“On the battlefield at San Jacinto on April 21, 1836, the Army of Texas commanded by General Sam Houston, and accompanied by the Secretary of War, Thomas J. Rusk, attacked the larger invading army of Mexicans under General Santa Anna. The battle line from left to right was formed by Sidney Sherman’s regiment, Edward Burleson’s regiment, the artillery commanded by George W. Hockley, Henry Millard’s infantry and the calvary under Mirabeau B. Lamar. Sam Houston led the infantry charge.


“With the bsan jacinto1attle cry, “Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!” The Texans charged. The enemy taken by surprise rallied for a few minutes, then fled in disorder. The Texans had asked no quarter and gave none. The slaughter was appalling. Victory complete and Texas free!   On the following day General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, self-styled “Napoleon of the West,” received from a generous foe the mercy he had denied Travis at the Alamo and Fannin at Goliad.

“Measured by its results, San Jacinto was one of the decisive battles of the world. The Freedom of Texas from Mexico won at San Jacinto led to annexation and to the Mexican War, resulting in the acquisition by the United States of the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nebraska, California, Utah and parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and Oklahoma. Almost one-third of the present area of the American nation, nearly a million square miles of territory changed sovereignty.
“Citizens of Texas and immigrant soldiers in the Army of Texas at San Jacinto were natives of Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Austria, Canada, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Portugal and Scotland.”

Many Masons assumed leadership roles and were active in the birth of The Republic of Texas, such as: Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston, William B. Travis, James Bowie, David Crockett, James Bonham, Ben Milam, David G. Burnet, James Fannin, Mirabeau B. Lamar, Anson Jones, Lorenzo de Zavala, Edward Burleson, Thomas Rusk, Juan Seguin and many more.


Two Days Before The Battle

“This morning we are in preparation to meet Santa Anna.  It is the only chance of saving Texas.  From time to time I have looked for reinforcements in vain:  We will only have about 700 men to march with besides the camp guard.  We go to conquer.  It is wisdom growing out of necessity to meet the enemy.  Now every consideration enforces it.  The troops are in fine spirits and now is the time for action.  We shall use our best efforts to fight the enemy to such advantage as will insure victory though the odds, are greatly against us.”


“I leave the result in the hands of a wise God, and rely upon his providence. My country will do justice to those who serve her.  The rights for which we fight will be secure and Texas Free!”


General Sam Houston


Another Account

Battle of San Jacinto
April 21, 1836

Sam Houston and the meager army of Texas retreated eastward following the fall of the Alamo in the spring of 1836.  The troops were becoming increasingly impatient, however, by the time they reached Buffalo Bayou, a few miles southeast of present day Houston.
On the morning of the April 19, the Texans crossed over and marched down the right bank of Buffalo Bayou to within half a mile of its confluence with the San Jacinto River.  Here, the army prepared their defenses on the edge of a grove of trees.  Their rear was protected by timber and the bayou, while before them was an open prairie.
On the following morning, Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna came marching across the prairie in battle array.  A volley from the Texan’s “Twin Sisters” artillery brought him to a sudden halt.  Falling back to a clump of trees a quarter of a mile distant, Santa Anna formed in line of battle.  Colonel Sidney Sherman, at the head of the Texas cavalry, charged the Mexican army, but accomplished little except to inspire the Texans with fresh enthusiasm for the following day.
The 21st of April dawned bright and beautiful.  The main forces of the Texas army were there, totaling about 750 men.  They faced over 1500 of the enemy, secure and flushed with pride at the offense they had enjoyed for the previous few weeks against the Texans.  Early in the morning, Houston sent Deaf Smith, the celebrated Texas spy, with two or three men, to destroy Vince’s bridge over which the Mexican army had passed, thus cutting off their only available escape.
When Houston’s long awaited order to advance was given, the Texans did not hesitate.  When within seventy yards the word “fire” was given, the Texan shouts of “Remember the Alamo” and “Remember Goliad” rang along the entire line.  Within a short time, 700 Mexicans were slain, with another 730 taken as prisoners.  The battle for Texas was won.
A panel on the side of the monument at San Jacinto today underscores the importance of the battle after more than a century and a half of reflection: “Measured by its results, San Jacinto was one of the decisive battles of the world.  The freedom of Texas from Mexico won here led to annexation and to the Mexican War, resulting in the acquisition by the United States of the States of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Utah, and parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and Oklahoma.  Almost one-third of the present area of the American nation, nearly a million square miles of territory, changed sovereignty.”
Every year in April the people of Texas, many of them Masons, gather at the foot of the San Jacinto Monument near Houston to celebrate the Texas victory at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836, which established independence for Texas.  We have read much of the Texan heroes of that battle but not so much of the Mexican leader.
As the dominant force in Mexico for nearly fifty years, one would think someone, somewhere would have done something to memorialize his memory, but no statues exist of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.  In Mexico, he is widely viewed as a charlatan, a despot and a traitor.
The question comes up each year about this time: Why was Santa Anna not executed after his defeat at San Jacinto?  Surely, after the atrocities at the Alamo, he deserved to die.  But, he was allowed to live, and the slave girl, Emily Morgan, who occupied his tent has been immortalized in song as “The Yellow Rose of Texas.”
Santa Anna attempted to sneak away during the turmoil of the battle, but his horse bogged down in Vince’s Bayou.  He found some clothing and hid out during the night.  The next day, some of the Texans who were looking for stragglers, picked him up but did not realize that he was a prize catch.   When he was grouped with other prisoners, some addressed him as “El Presidente,” and his captors took him directly to General Sam Houston.
William R. Denslow, arthur of 10,000 Famous Freemasons, writes: “It is said that Santa Anna owed his life to the giving of the Masonic sign of distress, first to James A. Sylvester; secondly to Sam Houston; and thirdly, to a group of Texas soldiers, among whom were John A. Wharton, George W. Hockley, Richard Bache, Dr. J. E. Phelps and others.
In his book, Masons In Texas, History and Influence to 1846, Dr. James D. Carter holds another view: “It may be that Masons saved the life of Santa Anna but if so, they did not act because he made claim to their mercy as Masons.  All of the Masons to whom he appealed knew that Santa Anna disowned Masonry; that further, his many offenses against Texas and Mexican Masons had placed him outside the protection of any Masonic obligation.  Santa Anna was saved because the Texas leaders considered him worth more to Texas alive than dead.”
That is probably the closest we have to the truth.  Sam Houston and others, who could have ordered a military trial and convicted their foe of an infinite number of war crimes, knew their victory was tenuous at best, and executing Santa Anna would probably give him the martyrdom he did not deserve.   And, they did not know who would replace him in the vacuum that would exist if he was executed.
Cooler heads prevailed and Santa Anna was spared, not because of any Masonic connection, but because it was the politically expedient thing to do.