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PRESIDIO LA BAHIA de goliad National historic site
P. O. Box 57, Goliad, Texas 77963 361-645-3752
presidiolabahia@goliad.net

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 
Click photo for high rez image.
 

Presidio Debuts Historic Cannon . . . with a 'BANG!' Previews Recent Renovation; Details Living History Program


Spanish/Mexican Colonial site set for 'Goliad Massacre' Re-enactment

GOLIAD, TEXAS (March 18, 2010) - Presidio La Bahia, the 261-year-old "Fort of the Bay" National Historic Landmark near Goliad, TX, welcomed - "with a bang" --a new member to the walled bastion's arsenal today. http://www.presidiolabahia.org/index.html

Thanks to the generosity of a group of private citizens known as "The Cannoneers," the Presidio took delivery of and fired its newly acquired, solid bronze, Verbruggen-style cannon, believed to be of the type used 250 years ago. The purchase price was undisclosed.

The full-size artillery piece was displayed and demonstrated at a news conference for media members and visitors. The crowd also got a look at the recently completed 3˝-year, $500,000 renovation to the highly revered military complex, and received details on the March 27-28 Silver Anniversary re-enactment of the "Goliad Massacre," which occurred in 1836 during the Texas Revolution.

The cannon barrel was acquired from Don W. Morgan of Austin, TX, who found it at Fort Ligonier, Pennsylvania, in 1964. After many battles during the French and Indian War in 1758, that British fortification was abandoned. Retreating British and Colonials burned the cannon carriages and buried the disabled cannons to prevent their capture.

"The cannon was found along the path of the retreat and is considered an authentic artifact," said Newton M. Warzecha, Presidio Director since 1991. "The Smithsonian Institute's historical military section has verified from photographs that the barrel is of the type of the 1750 period."

The “one-pounder,” which fires a two-inch ball, was acquired from James L. Caldwell, Ph.D., of Austin, a retired IBM employee and former guest lecturer at U.T.-Austin and guest researcher at St. David’s Foundation. Dr. Caldwell is an active member of the Powderhorn Club, which is dedicated to “all things historic.”

In fact, the cannon has already seen "Texas service." Through Morgan's extensive research of historical documents and the expertise of consultants, a historically correct carriage, accurate in all details, was reproduced.

The cannon was fired on the Gonzales, TX, square on Oct. 1, 1966, for the "Come-and-Take It!" celebration. The slogan had been used in 1835 at a minor skirmish, "The Battle of Gonzalez," when a small group of Texians successfully resisted Mexican forces which had orders to seize their cannon.

"This small field piece, used as an infantry support, fired a loaded canister of small iron balls from a two-inch bore." Warzecha explained. "It was considered particularly deadly against cavalry. The entire gun assembly weighs about 1,000 pounds, yet is so well balanced, a single man can easily move and position it.

"The cannon is very similar in style to several of the old iron cannon presently displayed here at the Spanish and Mexican Colonial citadel and at the nearby Fannin Memorial Monument," he added. "Its acquisition was part of our overall plan in remodeling and re-designing the museum."

Renovation . . . Re-enactment

During the past 3 ˝ years, the fortress has quietly undergone its most extensive refurbishing since the original restoration to its 1836 appearance in the mid-1960s with funds from the Kathryn Stoner O'Connor Foundation.

The complex, owned by the Catholic Diocese of Victoria which purchased the site in 1853 from the City of Goliad for $1,000, contains the 231-year-old Lady of Loreto Chapel, still used weekly as a parish church.

More than $500,000 in improvements to the fort, museum and chapel complex were completed this month with funds provided by members of The Presidio La Bahia Foundation, its Advisory Board, the Friends of the Fort, and numerous individuals and area foundations.

A recent four-minute video of the Presidio, its story and Living History Program can be accessed at: http://www.kiiitv.com/news/86213732.html. A release and still photographs are at:

http://www.prweb.com/releases/Texas-Revolution/Massacre-Re-enactment/prweb3715064.htm

Exhibits were re-designed with new, world class quality display cases, artifact mounts, fine art and highly improved lighting. All interiors were repainted; murals and decorations refreshed; the floors repaired and re-sealed, and the gift shop expanded. The soldiers' barracks were upgraded and the entry and museum made wheelchair accessible."

The fort has eight-foot stone walls, parapets, cannons, a bell tower containing two bells, a religious statue estimated at 300 years old, more than 150 artifacts on display, a charming Texas- version fresco of the Annunciation and "The (Officer's) Quarters," which can accommodate four persons for overnight stays.

La Bahia is believed to be the only presidio on what was the Northern Frontier of New Spain that is totally intact, Warzecha noted. All the artifacts came off the grounds and are hard evidence of the Spanish and Mexican colonial periods, the intersection of religion and politics and of the fight for Texas Independence.

Living History Program March 26-28

About 5,000 persons are expected for the Silver Anniversary re-enactment of the Battle of Coleto Creek, the defeat of Col. James W. Fannin's army by the Mexican army in March 1836 and the ensuing Palm Sunday "massacre" of the 342 Texians who had surrendered.

About 150 costumed re-enactors on both sides of the opposing forces will fill the air with gritos ((cries), noise and smoke from black powder muzzle-loaders and cannons. Visitors can wander through the respective encampments between skirmishes to learn more about the soldiers' lives and to hear authentic conversations and period music and singing.

"This is quite possibly one of the most extensive Living History programs in Texas," Warzecha contends. "The skirmishes will occur in the open meadows and near the San Antonio River, where the engagements actually occurred, as well as inside the fort and Chapel. No honking horns. No souvenir hawkers."

Other activities during the weekend include lectures in the Loreto Chapel. In the evening, candlelight tours (http://www.presidiolabahia.org/candlelight.htm) will be conducted through the barracks and the Mexican officer's quarters. A hospital scene in the chapel is populated with wounded Texian prisoners unaware of the fate they will face the next day.

The final events of the weekend occur on Sunday, March 28, when the death march will begin inside the Presidio and go to one of the locations where the massacre - and "execution," some argue -- actually took place. The program concludes with a memorial service that begins in the chapel, followed by a procession to the nearby Fannin Memorial Monument.

The Monument is where the scattered remains of those massacred were originally buried in 1836, and where the Monument, commissioned for the Texas Centennial in 1936, was completed about 1938. The burial statement is read aloud, "Taps" is played, and there is a 21-musket salute.

"I expect the crowd of visitors will include fans of Texas history, Boy Scouts, school children, spring-breakers, families, descendants of soldiers on both sides, Hispanics, Catholics, Mexicans, local citizens and foreign visitors," Warzecha observed..

"This spring, with its abundance of wildflowers, is a wonderful time to hit the Texas Independence Trail," he emphasized. "It is a time to 'Remember Goliad,' the famous cry at the Battle of San Jacinto, as well as the high price this former Mexican colony paid to become the Republic of Texas."

FOR MORE INFORMATION OR INTERVIEWS: Newton Warzecha, Director of Presidio La Bahia and President of The Presidio La Bahia Foundation, Goliad, TX, 361-645-3752, presidiolabahia@goliad.net, http://www.presidiolabahia.org/index.html Preston F. Kirk, APR, Kirk Public Relations, Spicewood, TX, 830-693-4447;kirk@tstar.net

 

 
 
 
 
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