Sam Houston Wins Freedom for Texas
You have been told the story of the Alamo. The patriots of Texas had still other grievances against Santa Anna and the Mexicans. The defenders of Fort Goliad, led by Colonel Fannin, with over four hundred men, had surrendered, and had been given solemn assurance of protection. They were immediately divided into small companies, marched in different directions out of town, and shot in cold blood, not a man being left alive. This was a merciless massacre, and infuriated the Texans still more.
Santa Anna now thought he was a conqueror. He had dealt with Travis, at the Alamo, and with Colonel Fannin, at Fort Goliad, but he still had Sam Houston to deal with. We shall now see how Santa Anna met his fate.
General Sam Houston was the leader of the Texans in their revolt against Mexico. His army was small, not more than seven or eight hundred men, and he had to watch very carefully for an opportunity to fight his stronger antagonist. At last, Houston took a stand at the San Jacinto River, and resolved, then and there, to pay the score for the Mexican outrages.
It was not long before the enemy came in sight. Their bugles rang over the plains as the vanguard approached, eighteen hundred strong. They were very showy in appearance, but Houston knew they were not much, as soldiers and fighters. He grimly watched their coming. Turning to his men, he addressed them thus,
"Men, there come the Mexicans, and with them is Santa Anna. They are many times our number, but they are Mexicans and we are Texans. If you wish to fight, here is your chance and now is the time. Remember, it is for liberty or it is for death. Men, remember the Alamo!"
His soldiers shouted, "We are ready, and we remember everything."
As they stood behind their breast works, awaiting the attack, a soldier rode up to General Houston and saluted. He said, "General, I have cut down the bridge, according to your orders." Houston smiled, and nodded his head, for he knew now that Santa Anna could not escape across the river, should he be defeated.
The day wore on, and the Mexican army halted, about noon, to rest and prepare for the attack. The soldiers began to cook their food, the officers lay down, and Santa Anna went to sleep. Houston said to his men, "Why wait for them to attack? Let us take them unawares."
The word was passed along the line, and, in a few moments, the whole Texan army was in double-quick, headed for the Mexican camp. As they ran, they shouted, "Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!"
The Mexicans sprang to their arms, the officers leaped from their couches, and Santa Anna woke up. It was too late, however, for the Texans were upon them. The Mexicans fired on the approaching troops with little effect. A ball struck General Houston in the ankle, inflicting a painful wound, but the old hero kept his saddle until the action was over.
The Mexicans began to give way before the well-ordered advance and constant fire of the Texans. In fifteen minutes, they were in a panic of flight, the Texans in mad pursuit, filling the air with their cries, "Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!" The Mexicans dropped everything and fled. Behind them they left their cannon loaded, and their cooked food untouched. Some awoke just in time to flee, not waiting to dress. Others, playing games, threw down their cards, and hurried away as the Texans entered their tents.
The pursuit was kept up till night, by which time most of the Mexicans were prisoners of war. Over six hundred were killed, while over seven hundred were captured. Everything was taken, and Santa Anna escaped.
The next day, a body of Texan cavalry, scouring the country for prisoners, and especially watchful for Santa Anna himself, saw a Mexican, whom they called upon to surrender. The Mexican threw himself upon the grass and covered his head with a blanket. They had to drag him to his feet, before he would answer them at all.
He then kissed the hand of the leader of the party, and said he was but a private soldier. He was much frightened, and begged them not to kill him. Noticing his fine clothes and jewelry, the soldiers took him back to camp. As they passed some Mexican prisoners, they heard one of them cry, "The President! The President! Santa Anna! Santa Anna!"
It was the infamous leader, the President of Mexico, who was now a trembling captive before General Houston, who spared his life. His capture put an end to Mexico's invasion of Texas, and made Houston the idol of the people of that young republic.