Battle Of San Jacinto

Battle Of San Jacinto The Pride of Texas The Texas army marched all day and all night. On the morning of April 20, they reached the San Jacinto plain. Buffalo Bayou was on one side, a football field wide, and 30 feet deepnot wadeable. On the other side ran the San Jacinto River, and near the bottom of the dry land was a shallow mudhole known as Peggy’s Lake. Beyond that was marshlands. And the thick forest was greatly positioned.

[see battlefield] They made their camp here in the trees, with their wagons and Colonel Neill’s artillery in the forest as well(Hoyt 149). Three hours later Santa Anna arrived with his 650 men. The Texas government had escaped, but Santa Anna was confident of victory; he had reinforcements coming the next day and he knew that the Texas government’s connection with the Texas army had been severed. If Santa Anna won that day the war would be over. Santa Anna gave the order to pitch camp. He chose the land between Peggy Lake and the river, the only solid ground available to him.

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On his right was a thick forest and behind him was a dense marsh(Hoyt 150). Colonel Delgado the artillery officer took one look at the site and shuddered. Any youngster could have done better in choosing a site. What ground did the Mexicans have for retreating in case of a catastrophe? When he cornered General Castrillin with the question. The general could only sympathize; Santa Anna’s arbitrary nature was well known(Hoyt 150).

A small skirmish broke out among some restless soldiers and the Mexican lancers. The Texans had two injured and several horses lost, but the Mexicans’ twelve-pound cannon, the Golden Standard, was stranded on the battlefield. The rest of the afternoon was quiet, except for occasional rifle fire from both sides. Seeing the Golden Standard abandoned on the field, Col. Sidney Sherman, commander of the Texas cavalry, asked permission to try to capture the gun.

Permission was refused by General Houston, who knew and respected the strength of the Mexican lancers. Late in the afternoon, Sherman asked to make a cavalry reconnaissance into the field. Houston accepted, warning, however, that the Texas cavalry was to make no effort toward the gun. Shortly before sunset, the Texans set out, led by Colonel Sherman(Hoyt 150-151). The Mexican cavalry advanced to rescue the Golden Standard.

Sherman could not resist the temptation; as soon as he saw the enemy, he ordered a charge. But the lancers were too quick for them and a wild fight ensued. Seeing the Texas cavalry in trouble, Capt. Jesse Billingsley ordered his company of infantry into action. As they passed by General Houston, he ordered them back into line and they laughed at him(Hoyt 151). Countermarch back to the safety of the timber! Houston repeated.

Countermarch yourself! Shouted a soldier as they passed him. Shortly, every company was moving and Colonel Burleson was leading the charge. They drove the enemy back behind the breastworks and Colonel Sherman called his horseman to retreat to the Texas woods. But an inexperienced rider, Walter Lane, got into trouble. A Mexican lancer speared him in the shoulder and knocked him off his horse(151-152). He fell like a dead man, but in a moment he was up and staggering toward the Texas line.

He was surrounded by Mexican lancers ready to spear him again when Lamar rode up, drew his pistol, shot one lancer, and charged another. Henry Karnes rode up, pulled Lane up behind him, and sped off to safety. The Mexican cavalrymen, ever mindful of an act of valor, cheered. Lamar stopped, turned, and bowed to them in acknowledgment, and the Texans cheered(154). General Houston was angry with his troops. Colonel Sherman had disobeyed orders. Two men had been wounded and several horses lost.

But Houston could not discipline an entire regiment while in battle. The soldiers of the Texas Army gathered around their campfires that night and talked about attacking. Houston retired to his tent under a big oak tree and planned the Texas attack for the following day. He also gave orders that he was not to be disturbed; he had slept an average of three hours a night for the past two weeks(Hoyt 154). The Mexicans withdrew to the position in front of Peggy Lake and began to protect it as best they could. The Mexican soldiers labored on their five-foot-high fortifications all afternoon and late into the night. And at dawn on the morning of April 21 the Mexicans expected an attack.

None came. At 9:00, General Cs arrived at the Mexican camp with 540 men and a pack of mules; they had marched all night and crossed Vince’s Bridge at Lynches Ferry. The new arrivals were exhausted from their long march but they had to make camp; so the newcomers stacked arms, put up their tents, and lay down to rest. Santa Anna and his men were exhausted from their long night of efforts so they did the same(Hoyt 152). General Houston told Deaf Smith to go make a count to see how many men Santa Anna had.

So Smith picked up Walter Lane and they mounted their horses, rode around the Mexican camp, and stopped about 300 yards behind it. He was spotted from the camp, and soon bullets were flying by. Smith paid no attention, but went on with his count until a troop of Mexican cavalry came after them. He climbed on his horse again and they rode back to the Texas camp. Deaf Smith reported his findings; General Houston told him to go ahead and destroy Vince’s Bridge.

Smith rounded up half a dozen riders and they set out on the five-mile ride to the bridge. Around noon, the officers and soldiers began to grow visibly upset about not attacking yet. The officers demanded a council and General Houston accepted, although that was not what he wanted to do. The officers gathered and everyone had their turn to speak. They argued back and forth: Should they attack or should they wait in their superb defense position for the Mexicans to attack? General Houston took no position but let them argue. Finally they came to an standstill, and he dismissed the council with the conjecture that perhaps they ought to wait until the next day to attack.

The apprehension of the men was so high that mutiny seemed to threaten. It was then that the general told the men to get their dinners, then he would lead them into battle(Hoyt 155). The Texans were ready–rested, fed, their weapons primed, every nerve on edge. A soldier recalled: Around 20 or 30 campfires stood as many groups of men, all unwashed and unshaved, their long hair and beards matted, their clothes in tatters and plastered with mud. A more savage looking band could scarcely have been assembled.

The sun was high and warm, the breeze was light; it was a good day(Nevin 133). At 3:30 in the afternoon, while the Mexican camp still slept, General Houston mounted his white horse, Saracen. Then he formed his army into battle array. They set out across no-man’s land in three columns with the Twin Sisters, the Texans’ two famous cannons. Then formed a long line that extended across the field, two men deep.

Every soldier carried a rifle or a musket with bayonetand every man had a sword or a Bowie knife and two or three pistols stuck in his belt. The Twin Sisters were in the middle of the line; General Houston, on his white stallion, was in the center. Sword in hand, he waved the army forward. The men had been told to hold their fire, and for once they obeyed the order. The few musicians in the group struck the popular tune of the day, Will You Come to the Bower, a somewhat ribald tune for such a grim business(Knowles 46). In the Mexican camp a bugler of the Matamoros battalion sounded the alarm, and his company fired their muskets.

The Golden Standard shot a load of grapeshot at the Texas line. But in their hurry, they fired high. But it was already too late; the Texans were on them. When Houston’s army reached the edge of the rise in the middle of no-man’s-land, the Twin Sisters were swung around into position and fire. They were loaded with chopped horseshoes, and this improvised grapeshot tore through the Mexican ranks(Hoyt 156).

Colonel Delgado stood up on an empty ammunition crate behind the breastworks to survey the scene. He saw General Castrilln on one side, shouting orders, Colonel Almonte on the other side, shouting orders. No one was listening. General Santa Anna emerged from his tent and he shouted at the men: Lie down! You will be hit! Other officers yelled, Commence firing! There was much confusion among troops. On the Texas side, after the first volley General Houston tried to get the riflemen to reload, but Secretary Rusk rode up.

If we stop we are cut to pieces-don’t stop-Give them hell! The Texas Army surged forward over the breastworks, shouting, Remember the Alamo! Their rifles became clubs, and Bowie knives and pistols came out. Remember Goliad! they cried(Hoyt 156-157). Frantically, the Mexican gunners worked the Golden Standard. They fired five times, and grapeshot and mine balls thinned the Texas ranks, but then the gunners were overwhelmed. A few of the Mexican musketeers and riflemen rushed to the breastworks and snapped off shots. They were aiming at General Houston and five bullets struck Saracen, almost killing him. Houston mounted another horse, but that one too fell because of the musket fire.

A shot struck Houston in the Achilles tendon of his right foot, breaking his ankle. He got himself onto a third horse and remained on the field(Hoyt 157-158). Eight miles away, Texas baggage guards had captured Captain Bachillar, a special courier for Santa Anna, the day before by Deaf Smith, and had him tied to a tree. All of them were following the action. First came the deep bellow of the Golden Standard, then the popping of the Twin Sisters, and then the rattle of small arms.

In the beginning moments the captain was quite lively, but then he sank into silence. Santa Anna is whipped, he said at last. How do you know that? Because I don’t hear the sound of his guns.(Hoyt 158) Jimmie Curtis had his son-in-law, George Washington Cottle fall at the A …