Texas Santa Fe Expedition
Did you know the Texas Santa Fe Expedition came through Bridgeport, Texas ?
The Texas Santa Fe Expedition was a commercial and military expedition to secure the Republic of Texas's claims to parts of Northern New Mexico for Texas in 1841. The expedition was unofficially initiated by the then President of Texas, Mirabeau B. Lamar, in an attempt to gain control over the lucrative Santa Fe Trail and further develop the trade links between Texas and New Mexico. Lamar had already started courting the New Mexicans, sending out a commissioner in 1840, and many Texans thought that they might be favorable to the idea of joining the Republic of Texas.

The expedition set out from Kenney's Fort near Austin on June 19, 1841. The expedition included 21 ox-drawn wagons carrying merchandise estimated to be worth about $200,000. Among the men were merchants that were promised transportation and protection of their merchandise during the expedition, as well as commissioners William G. Cooke, Richard F. Brenham, José Antonio Navarro, and George Van Ness. Although officially a trading expedition, the Texas merchants and businessmen were accompanied by a military escort of some 320 men. The military escort was led by Hugh McCleod and included a company of artillery.

The journey to New Mexico during the summer was blighted by poor preparation and organization, sporadic Indian attacks and a lack of supplies and fresh water. After losing their Mexican guide, the group struggled to find its way, with no one knowing exactly how far away Santa Fe even was. McCleod was eventually forced to split his force and sent out an advance guard to find a route.

The expedition finally arrived in New Mexico in mid-September 1841. Several of their scouts were captured, including Capt. William G. Lewis. Having expected to be welcomed on their arrival, the expedition was surprised to be met by a detachment from the Mexican Army of about 1500 men sent out by the governor of New Mexico, Manuel Armijo. One of Armijo's relatives, who spoke English, probably Manuel Chaves, parleyed with the Texans, with Captain Lewis supporting his statements. Both said that Armijo would give the Texans safe conduct and an escort to the border, and Lewis swore to it "on his Masonic faith". After the Texans' arduous journey, they were in no state to fight a force that outnumbered them so heavily, so they surrendered. The New Mexicans gave them some supplies. However, the following morning, Armijo arrived with his army, had the Texans bound and treated harshly, and demanded the Texans to be killed, putting the matter up to a vote of his officers. That night, the prisoners listened to the council debating the idea. By one vote, the council decided to spare the Texans. The latter were forced to march the 2000 miles from Santa Fe to Mexico City, where they were held until United States diplomatic efforts secured their release the following year.

Note. This information is courtesy of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


The route of the Texas Santa Fe Expedition is shown by the following three maps.

Map # 1 shows the route from Austin to Santa Fe.

Map # 2 shows a larger view of the route from Austin to Santa Fe.

Map # 3 shows a view of the route thru Parker County, Wise County and Montague County. The trail crosses the Trinity River just south of Bridgeport.

# 2 MAP
# 3 MAP
# 1 MAP
The Bridgeport Historical Society is presently pursuing a Texas State Historical Marker to be placed in the City of Bridgeport. Dr. Robert Marlett has written up the papers required for submission to the Wise County Historical Commission. The Wise County Historical Commission sends the papers on to the State of Texas. A transcript of the proposed marker reads as follows:
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