Escape at Goliad

William Lawrence Norvell, son of Joshua Norvell and Catherine Crist Norvell was born March 1813 and died before 1900 in New York City. With the death of his mother in 1814, he was given to the care of his uncle Lipscomb Norvell, Jr. and lived in Trigg County, Kentucky. About 1835, Lipscomb Norvell Jr. relocated to Texas where he fought the Mexicans in the Texas war of independence.

About this time, William appears to have moved back to Nashville, where he joined the fight as well. In 1874, he prepared a document to claim a pension for his service, the following is taken from his account of his service:

“I was enrolled in a company for service in Texas, 20th February, 1836, at Nashville, Tennessee, under William P. Miller, who signed the law bills he had issued as “Major, 1st Regiment Texas Cavalry.” We went to New Orleans and embarked in a little schooner for Texas. At Texas, the whole company 3rd March, 1836, enlisted taking an oath for three years or during the war. We landed from the schooner on the 19th and were captured the afternoon of the 20thby a force from Refugio. Were taken to Refugio that night, where we remained the next day, and the following day we march for Goliad where we arrived at 2:30. On the road we passed a pile of corpses, the remains of Capt King’s command, whom the Mexicans had assassinated a day or two previous. At Goliad, we found Fannin’s command, all prisoners of war, and that afternoon, Ward’s battalion of Georgians were also brought in.


On Sunday following, (the 27th) early in the morning, these men, to the number of near 400, were divided into three parties, was led out of the fort in many different directions and shot to death. Their murderers then heaped wood over their bodies and burned them. An order arrived a few days after to shoot the rest of us, but for some reason it was countermanded that night.

The fact is that we were saved through the kind intervention of a charming young Mexican lady, Dona Pachito Alaresque of Durango, the wife of the colonel, to whom also Drs. Schackleford, Bernard, Field, and their four attendants, where wholly indebted for their lives.

With this company, I served until this company was disbanded in June, 1837. In 1838, I was regularly discharged at the land office in Houston. My discharge was filed in the land office in Houston – Ward the commissioner at Houston, when I took out my headright of one-tenth of a league of land.”

The 75 soldiers of William Parsons Miller and the Nashville Battalion, who had surrendered were among the few survivors of the Goliad Massacre.

About jenorv

John E. Norvell is a retired Air Force Lt Colonel, decorated air combat veteran of the Vietnam War, and former Assistant Professor of American and Military History at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He has written freelance for the Washington Post, the Middle Tennessee Journal of Genealogy and History, and for several newspapers around the country.
This entry was posted in American History, Ancestry, Genealogy, Goliad Massacre survivor, Mexican War, Social History, Tennessee History, Texas, Texas History, Texas Independence and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.