The Black Bean Episode

Journal of the Texian Expedition Against Mier, by Gen. T. J. Green, 1845
Hacienda Salado
March 25, 1843

In the fall of 1842, after General Woll’s capture of San Antonio the second time, President Sam Houston authorized a military campaign to invade Mexico under the command of General Somervell. After sacking Laredo, more than 300 Texans refused the order to return home and continued on to the Mexican town of Mier.

“The battle raged all night and into the next day. The Texans barricaded themselves in a block of houses on the edge of town, repulsing several attacks until, cut off from escape, they surrendered. The prisoners were marched to Matamoros, then south into the interior of Mexico. Along the way they managed to overpower their guards at the Hacienda del Salado, a ranch house where they had been quartered for the night, but again their efforts met with disaster. In an effort to elude capture, they left the main trail and journeyed into the arid mountains. For six days they marched, then crawled, in search of food and water, before being rounded up by Mexican troops.

The Santa Anna regime decreed that one out of every ten men should be executed as punishment for the escape. At the ranch where they had made their bid for freedom, 176 prisoners drew from a pot containing white and black beans in what would become known in Texas history as the Black Bean episode. Those who drew the fatal black beans were promptly shot.”

This Black Bean Episode occurred at Hacienda del Salado which is the next major hacienda north of Hacienda Vanegas at the north end of the Sierra Catorce. Salado, like most of the haciendas in the area, produced supplies for the mines at Real de Catorce.

T. J. Green, a member of the ill fated expedition, later wrote an account of the events at Salado and the following march through Cedral and Matehuala. This account is found in Chapter 12 of his journal. The entire journal is online courtesy of The Library of Texas, Southern Methodist University.