The Santa Fe Trail and the Mexican War
Americans in the mid-1840s, facing a nearly empty continent stretching to the west, saw it as their natural right, their "Manifest Destiny", to annex this land to the United States. The young country traveled to its "destiny" over a rough, rutted, dangerous road: the Santa Fe Trail. William Y. Chalfant tells the story of this road - stretching eight hundred miles from Independence, Missouri, to Santa Fe, New Mexico - during the pivotal period of the Mexican War. Less than a month after the United States declared war on Mexico on May 13, 1846, Col. Stephen W. Kearny's Army of the West set out on the trail to Santa Fe. Under orders to seize New Mexico, Kearny's army raised tbe U.S. flag over Santa Fe at the end of August. By the time William Gilpin's Indian Battalion followed the trail back east in the fall of 1848 after the end of war, the United States had acquired its vast western territory. Meantime, travel over the Santa Fe Trail increased. Traders, who first opened the trail, continued their profitable treks, often setting records in the time required to travel the distance. And soldiers marched steadily westward. Some stopped to build Fort Mann, to provide a refuge not only from the hazards of summer heat and winter storms but also from the dangers of the country's original inhabitants, the Indians. This was the homeland of the Cheyennes, Arapahoes, Comanches, Kiowas, and Plains Apaches - Indians who roamed the plains and hunted the buffalo. As the invading whites stole their land, demeaned their culture, destroyed the buffalo herds, and introduced new diseases, the Indians realized the threat to their way of life. They fought back, and the Indian wars soon began. Dangerous Passagetakes us along the Santa Fe Trail - past Pawnee Rock, across the Arkansas at the Middle Crossing, through the Jornada, and along the Cimarron. We meet the intrepid trader Francis X. Aubry, we join the soldiers at Love's Defeat and Gabriel's Barbeque, and we witness the death of the Comanche chief Red Sleeve. Thanks to William Y. Chalfant, our trail is clearly marked.
Norman : University of Oklahoma Press, c1994
0806126132 (alk. paper)
Branch Call Number:
xx, 325 p. : ill., maps ; 23 cm