Stephen F. Austin to James E. B. Austin, 03-23-1822

Summary: Adventure with Comanches. Desolation of the country from Bexar to Laredo. How to study Spanish.

Loredo March 23 1822

Dr Brother,

We arrived here on the 21 and finding that a considerable Company were going on to La Punta, on Sunday afternoon I thought it most prudent to wait for them, on acount of the Indians, who are very numerous on all these roads,—about six miles this side of the river Nuesis 50 Camanches charged upon us a little before sun rise, the Doctor and Waters were out after the Horses and I was alone at Camp, they surrounded me in an instant and took possession of every article we had—resistance was useless for against so many it would have been ineffectual the Doctor and Waters and the Horses were soon brought up by the Indians and I then expostulated with them for treating their Friends the Americans in such a manner,— when they found there was no Spaniards with me, they gave us back our Saddle bags, saddles, and everything else except 4 blankets, a bridle, my Grammar and Several other little things and all our provisons, nothing saved our lives but being Americans, and as the next party might not be so polite I have waited for the company that is going on to morrow. Two men were taken prisoners, the day before yesterday within a few miles of this place, one of whom escaped and got in this morning he says the Indians are waylaying the road between this and Punta, (the road I am going)—about 3 miles this side of where the Indians charged upon us, we met another party of 34 who were encamped behind a hill watching the road, only two of them came to us, they said their captain knew us to be Americans and ordered his men to let us alone.

The Country from the River Madina to this place is the poorest I ever saw in my life, it is generally nothing but Sand, entirely void of Timber, covered with scrubby thorn bushes and Prickly Pear— this place is on the bank of the Rio Grande—and is as poor as sand banks, and drought, and indolence can make it—The river is about the size of the Arkansas, if anything a little larger—

I hope you are applying yourself closely to Study—get the first volume of Dufiefs (?) Grammar from the Doctor and Study the familiar phrases and lessons, and write them, also after commiting a verb write it from memory and then compare it with the book to see that the spelling is correct—also repeat your verbs as you learn them to Francisco or some other who can correct your pronunciation, a bad pronunciation at the start will be difficult to correct, therefore take no lessions [sic] from any but those who are capable of giving them—Remember that it is all important to learn to write the language—

Pray be particular in taking care of your things—The tent, Blankets, Kittle, Pack Saddle, the two bridles, and every other article however trifling it may seem to be.

Write me directed to Mexico,

Your affc Brother

S. F. Austin

[Addressed:] Mr James B. Austin Bexar Mr. Higginbotham