Stephen F. Austin to Jose Antonio Saucedo, 08-28-1826

Summary: Asking approval of a plan formulated by a local convention for maintaining a standing militia force on frontier.

Through my communication of the 14th Instant, I informed your Lordship that I had called a meeting of the people, to agree upon some system of defence for this section, until the Government can adopt measures for the protection of the whole frontier of Texas. The board assembled on the 21st Instant, and, after due deliberation, we agreed upon the following articles, which are to receive the approbation of your Lordship before they are carried into effect.

Articles agreed upon by the Board.

First: All the militia of this Jurisdiction shall be organized into twelve sections; one section to be sent to the frontier every month, to do duty as spies, or frontier guard.

Second: These sections shall include all the men living in this Jurisdiction, whether resident in lawful possession of land, or not; provided they are able to bear arms. All those who own half a league of land shall be included in said section, even though he be exempted from service in the National Militia Regulations, in consequence of his age, physical impediment, or for other reasons; all those who have two leagues of land shall be counted as two men in the organization of said classes; those who have four leagues shall be counted as four men; and those who have more than eight leagues shall be counted as five men.

Third: Those who have half a league and upwards, and are not actual residents of this Jurisdiction, shall enter said classes and be counted at the call of one man for each half league, up to two leagues; above which quantity, they shall come within the provisions of the following article. In case said persons should be absent and should fail to supply a man in their place, they shall be considered as responsible for the ordinary rate of the hire of a substitute, which amount shall be collected by the civil authorities and be paid into the Treasury of this Department.

Fourth: In case that any person should fail to serve at his time, or to supply a substitute agreeably to these regulations, then the Commanding Officer of the Militia of the district to which that person may belong, shall hire a substitute to serve in his place, provided that such substitute shall not receive more than $40, a month, to be paid in merchandize, or the productions of the Country; and said Commanding Officer of the district shall forthwith make his report to the Alcaldes of the Jurisdiction in which the absentee and the substitute hired in his place may reside; and the Alcalde shall order the Sheriff to collect the amounts, due by said absentee, from his property by a public sale of the same, the proceeds, when collected, to be paid to said substitute. In case of the sickness of any of the men, the officers of the district, jointly with the Alcalde, may relieve him from one tour of duty, but no more. Volunteers, shall, in all cases, be received to supply the place of absentees.

Fifth: The Commanding Officer of the Jurisdiction, having a due regard to the respective strength of the various parties, and in conformity to the inventory of lands belonging to each person, shall assess the number of the militia, that each district shall supply every month, and he shall give corresponding orders to the respective commanding officers of the districts; and these officers, jointly with the Alcalde, shall divide the men of their district, who are thus bound to serve according to these regulations, into twelve sections, one for each month, in a just and impartial manner.

Sixth. Said Commanding Officer of the Jurisdiction, shall, if possible, engage an officer to take the permanent command of the party referred to in the first article of these regulations; and, if it be impracticable, from want of the necessary funds to pay the officer, the said Commanding Officer shall detail from among the officers of the Militia, one for every month, selecting those whom he deems best qualified for that duty.

The object of the plan is to keep twenty or thirty mounted men continually on the frontier as spies; as well for the preventing of the incursions of small parties of Indians, as to give timely notice should they come in force to make a formal attack.

The intention of the several articles is, to compel every one to contribute his share in the common defence in proportion to the interest he has in the Country.

Some persons who have received and own lands here, have gone to Nacogdoches in consequence of the Indian difficulties, thus hoping to avoid being compelled to furnish their proportion towards the defence of this Jurisdiction, alleging that the laws governing the National Militia only require their personal service in the district in which they reside, and that while they live at Nacogdoches they are bound to do militia service there, and, that, therefore, they cannot be compelled to serve in this Jurisdiction, although all of their property is here; adding, furthermore, the colonization law exempting the Colonists from taxes for some years, no taxes can be levied on the property they leave here, and that to compel them to serve in this manner amounts to a tax. Those who have more than two leagues of land say also, that the law on Militia makes it obligatory on them to be in readiness to serve personally, but that they cannot be compelled to serve two, three or five terms more than any other persons on account of the greater interest they may have in the country alleging that it would be a tax imposed upon them in opposition to the colonization law.

I anticipate the most favorable results from this plan if there is no impediment thrown in the way of its execution; and I pray your Lordship to communicate to me such doubts as you may feel respecting its realization. If you approve it I wish you would send me a formal approbation, with such corrections and additions as you may deem necessary, that I may publish and circulate it for the information of all concerned.

God and Liberty.

Stephen F. Austin.

San Felipe de Austin, August 28th, 1826.