Urrea Oaks

Historical Period: Texas Revolution (1835-1836)
Historical Topic: Texas Independence
Species: Live Oak (Quercus virginiana)
County: Refugio
Public Access: Yes

Early in March 1836, Mexican General Urrea approached to within sight of Refugio Mission, set up headquarters near these live oak trees, and made preparations to take the town.

All but a few families of Irish colonists at Refugio had fled in advance of Urrea's army. Those who remained did so for lack of wagons. When word of the colonists' plight reached Goliad, Colonel James W. Fannin immediately dispatched Captain Amon B. King and about 30 men to bring the colonists to Goliad.

On the morning of March 11, King found the frightened colonists and moved them from their homes to the protecting walls of the Refugio Mission but not before they were discovered and fired upon by a small advance force of Urrea's cavalry. King sent a message to Goliad asking for reinforcements. Fannin immediately dispatched Lieutenant-Colonel William Ward and his Georgia Battalion. They reached the Mission that same afternoon.

Early on the 14th, King and Ward left the Mission with their men by different paths to hunt and kill the enemy. At daybreak Ward saw the Mexicans moving on the Mission with a four-pounder and turned back toward the Mission. About noon King and his men were within sight of the Mission but were pinned down by Urrea's cavalry. That night, under cover of darkness, King and his Texans crossed the river and marched all night, and at dawn found themselves only three miles from the Mission. When they were discovered by the Mexicans, their powder was still wet from fording the river and they were forced to surrender.

Urrea was angered to discover that the enemy had slipped out of the Mission during the night. When King and his men were brought before him, he ordered them executed. Thirty men were bound two-by-two and marched about a mile from the Mission, where they were shot, stripped of their clothes, and left in a heap.

A week later, Ward and 100 of his men surrendered to Urrea at Las Juntas, south of Victoria. Except for the surgeons and hospital attendants, all were sent to Goliad and, with the captured Fannin and his men, were massacred on Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836.

The Urrea Oaks are located in the middle of the US Highway 77 right-of-way, a mile southwest of Our Lady of Refuge Church in Refugio.