On December 7, 1835, Santa Anna issued his chilling order that any rebellious Texan taken prisoner must be executed or, in other words, shown no quarter. Three weeks later, the National Congress of Mexico made the death decree law.
The Alamo defenders did not awake the last morning of the siege and impulsively decide to fight to the last man. To surrender meant a sure death, so why not perish in battle?
Whatever his flaws, and there were many, Santa Anna’s strong point was his uncanny ability for manipulating Mexican public opinion. One of the best — or worst — examples was his ceremonial burial in 1842 of the leg he lost to a French cannonball in the “Pastry War.”
That’s the subject of my “This Week in Texas History” column for the week of Wednesday, September 25 through Tuesday, October 1. Be sure to catch it in your local newspaper or buy a 52-week email subscription to the best and oldest column of its kind on this website.
Worried over rumors the Texans planned to execute Santa Anna, President Andrew Jackson warned Sam Houston in a letter dated September 5, 1836, that “Nothing now could tarnish the character of Texas more than such an act as this.”
Houston’s old mentor was preaching to the choir. The San Jacinto victor had risked his neck to save the loser and would do so again over the strong objections of the majority of his fellow Texans.