Archival Report by General Santa Anna of Defeat
and Capture at San Jacinto, 11 Mar 1837
9 MINISTRY OF WAR AND MARINE Central Division Desk No. 1
The need of helping General Ramirez y Sesma at the Colorado made me order General Gaona to change his route and turn to San Felipe de Austin. For the disembarcation at Galveston I had issued orders that the schooner of war General Bravo and the merchant ships that were to conduct food supplies from Matamoros to El Cópano help in the enterprise.
The cavalry brigade, some of whose horses died from exposure to the cold while others were disabled, was unable to take an active part in the campaign with the exception of a few detachments detailed to conduct cattle and supplies, there being no way of replacing the horses. I consequently ordered General Juan Andrade, its commander, to remain with his brigade at Béxar. Several detachments of infantry together with the baggage of their respective units, the hospitals, the artillery and surplus munitions, etc., were also left there.
The divisions having set out---One under General José Urrea, with more than thirteen hundred men, another under General Joaquín Ramirez y Sesma with fourteen hundred men, and a third under General Gaona with several hundred, each one strong enough to give battle to the enemy---I left Béxar on the appointed day with my staff and an escort of thirty dragoons. I do not include a statement of the relative strength of these divisions becaue I have suffered the loss of my baggage where I had these data and other documents.
On the 3rd day I overtook a battalion of sappers and one of regulars of Guadalajara under the command of Colonel Agustín Amat, in the outskirts of the burnt town of Gonzalez, on the Guadalupe. They were marching to reinforce the division under Ramirez y Sesma.
D. Pedro Ampudia, who was two days' journey behind us was bringing up the artillery, the digging implements, the breastwork materials, the munitions, and the food supplies for the above mentioned division. The waters of the Guadalupe being high, it was not possible for the troops and the above mentioned train to cross with the speed desired, and we were necessarily delayed for three days. The dispatch sent to me by General Ramirez y Sesrna, who was facing the enemy on the Colorado, gave me some concern and decided me to send him assistance as stated in my reply to his note. For this reason I ordered General Vicente Filisola, whom I thought best should accompany me as my second since I had left General Juan Andrade at Béxar, to remain to expedite the crossing, leaving instructions for everything to be moved forward with all possible speed under his command. I hastened my march, and on the 5th, I arrived at the Atoscosita Crossing, on the said river. I found the division of General Ramirez y Sesma on the other side of the river. He informed me that, the enemy having retired to the Brazos, he had been able to cross without opposition. Seeing that there was but a single canoe, I ordered the battalion of regulars of Aldama under command of General Adrian Woll to construct flat boats to facilitate the passage of the division that had remained under the command of General Filisola.
General Gaona was supposed to have been on his march toward San Felipe de Austin, according to his reply from Bastrop, a town located on the east bank of the Colorado, thirty leagues west of San Felipe de Austin while General Urrea was be marching toward Brazoria, situated on the west bank of the Brazos, twenty-five leagues south of the above mentioned San Felipe. I, therefore, continued towards the San Bernard with the division of General Sesrna on the 6th, and early on the 7th arrived at San Felipe de Austin. This town, located on the west bank of the Brazos, was no more, for the enemy had set fire to it and forced its inhabitants to flee to the interior as it did at Gonzales. An Anglo-American who was arrested among the ruins, declared that he belonged to a detachment of about 150 men that had been detained to defend the crossing on the opposite side of the river; that the towns were burnt in order to deprive the Mexicans of all supplies as commanded by General Sane Houston, who was now in the woods at Groce's Crossing, fifteen leagues distant to our left; that he had only eight hundred men, and that he intended to retire to the Trinity if the Mexicans crossed the Brazos.
When our forces came in sight of the said detachment, it opened fire from behind a redoubt. I ordered a trench to be made facing the redoubt; and, placing two six pounders behind it, we returned the fire without interruption, suffering no loss on our part I immediately reconnoitered the river for a distance of two leagues to our right and left in order to find a crossing to surprise the enemy during the night, but it was all a useless effort. The river is wide and deep, the water was rising, and there was not a single boat to be found. The great rivers that water that country present insuperable obstacles to an expeditionary army. They are all large and subject to floods in the spring, occasioned by the melting of the snows in the mountains and the sudden showers. The latter cause considerable delay in the movements of an army.
On the 8th, I ordered the construction of two barges (flatboats) the lumber for which had to be brought from distant houses. After the work was started, it was found that it would take from, ten to twelve days to finish, due to the lack of carpenters, and that it would require three or more additional days to place them where they were to be used. This loss of time seemed to me an irretrievable mishap, considering the circumstances of the army and of the republic which made it so important that the campaign be terminated before the rains began, as I shall soon explain to the nation.
General Filisola had not arrived at the Colorado and General Gaona, who should have joined us ere this, had not said when he would be able to do so. The situation of the enemy leader was no longer unknown to me. Intimidated as he was at the sight of our rapid advance over a territory that naturally presents almost insuperable obstacles, and suffering from want and constant desertion, he was compelled to look for his safety only in a retreat such as he was undertaking, all of which proved beyond a doubt that the most advisable policy was to pursue him and make him fight before he could improve his condition.
We were, unable to cross the Brazos at San Felipe. In view of these circumstances, I decided, to reconnoiter the right bank of the river for ten or twelve leagues, taking for granted that this flank was covered by the division of General Urrea, who, as I have stated before, was on his way to Brazoria on the 9th, I left San Felipe for this purpose with five hundred grenadiers and riflemen and fifty mounted men, leaving General Ramirez y Sesma with the rest of his division to be reinforced at any moment by that of General Gaona. Three days later, after painful marches and counter marches during one of which I walked for five leagues, I took possession of Thompson's Crossing in site of the efforts of a small detachment of the enemy that tried to defend it but succeeded only in wounding one grenadier and our bugler. As a result of this unexpected operation I also succeeded in capturing from the enemy a fine flatboat and two canoes. The staff, the officers, and the troops conducted themselves in this engagement with bravery and courage. Fortune was still on our side. General Ramirez y Sesma joined me on the 13th, agreeable to my orders, but General Gaona did not appear.sdct
Through some of the colonists taken, among them a Mexican, I discovered that the heads of the Texas government; Don Lorenzo Zavala, and other leaders of the revolution were at Harrisburg, twelve leagues distant on the right bank of Buffalo Bayou; and that their arrest was certain if our troops marched upon them without loss of time. More important than the news was the rapidity of our march, which, if successful, would completely disconcert the rebellion. Without confiding in anyone, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity. I made the grenadiers and riflemen who had captured the crossing, the battalion of regulars of Matamoros, the dragoons of my escort, a six-pounder well supplied with ammunition, and fifty cases of small ammunition cross the river; and I started with these forces towards Harrisburg the afternoon of the 14th. I left General Ramirez y Sesma with the rest of the troops of his division at Thompson's and gave him sealed orders for General Filisola.
I entered Harrisburg the night of the 15th, lighted by the glare of several houses that were burning, and found only a Frenchman and two North Americans working in a printing shop. They declared that the so-called president, vice-president, and other important personages had left at noon for the island of Galveston in a small steamboat; that the families to whom the houses belonged were making their way to the same place; that the fire had been accidental, they having been unable to put it out; that the families had abandoned their homes by order of Houston, who was at Groce's Crossing with 800 men and two four-pounders.
The arrest of the leaders of the rebellion having been frustrated, and knowing the location of the enemy and its strength, I ordered Colonel Juan N. Almonte with the 50 dragoons of my escort to make a reconnoiter as far as the crossings at Lynchburg and New Washington in order to be better able to decide upon my subsequent operations. From the last mentioned place the said colonel told me among other things that several colonists found in their homes uniformly asserted that General Houston was retreating to the Trinity by way of Lynchburg.
To intercept Houston's march and to destroy with one stroke the armed forces and the hopes of the revolutionists was too important a blow to allow the opportunity to escape. I decided to take the crossing at Lynchburg before his arrival and to avail myself of the advantages afforded by the country. The first question was to reinforce the division that accompanied me, composed of one cannon, 700 infantry and 50 cavalry, in order to make it superior in number to that of the enemy, which it surpassed in discipline. I issued instructions to General Filisola to stop the march of General Cós to Velasco, ordered in my previous instructions, and to send me immediately under the command of the said general 500 chosen infantry which were to join me as soon as possible. This order was taken to him with all speed by my aide-de-camp, Lieut. Col. José María Castillo y Iberri. Colonel Almonte was at the port of New Washington on the shores of Galveston Bay, exposed to the enemy ships that might arrive; and it was necessary to insure the large amount of food supplies that he had succeeded in taking. I, therefore, marched toward that point the afternoon of the 18th. When I arrived, a schooner was in sight, which, because of the lack of wind, could not get out to sea. I tried to capture it in order to make use of it when the time carne against the island of Galveston, but just as the boats and barges that Colonel Almonte had secured were being made ready a steamboat came and set it on fire.
In the early morning of the 19th, I sent Captain Marcos Barragán with some dragoons to the crossing at Lynchburg, three leagues distant from New Washington, to keep a lookout and to give me timely notice of the arrival of Houston. At eight o'clock, the morning of the 20th, Captain Barragán came to me and told me that Houston was approaching Lynchburg. All the members of the division heard of the approach of the enemy with joy; and, in the highest spirits continued the march already started towards that place.
When I arrived, Houston had taken possession of the woods on the banks of Buffalo Bayou, whose waters join the San Jacinto at that point and flow into those of Galveston. His position would force him to fight or take to the water. The enthusiasm of my troops was such that I immediately engaged him in battle; but although our fire was returned, I was unable to draw him from the woods. I wanted to draw him out to a place that suited me better. I retired about one thousand varas and camped on a hill that gave me an advantageous position, with water on the rear, heavy woods to our right as far as the banks of the San Jacinto, open plains to the left, and a clear front. While taking our position, the cannonade was kept up by the enemy and Captain Fernando Urriza was wounded. About one hundred mounted men sallied forth from the woods and daringly threw themselves upon my escort placed on our left. For a moment they succeeded in throwing it into confusion and seriously wounding one of the dragoons. I ordered two companies of riflemen to attack them and these were sufficient to rout them, sending them back to the woods. Some of their infantry had also started out; but, on seeing their cavalry retreating, they turned back to the woods. It must have been about five in the afternoon, and the troops needing both food and rest the remainder of the day was spent attending to these indispensable necessities. A good watch was kept during the night. I occupied myself with the best distribution of our forces and the construction of a parapet that would afford more protection to our caution, placing it in a more advantageous location. This was the disposition of our camp. The woods to our right were defended by three chosen companies; in the center the regular battalion of Matamoros in battle formation took its place; and to the left was our cannon, protected by the cavalry and a column of chosen companies under the command of Lieut. Col. Santiago Luelmo who was to act as our reserve. At nine o'clock on the morning of the 21st, in full view of the enemy, General Cós arrived with four hundred men from the battalions of Aldama, Guerrero, Toluco and Guadalajara. He left one hundred men under the command of Colonel Mariano García to bring up the baggage that was detained at a bad crossing near Harrisburg. These men never joined us. I immediately saw that my order with respect to the five hundred chosen infantry had been disregarded, for the greater part of the reinforcement was made up of recruits that had been distributed among our troops from San Luis Potosí and Saltillo. In view of the circumstances that made me superior to the enemy, this serious disobedience instantly caused me the greatest displeasure, realizing that the reinforcement so anxiously awaited and with which I expected to inflict a decisive blow to the enemy was insufficient.
Nevertheless, I tried to take advantage of the favorable impression which I noticed reflected in the countenance of the troops at the arrival of General Cós. He explained to me, however, that forced to march continuously in order to arrive quickly, the troops under his command had neither slept nor eaten in twenty-four hours; that while awaiting the arrival of their baggage, which should take from two to three hours, the troops should be permitted to rest and prepare for battle. I granted his request and consented to the troops resting and eating.
I placed my escort, reinforced by 32 men mounted on officers' horses, in a strategic position from which it could observe the enemy and give protection to the already mentioned baggage. Hardly had an hour passed since the last disposition when General Cós came to me to ask me in the name of Captain Miguel Aguirre, commandant of the escort, that he be permitted to allow his troops to eat and to water and feed the horses which had not been fed since the day before. The pitiful tone in which this petition was made moved me to grant it, warning him, however, that as soon as the men were through Captain Aguirre should immediately take up his position as ordered. His failure to do so contributed to the surprise that the enemy succeeded in effecting.
Fatigued as a result of having spent the morning on horseback, and not having slept the night before, I lay down under the shade of some trees while the troops ate their rations. I sent for General Manuel Ferniandez Castrillon, who was acting as major general, and I ordered him to keep a close watch and to advise me of the slightest movement of the enemy. I also asked him to wake me up as soon as the troops had eaten, for it was necessary to take decisive action as soon as possible.
As fatigue and long vigils provoke heavy slumber, I was sleeping deeply when the din and fire of battle awoke me. I immediately became aware that we were being attacked and that great disorder prevailed. The enemy had surprised our advance guard, a party attacked the three chosen companies that guarded the woods to our right and took possession of them, increasing the confusion with their unfailing rifles. The rest of the infantry of the enemy was making a front attack, protected by their two cannon, while their cavalry charged our left.sdct
Although the evil was done, I thought for a moment that it might be repaired. I ordered the permanent battalion of Aldama to reinforce that of Matamoros which was sustaining the line of battle; and hurriedly organized an attack column under orders of Colonel Manuel Céspedes, composed of the permanent battalion of Guerrero and detachments from Toluca and Guadalajara, which simultaneously with the column of Colonel Luelmo, marched forward to check the principal advance of the enemy. My efforts were all in vain. The front line was abandoned by the two battalions that were holding it, notwithstanding the continuous fire of our artillery, commanded by the brave Lieutenant Arenal. The two newly organized columns were dispersed, Colonel Céspedes being wounded and Captain Luelmo killed. General Castrillón, who ran from side to side to restore order among our ranks, fell mortally wounded. The recruits bunched themselves and confused the tried soldiers, and neither the first nor the second made any use of their weapons. In the meantime the enemy, taking advantage of the opportunity, carried their charge forward rapidly, and shouting madly, secured a victory in a few minutes which they did not dream was possible.
All hope lost, with everyone escaping as best he could, my despair was as great as the danger I was in. A servant of my aide-de-camp, Juan Bringas, with noble kindness offered me the horse of his master, and earnestly pleaded that I save myself. I looked about for my escort and was told by two dragoons who were hurriedly saddling their horses that their companions and officers had fled. I remembered that General Filisola was at Thompson's Crossing, sixteen leagues distant, and, without hesitation, I tried to make my way to that place through the enemy's ranks. They pursued me and overtook me a league and a half from the battlefield at a: large creek where the bridge had been burnt, I turned my horse, loose and with difficulty took refuge in a grove of small trees. The coming of night permitted me to evade their vigilance. The hope of rejoining the army and of vindicating its honor gave me strength to cross the creek with the water above my waist, and I continued on my route afoot. In an abandoned house I found some clothes which I exchanged for my wet ones. At eleven o'clock of the 22nd I was overtaken again by my pursuers just as I was crossing a plain, and thus I fell into their hands. Not recognising me because of my clothes, they asked me if I had seen General Santa Anna. I replied that he was ahead of me and this happy thought saved me from being assassinated on the spot as I found out later. [In his Diary Santa Anna says he was captured the day of the battle. His memory doubtless failed him, for Houston in his report to Burnet, dated April 25th stated Santa Anna was taken prisoner on the 22nd. The bridge referred to the famous Vincent bridge burnt by Deaf Smith--C.C.]
Your Excellency will see at once, from what I have stated, the principal causes of an event that has, with justice, astonished the nation, and for which I alone have been held responsible. I have been thought dead, and consequently unable to present the facts as they were. But since, fortunately, I find myself alive and enjoying freedom, I am obliged to present the facts so that the causes may stand out clearly as the light of day, in order that justice may return its verdict. I esteem too much a reputation won by dint of long and costly sacrifices to permit it to be soiled with impunity, especially by those who should be the last to impugn it. Limiting myself to those faults committed by some of my subordinates that were, directly or indirectly, the cause of the lamentable catastrophe I am discussing, I will ask Your Excellency to keep in mind that General Filisola sent me reinforcement made up of recruits when he could have sent me seasoned soldiers. He had with him the battalion of sappers, made up of veteran troops in its entirety, but he did not send me a single man out of it. Being able to have selected the best men from the regular battalions of Guerrero, Aldama. Activos de México, Toluca, and Guadalajara, he failed to do so. Thus, he disregarded the very spirit of my instructions, for, if I distinctly ordered him to send me 500 picked men, it was because I wanted no recruits to be sent, aware as I was that there were many among our troops. Had not this been clearly my purpose I would have used some other phrase.
The sending of Captain Miguel Bachiller with special mail that had arrived from that capital, dispatched to me by the supreme government, and which was intercepted, was, no less a cause. As a result, the enemy acquired positive information regarding our forces at a time when it was retreating, wondering what it could do, astonished by our operations and triumphs. [This statement is confirmed by Houston's report to Burnet, made on the 25th of April] Thus it became aware that I was at New Washington, it learned the number that made up the division that was operating in that region and the situation of the rest of our forces, all of which cleared the confusion in which it found itself as a result of our continuous offensive and the appearance of our victorious columns at the points least expected. From the dispatches, it Iearned everything that it desired; and, coming out from the uncertainty that was making it retreat to the Trinity, it gained new courage. This could not have happened without knowing that my force was inferior to theirs. The arrival of the reinforcement under General Cós was regarded by the enemy as a ruse, believing it a party sent out during the night before, to return in the morning in full view. This was told to me by the enemy afterwards. Such was the terror that prevailed throughout Texas as a result of the operations of the army under my command that in order to dissipate it; General Thomas J. Rusk, acting secretary of war of the government of Texas, told me that he had had to go to the camp where, his forces were and assure them that General Santa Anna had returned to México as a result of an internal revolution in the republic; that he did this to stop the desertion of many of the volunteers that had come from the United States whom he was unable to hold. It is to be particularly remembered that General Filisola had no instructions to send me any correspondence. If he had wanted to insure its safe conduct, he could have sent it to me later with General Cós. I do not see how the fatal results that would follow the falling of such important correspondence into the hands of the enemy can have escaped him.
General Gaona, who did not join me as he should---the cause of whose delay I have not yet learned---prevented me from setting out from Thompson's Crossing with twice the force I had. I took only 700 infantry in order to leave General Ramirez y Sesma the necessary force for the protection of that point. In view of this fact, I asked for the above mentioned reinforcement in order to make my forces superior to the enemy.
General Cós reduced his 500 men by leaving 100 near Harrisburg as an escort for the baggage he was conducting. I can see no reason for his bringing this baggage when I had asked General Filisola to send me only fifty cases of ammunition. General Cós brought only part of these munitions, but he brought all the baggage belonging to the troops that had remained at Thompson's, this in spite of the fact that a called reinforcement is supposed to march as lightly equipped as possible in order not to be unduly burdened for it is known that excessive baggage slows up the march. The reinforcement was thus reduced by one-fifth, and 100 men were left seriously exposed, saving themselves by mere chance.
Lastly, the conduct of General Castrillon and of the other officers to whom the vigilance of our camp, in full view of the enemy, was entrusted, contributed considerably to the already mentioned misfortune. I regret to have to discuss an individual who is dead, one whom I always regarded with esteem. Likewise, I regret to have to speak of others who are still living, but duty obliges me to relate the facts such as they were. I have positive evidence to prove that all the time I was sleeping the said general occupied himself with making his toilet and changing his clothes; and that when the enemy attacked and surprised our advanced guards, he was whiling away his time in a party with other officers of my staff. He did not inspect our outposts a single time, and his example was followed by the other officers. Thus, part of the troops were sleeping, while those who were awake, not being vigilant, permitted the enemy to carry out a surprise that could not have been more complete had it taken place in the middle of the night. As a result, it was easy for the enemy to take possession of the woods on our right with only 116 men, in spite of being defended by three chosen companies. Though they outnumbered the enemy, they offered no resistance. This was the source of the encouragement that enabled the enemy to continue the charge, as well as the cause of the confusion in our camp, increased by the panic that possessed the recruits, who, unable to use their arms, permitted the enemy to assassinate them in cold blood. It is true that General Castrillon conducted himself with extraordinary bravery, as I have stated, during the last moments of the engagement, but his efforts then were useless; and, before he breathed his last, his remorse must have been great if he paused to think how he neglected his duty at a time when he should have attended to it.
My duties as general-in-chief did not forbid my resting, for no general is forbidden this necessity, nor can it be expected that he should not succumb to natural needs, particularly under the conditions and at the time of day that I did. I confided, as I had a right to do, in that my orders would be observed. A general-in-chief cannot discharge the duties of a subaltern officer, or those of a soldier. Each class has its reserve duties and attributes assigned. If the failings of inferiors cannot be taken as an excuse by their superiors in general, there are exceptions sash as the case in hand, especially if the circumstances explained are taken into consideration.
They have, perhaps, tried to accuse me of being incautious because I did not march with all my troops in a body, but chose to advance with only a small division as I did. In the first place, it is necessary to keep in mind, in order to destroy this objection, that I left Thompson's Crossing to execute an important operation whose purpose was to surprise and capture, with a single blow, the directors of the revolution who were but a short distance away. As soon as I discovered that the enemy was retreating by way of Lynchburg, I asked for reinforcements in order to make my force superior to theirs. Lastly, there was no advantage to be gained by the army marching along a single route, and in a body; because, after having driven the enemy from all points, there was no enemy force to fight except that found at the point and place indicated. Since the direction followed by the enemy showed dearly that it intended to retreat beyond the Trinity, it was necessary, in order that no one be left to fire a single shot from the Rio Bravo to the Sabine, to cut off its retreat and to force it to fight rather than to attack the rear guard. The march of the whole army would have been adverse to this important plan that would put an end to the question with a single blow. The slowness with which the army would have had to move as a result of its baggage, trains, etc., would have permitted the enemy to get so far, ahead of us that we could not have overtaken it, considering the obstacles presented by the country and its large rivers.sdct
The force under my command was superior to quality to that of the enemy; it was well supplied with food and munitions, and it held, an advantageous position; that of the enemy was in fear in number; it was cut off by Buffalo Bayou and the San Jacinto, and occupied a disadvantageous position. The enemy was without food. An attempt to draw it into battle had been made on the previous day, before the arrival of our reinforcement, but the challenge had been refused. Who, under such conditions would have wanted to mobilize a whole army, losing precious moments in the meantime? Who could have doubted victory? I appeal to the impartial judgment of the intelligent classes, feeling confident that, far from siding with envy and malice in imputing carelessness, precipitation and lack of foresight on my part, they will admit that judgment, foresight, and discretion were exercised in considering the circumstances and that if these did not result in victory as it was expected, it was through no lack of plan, nor failure of coordination in the operations, nor the dispositions of the general-in-chief.
Having demonstrated, as I have done, that the catastrophe of San Jacinto was caused purely by the faults arid carelessness of some of my subordinates and the disregard of orders by others, there remains nothing for me but to deplore my participation in the engagement. My regrets are mitigated, however, when I remember that I did everything that was in my power, exceeding the duties of a general-in-chief, to serve my country well. I find no other excess in my conduct than my zeal for the interests of the country, placing them above my own and subordinating everything else to the desire to defend them well and to cover with glory the arms intrusted to me.
Fortune turned its back upon me at the very moment when my efforts were to be crowned with success, preventing me from having the satisfaction of presenting a new laurel to the nation; and leaving my desire unknown.
Having presented these facts, I will continue the narrative of the incidents experienced during my imprisonment. These have not escaped either malignant interpretation nor the most bitter recriminations; without consideration for the sad plight of our country and without my being heard.
Taken before Houston on the 22nd of April, the day I was captured, I was received with marks of consideration when I disclosed my identity. Someone proposed a salvo to celebrate my imprisonment, but Houston rejected the idea and showed displeasure. We began a conversation at once with the help of the son of Don Lorenzo Zavala as interpreter. He was acting as aide to that chief. He proposed to me that I issue orders for the surrender of the troops immediately under my command but refused emphatically to accede. After speaking to me of his resources to make Texas independent and of the difficulties of the Mexicans to preserve such a vast extent of territory, he expressed his willingness to reach a suitable agreement. He stated that in order to save my life and that of the other prisoners, as he wished, it was indispensable to avoid an engagement between my troops and his. This statement, in the difficult situation in which I found myself; was as a ray of light to a lost traveler in a tempestuous night by which he finds the way. I feared that my misfortune would discourage the army, and I took advantage of the opportunity afforded me by Houston's reasoning to try to avoid its ill effects by making my existence known to the troops. By reviving their courage, an attempt to vindicate the honor of our arms could yet be made successfully. Such was the occasion for my first orders to General Filisola who replied to me in an official note brought by General Woll. He was admitted as a commissioner on the 30th and should have first addressed himself to Houston demanding from him a formal guarantee, which he might have secured, had he not agreed at once to observe my orders as he did, without trying to make a demand or adopt some measure favorable to us. Such an attempt might have been crowned with success, considering the critical situation of the enemy, the proximity of our forces, and their superior number. Our lives would have been guaranteed then, and our sufferings as well as those of other prisoners, who would not now be as they are abandoned to their fate, would have been helped. All of this could have been secured with ease, for on the 23rd, Major General Wharton proposed to Houston that he be commissioned to go to the camp of General Filisola in order to draw up an armistice. Although Houston gave his consent, the proposal was not put into effect because other officers--the more radical---were opposed to this measure. Nevertheless, it proves the willingness of the enemy to negotiate, born of a feeling of weakness from which great advantages could have been derived. Great was my grief, when, upon the arrival of General Woll, I learned that everything had been confusion after the first news of my misfortune---a common occurrence in war---and that instead of attacking the enemy, a retreat had been decided upon with the intention of continuing as far as Matamoros.
Nevertheless, as the above mentioned reply of Senor Filisola simulated dignity, and General Urrea gave expression to the high spirits of .the army in a letter that he addressed to me, Houston was unable to discern the true intentions of General FilisoIa. [A discrepancy between the date of Filisola's letter and that of Urrea's letter, the first being dated on April 28, while the latter bears date of the 27th] He feared the respectable force that could easily destroy him, and he redoubled his flattering proposals. I pretended confidence and signed the order for the proposed retirement of our forces. With this I saved the honor of the army---and appeased the arbiters of the fate of more than 500 Mexicans---I one among them---who had been abandoned and who were about to be left in a trying position, for I had no illusions as to the policy that would be pursued.
General Woll conducted himself with the greatest dignity and is, therefore, entitled to all praise. Having been instructed by me as to what he should say to General Filisola in order that he might act as his duty dictated without embarrassment on account of my previous communications, General Woll asked for permission to return to his camp. He carried a piece of paper signed by me in which I stated that due credit should be given to whatever he said. He was detained, however, on pretext that he should take back with him the proposed agreement for the termination of the war and the guarantee of my liberty, but in reality because they feared he would disclose the strength of the conquerors.
The attentions shown me by General Houston at the time, his phrases, and the sincerity that I thought inspired him exercised such an influence on my spirit that I gave credence to his promises. The so-called president of Texas, his cabinet, and Don Lorenzo Zavala, the vice-president, arrived at this time, and, in several meetings, expressed similar ideas. They took me in a steamboat to the port of Velasco to finish the armistice proposed by Houston, as they said, making me accompany them for that purpose. They permitted Colonels Juan N. Almonte and Gabriel Nuñez, as well as Don Ramon Caro, my clerk, to accompany me.
General Houston was getting ready to leave for New Orleans where he was going to have a wound that he received in the battle treated. In his farewell he assured me that the cabinet of Texas would settle everything as he had agreed. The already mentioned secretary of war, Thomas J. Rusk, took over the command of the army; and, with 800 men and three pieces of artillery---the entire available force of Texas at that tune---took the field. He visited me first, however, and repeated the promises of his predecessor, leaving me several articles written iii his own hand as proof of his good faith. All this took place before I was placed on the steamboat.sdct
There were several serious conferences at Velasco regarding the articles of the said Rusk, but it was not until May 14th, that I was able to reduce their unreasonable pretensions to those expressed in the agreement signed on that day. For political reason, or rather in order to keep the clause relative to my release from the soldiery and the populace, the treaty was divided into two parts: one public and one secret. In the first was stated that I would be set at liberty whenever it was deemed convenient. A careful analysis of the said treaties plainly show that they reduce themselves to a suspension of hostilities favorable to the army, the setting at liberty of the prisoners and myself, and lastly in order to obtain the terms stated to flatter the enemy with the hope that I would use my influence to secure a hearing for its commissioners. I thought, perhaps wrongly, that my freedom would be favorable to the army, to the nation, and to its cause. My promise to use my influence to secure a hearing for their commissioners would not contribute in any manner to the favorable or unfavorable outcome of their pretensions. When I accepted the terms of the agreement, I had taken into consideration that if my fears of a precipitous retreat by our army, as the result of the failure to restore its courage, were confirmed as indicated by the information I had of the abandonment of even the sick, the enemy would be prevented by the very terms of the agreements from pursuing it and making the catastrophe greater. General Woll, losing all hope of carrying the said agreements, left San Jacinto with the new general, Mr. Rusk, expecting to reach his own camp. A few days later he was brought to Velasco under a guard by order of Rusk. I was very much surprised to see him; and upon hearing of the outrages to his person and an officer who accompanied him---having gone as far as to declare both of them prisoners of war---I officially protested to the president of Texas, as shown by my letter. Agreeable to the note also cited, a passport was issued to General Woll for his safe conduct. His extreme delay in leaving, though it aroused suspicion, did not cause, the general-in-chief to investigate his conduct or to try to take possession of his person.
Consequently, on the 1st of June, with all tranquillity and in full view of the town of Velasco, I embarked on the Invincible, which was to take me to Veracruz, having first taken care to address a farewell to the people, whose publication produced the desired effect.
Two days after I had gone on board, the captain of the ship, J. Brown, notified me that he had orders to take me back ashore. I immediately protested in writing but he replied verbally by saying that he was disposed to use force for the execution of his orders. This action was occasioned by the arrival of 130 volunteers from New Orleans on that day, the 4th, under the command of the so-called General Green, who with threats and violence demanded that I be delivered into their hands.
I immediately wrote to Mr. Burnet an official communication which I concluded by saying that I was determined not to leave the ship alive. Several persons came on board with his reply, who assured me that my confinement would last only a few days, and that my person would be respected.
I was taken ashore and shown as a spectacle to those who had demanded my disembarkation, after which I was turned over to the military and thrown into prison. Captain William Patton, who had come from Victoria especially for the purpose, took charge of me and conducted me to a small house in the outskirts of Columbia, where I was kept for a month and a half.
Irritated by such treatment, I protested against the failure of the Texans to observe the terms of the agreements. Consequently, and without taking into account the duress that determined all my acts after my imprisonment, the agreements were nullified by their conduct and I was left at the mercy of fate.
The exaltation that caused my being brought ashore continued to increase to such an extent that every private felt himself called to assassinate me. On the 27th of June a pistol was fired at me through a window near my bed and almost caused the death of Colonels Almonte and Nuñez. Finally, on the 30th of June; orders were issued for our removal from Columbia to Goliad where we were to be executed in the place that Fannin and his men had been shot. A prominent colonist, Stephen F. Austin, whom I had befriended in México, moved by my unfortunate condition, wanting to return the favor, told me that if I would write a letter to General Jackson flattering the hopes of the Texans, even if I used only courteous phrases, the very name of that official, from whom the Texans expected so much and whom they heard with the greatest respect, would restrain popular fury and facilitate my salvation. I did not believe the loss of my life was indispensable to the welfare of my country. The army, who even the enemy agreed should try to save me, did nothing for me, and I lost all hope of being saved. I signed the letter couched in the terms that Austin himself suggested and the reply to it is known. Public sentiment being appeased by the reports circulated about my favorable disposition towards the Texans, Houston was able to follow his kind plan with regard to my person. He arranged for me to go by way of Washington, accompanied by three Texan officers, in order to keep the hotheaded from becoming suspicious and reenacting the scenes of June 4th. Although the journey, in the middle of the winter, was very painful to me, I had to be satisfied as there was no other way out of the danger.
I had been taken to Orazimba before, where, as the result of the denunciation of a plan to escape from prison by my clerk, Don Ramon Caro---as I was afterwards informed---a heavy ball and chain was placed on me the 17th of August, and on Colonel Almonte on the 18th. We wore them for fifty-two days.
It is easily seen that the reply of General Jackson, when compared with my letter, is founded on a misinterpretation. I only asked him to use his influence with the Texans to secure the fulfillment, on their part, of the promise to set me free, in view of the fact that I had complied with my part of the agreements and was willing to observe the clause that still remained pending if called upon to do so. But his negative reply, put a definite end to this matter; and my freedom was not due, either to his reply nor to the agreements of May, 14th, but rather to the spontaneous free will of the said Houston. If, in view of the news about my country, Houston thought that my presence there might be the cause of a new revolution favorable to the Texans; he neither told me so, nor did he express any other motive for his actions than a generous impulse for which I am grateful, and nothing more.sdct
There were three powerful reasons for my journey to Washington, two of which were, as a matter of fact, essential, while the third was one of public convenience. It was necessary not to alarm the Texans but rather to try to confirm the opinion of my willingness to favor their plans. It was neither safe nor prudent to go to New Orleans where I would expose myself to being subjected to new insults, since that port has been the center of activity for the rebellious colonists. I could not return directly to Veracruz because there was no communication between that port and the rest of Texas. Lastly, it was very expedient that I could approach the cabinet at Washington to observe at close range its real attitude towards Texas and towards us.
The six days of my stay there were used for this purpose. General Jackson expressed to me his desire of continuing the friendly relations that bind the two nations; and very kindly furnished me transportation in a war vessel. We spoke very little, and that by mere accident, about the correspondence sustained while I was a prisoner. He told me that he had given copies of both of his letter and mine to Senor Manuel E. Gorostiza. I arrived at the port of Veracruz in the above mentioned war vessel, communicating this fact to Your Excellency at the time.
The haste with which I have had to prepare this report, the difficulties entailed by the disorder of my papers as a result of my journey and attendant circumstances, and the poor state of my health may have resulted in some errors, which I shall correct if pointed out. I must state to Your Excellency that I do not attach the documents covering our movements from the time I left Thompson's to the 21st because all my belongings fell into the hands of the enemy and were lost.
In closing this long narrative I cannot but, in all justice, commend to the graces of the supreme government the very worthy Colonel D. Juan Nepomuceno Almonte for the good behavior observed throughout the campaign, and the propriety with which he conducted himself while a prisoner. Furthermore, he was a most faithful companion during my bitter days and served me as an interpreter whenever I needed him.
Personally, I have endured privations, sufferings, insults, and calumny. Posterity and my country, whom I have served as the duties of a citizen demand, will doubtless render me justice. I expect no less of the supreme government.
Your Excellency will be pleased to make known to the most Excellent Senor Presidente ad interim what I have transmitted to you for his information. I reiterate the assurances of my consideration and esteem.
GOD AND LIBERTY Mango de Clavo, March 11, 1837.
[This document is followed by twenty-five letters designated numerically in the first edition of the Manifesto, but alphabetically in the Genaro García reprint. Since most of these letters are unimportant, adding little information; and since many of them are available in English they have been omitted in the present translation. They are: (A) Santa Anna to the Minister of War, Béxar, March 28, 1836; (B) Santa Anna to Ramirez y Sesma, Béxar, March 8; (C) Santa Anna to Sesma, Béxar, March 23; (D) Sesma to Santa Anna, Rio Colorado, March 25; (E) Santa Anna to Sema, Béxar, March 29; (F) Houston to Burnet April 5; (G) Santa Anna to Filisola, San Jacinto, April 22; (H) Santa Anna to Filisola, San Jacinto, April 22; (I) Santa Anna to Filisola, same date; (J) Filisola to Santa Anna, San Bernardo, April 27; (K) Santa Anna to Filisola, San Jacinto, April 30; (L) Treaty of Velasco, May 14 (M) Public Treaty, same date; (N) Private Treaty, same date; (O) Letters to Seguin and Ampudia published in the Telegraphh, Sept 21, 1836; (P) Santa Anna to Burnet, Velasco, May 17; (Q) Burnet to Santa Anna, Velasco, May 10; (R) Farewell of Santa Anna, Velasco, June 1st; (S) Santa Anna to Captain of the Invincible, June 4; (T) Santa Anna to Burnet, Velasco June 4; (U) Burnet to Santa Anna, same date; (V) Santa Anna to Burnet. Velasco, June 9; (W) Santa Anna to Jackson, Columbia, July 4; (X) Santa Anna to Minister of War and Marine, Manga de Clavo,.March 11, 1837; (Y) a translation of Jackson's reply---C.C.] sdct
SONS OF DEWITT