Robert E. Lee in Texas
“That Myth Cortinas”
WHEN Lee returned to Arlington, late fall had settled on the Virginia hills along the Potomac, bringing beauty and color to trees and shrubs. But he found Arlington itself in a sad state of neglect and disrepair. His father-in-law during his declining months had sought to put on canvas the scenes of Washington's battles before they faded from his memory; and the Arlington slaves had taken advantage of his preoccupation and failing interest to shirk plantation duties, tending only their own gardens and fishing in the Potomac. As a consequence, bushes and weeds had invaded the spacious lawn, roofs of the mansion and barns had begun to leak, and fields had gone untitled.
For several reasons this home-coming was not as happy for Lee as others had been. In addition to the grief occasioned by Mr. Custis's death, he found Mrs. Lee threatened by complete invalidism from arthritis, an affliction she had carefully kept from her soldier husband while he was in Texas. Also, he felt keenly the absence of his two sons who were attached to military organizations in the West, and he was further grieved by the illness of two of his daughters. In deep sorrow he wrote to Custis in California that there was little left in life for him. Under compelling duty, however, he soon threw off his “somber phiz,” sent Mrs. Lee away to the Hot Springs for the benefit of the baths, and sought to solve the most pressing of his new domestic problems.
He was primarily concerned at this time with his father-in-law's will. The old gentleman had divided his estate among Lee's family. His three plantations of Arlington, the “White House,” and Romancock were left to his three grandsons, Custis, “Rooney,” and Rob, respectively, although Mrs. Lee was to be mistress of Arlington until her death. To each of his granddaughters, he left $10,000, to be provided by the sale of Smith's Island, off Northampton County, and lands in Stafford, Richmond, and Westmoreland counties, augmented if necessary from the income from the “White House” and Romancock. This provision was doubly difficult to meet since the plantations had a heavy indebtedness against them. Likewise, it brought complication in probating the will and caused long delay in the Virginia court, necessitating extensions of Lee's absence from his regiment until February 6, 1860. Lee was sole executor of the will, a role that was difficult but not altogether unpleasant, for every member of his family was considerate and understanding. He himself received from the estate only a lot in “Square 21” of Washington City. The will also provided for freeing the slaves of the plantations “in not exceeding five years” from his father-in-law's demise.
By midsummer of 1858 conditions at Arlington had improved. Under Lee's strict supervision, the slaves had laid aside their fishing poles for plows and hoes, and the fields had been planted to corn and other crops. Hedges were trimmed, houses repaired, and fences rebuilt. Lee's days were filled with arduous and varied tasks. He visited his old friend, General Scott, to secure a Washington appointment for Custis, so that he would be near Arlington, of which later he would be proprietor; he sought the advice of Alexandria lawyers regarding the will; and he pushed ahead with improvements to the plantation.
While Lee was thus engaged, on October 17, 1859, Lieutenant “Jeb” Stuart brought him an order from Colonel Drinkard to report immediately to the Secretary of War for duty; and Lee complied so promptly that he did not take time to change from civilian garb to military uniform. He and Stuart crossed the Potomac immediately and reported to Secretary John B. Floyd, who assigned Lee to quell the John Brown disturbance at Harpers Ferry.
John Brown and nineteen followers had raided Harpers Ferry on the night of October 16, when they had seized the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad bridge crossing from the Maryland side of the Potomac to Harpers Ferry in Virginia. The fanatical band had cut the telegraph wires, occupied the United States arsenal, and begun a campaign to free the slaves by visiting Colonel Lewis Washington's plantation in the dead of night, arresting its owner, and inviting his slaves to join them in their liberation move. The next morning (October 17) the citizens of Harpers Ferry seized the raiders' weapons, cut them off from retreat to Maryland; and forced them to barricade themselves, together with several hostages whom they had captured, in the enginehouse of the armory yard.
Floyd was not in possession of all these facts when he sent for Lee. He had only heard that a band of desperate men had seized the arsenal. Before he gave Lee his instructions, therefore, he and Lee called on President James Buchanan, who with “several members of his Cabinet were endeavoring to learn the cause and extent of the trouble from telegraphic dispatches from Baltimore.” But when they could furnish no additional news, Floyd instructed Lee to take command of a detachment of marines and to proceed at once to the scene of disturbance to restore peace and order and to arrest the offenders. Other troops would be sent on later.
Lee executed his order promptly. Stuart accompanied him to Harpers Ferry and acted as his messenger by visiting the arsenal under a white flag to demand the surrender of Brown and his confederates. When Brown refused to comply unless he and his men would be allowed to recross the Potomac to the Maryland side, Lee ordered Lieutenant Green and a squad of twelve marines to batter down the door of the enginehouse and arrest the defenders. In his “Memo. Book” Lee thus explained what followed: “About sunrise with twelve marines under the command of Lieutenant Green, . . . broke in the door of the engine house, secured the robbers and released the prisoners unhurt. All [robbers] were killed or mortally wounded but four—John Brown, Aaron Stevens, Edwin Coffee and Guin Shields (black). He had the prisoners moved to a place of safety and their wounds dressed.” Later Brown was tried in a Virginia court, found guilty of treason, and hanged on December 2, manifesting the utmost composure until the end. Lee seemed not to sense the significance of Brown's action but viewed him only as an unbalanced fanatic who had led a band of ignorant men into open outlawry.
Back at Arlington on February 6, 1860, Lee at last received an order to return to Texas to assume temporary command of the department, with headquarters at San Antonio. One cannot doubt that his leaving was under happier circumstances than his coming to Arlington. Mary's health was improved. Custis had received his Washington assignment, and the interests of other members of his family had been properly safeguarded. At last he could resume his service as a border soldier. Still he found it hard to leave his afflicted wife, explaining to her, “My departures grow harder to bear with years.”
At New Orleans, while en route to Texas, Lee wrote Custis that he had left home so hurriedly that he had forgotten some of his personal belongings. “Imagine my horror this morning,” he said, “when I found I had left my shaving-brush and pants behind. The first I constantly leave, but my pants, my new pants, I cannot account for. . . . I could hardly believe my own eyes when I found them out of their accustomed place. Take care of them, or use them as may be most convenient.”
He arrived at Indianola at twelve o'clock noon on February 19 and at San Antonio two days later. He found lodging with his old landlady, Mrs. Philips, in the plaza, since he did not know how long he would remain in San Antonio. On the following day he formally took command, succeeding Colonel Washington Seawell.
Lee's former acquaintances welcomed him back to San Antonio. “They wonder why I do not have you all out,” he wrote his daughter Annie. “They do not know your capacity.” Once again he took up his pleasant custom of visiting in the homes of his fellow officers and enjoying their hospitality.
There were also social affairs given by civilians. Mrs. Kate Merrett Clarkson told of a gathering at Dr. McCormick's home, when the Doctor's stepdaughter, Nannie, had invited her to help entertain. “The guests included Colonel Robert E. Lee,” she said. “Some of the girls were asked to play the piano, but in their timidity made many excuses. Colonel Lee then asked me to play, and though I was the youngest girl there, my mother had always taught me never to refuse to do my best, so I made my bow and played for the company. Colonel Lee, who had led me to the piano and stood by my side, thanked me in most gracious terms and when supper was announced he took me in to supper. . . . I shall never forget Colonel Lee as one of the most charming and gracious gentlemen I ever met.”
Lee was pleased and flattered by this attention, but it did not distract him from the duties at hand. Busy days were ahead of him. New posts must be established, his cavalry units reassigned, and a multitude of minor matters attended to. All these tasks left him little time to scan the political horizon. Had he done so, the angry mutterings of sectionalists, North and South, would have given him grave concern.
Lee's duties as department commander taxed his patience and ability. Routine matters such as troop changes, buying sites for military posts, and reviewing discipline cases took up much of his time; but he gave each subject his personal attention. In every way he sought to humanize the service. Military penalties were ordinarily harsh. Absence without leave, drunken brawls, and even minor infractions of regulations drew heavy punishment, such as branding with a hot iron, flogging, or carrying a thirty- or forty-pound rock or log all day every day for a month. Whenever these rigorous disciplines were called to his attention, he either modified or disapproved them, and his attitude caused the enlisted men to regard him as their protector.
Governor Sam Houston of Texas complained to Lee of border turmoil because of Indian and Mexican raids. He had also appealed earlier for aid to President Buchanan and to Secretary of War John B. Floyd. In reply Floyd, as all good secretaries should, assured him that everything possible was being done for the distressed frontier, even to the point of sending Lee as new department commander, “an officer of great discretion and ability.” Now Houston learned that Lee was worthy of Floyd's praise. He worked with energy to bring immediate relief to the exposed frontier, and he represented with dignity every interest of the Department of Texas and the federal government.
Most of his first office chores were done under the handicap of a common cold. The evening of March 1 had been still and warm, but during the night a norther blew up, sending the mercury tumbling and causing Lee's physical distress. Still he wrote Mrs. Lee optimistically that the trees showed green and that spring was on its way to San Antonio.
Most annoying of all nuisances was the effort of a promoter, P. L. Lea, to enlist his aid in a filibustering expedition against Mexico. He had met Lea at Indianola on his journey back to Texas, and the promoter had become his traveling companion as far as Victoria. Lee had rebuffed his advances, stating diplomatically that he could serve only the interests of the United States, and as an army officer. Lea informed his brother, A. M. Lea, of his failure to enlist the Virginian; and, in turn, A.M., who was equally interested in the proposed filibuster, transmitted this information to Sam Houston, who had, indeed, originated the plan.
Houston was a resourceful Jacksonian democrat with a checkered political career. He had served with Jackson during the Creek War of 1814 and had been elected governor of Tennessee in 1828, only to resign shortly after he came to office and leave his wife to go into Indian Territory to live among the Indians. Later he emerged from this self-imposed exile to take part in the Texas revolution, to win victory over Santa Anna at San Jacinto, to be twice elected president of the Texas republic, to serve three terms in the United States Senate, and finally to be elected governor of Texas, the office he held when Lee became department commander. Houston had seasoned this ripe and varied experience with political sagacity. He was essentially honest, forceful, far sighted, and patriotic; moreover, he had built up a political following of able men.
He had early conceived of a Mexican protectorate, and on February 16, 1858, he had made a proposal concerning one in a bill to the Senate, but it had been summarily rejected. He was not easily defeated, however, and continued to dream and plan. Available correspondence is insufficient to prove that the Leas approached Lee at Houston's suggestion, but it seems probable that they did. While Lee was en route to Texas, Houston, piqued, had written Secretary Floyd about troubles along the Rio Grande, saying: “But matters new and startling arise, and he [Houston] may feel that it is his duty to meet the emergency in carrying his action so far as to not only repel the aggressions from Mexico, but to adopt such measures as will prevent the recurrence of similar inroads upon our frontiers.” He said that Texas could muster 10,000 troops for this purpose within thirty days, “to make reclamation upon Mexico for all her wrongs.”
In reporting his brother's rebuff by Lee, A. M. Lea slyly suggested to Houston: “He [Lee] would not touch anything he would consider vulgar filibustering, but he is not without ambition, and under the sanction of the Govt. might be more willing to aid you to pacificate Mexico.” And knowing that Houston was also a man of ambition, Lea cunningly added: “If the people of the United States should recall you from the ‘Halls of the Montezumas’ to the ‘White House’ at Washington, you would find him well fitted to carry out your great idea of a Protectorate. . . . You see that Providence is guiding you on to the consummation of your grand conception of the Protectorate almost in spite of yourself.” In explaining why Lee was ideally cast for such a “Protectorate,#8221; Lea said that he was “well informed in matters of State, honest, modest, brave and skillful.”
Lea approached Lee more than once, setting forth the vast advantages of the Mexican venture. But Lee refused with his usual courtesy and restraint. He wrote Lea on March 1 that he had recently received three letters from him, all in the same mail, and added, “I feel that I owe to your kindness rather than to my merit, your recommendations to Governor Houston.” He said that he had first become acquainted with Houston while he was a cadet at West Point. Houston had been president of the board of visitors one year and had made an impression on him that had not been effaced during the many years since. “I have followed with interest his career,” he continued, “and have admired his manly qualities and conservative principles. His last position in favour of the Constitution and Union elicits my cordial approbation.”
But he was still firm in his refusal to take a part in filibustering. “Should military force be required to quiet our Mexican frontier,” he said, “I have no doubt that arrangements will be made to maintain the rights and peace of Texas, and, I hope, in conformity to the Constitution and laws of the country. It will give me great pleasure to do all in my power to support both.” Nor would he go to Aransas Bay to appraise its port facilities, at Lea's suggestion; he was sufficiently aware of its advantages without a personal inspection. In closing, he promised that Lea could rely upon his “not mentioning the plans, preparations or views of the Comps. [railroad promoters] until disclosed by themselves.”
Lea evidently regarded this as a dismissal, but he did not abandon his plan. He forwarded Lee's letter to Houston under a note marked “Private,” ingratiatingly suggesting: “Although it is plain from his [Lee's] allusion to the ‘Constitution and the laws’ that he would not participate in any movement upon Mexico not expressly sanctioned by the Government, yet his expressions towards yourself are so justly complimentary that I thought that you would be glad to see them, coming as they do from a man of high intelligence and sincerity. You see, indeed, that they were designed for no eye but mine.” Then reverting to his more immediate interest, he complained: “So Mr. Buchanan violated his repeated promise to have the rights of the Rio G. Mex. and Pac. R. R. Co. guaranteed in the Mexican Treaty and got his treaty defeated thereby in the Senate. I send you a map showing the proposed ‘central transit,’ and a copy of my brother's memorial to the Senate.”
No doubt Houston was disappointed. A Mexican protectorate had become a fixed ambition. Perhaps he had dreamed of the day when he would be elected President of the United States on the strength of it. Then he could send Lee, the eminent military genius, to take control of his newly won domain south of the Rio Grande. But Lee would not approve his plan. Houston was too old, and civil war clouds loomed too ominously for him to recast it. Throughout all his planning, he seemed to have no thought of Mexican oppression. He believed that the Mexican people would welcome an end to their exploitation by military cliques and that a firm, progressive government would bring prosperity to the country.
Cortinas's antics along the Rio Grande caused Lee to forget the filibustering proposal. Juan Nepomuceno Cortinas had long caused trouble. He was a ranchero, at one time claiming to be an American and at another a Mexican citizen. Walter Prescott Webb says that he “was the black sheep of his mother's otherwise commendable flock. Though his brothers and sisters were cultured and educated, Juan was impervious to all good influences. He successfully resisted education, did not learn to read, and only learned to sign his name after he became governor of Tamaulipas.”[note 1] When Lee had been with Wool on the Rio Grande, Cortinas had been a soldier in General Arista's army. And in the years since then he had been noted as a lawless, desperate man. In 1850 he had been indicted at Brownsville for murder, and the sheriff's attempt to arrest him caused him to hide out until the witnesses were gone. After four years he had again appeared, but no effort had been made to arrest him until 1859, when he was charged with horse stealing. Once more he became a Jean Valjean, a fugitive from justice, whose Javert, repeatedly seeking his arrest, was Adolphus Glavaecke. Knowing that he was a marked man, when he showed up on Brownsville's streets, he was accompanied by his henchmen, who made it dangerous for an officer of the law to attempt his arrest. His principal business was dealing in stock, purchasing or stealing, as was most convenient. He was a great hero among the Mexican peones, and, since he controlled many votes, he was courted by politicians at election time.
A few miles out of Brownsville was his rancho, San José, to which he would retire when officers sought to arrest him. Here he would surround himself with desperate outlaws and could very well defy peace officers. On July 13, 1859, he went to Brownsville with some of his gang. The city marshal, Robert Shears, arrested one of them for abusing a coffeehouse keeper. Cortinas interfered and fired twice at the marshal, the second shot wounding him in the shoulder. He then quickly mounted his horse, took the prisoner up behind him, and rode away with his men, defying the authorities to arrest him. In Matamoros he was treated as a hero and defender of Mexican rights.
Brownsville, Texas, about 1857
From a contemporary engraving
This defiance of authority aroused Brownsville. The sheriff organized a posse to go after Cortinas, but when he learned that Cortinas had a stronger force, he disbanded his men. The news of this action was quickly relayed to the outlaw by sympathetic friends, and other Mexicans enlisted in his cause.
Major S. P. Heintzelman of the First Infantry, while at Brownsville a short time later, reported to Lee that Cortinas had held a captain's commission in the Mexican Army. He had been a lieutenant under General Guadalupe García, but had been detected selling government horses and had been dismissed. Later, with fifty men, he had sought to re-enlist, but García declined his offer.
Heintzelman also wrote Lee that Cortinas probably held a commission in the customhouse or maritime guards, and using it as a pretext, had recruited men and purchased arms. The bandit's first cousin, Don Miguel Tijerina, on September 28, had told friends in Brownsville that Cortinas “was a desperate, contrary fellow. When every one thought that he had started for the interior he turned up suddenly in Brownsville.” Heintzelman heard that he had returned to kill all his enemies that he could catch, and then go into hiding.
This was just about what had happened. Before daylight, on September 28, 1859, Cortinas had entered Brownsville with a body of mounted men, estimated at from forty to eighty, leaving two small parties of foot-men near the outskirts of town. The Brownsville residents had been awakened by the firing of guns and cries of “Viva Cheno Cortinas!” “Mueran los gringos!” “Viva Mexico!” Soon Cortinas held the city, with sentinels at the street corners and armed men riding about. He loudly threatened to kill all Americans but assured Mexicans and foreigners that they would not be harmed.
Lee was told that Cortinas had taken over Fort Brown, which had only recently been abandoned by United States troops. A part of his men had sought to break in the door of the powder magazine without success, while others rode through the streets hunting their enemies. Some of them had stormed the jail, freed its prisoners, knocked off their shackles, and invited them to join the raid. In doing so, they had killed Jailer Johnson (who killed one of his assailants before he fell), Constable George Morris, a young man named Neale, and a Mexican; but they were more intent on seeking Glavaecke and Shears.
During the fighting, Cortinas had ridden up to a store near the river front and asked for spirits of turpentine. He had been seen by watchers from across the river. A few minutes later, General Caravajál had come to the levee with the expressed intention of stopping “all this”; and, seeing Tijerina, who commanded the Mexican cavalry, he had ordered him to cross over to his side of the river instantly. This he had done, on horseback, accompanied by Agopita Longoría. Caravajál then had sent for Cortinas and after a talk persuaded him to withdraw his men, numbering about fifty, to his mother's Santa Rita Rancho, about six miles west of town.
Meanwhile Anglo-Americans had sent out frantic appeals for help, both to state and federal officials. One of these, Collector of Customs Francis W. Larharn, of the District of Brazos de Santiago, had written an urgent letter to General D. E. Twiggs, while he was commander of the Department of Texas. “Last night a crowd of banditti of men, numbering fifty, entered this town, and committed the most inhuman and cold-blooded murders on the persons of three American citizens and one of Mexican origin,” he began. He said that early the following morning Brownsville had asked for Mexican troops from Matamoros to protect them and that they had marched up to the river bank, ready to answer any emergency call. In fact, they later crossed the river and helped to protect the terror-stricken Anglo-Americans, who seemingly saw no irregularity in Mexican troops' protecting Americans against Mexicans on American soil! “Finally,” said Larharn, “a truce was made until night, when the aforesaid Mexican gentlemen, Don Macedonio Capistran, Don Agopita Longoría, and Don Miguel Tijerina, myself accompanying them, went to their camp, about eight miles above this town, and, after persuasion, induced the crowd to disperse.”
Cortinas did not rob the town, as he might well have done. He seemed only intent on finding and killing his enemies. But some of his men who were less inhibited, seized whatever liquor they could find.
From the Santa Rita Rancho, two days later, Cortinas had issued a proclamation, bidding defiance to the law, assuming protection of downtrodden Mexicans, and accusing Anglo lawyers of despoiling them of their lands, a charge that had at least some foundation. This, of course, elevated him to a lofty perch in the eyes of hero-worshiping Mexicans; and there was a general belief among them that Cortinas would drive the hated, oppressive gringos north of the Nueces.
At the same time this was a challenge that the Texans could not afford to ignore. The sheriff, with a posse, started up the river to visit the rancho and to reconnoiter its vicinity. While moving forward, his party captured Tomas Cabrera, Cortinas's second in command. When Cortinas, who was in Matamoros, heard of this, he demanded that the Brownsville citizens release Cabrera immediately or he would “lay the town in ashes.” But the town authorities informed the message-bearer that Cabrera was in custody of the sheriff and would be dealt with by Texas law.
A few hours later Captain W. G. Tobin and a company of Texas Rangers arrived in Brownsville. These state troopers were certainly not up to the standard of the average rangers and respected law and order but little better than the Mexican outlaws, for on the night following their coming, either Cabrera was hanged by them, or they did not try to prevent others from committing the outrage.
During the same night Cortinas recrossed the river and took up his old quarters at his mother's rancho, collecting men and arms to carry out his threats. A few hours later his men appeared on the outskirts of Brownsville but found its citizens so heavily armed that they soon withdrew. Under the lead of W. B. Thompson, the Brownsville Tigers had been formed and were joined by Mexican militia under Colonel Loranco of Matamoros—a total force of about sixty men. This joint “army,— with two cannon, moved out toward the Santa Rita Rancho on the morning of October 22, 1859, but Cortinas's men sent them flying back to Brownsville and captured their artillery. The Anglos may have been braver men than the Mexicans. If so, they wished to conserve their strength, for they beat their Mexican allies back to town by several hundred yards!
Now in possession of two fieldpieces, Cortinas could prove his military prowess. He could not only parade his men but also his cannon before admiring followers. After this he robbed and plundered at will, stopped the mail riders between Brownsville and Point Isabel, captured and cut open the mailbags and had the letters read to him. “Once,” Heintzelman wrote Lee, “he sent in the letters opened, with a note apologizing to the postmaster, ‘as it was a matter of necessity for him to know what steps were taken against him.’ By this means he knew more of what was going on outside of Brownsville than its citizens.” He had known, for instance, when Tobin's rangers were expected to arrive in Brownsville and had set a trap for them, but they came to town by another road and were unmolested.
After the arrival of Tobin's rangers other recruits joined in Brownsville's defense, until a force of about 250 men had assembled. Then under Tobin's command they moved out a second time toward Cortinas's position a short distance above town but retreated just as quickly as their predecessors. These failures only made the raider's position stronger, and adventurous Mexicans continued to join him. Santos Cadena, with forty men from Agua Leguas, arrived a short time after Tobin's defeat. They stayed until they had loaded themselves with plunder and then recrossed the Rio Grande to Mexico. Other recruits were convicts who had broken jail at Victoria, Tamaulipas.
It was at this juncture that United States troops came to Brownsville to take a hand in the affair. Cortinas had reached the high tide of his success. On December 5, 1859, Major Heintzelman, with 117 men, occupied Fort Brown and nine days later left Brownsville with his men and 120 others, including Tobin's rangers, to go after Cortinas. He found the Mexicans entrenched at La Ebronal and drove them from the field, killing eight Mexicans and losing one ranger and two of his regulars wounded. Then Major John S. Ford, with fifty-three additional rangers, joined the hunt for Cortinas and defeated him in a second battle at Rio Grande City on December 26. The Austin Gazette of January 14, 1860, reported that Ford had led his men in a mad charge, shouting “You d—d sons of b—s, we have got you!— Evidently the Mexicans thought so, too, for they fled panic stricken. Later, Cortinas placed his men at La Bolsa Bend on the Rio Grande to capture the steamer, Ranchero, known to be laden with a cargo valued at $300,000. But his move was anticipated by Heintzelman's and Ford's troops, and he was again defeated after a desperate battle, in which he lost twenty-nine killed and forty wounded.
After this fight Cortinas became a will-o'-the-wisp. The wings of fright and rumor had him at one place one day and at another, distant point the next. By the time Lee returned to San Antonio, in February, 1860, the whole of the Rio Grande Valley was seething with excitement. Lee listened with patience to repeated rumors and calls for help and, when they increased in volume, decided to visit the disturbed area. He wrote Mrs. Lee, referring to the raider as “that myth Cortinas,” but expressing a determination to bring his depredations to an end.
Lee employed two former soldiers to serve him on the journey. They were unskilled as servants but were the best that he could hire. “Their skill in cooking,” he wrote, “consists in making coffee, boiling rice and beans and frying ham or any fresh meat you may procure—that is, all you caught in the field, and with that I am content.”
Accompanied by one company of cavalry, on March 15 Lee started for the Rio Grande. On his second day out, he received word that Cortinas was near Eagle Pass. Quickly he changed his course to meet this new threat. On his way to the Rio Grande, he overtook or passed only Mexicans driving their oxen, and he saw on the plains “a few mustangs, rattlesnakes, deer, antelopes, and one turkey.” He said that he did not find one running stream and that grass along the road was poor. This was much the same experience that had had on his earlier trip to the Rio Grande, but he was soon to be faced with a problem far more difficult and complicated than any he had yet met in Texas