SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
© 1997-2001, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved
The Zadock Woods Family

 

Letters from Mexican Imprisonment
Letters home from or about Norman Woods

Gon, I gave you an office in Norman’s last letter and that was to lay an embargo on all of the girls in that neighborhood [FayetteCo] and not allow any more of them to get married until I return. Your commission extends still further. You must visit them all and kiss them once or twice each and tell them to charge same to my account--E.Y. Keen from Molino del Rey

General Victoria the first presadent of Mexico dide here yesterday of an old and lingering deseaze—he was the most ablest man Mexico ever produced.....The Mexicans point me out and say that I am the worst one in the castle.  I have worn hobbels two weeks. Binn beat with their spades and muskets. Calaboosed and [every means to] cow me that they can think of...--R.A. Barkley from Perote Prison

[At Salado] I was shot across the hip at the time that Captain Dawson ran out with the white flag. It was Carascoes order for his soldiers to disarm us then put us to death. We were released from this order by General Woll. I was left on the ground as dead until they came to stripping us and tearing the clothes off of me I had recovered enough to ask for quarters, which was granted by a sargent who kept off the soldiers with his sword. I had received five wounds with the sword. Four on the head and one on the left side, which nearly proved fatal.......Richard A. Barkley, D. Kornegay and fourteen others made their escape from the castle of Perote by digging through the wall.....I receive letters from Joe and Milvern once a week....Tell Aunt Azubah and Minerva not to grieve after Joe and Milvern as it will be a good schooling for them. They will get the use of the Mexican language which may be of use to them in after years.--Norman Woods to Family

Never heard of Gonzalvo’s escape until January. You have no idea the satisfaction it gave me to think that he had made his escape and that I still have a brother that would take care of you and our little family. No tongue can tell what I have suffered but I have never despaired. I have tried to live for your sake and our little family......Jane, you must do the best you can. Try and have our little children go to school all you can. All my troubles is the abscence from you and my family. I am satisfied that Gon is a brother to you and a father to our little children--Norman Woods to wife Jane

We have had a severe epidemic in the castle---70 in the hospital at a time. It has been very fatal among our men in the last month or two. Thirteen of our best men have died, among them are Maj. Gray, Judge Sanders, Jn. Trapnell, Crews, Tremble, [Norman] Wood[s] and Miller of Brazoria---S.C. Lyon from Perote Feb 1844

From Edward Y. Keen Summer 1842 | From Richard A. Barkley Mar-Jul 1843
From Norman Woods Jul-Fall 1843 | From S.C. Lyon Feb 1844

Norman B. Woods (1805-1843), born on 13 Oct 1805 in Troy, MO, was the third of six children of Minerva Cottle and Zadock Woods. He joined the family in current FayetteCo, TX after attending St. Charles Academy (1823-1826) in St. CharlesCo, MO.  He was granted land under Mexican colonial policy in Austin's colony near current Flatonia in FayetteCo, TX.    He was a veteran Indian fighter and served under Capt. Abner Kuykendall in fall 1829 in fights with Waco Indians near La Grange.  In 1841 he was in Austin with FayetteCo congressman James S. Lester.  He joined along with his brother Henry G. Woods and father Zadock Woods, Capt. Nicholas M. Dawson's company in September 1842 to liberate San Antonio from Centralista Mexican forces under Gen. Adrian Woll.  On September 18, 1842, he was wounded and captured in the Dawson Massacre in which his father Zadock was killed.  Among fifteen others captured were his nephew, Milvern Harrell, and Richard A. Barkley, some of whose letters are reprinted below.  Norman's brother Henry G. Woods was a legendary escapee of the massacre.  

Joseph Milton Nance in his book, Attack and Counter Attack, describes the fate of the the Norman Woods and the other wounded Dawson men

".....were kept under guard at Presidio del Rio Grande for two months, where they plotted to escape. They revealed their plans to a Frenchman, who told them that crossing the Rio Grande at this season of low water would be easy. Thus encouraged, Milvern Harrell, his uncle Norman Woods, W. D. Patterson and John MacCredae perfected their plans. Noticing that their soldier-guards played cards a great deal and satisfying themselves that their guns were unloaded, the prisoners slipped out one bright moonlight night after the guard had passed the door of the house in which they were confined and ran around the house towards the river, stumbling over the rocks that littered the ground and falling several times as they ran along. Norman Woods, who had not yet fully recovered from his wounds, was easily recaptured. The other three, instead of going straight to the river, which was a mile or two away, ran up stream for some ten or twelve miles, and then cut toward the river, reaching it about daylight.

Since Patterson was the oldest of the three the others followed his advice. They now looked for a shoally place to cross, and selected, finally, a point where the river was narrow and "bent in towards the Texas side." A sandbar lay a short distance from the bank and a high bluff arose on the opposite side of the river. The three men waded out beyond the sandbar, when suddenly Patterson stepped into deep water and began to swim. He called to his companions to follow.  The water was icy cold, and we had been confined until we were weak. We had gone only a little distance when McReady called to us that he could go no further, and sank. Pattison and myself swam on. A general's coat that Pattison had tied around him had slipped off, and he asked me to get it for him. I turned back for the coat, and taking it by my teeth, swam after him. On nearing the Texas bank we got into a swift current, and were washed rapidly downstream. Pattison called out to me that he could go no further, but must drown, and sank almost immediately. By this time I was completely exhausted and was helpless in the current. Thinking every second would be my last, I was suddenly washed upon a rock in the river, and carried high upon it, the water being only about six inches over its surface. I stood up and straightened myself. It was sleeting now, and I was almost frozen. I decided that I could not reach the Texas side, and knowing that I would freeze where I was, I went back to the Mexican side of the river. There was a long smooth beach where I reached the bank, and I ran up and down it for some time to loosen my joints, which had become stiff from being in the water so long.  Then leaving the river and going up a hill to get my location, I saw a house in the distance, and went toward it. A Mexican, seeing me approaching, came down to meet me. When he drew nearer, I recognized him as a Mexican I had known at San Antonio, and with whom I had traded. He came up and taking off his overcoat threw it around me. I went up to the house with him where he had a big, bright fire burning in the chimney. He would not let me go near it, but would have me move up a little at a time. His wife brought in some hot coffee for me, and I thought it was the best I had ever tasted. After getting warm, I told them that I desired to lay down, as I was sleepy. A bed was prepared, and I slept from about seven o'clock in the morning until two or three o'clock in the afternoon, and on awakening I saw four Mexican soldiers in the room….Of course, they carried me back with them---From Milvern Harrell's story in the Dallas Morning News, June 16, 1907.

Norman Woods, Milvern Harrell, and Higgerson were taken forty miles west to San Fernando where they met Van Ness, Fitzgerald, and Hancock. They were then marched to Mexico City where on the way in the prison at Saltillo they met the Mier prisoners. Norman spent two months in hospital at San Luis Potosi after which he was marched on to Mexico City with re-captured Mier prisoners who survived the Saltillo escape and black bean massacre.  They arrived 16 Apr 1843.  Norman Woods spent prison time at Molino del Rey, the Powder Mill outside Mexico City and Perote Prison.  Some of Norman Woods letters home and those of some others describing their experiences survived the period, are in the University of Texas archives, and some are reprinted below.  Norman Woods died on December 16, 1843 of yellow fever while in captivity at Perote Prison and was buried in the prison castle moat. 

Henry Gonzalvo Woods (1816-1869), known as Gon was also an Indian fighter and served in the battles of Gonzales and Concepción in fall 1835. He was at the fight against Comanches at San Saba Presidio and served with Gen. Edward Burleson in pursuit of Vicente Cordova.  Family legend says that Norman Woods as he lay wounded pleaded with Henry to escape the Dawson Massacre and look after his family.  Letters from Norman before his death in Perote Prison requested that his brother Henry look after his family back home in Texas. After Norman's death in captivity, Henry Woods married Norman's widow Jane Boyd Wells Woods in 1844 and raised his five children.

Edward Y. Keen was a friend and neighbor from FayetteCo who was wounded at the Battle of Mier and after the surrender was marched from Matamoros via Tampico to Mexico City where he was imprisoned in Perote Castle.  He escaped through tunnels in the prison on 25 Mar 1844.

Richard A. Barkley was a FayetteCo resident and member of Capt. Nicholas Dawson's Company prior to the Woll invasion.  He was captured at Salado with the Dawson Company and was one of the fifteen spared execution.  He was among the group of fifteen who escaped with General Thomas Green from Perote Prison on 27 Jan 1844 by digging through a six foot thick wall.  Of the sixteen, eight eventually reached home in Texas while eight were captured in Mexico and returned to Perote.

Unedited text of the following letters were provided by Mary Beth Marchant, a descendant of the Woods family, from over 50 year old typescripts in the family papers of her mother.


From Edward Y. Keen Summer 1842

Dear Friend:

You may think this comes from an unlooked for source, nevertheless it is from a true one. I cannot in justice to myself, let slip as fair an opportunity of adressing a few lines in friendship to those who have ever held the first place in my breast as friends after doing me the honor of accepting my warmest and best respects, please to present the same to the rest of my friends in that vicinity. Tell A.W. Faires and Newton Scallorn that I am well and hearty, and that I fool the Mexicans out of many a days work. Tell them to raise good crops as I expect to return sometime between this and Christmas and shall be very poor, and have to live upon my friends until I fatten up again. Give my respects to Aunt------------and mar----------------and to Aunt Betsy Reams and all of the people of that neighborhood. I want you to lay an embargo on all the girls in that vicinity and keep them from marrying off so fast. We can even hear of them marryin here in the City of Mexico.

We heard a short time ago Sarah Scallorn was leaving this world and getting married. I have done but a few days work since so you may judge of the effect that it had on me, but I think that I shall live through the weather and storm.

Give my respects to James Heson and all of the boys of La Grange, also to Wm. Robinson and Jackson Smith.

Gon, I deputize you, in my name, to go and see all the girls in Pullet Prairie and give them one good kiss each in my name; but do not tell us of any more weddings or I shall run entirely crazy as you will perceive by reading this, that my head is partly cracked already.

I subscribe myself your sincere friend. Adieu.  E. Y. Keen


Moleno Del Rey, mexico  July 20th, 1842

Dear Friends:

I embrase the present favorable opportunity of giving you a hint that wild Ed- is still alive and a kicking about and the first thing you will all know he will be kicking back into Texas, and where he will be kicked from there is hard to tell, perhaps into another world.

Our prospects are very flattering of a speedy release and if they do not release me soon I shall begin to look for a creep hole, but I hope I shall be saved that trouble by being released and kicked out of this hell upon earth.

Gon, I gave you an office in Norman’s last letter and that was to lay an embargo on all of the girls in that neighborhood and not allow any more of them to get married until I return. Your commission extends still further. You must visit them all and kiss them once or twice each and tell them to charge same to my account.

Please to accept my warmest and best respects and present same to A.W. Faires, Newton Scallorn and old Aunt Spear and all of the friends individually.

I remain your sincere friend.  E.Y. Keen

To. H.G. Woods


From Richard A. Barkley Mar-Jul 1843

Perote Mar. 15, 1843  

My friends—

Col. Fisher and his party has just arrived here. Milvern is with them Norman was left at San Louis. being slightly sick. He will be on here the first opportunity. Dick Kean came, also Eastland and Cox with the party that (break) was retaken Milvern------------use of his----to--------by a word he rec---------------------------------has got well of---------------Mccray was------------Milvern----------------and them-------------- from Prescedeo-----------cought at d----------------attempt to swim the river-------------------drowned.

Milvern reached a large rock there rested he could not reach the E. bank. He returned to the same side went to the ranch and there stopped. Soldiers there retook him. He has good health-with the exception of a slight desentry and I can’t get a chance to ask him two questions at a time. The other man that was wounded was killed in attempting to make his escape when the Mier men has been retaken—If we are not set at liberty on the return of Maverick and Jones from Mexico I will rite you again. Riddle is waiting for my letter. Milvern would rite if he had time. Our best love for everybody. 

R. A. Barkley


Perote Mar. 22, 1843

To My friends:

Robinsons and Woodses Harrell Willsons and others;

Sirs:- Having a shure chance of gueting a letter conveyed to you I rite a few lines—since I last addressed you things has changed mutch—In my last letter I told you of a Mr. Roberson that had binn set at liberty and sent to Texas and for what purpose I could not tell—I have some good news and some bad—On last Sunday Mr. Maverick Hutcherson & Will E. Jones had their chanes taken off and was ordered to Mexico—they started a few moments since. We wate their return with great anxiety. We expect to be liberated on their return which will be some 11 days. On last Monday the two Riddles & Ofealen was set at liberty they claimed British protection. They will leave here in a day or two for Texas. I send this by them—Dr. Brooker of Bexar was shot last Sunday by a Mexican soldier. Some think by a axident but I had as soon think done on purpose as not—He dide last night. They are now berying him on the dich that encloses this prisen—to die in prisen in chanes & on a blanket & by the hand of a ruffian is two hard.

General Victoria the first presadent of Mexico dide here yesterday of an old and lingering deseaze—he was the most ablest man Mexico ever produced. Jo has returned from the hospital he is getting as fat as a hog in pecan time. He is fine in health & good spirits—he thinks he will see you shortly. I have used all the means in my power to hear from Norman and Milvern but not one word can I hear—Col. Fisher and his officers will be here in a few days. I expect to here a good deal when I see them. Eastland and Cox is with them. I think I would like to see them before I finish writing but we cant tell what hour the Riddles may start. I have rote some half dozen letters but I cant tell whether you received them or not. I wish you to do the best that you can with pars and my things and do all for mother and the children. If mar wants money Kenady owes me near $20—Odanels $4—Mrs. Karnes $8—J. Brookshire $4—and old Faith as mutch as he says—Grasmeyer owed par something I cant tell Gon can tell. I have a good deal but I cant tell who owes me now. I think I wont guet back befor Fall as I expect to go up the Mississippi and work this summer it is too late to do any thing in Texas until Fall. I want to guet a gun and a horse as soon as I earn them I will be back. I will rite you from New Orleans by Joe—we are all in good health except a man by the name of Jackson, he I think will not leve. The rest of us to a man is fine and fat. We can eat but little sleep here and work some, just enough to be healthy—I gave Mr. Maverick a letter of instructions what to do concerning Norman and Milvern, their names and where I thought they was left—I will wate until Riddle starts befor I close 

[Believed to be a letter from Barkley]


We could carry—How different it is now. We are made to work nearly every day and made to pack as mutch as possibly can—to add to our misery a large body of calvary has binn stationed (here). We have had their filth to carry out every morning--------------------------------our food guets worse. We guet in the morning, nearly 3 oz bread about a half pint corn meal, coffee. We then work until twelve o clock then guet a small quantity of potatoes, badly sprouted, and a small piece of bread. Our supper is the same as in the morning. We are------------------------In the evening we let out at six or seven oclock. I made an attempt to make my excape but was stopped by my fellow prisoners. They thought it would act to their harm. The Mexicans point me out and say that I am the worst one in the castle.—I have worn hobbels two weeks. Binn beat with their spades and muskets. Calaboosed and (every means to) cow me that they can think of------------some of them—You need not rite me any more for I shall make my excape. There is no hopes of release—General Thompson tells us it is his opinion that he thinks we will be released in June, I think not. The Roberson question will keep. Should I never return I wish to settle pars and my own business.

Do all you can do for mother and my little brother and sisters—my affairs is easily settled pars I have a cousin living near Mercer by the name of Hodges. We are all well. No news of Norman. I think he is in Mexico. Milverns hand is nearly well. Joe and Trimble are in fine health. Should I never return, farewell.

I have been badly treated by the man from San Antonio. They have less principals than the Mexicans. There is some good fellows among them. Say to your sister I have did all I could for her son. The same to Aunt Zuby.

My love to Mrs. Wilson, Mrs. Robins. Say to Halls wife and Amanda their husbands dide fighting. My respects to all Mrs. --------------- and the two Mrs. Trimbles, and in particular to old Mr.--------------------------and to all. Give my respects to Scalorn(s).

R. A. Barkley
Prairie People
Addressed Post Mark

Mr. H.G. Woods Galveston La Grange Texas, Fayette County June 5 Texas


Castle of Perote June 18, 1843

My friends:

I can at last give you a true list of our case- The long looked for 15th of June has passed, no liberty. It is hard but what I really expected, yet the greater part is very much disappointed. Our friend Gen. Thompson has binn disappointed also. On last evening we received a letter from Gen. Tho[m]son. He says plainly there is no chance for us any time soon- I shall resort to the project that I last spoke of in a letter of the 8 May. I sent it by Phelps- We are all well; far better than could be hoped for in such a climate-

Milvern-Joseph Trimble-Shaw-Manton-Faison-Kornegay and Coultrin all enjoy the best of health.

I received a letter from Norman dated 28th of May. He is in Mexico in good health, yet he says he is a cripple. In this I think he is mistaken as also does Milv as he recollects no wound that would make a cripple in that way. I have written to him. I shall enclose a riten by Gon of the 27th of Aprile- I took it out and read it—it was directed to this place. I received a letter of the 1 of Aprile from Gon. Trimble received here. We receave papers here nearly every week through the goodness of our friends. I forgot to say Norman is exempt from chanes. There has binn several deaths among the men in Mexico. Old Major Murry- Blaton of Rutersville Koffman and Beard. There has binn several others that I don’t recolect. They are in a better condition than we are from what I can learn- this is the most disagreeable climate on the globe. It rains nearly every day, snows some, North win blows, in fact it is colder here at this time than it is in Texas in December.

R.A. Barkley


[Date unknown]

To speak planely you need not look for our release short of the close of the war. Sam and Santa Anna intends to keep us here for some time to come. I see a long publication of a trip to Santa Fe near Snively in the Mexican newspapers---------------------to but this they say a Mexican army has gone into Texas to go as far as the Colorado. This is believed here by some that look on it as a joke. If you rite to Norman direct your letters to Mexico in care of John Black, the American Consul. He will hand it to him.

My best love, R.A.B.
(addressed) Mr. H. G. Woods La Grange Fayette Co. Texas

[Unsigned believed to be another Barkley letter, date unknown]

[Our] chanes were then examined again riveted and ourselves [examined] with as mutch contempt as they possably could contrive or invent a way to show their authority. This somewhat surprised me as on looking around what did I see—a company of soldiers skulked in a corner house with loaded guns and a can [on] -----------------------------another company in the like manner with muskets on sight ready to fire on a parsel of us. Armed men from the [tops] of the surrounding houses not --------to face a free but timid men that shrink from it near at hand sitting with ---------------------------------------prisoner--------------------------------------I would say that we are to see [hard times] When we shall guet out of this snap God only knows. My only hope is an exchange of prisoners--------------------things grows daily more gloomy-----------they treat us worse every day. They have us in their charge [when things] takes place to their disadvantage they contrive in some way to punish us that is as inicent as a child unborned--------------------------------To illustrate if the Governor or mayor of this place guets mad at anybody they reak their vengance on us, a pore helpless set of convecks as they call us. They say we are not prisoners of war.


From Norman Woods Jul-Fall 1843

Molena Del Rey-July 5th, 1843

Dear Brother:

I received your letter of the 27th of June which afforded me a great deal of satisfaction to hear that you were all well.

You stated you wanted to know what is the amount that I owe Snider. I will state the articles and their prices. 6 yards of cloth 75 cents per yard; 7 yards at 37 ˝ cts per yard; 5 yards calico 50 cents per yard. The balance you will find charged against Montraville on my books. I have an account against Snider for sixty dollars which I got from D.W. Patterson that sawed with William Miller. As for Fred and Harman their account is about right. I gave an order on them for ten dollars for two bonnets from Adler. The judgment I hold against McArthur is in the hand of lawyer John Anderson, also a judgment against H.N. Coleman Estate. I loaned five dollars to George Llyons which is not charged. Also ten dollars against John Darst for articles bought at Johnsons sale.

You will find among my papers Gazleys and Shelbys receipt in my name for that money coming to father from Wester. From what I can hear I think it is collected. That is all that I can recollect at present in the line.

I want you to send me one hundred and fifty dollars as I am crippled so that I will be obliged to go on stage from this to Vera Cruz, which will cost me fifty dollars, from there to New Orleans it will cost me thirty dollars the cheapest I can go. I wish you to send the money to L. Dobbin Esq. Commission Merchant, 15 New Levee, New Orleans, advising him to aprise Gen. Waddy Thompson, U.S. Minister at this place, of the fact and it will be made subject to my order.

As I have never described to you my sufferings after leaving you, I will now give you a short description of them. I was shot across the hip at the time that Captain Dawson ran out with the white flag. It was Carascoes order for his soldiers to disarm us then put us to death. We were released from this order by General Woll. I was left on the ground as dead until they came to stripping us and tearing the clothes off of me I had recovered enough to ask for quarters, which was granted by a sargent who kept off the soldiers with his sword. I had received five wounds with the sword. Four on the head and one on the left side, which nearly proved fatal. I was carried into Bexar that night and the next morning left for Precedio Rio Grande in an open wagon. Here I was separated from the rest of the boys that were not wounded and have never seen them yet. I remained in Precedio one month, until I was entirely recovered and from there was marched to San Fernando forty miles west of this place.

From losing the handkerchief off of my head I took a severe cold which settled in my wounds which caused me to keep my bed for about two months. From this place I was removed to Saltillo where I remained some fifteen or twenty days in a state of delerium. Here Milvern had a great deal of trouble with me, my being entirely helpless. At this place Mier prisoners overtaken me and we went on together four days march to the Salado where the boys stampeded. Myself not being able to go with them I prevailed on Milvern and Richard Keen to stay with me and assist me in getting along. We came on to San Louis Potosi where I remained in the hospital about two months. Milvern and the rest of the boys went on to Perote. I remained at this place until the unfortunate boys that broke at the Salado was recaptured and came up, those that survived. From here we all took up the line of march to the City of Mexico, where we landed on the 26th of April. The most of the time during my captivity I received kind treatment and two bits a day on which I lived as well as I wanted to.

From the city we were removed about one league to a place called the Powder Mills. Here the rest of the boys were put in chains and set to work. Myself being exempted from either for a long time then they put the chains on me, but I did not wear them more than two weeks and I am now clear of them. The fare here is so bad I am compelled to have a little money to render me at all comfortable.

Tell Jane that I have seen a great deal of trouble but my greatest is my absence from my family. But I hope ere long to be restored to them and happiness. But I feel assured that you will be a brother to her and my children. I want you to keep the children at school. Tell Aunt Azubah and Minerva not to grieve after Joe and Milvern as it will be a good schooling for them. They will get the use of the Mexican language which may be of use to them in after years. It has been but a few days since I wrote to you. I want you to write often, once a month at least, and I will do the same.

Direct your letter to the care of John Black, U.S. Consul, City of Mexico. You will find among my papers where I made a calculation of what is coming from Sam Highsmith, which is about eighty or ninety dollars. I agreed to pay Sam ten dollars for the season of Dolly. I have a strong hope of being released before long.

I remain as ever your affectionate brother  Norman Woods

Addressed to:  H.G. Woods


Molena Del Rey, July 20th, 1843

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

I will again resume my pen to address you a few lines to inform you that I am well and in tolerable good spirits. I received your letter of the 27th of April which gave me a good deal of satisfaction to hear from you and to hear that you are all well and in good spirits.

I received a letter from Joseph Robinson dated the 9th of July---they were all well there. He stated that he received a letter from Mr. Robinson stating that you were all well. Well he did not give me the particulars. I have written to you twice before this and for fear they may not have come to hand, I will give you a statement of my business. As for Sniders Account 6 yards of cantale & stuf at 75 cents per yard, 7 yards at 37 ˝ cents per yard, 5 yards of calico at 50 cts. The balance I assumed for Montraville, some three or four dollars which you will find charged to them in my big book. As far Green and Harman their accounts is not far from right. I gave father an order on them for ten dollars to pay Adler for those two bonnets. I assumed no debt for any other person. When you settle with them I want you to be sure and take a bill of all the articles if you settle before I return. I have an account against Snider for fifty or sixty dollars in favor of D.W. Patterson, the young men who sawed with Wm. Miller. There is five dollars which I loaned George Llyons that is not charged. There is nine or ten dollars against John Darst, also seventy or eighty against Sam Highsmith, ten dollars which we will have to allow for the season of Dolly, also ten dollars against James Brookshire for a Spanish Blanket. I also settled with Harrison twelve or thirteen dollars for Brookshire which you will find correctly charged on my Big Book. I want you to settle the work that I owe to Walker the best that you can. There is yet coming from him a hundred and one boxes of pills.

It is my desire that you deposit in the hands of L. Dobbin of New Orleans, subject to my order, $150.00 and that you request him to inform Gen. W. Thompson U.S. Minister near the government of Mexico. The amount desired is one hundred and fifty dollars. Of this same being in his hands and by so doing will be sent to me through Gen. Thompson, City of Mexico. The same I wrote you for in a previous letter. The residence of L. Dobbin is at No. 15 New Levee, New Orleans. The distance from this place to Vera Cruz is three hundred miles and I shall be obliged to take the stage, as I am a cripple so that I cannot walk from ward and back. I will not give the story of my sufferings and privations during my captivity as I have done it in another letter, and hope soon to see you all, and then I can tell you what it would take volumes to write. I will here give or attempt to give you a slight description of the country from Sant Teresa to this place. We take valley varing from one hundred yards to two leagues, thickly settled as well watered nearly every day climbing mountains and taking the table lands with mountains rising still higher on either hand. You would be surprised to the difference in the climate here and that of Texas. Mexico is surrounded with snow mountains and it is as cold here now as it is in Texas in the month of March. It has rained here every day for the last two months. They have all kinds of vegetables and fruits of the best kind. We can get our hats full of apples for a clacko, taleo, or one half of a centavo, or one forth of a picayune. The City of Mexico is about fourteen thousand feet above sea level of the sea. The inhabitants of the City number about two hundred thousand, as for the political situation of the country I will not attempt to give you any description as you can for a better idea of that than I can give. I wish you to let old Uncle Joe Barleson know that Davis is here and well and sends his respects to all of his friends.

I will conclude by sending my love to all of my family and friends. I remain as

Your affectionate brother, Norman Woods

p.s.  Richard A. Barkley, D. Kornegay and fourteen others made their escape from the castle of Perote by digging through the wall. They are without a pilot. God knows whether they will make good their retreat. Three have already been taken, the rest have not yet been heard of.  I receive letters from Joe and Milvern once a week. I also write them. It is all the satisfaction I can see here. My brothers and sisters, you must write to me once a week. Direct your letters to the care to General Waddy Thompson U.S. Minister to Mexico. If I should be liberated soon as I anticipate, I think it advisable to remain until fall on account of the yellow fever. I will need money and will be obliged to have some.

God be with you all. N.W.
Addressed:  H.G. Woods, La Grange, Fayette County, Texas
Forwarded by the politeness of Assa Hill, Esq.


Prison Powder Mills near Mexico July 21st, 1843

My dear wife:

You can’t imagine what my solitude has been on your account that of our little family. A thousand times have I seen them in imagination running beside their mother and amusing her with their glee- what an unalterable pleasure it would be to realize such happiness but I am a prisoner of war and must await with pleasure and patience and philosophy the President of Mexico before I can experience-----------------------------ter and better days that can serve to cheer our gloomy days.

Little did I think when I left you all that I should ever come to what I have, but it is the will of the Almighty, the ruler of the great universe. You must do the best you can with our little family. Send them to school if it is within your power. I am happy to think that you are not left as many other poor women here. I feel for them. I know that Gonzalvo will be a brother------------------------------------and fine spirits at a speedy release. I am a cripple for life from a wound in my back. I am clear of chanes and have not been called on to work as many of the prisioners.

Never heard of Gonzalvo’s escape until January. You have no idea the satisfaction it gave me to think that he had made his escape and that I still have a brother that would take care of you and our little family. No tongue can tell what I have suffered but I have never despaired. I have tried to live for your sake and our little family.

Addressed:  Norman Woods
Jane Woods


Prison of the Powder Mill Near the City of Mexico August 18th, 1843

Dear Brother:

You will perceive of the date of these few lines that I am still in prison with no hopes of a speedy release. Indeed, you can form as good an idea at what time that will take place as I can myself. I am at present enjoying good health but I am a cripple from the wound I received in my back.

Whilst with Gen. Woll I received every attention requisite from a good physician, and recovered so as to be able to walk—though with considerable difficulty in about a month. Not withstanding we are roughly treated and are allowed the most miserable food. I intend to keep up my appetite. My only anxiety is to get home.

I wish you at the earliest opportunity to remit me some funds, say one hundred and fifty (150) dollars. If you have not the ready money on sight, make any sacrifice provided you can not otherwise secure. I wish you to pay particular attention to the above request. I may as well here state, that it will be necessary to insure my safe reception of it, to send to a merchant in New Orleans, Leonard Dobbin, or Joseph Lovell---who will be advising them, to inform the United States Minister Gen. Waddy Thompson, at this place, making it subject to my order.

A letter addressed to the Citizens of Fayette was forwarded yesterday, which I presume you will see. It petitions them for funds to be raised by subscription, which can be done by every county in the Republic and discourses upon our situation. I have not hesitancy in saying that the liberality of the citizens would be extended to our aid. Milvern is in Perote. I heard from him a day or two since, but have not seen him since I left St. Louis Potosi, at which place I was retained in the hospital until the prisoners who made the break at Salado came up. Milvern and some eighteen or twenty others still continued on the march for Mexico. My cozen Joseph is also at Perote, enjoying good health, but as far as I can understand, about the same treatment as ourselves. I am not like the balance of my unfortunate companions, compelled to work, but I am not withstanding heavily chaned as are also each and every one of the prisoners. I am allowed on my whole march to ride a horse or buro-the latter of which I found to be far superior animal of the two, at least my situation.

I wish you to act as a brother to my family and see my children schooled. This subject being satisfied that you will pay my family every possible attention relieves my mind in no considerable degree.

I received a letter a few days since from Milvern who informed me on all the particulars of a letter he received from Gon dated in April last. When you write to me, it will be necessary for you to direct to the care of the U.S. Minister of this place.

I remain as ever
Your affectionate brother
Norman Woods

Addressed:  Mr. H.G. Woods
La Grange Fayette County Texas
Post Marked:  Galveston Texas August 18


[Date unknown, probably after Aug. 1843]
Jane, I can’t say anything more to you than I wrote by friend Hill. Do the best you can. All my troubles is the absence from you and our little family.

I must wait on the President of Mexico. I remain as ever, Yours till Death, N. Woods


Castle of Perote September 23, 1843

My dear brothers and sisters:

You will see by these few lines that I am still in the land of the living and in good health. In fact I never enjoyed better in my life, and may these few lines find you all enjoying the like blessing.

There has nothing particular occurred since I wrote you last by friend Asa Hill, who was released in August. We took up the line of march on the 12th inst for Perote, landed here the 27th and found the boys all well and in good spirits. Our fare as to quarters, living and officers is much bettered.

Received $35.00 by the hand of Gen. Thompson. Greatful Brother, what a relief. Only think, a prisoner far from home and among strangers, not able to work to get any money in case I should shortly be released. I can make out with what I have got, as respects our release. I must refer you solely to Col. Bradley, who is the bearer of these few lines and whose family near La Grange you must go and see him.

In case we should not be shortly released, you must send me more money.   Col. Bradley can put you in the right channel now to send it and letters.

I remain as ever, Your till Death N. Woods


Castle of Perote Mexico, Oct. 17, 1843

My dear brothers and sisters, wife and family:

By the release of another of our fellow prisoners J. Leffrey Hill [Jeffrey Hill] we are enabled to let you hear from us. I am enjoying the best of health and in good spirits of a speedy release by the meeting of the commissioners, not so gloomy as Milvern thinks, though he seems to enjoy himself first rate.

We have plenty to eat, good clothes to wear, coffee twice a day, good flour bread. I am at work 25 cts per day. Milvern also. I am coopering and make about one well bucket a week. Play it on them pretty fine. All carpenters and tradesman have the priviledge of working at 25 cts per day. The rest are locked up at 4 p.m. out at 9 a.m.

I have no news to write and for the little particulars I must refer you to a friend Hill and Bradley.

We have never heard from any of you since the 13th of June. You must write often and give all the little particulars.

My love to all, Norman Woods

P.S. Our situation is so much better since we left Mexico as to living quarters and the satisfaction of being with Milvern and Joe and Ed Manton that I am quite happy, comparatively speaking, to what I was in Mexico. I have never despaired. I hope ere long to be with you all and talk over the scenes past and gone.

Jane, you must do the best you can. Try and have our little children go to school all you can. All my troubles is the abscence from you and my family. I am satisfied that Gon is a brother to you and a father to our little children.

Yours till Death Norman Woods


[Letter fragments, dates unknown]
Last evening we receaved a New Orleans Buletin of the 2nd of March. In this we have some news of Texas. From this we learn that Comodore M is afloat. That Texas is doing something herself and relys no longer on foreign Powers to settle for the war that she can terminate in one months time and with more eas than a squarill can eat corn setting on a rale. Hear they are raising what (they) call volentarioes. For instance offer to a few rancheros a dollar for each and every man, if men I should call them for they resembel--------------------

[Reverse of Fragment]
My opinion is that you will not see me as soon. Thompson says he thinks that a peace could be obtained on honerable terms leaving out the name of Independence from Mexico. Texas is going to invade her borders soon, and if so, will be compelled to come to terms to some sort. Mexico is in a condition the worst of any people on this earth.

[They treat us] worse and worse every day. This morning we went into line our chanes examined. Ed Mantons was found somewhat loose. He was sent to the shop and Fason with him. They are there yet------------------I mutch prefer to the hole the Mier prisoners has---------------------------resembles.


From S.C. Lyon Feb 1844

Samuel C. Lyon was a native of England from Brazoria who was the "sailing master" of watercraft on the Rio Grande at Mier.  He was part of the surrender, was imprisoned at Perote and released 16 Sep 1844.

Castle of Perote February 2, 1844

Dear General:

I received your letter of the 8th of November on the 20th of December, and was glad to hear that you were all well.

We are here in a dreadful condition—hungry, naked and covered with vermin.

You wrote me that Capt. Hoyt would send me some money on the next boat, there is none come yet; it is much needed, come when it will.

We have had a severe epidemic in the castle-70 in the hospital at a time. It has been very fatal among our men in the last month or two. Thirteen of our best men have died, among them are Maj. Gray, Judge Sanders, Jn. Trapnell, Crews, Tremble, Wood and Miller of Brazoria.

I have been in the hospital twice with the fever and deafness; but am now well with a tremendous appetite and nothing to eat. No news of "libertad".

General Fisher sends his respects to you, so does all the hands.

I remain yours, S.C. Lyon

p.s. If it is convenient to you to send me a small sum of money, I will return it when I get home. I am entirely out of clothing. No shirt on at present-jacket and pants in rags.

Give my respects to Mr. & Mrs. Clemont, Mr. Potter, King and family and all hands. Tell Captain Parker this is my last "cruise" on land and that I hope he and his family are well.

My best respects to Capt. Hoyt. 

Your friend, S.C. Lyon


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