Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   


San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site

A live reenactment features cannons, muskets and soldiers in period attire.

By Sheryl Smith-Rodgers

Cannons boom, muskets fire, then someone shouts, "Remember the Alamo!" That famous battle cry will rouse Texans to victory once again when the battle that ended the Texas Revolution unfolds this month at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site.

The reenactment - part of the annual San Jacinto Day Festival set for Saturday, April 26 - depicts the 18-minute battle in which General Sam Houston and his outnumbered Texas army defeated Mexican troops on April 21, 1836.

"We're keeping the memory of that day alive," says Col. Jerry Tubbs, who oversees some 220 volunteers involved in the reenactment. "We want to tell both sides of the story. There were no good guys or bad guys. They all fought for what they thought was right."

Other events at the daylong festival bring early Texas history alive, too. Across the grassy battlegrounds, Mexican and Texan soldiers and civilians will portray rugged life in the 1830s. Basket weavers, blacksmiths and quilters will demonstrate and peddle their wares. Visitors can also enjoy history-related crafts, live music and lots of other activities.

At the San Jacinto Museum of History, a special exhibit of restored artifacts will feature a rifle used by Jesse Walling, who served under Houston at San Jacinto, and the military uniform that historians believe Lt. Col. Sidney Sherman – who's credited with shouting "Remember the Alamo!" – wore at the San Jacinto battle. Permanent collections at the museum span more than 400 years of early Texas history. For nominal fees, visitors can enjoy the historic site's other attractions:

  • Ride the elevator to the observation floor of the 570-foot-tall San Jacinto Monument, topped with a nine-pointed star and hailed as the world's tallest stone column memorial.
  • See the museum's 35-minute digital presentation, Texas Forever!! The Battle of San Jacinto, which tells the story of Texas and the Texas Revolution.
  • Climb aboard the nearby Battleship TEXAS, the only surviving U.S. battleship that served in both World War I and II.

Admission is free to the battleground, museum and San Jacinto Festival, which runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; reenactment starts at 3 p.m. Bring lawn chairs and blankets. Food is available, or bring a picnic.

Earlier in the week, the 172nd anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto will be commemorated on Monday, April 21, at 11 a.m. at the San Jacinto Monument. The annual ceremony pays tribute to the heroes of the battle and Texas Revolution and generally lasts about an hour. Speeches are delivered by dignitaries, scholarships are given by local chapters of the Sons of the Republic of Texas, Daughters of the Republic of Texas and other descendant groups, and musical selections and rifle salutes add to the pageantry of the celebration of Texas. For information, call (713) 468-6771 or (713) 621-4122.

Also, a week before the reenactment, the eighth annual Battle of San Jacinto Symposium will be on Saturday, April 19, at the Hilton Hotel and Conference Center, University of Houston. During the daylong event, speakers will explore the Texas Revolution through the eyes of a novelist, a Mexican borderlands historian, a school teacher, a librarian and a covert British agent. For more information, call (281) 496-1488 or go online to www.friendsofsanjacinto.org.

From Loop 610, take Texas Highway 225 east for 11 miles. Exit Battleground Road, continue north 2 miles. Turn right on Park Road 1836 to entrance. Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. For more information, call (281) 479-2431, or visit <www.tpwd.state.tx.us/sanjacintobattleground>.

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