The most popular flags of Texas, The Gonzales "Come and Take It" Flag, the legendary "Zavala Flag", the "Alamo Flag", and our current "Lone Star Flag" are but a few of the many flags that have flown over Texas. But there is one in particular that most are not aware of, "The Bloody Arm" Flag of Goliad.
One week after the first shot was fired during the Texas Revolution in Gonzales, Texas, George Collinsworth, and Ben Milam, with their fellow Texans, captured the important Mexican fortress at Goliad, a small town approximately 2 hours Southeast of San Antonio. In Spanish, these Mexican forts were called presidios. They were originally built by the Spanish Empire to protect nearby settlements or missionary outposts.
Before elected delegates throughout Texas met at Washington on the Brazos and voted to break from Mexico, nearly 100 settlers at Goliad expressed similar sentiments by signing their own declaration of independence.
The first Texan Declaration of Independence from Mexico was signed on the altar of Our Lady of Loreto Chapel at Presidio La Bahia in Goliad, Texas.
As the document was signed, a flag designed by Captain Phillip Dimmitt was raised over the presidio. It was a solid white flag with a bloody severed arm holding a sword.
The flag symbolized the Texans’ willingness to face any sacrifice to win their freedom.
The Goliad Massacre
After the fall of the Alamo, Col. James Fannin and approximately 400 Texian volunteers found themselves imprisoned at Goliad after being beaten and captured nine miles away by General Urrea at the Battle of Coleto. On the morning of March 27, 1836, the captured Texians were divided into three groups. Some were told they were going home while some that they were going out to gather firewood. After they were marched outside, Mexican officers gave a signal and they were all executed. 342 unarmed men were massacred that day in Goliad.
Meanwhile, Col. Fannin and other Texian wounded were then shot inside the walls of the presidio at Goliad.
Sadly, the bodies of the slain Texians were piled outside and left to rot from March 27 to June 3, 1836. Fortunately, General Rusk and his company found the bodies and honored the fallen men by burying them one block behind the Presidio in Goliad.
The presidio at Goliad, established in 1749, was one of the most important military positions in the Mexican province of Texas and has been meticulously preserved. Visitors there today get the truest feel for life in early Texas.
The massacre at Goliad is memorialized in Section 34 of Walt Whitman's famed poem, "Song of Myself" :
Now I tell what I knew in Texas in my early youth, (I tell not the fall of Alamo, Not one escaped to tell the fall of Alamo, The hundred and fifty are dumb yet at Alamo,) 'Tis the tale of the murder in cold blood of four hundred and twelve young men.
Retreating they had form'd in a hollow square with their baggage for breastworks, Nine hundred lives out of the surrounding enemy's, nine times their number, was the price they took in advance, Their colonel was wounded and their ammunition gone, They treated for an honorable capitulation, receiv'd writing and seal, gave up their arms and march'd back prisoners of war.
They were the glory of the race of rangers, Matchless with horse, rifle, song, supper, courtship, Large, turbulent, generous, handsome, proud, and affectionate, Bearded, sunburnt, drest in the free costume of hunters, Not a single one over thirty years of age.
The second First-day morning they were brought out in squads and massacred, it was beautiful early summer, The work commenced about five o'clock and was over by eight.
None obey'd the command to kneel, Some made a mad and helpless rush, some stood stark and straight, A few fell at once, shot in the temple or heart, the living and dead lay together, The maim'd and mangled dug in the dirt, the new-comers saw them there, Some half-kill'd attempted to crawl away, These were despatch'd with bayonets or batter'd with the blunts of muskets, A youth not seventeen years old seiz'd his assassin till two more came to release him, The three were all torn and cover'd with the boy's blood.
At eleven o'clock began the burning of the bodies; That is the tale of the murder of the four hundred and twelve young men.
What The Blood Arm Flag Means To Me
The history and symbolism behind the Goliad Bloody Arm flag, has provided me with an inspiring insight into the steadfast beliefs that early Texans portrayed in times of struggle. They were men who were willing to sacrifice everything for their right to freedom.
This idea of protecting and preserving mine and my neighbor's God-given right to freedom really stuck with me as I studied this historic massacre in light of our current world events. As these early Texan warriors did on the day of battle, we too should be willing to sacrifice all of our belongings to protect and preserve the things we truly believe in.
Would you sacrifice everything you are to protect your morals, values, and the ones you love? It is only when you can selflessly answer that question that you become a true "warrior". The good news? You don't have to be a physical solider in the heat of battle to uphold this precious concept. Your daily life will provide plenty of opportunities to practice being a "warrior", mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.
Ultimately, I believe the flag of Goliad is a powerful symbol what it looks like to be a true warrior: A man who is willing to sacrifice everything to protect his fellow countryman and their collective right to true freedom. It is for this solid purpose that the Goliad flag has become another one of my favorite symbols of Texas.
To help show others how you feel about the sacrifices you are willing to give for your freedoms and beliefs, check out our latest line of Goliad Gear!