Goliad citizens came face to face with the past in March, seeing their 1830s counterparts in a unique time-travel tradition.
The 35th Goliad Massacre Living History Program came to Presidio La Bahia the weekend of March 27-28, bringing in around 75 historical re-enactors to serve the role of educator of the Texas Revolution time period. The program melded together within a few short weeks of notice, officially gettng the green light from Governor Greg Abbott’s executive orders re-opening the state.
“We didn’t want to not have anything to begin with ... so when the Governor opened the state back up, I wanted to ahead and move on (the program) and actually have some sort of a program that people could come out and see,” Presidio La Bahia director Scott McMahon said. “To continue, keep up with continuity of what we were doing in the past, that was why we decided to go ahead and do something.”
The gates of the Presidio opened to the public on the morning of March 27, with the “living history” portion of the program opening eyes to 1836 living conditions. Residents were able to gaze upon historically accurate living quarters, tents, and campfires, while getting a one-on-one treatment with reenactors.
Participants in the program held several demonstrations throughout the weekend, including infantry drills, artillery drills, and various firing demonstrations. On March 27, the video “Presidio La Bahia And Its Place In The History of Texas” was viewed by locals.
“For the short turnaround we had, I was very happy with those that made it out,” McMahon said. “I think the people that came out, as far as the visitors were concerns, I was hoping that they got a little more out of it than normal. They seemed to hang around and interact more on a one-on-one level with the participants. We were doing more demonstrations, a little bit more of an educational thing this time around, and I think that they got more out of it.”
On the misty morning of March 28, the public was led in prayer and march to the Fannin Memorial by Bishop John Cahill, third bishop of the Diocese of Victoria in Texas. An overseer at the Presidio, Cahill led the procession while reciting the time period’s known Latin hymns.
“He wanted to do that because that was the traditional language that the masses carried on for so long,” McMahon said. “He thought that would be a nice historical touch. I got a low of very positive feedback from the reenactors on that, they were very excited that he did that.”
When the group reached the Fannin Memorial, McMahon read a letter in dedication to the fallen at the Goliad Massacre, which took place on Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836. The letter was originally written and recited by Texian Army Commander Thomas Jefferson Rusk, paying tribute to the men that lost their lives in battle.
“It was a fitting memorial at the time, and still today I think it’s a fitting memorial,” McMahon said. “When you think about the sacrifice that those men gave, how the families were left without fathers, sons, brothers, husbands, it’s just a very touching letter.”
The memorial was capped off by a salutatory firing of rifle from several program participants, followed by the placing of tribute wreaths from several area organizations.
Bringing together the 35th show was a success in the very short-term timeframe, and will set up a larger event for history buffs to enjoy in 2022.
“They look forward to that,” McMahon said. “They bring their kids out for it, now I would guess they’re probably bringing out grandkids, it’s something we’ve done for so long.”