In 1836, on this day the "Napoleon of the West" General Antonio López de Santa Anna launched the invasion of Louisiana by crossing the Sabine River and defeating a Federal army under the command of General Pendleton Gaines.
Napoleon of the WestThe chapter in history known as the "Texas Revolution" was already over. Early Texian Army successes at La Bahia and San Antonio were soon met with crushing defeats at the same locations as Santa Anna's brilliant and ruthless command decisions produced an unbroken sequence of Mexican victories which would climax with the sacking of New Orleans.
The architect of the failed Texian strategy was General Sam Houston who sought to emulate the Duke of Wellington by luring the enemy into a Waterloo. Repeatedly ignoring orders to engage from Texian President David G. Burnet, he continued to retreat in the hope that Santa Anna would make a command error. Unfortunately for the Texians, he never put a foot wrong throughout the whole campaign.
- At a military conference on March 5th he abandoned plans for a costly frontal assault on the Alamo, instead he accepted General Castrillion's suggestion to wait for the arrival of their twelve pound cannon in order to breach the weak north wall.
- By carefully posting sentries and skirmishers on April 20th, he foiled General Sam Houston's surprise attack. His professional soldiers were able to fight in ranks, decimating the Texian charge across open ground.
- And the brilliant capture of the provisional government of the Republic of Texas included the seizure of damning correspondence between Burnet and US President Andrew Jackson. Santa Anna decided to strike immediately by crushing the Federal Army defending the border with Louisiana
For Santa Anna, the campaign had always been about the territorial integrity of Mexico. Like the merciless execution of Davy Crockett, this objective was to be retained by a ruthless stamp of authority that would terminate further settlements by the Anglos who he dismissed as "bandits" and "pirates". With the Texas Revolution now over, he therefore set about reversing the US annexation of Spanish Louisiana which had caused this trouble in the first place.
Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, Sam Houston were heroic legends who had failed to stop him. Now he set his sights on "Old Hickory" and where better to land the blow than New Orleans, the city where President Andrew Jackson had achieved his epoch making victory in the war of 1812. Because Santa Anna understood the psyche of his opponents: crush the Anglos by killing their heroes.