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Story Archives: Houston's injury, Santa Anna's capture & Quitman's arrival
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|Houston's injury, Santa Anna's capture & Quitman's arrival|
(20th in a series)
When John Quitman of Natchez and his Mississippi volunteers arrived at the battlefield of San Jacinto at present day Houston, Texas, the fight had ended. Two days earlier, the Texans had won the decisive and final battle of the Texas Revolution.
Quitman noted in his journal that Mexican leader "Santa Anna had just been captured. The commander-in-chief (Texas Gen. Sam Houston) has not determined what to do with him."
As Quitman talked with Houston and later walked the field of conflict, he was astounded to learn that the battle -- pitting 800-plus Texans against 1,200-plus Mexicans -- had been a rout. The battle lasted just 18 minutes. Quitman wrote that the ground was "literally strewed with dead Mexicans."
Gen. Houston had made a bold decision when he decided to attack at 4 p.m. on the afternoon of April 21, 1836, exposing his infantry as it neared the Mexican encampment. Although his men were tired and bedraggled, they were itching to fight and to avenge the Alamo, where more than 200 men fighting for Texas independence had been killed. They wanted to avenge Goliad, too, where 300-plus Texas prisoners of war were slaughtered by the Mexican army on orders of Santa Anna. And the Texans were fighting for something quite precious -- their families, now refugees at camps along the Sabine River, and their homes, abandoned in advance of Santa Anna's charging Mexican divisions.
When the attack came, the Mexican army was asleep as were their officers and Santa Anna. Historians believe that Santa Anna was so confident that an attack would not come until the next day that he didn't have a single lookout posted.
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