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The Southwestern Frontier

of traders that had left Béxar a few days before in the direction of the Río Grande, to give it protection, but they were too late. The "bandits," as they were called in Texas, had intercepted the convoy and robbed all of them except one, who, it is said, had a license from Arista.[28]  The captors distributed among themselves the tobacco and other effects taken from the traders, and the twenty-three contrabandistas, it was reported, were sentenced according to the decree of April 14 to ten years in the presidial companies.[29]

The robbers had fled in the direction of the Río Grande before the arrival of the Texans. Although the latter sought to overtake them, they failed to do so. It is doubtful if they had succeeded in catching up with them that they could have attacked them with success, for it was reported that the Mexican party numbered three hundred, about two-thirds of whom were regular troops.[30]

Shortly after this, a party of nine men from the Río Grande brought in a remittance to a merchant at San Antonio, and an order for more goods, which were sent. Thus apparently, the Mexicans were determined to hang on to the trade, in spite of their government and the dangers of the trail. The trade of Béxar continued "quite brisk, notwithstanding the threats of the banditti of the Río Grande."[31]  Many traders were reported arriving from the Mexican settlements with quantities of specie. Fifty-seven merchants from Chihuahua arrived at Austin with 50,000 pesos to engage in trade between the United States and the inhabitants of the north Mexican states.[32]  The improvement of the trade was attributed in part to the energetic efforts being made by the Texan government to disperse the marauders infesting the frontier, but these efforts were sporadic and often ineffectual. Another factor which no doubt accounted for some improvement in the trade was the cessation of the revolutionary disturbances in the north. But regardless of who controlled the crossings of the Río Grande, the Nueces, the San Antonio, the Medina, or the Guadalupe, smuggling flourished and the civil authorities of Mexico were "the most deeply engaged" in the illicit trade with the Texans, who brought their goods into the Reinosa markets without the payment of duties and openly sold their wares there, even though the Centralists were

28. Ibid.; Affleck, "John C. Hays," I, 146.

29. El Ancla, June 7, 1841.

30. Telegraph and Texas Register, May 22, 1841.

31. Ibid., May 19, 1841.

32. El Ancla, Jan. 25, 1841.

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