November 29, 1845


Army of Occupation


From Corpus Christi. — The U. S. transport Gen. Worth arrived here yesterday from Corpus Christi, after a passage of nine days.  Lieut. Jones, of the army, came passenger on her.  The news from the frontier is without the least interest or importance.  The troops were all well, but the weather was getting cold, and the northers, so well known on the Gulf coast, have set in.  In the following letters of our kind and attentive correspondent – who has our best wishes for his prompt escape from that “feather bed” – the reader will find of what the chit-chat and gossip of Gen. Taylor’s camp consists:


Corpus Christi, November 9th, 1845.


My Dear Friends — We are all anxiously awaiting the result of the Minister’s visit “by invitation” to Washington from Mexico.  In any event this greatly concerns this little army; if peaceable negotiations are to settle Annexation, then troops are to be spread upon the line.  Who stays and how many of each arm and where will those who are withdrawn be stationed are questions more frequently asked than correctly answered.  These questions will be decided immediately upon Mr. Polk’s reading the preface of the Mexican Minister’s budget; and in case it is not to be settled by “talk,” we shall of course be on the move, nor are we idle in the interim, as we are “measuring off the cloth” in case Mexico should want us to make breaches.  Another party of reconoissance will start tomorrow by land, under charge of Capt. Saunders, U. S. Engineers, and is expected to proceed south to the Brazos Santiago.  Capt. Saunders is an officer of great merit, and was, until our movement to Texas, in charge of the improvements on the Ohio river.  This party will consist of 4 or 5 officers and about 80 mounted men of the 2d Dragoons.



Another party under the direction of Lieut. Maule, Topographical Engineers, I understand will start to-morrow or next day to survey the coast from this to the mouth of the Brazos Santiago – an usable passage through the Laguna del Madre.  This party will, I expect, take the steamer “Col. Long,” and some small boat, in tow.  A thorough knowledge of the whole section round about “wont set us back any.”  So you see we are carrying out the __________ of “our illustrious predecessors” who said, “In time of peace prepare for war.”  Say to them at Washington – not to let us disturb them in the “talk” but let them go ahead and not mind us.  There are many in _______ that leave a great desire to look into Monterey at their Fairs, but there are some who think it would not ____________ at this stage of the game; and then they will say, that the ___________ would not object to “our peeps.”


This mission is ____________ with interest to us, and I hope you will keep your eye on it and give us the earliest information; and if you have fine cigars, ____________ and wine, and also some good clothes, if you will send them over here I’d tell you whether your taste and mine agree.


Yours, truly,



Corpus Christi, Texas, Nov. 10, 1845.


My Dear Friends. —   The Custom House officers and the settlers here have got the ropes of this lite kinked up to such an extent that they cannot sail together smoothly along the tide of time.  I will express no opinion upon this matter, for this reason: I am neither settler, nor am I a Custom House officer, but as I am fond of having a little chat with you at all times, I’ll tell you the cause of disagreement.


When the troops came over first in the Alabama, the Custom House officer came aboard, and he was informed she was chartered by the Government, and contained troops, with their supplies, &c, &c.  This, I believe, is the general routine for every vessel as she arrives.  After the troops were encamped, the Custom House officer saw the settlers opening their hoods in virtue of their appointments in the army, and he demands the duty.  The suttler says, “I belong to the army, you should not tax me, as it is but taxing the soldier as the additional price will have to be put on the goods we sell them.  We do not sell to the citizens of Texas and pledge ourselves not to do so; we are for the army alone – you might as well tax their power and cannon.”     


The Custom House officer says — “They tax our goods when sent to the United States.  Our laws says that merchandise shall pay duty when coming into our country, and you have not been made an exception; you mus therefore fork over.” ____________________ declares doing.  Gen. Taylor was appealed to but he tells them – “Gentlemen, I came here on a little business with Mexico; your private difficulties must be referred to the proper authorities.”


Everything worked well for the settler – as there are not inhabitants enough here to be called a possession so long as the first supply lasted, and the settler sipped his wine, smoked his cigars, _______________ his hat on one side of his head, and reclined lazily on his ______________________ while the Custom House officer looks thoughtful and troubled.  Time rolls on, and the settlers send for new supplies, and __________________ or hire a schooner  to bring them over.  So soon as she casts anchor here she is boarded and taken possession of by the Custom House, a prohibition put upon landing goods, and the duties demanded.  The Pay master has just paid all the troops, money is plenty in camp, all sorts of articles are on the vessel, where the soldiers would buy rapidly, hence the anxiety of the settlers to get their goods.  Mark now the change.  The Custom House officer sets his arms “a kumbo” changes with much ______ enormous quid of tobacco from one jaw to the other and treads with elevated cranium the deck of the captured schooner  ________ piles of dry goods, groceries, barrels of ___________, and butter and baskets of champagne.  The settler looks as “the bout had _______ him.”


Thus matters stand at the present writing, but it is expected that today an amicable adjustment will take place, as the Comptroller of the Texas Treasury is now at St. Joseph’s, and is expected here today.


Yours truly, &c.


Source:   The Daily Picayune, November 29, 1845, p. 2, col. 3.


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