The Black Bean Execution

September 23, 2012

Americans are often complacent over the many many lives given for our freedom. There are so many forgotten or untold stories of brave men who have made the ultimate sacrifice for liberty.

This weekend we attended the annual Texas Heroes Day in LaGrange, Texas. There is a park high on a hillside, with a beautiful towering monument commemorating heroes that even most Texans have long forgotten. Here is Off Grid Blogger’s short version of the story. (Off Grid Blogger is choking up a bit as he writes this incredible story.)

In 1842, years after the 1836 Battle of San Jacinto in which Texas gained its freedom from Mexico, Mexican soldiers again invaded the independent Republic of Texas. (Texas was a separate nation from 1836 to 1845.) The Texians (that is the original term) suffered a devastating defeat at what is known as the Dawson Massacre near San Antonio. But the Texans managed to chase the Mexican army back across the Rio Grande River and engaged the Mexicans. Again the Texans failed and many were captured.

The captured Texans were marched to central Mexico and imprisoned there. It was later decreed that every tenth man would be executed. One hundred and seventy-six beans were placed in a jar. Seventeen of the beans were black. Each prisoner had to reach in and select a bean. Those who pulled out a black bean were to be executed. The doomed men were unshackled from their companions, placed in a separate courtyard, and shot at dusk on March 25, 1843.

Eventually the survivors were released, and many made it back to Texas. The men killed at Dawson’s Massacre and at the Black Bean Execution are now buried at the LaGrange monument. Here are the names of the 17 men murdered at the Mexican prison:

John L. Cash

Robert H. Dunham

Edward E. Ester

Thomas L. Jones

James Masterson Ogden

William Rowan

Joseph N. M. Thompson

James Turnbull

Martin Carroll Wing

James D. Cook

William M. Eastland

Robert Harris

Patrick Maher

Christopher Roberts

James L. Shepherd*

James N. Torrey

Henry Whalen

*James Shepherd was only wounded. He faked his death and escaped only to be killed later. His remains were never recovered from Mexico.

At the monument site there is also a tile mural depicting the execution. Apparently even the Mexican soldiers who made up the firing squad felt the evil of the murder. In the mural is a Mexican soldier bent over and vomiting (or weeping) in front of the blindfolded dead Texans.

Here is a link for more information and photos: http://www.texasbob.com/texasparks/tp_monument_sp.html.

One comment

  1. Pretty! This was an incredibly wonderful post.
    Thanks for supplying these details.

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