The Battle of San Jacinto
The Texas army marched all day and all night.
On the morning of April 20, they reached the San Jacinto plain. Buffalo Bayou was on one side, a football field wide, and 30 feet deep—not wadeable. On the other side ran the San Jacinto River, and near the bottom of the dry land was a shallow mudhole known as Peggy's Lake. Beyond that was marshlands. And the thick forest was greatly positioned. [see battlefield] They made their camp here in the trees, with their wagons and Colonel Neill's artillery in the forest as well(Hoyt 149).
Three hours later Santa Anna arrived with his 650 men. The Texas government had escaped, but Santa Anna was confident of victory; he had reinforcements coming the next day and he knew that the Texas government's connection with the Texas army had been severed. If Santa Anna won that day the war would be over. Santa Anna gave the order to pitch camp. He chose the land between Peggy Lake and the river, the only solid ground available to him. On his right was a thick forest and behind him was a dense marsh(Hoyt 150).
Colonel Delgado the artillery officer took one look at the site and shuddered. "Any youngster could have done better in choosing a site. What ground did the Mexicans have for retreating in case of a catastrophe?" When he cornered General Castrillión with the question. The general could only sympathize; Santa Anna's arbitrary nature was well known(Hoyt 150).
A small skirmish broke out among some restless soldiers and the Mexican lancers. The Texans had two injured and several horses lost, but the Mexicans' twelve-pound cannon, the Golden Standard, was stranded on the battlefield. The rest of the afternoon was quiet, except for occasional rifle fire from both sides. Seeing the Golden Standard abandoned on the field, Col. Sidney Sherman, commander of the Texas cavalry, asked permission to try to capture the gun. Permission was refused by General Houston, who knew and respected the strength of the Mexican lancers. Late in the afternoon, Sherman asked to make a cavalry reconnaissance into the field. Houston accepted, warning, however, that the Texas cavalry was to make no effort toward the gun. Shortly before sunset, the Texans set out, led by Colonel Sherman(Hoyt 150-151).
The Mexican cavalry advanced to rescue the Golden Standard. Sherman could not resist the temptation; as soon as he saw the enemy, he ordered a charge. But the lancers were too quick for them and a wild fight ensued. Seeing the Texas cavalry in trouble, Capt. Jesse Billingsley ordered his company of infantry into action. As they passed by General Houston, he ordered them back into line and they laughed at him(Hoyt 151).
"Countermarch back to the safety of the timber!" Houston repeated. "Countermarch yourself!" Shouted a soldier as they passed him. Shortly, every company was moving and Colonel Burleson was leading the charge. They drove the enemy back behind the breastworks and Colonel...