While the Texans who gathered in Gonzales were heading toward San Antonio, another group, from the Matagorda area of the lower Colorado, Lavaca, and Navidad Rivers, elected George Morse Collingsworth to be their leader. Collingsworth, pictured to the left, was a Celt and one of the founders of Richmond. Acting under a plan said to be devised by West Point trained Colonel James W. Fannin. These men set out to attack the fort at Goliad. The plan was to cut the Mexican line of supply from Copano to Cós at Béxar, and to deny Cós the use of the supplies and men at Goliad. During the night, as they made their way to the old settlement at La Bahía, now called Goliad, Collingsworth stopped to allow the stragglers to catch up. While they were halted, a detachment was sent on ahead to reconnoitre Goliad. This detachment was talking among themselves when they heard someone call to them. It turned out to be Ben Milam who heard them speaking English. Milam escaped from a Mexican prison in Monterrey after taking part in the Coahuila revolt. He walked to Texas. Milam joined Collingsworth's force. Other Celts with Collingsworth included: James W. Moore, D. C. Collingsworth, Ira Ingram, Spirse Dooley, Thomas O'Connor, Morgan O'Brien, John Dunn, George McKnight, Patrick Quinn, Michael O'Reilley, Robert Patrick Hearn, a man named Scott, and Samuel McCullough (said to be Collingsworth's slave, but that was just a cover to assuade those needing it. McCullough was a free black and was there for the same reason as the others). From Refugio, and joining the group before the attack were: Edward McDonough, Hugh McDonald Fraser, Andrew Devereaux, James Shearn, and some others.
The attack was made October 9th, 1835. The Mexican garrison was taken completely by surprise. One of the defenders was killed and three wounded. The only man wounded among the Texans was Samuel McCullough, the first casualty of the Revolution. His Celtic name is among those not remembered among the heroes of Texas. It is not because he was black as we will see later, nor was it because he was not well thought of by his comrades in battle. It is because this first battle at Goliad, a Texan victory, will be overshadowed by coming events.
The victory at Goliad brought more than the objectives sought; they also found in the fort: arms, money, and supplies desperately needed by the revolutionaries. Collingsworth then dispatched couriers to the settlements to announce the capture of Goliad. Two of them sent to San Patricio, John Williams and John O'Toole, were captured by Mexican soldiers and taken as prisoners to Fort Lipantitlan. Thus, the first Texans taken prisoner in the Texas Revolution were Irish. An argument could be made; those at Refugio, who were pressed into helping the Mexican Army, were the first prisoners; but they were Irish too, as well as some local Mexicans.
The Texan group that was following the Mexicans from Gonzales to Béxar, were able to move faster when they abandoned the cannon. Sam Houston caught up with these Texans at the Cibolo River and gave them a speech. He then headed for the consultation at San Felipe. The main body of the Texas Army was now led by Stephen F. Austin who was elected Commander in Chief. There was a small group of about 25 ahead of the main body. This advance group cleared the crossing at Salado of a small Mexican force. The next day this forward element of Texans was led by Jim Bowie to a proposed campsite at Concepcion. At the Mission de Concepcion area, they found the Mexicans waiting for them supported with artillery from Béxar. The Texans took up a position in a pecan grove. The Mexican artillery opened fire and knocked the tops off the pecan trees but otherwise missed the Texans.
The Battle of Concepcion
The Texans layed low and ate the ripe nuts thus knocked down to them. Some of the Texans moved to take a position where they picked off the artillery gunners. The Mexican cavalry charged and was repulsed; they charged again, and again were thrown back. After the third charge failed, and finding most of their gunners dead, the Mexicans withdrew to Béxar leaving 60 dead and many wounded. Of the Texans, there was only one casualty, Irishman Dick Andrews. He was the first man to die for Texas in the revolution. Taking part in this Battle of Concepcion were the twenty-five man advance party who were joined during the battle by seventy one others. Among them were Fannin, Bowie, Smithwick and Dick Andrews. Andrews father, William, was one of the "Old 300". Andrews County, and Andrews, Texas is named after Irishman Dick Andrews. Also there were T. J. Rusk, Henry Karnes, J. W. E. Wallace, F. W. Johnson and James S. McGahey. McGahey was wounded at the Battle of Concepcion and he placed the flag of the Lynchburg Volunteers, which he had with him, with Thomas Bell who ended up under Fannin's command.
BACK AT GOLIAD
Meanwhile back at Goliad, Captain Collingsworth got word that he was promoted to major by Austin for his capture of the fort, and was now needed by the force marching to Béxar. The men at Goliad, made up to a large degree of the Irish colonists and men from Victoria, elected Phillip Dimmitt their new commander. Dimmitt was of Huguenot-Scotch extraction. A man of action he immediately took charge. He unfurled over the fort a flag he made. It was was the Mexican tri-color with the words and year: CONSTITUTION OF 1824 in the center (could this be the flag that later flew over the Alamo?).
Dimmitt dispatched James Kerr and James Power to ask the Karankawa Indians to stay out of the fight. Upon their successful return, he set to planning the capture of Fort Lipantitlan. This would further the strategy of taking men and supplies away from Cós and cutting the supply route from Copano.
Ira Westover, Dimmitt's Adjutant, was in command of the forty men who left Goliad to attack Fort Lipantitlan. Among the group were: James Kerr, of the DeWitt's Colony; James Power, of the of the Irish colonies; and John J. Linn, the Alcalde of Victoria. Other Celts present were: William Bracken, Jeremiah Day, John Dunn, Nicholas and John Fagan; James, John, and Walter Lambert; Martin Lawlor; Charles Malone; Andrew Devereaux; Edward Quirk; John Ryan; George McKnight; Morgan and Thomas O'Brien; James and Thomas O'Connor; Michael McDonough; Patrick and Michael O'Reilley; Daniel O'Driscoll; William Ryan; Peter Teal; John, Michael and Patrick Quinn. One other man in the group was there for personal reasons as well for the revolution. He was Jeremiah O'Toole, father of young John O'Toole. John O'Toole along with his friend, John Williams, were the two Texan couriers being held prisoner in the fort.
When the Texans came upon Fort Lipantitlan located about 12 miles up the Nueces River from San Patricio, James O'Reilley of the San Patricio Irish volunteered to go into the fort and attempt to obtain the surrender of the garrison. The garrison was made up of Mexican men who only months earlier were neighbors and friends of the Texans. He found only 22 men in the fort. The main force had gone out in search of Westover's expedition. The Mexicans at the fort surrendered. It was learned the two young men, O'Toole and Williams, were gone. They were taken to Matamoros (Williams escaped enroute). There were other prisoners, men from Refugio; whom Cós impressed into helping move supplies and equipment to Goliad. They were released. When these men got back to Refugio, they found their families in mourning for them, believing them killed.
The Texans took all that was of use from the fort, including the cannon that was taken from San Patricio, and left the next day for Goliad. They ran into the returning garrison and a battle ensued. The Mexicans suffered heavy losses; the Texans had one injured, Irishman William Bracken. The Texans continued to Goliad and then left with a large group of men to help in what was now the siege of Béxar. Cós and his men were bottled up in San Antonio surrounded by armed frontiersmen who wanted a fight.
Back in Goliad, Dimmitt reorganized to hold the fort with those who remained. His new Adjutant was Ira Ingram. Word reached Dimmitt that the Governor of Coahuila y Texas, Agustin M. Viesca, escaped from jail with others and was on the road to Goliad. Viesca came with an entourage that included two doctors of Scottish origin: Dr. John Cameron and Dr. James Grant. Dimmitt sent Colonel James Power, James Kerr, and John J. Linn to meet and escort Governor Viesca into Goliad. These Celtic men were the leaders of the area, all spoke Spanish, and counted many Mexicans among their personal friends. As a reception committee they were the best possible choice. The former Governor was met with a military salute upon his arrival in Goliad. The deposed Governor told Dimmitt and his men that he expected to be recognized as their Governor, to be reinstated in his office by the Texans, and that he would temporarily establish his Capital in Béxar. Dimmitt played the polite host, he told the Viesca he was only a soldier, and passed the matter of recognizing Viesca as Governor to those gathered at San Felipe. Viesca was hospitably entertained until he left for San Felipe to confer with the "Consultation" and with Austin. According to Linn, "they did everything but recognize him as governor."
In San Felipe, Viesca complained about not being received in Goliad as the Governor. Austin issued an order relieving Dimmitt of his command. Upon hearing of the order, Dimmitt's men, mostly Irish, held a meeting, while Dimmitt was packing his gear preparing to comply. In the meeting the men passed some resolutions which were signed by every member of the unit and sent to Austin. The resolutions stated that the men were volunteers, and that as such, had the right to elect their own leader. They had elected Phillip Dimmitt as their leader, and considered the order for him to be replaced by a man appointed by Austin as "un-military, ill-advised, ill-timed, and arbitrary." The point became moot, as Austin was replaced as Commander in Chief in a matter of days and nothing more was said of the matter. Dimmitt remained commander of his men and the fort. These events occurred the latter part of November, 1835.
Another Republican, Captain Pedro Juan Miracle, sent by the Republican General from Tamaulipas, General Antonio Canales, arrived at Goliad at the end of November. Dimmitt sent him on to San Felipe. Canales was attempting to determine the loyalty of Texans to the Republican cause.