Treasured Artworks at the Texas Capitol


Congress Avenue at Eleventh Street

Austin, Texas


Harry S. Sindall, "Fording the Pecos River" and "Captain John Pope's Artesian Well Drilling Site"

Harry S. Sindall, Fording the Pecos River, c. 1857-58, oil on paper, 9.5 x 13.5 inches, 1997.19, Collection of The State Preservation Board, Austin, Texas.

Harry S. Sindall, c. 1857-58, Captain John Pope's Artesian Well Drilling Site, oil on paper, 10 x 14 inches, 1997.20, Collection of The State Preservation Board, Austin, Texas.


During the 19th century, many artists recorded Western exploration. Some were academically-trained civilians and some were military-trained engineers and draftsmen. Their work was executed under difficult physical conditions, often permitting only the use of pencil, pen and sketch pad, or a small watercolor kit. Of the thousands of surviving visual records of Western exploration, precious few are oil paintings. Fording the Pecos River was painted during Captain John Pope's artesian well expedition on the Llano Estacado and Jornado Del Muerto of Texas and New Mexico from January of 1855 to June of 1858. In 1857, Secretary of War John B. Floyd designated Harry S. Sindall to be Pope's expedition artist. Captain John Pope's Artesian Well Drilling Site is a rare depiction of the activity of an expedition. Pope's Well, near the Pecos River crossing of the Texas-New Mexico line, became a landmark on the famous Goodnight-Loving Cattle Trail.


Harry S. Sindall

Unrecognized for 140 years, Harry S. Sindall was a Western Exploration artist of considerable merit. On May 22nd, 1857, Secretary of War John B. Floyd designated Harry S. Sindall to be Capt. John Pope's expedition artist at a compensation of not less than $1,000 per annum. Also, according to a letter from Lt. Edward F. Beale to John B. Floyd, February 9th, 1860, Sindall had been for a brief period the artist for Beale's Wagon Road Survey. The volume of art produced by Sindall is not known at this time, but additional works are now being discovered.

Official records indicate that Henry S. Sindall enlisted in the Confederate Army at Richmond, VA on June 27th, 1861. He volunteered for the 1st Maryland Artillery which was composed of men from lower Maryland, the Eastern Shore, and Baltimore City. After four months he was detached to the staff of Gen. Samuel G. French.

In the same area of Texas and New Mexico that Sindall roamed with Pope's expedition, Samuel G. French was a Captain of the Quartermaster Department. French had the duty of maintaining Wool's Road west out of San Antonio and diverging northward toward Las Moras Creek, the San Pedro, and the Pecos. Also, Pope's drilling equipment was acquired through the Quartermasters in San Antonio and Fort Fillmore (Las Cruces, New Mexico), thus the great likelihood of Sindall and French being acquainted prior to the Civil War.

Little more is known of Harry Sindall at this time. Sindalls emigrated to America from England around the time of Lord Calvert. They proliferated and remained particularly in Maryland, mostly in the Baltimore area.

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Editor's note: On February 13. 2007 RL was contacted as follows:

From: B Ware <>
Date: Tue Feb 13, 2007 7:53:17 AM US/Pacific
Subject: Painting reversed
"Fording the Pecos River" is presented backwards.
From: B Ware <>
Date: February 13, 2007 9:53:17 AM CST
Subject: Painting reversed
My mistake. The image on is (was, they're correcting it now) backwards.
"Fording the Pecos River" is pre /BLOCKQUOTE>

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