became hopelessly lost. Seventeen days later, a cold, hungry, and increasingly intractable army descended upon Laredo. When the Texans learned that the impoverished Mexican citizenry could offer little in the way of supplies or spoils, many soldiers ran amok and sacked the town. By this time Somervell may have been looking for an excuse to terminate the mission, and a few days later, after making a brief, half hearted foray across the Rio Grande, he called off the campaign. There were many on the expedition, however, who had long been dissatisfied with Somervell's leadership and who were anxious for glory, having yet to fire a shot in battle. More than three hundred Texans disobeyed the order to return home, electing William Fisher to lead them into Mexico. As one of the more strident advocates for continuing the campaign, Green assumed the role of second-in-command.
The newly reorganized expedition did not get far. On Christmas Day, one week after abandoning Somervell on the banks of the Rio Grande, Fisher and his men attacked a considerably larger Mexican force in the town of Mier. The battle raged all night and into the next day. The Texans barricaded themselves in a block of houses on the edge of town, repulsing several attacks until, cut off from escape, they surrendered. The prisoners were marched to Matamoros, then south into the interior of Mexico. Along the way they managed to overpower their guards at the Hacienda del Salado, a ranch house where they had been quartered for the night, but again their efforts met with disaster. In an effort to elude capture, they left the main trail and journeyed into the arid mountains. For six days they marched, then crawled, in search of food and water, before being rounded up by Mexican troops.
The Santa Anna regime decreed that one out of every ten men should be executed as punishment for the escape. At the ranch where they had made their bid for freedom, 176 prisoners drew from a pot containing white and black beans in what would become known in Texas history as the Black Bean episode. Those who drew the fatal black beans were promptly shot. Captain Ewen Cameron, the leader of the escape, drew a white bean but was executed anyway by special order a short time later. The main body was marched to the environs of Mexico City, where they paved a road leading to Santa Anna's suburban estate. Most of the Mier participants were transferred to Perote in the fall of 1843. Disease and the rigors of captivity took the lives of many Texans during the months that followed, while a few managed to escape or obtained their release through the intercession of friends and relatives in the United States. Finally, on September l6, 1844, Santa Anna ordered the release of the 104 remaining Texas prisoners in Mexico.
The book that grew out of Green's experiences on the Somervell and Mier expeditions is not without its shortcomings. Although Green made every effort to provide a complete account, it is important to remember that his travails