April 18, 2011

Wilson T. Lightfoot at the Battle of San Jacinto

written by: Rosa Morgan

“Remember the Alamo, remember Goliad, but who, besides loyal Texians, remembers the Battle of San Jacinto? I'm Wilson T. Lightfoot, and this is my story of how I came to be on that bloody battlefield.

In 1807, I was born a Kentuckian, but Ma and Pa weren't ones to settle for long. We lived a spell in Missouri and Arkansas, until we heard of a fellow by the name of Stephen F. Austin. He was colonizing Texas, and needing settlers. That was Mexican territory back then, and to be qualified, we swore to have no history of drunkenness, and to learn Spanish and become a Catholic, taxpaying, Mexican citizen. I was twenty-three and itching for adventure, so I hitched up my saddlebags and headed South with my brothers. Can't say I followed any of Austin's stipulations, but I gladly accepted the fourth of a league of land he gave me.

The living was mighty good in Texas, and the land especially suited to cotton and cane. I built a pole cabin and started my ranch, not realizing I'd stepped into a powder keg. The Mexican government was getting antsy over the swelling numbers of Anglos. They limited immigration, raised tariffs, and started enforcing their law against slavery. Most settlers, especially slave owners started whispering revolution. I wasn't raring for a fight, but when Santa Anna threw over the government, dashing our hopes of forming an independent state of Texas within the Republic of
Mexico, I had to step up.

My brother William John was the first to head out, ending up at the Alamo. I can't express the horror we felt upon hearing of the slaughter of those brave men. His name is chiseled on the cenotaph just opposite the garrison. I sold my land, and along with my brothers William Webster and Henry, joined the Republic of Texas Army. I was 2nd sergeant in Captain William JE Heards Co of Citizen Soldiers.

For forty days we were on the move, scorching crops along the way, leaving nothing behind for the Mexican troops to plunder. They were always at our heels, and finally met up with us where the Buffalo Bayou feeds into the San Jacinto River. The Mexicans established their camp on the other side of a ridge, so close I saw their black flag flying. With reinforcements arriving, they had 1,400 men to our 800. That night I didn’t sleep a wink, and their morning reveille sounded like a calling of arms, but our General Sam Houston held back our attack until three-thirty that afternoon.

With my belly full of beaver, we'd hunted the day before, I crawled across that muddy field, only to find the Mexican troops sleeping. Our cannons, the Twin Sisters, were loaded with broken horseshoes, and incited instant terror, as did our gunfire. 'Me no Alamo, me no Goliad,' they cried, but Santa Anna showed no mercy to my brother William, and I showed none in return. The battle lasted only eighteen minutes, but the massacre continued till dark with 630 Mexicans losing their lives to our 9 Texians. Am I proud to have scalped those men with tomahawks, leaving their bodies to the alligators? Nope. Would I fight that day again, knowing it would create our great state of Texas? Yep, and a hundred times again.

By the way, the 21st of this month is the 175th anniversary of the battle, and Rosa Morgan Lockwood is my great-great-great granddaughter.

( Dear Reader, leave a comment if you have ever visited the San Jacinto Monument)


  1. I have visited the San Jacinto Monument since I was a small child. It seems to me that there are fewer objects in the museum then than now, but that is probably a child's first impression. To me it was the most magnificent thing in the world. I have often taken my children and now the grandchildren.

    This is your Hueske cousin in Bellville.

  2. Rosa as you well know I visit the San Jacinto Battlefield quite often since I live only 4 miles from where our g,g,g, grand-dads made history 175 years ago. Even so, I will be there this 21st of April, along side many a faithful Texan celebrating the birth of a nation, that later became the Great State of Texas.
    Robert "Scott" Patrick
    President General Elect
    San Jacinto Descendants

  3. Great to hear from you, Cousin Dorothy. I feel the same way about the monument. Back in the 1960's when I was in elementary, my class saved our pennies to help out this historic land-site. Please stop by for a visit sometime.

  4. It's an honor to hear from you Scott. And thanks for your efforts in making this sometimes overlooked part of Texas history more visible.

  5. I visited the monument about 20 years ago with my family. It was quite interesting, but your story has really brought it to life and seem more real. Thanks

  6. Cool! I visited the monument long, long ago -- with your parents. Since then, I have seen the San Jacinto exhibits at the Texas Military Forces Museum at Camp Mabry, Austin. I recommend it. I have also been privileged to attend an annual ceremony held inside the Alamo to commemorate its fall -- a solemn and beautiful occasion. It's the one day in the year when photography is allowed.

  7. What fantastic opportunities you've had! And I'm gobsmacked to hear that my parents visited the monument. I know my father had no inkling as to his ancestral ties to it.

  8. Hi - I'm late seeing this page, just found it on Google. But, the Lightfoots were brothers to my gggg grandmother, so if you're descended from them that makes us distant cousins. I'd love to know more about what you know about your family history. Please drop me a line at my email if you see this: bishopkenneth@gmail.com. Thanks!

  9. Thank you for this interesting history about Wilson Thomas Lightfoot. His father, Henry Taylor Lightfoot, was my ggg grandfather. I am a native Texan and lived in Houston for many years. I visited the Monument as a child and was told I could see OK, LA, & AR from the top. I believed it and was most impressed !
    Later my husband and I ate at the Inn a few times. At the time I had no knowledge of the colorful Lightfoot history in TX and on back to KY. After spending many years on research the family is better defined but Henry Taylor's lineage remains undocumented. I was working on Joseph Henry Lightfoot, Wilson T. and Sarah Scott's son, just today. A timely discovery of your well done site.
    Cynthia Orth orthe2@att.net

  10. Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.