The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 68, July 1964 - April, 1965 Page: 522
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
and fair treatment given the men by Mexican civilians and sol-
diers. He had words of extenuation for Houston, Somervell, and
others in connection with their respective roles in the failure of
the expedition. This is in sharp contrast to Green, whose work
is an anti-Houston polemic. Though the editor of Bell's narrative
reports that one reviewer thought it weaker than the other two
accounts from a literary point of view, its economy of style com-
pares favorably with the language of the other two, which often
sounds ostentatious to twentieth century ears. It also has an
advantage over the other two in that Bell was with the main body
of men from beginning to end, while Green was often separated
from the others during the captivity (he did not, for example,
witness the renowned drawing of the beans) and Stapp was mys-
teriously released from prison in Mexico four months earlier
than the main group of prisoners.
Thomas W. Bell came to the Republic of Texas in 1839 at the
age of twenty-four. A native of North Carolina, he had lived with
his family in Tennessee and Mississippi before coming to Texas
with an uncle and a cousin. After his release from prison, he
returned to Tennessee where he met and eventually married the
widow of one of the Mier men. On his arrival in Texas, he worked
for a time as a carpenter, and then became a tutor at Rutersville
College, where he was serving when the call came in 1842 for
troops to defend the frontier of Texas against a number of forays
carried out by substantial bodies of Mexican troops. The last of
these had seen the kidnapping of the officers of the District Court
of San Antonio. Bell enlisted as a private in October, 1842, and
participated in the gathering of the troops in San Antonio, the
march to Laredo, and the breakup of the Somervell expedition
at that point after failing to contact the enemy. He was among
the men who decided to continue on down the Rio Grande in
hopes of a battle, attacked Mier, surrendered to a superior force,
and were marched into the interior. Bell participated in the
escape of the prisoners after overcoming their guards, the suf-
fering of the escapees as they wandered through the mountains
and deserts of Mexico, their recapture, the drawing of the beans,
and witnessed the execution of the unlucky tenth. He and the
remainder were then marched to Mexico City, imprisoned for a
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 68, July 1964 - April, 1965, periodical, 1965; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101198/m1/609/: accessed June 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.