Remember Goliad – William H. Oberste (1950)

The “Angel of Goliad, ” as she is known even to this day, Senora Alavez attempted to prevent the butchery. Not much is known of the identity of Senora Alavez so affectionately remembered in the annals of Texas. From an old newspaper we have a clipping in which we find a few additional details about her. Writing about the massacre at Goliad, the unknown author tells us in his account, which he grandiosely and incorrectly describes to be that “of the only living man who survived it,” the following story of the “Angel of Goliad”:

. . . The courier from Santa Anna arrived at Goliad on the twenty-sixth, having left San Antonio the morning of the same day, distant, one hundred miles. Don F. N. Partilla, the commandante, glanced at the superscription, then at the black seal bearing the president’s arms, an upright arm and dagger, with the legend “Mano y Clavo, ” and sat down on his camp stool to read the missive, uttering something like a groan. Its purport was that he had certain prisoners in charge, that he knew what his duty was, and must execute that duty promptly and rejoin his commander. Partilla, threw down the dispatch in disgust. “Duty indeed!” he muttered, leaning his head upon the table.

A young woman entered the room, took up the letter, and read it through from beginning to end. Partilla looked up and discovered the intruder with the dispatch in her hand. “I see you have been reading my dispatch ‘ said the commandante. “So—I have. I came here with that very purpose,” she replied. “I suppose you know what it means” “I understand its meaning perfectly. It means the death of every American now in Goliad.” “I have watched for the courier since daybreak, and was resolved to know the contents of his dispatch at any peril. What are your intentions?” “To obey the president’s instructions to the letter.” “Promise me that you will do as I wish. Much can be done in a few days. I have friends near the president whom he cannot afford to disoblige; nor can they afford to slight me. Promise me this, and Francisco my husband’s orderly, shall start for Bexar tonight. “. . . . They call me Indian, Senora Alavesque; but were I president I would not write that letter for all the lands your father owns; not for all the gold that ever passed the mint of Mexico.”

The colonel leaned his bronzed Aztec face up on the table, weeping like a child. Dona Panchita Alavesque, a lovely woman of twenty, was the wife of a colonel of the Mexican army, a man of great wealth and power. She had followed him to Texas, partly from whim, but chiefly in the hope of doing good. Her visit that night to the commander saved seventy lives.

The author of this account describes the shooting of the Texas volunteers at Goliad, their outcries of panic, pain, and agony, and how at last there was silence—a fearfully oppressive silence of the hundred and more dead. This account of the massacre does not differ much in detail from that of Shackelford. He takes up the narrative again by relating the further activities of the Angel of Goliad:

Meanwhile Father Maloney (Molloy), the curate of San Patricio pushed the three American physicians and their assistants into the vestry, and shut the door. He had hardly done so when Senora Alavesque entered, and asked if they were still alive. The priest answered that they were in the vestry, but that he expected Dominguez for them any moment. “Give them this note,” she said, “and if he dares to treat it with disrespect, he shall never pass that door alive.” Soon Dominguez entered. “Show him the note, Father,” said Panchita. Dominguez read the note, which was signed “Garay,” and directed that the three physicians and their assistants should be reserved from execution. Dominguez walked away with an air of disappointment….

Eight days after the massacre an order arrived at Goliad to shoot the remaining prisoners, but before it could be carried into effect it was countermanded. And this, Don Manuel Tolsa told me, was the result of Senora Alavesque’s influence at headquarters. About the close of April following Senora Alavesque came to our headquarters one day with Don, her husband, who looked like a goodhearted man, but dreadful stiff and dignified. Panchita bade us all good-bye, and said she was going home to Durango. . . . The Senora was hardly twenty, a black-eyed high-bred beauty. God bless her. She saved my life and the lives of my companions. . . .

According to Oberste, this account was found in an old scrapbook of Mr. M.T. Gaffney, an early resident of Corpus Christi.

©2016 Angel of Goliad Historical Preservation Society | Website by - Liira Media