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GEORGIA BATTALION

GEORGIA BATTALION. The Georgia Battalion of Permanent Volunteers, which became part of James W. Fannin's provisional regiment in the Goliad Campaign of 1836, occupies a unique position in the Texas Revolution, since Georgia was possibly the only state in the Union to supply arms during the conflict from its state arsenal to a Texas volunteer force. The battalion was organized by its commander, William Ward, in Macon, Georgia, after a town meeting on November 12, 1835. With the aid of Dr. Robert Collins, Ward enlisted about 120 men from Macon, Milledgeville, and Columbus, Georgia, formed them into three companies, and armed, supplied, and transported the unit to Texas at personal expense and with the aid of the Georgia arsenal. The journey to Texas brought the unit through Knoxville, Georgia, where Joanna Troutman presented the soldiers with a Lone Star flag bearing the mottoes, "Ubi Libertas habitat, ibi nostra patria est" ("Where Liberty dwells, there is our fatherland"), and "Liberty or Death" (see FLAGS OF THE TEXAS REVOLUTION). Ward continued recruiting volunteers along the way to New Orleans until the battalion numbered about 220 men. On December 20, 1835, the unit landed at Velasco, Texas, where Ward and his men presented their service to Fannin on December 23.

The Georgia Battalion was officially organized and its officers elected upon its arrival at Refugio on February 14, 1836. By then, Isaac Ticknor's company of Montgomery, Alabama, "Greys" (not to be confused with the Mobile Grays) had been added to the unit. Attached to Ticknor's company was Luis Guerra's artillery company, a remnant of Mexía's expedition. The Georgia Battalion accompanied Fannin to Goliad, where Amon B. King's Kentucky volunteers also became part of the force, but Guerra's artillerymen, not wishing to fight their own country, departed and later joined the Mexican army. At Goliad, Fannin reorganized his provisional regiment, garrisoned at Fort Defiance (La Bahíaqv), into two battalions-the First, or Georgia Battalion, and the Second, or LaFayette Battalion. The former included the five companies of Amon King, Isaac Ticknor, Uriah Irwin Bullock, James C. Winn, and William A. O. Wadsworth, with Warren J. Mitchell serving as battalion major. Joseph M. Chadwick, later Fannin's adjutant general, was sergeant major, and John Sowers Brooks, later Fannin's aide-de-camp, became battalion adjutant. William Ward was elected lieutenant colonel of the regiment, the ranking officer on Fannin's staff.

Acting as commander in chief of the Texas army from February 12 to March 12, 1836, Fannin fortified La Bahía against attack from the encroaching Mexican army, which was expected almost daily. After he removed the Texas force from Refugio to Goliad, Fannin sent King and about thirty men back to Refugio on March 10 to aid settlers in their retreat to Goliad. King, however, was forced to retreat into Nuestra Señora del Refugio Mission when his men confronted Carlos de la Garza's rancheros, serving as advance forces of Mexican general José de Urrea's army. Upon receiving King's request for relief, Fannin dispatched Ward and about 120 men of the Georgia Battalion to King's aid on March 12, a move that disastrously split his forces.

Although Ward and the Georgia Battalion successfully reinforced King, both commanders unwisely elected not to return directly to Goliad, a decision that resulted in King and Ward's defeat by Urrea and an army of 1,500 men in the battle of Refugio. King and his men were subsequently captured and executed, though Ward and the majority of the Georgia Battalion managed to escape. Their freedom was temporary, however. Making their way through woods and swamps to avoid Mexican cavalry or Garza's rancheros, the battalion emerged above the village of Guadalupe Victoria, only to find it occupied by Urrea's forces. Local tradition tells of a few who straggled into Victoria and were held by settlers until they could be turned over to the Mexicans. Francita Alavez, later celebrated as the "Angel of Goliad," apparently intervened with her husband, Telesforo Alavez, commander of the occupation forces in Victoria, to spare from execution a party of Ward's men who had been captured near the village.

Meanwhile, after a skirmish near Victoria that used up most of their remaining ammunition, Ward and his men tried to reach Dimitt's Landing on the coast. Urrea, however, controlled that area as well. Exhausted, famished, and without ammunition, the Georgia Battalion voted over the opposition of Ward and Ticknor to surrender to Urrea on March 22, 1836. Except for those who became separated from the battalion during the flight from Refugio and still managed to avoid capture, and for those Urrea detailed in Victoria as laborers to build boats for transport across the Guadalupe River, the rest of the Georgia Battalion-about eighty-five men-were marched back to Goliad and, after imprisonment with Fannin's men after the battle of Coleto, were among those executed by the Mexican army in the Goliad Massacre. John Crittenden Duval, a survivor of the massacre, included the muster roll of the Georgia Battalion in his Early Times in Texas (1892). In 1855 the state of Georgia billed the state of Texas for the arms issued to the Georgia Battalion, though in 1857 the Georgia legislature agreed that the erection of a monument honoring Ward's men would be an acceptable substitute for payment. No monument existed, however, until the city of Albany, Texas, erected a Georgia Battalion memorial fountain in 1976.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

DeWitt Clinton Baker, comp., A Texas Scrap-Book (New York: Barnes, 1875; rpt. 1887; facsimile rpt., Austin: Steck, 1935). Claude Elliott, "Alabama and the Texas Revolution," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 50 (January 1947). George Pierce Garrison, "Another Texas Flag," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 3 (January 1900). Roy Grimes, ed., 300 Years in Victoria County (Victoria, Texas: Victoria Advocate, 1968; rpt., Austin: Nortex, 1985). John E. Roller, "Capt. John Sowers Brooks," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 9 (January 1906). Jewel Davis Scarborough, "The Georgia Battalion in the Texas Revolution: A Critical Study," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 63 (April 1960).

Craig H. Roell

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Craig H. Roell, "GEORGIA BATTALION," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qjg01), accessed October 31, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on February 11, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.