Heritage, Volume 3, Number 4, Spring 1986 Page: 17
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April. Two days before, north of the present
day Houston, the Texas Army had received reliable
information that Santa Anna was separated
from the main body of his army and was
proceeding to Morgan's Point. The Texas
Army was not cautiously proceeding to intercept
Santa Anna and his smaller force of men.
At this point Houston had abandoned his policy
of retreat and was assuming a more agressive
posture in the pursuit of the Mexican
Army. This policy of increased aggression by
Houston would be met with obvious approval
by the remaining population of Texas since his
heretofore plan of retrograde had opened up a
major portion of the country to destruction by
the invading Mexicans, but now retaliation
and revenge were becoming a possible alternative
to further retreat.
It is important to realize that when these armies
crossed Vince's Bridge, neither of them
were totally familiar with the country they
were in, and Vince's Bridge was an integral
part of their logistical maneuvering. Having
crossed it once it was certain that if events
conspired to send them back to Harrisburg,
they were most certainly going to retrace their
muddy trail across Vince's Bridge. That was
certainly going to prove to be the case with
what was to remain of the Mexican Army, at
least for one of its more important members.
On April 20th the equivocating Sam Houston
called a halt among the trees along Buffalo
Bayou at its confluence with the San Jacinto
River, not far west of Lynch's Ferry. He was
helped in his decision to halt by contact with
an advanced cavalry unit of the Mexican
Army. The 20th was a day of indecision for
Houston. For unknown reasons he declined to
mount a full scale attack on Santa Anna and
his smaller army. It was a day punctuated by a
series of cannon exchanges between the two
armies and a controversial attempt by Sidney
Sherman to draw Santa Anna into battle,
apparently without the approval of Sam
The 21st of April broke cool and crisp. All
was quiet among the camps of the two small
confronting forces. At 9:00 o'clock the
last travellers to use Vince's Bridge made their
crossing. There were 400 or so Mexican reinforcements
under the leadership of Santa
Anna's brother-in-law, Martin Perfecto de
Cos. Shortly after Cos' crossing of Vince's
Bridge, the bridge was to follow a similar legacy
of many significant and more important
structures in Texas history. It was destroyed,
but at the moment of its destruction it was
more important than it was ever to have been
at any time since its construction. The architect
of the destruction of Vince's Bridge was
none other than Erastus Deaf Smith, the
HERITAGE * SPRING 86
greatest spy scout in all Texas history. A controversy
has boiled for some years as to how
many men accompanied Smith on this historical
eradication, whether the bridge was actually
burned or cut with axes and who ordered
The numbers given have ranged from three to
seven but six is more likely the correct size.
This is substantiated by an unpublished letter
in the Lapham papers and written by Moses
Lapham who was acknowledged by other
sources as having been present at the destruction
of the bridge. In this letter to his father,
written only three weeks after the battle, he
states that he and five others went to destroy
Vince's Bridge, that it was burned and that
they returned in time for the battle. Years later
Houston would claim that he ordered the
bridge destroyed to cut off the retreat of either
army. He further embellished on the event by
saying that it was his idea and he reserved axes
especially for that purpose. A better reason for
the destruction of Vince's Bridge would have
been to prevent further reinforcements from
the Mexican Army such as those under the
command of Cos. Houston's claim of preventing
retreat appears to be one of hindsight and
well after it was obvious that his army would
not be the one in retreat. Deaf Smith claims
the destruction of Vince's Bridge was his idea
and the evidence is nearly conclusive that the
bridge was, infact, burned.
On April 21st at 4:00 o'clock, the solitude of
the afternoon was broken by the Texan war
cries of "Remember the Alamo", "Remember
La Bahia". The Texas Army was in a full scale
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 3, Number 4, Spring 1986, periodical, March 1, 1986; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45441/m1/17/: accessed July 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.