Capturing Santa Anna

Sion Bostick was just shy of sixteen years old when the Texas Revolution broke out, but he wasn’t too young to do a man’s service. He took part in the Battle of Gonzales and the Siege of Bexar in 1835.

When Santa Anna besieged the Alamo, Sion signed on with Col. Edward Burleson’s First Regiment of Texas Volunteers and went on to fight at San Jacinto. The day after the battle he was ordered to go search for any soldados who had escaped death or round-up on the 21st.
I’ll let him tell you what happened next:

“Captain Moseley Baker told me on the morning of the 22nd to scout around on the prairie and see if I could find any escaping Mexicans.

I went and fell in with two other scouts, one of whom was named Joel Robinson, and the other Henry Sylvester. We had horses that we had captured from the Mexicans.

When we were about eight miles from the battle field, about one o’clock, we saw the head and shoulders of a man above the tall sedge grass, walking through the prairie. As soon as we saw him we started towards him in a gallop.

When he discovered us, he squatted in the grass; but we soon came to the place. As we rode up we aimed at him and told him to surrender. He held up his hands and spoke in Spanish, but I could not understand him. He was dressed a common soldier with dingy looking white uniform. Under the uniform he had on a fine shirt.

As we went back to camp the prisoner rode behind Robinson awhile and then rode behind Sylvester. I was the youngest and smallest of the party, and I would not agree to let him ride behind me. I wanted to shoot him.

We did not know who he was. He was tolerably dark skinned, weighed about one hundred and forty-five pounds, and wore side whiskers. When we got to camp, the Mexican soldiers, then prisoners, saluted him and said ‘el presidente.’ We knew then that we had made a big haul.

All three of us who had captured him were angry at ourselves for not killing him out on the prairie to be consumed by the wolves and buzzards. We took him to General Houston, who was wounded and lying under a big oak tree.”

The Surrender of Santa Anna
painted by William Henry Huddle fifty years after the battle

“The remainder of the story of the battle others have told. It is history. I have told what I saw as a young private; I was not seventeen years old.

The causes of the discontent and the troubles with Mexico I did not then know. History tells all that. As a boy all I knew was that we had a row on our hands, and they wanted to fight. I thought I could kill Mexicans as easily as I could deer and turkeys.

In 1842 I helped General Burleson whip the Comanches at the Plum Creek fight, and in 1848, during the Mexican War, I went out again under Claiborne Herbert.

Still later, in 1861, I went again, this time to Virginia, and served in Hood’s brigade in the Fifth Texas. During the war with Spain (1898) I was very much troubled because I was too old to go.”

Note: William Henry Huddle made his primary living as a portrait artist, so he liked to get faces right. For The Surrender of Santa Anna, he worked from daguerreotype photographs, old portrait paintings, and his personal acquaintance with these men.

Unfortunately, those photos and paintings, has well as his personal knowledge of the men, were from decades after the battle. That’s why men in their early to mid twenties at the time of the battle are depicted in middle age. Sixteen year-old Sion Bostick looks to be about fifty.