Texans Capture Goliad


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Texans March on Goliad

[Happened After: Battle of Gonzales]

The developing Texas Army at Gonzales determined to march for Bexar on the 12th of October, 1835, with a force of five hundred men, together with the notable six-pounder, from the battle of Gonzales. On that day they crossed the Guadalupe, and encamped on its western bank. Previous to Austin's arrival, the force at Gonzales had been reduced by sending off a detachment of one hundred and ten men, under the command of Captains Benjamin Fort Smith and Allen, to the protection of Victoria. Before the departure of the army from Gonzales, a popular meeting was held at that place, requesting a postponement of the assembling of the general consultation until the first of November following. This arrangement was proposed for the reason that many of the members elect were in the army, and the others were requested to join in the attack upon Bexar. Stephen F. Austin also sent an express to Sam Houston, to summon the Redlanders to unite with him. The latter complied with this request, and dispatched a messenger for the purpose to eastern Texas.

It was likewise determined, on the part of the patriot forces, to capture Goliad as well as Bexar, and drive the Mexicans out of Texas. About forty of the planters from the banks of Caney and Matagorda, under the command of Captain George Collingsworth, set out on the march for the former place. His advance reached the ford of the San Antonio, below the town, just before midnight on the 9th of October. Two or three men were sent into the town to reconnoiter, while the others waited for the arrival of the main body of the command. The latter, having got lost, were detained; but on their route they fell in with the gallant Milam, who, having escaped from prison in Monterey, had rode night and day to reach Texas. He had stopped in a mesquite thicket to rest, when the Texans discovered and recognized him. A nobler volunteer could not have joined their ranks. Their number now being forty-eight, they advanced upon the town, guided by pioneers acquainted with the localities. They first attacked the quarters of Lieutenant-Colonel Sandoval, the commandant. The sentinel having fired, was shot down; the door of the commandant was then broken open with axes, and he was taken prisoner. The Mexicans were completely surprised, and surrendered unconditionally. Of the enemy there was one killed and three wounded; the Texans had one slightly wounded, and they took about twenty-five prisoners--the balance escaped.

The most important results of this capture were the acquisition of military stores to the value of ten thousand dollars, some pieces of artillery, and three hundred stand of arms, all of which were greatly needed; also the interruption of the communication between the Mexicans at Bexar and the gulf, which the latter were never afterward able to restore. Santa Anna, in subsequently attempting it at Anahuac, lost his army and his liberty. The commands of Captains Smith and Allen reached Victoria only after the enemy had retreated. They then marched to join the force under Collingsworth, hoping to overtake it before the assault upon Goliad, but they were too late ; the place had been taken the night before, as previously related.

A portion of the members to the consultation had assembled at Washington, and others at San Felipe. The former, after advising together, repaired to the latter place. They found everything in the right spirit, and the people all united. " It required," said the committee of San Felipe, in their circular of the 13th of October, " more patriotism to keep men at home than to get them into the service." The consultation met on the 16th. R. R. Royal was called to the chair, and Samuel Whiting chosen secretary. Thirty-two members were present, which not being a quorum, they adjourned till the next day. A communication from General Austin, inviting the members to repair to the army, and assist in taking Bexar, was read. . On the 17th, a quorum not being present, they adjourned until the 1st of November, in the meantime granting leave for such as desired it to go and join the army, and others to remain and assist the council in keeping up the revolutionary correspondence.

A large number of the members accepted the invitation of General Austin, and repaired to the army. Austin reached the Cibolo on the evening of the 16th, when he halted to await reinforcements from eastern Texas. At San Augustine, Bevils, and Nacogdoches, the committees were active in sending forward men, arms, and provisions. The intelligence of the capture of Goliad kindled a flame of enthusiasm throughout the country.

The jurisdiction of Liberty, which had held out the longest on the side of peace, at length came over to the party of the revolution. They announced their position in an address (from the spirited pen of David G. Burnett), and sent forth their assistance to the army. To sustain the finances of the country, a committee, consisting of J. L. Hood, Jacob Garrett, and Peter J. Menard, was appointed by the council to receive and receipt for public moneys at Nacogdoches and San Augustine; and R. R. Royal and J. H. G. Borden were appointed a like committee for the other jurisdictions. The several vigilance committees collected more by subscriptions and donations. All who could contributed. The call for assistance was made, not only on the Texans, but on the friends of the cause in the United States, to aid in men, provisions, arms, and ammunition. The people of Natchitoches responded nobly at a public meeting on the 7th of October. At New Orleans, still more energetic measures were pursued. The Grays, two fine companies were fitted out in that city; one left by way of Natchitoches on the 17th, and the other by the gulf route on the 19th of October. These companies will be noticed hereafter.

On the 20th of October, Austin moved forward to the Salado, a small creek, five miles east of San Antonio, where he was joined by the members of the consultation: The army remained at this point some days, having an occasional skirmish with detachments of the enemy, in which the latter were invariably worsted. Houston, though he had been selected by some of the eastern committees to the command of their forces, did not assume any leadership over them. In a conversation between him and Austin, while at the Salado, the latter frankly stated that his attention had not been directed to military subjects, and that he was satisfied he could render more service to the country in other situations than at the head of the army, and urged Houston to take the command. The latter declined it, and for the reason that Austin had been elected by the troops, at their first assembly at Gonzales, and those who had subsequently joined had done so with the belief that he was to command them; and if, from any cause, Austin were to resign the command, it would furnish a ground for discontent. Austin replied that, as the committees of Nacogdoches and San Augustine had nominated Houston to the command of the forces east of the Trinity, there could be no reasonable objection to his assuming the supreme charge as commander-in-chief. Houston assured him, however, that he could not, under the circumstances, in any way interfere with the command, unless it should be to carry out the orders of General Austin. Here the matter dropped.

Austin had been waiting for reinforcements. Impatient of further delay, and receiving some additional forces, he prepared to move. Before leaving the Salado, however, it became necessary that the members of the consultation should decide as to their return to San Felipe. The force under Austin did not much exceed six hundred men. General Cos had been diligently engaged in fortifying San Antonio, and in providing munitions for a siege. He had received large reinforcements; and it was concluded by the Texans that the place could not be taken in a short time, without a loss which they were not able to sustain. In the meantime, it was necessary to organize a provisional government, and provide means for its support. The matter was submitted by Austin to the army, and it agreed almost unanimously that the members should return. Nevertheless, at the suggestion of Austin, they remained with the army some days longer. The forces then marched to the mission L'Espada, on the San Antonio river, about nine miles below Bexar. The members of the consultation left them on the night of their arrival, and returned to San Felipe. [See Next: Battle of Concepcion]





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