Stapp provides a closely observed, day-by-day narrative of the disastrous adventure later known as the Mier expedition. While his style might be described as "elegantly restrained" in comparison to the literary excesses of that early Victorian age, Stapp's flair for drama and description makes for colorful reading.
In response to the public outrage prompted by the San Antonio incident, Houston issued a presidential proclamation inviting volunteers for a retaliatory expedition across the Rio Grande. After the bloodless "capture" and pillage of two Mexican border towns, he called the volunteers back home. Most were relieved to comply, but some felt compelled to pursue the honor of the Republic further, and the Mier expedition was launched on December 20, 1842. On the day after Christmas, all save a forty-man camp guard were captured outside of Mier, a few miles across the Mexican border.
The prisoners faced a brutal forced march to Mexico City. Stapp was one of a large group that escaped along the way, became lost in the mountains, and suffered badly from hunger and thirst before recapture. He survived the notorious Black Bean Episode in which 17 of the 176 returned escapees were shot after drawing black beans in a lottery. The Texans were delivered to Perote Prison near Mexico City in September 1843, where a few of them tunneled to freedom and many more died in captivity. Mexico released the last of the prisoners in 1844, and Stapp was among them.
First published in 1845 and later issued in pamphlet form in 1933 by the La Grange Journal, The Prisoners of Perote is a fascinating view of a painful episode in Texas history.
The foreword by Joe B. Frantz provides a perspective on the Texas-Mexico relations during this period "when both countries were shaking down and had not yet found their way." He points out that The Prisoners of Perote provides some clues to the reasons behind the inherent tenseness that exists between Texas and Mexico today.
Revealing how Tejanos perceived themselves and the revolutionary events that defined them, this wonderfully edited volume presents Menchaca’s remembrances of such diverse figures as Antonio López de Santa Anna, Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, General Adrián Woll, Comanche chief “Casamiro,” and Texas Ranger Jack Hays. Menchaca and his fellow Tejanos were actively engaged in local struggles as Mexico won her independence from Spain; later many joined the fight to establish the Republic of Texas, only to see it annexed to the United States nine years after the Battle of San Jacinto. This first-person account corrects important misconceptions and brings previously unspoken truths vividly to life.
McCutchan's diary provides a vivid account of his experience—the Texans' quick dispatch by Mexican troops at the town of Mier, the hardships of a forced march to Mexico City, over twenty months of imprisonment, and the journey back home after release. Although there are other firsthand accounts of the Mier Expedition, McCutchan was the only diarist who followed the Tampico route to Mexico City. His account documents a different experience than that of the main body of prisoners who marched to the national capital by way of Monterrey, Saltillo, and Agua Nueva.
Among the last of the prisoners to be freed, McCutchan covers in his journal the whole period of confinement from December 26, 1842, to the final release on September 16, 1844.
The McCutchan diary is set apart from other Mier accounts not only by the new information it provides, but also by Joseph Milton Nance's superb editing. Nance is an acknowledged authority on the hostilities between Texas and Mexico during the era of the Texas Republic. He has transcribed, edited, and annotated the diary with characteristic scholarship and painstaking attention to detail.
In this highly readable history, Stephen L. Hardin discovers more than a little truth in both of those views. Drawing on many original Texan and Mexican sources and on-site inspections of almost every battlefield, he offers the first complete military history of the Revolution. From the war's opening in the "Come and Take It" incident at Gonzales to the capture of General Santa Anna at San Jacinto, Hardin clearly describes the strategy and tactics of each side. His research yields new knowledge of the actions of famous Texan and Mexican leaders, as well as fascinating descriptions of battle and camp life from the ordinary soldier's point of view.
This award-winning book belongs on the bookshelf of everyone interested in Texas or military history.