In 1836, at the Battle of San Jacinto, Mexican general Antonio López de Santa Anna defeated the forces of U.S.-born Gen. Samuel Houston, commander in chief of the revolutionary forces of the breakaway state of Texas, and captured Houston himself, after the latter's attempt to counter the superior Mexican numbers with a surprise attack failed.
Santa Anna wins the Battle of San Jacinto by Eric LippsThe battle would deliver a crippling blow to Texan morale, and would prove to be the tipping point in the failed struggle for Texan independence. The American Texans, or "Texians" as they were commonly called, had been retreating toward the border with the United states since the fall of the Alamo. Now that retreat became a rout, joined by many American settlers whose presence complicated the efforts of the Texian army to regroup. Tattered remnants of the once-proud force eventually limped across the border into Louisiana along with several thousand civilian refugees.
Houston would be freed by the Mexican government as a result of diplomatic efforts on the part of President Andrew Jackson. He would, however, return home in humiliation. He had emigrated to Texas originally to avoid the stigma attached to his name by a fight with Ohio congressman William Stanberry which had led to a high-profile trial and conviction for assault for which he had escaped serious punishment only with the help of influential friends.. Now his failure in Mexico was added to that burden. An ambitious man, he saw his political prospects shrivel. He resumed his long-abandoned practice as a lawyer, but found his reputation a serious hindrance in attracting clients.
Houston's disgrace and the defeat of his "Texians" meant the end of the idea of Texan independence, Ironically, Houston himself had preferred not independence but annexation of Texas by the United States. Texas would remain the property of Mexico despite periodic efforts by U.S. "filibusters" to foment a new rebellion. The last such effort would come in 1859, as civil war loomed in the United States and slaveholding Southerners sought to add one or more new slave states to the Union to strengthen their position. Its failure arguably shortened the war, which ended in Northern victory in November 1864, just after the re-election of President Abraham Lincoln.