Texas Military Forces Historical Sketch

San Jacinto

The retreat of Houston and his army and the trailing of the Texans by Santa Anna set the stage for one of the outstanding battles in the New World. Although many may criticize Houston's tactics, his retreat, there is none who can doubt the glorious results of his victory at San Jacinto.

When Houston had maneuvered the enemy as well as his own army into the positions he desired, he halted his retreat and attacked. The first shot of San Jacinto was fired about 10 a.m. on April 20, 1836. This was only a skirmish but Houston was satisfied with the results. The fate of Texas hung in the balance and the weight of justice was on the side of Texas.

It was on April 21, that the Texans in solid phalanx, rallying to the cry "Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!" and determined to emerge victorious, rushed forward with relentless fury upon the breastworks of the Mexicans. At the head of the center column rode General Houston.

The Mexican army was drawn up in perfect order, but the Texans rushed on without firing. As they approached the breastworks, the Mexicans greeted them with a stream of bullets, which however, went over their heads. Houston was badly wounded, but the Texans rushed forward. Each man reserved his fire until he could choose his target, then before the Mexicans could reload, the Texans discharged their rifles into their very breasts. Without bayonets, the Texans converted their rifles into war clubs. A desperate hand-to-hand struggle all along the breastworks took place.

When the Texans had, by smashing in the skulls of the Mexicans, broken off their rifles at the breech, they flung the remains at the enemy, and drawing their pistols, continued the slaughter. When their pistols were emptied they drew their bowie knives and carved their way to victory.

The little band of heroes had conquered an army superior in training and equipment and twice as large. Only three Texans lost their lives, 34 were wounded, six mortally. The Mexicans killed totaled 630. The force with which the Texans charged was best described by Santa Anna, himself, following his capture the next day, when he declared:

"So sudden and fierce was the enemy's charge that the earth seemed to move and tremble."

It was on the battlefield at San Jacinto that occurred the final chapter in the Texas fight for independence, a glorious chapter that ranks in historical significance with the consultation at San Felipe in 1835 and the signing of the Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836.

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