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Battle Of San Jacinto

.. lamo, and so had his brother-in-law, Thomas J. Jackson. Curtis clubbed his rifle and went tearing through the gap in the breastworks, breaking skulls to right and left. Colonel John Wharton tried to stop the slaughter. He saw Jimmie Curtis threatening a Mexican officer with a Bowie knife(Hoyt )158.

The colonel hoisted a Mexican officer up behind him on his horse. Men, this Mexican is mine. Jimmie Curtis took aim and blasted the Mexican off the back of the horse, turned and walked away. Other soldiers had lost relatives in the Goliad Massacre and they now got back some of their own, slashing, bashing, and shooting every Mexican they encountered(Hoyt )158. Colonel Delgado observed General Santa Anna. I saw His Excellency running about in the utmost excitement, wringing his hands, unable to give an order.

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Delgado’s last view of General Castrilln was a heroic one; the general had recovered enough to mount an ammunition case, and arms folded, was glaring down at his enemies. His men called him to flee with them, but he refused. I have been in forty battles, he said, and I have never yet turned my back on the enemy. I am too old to change. Secretary Rusk tried to save the old general.

He threw up several rifle barrels that were aiming at the general. But other Texans drew a bead on the general’s chest and riddled him with bullets(Hoyt 159,162). Colonel Wharton tried again. They had done enough killing. He rode along the shore of Peggy Lake, where the Mexicans were floundering in the water and being mercilessly executed.

Mi no Alamo. Mi no Goliad, one boy cried to a soldier on the bank. The Texan soldier took aim with his musket and shot the boy in the head(Hoyt 162). Wharton ordered his men to cease fire. J.H.T.

Dixon, one of the revenge-craven, replied: Colonel, if Jesus Christ were to come down from Heaven and order me to quit shooting Santanistas I wouldn’t do it, sir. And he stepped back, cocked his rifle, and pointed it at the colonel’s chest. Colonel Wharton reined his horse and rode away(Hoyt 162). The battle lasted only 18 minutes, but the slaughter continued all afternoon. One brave captain summarized the attitude: You know how to take prisoners: Take them with the butt of your gun, club guns andRemember the Alamo!, Remember Goliad! On the right of the Mexican camp, about a hundred yards from the tents, was a small grove of trees and a mudhole with a stream leading to Peggy Lake.

The Mexicans fled the camp, heading for the grove and for Peggy Lake. Here the greatest carnage occurred. Having reached the lake, Colonel Almonte swam with one hand and held his sabre above his head with the other, urging his men to follow. At the lake and across the field Mexicans fell to their knees, asking for clemency: Mi no Alamo. Mi no Goliad, they said, clutching at their executioners, begging to surrender, begging for mercy.

But there was no mercy this day(Hoyt 162). Stephen Austin’s cousin, Sgt. Moses Bryan, encountered a young Mexican drummer boy lying on his face, both legs broken. One of the Texas soldiers pricked him with the point of a bayonet. The boy grasped the man around his legs and cried. Ave Mara pursima! Por Dios salva mi vida! (Hail Mary most pure! For God, save my life!) Sergeant Bryan begged the soldier to spare the boy. The man looked at me and put his hand on his pistol, Bryan recalled. I moved away, and just as I did so, he blew out the boy’s brains.(Hoyt 162-163) Scores of Mexicans rushed to the lake and jumped in, jammed all together.

Seeing the jam-up, the Texans positioned themselves on the bank. Pvt. William Foster Young recalled, I sat there on the shore and shot them until my ammunition ran out, then I turned to the butt of my musket and began knocking them in the head.(Hoyt 163) Juan Seguin’s Tejanos were in the thick of it, shouting, Recuerda el Alamo! A Mexican officer recognized Tejano soldier Antonio Menchaca as an acquaintance and pleaded with him as a brother Mexican to intercede for his life. Menchaca looked at him coldly. No, damn you, he said, I’m not Mexican.

I’m an American, and turning to his Texan comrades, he said, Shoot him!(Hoyt 163) In the end, Colonel Almonte managed to round up 400 Mexicans to surrender to Secretary Rusk, who took personal charge of them and brought them to safety. In all there were 730 prisoners, 200 of them wounded, and 630 bodies. The Texas Army lost nine men. The Mexican death toll in this Battle of San Jacinto was higher than that of Texas in all the previous battles of the war. General Houston had pursued his strategy, he had chosen the time and place to fight, and he had won(Hoyt 163). In spite of his wound, General Houston had remained in the saddle all during the battle and well after the senseless killing began. He finally felt weak from loss of blood and rode back across the field, accepting the cheers of his men and waving.

He reached the big oak tree where he had slept the night before, tried to dismount, and collapsed. His men got him onto a blanket underneath the tree and called the surgeon(Hoyt 164). On the day after the battle, a party searching for Mexican prisoners picked up a man, but did not recognize in this ragged figure, in faded white linen trousers and an old trooper’s jacket, the supreme commander of the Mexican army. The Texas soldiers told him they were looking for General Santa Anna and asked if he knew where he was. His feet were bleeding from walking on them for so long and he collapsed. But one of the search party’s officers took pity on him and gave him a hand up, so he rode into camp on the back of his captor’s horse.

As they came up to a band of prisoners, there were cries of El Presidente, El Presidente, and the secret was out. The patrol had captured Santa Anna. Unmasked, Santa Anna requested an audience with General Houston. They took him to the big oak tree. Houston looked up as the captive sat down.

A crowd gathered, waiting for the sentence of death. They had been looking for Santa Anna since dawn. Now they had found him. Colonel Almonte was summoned as interpreter and Santa Anna approached in a lordly manner. I am General Antonio Lpez de Santa Anna, he said, President of Mexico and commander in chief of the Army of Operations. I put myself at the disposal of the brave General Houston.

I wish to be treated as a general should be when a prisoner of war.(Hoyt 164-165,167) Houston lifted himself up on one elbow. Good afternoon, he said pleasantly. Ah, Santa Anna. Ah, indeed. Take a seat, general. I’m glad to see you. Santa Anna seated himself on a box.

That man may consider himself born to no common destiny who has conquered the Napoleon of the West, he said. And now it remains for him to be generous with the vanquished. You should have remembered that at the Alamo. Houston said. What happened at the Alamo-I was only obeying the orders of my government, Santa Anna began.

Houston lost his temper. You are the government of Mexico, Sir, he said. A dictator has no superior. What about the murders at Goliad? Those were the responsibility of General Urrea, Santa Anna lied. And when I have the opportunity I shall have him executed. He should never have accepted the surrenders.(Hoyt 167-168) The crowd around the two men was growing restless; to a man they wanted Santa Anna’s head.

General Houston, however, was wiser than the crowd. He knew that General Urrea and General Filisola together had more than 3,500 Soldiers on Texas soil and that under the more competent leadership of the two, they might attack. He knew that he did not have the strength to fight another battle, and he wanted Texas to be free desperately. Santa Anna wanted to stay alive. Therefore it was time to bargain(Hoyt 168-169). Santa Anna offered to remove all the Mexican troops from Texas if he were freed to return to Mexico. It’s not so simple as that, said General Houston.

I have no authority to negotiate a peace. That is for the civil government to do. Civil government, what is that? Surely the two parties who fought can arrive at an agreement. I’m sorry, said Houston. I’m not empowered to negotiate. I can only offer you your life if you will order your troops across the Rio Grande.(Hoyt 168-169) Santa Anna looked around him at the Texans who stood, muttering, blood in their eyes.

All right, he said, I will order General Filisola to leave Texas. He sat down then and wrote a letter to dismiss all of Filisola’s troops back to Mexico. A Mexican express rider was sent to General Filisola with the orders(Hoyt 169). Months later General Santa Anna was returned to Mexico, where he again assumed one man rule, but the infamy of having lost to Texas dogged him, and he proved an inept and corrupt leader. He eventually was ostracized so badly that he ended up in the Bahamas(Reavis 127).

Skipping ahead a century and a half, one will discover a great monument near the city of Houston. Where the Battle of San Jacinto is commemorated, one finds one of the most unusual memorial parks. The mighty monument in memory of the battle where Texas won independence towers 570 feet above San Jacinto State Park–built illegally higher than the Washington Monument. At its top is a huge star, the emblem of Texas(Carpenter 73-74). The land for the San Jacinto State Park was purchased through many different people and eventually reached the size of 420 acres (about 2/3 of a square mile). A commemorative sundial also was donated through the Daughters of the Republic of Texas(Muir 1-2).

Another interesting observation is that their are monuments all around Texas commemorating the battle of San Jacinto. Such is the one in Dallas of the soldier Prospero Bernardi. The bust of Bernardi is on display at the Hall of State, Fair Park, Dallas. The bust is so all can remember the contribution he made to the war(Belfiglio 1). And that’s what its all about. The contribution one makes to the effort. The author hopes the reader looks at the pride Texans have about them in a different light now. Then I will have made my contribution.



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