Texian Navy Day, Texas Heroes Day

September 19, 2023 - The William Carroll Crawford Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas observed Texian Navy Day on September 16th and Texas Heroes Day on September 18th.

In September 1835 the first naval engagement of the Texas Revolution occurred near Velasco. In that engagement between a Texas privateer, the San Felipe, and a Mexican war schooner, the Correo, the Mexican ship was forced to unconditionally surrender. Thus, the Texian Navy won its first victory in the War of Independence on the high seas. This event was one month before the first significant land battle of the Texas Revolution at Gonzales.

The third Saturday in September is set aside to observe this day, Texian Navy Day. For more information on Texas Navy history, click here.

The day after Texian Navy Day this year is Texas Heroes Day.

The Daughters of the Republic of Texas recognizes Texas military heroes on September 18th with Texas Heroes Day. This day honors Texas Military, past and present. The DRT has designated the day to honor and preserve the memory of the volunteer soldiers who died defending the Republic of Texas and her independence. Special emphasis is placed on honoring those of the 1842 Dawson Massacre and the Mier Expedition.

In 1842, the Mexican Army staged several raiding expeditions into Texas, and had captured San Antonio. Answering the call for help, Nicholas Dawson led a group of men, mostly from Fayette County, to fight. On September 18, 1842, thirty-six of these volunteer Texan soldiers were killed on the field of battle. The battle took place near Salado Creeek, a few miles northeast of San Antonio. Three survivors escaped to tell the story, and fifteen other were taken prisoner by Mexican soldiers. The captured prisoners were marched to Perote Prison in Veracruz, Mexico, and these men, only nine survived to return to Texas.

To retaliate against the Mexican raids, Texas launched a military expedition against Mexican border towns in November 1842. The expedition was ordered to disband in December, but many refused the order, and about three hundred men set out to avenge the Dawson Massacre. Crossing the border into the town of Mier, they fought a bloody battle, exhausted their supplies, and had to surrender. They were treated as privateers and initially sentenced to death by Santa Anna. After foreign diplomats interceded and Santa Anna promised mercy, he modified his order for the decimation of the prisoners, or the election of every tenth man. The "Black Beans of Death" lottery decided the fate of the prisoners: 159 white beans and 17 black beans were placed in a jar. Each of the 176 men was forced to draw from the jar, and those who drew the black beans were executed at dusk that day. The remaining prisoners were put to work; some escaped, some died, and of those left, all had been released by September 1844.

In September 1848, the remains of those who died in the Dawson Massacre, Perote Prison, and others who drew the "Black Beans of Death" in the Mier Expedition were reburied in a sandstone vault at Monument Hill, a site in Fayette County overlooking the Colorado River. Sam Houston and other dignitaries were among more than 1,000 people who attended the ceremony, where the remains were buried with full military honors.

The next upcoming Texas Honor Day is on October 2nd - Gonzales Day! Celebrate Texas and fly your Texas flag!