McMahon speaks on the Kentucky Mustangs

Scott McMahon explains the history of the Kentucky Mustangs at the Goliad County Library (Matthew Tamez)

Presidio La Bahía Director Scott McMahon spoke during the Goliad County Library’s final Lunch and Learn event for 2021 on Nov. 4. 

McMahan spoke about the Kentucky Mustangs during the event, which was followed by a short question and answer session. 

McMahan spoke at length about Kentucky Mustangs. 

“I’ve done a lot of research since I’ve been on here on the Spanish colonial period,” said McMahon. “One of the groups I have always been interested in is the Kentucky Mustangs.”

McMahon informed the gathered crowd about the origins of the Kentucky Mustangs. 

“They were formed in Barnestown. They traveled by foot to Louisville and got a steamer and ran down the Mississippi River to New Orleans.”

The Kentucky Mustangs shot at alligators with the rifles they had brought. 

“That gives you an idea of what these guys took to start with,” continued McMahon. “They were kind of adventurous kind of guys, having fun, shooting gators as they go.”

The Mustangs mustered in under the provisional government, asking to be taken as mounted soldiers. The government, however, did not have horses. Instead they were stationed on a naval ship and served as what McMahon describes as a sort of “marine corps.”

The Kentucky Mustangs even captured a Mexican naval vessel. However, they almost sank the ship due to their lack of helmsmenship. 

McMahon explained that they christened themselves as “the horse marines” during this period. 

The Kentucky Mustangs, while not dressed in military uniforms, did dress alike. 

The Kentucky Mustangs then were tasked with tearing down the structures around Presidio La Bahía and fortifying the position against a potential Mexican attack. 

“The guys are being put to work,” McMahon continued, “physical labor, and they didn’t like that... because of that they start to kind of buck the authority that Fannin was holding over them.”

They would do things like crow like roosters in the morning to give their sergeants a harder time. 

When it became clear the Mexican army was about to attack Presidio La Bahía, Fannin and his men prepare to leave. 

“The Mexican army shows up, and they kind of have a running skirmish all day.”

The Kentucky Mustangs watched this skirmish from nearby rooftops, before firing at the Mexican army with a mounted cannon. 

The Kentucky Mustangs form up in a square against the Mexican cavalry. 

John Duval, brother of the Kentucky Mustang’s commander Burr Duval, used a blunderbuss loaded with small chunks of metal. 

After firing the blunderbuss, which knocked him over from the force of the recoil, the Mexican cavalry turned and ran.

According to McMahon, John had said in his journal “I’m not going to claim that it was my shot, but the Mexican cavalry turned back at that point.” 

Despite this, Fannin’s men could not hold out and eventually surrendered. During the time, the captured soldiers were ordered to be executed, something that the Mexican army was not comfortable with.

Only eight of the Mustangs escaped, including John. Burr, however, did not survive. The Kentucky Mustangs, despite having survivors, met their end during the massacre. 

During the question and answer session, Hal Davis asked if they had located the exact sites of the massacres. 

McMahon said that while no major archaeological digs have taken place to find the sites, they do have an idea of some of the locations, including a site across U.S. Highway 183, where musket balls were found. 

The next read and learn will happen during Texas History Month. 


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