Stephen F. Austin to Mateo Ahumada, 05-18-1826

Summary: Willingness of the Cherokees to join in war on Tahuacanos, Wacoes, and other tribes. Reports of hostile preparations. Conditions of militia service.

In my communication of the 8th Instant, I reported to you my situation in relation to hostile movements against the Indians, and informed you that I had sent spies in various directions to watch the Indian party whom we had reason to believe had left their villages on their way to these settlement, in the meantime, the contemplated expedition remaining suspended. On the 13th Instant, the express I had dispatched to the Cherokees returned with a letter signed by Captains Fields and Bowles, and other principal chiefs of this tribe, in which they stated to me, that after a secret council held among them, they unanimously agreed to march with all their forces and attack the Wacoes, Tahuacanoes and other Indians at war with the Mexicans, and that they were ready to assist the people of this Colony, if the government ordered them to do so; but in consequence of the lated freshets of the Neches and Trinity, and of almost all the streams in that section of the country, and, also owing to the backwardness of their crops, they could not do so immediately. The express I had sent is an intelligent and trusty man, whom I had instructed not to show my letters to the chiefs before he could ascertain their intentions and views on the subject. He is well acquainted with the chiefs and several Indians of that tribe. He remained among them four days, and tells me that he has not the least doubt but that the chiefs and warriors are anxious to go to war; as well against the Tahuacanoes and Comanches, as the petty thieving Quincháis, Ainais, Apadache, Coco and other tribes who live in their vicinity. All those tribes are friendly with the Tahuacanoes, and I believe their destruction to be very important for the common security. The express also reports that on the Neches river he met an old Apadache Chief, whom he had known at Nacogdoches; that he told the chief he was still living there, and that the Americans of that locality were very bad; his design being to draw from him his opinion of us. The Indian replied that the Americans of the Colorado were very bad: that they had killed some of his friends the Tehuacanoes and Quichais; that all the small tribes in that part of the country were about to hold a great council called by the Tahuacanoes, for the purpose of taking measures to destroy the new settlements west of the Trinity, and that the Comanches were invited to attend. He did not say when, or where the meeting was to take place, and he declared that the settlers East of the Trinity were good friends and brothers. He said, also, that the Tahuacanoes had sent word to the traders who traffic with the Indians on the Sabine River. that they would give a good horse for ten musket loads of powder and lead, and a good mule for twenty loads. On his arrival at the crossing of the Trinity, the express received information from the settlers there, either Americans, or Spaniards, that they had seen the day previous, five Quichais and Ainai Indian, who secretely told the Spaniards that 200 warriors of the small tribes would shortly attack the Americans on the Brazos and Colorado, but that the settlers East of the Trinity were friends and brothers

The militia of the Colony detailed for the contemplated campaign were all ready, a part of them being encamped here; others on the Colorado, at the fort they have erected between the roads to La Bahia and Atascosito; and the balance on the Brazos near the road to Bexar; mustering in the aggregate, 100 men.

The spies referred to in my communication of the 8,th Instant have seen no signs of the Indians supposed to have left their villages for these settlements; and, as I have already stated to you, I considered myself prevented, by your order of the 4th Instant, from carrying on the campaign. However, on the return of the express with the above mentioned information, I felt convinced of the absolute necessity to order out a party to watch over the frontier, inasmuch as the militia were very impatient to meet the enemy. Therefore, under the impulse of protective considerations, I ordered the senior Captain of the battalion who was to take command in my absence, agreeably to the seventh article of the Militia Regulations, to proceed with the men to the frontier, above the road to Bexar, on the Brazos, leaving a detachment in the fort on the Colorado, to protect this section.

I gave general instructions to this officer (Captain A. C. Buckner) to keep a good lookout all along the frontier, and particularly for the 200 warriors, who, I have reason to believe are coming from the Trinity to join the Tahuacanoes; and to attack any hostile parties of Indians wherever our protection rendered it necessary, and circumstances permitted. I hope you will not consider this step at variance with your orders of the 4th Instant for the suspension of the hostile movements against the Indians. Circumstances rendering it absolutely necessary for our defence The Captain Commanding the Militia may, possibly, be compelled to attack the Indian Villages, as there is some probability, if the Indians are aware of the movements of the Militia, that they will leave their villages should the attack be postponed to the month of July. For it is impossible to assemble men, as scattered as our militia are, without a few days notice; consequently, secrecy cannot be preserved in such cases, every one having to settle his business and make preparations previous to a march. Any traveller can perceive these movements among the militia, and there is not a day but some are passing on their way to Nacogdoches. Should anv of them mention it there, the news would soon reach the Quichais, or other of those mean thieving tribes that live in that neighborhood. In case that an attack on the villages might affect the movements referred to in your communication of the 4th Instant, I will transmit to you any report so soon as it reaches me. Captain Buckner and his command will start from their encampment on the Bexar road on the 22nd Instant.

I have given secret instructions to a very reliable and intelligent man, who left us a few days since for the Trinity, to indirectly ascertain the disposition and views of the Cushate and Alabama Indians; and, also, to find out the feeling of the settlers in that section, and the numbers of militia men that could be obtained from them in an emergency. I have no doubt that orders from you and the Political Chief to the Indians and militia, will induce them to join me in the war.

God and Liberty. Stephen F. Austin.

San Felipe de Austin, May 18th 1826.