Historic Resource Study
NPS Logo


The structure and nature of society at Fort Union had much in common with every other military post in the country during the same era but little in common with society in any other place. Military organization, with its officer class and rigid rules of behavior for both officers and enlisted men, fostered a closed society that was, at least in theory if not in practice, less free and more highly structured than almost any other institution except, perhaps, some religious orders. By Congressional action the army had its own code of justice and military courts to try offenders of every rank. Everybody in uniform had a place in the hierarchy that was determined by assigned rank (a bureaucratic system in which promotions were difficult to earn and slow to accumulate), and dependents shared the status of the soldier of whose family they were a member.

Class lines between officers' row and the enlisted men of the garrison were almost as sharply drawn as the demarcation between slave owners and slaves. Most officers and their families considered themselves to be part of an aristocracy and made every pretense to emulate the privileged classes. The enlisted men were thought of and often treated as a servile force who made the upper-class status of commissioned officials possible. Some officers apparently thought enlisted men were devoid of the full range of human emotions. Lieutenant Henry B. Judd, Third Artillery, was shocked to discover in 1850 that the members of his company, serving at the Post at Las Vegas in New Mexico, were opposed to being split up and some of the men assigned to another unit. To Department Commander John Munroe, Judd wrote: "With such men the idea of separations from old and tried associations is like hushing up this whole current of life's pleasures. I had no conception until it came to the test that men of their class felt so deeply the ties which have bound them to each other." As a result, Judd requested that his company not be split, declaring that "the remaining detachment will be utterly useless and inefficient as a distinct body." [1]

That rigid structure was modified by the Civil War, after which the military society of the prewar years was looked back upon by some officers as "the good old days." William B. Lane served at Fort Union before and after the Civil War and held fond recollections of the relationship of officers and men during the 1850s. His views confirmed the attitudes of officers noted above. Looking back at the era before the Civil War from the perspective of the 1890s, two decades after his retirement from active duty, Lane (who was not a West Point graduate but had risen up from the ranks of enlisted soldiers of the Regiment of Mounted Riflemen during the Mexican War) wrote that the "faith, or confidence of the enlisted men in their officers, and the almost universal kind feeling of the officers for the men, in the old days, added much to the discipline and efficiency of our little army, and made things comfortable for both sides." [2]

By contrast with what happened to the discipline of enlisted men and a decline in status of the officer class, resulting from the changes brought about by the service of millions of volunteers during the Civil War, Lane declared of the prewar army that those "were the days before the enlisted man had to be 'smoothed down' with wire-bottom cots, the mattress, and the pillow." In addition, an enlisted man then was not "allowed to indulge in the doubtful pleasures and advantages of corresponding direct (and probably did not want to) with higher authority than his immediate commander, and the delight of an anonymous letter was unknown to him." [3] In lamenting what had disappeared, Lane verified the importance of enlisted men knowing their place, obeying their officers, and performing their duties.

On the other hand, the army provided every soldier with food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and periodic cash payments for military service. There was something of a balance involved; economic security was available for the surrender of some freedom, abiding by the rules, and working at whatever tasks were assigned. Those who could not adapt to these conditions frequently escaped from their obligations by deserting the army. Those who served out their terms of enlistment accommodated themselves to the system and followed orders most of the time. The large number of courts-martial would indicate, however, that many soldiers and officers were frequently in violation of one or more of the hundreds of army regulations.

The losses to desertion plagued the army throughout the nineteenth century. Statistics on desertion at Fort Union may be found in Appendix D. Although some were caught and returned to duty, many deserters succeeded in getting away. The escape of four enlisted men from Fort Union in 1852 resulted in tragedy. In September of that year four privates in the Third Infantry (last names were Hassey, Marodi, Paulus, and Phister; no first names were given) deserted from the post and headed for Missouri. They got as far as Wagon Mound the first night and followed the Cimarron and Aubry routes of the Santa Fe Trail. They had few provisions and depended on killing game for subsistence. Their weapons consisted of a musket and a revolver. [4]

At Bear Creek on the Aubry Route the deserters got into an argument about who should carry the weapons and other items. Private Paulus had the revolver and shot and killed Private Marodi. Paulus then attempted to kill Phister, but Phister and Hassey got the revolver away from Paulus and shot him in the head, killing him. Phister and Hassey proceeded to the Arkansas River, where they were apprehended and returned to Fort Union. Private Hassey escaped again but was quickly apprehended, and he and Phister were placed in irons and kept under guard. Hassey attempted to commit suicide by "cutting his throat" but survived. Carleton recommended that the two prisoners be turned over to civil authorities for further investigation of the murders, but the final disposition of their cases was not found. [5] Not all deserters were so unfortunate, and the fact that soldiers continued to escape military duties in large numbers was indicative that army regulations were not acceptable to all enlisted men.

Whatever the assignment, there was a strict chain of command throughout the military system. Orders came from the top down, and reports went the opposite direction. Almost nothing was done without benefit of an order, and almost every duty required the ubiquitous report plus the endorsement of officers up the bureaucratic chain. Among officers rank always had its privileges, constantly evident at a military post. Quarters, for example, were assigned to officers by rank, not by size of family. Any officer who outranked another could claim the housing of a subordinate. An unmarried officer of higher rank than a married officer was entitled to occupy the choice of available facilities without regard to the needs of the married officer's family. The dependents of officers had no legal status in the army. Whenever a new officer arrived at a post, he could take the housing of any officer who was subordinate in rank or seniority. The officer turned out could then expel any of his subordinates from their quarters, sometimes forcing the lowest ranking officer (and his family if he had one) to live in a tent. It was sometimes compared to a game of musical chairs.

One officer's wife, Mrs. Orsemus Boyd, who lived at Fort Union in 1872 and 1873, described the practice as she experienced it at a post in Texas. The process was similar at all posts, but not everyone was as accommodating as Mrs. Boyd.

Fifty times, perhaps, there was a general move of at least ten families, because some officer had arrived who, in selecting a house, caused a dozen other officers to move, for each in turn chose the one then occipied by the next lower in rank. We used to call it "bricks falling," because each toppled that next in order over; but the annoyance was endured with great good nature.

. . . An onlooker would doubtless have found the anxiety experienced by the officers' wives amusing; for though prepared for the worst we were, of course, solicitous. [6]

Mrs. Boyd managed to avoid being ranked out on one occasion, but only temporarily. The Boyds occupied fairly commodious quarters which were wanted by an unmarried captain on his arrival at the post. Mrs. Boyd was expecting her third child, and the post surgeon "declared I could not be moved." She delivered a son the following day. While she recovered, Mrs. Boyd "indulged a delusive hope that the officer who had chosen our home would be content to remain" in his small quarters. "I felt," she asserted, "that a bachelor could live less inconveniently in one room than could a family of five." Nevertheless, she disclosed, "the very day baby was four weeks old we were obliged to move." The Boyds resided in that one room for the next two years. [7] Their situation was not unique.

Although the quarters provided for the few women laundresses who were wives of enlisted men were small and inferior in comparison to officers' quarters at Fort Union, the laundresses usually were not subject to such practices as "ranking out." In addition, laundresses received official military recognition while officers' wives did not. The military acknowledged a need for laundresses, and regulations permitted up to four per company (it was not unusual, however, for there to be more than four). Most laundresses were wives of enlisted men, who were only permitted to marry with the permission of their commanding officer. That permission was seldom given unless the enlisted man's intended wife agreed to serve as a company laundress. Occasionally an enlisted man's wife was permitted to work as an officer's servant. Some laundresses were not married. [8]

Laundresses were provided quarters and rations. When buildings were erected at Fort Union, the laundresses' quarters were north of the hospital. Laundresses were authorized to charge each soldier so much for washing his clothing and bedding (approximately $1.00 per month on average). Some laundresses supplemented their income by engaging in prostitution, a "profession" always in demand at a military post where most of the enlisted men were single and forbidden to marry. Other women camp followers also provided such services to the troops. Army regulations were quite tolerant. The only offense for which they could be banished from contact with troops was venereal disease infection. [9] Some laundresses had children, who were also a part of garrison life. Laundresses were always present at Fort Union, but almost nothing has been found about them. Occasionally there was mention of a laundress in the records.

In 1873 one laundress at Fort Union was moved so her quarters could be assigned to another laundress (this was similar to ranking out, although rank apparently played no part in it). On May 16 the post quartermaster was directed to move Mrs. Ramis, laundress for Troop L, Eighth Cavalry, from room fourteen to room thirteen and assign rooms fourteen and fifteen to Mrs. Montgomery, laundress for Company C, Fifteenth Infantry. Mrs. Montgomery was the wife of Private John J. Montgomery, who was assigned to duty as a nurse in the post hospital. Although no explanation was given for changing quarters for Mrs. Ramis, it should be noted that the post commander, Captain H. A. Ellis, was an officer in the Fifteenth Infantry. Perhaps he was simply making certain that laundresses for his regiment were given preference over laundresses for the Eighth Cavalry. [10]

The daily life at the post was regulated by a strict schedule, which usually began at daylight when a cannon was fired and the flag was raised. The calls to various activities and duties were sounded by drums and bugles. After morning assembly came the call to breakfast, which was followed by sick call and calls to duty assignment, drill, target practice, or other jobs. At noon came the call to dinner, followed by more work during the afternoon. The supper call at evening was followed, at sunset, by the lowering of the flag and firing of the cannon. The soldiers were to be in their quarters when retreat was sounded, and the day ended with taps. This routine was interrupted for special inspections, dress and undress parades, and other periodic ceremonies. [11]

The soldier, officer or enlisted man, spent only a part of his time performing military duty and had considerable leisure time. The nineteenth-century army provided few if any activities for free time, leaving each individual to do as he desired within certain limitations. Absence from the post, for example, was restricted to permission. Soldiers engaged in numerous activities for recreation and relaxation, including drinking of intoxicants (drunkenness was a serious problem for the army throughout the time Fort Union was an active post), gambling, playing cards, patronizing prostitutes, racing, boxing, wrestling, swimming, dancing, fishing, hunting, picnicking, presenting and attending dramatic performances, visiting, storytelling, reading and writing for those who were literate, and watching nature. [12]

The stories of vice, of soldiers in trouble and in violation of military regulations, are abundant because of the numerous courts-martial, topics that will be considered in a later chapter. Unfortunately for students of social history, except for those court proceedings which provide a distorted view of humanity by focusing only on misconduct, official military records reveal little about the daily lives of soldiers and citizens who resided at military posts, particularly what they did with their own time that was not depraved, criminal, immoral, illegal, impure, dishonest, or evil. One must search for the few remaining personal letters, diaries, journals, and reminiscences to gain some understanding of the ordinary and everyday activities of a few individuals and to draw general conclusions about the larger society in which those individuals functioned. At best, the results are often cursory and anecdotal. Because of the paucity of records kept by enlisted men, much more is known about the lives of officers and their families. This imbalance of reliable information contributes to the difficulty of telling the story of the private soldier except in generalities. It is much easier, because of more sources, to provide an understanding of some individuals among the officer class.

The difficulty of explaining the living conditions of enlisted men is exemplified by the lack of solid information about such basic items as the furnishings of their barracks during the 1850s. According to Arthur Woodward's 1958 report on Fort Union, apparently based on data gathered about a number of similar frontier military installations, the men slept in two-tier wooden bunks with wooden slat bottoms, constructed along the walls. While it was typical of the military at the time to have four men sleep in each bunk (two up and two down), one can only speculate that this was the situation at Fort Union. The bed sacks were periodically filled with dried grass or straw. Rolled up clothing might serve as pillows. Each soldier was issued two blankets which he used in quarters and on field duty. [13]

Other furnishings in the barracks, including chairs, tables, and desks, were fashioned from packing crates, boxes, barrels, and other available materials. The quarters were apparently lighted by candles and heated by fireplaces. Exactly how the barracks were arranged, how the kitchens and mess rooms were furnished, how personal hygiene was accomplished (what bathing facilities, if any, were provided), how the latrines were equipped and situated, and all the other details that would shed light on the daily life of the enlisted men at the first Fort Union remain virtually unknown. [14]

It is known that a variety of nationalities were represented in the army and made up the polyglot society at all military posts, including Fort Union. In addition to Anglo- and Hispano-Americans, there were large numbers of Irish, German, and British soldiers. Representatives from a number of other countries and ethnic groups were often present, including French, Scandinavian, Italian, Slavic, and others. Afro-Americans were present at Fort Union as slaves and servants before the Civil War and as soldiers and employees after that conflict. The army, perhaps more than any other American institution of the era, exemplified the ethnic diversity of the nation.

The initial garrison of Fort Union, when established by Major Edmund B. Alexander on July 26, 1851, was comprised of one company of infantry (Company G, Third Infantry) and two of dragoons (Companies F and K, First Dragoons). These soldiers were joined the following day by Company D, Third Infantry, making a total aggregate garrison of 339 officers and men. Because of troops absent on assignments, on the sick list, or under arrest, the number of troops available for duty and extra duty at the post at the end of July 1851 was only 197. [15]

Until buildings were erected at Fort Union, officers and their families, enlisted soldiers, and employees lived in tents, and the quartermaster, commissary, and ordnance stores were protected only by canvas covers and armed guards. Many of those who had been stationed in Las Vegas and Santa Fe were not happy with the move from what, by comparison, had been comfortable quarters. The tent accommodations, however, were intended to be temporary, and the construction of quarters held top priority at the new post.

Inadequate quarters were not the only thing about which some military officers could be unhappy. Some officers held an exalted view of their own position and were determined not to associate on the same level with the common people. Lieutenant J. N. Ward, Third Infantry, had been in the army for ten years and had served enough time in New Mexico that he was granted a furlough late in 1851. He planned to travel to the states, perhaps to visit his family in Georgia, but was disappointed with the travel accommodations available.

Ward complained to Lieutenant John C. McFerran, quartermaster department and adjutant to Colonel Sumner, that the "man in charge" of the wagon train "in which I was to have left for the United States" expected the officer to pay 25 cents per pound for his baggage. Even worse, "I was to perform guard duty on the trip with the teamsters, and was to assist in guarding and hitching up animals at all times." Although he wanted to take his furlough, Ward declared "I can not consent to travel in such manner." [16]

Ward's class-conscious snobbery was confirmed when he wrote, "if I were with a Government train, with men whom I could command, I would not object to perform any duties however arduous, but I can not think of associating myself as an equal, with the class of men who compose the teamsters of the plains, if I never go on furlough." "There is," he remarked, "no gentleman that I know of, going in with the train which leaves today." Therefore Ward requested that Sumner issue orders for him "to remain at Fort Union, or wherever else he may select on temporary duty . . . until such time as an opportunity offers for my leaving for the U.S." [17]

Sumner's response to Ward's plea was not located, but the lieutenant was a passenger on the mail coach conducted by William Allison which left Santa Fe on December 2, 1851. The mail party was stopped by blizzards at McNees Creek and Fort Atkinson. Lieutenant Ward left the coach at Fort Atkinson because he was too ill to travel. He remained there until Francis X. Aubry came by with a train of twelve wagons in January 1852 and traveled with Aubry to Independence, arriving there February 5. [18] Presumably Allison and Aubry were "gentlemen" with whom Ward did not mind associating.

Not everyone complained about the common people or conditions in New Mexico or Fort Union, although some officers' wives were apparently uninformed about both. One historian of frontier military social life claimed that "Army women were not well informed." Informed or not, an officer's wife faced many adjustments and difficulties. The same historian declared, "a woman who married an Army officer led a grueling life that usually shocked her at first and then tested her mettle as surely as ever the pioneer woman was tested." [19]

Some of the officers' wives at Fort Union probably would have agreed. Among the early residents of Fort Union was Catherine (Cary) Bowen (commonly known as Katie), wife of Captain Isaac Bowen, in charge of the department commissary stores. They accompanied the supply train that followed Colonel Sumner's column from Fort Leavenworth to New Mexico, arriving at the new Fort Union on August 21, 1851. In letters to her parents, Mrs. Bowen (23 years old when she arrived at Fort Union) provided some insight into life at early Fort Union, especially the private and social activities of the officer class. Her letters were generally characterized by a spirit of happiness and well-being. Occasionally Isaac Bowen wrote to his parents and added perspective on life at Fort Union. [20]

Following their arrival at the post, Katie wrote her mother, "at last at our destination, safe in every particular, in health, and our goods in as good order as anything could possibly be after the hard journey they have had." She had enjoyed the trip over the Santa Fe Trail from Fort Leavenworth. For her "the time did not seem long, for everything was pleasant, weather and country." [21]

Fort Union, she observed, was "located particularly with a view to extensive farming operations, and certainly it is well adapted, plenty of water, abundance of wood, and, to all appearances, a fertile valley, with mountains on two sides of us." Of the pine trees, she observed they made "good lumber and fire wood and will not fail a supply in thousands of years." The post "is supplied with a delicious spring and we have its water brought twice a day. For the stock and for irrigation there are several ponds and one lake. The river Moro runs six miles below us." The post office was still at Barclay's Fort on the "Moro." Katie considered the area "a pretty country" and obviously enjoyed being there. [22]

Isaac Bowen was a little less enthusiastic, declaring "We anticipated no very great enjoyment or pleasure from our residence in New Mexico and I am not certain that we have found anything worse than we expected." He described Fort Union as "about a hundred miles from Santa Fe . . . with plenty of wild prairie, mountains close in rear and in the distance front & left, good water, a fine bracing, healthy & salubrious climate." They had adjusted well to their new station. "Since we arrived here," he informed his father, "we have had no time to feel unhappy or scarcely grumble or find fault." Still, he had no appreciation for the land. "We will endeavour, however, to submit with a spirit of becoming resignation to whatever hardships may be our lot during the period of our residence here and when we leave the country, it will be with the wish that we may cast its dust from our feet forever." Speaking for himself and Katie, Isaac disclosed that "one great drawback is the want of mails. Could we hear from our friends oftener we would be better satisfied." [23] That view was probably shared by most officers and soldiers who had come from the East to serve in the unfamiliar land of New Mexico.

Katie, on the other hand, was very positive about the area and was happy that other officers' wives were at the new post when she arrived. She wrote to her mother that "the morning I came in, Mrs. Sibley took me to her house, or rather tents, and entertained me in the kindest manner." [24] A few days later she noted that "we were serenaded last night by the young gentlemen and kept awake so long that our nap this morning was longer than usual." "We will be," she predicted, "a very social garrison as soon as we are a little better acquainted." She was especially impressed with the young post surgeon, Thomas McParlin, describing him as "one of the pleasantest Men I have met for a long time and said to be very skillful." [25]

Until quarters were built, the Bowens lived in three "very nice" tents. [26] They were situated close to two other officer families, and Katie Bowen became close friends with Charlotte (Mrs. E. S.) Sibley and Mrs. E. B. Alexander (Mrs. Alexander's first name is unknown). [27] A few weeks after arriving at Fort Union, Katie informed her mother that "Mrs. Alexander, Mrs. Sibley and myself live on three sides of a triangle and the gentlemen make a great deal of sport of the triangular meetings." "In truth," she confessed, "we are nearly all the time together, if one is in the kitchen, the other two bring their sewing into the kitchen." At other times, "when we are dressed in the afternoon, we sit with our sewing sometimes at the house of one and sometimes at another." She explained to her mother, "I tell you these particulars that you may know that we do not give way to despondency or allow the better establishments of our friends in the states to make us unhappy." Any variety they had in their lives was the result of their own efforts, for Katie noted that "one day is very much like another here." [28]

Isaac and Katie Bowen Dr. Thomas McParlin
Isaac and Katie Bowen, courtesy of their granddaughter, Gwladys Bowen. Dr. Thomas McParlin, courtesy of Maryland State Archives.

Mrs. Sibley also adapted well to tent living, as she informed her cousin: "We are living very comfortably in our tents. . . . My husband is an old soldier and understands perfectly the management of all things connected with Army life." She was apparently proud of her situation, stating that "Our tents are put upon frames and are floored and carpeted. I have arranged them so that the word 'Cozy' would more properly apply in description of the interior than any word else." Of her life at the first Fort Union, Charlotte Sibley wrote, "My books, sewing, and visiting with the other ladies employ my leisure moments in the morning." [29]

Sophia W. Carleton, 22 years old and expecting her second child, [30] was staying at Barclay's Fort, where rooms were available, while her husband, Captain James H. Carleton, was on patrol. Besides Sophia Carleton, Katie Bowen and Charlotte Sibley were also pregnant. Mrs. Alexander, wife of the post commander and apparently several years older than the others, was a part of their little circle. Located at an isolated post, these women relied upon each other and shared experiences. Each apparently had a servant. The Bowens owned a young female black slave, Margaret. [31] Katie later wrote that Margaret "is a very good girl and cooks nicely, as well as being an excellent house servant. . . . Her mother is a free woman in Louisville and able to buy her, so if possible [when transferred from New Mexico], we will carry her to her mother or set her free." [32] Captain and Mrs. Carleton brought at least two slaves with them to Fort Union from Missouri (Hannah, age 28, and Benjamin, age 21), both of whom they later sold to Governor Lane. [33]

Katie watched her money carefully and managed her household scrupulously, sewing most of her own clothing and making other needed items. She noted that Charlotte Sibley "went into the extravagance of buying nice furniture." Katie, however, was proud of her own "home made lounges and benches" and explained how she was covering some extra pillows with "turkey red" to make their "two easy chairs," the frames of which they had had made at and brought with them from Fort Leavenworth, "charming." [34]

There were no gardens at Fort Union when they arrived because it had been occupied so late in the season, but vegetables were obtained from Las Vegas and the post garden at Rayado. The Bowens purchased some chickens at Las Vegas so they would have their own eggs, and they brought a milk cow with them from Fort Leavenworth. Katie did complain about the high cost of basic items in New Mexico, noting that butter sold for 75 cents a pound, sugar at 15 cents a pound, corn from $3.00 to $4.00 per bushel, and flour $20.00 to $22.00 per barrel. Everything officers bought from the commissary department included an additional eight cents per pound for freight from Fort Leavenworth. [35]

Katie Bowen sent this drawing of the arrangement of their tents at Fort Union to her parents, and this copy was generously provided by Gwladys Bowen, granddaughter of Katie and Isaac Bowen. The three tents, each nine feet square, were placed on a platform and the floor was carpeted. The servant's tent and the milk tent were smaller. The kitchen and dining bowers were outside, as were the stove, cooking fire, and other items. The three tents were divided by curtains. This served as the home of the Bowens until quarters were built.

Like everyone else who came to New Mexico in government service, the Bowens found the cost of living to be high. Katie declared, "It is rather tough for with what we pay for the commonest things here would buy us luxuries in the States." Because the only available place to buy rations was the commissary department, where "we are allowed to buy one ration for every member of our family which leaves us nothing for hospitality," Katie joined her peers in condemning Colonel Sumner's orders, in the name of economy, to have the cost of transportation added to the contract price of everything shipped from the East. [36] This was a new practice, an economy measure instituted by Colonel Sumner, but it was later rescinded because of the opposition.

When the sutler's store was opened by Jared W. Folger, however, Katie declared his prices "exceed anything I ever heard of. Happily we are independent of him." The Bowens had brought many commodities with them from Leavenworth, some of which they had purchased in Philadelphia and St. Louis. They were supplied with everything except "fresh meat and flour," and they were preparing an order for supplies from Philadelphia for the needs of the coming year. [37] Regarding local food supplies, she later noted that "the Mexicans bring in venison, wild fowls and onions and we manage to set a very comfortable table." [38] Katie took pride in her household management abilities, declaring "we live plain and well and have plenty of clothes." [39]

Katie was competitive and enjoyed making do. "I had a pint of cream yesterday," she boasted in her first letter from Fort Union, "and stirred up nearly a pound of butter in a tin cup just to say that I had made butter before Mrs. Sibley, who has been fixed a month and lived without butter and the milk of two cows and I have but one at present." Katie had brought 30 pounds of melted butter from Fort Leavenworth but just wanted "to have new butter." A few days later she made plum preserves. [40] Soon Katie and Charlotte Sibley shared a stone butter churn, butter paddle, and earthware pan for working butter, one using these on Tuesdays and Fridays and the other on Wednesdays and Saturdays. [41] In January 1852 she wrote, "I make plenty of butter yet and our hens lay finely we have 17." [42]

Katie was pleased with her accomplishments. "All of us ladies have had a great time making plum jelly to see who would succeed best. I never made jelly before, but never will be beat at anything." She was also proud of her "four mince pies" which "really tasted like home and did not cost a cent hardly." "All the husbands," she confessed, "cry out about making jelly with sugar at 20 cents a pound, but I sweetened the mince meat with molasses to pay for it." [43]

The Bowens liked to entertain, often having guests (including "strangers" just "passing through") for dinner, supper, or tea. [44] When an impromptu dance was held for the garrison, a hospital tent was set up, some of the young soldiers furnished the music, and Katie and her close friends provided food, including ham, biscuits, cakes, and coffee. Although there were seven officers' wives at the post, only Katie, Charlotte Sibley, and Mrs. Alexander prepared the food. Some of the single men had ordered peaches and grapes that arrived the same day from El Paso and provided these for everyone to enjoy. Katie "played matron in the way of presiding at the supper table pouring coffee, etc." The first dance held at Fort Union "went off well and everybody seemed delighted." [45] A dance was one of the few occasions where officers and enlisted men enjoyed some social contact while off duty.

Life was not especially easy in tents at an isolated outpost, but Katie made the best of it. The first time they attempted to wash clothes they found that their stove, standing in the open, would not "draw quite well enough to keep a hot fire." They cooked on an open fire and had erected a bower under which they ate unless it was raining. Katie was sewing drawers and night shirts for her husband and "a winter house dress of the calico" for herself. She spent time socializing with her neighbors and declared, "I am not going to worry myself about work, but live easy and go back to the states as good as new. I am as well off as my neighbors and I have no ambition to shine in New Mexico." [46] She must not have wasted much time, nevertheless, for she wrote not quite two weeks later that "I have been very busy, have got our servants winter clothes all made and nearly all of Isaacs sewing done and this week I am going to alter my cashmere double gown." [47] In one of her few observations about the New Mexican people, Katie observed that "the Mexican women at Vegas 25 miles distant, sew beautifully and cover their own clothes with embroidery, but I am not going into that kind of extravagance." [48]

The officers' wives enjoyed maintaining a degree of fashion, even while living in tents at a remote location. "All the ladies wear woolen double gowns till 11 o'clock and then come out in bareges [49] or some other gossamer thing." [50] Another time Katie observed that "all the ladies here dress very prettily and from outward appearance you would not imagine we were so far from fashion and civilization." [51]

Katie sometimes wrote about what was going on at the post, commenting on the progress of construction of quarters and other buildings as well as other developments. "The head farmer here is cutting hay for winter use but has not more than 30 tons as yet and there are 900 head of cattle, besides several hundred horses and mules to winter." [52] She also relayed the sad story of how Major Philip R. Thompson, while intoxicated, had shot a man at Barclay's Fort. Thompson was arrested and, if the victim died, would be turned over to civil authorities. Katie felt sorry for Mrs. Thompson, who was staying at Barclay's Fort. [53] Major George A. H. Blake, who was camped about three miles from Barclay's Fort, investigated the incident and placed Thompson under arrest. He referred the matter to Colonel Sumner for a decision. [54] The man Thompson shot at Barclay's Fort survived, and Thompson was ordered to pay him $600 damages and join the temperance society in Santa Fe. Katie Bowen reported that the officer "broke the pledge so soon that the society expelled him." [55] Thompson continued to battle with liquor and was frequently unable to perform his assignments. He was eventually cashiered from the service, after appearing intoxicated at a court-martial, on September 4, 1855. He died June 24, 1857. [56]

For the most part, however, existence at Fort Union was fairly routine. Life in the tents at Fort Union was less comfortable on October 11, 1851, when, as Isaac Bowen wrote to his father, "we awoke this morning and found the ground covered with snow and the storm still raging with considerable violence." Both he and Katie had been sick with colds, chills, and fevers. Unlike his optimistic wife who seemed to find good in whatever life brought to her, Isaac expressed his opinion of their situation differently: "I wish we were to accompany the train [soon to leave] to the states, for if ever there was a country which our creator had deserted, forsaken and left to its own means of salvation, that country must be New Mexico." Again, he rationalized their situation: "However, we anticipated but little pleasure, enjoyment or comfort during our residence here, but that little may be less than we anticipated." [57]

Both Isaac and Katie were in better spirits by the end of October, when they were out of the tents and enjoying their new quarters, escaping "the constant dust if nothing more." Katie declared the unfinished rooms "vastly preferable to tents." She proclaimed that "our rooms are very tidy and comfortable having large stone fireplaces that give us genial warmth and cheerfulness." [58] She had a carpet on the floor, "made up by a dragoon tailor," and felt "quite settled." She also gloated that "Mrs. Sibley's and our house fronts the south and we have the bright sunshine nearly all day and we are vain enough to think that our rooms are pleasanter than the other ladies'." To her parents, she wished: "How I would like that you could look in and see how primitive we are in our log houses white washed—logs overhead, chinked and covered with earth to shed snow and rain." [59] By the end of November the Bowens had their third room finished, which served as their bedroom, and Isaac had completed a barn and chicken coop and was working on "other out door conveniences." [60]

The Bowens, and presumably the other residents at the small post, felt quite secure at Fort Union. Katie never thought about Indians and had not heard of any in the area. [61] "Mexicans," she wrote, "only come in with donkey loads of vegetables and fruits for sale and we are so quiet that no sentinels are posted except over the provision and clothing tents." Regarding their own household, Katie stated, "Our big dog takes care that no cattle come about the house, and they are the only nuisance we are likely to dread." [62]

Naturally, in a time when diseases and accidents claimed the lives of people of all ages, Katie Bowen was concerned about medical care. Isaac was injured when his horse fell and rolled over him at the end of October 1851. Katie, in her seventh month of pregnancy, reported in the same letter telling of Isaac's accident that "I have escaped all ills and never felt better in my life." Even though there were military surgeons at the post, she was also prepared to deal with illness. "I have," she wrote, "one chest full of jellies, cordials, roots and materials of every descriptions to make gruels and refreshment for the sick, if we should be so." In addition, Major Francis A. Cunningham, department paymaster, "sent me three bottles of old London brown stout the other day. I would not have a cork drawn but went immediately and locked it up in my chest, not forgetting how much good it did me when I was at home and the time may come when I will need it again. If so, it will be on hand." [63]

Katie fretted about other things besides health. Captain Bowen, in charge of the commissary of subsistence for the entire department and required to purchase large quantities of foodstuffs, was responsible for "considerable sums of public money." Isaac, as did other such officers in Department of New Mexico where there were no places of security before safes were provided, kept the funds under their bed. Katie was not happy about this, especially when Isaac was sent away from the post, and worried in her own amusing way that she might "spend it all for onions." [64] Later she noted that Captain Sibley was away on an inspection tour and that Isaac had the quartermaster funds ($110,000.00) as well as the commissary funds (amount not given). The quartermaster funds, all silver in boxes, occupied a space four feet by four feet by four feet in the corner of the Bowen's bedroom. [65]

Despite such responsibilities, the Bowens made the best of life at Fort Union. They not only had to deal with conditions at the post but with an earlier tragedy as well, the death of their daughter. Katie wrote little about this until early November 1851: "Yesterday was Isaac's birthday and although a sad anniversary in one particular, I tried to make it cheerful for him, but he was gloomy all day. Tomorrow will be a year since we last saw our darling baby." [66] The cause of death and the age of their daughter when she died have not been determined. The Bowens had been married for five years, so the child could have been an infant or several years old. Katie was not a person to dwell on misfortune, however, and continued with her sprightly attitude, looking forward to the birth of their next child and enjoying her friends at the post.

On Christmas Day 1851, according the Katie, "Isaac gave a dinner to everybody [meaning the officers and their wives] at the post." It was a beautiful day, "mild, no snow and plenty of sunshine." Katie reported that the 16 guests at their table as well as all the help in the kitchen "had a nice time and an excellent dinner, a roast of pig, a saddle of venison a month old, . . . a fillet of veal, cold roast fowls with jellies, and all the fixins." They finished the first Christmas dinner celebrated at Fort Union with coffee and fruit cakes baked by Katie. [67]

The good times of the season at the new post were interrupted on December 31 by quite a serious accident" involving two of the children of the commander of the ordnance depot at Fort Union. The boys, Frank (age eight, a mute) and Samuel (age six), sons of Captain and Mrs. Shoemaker, were riding on a load of hay. Somehow, when the teamster was off the wagon, the mules ran away and threw the boys from the load. Frank "was cut badly on the back of the head and had his front teeth broken." Samuel had what appeared to be internal injuries, and both surgeons at the post worked to save his life. [68] Fortunately both boys recovered.

On the last day of 1851 Colonel Sumner returned to Fort Union from his tour of the department, and there was a big celebration on January 1, 1852. Sumner "brought a crate of quinces from the lower country," and gave some to each of the officers' wives. Katie got seven pounds. She described the events of the day as follows: "The companies had a review this morning and after it, the gentlemen were invited to lunch at Col. Alexanders, afterwards they called upon all the ladies." The Bowens received New Year's guests "with a tureen full of egg-nog and some nice cake," plus some apples which had just arrived from the states. On the evening of January 1, 1852, the Bowens were evening guests of the Alexanders, where they "played whist [a card game similar to bridge] and ate ice cream." [69]

Because Katie was nearing the time for delivery of their baby, Isaac wanted to be present. He had been assigned to court-martial duty at Galisteo, where some of the dragoons had established a grazing camp for the horses, but Captain Sibley offered to go in his place because he had to go to Santa Fe anyway. Katie was attended by Surgeon McDougal and a midwife, Dr. McDougal's "housekeeper who has had a large family and . . . [is] considered an excellent nurse." [70]

On January 6, 1852, Katie "made out a few mince pies and boiled custard for company that dined with us at 4 o'clock." At 1:00 a.m. that night she delivered a son they named William Cary, after her father. He was the first child born at Fort Union. The wife of one of the civilian mechanics at the post, a woman who "came across the plains with us," stayed with Katie for almost three weeks, "taking excellent care of baby." When baby Cary was a month old, Isaac had to leave to accompany Colonel Sumner to Albuquerque and then inspect the commissary department at the various posts in the territory. [71]

Although her husband would be gone, Katie assured her parents she was all right. "I am very well fixed. Our servant is a host in herself and will sleep on the floor to keep fires for me. Mr. Martin will sleep in the parlor." In addition, someone was looking after their cows and other livestock "and the prisoners supply us with wood, so I think I am very well cared for." She rejected an offer from Sophia Carleton to live together while both their husbands were away from the post on duties. "I prefer to take my chances alone," Katie declared, "rather than enter into partnership with any one except my husband. She [Mrs. Carleton] has a child and an ugly slave and I will not allow our girl to associate with the black." As a final word of assurance, Katie admonished, "Do not feel anxious for me. I shall get on well and will take good care of myself." [72]

Katie did manage well while Isaac was on his inspection tour of the department, but she was not happy that he had to be away so long. She blamed Colonel Sumner, for whom she already held some enmity. "Nobody but Col. Sumner sees the necessity of inspecting supplies at these outposts, as every pound of provisions goes through the commissary's hands at this post, and forwarded on, so of course all the statements are here, but Col S likes to see everybody on a move and as uncomfortable as possible." In another of her rare comments about the people of the territory, she reported that "Isaac writes that the Mexicans are very hospitable." [73]

Regarding her own situation while Isaac was away, Katie assured her parents, "I have no trouble in his absence. All the out of door work is done by the police party and a man in Isaacs department takes care of the horse, cows, pigs and chickens. The dog oversees the whole and watches at night." The baby was healthy and growing, "hearty and strong as a young antelope." There were soon to be more babies at Fort Union. "Mrs. Carleton, Mrs. Shoemaker and Mrs Sibley are to add to our society in a little while. Surely this is a growing country." [74]

Isaac returned on the evening of April 1, having completed his tour to the satisfaction of Colonel Sumner. He brought Katie several items made of silver from the mines south of New Mexico, including mugs, plates, glasses, and other table pieces weighing a total of six pounds. The price was $1.25 per ounce. He also brought her "some Monterey chocolate," a peck of pinon nuts, and some wine. Although he had only been home one day, Isaac "must be in the office till 11 o'clock tonight in order to finish up his accounts to send them off." He truly took his responsibilities seriously. "He has a most faithful clerk," Katie explained, "but never trusts money accounts to be sent unless he goes over every figure himself." [75]

Major and Mrs. Alexander left Fort Union to return to the states late in April. They had spent three years in New Mexico, and Major Alexander was taking a six-month leave before joining his regiment in Texas. Katie said of Mrs. Alexander, "we ladies will miss her exceedingly for she is ever ready to lend a hand at anything if there is fun going on none is merrier than herself, but if her friends are sick, she is the first one to be on the spot." Although the Alexanders had hoped to join a military patrol on the Santa Fe Trail for protection across the plains, their first opportunity to travel with a group was to join a "Mexican merchant train that is going to Independence for goods." Katie sent her letter with them, noting that "they will go very rapidly as the train is empty." [76]

Captain Carleton became the post commander on April 22, 1852, when the Alexanders departed. As troops from the garrison at Fort Union were assigned to other posts or on detached duties away from the fort during the spring and summer of 1852, [77] Carleton became concerned about fulfilling the many duties of the "depot-post." Early in August 1852 he requested that Colonel Sumner send more troops to Fort Union to assure that the following assignments were done: loading and unloading wagon trains of stores; piling, packing, and overhauling stores at the depot; blacksmith work for needed repairs; carpenters to roof and finish the buildings at the post; burning lime for plaster; herding mules and cattle; employment at the farm on the Ocate; cutting and stacking hay; hospital steward, cook, and attendant; tending the post garden; hauling corn; cutting and hauling sawlogs and firewood; keeping the sawmill running; and standing guard (a larger guard was needed to protect the many commodities stored outside of buildings). [78] It was a long list, and Carleton was leaving the following day with a patrol to the Arkansas, reducing the garrison even further. While he was away, Captain William T. H. Brooks, Third Infantry, served as post commander. The garrison was increased to an aggregate of 238 in September, with the addition of Company D, Third Infantry, on September 5, under command of Second Lieutenant Joseph E. Maxwell. [79]

The size of the garrison was of little concern to Katie Bowen, who was feeling good in the spring of 1852 because her husband was home again and their young son was doing well. She described herself as "very happy" and wrote of baby Cary that "a better child never lived." She was proud of their economic well-being, too, praising Isaac for his skills. "We have forty-seven chickens, three little porkers and a calf, beside the large stock and never were living more comfortably." [80] The Bowens had adapted well to their station at Fort Union.

Late in May 1852 Captain Bowen was assigned the task of transporting $40,000 of silver specie from the family bedroom to the paymaster at Santa Fe. Mrs. Bowen was concerned about his safety, noting that he would camp overnight at "Old Pecos church." Then, "if nothing happens to him," he would reach Santa Fe the next day and return home two days later. She admitted, "I am sorry to have him travel about the country with a small escort." She never indicated who she thought might attempt to rob him but, the underlying implication was that it was not safe to travel in New Mexico without sufficient protection. [81]

There was an element of mistrust and disdain in her attitude toward New Mexicans. She made it clear, when it came time for baby Cary to be vaccinated for smallpox, "I would not let the Doct put in any matter till he told me that it was from the arm of a healthy American child, belonging to a clergyman's wife in Santa Fe." After the first vaccination showed no sign of taking effect after several days, Cary was vaccinated a second time. Then both of the inoculations "took" and he was a sick child for several days. [82] Because she had lost one child, Katie was much concerned about the health of her son. She was convinced that catnip was "a medicine for all baby ailings" and planted some in her herb garden. She also requested some catnip be sent to her, in case "the seed does not grow," to make sure she always had a supply on hand. [83]

The Bowens continued to entertain at their home. Early in July 1852 Katie wrote, "I cannot write much to you by this mail as the military train, ladies, officers and recruits came in on Tuesday and every day we have had a table full and I must of course do most of the cooking." She observed that the officers were restricted to 250 pounds baggage on this trip, while she and Isaac had brought 2,000 pounds when they came the previous year. Her explanation was that "every year some mean law is passed to the discomfort of the army." An important event at the post was the opening of the ice house on July 1, making it possible "to treat our friends to cool water, butter and cream." Katie was planning to make ice cream to serve the next day, when she intended to open a jar of strawberries she had brought from home a year earlier. [84]

While everything seemed to be satisfactory with the Bowens, Katie was concerned about her close friend, Charlotte Sibley. Neither Charlotte nor her baby seemed to be in good health. "Mrs. Sibley is like a rail and her boy is not at all healthy. The Doct wants her to go home for he says she will die if she stays with the Maj." Charlotte was much younger than her husband, and she was his third wife. Katie did not approve. "I should not think a girl would marry any man who had had two wives, one is bad enough. I am sorry for her and do all I can for her." Katie made no effort to hide her contempt for Sibley. "Maj. Sibley is not a man that can assist a woman at all and will poke about his office all day instead of being at home to relief her of the baby for an hour." [85] Katie's friendship with Charlotte Sibley was soon to pay off, and Charlotte was able to reciprocate for the care she had received from her friend and neighbor.

On September 27, 1852, Katie Bowen tripped in a small drainage ditch outside their home while carrying Willie (the Bowens had stopped calling their son Cary and henceforth referred to him as Willie or, occasionally, Willie Cary). She held onto her son but suffered two fractures of her left leg between her ankle and knee. It was a serious injury, as Isaac described it, "the flesh was considerably lacerated by the sharp edges of the broken bone." It was later discovered that "the ankle suffered a violent sprain and has been, as well as the limb, very much swollen." Post Surgeon John Byrne attended her, and Katie was confined to bed for several weeks. During that time Charlotte Sibley "attended faithfully to Willie, washing, dressing and undressing him every day." [86]

By January 1853 Katie was able to "walk a little about my room" and reported that "the swelling in my limb is gradually disappearing." Isaac was away on his annual inspection tour, but Katie was getting along with the help of others. She had employed a "Mexican" woman after breaking her leg, but stated that "Isaac left for Santa Fe and as a matter of course, my Mexican woman had to follow the men." Her prejudices against New Mexicans came out again as she rationalized, "I am better off than if I had kept the woman." She was sure the woman had been stealing from her, declaring "they all consider stealing fair profit, but are so cunning that they are never found out." She also let go another blast at her favorite nemesis, the department commander. "If anyone asks your opinion of Col. Sumner tell them he is an old fool for because I got hurt and Isaac did not go with him three months ago, he now sends him all alone to punish him." [87]

She communicated this same attitude to Governor Lane, "I gave Col Sumner credit for some kindly feeling, but discover that his 'buzzom' is too contracted to contain one drop of sympathy." Katie's sarcasm continued, "It is manly, in a person wielding power, to punish a husband because the wife is unfortunate." Then, after stating "I heartily despise these annoyances," Katie concluded with a precautionary tone: "My pen is too military and afraid to speak its sentiments for fear of being court-martialed." [88]

On the bright side, Katie reported that Mrs. Sibley had been feeding goat milk to her sickly child, Fred, and "he has got as fat as anybody's baby." Another change occurred with the arrival of the new post commander, Major Gouverneur Morris, and his wife Anna Maria in mid-December 1852. "We are prepared," Katie declared, "to like himself and wife very much." [89] Anna Maria Morris and Katie became friends, but not as close as Katie and Charlotte Sibley. Mrs. Morris kept a diary all the time she was in New Mexico, and her comments while at Fort Union add to the observations of Katie Bowen. Mrs. Morris had a black female servant, probably a slave, named Louisa. Mrs. Morris had no children, but Louisa had an infant son, Carlos. [90] The Morrises' arrival at Fort Union was part of a change in the garrison.

In December 1852 Company G, Third Infantry, was transferred from Fort Union and Company D, Second Artillery, joined the garrison for duty. On December 18 Major Gouverneur Morris, Third Infantry, superseded Captain Carleton as commander of the post. Except for changes of commanding officer (Captain Horace Brooks, Second Artillery, on June 30, 1853, and Captain Nathaniel C. Macrae, Third Infantry, on August 3, 1853), the garrison was comprised of the same units until October of 1853 when Company H, Second Dragoons, replaced Company K, First Dragoons. The size of the garrison averaged 242 officers and men during that time. [91] Major and Mrs. Morris seemingly enjoyed their term of service at the post.

Anna Maria Morris already knew some of the officers' wives at Fort Union, but she apparently met Katie Bowen for the first time a few days after her arrival. Because Katie was confined with her broken leg and sprained ankle and because Isaac was away on tour, Katie was not able to participate in the welcoming activities for the new commander and his wife. On December 18, the day after Major and Mrs. Morris arrived at Fort Union and the day the major assumed command of the garrison, Mrs. Morris was a guest in the home of E. S. and Charlotte Sibley. Anna Maria noted that Caroline Shoemaker visited her during the day. The only comment Mrs. Morris had about Fort Union was the "very high wind." She visited Katie Bowen on Christmas Day. [92]

Major Morris was ill on December 30, 1852, but Anna Maria was a supper guest and enjoyed a party at the Shoemakers' home that evening. The major attended muster the following day, although he was still quite sick. Mrs. Morris reported that, on January 1, 1853, "the officers & ladies called during the day." She received some gifts, including a ring from Dr. Byrne and a pair of gloves from Charlotte Sibley. Dr. Byrne "passed the evening with us, the Maj is confined to his bed." [93] Major Morris was soon able to be back to work, but Anna Maria became ill later in the month. There was no clue in her diary as to what either of them may have been suffering.

Anna Maria Morris mentioned Katie Bowen a number of times and provided as much information about the latter's recovery as Katie did herself. On January 5 Anna Maria "called on Mrs. Bowen who is still confined to her bed with her broken limb." The next afternoon she "met Mrs. Bowen at Mrs. Sibleys the first time she has been out since her accident." On January 21 Anna Maria visited Charlotte Sibley in the morning and "passed the afternoon with her & Mrs. Bowen." The next day she recorded that "Capt. Bowen returned." Just two days later "I called at Mrs. Bowens found her preparing for a party the next evening." On January 25, "went to the party at Mrs. B's in the eve and enjoyed it very much." [94]

By January 27 Anna Maria was "not at all well" and two days later was "sick in my room." She called Dr. Byrne to see her again on January 31 and recorded that she "was pretty well the rest of the day" and "all the ladies called." After feeling "pretty sick" again on February 3, Anna Maria recovered. She "passed the afternoon" of February 7 with Katie and Charlotte and they "passed the afternoon" with her on February 9. Clearly Anna Maria Morris had taken her place in the small circle of close friends among the officers' wives, and Katie Bowen was improving in health. [95]

By the end of January Katie reported that she was able to "walk about a good deal although the limb swells always when I bear my weight upon it." She was "living again according to my desire" because Isaac had returned from his tour of inspection. "I go out every warm day with the Capt. in the carriage and the rest of the time sew or read." [96]

Anna Maria Morris kept a summary record of what was happening among the members of her class at Fort Union while she was there. On Monday, February 14, Captain Shoemaker, Lieutenant Sykes, and Surgeon Byrne went to Las Vegas to "shoot ducks." They returned two days later and gave some ducks to the Morrises. That same afternoon Major Morris and his wife went for a ride. On Thursday, February 17, Anna Maria was "busy all day." She hosted a party that evening and "they danced till 1 O'cl." [97]

By this time, after being in New Mexico for over three years, Anna Maria's diary entries were terse. On Monday, February 21, she wrote: "Col. Sumner arrived took tea with us, after tea the mail arrived." February 22: "Col. S. breakfasted with us dined at Maj Carletons. I passed the morning with Mrs Sibley & Bowen in the afternoon I made a pair of under sleeves. Capt Sykes was arrested in the morning." [98] She provided no clue as to why Lieutenant (Brevet Captain) Sykes was arrested, but it was because he had punished improperly two prostitutes who were plying their trade at the post. The complete story of the arrest and court-martial of Sykes is found in chapter ten.

Despite her sparse notations, Anna Maria Morris gave some flesh to what was an otherwise meager skeletal outline of life at the post. February 24: "Col Sumner & the Maj were invited to Maj Carletons to play whist. I passed the evening with Mrs. Sibley." During that afternoon Major Morris had taken his wife, Katie Bowen, and Charlotte Sibley for a "ride." February 25: "Col. Sumner breakfasted with us and then went to the farm at Ocate. Mrs. Shoemaker called in the morning & Lt Maxwell [and] Dr. Byrne after dinner." February 26: "Col. Sumner returned took tea with us and in the evening we played whist. Maj Carleton passed the evening with us." Sunday, February 27: "Inspection & drill, a very windy dusty day. The Col. dined at Maj Carletons [and] took tea with us." February 28: "Muster day. Dr Byrne called. Col Sumner the Maj & I took tea & passed the evening at Capt Shoemakers." [99]

On March 1 Colonel Sumner ate breakfast and dinner with Major and Mrs. Morris "and then took his departure for Albuquerque." Their supper guests included Jared W. Folger (post sutler and postmaster), Ceran St. Vrain (former partner in Bent, St. Vrain & Co. that built and operated Bent's Fort and now a miller, trader, army contractor, and sometime colonel of New Mexico volunteers), "Mr. Hubble" (perhaps Santiago L. Hubbell, a New Mexican trader who operated wagon trains over the Santa Fe Trail), Captain Peter Valentine Hagner (ordnance department, who was on his way to Fort Massachusetts), and "Mr. Cassin" (who was accompanying Captain Hagner to Fort Massachusetts). They were all joined in the evening by Dr. Byrne and Captain and Mrs. Shoemaker. The following day Dr. Byrne came by to invite Captain Hagner and Mr. Cassin "to dine at the Mess the next day." [100]

On March 4 "the Maj started on his journey to Taos at 10 O'cl. Maj Hagner & Mr Cassin left for Fort Massachusetts an hour after. Caroline Shoemaker called. I took a siesta after dinner." Sunday, March 6, was "a fine day. . . . I took a siesta after dinner. When I got up I found the old hog had eaten up five of my little chickens." [101]

While her husband was gone, Anna Maria Morris spent a portion of her time reading James Fenimore Cooper's The Spy, a patriotic novel about the American Revolution. [102]. This was one the few times that someone at Fort Union identified a book being read. When Major Morris returned from Taos on March 14, he came "with the mules well loaded with vegetables." [103] Anna Maria Morris usually said little about food at Fort Union, while Katie Bowen mentioned it often.

According to Katie, a second ice house was constructed at the post before winter commenced, and both were "filled to the top with ice" by early March "which gives us a prospect for cool butter next summer." [104] Katie frequently wrote about food, was proud of the variety and quality of what her family had to eat, and summarized the menu she served for a few friends late in March. "Our dinner consisted of roast pig (the whole hog or none) and baked potatoes, [105] Mexican beans and macaroni with pickles and bread and butter—for dessert the last of my mince pies—boiled custard and preserved cherries and cheese." She and Isaac had concluded that they truly liked being stationed at Fort Union, "where we can live on our pay and have good health." They feared being "stationed in some unhealthy city." [106]

Fort Union still had no chaplain, which seemed not to matter to Katie. She reported that "Sundays here are very like any other day. We have no service to attend but can read our good books in peace here as in any other country." The surgeon, however, was a more important officer in her life and in the lives of the rest of the garrison. [107] Anna Maria Morris confirmed this, for her diary was filled with references to the post surgeon. She noted on March 20 that the surgeon reported the "narrow escape" that Ebenezer, Charlotte, and Fred Sibley had experienced while out riding. The mules became frightened and ran away with the ambulance, which upset. Although no one was seriously injured, Mrs. Sibley was "much frightened" and worried about little Fred. The next day Anna Maria noted that Charlotte Sibley "is a little injured by the upset." [108] Dr. Bryne was in contact almost daily with the officers and their families, and both Anna Maria and Katie noted that Dr. Byrne was absent on court duty early in April, serving at the trial of Lieutenant Sykes. Dr. O. W. Blanchard, a contract physician from Wisconsin, took his place at Fort Union. [109]

Everything was quiet for several weeks; according to Katie Bowen "there is nothing going on." [110] Anna Maria Morris spent some of her time reading another Cooper novel, The Pilot, an adventure story on the high seas. She also made some clothes for Louisa and her son, Carlos, and did some sewing for herself. Major Morris spent some time fishing, but what luck he had was not recorded. [111]

There was some excitement at the post on April 14, when it was discovered that the hospital storeroom had been robbed of eight cases of wine. Major Morris rode out "to see if he could find it in a train that left for Albuquerque" early that morning. Unfortunately, the saddle girth broke and the major was dumped from his horse. Somehow the horse stepped on Morris's leg and "hurt him very much." He soon recovered but the wine was not found. He and Anna Maria went fishing a few days later at "Coyote seven miles" and "caught a good bit of fish." [112]

Social activities picked up in the spring of the year. On May 4, according to Anna Maria Morris, "we had a very pleasant little dancing party at the adjutants offices to which the ladies all contributed we had a nice supper." A number of officers and their families were gathering at Fort Union in preparation for a trip to the States, and this added to the visiting going on there. A winter storm, including snow, interrupted the spring weather on May 7, but spring returned quickly and Mrs. Morris picked her first bouquet of flowers the next day. [113] Regarding the departure of officers from New Mexico, Sophia Carleton informed Governor Lane, "Our garrison is becoming dull as can be. Every body leaving and no one coming." [114]

Anna Maria Morris seldom mentioned military affairs, but on May 9 she recorded that Colonel Sumner had sent an express from Fort Massachusetts, directing Major Morris to hold all troops at Fort Union in readiness to march at an hour's notice. Sumner expected some difficulty at El Paso with troops from Mexico. The anticipated trouble did not occur. Except for "a very high wind and dust blowing in every direction," things remained quiet at Fort Union. Major Morris spent much of his spare time fishing, often with good results. He also made a trip to the post farm at Ocate. He returned to find that two of his mules were gone and spent several days looking for them, without success. A few days later the mules were caught by a civilian near Las Vegas, who notified Major Morris, and two men were sent to retrieve them. [115]

On June 6, 1853, Charlotte Sibley delivered another baby boy, named Henry Saxton. The new child seemed to be healthy, but Fred Sibley still had problems and was often sick. [116] Although Charlotte and E. B. Sibley thought little Fred was "splendid," Katie Bowen observed that "he has a big head that looks to me very much like rickets and hangs to one side as though it was too heavy to carry." Never one to hide her opinions, Katie declared that Charlotte, "if she keeps on . . . will lead a slaves life instead of being an old man's darling, as the saying goes." Captain Sibley was 47 years old the day the new baby was born, an old man in Katie's view. Of the new Sibley child, on whom she "served first apprenticeship to dressing a new born baby," Katie asserted "it is mortal ugly." Charlotte "says she is not going to have another baby till next year." [117]

Major Morris was awaiting orders to relieve him of command at Fort Union and grant him a leave of absence. As soon as possible, he and Anna Maria planned to travel to the states. Mrs. Morris was disappointed on June 7 that they were not yet able to leave. "A Mexican train," she wrote, "started from Barclays Ft this morning. A number of discharged soldiers went with it and we have lost a first rate opportunity of going in as they had plenty of transportation." She was enlivened a few days later with the arrival of several officers from the East, coming to serve in New Mexico, and was pleased "to hear all the news they brought." On June 22, Anna Maria recorded: "The flag at half mast today and salutes being fired for the death of Mr. W. Rufus King late Vice President of the U.S." [118] Vice-President King had died on April 18, 1853, and it had taken over nine weeks for the news to reach Fort Union.

Major Morris received his awaited orders to leave New Mexico on June 24, and the about 25 discharged soldiers. They traveled quickly and without difficulty, arriving at Fort Leavenworth on July 22, 1853. [119]

With the departure of Anna Maria Morris, Katie Bowen again was the primary source of information about life at Fort Union. Katie's broken leg was still mending in early July, and she noted that her ankle "gains strength every day." She was able to wear a boot on the disabled limb and was becoming more mobile. She and Willie had accompanied Isaac on a trip to Tecolote in June 1853. "The mountain scenery was fine and we enjoyed the drive very much." Because of the drought, which was destroying the gardens and drying up the irrigation ponds at Fort Union, Katie witnessed some additional aspects of New Mexican culture (which she neither understood nor approved). [120]

At Tecolote "the Mexicans were parading their saint through the streets (erected upon a kind of bier) to the music of fiddles, drums, singing and pop guns, imploring the divine giver of all things to send them rain before they famished." To Katie, who believed in her own cultural superiority, "it was a ridiculous sight but no one could have the heart to laugh at what they deem religion." After seeing Las Vegas and Tecolote, Katie commented that "Mexican towns very much resemble large brick yards tho not as good looking as the one near our Arsenal." On the return trip she was appalled to see "the Mexican population, men, women and children . . . celebrating St. John's day by riding yelling and pulling live chickens to pieces like so many devils." In addition, "there were many fine horses run to death that day and the women were as bad as the men." Katie enjoyed the land of New Mexico but was disparaging about the people. [121]

The drought was broken during July, with the advent of the rainy season. According to Katie, "some heavy rains that have fallen lately injured the garden very much but improved the grass." The arrival of the new department commander, Brigadier General John Garland, was considered an improvement by the Bowens, and they were assured by Garland that they would remain stationed at Fort Union for the time being. Katie wrote that "it affords us great pleasure to remain." [122] They also were pleased with the new post commander, Captain Nathaniel C. Macrae, who brought his wife, two daughters, and a piano across the plains. Katie was glad to see another woman at the post, for E. B. and Charlotte Sibley, and their two sons, soon left Fort Union to return to the states. Katie would miss Charlotte Sibley, but she expressed sorrow for that poor woman even as they departed. "Mrs. Sibley got started at last . . . and such another mess as they went in, you never saw. Nothing packed - nothing in order - and everything thrown together in a hurry." She wondered if they would make it. "To be a quartermaster and go as the Sibleys did - I would not expect to live till we reached half way." [123]

When General Garland arrived at Fort Union from Fort Leavenworth on July 31, 1851, he was accompanied by Colonel Mansfield, inspector general for the department, who was under orders to conduct a thorough examination of all the posts in New Mexico Territory. The day after he arrived at Fort Union, Mansfield began his investigation of the department, spending six days probing into Fort Union, including the quartermaster and commissary depot, medical depot, ordnance depot, and the farm at Ocate. It was the primary inspection of the post since it was constructed, and his report and accompanying map provided an informative but uncritical overview of the first Fort Union. Perhaps, because this was his first inspection duty in New Mexico, Mansfield was positive about almost everything he observed. As he proceeded through the rest of the department, he became more critical in his judgment of conditions and of Sumner. During the course of the inspection at Fort Union the command of the post changed when Captain Macrae, Third Infantry, replaced Captain Brooks, Second Artillery, on August 3. [124]

Mansfield had nothing but praise for the troops at Fort Union, declaring that the garrison was "in a high state of discipline and every department of it in good order." All companies, artillery, infantry, and dragoons, were "in excellent efficient order." Their clothing and equipment were worn but "serviceable." All the soldiers were "well instructed in drill." Mansfield recognized that this was not an easy task at a frontier post. "Much credit," he wrote, "is due to these officers, . . . when it is taken into consideration that the labour of building quarters, getting timber, wood, hay, farming, escorting trains, and pursuing Indians is all performed" by the same troops. The officers, too, faced a difficult task when only one officer per company was present. [125]

The inspector said little about the buildings at Fort Union, but remarked that the company quarters "were in a good state of police, and the comfort of the troops studied in all the details." The men were "well fed" and "there is a good post bakery here." There was an adequate supply of clothing except for shoes. The hospital was "comfortable." The dragoon horses were "well provided with safe and good accomodation." In all Mansfield presented a positive image of the post and its occupants. He noted however that the troops had not been paid for five months and saw "no good reason for so much delay." He also observed that "this is a Chaplain Post, but the Council of Administration have not succeeded in getting a Chaplain to conform to their peculiar views." [126]

The quartermaster depot, under Captain Sibley since the post was founded, was declared to be in the competent hands of "an officer of distinguished merit." The storehouses are as good as circumstances would admit." The property for which Sibley was responsible "is in a good state of preservation, and the corrals and stables for public animals, suitable and secure." The supplies for the whole department were delivered to Fort Union from Fort Leavenworth by contract freighters, "a very good arrangement and the cheapest for the Government." Mansfield did not explain how supplies were distributed to the other posts in the department. There was "an excellent mule power circular saw mill which supplies all the boards, planks, and scantling required." Considering all the complaints recorded about the sawmill, Mansfield must have appeared at a fortuitous time. [127] Within a few days after Mansfield inspection, Sibley was replaced as departmental quartermaster by Captain Langdon C. Easton, whom Sibley had relieved of that same office two years earlier, and Sibley departed for the states. [128]

Although Sumner had fired most civilian employees when he arrived in the department two years earlier, Mansfield found 28 citizens working at the depot, including a clerk, carpenter, wagon master, forage master, principal teamster, saddler, and 23 teamsters and herders. In addition 39 soldiers were employed on extra-duty for 18 cents per day. They were performing such tasks as artificer, carpenter, blacksmith, wheelwright, sawyer, hay cutter, and other unspecified jobs. Mansfield encouraged the use of soldiers in this manner, although he suggested that they be rotated often "to give all the men an opportunity and to keep them well instructed in their military duties proper." [129]

The commissary department, under Captain Bowen, "is well conducted by him." An adequate supply of everything was in the storehouse except for rice and coffee. Coffee was being borrowed from the post sutler until a new shipment arrived. Bowen had ordered enough, but his order had been "cut down." Flour was obtained by contract from Ceran St. Vrain's mills at Mora and Taos Valley. Beans and salt were purchased locally. Beef cattle were driven from Missouri and some were obtained in New Mexico. There was at the post "an excellent slaughter house." The system of distribution to the other posts was not explained. Colonel Sumner's farming experiment, carried out under orders from the war department, had affected the commissary accounts. "The farming interest in this Territory is represented to be 14,460.08 dollars in debt." [130]

The medical depot was supplied with everything required. Because Assistant Surgeon John Byrne was on detached service, a civilian physician, Dr. O. W. Blanchard, was temporarily in charge of the depot and the post hospital. There were seventeen men on the sick list when Mansfield visited the post, and he reported they were "well cared for in hospital." The system of distribution of medical supplies to other posts was not mentioned. [131] Mansfield made no mention of the need for an ambulance, but someone had the idea. On August 23 Garland directed Easton to "purchase a suitable ambulance for the accommodation of the sick, and for the transportation of Officers under orders, from one post to another within the limits of this Department." [132]

Military Storekeeper William R. Shoemaker was in charge of the ordnance depot "for the whole Territory." The supply of ordnance and ordnance stores was found "ample under the present aspect of affairs, and all in good order and state of preservation." The quarters and storehouses were considered "sufficient," and a new gun shed was under construction. The depot employed one civilian armorer and twelve extra-duty enlisted men, some of whom were cutting hay and others were building the gun shed. Mansfield recommended that the employees of the ordnance depot should be repairing arms and making cartridges. [133]

There were many demands for labor from the troops. In August 1853 a plea was sent to all posts in the department for stonemasons to work on the construction of a new seat of government in Santa Fe. Congress had appropriated the money but there was a shortage of masons. Up to six soldiers were to be granted furloughs for 60 to 80 days to work for the contractor, receiving $2.50 per day. Apparently Privates Freidman and Haviland, Company D, Second Artillery, at Fort Union indicated an interest and were specifically requested. Captain Macrae sent Friedman immediately, but Haviland was in the guardhouse until September 16. When released he left the post without authorization and "got drunk." Macrae refused to grant the furlough until Haviland had been tried by court-martial, "unless the Comdg Genl disapproves of my conduct." [134]

Macrae declared that he considered both Friedman and Haviland to be "imposters." "It was not known," he informed Garland, "that these two soldiers had any pretensions to a knowledge of stone masonry 'til the receipt of his order." He told Garland that, if any of his command were stonemasons, their services were needed at Fort Union and should not be sent to work at Santa Fe. [135] No record has been located to determine if Haviland was ever sent to Santa Fe or if Friedman learned the craft he was sent to perform. Macrae, Garland, and everyone else had more important considerations.

As life began to settle down in the fall from all the changes at the post during the summer, Katie Bowen reported that her ankle was still giving problems and she was off her feet as much as possible. "There is no occasion now for my using it," she noted, "for we have no company at this season of the year and Margaret does all there is to do." Margaret "cooks, washes, and irons, makes the butter, cleans the house and oftentimes looks after Willie by the hour - good nature is her peculiarity." While their household was running smoothly, trouble came in the back yard. "For a week we have been tormented beyond endurance by the nightly visitation of a pole-cat to our chicken house. The dogs set up a fuss . . . and then, odors for all noses. Last night they had a pitched battle and Willies little dog got one of his eyes torn out - while the other dogs are so offensive to themselves that they have howled all day." [136]

She also reported that a party of Indians had run off the quartermaster herd of mules from the post farm at Ocate. The theft may not have been a big loss. "The animals were so poor and worthless that the Q.M. laughingly said that he would shoot any Indian or white man who dared to bring them back." [137]

During October 1853 the Bowens and "nearly every family at the post" made an overnight visit to the town of Mora, New Mexico. They stayed with families in the town and attended a "real fandango." Katie noted that "the women dressed very prettily" for the dance. "The most awful music is produced from a violin, a guitar and clarionette and sometimes the men sing." Willie was unable to sleep because of the noise, but Margaret enjoyed it. Katie could not contain her prejudices about the New Mexicans. "After staying all night, sleeping on the floor and eating Mexican cooking - we thought it worthwhile to hasten to our comfortable houses - and praise providence that we were not born Mexicans." She was somewhat dumbfounded when some of the men at Mora "wanted to know if we were all married and if not - would it be possible for them to get a white wife." [138]

Although the cultural gulf was too large for Katie to bridge, she did provide some details about the place they stayed in Mora:

The man whose house we stayed at is rich and his wife's father was an American. He is a Spaniard, born in old Spain and bears about him tastes and refinements unknown among the Mexicans of this latitude. His house was hung with valuable pictures and there were 14 large mirrors in the room that we ladies occupied - cushions are piled all around the immense room - high enough to sit upon - and at night these same cushions are spread on the floor for beds. I saw but two chairs in the house and the mistress sat all day on a rug by the fire wrapped in her reboso smoking. She was young and pretty and covered with jewelry. [139]

Late in October 1853 Captain Bowen received orders to transfer the department commissary office to Albuquerque, and Katie was sorry to leave Fort Union. She did not dread the move, however, knowing that her husband would handle everything with care. As for herself, Katie declared, "I am not going to worry myself about anything - and mean to take this life easy." [140]

In her last letter from Fort Union, Katie Bowen told of their preparations to move:

I am nearly fixed to start on our journey. . . . We have five fine porkers and I am going to make one into sausage meat. We can sell the rest at a good price. The hospital took 50 chickens for 20 dollars and we still have enough left to eat while we stay and cook plenty to carry for luncheons. All of our things are in good order. Willie is very hearty. . . . My ankle continues to swell but gains strength although I use it very little. It seems as though I would rather stay in a healthy country forever than go to a climate like New Orleans. . . . I have nothing more to tell at present. We will be five days on our trip and hope for fair weather. We have an excellent man to drive the cows and milk them and Margaret will have all the care of Willie during the day. He is very fond of her. Have no fears for us - this climate is very good. [141]

With those words, the intimate thoughts of Katie Bowen and the only extensive collection of primary source material of life at Fort Union during the first few years of its occupation ended. There is nothing so comprehensive about any other period in the entire 40 years that Fort Union was an active post, although the letters written by an enlisted man, Eddie Matthews, in the early 1870s are of comparable significance and even more unique. Katie and Isaac Bowen resided in New Mexico several more years, stationed at Albuquerque and Santa Fe, and had two more children. They were sent to New Orleans in 1857, where they had another child, and Isaac, Katie, and the youngest child died of yellow fever in 1858. Willie Cary Bowen, the first child born at Fort Union, survived and had his own military career. His daughter, Gwladys Bowen, was still living in 1991 and had in her possession additional correspondence of the Bowens. Someday the complete story of Isaac and Katie Bowen will be available, including much about life in the frontier army in the Southwest.

The Bowens were not the only family that had been present since the early days of Fort Union to be reassigned. In October 1853 Captain Carleton and his Company K, First Dragoons, were also transferred to Albuquerque. Carleton's wife, born Sophia Garland Wolfe, was General Garland's niece, [142] which may or may not have influenced the transfer to the general's headquarters. Sophia Carleton and Katie Bowen were able to continue their friendship at Albuquerque.

When the Carletons and Company K, First Dragoons, left Fort Union, Company H, Second Dragoons, joined the garrison. On November 4, 1853, Lieutenant Colonel Philip St. George Cooke assumed command of the post, and he retained command, except when he was in the field, during a series of conflicts with Indians during much of 1854. With two companies of dragoons at the post, Cooke instructed the quartermaster to utilize extra-duty soldiers to construct "a log picket stable without separate stalls . . . for the shelter of the horses of Co. 'H' 2d Drag." Company H, First Dragoons, arrived at the post in March 1854, and Company D, Second Dragoons replaced that company in May of that year. Company H, First Dragoons, returned in September 1854 when both companies of Second Dragoons transferred out. On September 18, 1854, Colonel Thomas T. Fauntleroy, First Dragoons, took command of the post. Accompanying him was the regimental band, the first military band to be stationed at Fort Union. [143]

Fauntleroy's command included Sergeant Percival G. Lowe, Company B, First Dragoons, one of the few enlisted men at Fort Union during the 1850s who wrote about his experiences. Lowe was especially delighted with the way the soldiers of his company performed on the march from Fort Leavenworth to Union:

I was as proud of it as I ever have been of anything under my immediate charge. On every hand the troop attracted attention—the manner of marching, care taken of their horses, appearance of horses and men, the short time necessary to put up their tents, and the lightning speed with which they were struck, folded and loaded in the wagons, the neatness and dispatch in everything, and the quietness and lack of confusion on every hand, seemed a wonder to many of the officers of long experience. [144]

Many hunting stories were told by soldiers who served in New Mexico, and Lowe related one of the best. When Fauntleroy's entourage was near Raton Pass on the way to Fort Union, Sergeant Langford M. Peel rode a mule out hunting. When he was some distance from camp, a thunderstorm struck, the wind howled, and it poured down rain and hail. Sergeant Peel and his mule took refuge under a thick cluster of pines. There he found a flock of turkeys, also seeking protection from the storm, and proceeded to shoot seventeen of them, "hitting every one in the head." Amazingly, the big birds remained close by and were not frightened. Then he wounded one, which flew away, and the others followed. "Peel came into camp about dark," Lowe reported, "with all that his mule could stagger under."

Sergeant Lowe was not assigned to the garrison at Fort Union. His company was soon to proceed to station at Fort Stanton, so they camped approximately two miles from Fort Union. Because Lowe's term of enlistment would soon expire, he remained encamped near Fort Union until he joined Lieutenant Colonel Cooke's party on the way to Fort Leavenworth a few weeks later. Before he left, the two married men in his company (Sergeant Langford Peel and Sergeant Espy, first name unknown) and their wives gave Lowe a farewell dinner. Peel and Lowe must have been close friends, for Peel's only son was named Percival Lowe Peel. Lieutenant David Hastings, of Lowe's company, and his wife, upon hearing about the farewell dinner, provided "some delicacies not to be had otherwise." Lowe left the service at Fort Leavenworth and spent the next few years as a wagonmaster for the quartermaster department. [145] He may have found that job more rewarding than a sergeant's pay.

The soldiers at Fort Union and throughout the army received an increase in pay during 1854. The rate for privates was increased to $13.00 per month (it had been $7.00 for infantrymen and $8.00 for cavalrymen), although $2.00 was held back each month until the soldier completed his enlistment (an unsuccessful attempt to entice the men to remain in the service and not desert). Each soldier was taxed 12.5 cents per month for the support of the United States Soldiers' Home. From what was left, he had to pay the laundress and sutler. The sutler could take up to one-sixth of a soldier's salary each payday to satisfy the enlisted man's indebtedness (a claim that was abolished in 1861). [146] The additional pay may have improved the attitudes of many soldiers toward military life, but those at Fort Union would also have appreciated some improvements in their quarters.

By late 1854 the buildings at Fort Union were deteriorating badly. The roofs of the company quarters were "in such a bad state as not to afford protection from the weather." Because there was no lumber at the post and no one available to operate the sawmill, Fauntleroy directed Quartermaster Rucker to "use the tents condemned by a Board of Survey" to make temporary repairs to the roofs. A few weeks later Rucker was directed to employ a civilian to operate the sawmill, have lumber sawed as soon as possible, and use it to repair the company quarters. Keeping the buildings habitable at Fort Union became a major task for the quartermaster department. Fauntleroy's experiences with such problems while he was post commander probably influenced his decision, when he became department commander in 1859, to close Fort Union and find another place for a military post and depot. [147]

The musicians at Fort Union were issued dragoon sabers to wear at inspections and dress reviews. Because these weapons were "too heavy for the musicians to wear on foot parades," the post adjutant requested permission from department headquarters in January 1855 to permit the musicians to dispense with wearing the sabers. Permission was also solicited to turn in the weapons to the ordnance depot, where they might be issued to dragoons for service in the field. [148]

Many of the troops stationed at Fort Union in 1855 were sent into the field to participate in the campaigns against Indians. A regiment of New Mexican Volunteers, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Ceran St. Vrain, was armed and equipped for field service at the post. Because so few officers remained with the garrison, Second Lieutenant Robert Williams, First Dragoons, was assigned the duties of both the post quartermaster and post commissary offices. For some reason, perhaps because of the Indian wars, by June of 1855 the troops at Fort Union had not received any pay for seven months and were much in need of money. [149]

During 1855 the garrison at Fort Union averaged 135 officers and men. Because Fauntleroy was absent on field duty much of the time, several other officers commanded the post for short durations, including Captains N. C. Macrae and Joseph H. Whittlesey and Major Horace Brooks. In August a large party of recruits arrived from Fort Leavenworth under command of Captain Israel B. Richardson, Third Infantry, to fill the many vacancies in companies in the department. Brigadier General Garland met the recruits at Fort Union and arranged for their distribution from that point. He was disappointed in their condition. "They were in a bad plight," he wrote, "having lost most of their clothing by fire on the plains." Many of them suffered from scurvy. The recruits for the infantry were described by the general as "about the poorest set of recruits I have ever seen." [150]

When Governor Meriwether returned to Kentucky in September for a visit, he was escorted across the plains by Captain Ewell and thirteen dragoons from Fort Union, a non-commissioned officer and twelve privates whose terms of service were soon to expire. This escort was also responsible for the delivery of four prisoners from the Fort Union guardhouse to Fort Leavenworth. The four were privates of Company F, First Dragoons, who were "sent out of New Mexico in irons to "be put to labor with ball and chain at Fort Leavenworth." The prisoners were to ride in the wagon with provisions for the escort. [151] It became common practice to send the most intractable prisoners from the Department of New Mexico to the military prison at Fort Leavenworth.

The rest of the troops at Fort Union continued with their duties. During 1856 the average garrison included 140 officers and men and the commanding officers were Lieutenant Magruder, Colonel Fauntleroy, Captain William N. Grier, Lieutenant Henry B. Clitz, Third Infantry, and Lieutenant Colonel William W. Loring, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen. Regiments represented included the First Dragoons, Third Infantry, and Regiment of Mounted Riflemen. By the end of the year three companies of mounted riflemen comprised the entire command. With the appointment of Reverend William Stoddert, who arrived at the post on June 12, 1856, Fort Union had its first chaplain and schoolmaster. [152] The post council of administration had apparently found someone, as Mansfield had stated, "to conform to their peculiar views. Two officers who were to have outstanding careers in their respective fields arrived in 1856 to serve at Fort Union. Captain John C. McFerran became the quartermaster for the post and subdepot in January, and Assistant Surgeon Jonathan Letterman became post surgeon in June. [153] Although the major quartermaster depot was at Albuquerque, huge quantities of military stores were still brought to and distributed from Union. [154]

Captain McFerran reported the buildings of Fort Union were in such a state of decay that it would be easier to build a new post than to repair the old one, but if repairs were to be made they should be done immediately. According to Captain Grier, "even with such repairs as can be made to the Quarters, they will be barely tenable, but not really comfortable or very safe for another year." He suggested that, if another post were to be built at or near the site of Fort Union in 1857, the lumber could be cut during the coming winter and be seasoned by the time it was needed. No decision was made to build a new post and repairs on the buildings continued. One of the company quarters was torn down because it was in danger of collapsing on its inhabitants. Letterman corroborated everything Easton and Grier had said, declaring: "Badly laid out and badly built, it is now essential that the post be rebuilt, and buildings erected with some regard to the welfare of those who are destined to occupy them." [155]

Colonel B. L. E. Bonneville found the ordnance depot at Fort Union in the same condition as the rest of the post. He reported that some of the buildings had "already fallen to the ground in a late storm" and many "others made of upright sticks, are propped to keep them standing." He urged army headquarters to act quickly on Garland's recommendation that a new site be found for the ordnance and quartermaster depots and a site be determined for relocation of the garrison at Fort Union. [156] Somehow the post survived far beyond 1856.

The year 1856 turned out to one of many changes at the post. The post sutler and postmaster, Jared W. Folger, died on April 21 and Ceran St. Vrain, a merchant and contractor who operated flour mills and also served as the commander of New Mexican volunteer troops, became the new post trader. Colonel Fauntleroy requested that St. Vrain be appointed postmaster at the fort. Evidence was not located to show that he served as postmaster, and St. Vrain resigned as post sutler on December 4, 1856. His replacement was George M. Alexander who was selected on December 31. Changes also occurred in the department. On October 11 Garland took a leave of absence and placed Colonel Bonneville, Third Infantry, in command of the Department of New Mexico. Garland left Fort Union with a small escort to travel across the plains to Fort Leavenworth. He returned to New Mexico in May 1857. [157]

The garrison at Union remained fairly stable during 1857 with troops of the Regiment of Mounted Rifles present the entire year. The aggregate number of officers and men averaged 229. The post commanders were Colonel Loring and Captain Llewellyn Jones, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen. Captain William B. Lane was transferred from Hatch's Ranch to Fort Union in the spring of 1857. His wife Lydia was there a few months before she went east to visit family and friends. He served at Fort Union until November 1857, when he was transferred to Fort Stanton. Brigadier General Garland resumed command of the department on May 12 when he arrived at Fort Bliss. He found the companies in the department were over 700 men short of being filled to authorized capacity and requested recruits to be sent as quickly as possible. The department was also in need of horses. At Fort Union Captain McFerran again recommended that the post be rebuilt; Captain Jones endorsed the recommendation; but no action was taken. The need for repairs was emphasized by a request from Post Commander Loring for more blank report forms because those in his office were "nearly all damaged by rain leaking through the roof." [158]

In January 1857 Major Albert J. Smith, paymaster, arrived at Fort Union to pay the troops. This was a routine, though often tardy, part of life at the post. Major Smith had recently employed a young traveler from St. Louis, James Ross Larkin, as a civilian clerk to assist him in paying troops in the department. Larkin kept a diary of his travels in New Mexico and described activities at the post, including how the pay was issued, during his short stay there. [159]

Larkin left Santa Fe with Major Smith, riding in an army ambulance pulled by four mules, on December 31, 1856. They were accompanied by George Alexander, new post sutler at Fort Union, and an escort of ten soldiers. The group arrived at Fort Union early in the afternoon of January 2. Major Smith stayed at the quarters of Captain Llewellyn Jones. Larkin had a room at "Alexander's store." This was Larkin's first visit to the post (he had bypassed it when he came into New Mexico), and he provided his view of the place. "Fort Union is beautifully situated on a large plain, protected on both sides by mts. . . . The house, dwellings for officers & soldiers, are built of logs (filled up with mud), & present quite a handsome appearance, with their whitewashed fronts."

Larkin named the officers at the post whom he met, including Colonel Loring, Captain Llewellyn Jones, and Lieutenants John P. Hatch, George McLane, Robert M. Morris, Roger Jones, Hyatt C. Ransom, and Edward Treacy, all Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, and Surgeon Jonathan Letterman, Captain James C. McFerran (quartermaster department), and Captain Shoemaker in charge of the ordnance depot. He was impressed with the daughter of Llewellyn and Mrs. Jones, and wrote in his diary, "in the evening I called on Miss Freddy Jones."

The next morning Major Smith and Larkin began "making out pay accounts & pay rolls," using Dr. Letterman's house as their office. This was Larkin's first assignment with Major Smith and described the work as "a rather tedious and confining operation." Larkin was a dinner guest at the home of Llewellyn Jones and family. The food was exquisite, "reminding me of city life." The captain's daughter was also a hit. "Miss Fred as she is called is a very lovely lady, & gave us some capital songs. I passed the time very agreeably." That evening Lieutenant McLane raffled off a horse at the sutler's store, where Larkin was quartered. "Quite a jolly time among those interested."

The following day, Sunday, January 4, the mail passed through Fort Union on the way from Santa Fe to Independence. Smith and Larkin continued "making out the pay rolls." As a result, Larkin regretted, "I . . . do not have much leisure today." He was so busy he "Almost missed dinner." He ate with Lieutenant Ransom. On Monday, January 5, "Being ready with our Roll, we commenced paying off the troops." They dispensed nearly $10,000 in specie. As soon as the troops were paid, Larkin dined again with Lieutenant Ransom, and then he and Major Smith departed for Las Vegas, where they arrived that evening. Larkin did not remain at the post long enough to observe the celebrating that followed payday. It would be interesting to have his comments, especially since he was quartered at the post sutler's store where the enlisted men most likely would have spent their new cash. Like most observers of the frontier army, Larkin revealed little about the life of the enlisted men.

The department was much in need of additional recruits to fill the ranks of enlisted men, as General Garland emphasized, but the quality of the soldiers recruited for service in New Mexico was not always the best. During May 1857, while Colonel Loring and most of the garrison at Fort Union were on an Indian campaign, temporary post commander Captain Jones reported that varied duties required of the men could not be completed by the few soldiers left. Among the duties he listed were post guard, stable guard, herding parties, and "the labor essential for putting the quarters in repair before the rainy season." For all these tasks he had available four non-commissioned officers, one bugler, and thirty-two privates. Regarding the privates, Jones declared, "they would be more appropriately in their vocation under than on Guard." [160]

Lydia Spencer Lane provided a few lines in her memoirs about her first stay at Fort Union in 1857. She was the youngest daughter of Major George Blaney, U.S. Engineers Corps, who had died in 1835. In May 1854 at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, she married William B. Lane, a native of Kentucky who was promoted to first lieutenant a few months before. Lydia and her sister, Valeria Elliott, had been together at Hatch's Ranch and came to Fort Union with their husbands in April 1857. The two families had lived together at Hatch's Ranch and continued to do so at Fort Union. According to Lydia, "the quarters being large enough to accommodate us all, we remained with Captain and Mrs. Elliott." Fort Union was quite a change from the small garrison at Hatch's Ranch. "The post seemed very gay to us," she recalled, "with the band and so many people. We had seen no one but each other for such a long time, we were quite bewildered with all the stir and bustle about us." [161]

A few weeks later Lydia Lane and her two-year-old daughter, Mary (called Minnie), joined Captain Benjamin S. Roberts, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, and his family, and some discharged soldiers on a trip across the plains. They traveled with "an empty train of Mexican wagons." Lydia and Mary had "a great big ten-mule wagon in which we were to travel and sleep." They lived in that wagon for 24 days before they reached Westport. Captain Roberts had two wagons for his family. Lydia ate meals with the Roberts family, "some of the discharged soldiers cooking for us." [162] Lydia Lane was at Fort Union again in 1860 for a few months. She passed through the post in 1861 and later returned in 1867, when her husband was commander of the post. Lydia enjoyed frontier military life and would be sorry when her husband retired, but her sister Valeria grew tired of it after three years in the Southwest. In 1860, both Valeria and Lydia visited their family at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and Lydia recalled, "my sister . . . never returned to the frontier. She went to housekeeping in Carlisle, where Captain Elliott joined her some time afterwards." [163]

When Lydia and Mary Lane departed from Fort Union in 1857, Lieutenant Lane accompanied on horseback the caravan in which they traveled for three days. He wanted to see them as long as possible and assure himself that they were safe and well cared for on the trip. The first encampment after leaving the post was at a spring near the north end of the Turkey Mountains, some ten miles from the fort, where a "milk ranch" had been established (operated by two or more African-Americans) to supply dairy products to Fort Union. This was one of the first mentions of a dairy which supplied the post. This same milk ranch was noted by a Santa Fe Trail traveler, William B. Napton, in the same year. There apparently were other dairies near the post at different times. [164]

Lieutenant Lane had arranged for one of the soldiers in his company to meet him at the milk ranch with a fresh horse on his return trip four days later. The caravan carrying Mrs. Lane and the child camped beyond the Canadian River the second night, and they stopped approximately 60 miles from Fort Union at the end of the third day. On the morning of the fourth day, the lieutenant bade his family goodbye, watched them head east, and began his lonely ride back to the post. He recalled later that there had been rumors of Indian troubles "in the vicinity" and he rode toward his home station as fast as his horse could safely travel. He was relieved when he arrived at the milk ranch "some time after dark" without difficulty and "found the soldier with my fresh horse anxiously expecting me." [165]

Lane was disturbed to learn from the proprietor of the ranch and the soldier that a party of Indians had attacked a New Mexican along the trail between the ranch and Fort Union that same day and that one of the men from the ranch ("also a negro") had gone to Fort Union for supplies and had not yet returned. Despite the threat, Lane was determined to reach the post that night and proceeded with the soldier. After traveling some three or four miles, they "heard a noise which at first was faint, but rapidly grew louder." They stopped and listened until "we were both satisfied" the sound "was made by pots and pans and other traps pertaining to an Indian outfit, which were fastened to lodge-poles and dragged by Indian ponies." It became clear that the "supposed . . . small party of Indians with their families" were coming toward them on the same trail. [166]

Lieutenant Lane thought "the night was too dark and the ground too rough . . . to attempt to go off the road and around the party." Finally, he "determined to make a dash at the noise on the road and to get by on the other side, so as to have a clear run for the fort." He and his companion charged, "making as much noise as possible by yelling, and firing our pistols" so as "to so astonish the Indians by our sudden attack that we would get by safely and be well under way for the fort before they could do much harm by firing on us or discover our numbers." Everything went off according to plan, except the party was not Indians, and "the anxiously expected negro of the milk ranch was scared almost into fits." [167]

The man from the ranch had been to the sutler's store at Fort Union, where he purchased buckets, pans, cups, and other items needed for the dairy operation. He had loaded these items on a pack horse, according to Lane, "in a way to produce the greatest variety of sounds." Before leaving the post, this man had also heard about the Indian attack and "was anticipating all sorts of horrors." Lane realized the situation and, greatly relieved himself that there were no Indians, went back to assure the dairyman that he was safe. Having frightened the man almost to death, Lane declared, "had it not been a natural impossibility every hair on his head would have 'stood on end.'" After all concerned had calmed down from this "interesting affair," the parties went there respective ways. Lane concluded that "in little over an hour about the longest and most miserable day's ride I ever remember came to an end, and I entered again my very empty room at Fort Union." [168] Another ride recalled by Lane, and detailed below, was even more memorable and the outcome at least as humorous. Lieutenant Lane was not short of excitement in his life while his family was away.

It is possible that Lydia Lane met a westbound traveler from Missouri, William B. Napton, who was making his first trip to New Mexico over the Santa Fe Trail at the age of 18 in 1857. Napton later published his recollections of the venture. He stopped briefly at Fort Union, which he noted "had no appearance of a fortified place." He saw the post as "substantial and comfortable barracks, stores and warehouses," all of which "had a look of military precision, neatness and cleanliness about it not seen elsewhere in New Mexico." He also told of the ranch mentioned by Lieutenant Lane, located some ten miles northeast of Fort Union, which operated a dairy and "supplied the fort with milk and butter." Napton was impressed with the spring house at the ranch, "supplied with water by a cold and bold spring running out of the foot of the mountain." There "the milk was kept in large open tin pans, set in a ditch extending around the room, constructed so as to allow a continual flow of cool water about the pans." [169]

Napton did not mention in his reminiscences whether or not he met Lydia Lane on the trail or her husband, Lieutenant William B. Lane, at Fort Union. He did note the abundance of antelope along the Santa Fe Trail and in New Mexico and recalled some of his experiences, not all of which were pleasant, while hunting them. [170] Lieutenant Lane was also fascinated with the hunting of antelope and, while he was at Fort Union in 1857 and most likely while his wife was away, had one of the most memorable adventures of his life. [171]

Lane prided himself as being a good hunter and was impressed that he "could, from the front door of my quarters at the old post up against the bluffs at Fort Union, see at one time nearly any and every day several hundred antelope on the plain between the post and the Turkey Mountain." At the time, however, he was "having very bad luck in hunting." Not only that, but Captain Shoemaker at the ordnance depot at Fort Union "had been killing an antelope, and sometimes two, nearly every time he went out, which was once or twice a week." Lane was competitive and "determined to go beyond and on the east side of Turkey Mountain for a day's hunt, . . . hoping to find the game less wild than nearer the post." The result, he recalled, demonstrated "how a hunter can have an interesting and exciting day without killing game, or even getting a shot,—that is, if he is in a rattlesnake country." [172]

Lane rode his horse across Maxson Crater at the south end of the Turkey Mountains and along the east side of that small range without seeing any antelope, curious as to why the game was so scarce on that particular day. He was determined to bring back an antelope and continued his search. At a point some 15 miles northeast of the post, he finally spied "a large herd of antelope quietly grazing, and as the cover and wind were all in my favor, my hopes were high for game." As he was driving in a picket pin for his horse, using a stone for a hammer, Lane was struck by a more immediate concern than the antelope. [173]

Almost 40 years later, Lane could recall the incident as though it had happened only a short time ago. "After about the third stroke with the stone I felt a sharp sting on the back of my left hand, and at the same moment heard the rattle of a snake, and saw within a few inches of my hand the last half of a large and horrid-looking rattlesnake just about to disappear in a hole in the ground." Lane found two small punctures on his hand, was convinced these were the result of a snake bite, and "was of course frightened almost out of my wits." He immediately mounted his horse to return to the post and its surgeon, declaring that "shooting at the antelope I don't think entered my head." Uncertain "how best to proceed," Lane took a flask of brandy from his saddlebag and "took a drink, and a big one." [174]

He headed "at a gallop" around the north end of the Turkey Mountains and along the main trail to Fort Union. He imagined his left hand was swelling: "I thought I could see it was getting larger." In addition, Lane "began to feel very warm, which was to my mind evidence that the poison was doing its deadly work." After riding awhile, he "halted long enough to take another drink, knowing if I could get thoroughly under the influence of the brandy there would be a chance for me. This time I took 'a whopper.'" [175]

Fearing that he was soon to die, Lane rode on and thought about "being found on the prairie by my friends, swelled up like a dead toad, and black and ugly from the effect of the snake-bite." He determined not to look at his hurting hand in an attempt to subdue his sensation of terror. As the brandy permeated his system, Lane began to feel "very familiar and good." It occurred to him that he "had felt that way on some other occasion" although he "had never before been snake-bitten." As he began "feeling so much more cheerful and hopeful," Lane resolved to look at his left hand again. "I slowly raised the hand," he remembered, ". . . and realized that there was no hope! The hand appeared to be much swollen, and my whole body seemed to take on a feeling of weariness and lassitude that I thought preceded immediate death." [176]

Then he decided to compare his two hands and discovered the true nature of his situation. "To my amazement the right one was just as large as the left, and not only that, there seemed to be several pairs of hands; in fact, the air was full of them, and all badly snake-bitten." He realized at this point that he was "very drunk." He was also convinced that he could not have been poisoned by the rattlesnake "or the brandy would not have taken effect so soon." He concluded, correctly as time proved, that he had injured his hand while driving the picket pin (because a piece of stone broke off, hit his hand, and "made the blood come") and had assumed he was bitten because the snake had been nearby. "When it fully dawned on my benumbed brain that I was not bitten," Lane recollected, "I gave one wild, joyous whoop, and then broke out into a series of Indian yells. I leaned forward, or rather fell, on my horse's neck and began to laugh, and roared, in a drunken way, until I was almost exhausted." He attempted to "brace up and look sharp" but found that was more than he "could manage with dignity and ease" until the effects of the brandy diminished. "My whole mind was given to my horse and rifle, and to keep from falling off." [177]

His mood changed again as the brandy began to dissipate, and "a feeling of pathos crept over me. I wanted to weep, and felt religious." He also "was growing very sleepy." A few miles from Fort Union, Lane saw some geese on a small lake and concluded that he should shoot one so as not to return to the post empty-handed. Foregoing the use of his picket pin, he tied his horse to a rock. Before getting a shot at the geese, he saw three or four men on horseback heading his way. Fearing they might be Indians or "Mexican" bandits, Lane determined to ride quickly to the safety of the post. He was only partially mounted when his horse raced off, "which left me hanging on his side" while the "horse went thundering across the plain." Lane eventually made it into the saddle and arrived back at Fort Union without further incident. [178]

Lane recalled that he "had had what one might call 'a full day.' I had ridden over thirty miles, been bitten, as I supposed, by a rattlesnake, got drunk and sober, was at the point of death and had recovered, and all this within twelve hours." Upon reaching the post, "I rode quietly to my quarters, dismounted, sent my horse to the stable, and went to bed, feeling thankful." [179] That day was the one Lane remembered most from his assignment to duty at the first Fort Union, but the earlier incident with the dairyman from the milk ranch must have been a close second. Lane was transferred, in November 1857, to Fort Stanton, where his wife and daughter rejoined him the following year. He returned to the third Fort Union as the post commander after the Civil War.

Although Fort Union was located in rattlesnake country, apparently very few people were victims of snake bite. Cattle, horses, and dogs were occasionally bitten. In 1858, during the march of officers and recruits over the Santa Fe Trail to Fort Union, a dog owned by Lieutenant Gordon Granger, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, was struck on the nose by a rattlesnake near Ocate Crossing on the branch between the Cimarron Route and Fort Union. According to Major John S. Simonson, commanding the troops, the surgeon "scarified the place and applied externals, and also poured down a pint of Whiskey internally." The dog became "much swollen about the neck" but survived the bite and the treatment and made it to Fort Union. [180]

Not much changed at Fort Union in 1858. The post commander, Captain Andrew J. Lindsay, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, and quartermaster, Captain Fred Myers, reported again that the buildings of the post were "rotten," "unsafe," and practically beyond repair. The amount of space per soldier in the barracks was only about half of what army regulations specified. The quartermaster and commissary storerooms were "insufficient in capacity and afford but little protection to the property stored in them." A request to rebuild the post, perhaps of adobes, was sent through the chain of command one more time. Somehow the request was introduced into Congress and funds were appropriated the following year to rebuild Fort Union. [181]

Meanwhile the garrison, comprised of mounted riflemen, put up with the conditions as best they could. Many of them apparently turned to intoxicants to help assuage their situation. Because whiskey could be purchased at the post sutler's store, restrictions were placed on soldiers' access to the business during 1858 in an attempt to quell drunkenness. By order of the new post commander, Captain Robert M. Morris, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, "no Enlisted man" was "permitted to enter the Sutler's store, except" during specified hours. The restrictions were not severe, however, and the results were apparently negligible. [182] More stringent restrictions were imposed by Major William Chapman, Second Dragoons, in 1861: "The abuse of the indulgence granted to enlisted men by previous commanding officers to purchase intoxicating liquors at the Sutler's Store, has become so great an evil as to demand its prohibition in future except in orders signed by Company Commanders." [183] No record has been found to show if this was more effective than the rules issued in 1858. [184]

The post commanders during 1858 included Colonel Loring, Captains Andrew J. Lindsay and Robert M. Morris, and Second Lieutenant Herbert M. Enos, all of the Regiment of Mounted Riflemen. The average aggregate number of officers and men at the post in 1858 was 290. Some were assigned to field service against Indians and others served as an escort to horses and mules sent to Utah for the troops engaged in the "Mormon War." General Garland, because of ill health, relinquished command of the department to Colonel Bonneville in September. An escort of mounted riflemen from Fort Union accompanied Garland across the plains. Surgeon Letterman went with Garland to St. Louis as his attending physician. Garland's party had a difficult trip to Fort Leavenworth because prairie fires had destroyed the grass. As a result many of the horses became weak and some had to be abandoned. From the Arkansas River an express was sent to Fort Union for provisions for the men and corn for the horses. It was immediately sent out and the party eventually reached Fort Leavenworth. [185]

Among the officers who arrived at Fort Union in 1858 was Second Lieutenant John Van Deusen DuBois, Company K, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen. DuBois kept a journal during the time he was in New Mexico which provides another source of information and perspective on the post and the army in the Southwest. [186] His journal included service at some other posts in the Southwest and travels to several areas. Some of his observations on those ventures, as well as his brief time at Fort Union, add to an understanding of the life of the soldier in New Mexico.

DuBois was part of an expedition from Fort Bliss, Texas, against the Apaches and Navajos in present Arizona in 1857, led by Lieutenant Colonel Miles, Third Infantry. The troops carried their supplies on pack mules. His description of the beginning of that adventure was probably typical of many other experiences with pack mules. "Our 'start' was very ludicrous," he wrote. "The mules packed for the first time scattered in every direction - Some kicking their cargoes off other carried away by the cargoes - Tin pans and camp kettles rattling - mules braying - drunken men singing fighting & swearing - formed as strange a mingling of sweet sounds as one hears generally." One of DuBois's pack mules ran away and was not recovered until late the next day. [187]

The officers apparently carried a supply of whiskey. During a freezing rain on the third day out, DuBois and the surgeon "emptied several flasks of pure whiskey which seemed weak as water - we were so nearly frozen." The enlisted men had their liquor too. At one camp a mounted rifleman killed an infantryman in a fight, "no cause known except rum." [188]

Captain George Sykes joined the expedition in the field, having left Fort Fillmore just one day after his child had died. Syke's was assigned to escort the paymaster to Tucson, leaving behind his dead child and grieving wife. DuBois knew this was "very hard," but an officer had to do his duty. "The ladies of the Army," DuBois recorded, "must pass many miserable hours alone or else own a husband who thinks but little of his reputation." The young officer concluded that he was fortunate not to have a wife at this stage of his career. [189]

DuBois completed the expedition and returned to Fort Bliss in the fall of 1857. On December 16 of that same year he began his march to Fort Union. At the first camp, he noted, "It is very cold - camp life in the winter is not pleasant." A severe winter storm followed for several days. When the weather warmed, camp life improved. On the sixth day out, "I passed a pleasant evening reading - my little stove keeping my tent as warm as was comfortable - A hot punch & a pipe were companions." [190]

A few days later, while camped near Socorro, "A wagon from Fort Craig arrived bringing me a captive indian chief of the Kiowa's - he was severely wounded but all his flesh wounds (three in number) had closed and a shattered elbow joint alone pained him now. His pain should have been intense but I never saw him change his expression - I could not but pity him." [191] This was the Kiowa prisoner who was treated at the Fort Union hospital and returned to his people as an envoy for peace in March 1858. [192]

DuBois and his company reached the community of Algodones on January 3, 1858, "a good camp." That evening "a party from Albuquerque arrived & we were very jolly for an hour in the corn agents." These agents, employees of the quartermaster department, were important to the successful operation of the army in the vast territory. They were stationed throughout New Mexico, many in small communities such as Algodones where there was no post. Their primary duty was to purchase and store feed for livestock, thus their designation as "corn agents." According to Robert W Frazer, "they were entrusted with purchasing corn, fodder, and other commodities, and with renting facilities, supervising storage, and a variety of other tasks." [193] The feed they kept for the military was used by traveling units, such as that led by DuBois. Some of the agents also owned their own mercantile business and a few operated a tavern. Most of the corn agents were Anglo-Americans, as DuBois confirmed: "All these little towns are alike in every respect. Some American makes all the money." [194]

DuBois added to the folklore of the region when he visited the ruins of Pecos Pueblo, declaring that from the mission church, "a ghost is said to stalk at every half hour of the night & cry in grave-yard tones - 'Long time between the drinks.'" He also provided a description of how the pueblo looked 20 years after it was abandoned by its last Indian residents. He mistakenly identified the kivas, religious chambers of the Indians, as "large tanks for water." With his soldier eye, DuBois declared the military position of Pecos Pueblo, with its commanding view of the surrounding area, to be "perfect." [195]

Although DuBois and his fellow officers consumed considerable amounts of whiskey and he mentioned drunken officers and soldiers several times, he maintained a sharp double standard regarding intoxication. On the day his party reached Las Vegas, DuBois wrote: "I saw a drunken woman to day the first I ever saw in the territory. How it did disgust me." [196]

On January 9, 1858, after 25 days on the road and 443 miles from Fort Bliss (by his count), DuBois and company arrived at Fort Union early in the afternoon. He was pleased to be at his destination.

Col Loring and Capt Lindsay met me - The company was quartered - my goods unpacked & I was home once more - not "my home" but home theoretic - The place looks like a log village the houses are scattered in every direction - The quarters are all of logs but are very comfortable [197] - I hope to enjoy myself here but suppose I will not - The regimental band is now playing - it is a great addition to a post.

DuBois did not write in his journal again until late February 1858, when he recorded "All January I passed my time in arranging my room - transferring the command of 'K' Company to its first Lieutenant - A McRae [198] - and calling upon the ladies of the post." His initial view of life at Fort Union continued: "I was perfectly delighted with my new home - We were like a band of brothers. I could not have selected from the regiment a more choice band of companions." [199] DuBois, like Katie Bowen before him, tended to accentuate the positive side of life at the post.

On February 3, 1858, DuBois was "detailed with twenty three men to escort the mail party." Such escort duty was a routine assignment for troops stationed at Fort Union, and DuBois provided one of the few records of that aspect of a soldier's life. The young officer had not been on the route of the Santa Fe Trail before, but he was provided with written directions, including estimates of miles between water sources and suggested places to camp. The soldiers rode in wagons, which also carried their camping gear and supplies. From DuBois's comments, it appears that his escort traveled in four wagons pulled by mules. Because it was difficult for escort wagons to keep up with the rapid pace of the mail party, it was common practice for the escort to start a few days ahead of the mail, travel at a leisurely speed until the mail caught up, and then attempt to stay with the mail until the escort assignment was completed. [200] DuBois was to escort the eastbound mail until he met the westbound mail or reached the Arkansas River.

The escort detail started from Fort Union in the middle of the afternoon of February 3, and stopped "at a point of timber" at the edge of the Turkey Mountains to load firewood for the trip. They carried their own supply of firewood because of the scarcity of timber at most campsites along the trail. The men had supplied themselves well with whiskey before leaving the post, and DuBois recorded that they "arrived in camp at Burgwin Springs some time after dark with as drunken a set of men as I ever saw." It was still winter. "The night was very cold and the sudden change from a warm room & good bed to a wagon & a few blankets was not as agreeable as it might have been. The duty was a most disagreeable one." [201]

The next day the troops "arrived in camp early" at the Rock Crossing of the Canadian River. They saw herds of antelope. DuBois was disheartened because, "for hours I attempted to get a shot without success." The mail party had not yet overtaken the detail and DuBois "felt in some doubt as to the propriety of my going further without them. After sleeping upon the subject I concluded to push on and not wait for it until near the Cimmaron river," approximately another 120 miles. He obviously did not anticipate any trouble with Indians on that portion of the route. [202]

They "encamped the next night at Willow Creek near Apache Spring." It was another cold day and they suffered through rain, snow, and wind during the night. The following day, February 6, they reached Rabbit Ear Creek, "a warm camp." By this point, DuBois confessed, "I was somewhat alarmed about the mail but would not alter my determination." He continued with the assumption that the mail was safe and would overtake the troops in due time. Actually, DuBois was moving quite rapidly, having covered approximately 90 miles in a little more than three days. He apparently had doubts that the troops could keep up with the mail party when it did arrive. At the same time, so long as he was ahead of the mail, the troops would provide clear warning to any Indians intent on mischief that protection was at hand. [203]

The next day DuBois became somewhat lost, something that may have happened to many overland travelers although most never admitted it. "I intended camping at Cedar Spring," he confided to his journal, "but after a long days march I followed a trail to the left as directed by my table of distances & after looking every where for Cedar trees I finally saw some cotton woods and on reaching them found a good camp with water and grass." That was all he and his troops required, but "I did not know where I was as this spring is not mentioned on my directions." He was not truly lost because all he had to do was return to the main trail and follow it toward the east. Soon after getting back on the trail the next morning, DuBois was relieved when he "saw the mail behind us." [204]

He did not slow down, however, but traveled ahead of the mail party to his camp at "Enchanted Spring," also known as Upper Cimarron Spring and Flag Spring. He considered this "the only pretty spot I had seen since leaving Fort Union. The spring encircles a large rock making a border of about two feet in width and extending beneath the rock nearly that distance." After setting up camp, DuBois and some of the soldiers went hunting. They returned to find "the mail party and passengers collected around my fire." [205]

DuBois was still determined to keep ahead of the mail party. The following morning "I started very early at half past three A.M. & came on to 'Deadman's hollow' to breakfast." The escort waited there "until the mail was in sight before starting." They kept ahead of the mail all day, stopping for dinner at the "lower crossing" of the Cimarron River, where they crossed and rested "about an hour." They pushed on and made camp for the night at Middle Spring on the Cimarron River (north of present Elkhart, Kansas), where the mail party caught up and joined the camp. "The mail party collected around my fire at night," DuBois noted, "& being quite jovial were some alleviation to the cold & snow." [206]

The next morning the soldiers broke camp and departed ahead of the mail, stopping to fix breakfast at the "foot of 18 mile ridge." "In crossing this ridge - which as the name imparts is eighteen miles long - we saw our first buffalos." They stopped for dinner at the "Head of 18 mile ridge" at a point called "the barrels." This was a point on the Cimarron River, which DuBois declared "only runs above ground in a few places," where some travelers had sunk some barrels into the sandy bed of the stream to collect water (some travelers called this Barrel Spring). The escort camped at Lower Cimarron Spring (later known as Wagonbed Spring because a box from a freight wagon was set into the spring to collect water), where the mail party again joined their encampment. [207]

Because two of the escort teams were "no longer able to travel forty miles per day," DuBois left two teams and wagons with the sergeant and eleven men at Lower Cimarron Spring to recuperate until the rest of the soldiers with the other two wagons accompanied the mail to the Arkansas River and returned. The next morning, February 11, DuBois again started ahead of the mail, stopped for breakfast at Sand Creek, "stopped again about midday to hunt buffalo - again to dine and encamped near the Battle ground." He described this location as "where a fight took place between the Texans & New Mexicans before either belonged to the United States." The battle had occurred in 1843. On the way that day, DuBois recalled, "where we stopped to hunt buffalo is a place called the Bone yard." This he described at the place "where a train of over three hundred animals was once all frozen to death in one night." [208]

There were at least two separate losses of mules to winter storms that could have produced the "Bone yard." The first occurred in 1844 to a caravan of wagons belonging to Edward Glasgow and Henry Connelly. That was the year of the big floods in present-day Kansas, when many Santa Fe traders were unable to cross the plains in the spring and early summer because of high water. These wagons left Independence for Santa Fe in mid-September. On October 12 they were caught in an early blizzard south of the Arkansas River, where many of their mules froze to death. The teamsters managed to save some of the mules by driving them to some timber approximately 15 miles away. The site where the mules perished may have been what DuBois called the "Bone yard." It should be noted that another wagon train, belonging to Albert Speyer, was a few days ahead of Glasgow and Connelly's train. When the blizzard struck, Speyer was caught near Willow Bar on the Cimarron River in present Oklahoma, where he reportedly lost most of his mules in one night. The leaders of both caravans had to go to New Mexico and obtain more mules, and they did not arrive in Santa Fe until late November 1844. [209]

The second great loss of mules occurred in 1850, when a military contract wagon train belonging to Brown, Russell & Co. (James Brown, William H. Russell, and John S. Jones) was caught by a fall storm. They started late in the season because of an increased need for military supplies in New Mexico and because an attempt to transport supplies through Texas to New Mexico had not been successful. The contract to deliver 600,000 pounds of freight was signed on September 4, 1850, and the supplies were sent in five separate wagon trains which departed from Fort Leavenworth between September 14 and October 2, 1850. One of these trains was forced to stop at the crossing of the Arkansas River because of deep snow and cold conditions. The teamsters set up temporary winter quarters and intended to wait until warmer weather returned. A messenger from New Mexico arrived to request that the supplies be brought to Santa Fe as quickly as possible. The train of 30 wagons headed south from the Arkansas. The first day they had nice weather, but the second day another winter storm struck and forced the train to go into camp. This would place them near the point where the 1844 wagon trains had first lost mules to a blizzard. The 200-300 mules in the 1850 train were herded into a temporary corral where they allegedly all froze during the night. Some of the firm's other trains were caught by a snowstorm in New Mexico and also lost many mules. James Brown, who went in advance of the trains to Santa Fe, died there on December 5, 1850. The surviving partners (Russell and Jones) later (in 1854) received $38,800 from Congress to help pay for their losses. [210]

When William B. Napton traveled the trail from Missouri to New Mexico in 1857, less than a year before DuBois's escort, he noted "a great pile of bleached bones of mules that had been thrown up in a conical shaped heap by the passing trainmen." Napton believed them to be from the Brown, Russell & Co. tragedy. [211] It is probable that DuBois described the same place. Whichever incident contributed the bones that DuBois and Napton saw, the "Bone yard" was a vivid reminder of the hazards of traveling the Santa Fe Trail during the winter season.

On the morning of February 12, DuBois recalled, "we breakfasted at a water hole in the sand hills & by one o'clock P.M. reached the crossing of the Arkansas." Of the country through which they had just passed, he wrote, "from Enchanted spring to the Arkansas is not even a bush for fuel and on the Arkansas there is no wood within twenty miles of the crossing." The mail party had problems crossing the Arkansas. "The river was frozen over but not hard enough to bear the mail wagons." Everything was taken from the wagons and carried "over by hand." The mules were driven across to "cut a road for the wagons." The escort started their return trip before the crossing was completed, and DuBois "returned to where the Road reachs the River." There his troops "encamped in a severe snow storm." [212]

The westbound mail had not arrived, so DuBois started back to the rest of his command at Lower Cimarron Spring on February 13, stating "I had only two days provisions to reach the party I had left behind in charge of every thing." He expected the westbound mail to overtake the escort along the way within a few days. DuBois and his men camped the next night at "the Bone yard" and "rejoined my party" at Lower Spring "by ten o'clock" on February 14. He was pleased to note, "Every thing was in good order - they had killed two buffalos and the mules had much improved." [213]

DuBois, up to this time, "had not seen an indian & I felt no alarm for the safety of the mail party." However, at mid-morning the following day, February 15, the westbound mail crew and passengers arrived "and informed me that two or three hundred indians were at Sand creek hunting." Sand Creek was just a few miles north of Lower Spring. DuBois soon had the escort ready to accompany the mail on the road toward Fort Union, and they all camped that night at the barrels. The following day the soldiers killed a buffalo and the mail and its protectors "were very late on the road." They traveled approximately 50 miles before halting for the night at the lower crossing of the Cimarron River. [214]

DuBois apparently headed out the following morning ahead of the mail. While the troops were eating breakfast, "the Comanches came into my camp & informed me that the Kiowas were unfriendly & had killed three mexicans who had come to the Cimaron to trade with the Comanches." DuBois stopped the escort to eat dinner at his favorite spot, "Enchanted Spring," where he was visited by the Comanches again. DuBois expected the mail party to join him there, having "given them orders to come on to this spring to dinner." However, "I waited at this place until sun down - The mail not arriving." By evening he "feared that something might have happened." [215]

DuBois then thought "that they might have kept to the main road," because Enchanted Spring was at least one-half mile north of the main route of the Santa Fe Trail. "I started & just as I arrived in camp at Cold Spring I heard the cracking of their whips & on they came on a run reporting that they were followed for some distance by a hundred mounted Kiowas." The mail party was frightened and "had some amusing tales to tell." DuBois was not amused, however, and declared "I concluded that they would never desert their escort again." [216]

The Kiowas did not threaten the mails accompanied by troops. The soldiers and the mail left Cold Spring early on February 18 and stopped for breakfast at Cedar Spring. There DuBois left the two teams that had been left earlier at Lower Spring because they were no longer able to keep up with the mail. The other teams and half the escort accompanied the mail wagon to Cottonwood Creek and camped for the night. The next morning they reached Rabbit Ear Creek, where DuBois had left feed for his mules on the return trip. He discovered that his "cache of corn at this place had been robbed by the Mexicans." [217]

DuBois was worried that he might not be able to keep up with the mail. "I was out of corn and my mules growing rapidly exhausted." By stopping to rest four times during the day, the escort managed to stay with the mail to Rock Creek. There, after resting awhile, the mail conductor decided to proceed without the escort. Before the mules were hitched to the mail wagon, the eastbound mail and its escort, led by Lieutenant Alfred Gibbs, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, arrived at Rock Creek. Both mail parties and their escorts "remained together that night." [218]

DuBois "begged a feed of corn" for his mules from the eastbound escort and thereby managed to stay with the westbound mail the approximately 40 miles to the Canadian River on February 20. The mail conductor chose to attempt a night drive without the escort from the Canadian River, but a winter storm struck that evening. When DuBois and his troops reached Ocate Creek the next morning, they found the mail party in camp with their mules "nearly broken down by their nights drive." After resting awhile they proceeded slowly because of the storm and "reached Burgwin Spg . . . [at] four o'clock P.M." By this time "the snow was four inches deep - my mules were tired." [219]

DuBois again divided the remainder of his command, leaving one wagon at Burgwin Spring and taking the other and several of the soldiers to continue with the mail wagon in an attempt to reach Fort Union. "It became very dark," he recorded. "We lost the road & wandered around in the snow for some time within two miles of the post." After searching for some time, they "saw some black object in the snow towards which we directed our course & by hunting the trail on foot reached Fort Union at 9 P.M." on February 21, "having traveled 87 miles in two days." [220] Thus ended DuBois's first escort duty at Fort Union. He did not reveal when the three wagons and soldiers he had left behind reached the post, but they presumably made it through in a few days after they were no longer forced to keep pace with the mail wagon. Other escorts continued to be sent to safeguard the mails. DuBois next assignment, as noted in chapter three, was to help escort Captain Randoph B. Marcy and a large herd of horses and mules to Utah. He arrived back at Fort Union from that adventure on September 13, 1858.

DuBois soon settled into the routine of life at the garrison, commanding his company of riflemen and recording in his journal some of what was happening there. At the end of September 1858 he noted that General Garland, Surgeon Letterman, and others had recently passed through Fort Union on their way "to the states." This left Colonel Bonneville, for whom DuBois had little respect (revealed in his description of the colonel as a "gallant and experienced indian fighter?"), in command of the department. A civilian contract surgeon, Joseph Howland Bill, arrived to replace Dr. Letterman. "Next came the fall exodus of recruits," who had recently crossed the plains from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Union, to their assignments at posts throughout the Department of New Mexico. They were accompanied by Major John S. Simonson and Lieutenants Gordon Granger, Roger Jones, Ira W. Claflin, and John Henry Edson, all Regiment of Mounted Riflemen. [221]

Before these officers left Fort Union, DuBois noted, "We gave them a ball in the Quartermasters storehouse & did all we could to make them comfortable." [222] Major Simonson provided a detailed description of that event, worth quoting in its entirety because it reveals how entertainment was dispensed at Fort Union in the late 1850s:

On the 21-22 & 23d we were in camp at Fort Union. Maj Backus [223] reached Fort Union from the Ratoon and Fort Bent route on the 22d. Same night the officers at Fort Union gave us a party - (I say us meaning the ladies and officers of our command) - the party was gotten up—arrangements, invitations, decorations, and supper, all in one day, - (same day it was given) and was in Elegant Style, and most lavish in good things in the eating and drinking way.

The room for dancing, promenading &c was in the Quartermaster Storeroom — the supper room was the quartermaster's office — a small room on the left of which was the Ladies dressing room, and another on the right the gentleman's. The dancing hail or room was highly decorated — being first lined on Each Side with white paulins [224] — The dirt floor also having a canvass paulin for carpet and to dance on — The ceiling also was canvass — on the white paulins sides of the room were Six or Eight circular saw blades as reflectors, with 3 candles in front of Each — between these reflectors were crossed Sabres — festooned with red sashes tastefully interwoven — There were also company guidons on their staffs in conspicuous position — and at the lower end of the Hall centre, was the New Regimental flag of the Rifle Regt, — at the upper end cenre, was the dear old Flag which we carried in Mexico perforated and torn by Musket balls, — The very flag that was first at the Gareta de Belen and first on the palace, the celebrated halls of Montezuma!

The Orchestra or Musick, was at the lower end on Elevated Seats, and behind curtains — two Brass Howitzers on their carriages graced the lower corners of the hall — and stacks of Rifles at suitable distances all round next to the walls. There were some fine paintings, pictures, and maps, apparent on the sides amid the cross Sabres and reflectors — company assembled at 1/2 past 8 oclock evening — The parson, myself and another member of the church were there! —we however were merely lookers on — I left before 12 the Suppertime, after renewing my acquaintances with several persons — but understood that everything went off well and pleasant. [225]

Following the departure of many officers and the recruits to other stations and the dispatch of two companies of riflemen stationed at Fort Union to field duty against the Navajos, DuBois, "the only line officer of the post," reported at the end of October 1858 that "we are very lonely here now." For a time "Lt. Edson remained at the post with his wife & they add very much to our little society." [226]

At the end of November DuBois noted "this month has been like all the others I ever passed at military posts, quiet & uneventful." Another officer, Captain John G. Walker, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, joined the garrison during November, accompanied by his wife, whom DuBois called for some unexplained reason "the Madame." The only activity DuBois recorded in his journal was a hunting trip with Captain Shoemaker, Paymaster Major Thomas G. Rhett, and Rhett's brother. "We killed game enough to eat," he noted, "but no more. Remained absent four days & returned." [227]

In December DuBois accompanied Major Rhett and his brother to Santa Fe. "It was my first visit and I did enjoy it." He remarked about the numerous gambling tables and the "baile rooms," and declared that "the fair ones of Santa Fe though not pretty are pretty enough to dance with." He observed that Colonel Bonneville left his headquarters at Santa Fe the day after DuBois arrived in the city, heading for the "Navajo War." Like many of his fellow officers, DuBois was no fan of Bonneville. Of "Bonny," he stated "rumor says that the Colonel intends interfering with the preliminaries of peace agreed to by Col. Miles — By making the condition so hard that the indians cannot fulfill them." The "Navajo War," he concluded, ". . . promises to create quite a furor." [228]

Back at Fort Union, the arrival of Lieutenant Julian May, regimental quartermaster of the mounted riflemen, "produced no change in the unvaried monotony of Post Life." When DuBois heard from his sister that another of his boyhood "sweethearts" had recently married, the bachelor officer declared, "I must be getting old." Although he provided no details, DuBois reported that "Christmas passed off pleasantly. We had all the luxuries of the frontier, and were sorry when evening came." A few days later he related that "New Years Eve passed like Christmas pleasantly and quietly." [229]

Activity increased at Fort Union in mid-January 1859 with the return of the two companies of mounted riflemen from the "Navajo War." Even before the troops returned, DuBois "had heard of the signing of the treaty and the immediate distribution of the companies." The return of several officers to the post made it possible to conduct a general court-martial. Prisoners were brought from Fort Garland to stand trial along with those at Fort Union. DuBois revealed that "the Court was in session a week during which I enjoyed myself very much." [230] It was not clear if he enjoyed the sessions of the court or the opportunity to spend time with the other officers whom he had not seen for several months, but probably the latter.

At Fort Union the three companies of mounted riflemen continued to man the post during most of 1859, with an average aggregate garrison of 264. Commanding officers included Colonel Loring, Captain Walker, and Major Simonson, all Regiment of Mounted Riflemen. Several changes in personnel occurred during the year. In January the post council of administration selected W. H. Moore as the sutler to replace George Alexander. The actual transfer of the sutlership apparently did not take place until late in 1859. Moore served as sutler at Fort Union during and a few years after the Civil War. Captain Van Bokkelen arrived in February to serve as post and subdepot quartermaster. In August Assistant Surgeon Elisha I. Baily replaced the civilian contract surgeon, Dr. J. H. Bill, who had served as the post surgeon since the previous September. In October Reverend Stoddert took leave from his office as post chaplain at the request of Colonel Bonneville. It had been verified that a lengthy article in the National Intelligencer the previous year, which was highly critical of the army's war against the Navajos and signed by "Civis," had been written by Stoddert. He had not, after all, agreed with the "peculiar views" of the post officers. Stoddert, probably as requested, submitted his resignation in December, and it was readily accepted. [231]

Throughout the first decade of life at Fort Union, the post sutler's store was an important fixture, providing many items for sale to officers, enlisted men, civilian employees, and visitors at the site. This official general store was licensed by the army and protected from competition on the military reservation. In return the sutler paid a fee for the privilege (usually so much per soldier in the garrison), and those tolls went into a post fund to provide items for the troops which the military budget did not supply (such as newspaper and magazine subscriptions, books for the post library, song books, music for the band, and special food items on occasions). The sutler was selected by a council of officers at the post and appointed by the secretary of war. The post council of administration (usually comprised of the three senior officers of the garrison) also set the price the sutler could charge for each item. These prices were apparently fixed in consultation with the sutler, taking into consideration the cost of the item, transportation expenses, and a fair return to the merchant. Katie Bowen provided a few of the post sutler's prices in 1851. [232]

The merchandise available at the sutler's store included a variety of processed food items (much of it canned for preservation, including vegetables, fruits, meats, and seafoods), fresh vegetables and fruits in season, dried fruits, eggs, butter, cheese, crackers, beans, corn meal, flour, baking soda, sugar, coffee, tea, salt, spices, jelly, candy, chocolate, vinegar, molasses, soap, coffee grinders, coffee pots and cups, pots and pans, basins, pitchers, buckets, churns, stoneware, tinware, cookware, glassware, tableware and utensils, tooth brushes, cloth, canvas, leather, needles, thread, buttons, beads, laces, pins, awls, nails, scissors, combs, mirrors, razors, cologne, watches, clocks, brooms, brushes, wash boards, clothespins, candles, lanterns, lamps, towels, handkerchiefs, underwear, socks, trousers, shirts, skirts, vests, coats, caps, hats, gloves, neckties, shoes, boots, belts, wallets, blankets, pencils, pens, ink, paper, notebooks, playing cards, fish hooks, pocket knives, guns, ammunition, axes, padlocks, matches, tobacco, pipes, cigars, beer, wine, champagne, whiskey, patent medicines, epsom salt, turpentine, rope, horse liniment, horse gear (saddles, halters, bridles, curry combs, etc.), and fodder for livestock. [233]

Not much specific material has been located about the post traders and the extent of their business at Fort Union prior to 1861. Considerably more documentation is available about the business operations of these favored merchants during and after the Civil War, especially that of Sutler William H. Moore. The appointees to the office of sutler at Fort Union, 1851-1861, have been identified in this chapter, as have the dates of their appointments. Most of the sutlers served as postmaster for the garrison during their tenure, and the post office was apparently housed in the same building as the store. The facility also had a room or rooms to rent, available to visitors at the fort.

According to Colonel Mansfield's plan of the post, 1853, the sutler's store was located near several other buildings (north of the parade ground behind one set of enlisted men's barracks, east of the ordnance depot, south of the laundresses quarters, and northeast of the hospital), within walking distance of all quarters on the base. [234] The structure, which was the only privately-owned building permitted on the military reservation, was presumably erected by Jared Folger, the first sutler, and sold along with its remaining stock, to each subsequent appointee to that office by his predecessor. In addition to the store, post office, and rooms to let, the building also served as the residence for the post trader and/or his employees.

One of the interesting civilians connected with Fort Union before the Civil War was Hezekiah Brake, an English immigrant who worked for Sutler George M. Alexander from 1859 to 1861. Brake later published his reminiscences, in which he provided information about his activities at and around Fort Union. Brake had come from England and settled in Minnesota, which he left with his wife, Charlotte (called Lottie), and daughter, Lizzie, to seek work in St. Louis. There he was hired by Alexander, who was in the city to buy supplies for the sutler's store at Fort Union, to go to New Mexico and manage Alexander's ranch and dairy a few miles from the post. While Alexander was in St. Louis, the post council of administration at Fort Union selected William H. Moore to be the new sutler. It was late 1859 before the new appointee was confirmed and the store at Union was actually transferred. Alexander continued to operate his ranch to supply the post with food and fodder even though he was no longer the sutler. Brake stayed with Alexander until the coming of the Civil War, when he moved his family to Council Grove, Kansas, where he remained the rest of his long life. [235]

Brake left his wife and child at St. Louis (they joined him a few months later) and accompanied Alexander's wagon train over the Santa Fe Trail during February 1859. [236] Brake went to Alexander's ranch, located eight miles west of Fort Union and ten miles east of the town of Mora, in the Mora River valley where another stream, which Brake called Rio Coyote, joined the Mora. This was a large operation with labor provided by Negro slaves and "Mexican" peons. Brake was expected to oversee the planting of a large irrigated garden, wheat, corn, Hungarian grass, oats, and barley (the barley was for beer). He was also in charge of a herd of cattle, from which he was to select cows to start a dairy to produce milk, butter, and cheese to sell at Fort Union. [237]

Within a few weeks, Brake had vegetables in the garden that were ready to peddle. He "decided to take them to the store at the Fort." His arrival with the produce at Fort Union, zigzagging his team of mules and wagon about during a hail storm and with a wash tub inverted over his head for protection, may have provided one of the strangest apparitions ever seen at the post, if, indeed, anyone saw him. When he had left the ranch the weather was clear, but along the way the storm stuck with "the most fearful torrents of rain, mixed with the largest hailstones I ever saw." He forgot about his mission for money and sought to save his life. "With one hand I tried to hold the rearing team," he recalled, "and with the other caught the tub, turned out the green stuff, and put the inverted vessel over my head. I had to zigzag about on the prairie in order to save the mules. . . . My green stuff was all lost or spoiled, and my labor and my first prospective ten dollars were floating around on the prairie in a new kind of soup, to my own regret and that of the ladies in the Fort." [238]

Brake, perhaps because of his English origins, was less prejudiced against the New Mexicans and New Mexico than were many of his contemporary Anglo-Americans, whether civilians or soldiers. Of the land, he wrote, "the healthfulness of the country, the beauty of the scenery, and the advantages of soil and climate, cannot, in time, fail to make New Mexico a noted member of the sisterhood of States." While he regretted "there was hardly a respectable white [Anglo] resident near me" and that most of the "half-breed Mexicans, Indians and negroes" could not be trusted, Brake found most of the New Mexicans to be "kind-hearted, hospitable, and temperate." "The hospitality of the Mexicans," he declared, "was truly remarkable. They freely entertained friends or strangers, and disdained payment for their courtesy." Brake was amused when he inquired of a "Mexican" laborer, who had spent four days hauling flour to the ranch and charged "only two dollars, . . . how he could work so cheaply." The man replied it had cost him nothing along the way because "friends feed a Mexican for nothing." [239]

During the summer another hail storm destroyed most of the crops Brake had planted and killed some pigs and calves. According to Brake, "Mr. A.'s [Alexander's] loss was heavy, but, as I was to receive one-half of all the profits, mine was irreparable." After the loss of the crops, "the dairy business now was our last resource." They were milking 40 cows. Charlotte Brake looked after the making of butter and cheese. Alexander, who was soon to be replaced as sutler by Moore, headed for the Colorado gold fields, "where he lost thirty thousand dollars." Thus, "his ranch was all the property that he had left." By the autumn of 1859 the Brakes had produced 800 pounds of butter and 500 pounds of cheese which were sold at the fort. The cows were not milked during the winter months. Most of the crops had failed, but Brake sold some fodder at Fort Union for $30.00 a ton and had 250 bushels of corn to sell. The cabbages grown in the garden were made into 100 gallons of sauerkraut, which was sold at the fort for $1.00 per gallon. Approximately 100 cauliflowers were sold for 50 cents per head at Santa Fe. Brake had several bushels of barley, from which he brewed "an excellent porter [a dark-brown beer similar to light stout]." He reported, "I bottled some of the product, and the ladies at the Fort were greatly pleased with it." [240]

During the winter of 1859-1860, Brake worked part-time as a forage agent for the quartermaster at Fort Union, going into the countryside to purchase fodder for the livestock at the post. He "received three hundred and twenty-five dollars in gold" for the hay he hauled to Fort Union. In the spring of 1860 Brake again oversaw the planting of a garden and other crops and started milking cows again. During the year they sold 700 pounds of butter for "fifty cents per pound" and 600 pounds of cheese "at high prices." All the crops were sold at good prices, too. As usual, Brake had difficulty keeping reliable employees at the ranch. [241]

Brake was not only a historian but a collector of New Mexican folklore. One of his experiences deserves repeating. Brake could not find a dependable herder for the swine at the ranch and finally hired "a superannuated priest" for the job. "The loss was as bad as before," according to Brake, because the hogs "strayed away while he prayed." So the old priest was dismissed. Brake later was told that the old padre "became so thin . . . that he either vanished or the wolves ate him." When Brake suggested that the man may have died, "the Mexicans shook their heads. An old physician who had just offered me his practice for forty dollars, said: 'They don't die in this healthy climate, unless they get killed. Otherwise, they just dry up and vanish.'" [242]

After the wheat crop was harvested with "sickles," threshed by "some Mexicans" who drove horses around a circle where the wheat was placed, and winnowed through "a sieve [made] of rawhide," Brake sent it to mills for grinding into flour. Brake lost 25 bushels "of this expensive grain" by entrusting a former commissary sergeant from the fort to deliver it to a mill. The man "got drunk and peddled it all out, and spent the money for whisky." The hay and sauerkraut were sold at Fort Union, and the cauliflowers were sent to Santa Fe. In all, it was a more profitable year for the Brake family than the previous one. [243]

In the autumn of 1860, according to Brake, there was fear of an Indian uprising in the area. "Pickets were stationed around Fort Union," he recalled, "and the outside rancheros were cautioned to be constantly on the alert." They were to report any information about Indians to the fort. Brake stated that he made several trips "over the lonesome road to the post." One night while returning home, he was "followed by a gang of Indians or disguised Mexicans." He was riding a horse or mule and they were on foot. They were near him before he saw them, and "as they began to throw stones at me, I fired four shots at them, and galloped homeward." He never told his wife about it, "and in a few days the alarm died away without harm to anyone." [244]

Early in 1861, with rumors of an impending civil war, Brake resigned his position with Alexander and moved his family to the new State of Kansas, settling at Council Grove. He had been in New Mexico exactly two years when he left. The Brakes spent one night at Fort Union, enduring a terrible windstorm, before they left New Mexico. [245] During the time that the colorful Brake was associated with the post sutler and produced commodities for the post, several changes had taken place at Fort Union.

Lieutenant DuBois remained at Fort Union until June 1859, during which time he continued to confide to his journal what was happening. In February "rumors came . . . that eight men had been killed on the Arkansas by the Comanche indians & 1000 sheep stolen by them." Since it was at least third-hand information, "there is no certainty even in this story." The Comanches were expected to cause trouble because they were "irritated by the defeat they experienced from troops under Major Van Dorn - in which they lost from fifty to one hundred men & the troops several including my class mate & friend Van Camp." [246] Because of the rumors about the Comanches, there was concern when the westbound mail was two days late. As it turned out, the mail "had been detained by bad weather & snow." DuBois was disappointed that "it brought no news - no letters from home." [247]

A few weeks later, DuBois again complained of "a perfect dearth of news." He then proceeded to record all kinds of news, including possible military conflict with Mexico over the boundary dispute, the expected admission of Oregon as a state, the interest of France and Britain in Mexico's economy, and letters from a friend who was in Paris and from his family at home. DuBois was upset to learn that another West Point classmate, Second Lieutenant Henry M. Lazelle, Eighth Infantry, had been seriously wounded ("shot through the lungs") in a recent fight with Mescalero Apaches in Dog Canon in the Sacramento Mountains far to the south of Fort Union. [248]

Lazelle, stationed at Fort Stanton, New Mexico Territory, had been in command of 20 mounted riflemen at the time of the engagement. His wounds were so severe that "doubts are expressed of his recovery." Three of his command were killed in the losing fight and six were wounded, including Lazelle. "There is much indignation in the regiment," DuBois testified, "at an infantry officer having been sent in command while the Rifle officer remained at the post." He was happy to report a few days later that "Lazelle has recovered. . . . I am rejoiced to hear it." The thought of having "two classmates killed in one year is enough blood for us to offer in these insignificant indian wars." [249]

During late March and early April 1859, DuBois was gone from Fort Union for twelve days. He and Lieutenant Claflin were sent with a small contingent of troops to Galisteo to bring back some horses belonging to the mounted riflemen. He and Claflin spent four days in Santa Fe "to enter into the gayities of the Capitol," but DuBois was sick the entire time. He recovered when it was time to start back to the post, and "our return was pleasant." At Fort Union DuBois had a letter from "Ed Reed - written more than a year ago." That was an unusually long delivery time for the mail, even in New Mexico, but the letter "had been to Mexico - Chihuahua & ever where." He was happy to receive it and "answered immediately." After spending several months in garrison, DuBois was "waiting now anxiously to learn if we are to make an expedition this summer." [250] He took the field in June as part of Major Simonson's escort to a survey party laying out a new road west of Abiquiu.

Meanwhile life at Fort Union remained monotonous. "Change is stamped on all things," DuBois wrote in May 1859, "except Fort Union." He informed his mother that "there is a perfect dearth of news. . . . No war. No trains going in to or away from the states. No news from Europe or America . . . and no news at my own post." He did comment on the weather: "All the past month we have enjoyed wet & cold weather. Snow fell yesterday accompanied by rain & wind." Like his comrades, DuBois always welcomed letters from home. "Write as often as you can," he told his mother, "I am always anxious as each mail arrives & disappointed when I receive no letter." [251]

The "perfect quiet" was interrupted for a few days with the gathering at the post of officers from throughout the department who were going to the states. Some were promoted and heading for new assignments, some were sick or injured, some were going to get married, and others were just taking a leave of absence. DuBois was especially pleased to see Second Lieutenant William Woods Averell, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen and another of DuBois's classmates at West Point, who "was walking on two sticks" because of a broken leg he received during the "Navajo War." While awaiting his departure to the states, Averell "made his home in my room & being nearly helpless has occupied all my time and attention." DuBois avowed "it was a luxury to talk over old times with Averell." [252]

Averell told DuBois about their mutual friend, Lieutenant Orren Chapman, First Dragoons, who had died of illness at Albuquerque early in 1859. In his memoirs, Averell described Chapman as "an extraordinary man in his irrepressible spirits and power to entertain. He seemed never to admit a serious view of life." The following story about Chapman was recorded by both Averell and DuBois (who heard it from Averell). While Chapman was "at Albuquerque on his way to the states to die," he became so weak that he realized he would not leave New Mexico alive. He sent for Captain Daniel Henry Rucker, quartermaster, and asked him if he would paint a sign and put it up over the door of Chapman's room. Rucker agreed to do it and asked what kind of sign Chapman wanted. The sick man replied, "dying done here by O. Chapman." Then, his sense of humor still intact, Chapman added, "Many die & leave no sign." Chapman died January 6, 1859. When the officers heading for the states left Fort Union, DuBois confided, "now Averell has gone I feel very lonely." [253]

Among those going to the states was Colonel Loring, which left Major Simonson in command of the Regiment of Mounted Riflemen. Simonson was planning to come to Fort Union, organize an escort for the survey party, and lead that escort during the summer of 1859. DuBois was critical of the government's Indian policy in New Mexico, believing it was based on "blunders." "For years the government have been furnishing the indians with rifles," he wrote, "they now have learned to use them. . . . we all expect an uprising." [254]

While waiting for Major Simonson to arrive at Fort Union, DuBois noted that the paymaster visited Fort Union on May 14 and paid the troops. He made no mention of any celebrating afterward. He sent his father $500 with instructions to "set it at work if you can or use it if you want it." He commented about one development in the social life of the post. "The non-com officers of the command gave concert last week," he observed; "it was not a success in itself but certainly was a move in the right direction." [255]

A few days later DuBois was sent to Santa Fe to turn into headquarters the map of the Navajo country on which he had been working for several months and to accompany Major Simonson to Fort Union. DuBois enjoyed the chance to visit Santa Fe. Regarding Simonson, he wrote that he was "detained two days to get the old man sober." While they were on the road to Fort Union, "Major S told me I would go with the command this summer." DuBois was pleased to leave garrison life for field duty early in June. He did not return to Fort Union in the fall but went to Fort Defiance. He was at Fort Union briefly in December 1860, on his way to garrison duty at Fort Bliss. [256]

Major Simonson returned to Fort Union on October 23, 1859, and commanded the post until August 15, 1860. The mounted riflemen continued to man Fort Union until May 1861, when the Civil War had begun in the East and would soon be known about in New Mexico. They were assisted occasionally by a few infantrymen who were temporarily at the post. During 1860 and the first four months of 1861 the garrison averaged 273. In addition to Major Simonson, commanding officers during that time included Major Charles F. Ruff, Lieutenant Colonel George B. Crittenden, and Captain Thomas Duncan, all Regiment of Mounted Riflemen. Dr. Robert Bartholomew joined the garrison as post surgeon in September 1859. At the same time, a new post chaplain and schoolmaster, Samuel B. McPheeters, arrived to replace Chaplain Stoddert who had resigned the previous year. [257]

Among the officers who arrived from the East in August 1859 was Lieutenant Dabney Herndon Maury, regimental adjutant of the mounted riflemen. He was a native of Virginia and would join the Confederate army during the Civil War. Lieutenant Maury had been in charge of moving approximately 500 cavalry horses from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Union in the summer of 1859, with the help of 200 cavalry recruits and "a fine set of young officers not long from West Point." Maury's family and slaves and the wives and children of several officers serving in New Mexico accompanied the expedition. The officers' families traveled in carriages and the camp equipage, supplies, and soldiers' effects were carried in wagons. [258]

The line of march was carefully organized for the comfort and safety of the party. A herd of beef cattle and a few milch cows were sent ahead of the main column early each morning, accompanied by a small escort. When the column took the trail, led by an advance guard, the order of travel was the carriages for the officers' families, the mounted riflemen who were not on guard duty or accompanying the horse herd, the herd of horses, and the rear guard. Maury explained how the remount horses were driven across the plains by the troops under his command:

The horses which were not under saddle were driven out in strings, each string being made up of thirty animals and placed in charge of its own squad of men. The picket rope of the string was secured to one end of the wagon, in which was hauled the tent of the squad, with their clothing and rations, etc. A pair of heavy, steady wheel horses were hitched to the wagon and driven by the teamster. Then came the led horses in spans, each secured by a short halter to the picket rope. The string was led off by a pair of steady leaders, hitched by a swingletree to the end of the picket rope, the whole thus presenting a team of about twelve or fifteen pairs of horses. The management of this team required no little skill on the part of the drivers and outriders of the squad. In the party there were a dozen or more of these strings, and they made the Indians' mouths water, I suspect, but they never got a horse. [259]

Maury maintained "extraordinary vigilance" because of the possibility of Indian raids aimed particularly at the horse herd and the cattle. Except for the theft of some of the personal property of the escort with the cattle herd, the Indians caused no problems for Maury's command. The only loss of life occurred during a buffalo hunt when one of the soldiers accidentally shot and killed a Sergeant Bowman in the excitement of the chase. The remainder of the march was routine, and Maury recorded "we reached Fort Union in good time and with all of our horses in fine condition." [260]

Maury said little about conditions at Fort Union, except that there was "very little to occupy us beside the usual routine of a frontier cavalry post, which allowed us plenty of leisure for hunting and wolf chasing." He recalled that "game was so plentiful then on the western frontier that there were few days in which we could not have good sport." Like many officers, Maury liked to hunt and had a fine hunting dog, a setter named Toots. He also enjoyed telling hunting stories. One of the young officers at Fort Union, Second Lieutenant William Hicks Jackson, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, was the subject of one of these exploits. During the campaign against the Comanches in 1859, when "all hunting and shooting was strictly forbidden," a grizzly bear "crossed the route of the column." Lieutenant Jackson, "armed only with his sabre," rode his horse out to meet the grizzly. Jackson's horse was blind in one eye and, by keeping the bear on the horse's blind side, the officer was able to get close enough to use his weapon. When the grizzly stood up on his hind legs to fight, "Jackson cleft his skull with his sword." Maury concluded that "it is doubtful if such an exploit was ever elsewhere attempted or accomplished." [261]

One of Maury's hunting companions at Fort Union was Captain Shoemaker at the ordnance depot. Shoemaker kept greyhounds and had an outstanding pack leader in a greyhound named Possum. Maury described Possum as "the longest and tallest dog I have ever seen, and of great fleetness and power." Possum "always led the pack of ten greyhounds, which I was enabled to make up and keep in the Commissary's corral, under charge of Corporal Thomson, a bright young Virginian and an ardent hunter." Maury, Shoemaker, and others took the greyhounds out three times a week to hunt wolves, coyotes, and antelope. The wolves and coyotes usually headed toward the Turkey Mountains, where the timber provided them with safe cover, but the greyhounds often caught them on the prairie between the post and the mountains. [262]

The greyhounds hunted as a team. Possum, as leader of the pack, "would thrust his long snout between the wolf's hind legs as he closed on him, and toss him over his back, where he would hold him until the rest of the pack came up, when he was soon killed." Possum caught antelope the same way. Once Maury's dog Toots chased an antelope out of Wolf Creek valley near the fort, with Maury close behind, into the view of the pack of greyhounds out on the prairie. The "bewildered" antelope stopped and Toots grabbed a hind leg and hung tight. Maury dismounted, grabbed the antelope by a horn, and killed him with a knife before the greyhounds reached the scene. [263]

According to Maury, "Toots was a wonderful dog, occasionally too zealous, as when one day he killed a polecat in our kitchen." The Maury family was forced to vacate their quarters at Fort Union for a week, during which time they moved in with their "good friends," Post Surgeon Elisha J. Bailey and his wife. Toots learned his lesson from that incident. Later, after Possum and the greyhounds ran a wolf four miles before the wolf escaped into the Turkey Mountains and the hunters were returning to the post, Toots saw another skunk. Maury claimed his dog came "running in towards us, his ears thrown back in alarm," escaping from "a polecat, with tail erect, ready for action." The greyhounds, however, "had yet to be initiated into the mysteries of that animal" and attacked and "rent him asunder." There followed what Maury called "the high jinks; such tumbling and whining and rubbing of noses and general gymnastics no ten dogs ever set up at the same time." Maury and Corporal Thomson "nearly rolled off our horses with laughter, and Toots sat off beyond polecat range, laughing as if he would split his sides. Evidently, he enjoyed the joke more than any of us." [264]

Lieutenant Maury served at Fort Union until the spring of 1860. While he was there, he recalled years later, "we heard the news of John Brown's capture of Harper's Ferry." Then, for several weeks, "the Indians cut off mail communication" and troops in New Mexico could only wonder what was happening in the East. A system of escorts between Fort Union and the new Camp on Pawnee Fork (also called Camp Alert and then named Fort Larned) in Kansas Territory eventually reopened the mail route. The first mail, wrote Maury, "brought me a letter from Lieutenant Jeb Stuart, congratulating me upon my promotion to a captaincy in the Adjutant-General's department, with orders to repair to Santa Fe." Maury's rank of brevet captain was dated April 17, 1860. The Maurys moved to Santa Fe and remained there until the outbreak of the Civil War when he resigned (effective June 25, 1861) and joined the Confederate army, in which he served as a major general. On his way back to the East in May 1861, Maury and his family went to Fort Union where a wagon train was made up to cross the plains. There, he remembered, several officers who were his friends but were loyal to the Union, treated him and his family with "every consideration and respect." Some wished him well, one gave him a horse, and a trader at the post offered cash. Maury fondly remembered his sojourn in New Mexico and life at Fort Union, 1859-1860. [265]

During 1860 Lieutenant William B. Lane and his family returned to Fort Union. William and Lydia had spent several months in the East on leave and traveled the Santa Fe Trail to Fort Union. They now had two daughters, Mary (age 5) and Susan (age 1). This was Lydia's third trip across the plains, and she enjoyed it. They accompanied several other families on the way to Fort Union, including Captain Andrew Jackson (Jack) Lindsay and wife, Dr. Bartholomew and family, and Chaplain McPheeters and family. [266]

This time Lydia Lane provided a brief description of their quarters and life at the post. "The quarters assigned to us," she recalled, ". . . were built of logs, and old, but cosey and homelike." It would be interesting to know if the Lanes occupied the same quarters where Maury's dog Toots encounted the polecat. Like most other officer families, the Lanes had servants (two black women who may have been slaves). "With our good cook and nurse, we enjoyed housekeeping after our weeks and weeks of travel." The cook must have been a testy woman. Lydia remembered, "by discreetly keeping away from the kitchen and giving as few orders as possible to the cook, the peace of the household was undisturbed. When obliged to speak to her, I made known my wants in a meek voice and beat a hasty retreat." [267]

Compared to some of the other posts where the Lanes had been stationed, Fort Union "was a large post, with many pleasant people." Lydia enjoyed the society of the officers and their families there but provided no details of their activities. Before the end of 1860, Lieutenant Lane was transferred to Fort Craig, New Mexico, and his family moved with him. They spent Christmas day, 1860, as guests of Lieutenant and Mrs. Dabney Maury in Santa Fe [268] and arrived at Fort Craig on January 4, 1861. A few months after the Civil War began, Lydia and her daughters and servants, passed through Fort Union on their way East to escape from the war in the territory. While traveling on the Santa Fe Trail a fire burned through their camp and destroyed most of Lydia Lane's possessions. The Lanes returned to Fort Union after the Civil War. By that time things had changed thoroughly from what they were like during their brief stay in 1860. [269]

During the summer and fall of 1860, many of the troops stationed at Fort Union were in the field as part of a campaign against the Kiowas and Comanches, and some of the mounted riflemen from Fort Union were in the engagement with members of those tribes early in January 1861. Second Lieutenant DuBois participated in the campaign of 1860, during which he was at Fort Union briefly on several occasions. He became the acting regimental quartermaster after the campaign and was attached to Union. Early in 1861 DuBois observed that "the papers are all filled with secession." He understood what this meant, declaring "our glorious union will at last prove a failure because man must needs have a brother man for a slave." He was granted a six-month leave of absence in March and left Fort Union for the states on March 17, 1861. While traveling across the plains, DuBois learned that some southern states were "in open arms to resist what they call invasion." He predicted "this will be a long & bloody war. It will last five years at least & may not be a success." He feared many of the southern army officers would leave the Union and lead the rebel forces. His party traveled from Fort Union to Westport, Missouri, in twelve days. In three more days he was home in New York. Within two weeks his leave was canceled and DuBois was ordered to report at Washington for duty. [270] The outbreak of Civil War not only divided the Union, but it divided the troops, especially the officers, stationed at Fort Union and throughout the Department of New Mexico. No other event of the nineteenth century had such an important and far-reaching effect on the nation, the army, and Fort Union as did the tragic war, 1861-1865. Life at the post on Wolf Creek, after a decade of comparative solitude, soon underwent innumerable alterations. Many other changes, including the construction of two new complexes, took place at Fort Union during the Civil War.

<<< Previous <<< Contents>>> Next >>>

Last Updated: 09-Jul-2005