World over people are familiar with the state of Texas. Be it the Battle Cry for freedom with the Battle of the Alamo or viewing some one wearing A cowboy hat is first thought of as Texan before any other state much due to the legendary history of this state. Likely the boldness of Texas comes from not just it's size or the fight for independence. Moreover, many factors play a role that makes Texas and Texans famous world wide.
Movies perhaps like the 1956 block buster "Giant" with it's vase range of cattle and its rich striking of oil that filled theaters across the nation to view the movie stars Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean. As well the TV series "DALLAS" that ran from 1978 through 1991 starring Larry Hagman as J.R. Ewing the multi Millionaire Oil Barron as just a few. Be it at the development with American and Spanish settlers who revolted when an appointed dictator forced changes of a constitution or the many relationship through progress that came through the state, Texas is as grand today as her Legendary history.
On March the 2nd, 1836 the settlers in the Texas portion of the Mexican state Coahuila y Tejas declared their independence from Mexico . However, on October the 2nd of 1835, the Texas settlers known as Texians revolted due to Mexican President and General Antonio López de Santa Anna abolished the Constitution of 1824 and proclaimed a new anti-federalist constitution in its place. Santa Anna imposed the Siete Leyes (Seven Laws) of 1835 that no longer recognized the Constitution of 1824 known as the treaty of Velasco. This new imposed law removed rights that many settlers already had under the former treaty of 1824. Some lost their right to vote, others their land. The new laws were unpopular throughout Mexico, leading to violence in several states other than the area known as Tejas. "TEXAS". However, many having lived already as free men with rights as early colonist as well under Spanish law....the settlers of Texas refuse to accept the changes.
While the Alamo was not the first battle for Texas freedom, the citizens of Nacogdoches cradle Texas liberty in 1832, firing one of the opening guns of the Texas Revolution. These citizens, both Mexican and Anglos, attacked the Mexican garrison under the command of Col. Jose Piedras. The latter held the fortified town center. The garrison was able to defend themselves until Adolphus Sterne showed the newly arrived Redlanders from San Augustine how to out-flank the Mexicans by circling the natural fortress by going through the Washington Square area. The Battle cleared East Texas of Mexican troops and made the independence movement much less dangerous.
However, while Nacogdoches had began her moment for freedom, the rest of the State would not go to war until 1835. New laws, Taxation and changes to a constitution angered others to demand independence. Short lived victories would flourish by Texans only to soon be crushed by the Mexican Army. Santa Anna wrote Andrew Jackson, President of the United States declaring any American who is found serving the enemy of Mexico will be shot as pirates. Santa Anna's officers recommended that they move into Texas along the coast line so that they could receive additional logistics needed, the fall of San Antonio De 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. The long march would also provide an opportunity to train the new recruits. In late December, the army began the march north.
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.
Several major events of battle towards Texas Independence would occur with Santa Anna's Army arriving at San Antonio De Bexas, on February 23, 1836 and General José Urrea marched into Texas from Matamoros. General Urrea was to allow provision by sea to support the Mexican Army. His movement north from the coast line surprising Colonel Frank Johnson of Texas and his troops at the Battle of San Patricio. Urrea would also defeated a small Texican force at the Battle of Agua Dulce on March 2, 1836 unknowing that Texans would be signing her own Declaration of Independence of Texas at Washington of the Brazos that same day. Santa Anna sat for 13 days outside the Alamo which held the Texas troops under the Command of William B Travis and a group of horse soldiers lead by Jim Bowie. The Mexican Army raised a red flag "NO QUARTER" meaning no mercy. Daily the two Armies would have minor blows. Though the final blow would come in the early hours of March 6, the Mexican army attacked the fort in what became known as the Battle of the Alamo.
General Urrea then led his troops toward Goliad, where he engaged battle against Colonel James Fannin and his 300 man Texas Army. Fannin delayed his retreat, and was caught on the open prairie at a slight depression near Coleto Creek and made three charges at a heavy cost in Mexican casualties. Overnight, Urrea's forces surrounded the Texians, 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.
Both at the Battle of the Alamo and the Battle of Goliad, the Texas Army would inflict casualties wounding or killing one third of the Mexican Armies. Santa Anna then set out to find Sam Houston's Army.
Sam Houston, a former Governor of Tennessee and friend to Andrew Jackson whom he served under during many Indian fights and Creek wars had moved to Texas an appointed the Commander in General of the Texas Army. William B. Travis requested his aid to support his group at the Alamo and sent further request through Juan Seguin. Houston moved his Army east knowing his group could not defeat an Army the size of Santa Anna's. Plus he could not fight in the open grounds near San Antonio. Many members of the Texas Army would believe Sam Houston's move of run away and escape cowardly. Knowing his men where out numbered, he felt they could escape into Louisiana where Santa Anna's Army could not invade.
"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."
Santa Anna divided his army and sent columns across Texas. The objective was to force a decisive battle over the Texas Army, led by General Sam Houston. Santa Anna rushed his group towards Galveston. Sam Houston's men hearing word of Santa Anna's move redirected their moments towards Louisiana and headed back west to meet up with the General of Mexico's Army.
On April 20, both armies met at the San Jacinto River. Separating them was a large sloping ground with tall grass, which provide cover for the Texas Army. Santa Anna, enlighten to finally have the Texas Army in front of him, waited for reinforcements, which were led by General Cos. They had a minor skirmish between the two enemies. Much of with by cavalry, although little came of it.
General Cos arrived much sooner than expected with 540 more Mexican troops increasing Santa Anna's army to over 1,200 men. Angered by the loss of opportunity and by Houston's indecisiveness, the Texas Army decided to make an attack. Near 3:30 in the afternoon on April 21, 1836 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 never attack his superior force. Also, his army had been stretched to the limit of endurance by the ongoing forced marches. His force was overwhelmed as the Texas Army pushed into the Mexican camp. Soon the defenses crumbled and a massacre ensued. The Battle of San Jacinto lasted for 18 minutes and changed history.
Washington on the Brazos was the Capitol at the time of our great independence as the Republic of Texas. However, many members of the political society in Texas desired something more centralized. The Capitol was moved to the town renamed after the father of Texas, Stephen F. Austin. Austin, formerly Waterloo is the largest Capitol building in the United States. Texas state flag is the only flag that can be flown at the same height as the National Flag. Today, most have forgotten the date of our independence. Most only recall the legendary names but forget about Nacogdoches, San Patricio and Goliad. "Come and take it" or "Remember the ALAMO" are recalled more from perhaps a John Wayne movie rather than the actual battles which fade where 18 minutes of courage change history.
Story By Roger A. Edison