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Cattle Raids and Frontier Marauders

With the abandonment of the herds, the number of wild cattle increased. Later, many of these wild and semiwild cattle were taken from this trans-Nueces wilderness by the Texas quartermaster corps for food. Learning in the summer of 1836 that between the Nueces and the Río Grande roamed large herds of cattle which had no ostensible owner, and many of which supposedly belonged to Mexican citizens resident beyond the Río Grande, and "it being important for the subsistence of the Army, to secure supplies of beef as convenient as possible," President Burnet authorized R. R. Royall to raise and organize a company of "Independent Rangers" of one hundred men to collect and drive in such cattle for the use of the government. Under the direction of Brigadier General Thomas J. Rusk, the army "erected their first cattle pens at Goliad, out of cedar posts and rawhide, and their first sweep resulted in the capture of 327 head, which were driven to headquarters."[4]  After the disbandonment of the army,

4. David G. Burnet to R. R. Royall, Velasco, Aug. 8, 1836, in William C. Binkley (ed.), Official Correspondence of the Texan Revolution, 1835-1836, II, 912-913; Commission dated Velasco, August 8, 1836, and signed by David G. Burnet and F. A. Sawyer, Acting Secretary of War, authorizing R. R. Royall to raise a company of Independent Rangers, in Executive Department Journal (Texas), Mar. 1836-Sept. 1836, pp. 139-140. Curtis Bishop and Bascom Giles, Lots of Land, p. 209 n. Jackson M. Parker was killed near the Nueces in the late summer of 1837 by a party of Tonkawa Indians while engaged with others in collecting cattle for the army. Telegraph and Texas Register, Aug. 22, 1837.

In reference to the driving of beeves from the frontier of Texas, Colonel Henry W. Karnes, with considerable acrimony wrote President Houston in the summer of 1837:
The neglect and indifference that I have recently received from you has aroused my feeling to the highest pitch of indignation, and under what I believe to be correct impulse I deem it my duty to inform you with all the frankness of a soldier that all feelings save those of eternal enmity are entirely rooted from my heart . . . When we last parted did you not promise me that I should have command of the whole country west of the Lee Baccay [Lavaca?] You did; but faithless to this solemn pledge you have, as I understand, fitted out two companies to range west of me and authorized them to rob and steal everything that they may meet with in their progress. O, consistency thou art a jewel. . . . Now that we have a Constitution and laws . . . is it a time to license bands of plunderers? Yet I have been credibly informed that Congress and your excellency have sent forward two companies of this description, offering them 7 cents per pound for the beeves they may drive in. Had the base and perjured Congress, instead of licensing marauders, provided means to raise 500 cavalry, I could not only have paid for five times that number of horses but fed our army and paid off the troops under my command with the public spoils which, by this time, I should have taken. Unless you fulfill your solemn pledges and pay more attention to my communications than you have hitherto done I

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