1836: Sam Houston Battles Santa Anna

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  1. The Collapse of New Spain
  2. Biography: Sam Houston for Kids
  3. Painting, "The Surrender of Santa Anna" by William Henry Huddle
  4. Battle of San Jacinto War Prisoner Records:

With the Texan camp only about a mile away over open terrain, Santa Anna had apparently posted no sentinels before retiring for a siesta and letting his tired troops do the same. The Texans lost nine dead and 30 wounded. Houston, who led from the front, lost two horses and was shot in the foot. Santa Anna, captured the next day in the bushes, agreed to recognize Texas independence and ordered all Mexican forces to evacuate the lone star state.

The Collapse of New Spain

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Tue, Yet many were gentlemen, owners of large estates. Some were distinguished for oratory, some in science, some in medicine. Many had graced famous drawing rooms. Their guns were of every size and shape. They numbered less than men. Houston quickly dispatched a small cavalry detail toward New Washington to reconnoiter Santa Anna's position. They found the Mexican Army preparing to leave the burned out town, skirmished briefly, and hastily retraced the eight miles back to Lynch's. The Mexican Army was not far behind, arriving just before noon. Santa Anna immediately attempted to draw the Texans into battle.

He positioned his single twelve-pound cannon, the Golden Standard in a grove of trees yards in advance of the Texan camp and commenced firing. Houston responded with volleys from the Twin Sisters. A Mexican infantry company advanced to the cover of another cluster of trees within rifle shot of the Texan left flank. After a brief exchange of rifle fire, a shower of grapeshot and broken horseshoes from the Twin Sisters drove the riflemen into retreat.

As the artillery cannonade continued sporadically into late afternoon, Santa Anna began establishing his camp on a rise overlooking the marshes lining the San Jacinto River, about three-fourths of a mile east of the Texan position. Realizing that the Texans were almost equal in number to his own 1,man force and had somehow obtained artillery, Santa Anna fortified his position by ordering breastworks of pack saddles, trunks, and other baggage erected in front of the camp.

He had suddenly lost his normal advantage of overwhelming numbers, and must now wait for reinforcements. Shortly before sunset, Santa Anna ordered the Golden Standard withdrawn from the field. At about the same time Houston sent a small cavalry detail to survey the Mexican position. They encountered a Mexican unit deployed to cover the artillery withdrawal and a heated skirmish ensued.

The undisciplined Texans fell back in confusion and disarray narrowly escaping disaster with only one man mortally wounded. Private Mirabeau B. Lamar displayed such heroics in rescuing unhorsed comrades during the foray that he was promoted to colonel and given command of the Cavalry Company. As the sun set, both armies settled into camp for the night.

It was a long night for both commanders. Houston ordered his men to eat and rest, but he remained awake all night, as he often did. He faced a serious dilemma; he had his enemy isolated with a nearly equal force, and he could not let him escape. But his own army worried Houston -- an army of strong-willed individualists, filled with restless vengeance, and angered by his orders of continued restraint.


Biography: Sam Houston for Kids

That they would fight, he could not doubt, but the lack of discipline displayed in the cavalry skirmish that afternoon indicated that once in battle the little training he had given them would be for naught -- they would be beyond his control. Santa Anna, too, did not sleep, nor did he let his troops rest. He understood his predicament, and he feared the ill-tempered mob of wild-eyed Texans, bent on avenging his past actions at the Alamo and Goliad.

Although better equipped and more disciplined than his adversary, his army of peasants and Indians had marched over a thousand miles exposed to the harshness of a late Texas winter and an uncommonly wet spring. They were nearing exhaustion, but this night they must remain awake and alert, for Santa Anna knew that his enemy would attack at the day's first light. Dawn of April 21 came, but Houston did not attack. Santa Anna began to relax. In the Texan camp, Houston's troops arose early and busied themselves with breakfast.

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They wanted to fight, but their commander still refused. At Santa Anna's prayers were answered, and his fears allayed.

Painting, "The Surrender of Santa Anna" by William Henry Huddle

His brother-in-law, General Martin Perfecto de Cos, arrived with reinforcements, giving him an almost two-to-one numerical advantage. Tension broke in the Mexican camp. Santa Anna ordered his army to eat and rest. He was so confident that he did not even keep sentries posted. He knew the field was his -- the Texans would not dare attack such a superior force.

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  5. News of the arrival of more Mexican troops spread quickly through the Texan camp, further agitating frustrations. Five months later, on March 2, , delegates signed the Texas Declaration of Independence which reflected American democratic principles and paralleled the United States Declaration of Independence at Washington-on-the-Brazos, formally declaring the independence of the Republic of Texas from Mexico. The signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence was an important step toward establishing a Republic of Texas independent from Mexico, however, March of proved to be a challenging month for General Sam Houston, the Commander-in-Chief of the Texas forces.

    Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna had three armies, totaling roughly 5, men, moving north to squash the revolts. The largest and most upsetting of these defeats were the massacres at the Alamo March 6 and Goliad March Realizing that his army was small and had only meager provisions, Houston slowly retreated to the east throughout the month of March. He spent the end of March and beginning of April training recruits into a semblance of a disciplined army. The intercepted documents also revealed that Santa Anna planned to move east in pursuit of interim Texas President David G.

    Battle of San Jacinto War Prisoner Records:

    Burnet and other Texas government officials. These officials had avoided Santa Anna in Harrisburg a no longer extant town about 11 miles west of the San Jacinto Battleground. Houston established a camp in the woods slightly north of the ferry to wait for Santa Anna on the morning of April 20, Santa Anna had expected Houston to attack on the morning of the 21st, and when he did not, permitted his now numerous Mexican troops to relax, eat, and sleep.