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Frontier Raids, Threats, and Counter-Threats of Invasion
to give protection to the west, he does not wish you to prosecute any war beyond the limits of our own Territory. To invade Mexico at this time, and push a war on the west of the Río Grande, is a measure frought with too many important consequences, in his opinion, to this country, to justify his ordering it without consulting the Congress of the Nation upon its propriety and policy.
The President, however, a week later still "finding great difficulty in ascertaining the true state of affairs" on the southern frontier ordered Captain John C. Hays to repair as speedily as practical to the seat of government. Hays was authorized to raise one hundred men under the terms and conditions specified in his orders of May 27, 1841, and to report to Colonel Bell after first reporting himself at Austin to get more specific explanation as to his duties, and should he fail to make contact with Bell, he was to carry out the orders issued to the latter, a copy of which was enclosed to him.
You will perceive by these orders, [wrote Lamar] that it is the desire of the Government to have the entire Western country cleared of the enemy, and protected from further pollution until the meeting of Congress; when it will be the duty [of] that body to devise some more efficient mode of giving security to that portion of the frontier, than can possibly be afforded by the operation of temporary volunteers or extended by the Minute Men system.
The President had neither the means of supporting, nor the authority to raise a regular army for the defense of the country, but he was determined to do all that was within his power to give relief to the frontier. Unless it were Mathew Caldwell, John H. Moore, or Edward Burleson, the assignment now made could have been entrusted to no one in whom the frontier people had greater confidence than in Hays, whose fidelity, obedience to orders, and soldierly conduct was unquestioned.
At Victoria when the attack on Refugio took place, Bell hastened to San Patricio, where he found a company of men assembled upon the Nueces under Captain Cairns. He instructed Cairns to take the
19. B. T. Archer, Secretary of War & Navy, to Col. P. Hansbrough Bell, War Department, Austin, Sept. 25, 1841, in Army Papers (Texas), ms., copy.
20. Mirabeau B. Lamar to Captain [John C.] Hays, Executive Department, Oct. 2, 1841, in Record of Executive Documents from the 10th Dec. 1836 to the 14th Dec. 1841. ms., p. 250.