Monday, 21 April 2014

True Meanings - San Jacinto



    The term "true meaning" of one thing or another.....the Feasts of the Nativity, Resurrection, All Souls and All Saints for instance....has been a sport of intellectuals, analysts, and commentators for hundreds, even thousands of years.   As a compulsive commentator, this means that the OROG knows that El Gringo Viejo is going to be commenting on some matter he considers to be important very soon.

     And, that very soon has arrived.  This time it is concerning the not-so-famous, and generally over-simplified matter of the Battle of San Jacinto, 21 April 1836.

     Texans have been all over the map on this matter.   In and around Austin and a few other precincts of the Republic of Texas, the Battle of San Jacinto represents the best image of the worst people in the world....the Americans, Anglo-Saxons, Southerners, men, and individuals who consider themselves to be sovereign entities.   That is the common opinion held by the University of Texas elites, certain women's and leftist political groups, and their satraps, the ethnic and racial agitators, and various sorts of anarchists.

     But, surrounding the Island of the Bunny's Burrow, is a wondrous circle of Briarpatches ....San Marcos, New Braunfels, Round Rock, Georgetown, Plugerville, in short communities tiny, small, and somewhat larger that are filled with reason.   They range from Stepford-type places, where a person finds Stepford wives, husbands, pets, children, home and lawn, schools, private arts and study classes, the best AAA minor league baseball and dirty-fingernailed, blue-collar types of people and communities where a person has to prove he/she has dirty fingernails and/or calloused hands in order to register to vote or buy a lottery ticket.   Their unifying factor?    Traditionalist, private sector, conservative reliance and practice.

     Most of the rest of Texas, even in the South Texas area, there is, and always has been a mediocre to a fine understanding of the meaning of the victory by the Texian Forces over the Centralist Forces of the government of Antonio de Padua Maria Severino Lopez de Santa Anna y Perez de Lebron, (aka - Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna or more simply Santa Anna).   It is easy to make an ethnic or racial issue of this matter, but in fact it was none of that.   Even the ones who fought the fight thinking that ethnic and racial matters were important to the issue.....were wrong.   It was a much, much bigger issue.

    With reference to the above, we re-iterate what has been written by El Gringo Viejo before that the Anglo-Irish settlers in the San Patricio Colony, near present day Corpus Christi, sided with the Mexican Centralists and their military during the issue.   While this occurred, another body of Texians north of that point....the Mexican/Spanish rancheros, business people, cattlemen, and farmers sided overwhelmingly with the Texian full-statehood cause, and then with the move to Independence from the control by Mexico City and its bi-polar political posturing.

     So, to the point of this analysis and commentary.  The very large and pursuing segment of the Mexican Centralist forces a total of 15,000 in five armies headed by 14 generals and colonels....commanded by the Presidente Generalissimo himself....had hounded a rag-tag "army" that never numbered more than 1,000 effectives.   On the day of the engagement....this had at most 920 ready combatants, with no more than 50 rough and ready cavalry.   They would assault a very battle-hardened, fairly well to very well trained, accustomed-to-victory army of at least 1,900 soldiers.
    One side had two cannons, known as the Twin Sisters, while the other side had managed to lug 9 cannons literally across almost the entirety of Texas.
There were 8 nearby and the big 12-pounder on-site in the middle of camp.  Another 30 cannons were within a day's arrival distance, along with another 5,000 mediocre to crack, excellent assault forces including the much feared cavalry with their lancers.
     It was Sunday.   Each side knew of the other's exact position and strength.  There was no chance for deception save for one thing.   That would be the choice of one side or the other concerning ....."When?".     Houston settled that issue during the early morning hours of the 21st Instant.  As the orders went out a few hours later that the men muster and prepare for their deployment and orders to advance....fear, joy, excitement, commitment, final bonding between battle-mates, quieting of mounts who sensed something was up, and then....the predictable orders up and down the line...."No firing until the order is firing until the order is given!!!!"  And then, quietly at first, and walking; then, a trotting but still silent advance;  and then the bolting of the small cavalry group in the advance and to the right of the line of infantry....sweeping forward at breakneck towards the enemy still sleeping in the face of the enemy during those dawning moments.....and then the entrance into the most formidable military encampment on the North American Continent....carnage of the worst sort...the devastation of the entire Presidential Divisional Forces....hundreds dead and wounded, many drowning in the San Jacinto River and its surrounding swamps.  Official numbers seem to back up these:   Mexican forces had 630 killed, 208 wounded, and 730 P.O.W.  while the Texians had 9 killed and 30 wounded.

     It was a horrible disaster for the hopes of a Mexican totalitarian's empire stretching from the Arctic Circle to the doorstep of South America.   And, it was a exhilarating moment for the men who had won against all odds and established in Texas some hope for common law, natural law, and the sovereignty of the individual.

    The capture of the man who at once was the head of the government, the army, and the entire Mexican political reality at that time had learned his military craft as a young Royalist officer in the Spanish Army.  He was a white Criollo (Spaniard born in the New World), and learned to relish his time and activity in the Army.   He served in various venues, including during a sweep of Texas many years before where opponents of the Crown were  picked up and executed even after surrender....and their heads removed and displayed for days in prominent viewing areas so as to chill the fervour of those disposed to revolt.  It was his experience and he had enjoyed it.
    Late in the Wars for Mexican Independence he changed sides (one of his more predictable characteristics) and brought his considerable abilities to the service of the Mexicans in their efforts to secure Independence.  He held various military and political positions, always at or near the edges of power until, around 1830, he began to have irresistible control and effect upon the exercise of political power.  It was his abrogation of the Mexican Constitution of 1824, liberal reform document providing for an American style tri-partite government with the citizens having certain inalienable rights, that put Zacatecas, Durango, Coahuila y Texas, the Yucatan Peninsula, Guanajuato, San Luis Potosi, Chihuahua and certain other regions into full rebellion against Santa Anna as a person and as a political force.

Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.jpg
This depiction is near the age of  Lopez
 de  Santa Anna around the time of his
invasion of Texas
     To show how important and improbable this victory by the Texians was. it should be noted that with all it inefficiencies and breakdowns, the forces of Lopez de Santa Anna during the period from 1835 through 1836 had 28 major engagements that could be called battles or at least very significant battalion level engagements.  Lopez de Santa Anna's forces lost only two.   The first one and....the last one.    The decision of General Urrea to acquiesce to the demand that Mexican forces withdraw to the south of the Rio Bravo (Grande) before any consideration of dealing with the captured Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was also a source of wonderment to historians and contemporaries to the issue.   There were enough forces to overwhelm the Texians in a second, but some think that Urrea's hatred for Lopez de Santa Anna and his war crimes, arrogance, artibitrary nature, and generally corrupt manner caused him to take advantage of this chance to humiliate the despised generalissimo.

     Urrea would die a few years later during a duel in Mexico City, but Lopez de Santa Anna would live on to torment the Americans and the Mexicans before dying, broke and friendless in June of 1876 at the age of 80.

     But Texas as a continually evolving, conservative, imperfect, common-law, and natural-law political entity lives on.   It is the central beaming, casting light of that lighthouse of the side of the mountain...that most brilliant light within the that shining city that people from around the world wish their side of the mountain could be.   Texas remains a concept that is bigger than reality, bigger than itself, bigger than Hollywood, bigger than any imitator, and a force entirely capable of returning to freestanding status.
     Recent serious surveys had found that a plurality (about 38% of Texans now seriously believe that Texas should seek a path apart.   Among Latins in Texas 25% favour separation and the re-establishment of the Republic of Texas....that number being roughly equal to the number of Latins who are active and/or self-identifying Republicans.
      That we could have come from San Jacinto against all odds, been annexed, seceded, "Reconstructed", re-admitted, and then arrived back to the point where we began....rejecting an arbitrary, arrogant, corrupt and far-removed central government, is a matter of interest to observers of contemporary as well as historical Texian issues. 

     So, true meanings?   Until Gabriel plays that last tune, the true meaning of the Battle of San Jacinto is not known.  We should hope, however, that it does not mean that Texas is resigned to be a dull piece of gravel in an recovered aluminium-metal crown that marks the monarchy of fools such as we have in the White House and executive department of to-day's central government.

Thank you all, as always for your time and interest.  We shall try to be "back in the saddle". 
El Gringo Viejo