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    "Infantry had as well be in Nova Scotia or Iceland for all the good they do here - they say so themselves"

    [Texas Rangers]. U.S. Lieutenant James M. Hawes Autograph Letter Signed concerning Texas Ranger John James. Three pages, 8" x 9.75", Fort Inge [Texas], June 18, 1852. In this warm, yet businesslike, letter, Lieutenant Hawes-a future Confederate brigadier general- reports on the value of Texas land to his cousin, a major in the Army Corps of Engineers stationed in Delaware. Hawes had received an opinion on land values from Texas Ranger John James-"a rascal" who worked as a surveyor on the Texas frontier. "John James when I talked to him about the value of the lands, changed the subject to the navigation of his lands, the practicality of it, & admitted after a while that the lands in the Rio Grande would never be of any value till steam boats ran up the River to a considerable distance. In my opinion John James is pretty much of a rascal."

    Hawes, stationed near the Big Bend area of Southwest Texas, had "arrived in San Antonio in February last and joined my Company ("C"), which was temporarily detached on the Rio Grande opposite Guerrero Mexico, in March. Remained only a few days at the camp (called camp Drum) and returned to this post via Eagle Pass." He advised his cousin on the quality and condition of land near Eagle Pass and suggested that he take quick action and invest: "Eagle Pass was in my route both going and coming & I had a good chance to inspect some of your lands & to inquire about the others. . . . Although there is a considerable settlement on both sides of the river at Eagle Pass, nothing is cultivated, absolutely nothing. . . . I would advise you to sell to the best advantage. Now. It is doubtful if all your lands would bring more than the taxes amount to yearly."

    At the end of his letter, Hawes describes an encounter with Indians, the army's presence in Texas, and in particular notes how ineffectual non-mounted troops were in such open country: "In returning from a ... [unintelligible due to loss of paper] day of May, with 15 men, I was fortunate [unintelligible due to loss of paper] [to come ] upon a party of 8 or 9 Indians, Cana... [unintelligible due to loss of paper] take a Mexican boy, & 9 mules & 15 horses from them, killing an Indian, I beleive [sic] & badly wounding another - had a chase of some three miles through a very dense thicket. This is the best part in the Department to catch Indians, except the . . . part on the Las Moras (at its head) - which by the way is to be occupied by Infantry - & not dragoons - from what I have seen so far, Infantry had as well be in Nova Scotia or Iceland for all the good they do here - they say so themselves."

    James Morrison Hawes (1824-1889) received a promotion to first lieutenant during the Mexican War for acts of bravery at the Battle of San Juan de Los Llanos. Later during the Civil War, he was promoted to brigadier general commanding the cavalry of the Western Department of the Confederacy. Some paper loss to the final page affecting text and making the name of the recipient only partially legible.


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    Auction Dates
    September, 2013
    21st Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
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