Letter: April 4, 1849

Washington City, April 4, 1849.

Hon. Mr. Crawford,
Secretary at War.


The remark which you made that Mr. Marcey said there was no “contract” with me for my services in Mexico, and the time that had elapsed since without hearing anything more, naturally makes me uneasy, and I write this brief statement for the purpose of showing my view of my case.

I certainly made no contract with the Government, nor did such an idea enter my. I engaged, at the request of President Polk, to go to Mexico, where I had been for many years, to be of service to our troops, and I took what they gave me, to wit: letters to accredit me to the Generals. They did accredit me and imploy me. I went into Santafe ahead of Genl. Kearney and smoothed the way to his bloodless conquest of New Mexico. Col. Archulette would have fought: I quieted him. It was he who afterwards made the revolt which was put down with much bloodshed by Genl. Price. Fight was in him, and it would have come out at first, carrying Armijo with him if it had not been for my exertions. I recommended to Genl. Kearney to give him some place, which would compromise him, which the General intended to do, but was prevented by some cause to me unknown, and the consequence was the revolt at Taos, the death of Governor Bent, and all the bloodshed that took place. Archulette fled to the South and did not return til after the peace. He was second in command and had about a thousand of the best troops in New Mexico and if he had held out for resistance, Armijo would have been obliged to have done the same, and a bloody resistance would have been made in the defiles through which General Kearney had to pass. Bloodless possession of New Mexico was what President Polk wished. It was obtained through my means. I could state exactly how I drew off Archulette, from his intention to fight. The papers which I file, Doc. Connelly’s letter, Major Cook’s and Capt. Turner’s, all allude to it, and Genl. Kearney’s was explicit.

After this service I went forward under the directions of General Kearney to render the same service to General Wool. I entered Chihuahua, he did not arrive, and that led to my imprisonment to the great loss of my property and the vast expenses which I had to incur, it was to smooth the way for General Wool that I went to Chihuahua. If he had come I should probably have done as much for him as I did for General Kearney.

I have neglected my business for three years, have not been with my family during that time, have made great expenses and suffered great losses and the statement of items which I presented is not an account, but a statement to give some idea of what it would take to remunerate me the service I rendered is above paid.

I was engaged in June, 1846, by the President and Secretary of War in the presence and with the knowledge of Senator Benton. The service and the engagement was acknowledged by President Polk, after I got back in presence of Senator Atchison and the only reason for not paying me was the want of money, see Mr. Atchison’s certificate, then Mr. Atchison sent a resolution to the Military Committee of the Senate to inquire into making an appropriation for me. My papers were before the committee and no other claim, I am informed, and the $50,000 was reported to cover my case.

Senator Atchison had gone away, Senator Benton is going and I begin to feel uneasy about my compensation and beg your attention to my case.

Yours respectfully,

J. W. Magoffin.
The United States, Dr.

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