The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959 Page: 174
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
This force made its way by ship to Indianola, and by caravan
and rockaway carriage to El Paso, which Commissioner Bartlett
and his advance guard reached in early November. There he
awaited the arrival of the Mexican commissioner, General Conde.
Despite Bartlett's relatively prompt arrival at El Paso, his lot as
a commissioner had not been without its difficulties. No amount
of bookseller's experience could have sufficed to tame the crew of
unruly ruffians assembled under the banner of the American com-
mission, and Bartlett proved to be indeed an indifferent adminis-
trator. On the trip to El Paso at least three murders had been
committed. Lieutenant Strain had fled back to Washington.
Colonel John McClellan, the chief topographical officer, was
bound before a court martial. The quartermaster had been caught
in embezzlement, and George F. Bartlett, the commissioner's
brother, was under an unseemly suspicion of attempted fraud.
All of this administrative chaos, plus Bartlett's later penchant
for making extended sightseeing forays into Mexico, tended
to reflect adversely upon his ability and integrity as a
The first meeting between Commissioner Bartlett and General
Cond6 took place on December 3, 1850, at El Paso.31 In this and
subsequent meetings they discussed the practical measures neces-
sary for correctly arriving at a legal dividing line. Most pressing
of all their problems was one involving the exact location of the
southern boundary of New Mexico as laid down in Disturnell's
map of 1847. A comparison of astronomically determined geo-
graphical points with Disturnell's map indicated that it embodied
two major errors: (1) the Rio Grande was laid down two degrees
too far west, (2) the crucial landmark, El Paso, was placed
nearly forty minutes of latitude (approximately thirty miles)
too far north. The entire southwestern region suffered from this
distortion. It was too far north and west with respect to the grid
30For the various charges and countercharges by and against Bartlett see the
following: Senate Executive Documents, 32nd Cong., Ist Sess. (Serial No. 62o),
Document No. 60, pp. 52-54, and (Serial No. 626), Document No. 119, pp. 390,
slJohn Russell Bartlett, Personal Narrative of Explorations and Incidents in Tex-
as, New Mexico, California, Sonora, and Chihuahua, connected with the United
States and Mexican Boundary Commission during the Years, 185o, '5S, and '53 (2
vols.; New York, 1854), I, 151.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959, periodical, 1959; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101173/m1/217/: accessed September 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.