On a warm, balmy day, the sound of a flute and beat of a drum echoes through the air as soldiers march in unison across a grassy field. Cannons and muskets begin firing loudly and a standoff between the Mexican and Texian armies ensues.
Thousands of spectators gathered at the Presidio La Bahia in Goliad on Saturday to take part in an important piece of Texas history: the recreation of the occupation of Presidio La Bahia and the Goliad Massacre. With the re-enactment in its 34th year, onlookers flock to bear witness to a historical event that set Texas independence in motion.
As you walk inside the historic walls of the Presidio La Bahia, it feels as if you’ve walked through a time machine and come out in the early 19th century. From the twang of a jaw harp to the metal pounding of a blacksmith, and everything in between, visitors get to learn about what life was like in the early 1800s.
“This gives everyone an opportunity to see a little bit of history,” said Scott McMahon, director of Presidio La Bahia. He’s been participating in the re-enactments and living history in Goliad since he was 14, when he first came here with his family. And his connection to Texas goes even further back to 1828, the year his family first arrived in Texas. He says he even had ancestors that were involved in the Texas Revolution.
This is McMahon’s sixth reenactment since becoming director of Presidio La Bahia, and he and other re-enactors think the crowds look bigger this year than they have in the past.
“Visitation usually will run around 3,000 on a good year,” he says.
McMahon said that some re-enactments are more educational and others are pure entertainment – this one is a little bit of both. On Sunday morning, the re-enactors will recreate the massacre fairly close to one of the original sites where the men were massacred and then everything wraps up with a memorial that begins at the chapel and processes to the burial site.
“We’ve had a good turnout and decent weather,” said McMahon, “and we’re looking forward to wrapping the weekend on a high note.”