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Joseph K. F. Mansfield Report

Identifier: MSS-60-SC

Scope and Content

This collection consists of one typewritten copy and a photoprint of part of Joseph King Fenno Mansfield's report of the Department of New Mexico from 1853 which includes descriptions, maps, and drawings of Forts Union, Marcy, Massachusetts, Defiance, Conrad, Fillmore, and of the Cantonment Burgwin and El Paso. His report also includes a photoprint and typed copy of Governor William C. Lane's letter to Colonel D. S. Miles, Commanding Officer of Fort Fillmore, regarding the disputed territory of Mesilla, as well as a copy of the statement, originally written by the Honorable Joel. I. Ankrin, Judge of District Court, regarding "Indian Depradations committed in the Valley of El Paso County, Texas" from 1851-1853 following the Army's withdrawal from this area.

His reports of the various forts, temporary military stations, and cantonments detail the location of each, the threats faced by each with regard to local Native American tribes, conditions of the forts, themselves, conditions of the roads and the approximate cost of making these passable in all seasons, as well as local crops, water sources, and histories of the establishment of each. The descriptions also include Mansfield's recommendations to keep or modify each fort. In some cases, he proposes changes to the forts and provides maps detailing these. The report also includes proposals for the locations of prospective new forts. It is clear that westward expansion to California is influential in Mansfield's declaration of various forts as useful or necessary, as certain forts are to be "preserved in the system for regulating the Indian tribes and protecting trades to California." Mansfield proposes that a continuous chain of posts be established to the Pacific. Among other concerns is the provision of protection and aid to travelers and settlers.

The local Native Americans deemed threatening are described by tribe and by number of warriors. These include the Apaches, Utes, Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Navajos. The Pueblos are more often described along with Mexican and American settler communities, thus demonstrating their affiliation with these groups rather than with the tribes perceived as a danger to the United States government and population.

Mansfield's report includes Joel I. Ankrim's "Statement of Indian Depredations Committed in the Valley of El Paso County, State of Texas" from 1851-1853 which outlines numerous cases of stolen livestock as well as a few killings. This is followed by a hand-written copy of Governor William C. Lane's letter to Colonel Miles of Fort Fillmore which Lane calls "a proclamation in relation to the disputed (but not neutral) Territory." This letter alludes to the dispute over the territory whose national belonging was left ambiguous in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and later settled by the Gadsden Purchase. Lane warns that "The authorities of the State of Chihuahua have usurped authority in the acknowledged Territory of New Mexico, and trampled upon the rights of the citizens of the United States."

This collection is useful to scholars of military history in the Southwest as well as those interested in ethnic relations of the Southwest in New Mexico's early statehood.


  • 1853

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publication or distribution.

Background Information

According to Darlis A. Miller, the frontier army played a significant role in "furthering the development and settlement of the American Southwest. Its primary task was to subdue hostile Indians, but it also built roads, guarded railroad construction crews, aided destitute farmers, and provided markets for local crops and materials. Such success as the army enjoyed in carrying out these duties can be attributed in part to a small group of officers assigned to the inspector general's department." This department was established in 1813 and was assigned the task of investigating "all matters affecting the efficiency, discipline, and welfare of the Army." Army inspectors, working under the supervision of this department, reported on numerous topics, including local peoples, towns, crops, politics, and the condition of army commands. It is within this context that Joseph King Fenno Mansfield's contributions are significant.

Joseph King Fenno Mansfield was born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1803. In the Mexican War, he served as Chief Engineer under General Zachary Taylor. As such, he constructed and defended Fort Brown in Texas. From 1848-1853, he served on the Board of Engineers which was charged with the task of planning the defense of both coasts. In 1853, he was appointed Inspector General by Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis. Working in this capacity, Mansfield inspected the Department of New Mexico in 1853, as well as the Departments of California, Texas, and Oregon in later years. Mansfield died leading the Twelfth Army Corps of the Army of the Potomac into battle at Antietam, Maryland in 1862.


1 Folder


This collection is comprised of a typed copy and a photoprint of Joseph King Fenno Mansfield's report on local military posts and tribes in the New Mexico Territory and what is now Arizona and Texas, in 1853. It includes descriptions of present forts and their surrounding areas, maps and proposals for changes to be made to these, as well as proposals for new forts.

Related Archival Material

Charles Francis Clarke Papers. Center for Southwest Research. University Libraries. University of New Mexico. Daniel Henry Rucker Papers. Center for Southwest Research. University Libraries. University of New Mexico.

Relevant Secondary Sources

  • Miller, Darlis A. "The Role of the Army Inspector in the Southwest: Nelson H. Davis inNew Mexico and Arizona, 1863-1873," New Mexico Historical Review 59 (2): 137-164, 1984.
  • Wetherington, Ronald K. "Cantonment Burgwin: The Archaeological and Documentary Record" New Mexico Historical Review 81 (4): 365-390, 2006.
Finding Aid of the Joseph K. F. Mansfield Report, 1853
Processed by K. Stocker
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • June 28, 2004: PUBLIC "-//University of New Mexico::Center for Southwest Research//TEXT (US::NmU::MSS 60 SC::Joseph K. F. Mansfield Report)//EN" "nmu1mss60sc.sgml" converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131