Early in the morning, 175 years ago today, General Sam Houston’s small army of Texians (less than 800 men) surprised the twice-as-big (1500 men) army of General Santa Anna, east of the present day city of Houston. The Battle of San Jacinto lasted less than 20 minutes.
Before the fighting started, Deaf Smith and two other Texians destroyed Vince’s Bridge, the only escape route available to the Mexicans.
General Houston’s men moved quickly and quietly to within seventy yards of the sleeping Mexicans. Houston gave the order and shouts of “Remember the Alamo!” and “Remember Goliad!” went up along the line of Texians. They fired, and within minutes over 700 Mexicans troops died. Another 730, including General Santa Anna himself, were captured. Sam Houston was wounded in the ankle.
There are a number of stories about Santa Anna’s capture. One story says that he disappeared during the battle, and Houston’s men searched for him. According to this story, Santa Anna ditched his uniform to avoid recognition, but was recognized by his silk underwear. Another story has Santa Anna in his tent with a pretty mulatto woman (the supposed “Yellow Rose of Texas”) when the first shots were fired. There is no evidence to support this story, and most historians dismiss it. The story about Santa Anna ditching his uniform evidently is true, but it is questionable whether he was recognized by his silk longjohns. Anyway, he was captured.
On May 14, 1836, the defeated Mexican general signed the Treaties of Velasco. He agreed to withdraw his troops from Texas, and he agreed to work for the recognition of Texas as an independent republic.
San Jacinto Day is a state holiday, of sorts. State government offices are open today but operating on a skeleton crew.
By the way, in Texas we pronounce San Jacinto with the anglicized “J” (as in “Jack”), not the aspirated Spanish “jota”. Texans sometimes shorten San Jacinto to San Jac (pronounced San Jack)