Augsustus Magee was born in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1809, he graduated third in his class at West Point. He served as an artillery officer under Major General James Wilkinson at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and then at Fort Jesup under future president Zachary Taylor. He was effective but harsh in his treatment of settlers and outlaws, in the disputed Neutral Ground between the Arroyo Hondo and the Sabine River. He was recommended for, but refused, promotion to a higher rank.
Frustrated with his prospects, he considered Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara's plan to support the Mexican War of Independence via an invasion of Texas from American soil. Although this proposal defied the Neutrality Act, Magee resigned his commission in June 1812 and personally recruited many of the soldiers.
Leaving Natchitoches with 130 men on 2 August 1812, now-Colonel Magee crossed the Sabine six days later. On August 10, he was joined by General Gutiérrez; on the 16th, the Gutiérrez–Magee Expedition entered Nacogdoches. The force (now swollen to about 300) occupied Santísima Trinidad de Salcedo (now Trinidad, Texas) on the Trinity River, in mid-September. Here, Magee became ill. Some sources attribute this to consumption or malaria, but the papers of Mirabeau Lamar preserve the Texan rumor that Magee was poisoned by his men, many of whom were among those he had previously mistreated during his former command.
Through a long illness, he remained in nominal military command before dying while besieged at the Presidio Nuestra Señora de Loreto de la Bahía in what is now Goliad, Texas. He was succeeded as commander of the expedition by Samuel Kemper.
- Blake, Robert Bruce: Augustus William Magee from the Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved 13 February 2010.
- Davis, William C. The Pirates Laffite and The Treacherous World of the Corsairs of the Gulf. New York: Harcourt, 2005. p. 141.
- Lamar, Mirabeau. "Information from Capt. Gaines." 1835. Retrieved 13 February 2010.
- Warren, Harris Gaylord: Gutierrez-Magee Expedition from the Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved 13 February 2010.