Today in Texas History – April 21

 

From the Annals of the Revolution  – In 1836, Texian forces under the command of Gen. Sam Houston defeated part of the Mexican Army encamped at San Jacinto under the command of Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.  Santa Anna overextended his troops by crossing the San Jacinto River without his full field artillery and isolating his unit from the larger commands of General Filosola and Urea.  Houston would likely not have attacked but for learning that Santa Anna had divided his army and only had about 1200 troops at San Jacinto.  It was as close to a chance at an even fight as Houston would ever have.  Convinced that the Texians would not attack even though they were less than a mile away, Santa Anna incredibly failed to take necessary precautions and the Mexicans were routed in a surprise attack that lasted only about 18 minutes.  Had Santa Anna attacked the Texians in battle formation, they likely would have been routed and the idea of an independent Texas would have been dead for years to come.  Santa Anna was captured after the battle.  Houston realized that his chances of defeating the rest of the Mexican Army were not good and that Santa Anna was his best bargaining chip.  He resisted calls to execute “El Presidente” and to save his life, Santa Anna ordered the remainder of the still overwhelming Mexican forces in Texas to return to Mexico.  If Urea and Filosola had refused to obey the order they likely would have been Mexican heroes for generations and Texas independence would have been problematic at best.  But the generals grudgingly complied and withdrew.

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