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Where Texans Bled

By Justin Wood


The Lone Star State has seen its fair share of important battles over the years. A walk across a Texas battlefield will set fire to your imagination as you feel the presence of history and heartbreak. You can stand on the same ground as those apprehensive soldiers long ago and squint across the horizon for the first glimpse of the oncoming troops, as they did. You can practically feel the ground shake from the boom of the cannons. Here are the sites of five battles that shaped Texas. Include a vacation stop at one this summer.

Photo by Earl Nottingham / TPWD

SAN JACINTO

LA PORTE

In 1836, Texian troops surprised the Mexican army camped here. Shouting “Remember the Alamo” and “Remember Goliad,” the rebels routed the larger force in only 18 minutes, winning Texas’ independence. Walk in their footsteps, explore the museum and enjoy a bird’s-eye view from the top of the monument. San Jacinto Day festivities in April include battle re-enactments (canceled for this year).

Photo by Chase Fountain / TPWD

THE ALAMO

SAN ANTONIO

Though greatly outnumbered, the Texian army (led by William Travis and James Bowie) held off the Mexican army for nearly two weeks during the siege of the Alamo in February 1836, but virtually all were executed. “Remember the Alamo!” became the rallying cry for the rest of the war. Today, the Alamo attracts more than 2.5 million visitors a year.

Photo by Chase Fountain / TPWD

PALO ALTO

BROWNSVILLE

Gen. Zachary Taylor (who later became president) led his forces to victory over Mexico at Palo Alto on May 8, 1846, despite being outnumbered by 900 men. This battle was the first major conflict in the Mexican–American War. The national historical park remains eerily similar nearly two centuries later.

Photo © Gregory Rutzen JD

COLETO CREEK

GOLIAD

Texian commander James W. Fannin and his forces were defeated at the Battle of Coleto Creek in 1836, the final installment of the Mexican army’s Goliad campaign of the Texas Revolution. About 300 Texian soldiers were captured; all were executed 10 miles away in the Goliad Massacre. See the stone monument at the Fannin Battleground State Historic Site, then drive down the road to Goliad State Park and Mission Espíritu Santo.

Photo © Lefty Ray Chapa

PALMITO RANCH

BROWNSVILLE

Was the Battle of Palmito Ranch (May 12–13, 1865) “The Last Battle of the Civil War”? Historians disagree, since the war had already ended. Both Union and Confederate generals were aware of the surrender in Virginia before they engaged. The site of this battle remains relatively unchanged since 1865 and has been designated a National Historic Landmark.



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