Presidio La Bahia, Goliad, Texas
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After stopping at the Fannin Battleground State Historic Site, we visited the Presido La Bahia, the world's finest example of a Spanish frontier fort.
Across Hwy 183 and a bit farther from downtown than the State Park is Presidio La Bahia and the birthplace of General Zaragosa, a highlight of our stop. The Presidio La Bahia fort was restored in 1960 at at cost of 1 1/2 million dollars, and is considered the worlds's finest example of a Spanish frontier fort. This is the most fought over fort in Texas history, having seen participation in six National Revolutions and Wars for Independence.
Founded in 1721 on the banks of Garcitas Creek near present day Lavaca Bay, then relocated in 1726 near Victoria. In 1749 the fort was relocated to it's present location at Goliad.
A permanent settlement by Spain, La Bahia grew around the protection of the fort. The name of the town changed to Goliad in 1829 as an anagram for Hidalgo, in hor of the patrior priest of the Mexican Revolution, Father Miguel Hidalgo, who sounded the famous "Grito de Dolores" in 1810 for Mexican Independence from Spain. Goliad became the second largest populated settlement in Spanish Texas.
Then the plot thickened. On October 9, 1835, a group of Texas citizens, led by Capt. George Collinsworth, entered Goliad, attacked the Mexican garrison stationed at the Presideo, and took possession of the fort. This action was just one week after the incident at Gonzales, Texas.
The first Declaration of Independence of Texas was declared here at La Bahia on December 20, 1835. In the La Bahia video you can see the flagpole used, with a replica of the first flag of Texas Independence.
A short 3 months later, the Goliad Massacre. Col. James Walker Fannin had surrendered to the Mexican army, yet he and 341 men were executed by General Santa Anna on Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836. This mass execution by Santa Anna really pissed Americans off, and volunteers streamed forth to help the people of Texas fight for independence from Mexico. If not for this massacre, Texas might still be part of Mexico.
The Our Lady of Loreto Chapel has been in continuous use since the 1700's, mass is 5pm on Sundays. The chapel is rare because it still has it's original groin vaulted ceiling. The fresco behind the alter was done by Antonio Garcia in 1946, and the statue of Our Lady of Loreto in the niche above the entrance is by scuptor Lincoln Borglum, of Mount Rushmore. Fannin's men were held here, and the first Texas Declaration of Independence was signed in this chapel, on December 20, 1835.
Just across the courtyard from the chapel is the entrance to the former priest quarters. It is now a nice two bedroom apartment, and it is rented for $150/night. Some people stay so they can wander the grounds at night, which is known for many ghost sightings!
Just outside the Presidio La Bahia, is a scupture of the Angel of Goliad, and a monument and amphitheater for General Zaragosa. A bit further on is the monument to Fannin's men who died in the massacre of Goliad.
For more information see the official Presidio La Bahia website