San Jacinto Day – Brief History of What Occurred

The Legislature having made the 21st of April a holiday, in commemoration of the Battle of San Jacinto — a day forever sacred with all Texans — it is but proper this morning to publish a brief review of the glorious day’s work; not only that the children of those who participated in it may know the inheritance of honor to which they have fallen heirs, but also those who are now, for the first time, seeking homes in the Lone Star State, may learn to respect its moments, and cherish the honor of its founders.

BATTLE OF SAN JACINTO.

The battle of San Jacinto was fought between the volunteer and regular forces comprising the army of Texas — General Sam Houston, Commander-in-Chief; John A. Wharton, Adjutant and Inspector General; George W. Hockley, William T. Austin, Aides-deCamp; M. Austin Bryan, Secretary, And the Mexican army, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana, in command, on the 21st day of April, 1836.

The military operations, which finally terminated on this occasion, commenced in Texas in September, 1835, by the volunteer army of Texas, General Stephen F. Austin, commander-in-chief, besieging the town and Mexican garrison of San Antonio, and after more than two months’ siege, on the morning of the 4th of December, the Texans attacked the town, which was then the garrison, and after an incessant action, the town and Alamo were surrendered to the Texans by General Martin Profacio de Cos, commanding the Mexican forces. Whereupon, General Santa Anna took the field and crossed the Rio Grande into Texas, at the head of a Mexican army, 10,000 strong. He retook San Antonio and Goliad, and then continued his march into Texas.

GEN. SAM HOUSTON

was just at that time elected Commander-in Chief of the army of Texas. Hearing of the invasion by Santa Anna, he went promptly to the front with the intention of organizing his army at Gonzales. The rapid movements, however, of Santa Anna compelled Gen. Houston to fall back before completing the organization of his army, numbering only four hundred men. He made his first halt at the Colorado, thence he crossed the Brazos and on-camped at Groce’s Retreat for some three weeks, keeping out scouting parties around and before the enemy as he advanced. Before going to the field, Gen. Houston had made an agreement with Gens. Quitman and Felix Huston, of Mississippi, to join him with a large force of cavalry, artillery and infantry, and he it is said, designed avoiding giving battle until reinforced by Gens. Quitman and Huston. The rapid movements of Santa Anna forced Gen. Houston to march to San Jacinto.

The two armies occupied positions on the San Jacinto, about two miles apart, Santa Anna’s forces fourteen hundred and Houston’s seven hundred strong. Houston’s scouts, under Deef Smith, intercepted a courier, by which the fact was disclosed that Santa Anna’s army of invasion was in three divisions, one under the command of Santa Anna, then before him; another under Gen. Filisola, and another under Gen. Urea. The two later divisions were marching forward to reinforce Santa Anna. Under these circumstances, Gen. Houston decided to make the attack on Santa Anna before his reinforcements could arrive. Our cavalry were constantly employed in skirmishing and making demonstrations before the enemy. This was easily accomplished, as the country is an open prairie at that point.

About noon on 21st of April, 1836, Gen. Houston called

A COUNCIL OF WAR,

the result of which was a decision to attack the enemy; and shortly before 3 o’clock in the afternoon, the troops were ordered to parade, which, it is needless to say, they did with alacrity.

Burleson’s regiment was placed in the center, Sherman’s on the left, and Lamar’s cavalry, Millard’s infantry and Hockley’s artillery on the right in the order named.

The enemy’s cavalry was on his left wing; his center, which was fortified, was composed of infantry, with artillery in an opening in the center of the breastworks. The Mexican commander had extended the extreme right of his forces to the river, so as to occupy a skirt of timber projecting out from it.

THE ASSAULT.

The Texan cavalry was dispatched to the front of the enemy’s horse to draw their attention, while the remainder of the column was deploying into line. This evolution was quickly performed and the whole force advanced rapidly and in good order. The two small cannon, the “Twin Sisters,” now advanced to within two hundred yards of the enemy’s breastworks and opened a destructive fire with grape and canister. The whole line advancing in double-quick time cried: “Remember the Alamo!” “Remember Goliad!” and while approaching the enemy’s works received their fire, but withheld their own until within pistol shot. The effect of this fire on the enemy was terrible. But the Texans made no halt — onward they went.

THE ROUT.

In a few moments after the charge the Mexicans gave way at all points and the panic became general. At dark the pursuit of the fugitives ceased. The prisoners taken were conducted to the Texan camp, placed under guard and supplied with provisions.

THE FORCES ENGAGED.

The aggregate force of the Texan army in battle was 788; that of the enemy about double that number. The Mexicans lost 630 killed, 206 wounded and 780 prisoners, besides a large number of arms, horses and mules, together with their camp equipage and a military chest containing $13,000. The Texan loss is set down at eight killed and twenty-five wounded.

Image from Texas History Links – Santa Anna Biography

SANTA ANNA CAPTURED.

Santa Anna was captured in the prairie the following day and brought to Gen. Houston’s headquarters, where he was treated as a prisoner of war. General Houston having received a severe and painful wound, was compelled to go to New Orleans for medical treatment, leaving Gen. Thomas J. Rusk in command.

END OF THE REVOLUTION.

Santa Anna sent orders to Generals Filisola and Urea to return with their troops to Mexico, which were very promptly obeyed by those officers. The Texan army was then marched to the Guadalupe river and encamped near Victoria. No further hostility occurring, the volunteers were disbanded in October, 1836.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Apr 21, 1874

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