The Sunday visit to Mission Nuestra Senora Del Espiritu Santo De Zuniga (blog post) focused on the history tour. Monday morning it made sense to go back with the “Big C” (Linda’s name for my large expensive Camera) to take more pictures and pay better attention to the material in the museum. There was also time to figure out where to go and what to see on Tuesday.
Tuesday morning was beautiful and clear with just a hint of fog. Great day for an early start.
Loosely, the Tuesday plan was to go see the Mission Rosario ruins first and then the area around Presidio La Bahia. We hadn’t been to Mission Rosario before and were a little concerned about finding it.
Google Maps made finding the ruins easier. There wasn’t any visible signage for the site on the approach heading southwest on US-59 from Goliad. A little last minute excitement as the mapping application says “turn now” never hurts anyone.
The early morning sun blinded us as we turned into the parking lot. Linda was first up to the site. Her first stop was the viewing window that would have worked brilliantly in the afternoon.
Overnight, dew had settled on the viewing portal. With the sun behind it the portal, all that could be seen was frosted glass. On closer view, from the side, the etchings in the glass can be seen. Best viewed in the afternoon!
The ruins were beautiful in the early morning light.
Directly across from Mission Rosario on US-59 was a 1965 historical marker that seems misplaced. It covers lots of things that are several miles northeast but not so much near the current site.
Back in Goliad, we turned south on US-183. Just after crossing the US-183 San Antonio River Bridge, Presidio La Bahia could be seen on the left. We passed the presidio entrance and made the next left onto Loop 21 toward the Fannin Memorial.
The names of those killed in the massacre are chiseled in the granite. James Walker Fannin is inscribed in the middle of the image.
The Coleto Creek Fannin Battleground (where Fannin and his men were captured by General Urrea) museum paints an interesting picture of Fannin. Apparently, Fannin received orders to vacate Presidio La Bahia immediately to avoid the superior Mexican army marching to Goliad. Fannin delayed his departure by several days and left the presidio two hours ahead of Urrea’s forces. Urrea caught up with Fannin near Coleto Creek and was surrounded. Fannin organized his troops in a square and repelled the advancing Mexican army. Both sides taking casualties. Overnight, the Mexican army cannons arrived on location. Fannin, facing annihilation, chose to surrender, asking that he and his men be treated as prisoners of war. Urrea made clear that the decision to accept those terms was going to be made by Santa Anna. Fannin surrendered anyway. Fannin and his men were taken back to Presidio La Bahia and later executed as terrorists on Santa Anna’s orders.
Not all of Fannin’s men ended up being executed. This is where the Angel of Goliad plays a pivotal role in finding mercy for those she could.
Francisca Alavez, on her own, managed to get the Mexican Military Authorities to grant mercy for a few of Fannin’s men. She also managed to smuggle out a few more of Fannin’s men. She did these merciful and heroic acts while providing food and tending to the wounded prisoners.
There were a number of bricks inscribed with the names of Francisca Alavez’s descendants. What a legacy!
Across the street from both the Fannin Monument and Angel of Goliad statue is this beautiful house. Seeing homes like this always makes me wonder what it would be like if I lived there.
Ever wonder who was behind the Cinco De Mayo Mexican Holiday? I didn’t but now that I know the interesting story…
It was General Ignacio Zaragoza and his army. They held off an assault by a superior French Army that convinced the French that attempts to recolonize Mexico would fail. The “victory” in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862 also convinced the Mexican people to ultimately overthrow Spanish Emperor Maximilian’s foreign rule. Viva La Mexico!
Unfortunately, Zaragoza died four months after the battle from typhoid fever. At least Mexico gained their independence from Spain.
Standing next to Zaragoza’s statue one can see across the San Antonio River to the Mission Espiritu Santo on the right and the Goliad County Courthouse on the left. The US-183 San Antonio River Bridge in in the right foreground.
Presidios are Spanish Colonial forts designed to protect Spanish missions. The Presidio La Bahia Del Espiritu Santo De Zuniga was moved to this location in 1749. The presidio grounds are owned by the Victoria Diocese and no public funds support this important historical site. In addition, the site houses an active Catholic Parish. In 1962, through the generosity and dogged persistence of Mrs Thomas O’Conner, the site was restored.
In front of the site stand nine different flags representing the civil authority in place resulting from colonial attempts change the order of government through armed conflict. This historic site was one of the most fought over sites in Texas and USA history.
This site is not supported by the government. As such it does collect a nominal entrance fee. Oddly, this is the only place that has ever offered a senior discount that I qualified for which felt a little weird.
First stop on the self guided tour is a video. The half hour video did a good job of setting the Presidio’s historical and current context. From there, we visited the attached museum.
Outside the Presidio’s museum stands the Texas Independence Flagpole depicting a bloody saber swinging arm.
Fannin’s army flew this flag over this fort which they had renamed “Defiance.”
The fort had fortifications appropriate for 17th and 18th Century warfare. There are plenty of places (notches and holes) along the walls for defenders to fire safely on attackers. Some of the century posts were fortified as well. However, the fort would not have withstood an assault from cannons. The walls simply weren’t up to that sort of abuse.
Presidios commonly had chapels within their walls. These chapels were primarily for Spanish army personnel. Today, the chapel in Presidio Bahia is an active Catholic Parish Church.
On previous visits to the Presidio, I was unable to access the chapel. This time it was open. This chapel is particularly beautiful.
The mural behind the altar is stunning. The wall colors are peacefully vibrant. The wood work, while plain, rivals any I’ve seen in church.
The light this time of year must be quite flattering to churches. Both Mission Espiritu Santo and Presidio La Bahia have exquisite light pouring into the windows.
Linda lit a candle for her mother.
I admired the architecture.
One of neighboring campsites had decorated for Christmas.
Peace be with you.
Hope to see you on the road ahead!
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