This is my Double Cousin Tom Bell's account of the Black Bean Massacre in his book, A NARRATIVE OF THE CAPTURE AND SUBSEQUENT SUFFERINGS OF THE MIER PRISONERS IN MEXICO, CAPTURED IN THE CAUSE OF TEXAS, DECEMBER 26TH 1842 AND LIBERATED SEPTEMBER 16, 1844.
THE TEXAS STATE HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION:
BLACK BEAN EPISODE. The Black Bean Episode, an aftermath of the Mier Expedition, resulted from an attempted escape of the captured Texans as they were being marched from Mier to Mexico City. After an escape at Salado, Tamaulipas, on February 11, 1843, some 176 of the men were recaptured within about a week. A decree that all who participated in the break were to be executed was modified to an order to kill every tenth man. Col. Domingo Huerta was to be in charge of the decimation. The victims were chosen by lottery, each man drawing a bean from an earthen jar containing 176 beans, seventeen black beans being the tokens signifying death. Commissioned officers were ordered to draw first; then the enlisted men were called as their names appeared on the muster rolls. William A. A. (Bigfoot) Wallace, standing close to the scene of the drawing, decided that the black beans were the larger and fingered the tokens successfully to draw a white bean. Observers of the drawing later described the dignity, the firmness, the light temper, and general courage of the men who drew the beans of death. Some left messages for their families with their companions; a few had time to write letters home. The doomed men were unshackled from their companions, placed in a separate courtyard, and shot at dusk on March 25, 1843. The seventeen victims of the lottery were James Decatur Cocke, William Mosby Eastland, Patrick Mahan, James M. Ogden, James N. Torrey, Martin Carroll Wing,qqv John L. Cash, Robert Holmes Dunham, Edward E. Este, Robert Harris, Thomas L. Jones, Christopher Roberts, William N. Rowan, James L. Shepherd, J. N. M. Thompson, James Turnbull, and Henry Walling. Shepherd survived the firing squad by pretending to be dead. The guards left him for dead in the courtyard, and he escaped in the night but was recaptured and shot. In 1848 the bodies were returned from Mexico to be buried at Monument Hillqv, near La Grange, Fayette County.