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The Trans-Nueces Country

ally a no man's land over which for nearly a decade a predatory and guerrillalike warfare was waged between Mexicans and Texans, with first one and then the other, or both sides, aided by Indians. Although by early June 1836, all Mexican military forces in Texas had withdrawn beyond the historic boundaries of Texas and across the Río Grande, except for small units retained at Laredo and Brazos Santiago, Mexico never willingly relinquished her claims to the lost province; and maintained at the latter place (a rather insignificant establishment near the Pontón de Santa Isabel) a customhouse within the claimed boundary of Texas, whose revenues furnished the main support for her military forces in the north. With the reopening of the Texas-Mexican frontier trade after 1838 those revenues dropped more than three-fourths with a corresponding effect upon Mexican military strength in the north.[3] 

Under the Spanish regime the territory lying between Matamoros and the east line of the Reinosa porciónes, and northward from the Río Grande to Los Olmos Creek had been allotted to wealthy cattle owners and Spaniards of reliability, and was not open to town settlement. After Mexico gained her independence in 1821, the state of Tamaulipas was formed from the old Spanish Provincio del Nuevo Santander, whose northern boundary had come to be regarded as the Nueces River. By successive land laws enacted between 1828 and 1836 the state of Tamaulipas distributed to prominent Mexican citizens and soldiers "all vacant lands then found as such between the Río Grande and the Nueces."[4]  The only civilized settlements were at Béxar, Goliad, and Refugio[5]  all well east of the Nueces and lying along the southwestern frontier. Besides these, there were a number of small towns on or only a short distance from the Río Grande, including Santa Fé, El Paso, Presidio del Norte, Presidio del Río Grande, Laredo, Dolores,[6] 

Mejía, "El general en gefe de las fuerzas avanzadas sobre el enemigo, á los habitantes de este departamento y á las tropas de su mando," Matamoros, Marzo 18 de 1846, in United States Congress, House Executive Documents, 30th Cong., 1st sess., no. 60, pp. 125-127.

3. Message of President M. B. Lamar to Congress, Austin, Nov. 3, 1841, in Harriet Smither (ed.), Journals of the Sixth Congress of the Republic of Texas, I, 7-25.

4. Frank C. Pierce, A Brief History of the Lower Río Grande Valley, p. 21.

5. The town of Refugio was incorporated by an act of the Texas Congress, approved February 1, 1842. H. P. N. Gammel (ed.), Laws of Texas, II, 758-759.

6. In May 1837, Dolores was entirely depopulated. Joseph Baker, [Chief Justice of the County Court], to Secretary of State, Béxar, May 1, 1837, in State Depart-

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