Kearny’s March to California

StL Weekly Republican August 10, 1846

LETTER FROM CAPTAIN MOORE July 10, 1846 Pawnee Fork

We have received from a friend in Jefferson City, for which he has our thanks, a private letter received from Capt. Moore, commander of the advance guard of U. S. Dragoons now en route for Santa Fe, from which we make the following extract:



July 10, 1846}

Dear Friend:—”Your   kind letters have been received by an express, and I embrace this, the first opportunity that has appeared to write to the United States.  You know I was ordered , with a squadron of dragoons (with only eight hours notice,) to proceed in pursuit of Speyers, the Santa Fe trader, who had some wagons loaded with arms and ammunition for New Mexico; but from his having too much the start, I was unable to overtake him.  When I left my camp at Kansas river, on the 7th ult. and up to the time of my arrival at the crossing of the Arkansas rive, I could not perceive that I had gained much on him, judging from the age of the sign he made, although I followed in a forced march, reaching the crossing in eleven and a half days.  Our march was the most disagreeable out of many that I have experienced, in consequence of the drought, no rain having fallen since last spring.  The roads were exceedingly dry and dust, and for several days we marched twenty-five miles without water.

On our arrival at the crossing, finding no Mexicans, nor sign of any, and the grass scare and insufficient, I fell back, with my command to this point, about eighty miles from the crossing, in tolerable grass, where I have remained since; but to-morrow I shall take up the line of march for Bent—™s Fort, on the Arkansas, with five companies under my command, three of dragoons and two of mounted volunteer riflemen—”the latter companies, Captains Waldo and Reed, having joined me yesterday.  The volunteer officers are clever fellows, and have a fine-looking set of men, who, although ignorant of military matters, evince a disposition to learn highly creditable to them.

We have no news worthy of credit from Santa Fe, but it is rumored that Gen. Urrea, from the Passo Del Norte, has marched to Santa Fe, with an army or three to four thousand troops; if so, we may meet with a warm reception.  Well, it is not usual for us to be rivalled in cordiality.  We will reciprocate their politeness—”the American eagle will vie with the Mexican in a hearty grip.

Lieut. Colonel Ruff, of the Missouri mounted volunteers, was about two days in rear of Captains Waldo and Reed—™s corps; he will overtake up at Bent—™s Fort.  The traders (all of whom I have detained at this place as they arrived) have concluded to go by Bent—™s Fort, instead of the Semarone, as they originally intended.  Among the traders, and those accompanying them, I have found some polite and courteous gentlemen; amateurs; come traveling for the sake of locomotion, some for pleasure, and some in the pursuit of health.  Among the latter I have met an old friend, George R. Clark, of St. Louis.  I am glad to say, his health is much improved.  I have taken him into my mess, and by the time he reaches the base of the mountains, and enjoys the bracing air, so celebrated for its efficacious influence in pulmonary and dyspeptic affections, I hope to see him perfectly well, and able to kill and butcher two buffalos, instead of one, (he mastered one a few days ago, on a hunt with me.)

We are all well, and in fine spirits, in contemplation of —œbusiness on hand.—  As opportunities of communication with the United States will now be frequent, I shall write often, and hope, in future, to have something more interesting to impart.

Yours, truly,

Benjamin D. Moore, U.S.D.

Below are the orders of the Army of the West concerning the break up of the command and the re-organization of General Stephen W. Kearny’s troops on its march to California in the Fall of 1846. (Courtesy of Tim Kimball)


Headquarters Army of the West

Order No. 18 Santa Fe, N. Mexico, August 27, 1846

I—¦ Companies —œK— and —œC— 1st Dragoons commanded by Captains Cooke and Moore, are hereby selected to accompany the General on his expedition to upper California, and will be held in readiness to leave here by the 15th proximo.

II—¦ Major Sumner will cause Companies —œB— and —œI— 1st Dragoons to be broken up and the men distributed to Companies —œC,— —œG,— and —œK— of the same Regt. raising —œC— and —œK— to the full complement authorized by law and as these Companies have a long and arduous march before the, selections will be made for them of the most efficient men and horses now in the Companies to be broken up.  This arrangement will be made on the 1st proximo.

III—¦ Should it be found by the 1st proximo, that the are horses and mules in Companies —œC— and —œK— unfitted to commence a long march, Major Sumner will cause them to be changed for others in his command that will answer.

IV—¦ Major Sumner, after the departure of the General, will remain in this Territory, until further orders in command of Company —œG— 1st Dragoons and Capt. Hudson—™s Company (Leclede rangers) serving under him.

By order of Brig. Genl. S. W. Kearny

H. S. Turner

Capt. AAAGnrl.


    Headquarters Army of the West

Order No. 22 Santa Fe, N. Mexico, Sept. 18, 1846

I—¦Orders Nr. 18 of the 27th ult. Are hereby revoked.  Major Sumner will restore the Dragoon command to the organization which it held in the 1st instant, reinstating and increasing the Companies to respond with their strength at that date.

II—¦Major Sumner will prepare the five Companies of Dragoons, under his command, to march for California on the 28th inst.

III—¦The following members of the Staff will accompany the command to California: viz,

Major Swords, QM & to perform the duties of Comms,

Captain Turner, A.A.A. General,

—œ Johnston, A. D. C.,

Lieut. Emory, Top. Engineers

—œ      Warner, —œ     —œ

Surgeon De Camp, Capt. McKissack, A.Q.M., & Lieut Grier, A. A. C. Sub. Will remain on duty at this station.

In addition to his other duties, Surgeon De Camp will remain in charge of the General Hospital.

By order of Brig. Gen. S. W. Kearny,

H. S. Turner

Capt. AAAGrnl.


    Head Qrs. Army of the West

Special Order No. 8 Santa Fe, N. Mexico, Sept. 20, 1846

Any men belonging to the Dragoon command, who, on the 25th inst. May be too sick to commence the march to California, will be left in charge of Surgeon De Camp, in this City.

Those who may have sufficiently recovered after the departure of Capt. Allen—™s command for California, will accompany it, to join their respective Companies.  The remainder will be ordered back to Fort Leavenworth, as they recover, and as opportunities may be presented.  A full description of each of these men, with a statement of their clothing and other accounts with the Government, will be left with surgeon De Camp.

By order of Brig. Genl S. W. Kearny

H. S. Turner



Head Qts Army the West

Camp on the Del Norte near Socorro

Oct. 6th 1846


I this morning met an Express from Upper California to Washington city, sent by Lieut. Col. Frémont, reporting that the Americans had taken possession of that department, in consequence of which I have re-organized the Party to accompany me to that country as will be seen by Order No. 34, herewith enclosed.

I take of the Staff, Maj. Swords (Q.M.) , As. Surg. Griffin, Capts.  Turner (A.A.A.A.G.) & Johnston (A.D. Camp), Lieuts. Emorny and Warner (Top. Engr). and of the line, Capt. Moore in command of Cos. C & K (100 total) 1st Dragoons, & leave Maj. Sumner here with Cos. B, G & I.

We are now 160 miles below Santa Fé & from this time expect less interruption from our Baggage train, which has hither to much retarded us.

I have nothing new to report.

Very Respectfully

Your Ob. Servt.

Brig. Genl. R. Jones  S. W. Kearny

AdjGeneral  Brig. Genl

U. S. A.   U. S. A.
Head Quarters Army of the West

Camp on the Del Norte Camp [sic] below Fray Christobal [sic, Cristobal]

October 13th 1846


No. 35.

  1. Maj. E. V. Sumner having been promoted to the 2nd Regt. Dragoons, will be relieved in the command of the three companies 1st Dragoons now under him, by Capt. Burgwin of the latter Regt.  When Maj. S. will be at liberty—”to comply with such orders as he may have received.
  2. Lt. H. W. Stanton 1st Dragoons having acted as Regt. Adgt. Since the 18th August will proceed to Fort Leavenworth without delay, taking with him the books & papers pertaining to the Hd Qrs of the Regt. which he will deliver to the Colonel or other officer in command thereof.
  3. Capt. Burgwin will break up Co B, 1st Dragoons & distribute the privates between G & I compys. & will assign Buglr Hawkins to Co. K & order him to report to Capt. Cooke.1 He will then order Lt. Love to conduct the N. C. officers & the other Bugler of the Co. to Fort Leavenworth there to report to the Colonel or other officer in command of the Regt, for Recruiting service or such other duty as he may think proper to assign him to.
  4. Maj. M. L. Clark & Adgt. L . Walker of the Battalion of Horse Artillery from Mo. having reported for duty at fort Leavenworth on the 1st July 1846, are entitled to and will receive pay from that date.
  5. Private Wm. I. Johnson of Capt. Waldo—™s Co. 1st Regt, Mo. Mounted volunteers having been elected a member of the legislature of the state of Mo. is hereby honorably discharged from the service of the U. States, and is at liberty to return home that he may attend to the interests of his constituents.
  6. The attention of commanders of Regiments and Battalions of volunteers is directed to the requirements of the 15th & 19th articles of the rules and articles of war, & to the —œRegulations for the Army— under the head of —œMusters—”Returns—”Reports— vide paragraphs 809 to 817, 824, &c.
    The importance of rendering correct Returns and Rolls, in good season must be apparent to all, and Commanders & Adjutants of Regiments & Battalions are required to give special attention to the subject and see that the regulations are strictly complied with.  The information which their Rolls and Returns should contain is necessary for the records of the war dept as well as to do justice to the volunteers themselves in the settlements of their accounts &c.
  1. Commanders of Regiments and Battalions of volunteers will see that in every case where advances of money have been made by the state government to their men for which they pledged payment that the proportion to be charges against each individual is duly entered on the muster & pay rolls, as so much —œdue the State of—”,—œ that it may be deducted at the first subsequent payment.
  2. The commanding General has no official or certain intelligence, but has learned by rumor and report that a volunteer Regt. of infantry from Missouri is now marching from Fort Leavenworth to Santa Fé to report to him.  Should [the] report prove true, the commander of the regiment must on his arrival at Santa Fé decide whether to winter it in New Mexico, or march it to Chihuahua to report to Brig. Genl. Wool and must make such decision upon a full & careful consideration of all circumstances therewith.
        • By order of Brig. Genl. S. W. Kearny
        • H. S. Turner
        • Capt. AdjGenl