Military Reconnaissance of the Arkansas Rio Del Norte and Rio Gila by W.H. Emory, Lieut. Top. Engrs.
By: Joseph Welch & William Hemsley Emory
Date: 1847 (dated) Washington D.C.
Dimensions: 30 x 68 inches (76 x 173 cm)
An epic map and report of the monumental 2,000-mile journey of Brig. Gen. Stephen Watts Kearny's Army of the West from Fort Leavenworth to Santa Fe, and San Diego. A military expedition that all but cemented victory for the United States over Mexico in the war for the American Southwest and the resulting map becoming a cartographic landmark in the mapping of the west, comparable in its accuracy only to that of the Femont Expedition.
The map is accompanied by a detailed report on the accounts of the military reconnaissance that provides a clear window into the historic march. The report begins on August 2nd as Kearny's Army departs Bent's Fort along the Arkansas River in what is now Southeastern Colorado. It provides a near daily account of important events including to the Retreat of General Armijo's Mexican army at Pecos Canyon, just fifteen miles of Santa Fe the establishment of the Kearny Code in Santa Fe, the meeting of Christopher "Kit" Carson, the crossing of the Sonoran Desert, and the Battle of San Pasqual.
General Manuel Armijo's Retreat at Pecos Canyon
General Armijo who was not technically a general and whom had no real or military training, but rather enjoyed dressing and acting the part was the Governor of New Mexico. History remembers him as a very heavy-set brute who maintained order over a rather poor people through fear. It is said that upon Kearney's arrival into his Governor's Mansion he found a room containing walls of human earns pinned to them, likely of captured natives, punished subordinates, and criminals of the region. However underneath his wrath was a coward who could have done great damage to Kearny had he utilized the geographic advantages Pecos Canyon offered him.
The report documents the following on Page 29:
A rumor has reached camp that the 2,000 Mexicans assembled in the Canyon to oppose us, have quarreled among themselves; that Armijo, taking advantage of the dissensions, fled with his dragoons and artillery to the south. He has long been suspected of wishing an excuse to fly. It is well known he has been averse to a battle, but some of his people threatened his life if he refused to fight. He has been, for some days, more in fear of his own people than the American Army. He has seen what they are blind to: the hopeless ness of resistance.
General Kearny's Arrival in Santa Fe, New Mexico
On August 28th, 1846, Kearney arrived in the age-old city of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The men, mostly from Missouri had longed to see the city once home to the Tanoan tribe, later colonized by Don Juan de Oñate in 1598 and officially founded in 1610 under the rule of the Spanish Monarchy. They were by several accounts underwhelmed by the poverty of the people, the crumbling buildings, and the overall sense of despair.
General Kearny however got straight to work, first letting the people of Santa Fe known that they are all now Americans and have the protection of the United States Military. He then made peace with the local Pueblo Indians and drafted and establishing the "Kearny Code," or the new the law and government of the territory of New Mexico. Many elements of Kearny's original laws are still in place today for the state of New Mexico.
Meeting of Christopher "Kit" Carson
The report documents the meeting between Christopher "Kit" Carson and Kearney along the Rio Del Norte (Page 53). Carson was making his way from San Diego to Washington D.C. with news from John C. Fremont that the Mexican Army of California had "surrendered without a blow, and the flag floated in every port." General Kearny, needing to still fulfill his mission of a march to San Diego and having heard of Cason’s exploits as a guide for Femont's monumental explorations of the west, commanded him to join his Army of the West as a guide across the mostly uncharted Sonoran Desert.
Carson did just that, leading the Army through what must have seemed like an alien landscape of harsh desert and winding canyon, before they reached the Gila River to its confluence with the Colorado, the location of present-day Yuma, Arizona. Carson continued to guide the army through the southern-most deserts of California which General Kearny describes as a place where "barrenness and desolation reign" (Dec 1 - Page 105)
The Battle of San Pasqual
On December 6th the Army of the West engaged in the bloody and ferocious battle of San Pasqual just outside San Diego. (Page 108 - 113) The report describes Captain Johnston leading a charge of dragoon upon an Indian village where the Mexican Army of Californian lancers commanded by General Don Andrés Pico first retreated but later turned an engaged the U.S. Army on horseback with lances and lassos, which proved to be quite a formidable force. While the Army of the West was already exhausted from their arduous journey through the desert, many of their guns that had rarely been fired failed to work or if they did, have little effect on the Californians who were expert horse riders and well trained with the lasso and lance. They encircle the Army of the west, spearing them and puncturing their bodies from all sides. The report notes a total of 18 officers dead and 13 wounded. Among the dead was Captain Johnston who had taken bullet through the forehead. Only he and one other dragon was struck by a firearm, all of the rest had been speared by the lances.
From December 7th - 10th Kearny and his Army, many of whom were badly wounded and low on food and water were trapped on a hill between two buttes by General Picos. During that time, Kit Carson along with a Lieutenant Beale, and an Indian guide snuck away for the American's position 29 miles through enemy lines to reach General Stockton's Navy, which was positioned just off the coast of San Diego, and request immediate support at San Pasqual. On the night of December 10th, the much-needed reinforcements arrived with clothes and provisions for the men, forcing General Picos to retreat the following day. While the Army of the West suffered the most casualties and arguably lost the battle, they won the war. After several days of rest and recovery, they finished their mission with a few minor skirmishes on their way to Pueblo de Los Angeles.
Condition: This map is in A condition and presents itself beautifully on linen-backed paper. It is accompanied by the military reconnaissance book by William H. Emory that has a modern binding with clean pages and images throughout.
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