Description

    Bigfoot Wallace Writes Home a Week After Release from Perote Prison

    William "Bigfoot" Wallace Autograph Letter Signed "Wm. A. A. Wallace." Three integral pages, 16.75" x 10.75", New Orleans, October 8, 1844, writing to his father, Andrew Wallace, back home in Lexington, Virginia, shortly after his release from Perote Prison in Vera Cruz, Mexico, after the failed Mier Expedition. He writes of the events shortly after their surrender, including the march, the famous "black bean incident," and his time in prison, and what has occurred since his release, in full:

    "I now write, to let you know that I am out of prison, in wich [sic] I have been confined for twenty months. Myself and four of my companions (viz, Wm. F. Willson [sic], Capt. Wm. Ryon, James Armstrong, Thomas Tatum, were liberated on the twenty fifth of August, by the influence of some of our friends of the United States for wich [sic] we feel ourselves under many obligations to for our release I assure you that we all have undergone more than I had any idea human nature could bear. after our surrender and had marched upwards of four hundred miles on our way the [word obscured by a small hole] of the Mexicans was so very bad, that it brought the Texians to the determination to disarm the guard which numbered four hundred and thirty eight in which wee [sic] succeeded with the loss of five or our men Texians numbered two hundred and eight. wee [sic] took from the Mexicans eighty five horses fourteen hundred dollars , arms for every man and about six thousand rounds of cartridge two days provision. The third day or our march homeward we reached the mountains in wich [sic] wee [sic] found impossible to pass with horses wee [sic] then killed horses and mules, enough for twenty days rations then took up the line of march on foot, and for seven days wee [sic] without a drop of water by this time, the men were scattering in every direction some dropping dead on their march, others throwing down their arms, ammunition our tounges [sic] swollen and sticking out about two inches, not one man could speak above his breath. in this situation wee [sic] water retaken by the Mexicans, and about one half had to be carried to water which was twenty miles distant, handcuffed two & two. by the time wee [sic] were able to stand up, an order came from the government to execute every tenth man wee [sic] then had a lottery composed of black and white beans those drawing white beans to live, those who drew black were to be shot in two hours wich [sic] numbered seventeen. Capt Cameron was afterwards executed near the city of Mexico. After arriving at the city of Mexico all were chained and put to work. After remaining there six months we were marched to, Perote, which is, one hundred & twenty five miles from Veracruz where yet remains one hundred & four of my companions which are half starved and almost naked, and a very cold climate to [sic]. While at Veracruz I had the yellow fever at present i am in very good health I came here without a hat, shoes, or shirt, my companions the same situation the citizens of New Orleans gave us clothing and money to pay our way until wee [sic] can get a passage for Texas. John Ruff furnished me clothes and twenty dollars, Robert Darst gave me ten, also. I am boarding with William Morehead, I saw George Fiayle [?] & McGilten. All the Rockbridge boys are in good health, and doing well. it would afford me a great pleasure to return to Old Rockbridge once more, to see my relative & friend, but at present my situation, and, my bad treatment while in Mexico compells [sic] me to return, for i am determined to fight the Mexicans so long as i live in Texas. i have been in four battles against them, (three victorious) struck with their musket balls five different times, but only skin deep. I have located upwards of twenty eight hundred acres of land in Texas, some on the head of peach creek emptying into the Gaudalupe [sic], some on hamiltons Creek emptying into the Colorado about 40 miles above the town of Austin. I have two claims to locate yet, (one 320), another (960) which I expect to locate as soon as i return if the Mexicans do not invade [text obscured] (which i hope and trust they will) I saw troops leaving Veracruz for the east, and my opinion is they were bound for Texas. if the Mexicans do not invade i will make my home at San Antonio, one of the extreme frontier towns of Texas. in case they should i will make head quarters at Edward Mantons near Lagrange, for i expect to be unsettled as long as the war continues. I have not heard from home for nearly five years until Wm. F. Willson [sic] received and from [text obscured] another after wee [sic] were liberated. The Und States minister was robbed near Pueblo on [text obscured] to the city of Mexico all his money, gold watch and cloak taken from him. Then thrown in a mudhole I have heard of many changes in old Rockbridge since my arrival here i want you to write to me immediately on the receipt of this letter, and direct your letter to Lagrange, Fayette County, Texas, post paid to New Orleans I wish to keep up a correspondence and shall write monthly, provided i get an answer to my letters. Tell Rebecka to write (also) [text obscured] Varner, & tell his son Clinton that I have a piece of land for him in Texas, John Morehead was left in the Mountains of Mexico and has not been heard from since, (several men) made good their retreat back to Texas, but i have never seen John Moreheads name mentioned if he has returned I will let you know shortly. Give my best respects to mother and family relatives and all my enquiring friends except of my best respects, your son, Adieu."

    Folds have weakened with some detachment and separation along the folds. There are some holes, mostly at fold intersection, resulting in loss to paper and text. Some toning is evident as is smudging of the ink in places.

    William A. A. "Bigfoot" Wallace (1817-1899) was born in Lexington, Virginia, where spent his adolescent and teenage years there. At the age of nineteen, after learning of the deaths of his brother and cousin during the Massacre at Goliad, young Wallace lit out for Texas to avenge their deaths. Over the course of the next sixty years, Wallace would ingrain himself in the mythos of Texas. He would try his hand at farming near La Grange, help fight off General Adrián Woll's Mexican army in their invasion of Texas and capture of San Antonio (which they evacuated two days later), serve in the Mier expedition in which he was captured and spent time in Perote Prison in Vera Cruz, join the Texas Rangers and see action during the Mexican War, use his tracking skills to track down runaway slaves, drive a mail hack between San Antonio and El Paso, and guard the Texas frontier against the Comanche during the Civil War. He is buried in the State Cemetery near Austin.




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    March, 2013
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