Notes and Documents
rhe Report of the expedition of
Major Robert S. AVeighbors to / Paso in 1849
Edited by KENNETH F. NEIGHBOURS
F OLLOWING the acquisition of the Mexican Cession at the end
of the Mexican War in 1848, the government of the United
States recognized the necessity of connecting the Pacific
Coast with the settled regions of the nation. The discovery of gold
at Sutter's Mill in California aroused the interest of the public.
Texas newspapers of the time are filled with accounts of proposed
routes to California. From most of the states in the Mississippi
Valley overland routes were proposed, as well as routes by sea and
across various countries of Central America.
Early in 1849 Major General William J. Worth, commanding
the Eighth Military Department with headquarters at San An-
tonio, sent two reconnaissance parties to ascertain the practica-
bility of a wagon route to El Paso, with the object of establishing
a permanent military road from the Gulf Coast to California.
One group led by Lieutenant W. H. C. Whiting from San An-
tonio marked the more southerly trail that became known as the
lower route, while the other group led by Major Robert S. Neigh-
bors from Austin established the upper route. Both routes are fol-
lowed closely by modern highways. General Worth died of cholera
shortly before Major Neighbors arrived back in San Antonio, and
the Neighbors' report was made to Brigadier General William S.
Harney, who succeeded temporarily to the command of the Eighth
Military Department. Major Neighbors' report is given below.1
1Neighbors to Harney, June 4, 1849 (MS., Records of the War Department,
Letters Received 33/2-1849, National Archives, Washington, D. C.)
For additional information on the Neighbors expedition, see John Salmon Ford,
Memoirs (transcript, 7 vols.; Archives, University of Texas Library), III, 503ff.;
Senate Executive Documents, 31st Cong., 1st Sess. (Serial No. 562), Document No.
64; William C. Binkley, The Expanionist Movement in Texas, z836-z85o (Berke-
ley, 1925); C. L. Greenwood, "Opening Routes to El Paso, 1849," Southwestern
Historical Quarterly, XLVIII, 262-274; A. B. Bender, "Opening Routes across
West Texas, 1848-1856," ibid., XXXVII, 116-135; Kenneth F. Neighbours, "The
Expedition of Major Robert S. Neighbors to El Paso in 1849," ibid., LVIII, 36-59.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 60, July 1956 - April, 1957. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101163/. Accessed February 26, 2015.