Presidio La Bahía
Kevin Young, TPWD
La Salle landed on the Texas coast in 1685 and claimed the Texas territory for France. He established Fort St. Louis on the Garcitas Creek near the bay. Goliad can claim a special interest in this flag as this was the site later selected by the Spanish for their early mission and fort, which were moved to Victoria County and finally in 1749 to Goliad. A reminder of the original location has been kept for over two hundred years in the title La Bahia (The Bay).
Spain's claim to Texas might be said to have begun when Columbus made his discovery in 1492 and claimed the land as New Spain. This included the land later known as Texas. In 1519, Alonzo de Pinede, said to have been the first man to visit Texas, was commissioned to explore the Gulf coast from Florida to Vera Cruz. From this time to 1685 Spain continued its claim to Texas. In 1690, Spain regained its claim after a short occupation by France and the Flag of Spain flew over Texas until 1821. This is referred to as the Mission Era. It was during this time that Goliad was an important Spanish colonial settlement.
The Republican Army of the North declared Texas to be a Republic, independant of Spain. The Magee-Gutierrez expedition, a part of this army, arrived at Goliad in November 1812. They found the fort abandoned so they took it. The Royalist Army of Spain surrounded the fort and until February 1813 the two conflicting groups occupied the area in and around La Bahia. Notable during this time was the battle of the "White Cow". In this, the Magee men were trying to capture a white cow for food and were engaged in a short battle with the Spanish forces. Spain finally gave up and left La Bahia for San Antonio in February 1813.
The James Long expedition carried a flag of red and white stripes with a field of red and a white star. The group occupied Goliad in October 1821 and held La Bahia for three days. On the fourth day they were captured by the Mexican Army and sent to Mexico as prisoners.
Mexico, after being under the stronghold of the Spanish dictators who had ruled since Cortez, had struggled and gained her freedom from Spain in 1824. The Republic of Mexico's flag, consisting of three wide bars of green, white, and red with an eagle holding a snake in its mouth centered on the white bar, waved over most of Texas up to the Texas victory at San Jacinto. This was the flag flown at La Bahia during this period. It remains today as the official flag of Mexico.
Several historians have given similar reports on the "bloody arm flag of Goliad" said to have made by Captain Phillip Dimmit. On December 20, 1835 the first declarationof Texas independence was signed at Goliad in the chapel of the Presidio by members of Dimmit's command then stationed at La Bahia. After signing, the group went into the quadrangle and "amidst rapturous hurrahs, the Flag of Texas Independence was hoisted and unfurled to the wintry wind".
The flag was described as being made of white domestic, two yards long and one yard wide. "The center was a sinewy arm and hand, painted red, grasping a drawn sword of crimson." The flag pole was made from a tall sycamore tree found on the banks of the San Antonio River.
Moat of the acccounts on this flag ceremony quote as thier source of information, the memoirs of John James and Nicholas Fagan.
The Dimmitt flag has now become the accepted flag of Goliad and is frequently displayed by business housed around the Goliad Square.
Several designs were proposed but on January 25, 1839 the well known Lone Star of Texas was adopted by an act of Congress and approved by President Mirabeau Lamar to be the official flag of the Republic of Texas. It was designed by Dr. Charles B. Stewart, who was the second signer of the Texas Declaratrion of Indepdence.
In 1861 the State of Texas seceded from the United States to join the Confederacy and stayed with it until the end of the war in 1865. The "Stars and Bars" was the national flag of the Confederacy, as opposed to the popular Confederate Battle Flag.
In 1845, the annexation of Texas to the United States was approved. The officials of the Republic of Texas retired and the officials of the State of Texas were installed. At the Texas Capitol on February 19, 1846, Ex-President Anson Jones ordered the Texas Republic Flag to be lowered and the Star Spangled Banner raised above it. President Jones said, "The final act in this drama is now performed. The Republic of Texas is no more". Texas became the twenty-eighth star in "Old Glory."
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