The 1836 original of Joseph Chadwick’s plan of Fort Defiance in Goliad, Texas, may be lost, but what is at present the only known example of a copy made for its creator’s descendants in 1966 was sold by Heritage for $200,000 (£143,885).

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

But another of those events that rallied furious Texians (as they were then known) and inspired them towards an eventual rout of General Santa Anna’s Mexican army at San Jacinto and the creation of what for a short time was the independent Republic of Texas is perhaps less familiar to the wider world.

This was the tragic massacre in 1836 of Colonel James Fannin and over 400 of his men at Fort Defiance in Goliad, Texas. In a February 27-28 Americana sale held in Dallas by Heritage (25/20/12.5% buyer’s premium) a much later copy of a plan of the fort drawn by his adjutant, Joseph Chadwick, and sent to his mother shortly before he perished, was sold for $200,000 (£143,885).

Chadwick’s original drawing remained in the hands of the family for generations, but was largely unknown to scholars until 1966, when they allowed the original to be pictured in the American Heritage Magazine and when a limited number of lithographed copies appear to have been printed in New York for the family.

This copy of that printed version, the only one now recorded it seems, left the family’s possession at some later date, and the whereabouts of Chadwick’s original drawing for the present remains unknown.

As the image reproduced above shows, even the copy is now discoloured and creased from being folded into eight sections, possibly for insertion in an envelope. There is also a correction in the explanation key, at the letter O: “Where Prisoners [were] Shot” and several small ink blots appear above the title.

Prayers by pony


A rare copy of the 1858 ‘Pony Express’ Bible sold by Heritage at $60,000 (£43,165).

Bid to $60,000 (£43,165) in the Heritage sale was one of only a modest number of surviving copies of the famous ‘Pony Express’ Bible.

Three hundred copies were distributed by the publisher Russell, Majors & Waddell, one of whose partners, Alexander Majors, held deep religious beliefs and insisted that all employees of the company honour the Sabbath. Each employee had to sign an oath to that effect.

The Pony Express was a fast mail service crossing the North American continent from the Missouri River to the Pacific coast, each of whose riders was presented with his own copy of this Bible from the stock of specially bound copies that Majors had ordered for his company’s wagontrain crews. All were imprinted in gold letters, “Presented by Russell, Majors, & Waddell 1858”.

Most existing copies seem now to be in institutional hands and a 1960 census identified only a dozen of them, though there may be a few others still in private hands.

Professionally restored along the spine, the copy seen in Dallas was basically in excellent condition, with only scattered light foxing and water staining evident.