The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959 Page: 37
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Sam Houston and the Texas War Fever
in twenty-four military districts, each under a commandant gen-
eral. The total force amounted to more than twenty thousand
men.22 According to a contemporary account, the government in
1842 was entirely too poor and destitute to maintain a large force
without making the most onerous exactions on its citizens. An
example of the heavy toll can be seen in the estimate of the ex-
penses of the War Department in 1828. The exactions for mili-
tary upkeep amounted to four-fifths of the total expenditure of
With the poor financial condition of Mexico and President
Houston complaining vigorously during the first half of 1842 of
his government's inability to pay its way,24 the most rational
foreign policy for both governments would have been a policy
of watchful waiting. Whether it was the conscious policy of Mex-
ico only to harass the Texans in order to show foreign mediators
that she still retained this power is an unanswerable question.
This actually was the result of her policy. Such an aggressive
policy was extremely dangerous because it could have involved
her in a general war with the United States as well as Texas. This
she could not have afforded. It was through the sagacity of Sam
Houston that the ultra-patriots in Texas did not evolve a policy
of retaliation against Mexico that would have been disastrous.
On January 9, General Mariano Arista, the military com-
mander at Monterrey, published a proclamation which asked the
Texans to come back into the fold of the Mexican government
and hinted of dire consequences if the warning went unheeded.
When it was apparent that no affirmative action would be taken
in response to this, General Arista made the first move in the
tragi-comic war of 1842. He ordered General Rafael VAsquez to
dispatch 150 men of his total command of 700 to cross the Rio
Grande and to harass the Texas settlements. This was to be in
retaliation for the Santa Fe affair.25 Carrying out their orders
with haste, the Mexican troops arrived before San Antonio on
22Charles Folsom, Mexico in 1842 (New York, 1842), 148.
24For an elaboration of this recurring point, see numerous letters of Houston in
Williams and Barker (eds.), Writings of Houston, II, 424-529.
25Folsom, Mexico in 1842, p. 231.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959, periodical, 1959; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101173/m1/55/: accessed June 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.