The Goliad Massacre: Singing to Their Death

The term “Trail of Tears” generally refers to the devastating Cherokee migration from Georgia to the Indian Territory in present day Oklahoma. This was truly one of the most cruel and heartbreaking chapters in American history and I wish it had never happened.

I’ve heard that non-Indians, for various reasons, walked part of the way with the Indians. One of the things they wrote in their letters and diaries was of the singing. The Indians sang as they were walking. They sang to keep their spirits up, to be courageous, to push away their fears and face what was to come.

So what does this have to do with GTT you ask? Everything. The historical record tells us that when Col. James Fannin and his command were captured by the Mexican soldiers in March 1836, Fannin was expecting his men to be treated as prisoners of war. But that was not to be. The order handed down was to kill them all. No quarter was to be given.

On the last day of their lives, the soldiers lined the prisoners up and started marching eastward. The prisoners then started singing. What? Surely they knew deep down their days were numbered. Surely they knew because surely word of Santa Anna’s brutality has reached their ears. Now I think I have a better understanding.

I’m sure some of the men clung to the hope that things would not end badly and were in high spirits, but there were others who knew better and they sang anyway. They were comforting themselves. They were chasing away their fears. They were bolstering their courage to endure what they knew was coming.

I talked to my friend Stephanie tonight. She suggested that they could also be singing to show the soldiers they could not and would not be defeated. Their bodies could be captured but not their spirits. Now that is bravery and courage.

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