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Frontier Raids, Threats, and Counter-Threats of Invasion

operate between the Nueces and the Río Grande, and "from the Agua Dulce, or even from the Coast, and as high up as the movement of an enemy may require." The subsistence for the troops should be supplied from two points -- San Antonio and Kinney's & Aubrey's ranch. Declared Bell,

These gentlemen have shown much liberality in expressing a willingness to afford every aid they can in maintaining a sufficient force west of the Nueces. The utility of such a force is increased from the consideration that there has already been formed an interesting nucleus of a settlement below the mouth of the Nueces, consisting of from seventy to one hundred souls; and by this measure, protection would be afforded at once to the San Antonio and Mission settlements, to the Peninsular, and to the settlements on the different Bays. Such a measure would also go far towards establishing in fact, that which now exists, only in empty declaration -- jurisdiction to the Río Grande.[32]

Almost two months later, after another tour of all the western counties, where he sought to explain the nature of the War Department's plan of defense through the use of volunteer companies, properly organized, led, and disciplined, Bell made another report, this time detailing, in part, why his efforts to organize such companies had generally failed. The lack of sufficient response on the part of the citizens to the Department's efforts to organize such companies was, he believed, "found in the fact that many [of t]he Citizens have so long borne the brunt of frontier troubles that they are truly War worn, and in means worn out. The west has constituted a chain of sentinels to the Republic until the relief-hour has arrived."[33]  Because this condition was recognized by the War Department as peculiar to the western frontier, its new policy for that area was for the government itself to furnish supplies of beef, sugar, coffee, and ammunition for 100 to 150 men who would operate beyond the line of settlements as a cordon to intercept, and, if interception failed, to retaliate upon the principal marauders. The initial period of enlistment was to be for three years, with the expectation that when Congress met some permanent plan of defense would be devised. Bell's efforts to assemble a sufficient force to carry out the objectives and orders of the War Department met with failure, and he turned his attention to organizing an efficient

32. Ibid.

33. P. H. Bell to B. T. Archer, Victoria, Nov. 21, 1841, in Lamar Papers, III, 592-594.

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