At my parents’ house, I watched again the three-part movie of Dead Man’s Walk. Though McMurtry’s novel is more accurate and interesting, I enjoyed the movie enough that I researched the Santa Fe Expedition and wrote this poem, which I hope to turn into a song for my Texas School programs. This is a first draft, so I’ll likely revise it in the future. If you’re a Texan (or Texian, Texican or Tejano–yes, there are subtle differences in the words) I hope you enjoy the poem.
“The Santa Fe Expedition of 1841”: A Poem by Rickey E. Pittman
In the summer of 1841,
President Lama had a vision,
Texas wasn’t large enough,
He sent the Santa Fe expedition.
General McLeod and Captain Lewis,
With 21 ox-drawn wagons,
And 300 men left in June,
With one old brass cannon.
Spurred on by Lamar’s command,
They walked toward Santa Fe’s trail,
They didn’t know how far it was,
Or that they were doomed to fail.
There was a Comanche moon,
When they reached the Llano Estacado,
Lost in an endless sea of grass,
There were no trails to follow.
The Comanche and Apache
Stole their horses at night,
Would kill and scalp if they could,
And the Texans feared they might.
Deserted by their Mexican guide,
Facing hardships from the weather,
They continued on a dead man’s walk,
That seemed to last forever.
Drinking foul badlands water,
Eating what they could find,
Their leaders made too many mistakes,
And a strange madness filled their minds.
They marched on in misery
Till Santa Fe they found,
They surrendered to the Mexicans,
Without firing a single round.
Governor Manuel Armijo
Who had 1500 men,
Promised them protection,
So the Texans trusted him.
But he marched them 2,000 miles,
South to Mexico City,
In chains and in sorrow,
He drove them without pity.
There were no maps to guide them,
There were no well-laid plans,
But we honor their sad footsteps,
These brave and bold Texans.