The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991 Page: 190
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190 Southwestern Historical Quarterly
lem, many common soldiers were assigned to citizens for use as la-
borers, and the remainder worked on the fortification at Galveston.
However, they still needed food and medical care. The forty-six offi-
cers who survived the battle had to be isolated from the troops and
were finally sent to Liberty to be housed and fed at government ex-
pense. The hostages, no longer of any value and an economic liability,
were returned to Mexico in April 1837.
Before the Crimean War (1853-1856), there were no international
agreements concerning the treatment of prisoners of war. Belligerent
nations held captives hostage in order to guarantee the safety of their
own men in the hands of the enemy. In theory, each side was expected
to provide food and clothing for its own held by opponents, but this
custom was seldom observed. During the American Revolution, the
model for military behavior for most Texans, the patriots at first kept
prisoners in compounds. When funds ran low, Congress authorized
the commanders to allow farmers and artisans to hire the common sol-
diers in return for their upkeep and a small wage. Officers, usually ex-
pected to finance their own keep, often were allowed the liberty of the
local community and were sometimes paroled to return home if they
agreed not to again take up arms.'
Civil wars, on the other hand, were less subject to the customs of civi-
lized nations. Mexico had experienced such conflict between its two
major political factions ever since its separation from Spain in 1821 and
tended to see prisoners of war as revolutionaries against authority who
deserved severe punishment. The Texas revolution in 1835-1836 was
within this purview. While there were other confrontations between the
federalist party and the centralist administration in Mexico in 1835,
that of the Texans drew special fire because they, for the most part,
were Anglo-Americans. When the Texans seized the fort at Anahuac in
June to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the manner of collecting
the national tariff and the presence of administration troops, and when
they refused to relinquish a cannon previously loaned to the residents
of Gonzales in October, their actions aroused greater wrath because the
Mexican government considered them as ungrateful foreigners. Gen-
eral Filisola described the Texas uprising as the action of a "thief fight-
ing against the owner, the murderer against the benefactor .. ."2
'George G. Lewis and John Mewha, llstory of Prisoner of War Utzlization by the United States
Army, 1776-1945 (Washington, D.C.: Dept. of the Army, 1955), 1-3, 5-6, 9-13, 15-16. For
Hague, Geneva, and Red Cross Conventions see pp. 47 and 66. When Cornwallis surrendered
at Yorktown, officers kept side arms and private property; see Charles E. Hatch, Jr., and
Thomas M. Pitkin (eds.), Yorktown- Climax of the Revolution (Washington, D.C.: Dept. of the Inte-
rior, National Park Service, 1941), 20
2Vicente Fillsola, Memoirs for the History of the War in Texas, trans. Wallace Woolsey (2 vols.;
Austin: Eakin Press, 1985-1987), II, 198 (quotation). For treatment of political prisoners see
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991, periodical, 1991; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101214/m1/234/: accessed April 3, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.