Along the Rio Grande…

Letter to President James Henry of the Republic of Texas, July 5th 1895.

Mr President,

Please forgive my writing to you directly and my poor use of our English language. I am a simple man and given to plain speaking.

I am writing to give you an appreciation of the situation here on the south-western frontier of our beloved Republic. My company is currently encamped on a bluff overlooking the Rio Grande, where we are recuperating from our latest sortie, and training new conscripts in the ways of the Texas Rangers.

We are sorely pressed by the many threats to the Republic and our way of life. The Apache have been growing bolder since they ambushed Captain Thornton last fall. We have counted Cree, Cherokee, Sioux and Crow amongst their fighters and it is only our Gatling Guns that keep them at bay.

There have been more raids on our territory by outlaw gangs coming down from the northwest. These gangs are no longer half a dozen men looking for trouble or trying to rob a bank. They now deploy in companies of thirty or more and attack settlements and even towns. These are hard and desperate men who are oftimes better armed and supplied than we are. Only our stubborn Texan nature and our faith aids us against these raiders.

The border with Mexico has become more unsettled of late. Only last month we had to escort a troop of Federale Lancers back over the Rio Grande. They were not lost as they claimed but rustling two hundred head of steers. Only your orders to treat the  Mexican Republic with due diplomacy prevented my men from stringing them up. My men hope that next time we meet Federales they may be more inclined to resist.

Our troubles here on the border are becoming critical Mr President. We are short of men, horses, ammunition, weapons and supplies. Three times this year I have had to ignore pleas for succour by citizens because I simply did not have the wherewithal to assist. Only last month we engaged an outlaw band with half of my men on foot for want of horses and one in three armed with only a single pistol.

It is three months since the men were last paid and we have had a number of desertions, especially amongst the conscripts. I have neither the resources nor the time to hunt these men down and dispense justice. It is strange to report that the most loyal and hardy rangers are proving to be the Louisiana conscripts you sent us last fall. I never hear a complaint from any of them. As a result I am considering promoting one of them to sergeant.

We shall continue to do our duty as best we can Mr President but I fear our effectiveness, and the high regard that most citizens show us, is deteriorating through simple lack of means.

Captain Jack Robards, 4th Company, Texas Rangers.

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