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Cattle Raids and Frontier Marauders

called "mustang." The maps of the day often showed the area as the "Wild Horse Desert." "There were hundreds of mustang pens between the Nueces and the Río Grande," recorded John S. Ford.[14] 

A party of Mexicans from Camargo between October 20 and 25 was engaged in collecting cattle near the Carricitos when it was surprised by fifteen Texan cowboys and two of its members were captured and taken as far as the Mugeres before being released. Upon the return of the two rancheros to Camargo, they reported that the Texans had carried off upwards of a thousand head of cattle. Thus, not only have "the Indians plundered . . . the horses and mules," commented the editor of the Mercurio de Matamoros, but "the rascally colonists, aware that our troops are prevented from pursuing them, by the rise of the waters, band together in perfect security" to carry off the little stock that remains which might serve for a future campaign against Texas.[15] 

The Mexicans who engaged in catching wild horses were a rough lot. Many of them paid little heed to the laws governing the rights of property and a wayfaring man was about as secure in meeting a band of Comanches as in encountering a party of "mustangers." The Mexicans were also good at raiding, often crossing the Nueces at the Santa Margarita Crossing and at other points. Late in December 1837, or early January 1838, Major W. Thompson with a few comrades penetrated to the Río Grande near Reinosa and returned to report that the party of Mexicans which recently visited San Patricio consisted of five hundred soldiers from Matamoros, supported by two field pieces and one hundred rancheros. From a couple of Mexicans he captured at a point about seventy miles west of the Nueces, Major Thompson learned that the troops recently at San Patricio had driven a thousand head of cattle from the vicinity of the Nueces to Matamoros. Near San Patricio the Mexicans had taken eight or ten prisoners, including

14. John S. Ford, "Memoirs," III, 531, ms. Patrick Burke related that the mustangers around San Patricio in the early days who wanted to capture wild horses would take one wild one and tie "an imitation man upon him and let him loose. Of course he would make for the herd which would try to outrun him. This would start every mustang for miles around to running and the noise from these running horses, which sometimes numbered thousands, often sounded like the terrific roar of a passing cyclone. After they had run themselves down we could guide them into the pens with long wings which we had built for capturing them." Quoted in Mrs. I. C. Madray, A History of Bee County with Some Brief Sketches about Men and Events in Adjoining Counties, p. 5.

15. Mercurio de Matamoros quoted in Telegraph and Texas Register, Dec. 2, 1837.

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