Celebrating San Jacinto Day in 2021

San Jacinto Monument, Houston, Texas.
San Jacinto Monument, Houston, Texas. (Mary Hammel)

Each year on or near April 21, people from all over visit the San Jacinto battlegrounds to witness the re-enactment of the famous fight. The tradition was canceled in 2019 because of pollution from a nearby fire and again in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. This year, San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site and the San Jacinto Museum of History are celebrating virtually with the premier of San Jacinto: A Lone Star Shines. The four-day event begins on April 19 and each day will feature a short digital film depicting scenes from the Battle of San Jacinto. The videos post at noon on Facebook.

April 21, 2021 marks 185 years since the Battle of San Jacinto, the final battle for Texas’ independence. General Sam Houston led the Texian army which was approximately 900 men strong. However, they were outnumbered by the Mexican army--led by Mexican President Antonio López de Santa--which had approximately 1,300 men, according to the San Jacinto Museum of History.

At around 4:30 p.m., the Texans launched a surprise attack on the Mexican camp while shouting “Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!” The battle lasted just 18 minutes, although the slaughter continued for hours. Only nine Texans were killed or mortally wounded, while 630 Mexican soldiers were killed and 700 others taken prisoner, according to the SJMH.

Santa Anna was captured on April 22. The Texas State Historical Association states that Santa Anna disappeared during the April 21 battle, and search parties were sent out the next morning. He was discovered hiding in the grass, was dirty and wet and was dressed as a common soldier. The search party did not recognize him until he was addressed as “el presidente” by other Mexican prisoners.

The Battle of San Jacinto avenged the massacre of Texan soldiers at the Alamo on March 6, 1836 and Goliad on March 27, 1836. Not only did it give Texas its independence from Mexico, but it also opened the door for the westward expansion of the United States, according to the SJMH.

This fantastic vintage engraving depicts the portrait of Sam Houston (1793 - 1863), the colorful American politician who went from Governor of Tennessee to the first President of the Republic of Texas, and later the Senator and Governor of Texas. Engraved by John Chester Buttre (1821 - 1893) after the daguerreotype by B. P. Paige. Published in an 1877 collection of American portraits, it is now in the public domain. Digital restoration by Steven Wynn Photography. (Steven Wynn)