Today is the 186th anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto. On April 21, 1836, “Texican” forces under the leadership of General Sam Houston defeated the Mexican Army in a battle that lasted just 18 minutes.
That same Mexican Army under President of Mexico and General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna had earlier that year massacred almost 200 men and women at the Battle of Alamo. Less than a month later, more Texicans were executed as Prisoners of War following the Battle of Goliad. Both of these atrocities gave birth to the Battle Cries: “Remember the Alamo!” and “Remember Goliad!”
Following these losing battles, General Sam Houston began a series of strategic retreats eastward across Texas with the Mexican Army in pursuit. Texicans derided General Houston for his retreats, preferring instead to stand and fight Santa Anna. As General Houston camped on the banks of the Bay of San Jacinto near the present-day metropolis of Houston, Texas, he planned his counter-punch against Santa Anna. On April 21, Houston’s Texican Army surprised the Mexican Army as it camped nearby. Following his defeat in that battle, the Mexican Army’s Santa Anna, disguised as a Mexican Army Private, was captured and brought before General Sam Houston. In exchange for his freedom, Santa Anna was forced to recognize Texas’ Independence.
Nine years later in 1845, Texas was finally admitted to the Union as the 28th state of the growing United States of America.
A hundred and eighty-one years ago, writer Edgar Allan Poe created a completely new genre of literature when he published the first detective story. The tale, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, first appeared in the Graham’s Lady’s and Gentleman’s Magazine on April 20, 1841.
The story follows Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin as he solves a series of murders in Paris, France. The tale is narrated by the great detective’s roommate…a style which would be adopted by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with his tales of detective Sherlock Holmes, narrated by Dr. John H. Watson, more than 45 years later in 1887.
Following the 32-year old Poe’s detective short story, English novelist Wilkie Collins expanded the detective story genre to his full-length novel, The Moonstone, in 1868. His novel’s hero, Sergeant Cuff, searches for the mastermind who stole a sacred Indian moonstone. His detective novel contains many of the mystery elements found in today’s detective thrillers, such as red herrings, false alibis, and others. Later, mystery writers such as Dame Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane, Sue Grafton, Lee Child, and many, many others became famous, publishing their own variations of detective and mystery stories and novels. The detective genre survives today with new authors following in the footsteps of Edgar Allan Poe and all the others who followed him.