September of 1842, 12,000 Mexican troops under the command of Gen.
Adrián Woll captured the City
of San Antonio, Texas.
Although the city was only occupied for a short time, it made the
citizens of Texas quite aware that they
were not safe from invasion. Also this aggressive action by Mexico
infuriated the Texans and they were determined to strike back.
Texas troops, led by Alexander Somervell, pursued the Mexicans for
a while, but Somervell had second thoughts about crossing into Mexico.
According to information obtained from The Handbook of Texas Online,
he ordered his army to disband and return home by way of Gonzales.
Most of the men refused to obey the order and went on to attack the
village of Mier, Mexico. The group was eventually captured and every
tenth man was ordered to be executed. The selection process was made
by making the prisoners draw from a mug containing white and black
Those drawing the black bean were shot.
researching The Gonzales Inquirer from the year 1894, I came
across an interesting article written by George Lord of Cuero.
Lord was well known in the Gonzales
area and he owned a ranch near Cheapside.
But George Lord's biggest claim to fame was that he was one of the
survivors of the Mier
The following is an excerpt of Lord's article in the Inquirer
about his experiences as a member of that doomed
expedition into Mexico. It has been said that most of the men
who took part in this fiasco were political opponents of Sam
Houston. George Lord's comments indicate that this was probably
true. Lord died February 23, 1895, and was buried at Cheapside.
from an article by George Lord] The Gonzales Inquirer - June 21, 1894
after our arrival [at the Salado] we received the melancholy intelligence
that we were to be decimated and every tenth man shot. It was now
too late to resist this horrible order.
Could the [martyrs] in liberty's cause, who so proudly yielded up
their lives for their country have known that their president, Sam
Houston, had endorsed their execution by the most villainous of
all falsehoods by declaring them brigands, great God, what would have
been their feelings?
The decimation took place by the drawing of white and black beans
from a small earthen mug. The white beans meant exemption from the
black death, [there were] 150 white beans and 17 black ones. Capt.
Cameron said with his usual coolness, "Well boys, we have to draw
so let's be at it," so saying he thrust his hand into the mug and
drew out a white bean.
Capt. Eastland was the first one to draw a black bean and then came
the balance of the men and all drew their beans with that manly dignity
and firmness which showed superior to their condition.
Some of light temper jested over the bloody tragedy. One said, "boys,
this beats raffling all to pieces," another said, "this is the tallest
gambling scrape I was ever in," and such like remarks.
Those who drew the black beans evinced no emotion, not even changing
color. On the contrary those who drew the white beans seemed completely
done up, many wept and appeared unmanned.
[One] true account of the black bean drawing: Poor Robt. Beard, who
lay upon the ground near by exceedingly ill and nearly exhausted from
his forced marches and sufferings, called to his brother, who was
bringing him a drink of water, and said, "brother, if you draw a black
bean I'll take your place, I want to die."
The other brother, with overwhelming anguish, said, "no I will keep
my own place, I am stronger and better prepared to die than you."
These noble youths both drew white beans, but soon after died leaving
the Roman legacy to their venerable parents in Texas.
J.L. Shepherd, one of the unfortunates it seems was not killed by
the executioners. It is supposed that he was only stunned, for the
next morning only sixteen bodies could be found, his body being missing.
We heard afterward that he was recognized on the streets of Saltillo
by a Mexican soldier and shot down.
|The names of
the 17 men that were shot are: L.L. Cash, J.D. Cocke, R. Durham, W.N.
Eastland, J.M.N. Thompson, Chas. Roberts, Ed Este, Robt. Harris, T.J.
Jones, Pat Mahan, Jas. Ogden, Wm. Rowan, J.L. Shepherd, Jas. N. Torry,
Jas. Turnbull, Henry Whalin, and M.C. Wing.
Star Diary January 18 , 2009 Column