The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 38, July 1934 - April, 1935

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

LETTERS OF THE "DAWSON MEN" FROM PEROTE
PRISON, MEXICO, 1842-1843
EDITED BY L. U. SPELLMANN
The letters here published for the first time constitute the
largest (almost the only) existing correspondence from that little
group of Texas heroes who survived the "Dawson Massacre" of
September 18, 1842, only to spend weary years as prisoners of war
in Mexico. They were Fayette County men for the most part, who
assembled hastily when the word came, that the Mexican General
Woll had captured San Antonio. Gathering a few men as they
went, they rode swiftly to join Caldwell who had set out from
Gonzales with a company of men. In forty-eight hours they were
on the Salado a hundred miles away, and, having failed to connect
with Caldwell, they engaged a detachment of Woll's cavalry under
Colonel Corasco. Only 53 in number, and with badly jaded horses,
the chance of victory they might have had vanished utterly with
the arrival of 250 additional Mexican cavalry, bringing two cannon.
Dawson undertook to surrender, but some of his men were slow
to cease firing and the Mexicans, who had partially ceased, began
again. This see-saw quickly developed into relentless and bloody
strife. Thirty-five of the Texans were killed, Henry Gonsolvo
Woods, Alsey Miller and perhaps one other escaped and fifteen, all
more or less badly wounded, were taken prisoners. In different
groups according to their ability to travel, and after several
attempts to escape in which two were drowned and one killed by a
Mexican guard, the survivors eventually arrived in the moat-
surrounded Castle of Perote.
Texans of today owe a debt of gratitude to Houston Wade,
Fayette County historian, for collecting the names of the fifty-two
men who rode with Dawson, rescuing some of these names from
near oblivion, and for compiling a brief sketch of their lives in a
booklet called, "The Dawson Men of Fayette County." The letters
published with this article make a valuable supplement to the
story Wade and others have told. Treasured by H. G. Woods, who
escaped the "Massacre," and to whom most of the letters were
addressed, and especially by my great-grandmother, Jane Wells
Woods, wife of Norman Woods, Perote prisoner, they have been

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 38, July 1934 - April, 1935. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117143/. Accessed October 1, 2014.