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Title:[Letter] 1836 Aug. 28, Camp Sabine [Texas] [to] Newton Cannon, Nashville, Tennessee / Edmond P. Gaines : a machine readable transcription of an image
Author:Gaines, Edmond P.

This work is the property of the Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville, TN. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching, and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text. For all other use contact the Tennessee State Library and Archives, 403 Seventh Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37243-0312. (615) 741-2764.

Date: August 28, 1836
Extent: 6p
Summary:This is a letter from Major General Edmond P. Gaines to Newton Cannon, governor of Tennessee. It is dated August 28, 1836. Gaines is in charge of protecting the Western Frontier of the United States from attack by Mexicans and Native Americans, who are fighting the Texans. Gaines' request for more gunmen has been refused by President Jackson. Gaines writes an apology to Cannon for any embarrassment this occurrence may have caused him, though Gaines still thinks he is right about needing the extra men to repel a major assault from the Natives, which he feels will be inevitable when the Mexican army crosses the Brazos River in western Texas. Gaines is very concerned about not being able to protect the settlers in the Disputed Territory from a massacre, since something similar happened in East Florida. Gaines also complains that the people in the interior, who are influential and educated, do not care about the welfare of the frontier families.
Collection:Gaines Papers

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Head Quarters West Dept. [Department] Camp Sabine Aug [August] 28. 1836

I had the honor to receive by the last mail your Excellency's letter of the 8th of this month, advising me of the Suspension by the President of the United States of the movement of the Regiment of Mounted Gun-men which you did me the favor a few days previously to notify me were about to assemble at Jackson preparatory to their march to this frontier.

I deeply regret the trouble and disappointment to the brave and patriotic Volunteers and more especially the embarrassment to yourself individually, which my requisition has occasioned.

However much I may have erred in the hope and opinion which I entertained and expressed in my letters of the 28th of April and 10th of May last that this frontier was no longer in danger of being attacked, or again menaced by a formidable Savage foe, I have the Satisfaction to find that no great evil or injury to the Service has as yet resulted from the error _ an error in to which the wisest and best of our Statesmen appear to have fallen _ and from the Same causes which had operated upon my mind and misled me:- namely, the apparent prospect of a speedy termination of the war between the Mexicans and Texans- I cannot however admit that I have erred in requesting of your Excellency the Regiment of mounted Gunmen in question.

I have during the last and present month been strongly impressed with the belief that the whole of this frontier would be involved in an Indian War, as soon as the threatened hostilities between our blood-thirsty neighbors of the west should be renewed.

When I learned from the Secretary of War that the President of the United States approved my views reported to him in March

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and April last to assemble upon this frontier an effective force of mounted men equal to that of either of the Belligerents _ a force that would enable me to speak to both in a language they could not fail to hear and to heed! And when at the same time I found myself expressly instructed by a letter from the Department of War dated May 4. 1836- (of which a copy is annexed No. [Number]1) - that the President will Sanction the employment of whatever force may be necessary to protect the western frontier of the United States from hostile incursions and that the Department of War had addressed the Governors of the States of Louisiana , Mississippi , Tennessee , Kentucky , and Alabama requesting them to call into Service such militia force as I may find necessary in carrying into effect the instructions heretofore given to me adding "the theatre of operations is so distant from the seat of Government that much must be trusted to your direction"

"The two great objects you have to attain, are first the protection of the "frontiers and Secondly as strict a performance of the neutral duties "of the United States, as the great object of self defence will permit"- and when to this is added the Secretary's letter to you of the same date of which the following is an Extract- "I am instructed by the "President to request your Excellency to call into the service of the United States, the number of militia which have been or may be required by "General Gaines" there can be no ground to doubt that I was fully authorised [authorized] to request of you the Regiment in question.

That from 4000 to 10000 Indian Warriors will be employed against the inhabitants of the disputed Territory, as soon as the Theatre of the war between Mexico and Texas is extended to the left bank of the Brazos I have not a doubt: unless indeed the prospect of our having on this frontier sufficient mounted

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force to repel the invasion of the disputed Territory and afford to the defenceless [defenseless] inhabitants that protection which we have promised to afford them.

I am more than willing to risk myself with 1600 men for the protection of a thinly Settled frontier of 400 miles in extent; but with full authority from the Department of war to call for whatever force I may deem necessary and proper for the purpose, I am not willing to have less force than I have called for, without a force of 7000 men held ready for action upon this frontier the Indians can in one month destroy nine tenths of the inhabitants within the disputed Territory; with a great part of the adjacent Settlements, including those upon the Red river from Alexandria to Fort Towson , embracing a large portion of the [added: original] inhabitants when ceded to the United States with the finest cotton growing Section of the United States, whose annual crop has already amounted to millions of dollars.

If it be true that the Indians have determined to commence hostilities as soon as the Mexicans approach the Settlements East of the Brazos and that this is their Settled plan I have not a doubt, then it must be evident that we cannot obtain from Tennessee or from any of the central or Western States sufficient force to prevent the apprehended depredations as they may be to a great extent perpetrated whilst our requisitions for force are on the route to the States authorised to furnish it. with this impression I cannot but consider our promise of protection to this frontier wholly unsubstantial and calculated to excite hopes and expectations which we shall not have the sure means of fulfilling I cannot willingly be instrumental in producing on this border scenes such as have occured [occurred] in East Florida a frontier ravaged and desolated before troops for its protection have been marched or authorized to march from their homes

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In my letter to the Secretary of war of the 7th of June acknowledging the receipt of his letters of the 25th of April and 4th of May I conclude as follows:__ "Although I have upon the whole of this frontier about 1600 regular troops mostly Infantry yet it will be recollected that this force has to guard an extent of 400 miles of frontier unsupported by any other than very sparse settlements; and that the chivalry of Mexico may be expected Soon to fly to the rescue of their President and reinstate his Red allies, and inspire them with a spirit of Revenge against their white neighbours [neighbors] recently Screened from their barbarism. Under these impressions I have deemed it proper to request Governor Cannon to authorize the Brigade of Tennessee Volunteers, enrolled under his Proclamation of the 28th of April last to calculate on the probability of another call to this place, and that should I have occasion for Volunteers as I apprehend I shall, those enrolled shall have a preference to all others." In answer to which I received on the [unclear: 3rd ] inst [instant] a letter from the Secretary of war dated the 11th of July(of which I annex a copy No 2) in which you will perceive no expression disapproving my purpose to call for a Brigade of Tennessee Volunteers. The Secretary however expressly authorises me to call on the Executives of Missouri and Arkansas for one thousand men each. But this authority did not reach me until the 3rd of this month, when I had reason to believe the Regiment of Mounted Gun-men, requested of you had been raised and would be here before I could have suspended their movement, if indeed I had deemed it proper so to do. This however did not appear to me proper: on the contrary I deemed it necessary to request of the Governors of Missouri and Arkansas the two thousand men authorized as additional force- for reasons set forth in my letter to Gen [General] Arbuckle (of which I annex a copy No 3) __

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[added: 2] of these measures, the war Department has been regularly advised.

Some of our fashionable party leaders Editors and others seem very much shocked at my preparatory measures to cross a little muddy branch of the Sabine Bay (which branch Some are pleased to call the Sabine whilst others of more literary pretension call it the Rubicon)- to hold the savages in check merely because some few white men have been killed by them and some women and children the wives of the slain, have been taken prisoners and carried off to the bosom of the wilderness!

In reply to such silly Effusions of the Selfish slaves of party I need only to remark that in deciding upon the course of measures proper for me to pursue, in reference to the outrages committed by the Indians near me - I think it my duty to consider the poorest frontier family menaced with the Indian Scalping knife, as Entitled to the Same attention and the Same vigilant measures of protection, as the most fashionable of our interior citizens. If I were capable of making an invidious distinction in such a case between the rich and the poor___ the lordly politician and the humble pioneer, and of taking more or less care of the one than of the other __ I should thereby prove myself to be wholly unworthy of the trust reposed in me.

But I am exultingly reminded by some that the people killed and those menaced by the Indians are not citizens of the United States I reply that most of them are citizens of the United States, and that whenever the national Boundary line is Established in the manner provided for by Treaty many if not all of those who find themselves left upon the Mexican Side of the line will return to our own beloved country. But until then we must protect them from Savage Massacre.

Since I sat down to write this letter, an express has arrived

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with a positive declaration that he had seen and conversed with a Mexican Officer at an Indian Village forty miles to the northwest of Nacogdoches , who was understood by the Indians to be engaged in setting on foot an expedition against Nacogdoches This I believe to be true because it is in accordance with the previous statements of Several persons who are Entitled to credit.

I have the honor to be
with very great respect
Your obdt Servt [obedient servant]
Edmond P Gaines
major Genl. [General] Commanding
To his Excellency Newton Cannon Governor of the State of Tennessee Nashville

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