Description

    Col. James Fannin purchases 46 cannonballs two months before his death at the Goliad Massacre

    James W. Fannin Autograph Receipt Signed as an agent of the Texas Provisional Government noting that he had received 46 cannonballs from McKinney, Williams, and Company. These cannonballs were likely headed to the Alamo when Fannin, days before the presidio's fall, turned back his rescue march. One page, 6.25" x 2", Quintana [Texas], January 24, 1836. The receipt reads in full: "Recd of McKenney & Williams forty six six pound cannon balls / Quintana Jany 24th 1836." Fannin, whose signature is exceedingly rare, has signed, "J W Fannin Jr / Agt Provl Govt."

    Barely thirty-two years old, Agent James Fannin Jr., a West Point dropout, had begun gathering munitions and recruits in Copano Bay in early January 1836. His goal was an expedition to attack Matamoros, Mexico. When he signed this receipt on January 24, he was in Quintana, 178 miles up the Texas coast, to purchase munitions for his expedition from the mercantile firm McKinney, Williams, and Company. Days later after arriving back at Copano Bay, however, he learned that General José de Urrea's Mexican army were already occupying Matamoros, so he moved his newly-acquired arsenal and volunteers to defend nearby Goliad.

    Meanwhile, William Travis, Jim Bowie, David Crockett, and roughly 150 other men were becoming desperate inside the Alamo. Responding to Travis' famous February 24 plea from the Alamo to "come to our aid with all dispatch," Fannin and his force of 300 set out to reinforce the besieged San Antonio presidio, ninety miles from Goliad.

    Fannin's army had four cannons with them as they began the march and it seems a certainty that these six-pound balls were also loaded onto a wagon as part of the train. (Twenty-one cannons were at the Alamo, but only eighteen were operative. One was the famous Gonzales "Come and Take It" cannon, a six-pounder.) In fact, the army had barely gone four miles on the journey when one of the supply wagons broke down. Fannin took this as an omen that the trip was doomed and he turned his force back, leaving the Alamo to its fate.

    In the path of General José de Urrea's invasion three weeks later, Fannin began a retreat which had been ordered by General Sam Houston. He brought his nine cannons with cannonballs, which effectively slowed the retreat, particularly when one cannon cart broke down, causing a long delay. When Urrea's force overtook the retreating Texians on March 19, Fannin formed his men into a hollow square and placed his nine artillery pieces at the corners. Possibly, these cannonballs were used in the ensuing Battle of Coleto, which ended on the morning of March 20 with Fannin's surrendered. The Texians were imprisoned at Goliad where they were executed by order of Antonio López de Santa Anna on March 27, 1836. The Goliad Massacre and the fall of the Alamo aroused the fury of the people of Texas, the United States, and even Great Britain and France, thus promoting the success of the Texas Revolution.

    McKinney, Williams, and Company was founded in Quintana two years prior to selling these cannonballs to the Texas Provisional Government. The mercantile firm supported the Texas Revolution in many ways, including issuing the nascent Texas government much-needed credit following the revolution. This document is age-toned.




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    Auction Dates
    March, 2011
    12th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
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