On his way to Mexico, Lee wrote to his wife while in San Antonio. “I reached here last night, my dear Mary after a journey of six days from Port Sarassa. The first day of consequence of the intolerable heat through the prairie. We could make but 12 miles where we encamped by a diminutive inlet that furnished some water,enough for our horses and selves, of a hot and inferior quality. I have got such a taste of prairie flies that I determined to travel by night as long as I was in this region and started the morning before 4 a.m.”
Lee was nearing forty, was still a captain and after 21 years of serving int he US Army he had not yet heard a shot fired in anger. He was gratified to be close to real service at last. Even though his first task was to round up the picks and shovels and other pioneering tools that his labor force would need. Not an easy thing to do in a then impoverished land where even the most basic, simple tools were a rare thing.
San Antonio was a small town then, with a population of 2,000 and most of them Mexicans now inundated by the 3,400 US Army soldiers who were currently camped there. Lee visited the Alamo, which still showed the damage from it’s famous twenty day siege and spent his rare time off duty “bathing int he clear and rapid water of the San Antonio River”. To which he went “very early or late so as note to be interrupted by the senoras and senoritas.” Lee much admired the landscape but found the Mexicans ” an amiable people… primitive in their habits and tastes.”