Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Battle of San Jacinto - LaPorte, Texas

San Jacinto Battleground
Photo Courtesy of Moore Archeological Consulting
The Battle of San Jacinto was a history-changing engagement fought on the outskirts of what is now the mega-city of Houston, Texas.
Texas had declared its independence of Mexico after the government of that country issued a racial edict prohibiting any further Anglos from emigrating to previously approved colonies in the province. Armed forces of both Texians and Tejanos had driven Mexican troops from Texas in 1835, but 1836 brought a brutal counter campaign led by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.

Santa Anna styled himself the "Napoleon of the West" and stormed north across the desert, driving his army through winter conditions to appear in San Antonio in February. He took the Alamo, putting its garrison to the sword, and then ordered the slaughter of an even larger group of men that surrendered at Goliad.

Entrance to San Jacinto Battleground
Photo Courtesy of Moore Archeological Consulting
Knowing he could not hope to stand against Santa Anna with the force at his disposal, Texas general Sam Houston began a strategic retreat up the coast of the newly declared republic, scorching the earth as he went. Civilians fled for their lives as the Mexican armies advanced, many escaping with little more than the clothes on their backs. The retreat is remembered in Texas to this day as the "Runaway Scrape."

Everything changed on April 17, 1836. Having reached a site within today's location of the city that bears his name, Houston ended his retreat. Instead of taking a road that would lead him on to the Louisiana border and the protection of the U.S. Army assembled there, he instead turned down the San Jacinto River.

Prairie across which Houston Attacked
Photo Courtesy of Moore Archeological Consulting
By this time Houston, once a U.S. Army officer and the former Governor of Tennessee, had been reinforced and supplied. The strength of his army had also been augmented by the arrival of two small cannon. Dubbed the "Twin Sisters," these guns had been sent as a gift by the citizens of Cincinnati, Ohio.

In the days that followed, Houston took up a position near the confluence of Buffalo Bayou and the San Jacinto River, placing both streams to his rear as a clear signal to his men that there would be no retreat. Santa Anna advanced and assembled his army across a marshy prairie from Houston's men.

Although the Mexican general had the larger army and better artillery, it was Houston that seized the initiative. Sending mounted men to burn a bridge to Santa Anna's rear, he formed his men to battle with shouts of "Remember the Alamo!"

The Battle of San Jacinto lasted less than 30 minutes, but ended with Texas having assured its status as an independent republic. Santa Anna lost 630 men killed, 208 wounded and 730 captured. Houston lost a total of 39.

To learn more about the battle and to see more photos of the battleground, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/sanjacinto.

1 comment:


Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

Your article is very well done, a good read.