Carolitas, San Ygnacio, Guerrero, Mier, Reinosa Viejo, Reinosa Nuevo, Camargo, and Matamoros. The area between the two lines of settlement just mentioned was occupied by herds of wild horses and cattle and almost every conceivable species of native animal, and was infested by thieves, robbers, and murderers. The rivers and creeks abounded in fish.
The Comanches claimed the area as their hunting ground and were ever ready to wage a war of extermination upon all who trespassed within its borders. Even Mexican traders feared to go through these vast plains, given up, as they were, to various wandering tribes of Indians, freebooters, ladrones, and bands of Mexicans holding "roving commissions" from the Mexican military commander in the north, "to plunder all traders from Texas passing through that region." Long after the claim of Texas to this region was established, the Nueces was called the "dead line for sheriffs." Sometimes the Republic of Texas was at peace with one enemy and sometimes with another, but she was practically never at peace with both the Mexicans and the Indians at the same time. She often fought them both simultaneously. "War was the rule, the commonplace of daily life, and death was the price of defeat, for the savage enemies of Texas knew no mercy."
The terrain itself was commonly regarded as of very little value. For the first fifteen or twenty miles inland from the coast, the land was generally a flat prairie, composed of alluvial soil and sedimentary ocean deposits in alternate layers; here and there were valuable salt lakes. The rivers in the area were heavily impregnated with lime, making the soil rich, black, and too "surcharged" for some types of vegetation. Throughout the whole region were spots "devoid of vegetation and encrusted with a white saline deposite." Generally, however, the vegetation was a luxuriant coarse grass which grew waist-high, with an occasional clump of live oak bordering the wet places. Farther inland
ment (Texas), Department of State Letterbook, no. 2 (Nov. 1836-Mar. 1841), ms, pp. 37-39; hereafter cited as State Department Letterbook, no. 2.
7. J. D. Affleck, "History of John C. Hays," pt. I, p. 140, ms. See also Daily Texian (Austin), Jan. 13, 1842; John C. Hays, Captain, Company of Spies, to T. B. [Branch T.] Archer, Secretary of War, San Antonio, April 14, 1841, Telegraph and Texas Register (Houston), April 28, 1841; C. A. Gulick and Others (eds.), The Papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar, IV, 232-233 (hereafter cited as Lamar Papers); Jack Hays: The Intrepid Texas Ranger, p. 6.
8. Walter Prescott Webb, "The Texas Rangers," in E. C. Barker (ed.), Texas History for High Schools and Colleges, p. 595.