Thursday, April 21, 2005

San Jacinto Day

Today is San Jacinto Day, yet another somewhat overwrought official state holiday in Texas. On this day in 1836, General Sam Houston and his ragtag bunch of revolutionaries defeated General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna's larger army near Lynch's Ferry. The battle only lasted 18 minutes because the Mexican troops got stuck between a marsh and the advancing Texas Army. Only nine of the 910 Texas troops were killed, while 630 of the 1,300 Mexican troops were lost.

An East Texas historian profiled in today's Houston Chronicle says the British East India-issue rifles used by the Mexican Army may have also played a role in their defeat. Texas troops were using more accurate rifles from Kentucky. After the battle, Santa Anna signed Texas away to Houston. The Republic of Texas lasted just nine years before being annexed by the U.S. as a slave state.

For all his troubles, Sam Houston was deposed as governor for refusing to pledge allegiance to the Confederacy when Texas seceded in 1861. He died in Huntsville two years later, and now they have a Lenin-sized statue of him there greeting weary drivers on Interstate 45.

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