Victims' Rights Caucus

Speeches

Mr. Speaker, today I rise to commemorate an historical event in the Lone Star State's grand, glorious heritage. On March 2, 1836, Texas declared independence from the dictatorship of Mexico. On March 6, the Alamo fell with the loss of 187 defenders, all volunteers, William Barrett Travis, Davy Crockett, and Jim Bowie.

Now, I am going to tell my colleagues, Mr. Speaker, the rest of the story and why this day is so important to Texas.

Less than 60 days after the fall of the Alamo, on this day years ago, an 18-minute battle took place on the murky banks of the San Jacinto River where it meets Buffalo Bayou in southeast Texas. History forever changed. Texas' independence from Mexico was secured, and Texas became a country for 9 years.

After the Alamo fell, the Texas army moved rapidly east, being chased by three invading armies from Mexico. The Texans had been joined by settlers fleeing the advance of the tyrant Santa Anna, who was burning Texas settlements. The armies reached a marshy lowland where General Sam Houston decided it was time to turn and fight the enemy.

In a letter Sam Houston wrote to a friend on the morning of April 19, he said, ``The odds are greatly against us, but the troops are in fine spirits and now is the time for action. We go to conquer'' for Texas and they did.

Most battles, Mr. Speaker, in our history start at sunrise, but the Texans were not waiting for another day. So General Sam's army of frontiersmen, shopkeepers, lawyers, ranchers and former slaves, all volunteers, in various types of odd attire, began mustering at high noon. They did not look like an army, but they all had the boldness and bravery and brazen courage to fight for Texas and for freedom.

The Battle of San Jacinto started at 4 o'clock on the afternoon of April 21, 1836. The Texan army consisted of approximately 800 volunteers under the command of General Sam Houston. The Mexican army consisted of approximately 2,000 professional, experienced soldiers under the command of Mexican President and General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. Santa Anna's army of hardened veterans had not yet been defeated in battle and even a few years before had defeated the French invasion of Mexico.

The battle began when the Texans, advancing in a single column, attacked the Mexican camp. They were fatigued, they were filthy, famished and fuming, but Houston was mounted on his white stallion leading the army. Armed with tomahawks, Bowie knives and long rifles, they went forward across the open marshy plain of southeast Texas. A Georgian Huguenot, a Kentucky colonel, and a Scotch-Irishman from Tennessee led the march across the tall grass and down upon a Mexican camp engaged in their afternoon siestas.

The pace was set by two unlikely characters that played field music as they marched. There was a German named Frederick Lemsky on the fife and a free black that, by all accounts, his name was Dick the Drummer. Two other musicians volunteered, but none of the foursome knew any marching music. They were only familiar with the popular music of the day. Therefore, Sam Houston, with a smile, had the foursome play ``Come to the Bower,'' a bawdy-house love song regarded as quite risque at the time. As the soldiers marched on to victory, they carried their banner, a flag of Miss Liberty consisting of a partially clad female proclaiming freedom.

The enemy was caught by a stunning surprise. The battle lasted 18 minutes, but the Mexican defeat was devastating. Only nine Texans were killed or mortally wounded. Six hundred thirty Mexican soldiers were killed, and the number of Mexican soldiers taken prisoner exceeded the entire number of the Texas army.

The battle cries of ``Remember the Alamo'' and ``Remember Goliad'' were the soldiers' calls for vengeance. This was a soldiers' battle, and they had scores to settle because they had lost brothers and friends at the Alamo and Goliad.

The hero