On April 21, 1836, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and the Mexican army were defeated at the Battle of Jacinto by the Texas forces led by General Sam Houston. After the battle, Santa Anna tried to elude capture by dressing as a common soldier, but was soon discovered when prisoners saluted their leader. A few weeks later, Santa Anna signed the Treaty of Velasco and removed his troop from Texas.
It was during this time that someone took possession of a saddle and bridle belonging to Santa Anna that found its way into the hands of Sam Houston. There are two versions of how this happened, and they are both based on eyewitness accounts.
The first version of the story says that sometime after the Battle of San Jacinto, Santa Anna presented the saddle and bridle along with other items to Sam Houston. The second version tells a different story. After the battle, items were seized as spoils of war including a large sum of money. This money was divided up amongst the soldiers who used the money to buy the belongings of Santa Anna and others in an auction. An unknown individual purchased the saddle and bridle and gave the items to Sam Houston sometime later. Whether either story is true is up to debate.
What we do know is that the family of General Sam Houston, specifically Andrew Jackson Houston, gave the saddle and bridle to Sam Houston Normal Institute professor J.L Clark whose collection became the basis for the Texana Collection which turned into SHSU Special Collections. Sam Houston Memorial Museum also received many items from the J.L. Clark collection, including the saddle and bridle. To see the saddle and bridle, visit SHSU Digital Collections and view the Sam Houston Memorial Museum digital collection, here: LINK.
*A big thanks to Mikey Sproat from the Sam Houston Memorial Museum for his help with this story!