Battle of San Jacinto Historical Site
"The Battle of San Jacinto" Painted by Henry McArdle (1895) 1 One of the most well known paintings of the Texas Revolutionary War, Henry McArdle painted this painting based off of stories from his grandfather who fought in the battle.
Map of the Battle of San Jacinto provided by the San Jacinto Museum.6 This map shows the troop movements and strategies that happened during the Battle of San Jacinto.
"The Surrender of Santa Anna" painted by William Henry Huddle. 7 This famous painting depicts the events that occurred the day after the battle, when captive Santa Anna met with wounded Sam Houston
Backstory and Context
After there was no attack the next morning, General Sam Houston and a war council voted to launch an attack on the resting Mexican army.2 Although this attack was quite risky, many of the Texan revolutionaries were more than willing to run into battle. According to a personal account of the battle, many of the troops were anxious to attack and responded with a yell when asked by General Houston if they were ready to go into battle.3 The Battle of San Jacinto was a short battle as the Mexican had been caught by surprise. Even though the Mexican army was resting in an open prairie, they were not alerted of the Texan army until the Texans were only about 200 yards away. Once the Mexicans had noticed, the Texan artillery began to fire.2 This caused many Mexicans to scramble and some even flee. Unfortunately for those who could did not run away from the battle surrendered and slaughtered. The Texans were still angered by the acts and atrocities the Mexican army had done unto their fellow Texan soldiers.
“the blood of our countrymen was too fresh in the memory of our people to be forgotten or to let one Mexican escape, until worn down with pursuit and slaughter they commenced making prisoners.” 4The defeat was a massive upset as the Mexican army outnumbered the Texan army by about 2 to 1.5 The battle only lasted about nineteen minutes even though the Mexican army consisted of about 1,600 men and the Texan army having around 900 men in total.2 After the battle was over and Santa Anna had been captured General Houston, who had been injured in the leg, decided to spare Santa Anna's life against the wishes of his troops. Even though most of the Texan army wanted Santa Anna dead, General Houston saw an opportunity to bargain Texas's independence for Santa Anna's life. After a month of being prisoner Santa Anna agreed to the terms and signed the treaty that granted and recognized Texas's Independence.5
Texas became an independent Nation in 1836 and transformed into The Republic of Texas. Texas had wanted to join the United States of America but due to not wanting to increase tensions with Mexico and the anti-slavery movement not wanting to admit another slave state, the US declined. The Republic of Texas lasted nine years as an independent nation until being annexed by the United States of America in December of 1845.2 Mexico and Texas continued to struggle with land disputes in south Texas leading to United States going to war with Mexico. After Mexico's defeat, the United States gained new territories leading to the expansion of the west.
Texas gaining its independence helped create the United States of America that is known today. When Texas was annexed and the United States went to war with Mexico, the United States was able to show its military capabilities. After Mexico was defeated, the United States acquired new territories that would later become California, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, and some of Oklahoma and Colorado.
2 Bluhm, Raymond K. "Battle of San Jacinto." Encyclopædia Britannica. April 14, 2018. Accessed April 11, 2019. https://www.britannica.com/event/Battle-of-San-Jacinto-1836.
3 WINTERS, JAMES WASHINGTON. "AN ACCOUNT OF THE BATTLE OF SAN JACINTO." The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 6, no. 2 (1902): 139-44. http://www.jstor.org/stable/27784928.
4 "THE BATTLE OF SAN JACINTO, (TEXAS)." Annual Publication of the Historical Society of Southern California 7, no. 2/3 (1907): 194-97. doi:10.2307/41168639.
5 Editors, History.com. "Battle of San Jacinto." History.com. November 09, 2009. Accessed February 22, 2019. https://www.history.com/topics/mexico/battle-of-san-jacinto#section_2.
6 "The Battleground: Then and Now. Two Maps, One Decisive Battle." San Jacinto Museum of History. Accessed April 11, 2019. https://www.sanjacinto-museum.org/The_Battle/The_Battleground/.
7 "Painting,." The Bullock Texas State History Museum. Accessed April 11, 2019. https://www.thestoryoftexas.com/discover/artifacts/the-surrender-of-santa-anna.