The Alamo, San Jacinto, Goliad…Captain William Travis, Sam Houston, and Stephen Austin…all worthy moments and memorable people in Texas history.
Now why would I write about Texas history when my mind is most certainly on Georgia?
Trust me…I’ve not lost my senses. Georgians were very instrumental in Texas independence, the Texas Republic, and the eventual statehood of Texas. Yes…..that same Georgia that someone recently characterized as "almost landlocked, not-found-by-Europeans-until-the-17th-century and having only peaches instead of peppers history."
Perhaps this person didn’t realize that many Georgians played pivotal roles in the formation of the Republic of Texas…
Colonel James Walker Fannin, Jr. was born in 1804 and was was brought up on his maternal grandfather’s property near Marion, Georgia. In 1834 he moved his family to Velasco, Texas where he continued to be a planter and partnered in a slave-trading syndicate. He was one of the more outspoken planters in favor of Texas independence and he returned to Georgia to solicit other Georgians for money, weapons, and volunteers for the independence movement. While in Macon, Fannin collected three thousand dollars and oversaw the formation of the Macon Volunteers with the help of William Ward and many others. On their way back to Texas, Fannin and his new revolution-minded Georgians picked up more volunteers along the way in Columbus and Milledgeville. At Goliad men of the Georgia volunteers were captured. Rather than letting them go at some point they were basically executed by the Spanish. Close to 300 Georgians and others who had volunteered to fight for Texas independence were slaughtered. Fannin was also captured; however, he was executed seperately and was shot in the head. Later his body was burned.
Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar served as the third president of the Republic of Texas, however, he was born on his father’s plantation, Fairfield, located in Louisville, Georgia. Lamar was a poet and authored such pieces as “An Evening on the Banks of the Chattahoochee”,“Thou Idol of my Soul”, and many others. Lamar was a newspaperman by trade and began the Columbus Ledger which is still in existence today. After hearing about the Alamo and Goliad Lamar moved to Texas and joined the army of the Texas Republic as a private. He advanced in rank very quickly after he rescued two Texans who were surrounded the day before the Battle of San Jacinto. It is also interesting to know that Lamar and Sam Houston did not get along and rarely agreed on the issues surrounding an independent Texas. Lamar never favored annexation into the United States, and actually invisioned a Texas Republic that stretched westward to the Pacific. Many schools are named after Lamar since he is considered to be the Father of Education in Texas.
Thomas J. Rusk was not born in Georgia but he did live here for awhile in Clarksville. He went to Texas in 1832. His prime reason for going was to catch up with some crooked business partners. He settled in Nacogdoches and served the Texas Republic by organizing a company of volunteers that joined up with Stephen Austin’s army and helped them keep a strategic cannon from falling in the hands of the Mexicans. When the Alamo fell it was Rusk who helped the president for the Texas Republic, Daid Burnet, to move the republic’s government to Harrisburg. He also signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. After Fannin’s men fell at Goliad Rusk, via Burnet’s orders, it was Rusk who asked Sam Houston to make a firm stand against Santa Ana. He also participated in the Battle of San Jacinto as commander-in-chief of the Texas Republic Army. He remained steadfast as he followed the Mexican army as they retreated back across the Rio Grande River. In remembrance of the lost men at Goliad Rusk organized a funeral ceremony to remember their sacrifice.
William Ward, who organized the men from Macon, Columbus, and Milledgeville into three companies, was also instrumental in helping the Texans with some weapons. They happened to be guns he borrowed from the arsenal of the state of Georgia. This fact makes Georgia unique in that it might be the only state in the Union that supplied arms to the Republic of Texas. Ward continued recruiting men on the march to Texas until his ranks swelled to over 200. Along with Fannin Ward was also executed by the Mexicans. A Texas Scrapbook recounts:
"After all the men had been shot the time of the officers came. Colonel Ward was ordered to kneel, which he refused to do; he was told if he would kneel his life would be spared. He replied, they had killed his men in cold blood, and that he had no desire to live; death would be welcome. He was then shot dead." [D. W. C. Baker, A Texas Scrap Book, 249]
A truly brave man...You can read more about Ward here.
The struggle for Texas independence occurred through the hard work and sacrifice of many Americans from all over, however, I found it interesting that so many Georgians were clearly in leadership positions.