The Battle of San Jacinto
James Collins moved around a lot prior to college, living between Texas, New York, and New Hampshire. His family was from Texas, and he identifies as a Texan. He is currently a student at the University of Southern California.
“Alrighty, so the battle of San Jacinto was the deciding battle for the independence of Texas, the republic of Texas. Now, previously to the battle of San Jacinto, Texas had suffered great losses at the Alamo, and everybody knows the story of the Alamo, but that was actually quite a crushing defeat for Texas, in that everybody there was killed. Including Davy Crocket, sadly enough. But uh, well he was executed later on but he was captured there. Um, the battle of san jacento, well there’s probably some hyperbole built into it, uhh, specifically that it was this battle that happened, in this swamp which I believe was I think a little bit it’s east of Houston, in this really swampy area called the big thicket, which is just like, it looks like the Amazon sometimes, if you go into the middle of it. And, Santa Ana’s army was camped there, uh they had been pushed south a little bit, back towards Mexico, and the vast majority of their army was there. And prior to that Texas didn’t really launch many offensives. They were kind of focused on defending territory, and hadn’t been super proactive in taking the fight back against the Mexican army. But at the battle of San Jacinto, The um, the Texan militia snuck up before dawn and actually began an assault on the Mexican camp. And, the story goes that there weren’t any sentries for the Mexican army, which is probably unrealistic, but the story goes that the Texans rushed in among the tents and into their camp, and started killing Mexican soldiers as they were waking up. And the other Mexican soldiers, hearing the commotion, wake up in their underpants, and run for their lives in their underpants – and some not wearing anything – from the advancing Texans. Um, there’s actually a mural of this, in the Texan state house, of the Mexican army in their underpants, running away from Texans. And there’s actually a monument, at the site of the battle, by, um, it’s pretty close to Houston, and it’s this massive pillar that rises up in the sky and there’s like, there’s like stories about areas around that pillar where the camps were, and there’s jokes that like, somewhere, buried in the swamps, there are still underpants from the Mexican army.”
Informant’s Background Knowledge and Relationship with this Piece:
James is a pretty proud Texan, and loves stories and ideas relating to Texan superiority or independence. This story of how the losing Texan army was able to crush their opponents in such a humiliating way must have resonated very strongly with him. He can’t remember who or when he heard this story, but considers it a common story in Texas.
Thoughts About the Piece:
The story seems a little far-fetched and slightly gruesome. If it is as widespread in Texas as James asserts it is, then I would say that it is definitely indicative of the nationalistic pride that Texans stereotypically report for their state. While it is a brutal story, it was told in an almost comical light, emphasizing the image of Texan dominance over the fleeing, half-naked Mexican army.