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AUCTION 20

Manuscript Report on the Goliad Massacre by Commander Portilla
“The Other Side”

144. [GOLIAD MASSACRE]. PORTILLA, José Nicolás de la. Unsigned manuscript report in Spanish on the Goliad massacre by the commander of Goliad, written in a contemporary secretarial hand, dated at Goliad, March 26 and March 27 (Palm Sunday), 1836. 2 pp., folio (31 x 22 cm), wove paper with watermark BAS within decorated oval surmounted by cross. Water damaged at fold, with loss of some words. Apparently unpublished. Portilla, as commander at Goliad, bore the difficult burden of carrying out Santa-Anna’s order to execute James Walker Fannin, Jr. and over 300 of his men. This manuscript documents Portilla’s agony and horror, shows his humanity, and sheds additional light on a riveting, pivotal event in the history of Texas and Mexico. See end of description for full translation in English.

    Santa-Anna had little compunction about exercising the powers given to him by the government on December 30, 1835, in the form of a law allowing foreigners taken under arms to be treated as pirates and summarily executed. He used that authority to devastating effect after the fall of the Alamo when he ordered the execution of the few survivors. Some of his subordinates did not relish such cold-blooded affairs, however, and sometimes resisted, a resistance that stretched all the way to refusal to perform a mass execution of the Mier prisoners in 1843. General José de Urrea was the man in Texas in 1836 caught between his humanity and Santa-Anna’s orders. In a few cases, he managed to sidestep his superior’s insistence on the letter of the law, apparently because of personal distaste for such sanguinary, arbitrary solutions.

     Santa-Anna clearly wanted the authority the law provided mainly to deal with the rebellious Texans. He really did not care to take any prisoners among the rebels and consistently sought to dispatch any captives immediately. Although the Alamo had inflamed many minds against the Mexicans, it was the fate of Fannin and his command that totally voided whatever sympathies might have remained in Texas and the U.S. for the Mexican attempt to recover Texas. Again, Urrea was caught in the middle and again managed to sidestep responsibility for carrying out Santa-Anna’s orders.

     Fannin, confronted by a superior Mexican force under Urrea’s command at the Battle of Coleto, surrendered under what he believed to be terms that allowed his men to be treated as conventional prisoners of war. Urrea, in the negotiations, undoubtedly knew what Santa-Anna’s reaction would be to these prisoners, but negotiated a conditional surrender that seemed to satisfy Fannin’s concerns. Urrea was also assuredly not confident of the outcome of another battle, since this time it would be fought against men who knew they had nothing to lose by selling their lives as dearly as they possibly could. They might even prevail. Once the surrender negotiations were completed and reduced to writing, Fannin and his now unarmed men were transferred to the Mexican fortress at Goliad, where they were held in the chapel, the location whence they had departed just a few days previously.

     Urrea’s foresight proved entirely correct. Santa-Anna, despite Urrea’s urgings of clemency, immediately issued orders to both Urrea and Colonel José de la Portilla to execute all the prisoners. Urrea had in the meantime departed Goliad, leaving the responsibility to Portilla, a move probably calculated to ensure that Urrea had no real part in what he knew was likely to happen, despite his urgings to Portilla to treat the prisoners kindly. In the end, Portilla concluded that Santa-Anna would have to be obeyed, and on March 27, 1836, his troops marched the Texans out in three separate groups down three separate roads under heavy guard and carried out Santa-Anna’s wishes, although some Texans managed to escape to let the world at large know what had happened. Fannin and the wounded Texans were executed inside the Goliad fortress itself. Apparently 342 Texans were put to death but twenty-eight escaped and about twenty more were spared for other reasons. As had been the case with the Alamo defenders, the bodies were burned and then left out in the open.

     This extraordinary document consists of retained copies of two letters followed by a note in a different hand written after the executions; this document was apparently retained by Urrea, and Portilla’s original communications sent on to Santa-Anna. In the first letter, dated March 26, 1836, Portilla informs Urrea that the executions will take place at 4 the following morning in accordance with the order he has received directly from Santa-Anna. He requests, however, that Urrea clarify the status of some of the other prisoners in his custody who had surrendered at Copano, since he also is in charge of them, too. He here is referring to the troops commanded by Major William P. Miller, who surrendered to Urrea in March at Copano and who were also sent to Goliad but kept separate from Fannin’s troops. Miller’s eighty men were ultimately not included in the executions, although Portilla’s indecision here indicates that their exclusion was far from certain at one point.

     In the second letter, dated March 27, 1836, and also directed to Urrea, Portilla informs him that the executions have taken place against his natural sentiments. Pulling no punches, Portilla clearly expresses his distaste for this bloody business and tells Urrea that the whole affair has horrified him and that the only reason he carried out his orders was from a sense of military duty to his superiors and to the nation. In a subtle dig on Urrea, he notes bluntly, “You have left me here, my General,” but remarks that he has followed his orders, anyway, and assures Urrea of his continued loyalty and obedience.

     The third item, the small note, states that Urrea was in Guadalupe Victoria about ten leagues from Goliad when he received Portilla’s second letter at about 10 in the morning, too late to do anything but try to save anyone who was spared, of which he believes there were about 150. That is apparently a reference to Miller’s troops, to the few of Fannin’s command who were reprieved for various reasons, and to prisoners taken at Refugio. Ironically, Santa-Anna also subsequently ordered those men executed, as well, but promptly rescinded the order.

     These three documents all appear to be unpublished and offer extraordinary insights into the mental process by which Portilla screwed up his courage to the sticking point to carry out an order that he apparently found simply barbaric. The most interesting implication written between the lines is that Fannin and his troops probably came close to escaping execution, as happened to the majority of the Mier prisoners in the next decade.

     Despite whatever reservations Portilla had, however, he did his duty and in so doing set off a wave of revulsion in Texas and the U. S. in which all sympathy for and understanding of the Mexican cause in Texas evaporated. As Harbert Davenport and Craig H. Roell conclude in the Handbook of Texas Online (Goliad Massacre):

The impact of the Goliad Massacre was crucial. Until this episode Santa-Anna's reputation had been that of a cunning and crafty man, rather than a cruel one. When the Goliad prisoners were taken, Texas had no other army in the field, and the newly constituted ad interim government seemed incapable of forming one. The Texas cause was dependent on the material aid and sympathy of the United States. Had Fannin's and Miller's men been dumped on the wharves at New Orleans penniless, homesick, humiliated, and distressed, and each with his separate tale of Texas mismanagement and incompetence, Texas prestige in the United States would most likely have fallen, along with sources of help. But Portilla's volleys at Goliad, together with the fall of the Alamo, branded both Santa-Anna and the Mexican people with a reputation for cruelty and aroused the fury of the people of Texas, the United States, and even Great Britain and France, thus considerably promoting the success of the Texas Revolution.

     Adrián Woll later claimed that he had persuaded Santa-Anna to change his mind, but that the countermand had not arrived in time. Had Portilla shown just a little more reluctance, the course of the Texas Revolution might have been quite different. The decision would come back to haunt Santa-Anna in short order, since on April 21 he would go down to defeat under the assault of enraged Texans screaming, “Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!”

Translation (with thanks to John R. Wheat):

// Recto

Sr. General Don José Urrea==Goliad, March 27, 1836==My Beloved General==I am most wretched, because today, in cold blood, a scene has been enacted that has horrified me. Ultimately, military duty and the nation will be involved.==You have left me here, my General. You will have thought it best, and I am quite obedient to your will. I came voluntarily with these poor Indians, as you know, to lend my poor efforts to the good of the nation. A man cannot be asked for more than to do that of which he is capable. I and they have been thought adequate, without doubt, for the object to which we have been assigned. I repeat my acceptance [MS torn ...] less to serve as an executioner, and be ordered to kill more people. Nevertheless, I will always do what I am ordered, since I have the pleasure of being one of the most disciplined [subordinate] officers that there could be in our army, and I always do my duty, even against my natural sentiments. I cannot write on, because I must tend to various matters [etc., etc.]==I am, my General, your loyal and loving friend w[ho] k[isses] y[our] h[and].==F[?] Nicolás de la Portilla.

// Verso

Division of Operations==Goliad Command==According to a peremptory order from His Excellency, the General in Chief, which I have received directly, tomorrow morning at 4 the prisoners that Your Lordship has left in this fortress will be shot. I do not dare confine this just to those who surrendered at El Copano to Sr. Colonel La Bara [?] because I am unaware of the particular circumstances of their surrender, regarding which I hope Your Lordship will deign to inform me, so as to save me the responsibility by this means, and tell me what I should do with them==God and Liberty. Goliad, March 26, 1836==F. Nicolás de la Portilla==Sr. General of the Division of Operations, Don José Urrea.

[In a different hand]

General Urrea was in Guad[alup]e Victoria, 10 leagues from Goliad, and received this communication on the 27th of March at 10 in the morning, when the order to execute [decapitate!] the prisoners should already have been carried out. Consequently, I can do nothing now but save the ones who escaped from that strike, which were about 150.

                         [Unsigned]

Handbook of Texas Online: Goliad Massacre; José Nicolás de la Portilla; José de Urrea; Adrián Woll James Walker Fannin, Jr.

($7,500-15,000)

Included with this lot are three additional reports concerning the Mexican retreat from Texas, apparently from the same archive:

FILISOLA, Vicente & Adrián Woll. Contemporary secretarial copies of three reports: (1) Filsola to José de Urrea, dated at Goliad, May 17, 1836. 1 p., in Spanish, folio (31 x 22.4 cm), wove paper, watermark YGNACIO. (2) Woll to José Urrea dated at Matamoros, October 4(?), 1836. 1-1/2 pp., in Spanish, folio (31 x 22.2 cm), wove paper, watermark YGNACIO, with crossovers and corrections. (3) Woll to Urrea, dated at Matamoros, October 8, 1836, to Urrea. 1 p., in Spanish, folio (30.7 x 22.2 cm), wove paper, watermark BAS within decorated oval surmounted by cross. First and second reports with mild darkening at upper and lower right blank margins. Water damaged at fold, with loss of some words. See below for translations of the three reports.

     These three reports concern routine matters that arose as the Mexican army retreated from Texas following defeat at the Battle of San Jacinto. In many ways, they reflect the confusion, divisions, and uncertainties that controversial process entailed.

     In the first, General Vicente Filosola, writing from Goliad on May 17, 1836, informs General José Urrea that sufficient water has been found at Cópano for the troops and defers addressing for the moment the other matters he mentioned in his letter of yesterday. Mexican troops had reoccupied Goliad on May 16, and the condition of the troops holding Cópano was of serious concern to Filisola. Urrea had written Filisola on the matter of water on this same day, reporting that Juan Davis said sufficient water was to be had, according to the letter published in Filisola’s Memorias (1: 269-270). Filisola ruefully notes (1: 270) that Davis was wrong and there wasn’t enough water there. The other matters on which Filisola defers apparently are Urrea’s recommendations that Cópano be fortified and that the army not retreat farther. The Davis referred to is John Davis Bradburn, William B. Travis’ nemesis. According to Margaret S. Henson (Juan Davis Bradburn: A Reappraisal of the Mexican Commander of Anahuac (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1982), Davis was ordered against his wishes to join José de Urrea's command of the port of Cópano. See also Handbook of Texas Online (John Davis Bradburn).

In the second letter, Adrián Woll, writing from Matamoros on October 4, 1836, to José Urrea, recounts a series of contretemps among him, Urrea, and Filisola concerning orders to send calavalry to Old Fort (in present-day Fort Bend County) to round up stragglers. Woll is referring to the area around Thompson’s Ferry (called Hold’s Fort by Filisola in his Memorias), which Santa-Anna had captured by a ruse on April 12, 1836. Woll notes that the ferry itself was destroyed by the rear guard when the Mexicans retreated from the area. In conclusion, Woll cannot help but express his frustration that he must take up his pen “to deal with some points that show me the divisions that reign among my companions, the señores generals of the Army of Texas....”

In the third letter, Adrián Woll, writing from Matamoros on October 8, 1836, to José Urrea, explains that the Texans fleeing between the Guadalupe and Colorado rivers were not pursued by Joaquín Ramírez y Sesma’s cavalry because Woll lacked information on the enemy’s strength and knowledge of the local terrain. Ramírez y Sesma was one of Santa-Anna’s top commanders during the Texas Campaign, led the Mexican army’s advance guard, and participated in the Battle of the Alamo. Handbook of Texas Online (Joaquín Ramírez y Sesma).

Translations of the three reports (with thanks to John R. Wheat):

(1)

Army of Operations==I am apprised of everything Your Lordship tells me in an official letter dated yesterday regarding the report given to you by Sr. Colonel Davis, it being very satisfying to me that sufficient drinking water was found for the detachment posted at El Cópano. I should let rest the other points that Your Lordship discusses in your afore-cited letter, because it is my duty to look out for the nation’s dignity as well as for the considerations due the Supreme Government, and the consideration and good name of the troops that I have the honor to command. I am grateful to you, despite the wise observations that you are pleased to make to me, at the same time I have the satisfaction of reiterating to you the assurances of all my consideration and esteem==God and Liberty. Goliad, May 17, 1836==Vicente Filisola==Sr. General Don José Urrea, Commander of the Reserve Division.

(2)

General Staff of the Army of Operations==Most Excellent Señor==In reply to Your Excellency’s note dated the 1st of the present [month]--in which you ask me to say if it is true that, when it was agreed in the council of generals that convened in the house of Madama Pawll [Powell] on April 25 that a party of cavalry should be sent to Oldfort to round up our stragglers, and [the party] was chosen from your regiment, you refused to do it--I must say that in fact the Most Excellent Sr. General Don Vicente Filisola suffers from error on the particular, because that position was adopted as a consequence of my having requested it before the meeting was held, according to Sr. Commandant of Artillery Don Pedro Ampudia. I had offered then to go in person with a battalion to the afore-mentioned crossing of Oldfort, and since the most excellent señor general in chief had granted this to me, I was preparing to march when I was notified by His Excellency that I should appoint a party of cavalry under the command of a presidial officer, being unable to allow me [to do] what moments before he had agreed to, to such a degree that, in order for the appointed officer to set out, I had to lend him one of my horses, because his own was totally useless for that purpose==I will also tell Your Excellency to recall that when I was appointed to the rank of major general upon assuming command at the house of Madama Pawll, I designated the cavalry of Your Excellency’s brigade to provide the advance forces and a large guard, which measure Your Excellency resisted for the reasons that you stated in my presence to the most excellent señor general in chief, to whom I reported this incident. And he ordered me in consequence that each brigade should cover its camps according to the arrangements of their generals==It is well known that when the withdrawal was made from Oldfort, the chalán that was serving to cross the Brazos River was destroyed by order of the commander who covered the rear guard that day==I am sorry and find it hard to find myself forced to make use of the pen to deal with some points that show me the divisions that reign among my companions, the señores generals of the Army of Texas, but being a friend of justice and of the truth, I shall pay tribute for all time to the latter with the homage that they deserve with the impartial character for which I believe I have given repeated proof==I have the honor to reiterate to Your Excellency the declarations of my esteem and consideration==God and Liberty, General Headquarters in Matamoros, October 4[?],1836==Adrián Woll==Most Excellent Sr. General Don José Urrea.

(3)

General Staff of the Army of Operations===Most Excellent Señor==With regard to the questions that Your Excellency pleases to ask me in your note of the 1st of the present [month], about the request I made to Sr. General Don Joaquín Ramírez y Sesma as soon as we crossed the Guadalupe River, that he give me the elite companies and the cavalry of the division that the aforesaid general was commanding, for the purpose of pursuing the enemy that was in a precipitous retreat between the Guadalupe and Colorado rivers, I have the satisfaction of telling Your Excellency that [the answer] is positive, and that Sr. General Don Joaquín Ramírez y Sesma, who approved the measure, did not [MS torn ...] reason solely that we did not know the number of the enemy force and the local details of the terrain==I take this occasion to repeat to Your Excellency the assurances of my respect and consideration==God and Liberty, General Headquarters in Matamoros, October 8, 1836==Adrián Woll==Most Excellent Sr. General Don José Urrea.

Handbook of Texas Online (Vicente Filisola):

Filisola (1789-1850), military officer, was born in Ravello, Italy, in 1789 and went to Spain quite early, presumably with his family. He joined the Spanish army on March 17, 1804, and was in the military for the rest of his life. Because of his dedication, six years later he became a second lieutenant. He went to Mexico or New Spain in 1811, the year after Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla's proclamation of independence in the famous ‘Grito de Dolores’ of September 16, 1810. Filisola, a loyalist devoted to the Spanish cause, was made captain of artillery in 1813 and the next year captain of grenadiers. He won the confidence and friendship of Agustín de Iturbide, and through this association became a leading military figure in Mexico. Supportive of Iturbide in his Plan de Iguala and his declaration as emperor of Mexico, and in command of the Trigarante (‘Three Guarantees’) army, Filisola was promoted to brigadier general and ordered to Central America to bring that region into Iturbide's empire. Filisola gained control of Central America only to have to relinquish it once Iturbide fell from power.

      Despite his support of Iturbide, Filisola held a number of important posts in the Republic of Mexico during the 1820s, and in January 1833 he was named commander of the Eastern Provincias Internas. Because of a desperate illness he relinquished his command for a time, but was later able to resume his duties. As a minor empresario, Filisola, on October 12, 1831, received a grant to settle in Texas 600 families who were not Anglo-Americans. The area of his grant in East Texas included part of the land granted to the Cherokee Indians in 1823. Filisola failed to fulfill his contract with the government. When Antonio López de Santa-Anna organized his campaign against Texas, he commissioned Filisola as second in command of his army. Thus, with the capture of Santa-Anna at the battle of San Jacinto, he was faced with the formidable task of withdrawing the Mexican forces from Texas. Despite considerable opposition from other officers, Filisola carried out Santa-Anna's orders and began to retreat. By the time he received instructions from the Mexican government on May 28, he had already ordered the evacuation of San Antonio and had ratified the public treaty of Velasco, and his army had crossed the Nueces. Upon receiving the government's order to preserve conquests already made, he offered to countermarch, but because of the condition of the Mexican troops the retreat continued to Matamoros. On June 12, José de Urrea replaced Filisola in general command; Filisola resigned his own command to Juan José Andrade and retired to Saltillo. Filisola was accused of being a coward and a traitor in overseeing the withdrawal of the Mexican troops, and he faced formal charges upon his return to Mexico. The general successfully defended himself before the court-martial and was exonerated in June 1841. Upon his return to Mexico in 1836, Filisola published a defense of his conduct in Texas. It was translated into English and published by the Republic of Texas in 1837. During the Mexican War Filisola commanded one of three divisions of the Mexican army. In 1928 Carlos E. Castañeda published a translation of Filisola's account in The Mexican Side of the Texas Revolution. Filisola's most complete account of the Texas Revolution is his Memoirs for the History of the War in Texas, which was not published in English translation until 1985. Filisola died on July 23, 1850, in Mexico City during a cholera epidemic.

Handbook of Texas Online (José de Urrea):

Urrea (1797-1849), military officer, was born in 1797 in the presidio of Tucson, Sonora (now Arizona). He was a military cadet in the presidial company of San Rafael Buenavista in 1809 and a lieutenant in 1816, participating in battles in Jalisco and Michoacán. In 1821 he supported the Plan of Iguala of Agustín de Iturbide. He participated in the anti-Iturbide Plan of Casa Mata and the siege of San Juan de Uluá. Affiliated with the Plan of Montaño, Urrea was separated from army service, but in 1829 he reentered and fought in Tampico with Antonio López de Santa-Anna against Isidro Barradas. He intervened in the Plan of Jalapa against the government of Vicente Ramón Guerrero and when Anastasio Bustamante came to power (1829-30), Urrea was named to the secretariat of the command in Durango. He was made a lieutenant colonel in 1831. In July 1832, along with Santa-Anna, he declared for Gómez Pedraza, and in 1834 he assumed the command of the permanent regiment of Cuautla, near Cuernavaca, after having received the rank of colonel from Francisco Ellorriaga, whom he had supported. As acting general in July 1835, he was sent to fight the Comanches in Durango, where he was commandant general and then governor in September and October. He participated in the expedition to Texas in 1836 and was engaged in the battles at San Patricio, Agua Dulce Creek, and Coleto. Urrea was opposed to the withdrawal of Mexican troops ordered by the captive Santa-Anna after the battle of San Jacinto. In 1837 he was named commandant general of the departments of Sinaloa and Sonora. In December, upon being passed over for the appointment of governor, he proclaimed the two departments under the federal system, whereupon he was designated constitutional governor and protector. He then turned over his executive office to the vice governor and marched on opposing forces at Mazatlán, where he was defeated. He fled to Guaymas and finally to Durango, where he became involved in yet another uprising. In 1839 he was captured and sent to Perote Prison. Later during an imprisonment in Durango he was rescued by his partisans to take part in a revolt. In 1842 he assumed the executive power of Sonora, which he held until May 1844. In 1846 he fought against the United States in the Mexican War. He died in 1849.

Handbook of Texas Online (Adrián Woll):

Woll (1795-1875), Mexican general, was born on December 2, 1795, in St. Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, educated for the military profession, and served as a lieutenant in a lancer regiment in the imperial guard during the First Empire. In 1815 he was a captain adjutant major in the Tenth Legion of the National Guard of the Seine. On the restoration of Bourbon rule in France, Woll sailed for America, carrying letters of introduction to Gen. Winfield Scott, headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland. Scott apparently pointed to the opportunities that the Mexican revolutionary movement in progress against Spain offered a young man of energy, skilled in the military arts. On July 3, 1816, in Baltimore, Woll joined the staff of Gen. Francisco Xavier Mina as a lieutenant colonel. He landed with Mina near the mouth of the Santander River on April 15, 1817, and assisted in seizing Soto la Marina three days later. When the Mina expedition collapsed, Woll sought other ties to the Mexican War of Independence and cast his lot with Gen. Antonio López de Santa-Anna. With the achievement of Mexican independence, Woll remained in the Mexican army, became a naturalized citizen, and married Lucinda Vautrey Griggi. He became a colonel in 1828 and served as an aide-de-camp to Santa-Anna during the capture of Tampico from the Spaniards in 1829. In 1832 he was promoted to brigadier general and awarded the Cross of Tampico. He and several other officers were commissioned by Santa-Anna to conduct and place in the hands of the central government in Mexico City the flag taken from the Spaniards. In 1832 Woll supported the pronunciamento against President Anastasio Bustamante that brought Gen. M. Gómez Pedraza to the presidency. From Guadalajara Woll led a small, well-organized force that defeated Lt. Col. Joaquín Solórzano at Taxinastla; he entered Colima on November 15 and placed Pedraza adherents in office, then moved to Morelos. In 1835 Woll served as quartermaster general during Santa-Anna's campaign that put down the Federalist uprising led by the pure-blooded Indian Juan Álvarez in the south and by Francisco García Zacatecas.

      In 1836 Woll was quartermaster general of Santa-Anna's army in the invasion of Texas. On March 8 he reached San Antonio de Béxar and reported to Gen. Vicente Filisola, second in command of the Mexican forces. After the battle of the Alamo, Woll accompanied Gen. Joaquín Ramírez y Sesma, who had orders to march with 725 men through Gonzales to San Felipe de Austin and thence to Harrisburg and Anahuac. The force included three infantry battalions, two six-pounder cannons, and forty dragoons. Ramírez y Sesma confronted Gen. Sam Houston and a Texan army on the opposite bank of the Colorado River at Beeson's Ferry, near the site of present-day Columbus, and began crossing. Houston retreated. On April 5, when Santa-Anna reached Atascosito Pass on the Colorado, Woll assigned a battalion to construct rafts to ferry across the remainder of the army, which was arriving under Filisola. Santa-Anna then proceeded with a division to San Felipe-and defeat at the battle of San Jacinto. On April 26 Woll became Filisola's chief of staff. Informed of Santa-Anna's surrender, Filisola dispatched Woll to the Texan camp as an emissary under the pretext of learning the terms of the armistice, but actually to gain information on the strength, armament, and resources of the enemy. On April 30 Woll rode in under a truce flag and was detained. Gen. Thomas J. Rusk, commanding the Texan army, transferred Woll to Velasco, where he was given safe conduct to Goliad and released. Woll joined the retreating Mexican army on June 12. In 1842 Woll claimed that during the Texas campaign he had persuaded Santa-Anna to cancel his order to shoot James W. Fannin and his men, but the order could not be recalled in time.

      After the Texas Revolution, Woll played an inconspicuous role in Mexican affairs. During the brief "Pastry War" with France in 1838-39, he resigned his commission to avoid fighting against his countrymen, but the Mexican government rejected his request and placed him on inactive duty. When the French troops withdrew, Woll joined Santa-Anna and the Centralists in their struggle with the Federalists. Late in November 1840 he went to New Orleans and negotiated for military supplies and other items, some of which may have been involved in a smuggling operation conducted by his wife at Saltillo. In December Woll was assigned to service on the northern frontier. In early June 1842, Woll was appointed second in command to Isidro Reyes in the Army of the North and made head of the Department of Coahuila. During the summer he received orders to invade Texas.... Woll was to capture San Antonio, then reconnoiter the Guadalupe River down to Gonzales-all within one month. He had crossed the Rio Grande at Presidio with his Second Division by August 30 and, following a new route, entered San Antonio on September 11. He was repulsed by Texan troops in the battle of Salado Creek on the eighteenth, evacuated San Antonio two days later, and returned to Coahuila. The Mexican government hailed Woll's Texas campaign as a success, promoted him to major general, and awarded him its Cross of Honor. In February 1843 Woll became commander of the Army of the North. He served until the northern army, on December 6, 1844, joined a revolt led by José Joaquín Herrera and Gen. Mariano Paredes y Arrillaga against Santa-Anna. Woll was arrested and imprisoned, but freed under a general amnesty decree of May 24, 1845.

      Earlier, while commanding on the frontier, he had served with a government commission to arrange an armistice between Mexico and Texas. James W. Robinson, a Texan prisoner at Perote Prison, had offered proposals to settle the differences between the two countries, and Santa-Anna allowed Robinson to return to Texas and present his case. Houston declared a truce on June 15, 1843. The commissioners of both governments signed an armistice on February 15, 1844, at Salinas, on the Rio Grande. However, the Mexican government quickly recalled its commissioners upon learning that the Texans were negotiating in Washington for annexation to the United States and that the Texas commissioners had no authority to discuss a permanent peace. On June 19, Woll, on instructions from Mexico City, sent Houston a formal declaration of war, and hostilities resumed. During the United States invasion of Mexico in 1846, Woll served in the Mexican army until Santa-Anna's defeat in 1847, then sailed for Europe. In 1852 he landed in Havana, Cuba, and joined Santa-Anna on his return to Mexico. On April 20, 1853, at Santa-Anna's installation as president, he appointed Woll governor and commandant general of Tamaulipas. When revolutionary disturbances flared, his authority was extended over Nuevo León and Coahuila. Santa-Anna declared himself a dictator on December 16, 1853, but his support faded and he fled Mexico. Woll also left.

      About three and a half years later, Woll reappeared in Mexico as an adherent of President Miguel Miramón, whose Centralist regime had been attacked by Benito Juárez and the Constitutionalists. On March 22, 1859, Woll landed at Mocambo with several prominent reactionists (Díaz de la Vega, Victor Blanco, and two sons of Santa-Anna), reported to Miramón at Veragra, and was given an army command. During the ensuing Guerra de la Reforma, he defeated Gen. S. Degollado, a liberal leader, on August 30 near León and occupied Zacatecas in November. In May 1860 he successfully defended Guadalajara. The Miramón government collapsed on December 24, and Juárez became the Mexican president. Woll again returned to France. In 1862, when Napoleon III declared war on Juárez, Woll accompanied the French troops sent to Mexico and was named commandant general of the state of Vera Cruz. In March 1863 he met with A. Superviele, a Confederate agent, who urged the French government to seize Matamoros. Woll also served on the Junta Superior de Gobierno, a group of thirty-five formed by the French. The group chose three Mexican citizens to act as a temporary executive and selected 215 citizens to serve as an Asamblea de Notables. Appointed on June 29, 1863, the Asamblea met jointly with the Junta Superior and formed a monarchy. The executive committee, called the Regencia del Imperio Mexicano, sent Woll and eleven others as a deputation to offer the Mexican imperial crown to Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Austria. Maximilian accepted the crown on April 10, 1864. He asked Woll to draft a plan for organizing the armed forces needed in Mexico. Woll was designated the adjutant general of the occupation forces when Maximilian landed in Mexico on May 28. He also was named chief aide-de-camp and promoted to commander of the French order of knighthood, the Legion of Honor. When Maximilian became displeased with Marshal François Achille Bazaine and demanded his recall, he dispatched Woll in the fall of 1865 to explain matters to Napoleon. Woll learned that Napoleon planned to withdraw the French troops from Mexico beginning in January 1866, and he never returned to Mexico. The French soldier of fortune died at Montauban, just north of Toulouse in southern France, in February 1875.

Sold. Hammer: $26,000.00; Price Realized: $31,850.00

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