The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991 Page: 191
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Treatment of Mexican Prisoners 191
The government finally acted against armed foreigners when feder-
alist Gen. Jose Antonio Mexia tried to capture the garrison at Tampico
on November 14 with a band of volunteers recruited in New Orleans.
The Mexican congress retaliated by passing a law on December 30,
1835, designed to deter filibustering: ". .. those foreigners disembark-
ing at any port of the Republic or penetrating it by land, armed and
with the intention to attack the nation, will be treated and punished as
pirates.. ." Most nations agreed that piracy deserved the death penalty,
but when President Santa Anna invoked the law against the defenders of
the Alamo and Goliad, a few of whom were naturalized citizens, some of
his officers objected on humanitarian grounds and predicted that his
action would lay the foundation for revenge.
The Texans followed military custom when they took their first pris-
oners at Goliad on October 9, 1835, one week after the confrontation at
Gonzales. Expecting immediate retaliation from Gen. Martin Perfecto
de C6s, Santa Anna's brother-in-law who had just occupied San Antonio,
the Texans sent the three Mexican officers to San Felipe for safekeeping
pending a future exchange and put the twenty-one soldiers to work re-
pairing the fort. Almost immediately the Mexicans seized two Texas
messengers riding from Goliad to San Patricio to seek support from the
Irish colonists. The Texans were taken to the garrison at Lipantitlin,
placed in irons, and forced to work on the fort. Within the month, the
commandant sent the pair to prison at Matamoros.4
The Permanent Council in San Felipe, an interim informal governing
body for Texas composed of members from various local committees of
safety and vigilance, faced the problem of the Mexican officers while
awaiting a quorum of delegates to open the Consultation called for Oc-
tober 15. The members were committed to resisting the centralist ad-
ministration for violating the federalist Constitution of 1824, but they
did not yet endorse separation from Mexico. Naively they expected that
many Mexican officers would defect and join the federalist cause. So
they granted the three officers the freedom of the town and offered
Louis E. Brister (trans. and ed ), In Mexican Przsons: The Journal of Eduard Harkort, 1832-1834
(College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1986), 66-69, 71-75.
Josefina Zoraida Vazquez, "The Texas Question in Mexican Politics, 1836-1845," Southwest-
ern Historical Quarterly, LXXXIX (Jan., 1986), 314 (quotation); Santa Anna toJose Urrea, Mar. 3,
1836, in John H. Jenkins (ed ), The Papers of the Texas Revolution, 1835-1836 (1o vols.; Austin:
Presidial Press, 1973), IV, 501 (cited hereafter as Jenkins [ed.], Papers). Jose Urrea, "Diary of
the Military Operations ..." (1838), in Carlos E Castafieda (trans.), The Mexican Side of the
Texan Revolution. .. (Washington, 1971), 235, called it "barbarous and inhumane" (cited here-
after as Urrea, "Diary")
4J.J. Linn to James Kerr, Sept. 25, 1835, in Jenkins (ed.), Papers, I, 488; Kerr to Council, Oct
lo, 1835, ibid., II, 86-87; Kerr and Linn to Grayson and Council, Oct 11, 1835, ibid., II, 95,
Ira Ingram to Committee, Oct. 11, 1835, ibid., II, 95-96; P. Dimitt to S. F Austin, Oct. 25,
1835, ibid., II, 217-218; Dimitt to Austin, Oct. 27, 1835, ibid., II, 233
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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/m1/235/: accessed April 10, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.