Heritage, Volume 3, Number 4, Spring 1986 Page: 18
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surprise attack and their Mexican adversaries
were quickly rolled up like a cheap window
shade. The blood of the Alamo and Goliad
was vindicated with a vengeance. Santa
Anna, who had been resting in his tent at the
beginning of the hostilities, at once recognized
conditions as hopeless and wishing not
to be trampled to death by his own retreating
army or killed by the hot-eyed Texans,
mounted Vince's horse, Old Whip and headed
in the direction of his main army on the Brazos
River via Vince's Bridge. The Texas Army
was in fervent pursuit but, riding a horse of
the quality of Old Whip, Santa Anna quickly
out-distanced them and certainly must have
thought that he would shortly be rejoining his
army on the Brazos. It would be difficult to
know who was more surprised by the destruction
of Vince's Bridge, Old Whip or Santa
Anna, but it certainly impeded the further
travel of both the horse and the rider. The
next day, his escape cancelled by the burning
of Vince's Bridge, Santa Anna was captured by
James A. Sylvester from the town of Round
It was the resulting capture of Santa Anna and
not the near total devastation of the Mexican
Army on the field of combat which gave the
battle of San Jacinto its significant impor
tance. In spite of the low opinion that is held
of Santa Anna by most Texans and many historians,
this is certainly not a proper reflection
of the man's capabilities or his degree of reverence
among the soldiers in the Mexican Army.
Had he been able to reach the Brazos River,
mounted as he was on Old Whip, he would
have had at his command the main body of
the Mexican Army totalling approximately
5,000 men. This would have been the first
time in the entire Texas Campaign that all
contingents of the Mexican Army would have
been unified. It is not unreasonable to think
that the defeat suffered at San Jacinto would
have only served to enrage the Mexican Army
and that some form of immediate retaliation
would have been the policy of the moment. It
is certainly doubtful that the Texas Army, as
capable as fighters as they had proven to be on
the battlefield at San Jacinto could have withstood
a full scale assault by the Mexican Army,
especially with such capable Mexican commanders
as Filisola and Urrea now joined together.
Also, the spiritual leader of the Texans,
Sam Houston, was incapacitated by a
severe wound to his ankle and unavailable for
It is reasonable to believe that the victory at
San Jacinto would have been negated by a
counterattack by the Mexian Army. However,
with Santa Anna captured and secured as a
prisoner for the Texas Army, such a possibility
would never come to pass. The victory at San
Jacinto would go down as one of the 16 most
decisive battles in world history but, without
the burning of Vince's Bridge, it would have
stood as a glorious but inconclusive event in
J. P. Bryan, Jr., is President of the Texas
Historical Foundation and Editor-in-Chief of
SPRING 86 * HERITAGE
Take the Sesquicentennial
home with you.
The events, laughs, tales & trivia of
Texas' 150th birthday can be relived
again & again in the pages of
Texas Celebrates! The First 150 Years.
The Official Publication of the 1986
Texas Sesquicentennial is
on sale throughout
the Texas Heritage Festival.
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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/m1/18/: accessed November 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.