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The San Jacinto Battlefield Memorial

As early as the 1880s, supporters were wanting to place a memorial to those Texans who were killed in the Battle of San Jacinto.  On August 10, 1881, about forty-five years after the historic battle, the New Orleans Times-Picayune carried a story stating that such a monument had been completed by Messrs. A. Allen and Co.  The monument was complete except for the proposed engraving to be placed on it.  It was described as a plain square spire made of blue American marble, fifteen and a half feet high and was to be set on a two foot foundation, making the whole structure just under eighteen feet tall.

It was decorated with eight stars, representing eight of the fallen Texas soldiers, those whose identities were known when the construction of the monument began.  A ninth name was added after the initial eight stars were placed.  The actual number of Texans who died or were mortally wounded is currently thought to be as many as eleven or twelve, but nine was the accepted number as of 1881.  The engraving was to include the names of the nine on one side with quotes from Sam Houston and T. J. Rusk on two other sides and the adornments on the fourth side.  In the newspaper accounts of the day, it was actually referred to as the San Jacinto Monument, although we now use that name to refer to the more recent (1939) and much larger 567.31 foot column that now sits on the battlefield.

Houston’s quote was said to have been taken from a letter to his friend Henry Raguet prior to the battle, “This morning we are in preparation to meet Santa Anna. It is the only chance of saving Texas. From time to time I have looked for reinforcements in vain.  We will only have about seven hundred to march with, besides the camp guard. We go to conquer. It is wisdom growing out of necessity to meet the enemy now. Every consideration enforces it. No previous occasion would justify it. The troops are in fine spirits, and now is the time for action.  We shall use our best efforts to fight the enemy to such advantage as will insure victory, though the odds are greatly against us.  I leave the results in the hands of a wise God, and rely upon His Providence. My country will do justice to those who serve her.  The rights for which we fight will be secured and Texas free.”

The quote from Rusk reads, “The sun was sinking on the horizon as the battle commenced, but at the close of the conflict, the sun of liberty and independence rose in Texas, never, it is hoped, to be obscured by the clouds of despotism.  We have read of deeds of chivalry, and perused with ardor the annals of war; we have contemplated, with the highest emotions of sublimity, the loud roaring thunder, the desolating tornado, and the withering simoon of the desert, but neither of these nor all, inspired us with emotions like those felt on this occasion.  There was a central cry which pervaded the ranks.  ‘Remember the ALAMO.  Remember La BAHIA.’  These words electrified all.  Onward was the cry.  The unerring aim and irresistible energy of the Texan army could not be withstood.  It was freemen fighting against the minions of tyranny and the result proved the inequality of such a contest.”  The quotation is thought to have been condensed from Rusk’s handwritten account of the battle from April 22, 1836.

firstsanjacintomonument

(Image: uncredited)

The marble used in the monument was later described as being constructed of the best Rutland, Vermont variegated marble.  The names of the nine individuals engraved on it are Lemuel Stockton Blakey, Benjamin Rice Brigham, Mathias Cooper, John C. Hale, George Lamb, Thomas Patton Fowle, William Junius Mottley, MD, Ashley R. Stephens and Olwyn J. Trask, all of whom were believed to have been killed or mortally wounded on the day of the battle.  The monument is alternatively referred to as the Brigham Monument. According to the comments of Louis W. Kemp written between 1930 and 1952 on the San Jacinto Museum website, when the monument was being developed (as of 1881) the simple grave markers for the deceased had deteriorated to the extent that Brigham’s was the only one still clearly identified.  For that reason, the monument was placed at his known grave site.  The monument is located due south of the Battleship Texas on the west side of Independence Parkway South, the road leading into the State Historic Site.  A small cemetery grew up around it and includes just over five dozen names.

The monument is now part of the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, managed by Texas Parks and Wildlife, which includes the battlefield, museum and the much larger  and better known obelisk monument.  Located at 3523 Independence Parkway South, La Porte, Texas, it is open generally from about 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. each day except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

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Posted by on January 17, 2019 in republic of texas

 

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Ben McCulloch

Benjamin McCulloch was one of twelve children.  He was born November 11, 1811 in Rutherford County, Tennessee to Alexander and Frances Fisher Lenoir McCulloch.  His father was a graduate of Yale College and served in the United States Army in Indian campaigns and also the War of 1812.  The family migrated west from the eastern coastal states.  Ben is thought to have first pursued some other businesses and moved around a lot until he came to Texas in 1835 with another brother and Davy Crockett, a neighbor, in Tennessee.  Ben planned to meet up with Crockett and then head from Nacogdoches to San Antonio but was held up as he recuperated from a case of the measles, not arriving in San Antonio until after the Battle of the Alamo.  He joined Sam Houston and the Texas Army in time for the Runaway Scrape, Houston’s retreat from Santa Anna.

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Juan Seguin

Juan Nepomucema Seguin was born in Spanish San Antonio on October 27, 1808 to Juan José Erasmo and María Josefa Becerra Seguin.  Erasmo was descended from one of sixteen families who came to the San Antonio area from the Canary Islands in the early 1700s.  The Seguin cattle ranch covered portions of three current Texas counties: Bexar, Guadalupe and Wilson.  Erasmo served as postmaster of San Antonio from 1807 to 1835, mayor (alcalde) of San Antonio from 1820-1821 and quartermaster of Presidio de San Antonio de Béxar from 1825 to 1835.  Erasmo was acquainted with Moses Austin who was succeeded by his son, Stephen F. Austin.  Along with Don Martin de Veramendi, Erasmo assisted them in obtaining their Austin Colony grant.

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(Image credit: pbs.org)

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Sam Houston and Santa Anna

Santa Anna (Antonio López de Santa Anna) was born in Vera Cruz in 1794 and began serving in the Army in Spanish Mexico when he was a teenager.  He was said to have first fought in support for the Spanish against Mexican independence before joining the movement in 1821 in support of an independent Mexico.  He continued to be near the forefront of leadership in the young country of Mexico and helped defeat the Spanish effort to reclaim Mexico in the late 1820s.  Santa Anna was himself elected President in 1833.  The previous two decades had seen chaotic changes in the country of Mexico with the form of government varying from a constitutional republic to a centralist form with Santa Anna at the head, supported by the military.  The country was vast with the Central American part being largely populated and the North American portion being sparsely populated by Native American tribes and an increasing number of American settlers.  Under Santa Anna, its policy changed from encouraging settlements to being more restrictive toward them.

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Posted by on December 28, 2017 in biography, republic of texas, sam houston, texas masons

 

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Mirabeau B. Lamar

Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar was the second president of the Republic of Texas. He was born in Georgia in 1798 to John Samuel III and Rebecca Lamar.  One of the youngest of eight children, Lamar was self educated, having been accepted to Princeton University, though he declined.

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Posted by on October 19, 2017 in biography, governor, poetry, republic of texas

 

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Robert Emmett Bledsoe Baylor

Before the Texas Revolution, the official religion of the area was Roman Catholicism according to Spanish law.  Landowners were required to espouse the Roman Catholic faith and many did so in order to obtain title to their land.  However Protestant families moved to the area prior to and following the Texas Revolution.  R. E. B. Baylor, a Baptist, came to Texas in late 1839.  By then, there were already a number of Baptist families in Texas.  After a couple of failed efforts, the Baptist Union Association was formed in the fall of 1840 and included churches from La Grange, Travis and Independence.  Baylor was a circuit judge and was an ordained minister.  By about 1845, there were hundreds of fellow Baptists in the area.  Among other things, the Association had been concerned about education and formed an Education Society of which R. E. B. Baylor was selected to be President.

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Posted by on June 1, 2017 in biography, republic of texas

 

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Moses Austin Bryan (1817-1895)

mosesaustinbryan

(Image credit: http://www.tamu.edu)

As we approach the anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto, we consider Moses Austin Bryan.  He was an eyewitness to some of the key events in Texas history.  Born in Herculaneum, Missouri, he came to Texas with his parents in 1831.  He had first worked for his uncle Stephen Fuller Austin in a store in Austin’s Colony before enlisting in the Texas Army.  After enlistment, he served as a secretary to Stephen F. Austin, was a witness to the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence, fought in the Battle of San Jacinto, interviewed Santa Anna after his capture at San Jacinto (Bryan was the closest Spanish speaking Texas soldier to Sam Houston), served as secretary to the Texas Legation to the United States in 1839,  participated in the Somervell Expedition in 1842 and served as a Confederate officer in the Civil War.

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Posted by on April 20, 2017 in biography, republic of texas

 

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