Military Wiki
Texas Revolution
Sam Houston at San Jacinto.jpg
Battle of San Jacinto
DateOctober 2, 1835 – April 21, 1836
(6 months, 2 weeks and 5 days) Texas Navy and Mexican Navy operation into the 1840s.
De facto Texas independence from Mexico (not recognized by Mexican government)
Texas Republic of Texas  Mexico
Commanders and leaders
Sam HoustonW
Stephen F. Austin
Edward Burleson
Ben Milam
Frank W. Johnson
James Fannin
Davy Crockett
William Barrett Travis
James Bowie
Sidney Sherman
Thomas J. Rusk
Antonio López de Santa Anna (POW)
Vicente Filisola
Martin Perfecto de Cos (POW)
Jose de Urrea
Joaquin Ramirez y Sesma
Antonio Gaona
Domingo de Ugartechea
Juan Almonte
Manuel Fernandez Castrillon
José María Tornel
Francisco de Castaneda
c. 2,000 c. 6,500
Casualties and losses
c. 860 to all causes c. 2,500 to all causes

First Texas Navy
MatamorosBrazos River Galveston Harbor

The Texas Revolution, also known as the Texas War of Independence, was the military conflict between the government of Mexico and Texas colonists that began October 2, 1835 and resulted in the establishment of the Republic of Texas after the final battle on April 21, 1836. Intermittent conflicts between the two nations continued into the 1840s, finally being resolved with the Mexican–American War of 1846 to 1848 after the annexation of Texas to the United States.

Long-running political and cultural clashes between the Mexican government and American settlers in Texas intensified when conservative forces took control in Mexico and enacted the Siete Leyes (Seven Laws) of 1835, which replaced the Constitution of 1824 and its federal system with the 1835 Constitution of Mexico and a provisional centralized government. The new laws were unpopular throughout Mexico, and they provoked secession movements and violence in several Mexican states.

Open warfare began in Texas on October 2, 1835, with the Battle of Gonzales. Early Texian Army successes at La Bahía and San Antonio (Battle of Goliad, Siege of Béxar) were soon reversed when the Mexican Army retook the territory a few months later (Battle of Coleto, Battle of the Alamo). The war ended at the Battle of San Jacinto, where the Texian army under General Sam Houston routed the Mexican forces with a surprise attack.


The Mexican War for Independence (1810–1821) severed control that Spain had exercised on its North American territories, and the new country of Mexico was formed from much of the individual territory that had comprised New Spain.[1] On October 4, 1824, Mexico adopted a new constitution which defined the country as a federal republic with nineteen states and four territories. The former province of Spanish Texas became part of a newly created state, Coahuila y Tejas,[2] whose capital was at Saltillo, hundreds of miles from the former Texas capital, San Antonio de Bexar (now San Antonio, Texas, USA).[3]

The new country emerged essentially bankrupt from the war against Spain. With little money for the military, Mexico encouraged settlers to create their own militias for protection against hostile Indian tribes. Texas was very sparsely populated [Note 1] and in the hope that an influx of settlers could control the Indian raids, the government liberalized immigration policies for the region.[4] The first group of colonists, known as the Old Three Hundred, had arrived in 1822 to settle an empresarial grant that had been given to Stephen F. Austin. Of the 24 empresarios, only one settled citizens from within the Mexican interior; most of the remaining settlers came from the United States.[5]

The Tejanos in Texas were soon vastly outnumbered by people born in the United States. To address this situation, President Anastasio Bustamante implemented several measures on April 6, 1830. Chief among these was a prohibition against further immigration to Texas from the United States, although American citizens would be allowed to settle in other parts of Mexico. Furthermore, the property tax law, intended to exempt immigrants from paying taxes for ten years, was rescinded, and tariffs were increased on goods shipped from the United States. Bustamante also ordered all Tejas settlers to comply with the federal prohibition against slavery or face military intervention.[6] These measures did not have the intended effect. Settlers simply circumvented or ignored the laws. By 1834, it was estimated that over 30,000 Anglos lived in Coahuila y Tejas,[7] compared to only 7,800 Tejanos.[8] By 1836, there were approximately 5,000 slaves in Texas.[9]

Sam Houston

Mexican preparation

In early 1835, as the Mexican government transitioned from a federalist model to centralism, wary Texans began forming Committees of Correspondence and Safety. A central committee in San Felipe de Austin coordinated their activities.[10] The Texans staged a minor revolt against customs duties in June; these Anahuac Disturbances prompted Mexican President Antonio López de Santa Anna to send additional troops to Texas.[11] In July, Colonel Nicolas Condelle led 200 men to reinforce Presidio La Bahía.

The following month, a contingent of soldiers arrived in Béxar with Colonel Domingo de Ugartechea.[12] Fearing that stronger measures were needed to quell the unrest, Santa Anna ordered his brother-in-law, General Martín Perfecto de Cos to "repress with strong arm all those who, forgetting their duties to the nation which has adopted them as her children, are pushing forward with a desire to live at their own option without subjection to the laws".[11] Cos landed at the port of Copano on September 20 with approximately 500 soldiers.[12]

Austin was released in July, having never been formally charged with sedition, and was in Texas by August. Austin saw little choice but revolution. A consultation was scheduled for October to discuss possible formal plans to revolt, and Austin sanctioned it.[13]

Texian Army offensive

Before the consultation could happen, however, in accordance with Santa Anna’s nationwide call to disarm state militias, Colonel Domingo Ugartechea, who was stationed in San Antonio, ordered the Texans to return a cannon given to them by Mexico that was stationed in Gonzales. The Texans refused, Ugartechea sent Lieutenant Francisco de Castañeda and 100 dragoons to retrieve it.[14] When he arrived at the rain-swollen banks of the Guadalupe River near Gonzales, there were only eighteen Texans to oppose him. Unable to cross, Castañeda established a camp, and the Texans buried the cannon and called for volunteers.[15] The Texans stalled for several days until reinforcements arrived. The Texian Army attacked early on October 2, 1835. The Battle of Gonzales ended with a Mexican withdrawal. Two Mexican soldiers were killed, and one Texian was injured when he fell off his horse during the skirmish.[16] Over the next several days, The Texian Army continued to gather at Gonzales.

After learning of the Texian Army victory, Cos made haste for Béxar. He left with the bulk of his soldiers on October 5, but because he was unable to find adequate transportation, most of his supplies remained at La Bahía.[17] Unaware of Cos's departure, on October 6, Texans in Matagorda decided to march on the Mexican garrison at Presidio La Bahía in Goliad. They intended to kidnap Cos and, if possible, steal the estimated $50,000 that was rumored to accompany him.[18] On October 10, the Texans stormed the presidio, and the Mexican garrison surrendered after a 30-minute battle.[19][20] One Texian was wounded,[21] and estimates of Mexican casualties range from one to three soldiers killed and from three to seven wounded.[17][22] Approximately 20 soldiers escaped. They warned the garrisons at Copano and Refugio of the advancing Texans; those garrisons abandoned their posts and joined the soldiers at Fort Lipantitlán, near San Patricio.[17]

The Come and take it flag, used during the revolution

The Texans confiscated over $10,000 in food, blankets, clothing, and other provisions.[22] For the next three months, the provisions were parceled out among companies in the Texian Army.[17] Over the next several days, The Texian Army continued to gather at La Bahia.[23] Austin ordered that 100 men remain at Goliad, under the command of Captain Philip Dimmitt, while the rest should join the Texian Army in marching on Cos's troops in Béxar.[17] Within days of his appointment, Dimmitt began advocating for an attack on Fort Lipantitlán.[24] Dimmitt believed that Texian control of Fort Lipantitlán would "secure the frontier, provide a vital station for defense, create instability among the centralists, and encourage Mexican federalists".[24] The Mexican soldiers at Fort Lipantitlán intimidated the settlers in San Patricio, leaving them afraid to openly support the federalists who defied Mexican president Antonio López de Santa Anna.[25]

On October 31, Dimmitt sent a group of men under Adjutant Ira Westover to take the fort.[26] They arrived at Fort Lipantitlán late on November 3 and took the undermanned fort without firing a shot.[27] The next day, the Texians dismantled the fort.[28] As they prepared to return to Goliad, the remainder of the Mexican garrison, who had been out on patrol, approached.[29] The Battle of Lipantitlán lasted only 30 minutes, and resulted in the retreat of the Mexican soldiers.[30] Their departure left only one remaining group of Mexican soldiers in Texas, those under Cos at Béxar.[31][32] The Texian Army controlled the Gulf Coast, so all communication with the Mexican interior would now be transferred overland. The long journey left Cos unable to quickly request or receive reinforcements or supplies.[31]

Siege of Bexar

While Dimmitt supervised the Texan Army forces along the Gulf Coast, Stephen F. Austin worked to organize the men gathered in Gonzales into a cohesive army. On October 13, Austin led the newly formed Texan Army toward Bexar to engage Cos and his troops.[33] One week later, the men reached Salado Creek and initiated a siege of Bexar.[34] The Texians gradually moved their camp nearer Bexar, and on October 27 had made camp at Mission San Francisco de la Espada.[35] That afternoon Austin sent James Bowie and James Fannin with a contingent of men to find a closer campsite. The men realized that Mission Concepción was a good defensive spot. Rather than return immediately to Austin, as their orders specified, Bowie and Fannin instead sent a courier to bring Austin directions to Concepción. The next day, an angry Austin issued a statement threatening officers who chose not to follow orders with court-martial.[36]

Cos had learned that the Texan Army was temporarily divided and sent Ugartechea and troops to engage Bowie and Fannin's men.[37] The ensuing Battle of Concepción, which historian J.R. Edmondson describes as "the first major engagement of the Texas Revolution",[38] was the last offensive against the Texian Army that Cos would order.[39] Although historian Alwyn Barr of Texas Tech University believes that the battle "should have taught ... lessons on Mexican courage and the value of a good defensive position",[40] historian Stephen Hardin believes that "the relative ease of the victory at Concepción instilled in the Texians a reliance on their long rifles and a contempt for their enemies".[41]

The Texan Army volunteers had little or no experience as professional soldiers, and by early November many had begun to miss their homes. As the weather turned colder and rations grew smaller, many soldiers became sick, and groups of men began to leave, most without permission.[42] On November 18, however, a group of volunteers from the United States, known as the New Orleans Greys, joined the Texan Army.[43][44] Unlike the majority of the Texian volunteers, the Greys looked like soldiers, with uniforms, well-maintained rifles, adequate ammunition, and some semblance of discipline.[44] The Greys, as well as several companies of Texians who had arrived recently, were eager to face the Mexican Army directly.[45] The Texan volunteers, however, were becoming discouraged with the siege.[46] Within days Austin resigned his command to become a commissioner to the United States; Texan Army elected Edward Burleson as their new commander.[47]

On November 26, Burleson received word that a Mexican pack train of mules and horses, accompanied by 50–100 Mexican soldiers, was within 5 miles (8.0 km) of Bexar.[48][49] After a near mutiny, Burleson sent Bowie and William H. Jack with cavalry and infantry to intercept the supplies.[49][50] In the subsequent skirmish, the Mexican forces were forced to retreat to San Antonio, leaving their cargo behind. To the disappointment of the Texans, the saddlebags contained only fodder for the horses; for this reason the battle was later known as the Grass Fight.[51]

Although the victory briefly uplifted the Texian troops, morale continued to fall as the weather turned colder and the men grew bored. Burleson proposed that the army lift the siege and retreat to Goliad until spring. His war council was ambivalent until Colonel Ben Milam stood up and yelled, "Who will go with old Ben Milam into San Antonio?" Several hundred soldiers, including the New Orleans Greys, agreed to participate in the attack, which commenced on December 5. Milam and Colonel Frank W. Johnson led two columns of men into the city, and for the next few days they fought their way from house to house towards the fortified plazas where the Mexican soldiers waited. Milam was killed by a sharpshooter on December 7.[52]

On December 9, Cos and the bulk of his men withdrew into the Alamo Mission on the outskirts of Bexar. Cos presented a plan for a counterattack; cavalry officers believed that they would be surrounded by Texians and refused their orders.[53] Possibly 175–soldiers from four of the cavalry companies left the mission and rode south.[54] Sanchez Navarro said the troops were not deserting but misunderstood their orders and were withdrawing all the way to the Rio Grande.[54] The following morning, Cos called Sanchez Navarro to the Alamo and gave him orders to "go save those brave men. ... Approach the enemy and obtain the best terms possible".[55] On December 11, the Texans officially accepted Cos's surrender.[56]

Under the terms of the surrender, Cos and his men would leave Texas and no longer fight against the Constitution of 1824.[57] With his departure, there was no longer an organized garrison of Mexican troops in Texas,[58] and many of the Texans believed that the war was over. Johnson described the battle as "the period put to our present war".[59] Burleson resigned his leadership of the army on December 15 and returned to his home. Many of the men did likewise, and Johnson assumed command of the 400 soldiers who remained. Soon after, a new contingent of Texans and volunteers from the United States arrived with more heavy artillery.[57][60] According to Barr, the large number of American volunteers "contributed to the Mexican view that Texan opposition stemmed from outside influences".[61]

Within several weeks of the Mexican surrender, Johnson and Dr. James Grant enticed 300 of the Texans to join them in preparing to invade Mexico, leaving Colonel James C. Neill to oversee the remaining 100 Texan Army soldiers garrisoned at the Alamo.[60] Although the Matamoros Expedition, as it came to be known, was but one of many schemes to bring the war to Mexico, nothing came of it. On November 6, 1835, the Tampico Expedition under José Antonio Mexía left New Orleans, intending to capture the town from the Centralists. The expedition failed. These independent missions drained the Texan movement of supplies and men.[62]

Provisional government

In November 1835 at San Felipe de Austin, the Consultation scheduled for the month before finally got underway after enough delegates from the colonies arrived to signify a quorum. After bitter debate, they finally created a provisional government that was not to be separate from Mexico but only to oppose the Centralists.[63] They elected Henry Smith as governor,[64] and Sam Houston was appointed commander-in-chief of the regular Army of Texas. There was no regular army yet; Austin’s army was all volunteers, so Houston would have to build one.[65] Members of the regular army would be paid in land.[63] The provisional government commissioned privateers and established a postal system. A merchant was sent to the U.S. to borrow $100,000. They ordered hundreds of copies of various military textbooks. They gave Austin the option to step down as commander of the Texan Army in Béxar and go to the U.S. as a commissioner. On November 24, 1835, Austin stepped down as general. Elections were held, and Colonel Edward Burleson became Austin’s successor.[47]

Santa Anna's offensive

Army of Operations

Antonio López de Santa Anna

As early as October 27, Santa Anna had been making plans to quell the unrest in Texas. He stepped down from his duties as president to lead what he dubbed the Army of Operations in Texas, which would relieve Cos and put an end to the Texan revolt. Santa Anna and his soldiers believed that the Texans would be quickly cowed. The Mexican Secretary of War, José María Tornel, wrote: "The superiority of the Mexican soldier over the mountaineers of Kentucky and the hunters of Missouri is well known. Veterans seasoned by 20 years of wars can't be intimidated by the presence of an army ignorant of the art of war, incapable of discipline, and renowned for insubordination."[66]

The units comprising the Army of Operations were generally operating at under full strength, and many of the men were raw recruits.[67] A majority of the troops had been conscripted or were convicts who agreed to serve in the military instead of jail.[68] The Mexican officers knew that the Brown Bess muskets they carried lacked the range of the Texan weapons, but Santa Anna was convinced that his superior planning would nonetheless result in an easy victory.[69] As part of his preparations, Santa Anna orchestrated a warning to the American citizens who were flocking to Texas. At his behest, the Mexican Congress passed a resolution stating:

Foreigners landing on the coast of the Republic or invading its territory by land, armed, and with the intent of attacking our country, will be deemed pirates and dealt with as such, being citizens of no nation presently at war with the Republic and fighting under no recognized flag.

All foreigners who shall import, by either sea or land, in the places occupied by the rebels, either arms or ammunition or any kind for their use, will be deemed pirates and punished as such.[70]

In this time period, captured pirates were executed immediately. The resolution thus gave the Mexican Army permission to take no prisoners in the war against the Texians.[70] Santa Anna also sent a strongly worded letter to Andrew Jackson, the United States president, warning that any Americans found fighting the Mexican government would be treated as pirates.[71] The letter was not widely distributed, and it is unlikely that most of the American recruits serving in the Texan Army were aware that there would be no prisoners of war.[72]

By December 1835 6,019 soldiers had gathered at San Luis Potosi to march into Texas.[73][74] Several of Santa Anna's officers argued that the Army of Operations should advance along the coast, so that they would be able to receive additional supplies via sea. Instead, Santa Anna ordered the army inland to Bexar, the political center of Texas and the site of Cos's defeat; Santa Anna wanted to restore the reputation of his family after his brother-in-law's embarrassing surrender.[73] The long march would also provide an opportunity to train the new recruits.[75] In late December, the army began the march north.[73]

Progress was slow. There were not enough mules to transport all of the supplies, and many of the teamsters, all civilians, quit when their pay was delayed. The large number of soldaderas–women and children who followed the army–reduced the already scarce supplies. The soldiers were soon reduced to partial rations.[75] After reaching Saltillo, the army halted for two weeks so that Santa Anna could recover from an illness. Officers took advantage of the break to train the men. Many of the new recruits did not know how to use the sights of their guns, and many refused to fire from the shoulder because of the large recoil.[76] The march into Texas resumed on January 26,[77] and the army crossed the Rio Grande on February 12.[78]

Temperatures in Texas reached record lows, and by February 13 an estimated 15–16 inches (38–41 cm) of snow had fallen. A large number of the new recruits were from the tropical climate of the Yucatán, and some of them died of hypothermia. Others contracted dysentery. Soldiers who fell behind were sometimes killed by Comanche raiding parties.[79] Nevertheless, the army continued to march toward Bexar. As they progressed, settlers in their path in South Texas evacuated northward. The Mexican army ransacked and occasionally burned the vacant homes.[80]


Texas Historical Commission marker in Austin, commemorating the role of African-Americans in the Texas Revolution, including Joe Travis, who survived the Battle of the Alamo and carried news of it to General Sam Houston.

The Mexican Army arrived in San Antonio on February 23, 1836. The Texan garrison was completely unprepared and had to quickly gather food from the town to supply the Alamo.[81] By late afternoon, Bexar was occupied by about 1,500 Mexican troops, who quickly raised a blood-red flag signifying no quarter.[82][83] For the next 13 days, the Mexican army besieged the Alamo. Several small skirmishes gave defenders much needed optimism, but had little real impact.[84][85] In the early hours of March 6, the Mexican army attacked the fort in what became known as the Battle of the Alamo.[86] Almost all of the Texian defenders, estimated at 182–257 men, were killed, including James Bowie, Davy Crockett and William B. Travis.[Note 2][87] Most Alamo historians agree that 400–600 Mexicans were killed or wounded.[88][89][90] This would represent about one-third of the Mexican soldiers involved in the final assault, which Todish remarks is "a tremendous casualty rate by any standards".[88]

From Bexar, Santa Anna divided his army and sent three flying columns across Texas. General Jose de Urrea was to advance eastward on the Texans from the south, Santa Anna and General Joaquin Ramirez y Sesma pushing from the center, and General Antonio Gaona supplied to march north of the Texans to Nacogdoches and then turn to block further retreat toward Louisiana.[91] The objective was to force a decisive battle over the Texian Army, now led by General Sam Houston.

Goliad campaign

Presidio La Bahía in Goliad, Texas

General José Urrea marched into Texas from Matamoros, making his way north following the coast of Texas, thus preventing any foreign aid by sea and opening up an opportunity for the Mexican Navy to land much needed provisions. After surprising Colonel Frank Johnson and his troops at the Battle of San Patricio, Urrea's forces defeated a small Texan force at the Battle of Agua Dulce on March 2, 1836. Urrea then led his troops toward Goliad, where Colonel James Fannin commanded 450 of the only Texian Army troops outside the Alamo.[92]

On March 10, Fannin had divided his force, by sending out 148 Texians with William C. Francis, Amon B. King and William Ward to the Refugio area. In Refugio, the Texians would fall into Urrea's path. The Texians repulsed several attacks and inflicted heavy casualties at the Battle of Refugio. Fannin sent couriers with word to rendezvous with him in Victoria and thus they broke off the attack. However, some couriers had been captured, which ultimately provided Urrea with precious details of Fannin's plans.[93]

Fannin was ordered by General Sam Houston on March 11, 1836, to abandon Goliad and retreat to Victoria, but delayed his retreat until March 19. His force of about 300 men were caught on the open prairie at a slight depression near Coleto Creek and repulsed three charges at a heavy cost in Mexican casualties, during the Battle of Coleto. Overnight, Urrea's forces surrounded the Texans, brought up cannon and reinforcements, and induced Fannin's surrender under terms the next day, March 20. About 342 of the Texian troops captured during the Goliad Campaign were executed a week later on Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836, under Santa Anna's direct orders, widely known as the Goliad Massacre.[93]

According to Harbert Davenport, "The impact of the Goliad Massacre was crucial. Until this episode Santa Anna's reputation had been that of a cunning and crafty man, rather than a cruel one...together with the fall of the Alamo, branded both Santa Anna and the Mexican people with a reputation for cruelty and aroused the fury of the people of Texas, the United States, and even Great Britain and France, thus considerably promoting the success of the Texas Revolution."[94]

Meeting of two armies

A map of Mexico, 1835-1846, showing administrative divisions. The red areas show regions where separatist movements were active.

Texan retreat: "The Runaway Scrape"

The term “Runaway Scrape” is used to refer to two aspects of the Revolution upon word spreading of the fall of the Alamo. Both and either may be intended depending upon context. In the first context the term refers to the military retreat of the Texan forces under Houston. In the second, the reference is to the civilian flight toward Louisiana.

Houston immediately understood that his small army was not prepared to fight Santa Anna out in the open; the Texians could not easily defeat the experienced and feared Mexican cavalry.[citation needed] Seeing that his only choice was to keep the army together enough to be able to fight on favorable grounds, Houston ordered a retreat towards the U.S. border, and many settlers also fled in the same direction. There is speculation that one of the possible scenarios Houston envisioned was to lead his Texan army into Louisiana (U.S. territory), where an invading Mexican army could be attacked not only by the retreating Texan army but also by American forces summoned from garrisons in New Orleans. Such speculation has some merit because Sam Houston was an old friend of then U.S. president Andrew Jackson, and possibly had some communication during this crucial period, and Stephen F. Austin was in New Orleans during this time. On its way toward Louisiana, the Texan army implemented a scorched earth policy, denying much-needed food for the Mexican army. Soon, the rains made the roads impassable, and the cold season made casualties grow in both armies.[95]

Santa Anna's army, always on the heels of Houston, gave unrelenting chase. The town of Gonzales could not be defended by the Revolutionaries, and was torched. The same fate awaited Austin's colony of San Felipe. Despair grew among Houston's men, and much animosity was towards him. All that impeded Santa Anna's advance were the swollen rivers, which allowed Houston to rest and drill his army.[96]

Texan civilians moved east ahead of the Texas Army, toward safety in Louisiana. At Mina, for example, the Texas Ranger unit was divided so that half would protect the civilian evacuation and the remainder would serve as the rear guard and scouts (called "spies") during the military retreat.[97][98]

During the Runaway Scrape, Gaona's army was re-directed from its original orders (to proceed to Nacogdoches via the San Antonio Road in a flanking maneuver) to, instead, turn southeast and join the main forces of Cos and Sesma at San Felipe.[91] Santa Anna was not aware that Houston and his army were, from March 30 through April 12, camped in the woods along the Brazos only 15 miles above the main Mexican forces who were camped at San Felipe from April 7 through April 9.[99] Gaona’s division did not arrive at San Felipe until April 17, having marched past the already deserted Texian camp.

The Texans remained undiscovered for nearly two weeks, allowing the number of volunteers to increase and training them in military discipline. Early on, Houston commandeered the Steamboat Yellowstone so as to facilitate their safe and orderly crossing of the Brazos River when the troops were prepared or should they be discovered. The Mexican Army had no knowledge of where the main body of Texans was during early April, while the Texans knew the location of the three Mexican forces.[100] It was not until Santa Anna arrived in Harrisburg and interrogated civilians there, that he learned Houston had been camped so near his own forces on the Brazos.[101] After crossing the Brazos, the Texian Army marched east as Houston received reports from his scouts to the rear. This adds perspective to the speculation that Houston intended to flee into US territory. But Houston avoided that retreat by finding a weakness in Santa Anna's tactics:[102] his rapid pursuit to capture the provisional Texan government. Leaving most of the Mexican Army at the San Bernard River, Santa Anna assembled a smaller unit of his best troops and hurried off toward New Washington on Trinity Bay just below San Jacinto. At this time, Houston turned toward Harrisburg to the southeast at the famed "fork in the road", where the civilians had gone east continued to flee. Thus Houston ended his Runaway Scrape and looked to confront Santa Anna on Texas soil.

Santa Anna defeated

Events moved quickly after Santa Anna decided to divide his own flying column and race quickly towards Galveston, where members of the Provisional Government had fled. Santa Anna hoped to capture the Revolutionary leaders, and put an end to the war, which had proven costly and prolonged. Santa Anna, as dictator of Mexico, felt the need to return to Mexico City as soon as possible. Houston was informed of Santa Anna's unexpected move. Numbering about 700, Santa Anna's column marched east from Harrisburg, Texas.

The painting "Surrender of Santa Anna" by William Henry Huddle shows the Mexican president and general surrendering to a wounded Sam Houston

On April 20, the armies met at the San Jacinto River. Separating them was a large sloping ground with tall grass, which the Texans used as cover. Santa Anna, elated at finally having the Texas Army in front of him, waited for reinforcements, which were led by General Cos. On that same day, a skirmish was fought between the enemies, mostly cavalry, but nothing came of it.

To the dismay of the Texans, Cos arrived sooner than expected with 540 more troops, swelling Santa Anna's army to over 1,200 men. About 3:30 in the afternoon on April 21, after burning Vince's Bridge, the Texans surged forward, catching the Mexican army by surprise. Hours before the attack, Santa Anna had ordered his men to stand down, noting that the Texans would not attack his superior force. Also, his men had been exhausted by the prolonged marches. His force was overwhelmed by Texan attack. After an 18-minute battle, the defenses crumbled and a massacre ensued.[103]

Houston's Texian army killed or captured all of Santa Anna's men who heavily outnumbered them; only nine Texans died.[103] This decisive battle resulted in Texas's independence from Mexico.

Santa Anna was captured in a swamp, disguised as a soldier. He was brought before Houston, who had been shot in the ankle and badly wounded. Santa Anna agreed to end the campaign and [104] signed two treaties: a prisoner exchange and a promise to never fight the Texans again. General Vicente Filisola, noting his army's exhaustion, marched his force of 4,273 back to Mexico.[105] Urrea protested, saying that the Army of Operations had not been defeated and the campaign should continue.[106]


With Santa Anna a prisoner, his captors forced him to sign the Treaties of Velasco on May 14. The treaty recognized Texas' independence and guaranteed Santa Anna's life. The initial plan was to send him back to Mexico to help smooth relations between the two states. His departure was delayed by a mob who wanted him dead. Santa Anna, declaring himself as the only person who could bring about peace, was sent to Washington, D.C., by the Texas government to meet President Jackson in order to guarantee independence of the new republic. But unknown to Santa Anna, the Mexican government deposed him in absentia; thus, he no longer had any authority to represent Mexico. The Treaty of Velasco was never ratified in Mexico, and from the end of the revolution to roughly the beginning of the Mexican-American War, the Texas Navy was tasked with forcing the Mexican Government to accept Texas independence. Although fighting between the Mexican and Texian armies ceased for the time being, battles on water and on the coast continued.[107]

Some of the notable naval conflicts were the Battle of Brazos River, the Battle of Galveston Harbor and the Naval Battle of Campeche.

Santa Anna re-emerged as a hero during the Pastry War in 1838. He was re-elected President, and in early 1842 under his orders, expeditions into Texas were led by Ráfael Vásquez with 500 men, then General Adrian Woll with 1,400 men. Mexican troops commanded by Vasquez occupied Goliad, Refugio, and Victoria and, on March 5, entered San Antonio. On March 15, a Texian militia gathered in San Antonio only to find the Mexican troops had left. On September 11, 1842, Woll's troops occupied San Antonio. On September 17 or 18, over 200 Texian militia under Mathew Caldwell ambushed 500 of Woll's troops and won the Battle of Salado Creek. 53 Texians responding to Caldwell's call for reinforcements were surprised near Salado Creek and killed, many in cold blood after surrendering, in the Dawson Massacre.[108] Woll retreated to Mexico with many hostages, including the local judge, clerk, district attorney and all attorneys attending the court session. These hostages remained in captivity for several years.[109] Texian's pursuing the Mexicans and seeking retribution included the ill-fated Mier Expedition.

Small clashes arose between the two countries for several years afterward. The war between Texas and Mexico did not truly come to an end until the Mexican-American War of 1846.[110]

Sam Houston's victory at San Jacinto would earn him the presidency of Republic of Texas twice. He later became a U.S. senator and governor of Texas. Stephen F. Austin, after a lost bid for Texas's presidency in 1836, was appointed Secretary of State but died two months later. Sam Houston eulogized Austin as the "Father of Texas".

See also


  1. . In the early 1820s, approximately 3500 people lived in Texas, mostly congregated at San Antonio and La Bahia. Edmondson (2000), p. 75.
  2. Brigido Guerrero convinced the Mexican army he had been imprisoned by the Texians. Joe, the slave of Alamo commander William B. Travis, was spared because he was a slave. Some historians also believe that Henry Warnell hid during the battle, although he may have been a courier who left before the battle began. He died several months after the battle of wounds incurred during his escape. See Edmondson (2000), pp. 372, 407.


  1. Manchaca (2001), p. 161.
  2. Manchaca (2001), p. 162.
  3. Edmondson (2000), p. 72.
  4. Manchaca (2001), p. 164.
  5. Manchaca (2001), pp. 198–9.
  6. Manchaca (2001), p. 200.
  7. Manchaca (2001), p. 201.
  8. Manchaca (2001), p. 172.
  9. Barr (1996), p. 17.
  10. Huson (1974), p. 4.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Roell (1994), p. 36.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Huson (1974), p. 5.
  13. Edmondson (2000), p. 207.
  14. Davis (2006), p. 138.
  15. Davis (2006), p. 139.
  16. Davis (2006), p. 142.
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