Frederic Remington: The Mier Expedition, The Drawing of the Black Bean (1896)

(Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA)

The Mier Expedition was a part of an unsuccessful raid by Texan militia against Mexican border settlements. Until 1836, Texas was a part of Mexico. Texas managed to defeat Mexico in the Texas Revolution of 1835-1836 and Texas declared itself independent as the Republic of Texas. Fighting however continued as Mexican troops continued to invade the Republic of Texas. On November 25, 1842 about 700 Texan militia initiated military expedition to punish the Mexican Army for raids in Texas and attacked Laredo and Guerrero. The commander of the troops, Alexander Somervell, ordered his men to disband after this but about 300 soldiers and officers refused. These 300 men attacked Ciudad Mier but were defeated by the Mexican army and about 243 Texans were captured. When Antonio López de Santa Anna, the President of Mexico, learned about the attack he was furious and ordered all the Texans to be executed. Diplomatic efforts on behalf of Texas by the foreign ministers of the United States and Great Britain led Santa Anna to compromise that only one in ten would die. The commander of the Mexican troops, Colonel Domingo Huerta, had 159 white beans and 17 black beans placed in a pot. The Texans were blindfolded and ordered to draw beans. Those who drawed a black bean were executed by firing squad. This event is called ' the Black Bean Episode or the Bean Lottery'. the remaining captives were release several years later. Frederic Remington shows us the drawing of the beans. The Texans are lined up with the Mexican troops around them. This painting is from 1896.