Commander at Goliad
Remembered as the Commander of the doomed garrison at the Presidio LaBahia at Goliad, James Walker Fannin, Jr., carried the heavy responsibility of the lives of his men with increasing anguish during the cold, gray days of March 1836.
Born January 1, 1804, the son of Dr. Isham Fannin grew up on a plantation near Marion, Georgia. Although he was admitted to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1819, he withdrew in 1821 during his third year. Several years after returning to Georgia he married Minerva Fort, by whom he had two daughters. The Fannins moved to Texas and settled at Velasco in the fall of 1834.
Fannin became a proponent of Texas Independence, and on October 2, 1835, participated at Gonzales in the first battle of the revolution as the Captain of the Brazos Guards. On October 27 Fannin and Jim Bowie, who had been sent by Stephen F. Austin to Bexar, led the Texas forces in the battle at Mission Concepcion.
In February 1836, Fannin was elected Colonel of the Provisional Regiment of Volunteers at Goliad, where he began strengthening the fortifications at the presidio. With the Mexican Army under General Urrea approaching, Fannin was torn between obeying Houston’s orders to retreat to Victoria, Travis’ pleas for reinforcements at the Alamo, or remaining at his well fortified outpost.
Fannin’s force of four-hundred men left the presidio the morning of March 19, and by mid-morning found themselves surrounded by a superior force on open ground. Fannin surrendered his men, hoping they would be treated fairly as prisoners of war. On Palm Sunday, March 27, they were led outside the gates, executed, and tossed into a mass grave.
Fannin was a member of Holland Lodge No. 36, and served as Deacon at its last meeting at Brazoria before the arrival of the Mexican Army.
* From The Texas Mason
By Pete Normand, PM
Texas Lodge of Research
* The Texas Masons
The Fraternity of Ancient Free & Accepted Masons in the History of Texas
by Pete Normand, © 1986
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