Spanish/Mexican Colonial site set for 'Goliad Massacre'
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
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Through Morgan's extensive research of historical
documents and the expertise of consultants, a historically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
"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
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
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:
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
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
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
"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,"
"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,
Preston F. Kirk, APR, Kirk Public Relations, Spicewood,