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Kearny

The United States Army expeditions across New Mexico to California in the opening stages of the Mexican War are better known than the earlier journeys of Americans through the Southwest. After the bloodless subjugation of New Mexico, General Stephen Watts Kearny led an advance column of the Army of the West toward California to take part in the conquest of that longcoveted province.

Map of Kearny's Army of the West

Departing from Santa Fe in September 1846, the column marched down the Rio Grande, turning west to pass the copper mines, thence to the Gila, down the Gila, and across the Colorado about ten miles below the junction of the two rivers. The army, in some distress by this time, crossed the desert, passed Warner's Ranch, and finally reached San Diego in December 1846, but not before being battered by the Californians at San Pascual.

Kearny had hoped to open a wagon road between New Mexico and California and had begun his march with wagons. When he was forced to abandon them shortly after leaving the Rio Grande, he assigned that task to Lieutenant-Colonel Philip St. George Cooke. Cooke commanded the Mormon Battalion, a unit of the Army of the West, which was scheduled to follow Kearny's force. Cooke's Mormon volunteers marched out of Santa Fe In October 1846. Though Kearny had ordered him to follow the advance column's trail, Cooke was forced to leave the general's route at the point where Kearny had left the Rio Grande.

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These items are historical in scope and are intended for educational purposes only; they are not meant as an aid for travel planning.
Copyright ©Walter Feller. 1995-2023 - All rights reserved.
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