In this thoroughly researched account of the Battle of Coleto and subsequent massacre of Texian soldiers at the Presido La Bahía near the settlement of Goliad, Texas, author David E. Garlock describes the capture and brutal massacre of Colonel James Fannin’s soldiers by the Mexican Army.
While stationed at La Bahía, Col. Fannin—known to be stubborn and unpredictable, treating direct orders like suggestions—delayed for a crucial week after receiving orders from Sam Houston to quickly abandon the presidio. This allowed time for Mexican General José de Urrea’s forces to secretly track Fannin’s men and follow them until they were too far from the presidio to return. Thoroughly unprepared and caught in an open field, the outnumbered Texians were surrounded and forced to surrender. The captured men didn’t realize their fate when Mexican soldiers divided them into three groups and began marching them down separate roads toward Victoria, San Antonio de Bexar, and San Patricio. Expecting to be freed, the men were suddenly told to kneel and were executed on orders from General Santa Anna—just a month before the war came to an end at San Jacinto.
In a compelling and careful retelling of this narrative, Garlock weaves archival research with the diaries, memoirs, and correspondence of decision-makers and foot soldiers on both sides into a detailed history. Many blamed Urrea for reneging on an agreement with Fannin to parole the Texians back to the United States. However, a “secret” surrender document lay hidden for nearly a century. Signed by both Fannin and Urrea—it specified a “surrender at discretion,” meaning no such guarantee of life was made. Three Roads to Death offers new perspectives and sets the record straight on the worst massacre in Texas history.
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Published by Texas A&M University Press