Narrative of the Texan Santa Fé Expedition 3
REMAINING TEXANS CAPTURED (Chapter 16). We had now whiled away some eighteen or twenty days in our prisonhouse at San Miguel, and were anxiously awaiting news of General McLeod's party and of Armijo's success with this second band of Texans, when Bustamente came hurriedly into our apartment, just as we had finished a late breakfast, and informed us that three or four of our companions had been taken, and were then coming into the town. A crowd of women, girls, and boys, congregated upon the neighboring housetops and around the door of the alcalde on the opposite side of the plaza, soon convinced us that something had occurred to disturb the ordinary quiet which reigned in San Miguel. We hurried through the door of our room to a little porch, which was our prison limits, anxiously eyeing every figure within view to see if we could discover an acquaintance. Soon a small cavalcade of ragged Mexicans, guarding two mules, upon each of which a couple of men were packed, were seen turning the corner of a street leading into the plaza-the same street by which we had first entered the town. At first we were not near enough to distinguish the faces of the prisoners, but after they had been halted at the door of the alcalde we made them out to be Lieutenants Scott and Burgess, young John Howard, a brother of the major who was a prisoner with us, and the Mexican servant named Matias, whom Colonel Cooke had sent back to the prairies, from the Angosturas, with the guide to conduct General McLeod to the settlements. We bowed to our friends, and made signs and gestures that we knew and would like to converse with them; they returned our distant salutations in kind, but farther intercourse than this was not allowed by our guards.
After remaining a short time at the alcalde's, our friends were sent to a rancho some three miles from San Miguel, and there quartered in the family of a kind-hearted old Mexican, named Don Antonio Baca, a man who had frequently visited us during our imprisonment, and who had never called without bringing us eggs or some little delicacy. Although we had been denied the satisfaction of conversing with our friends, and learning something of their own movements and the position and prospects of the main party, it was still a source of congratulation to know that excellent quarters had been provided for them. Don Antonio had two or three daughters, pretty, and accomplished too, for that country; we afterward learned that one of them formed an ardent attachment-fell in love, in more common parlance -with one of our young friends, and was affected even to tears and hysterics when he was ordered to the city of Mexico. It is said that no attachment can be stronger, no love more enduring, than that of the better informed Mexican doncella, when once her heart is touched by the blue eyes, light hair, and fair complexion of some roving Anglo-Saxon. She may not "live and love forever," as did a certain maid mentioned by some poet; but she loves as long as she lives, and that is long enough in all reason.
A day or two after the party of Texans I have just referred to were conducted through the town, another party, numbering ten, also arrived. They were prisoners, and had the good fortune to be quartered at the house of our old friend Vigil, the man who had saved our lives when we were first captured by Salezar. We did not see this party, but from descriptions given us of their leader by our guard and the girls who visited us, we felt confident he could be no other than "Old Paint" Caldwell, the well-known leader of our spy company, and in this conjecture we were not wrong. Bustamente informed us that they had been taken prisoners by a large party of Mexicans south of the Angosturas, and that the main body of the Texans was rapidly approaching. We at once came to the conclusion that the two small parties of our friends, now in prison near us, had been sent on in advance, and, as in our case, had been overpowered by numbers, and forced to give up their arms.
A most unwonted excitement was now created in San Miguel. The rumors rife among the people were, that the much dreaded Texans, whom Armijo had taught them to look upon as so many bloodthirsty cannibals, were advancing in countless numbers, threatening the country with fire, devastation, and the sword. The wax figure of the patron saint of the place, San Miguel, or St. Michael as it is rendered in the English, was dragged from his niche in the little church, mounted upon a large platform, and carried about in procession. A more comical figure than this same San Miguel it would be difficult either to imagine or discover. I cannot say that his saintship had ever been tarred, but he had certainly been feathered from head to foot. From his shoulders hung listlessly a pair of huge, ill-constructed wings, his face was that of a large doll, while his head, to complete the ludicrous tout ensemble, was covered with a lace cap of the fashion of our grandmothers. Another figure, intended to represent the Virgin, but nothing more than a doll of the largest size, was carried in state upon the same platform, and over all was a canopy of faded yellow and pink satin, trimmed with fringe, spangles, and tassels. The platform rested upon a litter formed of two long poles, upon which were nailed cross-pieces, and into these cross-pieces were inserted four loose, rickety legs, hardly firm enough to sustain the wax and feathers, satin and spangles, which reclined above them. Whenever the procession was about to move, the entire fabric would be lifted from the ground, and the ends of the poles placed upon the shoulders of four men.
I will endeavor to give my readers a programme of this singular procession. First came an old, baldheaded priest, a coarse, dirty blanket tied about him with a piece of rope, an open prayer-book in his hand, a rude wooden cross hanging from his neck, and a pair of spectacles on his nose which my companions at first insisted were leather, but which afterward proved to be of glass, about the size of common teacups, and set in wide rims of buffalo horn. Following close at the heels of this odd figure came our particular friend, Juan Sandobal, strumming his crazy mandolin, and digging from it the only tune within his musical scope. By his side walked a brother artist, zealously sawing away upon a rusty violin, the softest tone from, which would have set Ole Bull or Wallace raving mad. As each of these performers knew but one tune, and as both were playin, at the same time, the reader who may have an ear to detect a crack in a piece of China by the ring can easily imagine the effect produced by such a mixture of anything but sweet sounds. On either side of the musicians, as flankers, walked half a score of ragged, dirty-faced urchins; then came the four men bearing the car, the patron saint in a sitting posture in front, and his head, either from being hung on a pivot or from having become loose in some way, bowing and bobbing to the multitude like the figures of Chinese mandarins in some of the tea-shops. Nothing could be more grotesque and laughable than this comical head of St. Michael, enveloped in an old-fashioned lady's cap, and rising and falling with every motion of the car upon which it was borne. On the same platform, and immediately behind the figure I have just described, stood the Virgin, dressed in pink satin and spangles, as stiff and inanimate as wood and wax could make her. In the rear of the car followed the women, children, and rabble generally of the town, the faces of a majority of the girls stained, either with vermilion or the juice of some red berry, and many of them presenting an appearance truly hideous.
At different points of the plaza the procession would halt, the bearers of the car would set down their burden, and all would kneel and cross themselves while the old priest read a sentence from the open book before him. One of the principal stopping-places appeared to be directly in front of our little window, and solemn as the affair was intended to be, it was impossible for us to retain our gravity with two such figures as the old priest and the patron saint staring us in the face. Those huge spectacles of the former alone would have drawn a smile from the gloomiest misanthrope that ever lived; and then the comical aspect of the droll figure of San Miguel-waggish in more ways than one, for while it wagged its head it also had a quaint and knowing leer about its eyes whenever this counterfeit presentment of the saint was brought fairly in sight, we lost our gravity entirely, and were compelled to turn aside to conceal our laughter.
After the procession had knelt in front of our prison, the old priest would call upon every saint in the calendar in general, and San Miguel in particular, to aid the populace against, and protect them from, the vile horde of heretics and barbarians marching against their country. All would then respond by crossing themselves and giving utterance to groans, the band would next strike up, and the procession then move slowly to some other point, there to repeat the same ceremony. In this way the time passed, from the day on which the ten prisoners alluded to a few pages back arrived at San Miguel, to the 9th of October.
At an early hour on the morning of the 9th, our guard gave us the startling information that all the Texans had been captured in the vicinity of the Laguna Colorada, or Red Lake, a body of water some thirty or forty miles south of the Angosturas. At first we could not believe this news, but it was soon confirmed by the ringing of bells, general congratulations and rejoicings, and by a grand procession in honor of the victory. Again was the patron saint of the town mounted on the car, accompanied by the ever-attendant Virgin, and borne about in triumph through the plaza and all the principal streets. Nothing could exceed the joy and enthusiasm of the inhabitants. The only gun in the place-the double-barreled German affair I have already mentioned, and which had been used to guard and terrify us-was now brought into requisition to give greater spirit to the rejoicing. The fellow who had charge of this piece followed in the rear of the ragged rabble which formed the procession, and, as fast as he could load and fire, kept up an incessant cracking and banging, much to the delight, in particular, of a troop of graceless urchins, who hovered about him on the march. At each of the four corners, and at each of the four sides of the plaza did the procession stop, kneel down, and publicly thank San Miguel for thus keeping his charge out of the hands of heretics, and all this while the comical image, now arrayed with an extra load of furbelows, feathers, and finery, bowed his acknowledgments to the crowd of ragged worshipers in a style which would have done credit to any merry-andrew.
Scarcely were these nonsensical mummeries over, before General McLeod and Mr. Navarro, with some ten or fifteen Texan officers and servants, were escorted under a strong guard into the plaza, and placed for safe-keeping in the old quartel we had occupied on the day when Howland and his comrades were shot. Mr. Falconer was seen in this little party by all of us, and although grieved to see him in plight so gloomy, I was still rejoiced to notice that he was in good health. Some of the members of this small party of prisoners were continually passing and repassing our room, within twenty yards of us, on their way to the river for water; they recognized and bowed to us as they passed, but we were not allowed to communicate with them in any way, and were consequently kept in ignorance of the terms of their surrender, and the disposition that was to be made of them.
On the 12th of October, two days after, the rest of the Texan prisoners, more than a hundred and fifty in number, were marched into the plaza. Worn down and emaciated by hunger and fatigue, their pale and haggard countenances showed but too plainly that they had suffered dreadfully after we left them on the Palo Duro. The clothing of many of these poor fellows consisted of but a shirt and pair of pantaloons, and the single blanket which had been left them by the brave and "honorable" Armijo was the poorest they were the possessors of at the time of their capture. They were all taken to a room on the opposite side of the square, and then huddled in like so many sheep in a butcher's pen! Scarcely were these unfortunate men driven into their close and uncomfortable quarters before Lewis, well mounted and extremely well dressed, rode up to our quarters, and took lodgings in the same house in which we were confined, although in a different room. He bowed to us as he passed our window, said that "all was right," and remarked that he would call and see us in a short time. The day wore away, however, without his fulfilling his promise, although he passed within a few yards of us several times. There appeared to be a sneaking and uneasy expression about the fellow, which we all remarked; yet we could hardly believe that he had been playing a traitorous or unmanly game.
After dark, on the same day, Bustamente came into our room, and declared, positively, that I was to be released by Armijo so soon as all the prisoners had been sent off to the city of Mexico, that being their destination. This information he had from the principal priest of San Miguel, who has the reputation, among the Americans, of being an honest and worthy man. From what Bustamente could learn, by listening to the conversations of the officers attached to the staff of the governor, he was of opinion that Howard, Van Ness, and Fitzgerald, my three companions, would be taken by Armijo to Santa Fé, and shortly liberated. The same story was told by several Mexicans who visited us during the evening-that I was to be liberated was certain.
On the following morning the wagons the same wagons with which we had set out, more than four months before, from Austin were drawn up in line in the plaza of San Miguel, and immediate preparations were made for dividing the goods of the Texan merchants. As the merchandise was unloaded, Lewis was seen by all of us standing by the side of Armijo, and frequently pointing out a box or bale of goods, which was placed in a large pile, apparently for him. All the while he appeared to be on excellent and most sociable terms with the governor and the Mexican officers, and was plainly seen and heard laughing and joking with them. How the abandoned man could carry out his villainy, and act thus in the very faces, as it were, of his betrayed associates, is a mystery to me. The distribution of the goods continued nearly the whole of the day, each company of the valorous warriors of Armijo receiving a share of the plunder in proportion to the time they had been in service against the 'I'exans. In the meantime four of our men, a gunsmith, a blacksmith, a musician, and the hospital steward of the expedition, were liberated by Armijo, and from our window we could see them walking about at liberty. They were not allowed to communicate with us, however, in any way. The governor wanted the services of these men-his only reason for giving them their liberty.
Lewis frequently passed our window on the 14th and 15th of the month, but not once did he offer to speak to us, although he always bowed as he went by. That the man had been acting badly we had now little doubt, but the extent of his treachery was far from being suspected. After dusk of the last mentioned day a nephew of Armijo called in to see us. He spoke of my release as a measure fully determined on by his uncle, and also gave it as his opinion that my three companions would be set free. At an early hour on the following morning, and for the first and only time, Lewis entered our room. There was a hang-dog expression, if I may so call it, about him, which denoted that he had committed some base action, and it seemed as if he could not look one of us in the face. He, however, tried to convince us that he was glad at having an opportunity, at last, of calling to bid us good-by, assuming an openness and frankness of demeanor which but ill became him. Howard asked him how it happened that the two main parties of Texans had surrendered without firing a single shot, to which Lewis gave an evasive and stammering reply. He, as then asked by what means he had been fortunate enough to obtain his liberty: a question he answered by saying that the governor, for some reason unknown to him, had given him his release without his even asking for it. He then added that I was to be set free on the following morning; and, after telling my companions that he had already made every endeavor to procure their release, and that he would have one more interview with Armijo upon the subject, he hurriedly shook hands with each of us and departed. Five minutes afterward, as we learned from several visitors, he was on his way to Santa Fé, without having gone near the governor.
It may appear singular to many of my readers, that we did not at once suspect Lewis of having played a treacherous game, especially with the evidence that the party under Colonel Cooke had not made even a show of resistance; but they should recollect that we were entirely cut off from all direct communication, and also that Lewis bore an excellent reputation, and was universally esteemed by all. Under these circumstances they will feel that we must have been slow to harbor suspicion against him. It is hard to suspect one with whom we have long associated on terms of intimacy, whose life has been unstained by a single bad act, of the blackest crime in the catalogue. On the night before Lewis's departure for Santa Fé, a young Mexican called at our room and inquired the value of several gold pieces in his possession, among them English sovereigns, French twenty-franc pieces, and different American coins. He spoke broken English, and we afterward ascertained that Lewis had recommended him to some of our poor prisoners as a trustworthy fellow. They had given him this money, a pittance they had contrived to secrete when they were searched and robbed by Armijo, on his promising that he would procure them small silver change for it. The young scoundrel, with all this money in his pockets, left for Santa Fé the next morning in company with Lewis--par nobile fratrum.
Another circumstance has been related to me by the sufferers themselves, which goes to show that to treachery Lewis added the most pitiful swindling. Two members of the expedition, one of them named Farley, and belonging to the company of which Lewis was captain, the other a Mr. Houghtaling, a merchant, had succeeded, during the search made at the time of the surrender, in secreting their watches, both of them valuable. With this fact Lewis became acquainted, and just before starting for Santa Fé he called upon his quondam friends, and said that he would take their watches and sell them for a heavy sum. He said they would need the money on the road, and that it would be impossible for them to dispose of the watches after leaving San Miguel, but that, on the contrary they would lose them if the Mexicans should by chance discover them about their persons. Farley was an intimate friend of the scoundrel, and gave him his watch with little hesitation. Houghtaling did the same. That was the last they saw of their property.
One other circumstance illustrative of his character, and I have done with Lewis for the present. While at Chihuahua, on our march to the city of Mexico, I saw a copy of La Luna, a small paper published there. It contained a letter from Armijo to Garcia Conde, governor of Chihuahua, in which, after stating that he had been successful in capturing all the Texans, he added:
When it is known that all the goods Lewis had with him he could carry in his hat, it is more than probable that the governor hired him to claim a large portion of the merchandise, which he afterward divided with him, and thus defrauded the government, to which he was obliged to render an account of all the spoils taken. The history of this petty, yet most absolute and despotic monarch, Armijo, is singular, and as I happen to have the materials at hand, no matter to him how obtained, I will here present my readers with a brief yet truthful sketch of his career, from his boyhood upward. However much he may be amazed at seeing his own history in veritable print, he cannot but acknowledge that I have done him ample justice-that his portrait is drawn with strict fidelity in every particular.
Manuel Armijo, the subject of the present memoir, as, the story-books commence, was born of low and disreputable parents at or near Albuquerque, a town of no inconsiderable importance some sixty miles south of Santa Fé. From his earliest childhood his habits were bad. He commenced his career by petty pilfering, and as he advanced in years extended his operations until they grew into important larcenies. While yet a youth, he carried on an extensive business in sheep-stealing, admitted, I believe, to be the lowest species of robbery; yet so lucrative did the young Armijo find the business, that in his own neighborhood he gave it a tone of respectability. A wealthy haciendero, or large plantation owner, in the vicinity of Albuquerque, named Francisco Chavez, suffered not a little from the exceedingly liberal system of helping himself adopted by the embryo governor. Chavez possessed his thousands and tens of thousands of sheep, large numbers of which he yearly drove to the southern cities of Mexico, and there disposed of for ready cash. At home, his business was to purchase at reduced prices all the sheep offered by his poorer neighbors, and so numerous were his flocks that he could not mark, much less recognize, one tenth of what he possessed. Yet he always employed shepherds to watch his flocks, and used every precaution in his power to prevent his sheep from straying or being stolen.
But to guard against a person of young Armijo's tact and perseverance was impossible. The scape-grace would enter his flocks while the shepherds were asleep, or suborn them if awake, and by much shrewd artifice contrived to levy a continual and profitable tax upon the substance of the elderly haciendero. The animals thus stolen, in good time would be sold for cash to their rightful but unsuspecting owner, and thus it sometimes happened that Armijo would re-steal and re-sell, time after time, the same identical sheep. Up to this day, when among his intimate friends, General Manuel Armijo boastingly relates the exploit of having sold to "Old Chavez" the same ewe fourteen different times, and of having stolen her from him even in the first instance. By this means, and by having what is termed a good run of luck at dealing monte, he amassed no inconsiderable fortune, and as his ambition now led him to learn to read and write, the foundation of his future influence and greatness among his timid and ignorant countrymen was substantially laid.
As it would fill a volume to trace all Armijo's steps, I will at once jump from the sheep-folds of Chavez and the monte table, and take him up again after he had been appointed administrador de Rentas, or principal custom-house officer at Santa Fé, in the year 1837. It is proper to mention that, during this hiatus, somewhere between the years 1825 and 1830, he had been, by a federal appointment under the old territorial laws, clothed with the executive authority in New Mexico, and that his short administration was signalized by acts of cruelty and reckless injustice. In consequence of some misdemeanor, he was soon deposed from his place at the head of the customs by the then governor, Don Albino Perez, and another person was appointed in his stead. The effects of the central form of government were now just beginning to be felt in this isolated department of Mexico, and the people were beginning to manifest no inconsiderable discontent at the new order of things. Armijo, perceiving that there was now a chance, not only to signalize himself, but to reap a rich harvest of revenge against his enemies then in power, took advantage of this feeling by secretly fomenting a conspiracy. An insurrection was soon in agitation, and early in August, 1837, a heterogeneous force, numbering more than one thousand men, among whom were a large number of pueblos, or town Indians, assembled at La Cañada, a village about twenty-five miles north of the capital. Governor Perez conducted a small force against the insurgents; but a majority of his men went over at the outset, leaving him with only twenty-five personal friends to contend with odds the most fearful. A slight skirmish told the story: one of his men was killed, two were wounded, while the rest fled precipitately towards Santa Fé. The insurgents pursued them to the city, from which they were obliged to flee; but they were captured the next day, and fourteen of them, including all the officers of state, were most inhumanly put to death. Among the slain were three brothers named Abreu: Governor Perez was also butchered in the suburbs of Santa Fé, his head cut off, and kicked about the streets by the populace. His body remained where it had fallen, a prey to the vultures and wolves, no friend daring to offer it sepulture!
Shrewdly conjecturing, now that he had raised a whirlwind, that he might easily direct the storm to his own personal advancement, Armijo, after the manner of his great prototype, Santa Anna, suddenly left his hacienda and made his appearance at Santa Fé. There he found everything in a state of frightful anarchy-the place in the hands of an ignorant mob, and the American and other foreign merchants in hourly expectation that their houses and stores would be sacked, and even their lives taken. The rabble dispersed, however, committing no other outrage than electing one of their own leaders, an ignorant and unlettered fellow named José Gonzaléz, governor of New Mexico. They paid no attention to the claim set up by Armijo, the fomenter, as he had exposed himself in no way to the anticipated hard blows and knocks which had given them the ascendancy. Foiled in his ambition, Armijo once more retired to his hacienda, a fine estate he had purchased at Albuquerque with the proceeds of his cheating, stealing, and gambling transactions. But an active and ambitious mind like his could not long remain inert. Through secret intrigues, he managed, after the lapse of three or four months, to organize a counter-revolution, and collecting a numerous force, he declared in favor of Federalism, and marched towards Santa Fé. He took quiet possession of this place, as Governor Gonzalez, finding himself without an army, had fled to the north. The latter was soon enabled, however, to rally around him no inconsiderable mob; but Armijo, in the meantime, had received heavy re-enforcements from the south, and succeeded in routing Gonzalez without loss, taking him and many of his principal men prisoners. The unfortunate governor was immediately shot, and four of his chief officers met with the same fate by order of Armijo. The latter were put out of the way more, it is said, to prevent disclosures than for any crime they had committed; for they had been Armijo's confidential emissaries in the formation of his original plot.
The ambitious tyrant, now that his enemies were either murdered or dispersed, reigned supreme in New Mexico. One of his fiFst steps was to bribe the army to proclaim him governor and commander-in-chief; his next, to send off a highly-colored account of his own exploits in favor of Federalism to the city of Mexico, and no officer can more adroitly adopt the high-sounding fanfaronade style in wording a despatch or an address than Manuel Armijo. Such disinterested patriotism, such love of the confederacy, and such daring bravery as he had manifested could not go unrewarded, and a return of post from Mexico brought documents confirming him in his station of governor, with the additional title of colonel of cavalry. The sheep-thief is now rising in the world!
The year 1838 passed off without any event of great importance-Armijo still governor, and ruling his vassals with a rod of iron. In the early part of 1839, without a shadow of law or authority, he deposed all the custom-house officers and appointed his own brother and his other creatures in their stead, in order that he might have the exclusive control and management of the customs in his own hands. He next, without regard to the federal tariff, established an arbitrary duty upon all merchandise entering from the United States-$500 upon each wagon-load, without reference to the quality of the goods it might contain, or their value. To some of the traders, whose wagons happen to be heavily laden with the finer kinds of merchandise, this singular imposition is exceedingly favorable; while to others, with light or not valuable loading, it is equally oppressive.
From the material which I have at hand, I could give a connected detail of weekly acts of cruel injustice and most glaring partiality. Fénélons graphic picture of a bad ruler has a living and faithful counterpart in the present governor of New Mexico. Foreigners are the especial objects of his hatred; and acts and decisions affecting the well-being of his whole province are as often founded upon a feeling of hatred towards a small class, or, perhaps, some luckless individual who has excited his jealousy or fallen under the ban of his most unaccountable caprice, as upon a sentiment of justice and necessity. Still oftener do his acts of public administration have their source in some private advantage to which he has a single eye-it may be in the furthering of some libertine and lustful scheme that would disgrace the veriest roué in Christendom. Still, there is not that overt demonstration of malice towards foreigners that he daily makes towards his own cringing and servile countrymen. He is afraid of Anglo-Saxon blood, and he seeks to spill it by protecting the knife of the secret assassin, or by influencing, to most outrageous decisions his farcical courts of law. Not unfrequently do his own lusty sinews find congenial employment, in the open streets of Santa Fé, in wielding the cane and cudgel about the ears of his native subjects, and never yet has one been found bold enough to strike back. He raps them over the sconce with more impunity, because with vastly less sentiment, than did Hamlet the grinning scull of "poor Yorick."
Out of a multiplicity I will record two anecdotes, in order to illustrate his system of righting wrongs. The first came near resulting in a serious quarrel between the American residents and the governor, and the difficulty was only avoided by the latter abandoning his objectionable ground. An American named Daley was wantonly murdered at the gold mines near Santa Fé, by two ruffians engaged in robbing a store which he was keeping at that place. The murderers, through the energy of foreigners, were soon apprehended, and fully convicted of the crime; but as they were Mexicans, and had only shed the blood of a heretic, were permitted to go unwhipped of justice. In July, 1839, these murderers were again arrested through the interposition of the Americans, and a second time brought to Santa Fé for trial. The friends of the murdered man now drew up a petition to the governor, in the most decorous language, praying him to mete out full justice to the assassins. Armijo, although he knew full well the justice of their prayer, affected to believe it a threat against his authority and government-a conspiracy! Upon this pretense he immediately collected all the militia he could raise, and made preparations for one of his bravado demonstrations. The Americans, convinced that no justice could be expected from a tyrant so unprincipled, and fully understanding the "bluffing game" he had resorted to, at once, with characteristic spirit, prepared to defend themselves. Their firmness and cool determination frightened the cowardly governor and induced him to send them an apologetical communication, in which he protested that he had entirely misconstrued the petition, and that their just request should have due attention.
In the year 1840, I think on the first day of January, two most respectable foreigners had the misfortune to kill a Mexican lad by the accidental discharge of one of their guns. They were returning to Santa Fé from the gold mines when the unfortunate accident occurred, and brought the body of the boy into town and at once reported the circumstance to the authorities. The principal alcalde consulted with Armijo as to the steps he should take, and the decision was, without form of trial, that the unfortunate foreigners should be put in prison and held responsible for murder, unless they could prove themselves innocent! This is a very common instance of the manner in which the potentate administers justice. But there was something in this case so palpably unjust, in the eyes of those who knew the men and the facts, as once more to call out such manifestations of public disapprobation as induced him to retract so outrageous a sentence.
In the early part of February, 1840, a concurrence of two or three acts of most wanton injustice, conceived in cupidity and lust, came near resulting in revolution. Armijo is an extensive merchant, and it becomes a part of his policy to pay off the public dues in his own merchandise at most enormous profits. When it is remembered that he is at once governor, commander-in-chief, legislator, custom-house officer, auditor, treasurer, and judge, the practicability of this policy becomes apparent. Public creditors can get no money from the treasury because it is always bankrupt, or at least so represented, notwithstanding the custom-house receipts on importations are more than enough to pay the army, to which purpose they are especially set apart. On the occasion alluded to, some twenty regular soldiers, stationed at Santa Fé, were thrown into prison and loaded with irons as malcontents for refusing to receive their wages in corn from Armijo's granary at four dollars a fanega-a measure containing about two bushels-when they could purchase in market for cash at one third of the price. This outrageous act of tyranny created an unwanted excitement against its author, so much so, that he found it necessary to resort to a specious kind of trickery, a display of disinterestedness, to allay the popular clamor. He advertised a contract to the lowest bidder, to furnish the soldiers with corn. But this Mexican display of honesty neither deceived nor satisfied even his stupid countrymen; for they at once declared that no one but Armijo could take the contract at any price, as the insolvent government never paid any creditor but him. Thus the matter remained just as it had begun, and just as this most patriotic governor intended it should, with this exception-the manifestations of discontent became more open and threatening. Two young officers of the army in particular, had fallen under the ban of the governor's displeasure before, and were now suspected of having used their influence in fomenting the disaffection that seemed universal among the soldiers. His hatred of these young and meritorious officers had its origin in an affaire d'amour, which, as it exhibits a new phase in the multiplex character of Armijo-multiplex in all that is corrupt and debasing-I will here relate.
Don Santiago Abreu, a minister in the administration of Governor Perez, and massacred in the former revolution, left a handsome, and, in such advantages as her country afforded, an accomplished daughter, Doña Soledad Abreu [I believe that this man was governor of New Mexico about the year 1832-Kendall]; a maiden whom fifteen summers had ripened into early womanhood. After Armijo's elevation, he insidiously beset the fair doncella with libertine intentions; but she proudly and scornfully resisted all his advances, fortified not more, perhaps, by a sentiment of intrinsic virtue
than by the inveterate hatred she entertained for the governor. She knew that he had been the mortal enemy of her father the undoubted instigator of his assassination -such a miscreant could find little favor with the pretty Soledad. But this great man was not to be so easily foiled, and attempted by intrigue what he had failed to accomplish in a direct way. He influenced a match between Doña Soledad and Esquipulas Caballero, one of his ensigns, and in the plenitude of his good-nature honored their nuptials by officiating as sponsor at the ceremony.
He now renewed his vile importunities, and, as he supposed, with better prospect of success. He held, in a manner, the destiny of the young officer in his hands; but in every attempt to accomplish his unholy object he was most signally baffled. The maiden and the wife proved alike invulnerable to his solicitations and his threats. At last, convinced of the impregnable virtue of Soledad, he gave up the pursuit, and began making good the deep oaths of vengeance he had often sworn. Her he could not reach directly, but he found means to degrade her unoffending husband and her favorite uncle, who was also a young ensign in his army, named Ramon Baca. Ordering a grand review of the troops, with no other intention than to humble these young cadets, he publicly promoted to a rank above them several officers of inferior grade-a most galling slight in the eyes of a young military aspirant, and a kind of vengeance worthy only of the great Armijo. He even promoted, from the rank of common soldier to a grade above them, a fellow who had been an agent and pander in many of his licentious transactions. The young officers, who were the most deserving and meritorious in the whole corps, now finding themselves at the tail of the army, presented a respectful petition to his excellency, praying to be reinstated. This so irritated the tyrant, that he threatened them with instant death if they ever ventured to molest him again with similar importunities, and Caballero, the husband of the pretty Soledad, upon affected suspicion of favoring the disaffected soldiers, was cast into prison with them and heavily ironed!
Baca, upon some frivolous charge, was ordered out of the country. The 9th of February was the day fixed by the governor for his banishment; but when the time came the young man declared to his friends that he would not depart, but would raise an insurrection and sacrifice his and their oppressor, or perish in the attempt. With a sword at his side he promenaded the streets of Santa Fé during the forenoon, with great boldness walked directly under Armijo's windows and held conferences with the soldiers. Without a friend to inform him of the young officer's intention, Armijo remained in utter ignorance of the plot; yet the inhabitants were all aware of the intended revolution, and anxiously awaited an outbreak they deemed inevitable. But the good fortune of the despot did not desert him in this extremity. Had a single blow been struck, his power and his oppressions would have ended; for, whenever the star of his destiny tends downward, it will gravitate with a velocity vastly accelerated by the universal hatred in which he is held by his subjects; but when called upon by the heroic Baca the soldiers at first hesitated ' and then declared that they would render him no assistance. They had promised to aid, to join him; but either from lack of confidence in him as a leader, or from craven fear of Armijo, they were deterred from an open demonstration. Thus was this embryo revolution, which gave such excellent promise, crushed through the timidity of a handful of soldiers.
In the afternoon, young Baca mounted his horse, and riding to the barracks, made a short speech to his brethren in arms. It was a farewell address, couched in decorous terms, and at its conclusion the really gallant officer departed on his exile. But by this time Armijo had obtained information of the contemplated revolt, and immediately sent off a detachment of dragoons with orders to bring back the young officer, dead or alive. He was overtaken, and thinking himself betrayed by the soldiery, quietly gave up his arms, was guarded back to Santa Fé, and thrust into the same dungeon with his friend Caballero. At first it was thought that Armijo would order them to immediate execution; but fearing the populace, among whom they had so many friends, he finally sent them off to the city of Mexico to be tried for treason, himself to furnish all the proof. The father of young Caballero, a brave and meritorious officer, but broken down by age and dissipation, was carried to the door of Armijo to intercede for his son; but the tyrant denied him an audience. The shock was too much for the old man: he was borne to his home only to be carried thence to his grave, and his loss was much lamented by both foreigners and natives.
The young officers were released on reaching Chihuahua, and afterward visited the city of Mexico with the hope of obtaining redress. They were unable to effect anything, however, for by the time they were allowed a hearing the Texan expedition to New Mexico began to be agitated, and the aspect of affairs at Santa Fé was now too critical for the General Government to think of tampering with her tyrannical governor. In his rude palacio at Santa Fé he is more the despot than anywhere else, maintaining himself proudly, and enforcing all the regal homage and courtly ceremonial exacted by the veriest tyrant. A guard, musket on shoulder, marches before the entrance to his door, denying entrance to all unless they have first obtained the royal permission. Should his excellency feel in the humor of walking out, the cry from the centinela is, "The governor and commander-in-chief appears!" and this is echoed and re-echoed from every guard in and about the barracks. When his majesty is in the street, each dutiful subject takes off whatever apology for a hat he may have on his head. Should the governor's wife, a gross, brazen-faced woman, issue from the building, the form is even more ridiculous, for then the cry of "La gobernadora!" or "La commandante generala!" resounds on every side. This woman is contaminated with every depraved habit known to human nature; and as her husband is a debauchee by special prerogative, she does not scruple to act as his alcahueta in all his amours. In the meantime she is not without her own lovers-a worthy couple, truly!
It is strange how this man has been able to maintain his despotic and arbitrary sway among a people acknowledging no law but that of force. The inhabitants are far more dissatisfied with his administration than they were with that of Perez and his cabinet of Abreus; yet so far they have dared to do no more than plot revolutions against their oppressor. He continues to hold sway in a country where he has not a real friend upon whom he can depend; even his sycophantic favorites would prove his bitterest enemies were he once in adversity. Could the Texans have entered New Mexico in a body, with plenty of provisions, Armijo would have fled with his ill-gotten wealth, and the new comers would have been hailed by all parties as deliverers. I might diversify this hasty biography of Don Manuel Armijo, from the abundant material which I have yet by me unused, with stories of his atrocious acts that would bring a blush upon the brow of tyranny. I might detail many horrible murders which he has committed. I could relate many a thrilling story of his abuse of the rights of women, that would make Saxon hearts burn with indignant fire; for Saxon hearts enshrine the mothers of men as objects sacred and apart. I might speak of his conniving with the Apache Indians, in their robberies of his neighbors of the State of Chihuahua, by furnishing this hardy mountain tribe with powder and balls and guns, knowing that with them they would fall, like the eagle, from their fastnesses, upon his own countrymen. I could give a catalogue of men's names whom he has banished from their own families and homes, for no reason but because they were in his way. Assassinations, robberies, violent debauchery, extortions, and innumerable acts of broken faith are themes upon which I am armed with abundant and most veritable detail; but my readers would sicken, and my narrative leads me another way. A few remarks and I have done with him.
The mien and deportment of Armijo are, not ill calculated to strike a timorous people with awe; for, as I have before remarked, he is a large, portly man, of stern countenance and blustering manner. Not one jot or tittle of personal bravery does he possess, but is known to be a most arrant coward. In all the revolutions that have taken place since he first courted power, his own person has never been exposed, if we except one instance. In a skirmish with some Indians he received a wound in the leg, from which he still limps; but the action was not of his own seeking, and his conduct on this occasion was that of a man engaged in a business anything but to his liking. He has made great capital, however, of his crippled leg, and, like his great exemplar, Santa Anna, is determined that his subjects shall never forget that he received it while encountering their enemy. But the master-stroke of this great man was the capturing the Texan Santa Fé Expedition. These small squads of tattered soldiers, taken piece-meal, in his grandiloquent bulletin he multiplied into a legion of Buckramites-for which act of most heroic daring he was, all in good time, knighted by Santa Anna. He knows his people thoroughly, having studied their character with a most acute discernment. A common remark of his is, "Vale mas estar tomado por valiente que serlo"-it is better to be thought brave than really to be so-and thus, by blustering and swaggering, he keeps the timid natives in subjection.
It may be thought singular that no attention is paid to Armijo's tyranny by the general government; but his policy is only part of that which has obtained in many of the departments. In our own confederacy, we regard intelligence as the great bond of union; the reverse is the case in Mexico-a sufficient test to prove that the so-called Republic is no Republic at all. To General Manuel Armijo I will now bid adieu; but I cannot do it without again saying, that, however much he may be astonished at seeing his portrait thus taken, he cannot urge a single syllable against its fidelity.
From The New Handbook of Texas. KENDALL, GEORGE WILKINS (1809-1867). George Wilkins Kendall, journalist and pioneer Texas sheepman, was born on August 22, 1809, at Mount Vernon, near Amherst, New Hampshire, the son of Thaddeus and Abigail (Wilkins) Kendall. He learned printing at Burlington, Vermont, and practiced his trade first in Washington and then for Horace Greeley in New York. About 1832 he worked for a year on the Mobile Alabama Register, then moved to New Orleans. There, with Francis Lumsden, he founded the city's first cheap daily, the New Orleans Picayune, named after the inconsequential coin then current in Louisiana. The first edition, a four-page folio, appeared in January 1837. A humorist, Kendall filled the paper with light banter that increased its popularity. The Picayune prospered, and in time became a powerful force for the annexation of Texas and westward expansion. In 1841 at Austin Kendall joined the Texan Santa Fé expedition, launched by Texas President Mirabeau B. Lamar. Near Tucumcari, New Mexico, the expedition, suffering hardships and confusion, surrendered to the Mexican army. Kendall marched as a prisoner to Mexico City, where he and others were imprisoned for a time in a leper colony. The Picayune published twenty-three of his letters (June 17, 1841-April 30, 1842) detailing his experiences, and influential friends secured his release in May 1842. On his return to New Orleans Kendall ran a serial account of the expedition in the Picayune, and in 1844 he published Narrative of the Texan Santa Fé Expedition, a 900-page book that sold 40,000 copies in eight years. When it appeared in book format, much of Kendall's material had been plagiarized in Frederick Marryat's Narrative of the Travels and Adventures of Monsieur Violet. For the next three years Kendall's Picayune advocated war with Mexico. When the Mexican War came in 1846 Kendall became a volunteer in Capt. Benjamin McCulloch's Texas Ranger company, attached to Gen. Zachary Taylor's army on the Rio Grande. He accompanied the rangers on long and dangerous reconnaissances and was present at the storming of Monterrey. Kendall's reporting brought immediate fame, and he was hailed as the nation's first war correspondent. Kendall next traveled with the staff of Gen. William Jenkins Worth and recorded Gen. Winfield Scott's landing at Veracruz and the subsequent Mexico City campaign. Kendall was wounded in the knee in the storming of Chapultepec. After the war Kendall sojourned in Europe for several years, and in 1849 in Paris he married Adeline de Valcourt. The couple had four children. There too, he prepared his second book, The War between the United States and Mexico, which was published in 1851 with a profusion of illustrations by Carl Nebel.
In the 1850s Kendall played a major role in promoting the sheep business in Texas. In 1852 he and three friends purchased and placed twenty-four Spanish merino rams and a flock of chaurro ewes on a ranch on the Nueces River, and employed Joe Tait, an experienced herder from Scotland, as manager. Within a year Kendall moved the flock to the Waco Springs Ranch, near New Braunfels, and acquired the Post Oak Springs pasture, near Boerne. He battled blizzards, grass fires, and disease until 1856, when he began making a profit. The flock doubled to 3,500 animals within two years and he found a market for his wool clip in Atlanta, Georgia. Kendall promoted the Texas sheep business in every way. He regularly described his experiences in the Picayune and praised the Texas Hill country as a sheep range. His merino (and rambouillet) rams produced a graded flock, and he sold rams around the state. In 1858 he began contributing an article on the Texas sheep industry to the annual Texas Almanac. When the scab disease became an epidemic in 1864, Kendall was the first to build large vats and dip his flock of 5,000. The postwar years brought prosperity. At his death on October 21, 1867, Kendall generally was regarded as the father of the sheep business in Texas. Kendall County was named in his honor. Kendall's daughter Georgina was a well-known civic leader in San Antonio and was largely responsible for the preservation of the Kendall family papers, which were sold in 1989.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Paul H. Carlson, Texas Woolybacks: The Range Sheep and Goat Industry (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1982). Fayette Copeland, Kendall of the Picayune (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1943). H. Bailey Carroll, The Texan Santa Fé Trail (Canyon, Texas: Panhandle-Plains Historical Society, 1951). Robert Walter Johansen, To the Halls of the Montezumas: The Mexican War in the American Imagination (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985). Vertical Files, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin. Thomas W. Cutrer