STAPP, William Preston (1812-1861). The Prisoners of Perote: Containing a Journal Kept by the Author, who was captured by the Mexicans, at Mier, December 25, 1842, and released from Perote, May 16, 1844. Philadelphia: G. B. Zieber and Company, 1845.
12mo., (7 3/8 x 4 ½ inches). Near-contemporary half green crushed morocco, green cloth, the spine in six compartments with five raised bands, gilt lettering in two and fleur-de-lis in four, top edge gilt (hinge starting, the spine faded to brown).
First edition. "This was the first book to appear on the Mier Expedition; it is still one of the best" (Jenkins). Stapp was one of the soldiers involved in the ill-fated Mier expedition, and gives a gripping first-hand account in this volume. "In the spring of 1842 he enrolled as a private in Capt. Alexander Stevenson's company of Missouri Invincibles for a planned invasion of Mexico, and later that year he joined Capt. Isaac N. Mitchell's company under Alexander Somervell. When Mitchell and twenty-four of his men left the army in December, Stapp joined the company of Capt. Charles K. Reese. He participated in the Mier expedition and was imprisoned at Perote. He was released on May 16, 1844, at the instigation of his uncle, Gen. Milton Stapp of Madison, Indiana. He remained for a time in Mexico recovering his health and enjoying his leisure and the pleasures of Mexico City. Before returning to the United States, Stapp paid a farewell visit to his comrades still in prison on July 5 and then, on July 12, 1844, sailed from Veracruz on the Woodbury, bound for New Orleans.
"Immediately after his return Stapp began writing a book, The Prisoners of Perote; A Firsthand Account of the Mier Expedition, which was published in 1845 by G. B. Zieber and Company in Philadelphia. Probably this book did not have a wide circulation, for few copies have survived. In 1887-88 the La Grange Journal reprinted Stapp's story in its columns. In 1933 the Journal republished the book in a facsimile edition taken from its files. The book harshly denounces Antonio López de Santa Anna. Although Joe B. Frantz observed that the book was neither 'fair' nor 'dispassionate,' Wayne Gardqv found its denunciations only 'understandable expressions of outrage.' Stapp was well educated; the book abounds in classical references as well as literary and musical allusions" (Thomas W. Cutrer for Texas State Historical Association online).