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18Southwestern Historical Quarterly

the New Orleans Greys, were the working members of Colonel Fannin's staff.


Soon after his arrival at Goliad, his evil genius prompted Colonel Fannin to strengthen and rebuild the fort. This was unwise for two reasons: little good could be had from such fortifications; and the time spent in this relatively useless labor was badly needed for training his men. An American volunteer could not be made to labor unless he was first interested in his work. Convinced of the importance and usefulness of his labor, he proposed to stay around and see the results.

Even though much of their six weeks at Goliad was so wasted, Colonel Fannin's men, in the battle with Urrea, were much the best trained and most efficient army that Texas, as State or Republic, ever placed in the field. The weakness of Texan armies in 1835 and 1836 was the unwillingness, and inability, of the average frontiersman to subject himself to military command. He was invincible with flanks and rear protected -- in his own language, when "Fighting from the brush" -- but a prudent enemy was unlikely to afford opportunities for many Concepcións. Offensively, a frontiersman's army could only be used, as at San Jacinto, in a single headlong rush, at the end of which, win or lose, it was entirely out of hand. An attack of that nature could not be risked where there existed the possibility of hidden enemy reserves.

Colonel Fannin was well aware of this fundamental weakness of the Texan armies; and with the efficient help of Captains Brooks and Chadwick, he accomplished miracles in taking it out of his Goliad men. They were not frontiersmen, but came from cultured homes in settled communities, and could be made to understand the necessity for discipline, and of military training and drill.

Their want of frontier training was a weakness, however, in another respect. Such details of life in Texas as yoking and driving wild oxen, and keeping and riding horses, "on the grass," were without the scope of their knowledge; and this ignorance, in the long run, cost them dear. And instead of such learning, they spent their precious weeks at Goliad strengthening the old fort. This was done under the tutelage of Captains Brooks and Chadwick, and of the Polish engineers. Strangely, it was the Virginian, rather than the son of New England, who was the inventive genius

Copyright © 1939 Texas State Historical Association

Go to Page | Index | Contents | Sketches A18   Appendix A | Biblio. | Page- | Page+

Harbert Davenport 1936
H. David Maxey, Editor             Webpage of January 1, 2000