The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 33, July 1929 - April, 1930 Page: 65
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An Anonymous Description of New Mexico, 1818
borhood of San Antonio, the capital of Texas, and return almost
always laden with booty.
Communication between the United States and New Mexico.
The communication of St. Louis with New Mexico would be very
easy as far as the Huerfano. The country offers nothing, as I have
said, but immense high prairies or perfectly joined plains, where
no difficulty would be encountered in making a way for carriages
or artillery, except at the passages of the rivers, which, being almost
always crossed towards their sources, would not present, by leaving
St. Louis at a good season, that is to say, about the end of April,
any other difficulties than that of cutting down the banks and
making a road to descend into their beds. That, at the most, could
be done in some hours.
These provinces offer everywhere an excellent pasturage for
horses, whatever number one may have, and immense herds of
buffalo for the sustenance of men. Consequently there is no need
to transport provisions. If a military expedition should be made
against New Mexico, it would be necessary to send ahead some men
who with some thousands of pesos in merchandise would win over
the savages who live to the east of these mountains and with them
be able to take possession of the passes.
The governor of the province sends out from time to time parties
to come to the east of the mountains to reconnoitre the country and
see what is going on there. But these parties, where they go cus-
tomarily never encounter enemies, (and) are very negligent."44
"The exact date of the beginning of the practice of sending out recon-
noissance parties east of the mountains is unknown. Bancroft intimates
that before 1817, Spaniards from the province went north to trade with
American trappers, but that early in that year, after Allande became gov-
ernor, there was a decided change in policy. This governor, he notes,
despatched the party which arrested A. P. Chouteau and De Mun in 1817.
Bancroft, Arizona and New Mewico, p. 298. The extent of their activities
east of New Mexico is likewise unknown, but there are several interesting
indications. Melgares himself states that his parties continually ranged
the plains 100 leagues (about 250 miles) east of Sangre de Cristo Range
and the Canyon of San Fernando, a range that would take the Spaniards
into western Kansas and Oklahoma of today. That they actually did enter
the Oklahoma area is apparent from a Spanish inscription on a rock along
the Cimarron River in northwestern Cimarron Country, Oklahoma, bearing
the date, "Mayo 1818." A. B. Thomas, "The Yellowstone River, James
Long and Spanish Reaction . . . 1818-1819," loc. cit. p. 6. Moreover, Mr.
Grant Foreman has recently written to the writer that he has a copy of
a letter from the files of the War Department, dated Fort Smith, March 18,
1818, to the Secretary of War stating: "I have the honor to report to you
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 33, July 1929 - April, 1930, periodical, 1930; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101090/m1/73/: accessed April 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.