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SAN ANTONIO PRISONERS

The True Story of the 1842 Invasion of San Antonio and Imprisonment of its citizens

A Work in Progress (April, 2006)
By Fred Riley Jones

[Fred Riley Jones is a lawyer with the San Antonio law firm of Goode, Casseb & Jones, P.C. He is a fifth generation native of South Texas, a graduate of Texas A&M University (B.S. 1976) and St. Mary's School of Law (J.D. 1979). He was licensed by the State Bar of Texas, 1979; admitted to the U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas, 1980; the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, 1981; and the U.S. Supreme Court, 1983He is the 2nd great grandson of William Early Jones who was captured in San Antonio.]

Introduction.  It is a little known fact that seven years after the Battle of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto, Gen. Antonio Santa Anna launched another invasion of Texas. This time, the Texans were unprepared -- they thought the war for independence had been won, and they had begun the process of conducting civil government. This is the true account of the "Woll Invasion" of 1842, in which Santa Anna's handpicked soldier of fortune, Gen. Adrian Woll and his army of 1000 Mexican regulars and 600 Presidial troops attacked San Antonio. Gen. Woll captured the District Judge, the District Clerk, the District Attorney, the litigants, some of the jurors and other citizens, and all members of the San Antonio Bar except one. They became known as the "San Antonio Prisoners," and they were forced to walk from San Antonio to Perote Prison near Vera Cruz, deep in the heart of Mexico. Some of the San Antonio prisoners paid the ultimate price; others were imprisoned under harsh conditions and forced to work at hard labor for six months, while still others were kept captive for two years. The disruption to the San Antonio court system lasted much longer.
    What started out as a novelty to the author, whose paternal great-great grandfather was one of the San Antonio Prisoners, quickly turned into a much larger project that took far more time than originally thought. Years after beginning the project, and working on holidays and in rare hours of "free time," the author began to realize that his ancestor had been one of the fortunate few who not only survived the long journey, but was released and allowed to return to his family after a period of six months. Other gallant men and boys were killed in initial heroic efforts to rescue the San Antonio Prisoners. Those who survived the rescue attempts were put in chains and marched _______ miles to a dark and damp prison. Some died along the way, others died while in prison, and the remaining few were released after two years, returning to their families and a Republic changed by the rapid pace of events. These were real men, with wives, parents and children looking to them for support. The people who came to their aid were likewise real people, and many of them died believing that a greater good would be accomplished by their efforts. The response of their friends and loved ones, taking care of the widows and orphaned children was common and to be expected at the time, but now seems more than remarkable.
    As reported by E.W. Winkler in his editorial accompanying three reported accounts of the capture and imprisonment of the Bexar prisoners, "the fate of the Bexar prisoners was a peculiarly severe one. Among them were men of talent and high respectability. Many were heads of families, and away from home when made prisoners. None anticipated or had prepared for the captivity into which he was dragged. They have not received the attention in the past that their case merits." (Texas Historical Association Quarterly at p. 292).

The 1842 Term of Court.   On September 5, 1842, Judge Anderson Hutchinson opened the District Court at San Antonio de Bexar, Republic of Texas. Judge Hutchinson hoped this term of Court would go smoothly, but he couldn't help but remember that it was only six months earlier that he tried to hold court in Bexar County, only to be forced to flee on account of Vasquez' raid. In March, 1842, General Rafael Vasquez had invaded San Antonio without resistance, plundered the town and then retreated to Mexico. The Judge and his family, who had migrated from Mississippi only a few years earlier, had lost their piano and most of their clothing in the earlier raid. It has been reported that the Vasquez raid was in retaliation for the Santa Fe expedition by Texans in 1841 in an attempt to take over Santa Fe (Webb, Walter Prescott, The Texas  Rangers, p. 71-71).  Now, with the ratification of the third treaty between England and the Republic of Texas, and the request by the United States that Texas suspend hostilities against Mexico, Judge Hutchinson believed peace was inevitable and that he could get on with the business of the Court in this still uncertain legal environment.
    The Treaty of Velasco negotiated between Burnet and Santa Anna at San Jacinto had been repudiated by the Mexican nation. In that treaty, Santa Anna had agreed to cease all hostilities toward the Texans and never again to take up arms against them; he agreed to keep all Mexican soldiers south of the Rio Grande and to release all prisoners. He had also agreed to work within Mexico to achieve recognition of Texas' independence from the entire Mexican government and to secure a treaty of commerce between the nations. The Rio Grande was established as the political boundary between Mexico and Texas (Whisenhut, Donald W., Texas, A Sesquicentennial Celebration, p. 83).
    The docket call for the September 1842 term had called for lawyers from San Antonio and nearby counties to attend. William Early Jones, a lawyer from Gonzales who served as a member of the Republic of Texas House of Representatives, was in attendance (Jones' handwritten account of the invasion of San Antonio and his subsequent captivity is contained in the Lamar Papers, which were purchased by Governor Campbell in 1909 and deposited in the State Library).  Neither he nor his fellow lawyers planned to be away from their families for very long. The Judge and the lawyers did not have time to be distracted by threats of invasion and war. They still believed the struggle for independence from Mexico had been won. After all, the battle of San Jacinto occurred many years before and it was not every day that the circuit judge came to hold court in San Antonio; the lawyers and their clients were anxious to test the judiciary of the Republic of Texas in its infancy. During the Texas Revolution, the courts had not been available for resolution of civil disputes. It was finally time to seek redress in the civil courts for misdeeds which had taken place during the conflict. Trespass to try title, suits on notes and actions for assault and battery were being heard for the first time in years. Many of the later decisions of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Texas excused such delays as one of the necessary results of the struggle for independence.
    According to eyewitnesses, "there were some visitors in San Antonio in excess of the population on account of the district court being in session" (Account of John Perry given to A.J. Sowell, reported in the San Antonio Express, September 29, 1901).   The first case to be tried was filed by Dr. Shields Booker against the City of San Antonio, for a fifty peso fee promised by San Antonio Mayor Juan N. Seguin. Dr. Booker was represented by Samuel A. Maverick, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence and congressman-elect.
    The testimony in Booker vs. The City of San Antonio was in Spanish. The minutes, written in longhand by the District Clerk, were also in Spanish (David Garcia, Bexar County District Clerk,  was kind enough to pull the original minute books covering the September 1842 term of the Bexar County District Court.  Most of the minutes written in longhand are in spanish.  The minutes reflect that on September 9, 1842, the case was continued, "the Mexican troops being in possession of this place").  While the trial was interesting, probably more interesting was the rumor of an impending invasion by Mexican troops. On Monday, September 5, 1842, Judge Hutchinson wrote in his diary: "Opened the District Court of Bexar. No invasion expected." On Friday, September 9, 1842, Judge Hutchinson was advised in confidence of the approach of 1,500 to 3,000 Mexican troops. The rumor was sufficiently authenticated to induce the belief that a force of some character was advancing, but it appeared to be a party of marauders and not regular troops, who were endeavoring to create the impression that their force was much stronger than it really was.
    On Saturday, September 10, 1842, a public meeting was held, with Judge Hutchinson presiding. The rumors of an impending invasion were discussed and generally discredited. In his later account of the events, William Early Jones recalled that "the whole day of the 10th ... passed ... strengthening the general belief that the rumor was either a hoax or the character of the forced advancing misrepresented." The citizens appointed Captain John C. Hays, a surveyor by trade, but later to become an indian fighter and distinguished member of the Texas Rangers, to command a group of five men to investigate the rumors. Col. Hays and five other "well mounted men" went out as scouts. They took the public roads, saw nothing and did not attempt to return to the town until it was too late. The approaching Mexican army had left the established roads to approach the town through the hills (Webb, p. 73).  According to an eyewitness, the Mexican forces were coming from the west and cutting their road as they advanced, and had done so all the way from the Rio Grande. Since the country was not settled no one saw his force until they were close to San Antonio (Perry, p.1).  With no word from the scouts, the day passed without any preparation for an invasion. When Hays returned to San Antonio, he found it surrounded by a force estimated at thirteen hundred (Hays to Secretary of War, September 12, 1842, Journals of the House of representatives of the Republic of Texas, Seventh Congress, Appendix, p. 16).

The Woll Invasion.  Unfortunately, the advancing force had been underestimated. Gen. Woll was a Frenchman and a soldier of fortune who had 1,000 Mexican regulars, 600 presidial troops and a powerful artillery. General Woll was an educated man (According to Jeff Long in his book Duel of Eagles, General Woll was a wandering french mercenary who had joined the Mexican army after failing to gain a spot in the United States Army.  see p. 134).  Maybe he had read Shakespeare's ________________, in which _________________ tried to disengage the last defenders of democracy and justice by suggesting that "first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." Or maybe he thought that if he captured the lawyers and other influential citizens of San Antonio, his employers, and especially General Santa Anna, would be impressed. Whatever his thoughts at the time, later events in the campaign would prove disappointing to General Woll.
    Ironically, Juan Seguin, a Tejano hero of the Battle of San Jacinto who had served the Republic of Texas in the 1838 Senate and the City of San Antonio as its Mayor from 1842 until April, 1842, was now accompanying Gen. Woll in this invasion of San Antonio. After being forced to resign as Mayor in April, 1842, Seguin moved to Mexico and was captured by Santa Anna's forces. It has been said that when Santa Anna discovered that Seguin had been captured, he sent Seguin with Gen. Woll on the San Antonio invasion to prove his loyalty to Mexico (Long, Jeff, Duel of Eagles, pp. 333-334.
    At daylight on Sunday, Gen. Woll advanced into Military Square (now the site of the City Hall of the city of San Antonio) under a dense fog. The citizens of Bexar were awakened by the firing of a piece of cannon, succeeded immediately by the sound of martial music and the tramp of a body of men. General Woll had surrounded the town with Mexican regular soldiers and had posted a confidant named Lt. Cordova and a band of Cherokees at the passes to the Alamo. A company of San Antonio defenders fired toward the music down the street. The fire was returned by the Mexicans with volleys of musketry and rapid discharges from a six and four pound cannon. As soon as the smoke and fog cleared, it was discovered that the town was surrounded on all sides by the Mexican soldiers. A local citizen named Corasco waved a white flag and then discussed the situation with General Woll. Later, Mr. Corasco reported to the citizens of Bejar that General Woll had 2,000 soldiers and had given the citizens a half hour to surrender.
    Jones, Maverick and a few others were sent to a parley with General Woll. Under the circumstances, they were not in a position to negotiate. It was agreed that the citizens would surrender as prisoners of war -- their lives and property (except arms) to be spared and secured. Informed of the mistake under which the citizens had resisted, General Woll advised that but for the mischief done (some 30 Mexican soldiers killed or wounded) he would have permitted them to disperse. Under the circumstances, however, he would have to take prisoners. The prisoners would include all male Anglo citizens in the town  (Lone Star, p. 261).  He promised that the prisoners would be treated as gentlemen. Fifty-five citizens were imprisoned, including Judge Hutchinson, the District Attorney, the clerk, all members of the Bar (including Maverick and Jones) except one, along with other citizens of Bexar and adjacent counties.
    After five days of imprisonment in San Antonio, the prisoners were told they would be required to march to the banks of the Rio Grande, where General Woll promised that they would be set free by his superior officer, General Reyes.
Although it was probably never intended, these lawyers, litigants, citizens, and officers of the court were destined to become prisoners of war in a desperate attempt by Santa Anna to accomplish several goals -- disrupt civil proceedings and the progress of government in Texas, demonstrate the strength of his forces, assert Mexican sovereignty, chastise the Texans, give U.S. annexationists and European allies reason to be concerned, and, ultimately, to regain the Texas lost in the battle of San Jacinto." (See generally, Fehrenbach, Lone Star, p. 478)  Also, it was rumored that Gen. Woll's next target after San Antonio was going to be Austin, hoping that a capture of the capital would be the end of Texas independence. Perhaps Santa Anna's goals were less ambitious, and the invasion was meant to keep the Texans in check and dissuade attempts to further advance the Texas line into Mexican territory.

Texas Responds.  During this time, unbeknownst to the prisoners, there were calls around the Republic for help for the Bexar prisoners. Col. Hays and other couriers spread the word that San Antonio had again fallen and that the district court in session there had been captured. The news of the capture of San Antonio by General Woll spread throughout the Republic and, as later described by E.W. Winkler in Volume XIII of the Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association was "a call for the gathering of companies of frontiersmen in the valleys of the Guadalupe and the Colorado. They united under the leadership of Colonel Matthew Caldwell, 'Old Paint', who had only recently returned from imprisonment in Mexico, having been a member of the Santa Fe expedition." Caldwell, who was in Gonzales at the time, brought 85 men, and was elected to command the two hundred and twenty five men who had assembled, in an effort to put an end to Woll's plans to recapture Texas.

The Battle of Salado Creek.  This conflict, which has become known as the Battle of Salado Creek, occurred on September 18, 1842. Col. Caldwell, with his volunteers from Gonzales, was successful, having turned the Mexican army. Note: following is from Wallace McKeehan's article on Adam Zumwalt, Jr.:

On 17 Sep, 202 minutemen had rallied on the Cibolo on the San Antonio Road above Seguin. Among them were som prisoners involved in the unsuccessful Santa Fe expedition including Colonel Matthew Caldwell who was elected commander of the group. Dr. Caleb S. Brown of Gonzales was named surgeon. Companies included 35 men under Capt. Daniel B. Friar of Cuero, 60 men from Gonzales and Seguin under Capt. James Bird of Gonzales (James H. Callahan of Seguin was 1st Lt.), 40 cowboys and Victorians under Capt. Ewen Cameron (Lts. John R. Baker and Alfred Allee) and 43 men from the Lavaca River under Captain "Black" Adam Zumwalt (John H. Livergood and Nicholas Ryan as Lts., John Henry Brown as Sargent). Among the others were James (Black Jim) Brown, Joshua D. Brown, Wilson Clark, Henry Cleveland, Nereus Dufner, Beverly C. Greenwood, William M. Phillips, Jonathan Scott, John Pius Smith, William Smothers, Oliver H. Stapp, Wilson Vandyke, George Walton, Wingate Woodley, Andrew Zumwalt, Isaac Zumwalt and Thomas Zumwalt. Andrew, Isaac and Thomas were sons of Capt. Zumwalt and George Walton a son-in-law. Cousin Nathan Boone Burkett was one of the 'cowboys,' noted as such because they subsisted for days on wild cattle and other game, in the company of Capt. Cameron. Cousin Jesse Zumwalt, son of 'Red' Adam Zumwalt is also thought to have participated and was wounded in the battle.
     On 17 Sep after General Woll had occupied San Antonio for a week, the Texans marched overland to Salado Creek about 6 miles east of San Antonio below present New Braunfels. Col Caldwelll instructed Capt. John C. Hays and his company of scouts and spies to lure the greater than 1440 strong Mexican force toward the force of 202 Texans. From a ridge 300 to 400 yards from the Alamo, Hays men waved, shouted and challenged the enemy to come out of the Alamo onto the field, as if they were preparing for confrontation at the site. The actions resulted in a charge of over 400 Mexican cavalrymen from the Alamo, which turned to a hot pursuit when Capt. Hays and the company turned toward the Salado. Some distance out, the mount of Capt. Augustus H. Jones of Gonzales [William Early Jones' brother], a close personal friend of Capt. Hays began to falter relative to the main force. Capt. Hays put the entire company just behind Capt. Jones with his slower mount leading the way. The contingent led the Mexican force across the Salado half a mile above the main Texan force under Capt. [sic, Col/?] Caldwell. After 2 to 3 hours of skirmishing, Gen. Woll arrived with about 800 infantrymen and his two cannon. After a face to face confrontation with Capt. Caldwell's forces, the front lines of the Mexican infantry were forced to fall back behind their cannon and cover due to heavy casualties. The Mexicans made several smaller charges that were repulsed with heavy casualties. At sundown Gen. Woll and his force retired to San Antonio with their casualties.
    The Battle of Salado Creek took place at the present day site of the Mehren House on Holbrook Road. The Mexicans had casualties of 60 men and about as many wounded. Col. Caldwell's force suffered only one casualty and 9 wounded. A Texas War for Independence marker was erected on the site in 1936, and in 1979 the battlefield was included in the National Register of Historic Places.
   
The Dawson Massacre.  Meanwhile, in LaGrange, Captain Nicholas Mosby Dawson gathered a group of volunteers to join with Col. Caldwell. Dawson and his men left LaGrange on September 16th, and picked up additional volunteers as they traveled along the Old Seguin Road toward San Antonio. Capt. Dawson and his volunteers attempted to join Col. Caldwell, but instead came upon the rear of Gen. Woll's army as he was retreating to San Antonio after the battle with Col. Caldwell. Dawson's force, which numbered only fifty three, was confronted by about 200 calvary, armed with one of Gen. Woll's cannon. The Mexican forces surrounded Dawson's men and began firing the cannon. The Mexicans stayed out of rifle range and were able to kill or wound more than half of Dawson's men. In what has become known as "Dawson's Massacre," thirty five Texans were killed, two or three escaped and fifteen were taken prisoner.
    The following is McKeehan's account of the Dawson Massacre:  The exact details of subsequent events vary with the reporter, but most historians agree that Dawson raised the white flag of surrender. Either the men were not unified in the surrender decision, in panic fired on Mexican troops handling the surrender at point blank range or some Mexican troops failed to cease fire or a combination of both. They were charged by the Mexican force and shot down systematically until Col. Corrasco and other Mexican officers regained control of their men.
    According to L.U. Spellmann in his article Letters of the "Dawson Men from Perote Prison", ___ Southwestern Historical Quarterly 246, "Dawson undertook to surrender, but some of his men were slow to cease firing and the Mexicans, who had partially ceased, began again....
    Ultimately, three of Dawson's men escaped and fifteen survivors were taken prisoner and joined with the San Antonio Prisoners. Of the fifteen survivors, only nine ultimately returned to their homes and families. The remains of the brave men who fell in Dawson's Massacre were ultimately interred at the tomb at Monument Hill in La Grange, Texas, along with the remains of 16 of the 17 men executed by order of Santa Anna in what became known as the Black Bean death lottery.
     On September 26th, Woll negotiated an armistice.  The heroic efforts of Col. Caldwell and Captain Nicholas Dawson, though unsuccessful, prevented General Woll from advancing to Austin, where he planned further interference with the efforts by the fledgling Republic of Texas to establish law and order and a system of democratic government.   The conflict and resulting massacre are chronicled on the historical signs near Austin Highway and Holbrook Road in San Antonio, where they mostly go unnoticed by the motoring public.

The Long Walk to Perote.  Meanwhile, General Woll began his retreat to the Rio Grande with the prisoners from the San Antonio Courthouse. After spending one night on the Medina River south of San Antonio, the prisoners continued to march under a guard of 150 to 160 men for the Rio Grande. By special favor, some of the prisoners were allowed to ride on horses. After eight days, they reached the river, described by Jones as "a bold, rapid river 250 or 300 yards wide" (There were no dams upstream as there are today).  At the crossing, the prisoners found themselves deceived. They were not allowed to go free as earlier promised; they were ordered to cross the river in two canoes, probably some of those used by Woll in crossing at the same point (Account of Judge Hutchinson, Texas Historical Association Quarterly, at p. 298.  Judge Hutchinson commented that Woll had spent nine days crossing the Rio Grande on his way to San Antonio).  The day was spent in getting across the river, and the prisoners spent the night on the Mexican side of the river. It was here they learned of the death of John R. Cunningham, a lawyer who had been compelled to leave San Antonio sick with congestive fever, and had been left behind on the third day in one of the carts which conveyed the 30 or so Mexicans wounded in the fight.
    Upon reaching Presidio Rio Grande, a town somewhat smaller than San Antonio at that time, the ears of the prisoners were "pierced with the screams of the wives of the Presidiales whose husbands had fallen" (Hutchinson Diary, p. 298).  The prisoners marched for three days to San Fernando, where they again heard the cries of grief for husbands and friends slain in battle.
    After being detained for seven days at San Fernando, a "statement of facts" surrounding the invasion, the resistance and surrender was prepared by Jones and signed by him and Maverick, as the representatives of the crowd. The statement was both a tribute of respect to Gen. Santa Anna and a protest of the conditions under which the San Antonio prisoners were being held. The commanding Mexican Army officer promised to send the document to Santa Anna with his favorable recommendations. The prisoners were ordered to march for Mexico City, under a mounted escort consisting of about eighty men, who rode on each side of the road while the prisoners occupied the road. General Reyes embraced Judge Hutchinson, saying that he had written to Santa Anna for the release of the judge. Some members of the Mexican force shed tears at leaving the hapless judge and his fellow prisoners.     Their journeys were long or short each day to suit the country through which they traveled, and some days they were forced to march from daylight until dark, making 13 to 14 leagues (39 - 42 miles). The prisoners were detained in Saltillo for sixteen days, closely housed up and never permitted to leave the cuartel.
    Jones described the route from Saltillo to San Luis Potosi as being through a poor and almost unpopulated country. When the prisoners reached San Luis Potosi, they were paraded through every public street as a show, followed by an immense crowd of people. They remained in San Luis Potosi for two days, and received a visit from the Governor. From San Luis Potosi to Mexico City, the road passed many splendid estates, the entire grounds of some of which were enclosed by stone walls. Jones described one enclosure as containing 36 square miles.
    When the prisoners were within 20 leagues of Mexico City, they were detained for a week in a miserable prison at a place called Tulea, where they were informed that their destination was not the City of Mexico, but the Castle of Perote, and that they would not be permitted to pass through the city, although they would go in sight of it.
    Upon arrival at Perote, a fortress at the foot of the extinct volcano called "Confra de Perote," the prisoners were allowed to go about the castle. According to Jones, the castle was built in 1773, mounted 96 pieces of cannon and covered 26 acres inside the outer pickets. The main building was said to cover ten acres. On the fifth day, the prisoners were chained in pairs and put to work, packing sand stone lime into the castle. Jones described the food as consisting of "poor beef, one day in three; beans, potatoes, rice and bread--badly cooked. The rations of these articles were always small, not being sufficient for a hearty man." They were later joined by the prisoners from the Mier Expedition.

The Mier expedition was an ill-fated and ill-advised invasion by 300 Texans into Mexico, in revenge for the Woll invasion.  The expedition resulted in a disgraceful plunder of Laredo, and later, an attack on the small adobe village of Mier, where a large amount of military supplies were stored as well as a large garrison of Mexican soldiers.  McCaleb, Walter F., The Mier Expedition.  While the Texans fought and then plundered, the Mexicans fortified their numbers and ultimately persuaded the Texans to surrender, under false promises of good treatment and false warnings of a powerful Mexican force being brought to bear.  The weary Texan forces surrendered, remembering what had happened at the Alamo, and not knowing that in truth, "the Mexicans were prepared to flee should the Texans refuse to surrender."  Id.  They surrendered under assurances that they would be treated "... with the consideration that is in accordance with the magnanimous Mexican nation."  Id.  After an unsuccessful attempt to escape back to Texas, the survivors were imprisoned at the Castle of Perote, along with the prisoners from San Antonio.

    The prisoners stayed at Perote until March 22, 1843, at which time Judge Hutchinson, Jones and Maverick were ordered to Mexico City. Their chains were knocked off before they left the castle, and the trio was allowed to ride by paying the hire of horses; they paid their own expenses even though they were still prisoners. The journey allowed Jones and his companions to observe the "complete and perfect dominion of the military over the civil authorities." On their arrival at the City of Mexico, they were first paraded for a quarter of an hour, ragged and dirty, in front of the Palace--then sent into it and sent to prison. By this time, the United States had interceded, and after a brief time in prison, Hutchinson, Jones and Maverick were allowed to tour the City for three days at perfect liberty. According to Jones, they endeavored to see everything to be seen in that remarkable place, in that short time. At the request of General Waddy Thompson from the United States [General Waddy Thompson was a United States representative from South Carolina and was minister to the Republic of Mexico.  He was acquainted with Samuel Maverick and William E. Jones in the United States], the trio was released for passage back to Texas on March 29, 1843, on board the U.S. Sloop of War Vincennes, via Vera Cruz and Pensacola. Hutchinson, Maverick and Jones were released as a personal favor by General Santa Anna to General Waddy Thompson. Reportedly, General Thompson told General Santa Anna that he had a favor to ask, and Santa Anna said that the favor would be granted before he knew the nature of the request. Santa Anna kept his word, granting General Thompson the "favor" of allowing Hutchinson, Jones and Maverick to board the ship to return to Texas.
    The majority of the prisoners remained in captivity at Perote until March 23, 1844. Samuel Maverick returned to his law practice. Jones repaired to the capital of Texas to seek aid for his fellow prisoners remaining in Mexico. He returned as a legislator from Gonzales County, and attended the Eighth Congress of the Republic. His warrant for "services and losses" including reparations for the loss of a horse, saddle, and bridle incurred while a "San Antonio Prisoner" is on file in the Lamar Papers (In 1852, almost ten years after his capture and imprisonment, Jones was paid the sum of $503 for "services and losses sustained while a San Antonio prisoner" as part of the debt of the Late Republic of Texas).  Later, he was unanimously appointed by Eighth Congress to be the judge of the Fourth Judicial District, replacing his fellow prisoner, Judge Hutchinson, who apparently had enough of the Republic of Texas and returned to Mississippi. In a detailed diary, Judge Hutchinson wrote: "In a word it is impossible for me to sustain in safety my family in any part of the 4th district, and being unwilling to reside in middle or eastern Texas, I am compelled to resume professional practice in Mississippi." He returned to Texas once to get his salary, to sell his Code of Texas, and to remove his library to Mississippi (Texas Historical Association Quarterly, at p. 311; see also, Henry S. Foote, The Bench and Bar of the South and Southwest, iv, 85).  As a District Judge of the Republic, Jones was also a member of a Committee organized as the Supreme Court of the Republic of Texas. He served as the last judge of the Fourth Judicial District under the Republic.    
    The case of Shields Booker vs. The City of San Antonio was never re-tried. Dr. Booker was shot in Perote Prison by a Mexican soldier, and died from his wounds on March 21, 1843

Letter dated March 22, 1843 from Richard A. Barkley, whose father and a brother were killed in Dawson's Massacre.  He was taken prisoner and wrote letters to H.G. Woods, a friend who escaped the Massacre. "Dr. Booker of Bexar was shot last Sunday by a Mexican soldier some think by a axadent but I had as soon think dune on perpose as not -- he dide last nite they are now bering [burying] him on the dich that encloses this Prison -- to die in prison in chanes & on a blanket & by the hand of a rufian is two hard."  See Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Letters of the "Dawson Men" from Perote Prison, Mexico, 1842-1843 (edited by L.U. Spellman).  Barkley escaped from Perote on July 2, 1843 and reached home.

     At the March 24, 1843 term of the District Court of Bexar, his case was continued, presumably without any knowledge that he had died. On March 6, 1844, the Court apparently was made aware of Dr. Booker's death in Perote Prison, and the case was again continued, to be revived in the name of the legal representatives of Dr. Booker's estate, who were at that time unknown. Finally, at the March 6, 1845 term of court, Dr. Booker's case was dismissed because, according to the minutes of the District Court, "the Plaintiff ... failed to appear and prosecute his case." The Order of Dismissal provided that the Defendant was allowed to recover costs of court from the Plaintiff. Nothing was said in the official records about why Dr. Booker's case could not proceed to trial.


 

William Early Jones's Narrative

Washington 1 Feby 1844
Dear Sir,  In compliance with your request, I give you below, a hasty sketch of the circumstances attending the capture and imprisonment of a number of the citizens of Texas, at San Antonio de Bexar in Sept. 1842.
    During the session of the District Court of Bexar County, for September 1842, a rumor reached the place that a Mexican army of from 1500 to 3000 men was on its way to attack the place. The rumor was sufficiently authenticated to induce the belief that a force of some character was advancing, but the impression was pretty general that it was only a party of marauders and not regular troops, who were endeavoring to creat the impression that their force was much stronger than it really was, for the purpose of better enabling them to take the place without resistance and plunder it with impunity. Col. Hays with five other well mounted men went out to make discoveries, and taking the public roads saw nothing and did not return to San Antonio until too late to enter it. Three Mexicans were also despatched, who promised to ascertain the character of the approaching force if to be found. They found the camp of Gen. Woll at a short distance from San Antonio; were made prisoners and not permitted to return to us. The whole day of 10th September was thus passed and neither spies nor Mexicans returning strengthened the general belief that the rumor was either a hoax or the character of the force advancing misrepresented.
    At day light on the morning of 11th Sept. we were aroused from our slumbers by the firing of a piece of cannon almost in the edge of the town, succeeded immediately by the sound of martial music and the tramp of a body of men. A dense fog obscured them from actual observation until after they had advanced into the public square, when they were immediately fired upon by our party, who amounted to about fifty in number--the fire was soon returned by the Mexicans with volleys of musketry and rapid discharges from a six and a four pounder. This lasted a few minutes when the fog disappearing discovered to us that we were surrounded on all sides by bodies of regular troops. We were then called upon to surrender by order of Genl. Woll--the firing ceased on both sides and after a parley in which the most ample pledges were given for our good treatment etc. etc. we surrendered prisoners of war, and were immediately put into prison with a strong guard over us.
    General Woll had cut off all communication between the Rio Grande and Bexar, and taking a circuitous route thro' the wilderness at the foot of the Mountains had in this manner secretly advanced upon the place and was actually within three leagues of it before any suspicion was even entertained that such an expedition was contemplated. His force was 1000 regulars and about 600 Presidial troops.
    We were detained prisoners five days in San Antonio, and then ordered to march under a guard of 150 or 160 men for the Rio Grande. Some of us by special favor permitted to ride--others from inability to walk were also allowed horses if they could get them. In 8 days we reached the Rio Grande, a bold, rapid river two hundred and fifty or three hundred yards wide, which was crossed in two canoes. The day was pretty much spent in getting over and we spent the night on the opposite bank. Here we learned the death of John R. Cunningham who had been compelled to leave Bexar sick with congestif fever and had been left behind on the third day in one of the carts which conveyed the Mexicans wounded in our fight, who numbered about thirty. Cunningham died from want of attention and were there not so many stains upon the Mexican character for other and more enormous atrocities, it would be recorded and remembered to their eternal disgrace as a nation.
    We had been promised by General Woll that on our arrival at the Rio Grande, we would be released by his Superior Genl. Reyes. We found ourselves deceived and after a detention of seven days at San Fernando were ordered to march for the City of Mexico. Our escort consisted of about 80 men, all mounted, who rode on each side of us while we occupied the road. Our journes were long or short each day to suit the country thro' which we traveled, and some days we were marched from daylight until near night, making 13 and 14 leagues. The country thro' which we travelled from San Fernando to Monclova was generally poor, broken, sometimes mountainous. Here and there rich bodies of land susceptible of irrigation by streams from the mountains and producing corn etc. very abundantly--no timber except musquit and chaperal thickets. From Monclova to Saltillo the character of the country was very similar, except the first two days travel was thro' a wretched barren country in which no body lived and non could live, being destitute of water.
    Saltillo the capital of Cohuila is a city of 18 or 20,000 inhabitants, built after the Spanish style and here we were detained for 16 days closely housed up and never permitted to leave the Cuartel. From Saltillo to Matahuala we passed thro' a poor and almost unpopulated country. From Matahuala to San Luis Potosi the country is more thickly populated and in many places there are handsome estates.
    San Luis Potosi is a handsome city of 40,000 inhabitants. We were paraded through every public street in it as a show, followed by an immense crowd of people chiefly of the lower classes. We remained here two days and were visited by the Governor and several persons of distinction in that country, besides many foreigners.
    From San Luis Potosi to the City of Mexico is 300 miles. The road passes many splendid estates the entire grounds of some of which are enclosed by stone walls beautifully constructed. One enclossure was said to contain 36 square miles. On arriving within twenty leagues of the City we were detained a week in a miserable prison at a place called Tula, where we were informed that our destination was not the City of Mexico, but the Castle of Perote, and that we would not be permitted to pass through the city although we should go in sight of it.
    On the 22 Dec. we arrived at the Castle of Perote, a very strong fortress at the foot of the extinct Volcano called "Confra de Perote." The Castle is on the Table Lands, just at the point at which the descent to the Gulf commences--its elevation 7500 feet--it was built in 1773--mounts 96 pieces of cannon and covers 26 acres inside of the outer pickets. The main building within the mote covers ten acres or near it. Well manned I should say that this fortress would resist a very powerful force.
    The first four days after our arrival we were allowed to go about the castle. On the fifth we were chained in pairs--and on the eighth or tenth day were put to work, packing sand stone lime etc. into the castle. Our food consisted of poor beef, one day in three; beans, potatoes, rice and bread--badly cooked--the rations of these articles were always small, not being sufficient for a hearty man. At night we were locked up--in the morning the doors were opened--at nine o'clock paraded and counted--put to work immediately afterwards--the same after dinner, etc.
    On the 22 March Judge Hutchinson Mr. Maverick and myself were ordered to the City of Mexico under guard, our chains having been knocked off before we left the castle. We were permitted to ride by paing the hire of horses; we paid also our own expenses although we were still prisoners. This journey gave us many opportunities of witnessing the complete and perfect dominion of the military over the civil authorities. On our arrival at the City of Mexico we were first paraded for a quarter of an hour ragged and dirty, in front of the Palace--then escorted into it and finally sent to prison. We were however released soon after and took lodgings at the same house at which Genl. Thompson boarded--to whom we were indebted for our liberty entirely--it having been granted as a personal favor to him. Mr. Maverick and myself were acquainted with him in the U.S.
    We remained three days in the City at perfect liberty--endeavoring to see everything to be seen in that remarkable place, in that short time. Our passage to Vera Cruz and thence to Pensacola etc. it is unnecessary to speak of in a sketch like this.
    I should have been glad had the opportunity been such as to permit the attempt, to have given you such information as I obtained in relation to the affairs of Mexico--Her government--her military organization--the church--the peon or slave system--the probable plans of Santa Anna--their views in relation to Texas; the causes of the continuance of the war--the causes of the treatment we received etc. etc. but it is useless to make the attempt here. Many incidents and details of our journey would be interesting.
    The prisoners taken at San Antonio consisted of the Judge of the District--the District Attorney, clerk--all the members of the bar except one--together with citizens of Bexar and the adjacent counties. The names have all been published several times.  /s William Early Jones


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