Santa Anna expected Houston’s exhausted recruits to rest and regroup, but Houston decided on a surprise attack. At about 3:30 in the afternoon of April 21, while the unsuspecting Mexicans were taking a siesta, Houston led his 910 men with cries of, “Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!” They fired at almost point blank range, scattering the terrified Mexicans who had no time to group for battle.
The fight was over in eighteen minutes.
Here’s what happened next:
After the battle, Santa Anna could not be found. The next day, a Texas sergeant apprehended a Mexican in a common soldier’s uniform trying to sneak away under cover. (I consider myself blessed to know the great-great-granddaughter of the man who brought Santa Anna in!) As he brought his captive to General Houston, the other Mexican prisoners recognized him and began to shout, “El Presidente!” Santa Anna was forced to surrender in disgrace.
When called upon to surrender his sword, Santa Anna presented it to Sam Houston. If he sought to surrender with honor, general to general, the wounded Houston made his disdain clear by sending one of his privates to retrieve the saber.
Santa Anna’s legacy became a cautionary tale of what can happen when arrogance and cruelty build false confidence that lulls one into a lack of diligence. It always makes me think of Proverbs 24:32-34…
“When I saw, I reflected upon it; I looked, and received instruction. ‘A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest,’ then your poverty will come as a robber and your want like an armed man.“
The Battle of San Jacinto literally changed the world!
Historians list the Battle of San Jacinto as one of the top ten most decisive military engagements in world history. To understand why, we must remember that the territory Mexico claimed as Texas did not have the same boundaries then as now. The land he lost included not only what we now call Texas, but also all or part of Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and California–nearly a million square miles of territory that eventually expanded the United States from coast to coast and constitutes one third of its present size in addition to adding natural resources that helped the U. S. become one of the most powerful and influential countries in world history.