"Captured in Silk Underdrawers" might have been a newspaper headline on April 22, 1836, when Santa Anna and his army had been defeated at the Battle of San Jacinto the day before.
A few weeks earlier, General Santa Anna had taken command of the Mexican army that invaded Texas in 1836. His forces defeated all rebels at the Alamo, and then he had personally ordered the execution of 400 Texan prisoners after the Battle of Goliad.
These two victories planted the seeds for Santa Anna's defeat.
"Remember the Alamo!" and "Remember Goliad!" became the call for the Texan army to re-group and march to San Jacinto.
After the San Jacinto defeat, Sam Houston, the leader of the Texas army, had been injured with a musket ball to the ankle. He was reclining under a tree, when two soldiers hauled a Mexican to him and reported that his own men addressed him as "El Presidente, Excelencio Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna y Perez de LeBron, Presidente de laRepublica y Comandante del Ejercitio de Mejico."It is said that Santa Anna had been hiding in the bulrushes in his silk underdrawers.
Now Sam Houston had a problem. What should he do with the Mexican general?
Hang him? The army of Texans and the citizens wanted him to swing from the nearest tree. Sam Houston might have been the only man to recognize just how stupid that act would be.
Houston is reported to have said, "Santa Anna alive is the President of Mexico, and we've got him. Santa Anna dead is just another dead Mexican."
The small General Santa Anna found himself alone amidst the very people he'd been bullying, and they were very angry. If the Texans hung the general, Sam Houston knew Mexico would regard the execution as a mortal insult.
Texas won San Jacinto by a fluke, and nobody knew that better than Sam Houston himself. If the Mexican army had been ready for battle instead of being taken by surprise, Houston's small undisciplined "Texas army" would have been decimated.
The execution of Santa Anna also would probably unite all of Mexico, even though Santa Anna was generally disliked. If that happened, Mexico might have waged a vengeful national war against the exhausted, disorganized, undisciplined, and underarmed Texans.
In the end, Santa Anna signed the Treaty of Velasco that gave Texas freedom from Mexico.
Santa Anna was released in Texas and returned to Mexico a powerless man.
However, during the next twenty years, Santa Anna schemed with groups in Mexico to gain, lose, and regain dictatorial power a total of eleven times.
He was a brilliant man with a lust for power, but ultimately Santa Anna was loyal only to himself.
How Santa Anna really looked.
Trivia about Santa Anna:
~*~Upon his return to Mexico, he engaged the French in Veracruz. During the Mexican retreat after a failed assault, Santa Anna was hit in the hand and leg by cannon fire. Much of his leg required amputation. He ordered that his leg be buried with full military honors.
~*~Some say Santa Anna was in his tent on the morning of the San Jacinto battle with a "high yellow" Negress named Emily West aka. Emily Morgan, and that in seducing him, helped facilitate the Texan victory.
~*~Santa Anna lived in exile in Cuba, Staten Island NY, Colombia, and St. Thomas.
~*~He had two nicknames: The Napoleon of the West, and The Eagle.
~*~ He was married twice.
~*~He had four legitimate children, and at least seven illegitimate children.
~*~He died in poverty at age 82 in Mexico City
Thank you for reading.
Handbook of Texas History On-line.
Texas Tales Your Teacher Never Told You, by C. F. Eckhardt
Some statements about Santa Anna may or may not be true. Historians have written some events differently.