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The Battle of San Jacinto, fought on April 21, 1836, was the last battle in the struggle of the Texan Republic to become independent of Mexico. The battle lasted just 20 minutes, and led to the total rout of the Mexican Army and a complete Mexican retreat from the area now known as Texas.
The Texas forces had been retreating since March, following their defeat at the Alamo. News of a Mexican massacre of Texas at Golida further demoralized the troops, and many soldiers subsequently left the army and returned to help their families flee from an advancing Mexican army.
Gen. Sam Houston, the commander of the Texan forces, came to understand the real possibility that the Mexican forces could be victorious. As such, he made vigorous efforts to recruit and train new soldiers and implement a counterattack plan against Santa Anna and his troops. However, Gen. Houston’s army continued to be pursued by the Mexican armies, and on April 20, following several skirmishes, Houston and his commanders decided to make a last stand instead of bowing to a certain defeat.
On the day of the last stand battle, Houston ordered that the Vince’s bridge be destructed, to help prevent additional Mexican troops from advancing. Around three o’clock that afternoon, the Texan forces were deployed behind a shelter of trees to ready themselves for the upcoming fight. Gen. Houston then ordered the troops to shower the unsuspecting Mexican forces with artillery, and then proceeded to make his advance.
The Mexican forces had been caught off guard, while the Texan armies advanced on in the battle. The demoralized and decimated Mexican troops outnumbered the Texas forces two-to-one. As they advanced, the Texan forces held their fire until they were within close range. By the end of the battle, more than 630 Mexican troop members had been killed, 210 wounded, and 103 taken prisoner, including Santa Anna himself. By contrast, the Texan forces lost only eight soldiers in the battle, and some 20 were wounded.
Within one month, on May 14, 1836, U.S. President Andrew Jackson and Mexican President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna signed a peace agreement. This treaty accepted the independence of Texas, and removed all Mexican forces from the Republic of Texas. However, as the treaties were never ratified by either of the two governments, a state of war, even if only on paper, existed between Mexico and the Republic of Texas for most the Republic’s existence. For Mexico, the battle signified the end of its control over Texas, a piece of land to which they never would return.
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