Item #8564 Journal of Captain A.R. Johnston, First Dragoons [excised from] Notes of a military reconnoissance from Fort Leavenworth, in Missouri, to San Diego, in California : including part of the Arkansas, Del Norte, and Gila rivers. / By Lieut. Col. W.H. Emory. ; Made in 1846-7, with the advanced guard of the "Army of the "West." Captain A. R. Johnston.
Journal of Captain A.R. Johnston, First Dragoons [excised from] Notes of a military reconnoissance from Fort Leavenworth, in Missouri, to San Diego, in California : including part of the Arkansas, Del Norte, and Gila rivers. / By Lieut. Col. W.H. Emory. ; Made in 1846-7, with the advanced guard of the "Army of the "West."
Journal of Captain A.R. Johnston, First Dragoons [excised from] Notes of a military reconnoissance from Fort Leavenworth, in Missouri, to San Diego, in California : including part of the Arkansas, Del Norte, and Gila rivers. / By Lieut. Col. W.H. Emory. ; Made in 1846-7, with the advanced guard of the "Army of the "West."

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Journal of Captain A.R. Johnston, First Dragoons [excised from] Notes of a military reconnoissance from Fort Leavenworth, in Missouri, to San Diego, in California : including part of the Arkansas, Del Norte, and Gila rivers. / By Lieut. Col. W.H. Emory. ; Made in 1846-7, with the advanced guard of the "Army of the "West."

Washington D.C.: Wendell and Van Benthuysen, 1848. Hardcover. 8vo (9” x 5.75”), gilt blue cloth. 50pp. [565-614]. Bookplate of Edwin Stanton Fickes on front pastedown. CONDITION: Good ex-library; residual mark from library sticker on front cover, library stamp and call-number on ffep.

An account by the first casualty on the California front of the Mexican American War, Captain Abraham Robinson Johnston, dating from Sept. 24 to Dec. 4th 1846. Excerpted from Emory’s Notes of a Military Reconnaissance (1848), it narrates the American Army of the West’s passage along the Gila Trail.

This volume comprises an extract of a journal kept by Johnston from June 30, 1846 to December 4, 1846, ending two days before his untimely death at the battle of San Pasqual. Included here are the presumably more interesting entries from Johnston’s diary, providing detailed descriptions of the vegetation, topography, and peoples along the trail against a “dutifully described” backdrop of a military march through inhospitable territory (Wright). Robinson pays special attention to the geology of the terrain, describing in detail the volcanic and seismic activity he observes whilst providing drawings of rock-formations and far-off mountain ranges, making the journal more akin to a travelog than a military report proper. Also attending to the nearby Navajo and Apache tribes, Johnston often commends their buildings and dances while noting that they have begun to take on American-settler activities, such as rearing and trading livestock, and converting to Catholicism. Interestingly, Johnston is often sympathetic to the plight of the Indigenous people, it being a result of political circumstance rather than personal choice, despite being quite condescending with respect to the supposed “cowardice” (Wright) of Mexicans and Californians.

Abraham Robinson Johnston (1815–1846) was captain of the American Army of the West’s division of the First Dragoons, the first cavalry unit of the Regular army since 1815. After graduating from West Point, he was deployed to Fort Leavenworth, Missouri. In 1842, Johnston joined Brigadier General Kearny’s army, which secured the territory of New Mexico without spilling a drop of blood. Settling in Santa Fe, by late June, 1846, Johnston, as a member of the Army of the West, embarked on a grueling six-month long expedition on the Gila Trail to secure the territory of California. On the night of December 4th, the Army encountered a party of some eighty Californios encamped near San Diego, at San Pasqual. Johnston’s biographer Steven Wright recounts, “the army easily could have bypassed their opponents, but having completed the longest march in US Army history, the troops were eager to fight. In the pre-dawn hours of December 6, 1846, the cold, wet, ragged force of 160 men commenced the seven-mile march toward San Pasqual. As the Americans reached the crest of a hill and with a mile to go, General Kearny issued a final order: ‘One point of the saber,’ Kearny reminded his men, ‘was worth any number of thrusts.’ When the army reached the valley floor, Kearny issued the order to trot. Although three-quarters of a mile from the enemy’s encampment, Captain Johnston, who had been selected to lead the mounted column’s forward edge, misheard the command. In his eagerness to attack, he extended his saber, yelled “Charge!” and took off at a gallop, promptly becoming the unit’s first casualty” (Wright).

REFERENCES: Steven L. Wright, “‘Your Affectionate Son, Robinson’: American Expansionism and the Life of Captain Abraham Robinson Johnston, 1815–1846,” in The Journal of San Diego History, Vol. 52, Nos. 1–2 (2005).

Item #8564

Price: $300.00

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