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The Order Directing William H. Emory to Lead the US-Mexico Boundary Survey

Nice example of General Order No. 65, an omnibus order sent from Washinton in December 1848 on behalf of the President of the United States, appointing William H. Emory as the leader of two companies of soldiers to travel to San Diego in May 1849 in order to represent the United States Department of State in conducting the US-Mexico boundary survey under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

At the conclusion of the war between Mexico and the United States in 1848, the two Republics signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which in part called for a formal boundary survey to be conducted between the two countries, which would require a boundary survey of the approximately 2000 mile border between the two nations, extending from the Rio Grande River to the Pacific Ocean, south of San Diego.  The present General Order No. 65 provided the formative instructions for the United States' initial survey party, providing for:

  • creation of two military companies in California to staff the survey
  • appointment of Brevet Major William H. Emory to lead the survey party
  • directive that Emory should serve at the direction of the State Department
  • instruction that Emory and the 2 companies travel to San Diego to meet the other boundary commissioners and begin the survey in May 1848.

 The complete text reads as follows:

The Commanding Officer in California wiil organize a Battalion without unnecessary delay, to consist of one Company of the 1st Dragoons and one of the 2d Regiment of Infantry as an escort and for service of the Commissioners to be appointed to be appointed to run the line between the U.S. and Mexico under the treaty between the two Republics, to the command of which the President directs that Brevet Major Emory of the Corps of Top. Enginners be and is hereby assigned accordingly.

By the terms of the treaty, the Commissioners of the respective Governments are to meet in San Diego in the month of May 1849, at which place the Battalion shall assemble under the orders of Bvt. Major Emory.

As the supervision of the whole matter on the part of the United States appertaining to the State Department Major Emory shall be governed by the instructions he may receive from the Secretary of State: with repect to returns, rolls and reports of the Battalion he will be governed by the Army Regulations.

Over the next several years, an initial survey was conducted, but ultimately significant errors in the map utilized to negotiate the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, John Disturnell's 1847 Mapa de los Estados Unidos de Méjico. . .  would prove so problematic to the United States, that Mexico and the United States would agree to the Gadsden Purchase in 1854, by which the United States acquired another large section of land south of the line surveyed by Emory's party.