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BOOKER, SHIELDS

BOOKER, SHIELDS (?–1843). Shields Booker, physician and surgeon of the Army of the Republic of Texas, was born in South Carolina. He moved on the eve of the battle of San Jacinto to Texas and served in that battle as assistant surgeon of Col. Sidney Sherman's Second Regiment, Texas Volunteers, under surgeon Anson Jones. For his services in the Texas Revolution Booker received land near Brazoria. On April 30, 1836, he was appointed a surgeon in the Texas army. On leave from the army on April 8, 1837, he left New Orleans on the American schooner Julius Caesar, bound for his home in Brazoria County. On April 12 the schooner was overtaken and captured by the Mexican brig-of-war General Terán. He was made a prisoner and transported to Matamoros, from where he escaped on May 13. This incident was linked with the capture of the Texas warship Independence and the imprisonment of William H. Wharton. A year later Booker filed a petition in the Congress of the republic for compensation for his property lost aboard the Julius Caesar. He returned to active duty on January 23, 1839, and served as surgeon on the staff of Col. Edward Burleson at the battle of the Neches on July 16, 1839. On January 14, 1840, the Republic of Texas Senate confirmed President Mirabeau B. Lamar's reappointment of his friend Booker as surgeon in the army. On April 5 of that year, as part of an expedition commanded by Capt. George T. Howard, Booker attempted to negotiate an exchange of captives with the Comanches, but was able to ransom only a Mexican girl, an American boy, and one other prisoner. He resigned from the Texas army on July 31, 1840, and soon thereafter joined the Federalist army in Mexico in its attempt to establish a Republic of the Rio Grande. In March 1841 he reported that Gen. Mariano Arista had assembled an army of 4,000 troops and eighteen pieces of artillery to invade Texas and was already marching toward the Rio Grande. The report, however, proved false.

On September 10, 1842, Judge Anderson Hutchinson of the San Antonio District Court heard the case of Shields Booker v. the City of San Antonio, wherein Booker was suing the city for a fee of fifty pesos promised him by former mayor Juan N. Seguín. Booker was represented by Samuel A. Maverick. On that day Mexican general Adrián Woll captured San Antonio and the fifty-two men in the courtroom. Booker, Maverick, Hutchinson, and the rest of the litigants, spectators, and officers of the court were marched to Mexico City and from there to Perote Prison. Although Mexican authorities refused to allow Booker to treat fellow prisoner John R. Cunningham, who died of malaria on the Leona River, he did treat a Mexican soldier for snakebite a few days later, and the man recovered. At Perote, where the prisoners were chained in pairs and forced to labor on castle repairs, Booker was shot by a drunken Mexican soldier on March 19, 1843. James L. Trueheart recorded in his diary that the soldier was actually attempting to shoot one of his own officers who had earlier that day reprimanded him and who was then sharing a bench with Booker; but neither Maverick nor R. A. Barkley, who also wrote of the incident, believed that the shooting was accidental. On being struck Booker is reported to have exclaimed, "The rascal has shot me at last." The musket ball entered near his neck, shattered his collar bone, and exited near his spine. He died on March 21 and was buried in the castle moat. His San Antonio lawsuit was continued through March 4, 1845, when it was dismissed for lack of prosecution; the order stated that "the plaintiff had failed to appear."

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Defenders of the Republic of Texas (Austin: Laurel House, 1989). Sam Houston Dixon and Louis Wiltz Kemp, The Heroes of San Jacinto (Houston: Anson Jones, 1932). Joseph Milton Nance, Attack and Counterattack: The Texas-Mexican Frontier, 1842 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1964). Pat Ireland Nixon, The Medical Story of Early Texas, 1528–1853 (Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Lupe Memorial Fund, 1946). Telegraph and Texas Register, May 26, June 13, 1837, April 18, 25, 1838, November 2, 1842. Texas Sentinel, April 15, 1840, March 25, 1841.

Thomas W. Cutrer

Citation

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

Thomas W. Cutrer, "BOOKER, SHIELDS," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbo22), accessed December 18, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.