SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
© 2001-2010, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved
Santa Anna-Index | Coahuila y Tejas-Index

 

MANIFIESTO
QUE DE SUS OPERACIONES
EN LA CAMPAÑA DE TEJAS
Y EN SU CAUTIVERIO
DIRIGE
A SUS CONCUIDADANOS
EN GENERAL
ANTONIO LOPEZ DE SANTA ANNA
VERACRUZ
Imprenta Liberal a cargo de Antonio Maria Valdes
1837

MANIFESTO
WHICH
GENERAL ANTONIO LOPEZ
DE SANTA ANNA
ADDRESSES TO
HIS FELLOW CITIZENS
RELATIVE TO HIS OPERATIONS
DURING THE TEXAS CAMPAIGN
AND HIS CAPTURE
10 OF MAY 1837

The Manifesto was first printed at Vera Cruz 1837 by Antonio María Valdés.  It was reprinted by Genaro García in Documentos para la Historia de México, XXIX.  The translation is by Carlos Castañeda in his The Mexican Side of the Texan Revolution, P.L. Turner Co., Dallas, TX, 1928.  Castañeda's footnotes are denoted C.C. in the text.

 

Santa Anna ca. age 55Never has the ambitious thought of obtaining universal approval for my actions entered my mind; nor have I been so pusillanimous that the fear of the disapproval of a few, or even of many, could have prevented me from acting in a certain way when convinced, even though erroneously of the propriety of my action. In the palace of México as in this humble hut, in the midst of the applause of a free people the same as amidst the insolent hisses of the Texans who loudly called for my death, I have realized that my conduct would always be criticized, for who has not at least one enemy if fate has raised him above his fellow-citizens and placed him in the public eye? I was not surprised, therefore, to see the triumphs of Béxar and the Alamo tainted by the tireless and venomous tooth of that envy which I have always despised, nor the defeat of San Jacinto horribly portrayed by the unfaithful and disloyal brush of an unjust animosity; much less was I surprised that by these means a great part of a nation, zealous as it should be of its honor and anxious that the cost of sustaining it should be reduced to a minimum, should have been made to doubt the propriety of my war measures if not to condemn them outright. But my misfortune having reached its limit, this ill opinion has gone one step further, and, although I expected as much, it has been all the more painful to me. Thus, when I placed foot upon the soil of my native land, evoked as it were from the grave, after having suffered for its cause, the most sacred of causes, a painful imprisonment, a cruel separation, a great misfortune, the judgment of my compatriots would like to banish me. This ill-deserved judgment has not failed to inflict a mortal wound to heart, in spite of the fact that I recognize its noble origin in some cases. Still I expected; yea, I flattered myself in the midst of my sorrows, that I would obtain the compassion of compatriots and that upon hearing me they would accept my justification.

It was my purpose, as I looked upon the chains that held me prisoner, to show as an offering to my country, the marks left me, if I ever succeeded in breaking them. To-day even the fact of having broken them is imputed to me as treason. I would have explained to my fellow-citizens the cause of our constant misfortune; my tears would have flowed arid mingled with theirs; my story would have excited their noble passions just as my misfortunes the friendly sympathy of brothers. I now have to speak not of my personal misfortunes but of those that it is thought have befallen our country exclusively because of me, in order to prove my innocence rather than to mitigate my mortification. More unfortunate than Manlius, accused before the Romans, the wounds received for our country, far from securing far me an undeserved absolution from a proven crime, are themselves the accusations from which I must vindicate myself. My imprisonment and my freedom, these are the two things which I must explain, and the laurels of victory that I won before, whose glory has not been sufficient to safeguard my name, will avail me but little now as I raise my voice in protest, though it be shielded by reason.

I must speak, nevertheless, for my honor belongs to my country, just as my arm and my soul have always been hers. Hers is the innocence that encourages my heart in this great misfortune. Why, may I ask, must reason and sincerity this time go unheard? Let no one answer me in the affirmative! Let no one, in pity's name, offer me so cruel a disappointment! If it be a false illusion, let no one dissipate it. Let me persist in an error which now pours a health-and-life balm upon my lacerated name.  sdct

I shall lead my compatriots by the hand to the margins of the San Jacinto and there among the very ruins where they wish to bury my glory, in the very deserts where it is said that its luster was dimmed, by the deep rivers still tinted red with the blood shed in a righteous war by Mexicans and the invaders of Texas, but now laid upon my head, there I will show them how far I steered from that treacherous path imputed to me. We shall enter the port of Velasco and from my enemies and those of my country themselves they shall hear the testimony of a firmness that brought down upon me threats of death while many in México accused me of a weakness that I well might have shown. Santa Anna, whether conqueror or conquered, whether free or in chains, yea, I swear it before the world, did not in Texas debase the Mexican name in which he glories and takes pride.

At the age of thirty-five my military achievements had long since carried me to the highest military rank, thanks to the liberality with which my services were repaid. I held the first place among Mexicans by their own generous vote. My name was known beyond the limits of México and a competent fortune assured me against poverty. To what else could the ambition of a man who had just refused a dictatorship offered to him, and who had fought those who had dared to make such an offer, aspire? What else could he desire who, though able to live in a place in luxury and plenty surrounded by never-failing courtiers, dwelt in a simple country home where his pride could only be flattered by the sincere love of his wife and the innocent games of his children? I was wrested from this peaceful life by my love for my country I had sworn that my sword should always be the first to strike the blow upon the daring necks of her enemies; and the news that came from Texas regarding the plight of General Don Martín Cós, besieged in Béxar by the Texans, late in 1835, made me realize that they were the most formidable enemies that threatened our country at that time.

Some journalists had tried to compare my campaigns to those of Napoleon and my enemies hoped that that of Texas would be as disastrous to me as that of Russia was to the Corsican hero. My friends, while cursing the prophecy, feared to see it fulfilled; and I, myself, was never so blind as to be unaware of the difficulties of the enterprise; arising from the circumstances. This word, which by dint of applying it to such varied uses and to objects so different, has now amongst us no meaning, was to me an endless source of unquiet reflection. The administrative system of the nation had just been changed and the basis of the new fundamental law had scarcely been established, always a critical moment for any people and particularly for ours at a time when, resentment still burned high and the efforts to influence the future of the nation succeeded each other. [The federal system was changed by special decree of Congress on Oct. 23, 1835. The provisions of this decree established a strong centralized government--C.C.] The creation of a formidable army appeared to me a serious evil at this time because of the danger that a considerable part of it might be induced to take an active part in determining the national institutions which should be the outcome of free and calm meditation. The honor of the country, however, demanded that such a danger be faced and that every attempt be made to minimize it, as was fortunately done, the soldiers of the republic giving in this instance an irrefutable proof of their prudence and patriotism.

It was necessary to attend immediately to another difficulty of considerable importance: that the creation of a force capable of defending the integrity of the nation should not hinder the leaving of a sufficient force in the most important points of the country both to preserve internal tranquillity and to stop or combat any attempt to disembark troops, such as the enemy practiced later. The national law regarding militia that occasioned a civil war did not permit the raising of the necessary troops to the exigencies of the moment and our battalions were mere companies. Without ignoring this problem, national decorum demanded that war be waged against those who wished to betray the territory of Texas. A cause more just could not be found. It was necessary practically to improvise an army to defend it.

Who does not know the condition of our public finances? Not only was it sad, but the only hope of obtaining money for the war was the very doubtful and dilatory system of direct taxation that might also serve as a pretext for uprisings and popular protests. It was not, therefore, proper to adopt it. Even the system of forced loans contracted by the government that had drained the public treasury to such an extent were difficult because of the very frequency with which it was necessary to recur to them. The income of our customs houses, the only guarantee which up to that time had been given as security, were mortgaged for a long period. The government, in spite of the authorization given by Congress for that purpose in November 1835 (Document No. 1) was unable to secure the necessary funds for this campaign; and up to the time of my, arrival at Sari Luis, they were so insignificant that part of the army gathered in that capital had to go without pay for five days before I succeeded in getting ten thousand pesos by giving my personal security. Authorized to negotiate a loan by the government as a result of the decree mentioned, I was obliged to try to effect it under these disadvantageous circumstances for the nation, fearing that later on the urgency would be greater and consequently the terms more disadvantageous. Finally I concluded a loan with Messrs. Rubio and Errazu (Document No. 2) by the terms of which four hundred thousand pesos, half in silver he other half in bonds, were to be, turned over to me, and furthermore, all supplies necessary for the army were to be delivered at Matamoros at their own expense and cost, these sums to be repaid with the proceeds of the forced loans of the department of: San Luis; Guanajuato, Guadalajara and Zacatecas and the remainder by import duties at the customs houses at Matamoros and Tampico where the receipts for the delivery of the supplies were to be accepted as currency. This contract which, was subject to the approval of the government, who finally ratified it (Document No. 3), and which presented by itself seems ruinous to the nation, but the advantages of which are evident if it is compared with other transactions of similar nature executed by the government itself, was the only meant by which the troops were equipped and the Texas campaign opened. In this campaign, the small sums of the forced loans and other remittances made by the government to increase somewhat our resources, demanded a strict economy that has not escaped censure but which, after, the reverse of San Jacinto, left a sum of more than a hundred and fifty thousand pesos in Matamoros. Nevertheless, the contract was disapproved by Congress and I, filled with astonishment, surprised, and overcome by the fearful consequences which I foresaw, had to struggle against my better sense to rise above such a blow and to continue directing, though filled with the bitterness of these circumstances, an enterprise in which new difficulties were met at every turn. I would have found myself in a most embarrassing situation on account of this disapproval, with the army already on its way to San Antonio de Béxar, had it not been that the money-lenders, whom I had not known before and to whom no interested motive could incline me, generously sent me the funds that had been left deposited with them after the contract was made, realizing with all certainty the enormous loss they would suffer as experience later demonstrated. I could not help but complain in a friendly, yet bitter tone to the president ad interim. [Miguel Barragán was acting president from January 28„ 1835 to February, 1836. He died early in March, 1836--C.C.] Shortly before, the mine of Fresnillo in Zacatecas had paid the government one million pesos that were absorbed with incredible speed by a prodigious multitude of outstanding obligations. A dark horizon, indeed, that foretold the storm!  sdct

I went to México, therefore, in November, 1835, to take charge of a war from which I could have been excused, for the fundamental law of the country offered me a decorous excuse that any broken health made all the more honorable. Nevertheless, aware of the adverse circumstances I have expressed, I still desired to try to serve my country. In a few days I gathered six thousand men, clothed and equipped. At the cost of immense sacrifices rising above obstacles that seemed insuperable, this force set out from San Luis towards the end of December, 1835. The difficulties arising from the need of securing food supplies sufficient for the army while crossing four hundred leagues of desert lands, and those attendant upon its conveyance, as well as the transportation of other equipment, arms, munitions, etc., were all difficulties that, though not pressing at the time of organization, were, nevertheless, of the utmost importance, particularly since the cost of transportation was extremely high in that long stretch. Hospitals had to be located and protected; a great number of rivers had to be crossed without bridge equipment, without even a single boat; the coast had to be watched and the ports kept open to receive provisions and to prevent the enemy from receiving reinforcements or from retreating---all of this with only one serviceable war vessel---and lastly, we had to raise a reserve force to come to our help in case of a reverse, a frequent occurrence in war, when, in order to complete the number of those deemed necessary for the campaign; we had had to use raw recruits.

When a general is given command of an army and everything that is necessary is furnished to him and placed at his disposal, he should be held strictly responsible if he departs from the established rules of war. The government has said, and with truth, that all the resources at its command were placed at my disposal in this campaign, but these being so few, could it have given me many? Could they have been sufficient to carry on a war according to usage when all those resources which are necessary for such an undertaking were practically tacking? The army under my command consisted of only six thousand men when it left Saltillo and of these at least half were raw recruits from San Luis, Querétaro and other departments, hastily enlisted to fill the ragged companies. [Many years later, while in exile, Santa Anna said, referring to the number of men, "I gathered and organized the expeditionary army of Texas, consisting of eight thousand men, in the city of Saltillo." Diario de mi vida pólitica y militar in Documentos para la Historia de México, II, 33--C.C.] The people of Nuevo León and Coahuila, at the instigation of their worthy and patriotic governors, donated food supplies to the army. These, added to those that were brought, made a considerable amount that in a country so vast, where all transportation is done on mule back, was extremely embarrassing to me, although indispensable for our needs. In order to transport it, I made use of extremely heavy ox-carts, a means of transportation never used by armies, and in spite of the most active efforts made to secure it, I was obliged to use. Our needs had been foreseen and that was all that could be done, for to meet them all was an impossibility. The great problem I had to solve was to reconquer Texas and to accomplish this in the shortest time possible, at whatever cost, in order that the revolutionary activities of the interior should not recall that small army before it had fulfilled its honorable mission. A long campaign would have undoubtedly consumed our resources and we would have been unable to renew them. If the only four favorable months of the year were not taken advantage of, the army, in the midst of the hardships of a campaign, would perish of hunger and of the effects of the climates upon those who composed the army under my command, who were accustomed to a more temperate climate. In order that the soldier by means of repeated marches arid frequent battles should forget the immense distance which separated him from his family and home comforts; in order that his courage might not fail; and, in short, to maintain the morale which an army obtains from its activity and operations, it was of the utmost importance, to prevent the enemy from strengthening its position or receiving the reinforcements that the papers from the North asserted were very numerous. In a word, the government had said, to me that it left everything to my genius, and this, flattering remark became an embarrassing truth, making it necessary move in this campaign with all diligence to avoid the many difficulties that delay in action would undoubtedly bring about. This realization established the norm for all my operations and I always tried earnestly to shorten them. Had we been favored by victory to the last, its policy would have shown a surprised world our occupation, in sixty days, of a territory more than four hundred leagues in extent and defended by the enemy.  sdct

Béxar was held by the enemy and it was necessary to open the door to our future operations by taking it. It would have been easy enough to have surprised it, because those occupying it did not have the faintest news of the march of our army. I entrusted, therefore, the operation to one of our generals, who with a detachment of cavalry, part of the dragoons mounted on infantry officers' horses, should have fallen on Béxar in the early morning of February 23, 1836. My orders were concise and definite. I was most surprised, therefore, to find the said general a quarter of a league from Béxar at ten o'clock of that day, awaiting new orders. This, perhaps, was the result of inevitable circumstances; and, although the city was captured, the surprise that I had ordered to be carried out would have saved the time consumed and the bloodshed later in the taking of the Alamo.

Having taken Béxar and the proceeds of the small booty having been sold by the commissary department to meet its immediate needs, all of which I communicated to the government (Document No. 4), the enemy fortified itself in the Alamo, overlooking the city. A siege of a few days would have caused its surrender, but it was not fit that the entire army should be detained before an irregular fortification hardly worthy of the name. Neither could its capture be dispensed with, for bad as it was, it was well equipped with artillery, had a double wall, and defenders who, it must be admitted; were very courageous and caused much damage to Béxar. Lastly, to leave a part of the army to lay siege to it, the rest continuing on its march was to leave our retreat, in case o£ a reverse, if not entirely cut off, at least exposed, and to be unable to help those who were besieging it, who could be reinforced only from the main body of the advancing army. This would leave to the enemy a rallying-point, although it might be only for a few days. An assault would infuse our soldiers with that enthusiasm of the first triumph that would make them superior in the future to those of the enemy. It was not my judgment alone that moved me to decide upon it, but the general opinion expressed in a council of war, made up of generals, that I called even though the discussions which such councils give rise to have not always seemed to me appropriate. Before undertaking the assault and after the reply given to Travis who commanded the enemy fortification, I still wanted to try a generous measure, characteristic of Mexican kindness, and I offered life to the defendants who would surrender their arms and retire under oath not to take them up again against México. Colonel Don Juan Nepomuceno Almonte, through whom this generous offer was made, transmitted to me their reply which stated that they would let us know if they accepted and if not, they would renew the fire at a given hour. They decided on the latter course and their decision irrevocably sealed their fate. ["To the proposals to surrender he replied always that every man under preferred to die rather than surrender the fort to the Mexicans." Genaro García, Documentos, II, 34]

On the night of the fifth of March, four columns having been made ready for the assault under the command of their respective officers, they moved forward in the best order and with the greatest silence, but the imprudent huzzas of one of their awakened the sleeping vigilance of the defenders of the fort and their artillery fire caused such disorder among our columns that it was necessary to make use of the reserves. The Alamo was taken, this victory that was so much and so justly celebrated at the time, costing us seventy dead and about three hundred mounded, a loss that was also later judged to be avoidable and charged, after the disaster of San Jacinto, to my incompetence and precipitation ["Not one remained alive but they disabled over a thousand of our men dead and wounded." Genaro García, Documentos, II, 35] I do not know of a way in which any fortification, defended by artillery, can be carried by assault without the personal losses of the attacking party being greater than those of the enemy, against whose walls and fortifications the brave assailants can present only their bare breasts. It is easy enough from a desk in a peaceful office, to pile up charges against a general out on the field but this cannot prove anything more than the praiseworthy desire of making war less disastrous. But its nature being such, a general has no power over its immutable laws. Let us weep at the tomb of the brave Mexicans who died at the Alamo defending the honor and the rights of their country. They won a lasting claim to fame and the country can never forget their heroic names.

The enemy, discouraged by this blow that left fateful memories, fled before our forces. Our flanks, however, were, nevertheless, constantly molested by guerrilla bands, which favored by their intimate acquaintance with the country, the thickets of the woods, and the effectiveness of their rifles, caused daily losses to our troops. It became necessary to remedy this evil. [There seems to be no evidence in the English accounts of the campaign that the Texans resorted to the use of guerrilla bands--C.C.] The slow and embarrassing march of the whole army as a unit could have availed but little for such a purpose, for the fact of being together could not stop this evil. Nor was it advisable that our whole army should stop to combat the small guerrilla bands that were almost invisible, allowing the main army of the enemy; now fleeing, to perfect a plan of defense. Brevity was the ruling principle of all my operations, and for this reason I divided the troops available into three divisions, leaving at Béxar a sufficient force under the command of General Don Juan José Andrade to fall back upon.   sdct

General José UrreaThe first division on our right, under the command of General Don José Urrea, was to operate in the district of Goliad, El Cópano and the whole coast. Its orders were to fight the small groups that were gathering to prevent their acting in concert and becoming a menace, and to clear and free the coast of enemies as far as Brazoria. This division was to rejoin me at San Felipe de Austin, which, situated on .the margin of a river, in a central location, and well provided with food, seemed to me very appropriate as a point from which to direct the campaign.

Another division under the command of General Don Antonio Gaona was ordered to our left for the same purpose. With the same objects in view as the first, it was to scour the entire line from Béxar to Bastrop. Although at first he had instructions to continue as far as Nacogdoches, it was always my intention, upon his reaching Bastrop to have him come to San Felipe, as I did in the end.

Each one of these divisions was in itself sufficient to give battle to the enemy; and, assured now that the army was well protected on its flanks, I had to look for a crossing on the Colorado. The officer whom I sent for this purpose with troops, supplies, and other resources at my command sort me a dispatch that made me believe he was in a serious situation. I issued orders for both the divisions, Urrea's and Gaona's, to March to his assistance, and I myself started out to join him. This I did at the pass of Atascosito on the 5th of April. The enemy who was defending it fled, and the central division of the army crossed the Colorado while the two flank divisions received counter orders instructing them anew to meet rise in San Felipe towards which place I was marching.

It is necessary, before proceeding, to pause and review the operations of General Urrea. All of them were brilliant and fortune crowned all his efforts. Dr: Grant was overcome by his division; the coast was cleared of enemies; and those defending Goliad under the command of Fannin abandoned it and fled to Guadalupe Victoria, being forced to surrender at El Encinal in the plain of Perdido. [Fannin, who occupied the town of Goliad, went out to meet General Urrea with 1500 filibusters and six pieces of artillery" Diario de mi vida pólitica y militar in Documentos para la Historia de México, II, 35].

All this contributed in no small manner to the well-earned reputation of that general in the Texas campaign. To me, however, that last incident has brought grave consequences; and it is necessary, therefore, that I be allowed to digress here in order to speak of this matter.

Let it be said now in order to avoid repetition: the war against Texas has been as just on the part of the Mexican government as the lack of the slightest attempt on the part of those who forced it upon México has been to try to justify their action. Few of the colonists, properly speaking, have taken up arms in the struggle. The soldiers of Travis at the Alamo, those of Fannin at Perdido, the riflemen of Dr. Grant, and Houston himself and his troops at San Jacinto with but few exceptions, were publicly known to have come from New Orleans and other points of the neighboring republic exclusively for the purpose of aiding the Texas rebellion without ever having been members of any of the colonization grants.

Some Mexicans, partisans of a former system of government, thought, perhaps in good faith, that the only effect of fanning the fire of war in Texas would be a political change in accord with their opinion. [Santa Anna is hinting at Zavala, who left México City and joined the Texans. He was the first vice-president of Texas] Their shortsighted ambition must be a terrible lesson to them as well as a source of eternal remorse. Too late, they now deplore having placed in jeopardy the integrity of our national territory.sdct

Our country found itself invaded not by an established nation that came to vindicate its rights, whether true or imaginary; nor by Mexicans who, in a paroxysm of political passion, came to defend or combat the public administration of the country. The invaders were all men who, moved by the desire of conquest, with rights less apparent and plausible than those of Cortes and Pizarro, wished to take possession of that vast territory extending from Béxar to the Sabine belonging to México. What can we call them? How should they be treated? All the existing laws, whose strict observance the government had just recommended, marked them as pirates and outlaws. The nations of the world would never have forgiven México had it accorded them rights, privileges, and considerations which the common law of peoples accords only to constituted nations. (Document No. 5).

Up to this time I had enjoyed among my fellow-citizens a reputation, which I preferred to that of being brave: that of being generous in victory. It was necessary, in order that my misfortune should be complete, that even the only virtue that my most bitter enemies never denied me should now be questioned. I am made to appear more ferocious than a tiger, I, who in a country the most generous and humane, pride myself on being known for my clemency. Because of the execution of Fannin and his men I am accused of being barbarous and sanguinary. [In the Diario already cited Santa Anna quotes Urrea as follows: "Adventurers who introduce themselves into Texas armed to favor the revolution of the colonists being outlawed, the prisoners have been executed." Genaro García, Documentos, II, 35]. I appeal to those of my fellow-citizens who have exercised the profession of magistrate. They shall say how many times their trembling hands have signed a death sentence, the letters of which were blurred by their tears. Law commands, and the magistrate has no power to mitigate its rigor, for him it is to put into execution. If, in the execution of law, no discretion is allowed a judge, can a general in a campaign be expected to exercise greater freedom? The prisoners of Goliad were condemned by law, by a universal law, that of personal defense, enjoyed by all nations and all individuals. They surrendered unconditionally, as the communication of General Urrea (Document No. 6) shows. How could I divert the sword of justice from their heads without making it fall upon my own? Let it be said, if you want---I confess that it is not my opinion---that the law was unjust, but can there be greater blindness than to impute the crime to the dagger and not to the hand that wields it?

The prisoners greatly embarrassed the commander of Goliad. They had, before fleeing, set fire to the town and no building had been left except the church now being used by the sick and wounded. The guard consisted only of the garrison which was much inferior in numbers to the prisoners, while the food supplies were barely sufficient for the most essential needs of the troops. Without cavalry, with every soldier needed for the campaign, the prisoners could not be conducted to Matamoros. All these considerations transmitted to me by that officer had due weight upon my determination. Perhaps even in civilized Europe, in a war between nations, these circumstances might have resulted in the execution of similar prisoners and not been the only example of such a sacrifice to the imperious laws of necessity and self-preservation.

How my arbitrariness would have been exaggerated, and to speak the truth with justifiable excuse, if by pardoning, as I desired those unfortunate wretches I should have dared to violate the law. I would have taken to myself the most enviable attribute of sovereignty and exposed that detachment of troops to a surprise that might have easily been attempted by the prisoners. I could not, therefore, pardon those unfortunates. It said that they were protected by a capitulation, and although the communication of General Urrea denies such a statement, I have asked the supreme government that an investigation be instituted (Document No. 7), to prove that neither officially nor confidentially was I notified of such a capitulation. Had any such existed, even though General Urrea had no authority to grant it, it would have afforded me an opportunity to petition, in the name of humanity, the indulgence of Congress for Fannin and his soldiers.

With less reason, and taking advantage of their professional knowledge, several physicians saved themselves, as well as forty prisoners who, because of the usefulness of their trade, were spared to construct flat boats. Likewise, eighty-six men who were taken at El Cópano were not executed because I ordered an investigation to be instituted to determine if it were true that they, had not made use of their arms nor caused damage in any way to our country in order that I might intercede with Congress in their behalf, in spite of their having been taken under arms. It has since been asserted that those at Goliad were executed with cruelty. Upon this point I have asked in the document already, cited that the military commandant at that point should be shade to give a detailed account of his acts. I cannot be held responsible for the manner in which that officer carried out the law. What I know to be true is that in my imprisonment I was guarded by some of those that escaped from the firing squads who carried out the execution without order or concert. I was cruelly treated by them, to the extent that on several occasions they tried to assassinate me and to excite against me a fierce hatred that almost led to my being taken to Goliad for execution. The news printed in the capital, particularly some of which seemed worthy of credit, in which it was stated as true that Fannin concluded a capitulation that that was violated by my orders, contributed in no small way to this danger. I trust, however, to the good judgment of thy fellow-citizens, and I feel certain that since up to now they have deemed me humane and generous, their opinion may not be changed by an order that I was unable to avoid without breaking a law whose observance the government had just recommended in an emphatic circular. The desire to minimize, if possible, what might be considered the most cruel part of that law made me consult the government on this point (Document No. 8). The reply, to this fell into the hands of the enemy, tying my hands in a manner as painful as is the horror that the shedding of blood after the heat of battle has always inspired in me.

The capture of the Alamo, in spite of its attendant disasters, and the quick and successful operations of General Urrea gave us a prodigious moral prestige. Do not expect to hear any more details of battles. Our name terrified the enemy, and our approach to their camps was not awaited. They fled disconcerted to hide beyond the Trinity and the Sabine. The ruins and devastation they left behind were the only signs seen by our soldiers as evidence of the presence of the invaders of Texas. The attainment of our goal was now almost certain. It was then, with sorrow on the part of the troops, that thought was given the need of garrisoning that vast territory in order to hold our conquest; and the mere idea of remaining in Texas dismayed the triumphant soldier more than defeat. Our campaign was a military parade; but to remain in Texas, perhaps forever, what a misfortune! Such was the general clamor that reached my ears and this not from the common soldiers alone. Some of the offers still remember my reprimand on so delicate a point. The evil spreading, however, in spite of all of my efforts, it would been an unpardonable fault not to try to encourage the dejected soldiers. Perhaps it would have been an equal sin to have tried energetically to suppress the disturbance. This and the conviction that the campaign was over, was the cause for order of the twenty-fifth of March by which some of troops were instructed to hold themselves in readiness to return together with the wagons which were to start out for San Luis. I had definite information, however, that the enemy was undertaking a retreat but was in full flight. I learned later that in order to stop the number of desertions among their the enemy had to resort to the ruse of assuring them that I had returned to México and of declaring that a new revolution had broken out. In spite of these impostures, there remained with Houston, out of 1500 men, only the 800 with which he surprised my camp at San Jacinto. It could not be otherwise, a very considerable number having perished at Béxar, the Alamo, Goliad and the plain of Perdido. In short, this was shown by the proclamations of the so-called government of Texas, in all of which appeals were made in desperate terms for the sympathy of the Americans to come to the rescue of their defeated hosts, since the colonists, either voluntarily or forced by circumstances, persisted in taking refuge beyond the scene of war. In spite of all this; it was not an excessive confidence in these facts but a pertinent distrust of the dangerous discontent of the army under my command that, with no intention of carrying it out, made me issue the aforementioned order, never put into effect, about whose terms or the conduct of the campaign, I never heard a remonstrance, much less a protest. Colonel Almonte has assured me that he does not remember his having been instructed to make any such known to me. I have been thought dead and, placing confidence on the silence of the tomb, the facts have been distorted and attributed to very different causes. [Bernardo Couto wrote José María Mora from México City, on August 3, 1836. "It seems it is true that Santa Anna was executed on the 4th last, at Nacogdoches." Genaro García, Documentos, VI, 6] sdct

At San Felipe de Austin we found only the ashes of what had been a town and it was now impossible for the array to encamp there without serious inconvenience. The enemy, with the help of a steamboat, had taken refuge at Groce's crossing, placing the Brazos between their soldiers and victory as well as a small fortification held by a hundred and fifty men at that point, and another detachment at Thompson's Crossing which they also tried to hold. I looked for another crossing and succeeded in taking Thompson's where I ordered the army to reunite. ["We were obliged to surprise the detachment at Thompson's Crossing, an operation which was well executed and permitted us to cross the river comfortably with the help of the flat boats we captured" Genaro García, Documentos, II,36--C.C.] There several colonists, among them a Mexican with his family, gave me positive information that the enemy's troops had taken refuge in the thick woods above the already mentioned crossing at Groce's, the leaders of the rebellion remaining in Harrisburg. The president, the cabinet members of the so-called government of Texas, and the chief leaders of the revolution were gathered there, where a single blow would have been mortal to their cause. Such a blow depended on the rapidity of my movements and it appeared to me---and I believe rightly---too important an opportunity to abandon or to allow to escape on account of our slow motion.

I, therefore, decided to reach Harrisburg by forced marches without waiting for the rest of the army, for I really did not need it to attack a point entirely devoid of troops. We traveled all night but the enemy fled immediately after I crossed the river, astonished at an advance they believed impossible, as some Texans later confessed to me. In spite of all of my diligence, the fear that our blow upon Harrisburg might be frustrated was realized. The town was abandoned by the officers of the so-called government of Texas and we found half-written letters that our sudden and unexpected approach did not permit them to finish. [In the Diario, written about thirty years later Santa Anna merely states that in the office of President Burnett "we found same letters of Houston" See Genaro García, Documentos, II,37--C.C.]

Some printers there were able to tell us only that they had fled towards Galveston, assuring us that the fire that was consuming the town had been accidental. What should I do now? What should be my next move? The enemy adopted that infallible means of defense that devastated the country without stopping to give a single battle. It was of the utmost importance to force a fight and the only way possible was to cut off their retreat. For this purpose I hastened my march as much as I could, the obstacles I had no means to overcome causing me untold impatience.

The printers already mentioned assured me that Houston's force assured me that Houston's force did not exceed 800 men. This was not the only source of information that I had regarding it, but it was confirmed by another report absolutely reliable, that was given me by Colonel Almonte from New Washington, where I had sent him with fifty mounted men to reconnoiter. That officer succeeded in capturing a large train of supplies from the enemy, consisting, in the main, of food supplies that were essential to us. His force being so small, I believed it expedient to march to his aid and to insure the safety of the supplies he had captured that were so important for us. Keep this fact in mind in order to examine later in the light of some criticism, the probable number of the main army of the enemy. I arrived then, at New Washington the 18th of April, having sent, under the command of Captain Marcos Barragán, an advance guard to Lynchburg to observe the movements of the enemy, who, whether it made its way towards the Trinity or towards Galveston, would have to pass in sight of that point, where it was my intention to attack it. For this, purpose, having dispatched the food supplies to New Washington under an adequate guard and having destroyed those that it was not possible to take in safety, I marched upon Lynchburg on the 20th. I had already asked my second in command, His Excellency, General D. Vicente Filisola, to send me five hundred picked men with General Martín Cós. I stressed the word picked purposely, in order to avoid his sending me the recruits that I well knew made up the greater part of our army. ["I instructed . . . General Filisola, my second, to dispatch the battalion of sappers, full strength, with orders for its commander to join me immediately." Genaro García, Documentos, II, 37. There is no mention here of picked troops--C.C.].  sdct

While on the road, Captain Barragán came to inform me that the enemy was approaching Lynchburg. As a matter of fact, being desirous of an engagement, I had the satisfaction of seeing it, of confirming the information I had of its strength, and of observing that it had taken a disadvantageous position in the low lands of the angle formed by the junction of Buffalo Bayou and the San Jacinto just before they enter Galveston Bay. The communication about this last march (Document no. 9) gives enough details. Let it suffice to say that, it never crossed my mind, that a moment of rest, now indispensable, should have been so disastrous, particularly after I had issued orders for strict vigilance to insure our safety. It was, however, overconfidence that lulled the zeal of those in whom I trusted. My sleep was interrupted by the noise of arms, and upon awakening I saw with astonishment that the enemy had completely surprised our camp. In vain I tried to repair the evil, the confusion of my feelings during those unfortunate moments was equal to the misfortune itself. I exhausted all my efforts trying to turn the tide. A moment before they might have still given us victory, now, it, was too late.sdct

The hand of destiny was still at Thompson's Crossing which I tried to reach. The division of the army that accompanied me now dispersed, I saw in the main body of our army the avenger of our misfortune In order to reach it, I made my way through the enemy with the greatest difficulty as far as the head of Buffalo Bayou, beyond which, my retreat would be safe, but pursued constantly, it was impossible for me to reach this last anchor of salvation. A mere accident permitted me, on the following day, to change my wet clothing in an abandoned house where I found some others cast off. To that same good luck I owe my not having attracted the attention of those who pursued us, who a few hours later overtook me and believing that I was an officer of the Mexicans army made me appear before the Chief of the Texans, Sam Houston, on the very battlefield of our engagement. ["When the filibusters surprised my camp…as I opened my eyes I saw myself surrounded by men who threatened me with their rifles and took me prisoner." Genaro García, Documentos, II, 38-39].

I have given a summary of all of my operations during the campaign in spite of the fact that the Supreme Government has received and printed all my communications regarding it. I now add to them that of the last disastrous engagement, in order that by turning our eyes back we may contemplate all of them from a correct point of view and without the partial bias under which they have been considered.

Next page 2


SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
© 2001-2010, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved