The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 63, July 1959 - April, 1960 Page: 353
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south or north to steal and kill, and the entire Rio Grande Valley
became a raider's alley aflame with feuding, rustling, and cut-
throating. During the Civil War in this area, lawlessness reigned
and spawned as colorful a set of rascals as ever "treed a town,"
anywhere in the old West. After the war these men of the Border
continued their careers, writing their language in gunsmoke, as
if the war had never ended. In the decade after Appomattox, no
extradition requests were honored by Mexico, and the govern-
ments of Texas, Mexico, and the United States assumed a slum-
bering attitude toward the crisis as rancher after rancher fled the
Valley. (See House Reports, 45th Cong., 2nd Sess. [Serial No.
1824], Report No. 701, especially the parts entitled Appendix B
-Mexican Border Troubles and 'Texas Frontier Troubles). The
Civil War trained men in all the arts of outlawry. A Hale-Smith
gang spokesman admitted this when he said, "There are three
of us here who killed many in the blue. We wore blue ourselves
so we would not be known. These other two were on the other
side and fought against us." And again, "They are Yanks and they
are birds. We laid down the Stars and Bars and the Stars and
Stripes and are working under the Mexican flag now." These
facts were true. The whole book is pervaded with an atmosphere
of desperate ventures veiled in secrecy, with a lack of places and
names, which causes scholars to conjecture that Will Hale was
afraid of too much disclosure. One event described in the book,
in which a Pinkerton detective was taken by the Smith boys "tied
on a horse and taken on the river and swung up to a tree in a
thick bunch of timber" (p. 72), would be quite enough reason
for the author to grow vague and indefinite. And yet, such things
did happen during that age.
Always the Border men associated with Will Hale are on the
move, scheming as they go, sometimes disguising themselves as
Mexicans, hunting enemies in Matamoros with the same wild
zest they hunted buffalo, wild horses, Indians, or cattle thieves,
stalking their victims like Indians, moving swiftly away from
pursuers. "We are like wild geese and may have to travel," Jim
Smith said after the knife slaying of the Mexican robber chieftain
San Tigo. The stalking of this bandit, who was killed in revenge
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 63, July 1959 - April, 1960, periodical, 1960; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101186/m1/429/: accessed July 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.