Adrian Woll Captures San Antonio and Takes Prisoners
On September 11, 1842, Mexican general Adrián Woll and his force of 1,200 men captured San Antonio. Woll’s expedition reflected Mexico’s refusal to recognize Texas independence and its belief that Texas was merely a rebellious province. The expedition was also part of continued border skirmishes between Texas and Mexico, which persisted from the end of the Texas Revolution (1835-1836) until the Mexican War (1846-1848). It followed six months after Brigadier General Rafael Vásquez’s raid on San Antonio in March 1842, and Texans responded to Woll’s attack by launching the Somervell and Mier expeditions.
When Woll’s forces captured San Antonio, several prominent San Antonio citizens also became their prisoners; they, along with Texas soldiers captured in the battles that followed, were marched to Mexico City and held in Perote prison.
Among the prisoners was Samuel A. Maverick, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence who was also a businessman, landowner, and government official. Maverick had left his family, who had already fled San Antonio in advance of Vásquez’s raid, with friends near La Grange on the Colorado River. He returned to San Antonio in order to take part in the fall term of the Fourth District Court of Texas; he was defending Shields Brooks against the city of San Antonio in a dispute over an allegedly unpaid fifty-peso fee when Woll’s forces entered the city. Approximately sixty Anglo-Americans were captured, including Maverick and everyone else – the judge, jurors, court attachés, attending witnesses, and attorneys – who had also been in court.
During his seven-month imprisonment, Samuel Maverick left behind his wife, Mary Ann Adams Maverick, who wrote in her memoirs, “I tried to follow [my husband’s] advice and kept up at times a semblance of cheerfulness, but I was then only twenty-four years of age – and almost a child in experience. I had the care of three helpless little children [one of whom was seriously ill with typhoid fever] and the birth of a fourth to look to in the future – a refuge in a strange land and my husband a captive in the power of a cruel and treacherous foe.”
Two interesting items from the library’s archival collections of Maverick family records help document Samuel Maverick’s experiences in Perote prison. The first, shown above, is a letter written by Waddy Thompson, who was related to Maverick by marriage and who in 1843 was the U.S. minister to Mexico stationed in Mexico City. Thompson was instrumental in acquiring a release for Samuel Maverick and others. In the above letter, Thompson informs Maverick that his freedom had been secured:
Mexico March 16th 43
I have this moment received a letter from President Santa Anna informing me that orders had this day been sent for the liberation of yourself Jones & Hutchison and that you are first to come here I am not sorry for this as it will not delay yr [your] departure for the Unites States & will offer me an oppertunity [sic] of serving you and you of serving the great city of Mexico
Yrs W THompson
On the back of the letter, Samuel Maverick noted “order of 16th[;] this recd 18th[;] chains taken off 19th[;] Begin journey evng. of 22nd[;] arrive at Puebla 25th.”
The second related document in the Maverick family papers is Samuel Maverick’s prison release. On the reverse side, he copied a map of the route to Veracruz, where he boarded a U.S. Navy ship en route to the United States. Maverick made it back to Texas in late April 1843.
The Maverick Family Papers at the Center for American History, the University of Texas at Austin, contains correspondence and journals that also document Samuel Maverick’s journey to Mexico City and his experiences in Perote prison as well as the effect of his absence on the rest of his family. Selections from these materials are quoted and discussed in Turn Your Eyes Toward Texas: Pioneers Sam and Mary Maverick by Paula Mitchell Marks and Memoirs of Mary A. Maverick: A Journal of Early Texas, arranged by Mary A. Maverick and her son, George Madison Maverick.