Today, the Texas Historical Commission has 32 State Historic Sites, but few share close proximity with so many other historic sites as the Fannin Battleground near Goliad. The Goliad State Park and Historic Site integrates four deeply intertwined State Historic Sites steeped in historic diversity and cultures. Another historic site, the Presidio La Bahía, is across the San Antonio River from the park.
The Fannin Battleground commemorates the Battle of Coleto Creek March 19-20, 1836. Col. James W. Fannin and over 350 Texian volunteers were retreating from the presidio, which they had renamed Fort Defiance, when they were overtaken and attacked by Gen. José Urrea and his men.
After surrendering, the Texians were held briefly at the presidio. Gen. Santa Anna ordered Fannin and his men executed on Palm Sunday. The brutal Goliad Massacre ignited the battle cry “Remember Goliad,” later united with “Remember the Alamo” at the Battle of San Jacinto. The Fannin Memorial Monument marks the common burial site of Col. Fannin and his men behind the Presidio La Bahía.
William L. Hunter survived the massacre and marked the battleground with a pile of rocks. In 1894, Solomon Parks Sr. replaced the rocks with a massive iron screw from a cotton gin. In 1913, the state of Texas accepted 13 acres around the marker and erected a 28-foot granite monument in honor of Fannin and his men in 1916. The Fannin site was the third historic site acquired by the state behind the Alamo and San Jacinto Battleground.
Towering over the Goliad State Park are the whitewashed walls of the reconstructed Mission Espíritu Santo State Historic Site (left), once home to a large ranching operation. In 1722, Spanish missionaries established the Nuestra Señora Del Espíritu Santo de Zuñiga accompanied by Presidio Nuestra Señora de Loreta de la Bahía (commonly known as Presidio la Bahía) near Matagorda Bay, moving them to the San Antonio River in 1749. Civilian Conservation Corps crews restored the mission and presidio from 1935 until 1941.
About four miles from the park are the ruins of the Mission Rosario State Historic Site. Missionaries established Rosario in 1754 but were less successful than their neighbor, closing in 1792.
Less than a mile away, the El Camino Real de los Tejas Visitors Center educates people about the influence of the El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail in South Texas. The center tells the story of the King’s Highway from Mexico City north to Texas and Louisiana.
The newly remodeled Zaragoza Birthplace State Historic Site is west of the Presidio La Bahía. Gen. Ignacio Sequin Zaragoza assumed command of the outnumbered, outgunned farmers and molded them into the formidable Mexican Army which defeated the French on May 5, 1862, at the Battle of Puebla. Their victory led to Mexico’s independence from France, now celebrated each year on May 5th, translated as Cinco de Mayo.
More than 300 years of Texas history comes alive through artifacts, living structures, and reenactments. Typically, between 3,000 and 4,000 people attend the yearly reenactment events. Goliad has treasures of Texas history found in few places, especially within miles of each other.
Fannin Battleground State Historic Site
734 FM 2506
Fannin, TX 77960
Open daily 8 a.m. -5 p.m
Goliad State Park and Historic Site
108 Park Road 6
Goliad, TX 77963-3206
Open daily, except for Christmas,
8 a.m.-8 p.m.
Presidio La Bahía
217 Loop 71
Goliad, Tx 77963
Open Daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m. last admission at 4:30 p.m.
Closed on New Years, Easter, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
Zaragoza Birthplace State Historical Site
Goliad, TX 77963
The El Camino Real de los Tejas Visitors Center
183 S & S. Burke St.
Goliad, TX 77963
Open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Mike is executive director of the Texas Tropical Trail Region with an avid interest in ships, planes, trains, and automobiles.