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Mexican Threats and Texan Military

Texan army seems to have been somewhat better at this time. In January 1837, President Houston visited the army and, it was announced publicly, had found it in extraordinary health and in fine spirits, and considered it to be very efficient and daily improving in discipline and in military science.[93]  Two months later, Secretary of War Fisher, returning to the nation's capital after a visit to the army, declared that "he never reviewed a finer body of troops, or one whose general appearance more fully indicated the beneficial effects of a strict military discipline and a well regulated camp police."[94]  In an idle, ill-provisioned army, it was no easy matter to maintain discipline. Judging from the comments of a member of the army, beef seems to have been the main bill of fare. Wrote Joshua H. Davis in late May 1837,

The Army has been quiet, feeding on Bull beef for so Long a time the Animal will occasionally rise and Bellow out[.] The officers have then to do their duty and Bring the soldiers back to their duty and all is over. . . . And I may add . . . Oh what fun we do have eating Beef Boiled-Stewed-Baked and Roasted. Notwithstanding the fare we are fat[,] raged and saucy -- and feel as if we could whip our weight in Wild Cats And five times our weight in Mexicans.[95] 

The Mexican army was expected to enter Texas in February, and early in that month news from the western frontier gave the distribution of the Mexican forces destined for Texas as 1,000 at Monterey, 2,000 at Saltillo, 2,000 at Matamoros, and 100 at Laredo. The troops were pictured as being "in a state of insubordination, badly clothed, and worse fed"; many of them were in irons and those who were not were quoted as saying that they would stay in Mexico and would fight if their country was invaded but that they would not and could not be forced into Texas.[96]  By late February General Bravo left the command of the army and returned to Mexico City, but the Texans could find little consolation in this change on the Mexican frontier, for it was

Gobierno (Mexico City) for withholding information that the troops destined for a Texas campaign had received only a fraction of their pay and that they and their families were as a result undergoing great privation.

93. Telegraph and Texas Register, Jan. 21, 1837.

94. Ibid., March 28, 1837.

95. Joshua H. Davis to Mrs. Pamela Davis, Morganfield, Ky. [dated:] Camp Bowie [Texas], May 31, 1837, in Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, X (1906-1907), 348-349; XI (1907-1908), 72 n.

96. Telegraph and Texas Register, Feb. 10, 1837. See also ibid., May 2, 1837.

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