Hispanic Texas: Mexican Soldiers who fought in the Battle of San Jacinto

Painting of The Battle of San Jacinto

Henry Arthur McArdle, “The Battle of San Jacinto,” painting, 1865, digital image [public domain], Wikimedia Commons.[1]

Another genealogist messaged me last month asking for advice on where to find records pertaining to Mexican prisoners from the battle of San Jacinto. He finds his ancestor Lorenzo Trujillo (from present-day New Mexico) mentioned in a book as a soldier in Santa Anna’s army, who was taken prisoner after the battle. The book cites an oral interview, but does not provide references to any written documents.

I offered to do a bit of quick research for him. Particularly since through mutual autosomal DNA matches, this genealogist and I think that he and my father might be genetic cousins through this Trujillo line. My friend has already established descent from Lorenzo Trujillo, but I am just beginning to explore my father’s New Mexico Trujillo line.

Relevant Records

While Mexican and Hispanic genealogy is a specialty of mine, being from and still living in Southern California, and having no known (until very recently) Hispanic ancestors from Texas, I am not as familiar with records pertaining to the Mexican Army’s role in the Battle of San Jacinto and the Texas Revolution. So I had to spend a little time learning what records might exist in the U.S. pertaining to the Mexican soldiers who fought at the Battle of San Jacinto.

McArdle’s Notebooks

A Google search for “Battle of San Jacinto” quickly led to the following records.

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) owns the McArdle Notebooks, a collection of “documents, photographs, maps, and personal recollections” obtained from post-Civil War Texas-based artist Henry McArdle.[2] McArdle used these materials for research when painting his best known works Dawn at the Alamo and The Battle of San Jacinto (included at the top of this post). The digitized collection is available online.

The papers pertaining to the The Battle of San Jacinto painting include several items relevant to those researching Mexican soldiers who fought in this battle:

However there is no Trujillo noted on these lists.[3]

Lsit of Mexican Prisoners from the Battle of San Jacinto

Page 1 of 3, of the list of Mexican prisoners. Click to view the full size image.[4]

TSLAC also has a list of “Mexican List of Killed and Wounded at San Jacinto” on its website, included in an article titled “The Battle of San Jacinto.” It is not clear from the website if this list is part of the McArdle Notebooks or if it is from an entireley different source.[5]

Battle of San Jacinto War Prisoner Records

That same Google search also led me to the Texas Archival Resources Online (TARO) site, a one-stop shop for locating finding aids to manuscript collections (most are not yet digitized or online) from a consortium of Texas archival institutions.

The collection that came up in my query is the Battle of San Jacinto War Prisoner Records held by the Special Collections division of the University of Texas at Arlington Libraries. ” Although the collection has not yet been digitized, the online finding aid can help determine if it might be worth making an in-person research visit or hiring a local researcher in that area. The finding aid does not reference a list of prisoners, but it does:

  • confirm the type of information the records contain about imprisoned Mexicans,
  • confirm that the collection and records are in English (helpful to know, if one does not read Spanish),
  • confirm that the collection is open for research, and provides a recommended citation format (wouldn’t want to fly out to Texas only to learn that the collection is not open to researchers),
  • provide a detailed Container List that would allow us to prioritize which boxes and folders to ask the archivist to pull for us if we visited the repository.

Find Aid for Battle of San Jacinto War Prisoner Records, 1836-1837

The top half of the “Battle of San Jacinto War Prisoner Records” finding aid. Click image for a larger view.[6]

If you attended my “Portals to the Past: Finding & Using Southwest Archival Collections” lecture at the TxSGS Family History Conference in Austin last year, we spent a bit of time walking through the important details provided on TARO finding aids, and how those details can help you make smarter choices when planning your research visit to an archival repository.

San Jacinto Museum of History’s Veteran Biographies

The San Jacinto Museum of History’s Herzstein Library provides an excellent online database of profiles for both Texian and Mexican veterans who served in the battle. While most of the Mexican profiles include just brief biographical and service details, dome include photos and a narrative. Unfortunately, I do not find anyone with the surname Trujillo, Trujillo, or Trujio. I do find other veterans with the given name of Lorenzo, but not our Lorenzo.[7]

Veteran Biographies Database San Jacinto Museum of History

How to find Mexican veterans of the Battle of San Jacinto.[8]

Conclusion

Does this brief search refute the claim in that book that Lorenzo Trujillo served under Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto, and was taken prisoner? Not at all. A more exhaustive search is necessary, most likely with some in-person research time at UT Arlington and other repositories. I will continue to keep my eyes open for signs of our Lorenzo Trujillo.

But this quick project to help a friend (and possible cousin!) introduced me to some excellent sources for researching Mexican soldiers in the Battle of San Jacinto, some of whom remained in Texas, calling it home, and others who remained in what later became part of the United States.

Are you aware of a possible source that I have missed? Please use the comment box below to share it publicly, or email me at colleen.e.greene@gmail.com.

Citations

[1] Henry Arthur McArdle, “The Battle of San Jacinto,” painting, 1865, digital image [public domain], Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Battle_of_San_Jacinto_(1895).jpg : accessed 15 March 2016).

[2]  “Introduction, The McArdle Notebooks,” Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Last modified: 5 October 2011 (https://www.tsl.texas.gov/mcardle/intro.html : accessed 15 March 2016.

[3] “The Battle of San Jacinto Notebook, The McArdle Notebooks,” Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Last modified: 5 October 2011 (https://www.tsl.texas.gov/mcardle/notebooks.html : accessed 15 March 2016.

[4] “McArdle’s List of Mexican Officers Made Prisoners, The Battle of San Jacinto Notebook, The McArdle Notebooks,” Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Last modified: 30 March 2011 (https://www.tsl.texas.gov/mcardle/sanjac/sanjac046-01.html : accessed 15 March 2016.

[5] “Mexican List of Killed and Wounded at San Jacinto,” Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Last modified: 28 March 2016 (https://www.tsl.texas.gov/treasures/republic/san-jacinto/wounded-mexican.html : accessed 15 March 2016.

[6] “Battle of San Jacinto War Prisoner Records,” Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington Libraries, Texas Archival Resources Online (http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/utarl/02435/arl-02435.html : accessed 15 March 2016).

[7] “Veteran Biographies,” The Albert and Ethel Herzstein Library, San Jacinto Museum of History, San Jacinto Museum of History (http://www.sanjacinto-museum.org/Library/Veteran_Bios/ : accessed 15 March 2016).

[8] Veteran Biographies.

Colleen Greene

Colleen (Robledo) Greene is a librarian, web developer, and educator, who has been researching her family history for 20 years. Colleen served as the 2016-2017 Director of Communications for TxSGS, from her home in Southern California. She blogs about her professional work and interests at www.colleengreene.com and shares her own family history research at www.cjroots.com.

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