Contemporary Holograph Notes on the Mier Expedition by a Participant
With Manuscript Plan of Perote Castle
421. [MIER EXPEDITION & ISRAEL CANFIELD PAPERS]. Archive of fourteen manuscript documents and letters in ink and pencil written by Canfield or about him, his family, and events in Texas. Included are documents relating to the Mier Expedition, Canfield’s military services, and his claims against Texas. Size varies. All are creased where formerly folded, but overall the collection condition is very good. Most are quite legible.
A New Jersey native, Israel Canfield (1808-1850), was in Texas by 1840, settled in Refugio County, and served as deputy sheriff and district clerk. After various military adventures in Texas, he joined Somervell’s Expedition, but refused to disband and joined the new force under William S. Fisher as first sergeant of Ewen Cameron’s Company A in the Mier Expedition. Upon his release, he went to New Orleans to regain his health and eventually returned to Texas, at some point moving to Calhoun County. In 1850 he decided to visit his relatives in New Jersey, but died shortly after his arrival there.
James M. Day edited the version of Canfield Mier’s diary now in the Texas State Library “Israel Canfield in the Mier Expedition,” Texas Military History 3 (Fall, 1963). The present materials appear to be contemporaneous notes that may have been kept as part of the diary but were not incorporated in it.
Joseph Milton Nance in his excellent work on the Mier Expedition, Dare-Devils All: The Texan Mier Expedition, 1842-1844 (Austin: Eakin Press, 1998) has several references to Canfield, but apparently did not have access to the some of the present unpublished material.
The Mier Expedition (or “Black Bean Episode”), a dark moment in Texas history, brought its Texas participants to a stark realization of the problems of overreaching. After the Somervell Expedition disbanded in 1842, some members decided to regroup and invade Mexico. Trapped in the town of Mier by Mexican forces, they eventually surrendered, were held prisoner in Mexico itself, and eventually released. See Handbook of Texas Online: Mier Expedition.
For additional information, please see our web site. Included in the lot are the following items:
MANUSCRIPTS ON MIER EXPEDITION. CANFIELD, Israel. Four manuscripts in Canfield’s hand relating to the Mier Expedition.
PRISONER LIST & THEIR FATES. “(No 7).” In pencil. 8 pp. 12mo (16 x 10.8 cm), stitched. Dated at various times between 1843-1844, Canfield herein reviews the fates of several of the prisoners, comments on some persons (including Mexican General Woll), and closes with summations of prisoners at Perote, September 21, 1843-January 25, 1844, and a “Recapitulation” of the Texans’ fates. Apparently contemporary with the event.
RELEASE, INTERVIEW WITH SANTA-ANNA. “No. 12.” In pencil. 7 pp. 12mo (16 x 11 cm). Recounts his release, interview with Santa-Anna, and his trip to Veracruz. A version of this information is published in his diary, but not this exact text. Apparently contemporary with the event.
PLAN OF PEROTE. “Ground Plan of the Castle of Perote, Jany. 1844.” One page. 12mo (15.8 x 11 cm). Ink, pencil, and wash. Lovely, detailed, scale-drawn ground plan of the castle, with a key in ink at lower left (e.g., “square,” “armory,” “officers quarters”). Apparently contemporary with the event and unpublished.
EDITS & EXPLANATIONS. An untitled sheet containing explanations and clarifications on the Mier Expedition. 2 pp. Oblong 8vo (12.6 x 20 cm), in ink, with corrections. This is apparently later and was written after his release.
Except for the map, these materials have been partly published in that the events they cover are included at various places in his printed diary. Because items A-C are written on the Italian paper common in Mexico at the time, the presumption is that they were written either during Canfield’s confinement or before he left the country.
CANFIELD, Israel. Autograph letter signed, to Post Master, Victoria, Texas, written at New Orleans, July 20, 1844. 3-1/2 pp. in ink. 4to (25.2 x 20 cm). Lists sixty names of men in Company A., Capt. Ewen Cameron commanding, December, 1842-July 1, 1844, and their fates (shot, escaped, in Perote Castle, etc.) Canfield asks the Post Master to publicize the list to the local citizens, as it may be of interest to them. Lower half of second leaf wanting, costing some text.
[CANFIELD, ISRAEL]. LEE, A[lfred] Al[onzo] & William S. Fisher. Autograph document signed. N.p., February 16, 1844. One page. 4to (21 x 22 cm), in ink. Signed twice by both men. Lee and Fisher state that Canfield enlisted in Cameron’s company on October 17, 1842, served honorably as a mounted ranger, provided his own horse and equipment, and is hereby honorably discharged.
Fisher (?-1845) had a varied career, fighting at San Jacinto and at one time serving as Republic of Texas Secretary of War. He went on the Mier Expedition, was captured, imprisoned, and eventually released. Lee was a 2nd lieutenant in Cameron’s company during the Mier Expedition.
[CANFIELD, ISRAEL]. Autograph document signed, Refugio County. Orders the county treasurer to pay Canfield $5.00.
[CANFIELD, ISRAEL]. NEAL, Benjamin Franklin. Autograph document signed, Refugio County, January 11, 1841. One page, in ink. 4to (25 x 19.7 cm). Signed twice. As chief justice of Refugio County, Neal certifies that Canfield received the majority of votes and is elected District Clerk of Refugio County.
Neal (179?-1873), the first mayor of Corpus Christi, was variously a soldier, politician, and newspaperman after moving to Texas in 1838. He equipped an artillery battalion to defend Corpus Christi during the Civil War.
[CANFIELD, ISRAEL]. HUNT, Memucan. Two related autograph documents signed. Both in ink.
HUNT, Memucan. Autograph letter signed. New Orleans, October 12, 1848. One page. 12mo (12 x 20.1 cm). Stating that he has received the claim against the late Republic of Texas from Israel Canfield and John R. Baker and promises to pursue payment of it.
HUNT, Memucan. Autograph note signed. New Orleans, October 12, 1848. One page 24mo (5 x 20 cm). Receipt for $5.00 payable towards Hunt’s commission for pursuing the claims.
Hunt (1807-1856) was an influential Texan who served as a legislator and very successfully as secretary of the Texas Navy. He was one of the chief financiers of the Texas Revolution. See Item 233 herein.
[CANFIELD, ISRAEL]. TOELLEY(?), John R. Autograph document signed. One page. 12mo (10 x 18.5 cm). May 8, 1841. Receipt acknowledging that Canfield has presented him with his headright certificate, apparently so the land could be surveyed.
CANFIELD, Israel & Co. Autograph document. N.p., . 5 pp., in ink. Folio (31.5 x 19.5 cm). Statement of account for Canfield’s (the father’s) business dealings with Moses Hoping, 1809-1813. Most of the business activity involves providing and hauling lumber for Hoping.
CANFIELD, B.O. Autograph letter to John R[eagan] Baker, signed with initials. Morristown, New Jersey, July 16, 1855. 3 pp., in ink. 12mo (20.5 12.5 cm). A retained draft with numerous corrections. Canfield writes Baker about locating and transferring Israel’s headright and about collecting any money Texas owes him.
[CANFIELD, B.O.]. BAKER, John Reagan. Autograph letter signed to B.O. Canfield. Indianola, August 7, 1855. 1-1/4 pp., in ink. 4to (25.5 x 20 cm). Baker replies to Canfield’s July 16, 1844 letter and discusses the mechanics of getting Israel’s estate probated. He says he will take no money except as reimbursement for the necessary fees.
Baker (1809-1904), after engaging in various military engagements, went on the Mier Expedition, where he was wounded during the Salado escape, after which he was confined to Perote Prison until his release.
CANFIELD, George W. Autograph letter signed, to his brother, Reckelesstown, New Jersey, February 3, 1856. 1-1/4 pp., in ink. 8vo (23 x 18.2 cm). Writes regarding a tailor and some clothing; discusses claim for Israel’s property in Texas and his services in the Mier expedition and gives information on where the land is located. Sections excised with loss of some text.
CANFIELD, William C. Autograph letter signed to his father, Israel Canfield. New London, Indiana, February 15, 1832. 2 pp. with integral address leaf, in ink. 4to (25.5 x 20 cm). Discusses the birth of daughter and in a well-worn tradition hints for money so that he can provide well for his daughter and her future.
HAMILTON, James J. Autograph letter signed “Your very affectionate nephew” to an unnamed recipient. Twickenham, December 6th, 1791. 3 pp., in ink. 4to (23 x 19 cm). Requests that his uncle use his influence to increase the income he is due from his inheritance so he can better keep up appearances.
[CANFIELD FAMILY]. Undated manuscript docketed “Births of the Children of Geo. W. and Rebecca R. Canfield.” One-half page, in ink & pencil. Folio (32 x 20.3 cm).
Copyright Dorothy Sloan 2009