The Road To San Jacinto

The Battle of San Jacinto was the eruption of hostility by the Texans, because the Coahuilans outnumbered them five to one and were able to over rule any legislature that favored the Texas district.

The journey of the Texans seeking independence was a long one dating all the way back to 1824 when the new Mexican government combined the districts of Texas and Coahuila. This joining produced hostility in the Texians because the Coahuilans outnumbered them five to one and were able to over rule any legislature that favored the Texas district.

As the discontent and hostilities grew, the Mexican government passed laws that basically put an end to Americans immigrating to Texas, taxes were raised and custom houses and garrisons were built to collect the monies and enforce the laws.

In April 1836, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna Perez de Lebron (1794-1876) took complete authority of the Mexican government, set up a dictatorship and began applying harsher laws against the people of Texas. Things came to a head on November 3, 1835 when a meeting between delegates from all across Texas began and voted into effect a provisional government with an executive officer and legislature.

Sam Houston was chosen by the new government of Texas to become commander in chief of the Texas Army on November 12, 1835.

On December 10, 1835 General Coz in command of the Mexican soldiers in San Antonio surrendered to General Edward Burleson after a siege of several days and the Alamo became a fort for the Texian defenders.

Gen. Santa Anna became incensed by the defeat of his brother in law Gen. Coz in San Antonio and decided to lead the attacks on San Antonio and the small town of Goliad himself.

On February 23, 1836 Santa Anna reached San Antonio and ordered the "Deguello" flag (blood red in color whose meaning is no quarter) raised. For the next thirteen days he laid siege to the Alamo and the morning of March 6th found the one hundred eighty three defenders over run by the fifteen hundred soldiers who made up the Mexican Army.

With the exception of a handful of women, children and slaves, every one of the defenders were killed and their bodies burned. The few who tried to surrender were shot to death as well. The Deguello policy Gen. Santa Anna instituted at the Alamo caused an immediate response from the people of Texas and the United States.

One of the women who had survived the Alamo was Mrs. Susannah Dickinson who was personally interviewed by Santa Anna and given two pesos to travel with, set out for the town of Gonzales to tell the tale of the Alamo to General Sam Houston and the rest of the Texas Army.

After hearing her news, Gen. Sam Houston left Gonzales on March 13, 1836 with a mere 374 men. Waiting for a time he felt his army was ready to fight, Houston and the Texas Army continued moving east over the next five weeks. As his journey progressed, more men rallied to the cause until he had a total of seven hundred eighty three.

It was on April 17th that Houston decided to change course and head towards the coast. The next day his intelligence reports listed Santa Anna's army of thirteen hundred men had crossed Vince's Bridge on the Buffalo Bayou and to follow Houston, would have to cross back over.

Houston himself moved his men across the bayou on April 19th and on April 21st. sent one of his trusted compatriots by the name of Deaf Smith to blow the bridge with orders to hurry back if he wanted to participate in the coming battle.

Since there had been a minor skirmish between the two armies on the 20th with no follow up by the Texians, Gen. Santa Anna assumed the Texas army was on the move again and he had nothing to worry about.

Throughout the entire Texas revolution, the Mexican army had followed Napoleonic style fighting tactics. They moved and attacked in long rows of soldiers standing shoulder to shoulder which presented an intimidating show of force.

The Texas army had incorporated a guerilla fighting style by using the environment and landscape around them to camouflage their locations. As with the patriots during the American Revolution, this proved highly effective.

At about 3:30 pm on April 21, 1836 General Houston ordered his men to quietly move in single file across an open prairie towards the Mexican army some three quarters of a mile away. Fate was with them because by 4:30 they were only two hundred yards away and the Mexicans still were not aware of their presence. In fact, the majority of the Mexican army was enjoying their afternoon siesta and was taken completely by surprise as the Texians fell upon them with shouts of "Remember the Alamo" and "Remember Goliad".

Within a mere eighteen minutes the battle was over and six hundred and thirty soldiers of the thirteen hundred that made up the Mexican army were dead. Another seven hundred and thirty were taken prisoner.

On the Texian side, nine soldiers had been killed or fatally wounded. A musket ball to the ankle wounded General Houston himself and another thirty soldiers were wounded as well.

A search was then on for General Santa Anna but produced no results until the following day, when Mexican soldiers were seen prostrating themselves and greeting a man in a private's uniform as "El Presidente." Legends report that during the actual battle, General Santa Anna had been occupied with a mulatto lady of easy virtue who was later dubbed "The Yellow Rose of Texas."

Once found out, Santa Anna had no choice but to acknowledge whom he was and accept Sam Houston's terms of surrender. One of his terms had been that the Mexican army had to withdraw past the Colorado River before actual negotiations could continue. The eventual outcome of the negotiations was the independence of Texas.

Today the San Jacinto battleground is a state park located at:

3523 Hwy 134

LaPorte, Texas

LaPorte itself is some thirty miles east of Houston, Texas and near the ship channel.

There is a museum built into a five hundred and seventy foot limestone monument that is toped by a thirty-five foot star that represents the Lone Star Republic. Admission to the museum is free and an observation floor is located four hundred and eighty nine feet above the battleground itself.

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