General Jose Urrea, Governor of his native state of Durango, Mexico, was dispatched northeastward early in 1836 by Dictator antonio Lopez De Sana Anna, to fight against the Texas Colonists in their uprising for independence. Because of his superior numbers, he won easy victories at and near the town of San Patricio (about 40 miles southwest of here).
When he reached mission Nuestra Senora Del Refugio, his troops (comprised mainly of non-spanish-speaking Yucatanians who had been pressed into fighting by Santa Anna) met heavy resistance form the Refugio townsmen, and Urrea lost many men in action.
Later, the Texas volunteers under Captain Amon B. King and Lieutenant Colonel William Ward left the Mission, and Urrea was Victorious. After his men looted the town of Refugio, Urrea had them drag their dead into a four-foot by four-foot ditch which a colonist named Poland had used as a fence around his town lot. Eyewitness Sabina Brown said that the dead made a stack as large as twenty cords of wood. When the ditch was filled, it became the common grave of these Yucatanians.