Francisco Xavier Mina, Spanish revolutionist and filibuster, was born at Idocín, Navarre, in northern Spain, on July 1, 1789. As a student at the University of Zaragoza in 1808, when his countrymen rebelled against French control, he joined the Spanish liberals and quickly became a leading guerilla. When Ferdinand VII returned to the Spanish throne and renounced the liberal constitution of 1812, Mina opposed him and was eventually forced to flee. In October 1814 he arrived in England, where he became acquainted with Gen. Winfield Scott of the United States and Father José Servando Teresa de Mier Noriega y Guerra, an ardent Mexican liberal who encouraged Mina to strike at Ferdinand VII through an invasion of Mexico. Scott also is thought to have encouraged Mina and to have assured him of the support of the United States for an expedition to free Mexico from Spain. As a result of this encouragement Mina made preparations to form an expedition. On May 15, 1816, he left Liverpool in the ship Caledonia, expecting to attack Mexico. On June 20, 1816, the Caledonia reached Norfolk, Virginia. Mina left it there to proceed to Washington, while the ship moved on to Baltimore. At Washington he presumably conferred with high officials, but this is not certain. He proceeded then to Baltimore, where merchants of that city were willing to gamble on the expedition by furnishing the ship Calypso and arms and munitions for the enterprise. In July Mina visited Philadelphia, and in August he went to New York, always enlisting aid for his cause. New York merchants gave him two vessels and supplies. By the end of August 1816 he was ready to sail, but complications arose with the Spanish minister in Washington, who was bringing pressure to bear on the United States to prevent the expedition. Two vessels, the Caledonia and the Dolphin, however, were dispatched to Port-au-Prince on September 1, 1816. Father Mier, who was with Mina on the expedition, was sent ahead on September 19, 1816, to contact revolutionary forces in Mexico. Mina, in the Calypso, left Baltimore on September 26, bound for Port-au-Prince, where he arrived on October 13, 1816. After difficulties and delays including disease and desertion, he was able to set sail from Port-au-Prince on October 27 with four vessels headed for Galveston to join Louis Michel Aury, who was also planning an invasion of Mexico. Mina reached Galveston on November 22 with about 140 officers and men. After some bickering with Aury, Mina was permitted to land and began to organize his forces.
Mier, meanwhile, had been forced by bad weather to land in New Orleans and in early December left for Galveston with the information that aid and assistance could be raised in New Orleans, probably with the proviso that Mina proceed to Pensacola rather than Mexico. Mina proceeded to New Orleans in February 1817 and conferred with his New Orleans associates but decided against an attack on Pensacola, deploring the commercial character of such an expedition. He bought two ships, the Cleopatra and the Neptune, at New Orleans. On March 16 he was again at Galveston, where he received the force of Col. Henry Perry, 100 men. An arrangement was made whereby Aury was to be naval commander of the expedition, while Mina was to have command of the military. The invasion point of Mexico was to be Soto la Marina, Tamaulipas. The expedition left Galveston Island on April 7 with a force of eight ships and 235 men. After stopping at the mouth of the Rio Grande for water, the force reached the mouth of the Santander River on April 11. The troops were disembarked on April 15. Mina captured Soto la Marina without difficulty and proceeded inland. After many small victories over the Spanish, all the while trying to restore unity among insurgent leaders, he was defeated and captured at Venadito on October 27. He was taken to Mexico City, tried, and executed at Fort San Gregorio with twenty-five companions on November 11, 1817, at the age of twenty-eight years.