wrote a long letter to Charles Elliot, the British chargé d'affaires in Galveston, in which he requested his aid in obtaining clemency for the prisoners. He wrote:
It is true the men went without orders, and so far as that was concerned, the Government of Texas was not responsible; and the men thereby placed themselves out of the protection of the rules of war. This much is granted. But the Mexican officers, by proposing terms of capitulation to the men, relieved them from the responsibility which they had incurred; and the moment that the men surrendered in accordance with the proposals of capitulation, they became prisoners of war, and were entitled to all immunities as such. Upon this view of the subject, I base my hopes of their salvation, if it should be speedily presented through the agency of her Majesty's Minister to the Mexican Government.As the foregoing excerpt makes clear, Houston had not, as Green claimed, callously consigned the Mier prisoners to a cruel fate. Quite the contrary, his remarks to Elliot were a sincere attempt to use British influence to gain clemency for those who had been captured at Mier. In stating that Fisher's men were not technically prisoners of war, Houston was merely stating the obvious, since they had crossed into Mexico on their own authority and in defiance of their commander, Alexander Somervell. In part, the opprobrium heaped upon Houston as a result of this letter was inevitable; so unpopular was the president in some quarters of the Republic that his efforts would have been condemned by Green and others under any circumstances. But Houston's penchant for secrecy was, to some extent, also to blame for the controversy. Intending to raise U.S. fears of British meddling in the affairs of Texas and thereby revive the annexation issue, Houston ignored American officials and asked British diplomats to intercede on the prisoners' behalf. Houston's plan backfired disastrously, however, when the British minister in Mexico, Richard Pakenham, brought the matter up with his U.S. counterpart, Waddy Thompson, who in turn related the letter's contents to the Mier prisoners. Although the correspondence was not nearly as incriminating as Green supposed, his hatred of Houston prompted him to view it in the worst possible light. The issue became something of an obsession for Green, who in the months following his return to Texas worked doggedly to make the letter public, to no avail (see Appendix II). However, even some of the most strident critics of the president, such as Telegraph and Texas Register editor Francis Moore, recognized that the letter had no effect on the treatment of the prisoners, since its contents were never revealed to the Mexican government. Houston to Elliot, January 24, 1843, Williams and Barker, eds., Houston Writings 3:299-302; Haynes, Soldiers of Misfortune, 89-93; Telegraph and Texas Register, January 14, 1846.
15. A former Whig representative from South Carolina, Waddy Thompson had at one time been an outspoken advocate for the annexation of Texas, but since his appointment as the U.S. minister to Mexico in 1842, he had reversed his stand on this issue, enabling him to develop a cordial relationship with Mexican leaders. Although fervent anti-expansionist John Quincy Adams, who remained skeptical of Thompson's conversion, described him as "cunning as four Yankees, as sly as four Quakers," the South Carolinian continued to speak out against the annexation of Texas upon his return to the United States in 1844. For more on Thompson, see Louis Pitchford, "The Diplomatic Representatives from the United States to Mexico, 1836 - 1848," Ph.D. dissertation, University of Colorado, 1965.
16. Richard Pakenham had served as Her Majesty's minister to Mexico since 1835, and prior to that time was British secretary of legation. As the longest-serving member of the diplomatic corps in Mexico City, and as the representative of a nation that had strong ties with Mexico, Pakenham enjoyed considerable influence among Mexican leaders. For more on the British Minister, see Calderon de la Barca, Life in Mexico, 692.
17. Lieutenant Charles Clark had declined to join the escape from the Hacienda del Salado and was liberated on March 16, 1843. Richard Pakenham and his immediate successors as the top-ranking British diplomat in Mexico City, Percy Doyle and Charles Bankhead, enjoyed some success in obtaining the release of Mier prisoners who were natives of Great Britain. No doubt