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The primary mission of the army in the Southwest was to keep the peace and, in the event it became necessary, to make war. Essentially, then, in New Mexico the soldiers provided protection for settlers and travelers from Indian raiders. Troops stationed at Fort Union were engaged in such military operations during much of the history of the post. One consideration in the selection of the location for Fort Union in 1851 was its proximity to the main route of the Santa Fe Trail (which in 1851 and after was sometimes referred to as the "Cimarron Route"), the Bent's Fort Trail (also known as the Raton Route and, much later, called the Mountain Route of the Santa Fe Trail), [1] and the frontier settlements. The line of communication and supply with the eastern states was vital to the army and the developing economy of New Mexico Territory and, of all the military posts established in the Southwest, Fort Union was the one most responsible for protecting the mails, government supply trains, and merchant caravans traversing the plains. Special escorts were provided for government officials traveling to and from New Mexico Territory. Troops from Fort Union were sent with military expeditions throughout the region, and they were called upon especially when Indian troubles threatened in the area close to the post. [2]

The success or failure of these military operations provided the grounds by which the larger public judged the contributions of the army to the safety and development of the Southwest. Only military personnel understood that routine garrison duties, construction and maintenance efforts, procurement and distribution of supplies, dietary provisions and health care, all those details which took most of the soldiers' time and about which the general public understood little, were indispensable prerequisites for military operations to occur. Field service required little time of any particular soldier, in comparison with other responsibilities, but it was the ultimate purpose of his presence in the Southwest and at Fort Union.

Southwestern Defense System before the Civil War. Source: Robert M. Utley, Fort Union National Monument, 34.

Until the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 the primary objective of military operations focused on Indians—prevention of attacks and raids if possible (scouts, patrols, escorts, and sometimes reconnaissance parties and exploring expeditions) and the pursuit and punishment of parties guilty or presumed guilty of hostile activities (search-and-recovery or search-and-destroy missions, campaigns against specific marauding parties or members of a particular tribe in general, and expeditions into selected areas designed to force Indians to stop raiding, sign peace agreements, and/or relocate to a specified reserve). Occasionally the military was called upon to help enforce civil law and order in the territory. Whatever was required to keep the peace the army was expected to do. The soldiers who served at Fort Union, like soldiers everywhere, were usually evaluated in the short-term by how effectively they made war, but in the long-term it was even more important how effectively they kept the peace. It was relatively easy to determine success or failure in warfare, but it was virtually impossible to determine the potency of the army in preventing conflicts. The military, an agency of the Anglo-American penetration of New Mexico, was only one of several parties in the complex and fragile structure of ethnic intercourse in the region.

Indian-white relations were difficult on every American frontier during the nineteenth century but especially so in the Southwest because of two and a half centuries of Hispanic Indian associations prior to annexation of the region by the United States. Although Hispanics and Indians had frequently destroyed life and property in their conflicts, they had developed a system of mutual survival in a harsh environment. The infusion of Anglos disrupted those patterns, and the Indians eventually found the survival of themselves and their cultures threatened. Diseases to which Indians had little if any resistance decimated their numbers, while Anglo settlers wanted to obtain title to the land. Indians and Hispanics felt the heavy hand of Anglo domination, the "Americanization" of their societies. [3]

Indian-white relations were complicated by a number of factors, the most important being that few if any members of one society understood the culture of the others. It was difficult, perhaps impossible, for most people to transcend their cultural heritage and values, resulting in the tragedy of what ethnohistorian Calvin Martin called "mutual incomprehension." [4] The three cultural groups in the Southwest had different concepts of family life, personal values, social relations, religion, uses and ownership of land and other property, how best to obtain the provisions of life, and warfare.

Anglo-American thinking was dominated by ideas of ethnocentric superiority, private property in land, a market economy, individual opportunity, democracy, Protestant Christianity, and especially the idea of progress (usually conceived as economic development). Indians stood in the way of progress and, by Anglo standards, they were also in need of it. Indian culture was considered by Anglos to be substandard or deficient in civilization, but that could be improved if not cured by adapting Anglo institutions and values, particularly the English language, Christianity, private property in land, and anything else that would cause them to cease being Indians and be more like Anglos. The central issue of conflict between Indians and Anglo-Americans was land—the Indians had it and Anglos wanted it—and there lay the essence of the struggle. The non-Pueblo Indians were considered to be the major obstacle to the Anglo exploitation and development of New Mexico. [5]

Indian cultures especially experienced new pressures and threats to their traditional ways after the Mexican War, and Indian leaders considered how to react. The complexities of the problem were expressed by literary scholar Richard Slotkin: "The Indian perceived and alternately envied and feared the sophistication of the white man's religion, customs, and technology, which seemed at times a threat and at times the logical development of the principles of his own society and religion. Each culture viewed the other with mixed feelings of attraction and repulsion, sympathy and antipathy." [6] Indian resistance in New Mexico became more determined after the Anglo invasion because their ways of life and their land bases were threatened. Some Indian leaders feared resistance would lead only to destruction of their culture and hoped to survive and preserve some of their traditions by accommodating to Anglo desires. Over time acculturation resulted as all three cultures influenced the others, including changes in values, attitudes, institutions, and material culture. The most obvious and far-reaching changes were experienced by Indians who eventually lost much of their traditional culture or preserved it subrosa while appearing to become more like Anglos. Indians became dependent on trade with whites, but some commodities supplied, such as guns and alcohol, contributed to the difficulty of keeping the peace. Fewer changes affected the Hispanics, but many of them also lost their land and absorbed some Indian and Anglo characteristics. The Anglo culture experienced the least change as it became dominant during the last half of the nineteenth century but was also influenced by the other cultures.

The Indian policies of the United States were not constant because of changes from one presidential administration to another, the willingness or unwillingness of Congress to approve treaties and pass appropriations bills, [7] and the division of authority over Indian relations between the War Department and the Department of the Interior. The Bureau of Indian Affairs was established as a part of the War Department in 1824 but was transferred to the newly-organized Department of the Interior in 1849. The Bureau of Indian Affairs was primarily responsible for obtaining land title from Indians and administering the affairs of the Indians after they surrendered their lands. In each territory there was a superintendent of Indian affairs, usually the territorial governor. Indian agents were appointed to deal directly with specific tribes or bands of tribes and to administer Indian reservations when established.

The army was responsible for maintaining the peace, protecting settlements from Indians, safeguarding Indians from illegal encroachments on their lands, punishing Indians who were hostile, bringing recalcitrant Indian leaders and bands to the negotiating table, and rounding up Indians who left the reservation. The lines of authority between the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the army were not clearly drawn. The officials of the war and interior departments often failed to cooperate, leaving Indians confused and victims of conflicting demands and promises. Besides Bureau of Indian Affairs officials and the army, other parties influenced Indian-white relations, including licensed and unlicensed Indian traders (Pueblo, Hispanic, and Anglo), hunters who entered traditional Indian hunting lands, missionaries of varying religious persuasions, merchants who benefited from unsettled conditions, settlers who lost (or claimed to have lost) property to Indian raiders, and politicians who saw Indian problems as issues to be exploited for election purposes. By benefit of hindsight the outcome of Indian-white relations was virtually inevitable because of the tremendous disparities of population, resources, technology, and resistance to diseases, but the outcome of the so-called "Indian problem" in the Southwest was not decided until the 1880s. Troops and supply trains from Fort Union were directly involved in the events which yielded that conclusion.

During the 1850s, despite the signing of many treaties by leaders of tribes in New Mexico (which were, as noted, not approved by the Senate nor funded by Congress), the army was expected to keep the peace and punish offenders. As historian Robert Utley explained,

the history of Indian relations in New Mexico during the 1850s is largely a military history. Even consistent, well-financed civil policies could not have overcome the patterns in which generations of hostility had locked both Indians and colonists—patterns of raid and counterraid, of plunder and pillage, and of enslavement of captives by both sides. From the little forts . . . the troops campaigned against the elusive foe. [8]

As soon as Colonel Edwin Vose Sumner established Fort Union, he directed troops there and throughout New Mexico to participate in military operations against Indians. He arranged for better protection of the Santa Fe Trail and continued preparations for the campaign against the Navajos. On August 2, 1851, in the same order naming Fort Union, Sumner directed that "in order to afford protection to travel and commerce between the Missouri frontier and this territory, Major Carleton's Company K 1st Dragoons, will be kept in motion this summer and fall along the Cimarron route, between this place and the post below the crossing of the Arkansas river [Fort Atkinson], returning finally to this post." [9] The primary mission of these patrols was protection of the stagecoaches and mail they carried, giving some protection directly or indirectly to other travelers and freight caravans on the trail.

Later, when the possibility of Indian attacks on the mail coaches threatened, the patrols were replaced with escorts which accompanied the eastbound mails from Fort Union to the Arkansas River in Kansas Territory and the westbound coaches (if connections were made) from the Arkansas River to Fort Union. Sometimes the escort of approximately 20 soldiers was mounted and rode near the mail wagons or coaches; other times the escort rode in wagons which accompanied the mails. Only rarely were these armed patrols or escorts attacked by Indians. Beginning with Carleton's first patrol in 1851, military commanders considered these efforts successful in protecting the Santa Fe Trail.

Carleton and his command left Fort Union on August 3, 1851, and followed the Cimarron Route to Fort Atkinson on the Arkansas River, where a mail station had been established. He was instructed to move slowly along the Santa Fe Trail, remain at Fort Atkinson for one week, and return at a leisurely pace over the same route. He was to watch for Indians along the way, show "great kindness" to those who were peaceable, and promptly punish any who were considered hostile. After recuperating at Fort Union for approximately 10 days after making the first trip, the same troops were to make a second patrol under the same directions. [10]

Sumner reported several weeks later, "that no depredations, whatever, have been committed on the road to Missouri, since Major Carleton has been upon it." [11] This system of patrols operated until November 4, 1851, when Carleton's command returned to Fort Union for the winter months, and was repeated during part of the following summer. Later, when escorts replaced patrols, the troops from Fort Union operated in conjunction with Fort Atkinson until that post was abandoned for the last time in October 1854. [12] After Fort Larned was established in Kansas Territory in 1859, a system of escorts was coordinated between that post and Fort Union. In this way, one of the missions of the Fort Union garrison, protection for the Santa Fe Trail, was achieved.

The Santa Fe Trail may have been clear of Indian raids in the summer of 1851, but much of the Territory of New Mexico was without adequate protection. Sumner led a large force against the Navajos on August 17 and established Fort Defiance near their homeland on September 18, but members of that tribe slipped around those troops in the field and raided unprotected settlements near the Rio Grande Valley. [13] Before Sumner returned from the Navajo campaign, which failed to engage the enemy, additional attacks were made on New Mexican settlements. [14] In the fall of 1851 Indian Agent John Greiner reported from Taos that some of the Utes and Jicarillas were bragging about their raids and how many settlers they had killed. [15]

After Sumner returned to Fort Union, New Mexico Governor James S. Calhoun, in response to citizen requests, asked Sumner to authorize the issue of military arms for a volunteer militia unit in the territory so the people could better protect themselves from destruction at the hands of Indians. After some delay, Sumner authorized Captain Shoemaker to issue 75 flintlock muskets, with ammunition and necessary accouterments, to the governor for the use of a militia unit to be led by Captain Preston Beck. [16] Sumner placed two restrictions on the "loan" of arms; one, that they would "be immediately returned whenever demanded by the Commanding Officer of the 9th Dept., and secondly that they are never to be used in making hostile incursions into the Indian Country unless this volunteer company is acting in conjunction with the regular troops." [17] These restrictions were unacceptable to Captain Beck, and the arms were refused. [18] A period of strained relations between Sumner and Calhoun followed. [19] When Governor Calhoun became too ill to perform the duties of his office, he appointed Indian Agent Greiner to act as superintendent of Indian affairs in the territory. Greiner and Sumner were unable to cooperate either. [20] Despite those problems, however, the Indians of the territory were reported to be quiet early in 1852.

Colonel Sumner was satisfied that the new posts he had established closer to the Indians' homelands were having a "favourable influence" on relations between citizens and Indians. In late January 1852 he declared that the Jicarilla Apaches and the Utes "have been perfectly quiet" because of the presence of Fort Union. When Fort Massachusetts was established some 80 miles north of Taos in the heart of Ute country the following spring, he believed that the presence of troops would ensure "their permanent submission." [21]

Sumner hoped to have a similar impact on the Mescalero Apaches to the south of Fort Union. On February 3, 1852, Captain Carleton and his Company K, First Dragoons, total of 61 men, departed Fort Union on a reconnaissance to Bosque Redondo on the Pecos River, with a stop at Anton Chico to pick up forage for the horses. The corn purchased there was still on the ear, and the soldiers spent much of their time for a few days shelling the corn by hand to make it easier to transport. As they marched to the Bosque Redondo, they cached some of the corn to provide forage for their horses on the return trip. Carleton reported there was little grass along the way. On the return march, the troops found that one place where they had cached corn had been found by "Mexican" hunters who had taken the entire amount. [22]

Carleton's company was to watch for Indians, particularly Mescalero Apaches, and try to impress upon them the "necessity" for peaceful behavior. [23] They saw no Indians during the entire trip but learned from "Mexicans" that Apaches, Comanches, and Kiowas gathered at Bosque Redondo in the spring to recruit their ponies and carry on a lively trade among themselves and with "Mexican" buffalo hunters. Carleton was impressed with the region, especially the Bosque Redondo. He described at length the lay of the land along the Pecos River, the rich bottom lands at and below the Bosque Redondo with potential for successful agriculture, an abundance of trees, grass, sunflowers, wild grapes, and large flocks of wild turkeys. Carleton saw it as an ideal location for a military post, especially for a cavalry garrison. The presence of troops in that area, he predicted, would be quickly followed by "Mexican" settlers who would develop the potential of the land. [24] Carleton returned to Fort Union on February 24 with a total command of fifty-seven, four less than he started with three weeks earlier. He reported that three men had deserted and one, Private Patrick O'Brien, had died. [25]

In March 1852, following reports of raids by Gila Apaches at San Antonio on the Rio Grande between Valverde and Soccoro, where two New Mexicans were killed and livestock was stolen, Governor Calhoun requested 100 muskets and ammunition from Sumner to issue to a militia unit at San Antonio. Sumner directed Captain Horace Brooks, Second Artillery, commanding Fort Marcy at Santa Fe, to turn over the requested weapons, 5,000 cap and ball cartridges, and 300 flints to the governor to be used by citizens at San Antonio led by Estanislas Montoya. Calhoun asked Brooks to deliver the items to San Antonio. Brooks was unable to fulfill the order because he did not have the muskets at Santa Fe, and he informed Calhoun that he did not have available transportation to deliver the weapons if he had them. Calhoun, so ill that he was unable to fulfill his duties, appealed to Sumner, who ordered Brooks to obtain the necessary arms and ammunition from Captain Shoemaker at the ordnance depot at Fort Union. [26]

With the coming of spring, troops at Fort Union and throughout the department renewed their efforts to control the Indians. On April 3, 1852, Second Lieutenant Joseph Edward Maxwell and his Company D, Third Infantry, were ordered from their station at Fort Union to department headquarters at Albuquerque for "field service against the Apache Indians." The quartermaster at Fort Union was required to "furnish the necessary transportation for the movement" of the company. [27] On April 20, Carleton and his company of dragoons were directed to leave Fort Union to patrol the Santa Fe Trail to Fort Atkinson on the Arkansas River. They were to remain at the destination for a few days to rest and "recruit" the horses, then march back to Fort Union. [28] Because of other Indian troubles in the department and the shortage of troops at Fort Union, it appears that this order was not carried out. Carleton assumed command of Fort Union on April 22, 1852, and his company was present for duty there until August 3. In August Carleton and his company of dragoons patrolled the trail as far as Fort Atkinson and escorted the new territorial governor from that point back to Fort Union. [29] In October 1852 an escort was provided from the garrison at Fort Union to accompany Major Francis A. Cunningham, paymaster, and Major and Mrs. Philip R. Thompson as far as Fort Atkinson. [30]

During April 1852 two companies of First Dragoons and one company of Third Infantry, under command of Major George Alexander Hamilton Blake, First Dragoons, were sent to establish Fort Massachusetts "in the country of the Utah Indians." [31] The new post was located on Ute Creek, a tributary of the Rio Grande, near the San Luis Valley on June 22, 1852. It was occupied until June 24, 1858, when the garrison was moved to a nearby site and Fort Garland was established. [32]

While troops were marching to establish Fort Massachusetts in the spring of 1852, a council was held with some Jicarilla leaders at Pecos, followed by further discussions in July. [33] There were no reported attacks by Jicarillas on the New Mexican settlements during the year, but in August a Jicarilla war party went onto the plains to fight the Kiowas. The Kiowas had, according to two Jicarillas met by soldiers at Ocate, recently killed three or four Jicarillas. [34] Although the Indians were peaceful, military protection continued.

The provision of military escorts by troops at Fort Union for departing Governor Calhoun and the coming of Governor William Carr Lane in 1852, also part of military operations, were covered in the previous chapter. [35] For whatever reasons, including Sumner's redistribution of the troops in the department and efforts by Bureau of Indian Affairs officials to negotiate treaties of peace with tribes in New Mexico, a brief period of unprecedented peace was experienced in the department in 1852. Greiner declared at the end of June 1852, "Not a single depredation has been committed by any of the Indians in New Mexico for three months. The 'oldest inhabitant' cannot recollect the time when this could have been said with truth before." [36] Colonel Sumner reported in September that "all things continue quiet in this department" and attributed this to his reorganization of the department. [37] It appeared to military and civil officials that opportunities existed to negotiate peace treaties and make arrangements to locate the Indians on their own reservations, providing them help with subsistence provisions while they made the transition from hunters and raiders to farmers and ranchers.

Governor Lane, new territorial governor and superintendent of Indian affairs, became a strong advocate of peace. Perhaps persuaded by Greiner, Lane concluded that it was more economical to feed Indians than to fight them. He proceeded, without approval of higher authority, to negotiate treaties with several New Mexican tribes, including the Jicarilla Apaches. He promised to feed the Indians for five years and give additional aid if they would stop raiding, settle in a specified location, and take up agriculture. He spent, without authorization, between $20,000 and $40,000 to implement the agreements, and several hundred Indians were reported to be settled on potential reservations. When the Senate rejected the treaties and Congress refused to fund the expenses incurred, the distribution of rations had to be stopped and the Indians felt betrayed. All crops planted by the Indians in 1853 failed. They began to raid in order to survive and in retaliation for the broken promises. Lane was criticized for his actions and resigned from office. [38]

During the interim when one governor left office and another arrived, Colonel Sumner was replaced by Brigadier General John Garland as department commander. Before he left New Mexico, Sumner directed preparations for a campaign against the Navajos which included most of the troops at Fort Union (all the artillery and dragoon companies stationed there plus most of the company of infantry). The dragoons were directed to lead their horses until they reached the heart of Navajo country, so the animals would be in good condition for battle. As noted in the previous chapter, the campaign was never conducted because the issue with the Navajos was resolved by the troops at Fort Defiance. [39]

If Carleton and his company of dragoons had gone on the planned expedition, they might not have experienced an Indian raid on their horse herd. On July 29 the dragoon horses were grazing in a cañon in the Turkey Mountains about five miles northeast of Fort Union when five Utes attempted to stampede the herd but succeeded in stealing only one horse. Carleton and a detachment of his company followed the trail for four days before losing it in the mountains. The horse was not recovered. The leader of the Ute party was understood to be Chief Tamooche. Carleton was furious that this had happened near the post and under the watch of troops and exclaimed, "Had I caught or killed these Indians, dead or alive I should have hung them upon the trees at the point where they stampeded the horses." [40]

Governor David Meriwether arrived to replace Lane in August 1853, and he, like Lane, wanted to feed the Indians in order to keep the peace. Meriwether, like his predecessor, was unable to secure funds to do so. The Indians continued to raid in order to survive, and Meriwether called for additional military support to protect the settlements. In September 1853 a party of Jicarillas came to Fort Union, ostensibly to trade, and remained most of the month. They were apparently checking on the strength of the command, and they suddenly left and were raiding in the area a few weeks later. Late in the year Jicarillas killed a rancher, Juan Silva, and his son near Las Vegas and stole his herd of cattle. A detachment of dragoons was sent from Fort Union but was unable to find the Indians or the stolen cattle. [41]

Governor Meriwether notified Brigadier General Garland in January that Indian disturbances in the northern part of the territory were increasing and requested additional military vigilance in the area. Garland sent orders to Lieutenant Colonel Cooke and Major Blake, the commanding officers at Fort Union and Cantonment Burgwin, to investigate all reports of Indian depredations and to punish the delinquents. Garland was of the opinion that the primary cause of heightened Indian troubles was attributable to "large armed parties of New Mexicans" who "are in the habit of going into the Indian Country, or perhaps more properly speaking, their hunting grounds, where they kill off the very game upon which the Indians depend for subsistence." This left the Indians in the desperate situation of either "starving to death" or "depredating upon the settlements." [42]

That New Mexican hunters were contributing to the Indian problems in the territory was confirmed by an investigation of the circumstances surrounding the reported loss of property by a party of hunters from San Miguel. The hunters informed Governor Meriwether, who in turn notified Garland, that Indians had attacked their camp on the Canadian River, killed one of the hunters, stolen some of their property, and prevented the survivors from recovering their wagons and other supplies at the camp. Garland directed Lieutenant Colonel Cooke at Fort Union to send troops to investigate and escort the hunters to their wagons and assist in the recovery of their property, punishing any Indians found along the way. In addition Cooke was to examine the reported murder of two Anglo men near Las Vegas, possibly by Indians. The inquiry gathered evidence quite contradictory to the initial reports. [43]

Cooke, who wondered why the hunters had not informed him of their losses, sent Lieutenant Joseph E. Maxwell and a detachment troops from Fort Union to gather information and assist the men from San Miguel in the recovery of their carretas and other property. Cooke observed, before the facts were collected, that the hunters "were probably intruders on indian lands." Maxwell learned that the two men killed near Las Vegas had been the victims of New Mexican thieves rather than Indians, and one of the murderers had been apprehended and then released. He ascertained that the hunting party of Pedro Gonzales of San Miguel had gone far beyond the Canadian River where the Indians had repeatedly warned them to leave, stating that a few hunters were not a problem but many hunters with wagons were not welcome. The hunters claimed that the Indians, believed to be Cheyennes, took some of their horses and later returned them. At a time when Gonzales was not at the camp, several of the hunters killed two Indians and wounded a third who escaped. One of the hunters was killed. The hunting party, fearing revenge by the Indians, had abandoned their camp and were afraid to go back to recover the wagons and supplies. Cooke strongly urged that "these particular hunters be judicially investigated on the charges of murder" and for illegal intrusion on Indian lands. Considering the murder of two men near Las Vegas, the unprovoked killing of two Indians, and the illegal activities of New Mexican hunters, the commander of Fort Union observed, "It would seem that white men and Indians are at present most in need of our protection." [44]

A series of events that led directly to war began in February 1854 when Samuel Watrous, one of the beef contractors for Fort Union, reported the loss of several cattle to Indians. The cattle were herded about 60 miles from Fort Union, apparently along the Canadian River. A party of Jicarillas and Utes were suspected of stealing the animals. Lieutenant David Bell was sent with a detachment of 33 troops of his Company H, Second Dragoons, from Fort Union on February 13, with Watrous's son-in-law William Tipton as guide, to attempt to find and recover the lost stock. They did not find Indians or cattle and returned to Fort Union after one week. [45]

Lieutenant Bell and 35 enlisted men of Company H, Second Dragoons, accompanied by Lieutenant George Sykes, Second Dragoons, and Second Lieutenant Joseph E. Maxwell, Third Infantry, were sent from Fort Union on March 2 to "make a scout" for hostile Indians and stolen livestock on the Canadian River and "to protect the frontier." On March 5 they picked up a trail and followed it to a point near a Jicarilla encampment, about 70 miles from Fort Union beyond the Canadian, where they were met by several mounted Indians. Following an attempt to talk with these Apaches about the stolen cattle, which they denied having anything to do with and suggested the Utes were probably guilty of the theft, Bell accused them of stealing the cattle and demanded that the thieves and cattle be delivered to him. The soldiers were directed to take Chief Lobo as a prisoner until the demands were met. [46]

Lobo resisted and a brief skirmish followed. The Indians fought only a few minutes and then scattered, but Bell did not pursue them because he suspected a possible ambush. The Jicarillas lost five men killed, including Chief Lobo, and several wounded. The soldiers had two killed (Privates William A. Arnold and James Bell) and four wounded (Bugler Adam T. Conalki and Privates Edward Golden, John Steel, and William Walker). An express rider was sent to Fort Union to report, and Post Surgeon John Byrne was dispatched from the post with an ambulance to meet the detachment and attend to the wounded on the way back to the post. They returned to Fort Union on March 7 without further attempts to recover the cattle. The soldiers were especially pleased to have killed Chief Lobo who was considered the leader of the attack on the White party in 1849, the killer of Mrs. White, the leader of the attack on the mail party at Wagon Mound in 1850, and other outrageous acts. [47]

The next day a raiding party of Utes and Jicarillas killed two herders and drove off approximately 200 cattle of the Fort Union depot herd which were being grazed by a contractor within 20 miles of where the fight occurred on March 5. The raiders were prevented from stealing the entire herd by a small band of friendly Utes led by Chief Chico Velasquez, an act which Lieutenant Colonel Cooke called "extraordinary." [48] A platoon of 25 dragoons was sent under Lieutenant Bell on March 9 to recover the stock and punish the guilty Indians but returned a few days later without finding either Indians or cattle. Reinforcements, 60 dragoons under command of Lieutenant Samuel D. Sturgis, were sent to Fort Union from Albuquerque, and Cooke was directed to keep the Santa Fe Trail open, escorting the mails and wagon trains as required. An escort was sent on March 15 to meet the westbound mail and see it safely through the region of recent hostilities. On March 22 Sturgis led a detachment of his company of First Dragoons to the Canadian River to see if any of the missing cattle could be located. The following day Lieutenant Bell left with another detachment to go to the Pecos River on a similar mission. Neither force was successful in locating the Jicarillas, but the dragoons under Lieutenant Sturgis found fourteen of the missing cattle and brought them to Fort Union. [49]

Most of the Jicarillas and Utes were still friendly in early March 1854, and about 45 lodges of peaceful Apaches camped about three miles from Mora. A company of dragoons was sent from Cantonment Burgwin near Taos, at Cooke's request, to keep watch over this camp and prevent them from joining in the hostilities. A New Mexican, who apparently wanted the Indians to leave the area, told these Jicarillas that the troops planned to attack them if they remained there. They left and scattered, some going toward Taos, some toward the Rio Grande, and others to join another peaceful encampment near Picuris Pueblo. Indian Agent Kit Carson, recently appointed to the Taos Agency to deal with the Utes and Jicarillas, was sent to meet with some of the peace leaders. On March 25 he held council with eight Jicarillas, including Chief Chacon, who proclaimed peaceful intentions and asked for protection and provisions if they remained in their camps. Governor Meriwether was on an extended leave of absence, and Carson urged Acting Governor William S. Messervy to send a special agent to live with the peaceful Jicarillas and to provide them with provisions. [50]

Because of the division of authority between the army and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the peaceful Indians were under control of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the hostiles were under control of the army. It was not always possible, however, to determine who was hostile and who was friendly. The peaceful camp near Picuris was to receive rations so long as they stayed put, but for some reason they fled while Carson was at Santa Fe. They met Major Philip R. Thompson's detachment of dragoons, marching from Fort Union to Cantonment Burgwin, and Thompson asked for four Jicarillas to accompany him as hostages to guarantee that the band remained peaceful. They did as he requested, but the following day the band and the hostages escaped and were no longer counted among the peaceful Indians. [51]

Lieutenant John W. Davidson and a company of dragoons from Cantonment Burgwin were sent to follow the fleeing Jicarillas on March 30. This company was attacked by a force of Jicarillas and Utes (estimated to number from 100 to 250 warriors) near Cieneguilla (present Pilar) about 25 miles south of Taos. The Indians apparently ambushed the soldiers. Messervy declared of the Jicarillas, "the whole plan of their operations was to draw our troops into an ambush, destroy them, and then invite the Utahs to join them in a general massacre of our citizens." [52] In a hard-fought three-hour battle Davidson's troops suffered 22 killed and 36 wounded and lost most of their supplies and 22 horses to the Indians. Lieutenant Davidson and Assistant Surgeon David L. Magruder were among the wounded. [53] All the Jicarillas were now considered at war and the army was given responsibility for punishing them until they sued for peace. [54]

Lt. Davidson's conduct in the tragic engagement, when his troops were attacked by a force of superior numbers, was praised by Brig. Gen. Garland: "The troops displayed a gallantry seldom equalled in this, or any other country and the Officer in Command, Lieut. Davidson, has given evidence of soldiership in the highest degree creditable to him. To have sustained a deadly control of three hours when he was so greatly outnumbered, and to have retired with the fragment of a company, crippled up, is amazing and calls for the admiration of every true soldier." Garland to Thomas, April 1, 1854, Sen. Ex. Doc. No. 1, 33 Cong., 1 sess. (Serial 747), pt. 2, pp. 33-34.

Lt. David Bell later charged that Davidson could have avoided the engagement and had exhibited poor leadership, thereby losing many of his men unnecessarily. Garland was incensed and called a court of inquiry to meet at Taos on March 10, 1856, to consider Bell's charges and to assess Davidson's conduct during the battle. Col. B. L. E. Bonneville and Captains James H. Carleton and William N. Grier were detailed for the court, with Lt. Henry B. Clitz as recorder. Orders No. 1, HQ DNM, Feb. 9, 1856, DNM Orders, v. 36, p. 346, USAC, RG 393, NA.

The court concluded that Davidson could not have avoided the battle (meaning he was attacked and not the instigator of the engagement) and "that in the battle he exhibited skill in his mode of attacking a greatly superior force of hostile Indians; and prudence, and coolness, and courage, throughout a protracted engagement; and finally, when he was obliged to retire from the field, owing to the great odds opposing him, the losses he had sustained, and the scarcity of ammunition; his exertions to bring off the wounded men merit high praise." Garland approved the findings and observed that Bell's "accusations present the appearance of malicious criticism." Orders No. 3, HQ DNM, Mar. 26, 1856, ibid., 348-349.

Kit Carson later testified to Davidson's bravery: "Nearly every person engaged in, and who survived that day's bloody battle, has since told me that his commanding officer never once sought shelter, but stood manfully exposed to the aim of the Indians, encouraging his men, and apparently unmindful of his own life. In the retreat, he was as cool and collected as if under the guns of his fort. The only anxiety he exhibited was for the safety of his remaining men." Quoted in James F. Meline, Two Thousand Miles on Horseback, Santa Fe and Back: A Summer Tour (1866; reprint, Albuquerque: Horn & Wallace, Publishers, 1966), 104.

Lieutenant Colonel Cooke left the command of Fort Union to Captain Nathaniel C. Macrae and took charge of a campaign against the Jicarillas. His force included Company H, First Dragoons, Company H, Second Dragoons, and Company D, Second Artillery, from Fort Union, with additional troops from Cantonment Burgwin. A Spy Company recruited among civilians around Taos (including many Pueblo Indians), led by Captain James H. Quinn, served as guides and scouts to pursue the Jicarillas. Indian Agent Carson also accompanied Cooke. On April 7 Garland sent word to Cooke that the leader of the Jicarillas who had attacked Lieutenant Davidson's command, Flechas Rayada, had offered to return all the horses and arms captured in that fight if peace could be made. Garland was opposed to negotiations. Carson later declared that he thought the Jicarillas around Taos "were driven into the war, by the actions of the officers & troops in that quarter." He believed that, "thinking there will be no quarter or mercy shown them, they will resort to all desperate expedients to escape any sort of pursuit & they have scattered now in every direction." He urged that peace negotiations be attempted. [55]

The Jicarillas fled westward across the Rio Grande, and Cooke started after them from Taos on April 4, 1854. The troops carried rations for 30 days, including beef and mutton on the hoof. Brigadier General Garland enjoined Cooke to "listen to no proposition for peace until these marauding Apaches have been well whipped, give them neither rest nor quarter until they are humbled to the dust." Jicarillas and soldiers struggled through rugged terrain and spring blizzards. On April 8 the troops came upon a Jicarilla camp, believed to include Chief Chacon and more than 150 of his followers, beside the Rio Caliente, tributary of the Chama River, and attacked. The Indians were driven from their camp which the soldiers destroyed. Some Jicarilla women and children (one source said "a large number of their children") and at least two of the Indians' horses drowned while trying to cross the stream. It was later learned that four or five Jicarillas were killed and five or six were wounded in the attack. The soldiers lost one killed and one wounded. Because of the loss of their camp and supplies, the Indians suffered from exposure and seventeen women and children perished in the snow. Although Chief Chacon had professed for peace and claimed he and his followers had participated in no raids or attacks, he and his band were the ones overtaken and punished in retaliation for the earlier raids and the attack on Lieutenant Davidson's command. [56]

A portion of Cooke's command, Captain William T. H. Brooks and a company of Third Infantry, tried to overtake Chacon's band which fled farther into the mountains, while Cooke continued the search for other bands with the remainder of the troops. Both commands ran into deep snow which forced them to abandon the chase and return to Taos. Cooke and the dragoons from Fort Union returned to that post in May. On May 23, following reports of Jicarillas moving into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains north of Taos, Cooke sent Captain James H. Carleton with one hundred men, including the Spy Company and Carson, in pursuit. They followed the trail across the mountains to the plains. On May 31 a grizzly bear "tore one of the Pueblo spies badly." The bear was killed. The Indian trail led them to Raton Pass. They climbed Fischer's Peak near the north end of the pass on June 4 and surprised a camp of 20 Jicarilla lodges on the mesa, under Chief Huero. The Jicarillas, whom Carleton described as "panic-stricken," escaped but lost their entire camp which was destroyed and 38 horses which were captured and given to the Spy Company. A few soldiers and spies remained near the camp when the main body of troops left and killed a few Jicarillas when they came back to see what remained of their camp. No other Indians were found on the march back to Taos. [57]

During May Acting Governor Messervy called into service for three months a battalion of militia to include 200 volunteers. These were stationed in northeastern New Mexico to protect the settlements "from the invasion of the Indians." In addition to the hostilities of the Jicarillas, the Kiowas, Comanches, and Cheyennes were reported to be raiding in San Miguel County where fourteen New Mexicans were killed. Lieutenant Colonel Cooke, back at Fort Union, declared that the attacks by the plains tribes "is reasonably to be expected & in retaliation of serious depredations committed by the Inhabitants of the territory on them: viz, the annual destruction of buffalo within their country." Garland attributed the murders in San Miguel County to the unprovoked killing of plains Indians by buffalo hunters the previous winter. "These Indians," he wrote, "as is their custom took their revenge." [58]

Troops from Fort Union continued to investigate reports of Indian raids. On May 20 Second Lieutenant Robert Ransom, First Dragoons, led 96 dragoons from the post to pursue and punish Indians reported to be killing herders and stealing sheep between the Pecos and Canadian rivers. They went via Las Vegas to Alexander Hatch's Ranch on the Gallinas River, where they were informed that the Indians had attacked the herders and taken the sheep of Juan Perea, located about 40 miles east of Hatch's Ranch. Leaving the pack train in camp with a guard, Ransom took the remainder of his detachment to the scene of the raid. They found about 3,000 sheep without herders and drove them back to the settlements to be claimed by their owners. Because of recent rains, they found no sign of Indians. When they returned to the Gallinas with the sheep, the soldiers met some herders with the remainder of Perea's sheep. They claimed that Indians had stolen 6,500 of their sheep and killed one herder. [59]

It was possible the Indians had driven the sheep toward the Pecos or Canadian River. Ransom picked up the pack train and headed down the Pecos in search of Indians. On May 25 his command overtook a small party of Indians, believed to be Mescalero Apaches, with a herd of stolen cattle and gave chase for about four hours. The Indians killed many of the cattle and fled. Ransom was forced to abandon pursuit when the dragoon horses became exhausted. He reported that the Indians had "scattered, no two taking the same trail; throwing away every article that would at all retard their flight." The next day the detachment went beyond Bosque Redondo and found no Indians. They then headed toward the Canadian River, hoping to find the sheep stolen from Perea. They found a trail of a large flock of sheep and the carcasses of many sheep that had been killed, but they were unable to overtake the Indians. Ransom blamed the poor condition of the horses for the failure to catch Indians. The troops recovered about 2,000 sheep that the Indians had abandoned and drove them to Las Vegas where they could be claimed by the owners. The identity of the Indians who stole the sheep was unknown, but Ransom thought they were from the plains. The detachment returned to Fort Union on June 3. [60]

On June 30 fifty-eight men of Companies D and H, Second Dragoons, from Fort Union, under command of Lieutenant Sykes and Second Lieutenant Maxwell, both Third Infantry, who had been joined in the field by two small parties of New Mexican militia from Las Vegas, pursued a small band of Jicarillas who had been raiding in the vicinity of Las Vegas. They followed the Indians along the Mora River and overtook them at a point about 35 miles from the post near where the Mora joins the Canadian River. Maxwell was in the lead of a few soldiers who chased the Indians up a hill. At the top Maxwell was killed immediately by a volley of arrows. Four Indians, including at least one of those who shot Maxwell, were killed in the engagement. At least two dragoons were wounded. [61]

At this point both sides stopped fighting and Brigadier General Garland reported that "the Jicarilla Apaches are pretty thoroughly subdued" and "making overtures of peace." They had learned, Garland stated, that "they are not safe from pursuit in the most inaccessible parts of the Rocky Mountains." Garland had high praises for all the officers and troops involved in the war against the Jicarillas, and expressed delight that he and Acting Governor Messervy had "acted in perfect harmony." Most of the militia volunteers were released before their term of service expired because it was believed the Jicarillas were ready to end the conflict. Chief Chacon offered to make peace in August and met with Governor Meriwether in September. But Chacon did not represent all the Jicarillas, many of whom were not yet ready to give up without further struggle. No peace agreement was concluded and preparations were begun at Fort Union, where Colonel Thomas T. Fauntleroy replaced Cooke as post commander on September 18, 1854, to resume the campaign against the Jicarillas and the Utes in the spring of 1855. [62]

During the winter of 1854-1855 the Jicarillas and Utes began raiding because they needed food, hoped to destroy some of the frontier settlements, and possibly saw it as a way to alleviate the frustrations of encroachments on their territory and way of life. They committed acts of desperation before surrendering to the inevitable. In November they drove off a herd of cattle and several hundred sheep about 25 miles southeast of Fort Union. Although Fort Union was undermanned and some of the troops were in tents because the quarters were unsafe, Fauntleroy sent a detachment which recovered some of the cattle and sheep. In December troops were sent from Los Lunas and Fort Fillmore to investigate reports of raids by Jicarilla and Mescalero Apaches along the Pecos River. [63] The New Mexico Territorial Legislature reported at the end of 1854 that during the previous year Indians had killed 50 citizens and destroyed property worth $100,000. [64]

Although most of the Ute Indians of northern New Mexico Territory had refused to join with the belligerent Jicarillas during the campaigns of 1854, they permitted many Jicarillas to join their camps around the San Luis Valley during the autumn and winter. Soon Jicarillas and Utes were joining together in raids on the settlements, and the army had to conduct military operations against both tribes during 1855. On December 25, 1854, a combined force of Jicarilla and Ute warriors attacked the settlement of Pueblo on the Arkansas River in present Colorado, killing fourteen men, wounding two men, capturing one woman and two children, and taking 200 head of livestock. [65]

This assured that a major campaign would be organized against them as soon as possible in the spring. Major Blake, commanding at Cantonment Burgwin, was called to Santa Fe by Garland on January 12 to help arrange for a campaign against the offenders. Captain Horace Brooks, commanding Fort Massachusetts, was informed that an expedition would be organized and directed to use troops from his garrison to gain information about the Indians' "whereabouts." On January 13, 1855, Captain Carleton, commanding the Post at Albuquerque, was directed to prepare his company of dragoons for "active field service" and to join later with other troops in the department in a campaign against Indians (Carleton was used in the campaign against the Mescaleros instead of the one against the Utes and Jicarillas). Colonel Fauntleroy would lead the expedition, including troops from Fort Union. [66]

While preparations were being made, the raids continued. On January 11, 1855, Mescalero Apaches attacked at Galisteo (about 25 miles south of Santa Fe), "killed one man, wounded another, stripped a dozen women and drove off seventy mules." Fauntleroy was directed to send troops from Fort Union to cut off the raiders if they headed toward the Canadian River. A detachment was out four days and found no signs before returning to the post. Troops were also sent from Fort Marcy at Santa Fe, and they overtook the raiding party, killed three, and wounded four before the Indians escaped. On January 19 a combined force of Utes and Jicarillas again struck at Pueblo, killing four citizens and stealing approximately 100 head of livestock. The combined force of Captains Richard S. Ewell and Henry W. Stanton, which had been searching for hostile Mescaleros, attacked a Mescalero camp in the Sacramento Mountains of southeast New Mexico on January 20 and killed twelve Indians, including three chiefs. Captain Stanton and two privates were killed in the engagement. [67]

Colonel Fauntleroy led a detachment from Fort Union on January 25, 1855, to see if he could locate the Jicarillas and Utes who had attacked Pueblo. He returned on February 5 without success. Nothing much could be done until winter was over and a large command could take the field, and the raids continued. On February 8 a party of New Mexicans were attacked at Ocate by eight Indians who killed one of their party and stole five or six horses. A small detachment was sent from Fort Union the following day to investigate. They found the dead citizen but saw no Indians. Fauntleroy also received reports of Indian raids near Las Vegas. Kit Carson reported from Taos on February 28, 1855, that the Jicarillas and Utes were raiding without restraint, and the following day he wrote that they "have been committing thefts, robberies and murders upon the stock and inhabitants of this northern portion of the Territory." [68]

In preparation for a spring offensive Governor Meriwether, at the request of Brigadier General Garland, called for a militia battalion of mounted volunteers to join with the regular troops against the Indians. Lieutenant Colonel Ceran St. Vrain commanded the six companies of volunteers who were outfitted at Fort Union. Colonel Fauntleroy was placed in charge of military operations in the area, including troops at Fort Union, Fort Massachusetts, and Cantonment Burgwin. Captain Daniel Rucker, quartermaster at Fort Union, was named quartermaster of the campaign. The Jicarillas and Utes increased their attacks along Ocate Creek, the Canadian River, near Las Vegas, and in the San Luis Valley, stealing several thousand head of livestock. [69]

One of the mounted volunteers was First Sergeant Rafael Chacon, Captain Francisco Gonzales's Company B, whose memoirs covering much of his remarkable life, 1833-1925, have been published. Soon after the volunteers received their arms and equipment at Fort Union, before the campaign began, Chacon was part of a detachment sent from Fort Union in pursuit of Jicarillas who had seized a herd of horses from Juan Vigil of La Cueva, located between Fort Union and the village of Mora. The volunteers followed the trail of the stolen horses past Wagon Mound and through the Raton Mountains to what is presently known as Long's Canyon, a side canyon of the Purgatoire River in present Colorado, where they caught up with the thieves. As Chacon recalled, "the Indians fled from us, abandoning their camp where they had been making a meal on horse meat. Our own provisions at this time had been exhausted, and we ate the meat which the Indians had left." The Indians got away with the stolen horses which were not recovered. [70]

The Indians had split up, dividing the stolen horses, and the volunteers also separated to pursue them. "I got lost," Chacon remembered, "with four soldiers, and on the following day we killed a wildcat, which, for lack of better food, we were obliged to eat." Unable to regain the lost horses, "we returned to the fort to provide ourselves with a fresh supply of food and ammunition in order to continue the campaign." [71]

On February 20, 1855, Fauntleroy left Fort Union under command of Captain Joseph Whittlesey, traveled to Taos where he made additional preparations for the campaign, and proceeded the following month to Fort Massachusetts where he gathered his force of 500 men, including two companies of dragoons, four companies of mounted volunteers, and thirty spies and guides under command of Captain Lucien Stewart from Taos. Indian Agent Carson accompanied the campaign. [72]

Fauntleroy led his troops into the field on March 14, heading into the San Luis Valley. The primary mission of the campaign was to find and punish the bands led by Ute Chief Blanco and Jicarilla Chief Huero, believed to be the ones responsible for the attacks on Pueblo. After traveling approximately 100 miles northwest of Fort Massachusetts the troops had a brief engagement on March 19 near Saguache Pass with a camp of Utes and Jicarillas, during which seven Indians were killed. The Indians had seen the soldiers coming and resisted until their families made good their escape. As the soldiers followed the trail the Jicarillas split from the Utes and soon scattered, making it impossible for the troops to pursue all the Indians. The command followed the largest group (Chief Chacon and his followers) to a camp on the headwaters of the Arkansas River. There the troops captured most of the Indians' horses, but the Jicarillas managed to escape. [73] Fauntleroy did not follow because his men needed supplies, and he returned the expedition to Fort Massachusetts via Mosca Pass. Carson returned to his agency at Taos. [74]

As soon as his command was ready to march again, Fauntleroy took part of them back to the San Luis Valley to try to find the Utes, and St. Vrain led the remainder of the force across the Sangre de Cristo range in an attempt to locate the Jicarillas in present Colorado. Fauntleroy picked up the trail of Chief Blanco's Moache Utes and pursued them. His soldiers attacked the Indians in camp near the Arkansas River about 20 miles from Poncha Pass on April 28. The Indians had been up all night celebrating a scalp dance and were completely surprised. The soldiers, as Fauntleroy reported, "swept the enemy like chaff before the wind," killed an estimated forty Utes, wounded many more, and captured six children, thirty-five horses, twelve sheep and goats, six rifles, five pistols, twenty-five bows with arrows, and all the baggage, including over 200 buffalo robes and 150 pack saddles. Only two soldiers had been wounded, one of whom died later after his leg was amputated. A soldier was killed after the battle while attempting to pursue the fleeing Utes. Chief Blanco escaped with the rest of his band, and the soldiers followed and attacked a portion of the Ute band on May 1 and 2, killing four more Indians and capturing thirteen horses. Blanco and most of his people again escaped with the troops in pursuit. Chief Blanco appeared on a high ledge and asked to make peace, but one of the soldiers shot at him. The Indians then eluded the soldiers and scattered, making further pursuit fruitless. Fauntleroy returned to Fort Massachusetts in May. He rejoined the garrison at Fort Union in July and resumed command of the post on July 20. [75]

Meanwhile St. Vrain's command had followed the trail of the Jicarilla Apaches in present Colorado. They attacked a camp of Jicarillas on Bear Creek, a tributary of the Cucharas River, [76] killing and wounding thirteen, from where the survivors fled to the Purgatoire River. On the Purgatoire they struck the Jicarillas again, killing four and taking six women and children prisoners who were sent to Fort Union to be held until the conflict had ended. [77] In May the volunteers searched for Jicarillas along the Canadian River without success. They marched to Fort Union for supplies and prepared to take the field again. In June they caught up with a party of Jicarillas in the mountains of present southern Colorado and attacked, killing six, capturing seven, and taking thirty-one horses. The remainder of this band reportedly scattered, making pursuit impossible. A party of Jicarillas reportedly killed eight or ten New Mexicans in the mountain settlements between Cantonment Burgwin and Mora, but the offenders were not found. The enlistment period for the volunteers expired at the conclusion of six months and they were discharged at the end of July 1855 with high praises from Brigadier General Garland. [78]

The Jicarillas and Utes were tired of running and ready to make peace. They were practically destitute and were eating their mules. In August 1855 Governor Meriwether met with a delegation of Jicarillas and Moache Utes, and peace treaties were signed with the Moache Utes on September 11 and with most leaders of the Jicarillas on September 12. The Indians agreed to stop raiding and to give up claims to all lands except for reservations to be established for them. In addition to protected reserves, they were to receive rations, blankets, clothing, household utensils, agricultural implements, and seed. The treaties of 1855, like those of a few years earlier, were not approved by the Senate. New Mexicans, who did not want the Indians located close to the settlements, petitioned President Franklin Pierce to reject the treaties. Even though the agreements were not implemented, most of the Indians stayed near their agencies at Abiquiu and Taos, drawing their rations which were continued even though the treaties were rejected. The rations were considered a temporary expedient until permanent reservations were established. A few Jicarillas who refused to make peace continued to raid periodically near Mora and Rayado. One of the Jicarilla chiefs, Apache Negro, refused to participate in the peace arrangements in September 1855 but came to Santa Fe in March 1856 and promised to abide by the treaties. The Jicarillas did not receive a permanent reservation until 1887. [79]

In 1861 the Taos agency was moved to the Cimarron agency, and Indian Agent Carson was replaced by William F. N. Arny. Lucien Maxwell leased a two-square-mile area to the agency and contracted to supply rations to the Jicarillas. Arny hoped to get the Jicarillas to farm, but his successor in 1862, Levi Keithly, was not interested in farming and distributed rations from Maxwell's flour mill at Cimarron. Troops from Fort Union were temporarily stationed at Cimarron from time to time to help keep the peace and oversee the distribution of rations. [80]

By the time the Jicarilla Apaches and Utes were brought under control in 1855, the Comanches were causing alarm in New Mexico. They began visiting ranches along the Pecos River in the late spring months, taking livestock for their food supply. They took 200 sheep from Maxwell's Ranch at Rayado in July. Upon receipt of a report in September that 250 Comanches were destroying crops and livestock near Hatch's Ranch on the Gallinas River (33 miles southeast of Las Vegas and 13 miles east-northeast of Anton Chico), Fauntleroy sent Lieutenant Robert Johnston, First Dragoons, with 30 dragoons from Fort Union to the area with 12 days' rations to provide protection for settlers. Garland considered the Comanche threat serious because he believed they were being pushed out of their traditional lands in Texas. He sent Captain William T. H. Brooks, Third Infantry, with 45 men from Fort Marcy and Captain Carleton with 80 dragoons from Albuquerque to join the other troops at Hatch's Ranch. Garland directed the officers to attempt to meet the Comanche leaders "to warn them of the necessity of departing from New Mexico and returning to their own country." He directed Captain Brooks, senior officer and commander of the troops at Hatch's Ranch, to "open a communication" with the Comanches and "inform them, explicitly, that they will not be permitted to remain in this territory." Brooks was directed to avoid hostilities with the Comanches if at all possible, but punish them if necessary. Other than stealing some green corn and a few beef cattle, the Comanches caused no other destruction and left the territory within a few days. The troops sent to Hatch's Ranch returned to their previously-assigned stations. Garland reported at the end of October that all the Indians in the department had been quiet the preceding month, "not even a theft has been committed." Hatch's Ranch was considered to be a strategic location in the area because it was close to the Pecos River settlements, near the Fort Smith route to Albuquerque, and in an area through which Comanches and Kiowas often entered the settled regions of New Mexico. The ranch become a military outpost in the department the following year. [81]

The Indians remained quiet during the winter of 1855-1856, except for the Gila Apaches in southwestern New Mexico, and in February the mail escorts by troops from Fort Union on the Santa Fe Trail were discontinued because their was no apparent threat to travelers. When the February westbound mail failed to arrive in New Mexico, the cause was severe snow storms, not Indians. A detachment was sent from Fort Union as far as Rabbit Ear Creek to provide relief for the mail party but returned without meeting the mail because of the "immense fall of snow." It was later learned that the mail party had turned back to Missouri because of the weather. [82]

Despite the severe winter, which caused many Indians to suffer for want of provisions and tied them down because of the difficulty of traveling through deep snow, there were still many reports of Indian depredations which had not in fact occurred. Brigadier General Garland declared, "there is, I regret to say, an obvious desire to keep up, on the part of some of the citizens, an Indian excitement, and in consequence, we are annoyed by many false rumors." [83] Nevertheless, reports of Indian hostilities had to be investigated in case they were true. Alexander Hatch, as will be seen, was an example of someone who profited from the presence of troops.

Military operations took many forms and were not always directed at Indian problems. In March troops were sent from Fort Union in an attempt to catch deserters and recover property they had stolen when they took early leave from the army, apparently at Albuquerque. Lieutenant Johnston and 20 dragoons left Fort Union during the night of March 24 to take an indirect route to Point of Rocks (or as far as Rabbit Ear Creek if necessary) in order to get ahead of the wagon trains that had recently left for Missouri. The troops were to march back toward Fort Union, examine each train they met for deserters and stolen military equipment, arrest any deserters, and take possession of any government property they found. They examined eight trains and found nothing. They returned to the post on March 30. [84]

The Navajos began raiding during the summer of 1856, but most of the other tribes that had signed treaties the previous year were quiet. In June seven unarmed New Mexicans were killed by Indians near Mora, and a band of Jicarillas were charged with the outrage. Garland, however, was assured by the agent at Abiquiu that the parties blamed had not been absent from that area. The department commander believed that the deed may have been done by a large war party of Cheyennes and Arapahoes who had crossed the Sangre de Cristos to attack the Utes, killing fourteen of them. He concluded before the facts were known that "it is quite probable that a fragment of this war party visited the Moro settlement on their return and committed the murders attributed to the Jicarillas." Apparently no troops were sent in pursuit. A month later Garland confirmed that the guilty parties were "the Indians of the Arkansas River, not within this Department." [85]

Sometimes the Indians were blamed for what they did not do. In the autumn of 1856 a report reached Fort Union that a number of sheep had been killed near Wagon Mound, presumably by Indians. A detachment was sent out by the new post commander, Lieutenant Colonel W. W. Loring, to investigate and found the report was true. The perpetrators left a trail which was followed to Mora, where it was found that a party of New Mexican hunters and traders were responsible. A short time later, Colonel B. L. E. Bonneville (who was serving as department commander while Garland was on leave of absence) stated that "the Indians, generally, are quiet, except occasionally a few thefts, committed by roving bands or by Mexicans." [86]

Comanches and Kiowas returned to New Mexico in September 1856, taking food from the ranches as they passed through the Pecos Valley area. One party of warriors from the two tribes pushed beyond the Rio Grande to attack the Navajos and lost many of their horses. When they returned to the plains, they took some livestock from the settlers. Mostly they took enough for their food supply but did little other damage. [87]

According to historian Charles Kenner, the Comanches had come into New Mexico for decades to trade and "helped themselves to foodstuffs." They did not consider this raiding, and the New Mexicans had tolerated such behavior. The Anglo ranchers, such as Alexander Hatch, Preston Beck, and James M. Giddings, considered the taking of food to be raiding and called on the army for protection. [88] When the Comanches and Kiowas took corn from Hatch's Ranch in September, Hatch requested that troops come to the area as they had the year before. Garland, just before he left the territory, sent Captain Washington Lafayette Elliott and his Company A, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, to search for a suitable location to station troops near Hatch's Ranch and to establish quarters there for the winter to protect the area. [89]

Captain Elliott inspected Beck's Ranch and found the road bad, wood scarce, and the water of poor quality. He found Hatch's Ranch to be the best place for troops. There were enough buildings to "afford comfortable shelter for my company, men & horses for the coming winter." There was plenty of wood and water, and Hatch had, despite his claims that the Indians had destroyed his crops, "corn sufficient to supply the company until about Apr. 1st next." There were more settlers around Hatch's Ranch than at Beck's, so troops stationed at Hatch's Ranch would be better positioned to protect the livestock in the vicinity. Lieutenant Colonel Loring, regimental commander of the mounted riflemen and commanding officer at Fort Union, endorsed Elliott's choice and sent Elliott's company from Fort Union on November 4 to take station at Hatch's Ranch. [90]

Captain Elliott, Lieutenant William B. Lane, Second Lieutenant John H. Edson, and 73 enlisted men of Company A, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, established the post, which Elliott called Fort Biddle, on November 7, 1856. His proposed name was not approved and the post was known as Hatch's Ranch. It was occupied off and on, depending on the threat of Indian troubles, into the Civil War. It was generally considered an outpost of Fort Union, from which troops and supplies were typically sent, and the activities of the garrison at Hatch's Ranch were often coordinated with the actions of troops at Fort Union. For example, on December 26, 1856, department headquarters appended the following note to a letter to the commander at Fort Union regarding plans for a possible campaign against the plains Indians: "It is understood, as a matter of course, that Captain Elliott's Company [at Hatch's Ranch] is under your instructions, as regards any service you may deem proper to require of it." Even so, Hatch's Ranch had its own commanding officer who ordinarily reported directly to the commander of the military department. Just prior to the Civil War the post at Hatch's Ranch was considered as a possible replacement for Fort Union. [91]

Hatch's Ranch was located about 65 miles from Fort Union on a flat area about one-half mile west of the Gallinas River, approximately one-quarter mile south of where Aguilar (Eagle) Creek joins the Gallinas. Hatch had called his place Eagle Ranch for a short time but soon changed it to Hatch's Ranch. Hatch furnished land for the post and apparently some buildings used by the troops without charge or for a nominal payment but made his money supplying corn and hay for the garrison. Lieutenant Edward F. Beale, in charge of improving the Fort Smith road, spent almost two months at Hatch's Ranch in late 1858 and early 1859. He described Hatch as "being a shrewd man" who "makes large profits by taking contracts for the delivery of grain or selling it at his house." Beale noted that Hatch had "some ten thousand bushels of corn which he was selling at over one dollar a bushel to the government and others." Hatch was later appointed post sutler for the troops stationed at his own ranch. He and his neighbors benefited from the protection of the troops. More settlers came into the area, and New Mexicans established the village of Chaparito about three miles north of Hatch's Ranch. The new community served as a base for Comancheros, buffalo hunters, and herders, and it provided entertainment for the troops at Hatch's Ranch. [92]

William Wing Loring
William Wing Loring, Photo Collection, Fort Union National Monument.

The troops at Hatch's Ranch spent the first several weeks erecting shelter for themselves and their horses. Although Elliott had implied in his initial report that Hatch would provide buildings for the men and horses, he may have only provided the space for them to construct their own quarters and stables. The buildings were completed on December 15. It is not clear what building materials were used at that time, but the quarters at Hatch's Ranch were later described as built of stone. The garrison remained there, sending out an occasional scouting party to keep a watch for hostile Indians, until March of 1857 when they returned to Fort Union. [93]

One of the inhabitants of the post was Lydia Spencer Lane, wife of Lieutenant Lane, and author of I Married a Soldier, a source on the social life of the army in the Southwest. Lydia Lane was a sister to Valeria Elliott, wife of Captain Elliott, commanding officer at Hatch's Ranch. The Lanes had a one-year-old daughter. Mrs. Lane probably expressed the feeling of many of the troops, too, when she later wrote of Hatch's Ranch: "When we saw the ranch we felt somewhat melancholy at the prospect of spending the winter in such an isolated spot, so far from everywhere." The Lanes and Elliotts lived together in the same building occupied by Hatch and his wife, "a long, low, adobe house, with a high wall around it, except in front." [94]

There was no surgeon assigned to Hatch's Ranch, Mrs. Lane noted, "so we tried to keep well." Some nonprofessional medical care was available: "A Mexican man and his wife went about sometimes to officiate in particular cases. . . . I think their performances would have made the scientific physicians of the present day open their eyes." The Lanes felt isolated but survived the winter at Hatch's Ranch without incident. Lydia and Valeria were fortunate to have each other's companionship at the outpost. "We passed a very quiet, though pleasant, winter;" recalled Lydia Lane, "but we were by no means sorry when the company was ordered to Fort Union in the spring." [95]

At the same time plans were being made in the autumn of 1856 to station troops at Hatch's Ranch, Kiowa Indians were threatening Bent's New Fort on the Arkansas River where the army had stored supplies. This also resulted in the involvement of troops from Fort Union. William Bent had abandoned and destroyed Bent's Old Fort in 1849, and he built Bent's New Fort near Big Timbers on the Arkansas River in 1853. Bent continued to trade with the plains tribes. In October 1856 Bent returned from a trip to Missouri and discovered that the man he had left in charge of the trading post while he was gone had been giving whiskey to the Indians. This was illegal under the Indian trade and intercourse act of 1834, and Bent knew he could lose his license to trade. This occurred while James Ross Larkin was at Bent's New Fort, and Larkin left a record of what happened. [96]

On October 14, 1856, Bent dismissed the employee (identified by Larkin only as "a Frenchman"). Some Kiowas, who had received whiskey from and were friends of the discharged man, protested to Bent and made trouble, even threatened to kill Bent. The Cheyennes present defended Bent and his trading post, moving inside the fort to assist in case the Kiowas attacked. Bent's wives were both Cheyennes and he had many friends among the members of the tribe. He had traded with them for over 20 years. An uneasy impasse remained at the trading post when Larkin left on October 26. [97]

A few days later, on November 1, the peace was broken. Bent wrote to his friend and former partner, Ceran St. Vrain, whom he addressed as colonel because of his rank in the New Mexico volunteers, "to inform you and the U.S. Troops that the Tug of war is now at hand, this evening we was attacted by the Kiowa Indians." The Cheyennes had repulsed the attack, killed one Kiowa, and taken several horses from them. Bent praised his defenders, "the Cheyennes are doing all they can to protect the whites and the Fort." Although St. Vrain lived in Mora, the letter was sent to Fort Union where St. Vrain arrived on November 8. Bent especially wanted to "notify you and the U.S. Troops what is going on, as U.S. have a great many stores in my warehouse and no one here to protect them, but myself, a few men, and the Cheyennes." [98]

Bent expressed concern that "I shall have an awful time here this winter, with the Kiowas." Although the Cheyennes promised to fight the Kiowas, Bent stated "I would like to have some of the Troops come over and see what is going on, as war is going to rage in this part of the Country to some extent." Bent warned, "should not the Troops attend to this amediately it will be very trouble some traveling across the plains next season." Clearly he hoped troops from Fort Union would come to his assistance. [99]

St. Vrain sent the letter to Colonel Bonneville at Santa Fe, who directed Lieutenant Colonel Loring to send two officers and twenty enlisted men to Bent's Fort "with instructions, ostensibly, to look into the Commissary stores at that place. . . . The principal object, however, is to ascertain the state of affairs at that point in regard to Indian matters." Bonneville cautioned that the "strictest secrecy should be observed, that in the event of a campaign against the Kiowas, they may be taken by surprise." The officer in charge of the reconnaissance was to gather as much information as possible about the numbers, location, and disposition of the Indians. If it appeared the presence of troops at Bent's New Fort was required for the safety of the post and the government stores, the troops were to remain there and send an express to Fort Union. Otherwise they were to return to Fort Union as soon as practicable. [100]

Mounted riflemen were called from other posts to Fort Union to comprise the detachment sent to Bent's New Fort. A corporal and six privates were picked from Hatch's Ranch, and Second Lieutenant Alexander McRae, with one non-commissioned officer and fifteen privates, was called from Cantonment Burgwin. McRae was in charge of the reconnaissance. These troops returned to Fort Union on January 8, 1857, and reported that the situation was quiet at Bent's New Fort. [101] McRae also provided details about the Kiowas, who had gone to the Cimarron River about 200 miles from Fort Union for the winter, and what would be required to mount a campaign against them. Colonel Loring passed this information on to department headquarters, noting that a force of 400 to 500 well-mounted soldiers, with 100 Ute Indian guides, 50 wagons for supplies, and rations for three months should be sent in February if a successful campaign was to be made against the Kiowas. The commanding officers at all posts in the department were directed to be prepared for "active operations in the field . . . as soon as the grass will permit," if such became necessary. [102] If the Kiowas remained quiet, however, there was no immediate need for a campaign to punish them. But other Indian problems might require the services of troops in the department. [103]

Because the January mail coach from Independence had not arrived in New Mexico and there was apprehension that the Kiowas might attack the mail party leaving New Mexico for the states in February 1857, an escort of two officers and forty enlisted men was ordered to accompany the mail from Fort Union to the Cimarron River and as far as Walnut Creek on the Arkansas River if required. The escort was to travel in wagons, and the soldiers were to be especially alert for information about the Kiowas. If they found the westbound mail in need of assistance, they were to provide protection. They were not to attack Indians unless provoked. If the plains Indians proved to be "friendly," the word could be passed along to those planning to cross the plains in the spring that they could "start out without fear of being molested." [104]

Lieutenant Hyatt C. Ransom, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, was placed in command of the escort which left Fort Union on February 4. According to the department commander, they "found the Kiowas and all other prairie Indians friendly." Since there was no need to go farther, the escort had returned after seeing the mail safely to the Cimarron River. They arrived back at Fort Union on February 25 after traveling an estimated 550 miles. [105]

With assurances that the Santa Fe Trail was safe from Indian hostilities, eastbound wagon trains began leaving New Mexico during February. Some traders departed before the mail escort returned, apparently assuming that the presence of such a large body of troops would help assure peace along the route. One of these trains, led by Richens Lacy "Uncle Dick" Wootton [106] and owned by Joseph B. Doyle (a trader who had been previously been a partner with Alexander Barclay at Barclay's Fort) and others, was reported to the commanding officer at Fort Union to be carrying at least ten kegs of gunpowder. Colonel Loring immediately protested "the impropriety of so small a party passing through the Indian Country with so large a quantity of powder" which was surely "destined for trade with the Indians." Given "our present relations" with the plains tribes, Loring declared this to be "criminal." He charged that trading such quantities of powder to the enemy would encourage them to raid, and proclaimed that "none has done more to impress their hostilities than Mr. Wooten, the man in charge." Doyle and his partners were going to be "held responsible" if any of the powder ended up in Indian hands, and Loring promised to "report your conduct to the proper Authorities both here and in the States." [107] Loring may have been something of an alarmist in this instance. Whether or not the powder was traded to Indians has not been determined, but the Indians caused few problems along the trail. Wootton recalled, "I made four trips across the Plains in 1857-1858, but as the Indians were on their good behavior at that time I had no more thrilling experience than being caught once in a Kansas blizzard." [108]

There were few Indian problems in eastern New Mexico in 1857, during which time the expansion of settlements continued and reached into the Canadian River valley. Apparently no troops were stationed at Hatch's Ranch during the remainder of the year. It turned out to be a time of transition in the region. The conflicts with the Jicarillas and Utes were practically over because most leaders of those tribes were convinced that further resistance was futile. The conflicts with the plains tribes (especially the Comanches and Kiowas) were preparing to erupt as they began to mount an effective resistance against the eastward expansion of the New Mexican line of settlements. [109] The troops stationed at Fort Union probably looked forward to a respite from Indian-fighting activities. This was not to be because of Indian troubles in western New Mexico Territory. As a result of the capture and murder of Indian Agent H. L. Dodge by Gila Apaches, Colonel Bonneville ordered a large campaign against the Gila, Mogollon, and Coyotero Apaches in 1857, with Colonel Loring in command and including mounted riflemen stationed at Fort Union. [110]

After Colonel Loring and most of the mounted riflemen left Fort Union in April 1857 for the Gila Apache Expedition, [111] the new post commander, Captain Llewellyn Jones, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, reported to department headquarters that "the command left here for duty is so small and of such worthless material" that it was difficult to operate the post and repair quarters. There were no troops available for field service against Indians should that situation arise. If military operations became necessary, Fort Union would require reinforcements. [112] No Indian troubles were anticipated in the area. Brigadier General Garland returned to the department on May 12 and resumed command, relieving Colonel Bonneville who went to lead the Gila Expedition. At the end of June Garland reported that the Mescaleros, Jicarillas, and Utes were all quiet. Late in July the Gila Expedition was considered at an end, after a number of Indians were killed and captured, with good results. [113]

On July 6 Alexander Hatch sent an express to Fort Union, informing the commanding officer that seventeen Kiowa warriors were at his ranch en route to Navajo country and requesting that troops be sent to protect settlers in his area. Captain Jones, "by making drafts upon the guard house and Band," was able to send a sergeant and ten privates from the undermanned garrison the next day. Jones doubted that a few Kiowas would cause much trouble. The detachment returned from Hatch's Ranch on July 10 and reported there was no problem there. The sergeant who had gone to investigate told the commanding officer that there were sufficient men in the area, approximately twenty at Hatch's Ranch and nearly a hundred at the community of Chaparito, that "it was hardly necessary, except for some ulterior object to have called upon this command for protection." Hatch, like many other ranchers, would not hesitate to exaggerate Indian problems with the apparent hope of selling supplies to the army, a common practice when troops were in the field. [114]

There were reports of Kiowas and Cheyennes menacing travelers on the Santa Fe Trail in September 1857, and Garland directed that a strong escort be provided from Fort Union for the first eastbound October mail coach. [115] Lieutenant William B. Lane and 25 mounted riflemen were selected to protect the mail and other travelers who wished to accompany them at least as far as the Arkansas River, farther if Indian troubles threatened. They planned to join the mail party as it passed Fort Union, but that plan was changed slightly. [116]

On October 2 an express rider from the plains (neither the rider nor his point of origin were identified) arrived at Fort Union. He was carrying a message for Lieutenant Colonel Joseph E. Johnston, First Cavalry, who commanded several companies of troops then engaged in surveying the southern boundary of Kansas Territory. [117] The rider had encountered two parties of Kiowas and Cheyennes (60 Indians in one and 40 in the other), who had taken all his provisions and clothing and threatened his life. He had not been able to locate Johnston and came to Fort Union for protection. [118]

Colonel Loring determined to send the best guide he had at Fort Union, Frank DeLisle, and three others with the express rider to find Johnston. To give these men as much protection as possible, Loring ordered them to travel with the mail escort until they could ascertain, if possible, approximately where Johnston's command might be. Rather than wait for the mail coach to arrive from Santa Fe, the escort was sent ahead on October 4 to the Canadian River crossing to await the arrival of the mail. This would protect the guides that far and possibly place them in a position from which they could reach Johnston. [119] The mail party encountered no Indian problems, but it was not determined if the express reached Lieutenant Colonel Johnston.

The mail escorts in the autumn of 1857 were provided by mounted riflemen, whose provisions and camp equipage, as well as some forage for their horses, were carried in two wagons. Lieutenant Lane recalled many years later that the "mail outfit" was comprised of two stages and a baggage wagon, each pulled by four mules. The mail party also had a few "extra mules, to replace any in the teams which might become broken down or lame." There were no stage stations in 1857 between Fort Union and Walnut Creek in central Kansas Territory, a distance of approximately 400 miles. [120]

According to Lane, the mail and the escort followed a routine schedule, starting at daylight and traveling "at a six-miles-an hour trot." They stopped for breakfast after going approximately 15 miles, giving the animals a break to graze for about an hour. The same rate of travel was resumed until they found another place to rest, where water and grass were available. Several such stops were made during the day, including one for supper before sundown. Usually, after the evening meal, they traveled another 10 or 15 miles before camping for the night. Each of the wagons carried a keg of water, and firewood was taken from the Turkey Mountains. The passengers furnished their own bedding, and everyone (passengers, mail party, and escort troops) slept on the ground where they camped. Guards were posted to keep watch through the night. [121]

Lane remembered there were only two or three passengers on the trip he escorted. They arrived at the Arkansas River without encountering any Indians. There the troops met the westbound mail and accompanied it back to Fort Union. Because the pace of the mail coaches was difficult to maintain by the mounted riflemen's horses, several of the horses were lost, "broken down and worn out, and they had to be shot to prevent their falling into the hands of the Indians." The troopers who lost their horses rode in the wagons back to Fort Union. The following year it was decided to send the mail escorts in wagons pulled by mules rather than to break down more cavalry horses. Although the return trip of Lane's escort "was very disagreeable, on account of the cold and snow," they met no Indians. [122]

Another special escort was sent from Fort Union with the second October mail. Acting Governor W. W. H. Davis and the territorial chief justice, with their families, took the mail coach to Independence. They requested an escort. Second Lieutenant John H. Edson and 25 enlisted men were sent out on October 17 to proceed to the Canadian River and there wait for the mail and its passengers. The troops were to go as far as the crossing of the Arkansas River, farther if they "should discover any probability of the Mail being menaced by the Indians." The troops were directed to travel from 25 to 30 miles per day. [123] No Indian problems were encountered, and Brigadier General Garland noted at the end of October that Indians throughout the territory were quiet. The new territorial governor, Abraham Rencher, and his escort under command of Captain Daniel T. Chandler, Third Infantry, including recruits for the department, arrived at Fort Union on October 31. Governor Rencher reached Santa Fe on November 12. [124]

In December 1857 troops from Fort Union were sent back to Hatch's Ranch to help provide protection for a surveying party. Platoons of 25 mounted troops and one officer were to be rotated monthly from Fort Union to the station at Hatch's Ranch. A similar arrangement of troops from Fort Stanton to Preston Beck's Ranch was established for the same purposes. In addition to protecting the surveying party these troops were to safeguard the settlements from "roving bands of Indians." Troops at the two ranches were to establish a system of communication and cooperate as necessary. [125]

Lieutenant Lane was in charge of one of the platoons rotated from Fort Stanton to Beck's Ranch every other month. Lane did not mention the survey party during his first month there, but noted that the troops were directed "to keep the Kiowas and Comanches from entering farther into New Mexico." He was not so sure, however. "The real reason (some thought)," Lane recollected, "was, the man who had charge of Beck's Ranch had corn to sell, and as Mr. Beck was a prominent merchant in Santa Fe, and, besides, an agreeable man, we young fellows thought the whole object was to eat up Mr. Beck's corn without giving him the trouble and expense of hauling it to market." [126]

This was not the only time such beliefs were expressed. Lane tempered his statement by adding, "of course we were not certain of all this, but believed it at the time." With 30 horses for the troops and 12 mules for their two supply wagons, Lane observed there were "forty-two animals to be supplied with corn after reaching the ranch." In addition, "there were no signs of Indians of any nation during the whole month we were at the ranch. And this proved to be the state of affairs for the whole winter." [127]

Lane remembered, too, that service at Beck's Ranch "was fearfully lonely and dreary. . . . We had no mails, did not see a strange face for the entire month, and the hunting was not good." During his second monthly stay at Beck's Ranch, because the nearest surgeon was some 80 miles away at Fort Union, Lane secured a supply of medicines with instructions to treat his men if they became ill. Fortunately, according to Lane, his command enjoyed good health. "My skill as a medical man was not often called into requisition," he wrote many years later, "and although I may not have cured any one, I had the consolation of knowing that I killed nobody." [128]

It was during his second stay at Beck's Ranch that the "monotony" was broken by an order "to protect a surveying party which was working not far from us." The platoon left the ranch and accompanied the surveyors "for some time." Then, being told by the head of the group that the troops were no longer needed, Lane's detachment went back to their station at Beck's Ranch until relieved. Lane left them under charge of a sergeant and rode to Santa Fe to request a leave of absence, which was denied. He rejoined his detachment at Fort Stanton. [129]

Records have not been found to indicate when the troops were withdrawn from Beck's and Hatch's ranches. The survey was apparently completed by August 1858, when Garland informed army headquarters, "the Country east of the Pecos river as far as the Canadian has been recently surveyed down to the Western boundary of Texas." Garland recommended that a military post be established in the region near the mouth of Ute Creek on the Canadian to protect settlers who would expand into the area as soon as they felt safe from the incursions of Kiowas and Comanches. [130]

At the end of March 1858 the troops then stationed at Beck's Ranch were ordered to leave and proceed, via Hatch's Ranch, to the Canadian River to accompany a surveying party under R. E. Clements until further orders. These troops drew subsistence provisions from Fort Union. Fearing that 25 mounted riflemen might not be a sufficient force in case of an Indian attack on the surveying party, Garland sent an entire company from Fort Stanton to replace the platoon that had been at Beck's Ranch. The company carried provisions for two months. [131]

With part of the garrison at Fort Union assigned to Hatch's Ranch, Colonel Loring requested more troops for Fort Union. He could not keep the troops at Hatch's Ranch and provide regular mail escorts from the garrison comprised of only two companies of mounted riflemen (because of the mail schedule and time it took to complete an escort trip, one detachment was required to accompany the next mail before the troops with the previous mail returned, keeping two officers and seventy-eight men constantly in the field). A third company of riflemen joined the post in January 1858, and Loring was authorized to recall the troops from Hatch's Ranch if they were essential to continued provision of mail escorts. He was reminded, however, that Hatch's Ranch was an important position from which to keep watch on the Kiowas. [132]

This was verified at about the same time when a large party of Kiowa warriors came past Hatch's Ranch on their way to raid settlements along the Rio Grande. They were going to retaliate for an attack on their fellow tribesmen by troops from Fort Craig on December 10, 1857. The troops had surprised a party of Kiowas (who had been on a raid against the Navajos) near Valverde, attacked them (killing several and taking a wounded chief captive), and forced them to return to the plains. The wounded Kiowa chief was taken to the Fort Union hospital, where he was treated by the post surgeon and held prisoner. When the troops at Hatch's Ranch spotted another party of Kiowas heading the Rio Grande, the commanders at Albuquerque and Forts Stanton and Craig were immediately informed and directed to send the Kiowas out of the area, by force if necessary. [133]

Loring continued to press for more manpower and more horses to provide escorts for the mail. He noted that the escort duty was especially hard on the horses. "The mail stages," he wrote, "being supplied with fresh animals at their stations, enables them without much loss—to make the trip, while that of the Government is subject to the whole distance without relief, over roads covered with snow." Garland informed Loring that no more troops were available in the department. Garland sent a request to the adjutant general for more troops and horses, noting "that no mail has been lost since my administration of this Military Department—four years and a half," because of the protection provided by the troops at Fort Union. [134]

The early-warning system provided by the troops stationed at Hatch's Ranch apparently worked successfully and the Kiowas were forced to return to the plains. They soon retaliated and attacked a small party of Comancheros who were on the plains to trade with the Comanches, killing two "Mexicans," taking a third captive, and stealing their trade goods. The Kiowas also threatened the westbound mail party on the Santa Fe Trail (between Upper Spring and Cold Spring in present Oklahoma) when it fell behind the escort. Commander of the escort, Second Lieutenant John Van Deusen DuBois, stated that the conductor of the mail disobeyed DuBois's orders when he "halted a few miles behind the escort. . . . The mail party reported that when the escort was absent the Kiowa spies signaled their movements, and by the time they were again on the road about one hundred mounted Kiowas charged upon them, and followed them until they approached the escort again." The Kiowas threatened, according to Comanche informants, to avenge the attack on their party near the Rio Grande and the holding of their captured chief. [135]

Brigadier General Garland decided to release the Kiowa prisoner and send him back to his people with a strong message designed to encourage the Kiowas to keep the peace. He was to tell his people that the soldiers would "protect the lives and property of the Americans, as well as the Mexicans who live in New Mexico." Any Kiowas caught west of the Pecos River were to be considered hostile and driven back. The prisoner left Fort Union on March 17, as Loring reported, "he expressed himself satisfied with the treatment he has received and promised to carry his people, the 'talk' given him." [136]

At the same time the mail escorts were needed to meet the Kiowa threats in March 1858, it became more difficult to keep them in the field. Colonel Loring reported that there was not sufficient grass along the route to sustain the horses pulling the escort wagons (mounted troops could not keep up with the mail during the winter months) and grain had to be sent with every detachment. In addition the horses were unable to keep up the pace of 40 miles a day for the 600-mile round trip made by each escort. One of the escorts was stranded on the plains 200 miles from Fort Union because of "broken down teams," and another had left the post with animals that should not have been sent. Unless more horses were provided, Loring explained that the escorts would have to stop for want of public animals. Garland reported to army headquarters that, if the system of escorts was to be continued, more men and animals were required. Also he requested that orders be issued to require the mail coaches to keep pace with the troops rather than the escort being forced to keep up with the mails. [137] It soon became evident that the Indian threat was getting worse.

By 1858 the Comanches and Kiowas were ready to increase their opposition to the expansion of ranches into eastern New Mexico Territory, especially along the Canadian River. Samuel Watrous, settled at the junction of the Sapello and Mora rivers, had sent some of his employees to establish a ranch on the Canadian River approximately 130 miles from Fort Union. Watrous apparently realized that the Indians would resist and asked for an army cannon from the ordnance depot at Fort Union to protect his ranch on the Canadian. Brigadier General Garland authorized Captain Shoemaker at the ordnance depot to provide Watrous with a mountain howitzer (including powder and shot) if one was available that was not suitable for field service. When Watrous heard from Pueblo traders that the Comanches planned to destroy his ranch, he requested that troops be stationed on the Canadian to protect it from Indians. [138]

A party of Comanches visited the ranch foreman, a Mr. Bumham, and warned him to abandon the project. Burnham refused and the Comanches later killed him, burned the buildings, and drove off all the livestock. Second Lieutenant Laurence S. Baker, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, in command of the platoon from Fort Union at Hatch's Ranch, was ordered to examine the scene of the attack. Baker was accompanied by Watrous. In addition the company of mounted riflemen with the survey party on the Canadian River was sent to assist with the investigation. [139]

When the troops arrived at the site, approximately 50 miles east and 10 miles south of Hatch's Ranch on the south side of the Canadian River, everything at the ranch was destroyed and the livestock were gone. Baker estimated that Watrous had suffered a loss of property worth at least five thousand dollars. From the extent of the improvements, Baker concluded, "the settlement was evidently intended for a permanent one." The lieutenant was able to piece together the circumstances of the "outrage." A few days before the attack three "Mexican captives" who had lived with the Comanches came to the ranch "as spies" and may have been employed by Burnham. The evening before the assault four Comanches arrived "on pretence of trading" and spent the night. "The settler having been thus put off his guard, was easily decoyed from the house unarmed by the three spies and became an easy victim to his treacherous foes, who then consummated the work of destruction." [140]

The "Mexican" employees at the ranch were not harmed by the Indians, partly out of respect for the long tradition of friendship between the Comanches and New Mexicans and partly because they wanted them to deliver a message. They were told to return to the settlements and tell the Anglos, as Colonel Loring understood it, that they must not settle along the Canadian, that the Comanches "would kill any who attempted it." [141] From Indian traders Baker learned that the Comanche leaders had decided in council that they would not accept any settlements east of Hatch's Ranch or others "on the Rio Gallinas, but will kill all persons attempting to make them and destroy their property." They had also pledged themselves to destroy, if possible, all such places where settlements were already established "including Fort Union." [142] Brigadier General Garland's response was to request more troops to defend the eastern frontier and to advise Watrous not to send his men so far from military protection. [143]

Although Utah and the Mormons seemed far removed from the eastern frontier of New Mexico and Fort Union, the so-called Mormon War, 1857-1858, involved troops from the post. Troops were sent from Fort Leavenworth to Utah Territory to enforce federal laws, and the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints prepared to resist. Some of the supply trains of the U.S. Army were burned by the Mormons and many of the oxen and some of the horses were stolen. On November 27, 1857, Colonel Albert Sidney Johnston, commander of the Department of Utah, sent Captain Randolph B. Marcy with a small force from Utah to New Mexico to purchase 1,500 horses and mules for the troops in Utah. The animals were needed to pull the supply trains of the quartermaster department and to remount the troops. It is interesting to note that the troops of New Mexico were unable to find sufficient horses in the department for military purposes, while the commander in Utah considered it the closest supply for his troops. [144]

Colonel Johnston later requested Brigadier General Garland to furnish an escort for Marcy's command and the animals on the trip back to Utah. Garland directed that 25 mounted troops from Fort Union, joined by troops from other garrisons, be sent as an escort to Utah. Captain Shoemaker was ordered to provide the necessary ammunition for the trip, and the quartermaster department was to furnish the transportation needed to carry provisions and supplies. Marcy and the horses and mules he had purchased went to Fort Union in preparation for the trip. The party had been on the road from Fort Union only a few days when Garland was informed that the Mormons had threatened to intercept Captain Marcy on his return. [145]

Garland immediately ordered Colonel Loring to lead a relief column to join Marcy, including 60 more troops from Fort Union and 150 from Albuquerque. A medical officer or civilian contract physician was authorized for the journey. Loring was to assume command of the entire escort, approximately 400 troops, when he reached Marcy. Provisions for two months were to be carried along and, because the garrison at Fort Union was so reduced in size, escorts for the mail to the states was discontinued until more troops could be stationed at the post. Loring requested permission to hire "Watkins LaRue" (probably Antoine Leroux), considered to be "the best mountaineer" in the country, at $150 per month to guide his command to Utah and back. Loring's column left Fort Union on April 7 and 8 to join Marcy's party which had halted on the north side of the Arkansas River not far from the site of Pueblo to wait for the reinforcements. Captain Andrew J. Lindsay, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, assumed command of Fort Union when Loring left. He was ordered to discontinue the mail escorts on the Santa Fe Trail. [146]

The details of the escort to Camp Scott, Utah Territory, are beyond the scope of Fort Union history. The command arrived at its destination on June 11, 1858, after a journey of approximately 765 miles, much of it through snow and under extremely cold conditions. The troops performed well and the animals Marcy brought arrived in good condition. [147] On the same day that Loring arrived at Camp Scott, negotiations began at Salt Lake City by which church leaders agreed to submit to federal authority. The "Mormon War" had not become a military engagement and peace was achieved by agreement. [148] Colonel Loring's column returned to New Mexico early in September and he resumed command of Fort Union on September 14, 1858. [149]

Indian troubles were few in eastern New Mexico during the summer of 1858, but the Navajos began raiding among the Rio Grande settlements again. In preparation for a campaign into Navajo country, the two companies of mounted riflemen stationed at Fort Union were sent to serve under Colonel Bonneville, commander of the expedition. When it became necessary for Brigadier General Garland to leave the department for health reasons and for Bonneville to replace him, Lieutenant Colonel D. S. Miles, Third Infantry, was placed in command of the Navajo campaign. The ordnance depot at Fort Union was ordered to supply ammunition for the planned campaign, enough for four companies of infantry, five of mounted riflemen, and one company of spies and guides. Because the troops sent to Utah with Colonel Loring were needed to conduct a campaign against the Navajos, the expedition could not begin until those troops returned to New Mexico. A detachment of recruits, marching from Fort Leavenworth, was also needed to fill the ranks of the companies in the department. By action of the Navajos, the fighting began on August 29 before most of the troops had arrived in Navajo country. [150]

Garland left for the states in September 1858, accompanied by Captain L. C. Easton, Lieutenant William A. Nichols (who had served as assistant adjutant general in the department for several years and later served as assistant in the adjutant general's office in Washington, D.C.), and an escort of one non-commissioned officer and five mounted riflemen from Fort Union. Because of Garland's ill health, Assistant Surgeon Letterman accompanied him to St. Louis, and civilian contract surgeon J. H. Bill was hired to replace Letterman at Fort Union. Before Garland left Santa Fe, he called Colonel Bonneville from his command of the post at Albuquerque to consult about the affairs of the department. When Garland left New Mexico (September 15) Bonneville assumed command (September 16) of the department and continued plans for a Navajo expedition. [151]

Colonel Bonneville had his own views about the Indian problem in New Mexico and again recommended the early establishment of defined reservations for the tribes. "As there are no reserves for Indians in this Territory," he wrote, "the Indian has no home, no place of refuge, where he may remain unmolested by traders, and settlements with their numerous herds of cattle and sheep." In addition the traders supplied Indians with whiskey. For these reasons, Bonneville explained, "many of the difficulties with the Indians may be ascribed to the fact, that they come to the settlements to trade, become intoxicated, and in their drunken frolics act badly." The solution, he concluded, was for Congress to assign "reservations, within the limits of which they may be restrained and protected from promiscuous traders, and from the encroaching settlements and herds." Meantime, he predicted, the army would be required to continue facing one Indian problem after another. [152]

Early in October additional troops, including one company of mounted riflemen from Fort Union, were sent under Major Electus Backus, Third Infantry, to comprise a second column (in addition to that led by Colonel Miles) in the campaign against the Navajo. Thus three companies of mounted riflemen from Fort Union were active in the Navajo war, and they were carried on the post returns as being on detached service from the post. Bonneville warned Backus not to be misled "by trails and appearances of giving a general battle." He recommended that the troops seek the families and herds of the Navajos, and then the Navajos would stand and fight. When they were defeated, peace would be possible. [153]

Colonel Loring, at Fort Union, was reportedly disappointed that he had not been selected to direct the war against the Navajos. His case was presented to the public by a member of the staff at the fort. A lengthy article by "Civis," the work of post chaplain William Stoddert and highly critical of the conduct of the campaign against the Navajos, was sent in October to the National Intelligencer in Washington, D.C., and appeared in the November 28 issue. Among other things, "Civis," who identified himself as "an outside civilian," charged that the army had "blundered" into an unnecessary war with the Navajos and then kept Loring, whose regiment of mounted riflemen was involved in the conflict, from commanding his troops. He implied that Loring was the most capable officer to lead mounted troops in New Mexico. Stoddert was later forced to resign as chaplain because of this indiscretion. [154] The Navajo war continued without Colonel Loring. After a series of engagements in which the Navajos suffered losses of life and property and a number of their warriors captured, the Navajos offered to sign a peace treaty. A cease-fire was declared until negotiations could take place. An agreement was signed and the Navajo war of 1858 was declared over on December 25. The power of the Navajos had not yet been broken and the peace did not last. [155]

While the army was busy with the Navajo campaign in western New Mexico, troubles began on the plains to the east. At the end of September 1858 there were reports of Comanches "committing depredations" in the area around Hatch's Ranch, Anton Chico, and along the road from Fort Smith to Albuquerque. Mail coaches had recently begun regular service over that road to California along a route surveyed the previous year by Lieutenant Edward F. Beale, U. S. Navy. [156] In 1858 Beale was in charge of a party making improvements along the road from Fort Smith to Albuquerque, and his workers approached New Mexico in the autumn. They were accompanied by an escort of 137 recruits for the Department of New Mexico under command of Lieutenant Alexander E. Steen, Third Infantry. Colonel Loring, commanding officer at Fort Union, was directed to station a few troops at Hatch's Ranch to watch along that road and report on Indian activities. This was done. Loring was instructed to "take charge of the settlements, in that neighborhood, and if the Indians are depredating on the inhabitants, punish them." Troops from Fort Stanton were also ordered to "scout in that neighborhood" and report to Colonel Loring, but there were not sufficient troops at Stanton to spare any for the assignment. Loring was authorized to employ 30 spies and guides to assist the troops, and they began service on November 15. [157]

The soldiers and spies scoured the region from Hatch's Ranch to the Canadian River and from Anton Chico to the Cimarron River, looking for hostile Comanches. They met none. In November a party of Comancheros arrived at Hatch's Ranch to report that, according to a Comanche who was involved, Comanches had attacked Lieutenant Beale's construction camp and the eastbound mail coach on the Fort Smith road someplace in northern Texas. A big fight had followed in which the escort of recruits forced the Indians to retreat. The Comanche informant stated that "a great many Indians were killed." It was believed that Beale's camp might need additional troops to insure its safety although no definite information had been received about it. In addition the Comanches might be expected to attack some of the frontier settlements. Loring requested more troops for his Fort Union garrison and authorization to provide assistance where needed. Colonel Bonneville considered the battle with Comanches in Texas outside the jurisdiction of his department, but notified Loring that the Indians along the Canadian were restless and his troops were responsible for protecting the settlements of eastern New Mexico Territory. Several scouting parties were kept in the field, as Loring reported, and "all the lurking places of the Indians were visited and watched." [158]

When Santa Fe Postmaster David V. Whiting requested that an escort accompany the next mail coach sent eastward on the Fort Smith road, he was informed that troops were not available. The soldiers and spies already sent to watch for Indians along that road could provide assistance to the mail if needed. The mail went through without any problems. The Comanches had left the area along the Fort Smith road and the Canadian River and had established a camp on the Cimarron River north of Fort Union. Lieutenant Beale's road-building crew arrived and set up camp at Hatch's Ranch on December 28, 1858, from which point they resurveyed the area between the Canadian River and the ranch. They had constructed nine bridges since leaving Fort Smith. The recruits escorting Beale went to Anton Chico and were distributed from there to their assigned companies. As soon as the troops returned to Fort Union from the Navajo campaign, the ancillary force of spies and guides was discharged. Beale's survey and construction crew left Hatch's Ranch on February 26, 1859, to improve the route from there to Albuquerque and on west to the Colorado River. Increased travel on the Fort Smith road eventually led to more encounters with plains Indians and additional field service by troops from Fort Union. [159]

There were few Indian problems during the winter of 1858-1859, but a band of Utes, who according to DuBois "numbered some sixty lodges or 180 fighting men," were granted permission by their agent, Kit Carson at Taos, to camp on Wolf Creek a few miles downstream from Fort Union "between Barclay's Fort and the Wagon Mound" early in 1859. DuBois wrote they were situated about twelve miles from the post "in a most beautiful spot." They caused no trouble and the troops at the post monitored their activities. Ranchers in the area feared they might start stealing cattle and sheep. Colonel Loring agreed that was bound to happen if they remained and also believed these Indians would be blamed for any "depredations" in the area, no matter who was responsible. With the approval of department headquarters, Loring directed the Utes "to return to their own country." [160]

Second Lieutenants DuBois and Ira W. Claflin and six enlisted men from Fort Union went to the Ute camp on January 23 and ordered them to leave. DuBois stated their "lodges were built like those of the prarie indians but of canvas instead of skins." There were few men in the camp because most of them were on a retaliatory raid against the Arapahos, who had reportedly attacked a small party of Utes on the Sapello River and "wounded one of their warriors." DuBois disclosed, "I gave them the order and though I doubt their obedience, still I hope they will get in no trouble." [161]

The Indian camp remained and reports came into the post that these same Indians were killing cattle and sheep in the vicinity of the village of Sapello, a small community on the river by the same name southwest of Fort Union. Loring led a detachment of mounted riflemen from the fort to Sapello on January 29 to remove the Utes. The soldiers arrived near the village after dark and set up camp. They had departed the post in such a hurry that they had "nothing except what they had fastened to their saddles." DuBois explained that he and Lieutenant Claflin "doubled our beding or our two blankets & tried to sleep but the ground was yet wet with snow & we became so cold that even comfort was impossible, must less sleep." DuBois recalled, "we thought it would never be day — Daylight at length came & with it a cup of coffee. About 9 A.M. we found an indian village." It turned out to be "only a small portion of the band," but Colonel Loring had a "talk" with them. [162]

Loring warned them that, if they did not leave, his troops would force them to go. The colonel reported that the Utes were "very much alarmed" by the presence of the soldiers and he expected them to move. A few of the Utes were taken back to Fort Union on February 1, apparently as hostages in case the rest of the camp committed any hostile acts. On February 3 Captain Robert M. Morris, with a detachment of mounted riflemen, took the Utes at the post and went to the Indians' camp "to see that they all leave for Taos." [163]

The Utes started on the way to Taos, accompanied by Morris's command, when a party of Utes and Jicarillas, estimated to be nearly 200 warriors, appeared "with evident hostile intent." Morris had the Utes he was escorting establish their camp near the village of Mora and sent to Colonel Loring for assistance. Loring took every available trooper at the post to Mora on February 5, where he learned that Agent Carson had been sent for and was expected the next day. Loring decided to wait for Carson before taking any further action against the Utes. Loring had "ascertained beyond doubt that they have been killing stock in these settlements" and were "otherwise disposed to be troublesome." He thought they should be held to account and punished to prevent further trouble with them and to encourage the Jicarillas to remain peaceful. [164]

Loring talked to the principal chief of the Ute camp, Ka-ni-ache, on February 6 and discovered that the presence of more troops had the desired effect. The chief promised to take his people home without further trouble. On February 7 the Utes were given some wheat that had been stored in Mora for them, and they were preparing to leave for Taos when Carson arrived. Carson "reiterated to them the necessity of moving at once" and accompanied them back to his agency. Not long after the Utes had left Mora a party of Jicarillas arrived there and reported to Loring that the Utes had "robbed them of their entire stock, between 50 and 100 horses." According to DuBois, the Utes who had wanted to fight but were overruled took out their frustrations by stealing the horses of the Jicarillas, "with whom they had been living for months as friends." Loring requested Carson to try to recover the horses and warned the Jicarillas not to commit hostile acts or the army would have to deal with them. The troops returned to Fort Union, leaving the agent to deal with the Utes and Jicarillas. "Thus ended," DuBois recorded, "the glorious campaign of 1859 against the Muwatche band of Utahs." Citizens who had complained to the army about the presence of the Utes in the Mora Valley were told that the army had sent the Indians back to their agency and they should make their objections known to the superintendent of Indian affairs in the territory. The division of authority between the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the army was frustrating to citizens as well as Indians. [165]

Because of potential Indian troubles, few government survey parties traveled without a military escort in New Mexico. Captain John Pope, Topographical Engineers, who had accompanied Sumner to New Mexico in 1851, had been involved in a search for artesian water on the Llano Estacado for several years and, in 1859, was assigned to continue the search along routes of travel in New Mexico Territory. Second Lieutenant Christopher H. McNally, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, was in charge of an escort assigned to Pope's expedition in the territory. The enlisted members of the escort were one sergeant, one corporal, and twenty privates from the garrison at Fort Union. These troops left Fort Union on February 11, 1859, to join Pope's expedition at Galisteo. In March Second Lieutenants DuBois and Claflin were sent with a detachment to Galisteo to bring the horses of the escort back to Fort Union. DuBois and Claflin left their detachment at Galisteo and made a four-day side trip to Santa Fe to "enter into the gayities," but DuBois was sick all the time they were there. They and their detachment arrived back at Fort Union with the horses on April 3. [166]

The Comanches remained in camp on the Cimarron during the winter and early in March they were blamed for stealing horses from Dr. J. M. Whitlock at Sapello. By the time Whitlock notified Colonel Loring of the loss, it was too late to pursue the raiders. Loring promised that the troops would pursue hostile Indians if they were given "timely notice." Although the Comanches got away with the horses in this instance, if they were the guilty party, the incident was a portent that the settlements in eastern New Mexico might expect renewed Indian opposition in the spring. [167]

In anticipation of hostile behavior by the Comanches and Kiowas, Colonel Bonneville determined to station a small force at Hatch's Ranch and establish a supply depot there to serve as a base for a battalion of mounted riflemen sent to scout along the Fort Smith road and the Canadian and Pecos valleys during the summer months. Lieutenant Matthew L. Davis, Third Infantry, was sent to command Hatch's Ranch late in May, where he also performed the duties of quartermaster and commissary of subsistence. Hatch provided storerooms for the provisions at no charge and sold corn to the army for $3.00 per fanega. [168] The army probably paid rent to Hatch for quarters for the few troops, but no figures were located to indicate the amount paid. That Hatch was ready to turn a profit from the soldiers was later confirmed by Captain Thomas Claiborne who reported "that Mr. Hatch sold so much liquor to my men at his ranche as to cause great annoyance to my command." [169]

Captain Claiborne, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, and two companies of his regiment stationed at Fort Stanton were sent into the field during the summer to attempt to open a wagon road between Fort Stanton and Hatch's Ranch, scout for Indians, and provide protection for travelers and settlers on New Mexico's eastern frontier. They were at Hatch's Ranch for supplies early in July. Claiborne assigned 20 men from his command to serve as escort to U.S. Deputy Surveyor R. E. Clements, who was working along and east of the Canadian River. In July, when Claiborne reported that the Comanches near the Canadian River were hostile, more troops were sent into the area and they drew rations at Hatch's Ranch. In addition, the escort for the boundary commission surveying the Texas border in 1859, one company of Eighth Infantry, was authorized to draw some provisions from the temporary depot at Hatch's Ranch. Some of the supplies stocked at Hatch's Ranch were hauled from the subdepot at Fort Union and some were brought from the depot at Albuquerque. In July, 31 mules were ordered from the subdepot at Fort Union to the temporary depot at Hatch's Ranch. [170]

During the summer of 1859 approximately 100 troops from Fort Union were sent to escort a survey party laying out a wagon road from Abiquiu to the San Juan River in northwestern New Mexico. Major John Simonson left the command of the post to Captain Morris and commanded the escort which left Fort Union on June 7, 1859. Other officers with the battalion included Captains John G. Walker and Henry B. Schroeder, Acting Assistant Surgeon J. H. Bill, and Second Lieutenants DuBois, Edson, and Claflin. Upon completion of the survey, Simonson led this force to Fort Defiance and assumed command until fall. He and some of the troops who accompanied him returned to Fort Union on October 23. DuBois did not arrive at Fort Union until December 6, and he was immediately sent to Fort Bliss for court-martial duty. [171]

The garrison at Fort Union was much reduced when the Comanches became hostile early in July, and all the troops that could be spared from Cantonment Burgwin were sent to reinforce the garrison and take the field against the Comanches if that became necessary. At the same time a company of spies and guides was authorized to be raised at Mora under Jose Maria Valdez and sent to Fort Union where they would be supplied with arms and ammunition and prepared to join troops in the field against the Comanches. The commander at Fort Union was directed to have every available soldier ready to march at a moment's notice when needed. Before Valdez could enlist a company of spies and guides, he was notified that their services would not be needed. Before more troops were sent against the Comanches, an attempt was to be made to find a peaceful settlement. The troops from Cantonment Burgwin were sent back to their post. [172]

Clements's survey team arrived on the Canadian River and began work about 100 miles east of the settlements before the troops assigned to escort them arrived. The Comanches, who had previously threatened to prevent all settlements east of Hatch's Ranch, probably understood that settlers would follow the surveyors. They captured the survey team and held them prisoners for five hours, during which time they threatened to kill Clements. Clements promised to abandon the survey if they would let him go, and his New Mexican employees also urged the Comanches to spare their boss. After warning Clements not to resume the survey and taking some of his property (blankets and provisions), the Comanches released them. Clements did not resume the survey in 1859. There was no hurry to complete a survey so long as the Comanches controlled the area. [173]

Before war broke out with the Comanches an attempt was made to discuss a peaceful arrangement. New Mexico Superintendent of Indian Affairs James L. Collins had already been planning to meet with Comanche leaders to discuss a peace treaty. Missouri Congress man J. S. Phelps, who was especially interested in seeing that the mail parties crossing the plains were not molested by Indians, came to New Mexico to participate in the negotiations. These two officials were joined by Colonel Bonneville in pursuing that effort. These peace seekers were accompanied by Inspector Joseph E. Johnston and an escort of 130 soldiers from Santa Fe on July 18 to Hatch's Ranch where Claiborne's column joined the escort, and from there they planned to go to the Canadian River in an attempt to meet with Comanche leaders. Lieutenant Davis was assigned the task of sending messengers to the Comanches to invite them to the meeting. Collins had also sent some Comancheros to invite the Indians to a council. [174]

The Comanches were unwilling to meet, apparently fearing they would be punished by all the troops gathering in the area for capturing the surveying party. Bonneville speculated that the presence of the surveyors had alarmed the Indians, causing them to fear that they were about to be driven from their lands. Whatever the reason, the Comanches fled eastward out of New Mexico Territory and the U.S. team and its escort followed down the Canadian River as far as Ute Creek before abandoning the effort. Congressman Phelps went back to Missouri with an escort of 30 riflemen. Bonneville and Collins and the remainder of the escort returned to Hatch's Ranch and from there to Santa Fe. Bonneville showed considerable understanding of the past relations between the New Mexicans and Comanches when he observed that "Mexicans" have traded successfully with the Comanches "for a long time" and "it would be unfortunate to interrupt this intercourse without proper cause." The department commander may have been ready to leave the region to the Indians, for he "found the country we passed over . . . to be perfectly worthless." [175]

On July 31, before leaving Hatch's Ranch, Bonneville directed that the troops and supplies located there be moved to Fort Union as soon as possible. Captain Claiborne was relieved of the command of his column, and Second Lieutenant William H. Jackson replaced him. Jackson was charged with finding a wagon road between Hatch's Ranch and some point on the Cimarron Route of the Santa Fe Trail between Rabbit Ear Mountain and Point of Rocks. This was to be a determined effort: "Should the attempt prove unsuccessful it will be repeated until a route suitable for wagons is found, or until it is satisfactorily ascertained to be impracticable." Bonneville was obviously looking for a way to ship supplies directly to Hatch's Ranch, perhaps even considering it as a replacement for Fort Union. Hatch's Ranch was considered a good location from which to deal with the Comanches. Jackson located what he considered a good wagon road between Rabbit Ear Mountain and Anton Chico and was at Fort Union the later part of August on his way back to Fort Stanton. [176] The map Jackson submitted with his report is reproduced on the following page. It is possible that William Becknell followed a route from near Rabbit Ear to the region of Anton Chico when he took the first wagons from Missouri to Santa Fe in 1822. [177]

"Sketch of the Country traversed over by 2d Lieut. W. H. Jackson's (Rifles) command from 7th August 1859 to 21st August 1859," Map US 57, Cartographic Branch, RG 77, National Archives. (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

During the autumn of 1859 the Comanches began to raid the Anglo and Hispanic ranches in eastern New Mexico. They destroyed livestock and other property but killed none of the New Mexicans. They eluded every military force sent out to punish them for the next several months. The Comanches and Kiowas also attacked travelers on the Santa Fe Trail. The mail from Missouri expected in New Mexico early in October failed to arrive, creating concern in New Mexico that it may have encountered Indian problems on the plains. Colonel Bonneville decided it was time to reestablish escorts for the mails. A detachment of 35 riflemen were ordered from Fort Union under command of Lieutenant Andrew Jackson, Third Infantry, to accompany the eastbound mail until they met the westbound mail or reached "the settlements." If they met the westbound mail, they were to escort it to Fort Union. A revision of orders two days later increased the detachment to 50 troops and directed them to proceed to the Arkansas River in advance of the eastbound mail and find out the reason for the interruption of mail service. Further changes were made the following day when the escort was increased to two officers (Captain Morris and Lieutenant Jackson) and seventy-five men, with Captain Morris in command, and they were directed to accompany the eastbound mail as far as necessary to assure its safety. The escort was accompanied by twelve wagons for provisions, and the teamsters were furnished arms. [178]

The westbound mail had been attacked in Kansas Territory where Kiowas and Comanches posed a serious threat to travelers on the Santa Fe Trail. Traffic along that route had increased dramatically in 1859 with the gold rush to western Kansas Territory (present Colorado). As Indian Agent William Bent wrote, after meeting an estimated 2,500 Kiowas and Comanches near Walnut Creek (east of present Great Bend, Kansas) in September 1859: "A smothered passion for revenge agitates these Indians, perpetually fomented by the failure of food, the encircling encroachments of the white population, and exasperating sense of decay and impending extinction with which they are surrounded." [179]

During the summer of 1859 three companies of First Cavalry were sent from Fort Riley to establish a summer camp near old Fort Atkinson and protect the trail. When the mail contractor, Jacob Hall & Co., attempted to establish a new stage station at Pawnee Fork that same year, the Kiowas and Comanches threatened to destroy it. Hall requested military protection for the station, which resulted in the establishment of Camp on Pawnee Fork (later Fort Larned) in October. Before the founding of this post which was destined to play a major role along the trail and in the region, a Kiowa chief named Pawnee was killed by soldiers near William Allison's Ranch on Walnut Creek. Pawnee had led a party which attempted to murder the proprietors of Allison's Ranch. The Kiowas were determined to avenge the loss of Pawnee, and their first opportunity came with the westbound mail to New Mexico. [180]

The mail coach, with a crew comprised of brothers Michael and Lawrence Smith and William H. Cole and no passengers, was escorted as far as Pawnee Fork by a detachment of 30 men under command of Lieutenant Elmer Otis, First Cavalry. The mail party continued without the escort on September 24 and had gone only a few miles when they were attacked by fifteen Kiowas. The Smith brothers were killed and Cole was wounded but escaped and made his way back to Lieutenant Otis. Otis and his detachment went to the scene of the attack, buried the Smith brothers, and recovered the mail. The eastbound mail party which had left Santa Fe without an escort on September 19 learned of the attack on the westbound mail from a wagon train going to New Mexico. They turned back and stayed with that caravan until they met a train of the Majors and Russell Company going to Missouri, which they joined until safely through the region of threatened hostilities. Camp on Pawnee Fork was founded on October 22 and began protecting the mail coaches traveling both directions. Later the escorts were coordinated between that point and Fort Union from which escort service resumed, as noted, during the same month. [181]

The increased wave of violent opposition by the Kiowas and Comanches continued. On October 15 a party of 30 Comanches threatened the camp of hay cutters under direction of Fort Union post sutler, George M. Alexander, working at Ocate Creek about 25 miles from the fort. When the hay cutters were able to get into camp and take up their arms before the Comanches could attack any stragglers, the Comanches stated they were searching for a band of Utes. The next day the Comanche war party returned past the Ocate camp and reported they had had a fight with the Utes. They had about 100 horses with them they had captured. The Indians headed toward the Canadian River, but the commanding officer at Fort Union notified department headquarters that the Comanches appeared to be "in open hostilities." No troops were sent in pursuit from the post. [182]

On October 22 Major John S. Simonson, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, arrived and assumed command of Fort Union. Lieutenant Herbert M. Enos, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, was directed to lead a detachment from Fort Union to escort Captain John N. Macomb, Topographical Engineers, who was working on the improvement of roads in New Mexico Territory. This was a safety precaution in view of the increasing raids of Kiowas and Comanches. No small party was considered safe from possible attack. Captain Macomb and the escort left Fort Union on October 31. [183]

During this time of troubles the new department commander arrived to take charge. Colonel Thomas T. Fauntleroy assumed command on October 25 on the Cimarron Route of the Santa Fe Trail approximately 150 miles from Fort Union. He had met the mail escort under Captain Morris and changed the orders under which the escort operated. Lieutenant Jackson and 35 of the troops were sent on with the eastbound mail, directed to go as far as the Arkansas River or until they met the next westbound mail, whichever occurred first. If they met the westbound mail, they were to escort it to Fort Union. If they reached the Arkansas River without meeting the westbound mail, they were authorized to wait there for two or three days for the mail before returning. Captain Morris and the remainder of the force returned to Fort Union with Colonel Fauntleroy. Fauntleroy and his escort had brought the first westbound mail in a month across the plains. They had seen only two small parties of Indians, five Kiowas in one and sixteen Comanches in the other, but a boy riding a mule with the mail coach was killed by the Kiowas when he ventured, in violation of strict orders, too far in advance of the party. The mail conductor had tried to rescue him without success. Colonel Fauntleroy, Captain Morris, and the escort arrived at Fort Union on October 29 and Fauntleroy left for Santa Fe on October 31. He relieved Bonneville at department headquarters on November 2. [184]

Fauntleroy immediately asked directions from Commanding General Winfield Scott regarding the use of troops in pursuing and punishing Indians in New Mexico. Fauntleroy was convinced "that many of the claims set up against the Indians for plundering and stealing stock, etc., are either wholly fabricated or to a considerable degree exaggerated." He was reluctant to send out troops to investigate every reported loss and planned to utilize troops mainly in cases of "instant pursuit" for verified depredations. He expected to treat "claims for thefts" with suspicion but to send troops whenever "unprovoked murders" were reported. He requested "to be instructed" if the troops were to do more. Because of the difficulties of campaigning during winter months, Fauntleroy planned to delay any major troop movements until spring. Approximately 100 officers and men from Fort Union, who had been sent to participate in the Navajo conflicts, returned to Fort Union on November 26. [185]

The mail escorts were continued. The mail which left Santa Fe for Independence on November 15 was to be accompanied from Fort Union to the Arkansas River or until they met the westbound mail by two non-commissioned officers and fifteen privates. They were to wait two days at the Arkansas for the westbound mail before returning without it. Sergeant Francis McCabe, Company H, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, was placed in charge of the escort. The troops encountered cold weather and some of the men had ears, fingers, and toes badly frozen. After waiting two days at the Arkansas the escort started back to Fort Union without the mail coach for New Mexico. The westbound mail was escorted by troops from Fort Larned and arrived at the crossing of the Arkansas two days after the soldiers from Fort Union started back. The mail train caught up with the troops two days later. [186]

The escort and mail party were attacked by about 20 mounted Kiowas on the night of December 4 at Cold Spring, and most of the Indians were driven off in a matter of minutes. About 10 Kiowas on foot were hiding in some rocks near the camp and kept up a sporadic fire on the camp for several hours. The next morning the Kiowas set fire to the grass near the camp and tried to burn out the soldiers and mail party. Sergeant McCabe led his men out to fight, encountered a few Indians near the road about 600 yards from the camp, and attacked and drove them away. The sergeant believed several of the Indians may have been killed and wounded. Private Isaac Baker was slightly wounded, the only casualty for the troops. McCabe praised the "coolness and courage of his men" and singled out Corporal Thomas M. Brierly of Company G, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, who "particularly distinguished himself." New Mexican traders informed McCabe that the Kiowas had declared they would kill every white man who came their way. [187]

Because of the continuing Indian threats to safe passage of the mails from Independence to Santa Fe, Colonel Fauntleroy recommended that official correspondence from army headquarters to department headquarters be sent on the overland mail from St. Louis to El Paso. At the same time, in response to rumors that plains Indians would cause problems along the Fort Smith road and in the region near Anton Chico, a company of mounted riflemen were sent from Fort Union to Hatch's Ranch in December. They carried provisions for 30 days and were to remain there until further orders. They were to draw additional supplies from Fort Union as needed. Corn and fodder for the horses were available from Alexander Hatch. Company H, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, comprised of 47 men, was sent to Hatch's Ranch under command of Second Lieutenant Ira W. Claflin on December 19. [188]

Before this company had departed from Fort Union, Major Simonson requested another company of riflemen to be transferred there because of the need to provide protection from possible Kiowa raids to settlers at Ocate, Rayado, and Cimarron. In addition the garrison was expected to continue sending escorts for the mail to Independence. Apparently no escort was sent with the early December mail from New Mexico, which traveled with a large merchant caravan to Missouri. An escort was authorized to accompany the late December eastbound mail from Fort Union as far as Rabbit Ear Mountain, but Major Simonson reported there were insufficient men and transportation available at the post and none was sent. [189]

The commanding officer at Fort Larned, Second Lieutenant David Bell, was anxious to establish a reliable linkage with escorts from Fort Union. He was frustrated by the failure to make regular connections and, on December 26, sent an escort with orders to accompany the westbound mail all the way to Fort Union if no troops from New Mexico were met along the way. He also sent a message to Colonel Fauntleroy, requesting cooperation and proposing where and when the escorts should meet and relieve each other so that the mail coaches traveling both directions would have constant protection across the plains. Arrangements were completed for the mails and escorts to meet at Lower Cimarron Spring on the first of each month, beginning February 1, but it was not easy to keep the mail coaches on schedule during winter months and the connections were not always made. The January escort from Fort Union was comprised of three non-commissioned officers and 22 men of Company H, Third Infantry, sent from the garrison at Fort Marcy because of insufficient manpower at Union. The mail trains were protected, but other travelers on the routes across the plains continued to experience Indian troubles. [190]

By the end of 1859 it was clear that the Kiowas and Comanches were virtually unrestrained in their raids and were causing unprecedented destruction in New Mexico and on the plains. Officials in the war and interior departments were convinced that a strong military force would be required to defeat these tribes in the field before they would settle down. A possible three-pronged attack in the spring of 1860, with columns converging on the Kiowa and Comanche homelands from New Mexico, Texas, and Kansas was being discussed as a conceivable way to crush their power. [191] Until that could be done, there was the ongoing need to coordinate the escorts of the mails between Fort Union and Fort Larned and to protect the settlements along the eastern frontier of the territory.

The troops from Fort Union that were sent to Hatch's Ranch may have provided some security from Indian raids, but they also contributed to the loss of life by New Mexicans. Some of the mounted riflemen sent to Hatch's Ranch were permitted to visit "grog shops and fandango rooms," probably at the community of Chaparito, early in the new year. They became intoxicated, got involved in a fight with some New Mexicans, and killed an unspecified number of citizens. Lieutenant Claflin was rebuked for permitting the incident to happen and an investigation was conducted into the affair. A detachment from Hatch's Ranch did provide an escort for Brevet Second Lieutenant Orlando G. Wagner, Topographical Engineers, engaged in survey work in the vicinity. The remainder of the company was transferred back to Fort Union, arriving there on January 29. Some of the soldiers involved in the fight with New Mexicans were charged with murder and sent to Santa Fe. [192]

In February 1860 Colonel Fauntleroy began organizing the troops in the department for a major campaign against the Navajos, and he expected to utilize all the mounted riflemen, including the two companies comprising the garrison at Fort Union. He also planned to use the Third Infantry and requested recruits to fill the many vacancies in the regiment. Major Simonson was in poor health and declined to command the mounted riflemen on the campaign. He was left at Fort Union to direct military operations in that region while Fauntleroy devoted attention to the Navajos. [193]

Colonel Fauntleroy may have considered the Navajos the major problem in New Mexico, but in his preoccupation with them he had neglected the threat of the Kiowas and Comanches to his department and to communications with the states. Despite all his plans to whip the Navajos into submission, army headquarters directed on February 25 that all preparations for a campaign against the Navajos cease. A few days later Fauntleroy was directed to have the troops in his department ready to march against the Kiowas and Comanches "as early in the spring as the grass will permit." [194]

The Kiowas and Comanches had continued their raids on travelers on the plains and on the settlements of eastern New Mexico. In February there was a rumor that they were on their way to attack Fort Union, perhaps the only time that there was actual fear of an Indian attack at the post, and Major Simonson increased security arrangements immediately. The night guard was increased to 24 privates and three non-commissioned officers, and a picket guard of seven men was stationed on the high ground east of the post beyond Wolf Creek (perhaps in the area where the third fort was later built) to help guard the quartermaster and commissary corrals and to oppose any Indians advancing toward the garrison. Plans were made to repel a direct attack on the post, with stations assigned for every soldier, including the members of the band. All arms were kept loaded and everyone was on alert, "ready to repair at once to his post on the sounding of the assembly." The civilian employees of the quartermaster department were issued arms and assigned to help protect the property in that department. Everything was ready but the Indians never came. After three days of anticipation that an attack was imminent, it was learned that the Kiowas and Comanches were camped on the Canadian River with no intention of striking the post. [195]

The Kiowas and Comanches posed no danger to the garrison at Fort Union, but they were a potential threat to all travelers and settlers in eastern New Mexico Territory and on the plains to the east. The Kiowa-Comanche campaign of 1860, as earlier discussed, was comprised of three independent columns: one of four companies of cavalry from Fort Riley, Kansas, and two companies of dragoons from Fort Kearny, Nebraska; the second column was composed of six companies of cavalry from the Department of Texas; and the third included six companies of mounted riflemen (A, C, D, F, H, and K) from New Mexico. Each column was to be supplied from its department of origin, "but in an emergency may draw from any post where it may be necessary." [196] By relentless pursuit of the Indians in their own country, the army hoped to break the power of the two tribes and force them to settle on reservations. It was one thing to declare war, however, and quite another to find the elusive Indians in the vast region in which they were at home.

Fort Union, although under orders to be closed and replaced by Fort Butler, was designated as the rendezvous and outfitting point for the column of mounted riflemen from New Mexico, and Major Charles F. Ruff was assigned to command these troops in the field. Some of the troops assigned to the campaign never went to Fort Union but stopped at Hatch's Ranch which was designated as the point where the expedition would start for the plains. Two companies of the Eighth Infantry, intended eventually to garrison the new Fort Butler, were temporarily stationed at Hatch's Ranch to provide protection to the settlements in that area during the campaign. Hatch's Ranch was also expected to become the point of supply for the column as Fort Union was closed. By mid-April Fauntleroy, concerned that the large encampments of Kiowas and Comanches reported to be in eastern New Mexico might be more than six companies of riflemen could handle, requested that the other two columns of the campaign be sent to the department and combined into one force to overwhelm the Indians. This was not done and the three columns continued to operate independently. None of them had much luck finding the Indians. [197]

Charles F. Ruff
Charles F. Ruff, Photo Collection, Fort Union National Monument.

Major Ruff assembled the companies assigned to the Kiowa-Comanche campaign at a camp near Hatch's Ranch during May, where there was good grass for the horses. Before leaving Fort Union, Ruff requested that 60 of the new Colt revolving rifles be issued to the 10 best riflemen in each of the six companies to see how the weapons would perform in the field. [198] To replace the mounted riflemen withdrawn from Fort Union for the campaign, other troops were sent. Cantonment Burgwin was abandoned late in May and the garrison, under command of Captain Thomas Duncan, was sent to Union. One of the companies of Eighth Infantry at Hatch's Ranch was sent to Fort Union in June. [199]

The expedition to the plains was to begin from Hatch's Ranch as soon as everything was ready and the grass was sufficient for grazing the horses. Because of a severe drought the grass did not start growing as usual and corn was not available to feed the horses on this campaign. Other supplies for the column were being shipped to the new depot at Hatch's Ranch. After the troops were in the field, a subdepot for their provisions was to be established on the Canadian River some 70 miles east of Hatch's Ranch. Captain Morris, who was not part of Ruff's expedition, took a company of riflemen to Giddings's Ranch south of Hatch's Ranch, where he found good grass and water. He remained there to provide protection because Kiowas and Comanches were reported to be gathering to the south along the Pecos River. [200]

When the Kiowas and Comanches were reported to be concentrating near Bosque Redondo on the Pecos River and raiding the settlements in the region, Fauntleroy sent three companies of the Third Infantry, then being transferred to the Department of Texas, along the Pecos River to discourage those Indians from raiding. He also directed Ruff to lead or send some of his mounted riflemen in that direction, "to the neighborhood of Gidding's Ranch and below, if necessary, and chastise these marauding parties." No record was found to show that any troops, other than Captain Morris who was camped near Giddings's Ranch, were sent. Captain Andrew Porter, second in command of the Kiowa-Comanche column, did lead a squadron of mounted riflemen toward Anton Chico to investigate reports of Indian attacks there and discovered that no Indians had been to Anton Chico. Instead, he reported, the inhabitants of Anton Chico were mainly interested in keeping some soldiers there so they could sell supplies to them. At the end of May Fauntleroy ordered Ruff to take the field and attack the Kiowas and Comanches where he could find them. Ruffled the six companies of riflemen from Hatch's Ranch on June 1 to establish a camp on the Canadian and then head toward Bosque Redondo where the Kiowas and Comanches were reported to be camped in large numbers. [201]

Captain James L. Donaldson, chief quartermaster of the department, when writing to Major Ruff about his supplies and to inform him that Mrs. Ruff had arrived safely at Fort Leavenworth without any difficulty crossing the plains from Fort Union, also made a prophetic statement about his campaign. He told Ruff not to expect to find the Indians who always seemed to be able to avoid troops sent after them. [202] The mounted riflemen never had a fair chance to find the hostile bands of Kiowas and Comanches because their horses were suffering greatly from "black tongue" disease, as well as malnutrition because of the drought, and were unable carry the troops where or as fast as they needed to go. In addition the Comancheros deliberately gave false reports to the officers, sometimes causing them to travel far from where the Indians were located.

Ruff's column left Hatch's Ranch with as many provisions as could be transported in the few wagons assigned to the command and established a camp and subdepot on June 4, called Camp Jackson, about 65 miles east of Hatch's Ranch near the Canadian River. It was opposite the site of Watrous's ranch that had been destroyed in 1858. The troops of Company H were left to protect Camp Jackson because their horses were in the worst condition. The other five companies left on June 8 with provisions for 20 days to go to Bosque Redondo and attempt to find the Comanches and Kiowas reported to be located there. Finding no signs of Indians there, Ruff continued down the Pecos River for several days and found no Indians. Ruff was frustrated and angry, certain that the Comancheros, more fearful of the loss of trade and reprisals from the Comanches than they were of the army, had deliberately lied about Indians being in that vicinity. The time and resources wasted in checking on stories that proved to be "false in every particular" was made worse by the failure of the horses. [203]

By the time the column had returned to Hatch's Ranch for provisions on June 26, 69 of the 293 horses with the expedition had died and of the 224 still alive only 128 were serviceable. Thus many of the troopers had to walk, and the column had only been able to travel about twelve miles per day. The horses suffered from the lack of good grazing, all the grass being dried up from lack of precipitation, but many of them also had contracted "black tongue" disease. How this disease was acquired was not understood, but it began about the time the column left Hatch's Ranch on June 1 and spread among the herd. Ruff vividly described the results: "This disease, affecting the glands of the throat, also denudes the tongue, lips, and gums of all skin, creating putrid sores, and rendering these parts extremely sensitive, so that the animal is unable to eat any but the softest food." Under these conditions it was virtually impossible for the horses to eat the dry grasses. These horses were so broken down that they could not be used and many of them would probably die if not removed from service, given proper treatment, and fed bran for a time to be followed by nutritious grass and grain. Without grain the remaining healthy horses were not in condition for a hard campaign. With many of his troops on foot, Ruff was limited in what he could do the remainder of the summer. He did draw rations at Hatch's Ranch where he was able to acquire a little corn for the horses, and the column returned to Camp Jackson on July 3. By that time he was able to report that the "black tongue" had "almost entirely disappeared" among the horses. If it would rain so the grass could grow, Ruff predicted many of the horses might recover. If they did, however, they would not be ready for service for several months. He was also dismayed that the column had marched over 400 miles and found no Indians. [204]

The Indians were practically impossible to find. No sooner had Ruff led the column south to find the Kiowas and Comanches than those same Indians were reported to be located about 60 miles north of Fort Union along the road to the states. According to the New Mexican traders who reported to Simonson, these Indians professed a desire for peace but warned that if any troops attacked them they would strike Fort Union. Major Simonson thought they might be spying on the strength of the troops at Fort Union and waiting for the arrival of supply trains from Fort Leavenworth. He was certain the New Mexicans were providing the Indians with intelligence about the strength of his garrison. He requested that Fauntleroy send more troops to Fort Union, and this was when the company of infantry from Hatch's Ranch joined the garrison at Union as noted above. In July a company of Second Dragoons was sent from Fort Garland for temporary duty at Fort Union. After the arrival of four officers with forty-eight recruits at Fort Union on July 5, the company of infantry from Hatch's Ranch was sent back to that station a few days later. [205]

Fauntleroy authorized Ruff to select the company in his column that was most in need of treatment for its horses and send it to Fort Union to recuperate. In return Captain Duncan and his Company E of riflemen would be sent to Camp Jackson as replacements. The available records show that this switch did not occur. Because of the unavailability of enough horses or of forage for the horses with the column, Fauntleroy suggested that all the horses with the expedition in need of recuperation be left at Camp Jackson "until they are fit to resume active service in the Field." This meant that many of the troops would not be mounted for the duration of the campaign. Ruff requested a map of the region and that a responsible guide who knew the country be sent to join his column. He did not trust New Mexicans who had been Indian traders, but no one else was available. [206]

The expedition continued to face hardships and failure. Ruff led 225 men of his command down the Canadian River on July 10 to continue the search for Indians. Second Lieutenant DuBois and 40 men were left at the subdepot. Ruff's battalion found a camp of approximately 300 Comanches on July 15. The Indians had sufficient notice of the approach of the soldiers to escape, and the horses of the troops were so weakened they could not pursue the Comanches. They did destroy the camp and much Indian property (buffalo robes, weapons, ammunition, and other items) that had been left behind, and they killed three of the Comanches who attempted to stampede the army horses. It was not the type of blow to the Comanches, however, that would cause them to abandon their raids and beg for a peace agreement. Ruff followed the trail of the Indians, hoping to surprise them with an attack during the night. He went as far as the old adobe fort of the Bent brothers, commonly known as Adobe Walls, without finding the Indians. DuBois was certain they "would have had a pretty fight if the guide had not told them falsely about the country." Because so many of his horses were unable to continue, Ruff returned to Camp Jackson. He had only 139 horses fit for service in the six companies. [207]

Some of the Comanches who avoided contact with the expedition left their camps on the Conchas River and moved to a point about 10 miles from Hatch's Ranch in July. They were reportedly visiting the small New Mexican settlements in the area to purchase arms and ammunition. On July 23 about 100 Comanche warriors attempted to visit Hatch's Ranch, presumably to trade, but the commanding officer there, Lieutenant Lafayette Peck, Eighth Infantry, forbade them to come to the ranch. The Comanches came anyway and were engaged by the available troops of the two companies of Eighth Infantry stationed there, led by Second Lieutenant Robert T. Frank. The Indians were driven away with three or four killed and others wounded and reportedly headed for the Canadian River. The troops had one man injured. The supply train for Camp Jackson was at Hatch's Ranch but was not forwarded because there were not sufficient troops to provide an escort. Troops from Camp Jackson were requested to come and protect the provisions on the road to their camp. Lieutenant Joseph G. Tilford and 25 men of Company E of the mounted riflemen were sent by Major Simonson from Fort Union the following day to reinforce the garrison at Hatch's Ranch. The same day, July 24, Fauntleroy ordered Captain Duncan and the remainder of Company E to go to Hatch's Ranch, with Duncan taking command of all troops there until the Indian threat was gone. As soon as possible Duncan's company was to return to Fort Union. The Comanches had left the vicinity of Hatch's Ranch and the mounted riflemen were back at Union on July 31. [208]

Other Indians, Navajos, soon threatened more New Mexican settlements and resulted in further calls on the troops at Fort Union. On July 30 Indians were raiding near Pigeon's Ranch at the eastern entrance to Glorieta Pass. A detachment was sent from Fort Marcy at Santa Fe to investigate, and when Lieutenant John Pegram, Second Dragoons, confirmed the raiders had killed citizens and stolen livestock only a few miles from Santa Fe, the troops at Hatch's Ranch and Fort Union were notified. Any citizens in Santa Fe who volunteered to help deter these raiders were provided with horses, mules, and equipment. Some of the volunteers attacked a party of Navajos near Galisteo on August 1, reportedly killing and wounding 20 Indians while suffering 10 casualties. The troops at Albuquerque were alerted and directed to attempt to catch the Indians when they headed west. [209]

Lieutenant Tilford and 25 mounted riflemen were ordered from Fort Union on August 2 to proceed to Johnson's Ranch near the western entrance to Glorieta Pass, clearing the road to Santa Fe of Indians on the way if necessary, and provide protection in that area until the Indian threat was gone. After completing the assignment, Tilford was to take his detachment to Hatch's Ranch and, if they were not needed there, return to Fort Union. Before that could be done, however, additional orders were received. On August 4 Captain Duncan and his company (including Tilford's detachment) were ordered to travel via Anton Chico to Manzano southeast of Albuquerque, where Indians were reported to be raiding settlements in the Manzano Mountains. Tilford's detachment was diverted from its mission to Johnson's Ranch to Manzano via Galisteo, and Duncan and the remainder of the company proceeded a few days later via Anton Chico. The Navajos escaped back to their homeland west of the Rio Grande before the troops caught up with them. A detachment from Albuquerque did engage a small party of the Navajos near the Rio Grande and inflicted four casualties on the Indians. Captain Duncan's company returned to Fort Union in late August. Fauntleroy was soon planning an expedition against the Navajos for later in the year. [210]

The troops who had remained at the posts were seeing as much if not more activity in the field against Indians as those with the Kiowa-Comanche expedition. Upon his return to Camp Jackson at the end of July, Major Ruff was too ill to continue in command of the campaign. Captain Porter was placed in command of the expedition, and Ruff returned to Fort Union and assumed command of the post on August 15 because Major Simonson's health had deteriorated to the point that he was sent to Fort Leavenworth for treatment. A detachment of troops from Fort Union accompanied Simonson as far as Fort Larned, providing some protection for other travelers on the Santa Fe Trail at the same time. Late in August one of the companies of infantry at Hatch's Ranch was sent to Fort Union to replace the mounted riflemen being sent to participate in the Navajo campaign. Early in September the company of infantry from Hatch's Ranch comprised the entire garrison at Fort Union. [211]

Captain Porter took command of the New Mexico column of the Kiowa-Comanche expedition just in time to benefit from requests made by Major Ruff. Five guides, three Pueblo Indians and two New Mexican buffalo hunters, were sent to help the troops locate Indians. Major Donaldson sent 5,000 fanegas of bran and some corn for the horses on the campaign. The arrival of 158 horses with the party of recruits which arrived from Fort Leavenworth at Fort Union on July 5 made it possible to assign approximately 10 horses to each mounted company in the department. Thus 60 remounts were made available to the troops with the Kiowa-Comanche expedition in August, and Captain Porter came to Fort Union to obtain the horses and refit his command for the field. Porter had moved his base from Camp Jackson to a point closer to Hatch's Ranch, which he called Camp Winfield Scott (exact location unknown). The paymaster came to Camp Winfield Scott and paid the members of the expedition. Colonel Fauntleroy requested more horses and recruits for the mounted riflemen, noting that 315 members of that regiment were eligible for discharge before November 1, 1860. [212]

When Porter left Fort Union with the column on September 8 to seek out the Kiowas and Comanches, the troops and horses were in the best condition since the campaign began. The column boasted 250 horses "fit for active service." DuBois had obtained the services of one of the best guides in the territory, Antoine Leroux, who became the chief guide for the battalion. They were confident they would find the Comanches. The results, however, were the same because the Indians continued to avoid contact with the troops. Porter led the column along the Cimarron Route of the Santa Fe Trail to Rabbit Ear Mountain, then to the southeast as far as the Canadian River. They arrived back at Fort Union after being gone one month, during which time they had not seen a Kiowa or Comanche. Their sole accomplishment had been to capture "two horse thieves who were returning to Texas with thirty stolen horses." When the column returned to Fort Union, Fauntleroy declared the expedition "suspended for the present." [213]

Lieutenant Colonel George B. Crittenden, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, commanding at Fort Union, was placed in charge of the column and directed to send the six companies to garrison duty at several forts (three of the companies remained at Fort Union). After several months of almost fruitless search for Indians by the column from Fort Union, the Kiowas and Comanches had not been seriously challenged. They continued to harass travelers on the plains and at frontier settlements. The army could not punish what it could not find. Fort Union had been active for almost a decade but the Indian problems in the territory remained as threatening as when it was founded. Military operations continued to occupy the garrison. [214]

Before the Kiowa-Comanche column returned to Fort Union, for a short time in September, there was no company of troops present and available for "the ordinary details" at the garrison. Lieutenant Colonel Crittenden assumed command on September 17, after the company of infantry from Hatch's Ranch had been sent back to its station, and found only the regimental band of the mounted rifle regiment, 12 men from the companies in the field (left behind but subject to call to join their command), and 69 recruits (who had accompanied Crittenden to Fort Union and who, by order of the department commander, were "not detailable for duty") at the fort. One other regimental officer, Lieutenant Enos, was present and performing the duties of post and subdepot quartermaster and commissary of subsistence, regimental adjutant, and post adjutant. The post surgeon and the new chaplain, Samuel B. McPheeters who arrived with Crittenden, were also present. Crittenden requested another regimental officer and a company or part of a company of troops be assigned for duty at Fort Union until the men absent on field duty returned. Brevet Second Lieutenant Joseph Wheeler, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, was sent as the officer and detachments of infantry and mounted riflemen were temporarily assigned for duty. Crittenden, despite his lack of manpower, found it necessary to send some of his small garrison into the field. On October 1 Wheeler and eighteen men were detailed with six days' rations to go to Ocate in pursuit of a party of Indians reported to be raiding there. On October 5 an escort of infantrymen was sent with Assistant Surgeon W J. Sloan as far as Fort Larned. The garrison was shorthanded until Captain Porter returned with the column of mounted riflemen on October 7. [215]

George B. Crittenden
George B. Crittenden, Photo Collection, Fort Union National Monument.

The Kiowa-Comanche expedition had been unable to locate the Indians, but the Indians continued to visit New Mexican settlements. On October 3 Captain Edmunds B. Holloway, Eighth Infantry, commanding at Hatch's Ranch led 25 men from his garrison to the village of Chaparito where about 100 Comanches had come to trade. Holloway was convinced that the "constant trade" between the New Mexicans and the Comanches was how the Indians obtained ammunition. The soldiers arrived while the Comanche party, including women and children, were at the village and attacked. They killed two and wounded two of the Indians, and captured thirty-two horses, nineteen mules, and a "considerable amount" of saddles and other horse equipment. The troops had no losses. The captured horses were sold at Las Vegas. [216]

Because the horses that had been on the Kiowa-Comanche campaign were in poor condition, those belonging to the three companies of mounted riflemen stationed at Fort Union were sent to a grazing camp on the Cimarroncita a few miles west of Maxwell's Ranch on the Cimarron to recuperate. All mules at Fort Union not in use were also taken. Crittenden personally selected the location for the camp. The horses were protected by two companies of riflemen who camped with them, and grain for the horses was purchased from Maxwell. The horses received ten pounds of grain per day and the mules received nine pounds. These horses were reported to be "doing well" at the end of the month. They returned to Fort Union early in November. [217]

The horses had more than adequate protection, but a party of Comanches, probably in retaliation for the attack at Chaparito, stole the government beef herd of 460 cattle located on the Conchas River (under a contract herder, John L. Taylor) and some cattle from a private ranch, a total of about 1,000 head. The cattle were reportedly being driven toward Mesa Rica near the Canadian River close to its crossing of the eastern boundary of New Mexico Territory. A combined force of mounted riflemen from Fort Marcy and Fort Union were sent via Hatch's Ranch to attempt to recover the livestock. Lieutenant DuBois and 21 men were dispatched from Union on October 31. The cattle were not recovered because, as DuBois recorded, at Mesa Rica the trail "split up into fifty different trails." The troops followed what appeared to be one of the most prominent trails and ended up at Anton Chico. They had followed a party of Comancheros returning from "trading powder & lead to the indians for skins." DuBois and his detachment returned to Fort Union on November 10. Their horses were "totally ruined" by the 300-mile expedition. [218]

The campaign against the Navajo resulted in several battles in which the troops were successful, but the overall effect on the Navajo people was negligible. Captain George McLane, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, was killed in battle with the Navajos on October 13. Major Ruff was detailed on November 13 to head an escort of nine enlisted men from Fort Union to accompany McLane's widow and children to Fort Leavenworth. The escort troops were to go only as far as Fort Larned and return to Union. This assignment provided Ruff a chance to secure additional medical treatment for his illness. Ruff was also responsible for taking Second Lieutenant Edmund Freeman, Fifth Infantry, who was declared to be insane, to Fort Leavenworth where some of his family was to meet and care for him. If the family was not there, Ruff was authorized to see Lieutenant Freeman to the farm home of his family in Illinois, not far from St. Louis. [219]

On December 15 a squadron of 40 dismounted riflemen from the garrison at Fort Union was sent to report to Captain Benjamin S. Roberts at Hatch's Ranch. They were to assist Roberts in establishing Fort Butler on the Canadian River, which never happened as explained in the previous chapter. [220] They remained at Hatch's Ranch until the following February. Most of the troops available for field duty at Fort Union left the post on December 27 to scout for Kiowas and Comanches who were reported to be raiding travelers on the Santa Fe Trail. Lieutenant Crittenden commanded the force of 88 mounted riflemen, accompanied by civilians George M. Alexander and Edward Shoemaker, leaving Lieutenant Enos in command at Fort Union. Perhaps this was an opportunity to find and defeat some of the Indians who had eluded the column in the field during the previous summer and fall. Crittenden's command surprised an encampment of Kiowas and Comanches about 10 miles north of Cold Spring on the Cimarron River on January 2, 1861. They captured the camp of about 175 lodges, killed 10 and wounded an undetermined number of Indians, captured 40 Indian horses, and destroyed the village and its contents. According to the regimental adjutant, who was not present at the engagement, "not a woman or child was hurt." Three or four soldiers were slightly injured. This was a severe blow to the inhabitants of the camp who lost most of their supplies in the middle of winter. It marked the greatest achievement of the campaign against the Kiowas and Comanches. Some of the Comanches offered to talk about a peace agreement. [221]

Crittenden hoped to put together a larger force and inflict further punishment on the Kiowas and Comanches, but hostilities by the Mescalero Apaches in southeastern New Mexico required more immediate attention. Crittenden was selected to lead a campaign against the Mescaleros in March 1861. The campaign against the Navajos had just reached what Fauntleroy and other officers considered a successful conclusion, with the Navajos agreeing to sign a peace treaty, and some of the troops who had been involved against the Navajos were sent to participate in the efforts against the Mescaleros. Others were assigned to join in a campaign against the Apaches in southwestern New Mexico, led by Major Isaac Lynde, Seventh Infantry. Crittenden was given authority to draw troops from Fort Union and Hatch's Ranch as needed, as well as from Forts Stanton and Fillmore. Crittenden took most of the mounted riflemen from Fort Union with him on March 11. [222]

Crittenden was still organizing his expedition against the Mescaleros when Colonel William W. Loring took over the command of the department from Fauntleroy on March 22. Loring immediately started cutting back on transportation expenses, which affected Crittenden's plans. Of the three companies of mounted riflemen from Fort Union originally scheduled to serve under Crittenden, two were called back to Fort Union. Hatch's Ranch was abandoned and the troops and supplies there were sent to Fort Union. Even though his force was reduced, Crittenden marched into Mescalero country and pursued them ceaselessly. No battles were fought but within six weeks the Mescaleros promised to stop raiding and to meet to negotiate a peace agreement later in the summer. The company of mounted riflemen from Fort Union who had served with Crittenden returned to Fort Union. Crittenden had compiled a good record against Indians in New Mexico Territory, but he, like many of the other officers from the southern states serving in the department, resigned his commission to join the army of the Confederate States of America. [223]

With no idea what the unsettled conditions between the states might bring, the army and officials of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in New Mexico sought peace agreements with all the Indians possible in the spring of 1861. Until an arrangement could be made with the Kiowas and Comanches, Loring decided to keep a scouting party of 25 men from Fort Union on patrol to help protect the settlers at Chaparito, Hatch's Ranch, Anton Chico, and Giddings's Ranch and to help safeguard travelers on the Fort Smith road. Each detachment was rationed for 30 days, at the end of which time one unit was to be replaced by a fresh squadron from Fort Union. Soon after the first detachment left under command of Lieutenant Alexander McRae, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, it was reported that Comanches had stolen cattle from Giddings's Ranch, and McRae went to investigate. The second detachment sent out to replace McRae's squadron was increased to a full company of troops in anticipation of further hostilities. [224]

While these troops were in the field, agreements were signed with the Navajos and Comanches in May. An agreement was signed with the Mescaleros later in the summer. The treaties were not honored by the United States or the Indians. The negotiators with the Comanches, Captain Robert A. Wainwright and Superintendent of Indian Affairs James L. Collins, were accompanied by two companies of mounted riflemen from Fort Union. One of these companies was to replace the detachment in the field on scouting duty after the conference, and the other was to relieve that company a month later. [225]

The conference with the Comanches was held on May 10 and 11 at Alamo Gordo Creek, a tributary of the Pecos River. In return for peace, the Comanches promised to stop raiding along the Santa Fe Trail, stay away from the settlements of eastern New Mexico, and trade only at places approved by the government. The agreement was broken a few days later when one of the Comanche chiefs, who probably did not understand the meaning of the agreement about approved places to exchange goods, came with his people to Chaparito to trade. The Anglo-Americans had never accepted the trading relationship between the Comanches and the New Mexicans. Captain Duncan, camped near Hatch's Ranch, ordered the Comanches to leave Chaparito and, when they did not do so, forcibly drove them away, killing one, wounding three, and capturing two. The peace was broken and the settlers feared retaliation from the Comanches. [226] The Comanches left the area and remained east of New Mexico during much of the rest of the year. When the troops in New Mexico were preoccupied with the Civil War, the Comanches returned to "their old-time relationships" with the New Mexicans. [227]

The mail coaches between New Mexico and Independence were following the Bent's Fort or Raton Route (also commonly known, later, as the Mountain Route) of the Santa Fe Trail in February and March 1861, taking advantage of the protection provided by the establishment of Fort Wise near Bent's New Fort the previous year. The size of escorts for the mail had been reduced to the number of soldiers who could ride in the coach. Three soldiers went with the mail from Fort Union to Fort Wise in late February, but there was room for only one of the soldiers on the return trip. The others remained at Fort Wise until the next westbound mail, which presumably had room for them. [228] Colonel Loring was a passenger on the westbound stage in March, and Second Lieutenant DuBois was on the eastbound coach the same month, beginning a leave of absence. They met and talked at the crossing of the Arkansas River near Bent's Old Fort. [229]

In addition to protecting the mails on the trail, Colonel Loring offered protection to families of officers and other persons desiring to go to Fort Leavenworth because of the impending outbreak of war between the states. An escort comprised of soldiers whose term of service was about to expire was scheduled to leave Fort Union on April 25, and everyone who wished to travel with it was invited. The date of departure was later changed to May 20. [230]

Just as the Civil War was breaking out and many officers in New Mexico were resigning to join the Confederate Army, several of the Indian tribes in the territory were temporarily at peace. The peace would not last because the conditions which caused hostilities had not been removed and the army had not established effective control over several tribes. The series of conflicts between soldiers and Indians had seldom been decisive, and Indian troubles would continue to occupy the army in the Southwest during and after the Civil War. The Civil War would bring new tensions between Indians, Hispanos, and Anglos in New Mexico.

The troops at Fort Union had been extensively involved in military operations in the region throughout its first decade of occupation. Even when some of the soldiers were serving in the field, there was a community life at the post regardless of the size or composition of the garrison. The routines of the frontier post may have been less dramatic than looking for and pursuing Indians, but those everyday activities required the majority of the time of officers and enlisted men. There were many other people besides military personnel at any army installation, including officers' wives and children, laundresses, civilian employees, merchants, and camp followers. The story of life at Fort Union before the Civil War is a subject worthy of consideration before examining the ramifications of that tragic conflict on the army at the post and in the Southwest.

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Last Updated: 09-Jul-2005