True story: Yellow Rose of Texas saved Texas at the Battle of San Jacinto

April 21, 2015

This is mostly an encore post, for the 179th anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto.

After suffering crushing defeats in previous battles, and while many Texian rebels were running away from Santa Anna’s massive army — the largest and best trained in North America — Sam Houston’s ragtag band of rebels got the drop on Santa Anna at San Jacinto, on April 21, 1836. Most accounts say the routing of Santa Anna’s fighting machine took just 18 minutes.

San Jacinto Day is April 21. Texas history classes at Texas middle schools should be leading ceremonies marking the occasion — but probably won’t since it’s coming near the end of the state-mandated testing which stops education cold, in March.

Surrender of Santa Anna, Texas State Preservation Board

Surrender of Santa Anna, painting by William Henry Huddle (1890); property of Texas State Preservation Board. The painting depicts Santa Anna being brought before a wounded Sam Houston, to surrender.

San Jacinto Monument brochure, with photo of monument

The San Jacinto Monument is 15 feet taller than the Washington Monument

How could Houston’s group have been so effective against a general who modeled himself after Napoleon, with a large, well-running army? In the 1950s a story came out that Santa Anna was distracted from battle. Even as he aged he regarded himself as a great ladies’ man — and it was a woman who detained the Mexican general in his tent, until it was too late to do anything but steal an enlisted man’s uniform and run.

That woman was mulatto, a “yellow rose,” and about whom the song, “The Yellow Rose of Texas” was written, according story pieced together in the 1950s.

Could such a story be true? Many historians in the 1950s scoffed at the idea. (More below the fold.) Read the rest of this entry »


True story of how a woman won Texas’s independence

April 21, 2011

This is mostly an encore post, for the 175th anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto.

After suffering crushing defeats in previous battles, and while many Texian rebels were running away from Santa Anna’s massive army — the largest and best trained in North America — Sam Houston’s ragtag band of rebels got the drop on Santa Anna at San Jacinto, on April 21, 1836. Most accounts say the routing of Santa Anna’s fighting machine took just 18 minutes.

San Jacinto Day is April 21. Texas history classes at Texas middle schools should be leading ceremonies marking the occasion — but probably won’t since it’s coming at the end of a week of federally-requested, state required testing.

Surrender of Santa Anna, Texas State Preservation Board Surrender of Santa Anna, painting by William Henry Huddle (1890); property of Texas State Preservation Board. The painting depicts Santa Anna being brought before a wounded Sam Houston, to surrender.

How could Houston’s group have been so effective against a general who modeled himself after Napolean, with a large, well-running army? In the 1950s a story came out that Santa Anna was distracted from battle. Even as he aged he regarded himself as a great ladies’ man — and it was a woman who detained the Mexican general in his tent, until it was too late to do anything but steal an enlisted man’s uniform and run.

The San Jacinto Monument is 15 feet taller than the Washington Monument. Texas tourism brochure photo

The San Jacinto Monument is 15 feet taller than the Washington Monument. Texas tourism brochure photo

That woman was mulatto, a “yellow rose,” and about whom the song, “The Yellow Rose of Texas” was written, according story pieced together in the 1950s.

Could such a story be true? Many historians in the 1950s scoffed at the idea. (More below the fold.) Read the rest of this entry »


San Jacinto Day in the rearview mirror

April 22, 2008

Have I been distracted by work? Here’s one way to tell: Yesterday was San Jacinto Day. And I forgot to note it here.

Fortunately, the celebration is set for April 26 — at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, near LaPorte, Texas. The battle reenactment is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. — be there early to get the benefit of all the exhibits, sideshows, and Texas cooking. (Press release on the celebration below the fold. Note the press release says admission is free, while the story from Houston’s KTRK-13 says there are admission charges.)

San Jacinto Day? April 21 is the anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto, where Sam Houston and the Texian Army got the drop on Gen. Santa Anna and his much larger force, and in the course of a half-hour put the well-trained Mexican regulars on the run, and won Texas independence.

It’s a time to remember — or puzzle about — the true story of the Yellow Rose of Texas, a woman to whom Texans owe a great deal, or one of the better hoaxes of history. It’s a time to fume over the way Anglo Texians pronounced the J as J in “Jacinto,” distancing Texas from a small part of its Spanish-language heritage.

Unfortunately, it’s also a day most Texas students get smothered with reviews from their teachers for the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS), the state exam that had just ended last year on this date, and looms in the future this year. Instead of learning Texas history, Texas seventh graders spend this great day reviewing what educators are supposed to teach them. Nuts.

Hey, Texas teachers: Download the teachers’ guide to the Battle of San Jacinto right now — have it ready for next year. The kids need a break to study real history. You know they will need that break next year, too.

The late Hoyt Axton sings “The Yellow Rose of Texas,” with John Hartford and others:

Other resources:

Read the rest of this entry »


True story: Yellow Rose of Texas, and the Battle of San Jacinto

April 15, 2007

After suffering crushing defeats in previous battles, and while many Texian rebels were running away from Santa Anna’s massive army — the largest and best trained in North America — Sam Houston’s ragtag band of rebels got the drop on Santa Anna at San Jacinto, on April 21, 1836. Most accounts say the routing of Santa Anna’s fighting machine took just 18 minutes.

San Jacinto Day is April 21. Texas history classes at Texas middle schools should be leading ceremonies marking the occasion — but probably won’t since it’s coming at the end of a week of federally-requested, state required testing.

Surrender of Santa Anna, Texas State Preservation Board Surrender of Santa Anna, painting by William Henry Huddle (1890); property of Texas State Preservation Board. The painting depicts Santa Anna being brought before a wounded Sam Houston, to surrender.

San Jacinto Monument brochure, with photo of monument

The San Jacinto Monument is 15 feet taller than the Washington Monument

How could Houston’s group have been so effective against a general who modeled himself after Napoleon, with a large, well-running army? In the 1950s a story came out that Santa Anna was distracted from battle. Even as he aged he regarded himself as a great ladies’ man — and it was a woman who detained the Mexican general in his tent, until it was too late to do anything but steal an enlisted man’s uniform and run.

That woman was mulatto, a “yellow rose,” and about whom the song, “The Yellow Rose of Texas” was written, according story pieced together in the 1950s.

Could such a story be true? Many historians in the 1950s scoffed at the idea. (More below the fold.) Read the rest of this entry »


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