Page:The Cambridge History of American Literature, v3.djvu/151

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The Santa Fé Trail

whose Recollections of Mexico (1846) mentions this release of Kendall and his companions in misery, as well as the release of the prisoners taken by the Mexicans at Mier in 1842. The capture, sufferings, and release of these latter unfortunates are told by William Preston Stapp in his book The Prisoners of Perote ( 1 845). It is interesting to note that Waddy Thompson was no longer a United States official when he requested the freedom of the captives; General Santa Anna granted the request as a personal favour. Thompson gives an estimate of Santa Anna's character which is not so black as the usual descriptions.

Kendall printed a map, which he compiled, to give such information as was possible of the wilderness the caravan had struggled through, and in this he was aided by notes from Josiah Gregg, then living and doing business as a merchant at Santa Fé. In the year of the appearance of Kendall's book, Gregg alone published the now famous volumes Commerce of the Prairies (1844). This is the classic of the Plains, in which he describes the Santa Fé Trail and its history. The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway approximately follows the route of the Santa Fé Trail, and the latter almost paralleled the great Kaw Indian trail which ran about four or five miles farther south. Everywhere the possible highways had long ago been traced out by the Indians, and the main routes of the white men usually followed, with more or less exactness, according to method of transportation, these roads of the natives.

Colonel Henry Inman, who had early experience on the Plains, wrote The Old Santa Fé Trail (1897). Some of his historical data are not quite correct, but there is much of value derived from his own knowledge, and he gives accounts of the frontiersmen he had met. With W. F. Cody, the last of the "Buffalo Bills," he wrote The Great Salt Lake Trail (1898), the trail being the one from Omaha up the Platte and to Salt Lake by way of Echo Canyon. The Santa Fé Trail has also been perpetuated in poetry, by Sharlot M. Hall with a vivid poem of that title in Out West (1903), and the modern route for automobiles by Vachel Lindsay, with a more original poem, also of that title, in The Congo and Other Poems (1914).

Many of the early travellers and explorers kept no records,