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Frontier Raids, Threats, and Counter-Threats of Invasion
sacrifice that they will not make, but that of their own cowardly blood. Our citizens have too often witnessed their success.
"The merciless Indian savage is, if possible," declared the Secretary of War in his annual report in September 1841, "eclipsed in cruelty by our semi-barbarian Mexican foe; who are at this time engaged in the work of murder, plunder and rapine, desolating in their bloody career, the fairest portion of our Western frontier." Some of the Mexican freebooters, wrote Kinney and Aubrey from their post on Corpus Christi Bay, are "believed to be leagued with merchants of Matamoros who have a hatred to this place, as we have positive information that it is not with the sanction of those in power."
Bell made it plain that the Indians often got the blame for acts committed by others. Mexicans disguised as Indians, he declared, are "formidable in depredating on the property of Citizens on the Border," but "in speaking of disguised Mexicans," he continued, "I would by no means omit to mention that there are strong reasons to believe they have the co-operation of disguised Americans. Of the latter I am glad to believe there are but few."
Bell found the citizens of the west "united in opinion that some strong and decided movement should be made towards visiting upon these daring hordes, a just punishment, and of driving them beyond the Río Grande." As to just what procedure should be followed in exacting retribution, the citizens of the west seemed to be divided into two classes. A portion of the westerners desired unrestricted orders from the government to intercept and break up the trade with the Río Grande, expel the Mexicans residing on and east of that river, and appropriate their property as an indemnity. "To use their own language," reported Bell, "they would 'rake down every thing west of the Nueces and pay themselves' -- for this purpose some would cross the Río Grande." Among those who advocated such strong and sweeping action against the Mexicans, were "the most experienced and
27. P. Hansbrough Bell, Adjt. Genl. Militia, to Branch T. Archer, Secretary of War & Navy, City of Austin, Oct. 4, 1841, in Army Papers (Texas), ms., copy.
28. B. T. Archer, Secretary of War and Navy, to the President of the Republic of Texas, War and Navy Department, City of Austin, September 30, 1841, in Smither (ed.), Journals of the Sixth Congress of the Republic of Texas, III, 358.
29. Letter of W. P. Aubrey and H. L. Kinney, Corpus Christi, Dec. 15, 1841, in Daily Bulletin (Austin), Dec. 31, 1841.
30. P. H. Bell to B. T. Archer, Secretary of War and Navy, Victoria, Nov. 21, 1841, in Lamar Papers, III, 592-594.