In 1810, the same year that Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla started Mexico’s first attempt to gain independence from Spain, Santa Anna joined the colonial Spanish Army under Joaquín de Arredondo, who taught him much about dealing with Mexican nationalist rebels. In 1811, Santa Anna was wounded in the left arm by a native Chichimec arrow. It was during the campaign under Colonel Joaquin Arredondo in the town of Amoladeras, in the state of San Luis Potosi. In 1813, Santa Anna served in Texas against the Gutierrez/Magee Expedition, and at the Battle of Medina, in which he was cited for bravery. He was promoted quickly. He became a second lieutenant in February 1812, and first lieutenant before the end of that year. In the aftermath of the rebellion, the young officer witnessed Arredondo's fierce counter-insurgency policy of mass executions. Historians have speculated that Santa Anna modeled his policy and conduct in the Texas Revolution on his experience under Arredondo.
During the next few years, in which the war for independence reached a stalemate, Santa Anna erected villages for displaced citizens near Veracruz. He also pursued gambling, a vice that would follow him all through his life.
In 1816 Santa Anna was promoted to captain. He conducted occasional campaigns to suppress Native Americans or to restore order after a tumult had begun. Mexican territory extended to present-day Oregon in the north and Panama in the south. It was a territory too vast for the Spanish Crown to control.
In 1821, Santa Anna declared his loyalty for El Libertador (The Liberator): the future Emperor of Mexico, Augustin de Itubide. He rose to prominence by quickly driving Spanish forces out of the vital port city of Veracruz that same year. Iturbide rewarded him with the rank of general. Santa Anna exploited his situation for personal gain. He acquired a large hacienda and at the same time continued gambling.
From Santa Anna's Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_Lopez_de_Santa_Anna
Battle vs. Crazy Horse (by The Deadliest Warrior)
General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and three of his soldiers are standing on a grassy hill overlooking a wide-open plain, with Chief Crazy Horse and three of his Sioux warriors on their horses below. Santa Anna has the soldiers bring up a cannon and they load it and prepare it for a shot. Crazy Horse looks up, sees the Mexican soldiers aiming the cannon, and shouts for his men to attack just as the cannon fires. It misses all of the Native American warriors but strikes one's horse, downing it.
As the three Native Americans charge up the hill on horseback, with a fourth running behind on foot, Santa Anna orders the cannon to be reloaded again, and he himself takes aim with a flintlock pistol. As he fires the pistol the Sioux warrior running on foot tumbles and falls in the grass. Crazy Horse and his men pull out their bows and just as the Mexican soldiers finish priming the cannon, they are attacked by a barrage of arrows flying at them. They duck behind the cannon for cover, and one is hit in the throat and crumples to the ground, dead.
Santa Anna and his men rush down the hill with the Sioux horsemen hot in pursuit. They reach the Mexican command tent and rush inside, grabbing their muskets. Just as they finish loading up the guns, the Sioux warriors rush in, dismounted, and attack with their knives. One Mexican is slashed across his neck and drops like a stone. Santa Anna draws his sabre and ducks outside, unnoticed. The last Mexican soldier fires with his musket, killing one Sioux warrior and wounding another.
Chief Crazy Horse pulls out his feathered spear and drives it straight through the last Mexican, and he coughs up blood before the spear is pulled out of his body, and he falls. The two Sioux warrios begin to celebrate their victory, but General Santa Anna rushes back in the tent, sabre in hand, and kills the last Sioux warrior. The Sioux Chief takes out his war axe and Santa Anna runs back out of the tent. Crazy Horse exits and finds himself surrounded by tents, all identical, in this Mexican camp. He ducks in one tent, but finds no Santa Anna. As he turns to leave, the Mexican general is right there, flintlock pistol and sabre in his hands. Crazy Horse acts quickly and hacks at Santa Anna's leg, causing the general to fall. The Chief then takes out his knife and stabs the general in the chest, killing him. As Santa Anna's body rolls over, Chief Crazy Horse gives a yelll of victory, then runs back out of the camp to where his horse is waiting, mounts it, and rides off into the distance.
WINNER: CHIEF CRAZY HORSE
The experts credited Crazy Horse's horseback archery skills to his victory, because even though Santa Anna had guns, it was very hard to hit a mounted Native American warrior who is also shooting arrows at you at the same time.