Today is San Jacinto Day in Texas. It is the day Mexico lost Texas. For those of you that aren’t familiar, this is the day that Sam Houston’s irregular militia of Texican’s defeated a strong Mexican Army in a bloody eighteen minute battle at the confluence of the San Jacinto River and Buffalo Bayou near Galveston Bay. The Mexican Army was led by Generalissimo Santa Anna who was also the President of Mexico. The Texican’s were in full rebellion against the Government of Mexico. Now some might say they were ungrateful guests who came to dinner and stole the house. The Texican’s had legitimate grievances caused by a change of the Mexican Constitution, but I will leave you to your own to research to understand the complex situation For our purposes understand that a wild frontier called Texas had been populated by the Government of Mexico with a large number of U.S. citizens used to rights they had left in the United States. A group of revolutionaries had met at Washington on the Brazos, formed a government and issued a Texas declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836. That made Santa Anna mad.
Santa Anna had set off from Mexico before the Declaration was signed and marched the Mexican Army to Texas. In 1836 it was no hike in the forest. Once in Texas the armies were a nightmare for the Texicans. Santa Anna’s armies mopped up on small groups of revolutionaries at the Alamo and Goliad. After those victories Santa Anna set his sights on Sam Houston and his army now retreating across Texas toward the U.S. border. At least that is what it looked like to some Texican’s who wanted to go fight before they were ready. Santa Anna’s fondest wish was to find Sam Houston and finish off the last Texican army.
Find him he did on April 20, 1836 in the last place on earth that military person might pick. The two armies were separated by no more than than a few hundred yards. Each army had a body of water behind them with no way to escape. The Texican’s late afternoon charge into the Mexican camp on April 21st surprised the Mexican Army and they were routed. The end result was a treaty that at least for the moment made Texas independent. This is a long way around to say “Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.”
Another question is whether the whole thing was predestined. Was it Texas’ destiny to be freed from Mexican rule or was Santa Anna’s Waterloo the result of a willful man exercising his free will and paying the consequences. The young Jim Ward in my novel “Morgan’s Point” only wished for manhood. The price was steeper than he could have imagined. Santa Anna’a wish changed the world, just not in the way he imagined.
San Jacinto Day was a big deal when I was growing up. I wonder if I took a poll on the streets of Austin this afternoon of random folks if most of them every heard of it. We as Texasans need to do a better job of explaining our history to new folks who are coming in town. Most think the city named Bowie street for the recently departed English singer. Oh, wait a minute I think the city council is considering that now! Come on native Texans get with the program! We love our State and our proud of it. If we work to preserve our heritage we will all be better off. I am proud of Texas and I think the new folks would be too if we educate them about the sacrifices that were made to make the Texas of today. Saturday the 23rd there is suppose to be a reenactment of the Battle. I plan to be there if the creeks quit rising. Hope to see you. Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!