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San Jacinto Monument

by Mike Cox

"Most people think the towering star-topped limestone monument, built during the Texas Centennial in 1936, is the only San Jacinto monument. Actually, it’s only the biggest."
Mike Cox

Two stone obelisks rise over the San Jacinto battlefield – one is 570 feet tall and is one of the most photographed monuments in America while the other is easily missed by visitors.

Most people think the towering star-topped limestone monument, built during the Texas Centennial in 1936, is the only San Jacinto monument. Actually, it’s only the biggest.

The first San Jacinto monument
is a white marble shaft put up in 1881 to mark the final resting place of eight Texas soldiers killed or mortally wounded in the April 21, 1836 route of Gen. Santa Anna.

Texans remember the men who died in the Alamo, they remember the men executed at Goliad, but the men who died at San Jacinto have been largely forgotten.

For years, most accounts of the battle placed the Texas death toll at nine – two men killed outright and seven who died later from their wounds. The best book on the battle, Stephen H. Moore’s “Eighteen Minutes” (Republic of Texas Press, 2004) lists 12 Texas soldiers who gave their lives at San Jacinto:
Lemuel Stockton Blakley; Benjamin Rice Brigham; James Cooper, Mathias Cooper; Thomas Patton Fowle (sometimes wrongly listed as Thomas Patton Fowler); Giles Albert Giddings; John C. Hale; George A. Lamb; Dr. William Junius Mottley; Ashley R. Stephens, Olwyn Trask (wounded April 20 in the initial skirmish with the Mexicans) and Leroy Wilkinson.

Moore says four of the men – Mathias Cooper, Fowle, Hale and Lamb – died fighting. The other eight died later from wounds they suffered in the battle.
None died harder than Mottley.

“As I entered the little room where he lay,” Dr. Ashbel Smith later wrote, “he cast on me one of those looks of deep distress that too often speak of despondency to the physician. Extending my hand to him I felt his tremulous grasp, and he said, ‘Doctor, I am a gone case.’”

Smith said Mottley had been “shot through the abdomen, and his bowels…lacerated.”

The young doctor begged for water, but could not hold it down.

“Must I die?” he asked Smith.

“It is your lot now to part from us, but what have you to dread?” Smith asked.

“Nothing, nothing, nothing,” Motley replied.

At that, Smith turned away, later admitting: “The scene was too painful.” Mottley died later that night.

The last to die of wounds sustained during the battle was Giddings, a 24-year-old surveyor from Pennsylvania, who had lingered until June 7.

The details of Giddings’ last moments went unrecorded, but a letter he wrote to his parents only 11 days before the battle has survived.

“If we succeed in subduing the enemy and establishing a free and independent government, we shall have the finest country the sun ever shown upon,” Giddings wrote the day after he enlisted in the Texas army, “and if we fail we shall have the satisfaction of dying fighting for the rights of men.”

He went on to urge his parents not to worry about him. “I am no better, and my life no dearer, than those who gained the liberty you enjoy. If I fall you will have the satisfaction that your son died fighting for the rights of men.”

His family buried Giddings elsewhere, but Blakey, Brigham, Lamb, Mottley, Mathias Cooper, Fowle and Stephens were buried beneath the spreading oaks where Houston’s army had its camp. Their graves had only crude wooden markers, and by the late 1870s, only Brigham’s grave could be identified.

J.L. Sullivan, a Richmond lawyer, began an effort to raise money to put a permanent marker commemorating the Texas soldiers. The Legislature chipped in $1,000.

The engraved stone shaft was dedicated on Aug. 25, 1881. Present at the ceremony was Robert J. Calder, captain of the company in which Brigham had served; Temple Houston, Sam Houston’s grandson and Blakey’s granddaughter, identified only as Mrs. Buchanan.

Carved on the south side of the monument are the words of Thomas Jefferson Rusk, first secretary of war for the Republic of Texas and a participant in the battle:

“The sun was sinking in 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 to be hoped, to be obscured by the clouds of despotism.

© Mike Cox
"Texas Tales"
March 23, 2005 column

Battle of San Jacinto - Related Articles

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  • San Jacinto Day by Archie P. McDonald
    News of the fall of the Alamo on March 6, 1836, and the execution of Texians captured at Goliad three weeks later, produced the terrible Runaway Scrape, a mad flight of refugees who scrambled eastward to escape a similar fate at the hand of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s armies. In the midst of these troubles, one man, Sam Houston, rode west...

  • Baker Talk by Mike Cox ("Texas Tales")
    "In modern times, battles begin with precision air strikes. In the 19th century, battles began with stirring speeches. Sometime in the early 1900s, the Beeville Picayune published the talk Captain Mosley Baker supposedly gave to the men of his company at San Jacinto on April 21, 1836..."

  • The Top Ten Facts About The Construction of The San Jacinto Monument by Johnny Stucco

  • Alfonso (Alphonso) Steele - Last Texas survivor of the battle of San Jacinto, and a State Park dedicated to him

  • The Last Hero by Bob Bowman ("All Things Historical" )
    The last surviving veteran of the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836, lies in an almost forgotten cemetery in deep East Texas

  • The Treaty of Velasco by Archie P. McDonald ("All Things Historical" )
    General Sam Houston, and later Interim President David G. Burnett, chose negotiation instead of revenge for the massacres at the Alamo and Goliad.

  • Twin Sisters by Mike Cox ("Texas Tales")
    The most famous pieces of artillery in Texas history

  • Survivor's Account of the Goliad Massacre by Murray Montgomery ("Lone Star Diary")
    "There is a day in Texas history that quite possibly could be considered one of the most tragic. On that day, March 27, 1836, General Santa Anna ordered the execution of some 380 Texas army soldiers - they were prisoners of war. ....."

  • Books by Mike Cox - Order Here


















































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