The Battle of San Jacinto
Image: Sam Houston. The Battle of San Jacinto lasted less than twenty minutes, but it sealed the fate of three republics. Mexico would never regain the lost territory, in spite of sporadic incursions during the 1840s. The United States would go on to acquire not only the Republic of Texas in 1845 but Mexican lands to the west after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the Mexican War in 1848.
By early April, Santa Anna had divided his forces in a three-pronged attack: a northern army, under General Antonio Gaona , the central army under Santa Anna and General Joaquin Ramirez y Sesma, and a coastal army under command of General Jose Francisco Urrea.
The Texan army, meanwhile, had been in retreat since March 13, when it left Gonzales after learning of the Fall of the Alamo. News of the March 27 massacre at Goliad led several men to leave the army to assist their families to flee before the advancing Mexican army. The resulting "Runaway Scrape" involved most of Eastern Texas, and panicked the government. Sam Houston spent the next few weeks attempting to train the recruits into something resembling a disciplined army, then continued his march toward the Sabine.
On April 16, learning that Santa Anna had isolated his army, Houston pursued him to Buffalo Bayou, arriving there at midnight on April 19, and continuing their march toward Lynch's Ferry on the 20th. That afternoon, General Sidney Sherman engaged the Mexicans in a skirmish that almost resulted in a full scale battle. Mirabeau B. Lamar's heroic actions in that conflict earned him a battlefield commission as Colonel.
Image: General Sidney Sherman. The next day, Houston learned that General Martin Perfecto de Cos had crossed over Vince's Bridge with reinforcements. Houston ordered Erastus "Deaf" Smith to destroy the bridge-a move that prevented further swelling of Mexican ranks, and likewise prevented retreat by both the Mexican and Texan armies.
About 3:30 in the afternoon, during the Mexican siesta period, Houston distributed his troops in battle array, bracketing the line with the "Twin Sisters" cannon. Shielded by trees and a rise in the terrain, the Texans were able to advance with some security. Then with the cries "Remember the Alamo" and "Remember La Bahia" or "Remember Goliad" ringing along their lines, the Texans swooped down on the dismayed Mexican army, pursuing and butchering them long after the battle itself had ended.
630 Mexicans were killed and 730 taken prisoner. Texans lost only 9 killed or mortally wounded; thirty were less seriously wounded. Among the latter was General Houston, whose ankle was shattered.
Image: Erastus "Deaf" Smith. On the day following the battle, a small party discovered Santa Anna and brought him into camp, unaware at first of the importance of their prisoner. As part of his surrender agreement, the president/general ordered the Mexican troops remaining in Texas immediately to retreat south of the Rio Grande.
On May 14, 1836, the public and private treaties of Velasco, were signed by Presidents David G. Burnet and Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. They confirmed the Mexican retreat and declared an end to the war. Neither the Texas nor Mexican governments accepted the treaties, however, and a state of war existed throughout most of the Republic of Texas' existence.
Image: Surrender of Santa Anna, by William H. Huddle
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Related Link: San Jacinto Museum of History