The Battle of San Jacinto

 

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Uncle Sam

[Happened After: The Runaway Scrape]

Following the Battle of the Alamo, Santa Anna, at the head of more than seven hundred men, was in hot pursuit of Sam Houston and the Texas Army. Houston's retreat, known as "The Runaway Scrape", was criticized by the Texas Government, Texas Citizens, and Houston's own army.

While pursuing Sam Houston, Santa Anna reached Harrisburg on the 15th of April, 1836. The last communication from the war department at that town was dated on the 14th. The president and vice-president had gone to look after their families on the 13th; Colonel Potter had been for some time at Galveston, attending to the affairs of the navy; Colonel Rusk was in the army; the secretary of state had been some time sick, east of the Trinity: so that the attorney-general and secretary of the treasury were the only cabinet officers left at the seat of government.

As to his future course, the commander-in-chief had kept his own counsel. He had already notified the army to be in readiness for action; and Colonel Rusk, with whom he advised and consulted in all matters, gave notice, in his proclamation of the 13th of April, that the Texans had taken up the line of march to meet the enemy; yet the determination of the commander-in-chief was only known to the secretary of war. On the morning of the 15th, Major Martin and his command, being worn out and exhausted with fatigue, were directed to conduct the families, that were flying from the seat of war, to Robbins's ferry; while the main army, augmented by the detachments that had come in, set out rapidly for Harrisburg. The prairies were wet, filled with quicksand, and almost impassable. The prospect was gloomy indeed, and the troops were much dispirited; yet they were encouraged in seeing the commander-in-chief put his shoulder to the wheels to assist the wagons through the mud. On that day they marched entirely through the prairie, and encamped at Mrs. McCarely's, at the first timber. As the army left Donoho's, a negro, who had been captured and then released by the enemy, brought General Houston a message from Santa Anna, to the effect that "he knew Mr. Houston was up there in the bushes; and, so soon as he had whipped the land-thieves, down there, out of the country, he would come up and smoke him out!"

Indian Worries

There was at that time a considerable number of disaffected persons on the coast, east of the San Jacinto; and it was an important object with Houston not to allow the Mexicans to have communication with them, as they would thereby obtain supplies of provisions and gain information. They would also, by such means, be enabled to control the Indians on the lower Trinity. With a view to anticipate any intercourse between the enemy and these Indians, Houston had engaged Messrs. Hubert and Rankin, Indian agents, to sound the Cooshatties on the question of giving the Texans aid. They promised to furnish ninety warriors. Just before the army set out for Harrisburg, the commander-in-chief sent Captain Jacob H. Sheppard with a "talk" to the Indians, and an order to the agents to bring on the warriors.*

* Notes of J. H. Sheppard. Captain Sheppard says : "Just as I was leaving the general's quarters, I said, 'Where will I find you, general?' He said : 'Tell all the people you may see, captain, that I am determined to fight, the first chance; and, if I should meet with a reverse, I will be sure to make noise enough for you and the Indians to follow me.'"

It is sufficient to say here, that the Indians wished to see which side was successful before they turned out. But if the enemy had succeeded in opening an intercourse with the Indians, they might have rallied every tribe in eastern Texas, and thus surrounded and cut off the small army under Houston; and not only so, but closed the Texas campaign with a tragedy more bloody than the one with which it opened.

Capture of the Mexican Courier

To prevent this disastrous result, a forced march was made by the Texans from Donoho's to Harrisburg. They reached the bayou, opposite the town, on the 18th, a little before noon. Here they remained that day, partly to rest—for they were greatly fatigued—and partly to procure information. Deaf Smith, Karnes, and others, were sent over to reconnoiter. The former, about dark, brought into the camp two captives whom he had taken on the road leading west from Harrisburg—the one a Mexican courier bearing dispatches to Santa Anna, the other a guard. From the spies it was ascertained that the Mexican advance had marched down Buffalo bayou, crossing Vince's bridge; and, having burnt Harrisburg, had passed down in the direction of the bay. From the Mexican courier* they obtained the mail directed to Santa Anna, from which they learned the important fact, before suspected, that the dictator himself was with the advance, and that they had him cut off from the main body of his troops.

* This was a Mexican officer, an extraordinary courier, who had come on from the city of Mexico. — Juan J. Andrade to Santa Anna, April 9, 1836.

Some explanation of the manner in which Deaf Smith captured and brought in these two prisoners, is necessary. It is given as related by the general himself. Smith came in, greatly fatigued, and somewhat exasperated. He repaired to the general's quarters, and said he wished to have a little talk with him. Said he: " General, you are very kind to these Mexicans; I like kindness, but you are too kind — you won't allow me to kill any of them. If a man meets two of the enemy, and is not allowed to kill either, by the time he takes one and ties him, the other gets off so far, that it is very fatiguing on a horse to catch him; and I wish you would let me manage things in my own way." Houston told him not to be cruel, but that he must be his own judge of the necessity of securing such of the enemy as might be taken by him. Smith nodded his head —for he was a man of few words—and retired.

By reference to the topography of that locality, it was seen that he must necessarily return by Vince's bridge, or cross Buffalo bayou, just below the Texan camp, at Lynch's, at the mouth of the San Jacinto. In either way he was cut off from the main body of his army. The Texans derived the further information that Santa Anna was requested, by the government at home, to give protection with his troops to the surveyor and commissioner, appointed on the part of Mexico, to run the boundary-line between Texas and the United States, according to the treaty between the two nations, and for which purpose Colonel Pedro Garcia Condo was appointed surveyor, and Colonel Almonte commissioner. A letter from General Filisola to Santa Anna gave the information that the chief's order as to the disposition of certain forces was received, and would be obeyed. This was supposed, as afterward proved to be the fact, to refer to reinforcements ordered by Santa Anna.

Houston Prepares for Battle

These dispatches being read, General Houston determined to cross the bayou early on the morning of the 19th, and go in pursuit of the enemy. Orders were consequently given to Colonels Burleson and Sherman to have three days' rations prepared, and like orders for repairing a boat two miles below, on the bayou. The troops were formed on the morning of the 19th, and addressed by the commander-in-chief and the secretary of war. The presence of Santa Anna with the enemy's advance was also made known to them. The baggage and wagons, and two or three hundred sick and non-effectives were left in charge of Major McNutt, on the left bank of the bayou. Houston then dispatched a letter to Henry Raguet, advising him that they were about to meet Santa Anna; that they had looked in vain for help from eastern Texas; that it was then the part of wisdom, growing out of necessity, to encounter the enemy; that no previous occasion justified it; that they were going to conquer; that the troops were in fine spirits, and, though the odds were against them, they would use their best efforts to fight the enemy to such advantage as to gain the victory.*

*  —No. 43. Colonel Rusk also sent out the following address, to which the commander-in-chief added a postscript:
" WAR DEPARTMENT, HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY, HARRISBURG, April 19, 1836.
"TO THE PEOPLE OF TEXAS—Fellow-Citizens: Let me make one more appeal to you to turn out, and rally to the standard of your country. The army reached here yesterday late in the day. Our scouts arrested three of the Mexicans—one captain, one a correo [express-rider], direct from Mexico, and another a servant. From the prisoners we learn many interesting facts. Santa Anna himself is just below us, and within the sound of the drum—has, we understand, only five hundred men. We are parading our forces for the purpose of marching upon him. He has a reinforcement of about one thousand men upon the Brazos, about forty miles from here. A few hours more will decide the fate of our army : and what an astonishing fact it is, that, at the very moment when the fate of your wives, your children, your honors, your country, and all that is dear to a freeman, are suspended upon the issue of one battle, not one fourth of the people [men] of Texas are in the army! Are you Americans? are you free-men ? If you are, prove your blood and birth by rallying at once to your country's standard ! Your general is at the head of a brave and chivalrous band, and throws himself, sword in hand, into the breach, to save his country, and vindicate her rights. Enthusiasm prevails in the army; but I look around and see that many, very many, whom I had anticipated would be first in the field, are not here.

"Rise up at once, concentrate, and march to the field ! —a vigorous effort, and the country is safe ! A different course disgraces and ruins you; and what is life worth with the loss of liberty? May I never survive it!

" Your fellow-citizen, THOMAS J. RUSK, Secretary of War."
" April 19, 1836.
"We view ourselves on the eve of battle. We are nerved for the contest, and must conquer or perish. It is vain to look for present aid: none is at hand. We must now act, or abandon all hope! Rally to the standard, and be no longer the scoff of mercenary tongues! Be men, be freemen, that your children may bless their fathers' names!

"Colonel Rusk is with me, and I am rejoiced at it. The country will be the gainer, and myself the beneficiary. Liberty and our country !
SAM HOUSTON, Commander-in-Chief."
The above are the last papers written by these gentlemen previous to the battle of the 21st.

The army proceeded on its march, taking only the cavalry-horses, and those needed for the " Twin-Sisters" and an ammunition-wagon. The measles having broken out in the camp, caused the large number of sick that were left behind. Advancing to the ferry, they found the boat not repaired, not-withstanding which they proceeded to cross. Thirty pioneers, under Captain Wood, first passed over. The commander-in-chief went with the second boat. Colonel Rusk remained to assist in the crossing, and none labored more ardently to effect that object. A raft of plank was used to facilitate the passage. The horses were caused to swim across the bayou below the ferry. Before sundown the whole force had passed over without accident, and took up the line of march down the right bank of the bayou, and on the enemy's trail.

After advancing twelve miles, the Texans halted at one o'clock on the morning of the 20th, at a beautiful spot in the prairie. At this time they were aware that the Mexicans had not crossed the San Jacinto, but it was not known exactly where they were. In fact, they had passed near the ferry at Lynch's on the 16th. The Texans, being greatly exhausted by incessant labor and marching, threw themselves on the ground without refreshment, and slept.

We must here notice the narrow escape of President Burnet. On the 13th, as has been stated, he left Harrisburg, to provide for the safety of his family. On the same day he brought them to New Washington, below Lynch's, on the bay, with a view to facilitate their passage, if necessary, to Galveston. On the next day the president set out on horseback for Harrisburg; but learning on the way that the Mexicans were there, he returned on the morning of the 16th, in the steamer "Cayuga," to New Washington. It was understood that the boat, which was crowded with families, and bound for Anahuac, was to return the next morning to take off those at New Washington. On the morning of the 17th, after breakfast, and while they were preparing for the steamboat, the Mexican cavalry came suddenly on them. They hastily got into a small boat, and had not rowed more than forty yards from the shore, when the enemy dismounted ; but they fortunately made their escape.

Skirmish on April 20, 1836

At dawn of day, on the 20th, the Texans were aroused by a tap of the drum —for the reveille was forbidden—and resumed their march down the bayou. After proceeding about seven miles, they halted for breakfast. While it was in preparation, the scouts came in, and announced that they had given chase to those of the enemy, until they discovered his advance coming up the bay. The Texans, without taking breakfast, made a forced march down the bayou, in order to arrive at Lynch's ferry before their opponents. An advance of thirty or forty of the Texans proceeded rapidly to the ferry, where they arrived by ten o'clock in the morning, and found a like number of the enemy there, with a substantial new flatboat, loaded with provisions for the Mexican army. It was doubtless some of the plunder of Harrisburg or New Washington. The enemy's guard fled at the approach of the Texan advance ; the boat and provisions were taken, and sent up the bayou, three fourths of a mile to the rear of the Texan camp, which was established there, along the right bank of the bayou, in a skirt of timber. This supply of provisions was most fortunate, as the Texans had no other during that and the following day.

San Jacinto Battle Map

Map of the Battle of San Jacinto (Click on Map for Larger Image)

The Texan camp was protected by the timber, and a rising ground running parallel with the bayou. The camp extended some five hundred yards, and about its centre the skirt of timber reached nearly to the top of the rise in front. On either side of this centre the summit of the elevation was composed of prairie. The infantry, about two hundred, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Millard, were stationed in this neck of timber, extending toward the top of the rise; and the "Twin-Sisters," under Colonel Neill, were placed on the elevation, immediately in front of Millard. The first regiment of riflemen, under Colonel Burleson, formed the right wing; and, the second, under Colonel Sherman, composed the left. The cavalry was stationed in the centre, and in rear of the infantry. In front of the centre of the Texan camp, some three or four hundred yards distant, was a cluster of timber ; also in front and to the left of the centre, about one hundred yards distant, was another cluster of timber. Elsewhere in front the field was prairie.

The Texans, having established their camp, formed for battle. While they were doing this, the Mexican artillery (one twelve-pounder), having advanced to the first-named cluster of timber, opened upon them. After firing about an hour, without doing any other damage than wounding Colonel Neill, the enemy sent forward a detachment of infantry, armed with escopetas, into the nearest wood. Being discovered there, Colonel Sherman applied for leave to charge on them with the Texan cavalry, in all eighty-five men. Permission was given, and the charge made; but, as the Mexicans were in the wood, nothing was effected, and the cavalry returned without damage.

Shortly after this, a large portion of the enemy's forces advanced rapidly, in column, from the point occupied by their artillery to within a hundred and fifty yards of the Texan cannon; the latter opened on them, when they wheeled and fell back precipitately. This retreat was answered by a shout from the Texan ranks that would have alarmed less timid spirits. The Texans did not pursue them, but the "Twin-Sisters" kept up a fire on them till they got out of danger, doing them some damage. The enemy withdrew to a position near the bank of the San Jacinto river (or bayou, for it was below their junction), about three fourths of a mile from the Texan encampment, where they commenced to fortify.

In the evening, about an hour before sunset, Colonel Sherman asked permission of the commander-in-chief to take the cavalry and reconnoiter. The general at first objected, but on reflection consented, ordering him strictly not to go within musket-shot of the enemy, or provoke a conflict, but to advance as near as he otherwise could to ascertain their position; and for this reason—that the precipitate retreat of the enemy after their charge that day had infused the finest feeling into the Texan army, and he was unwilling that any disaster in a partial engagement should disturb that feeling.

The cavalry set out, and continued to advance, receiving a volley from the left of the enemy's infantry, and, after a sharp reencounter with their cavalry, retired. In the meantime, the infantry under Colonel Millard, Colonel Burleson's regiment, and the artillery, had advanced to aid the cavalry, if necessary. In this affair, the Texan cavalry acquitted themselves handsomely; and among the most distinguished of their number was Mirabeau B. Lamar, who, joining the army at Grove's, fell into the ranks, and soon earned an enviable reputation as a soldier. The Texans had two wounded, one mortally and the other severely ; they also lost several horses. The loss of the enemy was doubtless more considerable.

Both armies having retired to their quarters, the evening passed off, and with it the excitement of the day. The Texans, being hungry and fatigued, after eating, obtained a refreshing sleep. The enemy in the meantime completed his breastwork of trunks and baggage. Thursday, the 21st of April, was a clear, fine day. Early in the morning, the Texan commander-in-chief directed Colonel Forbes, the commissary-general, to furnish Deaf Smith with one or more axes, and to have them at a certain place. At the same time, he sent for Smith, and directed him not to go out of the line of sentinels that day without special permission, as he had particular business for him of a secret character.

Santa Anna Reinforced

About nine o'clock that morning it was discovered that a considerable force, under General Cos, was advancing from the direction of Vince's bridge toward the enemy's camp. As it was seen by the Texans, it was believed to be a reinforcement to Santa Anna. The commander-in-chief, although his spies had brought information of the arrival of the reinforcement, not caring that it should be at that time known, suggested that it was a ruse of the Mexicans ; that they had marched round from their left wing, and were returning, with a view to make the impression that they were reinforced.

About noon, or a little before, the commander-in-chief was waited on by several of the officers, suggesting a council of war. He assented to the proposition, and it was informally held immediately, consisting of Colonels Burleson and Sherman, Lieutenant-Colonels Millard, Somerville, and Bennett, and Major Wells. The question was laid before them, " Whether they should attack the enemy in his position, or await an attack from him in theirs." The two last-named officers were in favor of an attack on the enemy in his position : the others were in favor of awaiting an attack from him. The reasons given for the latter opinion were—that the Texan camp was admirably situated for defense ; that the Mexicans were fortified in their encampment; that it was defended by veterans, well disciplined ; and that an attack upon them through an open prairie, with undisciplined militia, armed mostly with rifles, was unprecedented. The council was then dismissed.

Houston Order's Vince's Bridge Destroyed, Cutting Off Santa Anna's Route to Escape

Deaf Smith and a companion whom he had been directed, in the morning, to select, were now sent for, and secretly dispatched, with the axes, to cut down Vince's bridge, and burn it—the commander-in-chief saying to Smith, as he departed, that the grass, which he then beheld before him so beautiful in the prairie, would be crimsoned before his return, unless he was speedy.

Bray's bayou runs into Buffalo bayou at Harrisburg, on the right bank. Five miles farther down toward the bay, over Vince's bayou, is Vince's bridge. It was crossed by both armies on their downward march, and was the only passway by land, especially at that season of the year, to the Brazos. After the main body of the Mexican reinforcement under General Cos had passed Bray's bayou, and while the rear-guard was crossing over, the wagoners and some others of the Texan camp-guard near Harrisburg, hearing the noise, paraded under the command of Wagon-master Rhorer, made a forced march to the bayou, and gave them a volley, which so alarmed them, that they turned and fled toward the Brazos, scattering and leaving their baggage on the road. The wagoners thereupon crossed over, and gathered quite a supply.

It is proper to state here, that, so soon as the reinforcement under Cos was seen to come in, Karnes and Smith had been sent to their last place of encampment, to ascertain, from the number of camp-fires and other signs, the probable strength of this auxiliary force. They returned and reported privately, as they had been directed, about five hundred and forty men.
Shortly after the departure of Smith and Reeves to destroy the bridge, Lieutenant-Colonel Bennett was sent through the camp to ascertain the state of feeling among the troops. He reported them all enthusiastic, and in fine spirits. It was now nearly three o'clock in the afternoon. The Mexicans were dull and heavy, the higher class of them enjoying their siesta. Santa Anna admits that he himself was asleep.*

* See his " Manifesto." He handles the point most delicately : " All I can be responsible for is physical debility, for after having marched the whole of the previous day, and spending the night in watching, and the morning on horse-back, I yielded to repose, which I was unfortunately induced to prolong in consequence of the delay of General Cos's troops. As general-in-chief, I had fulfilled my duty, by disposing everything on the field, and issuing the necessary orders; as a man, I yielded to the insurmountable necessity of nature, which can not, I think, be charged as a crime against any general, or me—much less when it took place at mid day, underneath a tree, and in the camp itself; a proof that I did not abandon myself immoderately to that which, after all, is but a comfort, a balm, or gentle tribute to human nature, with which the greatest men have been unable to dispense, not excepting kiwi, the great military exemplar of our age: and yet for this they were not accused of rashness, and want of foresight, and due caution."

The Battle of San Jacinto Begins

Houston, having formed his plan of battle, submitted it to the secretary of war, who approved of it. He then ordered the troops to parade, which they did with alacrity and spirit. The locality of the Texan camp afforded ample opportunity to form in order of battle without being seen by the enemy. Burleson's regiment was placed in the centre ; Sherman's on the left wing ; the artillery, under Hockley, on the right of Burleson ; the infantry, under Millard, on the right of the artillery ; and the cavalry, under Lamar (whose gallant conduct the day before had won him this command), on the extreme right. The enemy's cavalry was on his left wing ; his centre, which was fortified, was composed of his infantry, with his artillery in an opening in the centre of the breastwork. He had extended his extreme right to the river, so as to occupy a skirt of timber projecting out from it.

The Texan cavalry was first dispatched to the front of the enemy's horse, to draw their attention ; while the remainder of the army, which had advanced in column to the cluster of timber three or four hundred yards in front, was deploying into line. The evolution was quickly performed, and the whole force advanced rapidly and in good order. The secretary of war, at the request of the general-in-chief, took command of the left wing. While the Texans were thus advancing, Deaf Smith rode at the top of his horse's speed to the front, and informed Houston that Vince's bridge was destroyed. The general announced it to the line. The " Twin-Sisters" now advanced to within two hundred yards of the Mexican breast-work, and opened a destructive fire with grape and canister. Sherman's regiment commenced the action upon the Texan left. The whole line, advancing in double quick time, cried, "Remember the Alamo" — " Remember Goliad" — and, while approaching the enemy's works, received his 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. On the left, they penetrated the woodland; the Mexicans fled. On the right, the Texan cavalry charged that of the enemy; the latter fled. In the centre, the Texan artillery advanced to within seventy yards of that of the Mexicans, but ceased to fire, for Burleson's regiment and Millard's infantry had stormed the breastwork, took the enemy's artillery, and were driving them back.

In fifteen minutes after the charge, the Mexicans gave way at all points, and the pursuit was general. Some of them fled to the river, some to the swamp in their rear, others toward Vince's bridge, but the largest portion perhaps to a clump of trees not far to the rear, where they surrendered. Such was their consternation, and so sudden their defeat, that their cannon was left loaded, and their precious moveables untouched; those that were asleep, awoke only in time to be overwhelmed; those that were cooking their dinner, left it uneaten; those that were playing monk, left the game unfinished. The morass in the rear and right of the enemy's camp, and into which so many of the fugitives fled, presented an awful scene. Men and horses, dead and dying, formed a bridge for the furious pursuers. The Texans, having no time to load their guns, used them as clubs. So with their pistols; they then had recourse to their bowie-knives, and finally to the weapons of the fallen enemy. It is said that Deaf Smith, after announcing to Houston the news of the destruction of the bridge, threw himself into the midst of the enemy, and, after breaking his own sword in combat, coolly took another from one he had slain, and continued the work of death. " The commander-in-chief," says the secretary of war in his report, "acted with great gallantry, encouraging the men to the attack, and heroically charged, in front of the infantry, within a few yards of the enemy." It was here that he received a severe wound in his ankle, and had his horse shot two or three times.

The pursuit of the enemy's cavalry continued to the site of Vince's bridge. Karnes led in this pursuit. He discovered in advance of him a Mexican officer in a splendid uniform, and mounted on a beautiful black charger. Being well mounted himself, he had a desire to capture him, and went in pursuit. Perhaps such a race was never before seen in Texas. Karnes, unable to gain on the fugitive, supposed he would take him at the destroyed bridge. The officer, reaching the bayou, saw that the bridge was gone, but, making no halt, plunged down the steep descent into the water ; and, as Karnes rode up on the right bank, to his utter astonishment he saw his foe climbing the almost perpendicular wall on the other!

At dark the pursuit of the flying enemy ceased. The prisoners taken were conducted to the Texan camp, placed under guard, and supplied with provisions. A suitable guard was also left at the Mexican camp. The wounded of both armies were as well provided for as the circumstances would permit. After the excitement of the battle had somewhat subsided, Houston found that his wounded limb had swollen ; his boot was cut off, and such attention paid to the wound as could be procured to alleviate the pain.

The main body of the prisoners were taken that night. At their head was the cheerful and philosophical Almonte. With him it appeared only a scene in life's drama. Conversing fluently in both English and Spanish, he threw a charm over all with whom he came in contact. At a time so trying to his comrades, he proved himself a true descendant of the brave Morelos, and worthy of a better fate than that accorded to his noble sire.

The aggregate force of the Texan army in the battle was seven hundred and eighty-three ; that of the enemy was perhaps twice the number. The Mexicans lost six hundred and thirty killed, two hundred and eight wounded, and seven hundred and thirty prisoners ; besides a large quantity of arms and great numbers of mules and horses taken, together with their camp-equipage, and the military chest, containing twelve thousand dollars. The Texan loss was only eight killed and twenty-five wounded!

Santa Anna Captured

On the morning of the 22nd, detachments were sent out to scour the country toward Harrisburg, for the purpose of taking prisoners. A party of five, having reached Vince's, continued the search down Buffalo bayou. One of them, James A. Sylvester, while in the act of shooting a deer, discovered a Mexican pursuing his course toward the bridge. He called his companions, and they rode up to the fugitive, who had fallen down in the grass, and thrown a blanket over his head. They called to him to rise, but he only uncovered his face. They repeated the request for him to rise two or three times, when he did so. He advanced to Sylvester, and shook hands with him, at the same time kissing his hand. He inquired for General Houston; they said he was in camp. They then asked him who he was. He said he was a private soldier. Seeing the fine studs on the bosom of his shirt, they pointed toward them. He then said he was an aide to Santa Anna, and burst into a flood of tears. They reassured him. He was dressed as a common soldier, and had no arms. He exhibited to them a letter from Colonel Almonte. As he complained of not being able to walk, he was placed on one of their horses, and conducted to the camp by some of the party, Sylvester going in another direction.

The distinguished prisoner—for it was Santa Anna—was handed over to Colonel Forbes, at the guard-lines and, exhibiting to him a letter addressed to " Don Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna," desired to be conducted to General Houston. Colonel Hockley at that time passing by, the matter was referred to him; and they both concluding that it was Santa Anna, conducted him to headquarters. On the way, the Mexican prisoners exclaimed, " El Presidente !"

Houston was lying on a mattress, under an oak which he had made his headquarters, with his wounded limb in an easy position, and had fallen into a gentle slumber. Being awakened, the captive chieftain said to him, "I am General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, and a prisoner-of-war at your disposition." Houston looked at him, and by a motion of his hand directed him to a tool-chest, where he could sit down. He did so, leaning forward, and pressing his sides with his hands. Colonel Forbes was then dispatched for Santa Anna's private secretary, in order to identify his chief. He was brought; and, in the meantime, Colonel Rusk and others came up. Santa Anna asked for opium. A piece of about five grains was handed him, which he swallowed. He immediately proposed to enter into negotiations for his liberation; but General Houston answered him that it was a subject of which he could not take cognizance, inasmuch as Texas had a government, to which such matters appropriately belonged. Santa Anna observed that he disliked to have anything to do with civilians; that he abhorred them, and would much rather treat with the general of the army. " And," continued he, " general, you can afford to be generous; you are born to no common destiny —you have conquered the Napoleon of the West." General Houston and Colonel Rusk both assured him that no negotiations could be opened until the cabinet assembled. General Houston then asked him how he expected to negotiate under the circumstances that had occurred at the Alamo. About this time, Colonel Almonte, who had been sent for, arrived; and, after salutations between him and his chief, the latter replied that "General Houston knew that, by the rules of war, when a fortress, insufficient to defend itself, was summoned to surrender, and refused, and caused the effusion of human blood, the vanquished, when it was taken, were devoted to execution." General Houston replied that "he knew such to have been the rule at one period, but he thought it now obsolete, and a disgrace to the nineteenth century. But," continued Houston, " General Santa Anna, you can not urge the same excuse for the massacre at Goliad; they capitulated, were betrayed, and massacred in cold blood !" Santa Anna replied; " If they ever had capitulated, he was not aware of it. Urrea had deceived him, and informed him that they were vanquished; and he had orders from his government to execute all that were taken with arms in their hands." Houston rejoined; " General Santa Anna, you are the government — a dictator has no superior." — " But," answered Santa Anna, " I have the order of our Congress to treat all that were found with arms in their hands, resisting the authority of the government, as pirates. And Urrea has deceived me. He had no authority to enter into any agreement; and, if I ever live to regain power, he shall be punished for it.

Santa Anna's Capitulation

After a pause, Houston asked him if he did not desire some refreshment, as he supposed he was exhausted. He said he did. He was then asked if he desired to have his tents, baggage, staff, servants, &c. He replied that he would gladly have them. Colonel Almonte was thereupon directed to select them; and the prisoner's quarters were established near Houston's favorite tree, where he had his headquarters. General Houston, previous to Santa Anna's retirement from the audience, stated to him that he must forthwith write an order to his second in command to evacuate Texas, and fall back to Monterey. His dispatch, though not to the extent asked, is as follows :

"ARMY OF OPERATIONS.
" EXCELLENT SIR : Having yesterday evening, with the small division under my immediate command, had an encounter with the enemy, which, notwithstanding I had previously taken all possible precautions, proved unfortunate, I am, in consequence, a prisoner in the hands of the enemy. Under these circumstances, your Excellency will order General Gaona with his division to countermarch to Bexar, and wait for orders. Your Excellency will also, with the division under your immediate command, march to the same place. The division under command of General Urrea will retire to Guadalupe Victoria. I have agreed with General Houston for an armistice, until matters can be so regulated that the war shall cease for ever.

" Your Excellency will take the proper steps for the support of the army, which from this time remains under your command, using the moneys lately arrived from Matamoras, the provisions on hand there, as well as those at Victoria, and also the twenty thousand dollars withdrawn from Bexar, and are now in that treasury.
" I hope your Excellency will, without failure, comply with these dispositions—advising me, by return of the courier, that you have already commenced their execution. God and liberty
Camp at San Jacinto, April 22, 1836.
"ANT°. LOPEZ DE SANTA ANNA. " To his Excellency Don VICENTE FILISOLA, General of Division."

Santa Anna, at the same time, addressed another dispatch to General Filisola, charging him to instruct the commandants of the several Mexican divisions not to permit any injury to be done to the inhabitants of the country; also, at the same time, a third note, directing Filisola to order the military commandant at Goliad to set all the prisoners, taken at Copano (as before related), at liberty, and send them forthwith to San Felipe de Austin.

These orders were dispatched by Deaf Smith. The troops under Filisola had been encamped on the eastern bank of the Brazos. They could not be made to believe the report of the first fugitive from the battlefield of the San Jacinto; but when, an hour afterward, a second one come in, orders to retreat were given, and they recrossed the river.*

* Of this large invading force brought by Santa Anna into Texas, but few ever reached their homes. We have learned something of those that came from Yucatan. It was in the winter of 1835 that Santa Anna ordered a levy of eight hundred men from that state for the invasion of Texas. These men were torn away, by military force, from their families and occupations, to go on the campaign. The sudden use of harsh means, and the indignities offered them, filled them with despair (for the Yucatecos are greatly attached to their homes). They entered into a conspiracy against their officers; but it was discovered, and General Toro (a brother-in-law of Santa Anna) sent to Merida for a troop of Mexican cavalry, who disarmed them, and forced them in small companies to embark for Vera Cruz, where they were again supplied with arms, and incorporated with the invading army. It was a portion of this body of poor Indians that performed the bloody work at Goliad. From starvation, and the incidents of war, there were not so many as fifty of them that ever returned to see their wives and children! It was this cruelty in carrying away her citizens that exasperated Yucatan against Mexico, and caused her afterward to declare her independence. —Letter of George Either, May 3, 1842.

The 22d day of April was the first free day in Texas. Before then, her people had declared their independence, but now they had won it in a noble contest. The victory was physically and morally complete. The blow was given at the proper time, and in a vital part. In looking back at the events of the campaign, we can see no time when it could have succeeded so well. Providence seemed in every way to favor the result. It was a full retribution for past outrages. Santa Anna had presided over a feast of blood at the Alamo; he had ordered a second at Goliad; and he was made to behold another at San Jacinto. The Texans had their revenge.

 

 

 

 

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