A Milestone Work, Which Re-Invigorated Interest In Settlement in the Republic of Texas
Detailed map of Texas, eastern New Mexico and part of Mexico, illustrating the region covered by the Santa Fe Expedition.
Based upon the maps of Zebullon Pike and Josiah Gray, the map illustrates Gregg's Route to Santa Fe, Pike's Route to Santa Fe, the Chihuahua Traiil and the route of the Santa Fe Expedition from Austin to Santa Fe in 1841.
Kendall's book describing Texas and this expedition is credited with being a milestone in renewing American settlement interest in Texas.
The Texas-Santa Fe Expedition
The Texan Santa Fe Expedition was a commercial and military expedition to secure the Republic of Texas's claims to parts of Northern New Mexico in 1841. Initiated unofficially by the President of the Republic Texas, Mirabeau B. Lamar, the expedition sought to gain control over the lucrative Santa Fe Trail and improve trade between Texas and New Mexico. Lamar had already started courting the New Mexicans, sending out a commissioner in 1840, with the hope that the New Mexicans be interested in joining the Republic of Texas.
The expedition set out from Kenney's Fort near Austin on June 19, 1841. Among the men were merchants promised transportation and protection of their merchandise during the expedition, as well as commissioners William G. Cooke, Richard F. Brenham, José Antonio Navarro, and George Van Ness. The merchants and businessmen were accompanied by a military escort, led by Hugh McCleod, and included a company of artillery.
The journey was plagued by poor preparation and organization, Indian attacks, and a lack of supplies and fresh water. After losing their Mexican guide, the group struggled to find its way, with no one knowing exactly the distance to Santa Fe. McCleod ultimately split his force and sent out an advance guard to find a route.
The expedition arrived in New Mexico in mid-September 1841. Several scouts were captured, including Capt. William G. Lewis. Having expected to be welcomed in Santa Fe, the expedition was surprised to be met by a detachment from the Mexican Army of about 1500 men sent out by the governor of New Mexico, Manuel Armijo. One of Armijo's relatives who spoke English, probably Manuel Chaves or Mariano Chaves, met with the Texans, with Captain Lewis supporting his statements. Both said that Armijo would offer the Texans safe conduct and an escort to the border. Badly outnumbered, the Texans were in no state to fight, so they surrendered. The New Mexicans gave them some supplies.
The next morning, Armijo arrived with his army and demanded the Texans be killed, putting the matter up to a vote of his officers. By one vote, the council decided to spare the Texans, who instead were forced to march the 2,000 miles from Santa Fe to Mexico City. Over the winter of 1841-42, they were held as prisoners at the Perote Prison in the state of Veracruz, until United States diplomatic efforts secured their release.
The men found their way from Vera Cruz to New Orleans on board various ships, among them the Henry Clay.