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,
The events that led to the battle at San Jacinto actually began at
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,
had a plan. A plan he shared with no one.
When the Texans arrived at the Colorado River,
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 to retreat.
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
Lone Star Diary April,
Battle of San
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