Some interesting facts about the

Battle at San Jacinto

April 21, 1836


Inscribed on the exterior base of the San Jacinto Monument is: Measured by its results, San Jacinto was one of the decisive battles of the world. The freedom of Texas from Mexico won here led to annexation and to the Mexican War, resulting in the acquisition by the United States of the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Utah and parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Almost one-third of the present area of the American nation, nearly a million square miles of territory, changed sovereignty.” <NHBTx:5-855>

During Texas struggle for independence, members of San Bernard River plantation families participated in many of the battles. Pleasant D. McNeel and Benjamin Franklin Mims served in Capt. Calder’s Brazoria Volunteers at San Jacinto. J. M. McCormick and Thomas J. Sweeny served in Patton‘s Columbia Company at San Jacinto. William B. Sweeny rode in Karne‘s Cavalry at San Jacinto. James Fannin died at Goliad.

Several free Blacks participated in the Battle at San Jacinto. Hendrick Arnold was the son-in-law to Deaf Smith and served as a spy and guide to the Army. <NHBTx:1-252> Dick the Drummer Boy was a Negro freedman who played the drum at the battle, and also served with the United States Army in the same capacity during the Mexican War. Dick helped defeat Santa Anna twice. Four other veterans of San Jacinto also participated in the Mexican War.

James Neill participated in the Battle at Gonzales on October 2nd, the Seige of Bexar in December, was commander of the Alamo before Travis relieved him on February 14, and was wounded at San Jacinto on April 20. He was in all of the major battles for Texas Independence, except the Goliad events.

At the Battle at San Jacinto eight men had served at the Alamo and left before it fell to Santa Anna. There were at least nine men that had participated in the Goliad battles, four of which who had escaped the massacre itself.

Juan Seguin was born in Texas in 1806 and lead a company of nineteen Tejanos soldiers at the Battle at San Jacinto. Juan’s family helped settle San Antonio in the early 1700s. Lorenzo de Zavala, Jr. was the son of Lorenzo de Zavala, a former legislative and executive of the Mexican government and serving at the time of the Battle as interim vice President of the new government of Texas. Young Zavala served as an aide to General Sam Houston and translator/interpreter during the San Jacinto campaign. Several other Tejanos were served in other companies at San Jacinto.

The youngest soldier at San Jacinto was Elejah Votaw, a 15 year old who had been in Texas one year. The next youngest was William P. Zuber, also 15 years old, who came to Texas in 1824 and was ill at the time of the battle. He outlived all of his comrades, save Alphonso Steele who had just turned 19 less than two weeks before the battle. Thomas O’Conner and Corneluis DeVore were 16 years old. The oldest soldier at San Jacinto was Asa Mitchell, who was 60 years old. He came to Texas in 1822. James Curtis, Sr. and John S. Menifee were next in line at 57 years of age.

Texas declared its independence on March 2, 1836 and less than two months later, on April 21, won that independence from Mexico by defeating the Mexican dictator Santa Anna at the Battle at San Jacinto. The United States declared its independence on July 4, 1776 but it would take five years to guarantee that independence by the surrender of General Cornwallis on October 19, 1781. It would take the British two more years to evacuate from New York. <Traeger-331> The Republic of Texas contained 384,958 square miles and the newly created United States in 1790 contained 891,364 square miles. However, because of the annexation of Texas, the Mexican War was fought and the United States received an additional 530,706 square miles. Thus Texas contributed 915,764 square miles to the nation, more land than the original 13 colonies. <1990 Almanac-804>

Because the Texians won at San Jacinto and thus insured the Republic of Texas, the Alamo became a shrine to its fallen defenders. Had the Texians lost, Texas would have remained a part of Mexico and the Alamo would have just been another one of the victories of the Dictator Santa Anna.

General Houston ordered his troops to advance toward the Mexican camp at about 4 p.m. They were hidden by the crest of a hill between the two camps. It took the Texians about thirty minutes to cover the distance to within 100 yards of the Mexican breastworks when the shooting began. The actual battle at San Jacinto lasted less than 18 minutes although the slaughter continued until dark. General Houston and his officers tried to stop the continued killing but the enraged soldiers sought revenge for the slaughter at the Alamo and at Goliad.

The Texians lost nine men and the Mexican Army about 600, most after the Mexican position was overrun and the Mexicans were in retreat. Cries of "Remember the Alamo" and "Remember Goliad" indicated the revenge the unbridled Texian soldiers felt agains the Mexicans. One woman, a non combatant, was killed but a hastily organized Court Martial exanerated the Texian officer acused of the deed. The event was later the basis for a lawsuit which ultimately died in the courts.

Margaret “Peggy” McCormick owned the land upon which the Battle at San Jacinto was fought. She & her husband Arthur received the land grant in 1824. Arthur drowned late in 1824 and his widow and two sons became cattle raisers. At the time of the battle the family had evacuated. The Mexican and Texas armies consumed her cattle. When Sam Houston and Santa Anna refused to bury the dead, Peggy and her sons buried the corpses. <NHBTx:4-380> A nearby lake was renamed in her honor.


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