April 21, 2001, will mark the 165th anniversary of the Battle of San
Jacinto. Because of the eventual consequences of this encounter, the
battle is considered, by many historians, as one of the most important
in world history.
After spending weeks retreating from Mexican troops in an attempt
to buy some time to train his "rag-tag" army, General
Sam Houston had finally found the right place and time to
fight the superior forces under the command of the Mexican dictator,
Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. The fierce confrontation was destined
to take place on a grass prairie near the Texas gulf coast; a place
we know today as Houston,
that led to the battle at San Jacinto actually began at Gonzales,
Texas, in March of 1836. General
Houston had arrived at Gonzales
just in time to receive the news of the disaster at the Alamo.
He immediately made an attempt to form military units within the army.
After he had accomplished some sort of organization to his little
decided that he must retreat. He knew that his group would be no match
for Santa Anna's disciplined troops and his only hope was to withdraw
and lure the Mexican forces deeper into Texas. He hoped to lengthen
their (Mexican) supply lines and make it difficult for them to move
|As the Texas
army retreated east and sometimes northeast in a zigzag sort of way,
many of the soldiers became disgruntled and were tired of running-some
deserted, most of them just wanted to fight. But, "General
Sam" had a plan. A plan he shared with no one.
When the Texans arrived at the Colorado River, Sam
Houston's army was at its peak strength. It is estimated that
he had anywhere from 1000 to 1500 men at this time, but to the chagrin
of many of his soldiers and Texas government officials, he continued
Everyone felt sure that Houston
would make his stand at the Colorado and when he did not, some thought
that he should be relieved of his command and indeed this might have
happened if there had been a qualified replacement. Sam
Houston overcame these difficulties in his same determined way
and the exhausted little army moved on toward the plain at San Jacinto.
When the Texas army reached the Brazos River, General
Houston turned it toward the north and Groce's Landing.
Again, the men started the angry talk about their commander. They
were tired of running! Heavy rain was constant and having to trudge
through the mud day after day was beginning to take its toll.
camped at Groce's, Houston
continued to drill and train his men. He began to mold his volunteers
into a fighting unit. Jared Groce had a fine plantation and
he gave all he could to the Texans, including lead to make ammunition.
He also gave them vegetables from his garden as well as, a supply
of meat from his vast herd of cattle. It was at this time that the
Texans received another; much needed gift - two cannons from the citizens
of Cincinnati, Ohio. They were promptly named, "Twin
After playing his game of "cat and mouse" with the Mexican army
for more than a month, Sam
Houston was finally ready to spring his trap. Although the odds
still favored the Mexicans, Houston must have felt that this was the
best chance he had to secure a victory and better yet, possibly capture
Santa Anna. At approximately 4:30 p.m. on April 21, 1836, some 800
Texans began their assault against 1300 to 1400 Mexican soldiers.
The book Battles of Texas, describes the Texans' charge as
follows: "Incredibly the Texans reached within two hundred yards of
the Mexican barricade before they were seen .... The "Twin
Sisters." roared and muskets barked and men cursed furiously
and suddenly all was bedlam."
Houston had two horses shot out from under him during the battle.
He was shot through the ankle. Santa Anna grabbed a horse from one
of his men and fled. The Mexican army was caught completely off-guard
and the Battle of San Jacinto was over in less than 18 minutes.
The battle had been won, but the killing continued. Thirsty for revenge,
emotions ran wild among the Texans. They shot, clubbed, and stabbed
the Mexicans as they attempted to escape. Some of the enemy soldiers
were even scalped, before the Texas army officers finally restrained
their men. It has been estimated that 650 Mexicans were killed and
700 captured. General Santa Anna was taken captive the next day.
The Alamo and
Goliad had been avenged. Texas
independence was secured.
Lone Star Diary
April, 2001 Column
Texas | Columns
of San Jacinto - Related Articles
Battle of San Jacinto by Jeffery Robenalt
In eighteen glorious minutes, Sam Houston and his fellow Texans
won a remarkable victory, establishing Texas as an independent republic
and opening the door for United States expansion southwest to the
Rio Grande and all the way west to the Pacific Ocean.
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 Annaís 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, itís 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
Survivor's Account of the Goliad Massacre by Murray Montgomery
("Lone Star Diary")
"There is a day in Texas history that quite possibly could
be considered one of the most tragic. On that day, March 27, 1836,
General Santa Anna ordered the execution of some 380 Texas army
soldiers - they were prisoners of war. ....."