The Republic of the Rio Grande brought lawless period, bandits and Indians dominated area

While the state of Tamaulipas continued to make grants in the area claimed by the new Republic of Texas, a new uncertainty exploded unto the scene. General Antonio Canales and Antonio Zapata launched a revolt against the Central government in Mexico and declared the Republic of the Rio Grande as a new and independent nation.

Canales, who had threatened rancheros in the trans Nueces with treason if they remained in the region, was now cozying up to the Texians with whom he shared Federalist tendencies. Throughout most of 1840, Federalist leaders engaged in open revolt against Mexico and much of their military maneuvers took place in the brush country of South Texas.

Their ranks swelled to a 1,000-member Army that was bivouacked in Lipantitlan and San Patricio. This prompted the Central government to send mounted troops to police the area north of the Rio Grande as far as the Nueces. This then prompted Texas President Mirabeau B. Lamar to also send troops into the area. Some 400 volunteers from Texas mustered at Rincon del Oso near Goliad for a planned march to Matamoros.

While Canales and his new Republic of the Rio Grande was short-lived, it brought disorder into the region once again. Any kind of law disappeared and lawless men moved to fill the void. Agatón Quiñones, a notorious bandit was operating in the area unchecked. In September 1841, he raided the town of Refugio taking men as hostages while “tied to the to tails of the Mexicans’ horses.” Quiñones took his prisoners to Laredo, no doubt crossing through Duval County where landowners would have observed his merciless tactics.

While many saw Quiñones as a bandit, the Central government in Mexico City used him to maintain a hold on the area. In February 1842, Lt. Col. Ramón Valera crossed the Rio Grande on his way to the Nueces with 120 soldiers and 12 officers. Quiñones joined up with them with another 50 men. After reaching the Corpus Christi ranch, the small army began their return to the Rio Grande but was attacked by a band of Lipan, Tarancahua, and Mescalero Indians.

The Indian menace was also very prevalent during this time of lawlessness. In 1843, Capt. Rafael Alderete in charge of a Mexican ranging company encountered a group of Carancahua camped about 50 miles southwest of Corpus Christi putting them in the vicinity of San Diego and Duval County. Alderete ordered an assault and quickly routed the Indians.