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and banditti of that country. Opposite, on the banks of the Salado, and four miles from the Rio Bravo, is the town of Guerrero. The Salado, like the San Juan, and the Alamo which comes in at Mier, is a clear stream, having its rise in the sierras of igneous and metamorphic rock to the west, and forms a true oasis in the wilderness of rotten limestone which is found on either side of the lower Rio Bravo, and which causes the waters of most of its tributaries to be brackish and unwholesome.
The falls of the Salado are seven miles above its junction with the Rio Bravo. A floral phenomenon exhibits itself on the Rio Bravo, which finds its explanation at these falls. Just above Roma, and thence to the mouth of the Salado, the cypress is found growing in the bed of the Rio Bravo, and it was a matter of conjecture why it should grow there and not elsewhere. On ascending the Salado to the falls, it was ascertained the principal growth on that river was cypress, and the trees in the Rio Bravo were evidently emigrants from this colony. It is to be hoped that this useful tree will continue its emigration downwards, where the country is now destitute of all building wood.
The land from Bellville to Loredo is not altogether barren; there are many flats on which the water of the river could be brought for the purposes of irrigation ; but, until recently, the Indians have had entire possession of the country, and now they make continual forays, crossing and recrossing the river to elude pursuit, at some of the many fords which occur in the river. I was myself very near falling into the hands of a party of these savages. Passing in a wagon from Bellville to Ringgold Barracks, in one of our excursions to determine the astronomical position of the former place, accompanied only by assistant Clark and the driver of the instrument wagon, we struck the trail of a band of Indians, where two roads united, so close that the dust was still flying. We supposed at the time we were following on the heels of a gang of wild mustangs going to water. These Indians were pursued by Captain Granger of the rifles, and brought to bay just as they were crossing the river and making good their escape to Mexico. That energetic officer succeeded in killing the chief and several others, and capturing all their horses and arms.
In many instances, along this portion of the river, American capital has associated with it Mexican labor, in the attempt to open farms for the produce of grain and the rearing stock, but the incursions of the wild Indians, and the depredations of the semi-civilized and half-breed Indians, render such enterprises uncertain and unprofitable. After we ascend about thirty miles above Loredo, all settlements on the Texas side cease until we get in the immediate neighborhood of Eagle Pass.
. At Loredo there is a very considerable Mexican settlement, which dates back to the times when the Spaniards occupied the country. It has at present fallen into decay, and derives its support principally from the United States garrison, (Fort McIntosh,) one mile above the town. Loredo was once the residence of proprietors of countless horses and cattle, which have been run off by the Indians. Some of them, escaping from their captors, have formed the source of the numerous herds of wild horses and cattle that are now roaming the prairies to the east and north, the pursuit of which affords the chief occupation of many of the inhabitants of the Rio Bravo.
The country around Loredo is much the same as that described about Ringgold Barracks, but is more elevated and more frequently intersected by dry arroyos, which give evidence of more frequent and copious falls of rain.
Here, too, the geological character of the country is a little changed by the frequent occur
rence of strata of compact blue limestone, useful in building. The public buildings at Fort Duncan (Eagle Pass) are of this material. Other strata also alternate with the main stratum of cretaceous sandstone, composed of blue clay, more or less hard, and marls of various colors, and oyster breccia of solid consistence. In the neighborhood of the arroyo. Sombreretillo, ten or fifteen miles above Loredo, three miles below Eagle Pass, and also at Eagle Pass, strata of lignite coal occur three or four feet thick. This coal is of great prospective value, considering the scarcity of wood in this country, and the probable demand for fuel when the rich silver mines of the mountains to the south are in full operation,
Between Loredo and Eagle Pass, or Fort Duncan, a distance of 120 miles, measured by the sinuosities of the river, the river, its banks and adjacent country, retain very much the same character; the obstructions in the bed of the river become more rocky, and the fall more precipitous. At one place, called the falls of Rio Grande, or the Islitas, the rapids are impassable, even in small boats, except in the summer months, when the river is swollen by the tropical rains which fall on the mountains to the south and west. These falls, or more properly rapids, are forty miles below Eagle Pass; just above, the old Mexican trail crosses by which the army under General Wöll invaded Texas in the war of Independence; and is the same by which the column of United States troops under General Wool invaded Mexico; to effect a junction with General Taylor, in the war of 1846.
Fort Duncan, five hundred miles from the Guif, measured by the sinuosities of the river, is only 208 miles measured in a direct line. It is the westernmost of the military posts placed at intervals along the lower Rio Bravo. The town of Eagle Pass adjoins the fort, and is a place of some trade, having a few large warehouses, built of the bluestone obtained in the neighborhood. Opposite is the military colony of the Mexicans, called Piedras Negras (black rocks,) after the coal layers which crop out here. The view of this military colony here presented is not strictly true. The artist has taken the liberty of placing on the houses roofs of carpentry work. The houses are, in truth, only jacals; that is to say, poles placed vertically, with the interstices stopped with mud, and the tops covered in by thatched roofs. The garrison on the Mexican side, below this place, is composed of regular troops. This military colony is an establishment peculiar to Mexico, and similar establishments are to be found at several points higher up the river. The idea attempted to be carried out is to combine colonization and military defence. Each soldier is allowed a certain quantity of land, and is permitted to live with his wife and children, and not required to live-in barracks. A certain quantity of land is cultivated for the benefit of the whole colony ; beyond the labor required for this, and military service of rather irregular character, the time of each soldier is his own, and he is permitted to cultivate as much land as he pleases.
Under the Spanish rule, prior to 1825, this system was combined with the missionary power of the Catholic Church; and all those Indians now running wild from the Gulf of Mexico to the Gulf of California were brought under the benign influence of the church ; and about the beginning of the present century had attained a state of semi-civilization which may truly be called the golden age of this, now, vast deserted country. Under the Spanish dominion, a cordon of military and ecclesiastical stations extended from sea to sea, over a distance of fifteen hundred miles. Military patrols passed regularly from station to station, and at each station great structures were erected for the accommodation of troops, for religious worship, and for the storing of provisions, the remains of which are still to be seen. Among them some of the most beautiful specimens of architecture on the American continent are still to be seen. The