Battle & Massacre Reenactments, 'Edge of Freedom' Author, Candlelight Vigil, Memorial Service at Goliad, TX, March 26-27

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More than 5,000 visitors will witness authentic reenactments of the Battle of Coleto Creek and the ensuing "Goliad Massacre" during the 26th Living History Weekend at the Presidio La Bahia (Fort of the Bay) National Historic Landmark in Goliad, TX, on March 26-27. In addition to skirmishes, cannon fire, cavalry charges and an emotional candlelight vigil, there will be visits to the encamped Mexican and Texian forces, educational lectures, comments by John Willingham, author of the historical novel "Edge of Freedom." The momentous occasion is another major event celebrating Texas' 175th Anniversary of independence from Mexico during the revolution of 1836.

On March 26-27, an estimated 5,000 visitors will witness reenactments of one of the bloodiest chapters in Texas' quest for independence from Mexico - the Battle of Coleto Creek and the ensuing "Goliad Massacre" in 1836 - at the Presidio La Bahia (Fort of the Bay) National Historic Landmark in Goliad, TX. The "Gone To Texas" band will also have a concert in the historic Chapel.

About 300 members of the Crossroads of Texas Living History Assn. (COTLHA), highly authentic reenactors representing Texian colonists and Mexican soldiers, will vividly portray the occupation of the 290-year-old citadel and the subsequent defeat, surrender and massacre of Col. James Fannin and 341 of his men.

The 26th Annual Living History event, complete with roaring cannons, musket fire, wounded men, encampments and period songs, is made possible by the combined efforts of the Presidio La Bahia Foundation, its Friends of the Fort, COTLHA and the Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept.

This year's events mark the 175th anniversary of Texas Independence. The massacre occurred on Palm Sunday in that fateful year of revolution and "runaway scrape." A detailed schedule of Presidio activities can be found at:

Exciting new elements have been recently added to the program:

K. R. Wood, singer-songwriter, historian and musician will reunite with members of the "Gone To Texas Band" for a concert in the 232-year-old Our Lady of Loreto Chapel at 12:30 p.m., Saturday.

Wood, an acclaimed acoustic guitarist is highly praised for his landmark "Fathers of Texas" music/history collection at the heart of his current Silver Anniversary reunion tour to key historic battle sites along the Texas Independence Trail Region.

His CD, "Davy Crockett's Fiddle Plays On," was recorded live in the Alamo with the actual Crockett fiddle from the Witte Museum. Wood's Presidio concert will be part of the new "Talk About Texas" Radio program, hosted by Roy Holly. It airs on San Antonio-based KKYX-AM 680, which is heard across Central and South Texas.

Author John Willingham to Speak
Beyond Saturday's skirmishes on foot and on horseback, beyond the noisy cannon fire, gritos (cries) and black powder smoke, visitors will be able to view up close the "camp life of cooking, yarn-spinning, singing and gear maintenance and attend scholarly lectures and a book signing in the Chapel

Seventh generation Texas John Willingham, author of the recently released "Edge of Freedom" (Inkwater Press, $22.95; Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell Books; Kindle, $5.99) will discuss on Saturday morning his fact-based novel of the Texas Revolution that he completed over a 30-year period. (Media kit and photos:

Willingham, a contributing writer for the History News Network who now divides his time between Portland, OR, and Austin, TX, has been an outstanding research scholar since his days at the University of Texas at Austin.

In the thrilling, emotional story, he focuses on Goliad, Southeast Texas and the conflicts and dilemmas faced by individuals on all sides of the civil war -- Tejanos, Mexicans and Anglos -- caught up in the terrible and tragic events leading up to the massacre.

Carlos de la Garza, a Tejano rancher and his neighbor John Bower, real-life partners in a nearby river ferry who chose opposite sides, are the central characters. Willingham shares with readers the horrors of the execution, also detailing the successes of Don Carlos and Francita Alavez, "The Angel of Goliad," in saving some of the Texian prisoners.

The Candlelight Vigil tours -- 7 p.m.-9 p.m., Saturday by reservation only -- will be conducted through the barracks, the Mexican officers' quarters and the impromptu "hospital" in the Chapel, where the wounded Texians are suffering. The visitors actually become part of the historic tableau, departing knowing the fate of the Texians is mere hours away. (Photos, story:

On Sunday, the death march begins inside the Presidio, proceeding to one of the locations where the massacre actually took place. The program concludes with a Memorial Service in the Chapel followed by a procession to the Fannin Memorial and a 21-musket salute.

Daily admission is $4 for ages 12-59; $3.50 for age 60 and up; $1for ages 6-11. Children under age five are admitted free. The admission for the Candlelight Tour is $2. For more information call 361-645-3752.

"The Presidio, with its recently renovated museum, is one of our nation's finest examples of Spanish Colonial architecture," said Newton Warzecha, Director. "The ruins were fully restored in the 1960s with funds from the Kathryn Stoner O'Connor Foundation. In the past 3½ years, more than $500,000 was spent in an extensive effort to broaden the landmark's appeal and to convey the compelling story of early Texas for tourists as well as students of history.

The fort has eight-foot stone walls, parapets, cannons, a bell tower containing two bells, a religious statue estimated at 300 years old, more than 150 artifacts on display, a unique Texas- version fresco of the Annunciation and "The (Officer's) Quarters," lodging which can accommodate four persons for overnight stays.

Newton M. Warzecha, Director of Presidio La Bahia and President of The Presidio La Bahia Foundation, Goliad, TX, 361-645-3752, presidiolabahia(at)goliad(dot)net

Preston F. Kirk, APR, Kirk Public Relations, Spicewood, TX, 830-693-4447; kirkpf(at)verizon(dot)net

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