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Eastland, William Mosby  ( 1806 Mar 21  -  1843 Mar 25 )

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EASTLAND, WILLIAM MOSBY -- Born in Woodford County, Kentucky, March 21, 1806. His father, General Thomas Butler Eastland, was Quartermaster General of Kentucky in 1800. He moved to White County, Tennessee, and was a lieutenant in the War of 1812, serving under General William Henry Harrison. He was married twice. In 1801 he was married to Nancy Mosby and of this union the following children were born, Nicholas Washington, William Mosby, Thomas, James and Robert Eastland. A few days after the death of his wife, General Eastland was married to a Miss Swan. Children by this marriage were Edward, George and Cumbling Eastland.

In the Headright Certificate issued to William Mosby Eastland March 15, 1838, for a league and labor of land by the Fayette County Board of Land Commissioners, of which N. W. Eastland was Clerk, it is certified that he proved by two witnesses that he "emigrated to this country (Texas) with his family in the year one thousand hundred thirty three in June." He settled at where La Grange, Fayette County, now stands where he erected a saw mill and engaged in the lumber business.

In Service Record No. 7091 it is certified that Mr. Eastland served as first lieutenant of the First Division of Volunteers under Colonel John H. Moore in the campaign against the Waco and Tehauacana Indians, from July 25 to September 15, 1835. He was issued Bounty Certificate No. 4069 for 320 acres of laud for having served in the army from September 8 to December 13, 1835. In Service Records No. 352 it is certified that he served as lieutenant from March 1 to May 30, 1836. He received Bounty Certificate No. 4337 for 320 acres of land for his services from March 22 to June 24, 1836. He was issued Donation Certificate No. 469 for 640 acres of land, July 16, 1838, for having participated both in the Storming and Capture of Bexar, December 5 to 10, 1835, and the battle of San Jacinto, April 21, 1836. He was issued Bounty Certificate No. 2048 for 320 acres of land January 24, 1838, for having served an the army from July 1 to November 1, 1836. On July 17, 1838, he received Bounty Certificate No. 4071 for 1280 acres of land for his services from December 14, 1836 to March 2, 1838 when he resigned his commission.

Mr. Eastland enlisted in Captain Thomas S. Rabb's Company of "Citizen Soldiers" of which William J. E. Heard was First Lieutenant. When Captain Rabb left the army, April 2nd, to protect his family, Heard succeeded him as captain and Eastland became first lieutenant.

On December 7, 1836 President Houston upon the recommendation of William S. Fisher, Secretary of War, nominated to the Senate William M. Eastland as Captain, Joel W. Robison as First Lieutenant and Nathan Mitchell as Second Lieutenant of a company for Gonzales County in a Battalion of mounted Rifleman, "lately established by law." William H. Smith was at the same time nominated as Major of the Battalion. All four of these men were veterans of the battle of San Jacinto. The senate promptly confirmed their appointments.

General Rafael Vasquez unexpectedly invaded San Antonio March 5, 1842. Again on September 11, 1842, General Adrian Woll made a surprise raid on the town and captured many prominent men who were attending District Court and carried them as prisoners to Mexico. President Houston, against his best judgment, was forced by public opinion to retaliate by sending an army into Mexico. At least the volunteers thought they were to invade Mexico. The volunteers elected Colonel Edward Burleson as their leader but President Houston would not approve of their choice and on March 22, 1842 placed Colonel Alexander Sommervell in command. The Sommervell Expedition, as it was later called, reached the Rio Grande River on October 19, 1842. There for a reason known probably only to President Houston and Colonel Sommervell, orders were issued by Acting Adjutant General John Hemphill for the troops to march to Gonzales and there be disbanded. The men were surprised at such an order and the great majority of them were displeased. About one half of them, although not in sympathy with the order, obeyed the instructions and returned home. About three hundred, however, decided to disobey instructions and continue to march into Mexico. Captain Eastland and about twenty-five men of his company favored the invasion (See Wade's The Dawson Men of Fayette County, pages 34 and 35.) An army was organized and the "Mier Expedition" began. William S. Fisher, who commanded a company at San Jacinto, was elected commander of the Expedition and Eastland was elected captain of one of the Companies. A fierce battle was fought at Mier, Mexico, not many miles from the Rio Grande, River, on Christmas night, 1842, in which the Texans, though greatly outnumbered, were victorious. The Mexicans were reinforced on the following day and through a ruse, the Texans found themselves in such position that there was nothing left for them to do but surrender. They were started on a march for prisons in Mexico and on February 10, 1843, reached the Hacienda Salado. Here on February 11, 1843, they overpowered their guards and escaped to the mountains where many of them died of starvation and but four made their way back to Texas. The others were eventually recaptured and returned to Salado where orders were received from Santa Anna to execute every tenth man. Black and white beans, seventeen of which were black, (Wm. P. Stapp, a member of the expedition says in his book "Prisoners of Perote", page 47, that there were one hundred and fifty-nine white beans and seventeen black) were placed in an earthen jar from which each prisoner, blindfolded, was compelled to draw. It was explained to them that those who drew black beans would be executed, and the others to remain as prisoners. Captain Eastland was the first man and only officer of the expedition to thus receive the death sentence. On March 25, 1843, the seventeen unfortunates were led into a courtyard blindfolded and shot from the back. All were killed except J. L. Shepherd who was not dangerously hurt but feined and during the night escaped. He was later recaptured and killed. The bodies of the other sixteen were thrown into a single trench and buried. In 1848 Major Walter P. Lane, on a scouting expedition to San Louis Potosi, made a detour to Salado, had the remains of these gallant men exhumed and brought under escort to Captain John E. Dusenberry to LaGrange, Texas, where on September 18, 1848 they, with the remains of the thirty-six men who fell in the "Dawson Massacre", September 18, 1842, were placed in a single stone vault on a hill overlooking the Colorado River and the city.

Captain Eastland was married to Louisa M. Smith, daughter of Rev. W. B. Smith, a Methodist minister, August 8, 1839 by Rev. R. Alexander. At Mr. Eastland's death, she was buried on Mills Creek near Upton, Bastrop County.

The land upon which the vault on "Monument Hill" was placed was a year or so after it was built purchased by Henry Ludwig Kreische who built his residence not far from the vault. In later years members of the Kreische family objected to the tomb being on their land and wanted it moved. They discouraged visitors from "trespassing" on their property. In about 1913 the Commissioners of Fayette County condemned one third of an acre of land surrounding the tomb as well as a strip of land leading to it, to be used as a road. A check for the amount awarded by the Condemnation Court was presented to the Kreisches but they would not receive it, and at the time this is being written, January 2, 1934, the check lies in the vault of the County Clerk's Office at La Grange unclaimed.

A mass meeting was held at the Court House in LaGrange July 2, 1931, at which the Monument Hill Memorial Association was organized, Mrs. George Willrich being elected President. Through the efforts of the Association The State Highway Commission of Texas, Judge W. R. Ely, Chairman, D. K. Martin and the Hon. Cone Johnson, members and Gibb Gilchrist, Chief Engineer, designated the road and the area around the tomb as a State Highway and had it paved. Not only this but they had the area enclosed with a durable and ornamental fence the base being constructed of rock. The Monumental Hill Memorial Association with money raised by subscription from residents of Fayette County surrounded the tomb with heavy slabs of Texas grey granite. The new tomb was unveiled September 18, 1933 with elaborate ceremonies, State Senator Thomas J. Holbrook of Galveston being the principal speaker.

Eastland County, Texas was named in honor of William Mosby Eastland.

Captain Eastland was twice married. His first wife, name not known, died in 1837.

One son was born by his second marriage. He died when only a few years old.

Captain Eastland's widow married a Dr. Yell.

The White County, Tennessee records give only the following information regarding Wm. M. Eastland.

Oct. 15, 1828 he purchased land.

His Will probated, June 26, 1843 in Fayette Co., Texas, was recorded here, Feb. 10, 1891. It bequeaths all his property to his wife, Louisa M. Eastland. There is no record in this county showing where or when he was married.

Written by Louis W. Kemp, between 1930 and 1952. Please note that typographical and factual errors have not been corrected from the original sketches. The biographies have been scanned from the original typescripts, a process that sometimes allows for mistakes in the new text. Researchers should verify the accuracy of the texts' contents through other sources before quoting in publications. Additional information on the veteran may be available in the Herzstein Library.


Battle Statistics

  • Died in Battle: No
  • Rank: First Lieutenant
  • Company: Capt. William J. E. Heard

Personal Statistics

  • Date of Birth: 1806 Mar 21
  • Birthplace: Kentucky, Woodford County
  • Origin: Tennessee
  • Came to Texas: 1833 Jun? 1834?
  • Date of Death: 1843 Mar 25
  • Burial Place: Monument Hill, La Grange, Texas
  • Other Battles: Bexar
  • Comments: Somervell Expedition; Mier Expedition; Black Bean
  • Bounty Certificate: 4337
  • Donation Certificate: 469
  • Wife: 1. unknown; 2. Louisa M. Eastland


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