By the afternoon of April 18, 1836, General Santa Anna had moved his men into position to attack the Texas rebels he knew to be nearby. On his approach was New Washington - now mostly deserted as its inhabitants fled before his marching army. One of those that remained behind, however, was Emily, and Santa Anna was immediately struck by her beauty.
The next morning, after his men helped themselves to the crops and cattle, Santa Anna set about securing one more "spoil of war" - Emily. He captured her and a young "yellow boy" named Turner loading yet another flatboat headed for Houston's army. Santa Anna cajoled Turner to lead his Mexican scouts to the Houston encampment. But as they were departing, Emily convinced Turner to escape from Santa Anna's men and rush to Houston's camp to inform him of the Mexican general's arrival.
General Santa Anna believed himself quite the ladies' man. And although still married to a woman in Mexico, he remarried one of his teenaged captives from his Texas campaign. But he had been without his most recent bride for two weeks now. Emily looked like she would make a very suitable replacement.
Thus, he ordered the immediate setting up of his encampment on the plains of the San Jacinto despite protestations from his colonels who insisted the location violated all principles of wartime strategy. And they were right. Houston, upon hearing of Santa Anna's location from Turner, moved his troops into the woods within a scant mile of the beguiled general's headquarters.
On the morning of April 21, Houston climbed a tree to spy into the Mexican camp. There he saw Emily preparing a champagne breakfast for Santa Anna, and reportedly remarked, "I hope that slave girl makes him [Santa Anna] neglect his business and keeps him in bed all day." [Garner]
By afternoon, the great final battle for the independence of Texas was engaged. The Mexican army was caught completely by surprise, and Santa Anna was literally caught "with his pants down." (Reports at the time said he was caught running away from the battle with his studded silk shirt opened and concealed under a dead soldier's blue smock - hurriedly put on during his attempted escape.)