The Texas Historian, Volume 40, Number 4, March 1980 Page: 18
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France to get out of Mexico. Napoleon began
to have serious doubts about the Sonora pro-
ject and stated simply, "What I want is to get
out of it altogether."
By this time, Gwin realized his plan was no
longer feasible. Also, one of his supporters, the
Due de Morny, had recently died after a long
illness. So Gwin secretly planned to leave
Empress Carlotta traveled to Europe to
plead with French officials and even the pope,
for support of her husband's empire. She failed
in her efforts, went insane, and was placed
in a rest home where she lived another sixty
years, dying in 1927.
Napoleon finally buckled under pressure
from the United States, and French armies
withdrew from Mexico in February, 1867.
Maximilian was deposed, and the army of
Benito Juarez, the Juaristas, took control. The
ex-emperor was shuffled from jail to jail until
his execution at Quer6taro in 1867. It is said
that he gave a gold coin to each member of
the firing squad just before his death.
William Gwin attempted to sneak into the
United States but was arrested. He served a
short sentence for treason, then went to Paris,
where his wife resided. He returned to the
United States in 1868. The rest of his life
was spent in seclusion; so his death in 1885
shocked many people who were unaware of his
presence in the U. S.
Finally, Napoleon III's empire collapsed. An
,international affair of several years was over,
and the nations involved (the United States,
France, and Mexico) were left to the task of
Yet, there was still one question that was
unresolved. Where was the personal fortune
of Maximilian? Estimated at five million dol-
lars, it should have been difficult to misplace,
but somehow it had disappeared.
The principal story that surfaced over the
years goes something like this.
When Maximilian saw that he would prob-
ably lose his throne, he made arrangements to
send his personal fortune out of Mexico. He
put it into the hands of four trusted Austrian
aides: Colonel Stefan Herzfeld, Major Max
Steiner, Captain Ludwig Mueller, and Captain
Karl Basch, who devised an ingenious plan.
They would disguise the treasure as a cargo of
flour barrels. The resulting train of fifteen
wagons and oxen with Mexican drivers left
The caravan's exact destination varies with
the storyteller. Some say the treasure was to
be loaded onto boats at Galveston or Corpus
Christi. Others say it was being taken to San
Antonio. The boat, incidentally, was supposed
to have sunk in the Gulf of Mexico.
Most accounts agree, however, that the
caravan ran into a party of ex-Confederates
while passing through the Big Bend area of
Texas. Because the soldiers told of encounter-
ing hostile Indians and dangerous outlaws,
Colonel Herzfeld hired them to help protect
the cargo but did not inform them of its real
One night when they camped at Horsehead
Crossing on the Pecos River, a soldier became
curious as to why flour was being guarded so
closely. He peeked into one of the barrels and
discovered the contents. Excitedly, he in-
formed his friends, and they then made plans
to steal the treasure.
The next day the caravan continued east-
ward fifteen miles to camp at Castle Gap. The
soldiers put their plan into action and shot
everyone, including the teenage daughter of
Herzfeld. The soldiers buried the part of the
treasure that they 'could not carry and on top
of it the bodies of the victims. Above that
the wagons were piled and burned. Then the
soldiers packed up the remaining treasure and
continued in a northeast direction.
One man, Bert Compton, became sick and
told the others to go on; he said he would
catch up with them later. The leader of the
group, Tom Lofton, suspected that Compton
was faking and would turn back to get the
rest of the treasure. Lofton shot Compton and
the group left him to die.
In a few days the soldiers were attacked by
Apache Indians, who killed all of them and
Opposite Above: Stagecoaches on the Trail
stopped at this house which lies east of Castle
Opposite Below: The ruins of Upland, the first
county seat of Upton County, can be seen east
of Castle Gap, just north of the Butterfield
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Texas State Historical Association. The Texas Historian, Volume 40, Number 4, March 1980, periodical, March 1980; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth391511/m1/20/: accessed August 15, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.