of course believed me wounded, and knowing by the uniform that, I was an officer, he doubtless thought he should find upon my person something of' value, and accordingly he dismounted, and holding his horse by the bridle, was about to proceed in his search, when, a movement quick as lightning, I raised my pistol and shot him dead. As he fell, I grasped the reins of his steed, and swinging myself into the saddle, cutlass in hand, I dashed through the ranks of the enemy, cutting and slashing at all I met, until by some means, by some preservation almost miraculous, I found myself outside of the horrible circle, on the open plain. I looked back and saw I was observed by some five or six mounted Mexicans, who wheeling their horses in the direction, darted forward to cut me down. It would have been madness in me to think of coping with such odds, and therefore without hesitation, I struck my horse upon the flanks with my sabre, and the next moment, with the speed of the wind, I was bounding over the plain, with my pursuers spurring and shouting in the rear.

The animal which Providence had given me, I now found to my great delight, was of the most valuable kind; for with great strength and bottom, he combined what to me at that time was the most important of all, namely, speed. Away, away we flew, my courser and me, like the frightened deer from the huntsmen and hounds, and for two good hours, I could hear the hallowing of my blood-thirsty pursuers. At the end of the time mentioned the sounds grew fainter and more faint, when I ventured to check my steed and turn upon my saddle to reconnoiter. To my great relief and joy, I saw the animals which bore my enemies were beginning to flag, and their riders, in despair of overtaking, me, seemed be on the point of pulling up and turning back. This a few minutes after they did do, and I was left free to choose what course and pace I pleased.

Now it was that I felt in its full force what an awful fate I had escaped; and while I thanked God for my own wonderful preservation, I could not avoid shedding fears at the thought of what had befallen my poor unfortunate companions. For a couple of hours more I rode along at a leisure pace, my mind principally occupied with the foregoing events. During this time I had paid no attention to the course of my beast, nor scarcely thought of the perils to which I was still exposed---so trifling did they appear in comparison to those I had just escaped. I was at length aroused from my reverie to consider of my present situation, by finding my horse on the point of entering a deep brush wood; and I now seriously began to think me of my future course, in order to reach the United States, and avoid strolling parties of plunderers, who I knew infested the I judged it better not to enter the wood, and accordingly I turned my horse---which to my regret I found somewhat lame from my morning's ride back upon the plain and in what I considered a north-easterly direction. Scarcely had I advanced a mile in this point of compass, which I perceived two horsemen far away to the right, who seemed from their actions reconnoitering my movements and preparing to follow me. I knew enough of guerrilla management to be certain that if' I attempted to flee, or showed any signs of fear, I should be pursued---in which case I would certainly be overtaken, as my beast was too much fatigued to escape their fresh horses. Accordingly I feigned indifference, and did not alter nor quicken my pace, which I could see by their movements, so far disarmed suspicion, that they halted and finally turned their horses in another direction.

I was just congratulating myself on my lucky escape, when, on looking again, I perceived they had altered their direction, from what cause I never learned, and were now bearing down upon me at full speed. There was no hope for me now but to outrun them; and without further delay I put my noble animal to his full wind. For some four or five miles my gallant steed bore up well, and my pursuers had gained on me but little, if any, and I was beginning again to hope in my final escape, when, alas! I felt my poor beast begin to falter. No sooner did my followers perceive this, than they set up a yell of delight; and goading on their horses, soon came up within a few feet of me, when one of them threw a lasso over my head, and I was suddenly jerked to the earth. [Lasso, or as pronounced by Mexicans Lassaretta, is a long stiff rope, with a noose at one end, which many of the Mexicans can throw over the head of a running animal, with the same certainty that an Indian throws his tomahawk]

The fall I received stunned me, and when I regained my senses, I found myself mounted on a powerful charger, and lashed to a dark-browed, swarthy Mexican, who was bearing me away I knew not whither, at a speed almost fearful. Why my life had been preserved, I was for a long time unable to conjecture; for I had expected instant death, if taken, and looked for no milder treatment. At last I determined on addressing my captor with regard to my destiny; and as I understood a smattering of Spanish, I put the question to him in that language, and received for answer, that I was destined for the mines. "Oh horror of horrors!-the mines!-the living graves!" I cried with vehemence: "Oh! give me death!-a thousand deaths were preferable to such an awful fate!" and the more I thought upon it, the more I envied the fortune of my companions at Goliad, until I actually begged of my captor to shoot me on the spot. His only answer to this, was a grim smile, which conveyed all I had ever conceived of the smile of a fiend incarnate.

As my story is destined to be somewhat brief, I shall not dwell here in detail, but proceed to lay before the reader such matter as will be likely to prove most interesting, Without describing the hardships I endured on my journey, the inhuman treatment I received from my captor, or the various means I employed to effect my escape--but all to no purpose, and which, if properly narrated, would fill a volume---I shall pass over two months of my captivity, during which period I had been sold---actually sold as a slave--and, in company with some half a dozen others, most of whom I found were Americans, been chained together in a band, and driven like beasts of burden, over burning sands, through tangles, wood and streams, with scarcely any food, with no covering to our feet, and barely a rag of clothes to conceal our nakedness, for a distance of several hundred miles, to the wild mountainous region of the far-famed Sierra Madre.

Next page 3

Goliad Massacre-Index | Independence-Index
� 1997-2007, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved