Sunday, August 30, 2009
JAMES WALKER FANNIN
COL. JAMES WALKER FANNIN
Soldier of Misfortune
James Walker was born in Georgia circa 1801 to 1804. Walker was reportedly the illegitimate son of Dr. Isham Fannin. The young boy probably lived with his mother's father, George Walker. George Walker moved to what was then Wilkinson County about the year 1806. On December 10, 1807 his lands became a portion of western Laurens County. In December of 1808 the lands were once again shifted to another county. Now in Pulaski County, George Walker was appointed by the Georgia Legislature as a commissioner of the public buildings of that county. George Walker's sons built a three and one half mile stretch of the Federal Stage and Post Road which became known as Longstreet. James Walker grew up in the area along the Twiggs-Bleckley county line, living on a plantation south of Marion, in Twiggs County.
In 1819, George Walker secured an appointment for his grandson to the military academy at West Point. The young man entered West Point under the name of James Walker Fannin. Fannin was described as a " gallant, handsome, and sensitive lad, not especially devoted to his books." After a fight with a fellow cadet, Fannin resigned from the academy in November of 1821. Fannin returned to Georgia and married Minerva Fort. In 1834, Fannin removed to Velasco, Texas on the Brazos River. He organized a military company which he called "The Brazos Volunteers." Fannin participated in the first skirmish of the war in October of 1835 and distinguished himself at the Battle of Concepcion four weeks later. Fannin was made an Inspector General in the Army of the Republic of Texas and was later promoted to Commander in Chief. After the fall of the Alamo, Col. Fannin was given orders to destroy the Mexican fort at Goliad and fall back to Victoria. Fannin and his men delayed their mission to help a group of women and children escape from the Mexican army. Fannin and his 350 men moved toward Goliad where they met 1200 Mexican troops under the command of Gen. Urrea.
In two days of fighting, Fannin was wounded and lost seventy men. Fannin surrendered his forces to Gen. Urrea on the condition that they be paroled and allowed to return home. On March 27, 1836 Fannin and his men, except four surgeons and four assistants, were executed by the Mexican army. The deaths of the men at the Alamo and at Goliad so enraged the Texans that they completely destroyed the Mexican army under Gen. Santa Anna, who personally ordered the massacre at Goliad. When a new county was formed in Georgia in 1854 from Union and Gilmer Counties, it was named Fannin, in honor of Col. James Walker Fannin. Several counties can claim James Walker Fannin as a citizen, and certainly Laurens County can at least claim him for one year from December of 1807 to December of 1808. The decision of whether Col. Fannin was a hero or a coward is left to the doubters of his courage in a situation that many men never face.