Monday, February 24, 2014
Saturday, February 1, 2014
What a glorious place!!! Without the battle that took place here on April 21, 1836 this country could be very different.
In 1823 Mexico had only about 2,500 people living in the large area of Texas. Mexico offered cheap land to get Americans to settle the land. In exchange for the cheap land, the new settlers would become Mexican Citizens, obey the Mexican government's laws, and agree to learn Spanish. However, soon there were problems and the new settlers found that they had a problem with the rules created by Mexico's constantly changing government.
In 1835 Texans revolted to claim their own republic. These Texans were led by Sam Houston and wanted to be free of Mexico's laws and Mexico's president General Antonio Lopéz de Santa Anna. Santa Anna brought the Mexican Army into Texas and started his slaughter of Texans. He killed around 200 Texans at the small fort/mission at the Alamo – now known as San Antonio; He then order the murder of about 340 Texans in Goliad who had already surrender. "Remember the Alamo" and "Remember Goliad" had become battle cries for the Texans at San Jacinto.
Even though the Texans were greatly outnumbered, the Texans ended up defeating Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto. The Texans camp is located in front of the the parking lot for the USS Texas Battleship. Many are confused and believe the park to be to separate parks but the Battleship was docked after the park was established. There are stone/marble markers throughout the grounds in front of the ship to memorialize the camp grounds of the Texans.
Santa Anna made some bad military decisions in moving the Mexican camp for atop the rise to the lower ground closer to the water. In doing so he open the door for the Texan to be able get close to the Mexican camp before they knew, therefore the Mexicans never were able to get their act together to fight.
The Mexican’s camp was to the east side of the monument and it is also marked with stone/grant markers.
In 1836, the defeated Santa Anna signed the Treaty of Velasco giving the Republic of Texas its independence.
The monument stands as a memorial to the men who fought in the Battle of San Jacinto. The monument was constructed between 1936 and 1939 with both federal and state funds at a cost of $1.5 million. The monument is 570 feet tall, built of reinforced concrete faced with Texas fossilized buff limestone quarried near Austin.
The Texas Star sits atop the monument and no matter what angle you look at it from you will see the six points of the star. The reflection pond sits in front which makes for a wonderful peaceful sight.
While we were there our workamping experience was again working with kids and with interpretation. We assisted the staff in showing the public items that were replica of the uniforms, gun, and equipment carried by both the Mexican and Texans. Additionally we assisted with programs for the Boy Scouts – what a great time we had.
Over the holidays we chose a workamping spot close to home so we could be with our kids and grandkids for the holidays. Oh yea, we went to Mississippi to be with my Dad's family for Thanksgiving and do some deer hunting. Since Fred wanted to stay in Texas this year and wanted to learn more about Texas so there was no better place to be than where Texas was born - San Jacinto Battleground. We ended up getting two for one as the USS Texas Battleship is also docked at this Park. We had a great place to setup the coach and the dogs got a nice yard to play in and even a place to run free. The other park hosts came in about a month after we got there and they were all wonderful people. We had such a great time with them and at the park that we decided to make it our holiday park for 2014 and booked ourselves back there in October 2014.
There is so much there that I will try to give an overview in a couple of post. I think I will take the UUS Texas Battleship first as there is so much to the battlegrounds that it will take some consideration on how to best post it.
The USS Texas will be 100 years old in March of this year and is the second US Navy Ship to be named in honor of Texas. She was built in 1911,was launched on May 18, 1912 and was commission on March 12, 1914. She is the only ship left that has served in both World War I and World War II. She actually took a group of Marines to Vera Curz, Mexico during the Mexican Revolution in 1914 but since she did not see any action was not considered as have served.
During WWI she joined the British Grand Fleet in escorting supplies ships in the North Sea. She assisted in the escorting of President Woodrow Wilson to France for the peace conference.
In 1919 she went to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and a platform was installed across turret #2. From this platform Cdr E.O. McDonnell files a Sopwith Camel biplane from the ship. This was another first for her- she is the first battleship to ever have an airplane launch.
During WWII she served from 1939 to 1945. She had been scheduled to be destroyed before the war but after Pearl Harbor she was reconditioned and updated with new armor, guns and was put back into service. During the war she escorted many war convoys across the Atlantic, took part in the he North African campaign, and Normandy Landing. During the North African campaign in November 1942, Walter Cronkite was aboard here. In May 1944 just before the Normandy Invasion, President Eisenhower visited the ship. June 25, 1944, while she was involved in the shelling of Cherbourg she took a direct hit. This is the only time anyone died as a result of hit on the ship and that was the helmsman. There were 13 others that were injured. There was a second round that hit the ship that day that, luckily, was a dud. That shell is still with the ship and is on displace for all to see.
She was transferred to the the Pacific in the first for 1945 where she provided gunfire during the Battles of Iwo Jama and Okinawa. As the war ended she provided "Magic Carpet" ride to returning troops from the Pacific.
She was decommissioned in 1948 after having earned a total of five battle stars for her service in WWII. She was brought to Texas where she became the first battleship to be a museum ship.
Since she was decommissioned she was dry-docked only once for repairs, but today she is very badly in need of these repairs again. This time though, she cannot be pulled out and sent to a dry dock location for these repairs. If you are interested in knowing more and/or assisting with the fund raising for repairs needed take a look at this website and you will find out the information you need - http://www.usstexasbb35.com/
While we were there Fred and I gave tours to school groups of the ship.
We truly enjoyed our time here and learned so much. If you are a history buff you will also enjoy workamping here or even just visiting. I can only touch on the information and history that is associated with this ship. I highly recommend you visit!! You can also visit and like her to learn more and see some great pictures of her time in service from actual sailor at her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/USSTEXASBB35.