America’s First Great War Correspondent’s Eyewitness Account of the Ill-Fated Texas-Santa Fe Expedition

Fine Set of the First Issue, with the Kemble Map

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197. KENDALL, Geo[rge] Wilkins. Narrative of the Texan Santa Fé Expedition, Comprising a Description of a Tour through Texas, and across the Great Southwestern Prairies, the Camanche [sic] and Caygüa Hunting-Grounds, with an Account of the Sufferings from Want of Food, Losses from Hostile Indians, and Final Capture of the Texans, and Their March, as Prisoners, to the City of Mexico. With Illustrations and a Map. By Geo. Wilkins Kendall. New York: Harper and Brothers, 82 Cliff-Street, 1844. Vol. I: [i] ii-xii, [13] 14-405 [1, blank] pp., engraved folding map, 2 engraved plates; Vol. II: [i-iii] iv-xii, [11] 12-406 pp., 3 engraved plates. 2 vols., 8vo (24.9 x 13.5 cm), publisher’s original ribbed embossed dark brown cloth, spines lettered in gilt, each with gilt illustration of a buffalo hunt. Light outer wear, else very fine and bright, all tissue guards present.


Texas and Part of Mexico & The United States, showing the Route of The First Santa Fé Expedition, Drawn & Engd. by W. Kemble N. York. [below neat line] Harper & Brothers, New York. Neat line to neat line: 39 x 28 cm; overall sheet size: 43.5 x 31 cm. In two places the map extends beyond neat line. On thin paper. Very fine and fresh.


A Scamper Among The Buffalo. [lower left] J.G. Chapman. [lower right] Jordan & Halpin. R. Miller Printer. Image area: 9.6 x 15 cm.

Incident On The Prairies. [lower left] J.W. Casilear. [lower right] Jordan & Halpin. [lower right below title] R. Miller Printer. Image area: 8.9 x 14.7 cm.

The Puente Nacional, Or National Bridge. New York, Harper & Brothers. [lower left] Altered from Ward [lower right] Engraved by A.L. Dick. [lower right below title] R. Miller, Printer. Image area: 9 x 14.5 cm.

City of Guanajuato. [lower left] Altered from Ward [lower right] Engraved by A.L. Dick. [lower right below title]: R. Miller Printer. Image area: 9 x 14.7 cm.

Mexican Girls. Costumes of the Poblanas. Harper & Brothers New-York [lower left] Adapted from Nebel [lower right] Eng. by A. Halbert. [lower right below title] R. Miller, Printer. Image area: 13.8 x 9.5 cm.

     First edition, first issue of the best account of the abortive 1841 Republic of Texas expedition to establish jurisdiction over Santa Fe. The first issue is distinguished by the gilt stamping of 1844 at the foot of the spine of each volume (rebound copies thus are indistinguishable as first or later issue). Basic Texas Books 116. Clark, Old South 3:188. Dobie, Life & Literature of the Southwest, p. 56. Eberstadt, Texas 162:456. Field 818. Fifty Texas Rarities 26. Graff 2304. Howes K75. Jones 1089. Kelsey, Engraved Prints of Texas 1554-1900, p. 39: “A significant illustrated book”; Figures 3.59 & 3.60. LC, Texas Centennial Exhibition 122. Martin & Martin 34 (citing the map). Munk (Alliot), p. 122. Palau 127837. Plains & Rockies IV:110:1. Rader 2157. Raines, p. 131: “‘As a writer,’ says Dr. Randall, ‘he...possessed the art of giving the most dry details all the vivid interest of a well-told tale. His style was vigorous, direct, and crisp, while it had a most captivating ease and unstudiedness; and gleams of quaint and irresistible humor.’” Rittenhouse 347. Sabin 37360. Saunders 2998. Streeter 1515. Streeter Sale 379. Tate, The Indians of Texas: An Annotated Research Bibliography 2093. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West #483 & Vol. II, p. 188. A bestseller of its time, the book was reprinted seven times between 1844 and 1856, selling forty thousand copies on both sides of the Atlantic.

     Kendall (1809-1867) learned the printing trade in his native New England before moving to New Orleans, where he established the Picayune newspaper in 1837. Interested in Texas, he joined the Texas Santa Fe Expedition in 1841, was captured and then imprisoned in Mexico along with the rest of the Texans, even though he was a non-combatant and a U.S. citizen. Released in May of 1842, he returned to his newspaper in New Orleans, but by 1846 was back in Texas and Mexico as a volunteer in Scott’s army, participating in several battles including the storming of Monterrey. His dispatches from the front lines made him famous. One of the cornerstone books of the Mexican-American War was his splendid portfolio with art work by Carl Nebel (see NEBEL herein). By 1852, after spending time in Europe, he was back in Texas raising sheep, one of the earliest settlers to do so. His sheep ranch prospered, and Kendall County, Texas, was named for him after his death. He is considered both the father of the sheep industry in Texas and the first modern war correspondent.

     The map by W. Kemble accompanying the book exhibits no geographic advances, but Martin and Martin include it in their selection of important maps for Texas and the Southwest because it “stimulated renewed interest in Texas and represented another major step toward the inevitable solution to the Texas question later in the decade” (p. 131). In his introduction, Kendall states that he based his map on those of Josiah Gregg and Albert Pike. He comments: “Of course, in the construction of this map, much of what the Yankees term ‘guess work’ has been resorted to; but it will be found, in the main, correct.” Map collectors should be aware that Kendall’s book went through many editions, and to be certain of acquiring the first issue of the map, it is always best to buy the map in situ.

     In a departure from the more customary nineteenth-century practice of borrowing images without acknowledging the artists, Kendall graciously identifies the sources for the superb engravings in his book, the use of which was probably arranged by his publishers. He states that artist John G. Chapman (1808-1889; Hamilton, Early American Book Illustrators and Wood Engravers I, pp. 90-91) created the classic frontispiece, A Scamper Among The Buffalo. Although Kendall says the plate arises from Chapman’s fertile imagination, the scene depicted is quite similar to a buffalo hunt described in the book (Vol. II, pp. 236-241). A reduced detail from this plate is reproduced on the spines. John William Casilear, landscape painter (1811-1893; Hamilton, Early American Book Illustrators and Wood Engravers, Vol. I, pp. 88-89), drew the plate of Native Americans entitled Incident On The Prairies. The Puente Nacional and City of Guanajuato are based on lithographs found in Henry George Ward’s Mexico in 1827 (London, 1828; see WARD herein), which were from an original art work by Ward’s wife, Lady Emily Elizabeth Swinburne Ward (see herein). The final iconic plate of intriguing Mexican girls smoking in a doorway was reworked from a lithograph in Carlos Nebel’s Voyage pittoresque et archaéologique dans la partie la plus interessante du Méxique (see NEBEL herein). Few plates of nineteenth-century Mexico were recycled and reworked by other publishers as frequently as this charming image, which must have struck U.S. readers as either exotic or even scandalous. Nebel subsequently collaborated with Kendall on their magnificent portfolio on the Mexican-American War (see NEBEL herein).


Sold. Hammer: $1,600.00; Price Realized: $1,960.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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