"Old Whip" The Horse that Santa Anna Rode at San Jacinto 


About 1821 or 1822 a man named Allen Vince came to Texas from. Missouri as a part of the colony of Stephen F. Austin and settled above the mouth of a small bayou which empties into the Buffalo Bayou about twenty miles below the present city of Houston. Here he had a grant of land located, erected -a house and established a stock ranch. For convenience in passing from one side of the bayou to the other he constructed a narrow, rough, but strong cedar bridge, and Vince's Bayou and Vince's Bridge became famous in Texas history in connection with the battle of San Jacinto. The people in traveling from the east or coming from the west crossed on this famous little bridge and soon a public road led from Lynch's Ferry on the San Jacinto to all points west of Vince's Bayou.

Mr. Vince also opened a farm on the east side of the Brazos River within the present southern limits of Fort Bend County, and raised fine crops of corn. Besides cattle stock at his ranch on the bayou, he also had some good horses, among which was a large coal black stallion whom he called "Old Whip," from the fact, I suppose, that he whipped everything else on the ranch in the way of horses. In April, 1836, when Santa Anna arrived at this bayou ranch with his army and the inmates had all fled before him, he had all the horses gathered up for his own use that could be conveniently caught, including "Old Whip," which the Mexican commander-in-chief appropriated as his own particular war horse, transferring his fine $300 saddle from the back of an inferior mount to that of the black stallion, and rode away upon him to New Washington on the bay shore, crossing all his men and baggage on the little bridge, except a twelve-pound cannon and caisson wagon of ammunition, which he was afraid would break it down, and which he sent around the head of the bayou in charge of one company of troops, commanded by General Castrillon. General Houston came along soon after with his army and crossed on the same bridge, and after him came General Cos with 500 more Mexican troops, and made the passage there.

Colonel Delgado, who was on the staff of Santa Anna, says, in his notes on the campaign, that after arriving at New Washington and burning a warehouse there and taking possession of other property, the President sent him out with a detachment to bring in some cattle and slaughter them for the use of the army, and so plentiful were they in that country that they soon rounded up 100 head and drove them to camp. Now, these cattle were raised in Fort Bend County and belonged to Dr. Johnson Hunter and had been driven from his ranch on Oyster Creek ahead of the Mexican army, in an effort to save them, but he was finally compelled to abandon them on the San Jacinth prairie on the near approach of the army under Santa Anna. There were about 600 head of them, and this ac-counts for cattle being so numerous at the time in that part of the country.

When a. scout came galloping in and informed Santa Anna that the Texans had also crossed Vince's Bayou and were close upon his rear, it seemed to have alarmed him to an unreasonable extent, considering his military achievements and fame in Mexico. He at once mounted "Old Whip" and dashed back toward the prairie through a narrow lane crowded with pack-mules and soldiers, riding over and knocking them to one side in piles, and shouting at the top of his voice: "The enemy are coming! The enemy are coming!" This had a tendency to demoralize the Mexican troops, seeing their President in such a "rattled" state, and, instead of making an effort to form and face the enemy, lost all idea of fighting, and only attempted to save themselves by flight, and no order could be restored until a squad of cavalry came in and reported the Texans had gone into camp on Buffalo Bayou. Santa Anna then moved up with his army and encamped, facing the enemy about half a mile south. John R. Fenn, who resides in Fort Bend County and also has a residence in Houston, and who was captured by Almonte's men at Fort Bend, where Richmond is now, and made his escape on the following morning while the Mexicans were firing at the steamboat "Yellowstone," which suddenly came swiftly around the bend and ran the gauntlet of the Mexican army, says that he does not wonder at the feat of Santa Anna running over so many pack-mules and infantry soldiers, as he knew "Old Whip" well, and that he was one of the most powerful horses in the country.

On the day of the battle Santa Anna had the famous black horse near him, and when he saw the conflict was going a against him, and while the brave Castrillon and Almonte were vainly endeavoring to rally the panic-stricken Mexican troops; he mounted and set out across the prairie towards Vince's Bridge, leaving Captain Henry Karnes and his troopers far behind, who went in pursuit of him. The bridge, however, had been burned by Deaf Smith, and when the fugitive President of Mexico arrived there, he essayed to cross the boggy little bayou, but 'Old Whipa' stuck fast in the mire, and he was compelled to abandon him and the fine saddle and hide himself in a thicket. Karnes and his men came upon the scene later on and rescued the horse, who was a woeful sight when he came out, his black, glossy, beautiful coat being covered with mud and slime. Santa Anna was captured on the following day. The horse was well cared for and restored to Vince, who kept him for many years on his ranch, and he died there, and, for a horse, at a very advanced age. He was a magnificent traveler, moving under the saddle like he was on springs.

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