JEFFERSON DAVIS, GEORGE McCLELLAN AND THE WAR DEPARTMENT'S PACIFIC RAILROAD EXPLORATIONS AND SURVEYS OF 1853-54.
Report of the Secretary of War, 1853, title page and first page (p. 3)
(Executive Document No. 1, House of Representatives, 33rd Congress, 1st Session)
by Bruce C. Cooper
With the unexpected discovery of gold in California in 1849, its admission to statehood in 1850, and the resulting explosion in emigration to the West, the interest of the Government in exploring the establishment of a rail link to the Pacific became serious in the early 1850’s. Not only would a Pacific railroad help build population and expand commerce, it was also recognized to be an important element in defending the nation’s expanding borders by providing a means to economically and rapidly transport the Army and its provisions to the remote posts beyond the Mississippi.
In his summary of the causes which led to the building of the Pacific Railroad, the Commissioner of Railroads described the situation as follows in his 1883 Annual Report to the Secretary of the Interior:
“After the admission of California into the Union in 1850, and up to 1862, a host of measures were proposed in Congress for a railroad to the Pacific Ocean, and frequent reports were made by a select committee in each House. The main provisions of the bills reported favorably were that Congress should make an appropriation of lands, varying in the different bills from fifteen to forty sections per mile, from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean, and providing that the President of the United States should receive sealed proposals from contractors for the construction of the road; contractors to construct at their own expense, and own it when constructed ; the United States to make conveyance of the lands granted as fast as the road should be completed through the same. The Government was to make a contract in advance for the transportation of the mails, Army and Navy supplies, and all other freight for the Government to be determined by bids. These bids were to be received on the following points: First, within how short a time will the contractors complete the road? Second, at what rate per annum will the contractors carry the mails and Government freights for a period of twenty years from the date of the completion of the road?”
What it was all about ...
Bruce C. Cooper Collection.
On March 3, 1853, the 32nd Congress, 2nd Session, approved “The Military Appropriations Act of 1853” (Chapter 98) of which Sections 10 and 11 authorized the expenditure of $150,000 by the War Department to conduct “explorations and surveys ... to ascertain the most practicable and economical route for a railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean.” Within two months the surveys were underway, and in December the War Department submitted its Annual Report to the President containing an extended section describing the scope and progress of the surveys. Also included with the Report were the Secretary of War’s detailed written instructions to the various survey parties which were drawn from the Army under the direction of the Corps of Topographical Engineers.
Two of the names which appear prominently in these documents are of particular historical interest — Secretary of War Jefferson Davis and Brevet Captain George B. McClellan of the Corps of Engineers. Not only did both men do much in 1853 to help promote the idea of a Pacific Railroad, but a decade later each would play a central role — on opposite sides — in the Civil War.
Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis
(Colorized composite illustration from "Battles and Leaders of the Civil War,"
The Century Co., New York. 1884. Courtesy Bruce C. Cooper.)
Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, an 1828 graduate of West Point, hero of the Mexican War, and Senator (1847-51) from Mississippi, served as President Franklin Pierce's Secretary of War from 1853 to 1857 after which he returned to the Senate. Davis was always a strong advocate of building a Pacific Railroad — by a Southern route — and this advocacy helped, among other things, to bring about the 1853 Gadsden Purchase through which a southern rail route would have to pass. While as a Senator he discouraged the idea of secession, when Mississippi withdrew from the Union in 1861 Davis was obliged to resign from the Senate and was immediately commissioned a Major General in the Mississippi Militia. A short time later he was named provisional President of the Confederate States of America at the convention in Montgomery, Alabama, and was formally elected to that office in October, 1861.
As was Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, Captain George McClellan, a native of Philadelphia, PA, was also a West Point graduate (1846) who had fought with distinction in the Mexican War. After returning to West Point to teach engineering from 1848 to 1851, McClellan worked on a number of important Army engineering projects over the next six years including his survey of the Cascades for Gov. I. I. Stevens' explorations of the Northern route which eventually became the basis of the Northern Pacific Railroad. In 1857 McClellan resigned his Army commission to become Chief Engineer of the Illinois Central Railroad where his organizational skills caught the eye of the railroad's attorney, Abraham Lincoln. In 1860 McClellan became President of one of the Illinois Central's subsidiary lines, the Ohio & Mississippi Railroad. (This was the same road for which Lewis M. Clement worked in 1861 and 1862 as a telegrapher and station agent before heading to California and his career with the Central Pacific.)
With the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, McClellan returned to the Army as a Major General in command of the Department of Ohio, and in July of that year he took over the Department of the Potomac. In November, 1861, President Lincoln — his former colleague with the Illinois Central — appointed the 35-year old McClellan to succeed General Winfield Scott (on whose staff he had served as a young Lieutenant in the Mexican War fifteen years earlier) as General-in-Chief of the Union Armies. While as superb an organizer as Lincoln had recalled from their railroad days in Illinois, McClellan often showed a great reluctance to press the attack which finally led to his being sacked by the President in November, 1862. Two years later McClellan ran unsuccessfully against Lincoln as the Democratic nominee for President. After his defeat the General resigned form the Army and spent the next three years living in Europe. McClellan spent the final years of his life living in New Jersey which he also served as Governor from 1878 to 1881.
Below is the full text of that part of Secretary Davis' 1853 War Department Report to the President relating the explorations and surveys. This is followed by his detailed instructions to each of the Topographical Engineers he assigned to lead the parties conducting the surveys of the various routes.
(Also see "SECRETARY OF
WAR JEFFERSON DAVIS’ 1854 REPORT TO THE PRESIDENT FROM THE LIBRARY OF T.D.
JUDAH" for similar excerpts from the War Department's 1854 Report,
scanned from T.D. Judah's personal signed copy.)
Washington, December 1, 1853.
At the last session of Congress an appropriation of $150,000 was made to ascertain the most practicable and economical route for a railroad from the Mississippi river to the Pacific ocean; and the act required that the several reports relative to the explorations should be laid before Congress on or before the first Monday of February, 1854.
The time allowed, and the money appropriated, it is feared, will prove insufficient for the complete solution of this important problem. A vast extent of country was to be accurately surveyed, and numerous lines, thousands of miles in extent, to be examined; and it is hardly, therefore, to be hoped that such data can be collected as will satisfactorily answer the question proposed. But it is confidently believed that much information will be added to the stock previously possessed, perhaps enough to determine the practicability of the proposed enterprise.
The following general sketch of the country to be explored will give some idea of the magnitude of the examination required:
The western portion of the continent of North America, irrespective of the mountains, is traversed, from north to south, by a broad elevated swell or plateau of land, which occupies the greater portion of the whole space between the Mississippi river and the Pacific ocean. The crest of this plateau, or the water-shed of the country, is nearly midway between the Pacific coast and the Mississippi. It may be represented on the map by an undulating line traced between the headwaters of the streams which flow eastward and those which flow westward. It divides the whole area between the Mississippi and the Pacific into two nearly equal portions — that on the east being somewhat larger. This crest of the water-shed has its greatest elevation in Mexico; and thence declines to its lowest point about the latitude of 32°, where it has a height of about 4,500 feet, between the waters of the Rio Grande and those of the San Pedro, a tributary of the Gila. From this parallel it increases in altitude northward, and reaches its maximum near the 38th parallel, where it is about 8,000 feet high. Thence it declines as we pass northward; and, in latitude 42° 24', it has an elevation of, say 7,000 feet; and in the latitude of about 47° it is reported to be at least 1,000 feet lower. The heights here given are those of the lowest passes over the crest or water-shed of the great plateau of the country, and not those of the mountain peaks and ridges which have their base upon it, and rise, in some cases, to the height of 17,000 feet into the region of perpetual snow.
The slope of the plateau, on the east and south, towards the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico, is comparatively gentle; and in Texas is by several steps, of which the highest is that known by the name of the Llano estacado, or raked plain. It is traversed by the Missouri, the Platte, the Arkansas, and other large rivers which rise among the mountains near the crest, and flow eastward and southward in channels sunk beneath the general surface level of the plains.
In latitude 42°, near the source of the Platte it has an elevation of about 5,000 feet above tide; and in the same latitude on the Mississippi, about 1,000 feet. Towards the sources of the Arkansas, in latitude 36°, it has a height of 4,000 feet; and in the same latitude on the Mississippi, 275 feet. These elevations give an average declination, eastward, to the whole plain, of about four and a half feet per mile, and southward of about two and a third feet.
The crest of the plateau, and nearly the whole of its western portion to the Pacific, is occupied by a great mountain system — the continuation of the Andes of South America. It has a variable breadth, narrowest, within our possessions, near the Gila, in latitude 32°, where it has a width of about 500 miles, and attains its greatest expansion in the parallel of 40°, where it occupies a space of about 900 miles. On this mountain base, as has been said before, are situated a series of elevated peaks, ridges, and ranges. Those on the eastern side are nearly continuous for about 900 miles, and known by the name of the Rocky mountains; those on the western side are perhaps less continuous, though equally elevated above their base, and designated as the Sierra Nevada, Coast Range, Cascade mountains, &c. The whole space between these extreme ranges is occupied by high peaks, and in various directions by a series of ridges, including elevated valleys, and forming great basins, having no outlet to the sea. The most important of these is Salt Lake basin, having an elevation of 4,100 feet.
This mountain region is not, as is frequently supposed, a single chain, but a system extending from a little east of the crest of the watershed to near the shores of the Pacific, and occupying about one-half of all the space between the Mississippi and the Pacific ocean. The position of this belt of mountain region, stretching from north to south, gives rise to a peculiarity of climate and soil. Fertility depends principally upon the degree of temperature and amount of moisture, both of which are much affected by increase of elevation; and the latter, also, depends on the direction of the wind. The upper or return current of the trade wind, flowing backward towards the northeast, gives a prevalence of westerly winds in the north temperate zone, which tends to spread the moisture from the Pacific over the western portion of our continent.
These winds, however, ascending the western slope of the mountain ridges, are deprived of their moisture by the diminished temperature of the increased elevation; and hence it is that the plains and valleys on the eastern side of the ridges are generally parched and barren, and that the mountain system, the highest chain of which, known as the Rocky mountains, by presenting as it were a screen against the moisture with which the winds from the west come laden, has for its eastern margin a sterile belt, which probably extends along the whole range, with an average width of about 250 miles.
These general views, derived as they have been from imperfect data, may yet serve to give some idea of the immense magnitude of the work necessary to construct a railway from the Atlantic to the Pacific. No work for artificial communication has ever exceeded it in extent and physical difficulty. Its execution, however, is within the means and power of the American people. The degree of practicability, and the comparative economy and eligibility of routes, cannot be determined without accurate instrumental surveys. An error in the selection of the route may involve the useless expenditure of many millions, and the ultimate value of the work; for this choice should not depend alone on apparent ease of construction but also upon the productive character and general resources of the country through which it passes.
From the foregoing sketch, it will be perceived that the lines of exploration must traverse three different divisions or regions of country lying parallel to each other, and extending north and south through the whole of the western possessions of the United States. The first is that of the country between the Mississippi and the eastern edge of the sterile belt, having a varying width of from 500 to 600 miles. the second is the sterile region, varying in width from 200 to 300 miles; and the third, the mountain region, having a breadth of from 500 to 900 miles.
Explorations show that the surface of the first division with few exceptions, falls in gentle slopes from its western boundary to the Mississippi at the rate of about six feet to the mile, and that it offers no material obstacle to the construction of a railway. It is, therefore, west of this that the difficulties are to be overcome. The concurring testimony of reliable observers proves the second division, or that called the sterile region, to be so inferior in vegetation and character of soil, that it has received, and probably deserves, the name of the desert. The construction of a railway through this region will be attended with obstacles which, though not insurmountable, will be scarcely less difficult to overcome than the elevations in the mountain passes of the next division.
Report also gives the character of extreme sterility to much of the country embraced in the mountain region; yet, in the conflict of opinion on this subject, and amid the variety of accounts which have been given of it, doubts have arisen in the minds of many as to the possibility of the existence of such extensive regions within our possessions unsuited to the purposes of man. To settle this question, with which the construction of a railway is intimately connected, the parties have been instructed to collect all the facts which may have a bearing on the capacity of these regions to support human life.
It was necessary, before determining what routes should be explored, to examine the information which had already been obtained. Only three parties had extended their explorations with proper instruments from the Mississippi to the tide-waters of the Pacific. The first and most northern was by the way of what is called the South Pass and the Sierra Nevada. The second, through Santa Fe, the copper mines, and along the Gila; and the third, by the way of the Zuñi river and the Colorado.
Other surveys have been made with barometric levels over detached portions of the region to be explored. The information thus obtained, though limited, is specific as far as it goes, and gives just ideas of the elevations and other obstacles to be surmounted. Much valuable and reliable information has also been furnished by the Mexican boundary survey.
The explorations of Lewis and Clarke, who crossed to the Pacific, and those of Colonel (Stephen H.) Long, while they throw much light on the general geography and topography of the country, and have served to indicate the routes to be explored, do not give profiles of the regions passed over.
Reports from travelers, who have gone over the continent entirely without instruments, are as various and conflicting as the routes themselves, and even of the same route totally different accounts are given. Any information other than that based on accurate instrumental measurement, though it may be of some importance in indicating routes to be surveyed, is of little value in determining the question of a railway. It is necessary for this purpose to have well-determined facts and not vague impressions.
The expedition of Lewis and Clarke showed the probability of a considerable indentation in the crest of the water-shed of the continent near the forty-seventh parallel of north latitude, and indicated the possibility of a railway route in this region, from the head-waters of the tributaries of the Missouri across to those of Clarke's river.
The party first organized under the act of Congress was the one to explore this line, which claimed the earliest attention, from the known severity and length of the winter, and the necessity of commencing operations early in the year. It was placed in charge of Governor Stevens, of Washington Territory, who was directed to operate from St. Paul's, or some eligible point on the Upper Mississippi, towards the Great Bend of the Missouri river, and thence on the table land between the tributaries of the Missouri and those of the Saskatchewan, to some eligible pass in the Rocky mountains. A second party, commanded by Captain McClellan, under the direction of Governor Stevens, was directed to proceed at once to Puget sound, and explore the passes of the Cascade range, meeting the eastern party between that range and the Rocky mountains.
Taken in geographical order, the next survey directed to be made was that entrusted to Captain Gunnison, corps topographical engineers. He was instructed to explore the route near the thirty-eighth parallel of latitude, by the Huerfano river and Coochu-to-pa, or some other eligible pass, into the mountainous region of the Grand and Green rivers, and westwardly to the Vegas of Santa Clara and Nicollet's river of the Great Basin; and thence northward to the vicinity of Lake Utah. Reliable information, furnished by persons who had been extensively connected with the western explorations of the government, gave such assurance that no railway pass could be found north of Kern river, into either the Sacramento or San Joaquin valley, that it was not deemed proper to expend any part of the limited means appropriated in such a search; and having learned that the Mormons of the Great Salt Lake were making a survey for a railroad from their settlement to Walker's pass, Captain Gunnison, whose former intercourse with their engineer would enable him to obtain whatever information he possessed, was directed to procure a report of that survey, thus connecting his line with the survey ordered to be made near the thirty-fifth parallel.
Postponing for future operations, if further surveys shall be ordered, the exploration of a route from Salt Lake across the Sierra Nevada to the valley of the Sacramento, Captain Gunnison was directed to return from the Great Basin through the Timpanago cañon, or other passes, and across the Weber and Bear rivers, by the coal basin, to such point of disbandment as his discretion might direct.
The next line is that near the thirty-fifth parallel, which is in charge of Lieutenant Whipple, of the corps of topographical engineers. He was directed to ascend the valley of the Canadian river, to pass round the mountains east of the Rio del Norte, and enter the valley of that river at some point near Albuquerque; thence to extend his explorations west through Sierra Madre and the mountains west of the Zuñi and Moqui countries, to the Colorado of the west; and, proceeding in the direction of Walker's pass, to continue his survey by the most direct and practicable line to the Pacific ocean. Much testimony in favor of the practicability of this line indicated it as a proper route for exploration.
Another line further south is that suggested by the surveys of Major Emory in 1846, and those of the boundary commission of the last two years. This may be called the line of the 32d parallel. It passes around the extremity of the Guadalupe mountains of Texas, in about latitude 31°, and crosses the Rio Grande near Dona Aña, or Frontera, in about latitude 32°, and thence follows the table lands west to the San Pedro river, and thence along the Gila river to its mouth. A portion of this line passes through the territory of Mexico, and another portion is north of the line of operations of the boundary commission, and consequently these were not included in the boundary survey. The gaps thus existing in this line are to be filled up by the survey of Captain Pope, and that under the direction of Lieutenant Parke, both of' the corps of topographical engineers. The instructions to the latter were not given until recently, because the survey with which he is charged requires a part of the line to be run within the limits of Mexico. The Mexican government have, however, removed the difficulty, by granting authority to the United States to make all explorations necessary to determine the practicability of a railway route in this region.
Several partial routes on the Pacific side, to connect, as before described, with those from the east, were directed to be surveyed by Lieutenant Williamson, of the corps of topographical engineers. He was instructed to examine all the passes eastward, from the valley of the San Joaquin and the Tulare lake, and subsequently to explore Walker's and other passes which exist in the high range of mountains, apparently the southern continuation of the Sierra Nevada. The experience of almost every party which has crossed the continent shows the necessity of fitting out a separate party, on the shores of the Pacific, to explore the Sierra Nevada, and the other elevated ranges near that coast. Parties reaching these great barriers from the Atlantic side are too much fatigued and exhausted to make elaborate surveys. It is also necessary that these parties should commence operations early in the spring, in order to complete the field work before the heavy snows interrupt progress.
Copies of the instructions given to all the parties are hereto appended. From these it will appear that the officers of the different expeditions have been directed to observe and note all the objects and phenomena which have an immediate or remote bearing upon the railway, or which may serve to develop the resources, peculiarities, and climate of the country. For this purpose they have been supplied with full sets of instruments for determining the latitude and longitude of places, the courses and distances of the routes, and the topography of the country on either side, within accessible distances; with the means of ascertaining the variation of atmospheric pressure, and other meteorological phenomena; and two of the parties with instruments to determine the direction and intensity of the magnetic force. They have been instructed to observe the prevailing direction of the wind, the amount of rain, the degree of temperature and humidity of the atmosphere. They are also required to report on the geology of the country, to gather specimens of the different rocks and soils, to make collections of the plants and animals, and to collect statistics of the Indian tribes which are found in the regions traversed. The information which will be derived from this series of observations will be of much value in establishing the capacity of the country to sustain population and furnish articles of commerce. The astronomical observations are indispensable in fixing the geographical position of the principal points of the route, and for improving the map of our western possessions. The magnetic observations are of importance, in accurately tracing the line between the points determined by astronomical observations. It is well known that the magnetic needle has an irregular and sometimes fitful variation, amounting to a difference of eighteen degrees between Washington city and the western coast of Oregon, and the law by which this variation is increased or diminished has not been ascertained.
The meteorology of the country has a direct bearing on the question of the construction of a railway. The amount of snow which will probably be found along the route should be ascertained, and this will depend on the temperature and humidity of the place. As we advance to the north the amount of vapor diminishes, and hence the quantity of snow which falls will be less; but, on the other hand, it will lie longer, on account of the diminution of temperature. It was therefore deemed proper that the hygrometrical state of the atmosphere should be measured by suitable instruments, and the mean temperature ascertained by thermometrical observations of the soil at a few feet below the surface.
A knowledge of the geology of the country is important, as affording essential data relative to the construction and use of the railway. It teaches, in advance of an expensive experience, the obstacle which will be presented by rocks to be excavated, and their fitness for use in masonry, and discloses the presence of sand, which may drift over the track, or damage the rubbing parts of the machinery. From the character of the geological formation is to be inferred the probability of the existence of coal; and, from the dip and strata of the rock, the feasibility of procuring water by artesian wells for the use of the engines; and whether or not the supply may be extended beyond this want, and happily serve for the irrigation of the land. Should this last result be obtained, it would furnish the means to convert a sterile waste into a fertile region, and add to the power and wealth of the United States, by extending their settlements in a continuous chain from sea to sea.
Observations were directed to be made as to the zoology and botany of the country, which enter into the question of the choice of routes, because they are indicative of the capacity of the country to sustain life and furnish materials for construction.
Allusion has been made to the inadequacy of the appropriation for surveys to ascertain the best route for a railroad from the Mississippi river to the Pacific ocean. In determining the route of ordinary railroads through thickly-settled countries, of easy access, one-half per cent. on the actual cost of construction is not considered too liberal an allowance for the preliminary surveys; and therefore it cannot be expected that the best line of a road which has been estimated to cost one hundred millions of dollars can be located, through an uninhabited and comparatively unknown region, for one hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
There is but little doubt that the best line which can be chosen will present a combination of nearly all the obstacles which have up to this time been successfully encountered by the art of the engineer, and that any haste or negligence which should cause an improper location of the road to be made must lead to consequences which would endanger the success of the whole enterprise.
A striking illustration of the value of opinions not based on instrumental survey is presented in the developments made by Lieutenant Williamson's exploration of Walker's pass. It will be remembered that this famous gap was considered a fixed point, and the various speculations on routes, differing in everything else, generally concurred in tending to Walker's pass. Recent information from Lieut. Williamson establishes the fact that this pass is impracticable for a railway.
The information which has been received from the parties now in the field is too limited and imperfect to justify an opinion on the question proposed by the act of Congress. When the reports of these parties shall have been received, or at the date prescribed by Congress, it is my purpose to submit a condensed statement and map, exhibiting all the reliable information possessed, with profiles annexed of all instrumental surveys which have at any time been made, and which serve to answer the inquiry contained in the act of appropriation under which surveys are now in progress.
If I seem to have pressed the magnitude of the obstacles to a successful execution of the contemplated work, it has not been to suggest the abandonment of the undertaking, but only to enforce the propriety of much caution in the preliminary steps, and the necessity for concentrating all the means which can be made available to the completion of so gigantic a project.
Preconceived opinion or prejudice, personal interest, and sectional rivalry, must be held subject to the developments of instrumental survey, and subservient to the purpose of final success, or the result to be anticipated is failure. And when from the consideration of the magnitude of the difficulties to be overcome we pass to the importance of the effects to be produced, there is enough to sustain patriotism in the sacrifice of any personal or local interest which may be involved. Its commercial and agricultural advantage, its political and military necessity, have attracted the attention and excited the interest of our whole country. Congress has, by its appropriation, manifested the purpose to obtain such information as will secure a proper location of the road. The necessity for more rapid means of communication has been referred to in other parts of this report when treating of the defence of our southern boundary, the western territory, and the Pacific coast. Duties and interests of vital importance, other than these, arise in the consideration of the construction of a railroad to the Pacific, but, as they do not fall under the charge of this department, I have not attempted to present them; nor have I deemed it proper, in this communication, to offer my views as to the means or the mode by which the general government may constitutionally aid in the attainment of the contemplated object.
The absence of navigable streams in a large portion of our recently acquired territory, and the existence of the vast arid and mountain regions already described, have entailed upon the government a very heavy charge for the transportation of supplies, and for the service of troops stationed along our new frontier, and operating against the predatory and nomadic Indians of those regions. The cost of transportation within that country, for purposes connected with military defence, amounted in the year ending June, 1853, to $451,775.07.
The modes of transportation now used — wagons drawn by horses' mules, or oxen — besides being very expensive, are necessarily circuitous in the routes traveled, slow, and generally so unsatisfactory as to prompt inquiry for means which may be attended with better results. In any extended movement these wagon trains must depend upon grass for forage, and their progress will seldom average more than twelve miles per day. It often happens, in traversing the country just referred to, that long spaces are encountered in which there is neither grass nor water; and here the consequence must be, severe privation and great destruction of the animals employed, if not the failure of the objects of the expedition. These inconveniences are felt in all movements between the distant posts of that section, and seriously obstruct, sometimes actually defeat, the pursuit of the mounted Indians of the plain, who, by their intimate knowledge of the places where the small supplies of water and grass are to be found, are enabled to fly across the most arid region, after having committed depredations on our frontier population, or upon the trains of merchants and emigrants.
Beyond the difficulties here contemplated in connexion with transportation to the interior, it is proper to look to those which would arise in the transportation of supplies for the defence of our Pacific coast in the contingency of a war with a maritime power. Our experience has been confined to a state of peace, and to the use of routes of communication which pass beyond the limits of our territories. Reasoning from the difficulties which have been encountered in supplying points where it was necessary only to traverse a part of the space which lies between the Pacific coast and the points of supply, it may be claimed as a conclusion that it would not be practicable, with the means now possessed, to send across the continent the troops, munitions, and provisions which would be required for the defence of the Pacific coast. A railroad, such as has been contemplated, to connect, by the most eligible route, the Mississippi river with the Pacific ocean, would but partially remove the difficulty. It would serve to transport troops and to supply depots along the route and at the extremity of the line, but there would still be a vast region of the interior too remote from its depots materially to feel its effect.
On the older continents, in regions reaching from the torrid to the frozen zone, embracing arid plains and precipitous mountains covered with snow, camels are used, with the best results. They are the means of transportation and communication in the immense commercial intercourse with central Asia. From the mountains of Circassia to the plains of India they have been used for various military purposes — to transmit dispatches, to transport supplies, to draw ordnance, and as a substitute for dragoon horses.
Napoleon when in Egypt used with marked success the dromedary, a fleet variety of the same animal, in subduing the Arabs, whose habits and country were very similar to those of the mounted Indians of our western plains. I learn, from what is believed to be reliable authority, that France is about again to adopt the dromedary in Algeria for a similar service to that in which they were so successfully used in Egypt.
For like military purposes, for expresses, and for reconnaissances, it is believed, the dromedary would supply a want now seriously felt in our service; and for transportation with troops rapidly moving across the country, the camel, it is believed, would remove an obstacle which now serves greatly to diminish the value and efficiency of our troops on the western frontier.
For these considerations it is respectfully submitted that the necessary provision be made for the introduction of a sufficient number of both varieties of this animal, to test its value and adaptation to our country and our service.
In connexion with the means to be adopted, to overcome existing difficulties in the transportation of troops and army supplies, I further invite your attention to the condition of Fort Yuma, at the junction of the Gila and Colorado rivers. It is now supplied from San Diego, by the overland route, at enormous expense.
Attempts have been made
to send supplies through the Gulf of California and the Colorado river;
but the latter, by reason of the shoals at its mouth, not being practicable
for sea-going vessels within a considerable distance of our southern boundary,
it becomes necessary, at some point within the limits of Mexico, to transship
on light-draught boats, or to haul the stores across the Mexican territory.
The importance of possessing a port for this purpose is too apparent, under
existing circumstances, to require or justify exploration.
Secretary of War.
To The President
SECRETARY OF WAR JEFFERSON DAVIS' INSTRUCTIONS TO THE SURVEY PARTIES CONDUCTING THE 1853 EXPLORATIONS AND SURVEYS FOR A RAILROAD ROUTE TO THE PACIFIC
Instructions to Governor I. I. Stevens.
SIR: The War Department being directed by a recent act of Congress to survey the several routes of a railroad from the Mississippi river to the Pacific ocean, it has been determined to explore and survey a route from the sources of the Mississippi river to Puget's sound, and the following instructions are given in relation to it, and for the information and direction of the several branches of the service:
1. The exploration and survey is placed in charge of Isaac I. Stevens, Governor of the Territory of Washington, to whom all officers detailed for the same will report for instructions.
2. The general project of the operation, subject to such modifications as circumstances may direct, is to operate from St. Paul's, or some eligible point on the Upper Mississippi, towards the great bend of the Missouri river, and thence on the table land between the tributaries of the Missouri and those of the Sarkatchanan, to some eligible pass in the Rocky mountains. A depot will be established at Fort Union, at the mouth of the Yellow Stone, and a portion of the party will rendezvous there and await the coming up of the main body. A second party will proceed at once to Puget's sound and explore the passes of the Cascade range, meeting the eastern party between that range and the Rocky mountains, as may be arranged by Governor Stevens.
3. As in the prosecution of this exploration and survey it will be necessary to explore the passes of the Cascade range and of the Rocky mountains from the 49th parallel to the head-waters of the Missouri river. and to determine the capacity of the adjacent country to supply, and of the Columbia and Missouri rivers and their tributaries to transport, materials for the construction of the road, great attention will be given to the geography and meteorology, generally, of the whole intermediate region; the seasons and character of its freshets, the quantities and continuance of its rains and snows, especially in the mountain ranges; to its geology in arid regions, keeping particularly in view the bringing of water to the surface by means of artesian wells; its botany, natural history, agricultural and mineral resources; the location, numbers, history, traditions and customs of its Indian tribes, and such other facts as shall tend to develop the character of that portion of our national domain, and supply all the facts which enter into the solution of the particular problem of a railroad. `
4. Brevet Captain George B. McClellan, already under orders to report to Governor Stevens, is assigned to duty on this survey according to his brevet rank.
5. Capt. John W. T. Gardiner, 1st dragoons; Capt. Joseph Roberts, 4th artillery; 2d Lieut. Johnson K. Duncan, 3d artillery; 2d Lieut. Rufus Saxton, jr., 4th artillery; 2d Lieut. Cuvier Grover, 4th artillery, and Brevet 2d Lieut. John Mullan, jr., 1st artillery, are assigned to duty on this survey, and will report to Governor Stevens for instruction.
6. In addition to Lieutenant A. J. Donelson and ten non-commissioned officers, artificers and privates of the engineer company, already under orders for the expedition, one sergeant, two corporals, one musician and sixteen privates of company D, first dragoons, now stationed at Fort Snelling, will be placed at the disposal of Governor Stevens; and in view of the character of the service, the officers of the company are required to select none but tried men and animals for the duty.
7. In the exploration of the Cascade range, the brigadier general in command of the Pacific division will assign to Captain McClellan two officers from those who may volunteer for the service, and thirty men to be selected from the several companies stationed in the Territory of Washington and on the Columbia river. Every facility will be given to Captain McClellan and his party in the discharge of their difficult and important duties, and much is expected from the hearty co-operation and assistance of the officers and troops stationed in the Territory.
8. The several administrative branches of the service will, on requisitions duly approved by Governor Stevens, supply the officers, soldiers and civil employees of the expedition (except the scientific corps and their assistants) with transportation, subsistence, medical stores and arms. The Quartermaster's department will supply funds to provide means of transportation and to pay for the hired men of the department attached to the command. the Subsistence department will supply rations or funds for their purchase. The Ordnance department will furnish forty Colt's revolvers, forty Sharp's patent rifles, forty ordinary rifles, and a mountain piece, with the necessary ammunition, and a traveling forge. The Surgeon General's department will assign a medical officer to the command having skill as a naturalist, provided he can be detailed without detriment to the service.
9. After the completion of the survey of the passes of the Rocky mountains, such portions of the officers, troops and employees, both of the escort and of the scientific corps, as are not needed in the operations westward to the Pacific, will be dispatched homeward by new routes, still further to develop the geography and resources of the country. Such of the officers and troops as are not wanted for office duty will report to their several stations; all civil employees not necessary for a similar purpose will be discharged, and the office force will proceed to such point as may be designated by Governor Stevens, to prepare the usual reports.
10. After the completion of the field examinations, the expedition will rendezvous at some point in the Territory of Washington, to prepare the usual reports, sending to Washington at the earliest practicable moment a summary of the principal events of the expedition, and a railroad report to be laid before Congress, on or before the first of February, to be followed at a later period by an elaborate report presenting a full account of the labor and results of the expedition.
11. The sum of forty thousand dollars ($40,000) is set apart from the appropriation for the survey thus entrusted to Governor Stevens.
Secretary of War.
His Excellency ISAAC
Governor of the Territory of Washington, Washington City.
Instructions to Brevet Captain G. B. McClellan.
Washington, D. C., May 9, 1853.
Sir: The construction of the military road from Walla-Walla to Steilacomb, Puget's Sound, authorized by the act of Congress, approved January 7, 1853, is assigned to you under the general directions of Governor I. I. Stevens. You are authorized to make a requisition for such part of the appropriation as may be necessary to conduct the preliminary surveys and location of the road. These being accomplished, you will enter into contracts with responsible persons for the construction. In order to avoid delay, you are authorized to draw upon this department for a portion, or the whole of the appropriation, as soon as you have formed the required contracts, which will be at once forwarded to this department for its sanction.
It is important that this road should be opened in season for the fall emigration; you will, therefore, use every exertion to do so.
Should it be found impossible to accomplish this, you will, at least, endeavor to fix the line of the road, especially through the Cascade mountains, and to perform such work on the most difficult portions as will enable the emigrants to render the route practicable by their own exertions, detaching a suitable person as guide and director to meet them at Walla-Walla. Should you find it advisable, you are authorized to let out different portions of the road, or different kinds of work, on separate contracts. On account of the peculiar nature of the work, you may find it advisable, instead of contracting for the performance of a specified amount of work, to contract for the supply of the necessary laborers and tools, taking precautions to secure good ones. In any event, you will so arrange your operations as, first, to secure a practicable wagon road between the extremities of the road; devoting the remainder of the funds at your disposal to the improvement of the more important points, always endeavoring to make the whole road a good one. Very respectfully,
Secretary of War.
Brevet Captain GEORGE
Corps of Engineers.
Instructions to Captain J. W. Gunnison.
Washington, May 20, 1853.
Under the tenth and eleventh sections of the Military Appropriation act of March 3, 1853, directing such explorations and surveys as to “ascertain the most practicable and economical route for a railroad from the Mississippi river to the Pacific ocean," the War Department directs a survey of the pass through the Rocky mountains in the vicinity of the head-waters of the Rio del Norte, by way of the Huerfano river and Coochu-to-pa, or some other eligible pass, into the region of Grand and Green rivers, and westwardly to the Vegas de Santa Clara and Nicollet river of the Great Basin; and thence northward to the vicinity of Lake Utah, on a return route, to explore the most available passes and canons of the Wahsatch range and South pass to Fort Laramie.
The following instructions relative thereto are issued for the government of the different branches of the public service:
1. The party for this exploration will be commanded by Captain J. W. Gunnison, topographical engineers, who will be assisted by First Lieutenant E. B. Beckwith, 3d artillery, and such civil assistants as the Secretary of War may approve.
2. The adjutant general will detail the necessary escort, whose subsistence and transportation will be furnished by the Subsistence and Quartermaster departments.
3. Upon the proper requisitions, officers on duty at the various military posts on the route, in the Commissary and Quartermaster departments, will furnish, as far as possible, all necessary supplies, which will be paid for at cost prices from the appropriation for the survey.
4. Medical stores will be furnished by requisitions upon the surgeon general.
5. Ammunition and arms may be obtained from the Ordnance department.
6. The party being organized, will collect the necessary instruments and equipments. It will then repair with the utmost dispatch to Fort Leavenworth, and, with the escort, proceed to the Huerfano river, making such reconnaissances from the Missouri river as will develop the general feature of the country and determine the practicability of a railroad across the plains, and its connexion with eastern lines of commerce.
The more minute reconnaissances will continue up the Huerfano into the San Luis valley; and thence through the most eligible pass to the valley of Grand river, and westwardly to the vicinity of the Tegas de Santa Clara; and thence, on the most advisable route, either along the Nicollet river or to the west of the ranges of mountains bordering that stream, into the basin upon that route, to the Great Salt Lake; thence to Lake Utah, and through the Timpanagos cañon or other passes, and across the Weber and Bear river by the coal basin, to Fort Lamarie.
Competent persons will be selected to make researches in those collateral branches of service which affect the solution of this question of location, construction and support of a railway communication across the continent, viz: the nature of the rocks and soils; the products of the country, animal, mineral and vegetable; the resources for supplies of material for the construction and means requisite for the operations of a railway, with a notice of the population, agricultural products, and the habits and languages of the Indian tribes; meteorological and magnetic observations; the hygrometrical and electrical states of the atmosphere, and astronomical observations for determining geographical points, shall be made, in order to develop the character of the country through which the party may pass.
On or before the first Monday of February next, Captain Gunnison will report the result of his investigation.
After the completion of the field-work the party will be disbanded, the escort ordered to ; and Captain Gunnison, with such officers and assistants as he may deem necessary, will proceed to prepare for Congress a detailed report of his operations.
The sum of forty thousand dollars is set apart for the execution of the duties entrusted to Captain Gunnison.
Secretary of War.
Capt. J. W. GUNNISON,
Instructions to Lieutenant A. W. Whipple.
Washington, May 14, 1853.
Under the 10th and 11th sections of the Military Appropriation act, approved March 3, 1853, directing "such explorations and surveys" to be made as might be deemed necessary to ascertain the most practicable and economical route for a railroad from the Mississippi river to the Pacific ocean, the War Department directs such explorations and surveys to be made as will develop the availability for this purpose of that portion of our territory which lies near the parallel of 35° north latitude. The following instructions with reference thereto are issued for the government of the different branches of the public service:
1. The party for this exploration and survey will be commanded by First Lieutenant A. W. Whipple, of the topographical engineers, who will be assisted by Brevet Second Lieutenant J. C. Ives, topographical engineers, and such civil assistants as may be required and the Secretary of War approve.
2. The adjutant general will detail the necessary escort, transportation of the provisions and equipage of which shall be furnished by the quartermaster general. Second Lieutenant D. S. Stanley, 2d dragoons, will act as quartermaster and commissary to this expedition.
3. Upon the proper requisitions, officers on duty in the Quartermaster and Commissary departments, at the various military posts upon the route, will furnish, as far as possible, all necessary supplies, which will be paid for at cost prices from the appropriation for the survey.
4. Medical stores will be furnished by requisition upon the surgeon general.
5. Ammunition and arms may be obtained from the Ordnance department.
6. This party being organized, will collect the necessary instruments and equipments. It will then repair to the field with the utmost dispatch, and proceed with the survey and reconnaissance in question. The Main party will rendezvous at some convenient point on the Mississippi river, and thence proceed by the most favorable route westward toward Rio del Norte. From hasty reconnaissances, and from such information as can be obtained from other sources, it may be determined from what point upon the river Mississippi the proposed railway should commence, and whether it may be advantageously connected with any railway already projected, by States or companies, westward from that river.
The reconnaissance will continue along the head-waters of the Canadian, cross Rio Peros, turn the mountains east of Rio del Norte, and enter the valley of that river at some available point near Albuquerque; from thence, westward, extensive explorations must determine the most practicable pass for a railway through the Sierra Madre, and the mountains west of the Zuñi and Moquis countries, to the Colorado. In these explorations Fort Defiance can be made a depot for supplies, and may furnish subsistence and transportation thence for the remainder of the route. From Walker's pass it would be advisable to pursue the most direct and practicable line to the Pacific ocean, which will probably lead to San Pedro, the post of Los Angelos, or San Diego.
Lieutenant Whipple will immediately detail an officer, with a small party, to proceed directly to Albuquerque, in New Mexico, in order to make that place a cardinal astronomical point in the survey, and to hasten preparations for the necessary explorations in the mountainous regions of New Mexico before the approach of winter.
Over such portions of the route as evidently afford no material obstacle to the construction of a railway, a rapid reconnaissance will suffice. This work, however, must be checked by numerous geographical points, determined by astronomical observations. Through mountain passes greater accuracy will be necessary, in order to determine (roughly) the grades and curves to be adopted, and the probable expense of their construction. Great attention will be given to those collateral branches of science which more or less directly affect the solution of the question of location for the proposed railway; the nature of the rocks and soils; the means of obtaining water upon arid plains, whether by tanks or artesian wells; the products of the country — animal, mineral, and vegetable; its population and resources; its supply of timber and other materials for the construction of a railway; the location, character, habits, tradition, and language of the Indian tribes.
Meteorological and magnetic observations will be attended to; hygrometrical and electrical states of the atmosphere will be noticed, and all practicable measures will be adopted, in order to develop the character of the country through which the party is to pass.
On or before the first Monday of February next, Lieut. Whipple will report the result of his investigations.
After the completion of the field-work, the party will be disbanded in California; the soldiers, no longer required, will be placed at the disposal of the commanding officer of that department; and Lieutenant Whipple, with such officers and assistants as he may deem necessary, will proceed to prepare for Congress a detailed report of the operations of the survey.
The sum of forty thousand dollars will be set apart to defray the expenses of the survey thus entrusted to Lieutenant Whipple.
Secretary of War.
Lieut. A. W. WHIPPLE,
Instructions to Lieutenant R. S. Williamson.
Washington, May 6, 1853.
Under the 10th and 11th sections of the Military Appropriation act, approved March 3, 1853, directing such explorations and surveys to be made as might be deemed necessary " to ascertain the most practicable and economical route for a railroad from the Mississippi river to the Pacific ocean," it has been determined to organize a party to operate in California, to survey and explore the country lying west of the lower Colorado, and a route connecting that portion of California with the Pacific ocean.
1. The party for this exploration and survey will be commanded by Lieut. R. S. Williamson, topographical engineers, who will be aided by Lieut. J. G. Parke, topographical corps, and by the following civil assistants, viz: One mineralogist and geologist; one physician and naturalist; two civil engineers; one draughts man, who, in addition to their stipulated compensation, will be allowed the actual cost of their transportation to and from California; packers, &c., will be employed in California at prices not exceeding those paid by the Quartermaster's department for such employees.
2. The party will rendezvous at Benicia, in California, and, having organized, will proceed to examine the passes of the Sierra Nevada leading from the Sun Joaquin and Tulare valleys, and subsequently explore the country to the southeast of the Tulare lakes, to ascertain the most direct practicable railroad route between Walker's pass, or such other pass as may be found preferable, and the mouth of the Gila; from this point the survey will be continued to San Diego.
3. In this exploration great attention will be paid to every point connected with the location of a railroad. A general profile of the route explored will be determined by means of barometric measurements; and, generally, the topography, meteorology, geology, natural history, the character of the Indian tribes of the country, &c., will be studied as closely as circumstances will permit.
4. The commanding general of the Pacific division will assign an escort of mounted troops to accompany the expedition, consisting of not less than three non-commissioned officers and twenty-five privates. Picked men and horses only will be sent on this duty; and the commanding officer of the escort will be instructed to furnish Lieut. Williamson such aid and assistance as will tend to facilitate his operations. Transportation for the provisions, equipage, &c., of the escort, will be furnished by the Quartermaster's department.
5. Lieutenant George B. Anderson will be detailed for duty with Lieut. Williamson's party.
6. The Quartermaster and Commissary departments will furnish to Lieut. Williamson such animals, equipments, stores, provisions, and other public property as he may need for the use of the expedition, and which can be spared, to be paid for out of the appropriation for the survey, at cost at the place of delivery. On the requisitions of Lieut. Williamson, the Ordnance department will furnish arms, &c., and the medical department medicines, &c., for his party.
7. The object of the expedition having been accomplished, all employees whose services may be no longer required will be discharged; and Lieutenant Williamson, with the office corps, will proceed to prepare as full a report as possible, to be laid before Congress, as required by the act above cited, on or before the first Monday in February next; to be followed at a later period by a more elaborate report, showing in full the results of the expedition.
8. The sum of thirty thousand dollars is set apart from the appropriation for the expenses of the survey thus entrusted to Lieutenant Williamson.
Secretary of War.
Lieut. R. S. WILLIAMSON,
Instructions to Lieutenant J. G. Parke.
Washington, November 18, 1853.
SIR: The President of Mexico has given to this government authority to make surveys within the Mexican territory, in connexion with the examination of railroad routes to the Pacific, and you are selected to make such a survey in accordance with the instructions below, provided a suitable party can, as is believed, be organized with the means which will be placed at your disposal.
For this purpose a draft on the assistant treasurer at San Francisco for five thousand dollars is herewith enclosed to you; and orders have been given to Lieutenant Williamson to supply you with all the funds he can spare, and all the animals, equipments, &c., which may be disposable for the object, on the disbanding of his party.
A similar order has been given to Lieutenant Whipple, though it is hardly expected that aid from him will be necessary should these instructions reach you before the party of Lieutenant Williamson is disbanded. If, however, Lieutenant Williamson should have sold his animals and equipments, you may find Lieutenant Whipple's assistance essential to your success. It is to be distinctly understood that neither of those officers is to deprive himself of anything necessary to the prompt completion of his report. The organization and outfit of your party are to be completed on the most economical scale that can be prudently adopted.
The necessary orders have been given for the detail of an escort and supplies for the same.
You will confer with Lieutenant Williamson upon everything relating to the organization and outfit of your party, and to your plans for the prosecution of the work.
You will use the utmost dispatch in commencing and prosecuting the duty assigned to you, and observe the following instructions in regard to it:
Referring to a sketch from the office of the Mexican boundary survey, hereto annexed, you will commence the barometric levelings on the Gila a little above "Pima village," at a place marked Dry creek; follow the line by Tucson, thence by blue line marked Nugent's wagon trail, to angle in red dotted lines marked " Brackish pool," east of Salt Lake.
It may be that a better and shorter line exists from the point of departure on the Gila to the point on the San Pedro where blue line or Nugent's wagon trail strikes it. The mountains in that cut-off are described to be generally parallel to the river San Pedro, and the belief exists that a good route can be found through them on the line indicated.
From the point marked "Brackish pool," just east of Salt Lake, as far east as the first stream, marked "Sienega," along the dotted red line, a survey and line of barometric levelings has been carried by the Mexican boundary survey. But it would be well to make the survey continuously along the red and blue line eastwardly, until it strikes Cook's wagon trail, and thence by the shortest distance and most practicable route to the valley of the Rio Bravo, to some point between “Dona Aña" and " Frontera," eight miles north of El Paso.
A more eligible and direct route from the region of the said Salt Lake to the point indicated on the Rio Bravo may be found. If information or observation on the ground shall so suggest, you will not confine yourself to the wagon trails described, but depart from the line indicated at any convenient point.
Bear in mind these wagon trails are faint, and not as broad or well marked as the great emigrant trail known as Cook's route, which, having been sufficiently explored, will not receive your attention.
The levels have been carried continuously by Major Emory along the valley of the Gila; and it might facilitate the operation not to unpack the barometer until the party shall have reached the point of departure from the Gila.
As the whole country between the Gila and the Rio Bravo, embraced in the parallels of latitude 32° and 34°, has been well covered with astronomical observations, it will probably not be necessary for you to impede your progress in checking the run of your work by elaborate astronomical observations. A sextant and chronometer, by which you can obtain your latitude, will, it is believed, prove sufficient to check your work.
The profile of the region traversed, showing the gradients which a road passing over it must encounter, is the information most wanted. It is therefore recommended that you take the barometric height at every point on the line to be surveyed, which may be important in the elucidation of this subject.
On reaching the Rio Bravo, it may add little to the expense of your party to bring it all the way into the settlements on the Red river. If so, you will take some new route from Dona Aña, passing through the northern part of Texas, and make a barometric leveling of the same
Very respectfully, your
Secretary of War.
Lieut. J. G. PARKE,
Topographical Corps, San Diego, California.
Washington, November 18, 1853.
SIR: Authority has recently been obtained from the President of Mexico to make surveys within the Mexican territory in connexion with the exploration of railroad routes to the Pacific and so soon as your survey is completed Lieut. Parke will be detached from your command to conduct such an expedition, under instructions of this date from the department, which are herewith transmitted.
You will please furnish him for this purpose with all the funds you can spare, and all the animals, stores, equipments, &c., which may be in serviceable condition, without however depriving yourself of anything necessary to the prompt completion of your report. He has been directed to confer fully with you upon everything relating to the organization and outfit of his party and to his plans for the prosecution of the work, and you will please give him the benefit of your advice and aid whenever they can be of service to him. The department would gladly avail itself of your experience to conduct this survey if it could do so without delaying your report of that which you have already been assigned to; but in view of the anxiety of Congress and the public generally to learn the result of the explorations commenced last spring, the reports must be delayed as little as possible beyond the period mentioned in your instructions, which moreover is the time limited by law for their presentation to Congress.
Very respectfully, your
Secretary of War.
Lieut. R. S. WILLIAMSON,
Topographical Corps, San Diego, California
Washington, November 18, 1853.
SIR: Lieutenant J. G. Parke is about to organize and fit out a surveying party under instructions from this department of this date, and is authorized to receive from you, on the conclusion of the survey now conducted by you, all the funds you may not need, and any animals, stores, equipments, and other property which may be in serviceable condition, which you can spare without interfering with the prompt completion of your report.
Very respectfully, your
Secretary of War.
Lieut. A. Whipple,
Corps of Topographical Engineers.
Instructions to Brevet Captain J. G. Pope.
BUREAU OF TOPOGRAPHICAL
Washington, October 7, 1853.
SIR: Your letters of 28th August and your estimate have been received. I send, herewith, a copy of a report upon the same from this office.
The survey as directed from Dona Aña, a b, will be made. On arriving at b, it is presumed that it will be as convenient and as economical to persevere with the survey, from b to c, d, Preston, as to return from b to Albuquerque, or to go down to San Antonio; you will therefore persevere with the survey in the direction indicated.
General Garland will be written to in reference to the detail of Lieutenant Garrard, (1st dragoons,) and to the escort. These questions must be referred to his discretion.
A nautical almanac for 1852 was long since sent to you. One for 1853 and one for 1854 are now on their way.
On arriving at Preston, you will make all discharges necessary to reduce expenses, will report your arrival there, and will there await further orders, occupying yourself in the preparation of the report and map of your survey.
Your estimate is for $14,600. You are authorized to draw on this bureau at times, as funds are wanted, for an amount in the whole not exceeding $15,000.
You can call on the Ordnance department for arms and ammunition; also upon the quartermaster and the commissary for such supplies as they can furnish you, and which will tend to lessen your expenses.
The depot of the Mexican boundary survey at El Paso will supply you with such instruments as it has to spare; on your application and receipt.
You will not forget that one of the chief objects of this survey is to determine the military capabilities of the line; and, as an important auxiliary, its properties for a railroad should also be carefully developed.
Respectfully, sir, your
J. J. ABERT,
Colonel of Corps of Topographical Engineers
Brevet Captain J. POPE,
Topographical Engineers, Albuquerque, New Mexico.