They [the Federalists] certainly are entitled to our warmest sympathies, for at times, when in possession of the frontier, our citizens (and several American merchants have visited them) have been allowed free ingress and egress, and have received every friendship and protection. The Centralists have never failed, when an opportunity offered, to despoil, and incarcerate, and generally conclude by murdering. In fact, the federalists for the last eighteen months, have served as a barrier between us and the enemy. They have been fighting our battles, and alone and unaided, almost repudiated by us, have been doing what we should have done. We want and need no better protection on the western line, than the possession of that frontier by them.
Van Ness did not believe that the Federalists were violating the territory of Texas. Is it, he asked,
. . . no violation for our open, sworn and ruthless foe to occupy and garrison Laredo, to send in Quinto, alias Manuel de la Luña, a renegade Mexican from this town [San Antonio], with 300 men on the lower road to scour as far as he can safely do it, and to despatch marauding and robbing parties of Indians and Mexicans on the other routes for the same purpose?
He estimated that the Federalist force in Texas on April 19 numbered about eight hundred men.
I hope (and believe we agreed, in opinion, when we last conversed on this subject), that the government will leave them free to operate. It is not an open and avowed coalition they desire, but simply the privilege of acting, preparing and providing in our territory. . . . The federalists acknowledge our rights to all territory this side of the Río Grande. Now let us permit them to make as good a fight as they can upon the other side, and we will be safe on that frontier.
In an effort to dispel any apprehension that the Texans might have for their own territorial integrity, Vice President Francisco Vidaurri upon re-entering Texas quickly informed the Texans that his government had no intention of claiming jurisdiction north and east of the Río Grande. This being the case, asked George Fisher,
7. Extract of a letter from C. Van Ness to a gentleman in Austin [M. B. Lamar?], San Antonio, April 19, 1840, in Texas Sentinel (Austin), April 29, 1840.
8. Telegraph and Texas Register, April 15, 1840; see also letter written to the Editors of the Texas Sentinel at the request of Vidaurri, reproduced in Texas Sentinel, April 1, 1840.