It was believed in Texas, however, that the vessel could have limped into the port of Brazos de Santiago or some other Mexican port had it so desired, but would likely have fallen into the hands of the Centralists. The sheriff of Matagorda County detained the vessel as a lawful prize of war, and had her towed by the Newcastle from Paso Cavallo to Matagorda. When informed of the presence of the Mexican vessel in a Texas port, Acting Secretary of State Burnet ordered the new naval agent, William T. Brannum, to Matagorda to make an on the spot investigation and report on the condition of the vessel, its armament, and munitions. If the vessel were American property and contained no unusual amount of arms it was to be released; but if Brannum found it to be an armed Mexican vessel, then he was to retain it until he could report and receive instructions from the government. If, however, he found it to be private property "whether Mexican or not," and had no unusual quantity of arms or ammunition on board, he was "to order her immediate release, as this Government," said Burnet, "must always esteem a non-combatant enemy in distress as entitled to its hospitalities."
Brannum reported that he found no "unusual" quantity of arms and ammunition on board the Pontchartrain. He, therefore, ordered the vessel released, and left orders with the customs collector "to permit her to depart from that port at pleasure," but, it might be said here, the Pontchartrain saw no further service in the Federal cause.
The loss of Tampico and Tuxpan were severe blows to the Federalists in the east, and the liberal terms under which they had surrendered to the Centralists tended to promote harmony and unity of feeling among the people. The officers, chiefs, and soldiers of the rebel party
98. Colorado Gazette and Advertiser (Matagorda), June 6, 1839; Captain F. J. Reibau to President Lamar [on Board the Steamer Pontchartrain], Bay of Matagorda, May 27, 1839; both in State Department Letterbook, no. 2: ms., pp. 270-272; David G. Burnet, Acting Secretary of State, to Captain F. Reibau, on board the Steamer Pontchartrain, [dated:] Department of State, Houston, June 8, 1839, in ibid., no. 1, ms., pp. 100-101; F. Reibaud to David G. Burnet, [Matagorda, n. d.], being copy of a letter left with the Collector of the Port of Matagorda, in ibid., no. 2, ms., p. 272.
99. David G. Burnet, Acting Secretary of State, to William T. Brannum, Navy Agent, Department of State, Houston, June 8, 1839, in ibid., no. 1, ms., p. 100.
100. Telegraph and Texas Register, June 5 and 26, 1839; William T. Brannum to David G. Burnet, Houston, June 19, 1839, in ibid., June 26, 1839; William T. Brannum to [Collector of the Port of Matagorda], Matagorda, June 14, 1839, in State Department Letterbook, no. 2, ms., p. 272.