Part of an old map of the San Jacinto area from the Texas Revolution

Veteran Bio

Texian Location:  Participant

The Kemp Sketch

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WINTERS, JAMES WASHINGTON -- Born in Giles County, Tennessee, January 21, 1817. His father, James Winters, was born in 1773. The father participated in the war of 1812. In 1808 he was married to Rhoda Creel Beal and to them were born thirteen children: William Carvin, Orin, Lemon, Mary, Carolina, John F., Nancy, James W., Sallie Dursilla, Benjamin Franklin, Lillie Ellen, Willis, Billington Taylor, and Susan Bernice Winters. The family moved to Texas in 1835, with the exception of James W. and John F., who came in 1834, and settled in what is Walker County, where Mr. James Winters died in 1848. Mrs. Winters died in Oakville, Live Oak County, in 1859. That Mr. James W. Winters came to Texas in 1834 is shown in Headright Certificate for one league and one labor of land issued to him in 1838 by the Board of Land Commissioners for Montgomery County.

James W., John F., and William C. Winters were members of Captain William Ware's Company at San Jacinto. James W. was issued Donation Certificate No. 658 for 640 acres of land December 5, 1838 for having participated in the battle. The land office records do not disclose that he applied for the land due him for his service immediately prior to and after the battle.

On June 3, 1901, Mr. Winters visited the San Jacinto battlefield as a representative of the Texas Veterans Association and identified important locations which were later permanently marked by the San Jacinto Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. While in Houston, Mr. Winters gave an account of the Battle of San Jacinto as he remembered it. This was published in the Quarterly of the Texas Historical Association in October, 1902.

Mr. Winters married Percy Tullis in Montgomery County, Sept. 14, 1837. They lived for several years following the Civil War in Tuxpan, Mexico. and while there Mrs. Winters died. Mr. Winters returned to Texas and married Elizabeth Weir, who died in 1894, he died on November 15, 1903. The couple are buried in the Brummett Cemetery, three miles east of Big Foot, Frio County.

Their children were: (1) James, married Mary Williams, their only child, Martha married Mr. Deberry and lived in Fresno, California; (2) Josephus, married Lula Tulas, and their children were; Richmond, Josephus, Zannie Lola, Steve, Effie, and Albert. (3) Adeline, married John Dinson, they had two children, Susie and Tibbie Dinson; (4) Susan, married Albert L. Curtis and their children were; Dora married C.A. Winters and lived in Los Angles, California, Mary married Marion Thomas, Ella married Luther Wolf and lived in Los Angles, CA., George W. married Hixie DeVilbiss and lived in Pearsall, TX., Jennie married E.W. Winters and lived in San Antonio, Loula married Jimmy Johnson and lived in El Paso, TX., Seoph died, Delbert married Effie Stevenson and lived in Cotulla, TX., Annie married Joe Buttles and lived in San Francisco, CA., and Minnie Curtis married Paul Knopf and lived in Walla Walla, Washington

. (5) John Winters never married and died in Tampico, Mexico. (6) Marion Winters never married. (7) William B. Winters married Emma Thetford and lived in Dallas, Tx. Their children were: (a) Brough Winters married George Craig and lived in Dallas. (b) James Winters married Dorcas Rigway and lived in San Antonio. (c) Albert Winters married Etta Byrd and lived in Waco. (d) Pearcy Winters married Clarence Franklin and lived in Salinas, CA. (e) Franklin Winters married Nannie Wright and lived in Dallas, TX. (f) Millie Winters married Walter Hewitt. (g) Florence Winters married Robert Wright and lived in Dallas, TX. (h) Virginia Winters married Raynon Wilson and lived in Corsicana, TX. (i) Andrew D. Winters married Estell Sikes and lived in Dallas, TX. (j) Elizabeth Winters married L.B. Rhodes and lived in Dallas, TX. (8) Sallie Winters married James Mathis and lived in Denison, Tx., their children were (a) Elizabeth, married Will Kirkpatrick and lived at West Station, Tx. (b) John D. (deceased), (c) Nannie, married James Hunt and lived in El Paso (d) William, married Willie Smith and lived in Itasca, Tx. (e) Ben, married Willie Davis and lived in Post, TX. (f) Lillie, and (g) Mattie Mathis, married Emery Graves and lived in Denison, TX.

On June 3, 1901 Mr. Winters, then past seventy-four years of age, was in Houston for the purpose of visiting the battlefield as a representative of the Texas Veterans Association and there designating important localities on it. These were later permanently marked by the San Jacinto Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. While in the city he gave an account of the Battle of San Jacinto as he remembered it. This was published in the Quarterly of the Texas Historical Association in October 1902 and is here given in full: "I was born in Giles County, Tennessee, January 21, 1817. I came to Texas from Memphis, Tennessee, with my father and all his family. Mr. Bankhead and his family came with us. We came through Arkansas on the Trammell's Trace. In Arkansas Mr. Geo. Lamb, who was on horseback, joined us, and remained with us all the time, even after reaching Texas. Bankhead never obtained any lands, but just rented. He was taken sick and died soon after his arrival. Lamb eventually married Bankhead's widow. Father's family located in the "Big Thicket" between the eastern and western prongs of the San Jacinto River. When we heard of Cos' entry into Texas we were among the volunteers who started out to repel him. When my father, my brothers and I reached San Felipe, on the Brazos, we heard that Cos had already been whipped out of the state. We met Sam Houston, who told us to go back home and make all the corn we could, for in the spring would come the clash. This was late in the fall, about December 1835. I was then about eighteen years of age. On March 12, 1836, about eighteen of us organized a company on the San Bernard; we chose William Ware Captain, Job Collard, First Lieutenant, George Lamb Second Lieutenant, Albert Gallatin First Sergeant, William Winters Second Sergeant. We went to Deweese Crossing on the Colorado with the intention of keeping the Mexicans from crossing. We acted independently, without instructions from anyone. Houston, at Beason's on the Colorado, sent orders for us to fall back. We did so, marching to the prairie between the Colorado and the San Bernard. Here we joined Houston, our company by this time being composed of from 100 to 200 men. From here we marched to San Felipe, thence to Groce's. I do not remember seeing Mosely Baker; do not think he came to the army.

At Groce's the artillery was sent for two iron 6 pounders. We remained in the bottom until they arrived. The steamer Yellowstone was in waiting and Houston crossed his army on this. We camped on the other side and worked all night preparing cartridges for the cannon.

Early next morning we remained orders to commence a forced march in the direction of Harrisburg. Our next camp was at Donohue's. Our march was continued the following morning, and the next stop was at McCurley's. The weather was very bad all the time. We now stopped in succession at Cypress Creek, at the head of a little bayou, and opposite Harrisburg. A little after 12 a.m. Deaf Smith crossed over to the last named place and captured Santa Anna's courier with valuable papers containing information as to the route of the Mexican Army. We were then ordered forward with all the speed possible that we might intercept Santa Anna at Lynch's ferry. I never heard any talk as to Houston's not designing to fight; or of officers or men insisting on his taking the road to Harrisburg; or of any one doubting his intention to do so. We went as straight as we could go towards Harrisburg. Mrs. Mann did take her oxen from the ammunition wagon before we got to camp at McCurley's. She needed them for herself. They had been pressed into service by our wagon master. Mrs. Mann went after them herself and took them from the wagon. The boys had a good joke on the wagon master, and they did not forget to use it.

The wagons were left at Harrisburg. I saw men pulling the cannon there. There may have been horses there, but I don't remember seeing any. Rohrer was wagon master. We crossed the bayou about two miles below Harrisburg, just below Sims' bayou. We fixed up the old ferry boat with flooring from Mrs. Batterson's house and some new lumber which we found there, and took over the cannon. It took all day to cross.

We lost no time after crossing in taking up our forced march, and never halted until late that night, between two o'clock and daylight. Houston ordered a halt that the men might get a little rest, as they had been working and marching through mud and water for several days. I did not get to rest as I was on guard duty.

It was Houston's intention to try to head off the Mexican army at Lynch's ferry, and he was in such haste that we had no time to prepare meals or to eat them. On the morning of April 20, as soon as we could see we set out for the ferry. Immediately after arriving there one of our spies came running in with the information that Santa Anna was near us. Houston immediately ordered his men to turn and march back to a small grove of timber, distributing them along the bank for protection. We no sooner got settled in our positions than the Mexicans opened fire on us with their artillery. There was more or less skirmishing all day. I never heard of any talk of the Texans building a bridge for retreat. Houston intended to fight and fight to a finish. After the first onslaught the Mexicans fell back, and we got our breakfast. When we reached Lynch's ferry we saw a sail coming up the bayou. Houston ordered a squad of men to see what it was and capture it. I heard the reports of firing as we continued our march. It was a ferry flat which Santa Anna had previously captured. It was loaded with flour and supplies, and was also intended to transport Santa Anna and his army across the bayou. The supplies were very timely for the Texans. Sherman was in command of the infantry, but with Houston's approval and permission he called for volunteers, who could obtain horses to attempt the capture of the Mexican artillery. Houston sent out Burleson's men to support Sherman and cover his retreat if necessary. The attempt was not successful. Two men were wounded, one of whom afterwards died.

The next morning, April 21, a council of war was held. Sometime before noon, Houston passed around among the men gathered at the camp fires and asked if we wanted to fight. We replied with a shout that we were most anxious to do so. Then Houston replied, 'Very well, get your dinners and I will lead you into the fight, an if you whip them every one of you shall be a captain."

There had been so many "split ups" and differences that Houston preferred the opinions of the men themselves, feeling that before hazarding battle we must find whether they would enter the engagement with a will. For the men had marched so long without food or rest that perhaps, they might not be physically prepared. I never heard orders given as to Vince's bridge. I heard that Deaf Smith had asked permission to cut it down. I never heard that Vince's bridge was mentioned in any address to the army, or any prominence given to the fact that it had been destroyed.

After leaving Harrisburg, I saw no wagon transports. We packed all there was on our backs. After dinner the men were ready for battle. I was in Sherman's division - left wing of attack - but under my own captain, Wm. Ware. Rush started out with us, but turned and went with the artillery. When we ran over the ridge we lost sight of the rest. On beginning the battle, before we got in sight of the Mexicans, they began firing at us. They were lying down in the grass. We examined the place where many had been, and found as many as five ends of cartridges where each man lay, so supposed that each man had fired at us as many as five times before we reached them. Their breastworks were composed of baggage, saddle bags, and brush, in all about four or five feet high. There was a gap eight or ten feet wide through which they fired the cannon. I saw Houston in the midst of the enemy's tents near the first regiment to the right. A Mexican officer tried to rally his men, but was soon dispatched by a rifle ball and fell from his horse. Our regiment passed beyond the Mexicans breastworks before we knew it, while our other two regiments came up in front of them, so then we did them up in short order. I never heard any halt ordered. We never halted. The battle was won in fifteen or eighteen minutes. The Mexican Cavalry broke in disorder, while ours was hotly pursuing them. Houston had two horses killed from under him, and was on his third one before he passed the Mexicans works. We ran and fought fully two miles.

After the fight was ended Houston gave orders to form in line and march back to camp, but we paid no attention to him, as we were all shaking hands and rejoicing over the victory. Houston gave the orders three time and still the men paid no attention to him. And he turned his horse around and said "men I can gain victories with you, but damn your manners," and rode on to camp.

Joel Robinson and Sylvester brought in Santa Anna. I was there when he was brought in; was digging the grave to bury our eight men. They passed by us and halted at our guard lines. The Mexicans prisoners clapped their hands, and gave other signs of joy, shouting, "Santa Anna, Santa Anna!" I dropped my tools and followed after them to Houston, who was lying on his cot at the camp near the bayou. Santa Anna introduced himself and they began to talk. I do not know who captured Cos, but he was the most frightened man I ever saw. He covered his head with a blanket. I could see it tremble twenty feet off. The greatest slaughter in the battle occurred between the breastworks and the lake; here the Mexicans and horses killed made a bridge across the bayou.

General Wharton tried to get us to cease and grabbed a Mexican and pulled him up behind him on his horse, saying that was his Mexican, but Jim Curtis shot the Mexican. The Mexican infantry near the lake would jump in occasionally and would dive to get away from our shots, but the minute they would raise their heads they were picked off by our men.

Only a few followed the flying Mexicans to Vince's bayou; the Mexicans finding the bridge burned, tried to cross, but their horses bogged. Only one of those trying to cross there got away, all the others were shot.

When Santa Anna was brought into camp some called out 'shoot him, hang him!' General Houston ordered the men who made these threats taken away. Next day after the battle, finding that many Mexicans were hidden in the marsh grass, some one set fire to the grass and burned or smoked them out. In this way about forty were captured. One who tried to run was shot. The same day I found a dead Mexican who had silver in his belt, about ten dollars. The money had slipped out when he was shot. Orders were given that all money found be brought in to headquarters. I turned this in. Money so captured was distributed to the soldiers, the amount so distributed averaging almost $11 per man. Santa Anna's handsomely ornamented saddle was held up and the men voted that it should be given to General Houston. Other officers saddles were sold. One brought as high as $300. I certify that the above statement is correct, or as nearly correct as I can remember."

Written by Louis W. Kemp, between 1930 and 1952. Please note that typographical and factual errors have not been corrected from the original sketches. The biographies have been scanned from the original typescripts, a process that sometimes allows for mistakes in the new text. Researchers should verify the accuracy of the texts' contents through other sources before quoting in publications. Additional information on the veteran may be available in the Herzstein Library.

Battle Statistics

  • Died in Battle: No
  • Rank: Private
  • Company: Capt. William Ware
  • Battle Account: True Veterans of Texas : an Authentic Account of the Battle of San Jacinto‚Ķby J. W. Winters (Bigfoot, Tex. : Pearsall Leader Print., 1895). RB F390.W46 T78 1895. Quarterly of the Texas Historical Association, Oct. 1902, transcribed in Kemp biography.

Personal Statistics

  • Date of Birth: 1817 Jan 21
  • Birthplace: Tennessee, Giles County
  • Origin: Tennessee, Memphis
  • Came to Texas: 1834
  • Date of Death: 1903 Nov 15
  • Burial Place: Brummett Cemetery, Frio County, Texas
  • Donation Certificate: 658
  • Wife: 1. Percy Tullis; 2. Elizabeth Weir
  • Children: James Winters; Josephus Winters; Adeline Winters Dinson; Susan Winters Curtis; Marion Winters; John Winters; William B. Winters; Sallie Winters Mathis
  • Family at San Jacinto: Brothers John Frelan and William Carvin fought at San Jacinto