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The Trans-Nueces Country

test the value of the defense," reported Colonel Freeman.[12]  "The country from San Antonio," wrote a Texan volunteer in the Mexican War, "is not fit for a hog to live in -- nothing but a sandy desert . . . no house from San Patricia to Goliad -- none on the other side of Goliad for a long distance";[13]  and General Vicente Filisola, who had ample reason for disliking Texas in 1836, pronounced it a country of "mud and sand," and left it, never to return.[14]  While in command of the military forces at Mexico City on December 25, 1839, Filisola, when asked by a friend, "What of Texas?" is alleged to have shaken his head, screwed up his shoulders and replied, "My Friend, Texas is lost to Mexico. We will never be able to retake it."[15]  Many of the rank and file among the Mexican troops of 1836 "swore they would never enter Texas again."[16]  And to ex-President Lamar, embittered in 1847 by years of political strife, Texas was "very little more than Big Drunk's big Ranch."[17] 

The face of the country from San Antonio to the Río del Norte [Río Grande] is very uniform, [wrote Thomas W. Bell, a member of the Mier Expedition] it consists of prairies covered with the finest grass, and generally the shrubby musquit growing over it. Sometimes these shrubs in common with Prickly pear, or as the Mexicans term it the nopal, cover the whole face of the country. . . . The soil is generally fertile and particularly the vallies, which are extremely productive. On these wild and luxuriant pastures nurtured alone by nature's care, roam undisturbed, thousands of wild Cattle, Buffalo and Mustangs. Not far to the northward sets in a

12. W. G. Freeman, "Report of an Inspection of Eighth Military District, April 23, 1853," Appendix V, pp. 5-6, Old Records Section, A. G. O., War Department, Washington, D. C., ms.

13. Eugene C. Barker (ed.), "James K. Holland's Diary of a Texas Volunteer in the Mexican War," Southwestern Historical Quarterly, XXX (1926-1927), 8.

14. H. Yoakum, History of Texas from Its First Settlement in 1685 to Its Annexation to the United States in 1846, II, 167.

15. A. S. Wright to William Bryan, Mexico City, Dec. 25, 1839, in George P. Garrison (ed.), Diplomatic Correspondence of Texas in Annual Report of the American Historical Association, 1908, II, 518-520. Hereafter cited as Garrison, Diplomatic Correspondence of Texas.

16. Edward Hall to D. G. Burnet, New Orleans, June 20, 1836, in William C. Binkley (ed.) Official Correspondence of the Texan Revolution, 1835-1836, II, 807-808.

17. [M. B.] Lamar to David G. Burnet, Laredo, March 1847, in Lamar Papers, IV, 165. "Big Drunk" was Lamar's appellation for Sam Houston, the name being that of a Choctaw chief, so named for his habit of getting drunk when in the settlements.

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AFTER SAN JACINTO: The Texas-Mexican Frontier, 1836-1841
Joseph Milton Nance, 1963