About 300 members of the Crossroads of Texas Living History Association (COTLHA), highly authentic re-enactors representing Texian colonists and Mexican soldiers, will vividly portray the occupation of the 290-year-old citadel and the subsequent defeat, surrender and massacre of Col. James Fannin and 341 of his men.
The 26th annual Living History event, complete with roaring cannons, musket fire, wounded men, encampments and period songs, is made possible by the combined efforts of the Presidio La Bahia Foundation, its Friends of the Fort, COTLHA and the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.
This year’s events mark the 175th anniversary of Texas Independence. The massacre occurred on Palm Sunday in that fateful year of revolution and “runaway scrape.”
Exciting new elements have been recently added to the program:
K.R. Wood, singer-songwriter, historian and musician, will reunite with members of the “Gone To Texas Band” for a concert in the 232-year-old Our Lady of Loreto Chapel at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Wood, an acclaimed acoustic guitarist, is highly praised for his landmark “Fathers of Texas” music/history collection at the heart of his current silver anniversary reunion tour to key historic battle sites along the Texas Independence Trail Region.
His CD, “Davy Crockett’s Fiddle Plays On,” was recorded live in the Alamo with the actual Crockett fiddle from the Witte Museum. Wood’s Presidio concert will be part of the new “Talk About Texas” Radio program, hosted by Roy Holly.
Beyond Saturday’s skirmishes on foot and on horseback, beyond the noisy cannon fire, gritos (cries) and black powder smoke, visitors will be able to view up close the camp life of cooking, yarn-spinning, singing and gear maintenance and attend scholarly lectures and a book signing in the chapel.
Seventh generation Texan John Willingham, author of the recently released “Edge of Freedom,” will discuss on Saturday morning his fact-based novel of the Texas Revolution that he completed over a 30-year period. In the emotional story, he focuses on Goliad, Southeast Texas and the conflicts and dilemmas faced by individuals on all sides of the civil war — Tejanos, Mexicans and Anglos — caught up in the terrible and tragic events leading up to the massacre.
Carlos de la Garza, a Tejano rancher, and his neighbor, John Bower, real-life partners on a nearby river ferry who chose opposite sides, are the central characters.
The Candlelight Vigil tours — from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, by reservation only — will be conducted through the barracks, the Mexican officers’ quarters and the impromptu “hospital” in the chapel, where the wounded Texians are suffering. The visitors actually become part of the historic tableau, departing knowing the fate of the Texians is mere hours away.
On Sunday, the death march begins inside the Presidio, proceeding to one of the locations where the massacre actually took place. The program concludes with a memorial service in the chapel followed by a procession to the Fannin Memorial and a 21-musket salute.
Daily admission is $4 for ages 12-59; $3.50 for age 60 and up; $1 for ages 6-11. Children under age five are admitted free. The admission for the Candlelight Tour is $2. For more information, call 361-645-3752.