Welcome to the Virtual Museum
For those that are unable to make the trip to Austin and visit the Archives, we hope to showcase our collection on the web. Many of our exhibits will coincide with important dates in Texas History and how our collection relates to those events.
San Jacinto, Battle for Independence!
Historians argue that the Battle of San Jacinto was one of the most important battles in world history. There is no doubt about the importance of this battle in the state of Texas, however, when you consider the far-reaching effects on the North American continent, it is easy to see that the Battle of San Jacinto was indeed one of the most significant events in the settlement of the United States and the history of this country.
April 21, 1836 was the day Texans won independence and changed the course of American and world history. This battle led to the Mexican Army being forced South of the Rio Grande, establishing a very contentious border between the Republic of Texas and Mexico. The disputed border caused anger in Mexico, as it was felt in that country that the true border was the Nueces River, not the Rio Grande. Traditionally, the Nueces River was the Texas border prior to the revolution. The Mexican government felt that the Treaties of Velasco should not be honored, as Santa Anna signed as a prisoner of war.
When Texas was annexed by the United States in 1845 a great fear swept over Mexico, due to the fact that they would now be sharing a border with the much stronger United States, rather than the relatively weak Republic of Texas. This led Mexican troops to frequently cross the border into south Texas, skirmishing with locals. Eventually, these border scuffles erupted into the Mexican-American War when “American blood was shed on American soil.” The Americans won the war and in so doing shifted the geo-political boundaries of the North American continent.
With victory in the Mexican-American War and subsequent Gadsden Purchase, the United States seized all of what is now the Southwest United States, thus fulfilling the Manifest Destiny that was the predominant thought of the day, giving the U.S. control of most of the North American continent.
This all started with the victory of Sam Houston and the Texans over Santa Anna and the Mexican Army at San Jacinto on that fateful spring afternoon in 1836.
The Battle of San Jacinto
The battle of San Jacinto was an 18-minute fight between the Texans, led by General Sam Houston, and the Mexican Army, led by President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.
There were 910 Texans in the battle against approximately 1,360 members of the Mexican Army. Beginning around 3:30 in the afternoon, the Texans ambushed the Mexican camp, completely decimating the enemy, and sending many to their death.
In General Houston’s official report, done on April 25, 1836, there were 630 Mexican soldiers killed, 208 wounded and another 730 taken prisoner. By contrast, only nine Texans were killed or mortally wounded and just 30 were injured. General Houston was one of those, as a rifle ball shattered his ankle.
By all accounts, the fighting at this battle was fierce. Texans would shout, “Remember La Bahia! Remember the Alamo!” as the song Will You Come to the Bower played from the Texan side. The Texans were certainly ready to fight on this day and in some respects had to be restrained. Many Mexican soldiers wanted to surrender after it was clear they did not have a chance. However, many of the Texans were so irate at the treatment of the men at Goliad and the Alamo at the hands of the Mexican troops that they did not want to accept any surrender, which might explain the lop-sided total of Mexican soldiers killed.