Item #009935 1847 – Letter from a Quartermaster officer, recently arrived at the principal Mexican War Gulf Coast supply depot and transportation hub illustrated with a hand-drawn map of the Brazos Santiago, Texas showing the sand bar that impeded offloading of transports and slowed the movement of supplies personnel up the Rio Grande.
1847 – Letter from a Quartermaster officer, recently arrived at the principal Mexican War Gulf Coast supply depot and transportation hub illustrated with a hand-drawn map of the Brazos Santiago, Texas showing the sand bar that impeded offloading of transports and slowed the movement of supplies personnel up the Rio Grande.
1847 – Letter from a Quartermaster officer, recently arrived at the principal Mexican War Gulf Coast supply depot and transportation hub illustrated with a hand-drawn map of the Brazos Santiago, Texas showing the sand bar that impeded offloading of transports and slowed the movement of supplies personnel up the Rio Grande.

1847 – Letter from a Quartermaster officer, recently arrived at the principal Mexican War Gulf Coast supply depot and transportation hub illustrated with a hand-drawn map of the Brazos Santiago, Texas showing the sand bar that impeded offloading of transports and slowed the movement of supplies personnel up the Rio Grande.

Brazos Santiago,Texas: 1847. Envelope or Cover. This two-page stampless folded letter measures 15.5” x 10” unfolded. It is datelined “Brazos Santiago / Feby 18. 1847” and was sent by Lieutenant Arthur Breese Lansing to his father, Barent Bleeker Lansing, at Utica, New York. It bears a New Orleans postmark dated March 1 and a bold 10 rate stamp, both in black. In nice shape. A transcript will be provided.

The first page contains Lansing’s letter, the second his hand-drawn map. The text reads in part:

“I have been ordered to report to . . . the QM Dept at this place – the most humid place in Christendom (worse, by far that Fort Brown.) I have been sick since here. the water is bad – my old complaint the Diarrhea. I am living on board a steamboat fitted up & called the “Greenwood Hotel” - $10.00 a week – Astor house prices in all things. . .. Gen Jesup, the Chief of the QM Dept. is daily expected here. On his arrival, I shall try to procure orders to go North. . .. I have been so long in the country that my constitution is more or less affected by the climate. That you may understand the location of Brazos, I add a sketch, on the opposite side. The troops are being Embarked as fast as possible but still slowly. The elements are more to be contended against. What is their destination I cannot say with certainty. . .. I have not recd any letter yet by the last mail. I suppose they have gone to Matamoros. They may be here in a day or two. . .. Brazos is a sandy island – all sand up to your ancles. . ..”

Lansing’s map shows

the Mexico-Texas coast,

the Rio Grande,

Fort Brown and Matamoros,

Point Isabel,

Laguna del Madre,

Padre Island,

Brazos Santiago, and

the sand “Bar of Brazos” that hampered shipping.

Lansing shows large ships anchored outside the sand bar, and smaller vessels around Brazos Santiago.

. Very good. Item #009935

During the Mexican War General Zachary Taylor established a supply depot and transportation hub at Brazos Santiago where supplies and personnel were offloaded because seagoing ships could not cross over the sand bar. Supplies were then transported to Fort Brown and Matamoros by smaller vessels or oxcarts to Fort Brown and Matomoros. During the war, several thousand American troops transited through the port.

Brown’s mention of the Greenwood Hotel is interesting. Other army travelers mention it as well, reporting that the wreck of a beached steamboat “was firmly wedged in the sand. It had been repaired and rendered weather-proof by the mud and mortar generally made use of for building purposes in these primitive regions. A bar-room and eating-room formed the principal apartments, with several sleeping rooms of limited area adjoining, which were the accommodations of the boarders. It was kept by an old woman and her pretty little granddaughter about twelve years old, who was receiving an education to fit her for the responsible position of bar-maid to this ‘Hotel Texian.’” As well, a tongue-in-cheek “ article in the United States Magazine and Democrat Review reported a room at the Greenwood cost “four dollars a day with no extra charge for fleas, mosquitoes and dirt!”

Lansing was an artillery lieutenant when he was detailed to quartermaster duties at Brazos Santiago. Prior to that he served on the Northern Frontier near Buffalo, NY, during the Border Disturbances with Canada, in the Military Occupation of Texas, and at the Defense of Fort Brown. Later he served as the Assistant Quartermaster at Forts in Texas, Louisiana, Ohio, Arkansas, and the Indian Territory before leaving the service in 1851.

(For more information, see Cullum’s Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, since its establishment in 1802, Hathcock’s “No Extra Charge for Fleas, Mosquitoes and Dirt” at the Port Isabel South Padre Press website, and “Brazos Santiago, TX” at the Texas State Historical Association website.

Quite scarce. There are no Brazos Santiago letters or printed/manuscript maps for sale in the trade. No printed or manuscript maps of Brazos Santiago and only one Brazos Santiago letter have appeared at auction per the Rare Book Hub. OCLC shows only one institution holds a printed map of the Brazos Santiago region, and no institutions hold hand-drawn maps. OCLC shows two institutions hold letters from Brazos Santiago.

Price: $1,500.00