Headquarters, Camp at San Jacinto, Wednesday, April 20, 1836:
Dear Fellow Texians,
Scarcely were the fires set last night when the call to march was received. We marched into the rising sun and reached Lynch’s ferry to learn that the enemy had not crossed. We withdrew to a high wooded ridge about a half-mile back and set up camp. Our scouts encountered a contingency of lancers and banished them in gallant style. It was learned that Generalissimo Santa Anna has put New Washington to the torch and is headed in our direction.
Contact has been made with the villainous enemy that struck down our brothers at the Alamo and at Goliad. The main body of our army was concealed in the timber along Buffalo bayou so as to deny Santa Anna the knowledge of our true strength. Col. James Neill commanded our two cannons and from a forward position exchanged fire with the lone Mexican cannon of superior caliber. Col. Neill was wounded and the Mexican piece was damaged and one of her artillerymen wounded. Col. Sherman advanced with the cavalry in an attempt to capture the disabled Mexican cannon, but was driven back by Mexican Dragoons. Private Mirabeau Lamar made a valiant defense, which spared the life of our beloved Secretary of War, Thomas Rusk. General Houston honored Lamar by elevating him to commander of the cavalry. Since both Houston and Santa Anna declined to present their full armies to the engagement, the skirmish ended and the Mexican army withdrew to establish its camp.
The demand for vengeance and the small victorious moments today has elevated the spirits of the men. It will be hard to keep them calm tonight as surely a decisive battle will be waged tomorrow.
Respectfully yours, An Observer and aide-de-camp
Meanwhile the Mexican Army: Capt. Barragan brought the news to Santa Anna at 8 a.m. that Houston was in the area. The Mexican army was preparing to march and had torched the warehouse on the wharf & all houses. Santa Anna was surprised at the news about Houston and recklessly rushed to the head of the column, running over troops and pack animals. At 2 p.m. the Mexican Army came in sight of the Texian camp. The Texians were camped in a wooded area with only the two small cannon visible. The initial confrontation began as an artillery duel. Mexican skirmishers tried to engage the Texian troops but were unsuccessful. Realizing that there would not be a battle that day Santa Anna set up camp in what was determined to be an unsuitable location. Col. Delgado was left in charge of the cannon but his pack animals were confiscated to bring up the troops gear. The Texian cavalry attempted to capture the exposed cannon but the Mexican dragoons drove them off. About 5 p.m. the cannonade and the cavalry duel ended and the armies retired for the evening. Filisola and most of the other generals in the field were at Old Fort. Urrea marched from the San Bernard to the home of Mrs. Powell and camped there.
The Interim Government: The government continued its business at Galveston on board the Cayuga.
Route of the Twin Sisters: Traveling with the Texian Army. First time used in combat. Spent the afternoon dueling with the Mexican cannon. Texian artillery commander Lt. Col. Neill was wounded by grape shot and was removed to the makeshift hospital across Buffalo Bayou at the home of Vice President Lorenzo de Zavala. Ironically the Mexican artillery commander Captain Urriza was severely wounded and his horse killed. Both armies lost the service of their artillery commanders on the same day.