La Porte, TX (1836 AD)
The Battle of San Jacinto was the decisive engagement of the Texas Revolution against Mexico. Fought in the wake of the defeats at Goliad and more famously at the Alamo, San Jacinto was the turning point, and effectively the culmination, of the Texas Revolution. Fought between a large and powerfully equipped Mexican Army, considered to be on par with armies in Europe, and a relatively small ragtag force of Texas militia, the unexpected victory had enormous consequences for Texas and the United States, which ultimately followed up the victory a few years later during the Mexican War.
By April 1836, the Texas Revolution had gone on for barely six months, but bloody engagements had already been fought at Goliad and the Alamo. The latter was a pyrhhic victory for the Mexicans, in which they were stalled for nearly two weeks outside of San Antonio. This delaying action gave the Texas general Sam Houston time to recruit and prepare fresh forces to stop the Mexican invasion.
After the Alamo, Santa Anna attempted to capture the Texas government at Lynch’s Ferry. This bought Houston even more time. It wasn’t until April 20 that the Mexican Army turned its full attention to crushing the Texas army. By that time, Houston’s forces were better prepared. Establishing a strong position near the San Jacinto River, the Texans were ready to meet the enemy.
Strangely, Santa Anna decided not to attack at once. While the Mexican army rested, further reinforcements showed up for Texas. Houston took very good care to conceal both his position and his numbers from Santa Anna. The Mexican army prepared to attack on the 22nd. The Texans pre-empted this attack by launching their own the day before.
Thanks to a colossal oversight, in which the Mexicans forgot to post sentries around their camp, the Texans took the enemy completely by surprise. To the surprise of both sides, the Texans utterly routed the Mexicans. Over fifteen hundred of Santa Anna’s army were casualties, while Texas lost nine killed and thirty wounded. The rest of the Mexican army was scattered and forced to withdraw to the Rio Grande River. The battle effectively ended the Texas Revolution, resulting in independence for the Lone Star State.
The San Jacinto Battlefield is now a State of Texas Historic Site. The site includes most of the area where the battle took place and is dominated by the San Jacinto Monument, a 567-foot tall obelisk which commemorates the Texas Revolution. The base of the monument is home to the San Jacinto Museum of History, which features exhibits on the battle and on Texas history. As an added bonus, the battleship USS Texas is docked in the ship channel adjacent to the historic site.
The San Jacinto Battleground State historic Site is located in La Porte approximately ten miles east of downtown Houston. It is open year-round from 9:00am to 6:00pm (excluding Thanksgiving and Christmas). There is no cost of admission. Web: www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/san-jacinto-battleground (official Website).