able to defend ourselves against all invaders, but we are not in a condition to become aggressors, the people of Texas live by the sweat of their brows -- they have lands to tend, families to support, and their homes to defend against the Indians; they, therefore, have but little time to spend for any Quixotic expeditions. The Government of Texas have neither the means or credit to enable them to carry on an offensive war. "San Antonio" may be assured, that let a Texian army plant the single star on the western bank of the Río Grande, and Centralists and Federalists will forget their own private differences, and unite to expel the "heretics" from out their borders. But suppose we were to join the Federalists, could we depend on them. We cannot. For most assuredly, if they are base enough to betray each other, they would not suffer many scruples of conscience in betraying those whom they have ever been taught to regard as heretics and enemies, they would rather think, that in betraying Texians, they were performing a service, alike acceptable to God and beneficial to Mexico.
On the other hand, Benjamin F. Neal, the Chief Justice of Refugio County, wanted to know what to do about "persons calling themselves Federals" traversing the county. In the absence of Lamar from the capital, Acting Secretary of State Joseph Waples replied, "I can at present only advise you to enjoin . . . upon all civil officers . . . strict vigilance in preventing depredations from being committed and as soon as the President and Secretary of State return home (and we are daily expecting them), your letter shall be laid before them." The problem became even more complicated when several of the county officers of Refugio County and elsewhere joined the Federal cause and sought to retain their offices under Texas law and have the duties of those offices exercised by deputies until their return or until the termination of the war. Their action, it was reported, was creating "considerable dissatisfaction among the citizens." Complained Chief Justice Neal,
Your Excellency are doubtless aware of the recent organization of this county and the difficulties we are now laboring under on account of our frontier position, having a foreign Army on our southwestern boundary line and bands of Mexicans traversing different parts of our County with weapons of war, our Citizens know not when their lives and property are
102. Joseph Waples to B. F. Neill, Department of State, Austin, July 29, 1840, State Department Letterbook, no. 1, ms., pp. 183-184. Benjamin F. Neal to Secretary of State, Mission Refugio, Jan. 11, 1842, in Domestic Correspondence (Texas), 1836-1846, ms.