The Mier Expedition was the most disastrous of all of the border confrontations between Texas and Mexico during the days of the Republic. It developed out of the Somervell Expedition, which disbanded soon after making brief raids into Laredo and Guerrero along the Rio Grande.
About 300 strong, the group elected William S. Fisher as their commander and moved down the Rio Grande opposite the Mexican town of Mier. With the main force of Texans, Fisher crossed the river on December 23, 1842, and occupied the town of Mier without opposition. They vacated later that day, however, after the town alcalde promised to deliver supplies to the that the Texans had demanded to their camp.
Meanwhile, Mexican General Pedro Ampudia arrived at Mier and prevented the delivery of the supplies. When the rations were not delivered as promised, the Texans re-entered Mier on Christmas day, this time by force. Heavy fighting resulted which continued until the following afternoon. The Texans, outnumbered by about ten to one, suffered thirty-one killed and wounded versus Mexican losses estimated at 600 killed and 200 wounded. However, the Texan’s rations dwindled rapidly and they agreed to surrender, although the terms of surrender were not well defined.
The Texas prisoners were at first sentenced to execution, but the execution order was later reversed. They were then held in the town of Matamoros until ordered to be moved to Mexico City. The Texans managed to escape their Mexican captors at the town of Salado on February 11, 1843. After much suffering, however, all but three of them were recaptured either individually or in small groups before they could make their way back to Texas.
The recaptured escapees, now totaling 176, were again sentenced to death by Mexican dictator Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. This order was subsequently reduced, however, so that one of every ten men, to be determined by lottery, were to be executed. In the lottery, which came to be known as the Black Bean Episode, seventeen of the unfortunate prisoners who drew black beans from a jar were blindfolded and shot.
Most of the remaining prisoners were marched to Mexico City, where they spent the summer of 1843 making road repairs. In September, they were transferred to Perote Prison, a highly secure stone fortress East of Mexico City. Here, they either died, escaped, or remained until the last of the group was released on September 14, 1844.