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Online Exhibit Celebrating the Battle of San Jacinto

This online-only exhibit highlights several artifacts in the Rosenberg Library Museum collection that are from the Battle of San Jacinto. The battle, which took place on April 21st, 1836, marked the end of the war for Texas’s independence from Mexico. A smoking cap and glass decanters that belonged to Santa Anna, as well as a rusted sword from the battlefield, are on display.

The Texas Revolution

The Mexican Constitution of 1824 allowed for Anglo-America immigrants to settle on land in Texas as long as they pledged allegiance to Mexico. Settlers were then granted land for farming and ranching, free of any taxes or tariffs. When Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna became President of Mexico in 1829, the cordial relationship between Texans and the Mexican government came to an end. The Texans felt that Santa Anna was an unjust ruler, and they decided to revolt. The first shots of the Texas Revolution were fired on October 2, 1835 at Gonzales. After several defeats in battle against the Texans, the Mexican Army retreated back to Mexico.

An Independent Texas

Texas declared its independence on March 2, 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos. Only four days later, however, William Travis’s men were dealt a hard blow by Mexican troops at the Alamo. Texans led by James Fannin were defeated a second time at Goliad on March 27. General Sam Houston led the retreat of the Texas army to the bridge at Vince’s Bayou near the San Jacinto River. There he was able to gain more troops and train them as they awaited the arrival of Santa Anna and his men.

The Battle of San Jacinto

On April 21, 1836, General Sam Houston led a surprise attack on Santa Anna’s troops at San Jacinto. The Texans shouted “Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!” as they charged the Mexican army. In just eighteen minutes, 630 Mexicans had been killed, and 730 were taken prisoner. Only 9 Texans were killed, and 30 men were left wounded. Among the injured was Sam Houston, who had taken a rifle ball to his ankle. Santa Anna was captured the following day.

The Treaty of Velasco

There were actually two signed treaties that ended the war and restored peace between Texas and Mexico. The first public treaty recognized Texas an independent nation with its border extending to the Rio Grande River. The second treaty, a private agreement,
secured the release of Santa Anna in exchange for his promise to ensure that the Mexican government would uphold all provisions of the treaty. Texas remained an independent republic for the next nine years, until it was annexed by the United States on December 29th, 1845 to become the 28th state in the Union.

Photo captions:
1) Pair of cut-glass decanters that belonged to Santa Anna. These were confiscated from his tent after his surrender at the Battle of San Jacinto. The decanters were given to Henry Rosenberg, Galveston philanthropist and the benefactor of Rosenberg Library. (Gift of Mrs. Henry Rosenberg)
2) Santa Anna’s smoking cap. This beaded velvet cap is alleged to have come from the tent of Santa Anna after the Battle of San Jacinto. Donated by a Galveston family in 1936, the cap was accompanied with a notarized statement of its authenticity. (Gift of Mrs. John A. Gramm in memory of her mother, Annie Wallis King)
3) Naval cutlass with rusted blade. Said to have been picked up on the San Jacinto Battlefield. (Gift of John Adriance and Sons)