A Republic of Texas “Dragoon” button and two “trade” rings were among artifacts recovered in 2013 from one of the Texan-Santa Fe Expedition’s 1841 camp sites located in Floyd County, Texas.
The Texan-Santa Fe Expedition of 1841
By 1841 the Republic of Texas had been an independent nation for five years following a successful revolt against Mexico. The President of Texas, Mirabeau B. Lamar, had decided to send an expedition to Santa Fe after receiving exaggerated reports that the majority of citizens of New Mexico desired to become part of Texas and break away from Mexico.
Santa Fe was the prize economic gem in New Mexico since it was the trade center of the United States. The famed Santa Fe Trail was an established trade route, originating in Saint Louis, Missouri. Texas was in desperate need of economic help and wanted to tap the huge flow of goods, gold, silver and furs funneling through Santa Fe.
President Lamar, ignoring the objections of other Texas politicians, pushed for an expedition to Santa Fe in an effort to fill the coffers of the struggling republic. A force of over 200 Republic of Texas soldiers, including one six-pounder cannon, and over 100 merchants and support personnel driving 22 heavily laden wagons filled with supplies and trade goods, made up the expedition dubbed the “Santa Fe Pioneers” by President Lamar. They left Brushy Creek near Austin on Sunday, June 20, 1841, full of expectations of riches and adventure. The adventure part they received in full measure along the way, severely testing their fortitude, supplies and well being, but the riches were a pipe dream.
Guided by a misleading guide, they struggled along on a march that wandered around some of the most difficult terrain to traverse in Texas. In the last part of August the now disgruntled Pioneers arrived in the southeastern part of Motley County, with less than half of their wagons surviving the rugged trip. The misadventures had scarcely begun. Travelling through Motley and sending a scout party into Hall County, they would ultimately wind up camping in Motley, Briscoe and Floyd counties at several different sites while they tried to find a way to get the remaining wagons up the steep caprock. They were constantly harassed by Indians, hunger, the weather and indecision. The last part of their force, with only three wagons left, was finally led up the caprock in Briscoe County in late September. They thought they were beginning the last leg of their journey. Instead they marched into New Mexico and were captured without a shot being fired by a Mexican Army. Ultimately the Santa Fe Pioneers were forced to walk as prisoners to a Mexico City prison.