The Battle of San Jacinto was brief (less than a half-hour) and decisive. Santa Anna and his Mexican army were decisively defeated a few miles east of what is now Houston, Texas. It became known as Sam Houston’s “retreat to victory.”

It essentially cleared the way for Texas as an independent republic.

The Texans had recently declared independence (March 2, 1836) following a breakdown in a common government within Mexico 3 years before. Within 4 days (March 6) a magnificent historical stand at the old San Antonio mission, The Alamo, demonstrated that Texans would give it all for that independence.

Three weeks later under orders of Santa Anna to execute all American captives as pirates (since the U.S. was not at war with Mexico) approximately 430 Texans including the commander James Fannin were shot, clubbed, or knifed to death at Goliad, South of San Antonio.

At the bloody death count of Texans rose, so did the fury and ferocity of the Texans rise. Fighting and reprisal were now deep in their blood. Wounded wolves with bared fangs sprung.

But Sam Houston’s strategy was to retreat.

However, the strategy turned out to be sound when his “retreat to victory” seduced Santa Anna to drive his army far to the east of San Antonio (The Alamo) and Goliad (the Goliad massacre) away from Mexican supplies and reinforcements; and toward his San Jacinto “Waterloo”

Houston on the other hand retreated, gaining new volunteers along the way and keeping his initial (though limited) army intact while trying to resupply them.  His greatest problem was in keeping up morale, as his men fiercely wanted to fight, supplies or no. They craved a fight to revenge the slaughters of Texans at both The Alamo and Goliad by the Napoleon of the west, Santa Anna.  They were itching to fight and Houston nearly faced a mutiny (to fight the enemy!). Nevertheless, he stretched his “retreat” to the limit.

Finally, after Santa Anna crossed the Brazos River just west of Houston, General Houston slipped slightly South with his volunteers, destroyed the only bridge back to the west, and effectively had himself and Santa Anna enclosed in a small area along the San Jacinto River. Like two fighting cocks in a pen. A fight to the death loomed.

Instead of attacking early in the morning of April 21, Houston waited, allowing Santa Anna’s troops to consolidate and actually outnumber Houston’s (approximately 1300 Mexicans to 900 Texans), Houston waited until the afternoon because he suspected Santa Anna had decided his own men should rest. Consequently, the Mexican army lay in for a siesta. The 1300 were asleep.

Weary, but on fire with emotion, the unrested Texans attacked the sleeping enemy and within 20 minutes had killed almost half of the Mexican army and ultimately captured Santa Anna. The Texans had fewer than a dozen men killed. The first cry reportedly had been by Colonel Sidney Sherman: “Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad! Remember the Alamo.” It had resounded throughout the Texan troops.

As it turned out, Texas’s war for independence did not end on that single day. However, Santa Anna had been captured by Houston (who was wounded, himself). The bargain was that in return for not being executed (which Houston’s army was clamoring for) Santa Anna would order all remaining Mexican troops to remain outside of San Antonia and ultimately withdraw south.

Eventually, under treaty, all Mexican troops and supporters moved south of the Rio Grande River. The Republic of Texas was effectively established and functioned until February of 1846 when it joined the then-Republican Union of the United States.

“Remember the Alamo!” The Texans remembered the Alamo that day at San Jacinto. And they have never forgotten.

Pray God, they never will.

Paul H. Yarbrough

I was born and reared in Mississippi, lived in both Louisiana and Texas (past 40 years). My wonderful wife of 43 years who recently passed away was from Louisiana. I have spent most of my business career in the oil business. I took up writing as a hobby 7 or 8 years ago and love to write about the South. I have just finished a third novel. I also believe in the South and its true beliefs.


  • scott thompson says:

    i dont have all info on Texas. you read that they agreed to be part of Mexico, you read they got tired of Mexico and decided to join the us as some type of state i assume…CMIIW. you read they then joined the confederacy as a sovereign state….a right states had under the us constitution (9th, 10th and state constitutions that retained rights back if the general govt went too far.)…not the Lincolnian alleged govt. shame the CSA wasn’t victorious.

    • Paul Yarbrough says:

      They didn’t get tired of Mexico. The Texans (Americans) had early been invited by the Mexican government to take lands in northern Mexico and be citizens under the Mexican government and constitution of 1824. Mexico wanted them in the north as a buffer against the savage and murderous Comanches (primarily. Santa Anna became president (ultimately) and was living outside the constitution of 1824.
      He refused to listen and after an abrasive meeting between Santa Anna and Stephen Austin, Austin returned to his fellow Texans and said “Gentlemen, I have determined that we have no choice but to load our guns and assert our rights.” It was at this point that the Texans seceded from Mexico because of the constitutional abuses of Santa Anna’s government!

    • David LeBeau says:

      Mr. Thompson, with all due respect, the States do not get their sovereignty from the 9th & 10th amendments. Sovereignty of the 50 states have always existed with the people of the states. I say this because words matter, language matters. If I may, I recommend the PIG to the Constitution by Kevin RC Gutzman, and The Founding Fathers Guide to the Constitution by Brion McClanahan. Or you can read an essay from 1819 on the decision of the McCulloch v. Maryland case. You can find it here at the Abbeville Institute. That essay will knock you on your butt. Have a good evening.

  • TL says:

    American by birth, but Texan by the Grace of God.
    Not many here remember The Alamo like they used to. It won’t surprise me if all the monument will be taken down in the next 5 years.

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