San Jacinto Day
San Jacinto Day is a Texan celebration of the Battle of San Jacinto, which took place on April 21, 1838, which is also the day of its commemoration. Fought in the outer-Houston area now found on the Houston Ship Channel, this battle was a game changer for Texas’s war for independence from Mexico, considered the location where Texans won their independence.
Texans celebrate by flying the Lone Star Flag. Reenactments are held at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. A main feature of this historic site is the San Jacinto Monument, The reenactment is known for its realism, even using pyrotechnics for special effects. It is put on by The Sabine Volunteers, an East Texas group named after a section of the Texas militia during the revolution. Several members of the group have been featured on the History Channel and a documentary, THE RE-ENACTORS OF SAN JACINTO was shown on PBS in 2010.
The Texas fight for Independence
What is now the second-largest state both in size and population started out as a struggle between Spanish, French, and American settlers along with native tribes. The Spanish first came in 1528, led by Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca. But the first to truly settle in Texas were the French, led by La Salle in 1685 Matagorda Bay, when La Salle miscalculated in his attempt to get to the Mississippi River. But the conditions, including the land and the neighboring natives, were harsh enough to force the colony to abandon their efforts a few years later. However, the Spanish grew concerned at the French interest and the French colonies in present day Louisiana, so they started to settle in East Texas. In 1718, the Spanish established San Antonio.
After the Louisiana Purchase, in which the United States bought the Louisiana territory from the French, the Spanish and American territories were only separated by the Sabine River. After the Mexican War of Independence from Spain in 1821, Texas became part of the newly independent Mexico. American settlers flooded to Texas with Mexico’s open immigration policy, the Mexican government only abolishing immigration when the American population grew greater than the Mexican population in 1830.
After several revolts against Mexican rule, the Texas Revolution started with the Battle of Gonzales in 1835. The revolution included the famous Battle of Alamo, the thirteen day battle at the Alamo in San Antonio, in which all “Texian” soldiers were defeated. Before the war’s conclusion, Texas signed its Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836, creating the republic of Texas.
Soon after, Sam Houston led the army to win the Battle of San Jacinto, ending resulting in freedom from Mexico. This battle resulted in nine Texans soldiers dead and lasted less than 20 minutes. This is partly due to the element of surprise—while both armies attempted to find the other in the Texas woods, Houston’s army moved quietly enough to ambush Santa Anna’s, yelling “Remember the Alamo!” and references to other battles. However, many Mexicans were taken captive if not killed, including the Mexican army’s leader, Santa Anna, who was captured right after the battle. He was held as a prisoner of war for three weeks until signing a treaty guaranteeing the withdrawal of Mexican troops and government, resulting in Texan independence.