Yes, she's strange and different...but not THAT different.

21 April 2006

Today is San Jacinto Day!

Sam Houston and the meager army of Texas retreated eastward following the fall of the Alamo in the spring of 1836. The troops were becoming increasingly impatient, however, by the time they reached Buffalo Bayou, a few miles southeast of present day Houston.

On the morning of the April 19, the Texans crossed over and marched down the east bank of Buffalo Bayou to within half a mile of its confluence with the San Jacinto River. Here, the army prepared their defenses on the edge of a grove of trees. Their rear was protected by timber and the bayou, while before them was an open prairie.

On the following morning, Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna came marching across the prairie in battle array. A volley from the Texan's "Twin Sisters" artillery brought him to a sudden halt. Falling back to a clump of trees a quarter of a mile distant, Santa Anna formed in line of battle. Colonel Sidney Sherman, at the head of the Texas cavalry, charged the Mexican army, but accomplished little except to inspire the Texans with fresh enthusiasm for the following day.

The 21st of April dawned bright and beautiful. The main forces of the Texas army were there, totaling about 750 men. They faced over 1500 of the enemy, secure and flushed with pride at the offense they had enjoyed for the previous few weeks against the Texans, including the complete annihilation of the garrison at the Alamo. Early in the morning, Houston sent Erastus "Deaf" Smith, the celebrated Texas spy, with two or three men to destroy Vince's bridge over which the Mexican army had passed, thus cutting off their only available escape route.

When Houston's long-awaited order to advance was given in the afternoon, the Texans did not hesitate. When within seventy yards of the Mexican position, the word "fire" was given, and the Texans' shouts of "Remember the Alamo" and "Remember Goliad" rang along the entire line. Within less than an hour, 700 Mexicans were slain, with another 730 taken as prisoners. The battle for Texas was won.

A panel on the side of the monument at San Jacinto today underscores the importance of the battle after more than a century and a half of reflection:
"Measured by its results, San Jacinto was one of the decisive battles of the world. The freedom of Texas from Mexico won here led to annexation and to the Mexican War, resulting in the acquisition by the United States of the States of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Utah, and parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and Oklahoma. Almost one third of the present area of the American nation, nearly a million square miles of territory, changed sovereignty."

Some notes from someone born and currently residing in Texas (that would be me):
- The San Jacinto monument (pictured above) is fifteen feet taller than the Washington monument and is the tallest war memorial in the world.
- Buffalo Bayou starts about 5 miles from my house as not much more than a ditch through a rice field. Today the other end of Buffalo Bayou is the Houston Ship Channel and the port of Houston, the second largest port in the United States.
- Deaf Smith is buried on the grounds of the county courthouse of the county I live in, Fort Bend County. Many of the heroes of the Texas revolution are also buried in Fort Bend County.

  • On 4/22/2006 6:38 AM, Blogger DeniseUMLaw said…

    Wow, I didn't know all that. And here I was thinking we should give Texas back to Mexico (if, of course, they'd take Bush with them)...

    When do you suppose we'll stop creating monuments to war?

  • On 4/24/2006 10:20 AM, Blogger Jami said…

    The Mexicans aren't all that fond of GW, so that wouldn't work. If Texas left for any reason, it would be to go back to being an independent country.

    And we'll stop creating monuments to war when we stop having wars ... which I fear won't be anytime soon.


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