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Cattle Raids and Frontier Marauders

the purpose of evading a participation in the present struggle, or shall refuse to participate in it, or shall give aid or assistance to the present enemy, shall forfeit all rights of citizenship, and such lands as they may hold in the Republic."[9]  The forfeitures included all property, such as horses, mules, cattle, and other items whose owners, being without citizenship, received no protection under the law for their property.[10]  Often those whose loyalty had not been in question suffered at the hands of unscrupulous persons.

Many of the ranches abandoned near the Río Grande were later reoccupied, although Texan raids often extended to Matamoros, Guerrero, and Laredo. Reports were afloat in Texas that immense herds of cattle driven from the western counties of the Republic were pasturing on the prairies beyond the Río Grande.[11]  Occasionally the bold, daring, and ruthless Texas raiders crossed the Río Grande and got more cattle and horses, many of which were not really wild, justifying their action under the "law of retaliation" for property either destroyed or carried off without compensation by the Mexican army in its retreat from Texas.[12]  The debatable land between the Río Grande and the Nueces often became the scene of hostile meetings between the Mexicans and Texans, and the raids into the area were frequently conducted at the risk of spending a couple of months in a Matamoros jail "jess because I stole some horses from 'em to pay for them they stole from Texas."[13] 

The word "cowboy" was not meant as a term of reproach, and as war existed between Texas and Mexico, the operations of the "cowboys" were considered legitimate, so long as they did not involve robbery or murder of citizens of Texas. Wild horse driving was an important phase of the cowboy's business. The area between the Sal Colorado (also known as Arroyo Colorado) and Agua Dulce was the favorite hunting ground for the small, wiry Spanish pony, commonly

9. Ibid., I, 1079.

10. John Henry Brown, Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas, p. 686.

11. Telegraph and Texas Register, April 28, 1838.

12. It was reported in New Orleans that the Mexican army drove off five thousand head of cattle, and that the Mexican soldiers half-starved and half-clothed "sneaked" into Matamoros "like thieves and murderers." Edward Hall to D. G. Burnet, New Orleans, June 20, 1836, in Binkley (ed.), Official Correspondence of the Texan Revolution, II, 807-808.

13. John C. Duval, The Young Explorers, p. 133; see also Sam Houston to Col. H. W. Karnes, Commanding Texian Cavalry [dated:] Columbia, Texas, March 31, 1837, in Henry W. Karnes Papers, ms.

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