On a cold night, October 10, 1835, very soon after the skirmish at Gonzales (Come and Take It Battle), four groups of armed revolutionary patriots were stealthly making their way in the dark to their pre-planned positions, making ready for their assault on a Mexican garrisoned at “Presidio La Bahía”, near Goliad.
The plan was for four different groups to launch a sneak attack after dark on the fortress held by the Mexican Army. Three assault groups were made up of the of the fighting Texians from the “Matagorda Volunteer Company”under the command of George M. Collinsworth and one group consisted of the fighting Tejanos from the “Tejano Volunteer Company” led by Plácido Benavides. In the pre-dawn hours the Texians and Tejanos attacked.
A Mexican sentry who was keeping watch that night saw the Texians and Tejanos coming so he immediately gave the alarm. One of the Texians then shot him dead. The Texians and Tejanos then proceeded to hack through a door on the north wall of the fortress with axes the local citizens had brought them. When the attacking forces successfully entered the courtyard charging, and as they reached the Mexican officers' quarters, a shot rang out. A young Matagorda Volunteer leading the charge – was shot.
The Texians and Tejanos returned fire for approximately 30 minutes. When the fighting subsided for a minute, a fighting Texian from Matagorda yelled out, "We will massacre everyone of you, unless you come out immediately and surrender”! The Mexican garrison immediately surrendered and the Texian/Tejano forces won the day. The Battle of Goliad was over. The young Texian Patriot shot that morning was 25 years old and, History remembers this young patriot as “Samuel McCulloch Jr.”, a free black man who became known as the "1st Texan Casualty" of the revolution.
Samuel McCulloch Jr was born in the Abbeville District of South Carolina on October 11, 1810. Sam moved with his white father, Samuel McCulloch, Sr., to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1815 and in May 1835 Samuel McCulloch, Sr., describing himself as a single man, moved to Texas with Sam Jr. and three daughters, Jane, Harriet, and Mahaly. The family settled on the Lavaca River in what is now Jackson County. Samuel McCulloch, Jr., and his sisters were considered "free blacks".
On October 5, 1835, at the start of the Texas Revolution, the younger McCulloch joined the "Matagorda Volunteer Company" as a private under the command of George M. Collinsworth. Later in October 1835 Sam participated bravely in the "Battle of Goliad" and was shot during the battle. Sam became known as the first Texan casualty of the revolution. The musketball that shattered his right shoulder, left him an invalid for nearly a year, and crippled him for life.
Incapacitated by his wound, McCulloch remained at Goliad for three weeks after the battle and was then carried by John Polan to Victoria, where he stayed a short while. Sam was in constant pain day and night. Later, Sam was forced to leave his home in his disabled state when he and other settlers in the area fled in an attempt to get ahead of the retreating Texan army during the "Runaway Scrape". That was 5 months after Sam’s incurred the injury. And, Sam still had a musket ball in his shoulder and still lived in constant agony and pain. Later, it was noted by his friends that, his strong mind set and strong body kept him alive during that part of his life.
Nine months later, on July 8, 1836, after the battle of "San Jacinto", a surgeon in the Texan army, Dr. Nicholas D. Labadie, finally removed the musket ball from this young man's shoulder. Just two months after the Doctor removed the musket ball and as Sam was now settling down in this new “Republic of Texas”, McCulloch's rights to “Residence and Property” in Texas were threatened by the passage of the "Constitution of the Republic of Texas" in September 1836. A charter in this constitution contained a provision that barred "Africans [and] the descendants of Africans and Indians" from citizenship, and another that required all free blacks to apply to the Congress for "permanent residence" in the Republic of Texas.
McCulloch, a Texas patriot, who had revolutionary battle injuries, not yet completely healed, was asked to apply for citizenship in the country that he had bravely fought for. Therefore Sam was required to petition the Texas Congress in 1837 for citizenship and his "right" to receive grants of land for his participation in the Texas Revolution. The petition outlined his service in the Texas army at the Battle of Goliad, stated that he had been the first Texan wounded in the revolution, and supported his request for land with the announcement that he had recently become the head of a family. Unfortunately, a committee representing the new Texas Republic, "effectively rejected" McCulloch's request for citizenship and head right land.
"Citizenship – Land Rights.” - DENIED.
Even though Texas turned him down, Sam would not turn against his beloved country. He stayed in Texas and that same year, McCulloch married a beautiful young lady, Mary Lorena Vess, the white daughter of Jonathan Vess, who moved to Austin's colony sometime between 1821 and 1824. The McCullochs were never prosecuted for breaking the law against "interracial marriage", which had passed two months before as a part of the Act of June 5, 1837.
Years later in 1837, McCulloch became eligible for bounty land by an act of the Texas Congress approved December of that year, which entitled persons permanently disabled in the service of Texas to "one-league grants". Once more Sam would have to wait for his land because on February 5, 1840, the Texas Congress passed an act (Ashworth Act) that required all free blacks to leave the republic within 2 years or be "sold into slavery".
LEAVE TEXAS OR BECOME A SLAVE.
Sam McCulloch once again - submitted a petition, introduced by Patrick Usher, asking that he, his 3 sisters, and a relative named Uldy be exempted from the law. On November 10th, 1840, a relief bill for the McCulloch’s -"PASSED. Sam was allowed to stay and live in the land he fought for and not be sold into slavery.
Sam and Mary remained married until Mary's death about November 8, 1847, and had four children. At least one of their sons, Lewis Clark McCulloch, served in the Confederate Army. Even with his “handicap”, Samuel McCulloch later fought against Comanche Indians at the "Battle of Plum Creek" on August 11 and 12, 1840. When Mexican General "Adrián Woll" invaded San Antonio in 1842, McCulloch served as a spy under the command of Col. Clark L. Owen. In 1841 he and his family moved from Lavaca County to Wallace Prairie in Grimes County, but in 1845 they resettled in Jackson County.
Finally, on December 7, 1850, many, many years after Sam was wounded during the Texas Revolution, Sam received his long over due land (for his service) and it was located on Frio Road and the south bank of the Medina River, 14 miles to the southwest of San Antonio. McCulloch sold a third of his bounty land to John Twohig on October 22, 1851 and in 1852 he moved with his family to the region of present-day Von Ormy, in Bexar County, where he lived as a farmer and cattleman.
Sam was a man who fought and served his country, was wounded during battle and became a veteran of that war. He was that quintessential man of the 1800’s who survived a war, injuries, the prejudices of that time in history and everything else an unsure life could bring, and still, Sam rose up every day with a great and positive disposition.
Sam is a True Patriot of our Texas revolution.
On April 20 and 21, 1889, he attended the annual reunion of the Texas Veterans Association at Dallas where he met with old friends. A story is told by ol’ timers that, on that day in Dallas, when Sam walked in the room, the attending revolutionary heroes already present cheered loudly at the sight of Sam when he arrived. They thought he had died from that shot on October 10, 1835 and many of the friends that served with him had not seen since that fateful night.
Sam was loved and respected by Texians and Tejanos alike and lived his life as a free proud Texan. Sam died at Von Ormy on November 2, 1893 and his name is registered on the Texas Veterans death roll for April 21, 1894.
This post is dedicated to all of Sam’s descendants living today in Texas and around the world who continue to "carry the torch” handed down to them by Samuel McCulloch Jr., a Texas Patriot of our revolution - to the benefit of Texas.
And, Thank You Sam for your service, deeds of bravery and heroic devotion to our republic — Texas!
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