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 Chronology of Southwestern US History

Hell Bent For Santa Fe - The Texan Santa Fe Expedition of 1841

The Lost Adams Diggings

Desert Emergency Survival Basics

Poems of the New Old West








This chronology was created on Time Line Maker software, Progeny Software, Inc.,  Some of the events listed are taken from the History of the States downloads available there.

Southwestern US History

  Pre-1821  1821-1860  Post-1860

Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California

Chronology of the Native Americans-Spanish-Mexicans-and Anglos.

They wrote the turbulent history of an empty land in blood to make it their own

Start Date Event Place Note

1821 General Augustin de Iturbide declared Emperor Augustin I


Independence from Spain came to Mexico and the southwest as a trickle through a hole in the roof.  A year before the event the prospect was so unlikely as to catch all the parties unprepared.  The immediate need for a new leadership polarized the future of former Spanish holdings in North America into clearly defined camps with diametrically opposing views on fundamental issues.  Under Spain's domination the bloodstains were merely blots on the carpet.  When Spain's sails vanished over the eastern horizon the real bloodshed began and lasted half a century.  The former aristocracy and feudal lords remained bonded to the Catholic Church and the power residing there.  Those preferred European monarchy and struggled, until Ferdinand Max, to achieve the goal.  This European meddling in Mexican affairs delayed the resolution of the issues for several decades.  Meanwhile, opportunistic charismatic leaders rose and fell as dictators.  And the poor continued the slow struggle that began with Father Hidalgo and didn't end until the execution of Ferdinand Maximillian almost half a century after Emperor Augustin I enjoyed his spark of power. 

1821 Independence from Spain Mexico, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah  

1821 Mexicans invite Archduke Karl of Austria to become King Vienna Archduke Karl refused the crown because the Hapsburgs were wisely reluctant to become involved in Mexico

1821 Utah Claimed by Mexico Mexico and US The Mexican Territorial Claim ran east to the Arkansas River, south to Yucatan and west to the Pacific Ocean

17 Jan 1821 Moses Austin granted permission by Spain to establish colony in Texas San Antonio, Texas Spain was on the brink of collapse in the Americas. This permission soon became moot.

24 Aug 1821 Mexico Gains Independence From Spain Mexico, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah The Treaty of Cordoba establishes Mexican independence from Spain. New Mexicans became official citizens of the Mexican republic rather than subjects of the Spanish monarchy.

1822 Army of Louis XVIII of France restores Ferdinand VII to absolute power in Spain Madrid, Spain Ferdinand executes all the liberals once his power is restored.  King Ferdinand's power never reached the point of allowing him to attempt to regain Mexico through military intervention.  The wealth in minerals had already been looted by Spain and squandered by Ferdinand's forebears.  The prospect of economic returns for a military adventure no longer existed. 

1822 General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna overthrows Iturbide Mexico Santa Anna exiles Iturbide to England but executes him the following year when Iturbide returns to Mexico. Santa Anna was ousted from and regained power repeatedly over the next 40 years during the struggles between conservatives (wealthy land-owners and the Catholic Church), and liberals (advocates for containing the power of the church, religious tolerance, and fundamental human rights). During those years, writes Eugene Lefavre in 1869, "It was permanent civil war, always latent or patent civil war (between the liberals and the church funded conservative juntas caused by church pronunciamentos against the liberal government when it was in power)

1823 Texas Rangers Formed Texas The Mexican government, wracked by political and economic turmoil following Independence, cannot protect its northern territories from attack by hostile Indians. Under the pressure of Indian raids, two companies of "men . . . to act as rangers for the common defense" are formed under Stephen F. Austin's authority as empresario. These men are commonly regarded by some as the first Texas Rangers.  They bore little resemblance to the later Jack Hayes, Big-Foot Wallace, Rip Ford Texas Ranger tradition of later years.

1824 First Mexican Constitution Mexico A major event with little practical meaning at the time.  The Texas struggles of 1835 began, not as a fight for independence, but as a declaration and demand in support for the Constitution of 1824.

1824 First wagons travel the Santa Fe Trail St. Louis, Missouri to Santa Fe William Becknell trading party

29 Nov 1828 Humbolt River is Discovered   Symbolizes a brief period of exploration and discovery throughout the unexplored lands of the west.

1829 Antonio Armijo opens Spanish trail New Mexico to California New Mexico, Arizona, California The political struggles in Mexico created enormous hardships in the periphery.  This was one attempt to bring trade and a modicum of prosperity to New Mexico without violating prohibitions regarding trade with foreign countries.

1829 First steamboat enters the Rio Grande Matamoros Henry Austin, cousin to Stephen F. Austin, Captain

1830 Cherokees and other displaced eastern tribes arrive in Texas Liberty, Texas Insatiable white hunger for lands occupied by tribes in the east was gradually pushing the Native populations further west into areas already occupied by other tribes and causing endless warfare among them.  In this instance the lands were already occupied by whites who'd leapfrogged ahead of the displaced ones.  This resulted in warfare involving whites and was therefore 'noticed'.  Meanwhile, the Comanche, recently arrived from the north, was solidifying his foothold in his new home in Texas.  The Comanche were not displaced by whites.  They migrated to Texas from the northern mountains because they found themselves in possession of horses and the Texas plains were a perfect home for them.  Quahadi and Penteka Comanche eventually exterminated the Lipan and Fara'on Apache bands and severely reduced the indigenous Tonkawan population.  The Pentateka Comanche intrusion into central Texas was the main obstacle to white expansion there. None could compete with the Comanche on horseback until the Colt repeater changed the rules of engagement.

1832 Bent's Fort Established La Junta

06 Jul 1832 Archduke Ferdinand Maximillian born Austria Future Emperor of Mexico 1863-1867

1834 Stephen F. Austin held prisoner in Mexico for 10 months Mexico  

Jun 1835 William Travis captures Mexican customs post at Anahuac Anahuac, Texas Orders one officer and 40 enlisted soldier-prisoners out of Texas

08 Sep 1835 Council at Brazoria Brazoria, Texas Citizens of Brazoria ask Stephen F. Austin to address them. They vote for a 'call to arms'.

28 Sep 1835 Battle of Conception and siege of San Antonio de Bexar San Antonio, Texas September 28, Mexican troops surround 400 Texans outside Conception but are forced after several charges to retreat to San Antonio de Bexar. The siege of San Antonio begins and lingers until the house-to-house fighting December 4-8, when Cos surrenders. Treaty signed December 11, allowing Cos and his troops to retreat to Laredo on parole.

01 Oct 1835 'Come and take it' Battle of Gonzales begins the Texas Revolution Gonzales, Texas  

02 Oct 1835 Mexican General Cos arrives at San Antonio de Bexar San Antonio, Texas  

25 Dec 1835 General Cos crosses Rio Grande at Laredo with his defeated army Laredo, Texas  

Jan 1836 Mexican Generals Urrea, Sesma and Cos begin moving troops north into Texas Matamoros, Texas  

24 Feb 1836 Battle of the Alamo San Antonio, Texas After bombarding since February 24 general assault was made on the garrison on the morning of March 6 while the band played, 'Deguello', meaning 'Cutting Throats'. All 182 Texas defenders killed, 1600 Mexican Regulars killed according to estimates of Mexican General Castrillon. This was the beginning of the Mexican phrase, 'Tejanos Diablos', Texas Devils.

02 Mar 1836 Texas declares independence from Mexico Washington on the Brazos, Texas  

20 Mar 1836 Santa Anna burns New Washington New Washington, Texas Then receives word Houston is advancing on his rear guard. Santa Anna panics and throws his entire army into disorder galloping through the ranks screaming, "Disaster is at hand!". By this time the Texan prowess with firearms at Conception, Bexar and the Alamo had firmly established the phrase 'Texanos Diablos' into the vocabularies of the Mexican army from the highest command to the lowest private.

21 Apr 1836 Battle of San Jacinto, Texas gains independence from Mexico Buffalo Bayou, Texas Santa Anna captured, signs documents establishing the boundaries of the Texas Republic

1837 'Pastry War' Mexico Louis Philippe of France goes to war with Mexico to obtain compensation for a French pastry cook's damages during a Mexico City riot. Santa Anna lost a leg during this war.

1837 Fort Calabasas (Presidio) Santa Cruz River, AZ

01 Aug 1837 Revolt of 1837   A group in northern New Mexico issued a proclamation denouncing the new Mexican administration. This protest quickly escalated into a full scale revolt which Governor Perez attempted to suppress with a small and badly equipped militia company. Perez' force was overwhelmed by the rebels near Black Mesa, south of present-day Española. Perez was later captured and beheaded. Despite this victory, the rebels did not succeed in their efforts to establish a new government. The influential merchants and rancheros of the rio abajo did not lend their support to the revolt, and when a squadron of Dragoons from Mexico arrived at Santa Fe, the short lived Revolt of 1837 came to a bloody end.

1839 Pueblo Revolt, Governor Perez murdered Santo Domingo, NM  

1839 Canales Rebellion in Mexico Northern Mexico and Nueces Strip in Texas Civil War in Mexico brings renewal of hostilities on Republic of Texas soil. Many Texans fought alongside Canales, Zapata, and Gonzales during this conflict.

1840 Manuel Armijo becomes Governor Santa Fe, NM

1840 Texas Republic declares war on all Indian tribes   Tonkawans appear to have been exempt. The Republic was being overrun by displaced tribes from the east warring among themselves and with Texas settlers. When the Cherokees attempted to make a separate treaty with Mexico a general war was declared against the tribes.

23 Oct 1840 Battle of Saltillo Saltillo, Mexico Canales' colonels Lopez and Molano lure Colonel Jordan and 110 Texans cross the Rio Grande and attack 'undefended' Saltillo, defended by 1000 Mexican Regulars waiting in ambush. When the firing began the Texans retreated to an abandoned rancheria and withstood 4 attacks, killing 400 attackers and losing 4 men. 'Tejanos Diablos' took further root in the minds of the Mexican Army. Zapata was captured at Morales and beheaded.

1841 First Emigrants to Use the Overland Trail to California    

1841 Texan Santa Fe Expedition Republic of Texas declares the Pacific Ocean as the western boundary for the Republic, sends 300 men to enforce the boundary. Surrender without a shot being fired Anton Chico, Cuesta, Laguna Colorado, NM The chronicle of this expedition is the subject of Hell Bent for Santa Fe

1842 Combined Comanche and Texan force obliterates the last remain Lipan Apache band Concho River Meanwhile Pentateka power finally ended in 1841 at Plum Creek.  There the combined guns of the Texas settlers and Tonkawan scouts dismembered the Pentatekas as a cohesive force.  Those not killed moved northwest to join the Quahadi Comanche on the high plains.

1842 General Adrian Woll invades San Antonio de Bexar San Antonio, Texas Santa Anna retracted his agreements made to spare his own life after San Jacinto

1842 Snively Expedition harries trade on Santa Fe trail West of Arkansas River, Mexican Territory Texas invaded by Mexico, New Mexico invaded by Texans, Somerville Expedition, Mier Expedition

1845 Texas becomes 28th State of the Union Washington, D.C. After 9 violent years as a Republic. Joins the Union on condition Texas be allowed to break itself into 4 separate states, or secede, upon popular demand.

1846 Apache Wars with US Arizona, New Mexico When citizens of the United States first entered the Southwest, the Apaches were inclined to consider them as allies against their bitter enemies: the Mexicans. It wasn't until the 1850s that the United States finally realized that the Apaches were going to cause serious problems. Apaches continued to raid Mexico, and Mexico consequently put pressure on the U.S. to cease the raids. Settlers in New Mexico and Arizona, Mexican and American alike, became particularly insistent that Apache raiding stop. What followed were years of bloody struggle between the Apache and the Americans.

1846 Mexican-American War Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, California, Arizona, Mexico Stephen Watts Kearny annexes New Mexico to the United States. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the Mexican War. The passage of the treaty allowed the United States to achieve its main objectives for participating in the war. The United States fought Mexico for the acquisition of New Mexico and California along with Mexico’s recognition of the Rio Grande as Texas’s southern border. Although Mexico was paid 15 million dollars by the United States, the country lost 50% of its northern territories to the U.S., including Texas.

1846 Mexican American War    

1847 First Chinese Immigrants

1847 Juarez elected Governor of Oaxaca Oaxaca, Mexico

1847 The "Provisional State of Deseret"

1847 Colonization of Utah

1848 Governor Charles Bent murdered in Taos Taos, NM  

1848 Louis Napoleon elected President of the French Republic Paris, France Nephew of Napoleon 1, this is the first step in the historical process leading to the invasion of Mexico by French troops in the 1860s

1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo Washington, Mexico City, New Mexico  

1848 US Acquires Utah

Jan 1848 Gold Discovered California  

02 Feb 1848 The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo    

1849 First Gold Mine Dayton

1850 Becomes a Territory New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Nevada New Mexico (which included present-day Arizona, southern Colorado, southern Utah, and southern Nevada) is designated a territory but denied statehood.

1850 Utah Territory Established

07 Sep 1850 Utah Territory Organized    

1851 First Non-Native Permanent Settlement San Luis  

18 Sep 1851 Fort Defiance established Canon Bonito, AZ  

12 Nov 1851 First Permanent Building in Nevada Genoa

02 Dec 1851 Louis Napoleon Bonaparte coup d' etat Paris, France  

1852 Dona Ana and Rio Arriba Counties formed New Mexico  

1854 Gadsden Purchase Treaty   Representatives of the United States and Mexico signed the Gadsden Purchase Treaty, by which the U.S. acquired disputed territories west of the Rio Grande and south of the Gila River, territories that comprise almost half of present-day Arizona and part of present-day New Mexico as well. These newly acquired lands were added to the United States Territory of New Mexico, creating a gigantic Territory which extended from the Texas border west to the Colorado River.

1855 Prostitutes outside Fort Union caught with military supplies Fort Union, NM Many tons of purloined military supplies found in their caves. The ladies were punished by having their heads shaven and whipped out of Fort Union

14 Jun 1855 Latter-day Saints Mission Established Mormon Fort  

09 Jun 1856 Handcart Pioneers Arrive in Salt Lake City Salt Lake City

Sep 1856 Captain Chandler invades Gila with 100 troops, attacks friendly Apache settlement Fort Craig  

1857 Cozzens visits Tucson Tucson

1857 Mormon Exodus

1857 Overland California Mail Act

1857 Utah War   Soon after taking office, President Buchanan removed Brigham Young as governor of Utah Territory and sent a 2,500-man military force to accompany the new governor, Alfred Cumming, thus precipitating the so-called Utah War. The troops wintered at Camp Scott, Wyoming. When they finally marched through Salt Lake City on June 26, 1858, they found it abandoned by the Mormons. The army proceeded to a site 40 miles southwest of the capital where they built Camp Floyd. Cumming assumed office unchallenged and made peace with the Mormons.

1857 Bonneville expedition against Apaches and Navajos Western New Mexico  

1857 Utah War

07 Mar 1857 Fort Buchanan established Near Tubac, AZ  

Jul 1857 Gila country declared 'terra incognita' by Maj. George Crittendon Southwest NM  

22 Jul 1857 Sgt. McQuade finds several Mexicans killed and scalped south of Fort Craig South of Fort Craig, NM on the Rio Grande  

07 Sep 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre Mountain Meadows, Utah All the adults of the Fancher wagon train murdered by combined force of Indians and Mormon Militia led by John Lee.  This event is examined in some detail in The Lost Adams Diggings

1858 Gold is Discovered Cherry Creek

1858 Jacob Snively discovers gold at Gila Bend and Vulture Gulch Gila Bend, AZ  

1858 War of Reform Mexico

1858 Dixon S. Miles' Navajo campaign

26 Jun 1858 US Army Enters Salt Lake Valley Utah After having been stopped for the winter by the delaying tactics of the Mormons, Gen. Johnston's army finally entered the Salt Lake Valley, but peacefully. The army's permanent encampment, until 1861 was at Camp Floyd in Cedar Valley un Utah County. Meanwhile, most of the saints north of Utah County had moved south, but the returned to their homes when peace seemed assured.

1859 The Great Comstock Lode

Created with TimeLine Maker on 11 Aug 2003

Pre-1821  1821-1860  Post-1860 Chronology


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