The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 78, July 1974 - April, 1975 Page: 232
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
to rendezvous at such a point, and every man just saddled his horse and
started to that point, and from there we would go out."2
For most of the period before the Civil War the Texan governments
relied upon the ordinary citizen to volunteer for border defense as circum-
stances required. When a large portion of the country was menaced, volun-
teers were raised for short-term enlistment (usually three months) by offi-
cial proclamations distributed on broadsides or disseminated by the press.
On other occasions, when the scene of hostilities was localized, a recog-
nized leader of the community issued a call that none of his friends and
neighbors could refuse. This informal, ad-hoc system was remarkably effi-
cient. Thus, when the threat of an Indian-Mexican collaboration near
Nacogdoches loomed in i838, General Thomas J. Rusk exhorted the men
of nearby Houston County "to defend the Country" for the safety of "your
families of helpless women and children." Similarly, when two squads of
surveyors were attacked by Indians in the Bastrop area in i839, Colonel
Edward Burleson (as a townsman reported) commanded "every patriot to
shoulder his Rifle and march to the fields to avenge the wrongs of their
The war-weary men of Texas, whether they lived on the exposed fron-
tier or in more populous, secured areas, could seldom find respite from the
demands made upon them by their government and the press, by their
compatriots in distant theaters of conflict, and by their own neighbors.
What is remarkable about these Texans, however, is that they hardly needed
any urging. Most of the initiative for frontier defense they undertook them-
2Harriet Smither (ed.), Journals of the Sixth Congress of the Republic of Texas,
1841z-842, to Which are Added the Special Laws (3 vols.; Austin, I945), III, 123-124
(first quotation); Harriet Smither (ed.), Journal of the Senate of the Fourth Congress of
the Republic of Texas, 1839-1840, to Which are Added the Relief Laws (Austin, n.d.),
36 n. (second quotation); R. A. Irion to J. Pinckney Henderson, March 2o, 1838, George
P. Garrison (ed.), Diplomatic Correspondence of the Republic of Texas (3 vols.; Wash-
ington, D.C., 19o8-19 11), II, 851; [James Buckner Barry], A Texas Ranger and Fron-
tiersman: The Days of Buck Barry in Texas, 1845-19o6, edited by James K. Greer
(Dallas, 1932), 24-25 (third quotation); A. Russell Buchanan (ed.), "George Wash-
ington Trahern: Texan Cowboy Soldier from Mier to Buena Vista," Southwestern His-
torical Quarterly, LVIII (July, 1954), 61 (fourth quotation).
aSee, for example, the report in the Houston Telegraph and Texas Register, Septem-
ber 15, 1838, as given in Joseph Milton Nance, After San Jacinto: The Texas-Mexican
Frontier, 1836-1841 (Austin, 1963), 82; also Gerald S. Pierce, "The Army of the Texas
Republic, 1836-1845" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Mississippi, 1963), 25; Rusk
to Citizens, October I, I838 (first quotation), Thomas J. Rusk Papers (Archives, Uni-
versity of Texas Library, Austin); R. L. Reding to W. R. Reding, June Io, 1839 (second
quotation), James W. Reding Family Papers (Archives, University of Texas Library,
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 78, July 1974 - April, 1975, periodical, 1974/1975; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117149/m1/279/: accessed December 14, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.