We go to Conquer
the Alamo fell, and Santa Anna ordered all the prisoners shot, he had
said he was going to kill everybody that's opposing the Mexican government.
There was terrific panic over the country, and every family that could
got their belongings together in their buggy or wagon or whatever they
had -- horseback... walkin', carryin' what you could, draggin' or puttin'
on a mule -- and they just abandoned their homes. That was called the
'Runaway Scrape.' They were trying to get across the Sabine River to get
into New Orleans before they got killed."
The fledgling government of Texas had retreated to the little town of Harrisburg, where they demanded that Sam Houston stand and fight. But Houston kept his own counsel, poring over Caesar's Commentaries on war, gnawing on the raw ears of corn with which he filled his saddlebags.
I consulted the wishes of all I should have been like the ass between
two stacks of hay. I consulted no one -- I held no councils of war. If
I err, the blame is mine.
Houston and his small army were in full retreat, zig-zagging across Texas, keeping just out of range of the advancing Mexicans. Rumors spread that alcohol had undercut his courage. Settlers jeered him from the roadside.
men under him said he's a coward, and Sidney Sherman, the colonel, tried
to replace him. Sam Houston said, anybody that tries to remove me from
this command, I'll execute 'em on the spot.
For more than a month, Santa Anna pursued Houston's elusive army. Then the Mexican general made a mistake. He divided his troops and veered off in hopes of capturing the provisional government. Houston slipped up behind him at a bend in a river called the San Jacinto.
21, 1836: We are in preparation to meet Santa Anna. It is the only chance
of saving Texas. We go to conquer. It is wisdom growing out of necessity
to meet the enemy now.
Santa Anna's army was surrounded by water on three sides. Houston's 800 men moved into position on the fourth.
"There were trees there. Houston had men up in those trees watching 'em, and calling down to him what they were doing. He says, 'The cavalry over there have taken their saddles off, they're taking their horses to drink.' This is siesta time; it's 3:30 and most of the Mexicans are having their siesta. Houston immediately ordered them to line up.
"Trust in God and fear not!" he told his men. "Remember Goliad! Remember the Alamo!"
Houston led the charge himself, swinging his saber. His horse fell, hit five times. Houston climbed onto another horse. It, too, was killed, and this time Houston's right leg was splintered by a musket ball.
But Santa Anna's army was on the run. The Texans and a company of tejanos under Juan Seguin were right behind them. The fighting lasted just 18 minutes. But the slaughter went on for another hour.
When it was all over, 600 Mexican soldiers lay dead, nearly seven hundred more had surrendered. The surprise had been so complete, the blow so sudden, that only six Texans died during the Battle of San Jacinto.
Santa Anna himself was made Sam Houston's prisoner, and forced to sign a piece of paper ceding Texan independence.
Now, there were three independent republics in North America: Mexico, the United States -- and, under president Sam Houston, the new Republic of Texas.
loss of Texas will inevitably result in the loss of New Mexico and the
Californias. Little by little our territory will be absorbed until only
an insignificant part is left to us.... Our national existence... will
end like those weak meteors that, from time to time, shine fitfully in
the firmament and disappear.
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