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The plan adopted for the survey was to touch the river at convenient intervals, accessible to wagons, determine those points astronomically, establish depots for the surveying parties, and connect the intervening spaces by lineal survey. I attended in person to the astronomical work and the establishment of the depots. Lieutenant Michler, and assistants Von Hippel and Chandler, were placed in charge of the three surveying parties, and to their able assistance I am much indebted for the successful execution of the plan.
d subserve no useful purpose to recite the difficulties which we encountered in the prosecution of this work. Superadded to the physical obstacles to be overcome, the men became almost insubordinate from the long absence of the commissioner from the work, and his unpardonable neglect to furnish money for their payment. Some of them had not received any pay for eighteen months, and the commissioner was at that moment, with an equipage and corps of attendants, visiting the States of Chihuahua and Sonora, and the Geysers of California-places sufficiently distant from the line.
When at Presidio del Norte, about one-third of the way down the river, the men, disgusted with long-deferred “promises to pay,” became very mutinous; and on one occasion, I was obliged to put down a riot in my camp, single-handed, and at the risk of being shot by an insubordinate fellow, insane from the effects of the intoxicating mezcal. Shortly after, a whole party rebelled and refused to proceed further. Fortunately, at this moment I received, by an express sent out to intercept the mail from San Antonio to El Paso, an order from the Secretary of the Interior, authorizing me to draw on the department for a limited amount of funds. At this time, there was passing from Chihuahua to San Antonio a return merchant train with $5,000 in specie, which I obtained and turned over to the person acting as disbursing agent. With this sum I was enabled to pay off a portion of the men, and discharge the disaffected.
It was not until late in the fall of 1852 that we reached Eagle Pass (Fort Duncan) with the survey, having encountered no disaster, except the suspension of the work of Mr. Chandler's farty, which was wrecked in the Cañon of the Rio Bravo, one hundred and twenty miles above the mouth of the Pecos. In the mean time, Mr. Michler's party had carried the survey from the mouth of the Pecos to Loredo.
At this stage of the work, just one year after my return to it, I received the first letter or notice of the commissioner, who sent me a check for twelve thousand dollars, which was handed over to Mr. Tansill, the disbursing agent, who, before he completed the negotiation of the note, received notice that it was dishonored. The work was, at the same time, inconvenienced by our receiving intelligence that the check for five thousand dollars was repudiated at Washington, which I had drawn upon the faith of the written order of the Secretary of the Interior, and which had been cashed by an unsuspecting and honest American merchant.
called for on my part. The following letters were addressed to the commissioner, and all work was suspended except that of myself and personal assistants :
CAMP NEAR FORT DUNCAN, October 30, 1852. SIR: I received your two checks-one for $12,000, the other for $8,000. The merchants here refused to cash them, alleging that similar drafts had been protested in Washington.
Unfortunately, a few days afterwards, notification was served on me, through one of the leading houses here, that a small draft drawn by me, under the authority of the Secretary of the Interior, at Presidio del Norte, and without which the work would have been suspended at that point, had also been protested.
The protest was dated after the deficiency bill and the appropriation bill had become laws of the land. This settled the business. I had before this sent an agent to San Antonio to see what could be done, and unofficial advices are this day received, informing me the largest draft has
the whole object of my requisition, which was to have twenty thousand dollars here in cash to discharge and reorganize parties concentrating on this point, is defeated.
I made the requisition for that limited amount, supposing you, of course, would follow on immediately and join me here. Under these circumstances, seeing the work about to be suspended and myself placed in so false a position, I immediately, on the receipt of the notification that my draft was repudiated in Washington, despatched Lieutenant Michler to ascertain the cause, and correct, if possible, the delinquencies.
I have now been one year on this work without receiving a dollar from you, and have been obliged to sustain it by a system of credits, promises and threats, wholly unknown to our government. Considering the munificent appropriations made by Congress, I cannot think the survey has received anything like its just proportion of the funds.
I received by mail your letter informing me you could not keep your engagement to meet me at this place; in consequence of which I have this day made a requisition for funds directly on the Department of the Interior, to prevent, if possible, a suspension of the work, and the scenes of disorder that must ensue if the parties collecting here are detained for want of means to send them on or discharge them.
I regret to learn by your letter that you have taken Mr. Radziminski and assistants with you, as two opportunities presented themselves since your arrival, and that of Mr. Whipple, at El Paso, by either of which he and his party could have joined us with ease and safety.
I regret to learn, also, from Lieutenant Whipple, that you have not seen proper to furnish him with funds. I understood your letter as agreeing to my proposition that it was necessary to furnish with funds each chief of party.
So many and so complicated have become the difficulties growing out of the long continued absence of yourself, in whom rest all the moneyed powers of the commission, that I would, to obviate them and other difficulties, leave my work and go to any point to meet you ; but your letter is indefinite both as to time and place of meeting, and, for the present, I content myself with sending this to the place you name as the most probable to meet you—Camargo, or rather Ringgold barracks, the American post opposite.
My estimate for the year 1852 was $90,000; not a cent too much, though many of the items in that estimate would, from my increased experience, now be changed. This estimate was made at El Paso in duplicate, accompanied by letter. One copy was directed to you at, I think, San Diego, and the other copy was directed to you through the Department of the Interior. If you were not in place to receive it, that is no fault of mine, and surely can never be used as a reason for the distressing and unusual condition in which I am placed, both personally and officially, by the total failure to keep the working people of this commission supplied with a portion of the munificent funds voted by Congress for this work.*
* For a statement of all the money voted by Congress for this survey, see statement at the end of this chapter.
At El Paso, to avoid stopping the work, and to relieve the immediate necessities of individuals, I certified to the correctness of accounts, and the individuals sold them to shavers and brokers.
This necessity should never occur in government work, as it leads to speculation, and is injurious to the credit of the government.
Should this meet you, I desire you will send me, with as little delay as possible, twenty thousand dollars in cash, and cause thirty thousand to be placed to my credit either in New Orleans or at Fort Brown. Should you do so, the requisition on the government, if complied with, will not be used. I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. H. EMORY. John R. BARTLETT, Esq.,
United States Commissioner.
RINGGOLD BARRACKS, December 20, 1852. SIR: The drafts drawn by me, under authority of the Secretary of the Interior, and the drafts sent me by you from El Paso, were all protested. Notice of this, and other circumstances beyond my control, caused me, in effect, to stop operations about the 5th of November, since which time I have been, as directed by the Secretary, awaiting your arrival; so that we have, in fact, been at work one year, without receiving a dollar from the government; and many of the employés have not been paid for a much longer time. As stated to you in conversation, at Presidio del Norte, a panic seized a large number of the men-first, with the idea that they never were to be paid, and, second, with a fear of the Indians.
Being in a country wholly remote from any aid, I found it absolutely necessary to keep the men in service; and upon the faith of orders from the department, and the expectation of soon meeting you, I promised they should be paid and discharged at Fort Duncan. I desire now to take the only remaining step left to enable me to redeem that pledge, and to request, if there is a dollar left, it may be distributed among these men.
Enclosed is a list of officers and men in the service, and the amounts due to each up to November 20, 1852. Subsequent revision of the accounts may show a slight alteration.
The total amount of this list is ...
favor, and turned over to T. W. Tansill, quartermaster of the
Messrs. Lewis & Groesbeck ...............
of the drafts drawn by me, under the authority of the Secretary,
I think it unnecessary to make a requisition on you for a further prosecution of the work until the above demands are satisfied. I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. H. EMORY,
Bt. Maj. U. S. A., Chief Astronomer Survey B. C. J. R. BARTLETT, Esq., U. S. Commissioner.
After making the best arrangements I could to satisfy the various demands of the men and other creditors of the commission, I repaired to Ringgold barracks, where it was reported the commissioner would strike the boundary on his return trip from Mexico. There I awaited his arrival, occupying my time by establishing an observatory, to be used in the event of the resumption of the work.
On the 20th of December the commissioner arrived ; and finding that no security could be given for the payment of the debts already contracted, or for those necessary to be contracted in the future prosecution of the work, I did not hesitate to avail myself of the authority granted
already suspended the survey west of the river.
After turning over all the property and papers of the commission, except the instruments and notes of the survey, I repaired to Washington city, and commenced the computation of the field-work as far as it had been completed.
In the month of March, 1853, Congress appropriated a sum of money to complete the survey of so much of the Rio Bravo as constituted the boundary, and to prosecute the office-work of the survey. The commission was immediately reduced and reorganized. A new commissioner (being the fourth) was appointed.
The parties were organized by me, and placed in the field in less than a month ; and by the middle of December, 1853, all the field-work was completed within the time and for a less amount than had been estimated.
The following is the organization under which the work of the old boundary was concluded :
Robt. B. Campbell, U. S. commissioner.
J. E. Weiss, do. Capt. George Thom, corps Topographical Engineers, was left in charge of the office-work, assisted by assistants Chandler, Herbst, Thom, Wheaton, and O'Donoghue.
The collation of the geological work was left in charge of Drs. Hall and Parry; that of the zoological, in charge of Prof. Baird ; and the botanical, in charge of Prof. Torrey.
Lieut. Michler was assigned to the unfinished work above Eagle Pass, Schott to the survey from Laredo to Ringgold barracks, and assistant Radziminski to the survey from Ringgold barracks to the mouth of the Rio Bravo; whilst I, with assistants Gardner and Clark, determined astronomically the points along the boundary, intended as checks upon the accuracy of the surveys,
Before the completion of the work, the yellow fever made its appearance, and myself and several of the assistants were attacked-some on the line, and others after leaving it and reaching the northern shores of the Gulf of Mexico, where this disease raged with unusual violence.
No serious inconvenience was experienced, however, in the prosecution of the work, from this cause, and nothing happened to interrupt the harmonious and rapid execution of the field work, but the melancholy loss of assistant Thomas Walter Jones, who was drowned in the Rio Bravo by the upsetting of a skiff, in which he was returning to camp from his labors in the field, on the evening of 230 July, 1853. His body was found two days after, a few
e stream, and was buried by his afflicted companions at the rancheria of Dr. Merryman, on the banks of the Rio Bravo.
This ends the narrative of the operations in the field of the various commissions organized under the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
It is proper for me, however, before closing this chapter, to refer to a publication issued by Mr. J. R. Bartlett, one of the late commissioners on the part of the United States, which professes to give an accurate account of the affairs of the commission. It is not my purpose to review that work, and expose its errors, but simply to correct some statements affecting myself.
Mr. Bartlett's principal achievement on the boundary was the agreement with General Conde, the Mexican commissioner, fixing the initial point on the Rio Bravo, in the parallel of 32° 22', instead of a point as laid down on the treaty map about eight miles above El Paso, which would have brought it to the parallel of 31° 52'. That agreement is no less remarkable than the adroitness and success with which Mr. Bartlett convinced the authorities at Washington of its correctness.
The question has been so thoroughly discussed, that a reproduction of it here is not called for. It is sufficient to say, that it was disapproved by the astronomer and surveyor on the commission at the time, and was finally repudiated by the government. Mr. Bartlett, in his account of the matter, states I was ordered to sign the map of his initial point, and that I did sign it. But he does not state what was the purport or meaning of my signature, nor does he give my letter which reported the circumstances to the government; but only an extract of that letter, selecting paragraphs of it to suit his own views. I here supply the deficiency by giving the letter in full, and the agreement signed by myself and Mr. Salazar, the Mexican commissioner, who succeeded General Conde. It will be seen that the Secretary of the Interior took the responsibility of making the action of the two commissioners final, thereby rendering the joint commission authorized by the treaty, as I understood it, a nullity. In view of such an interpretation, my signature as surveyor was only required, as alleged, to perfect the official documents; the words of the order were, “ You will sign the map of the initial point agreed upon by the two commissioners.''