of the fall of the Alamo
on March 6, 1836, and the
execution of Texians captured at Goliad three weeks later, produced
the terrible Runaway
Scrape, a mad flight of refugees who scrambled eastward to escape
a similar fate at the hand of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s
armies. In the midst of these troubles, one man, Sam Houston, rode
After the Consultation met in Washington-on-the
Brazos early in March and proclaimed Texas independent of Mexican
rule, its members once again asked Houston to lead their “army,” which
did not then exist—he had to find one. Knowing of the
action at the Alamo, he rode toward San
Antonio and reached Gonzales
on March 11. There he found 374 men, who, like himself, had come to
aid the Alamo. Leaderless,
they had neither gone on to San
Antonio nor returned to their homes.
Houston provided the leadership. He formed the men into a semblance
of military organization; for example, he made Sidney Sherman, who
had arrived from Kentucky with 50 riflemen, commander of a regiment,
and sent “Deaf” Smith down the road to San
Antonio to find out what had happened there. Smith returned with
Almeron Dickinson, now the widow of the Alamo’s artillery commander,
her child, and a slave, and from them learned the fate of the Alamo’s
defenders. The terrible grief of the citizens of Gonzales—virtually
every household had lost a loved one—and the shock of his soldiers
convinced Houston that fighting then would be impossible. He ordered
and his men to march eastward, promising to fight at first opportunity.
That promise required 43 days to fulfill, and at each possible battle
site, more and more men became critical of Houston’s leadership; some
thought him a coward. But his army grew in numbers, and after a training
session on the Brazos, became stronger.
Santa Anna set out from San
Antonio in pursuit of Houston’s army, but because his march was
slowed by swollen streams and muddy roads, he could not catch up and
bring the Texians to battle. Finally convinced that Houston’s army,
like the civilians, would continue their flight to Louisiana, Santa
Anna moved southward with only 500 men in an attempt to catch Interim
President David Burnet at Harrisburg; he arrived in time to see Burnet
and other officials flee to Galveston
aboard the “Yellowstone.” When he turned back north on April 20, on
the Plain of San Jacinto—named for the hyacinth—he found Houston’s
army of 700 effectives.
The armies skirmished late in the afternoon of April 20, and a private
from Georgia named Mirabeau B. Lamar performed so well that the next
day he commanded the Texas cavalry as a colonel. During the night
Santa Anna received 500 reinforcements, then spent the day awaiting
the Texican’s attack. When none came, he allowed his men to rest.
Houston spent the morning of April 21 in war council, his first of
the campaign. At approximately 4:30 P.M. he advanced on the Mexican’s
position, his men formed into two parallel lines. Their flag, a plain
shield with a single, five-point star, fluttered in the wind as a
drummer and fifer provided cadence with a popular song of the day,
“Will You Come To The Bower I Have Shaded For You?” It was a song
of seduction, especially for the Mexican armies. When close, Houston’s
“Twin Sisters” cannon, sent by the citizens of Cincinnati, blew a
hole in the Mexican’s lines and the Texicans poured through it, shouting,
“Remember the Alamo!”
and “Remember Goliad!”
and they killed and maimed to vent their vengeance. The battle proper
lasted approximately 18 minutes; the vengeance lasted until dark.
Houston suffered a near-fatal leg wound in the battle, so Secretary
of War Thomas J. Rusk took command. Santa Anna escaped, but was captured
the next day. Houston traveled to New Orleans for medical treatment
and eventually became president of the Republic
of Texas. In Houston’s absence, Santa Anna negotiated with President
Burnet on the Treaty of Velasco,
which recognized Texas’ independence. Of course, the rest of Mexico
did not agree, and a state of war between the nations existed for
a decade, then widened to one with the U.S. after Texas became a state.
That war brought the southwestern quarter of North America under U.S.
San Jacinto Day, 172
years later. Fly the flag, “Remember the Alamo”
for several reasons, and remember, too, that we are now all Texans
| © Archie
April 14, 2008 column
A syndicated column in over 70 East Texas newspapers
(Distributed by the East Texas Historical Association. Archie P. McDonald
is director of the Association and author of more than 20 books on
Battle of San
Jacinto - Related Articles
The Battle of San Jacinto by Jeffery Robenalt
Battle of San Jacinto April 21, 1836 by Murray Montgomery
of San Jacinto by Archie P. McDonald ("All Things Historical")
Letters from Travis' Saddlebags Spark Outrage by Mike Cox
Jacinto Day by Archie P. McDonald ("All Things Historical"
News of the fall of the Alamo on March 6, 1836, and the execution
of Texians captured at Goliad three weeks later, produced the terrible
Runaway Scrape, a mad flight of refugees who scrambled eastward
to escape a similar fate at the hand of General Antonio Lopez de
Santa Anna’s armies. In the midst of these troubles, one man, Sam
Houston, rode west...
Talk by Mike Cox ("Texas Tales")
"In modern times, battles begin with precision air strikes.
In the 19th century, battles began with stirring speeches. Sometime
in the early 1900s, the Beeville Picayune published the talk Captain
Mosley Baker supposedly gave to the men of his company at San Jacinto
on April 21, 1836..."
Top Ten Facts About The Construction of The San Jacinto Monument
Jacinto Monument by Mike Cox ("Texas Tales")
"Most people think the towering star-topped limestone monument,
built during the Texas Centennial in 1936, is the only San Jacinto
monument. Actually, it’s only the biggest."
(Alphonso) Steele - Last Texas survivor of the battle of San
Jacinto, and a State Park dedicated to him.
Last Hero by Bob Bowman ("All Things Historical" )
The last surviving veteran of the Battle of San Jacinto on April
21, 1836, lies in an almost forgotten cemetery in deep East Texas
Frenchman at San Jacinto by Bob Bowman
Charles Cronea, a Jean Lafitte pirate who fought at the Battle of
Treaty of Velasco by Archie P. McDonald ("All Things Historical"
General Sam Houston, and later Interim President David G. Burnett,
chose negotiation instead of revenge for the massacres at the Alamo
Sisters by Mike Cox ("Texas Tales")
The most famous pieces of artillery in Texas history
at San Jacinto by Mike Cox ("Texas Tales")
Enoch K. Smith may have been the 17th Smith who took part in the
Battle of San Jacinto.
Mysterious Yellow Rose of Texas by Linda Kirkpatrick
Dalliance to Remember by Clay Coppedge
Yellow Rose of Texas by Barbara Duvall Wesolek