Among the greatest of tragedies of the American frontier—the Donner Party, the Alamo, Wounded Knee—a little known but no less tragic event was the Texas Mier Expedition. Originally part of a 1,200-man invasion to retaliate against Mexican incursions on Texas soil in 1842, the Expedition unfolded when several hundred fighters stubbornly defied President Sam Houston’s orders to disband and return home at once. Fiercely independent and recently reorganized under new leadership, this motley mix of Texas volunteers and militia turned south and proceeded to invade Mexico, determined to avenge past humiliations at the hands of Mexican dictator Antonio López de Santa Anna.
Once in Mexico they engaged the enemy in a dramatic day-long battle when they were suddenly tricked into surrendering and marched 1,300 miles to Perote prison. It was a march of attrition during which many Texans were executed or died from exposure, disease, or starvation. Once in Perote, they were forced to sleep on stone floors in chains and put to hard labor. Of the original three hundred and eight members of the rogue expedition who survived, only half left the prison alive. After two years in captivity, the prisoners were finally released only to be ignored and forgotten by their own countrymen upon their return home.
Drawing from over a dozen first-hand accounts, author Ken Lizzie extracts this exciting narrative recounting the pathos of these fighting men—from the blood-soaked Battlefields of Mier and the subsequent surrender to their harrowing 1,300-mile forced march to Perote Prison.
Ken Lizzio is an anthropology professor and author of Embattled Saints: My Year with the Sufis orfAfghanistan, an ethnography of an Islamic mystical brotherhood that won the IBPA’s 2015 Ben Franklin Silver Award. He also penned Pirates of the Prairie: Outlaws and Vigilantes in America's Heartland (Lyons Press, 2018). He lives in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains.