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The Republic-Index


Santa Fé Expedition 1841-1842

Bennett Letter | Blackwell to Lamar | John Henry Brown | Capt. Mathew Caldwell | Falconer Account | Kendall Account | Lamar to Citizens | Lamar Address to Citizens | José Antonio Navarro

Letter from President M.B. Lamar to the People of Santa Fé, 14 Apr 1840.
Republic of Texas  Executive Department  Austin April 14, 1840. To the Citizens of Santa Fé, Friends, and Compatriots.  You have doubtless heard of the glorious Revolution by which the late Province of Texas has been emancipated from the thralldom of Mexican domination.  That revolution was forced upon us by circumstances too imperative to be resisted. The Anglo American population of Texas had left the comforts and the enlightened liberty of their own country, and had immigrated to this wilderness, under the most solemn guarantees of the Constitution of 1824. We had witnessed many disastrous civil commotions in the Government of Mexico, and greatly deplored the want of harmony and the frequent convulsions which distracted our adopted country.  But we still entertained an illusive hope that a dear bought experience---the lessons of many calamities---would exert harmonizing influence, and teach the authorities of Mexico that frequent political chances and domestic discords were destructive of the prosperity and character of a people, that Union and Stability were necessary to strength; and peace and harmony to happiness. 

These hopes, so long and patiently cherished, were finally dissolved forever, when the Federal Constitution under which we had migrated to the Country and identified our destiny with hers, was forcibly abrogated, and a military despotism reared in its stead. Texas then resolved to be free---to endure no longer the vicissitudes of a fickle and corrupt influence which controlled the powers of Mexico, subverting, all hopes of her greatness, and all our native aspirations for tranquility at home, and national respectability abroad.  Impelled by these high considerations which a benignant Providence has sanctioned by conferring in unexampled prosperity upon us, we have asserted and achieved our Independence, and have entered the great family of nations as a free and sovereign people. As such we have been formally recognized by the illustrious Governments of the United States, and by the ancient Monarchy of France, and other powers of Europe are ready to extend the right hand of Fellowship.  Our national resources are in a rapid progress of development; our population increasing by numerous accessions from Europe and the United States, and our commerce extending with a power and celerity seldom equalled in the history of nations.

Under these auspicious circumstances we tender to you a full participation in all our blessings.  The great River of the North, which you inhabit, is the natural and convenient boundary of our territory, and and we shall take great, pleasure in hailing you as fellow citizens, members of our young, Republic, and co-aspirants with us for all the glory of establishing, a new happy and free nation.  Our Constitution is is liberal as a rational and enlightened regard to human infirmities will safely permit. It confers equal politic privileges on all; tolerates all religions without distinction, and guarantees an even and impartial administration of the laws. This communication, I trust will be received by you and by your public authorities, in the same spirit of kindness and sincerity in which it is dictated.  And if nothing shall intervene to vary my present intention, I shall despatch in time for them to arrive in your section of the Country about the month of September proximo, one, or more Commissioners, gentlemen of worth and confidence, to explain more minutely the condition of our country; of the sea-board and the corelative interests which so emphatically recommend and ought perpetually to cement the perfect union and identity of Santa Fé and Texas. The Commissioners will be accompanied by a military escort for the purpose of repelling any hostile Indians that may infest the passage, and with the further view of ascertaining and and opening a safe and convenient route of communication between the two sections of Country which being strongly assimilated in interests, we hope to see united in friendships and consolidated under a common Government. Until the arrival of these Commissioners, I have empowered some of your own citizens, Capt W. G. Dryden, Mr. W. H. Workman, and Mr. Rowland (to who the views and feelings of this Government have been communicated) confer with you upon the subject matter of this communication.  Mirabeau B Lamar.

President M.B. Lamar Address to the People of Santa Fé 5 Jun 1841
Executive Department Austin City June 5th. 1841 To the Inhabitants of Santa Fé and of the other portion & of New Mexico, to the East of the Rio Grande  FELLOW CITIZENS Very early after assuming the duties of his official station, the present executive felt it to be his obligation to assert the Jurisdiction of the Government over the inhabited portion of the Republic; and to admit its remotest citizens to an equal participation of the blessings which have been acquired by our late glorious revolution, and made secure by a wise and liberal constitution. But various circumstances having conspired to delay the execution of his purpose until the present auspicious period, be now calls the attention of the people of Santa Fé to the deep interest which they have in the proposed policy, with an earnest hope that it will not only meet their cordial approbation, but that it will, when successfully carried out be attended with all the beneficial consequences which we so fondly anticipate and desire.

In accordance with this policy and from a sincere wish to promote your welfare the president addressed you a letter dated the 14th of April 1840 in which you were invited to more intimate Union and a political co-operation with the people of this section of the Republic, giving you at the same time every assurance that all the rights and protection guaranteed by our free institutions should be extended to you as fully as to any other of our fellow citizens. Your attention is again respectfully invited to the subject matter of that letter, (a copy of which is hereto annexed) and after a due consideration of the proposition it contains, if you should deem it to be your interest, as we think you will, to accede to the views of the government, you rest assured that all the pledges which it makes will be most faithfully fulfilled.

Knowing, that you have been long subjected to like injuries with those which impelled us to take up arms against the authorities of Mexico, we do not doubt but that you duly appreciate the spirit, that animated our patriots, and sympathized with them in the progress of our struggle in which you were not able to participate---as you probably desired to do---in consequence of your remote and isolated situation. That struggle was brief, bloody and decisive; and terminated in the total discomfiture and expulsion of our foe, and in the establishment of a free, happy, and independent, Republic, extending from the Sabine to the Rio del Norte, and from the Gulf to the Pacific; embracing, within its limits a vast and varied Country, unrivalled in beauty, salubrity, and fertility; and capable of sustaining a population as dense prosperous and powerful as any people on the earth. The boundaries which were thus marked by the sword, and which have been confirmed to us, by the recognition of the most enlightened and influential nations, it is the resolve of this Government, at all hazards to maintain the country has been won by our valor, and is consecrated to civil and religious liberty; and in no portion of it will the enemy who provoked our resentment and received our chastisement, ever be permitted to continue its authority or perpetuate its domination. Knowing such to be the feelings of our people, it is due to candor to apprise You of the fact and to let you know that the position which you now occupy towards this government is temporary only and will have to give way to a more enlarged and liberal policy. Although residing within our established limits you are at present paying tribute to our enemies, professing allegiance to them and receiving Laws from their hands a state of things utterly incompatible with our right of sovereignty, and which certainly cannot be permitted to be of long continuance. We do not use this language in any spirit of unkindness to you; and although it plain and unequivocal it proceeds from no design or desire on our part to extend the jurisdiction of government over the country you occupy in opposition to your wishes. Our purpose is simply to place before you the rights which we claim, and to admonish you of the change in your condition which the force or circumstances will inevitably bring about at no distant period, either with or without your consent; for no one can be, blind to the truth, who reflects a moment on the subject, that constituting as you do, a portion of the civilized population of this Republic, yon cannot upon any principles of justice, or consideration of policy be allowed to exist as a separate and independent people, but must be finally compelled to unite with us under the same constitution and laws, and share our destiny as an undivided Nation. That which you will have to do ultimately, we invite you to do now, not from any desire to promote our own interest at the sacrifice of yours, but for the exalted Purpose of diffusing the blessings of our institutions, and of giving to all who reside within our territory the freedom we enjoy. Actuated by this spirit of Philanthropy alone, we now throw wide the doors of the Temple which we have erected to Liberty, and ask you to enter as members of the same family.

And do you enquire, "what are the advantages to be gained by the change you propose?" Our answer is, "You will find them in the Constitution we present you." The distance which separates us, and other causes have prevented your acquiring all accurate knowledge of the character of our Institutions, and the entire protection our laws afford to all the just rights of the citizen; but on a careful perusal of the documents which we herewith send you, you will find that our views are as liberal as our principles are just, and that our Bill of Rights embraces a wide field or liberty, upon which the oppressed of all Nations can meet in peace and harmony. Perhaps no Government on earth combines freedom and security in a more eminent degree than that which we have established. It circumscribes the liberty of none; but leaves every individual to pursue happiness in his own way with no other restrictions on his conduct than such as are essential to the maintenance of justice and the preservation of the public morals. The only abridgment which our liberty knows is the restraint thrown upon vice, restraints which give no inconvenience to a virtuous community and are worn as garlands rather than as fetters. By a reference to our constitution, you will find that all power resides in, and emanates from, the people; that they have reserved to themselves the right of Peaceably assembling in any numbers for the purpose of discussing the affairs of the Nation; that they are unrestricted in the liberty of speaking, writing and publishing their opinions on all subjects, and can make such alterations and improvements of their Government, as experience and the progress of knowledge may suggest. Equal privileges are guaranteed to every individual; none can claim exclusive immunities; and the same protection is offered to all. No one can be punished, except by the verdict of his fellow citizens; nor can any one be taxed for file support of ecclesiastical establishments. The people are left free to worship God according to the dictates of their consciences, and the Government itself, being nothing more, than the executor of their will, it can impose no exactions without their consent or inflict any wrongs upon them which they cannot readily redress.

Such fellow citizens are the prominent features of a government which we offer to your acceptance in a spirit of kindness and which we would earnest1y pursude you to make a fair and just comparison of the advantages it offers with those which you now enjoy under the Mexican Authorities: we disclaim any disposition to dictate to you in the choice which you shall make between them, or to influence your understanding by any other means than by argument and reason. Knowing that men of correct principles and enlightened minds can acknowledge no force but the force of truth, we address you, not in the voice of our artillery but in the language of affection; and would gladly make it apparent to your minds, that the course which we advise you-to pursue although attended with mutual benefits, is designed for your good and cannot fail to conduct you to all individual and a national happiness which you never have enjoyed, and can never hope to do, so long as you continue your connection with a power which cherishes no respect for your rights, and holds no interest in common with You. And shurely when freedom and despotism are fairly laid before a brave and intelligent people, the cannot long hesitate which to choose. And this we apprehend is your present situation. You are called upon fellow citizens, to make your election between two governments, the very antithesis of each other; the one being based upon the affections of the people, and administered with a single eye to their good while the other, as you know from experience, is founded in corruption, sustained by fraud and force, and is wielded for the cupidity of those in authority, without the slightest reference whatever to the interests of the Governed. Which of the two will you select? Will you shelter yourselves under the broad banner of the Single Star, which sheds luster where ever it floats, and lights the brave to victory and glory; or will you prefer still to cling to the unsightly Cactus which gives you no sustenance but thorns you as you embrace it. If you choose the latter, then is your deplorable condition too justly represented in your National emblem; for what can we esteem you but the unfortunate reptile that writhes in the beak of your voracious bird?

We cannot believe that you will be influenced in your deliberations by an lingering attachment to the Mexican Authorities. What claim can the Government of Mexico possibly have upon your affections? She has certainly never sought to elicit your confidence and gratitude by fostering your interests, protecting your persons, or opening to you any of the sourses of useful knowledge; but on the contrary, has she not despoiled you of your property, exposed you unarmed to the savages, stripped you of almost every vestige of civil and political liberty, shut you out from the career of honorable ambition, and erected every possible impediment to your advancement in character and power? Indeed it seems to have been her particular policy to destroy your manly energies and degrade you in your own estimation, to keep you blind, that you might not assert your rights, and weak that you might not resist your wrongs; and to allow you only latitude enough to accumulate wrath by your industry, that she might wrest it from to gratify her insatiate rapacity. Such has been and is still her conduct towards you, and such it ever will be so long you give your allegiance to her or permit her to exercise dominion over you. She has weighed like an incubus upon your faculties and your brightest hopes and most pleasing prospects have all perished beneath her baleful influence, as the spring flowers wither in the shades of the Upas. You never have received and need not expect from her any of the tenderness of maternal regard for she is an unnatural parent, a monstrous mother who turns with a phrenzied appetite to prey upon her offspring! She is even more cruel than the blood sucking vampier! for it drains its arteries; but the Government of Mexico still more obdurate offers no soothing to her prey, but seem as much delighted with the torture she inflicts as the blood she drinks. Has she not made you the slaves of her slaves? And are you not now the tributary vassals of the voracious plunderers whom she has ordained to rule over you; governed by laws which you have no voice in enacting; and impoverished by the most unrighteous exactions, extorted for the aggrandizement of those who give you no thanks for the bounty and feel no commisseration for your sufferings? and now fellow citizens I would ask you is it possible that a virtuous and chivalrous people can receive these indignities and outrages and feel no resentment ? Have the citizens of Santa Fé been so bowed down and disunited by their long continued and accumulated wrongs, that they have lost all sense of shame, and deem it their duty to repay oppression and insult, with fealty and affection? We cannoi think it; we will not believe:for it is not the nature of man to be enamored by degradation, and Spainial like to lick the foot that spurns him.

In this matter, fellow citizens, we sincerely hope that you will take no counsel of your fears. When tyranny lords it over the land, and the liberties of tile people are trampled in the dust, it is no time to shrink from danger, or to think of consequences. It becomes the duty of every individual to draw his sword and vindicate his rights, or give his life to vengeance. And if you, fellow citizens, have any desire to break the manacles that despotism has rivited upon you; and unite with us in the enjoyment of that freedom which our valor has established, You too may have to draw the sword as we have done, and trust the issue to the God of justice. We are ready to unite with you in the contest, and make the destiny a common one, and if it be will of HIM who, decides the fate of Nations that we should seal our devotions to the cause of liberty with the blood of Martyrdom---be it so---We are prepared for the sacrafice; for it is better to die like heroes than to live like slaves. But we will never go down in darkness. Each faithful sabre glowing with the wrath, and brightening with the fame of its wearer will throw upon the pathway to death a gleam of its burning fires and lightnings. And who would not rather march to the grave by the light of his sword than sigh out a degraded existence in the darkness of slavery? The recreant minion of power may wear his masters collar as a lady does her lovers wreath of roses; and he may clank his chains and dance delighted to the music that they make; but the free born patriot, who is conscious of the nobility of his nature will never acknowledge any master but God, and will wear no bonds but death.

After all, however, it is due to you, to ourselves, and to the sacred cause in which we are engaged to state unreservedly that the propriety of the step which we advise you to take must depend entirely upon the moral condition of your population, and the degree of patriotic sentiment that prevails amongst you and of this you must be yourselves the judges. If with one accord, you all detest oppression above any earthly bane, and unanimously regard liberty as the mot precious gift which heaven has bestowed on man; and fell that you are capable of drawing a fearless weapon against the things you hate, and for the things you love then we can have no possible misgiving as to the propriety of the course we recommend, or any distrust of the beneficial consequences that will flow from it. But on the other hand, if it should turn out, in opposition to the high confidence which we have in your firmness and patriotism, that you are an effeminate people who would rather surrender a right than encounter the danger of defending it; or that you have indeed worn the chains of tyranny so long that the flesh and the heart have become assified and calous, and can no longer fester with the iron and the shame of slavery, then do we feel constrained to say, that you are not only unworthy the blessings of liberty but that you are incapable of either achieving or enjoying them; and that the Union to which you are invited could be neither profitable to you nor to us; for it would be an Union of uncongenial elements like the linking of the living to the dead.

But the latter is not our appreciation. The estimate in which you are held by this Government, may be known by the overtures she makes you. And surely you can desire no higher testimony of our entire confidence in your valor and your virtue, than the fact that we are willing to share our fortunes with you. We have been told by those who have long residded among you, that you are a brave an industrious and an honest people---simple in your manners, generous in temper, and inflexible in your principles; and it is precisely on this opinion of your worth that we predicate our friendship for you and are ready to receive you in a common government. A proposition which we could certainly never think of making to a people whose integrity and chivalry we had any reason to suspect. And here we will take the liberty of remarking, in vindication of our own National character, that the North Americans are not now, and never have been prejudiced and embittered against the Mexican people there recent and most righteous resentments have been directed exclusively against the pointed power which has misguided that Nation; and have never extended to the citizens themselves. In proof of this we could furnish abundant testimony, if time would permit, in the history of the past and the present. That the Mexicans have found a friend in the American people, at a time when they needed friends, will be seen in the spirit stirring times of the Mexican Revolution, when five hundred of that gallant race slew five thousand of the foe. And that we who are a portion of the same people, have not subsequently been animated by any improper passions towards them is strongly confirmed by the mild spirit of benevolence and humanity which has guided us in our late revolutionary struggle, under the strongest possible provocations to vindictive retaliation.

The Battles at La Bahia, and those of the Salado, the Alisan, and Medina, will stand as enduring monuments, not only of the valor of the American people, but of their devotion to Mexican liberty; while the magnanimous forbearance of our heroes and patriots at San Jacinto, when contrasted with the cold blooded butcheries of the Alimo and Goliad, will live in the applauding memory of man as long as a vestige of virtue remains to appreciate exalted conduct. And now in the full recollection of the ingratitude of Mexico for the assistance afforded her in 1812 and 1813 and of the atrocities committed by her Army in the campaign of 1836 why do we not devastate the Mexican coast from Metamoras to Campeachy; and send our destroying forces to sweep like a desolating whirlwind over the valley of the Rio Grande? We have a Navy that can lay in ruins every city on the Gulf; and we have stout hearts and sharp swords that could make a war upon our western boundar would make the border river roll like a flood of fire. And why do we not do these things? simply because we have no disposition, simply because we have no disposition to despoil the property or shed the blood of an unoffending people, quietly engaged in the peaceful pursuits of private life; for it is not against them we war but against the unhallowed dynasty that rules the nation with a rod of iron and walks alike over the liberties of man and laws of God.

Behold that dynasty, even now, trampling on every principle of freedom, humanity and Justice---destroying all tranquility and order---dethroning the supremacy of the laws---gathering taxes by the sword filling the nation with robbers, and giving to the injured and exposed no redress or protection---and then becoming alarmed at the consequences, behold them stripping the people of their arms, and turning upon them with merciless violence to silence their complaints or quell the resistance which such oppression could not fail to provoke. People of Santa Fé, do you not feel and see these things ? And how do you expect to escape from them? do not flatter yourselves with the delusive hope that you will soon be relieved from the grasp of despotism by the final triumph of liberty in Mexico. This can never happen there is no redeeming spirit in that country to save her from the anarchy and ruin to which the vices of her rulers have doomed her. The sanguinary strife which is now going on, and which has been bloodying the land for the last few years, like all the proceeding, struggles is nothing, more than an unhallowed contention between ambitious aspirants, who are seeking their own elevation only and are animated by no other feelings than the love of rapine and murder. It matters not which succeeds, whether the Federal or the Central party, the consequences will be the same---the plundering of the people, and tho defilement of the nation. Mexico has now existed more than twenty years as an independent nation, and during that period, what has been her history? It has been one of slaughter, desolation and depravity instead of assuming as she was capable of doing an honorable rank among the civilized nations, she plunged, from the very hour of her emancipation, into civil broils of the most ferocious character; and has been doing the work of destruction and death, upon her own people from the days of Iterbide, down to the present period. The only cessation from blood, has been the necessary pauses for refitting the veins of the victims. Wearied and disheartened at these interminable strifes and equally deploring the universal infamy which they have brought upon the character of the country, the genuine patriots of the land are now looking to the establishment of a regulated despotism, as the only escape from the all horrible reign of faction, whose spirit has so long directed the destinies of the country, and which still presides like a demon monarch enthroned upon the liberties of the people, with the sword for his minister and his motto---"havoc and spoils, and ruin are my gain."

Slight not, then, fellow citizens, the overtures which Texas now makes to you, you are not invited to amalgamate with a Nation of doubtful stability or declining fortunes; but on the contrary, to unite with a well organized and energetic Government which posses the willingness and the ability to vindicate its right---and protect its citizens. You are not called upon to make a. change of masters, but to become, freemen; and by identifying yourselves with an invincible people, to enter at once upon a brilliant career of national happiness and glory. Wherever Texas has planted her banner, her foes have disappeared---order has arisen; villages have sprung up, and the wilderness has waved with luxurient fields. And now in the pride of her strength and the fullness of prosperity---knowing no wants; feeling no feebleness and fearing no perils, she offers to receive you into her bosom, and share with you her affections, her hopes, her fortunes; in a word she invokes you to withdraw from the domination of corruption and injustice, and uniting with her under the same Government, to climb together that lofty eminence to which she is rapidly ascending.

Believing that you are the friends of liberty, and will duly appreciate the motives by which we are actuated, we have appointed commissioners to make known to you in a distinct and definite manner, the general desire of the citizens of this Republic to receive the people of Santa Fé, as a portion of the national family, and to give to them all the protection which they themselves enjoy. This union, however, to make it agreeable to this Government, must be altogether voluntary on your part; and based on mutual interest, confidence and affection. Should you, therefore, in view of the whole matter be willing to avail yourselves of this opportunity to secure your own prosperity, as well as that of your descendents, by a prompt, cheerful and unanimous adherence to the Government of this republic we invite you to a full and unreserved intercourse and communication with our commissioners, who are instructed to extend to you every assistance and co-operation to effectuate the object desired; and, at the same time, to assure you that your religion will in no wise be interfered with by this Government. The only change we desire to effect in your affairs, is such as we wrought in our own when we broke our fetters and established our freedom; a.change which was well worth the price we paid; and the blessings of which we are ready now to extend to you at the sacrafice of our own lives and fortunes, if you are ready to receive them; and if not we have ordered our commissioners, not to interrupt you in any of your rights, nor to disturb your tranquility, but to establish with you, if possible such commercial relations as you may deem conducive to your own interests and then peacibly retire from your city. MIRABEAU B. LAMAR

Thomas Blackwell to Pres. M.B. Lamar 23 Jul 1841
Brazoria 23 July 1841 M. B. Lamar, Dear Sir,  I received a letter a few days ago from Win. G. Dryden, be was in Santa Fé when be wrote, he stated he had writen to you, but requested me to write to you, as you might not get his letter, and inform you that all was right in Santa Fé; he said he had conversed with the Govenor of Santa Fé, and that he as well as the people were willing that Texas might establish her law and hold her Government over that country, to use his words "all is right then for a project of that Kind."  One other piece of information of his is that the Comanches have gon[e] North to make a treaty with the northern tribes, and those that attempt to make the trip to Santa Fé will be in no danger from them, this is fortunate for those that have started; be speeks highly of the country, and its prosperous condition as well as the advantages that might result to Texas by such a union; his letter was dated the 10 March 1841; he got to Santa Fé in September last. I write you this, that if you should not have received the letter be wrote to you, that you may know tbe kind of reseption the party you have dispached to that country will meet with on their arrival.  Yours respectfully &c Thomas Blackwell

The Santa Fé Expedition
From The History of Texas by John Henry Brown

During this session of Congress [Fifth Congress of the Republic, 1841 in which the value of currency and trade was a major issue] President Lamar very earnestly recommended an appropriation and the adoption of measures, peaceful and commercial, to extend the jurisdiction of Texas over Santa Fé and so much of New Mexico as lay east of the Rio Grande. This was a part of Texas as, defined by the law of 1836, fixing her boundaries as previously advocated by General Houston, and embraced a considerable population, isolated by twelve hundred miles from the Mexican capital and by four hundred miles, partly across a desert, from El Paso del Norte, the nearest settlement of any consequence in the direction of the capital. Santa Fé, ever since 1823, had afforded a rich Mexican trade, through caravans of wagons making annual trips, from St. Louis, Missouri traders receiving gold and silver in return for their goods. This trade if diverted to Texas it was thought would supply the precious metals, relieve the financial embarrassments of the country, and speedily lead to a line of posts through the Indian country, thereby diverting the hostile tribes from the Texas frontier. New Mexico, in her isolation, was largely independent of Mexico, and was ruled with despotic severity by a few families, who successively furnished the governors and other functionaries and consumed the substance of the people. Two or three American residents of that place visited President Lamar in the spring of 1840, urged a measure of this kind and furnished evidence showing that it would be hailed by the mass of the people as a deliverance from a grievous thraldom.

Looking over the field in all its aspects and taking into consideration the deplorable financial condition of Texas, it was certainly an alluring proposition. Congress failed to provide for the expedition. The President, however, had become so persuaded of its wisdom and utility that he resolved to undertake its execution upon his own responsibility. Early in the spring he began the necessary preparation. Commercial men were invited to join the proposed expedition with stocks of goods. A sufficient number of troops were to act as an escort to protect the party against Indians. Circulars and proclamations (printed in the Spanish language), assuring them that the expedition was peaceful, disclaiming all design of asserting jurisdiction by force and stating that the only wish entertained was to open peaceful trade-relations and give the New Mexicans an opportunity to live under the liberal laws of Texas, were to be taken along by three civil commissioners and distributed among the people. If they acquiesced, it was promised that only the general laws of Texas would be extended over New Mexico and that their local laws and customs should continue in force until altered by themselves. The commissioners were instructed to use no force unless to repel attack, and generally to act in accordance with the peace proclamation.

The expedition having been organized, left Brushy Creek fifteen miles north of Austin, on the 21st of June, 1841. The commander was Brevet Brigadier- General Hugh McLeod. The number of soldiers was 270, organized into companies, among the captains of which were Matthew Caldwell, the old veteran of Gonzales, Houghton, William P. Lewis, of the artillery, and others. The commissioners were, Don Jose Antonio Navarro, (a native of San Antonio), as true a man as was ever born on or trod the soil of Texas; Col. William G. Cooke, a man of experience, honor and courage; and Dr. Richard F. Brenham, as gallant a gentleman as was ever born on the soil of Kentucky. Their secretary was George Van Ness, a younger brother of the orator and legislator, Cornelius Van Ness, and a young man of great worth. There were a number of amateurs along, for the novelty and pleasure of the trip, among whom were George Wilkins Kendall, editor of the New Orleans Picayune, who afterwards published an admirable history of the expedition, and Frank, a son of General Leslie Coombes, of Lexington, Ky.

After innumerable hardships and much suffering---having traveled without the anticipated Lipan Indian guides---on the 11th of August, they thought themselves to be within about eighty miles of San Miguel, a frontier village on the Rio Pecos, east of Santa Fé. They had been almost constantly annoyed by parties of Indians seeking to kill their hunters, pickets and guards, and to steal their cattle (work oxen and beeves), and had become not only worn down with fatigue and watching, but were reduced to the necessity of eating, snails and lizards to prevent starvation. For want of proper guides they had traveled nearly three hundred miles farther than was necessary.  Thus situated, Messrs. Howland, Baker and Rosenberry, were dispatched to San Miguel in search of provisions and to ascertain in what spirit the expedition would be received by the New Mexicans. The main body wearily followed on over a broken country until the 10th of September, "devouring," says Mr. Kendall, "every tortoise and snake, every living, and creeping thing….with a rapacity that nothing but the direst hunger could induce." A few days afterwards their advance party met a small party of Mexican traders, who could give them no provisions and who told them they were still seventy or eighty miles from San Miguel; but that at Anton Chico, a nearer hamlet, they could procure mutton from flocks in that vicinity. Some of the Mexicans returned to those in the rear to guide them by a shorter route. The advance party continued on to the Rio Gallinas and found the flocks, where (says Kendall), "a scene of feasting ensued which beggars description."

On the next morning the advance party sent forward Capt. William P. Lewis, of the artillery (who understood the Spanish language), with Messrs. George Van Ness, Howard, Fitzgerald and Kendall. The bore a letter to the Alcalde, informing him of the approach of the party; that it was a commercial enterprise, peaceful in character, and that the mission of the gentlemen sent forward was to buy and send back provisions to the main body. They also carried numerous copies of President Lamar's proclamation, declaring the objects of the movement, and that, if the inhabitants of New Mexico did not desire peaceably to come under the jurisdiction and flag of Texas, the expedition would immediately return home. Lewis and party, on the 14th of September, left the Gallinas for San Miguel. The shepherds on the Gallinas had informed them that the country was in arms against them and that Howland, Baker and Rosenberry had been seized and imprisoned at Santa Fé. Strangely enough, the advance party failed to send this startling intelligence back to Gen. McLeod, with the main body. It was a suicidal omission of both duty and prudence. Mr. Howland attempted to escape from prison and convey the news to General McLeod, but was recaptured, and for this effort to save his country men, was shot in San Miguel, under the orders of Armijo, Governor of New Mexico.

On the afternoon of their departure, Lewis and party overtook two muleteers from whom they received confirmation of the imprisonment of Howland and party, and were advised of the intense excitement prevailing in the country, caused by Governor Armijo informing the people that it was the intention of the Texians to "burn, slay and destroy" as they marched. This information was sent back to the party on the Gallinas; but those in command of that body again failed to send it back to General McLeod. On the night of that day Lewis and party slept at Anton Chico, where they were informed that they would be arrested and shot next day. Still they proceeded toward San Miguel; but on the way were surrounded by a force under Salazar, dismounted and started on foot for San Miguel. From San Miguel they were hastened on toward Santa Fé, tied together in pairs and driven as cattle on the way to a slaughter house. About sunset they met Governor Armijo, in command of near six hundred men on the march to meet and attack the Texians. Armijo saluted them as friends and inquired who they were. The traitor, William P. Lewis, then gave the first evidence of his hitherto latent villainy. He replied to Armijo that they were merchants from the United States. The chivalrous young George Van Ness indignantly interposed, saying they were all Texians, excepting, Mr. Kendall, who was an editor from the United States, and who was acting on a trip of pleasure and observation. Armijo pointed to the star and the word--"Texas" on the uniform of Lewis, and said "You need not think to deceive me. United States merchants do not wear Texian uniforms!" Still, as Lewis spoke Spanish well, Armijo took him as interpreter. His companions, on foot, were taken back to San Miguel, where, on the next day, they witnessed the murder of Howland and Baker. Col. William G. Cooke, one of the commissioners, with ninety-four men, had moved from Gallina to Anton Chico. Salazar informed him that Lewis and party had been kindly received and sent on to Santa Fé. On the 17th, notwithstanding protestations of friendship by Salazar, Col. Cooke found himself surrounded by a large force under the Governor. Cooke was about to open fire, when Lewis and the Governor's nephew advanced with a white flag. Lewis informed Cooke that there were six hundred men around him and that he had seen four thousand more, well equipped, who would be on the ground in a few hours, and that there were five thousand more on the march from Chillualitia (the two last statements false), but that Governor Armijo had authorized him to say that if the Texians would give up their arms, they would have permission to come in and trade and, after eight days, their arms would be returned to them.

Notwithstanding the treachery of Urrea to Fannin and Ward, Col. Cooke and the Texians acted on the statements of Lewis, and surrendered. They could not conceive of villainy so base as would be betrayal by Lewis. The bravest and most unselfish men are ever the least suspicious. But this creature was at that moment a purchased and perjured traitor to his kith and kin, his country and his God. He was ever after an object of aversion and detestation wherever he resided, even in Mexico. He was regarded, even by the humblest classes of the Mexican population, as a moral leper and shunned accordingly. Armijo had all the prisoners bound as felons, and, without permitting them to see their friends who had been previously betrayed and captured, started them off to the city of Mexico, twelve hundred miles distant, via Santa Fé.  Armijo then set forth to meet Gen. McLeod, and the main body, which, in a starving, condition, had reached the Laguna Colorado (Red Lake), about thirty miles from the Rio Gallinas. There Armijo met him. Absolutely without the physical strength or means of defense, and under promise of good treatment and respect for all their private property, Gen. McLeod and his men surrendered. Immediately upon this they were searched, robbed of everything, bound in pairs and marched to San Miguel, arriving, there on the 12th of October; three months and twenty-one days after starting from the vicinity of Austin. The goods captured were disposed of by Armijo, who reserved to himself whatever his avarice coveted. He gave Lewis a large amount as a reward for his treachery, and wrote to Garcia Conde, Governor of Chihuahua: "In consideration of the great services rendered by Capt. William P. Lewis, in assisting, me to capture the Texians, I have given him his liberty and his goods and earnestly recommend him to the notice of the Central Government."

On the 17th of October, bound in pairs, the prisoners were started to the city of Mexico, by way of Santa Fé, in charge of the brutal ruffian, Salazar. Their treatment, while under his charge, as far as El Paso del Norte, was barbarous. Some died on the way and their ears were cut off as trophies and as proof that they had not escaped. At El Paso they fell under the charge of a humane officer and thenceforward received better treatment. At Chihuahua the citizens and foreigners gave them clothing and other supplies. In due time the prisoners reached the city of Mexico and were imprisoned till about July, 1842, when, at the intercession of General Waddy Thompson, of South Carolina, then American minister, they were released and returned home---some of them in time to visit retribution in the battle of Salado, on the 18th or September. Capt. Matthew Caldwell, one of their number, with the rank of colonel, commanded in the latter victorious conflict. Mr. Thomas W. Hunt, another of their number, did fearful execution on that occasion by the deliberate use of an unerring long range rifle. As a sharpshooter, in front of the Texian line, it is doubtful if a single one of more than a dozen balls from his rifle missed its intended destination. (He died in Bosque, County, in 1892.)

Before dismissing the subject, it is reasonable to say that if the party under Col. Cooke, among, the sheep on the Gallinas had sent a flock back to meet Gen. McLeod and had remained till they arrived, thus uniting over two hundred and fifty effective men, they could have defied Armijo and safety retreated down the Pecos, driving sheep before them for subsistence. Gen. McLeod was an enlightened and gallant man, quick in perception and prompt in action, and enjoyed the fullest confidence of his men. Col. Cooke and Capt. Caldwell were and a large per cent of veteran officers and approved soldiers, the men were experienced fighters. After a few shots from such men, Armijo and his five or six hundred Mexicans, armed with old muskets and escopetas, would have kept at as safe a distance as Vasquez did when opposed by Jordan just one year before. Fate decreed otherwise. The expedition was not without fruit for Texas. The treacherv and barbarism practiced awakened anew, throughout the United States a determined feeling in favor of Texas and against Mexico.

Had the expedition succeeded the name of Lamar would have received additional luster. It failed. But Mr. Kendall, a highly competent authority, after stating the unexpected difficulties and untoward circumstances encountered, says

President Lamar's estimation of the views and feelings of the people of Santa Fé and vicinity, was perfectly correct. Not a doubt can exist that they all were, and are (1843), anxious to throw off the oppressive yoke of Armijo, and come under the liberal institutions of Texas; but the Governor found us divided into small parties, broken down by long marches and want of food; discovered too, a traitor among us; and, taking advantage of these circumstances, his course was plain and his conquest easy."

Trivial events sometimes determine the fate of men, of cities and of nations. Had Houston been crushed at San Jacinto and had the victorious banner of Mexico been planted on the Sabine, the patriots who fought under his banner would have occupied a place in history similar to that of Walker and his followers in Nicaragua. They would have appeared as mere adventurers attempting revolution in a foreign State. By the erratic judgment of the hour, so often merciless and unreasoning, failure brought on Lamar pitiless criticism for trying in good faith to extend the voice of Texas over her whole territory and thereby strengthen her power and resources as an independent nation. His judgment may have been at fault; but his patriotism cannot be questioned. The fact that in 1850 the United States paid Texas ten millions of dollars for the New Mexican territory, is a sufficient attestation of the wisdom of Lamar in his attempt to peacefully unite it with the destinies of Texas.

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