The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995 Page: 388
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
prominent, with both town and country homes, servants and stables;
they lived well. Langberg attended Copenhagen schools through 1828,
passed his "philosophical examination," took to the violin, and briefly
studied law, his father's profession, until he found that field tedious. He
refused to abide by Danish tradition or to settle down; his waywardness
irked. To his family and his biographer, he and his youthful pals were
frivolous ne'er-do-wells. Yet Emil, as he preferred to be known, "had a
quick head, a warm heart and a generous hand. ... His tall, slim stature
and dark, expressive eyes" and musical bent made for romances.1
His older brother Ludvig, who had left Denmark under a cloud, wrote
from Mexico inviting Emil to join him in that "dynamic land." On Octo-
ber 22, 1834, soon after his father died, Emil left home and looked for-
ward to a rewarding sojourn with Ludvig.1 He sailed from Hamburg on
November 9, 1834, and although the ship, the Princess Louisa, was long
becalmed, it eventually reached New Orleans on December 29.' While
in that cosmopolitan port he was favorably impressed by his first "Red
Indians," but deplored the treatment of Negro slaves. Short of funds, he
earned money by giving violin concerts, and brushed up on skills he
might use in Mexico-surveying, mapping, and basic engineering.4
In January 1835, he took a coasting vessel to Matamoros in the Mexi-
can state of Tamaulipas, and there faced his first stern challenge. Know-
ing little Spanish, he made inquiries about Ludvig, "here in Mexico's
largest town on the lower Rio Grande." He was shocked to learn his
brother reportedly had lost his post due to politics and had headed for
Zacatecas, where he had been killed by bandits. With few options, Emil
decided to follow Ludvig's trail, intending, if the report proved true, to
"mark his grave."
1 O[luf] C[hristian] Molbech, General Langbergs Haendelser (K0benhavn: Gyldendalske
Boghandels Forlag, 1902), introduction pages not numbered. Langberg's letters to his sisters, a
brother Carl, a boyhood chum Ven, and a nephew Christian, all in Copenhagen, were published
with an introduction and appendices. Gaps indicate that a few letters may be missing. Filling 165
pages in that book, all were translated by Anne Marie Nelson. According to the Danske Biograkisk
Lekswon (Copenhagen: Gyldendalske Bohandel Mordisk Forlag A/S, 1981), 614, the above vol-
ume was the first of seven serious works produced by that Molbech, a grandson of famed histori-
an Christian Molbech (1783-1857) and his wife, Emil's favorite sister Hanne.
2 Molbech, General, introduction. Other sources have termed Langberg "Swedish," "Swiss,"
and "German"; family records affirm he was Danish, born and raised in Copenhagen.
3 United States Bureau of the Customs, Records Quarterly Abstracts of Passenger Lists of Ves-
sels Arriving at New Orleans, January 1, 182o, to December 30, 1837, Microcopy No. M271, Roll
No. 1 (Dallas Public Library, Dallas).
4 Molbech, General, Emil Langberg to Sister Maria, Jan. 13, 1835.
5 Ibid., Langberg to Sister, Feb. 3, 1835. It is unclear which post Ludvig lost. Erik C. Lindgren
of Copenhagen, great-grandson of Emil's brother Carl and collector of family papers, said that
Ludvig simply vanished in Mexico. Erik C. Lindgren to Robert Cunningham, May 20o, 1994, in-
terview. Lindgren to Cunningham, June 9, 1994 (original in possession of authors) states that
"The general's brother ... was Egidius Ludvig Langberg. In Mexico he called himself Louis Her-
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995, periodical, 1995; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101216/m1/444/: accessed August 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.