population too spare and widely diffused to afford many asylums to individuals of this description.
Furthermore, all was not quiet on the southwestern frontier. An occasional Indian plundering raid or the foray of a Mexican party from the Río Grande kept the inhabitants in a state of anxiety. "For myself," wrote Samuel A. Plummer from New Orleans in July 1839, "I have no idea Mexico contemplates in the least an invasion. But that she will soon commence harassing our frontier by small body [bodies] of Cavalry and instigating the Indians to commit depredations, I have no doubt." And that it may require more men to prevent that, "then to take all their rallying points across the Río Grande is a matter that you and the Sec[re]t[ary] of War must decide." The implication here was that the wisest policy for Texas would be to seize the Mexican towns immediately upon the Río Grande to prevent the crossing of the marauding parties. Plummer favored direct military action to end the Mexican threat to the Texan frontier.
Even more troublesome than either the Indian or Mexican bandit were the marauding parties of Americans. In May 1839, Assistant Secretary of War Charles Mason informed General Johnston that "Colonel Karnes gives a deplorable account of the west; and I believe thinks, of the two, the marauding parties of the Americans are worse than the Mexicans or Indians. This, of course, will be relieved by the command of Captain Ross." The "white 'land pirates,'" reported Colonel Karnes at Houston on July 6, robbed the Mexican traders from the Río Grande who were permitted by the government to come in to trade. Their robberies, he declared, were principally confined to the Mexican traders, and they were by no means particular what they took; anything in the way of plunder seemed acceptable. The desolation of the depopulated counties of the southern and southwestern frontier and the ruin of many individuals who had struggled for the independence of the country was in no small degree traceable to the government's neglect of the western frontier. A small garrison on the lower Nueces would do much to ensure that protection so necessary
27. Telegraph and Texas Register, Dec. 25, 1839.
28. S. A. Plummer to M. B. Lamar, N[ew] O[rleans], July 20, 1839 (Private and Confidential), in Domestic Correspondence (Texas), 1836-1846, ms.
29. Quoted in William Preston Johnston, The Life of Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston: Embracing His Services in the Armies of the United States, the Republic of Texas, and the Confederate States, p. 115; Morning Star, July 10, 1839.