The Texan Republic
Part II

Louis J. Wortham, A HISTORY OF TEXAS: FROM WILDERNESS TO COMMONWEALTH, Volume 4, Chapter LII, Worthham-Molyneaux Company, Fort Worth, Texas 1924

IN 1839 a series of federalist revolts of considerable proportions broke out in different sections of Mexico and for two years the centralist regime was in almost constant danger. General Urrea, who had directed the massacre of the Texans under Johnson and Grant in 1836, was one of the outstanding leaders of this movement, and for a time he was very successful. Gomez Farias, who had been vice-president during the early part of Santa Anna’s administration, returned from exile and also took a hand in the effort to restore the constitution of 1824. In Coahuila and the adjoining territory General Canales headed a movement, which culminated in a declaration of independence and the establishment of the "republic of the Rio Grande." Yucatan and Tabasco, two states bordering on the gulf, at the extreme southern end of Mexico, also set up for themselves as the republic of Yucatan. Bustamante found himself continually menaced from some quarter or another, and his authority became only nominal in many sections of the country. Santa Anna, using his new popularity with a calculating discretion, managed to inject himself into the situation from time to time in such a way as to attach glory to his own name without increasing the prestige of Bustamante. By these tactics he finally succeeded in creating a widespread demand for his return to power, and in accordance with a plan, known as the Bases of Tacubaya, he was declared provisional president of the republic on October 9, 1841.

The "Republic of the Rio Grande," though shortlived, was viewed with favor in Texas. General Canales made overtures to Lamar looking to an alliance, but the latter’s vision of the great nation of the future did not extend south of the Rio Grande, and he declined to have anything to do with the new "republic." Many Texans, however, on their own responsibility, enlisted as volunteers in the service of the "republic of the Rio Grande," and participated in several battles in Coahuila before the project finally collapsed.

But Lamar took a different attitude toward the Republic of Yucatan, which had a considerable coast line to defend. The vessels for the new Texas navy were delivered in 1839, and when the government of Yucatan proposed to Lamar a plan of naval cooperation he consented to the arrangement. The Yucatan government agreed to supply the money for the support of the Texas navy if it would enlist in a war upon Mexican vessels and provide adequate protection to Yucatan’s coast. As this would relieve the Texas treasury of a considerable burden, apparently without diverting the navy from its main business, Lamar regarded it as a favorable arrangement for Texas. It did not turn out to be so favorable for Texas in the long run, but for a period the Texas navy was practically transferred to the service of Yucatan. In passing, it should be said that the republic of Yucatan maintained its independence for three years, after which it peacefully acknowledged the authority of the central government of Mexico again.

Lamar declined to form an alliance with the "republic of the Rio Grande" for the reason that he was not particularly interested in extending the influence of Texas south of that river. But he was very much interested in extending, not only the influence, but the actual jurisdiction of the Texan government in another direction. The boundaries of the Republic of Texas, as understood by the Texan government, were set forth in an act of congress, approved by President Houston on December 19, 1836. This act provided that from and after its passage "the civil and political jurisdiction of this republic be and is hereby declared to extend to the following boundaries, to-wit: beginning at the mouth of the Sabine river, and running west along the Gulf of Mexico three leagues from land, to the mouth of the Rio Grande, thence up the principal stream of said river to its source, thence due north to the forty-second degree of north latitude, thence along the boundary line as defined in the treaty between the United States and Spain, to the beginning." The act also authorized the President to "open a negotiation with the government of the United States of America, as soon as in his opinion the public interest requires it, to ascertain and define the boundary line as agreed upon in said treaty." No difficulty had been experienced in negotiating a treaty of limits with the United States, but, because of the continuance of a state of war with Mexico, there had been no agreement with respect to the rest of the boundaries. The boundaries, as set forth in the act, included a line running from the mouth of the Rio Grande "up the principal stream of said river to its source," and this constituted an assertion of jurisdiction over territory which had never been within the province of Texas during the Spanish regime, and much of which had never even been part of the state of Texas and Coahuila. Lamar proposed that this doubtful territory should be brought under the actual jurisdiction of the Texan government.

The town of Santa Fe, the principal settlement in New Mexico, was on the east bank of the Rio Grande, and consequently within the limits of the Republic of Texas, as defined in the act quoted above. During Houston’s administration no attempt was made to enforce the jurisdiction thus declared, for there really was no legal basis for this boundary, other than the claim of the Texans, and it was generally recognized that the line was subject to modification through negotiation with Mexico, whenever formal peace should be agreed upon. When Lamar became president, however, he took the position that the government of the Republic of Texas should adopt measures to extend its authority to the upper waters of the Rio Grande, which would include Santa Fe. In his annual message in 1839 he urged upon congress the importance of some action in the matter. This was in keeping with Lamar’s "ambitious nationalism" and his dream of "an empire extending from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific." Bills were subsequently introduced in both houses of congress, appropriating money to defray the expenses of an expedition to establish Texan authority over the territory, but in both cases the proposal was decisively defeated. In spite of such legislative disapproval of the project, however, Lamar persisted in the belief that it should be undertaken.

On April 14, 1840, Lamar addressed a letter to "the citizens of Santa Fe," calling their attention to the fact that Texas had entered the family of nations, that the new republic had been recognized by the United States and France, and that its commerce was extending "with a power and celerity seldom equalled in the history of nations." He tendered to them a full participation in these blessings, and expressed the hope that he should be able to send commissioners to visit them in September to explain more minutely the condition of the country, the seaboard, and the correlative interests "which so emphatically recommend, and ought perpetually to cement, the perfect union and identity of Santa Fe and Texas."

This letter was inspired by information Lamar had received to the effect that the people of Santa Fe and adjoining settlements in New Mexico were restless under the rule of the governor of the territory. That dignitary, one Manuel Armijo, was a local despot, who had been the sole executive, legislative and judicial authority of the place for a number of years. Under the federal constitution of the Mexican republic, New Mexico had been classed as a "territory," and in theory was subject directly to the authority of the national government. But, due to its remoteness from the capital, Armijo was the absolute ruler of New Mexico, and the chief beneficiary of the profitable trade which Santa Fe had carried on with St. Louis ever since the latter place had passed from Spanish to American jurisdiction in 1804. The evident purpose of Lamar’s communication was to plant in the minds of the people of Santa Fe the idea that should they choose to throw off the yoke of their petty tyrant, they would be afforded support by the Republic of Texas. However, Lamar received no reply to his letter and, due to legislative opposition, he did not send the promised commission in September.

But the project of sending an expedition to Santa Fe continued to occupy Lamar’s mind in the face of the disapproval of many of the most influential men in Texas. It took such hold of his imagination that he finally came to the decision to undertake it without congressional authority. Nor was it the mere wish to extend the jurisdiction of the government that impelled him to this course. The trade with Santa Fe, of which St. Louis enjoyed a practical monopoly, was considerable and very profitable, and if it could be diverted to Texas great economic benefits would be gained. It was true that the region between the settled portions of Texas and Santa Fe was an unknown wilderness to the Texans, but Lamar believed that a practicable route, over which ultimately a military road might be built, could be found, and that in time this might become a great highway of commerce which would bind to the Texan government all the territory which it traversed. In the spring of 1841, therefore, he began forming plans to send an expedition to Santa Fe.

Lamar’s plan was to send a government commission, consisting of three members, whose duty it would be to invite the people of Santa Fe to place themselves under the protection of the Texan flag. A military escort would accompany the commission and a delegation of merchants and traders would be invited to go along for the purpose of establishing commercial relations with the people of the town. When his plans were complete in outline, Lamar announced the appointment of William G. Cooke, R. F. Brenham and Jose Antonio Navarro as commissioners, and issued an invitation to merchants to join the expedition. He then named Gen. Hugh McLeod to command the military escort, which should consist of two hundred and seventy men, and provided that merchants and others intending to accompany the expedition should rendezvous at Austin.

In the papers of Anson Jones there is a letter from A. C. Hyde, written from Austin on May 27, 1841, which gives an idea of how Lamar’s action in sending out this expedition was regarded by some of his contemporaries. "’Everything here," wrote Hyde to Jones, "is alive with the Santa Fe expedition, which will probably start about the 10th, and cost the government about a half million. Things are getting on worse than ever in the departments, they paying no attention to the acts of congress. . . . They have sent to New Orleans for another half million of the notes, which are to be given out before the next congress meets, in addition to what may be collected." Jones inscribed the following endorsement on this letter: "The Santa Fe expedition was not only unauthorized by congress, but, in effect, positively inhibited. I voted against it on all occasions, and the project received but few votes. The appropriations for its expenses were made without the authority of law, and by the despotic exercise of executive power, which no monarch would have dared venture upon in these times. This administration will be described by the poet in two lines, as ‘a chase of silly hopes and fears begun in folly, closed in tears."’

Whether the couplet quoted by Jones justly characterizes Lamar’s administration or not, it certainly describes the Santa Fe expedition very aptly. It was indeed "begun in folly" and "closed in tears." In two comprehensive paragraphs, Rives sums up the folly of its conception and inauguration. "President Lamar and his friends," he says, "believed that if a strong party of Texans showed themselves in New Mexico the inhabitants would gladly revolt and put themselves under the protection of the Texan government. They did not, however, reflect that grumbling at a governor of their own race and language was a very different thing from welcoming alien rulers, and that the people of New Mexico might possibly be familiar with the fable of King Log and King Stork. Under these impressions, therefore, the Texan government committed the same blunder that the Spaniards had committed in sending their absurdly inadequate expedition to Mexico in 1829, and again exemplified the truth of the military maxim that no expedition should be sent into a foreign country, no matter how dissatisfied the inhabitants may be with their own government, which is not fully adequate, of itself, to the object proposed."

"Not only was the expedition inadequate in size," he continues, "but it turned out also to be inadequately equipped for the hardships of the journey. The fact was that nobody knew anything about the country to be traversed. Apart from the latitude and longitude of Santa Fe, they had no notion of where they were going. A Mexican who accompanied them had been a trapper on the headwaters of the Red river, and had been in New Mexico, but he was utterly lost long before he reached the Mexican settlements."

Armed with an official proclamation, in which President Lamar invited the inhabitants of Santa Fe and the vicinity to cover themselves with the protection of the Texan flag, the expedition left Brushy Creek, about fifteen miles above Austin, on June 21, 1841. Besides the commissioners and the military escort, it included about fifty others, chiefly merchants and traders, and was accompanied by George W. Kendall of the New Orleans Picayune, who afterwards wrote an exhaustive account of the expedition. For about six weeks the journey was pleasant enough, for its course lay through country which afforded a plentiful supply of game for food, and in which there was an abundance of water and grass for the horses and cattle. But after that they entered country of a very different character. It was mountainous and arid, and when the last of the cattle was slaughtered and provisions ran short, the party began to encounter difficulties. To obtain food in a wilderness for a company of more than three hundred men would have been no small task under the best conditions. But in a country where there was neither vegetation nor game, and where even water was extremely scarce, it was practically impossible. Realizing that starvation would soon be an impending danger if provisions were not obtained, the commissioners decided to send three men ahead to announce the approach of the expedition and to return with food. Accordingly, the three chosen—Howland, Baker and Rosenberry, by name—set out for San Miguel, which was believed to be the nearest settlement, and the rest of the party continued their weary march, losing their way at times and being compelled to retrace their steps, and subsisting on such food as could be found in the barren country through which they passed. They were reduced to the necessity of eating snails and lizards, and to make matters worse, many of them were compelled to proceed on foot, their horses having been lost in a stampede. Kendall says that "every tortoise and snake, every living and creeping thing" was snatched up and devoured by the men "with a rapacity that nothing but the direst hunger could induce." Three weeks of such conditions brought the unhappy pilgrims to the verge of starvation and, no word having been received from Howland, Baker and Rosenberry, it was decided that the best mounted men should push on ahead, while the rest established camp and remained in the wilderness until relief could be sent.

Col. William G. Cooke, one of the three commissioners, took command of the advance party, and he set out with about ninety men. After experiencing much hardship this party finally reached a sheep ranch on Rio Gallinas, and here they feasted on mutton, the first wholesome food they had eaten for weeks. From this place Capt. William P. Lewis, who spoke Spanish, and four others were sent on toward San Miguel, bearing a letter to the alcalde announcing the approach of the expedition and declaring its friendly character.

Meantime, Howland, Baker and Rosenberry arrived at the Mexican settlements early in September. They were promptly placed under arrest, in spite of their protestations that the mission was a peaceful one, which claim they supported by displaying copies of President Lamar’s proclamation, printed in the Spanish language. Armijo set about immediately to alarm the people by circulating the report that the Texans were coming to conquer the country, and that they would kill them all and burn their homes. A condition of general excitement was created and soon the whole population was ready to join in repelling the "invaders." Howland escaped from his captors with the intention of making his way back to the main party to warn them of the situation, but he was recaptured and shot.

Captain Lewis and his four companions spent the night of September 14 in the little village of Anton Chico. On their way thither they had learned of the arrest of Howland, Baker and Rosenberry, and of the general excitement of the people, and during the night information was brought to them by persons in the village that they also would be arrested the next day and shot. Next morning, however, they resumed their journey toward San Miguel, but were soon met by a force of Mexican soldiers, who compelled them to dismount and took them into custody. The Mexicans then turned around and started with their prisoners toward Santa Fe. The prisoners were bound together with ropes and were required to walk, surrounded by their captors. After passing through San Miguel and proceeding all day in the direction of Santa Fe, the company encountered Governor Armijo himself and a force of about six hundred men on their way to meet the Texas expedition. Armijo questioned the prisoners, and finding that Captain Lewis understood Spanish, he ordered him to accompany his force as interpreter.

By this time Colonel Cooke and his party had arrived at Anton Chico, where it was decided to await the return of Captain Lewis. When Lewis did return he was accompanied by Armijo and the force of Mexican soldiers. It would have been useless for Colonel Cooke, with only eighty-five men, to have attempted resistance in the face of such great odds. The Mexicans outnumbered his little company by more than seven to one. However, it is a fact that should be recorded that Lewis had made terms with Armijo by the time the governor came upon Cooke’s company, and he represented that Armijo and the people were friendly and thus induced Cooke to surrender. It may be that the governor deceived Lewis, though this is contradicted by the warm terms in which Armijo afterwards commended Lewis’s services in an official report to the Mexican government. But whether he was a traitor or merely an unsuspecting tool, Lewis assured Cooke that if the Texans would give up their arms they would be permitted to remain at Santa Fe for several days for the purpose of trading, after which their arms would be returned to them. Cooke surrendered, but discovered immediately that he had been made the victim of treachery. He and his whole company were taken to Santa Fe as prisoners. A few days later the two hundred men who had been left in camp, most of whom were now weakened and ill from want of food, dragged their way to the Mexican settlements. They were promptly made prisoners by a superior force of Mexicans. Thus the entire expedition was captured by Armijo without the necessity of firing a single shot.

In the official report of the affair to the Mexican government, however, it was represented that two great victories had been gained over the Texans, and the announcement of these "glorious triumphs" was made the occasion of universal public rejoicing at the national capital. The news was received on the eve of Santa Anna’s election as provisional president, and his partisans among the newspapers capitalized it by making it appear that in some way it magnified the glory of their idol. It was decided that the prisoners should be sent to Mexico City and placed at the disposition of the national government. On October 17, 1841, therefore, the unhappy Texans were started from San Miguel on the long journey to Mexico City on foot.

From the moment of their surrender the prisoners were treated with great cruelty by Armijo’s soldiers, and the march from San Miguel to the border of New Mexico at El Paso was one of almost constant torture. Many of the men were ill from privation in the wilderness and some found it extremely difficult to keep going. The commander of their guard had no sympathy for such men, and those who faltered in the march were brutally treated and in many instances they were shot down in their tracks and their bodies left by the wayside. During the three weeks consumed by the journey to El Paso, the prisoners were in constant fear for their lives. But at the border they were turned over to troops of the national government and thenceforth they were treated more humanely. However, the journey was a long and arduous one. To add to their other miseries smallpox broke out among the prisoners and a number of them died from this disease. A rather amusing aspect of the journey was the fact that it soon became evident to the prisoners that they were on exhibition. They were paraded through the principal streets of every city and town between El Paso and Mexico City, the object being to display before the gaping crowds this evidence of the great power of Santa Anna’s government. American prisoners constituted a spectacle worth going miles to behold, and the very most was made of the opportunity which the moving of the captives to Mexico City afforded. For three months this march was kept up, and finally the survivors of the expedition which had left Texas in high spirits eight months before arrived at the Mexican capital early in February. There they were thrown into prison.

Members of the party who claimed citizenship of other countries appealed to their respective diplomatic representatives for aid, and through the efforts of the foreign ministers at the Mexican capital these were released in the course of a few months. The affair created great indignation in the United States, and the newspapers printed vivid accounts of the sufferings of the prisoners. There were demands that the government take prompt steps in their interest, and as a result Waddy Thompson of South Carolina was sent to Mexico to procure their release. The Mexican government reluctantly released those who could claim the protection of the United States or of European governments, but the rest were kept confined in military prisons for four months. At the end of that time, Santa Anna decided to utilize the prisoners in treating his countrymen to another display. So on June 16, 1842, in celebration of the feast day of Santa Anna’s patron saint, most of the Texans were released. Jose Antonio Navarro, one of the commissioners, was kept in prison at the capital until December, 1844, the object being to make an example of him, inasmuch as he was of Mexican blood, a native of San Antonio. He was then moved to Vera Cruz, from which place he escaped and returned to Texas early in 1845.

President Lamar’s administration came to an end while the Santa Fe prisoners were being marched to Mexico City. Vice-President Burnet, who had served as president during a few months in the winter of 1840-1841, while Lamar was absent in the United States for medical treatment, was a candidate to succeed his chief, but he had to bear the onus of Lamar’s alleged extravagance and his opponent was the popular "hero of San Jacinto," Sam Houston. There was now as great a demand for retrenchment as there had been for protection of the frontier at the beginning of Lamar’s administration, and Burnet was decisively defeated by Houston. Houston was inaugurated in December, 1841, and immediately he announced a complete reversal of the policies of Lamar. He declared that three-fourths of the money consumed in Indian wars during Lamar’s administration could have been saved by following a policy of conciliation with respect to the Indians, and advised the establishment of peace with them as soon as possible. How successful this policy proved has already been recounted. Houston advocated extreme economy in the administration of the government, a reduction of the number of officers and the adoption of a pay-as-you-go policy. And while admitting that it would be futile to renew efforts to establish formal peace with Mexico, he recommended that no aggressive attitude should be assumed and that steps be taken to establish trade with the Mexicans on the border.

Houston, however, was destined to reap where Lamar had sown. The aggressive attitude displayed by the sending of an armed expedition to Santa Fe seemed to the Mexican leaders to call for retaliation by Mexico. Accordingly plans were started for an expedition into Texas. On January 9, 1842, Gen. Mariano Arista issued an address to the inhabitants of "the department of Texas" from Monterey, announcing that he would shortly undertake an invasion of the "department." He promised amnesty and protection for all who would refrain from taking up arms to oppose the invading army, and pointed out that the struggle for independence was hopeless. While Mexico held out "the olive branch of peace with one hand," he said, "she would direct with the other the sword of justice against the obstinate."

The copies of this address and the news of the fate of the Santa Fe prisoners reached Texas about the same time. There was great grief among the relatives of the Texans who had gone on the expedition, and general excitement prevailed. Congress was in session, and the opinion was expressed on all sides that "something should be done." The "something" which congress decided upon supplies one of the most striking instances in history of a futile "blowing off of steam" by a legislative body. For it immediately passed an act extending the boundaries of the Republic of Texas to include the two Californias, the whole of the states of Chihuahua and Sonora and the territory of New Mexico, and parts of Tamaulipas, Coahuila, Durango and Sinaloa. The futility of the action may be judged from the circumstance that the territory thus "annexed" contained a population of nearly two million people, whereas Texas had not yet attained one hundred thousand! Houston, of course, vetoed the bill. He pointed out that the act could serve no purpose but to make Texas a laughing-stock among the nations, and that even if it were possible to undertake such an invasion of Mexican territory as the act, if regarded seriously, must contemplate, it would be very injurious to the interests of Texas abroad. But congress was determined to "do something," so it passed the bill over the president’s veto. That, of course, was the last heard of it, for the establishing of such boundaries as the act set forth was unthinkable.

But the Mexican threat of an invasion of Texas was not quite so idle a boast as the action of the Texas congress. On March 3, 1842, a small company of Mexicans appeared suddenly at Goliad and occupied the town, and two days later a force of five hundred, under command of General Vasquez, captured San Antonio without meeting resistance. At the same time another detachment occupied Refugio. It looked as if a formidable invasion was under way, and great excitement prevailed throughout Texas. "The war, after great preparation on the part of the enemy, is upon us," wrote Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston, to a friend, "without the slightest effort having been made by us. Our people are, however, turning out well and hastening westward, for the purpose of concentrating to meet the enemy. and notwithstanding every advantage has been given, we rely upon the energy and courage of our people to achieve most brilliant results." The people were indeed hastening westward. In a few days, more than three thousand men were under arms and moving from all sections of Texas in the direction of San Antonio. President Houston, after issuing a proclamation calling out the militia, wrote to the Texan consul at New Orleans to accept volunteers in the United States, provided they were equipped with arms and supplies. But the enemy had other plans of warfare. Santa Anna evidently had no intention of conducting a campaign on the soil of Texas. Vasquez, acting under orders, held San Antonio for only two days and then retired from the town as suddenly as he had advanced. Within a week all the Mexican detachments had quitted Texas and withdrawn to the south of the Rio Grande. The "invasion" proved to be merely a raid. But the country was aroused and by March 15 there were about three thousand Texans gathered at San Antonio. The general sentiment among them was in favor of a counter-march into Mexico, but the Texan government was in no condition to sustain such a campaign. Houston dispatched Gen. Alexander Somervell to take command of the volunteers, with instructions that in no circumstances should an invasion of Mexico be attempted. He declared that it would require four months of preparation to insure the success of such an expedition and fixed July 20 as the earliest date for starting such a move. He then issued a call for a special session of congress to meet at Houston on July 27. President Houston had seized upon the first opportunity to discredit Austin as a proper site for the capital and, shortly after the receipt of Arista’s address threatening an invasion, had moved the seat of government to Houston again. This action was opposed by the people of Austin, and they organized an armed force and prevented the transfer of the archives from that place. This incident came to be known as the "archive war."

Somervell reached San Antonio on March 17 and found the men there clamoring for invasion. Moreover, they refused to accept Somervell as their commander and insisted upon their right to elect one of their own. They chose Gen. Edward Burleson as leader, but in the face of President Houston’s opposition to an immediate invasion, Burleson could do nothing but disband the men. In doing so, however, he took occasion to criticize Houston severely for his stand. There was some partisan politics mixed up in this incident, and Somervell reported to the secretary of state that the next presidency was involved in it. "I have no doubt political intrigue has been at work," he wrote, "with the view to block out the next President. It is a rough concern, and no glory that can be won in the field can ever polish it. I think there is a move for the Vice-Presidency also. The hobby on which they ride is ‘invasion of Mexico’ to give peace and happiness to poor suffering Texas, and thereby achieve immortal glory for themselves."

Meantime, the Texas minister at Washington also wrote the secretary of state, informing him that the report of a contemplated invasion of Mexico was injuring Texas in the United States. "President Houston, I perceive," he wrote, "has issued his proclamation convening congress. . . . War or no war, I suppose, is the question. We can get men, but no money, for invasion. Our friends think the measure impolitic. The excitement is doing us great injury here. Men with property will not emigrate to Texas. They know Mexico to be utterly powerless, and dread the result of the excitement. They think us partaking too much of the revolutionary character of the Mexicans." Considering that the United States had just emerged from a controversy with Mexico over the Santa Fe prisoners, the feeling reported by the Texan minister is not difficult to understand.

When congress met Houston submitted a message recommending war. While he expressed the belief that Mexico could never reconquer Texas, he said he had become convinced a counter-invasion was advisable in order to implant in the Mexicans a desire for peace. Congress voted for a declaration of war and appropriated ten million acres of land to prosecute it, but Houston took the position that an invasion could not be adequately organized and supported by this means, and vetoed the measure. So the war scare came to an end for the time being.

The Mexicans, however, were evidently watching the course of events in Texas and governing their actions accordingly, for no sooner had congress adjourned than preparations were set under way for another raid. On September 11, 1842, while the district court was in session at San Antonio, Gen. Adrian Woll and a force of infantry, cavalry and artillery, about fourteen hundred strong, appeared before the town and demanded its surrender. The small body of Texan troops stationed there refused to comply with this demand and, reinforced by men in attendance at the court session, made a show of resistance. The struggle was hopeless, however, and fifty-three Texans, including the presiding judge, Anderson Hutchison, and all the attorneys present, were made prisoners. Again the country was aroused and a march of volunteers to the relief of San Antonio was begun. On March 18 a force of Texans, about two hundred strong, which had reached Salado creek, on the outskirts of San Antonio, enticed Woll and part of his men into an ambush. The Texans, who were commanded by Col. Matthew Caldwell, were more than a match for the superior force of Mexicans, and the latter suffered a loss of nearly one hundred killed and wounded. However, a small band of volunteers, under Capt. Nicholas Dawson, which was en route to reinforce Colonel Caldwell, was surrounded by a force of four hundred Mexicans at a point about two miles away from the scene of battle, and slaughtered. Keeping out of rifle range, the Mexicans poured artillery fire into the ranks of the Texans, heedless of their efforts to surrender. Of a total of fifty-three men, forty-one were killed, ten were taken prisoners, and two escaped. Woll then retired into San Antonio, but two days later he evacuated the place and began a retreat to the Rio Grande, taking all the Texan prisoners with him. He was closely pursued by Caldwell, but he reached the Mexican side of the border without further difficulty.

The "invasion" had again proved to be only a raid. But this time the demand for retaliation in the form of an invasion of Mexico was so pronounced that Houston could not ignore it. He issued a call for volunteers to rendezvous at San Antonio for this purpose, and again he ordered General Somervell to take command. Somervell complied with the president’s orders without enthusiasm. He proceeded to San Antonio, where he found about twelve hundred men. They were poorly organized, being divided into several camps, and were without proper equipment or supplies for an expedition. Somervell was reluctant to begin an invasion of Mexico with such a force and in such circumstances, and he procrastinated for more than a month before making a move to carry out Houston’s orders. Meantime about five hundred of the volunteers had left for home, and when the march for the border was begun on November 18 Somervell had only seven hundred and fifty men under his command. At Laredo two hundred of these decided to go no further, and left the expedition. With the remainder Somervell marched along the Rio Grande on the Texas side until he came to a point opposite the town of Guerrero. Then he crossed the river to the Mexican side, but, having become convinced by this time that the enterprise was futile, he decided to abandon it. Accordingly he recrossed the river and, on December 19, 1842, issued an order to the men to return to Gonzales and disband. Six captains and their companies, consisting of about two hundred and sixty men, refused to obey this order and, after electing Col. W. S. Fisher to command them, marched against the Mexican town of Mier. Somervell and the others returned home.

Mier was defended by a force of fifteen hundred Mexican troops, under command of Gen. Pedro Ampudia, but the Texans, remembering the defeat of General Cos at San Antonio by a small force of Texans under Johnson and Milam, were not daunted by the great disparity of numbers. They decided to adopt the same tactics which had been employed on that occasion. On Christmas night, 1842, they entered the town and took possession of a number of outlying houses. Their plan was to work through the walls from house to house, in the same way that Johnson had done at San Antonio. But the odds were too great. On the afternoon of December 26 the Texans surrendered to Ampudia after having been given written assurance that they would be treated with due consideration as prisoners of war. Two hundred and twenty-six men were taken into custody and, as in the case of the Santa Fe prisoners, were started on a march to Mexico City. Thus within twelve months after the Santa Fe affair, Texas found itself faced with another of similar character.

The Mier prisoners, however, did not propose to go supinely to the Mexican capital. On the contrary, they decided to watch their opportunity to escape and return to Texas. After traveling under guard for six weeks, therefore, on the morning of February 11, 1843, at a point about one hundred miles south of Saltillo, they suddenly overpowered their guards, seized the Mexican cavalry horses and rode furiously in the direction of the Texas border. In order to evade pursuit, however, they left the main road and soon lost their way in the mountains. Here the experience of the Santa Fe expedition was repeated. The Texans were entirely without supplies and food was not to be found in that barren, mountainous country. Even water was scarce and in a few day they were frantic from hunger and thirst. Several died of starvation, and when the others were overtaken by Mexican troops they surrendered gladly.

In punishment for their attempt to escape it was decreed that one in every ten of their number should be executed. The number of the prisoners had now been reduced to one hundred and seventy, for in addition to those who had died a few had escaped and subsequently made their way back to Texas. The order required, therefore, that seventeen of the remaining prisoners should be selected by lot and executed. Accordingly, a jar containing one hundred and seventy beans, seventeen of which were black and the rest white, was brought forward, and each of the prisoners was blindfolded and directed to draw a bean from it. A black bean was a sentence of death. The operation was carried out, and the seventeen Texans who drew black beans were lined up immediately and shot. During the Mexican war, Gen. Walter P. Lane and a scouting party made a special trip to the Hacienda del Salado, where this barbarous order was carried out, and exhumed the bones of these unfortunate men. They were then sent to La Grange, Texas, where they were interred on Monument Hill with military honors.

After the execution of their companions the rest of the Mier prisoners were sent to the Mexican capital. By Santa Anna’s orders they were imprisoned in the castle Perote, where most of them remained until September, 1844, when they were released in connection with the celebration of the anniversary of Mexican independence. A few had died in the meantime, and a number of others, led by Thomas Jefferson Green, had escaped and returned to Texas.

Thus ended the last attempt of Texas to send an expedition into Mexico. The only other hostile move made during the existence of the republic was the sending of a force of one hundred and eighty men, under Col. Jacob Snively, to intercept a party of Mexican traders returning to Santa Fe from Missouri. This occurred in the spring of 1843. It failed of result for the reason that the Mexican party was guarded by two hundred United States cavalry under command of Capt. Philip S. Cooke. Cooke disarmed the Texans, leaving them only ten guns to protect themselves from the Indians on their return journey to Texas. The American government subsequently paid the Texas government for the confiscated arms.

The policy of Texas thenceforth was in line with Houston’s original one--that of letting the Mexicans alone. Houston had been diverted from this policy only by the public clamor caused by the raids of 1842, and, as has been seen, never really made any serious attempt to invade Mexico. The general outlines of this policy may be summed up in the words of Anson Jones, who, as Houston’s secretary of state, drew up recommendations covering this and other questions and submitted them to a cabinet meeting on December 22, 1841.

"The civil expenses of the Government," wrote Jones, "can easily be estimated, and those for the defence of the country approximated.

"Our policy, as it regards Mexico, should be to act strictly on the defensive. So soon as she finds we are willing to let her alone, she will let us alone.

"The navy should be put in ordinary; and no troops kept in commission, except a few rangers on the frontiers.

"The Indians should be conciliated by every means in our power. It is much cheaper and more humane to purchase their friendship than to fight them. A small sum will be sufficient for the former; the latter would require millions.

"By a steady, uniform, firm, undeviating adherence to this policy for two or three years, Texas may and will recover from her present utter prostration. It is the stern law of necessity which requires it, and she must yield to it or perish! She cannot afford to raise another crop of ‘heroes.’"

This policy was bearing fruit before Houston’s second administration came to an end. Texas was learning to live within her means and there was no further increase of the public debt. Moreover, as shall be seen, she was making progress toward commanding the respect of other nations, including that of the United States.

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