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WHALEN, HENRY A. (?–1843). Henry A. Whalen (Whaling), soldier, was a native of Indiana who moved to Victoria soon after the Texas Revolution. In the winter of 1838–39 Whalen, with Ewen Cameron and others, participated in the Federalist attack upon Monterrey in northern Mexico. He served in the company of San Patricio Minute Men, first under Capt. A. T. Miles and in 1841 under Capt. W. J. Cairns, and as a private in Capt. John M. Smith's company of volunteers in the regiment of Clark L. Owen from March 6 through June 6, 1842. During the battle of Saladoqv in 1842, W. A. A. (Bigfoot) Wallace was fighting next to Whalen. During a close charge, a Mexican fired in Wallace's face. The large ball grazed his nose, and he was almost blinded with smoke. Wallace fired but missed, and Whalen quickly killed the assailant. When forces were organized to invade northern Mexico in retaliation for raids by Ráfael Vásquez and Adrián Woll in 1842, Whalen enlisted as a private in Cameron's company of Col. James R. Cooke's First Regiment of the Army of the South West on November 12, 1842. Gen. Thomas Jefferson Green considered Whalen to be "one of Cameron's best fighters." Whalen was listed among the noncommissioned officers captured during the Mier Expedition. Whalen was one of the seventeen Texans executed by the Mexicans after an abortive escape attempt by the Mier prisoners at Saladoled to the Black Bean Episode. Since the Texans drew in alphabetical order, Whalen was second to the last to reach into the jar, and by that time the white beans were said to have been depleted. Martin C. Wing, who followed him, also drew a black bean, the last in the jar. On drawing the fatal bean, Whalen reportedly said, "Well, they don't make much off me, any how, for I know I have killed twenty-five of the yellow-bellies." Whalen then asked his executioners for something to eat, saying "I do not wish to starve and be shot too." Remarkably, the Mexicans gave him a double ration, which he "ate with relish" and then declared himself ready to die. According to Capt. Charles K. Reese, another Mier prisoner later released by the Mexicans, Whalen "received fifteen shots before life was extinct." Green reported that "Providence had a special care in prolonging his existence, that he might demonstrate to his enemies the national character they had to contend with; for he gritted his teeth at and defied them in terms of withering reproach, until they placed a gun to his head and blew his brains against the wall." Whalen's body, along with those of the other victims of the Black Bean Episode, was recovered during the Mexican War and returned to Texas in 1848. They lie buried at Monument Hill-Kreische Brewery State Historic Site near La Grange, beside the victims of the Dawson Massacre of 1842.


Clarksville Northern Standard, March 2, June 8, 1843, February 10, 1844. Thomas J. Green, Journal of the Texian Expedition Against Mier (New York: Harper, 1845; rpt., Austin: Steck, 1935). Andrew Jackson Sowell, Early Settlers and Indian Fighters of Southwest Texas (Austin: Ben C. Jones, 1900; rpt., Austin: State House Press, 1986).

Thomas W. Cutrer


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Thomas W. Cutrer, "WHALEN, HENRY A.," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed March 28, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.