The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959

Sama AlHa ir rexas: A 4eical
Viewpoint
JAMES PRESLEY
ANTONIO L6PEZ DE SANTA ANNA, dictator of Mexico and com-
mander in chief of the 1836 expedition to Texas, has
been frequently painted as a bombastic blackguard. Even
sympathetically inclined historians judge him an opportunist par
excellence, and his apologists are rare, even in Mexico.' Scholars
and polemicists have already sufficiently examined the character
and personality of the redoubtable Santa Anna. They have also
studied the two memorable battles of the Texas Revolution, at
the Alamo and at San Jacinto. This article will be devoted to
neither of those aspects of the 1836 campaign, therefore, and it
will pay less attention to the commander in chief himself than to
his soldiers. It will attempt to make clear what difficulties and
problems assailed the invading Mexican army and how this group
made its way from northern Mexico to its point of greatest ad-
vance and disaster at San Jacinto. Finally, it will seek to determine
whether these factors had any effect on the outcome of the Texan
rebellion.
In order to provide the setting for Santa Anna's Texas cam-
paign, the situation in Mexico in 1835 must be briefly reviewed.
Although Santa Anna won election as president in 1833, he spent
little of the subsequent time in office. As Santa Anna retired to
Mango de Clavo, his hacienda near Vera Cruz, Valentin G6mez
'Wilfrid Hardy Callcott, Santa Anna: The Story of an Enigma Who Once Was
Mexico (Norman, 1936), tends to present Santa Anna's early years as those of a
sincere federalist, giving the caudillo the benefit of a doubt which is difficult to
prove. Callcott, however, does not hesitate to trace the opportunistic streak which
soon manifests itself. Probably the most fervently pro-Santa Anna account is Juan
Gualberto Amaya, Santa Anna No Fud un Traidor: "Federalismo" y "Centralismo,"
Depuraciones y Refutaciones Histdricas, x83j a 1855 (Mexico, 1952). Amaya, not
objective by any means, quotes generously from Santa Anna's Memorias and com-
pares the Mexican to Napoleon I. This is unusual, of course. A good recent Mexi-
can biography of the dictator is Jos6 Fuentes Mares, Santa Anna, Aurora y Ocaso
de un Comediante (Mexico, 1956).

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101173/. Accessed July 31, 2014.