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October 26, 2007

Black Bean Prisoners on Parade

209. [MIER EXPEDITION]. SEMANARIO DE MONTERREY. Alcance al Semanario nùm. 110 del jueves 9 de Febrero de 1843 [newspaper extra with description of the reception at Cadereyta Jiménez of the troops escorting the Texans captured at Mier, text commences] Celebridad patriótica con que en la Ciudad de Cadereyta Jiménez se recibieron à las tropas vencedoras en la Villa de Mier que conducian los prisioneros el dia 26 de Enero de 1843. [At end] [Monterrey]: Imprenta del Gobierno á cargo de Froylan de Mier, [1843]. [3] [1, blank] pp., printed in two columns. 31.2 x 21.75 cm. Creased at center where formerly folded and lightly tanned, but generally very fine and untrimmed.

            First edition. Streeter 997.5 (locating only the copy at Yale). Charno lists the Monterrey newspaper Semanario Politico del Gobierno de Nuevo León, noting its establishment in 1835 and locating issues as late as 1846 at Yale and the San Jacinto Museum (the Benson Collection at the University of Texas also holds an incomplete run of issues, extending to 1849).

             The Texan-Mier prisoners were marched through Mexican towns on their way to Perote Prison, as this publication makes clear. The Mexican column in this case stopped at Cadereyta Jiménez in Nuevo León, about twenty-five miles from Monterrey, on January 26, 1843, where an extravagant reception and public festival were held to celebrate the Mexican victory over the Texans. The first report concerns a general description of what occurred, which, as Streeter says, included “triumphal arches, salvos of cannon, a solemn Te Deum, fireworks, and speeches....” The Texas prisoners were also paraded in front of the populace and denounced. As part of the celebration, Miguel de la Garza y Garza gave a rousing speech filled with classical allusions to ancient heroism, which is printed here in its entirety. Following his speech, Vicente Gómez del Corral also gave a congratulatory address, made all the more unusual because he was a mere youth, thereby rendering his presentation as the only recorded condemnation of the Mier expedition by a child.

            The Texan officers had arrived several days prior to the events described here, but Mexican commander Savariego refused to allow his prisoners to be put on public display. A few days later, however, the main body of Mier Expedition troops arrived, and although treated humanely on the whole, they were paraded in front of the jubilant populace as described here and discussed by J. M. Nance, Dare-Devils All: The Texan Mier Expedition, 1842-1844 (Austin: Eakin Press, 1998, pp. 201-202, 207).

            “The Mier expedition, the last of the raiding expeditions from Texas into the area south of the Nueces River during the days of the Republic of Texas, was the most disastrous of the expeditions from Texas into Mexico” (Handbook of Texas Online: Mier Expedition). After capturing Laredo and Guerrero, Texas commander Alexander Somervell decided that it was safer to retreat back into Texas than to remain in northern Mexico, a decision that provoked the majority of his command to ignore the order and to invade Mexico in search of plunder. Electing William S. Fisher as their leader, the Texans proceeded to capture Mier.

            After a ruse detained the Texans, they subsequently decided to take the town by force. Mexican general Pedro de Ampudia was able to force the Texans to capitulate on December 26, 1842, after a long day of hard fighting, which event is gleefully celebrated here. The treatment of the prisoners has been controversial ever since. The most famous subsequent event was the Black Bean Episode that resulted in the execution of seventeen Texans. Several men eventually managed to escape and others were released. In September, 1844, the remaining Texans were released from Perote Prison on Santa-Anna’s orders. The capture of the Mier Expedition was announced in Monterrey on January 1, 1843 (see Streeter 997.2 and our Auction 20, Lot 141). ($2,500-5,000)

Sold. Hammer: $2,500.00; Price Realized: $2,937.50

Auction 21 Abstracts

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