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Capture and Death of Dimitt

the Secretary of War, Dr. Branch T. Archer (reputed to be the most accomplished swearer in the Brazos country)[41]  who, without prior knowledge of the Secretary of State or the Secretary of the Treasury, authorized the petitioners at Victoria

. . . to assemble such force as you can command for the expulsion of the enemy. . . . Volunteers to any number necessary for the accomplishment of this object we authorize you to call out. You will of course use discretion in distinguishing between traders and soldiers of the enemy, taking care however to possess yourselves of traders and their effects as indemnity for the loss of our citizens and treat soldiers as the rules of war direct.[42]

At the suggestion of the Secretary of War, the Victoria committee had Colonel H. L. Kinney and William P. Aubrey arraigned on July 17 on a charge of having committed treason by conspiring with the Mexicans in Dimitt's abduction. The basis for the arraignment was affidavits of James Gourlay of Lamar and of William Thompson of Corpus Christi Bay, both of whom accused Kinney and Aubrey of treason and of having an agency in the late abduction. Gourlay declared that in the preceding November, Colonel Kinney came to him to translate two letters for him -- one from Colonel Canales and the other from General Arista. The letter from Arista, it was said, informed Kinney that he was perfectly willing for the latter to operate his trading post at Corpus Christi peacefully, but that instead of paying customs duties to Canales he was henceforth to pay the duties to the Mexican government. This seems to have been a perfectly normal communication to one who operated in disputed territory. It was also reported that Arista requested Colonel Kinney to keep him informed, from time to time, of events in Texas.[43]

The letter from Canales merely informed Kinney, it was said, that the former had spoken favorably to Arista in behalf of his remaining at the Bay, and he (Canales) concluded by requesting Kinney to take good care of the cannon, ammunition and other articles he had left in his care.

Accordingly, orders were released for their arrest, and the sheriff of Victoria County, accompanied by the Victoria County Minute Men

41. Herbert Pickens Gambrell, Anson Jones: the Last President of Texas, p. 51.

42. B. T. Archer to Richard Roman and Others, War Department, Austin, July 14, 1841, in Telegraph and Texas Register, Aug. 11, 1841.

43. "James Gourlay's Affidavit, Republic of Texas, Victoria County, July 17, 1841," Telegraph and Texas Register, Aug. 11, 1841.

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