On April 21, 1836, after a lot of miserable experiences, constant retreating, and a lot of questions about Sam Houston’s decision making and nerve, the Texas Army routed the Mexican Army led by General Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón, usually just called Santa Anna here in Texas, at the Battle of San Jacinto.
The victory came at a very good time because people all over Texas were in a panic and the future for them looked grim.
Houston was constantly disappointed at the turnout of Texas men to fight with him and issued many calls for Texans to step up, get rid of their cowardice, and fight for independence. Many Texans were busy fleeing with their families and possessions in the Runaway Scrape towards safety in the east. Some thought that Houston himself was fleeing to the east with hopes that the United States Army might step in and save him. President Burnett had no faith in Houston.
The bloodletting of Texas rebels at Goliad and at the Alamo had many fired up for revenge and probably also a little concerned about what might happen if they came out to be on the losing end of the conflict.
The fact of the matter is that people were concerned because Houston had not been very open about his real plans and goals. Most of the men wanted to fight and frequently voiced their disillusionment.
That all came to an end on April 21, 1836.
Hidden in part by trees and the rising ground, Houston had his forces take position about 3:30 in the afternoon.
With cries of Remember the Alamo and Remember Goliad, the Texas army lunged forward. Eighteen minutes later the bloodbath of a battle was over. This time the Texans were victorious. The Texian officers lost control of the men and the violence reached a terrifying level. In the end, Houston’s report states that 630 Mexicans were dead and 730 were held prisoner. In eighteen minutes.
The Texian army lost 9 killed or mortally wounded and thirty soldiers were wounded but survived.
Houston himself had his ankle shattered by a musket ball during the combat.
Santa Anna disappeared during the bloodshed but was eventually captured. Texans would base their independence on the two treaties Santa Anna would sign in future days from April 21st.
So there you go. That, in a nutshell, is why April 21st is celebrated across the state of Texas.
The Texas History Lessons Theme song, Walking Through History, was written and recorded by Derrick McClendon. Listen to his new album, Interstate Daydreamer! Available everywhere you find good music. Thank you Derrick! Twitter: @dmclendonmusic
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