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    Mier Expedition diary

    [Texas Rangers]. Mier Expedition Diary of Israel Canfield, with a Sketch of the Perote Prison, circa 1844. 1st Texas Ranger Lieutenant Canfield writes almost twenty pages with dated entries, beginning July 23, 1843, and ending March 22, 1844, about the events that happened to him after the Mexican army captured him and the other survivors of the disastrous Mier Expedition. The journal includes entries about Canfield's time at Perote Prison, his release by Santa Anna, and the names and fates of many prisoners, including Samuel Walker. Also included is Canfield's detailed sketch of the Perote Prison.

    The journal is in the form of two booklets. The first booklet is entitled "No. 7" with dates between July 23, 1843, and January 25, 1844. In the second entry in the booklet dated July 30, Canfield writes that Samuel Walker, along with others, had escaped: "Saml. H. Walker . . .& Wm. Copeland made their escape at night over the prison walls." Canfield includes the names of numerous other Texans who either escaped or died. He also mentions the Mexican colonel charged with guarding them, their work along the road near Mexico City, and rumors of liberation. The final three pages of this booklet contain lists, such as a "List of Prisoners Died at Perote Castle from Sept. 21, '43 to Jany. 25, 1844," and "Recapitulation," which lists those killed and wounded at Mier.

    The second booklet is entitled "No. 12" and is dated between March 5 and March 22, 1844. On March 5, the "Commandant of the Castle" informed Canfield that he was to travel to Manga de Clavo, the home of Santa Anna. Apparently, "friends at the North, amongst whom was the Hon John Q Adams president" arranged for Canfield's meeting with the Mexican general. Canfield arrived two days later and was "immediately conducted to his Exy [Excellency] and liberated, altho I was not taken by surprise the word liberated was cheering in the extreme after an imprisonment of 15 months - was soon conducted to my bed where I slept more soundly than I have for the last." On the 8th, Santa Anna again called for Canfield, telling him that "the Hon John Q Adams was the strong friend of Mexico as also his personal friend Consequently has more influence with the government of Mexico than the united talents of the leading men in the U. States to this gentleman I owe my liberty which cannot be effaced from my mind." Santa Anna also gave Canfield two letters to "deliver in person" to President Adams. Canfield finally boarded a U.S. brig bound for New Orleans on March 21.

    A single sheet, not part of a booklet, is also included containing text written in ink on both sides summarizing the events of the Mier Expedition.

    The map sketch is headed, "Ground Plan of the Castle of Perote Jany 1844" (4.5" x 6"). It includes the dimensions of some areas and locates seven important points: the square, the "street around the square," the armory, officers' quarters, soldiers' quarters, commanders' quarters, and the "drawbridge over the dyke and only entrance."

    When the Somervell Expedition was abandoned, 308-including Canfield, Samuel Walker, Bigfoot Wallace, and many others who later served in Jack Hays' Texas Ranger companies-refused to return home, choosing instead to continue the expedition into Mexico. They elected General William Fisher, a veteran of the Battle of San Jacinto, to lead them on their new expedition, dubbed the Mier Expedition. The group crossed the Rio Grande and entered the Mexican city of Mier on December 23, 1842, but after engaging a much larger Mexican force in battle, they surrendered. Threatened with death, the Texans were forced to march to Mexico City, but before they arrived, many unsuccessfully tried to escape in February 1843. As punishment, the Mexican government ordered that every tenth man, chosen by a drawing of beans, be executed. Seventeen were blindfolded and then shot, a tragic incident known as the Black Bean Episode. The remaining prisoners, including Canfield, performed forced labor before finally marching to Perote Prison in September 1843. Over the next year, many prisoners escaped, died, or were released. Canfield, released by Santa Anna, left the prison on March 7, 1844. Later in September, the final prisoner was released. Some of these pages contain stains, foxing, and chipped edges. All pages are toned. The text of the two booklets are in pencil (sometime light pencil), with occasional contemporary modifications in pen, certainly by Canfield.


    More Information:

     7

      Augt, 23d Patrick Usher & Elijah Porter died at the Hospital in Mexico. Augt 25th Wm. Thompson, John Day Morgan Robt. Crawford and John Fitzgerald made their escape at night from the prison walls, during this time We have also heard of the

      Aug 26th September 5th nothing of moment occurring worth relating. While at work on the road P. K. Daugherty made his escape during Day [. . . illegible] this time. May 8th to this date except what has been related excepting some few remarks respecting Our Col. Who was a singular man altho pretty well informed he was notional to the extreme

     he would fancy that he could discern the good men from the bad as he termed them consequently unchained some for their industrious habits, while others remained chained, our men soon found out there was an opening to deceive the Colonel consequently some[?] were on the watch.  Continually when he was about the idle and watchfull always having the good will of the Colonel, they played the games so fine the Road being now finished & I am not to work anymore

     

     "And the Government perfectly satisfied" so says Santa Annas secretary. We are to be kept within our prison walls which continued till Sept 8th nothing of moment occurring Sept 9th this day were formed for a March not having the least idea for what or where to, were marched towards the city and finally brought up at the convent (or prison) "Santiago"

    Guard at Mier," "List of Prisoners Died at Perote Castle from Sept. 21, '43 to Jany. 25, 1844." The final list is entitled "Recapitulation" lists those killed and wounded at Mier.]

    .

     through the influence of my friends at the North, amongst whom was the Hon John Q Adams president [. . . illegible]. Tuesday 5th March early this morning was visited by (Valdanez) the Commandant of the Castle who informed me I was to leave the Castle this day in company with two dragoons-for the residence of Santa Anna. (Manga de Clavo) about 11 o'clock AM we left the Castle travelled about 8 leagues & encamped Wednesday, March 6th 1844 rain all this day. Con-

      for provisions which have filled many entinded that it was necessary [end of text].



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