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Frontier Raids, Threats, and Counter-Threats of Invasion

corps of spies.[34]  The men were enlisted for three months, unless discharged sooner. The spy group was headed, as previously noted, by W. J. Cairns, a tried soldier, and was to do the service of Minute Men. These men were to be supplied by the government and not by themselves as the law provided for Minute Men. Bell pointed out that on the southwestern frontier it would be impossible for the men to furnish their own supplies; and, in view of his promises to the men, he hoped no deductions would be made from their pay for failure to equip themselves. He strongly urged the drafting of an efficient plan of defense for the western frontier and the establishment of a permanent force there. He thought the plan embraced in the law of December 21, 1838, establishing the First Regiment of Regular Infantry, was a sound one, and that "three or four or even two military posts properly manned and provided would be sufficient for present protection."[35]

In his annual report, Secretary of War Branch T. Archer declared that the militia plan, now in use, had proven "totally abortive." The duty of organizing the militia, he said, "has heretofore been confided to the Chief Justices of the respective counties, without the slightest obligation on their part to perform the duty." Many of them have aided in this important work and given their attention to perfecting the organization of the militia in their counties; yet, 'little has been done towards its accomplishment," he declared.[36]  For placing the militia on a sound footing, Archer recommended

. . . the appointment of some competent and responsible individual, (and were I authorized to nominate such an individual, I should fix on the present Adjutant General of Militia, Col. P. H. Bell,) with others to visit the several counties of the Republic; ascertain their military strength, classify and arrange them into battalions, regiments, and brigades; reporting to each Brigadier General, the strength of his brigade, and to the War Department, the whole strength of the nation, with the classification for order of service. The cost attending this plan for organizing the militia, would be comparatively small, when contrasted with the importance of the work.[37]

34. Ibid.

35. Ibid.

36. B. T. Archer, Secretary of War and Navy, to the President of the Republic of Texas, War and Navy Department, City of Austin, Sept. 30, 1841, in Army Papers (Texas), ms.; Smither (ed.), Journals of the Sixth Congress of the Republic of Texas, III, 359.

37. Smither (ed.), Journals of the Sixth Congress of the Republic of Texas, III, 359.

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