Historic Resource Study
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Life at the third Fort Union from the days of the Civil War until the post was closed in 1891, as at other western posts, was characterized by a rigid stratification of personnel and strict schedule of routine activities, including roll calls, guard mount, company drill, target practice, guard duty, fatigue details (including the daily supply of water and wood, seasonal work in the gardens, and cutting ice during winter months), kitchen police, maintenance work, sanitation chores, teamster duties, cleanup assignments, dress parades, and inspections. [1] Fatigue details continued to provide a labor force for the army, leading to much criticism by enlisted men who felt such work had little to do with soldiering and that they were exploited as laborers without adequate compensation. [2]

The common labor expected from soldiers may have been a critical factor in the high rate of desertions. Private Charles J. Scullin, who spent considerable time in the guardhouse at Fort Union, including punishment for at least three attempts at desertion, wrote to a Las Vegas newspaper in 1885 and reported that nine out of ten who deserted did so because they had enlisted to be soldiers instead of "flunky laborers." After interviewing other deserters who had been captured, Scullin reported that they had joined the army to carry a gun rather than a pick and shovel. [3] Some observers noted, however, that the soldiers seldom worked hard, managed to kill much time without accomplishing much, [4] liked to complain, and were compensated with extra-duty pay under certain conditions. [5] Abuses of extra-duty pay came by working them less than ten consecutive days. Civilian employees were often present to provide part of the labor required.

Fatigue details were assigned to construct buildings and corrals, build and maintain telegraph lines, construct and repair roads, renovate facilities, and almost everything else that needed to be done. Captain George F. Price, Fifth Cavalry, reported in 1884 while serving in New Mexico that many soldiers deserted because they were too "often in logging camps, making adobes, constructing quarters, building telegraph lines, opening wagon roads, etc." instead of performing "their [military] duties." [6] As a leading scholar of the frontier army stated, "drudge labor occupied most of the time and energy of the troops." [7] Some enlisted men were utilized as servants (known as "strikers") by officers, receiving extra pay of five to ten dollars per month for their services. [8] One soldier, William Edward Matthews, Eighth Cavalry, refused an offer to serve as an officer's servant. As Matthews explained to his parents, "I thanked him very kindly and said I did not enlist for a waiter, I enlisted for a Soldier." Matthews's view of the military caste system was expressed in his observation about officers, that "we are too much of a slave for them now, without going [to work] in their houses." [9]

Soldiers also complained about the omnipresent guard duty, which required them to be on watch for a period of 24 hours every few days (the frequency depending on the number of men available for duty at the time). Private Matthews, Company L, Eighth Cavalry, explained how onerous guard duty could become after his arrival at Fort Union in 1870, when only 12 men of his company were available for duty. Six of those troopers were required to stand guard every other day, and the other six were assigned that duty on the alternate days. Matthews declared, "This thing of only one night in bed would Kill the oldest man living." [10]

Matthews explained to his family the duties of a private soldier in his company under those circumstances at Fort Union, a lengthy description worth quoting in his own words:

Here you get one night in bed. For instance tonight you are on Guard, tomorrow morning at 8 o'clock you get relieved. At nine one hour after coming off Guard you have to Saddle up and go on Herd. Come in with the Herd at 4 P.M. spend one hour grooming your horse, then get your supper. At sundown the Bugle calls you to "Retreat" to answer your name, and hear who are detailed for Guard on the morrow. As there is only 12 men in the company for duty and six on Guard each day, you are not surprised to hear your name called to be ready for Guard at 8 O'clock tomorrow, from Retreat till Tattoo "2 hours", you have to shine your belts, clean your gun, and brasses so they shine like a dollar gold piece in the dark. Next morning at break of day you fall in ranks for Reveille, answer your name, and then march to the stables, spend half hour on the . . . horses, come back, swallow your Breakfast, and then put on all your good cloths, comb your hair, pull on white gloves that after one wearing will stretch large enough to pull on your feet instead. Put on all your Belts, Shoulder your carbine, and then you are ready for Guard Mount with all a Cavalry Man's traps on he would make any pack mule, or donkey, blush to see a poor man carrying more than they could. At the first sound of the bugle, you rush in ranks to be inspected first by your first Sergt. In case he should find a speck of dust on your belts, or in your gun, you are hurryed back in quarters and through the aid of numerous brushes assisted by a Spy Glass you are able to see and remove the troublesome speck. You then rush back in ranks, all in a perspiration and then are marched over to the Sergt Major. He stands as a marker, for you to dress by. Soon as all the details arrive on the ground and form a line, he sings out, right dress, you all cast your eyes to the right. If you can see the second button on the second mans jacket, on your right, you are hunky dorey. But if by accident you should get one foot over the alinement, your liable to have it cut off by the Sergt Major's Saber falling on it with considerable force. The S. M. then brings his saber up in front of his face, which is called a present, and sings out to the Adjutant, who stands some thirty paces in front. The detail is correct Sir. The A. then draws his sword and says very well Sergt. take your Post, the Sergt finds a Post on the left of the detail and hangs up there till his honor the A. inspects your Gun, Belts, then opens your shirt collar to see if that bit of apparel has been to the Laundresses in the course of a couple of months. When he is satisfyed that you are not, to use a soldiers expression "Crummy Lousy", he goes to the next man, and so on till the guard is inspected, the cleanest man is chosen Orderly for the commanding officer. The A. then marches to his Post and brings the guard to a present arms, then he salutes the officer of the day, that worthy, says at the same time raising his hat, March the Guard in review to their Post, the Band strikes up those patriotic tunes. . . . You are then marched to the guard house. During the day you escort prisoners around camp, emptying swill Barrels &c. At night you are put on guard over a stable, lot of wagons &c, with these orders, take charge of this post, and all Government property in view. . . . That is soldiering in a nut shell.

I have spent some time and perhaps wasted some paper foolishly, but that is about as fair a description of our duty here as I can give. . . . This thing of standing Guard every other night, is not very pleasant. [11]

guard mount on Fort Union parade ground
Guard mount on Fort Union parade ground, about 1880, showing guard detail and band near the flag staff with some of the officers' quarters in the background. it appears there is a band stand constructed around the base of the flag staff. Photo Collection, Fort Union National Monument.

It was not unusual for soldiers to feel that their lives were deprived and their work unappreciated. Private Scullin complained that "a soldier's life is a dismal, thankless one to say the least." [12] Many enlisted men and some officers, even officers' wives, characterized existence at the forts as monotonous, dull, boring, and isolated. Private Eddie Matthews, Eighth Cavalry, informed his folks at home in the summer of 1870 the he anticipated being sent into the field on scouting duty in the near future, an assignment he would welcome. "It is so miserable dull here," he wrote, "that a trip for a month would liven us up a little." He also noted that "we never mount our horses except when get a mounted pass, that is very seldom." [13] Matthews was not sent on scouting duty, however, but he did serve periodically as orderly to the post commander. Even though he had not completed the first year of his five-year enlistment, the young private was homesick and ready to quit military life. He wrote the folks back home, "Would like ever so much to be at home, am tired of Soldiering and Soldiers life." He apologized that he could "find nothing of interest to write you . . . but here it is the same old routine, every day." [14] Matthews testified to the boredom and the relative isolation of garrison life. At the end of his enlistment, as he was preparing to leave Fort Union and return to his home in Maryland, Matthews wrote that he was "tired of the Army and everything connected with it." [15]

As Don Rickey noted in his masterful study of enlisted men in the post-Civil War era, Forty Miles a Day on Beans and Hay (1963), "the rank-and-file regular was psychologically as well as physically isolated from most of his fellow Americans." [16] At the third Fort Union, however, this isolation was not as severe as it had been prior to the Civil War. The boredom and monotony, on the other hand, were about the same as earlier, and soldiers welcomed any type of diversion from their routine existence.

At the third fort they had better facilities and quarters than their predecessors had endured, better even than many of their contemporaries at other forts in the Southwest. An inspection officer declared in 1868, "Fort Union is, beyond doubt, out of proportion to all other Posts in the District, in point of the comforts which have been heaped upon it. They are so far the more fortunate who chance to be stationed there." [17] In 1871 Private Matthews, Eighth Cavalry, provided a brief description of the enlisted men's barracks, quoted here because it was the only such description found.

Our Quarters are plastered inside. In each room are seven upright posts, and places around each post for eight Carbines and Sabers, also place to hang belts on. In each room, "two large rooms for each Company" are about thirty single bunks. First thing after coming from stables in the morning, you roll your bed sack up [and] place it at the head of your bed, fold your blankets up nicely and lay them on the bed Sack. All the bunks look the same. Have one large Leviathan Stove in the room, which will heat all parts of it. [18]

Later improvements added to comfort and convenience. In 1875 the wooden single bunks were supplanted by individual iron cots in the barracks. The completion of the railroad in the area in 1879, an event that contributed to the obsolescence of the post by bringing to an end military freighting on the Santa Fe Trail, facilitated the supply and travel of troops. In 1881 oil lamps replaced candles for lighting of quarters, offices, library, and hospital.

In 1873 Matthews was a clerk in the subsistence department and shared a room with a quartermaster sergeant at Fort Union. [19] He again provided an illustrative description of his quarters, a rare glimpse into living conditions at the post. He recounted the furnishings as he entered the door and walked counterclockwise around the room. The items included (1) "a good size and pretty looking glass" hanging on the wall beside the door; (2) a "small table" below the mirror that was covered with a blue blanket and on which were kept combs, hair brushes, clothes brushes, and brushes for cleaning weapons; (3) a window with calico curtains; (4) a washstand in the corner, with soap and water and "a bench for blacking our boots upon"; (5) on the wall between the washstand and fireplace hung a framed picture (two feet by two and a half feet) entitled "Harvest," representing "a farmer bringing in his grain from the fields"; (6) a fireplace with "a cheerful fire burning," with a mantle on which were kept a half dozen smoking pipes and above which hung "a real pretty picture (steel engraving) called 'Horses in a thunderstorm,'" depicting "two beautiful horses terrified by thunder and lightning"; (7) Matthews's bed on which were kept a bed sack filled with straw, a pillow made of wool in a pillow case, his great coat "folded to give the pillow the requisite height," and five army blankets, and under the bed he stored two pairs of boots, a pair of gaiters, a nose bag, one lariat, one set of horse hobbles, a canvas bag to "carry my clothes when scouting," and "a large bottle of genuine 'Bears Oil,' which . . . is elegant for the hair"; (8) at the head of the bed was a box in which he kept his clothes, above which he had displayed on the wall 14 photographs of his family and friends; (9) on the side wall above his bed hung a picture entitled "Evening of Love," which depicted "a young lady in a pensive mood"; (10) another window which looked out onto the parade ground, with calico curtains; (11) beneath the window a box which held his belts and a collection of items he had gathered during his travels; (12) his roommate's bed, "a nice bed, much better than mine," was beyond that window; (13) on the wall above this bed hung a picture entitled "Morning of Love," showing a young girl with a "happy countenance"; (14) near the head of his roommate's bed hung a pictured titled "Open Your Mouth and Shut Your Eyes"; (15) at the head of the sergeant's bed was a box for his clothing, above which was a collection of pictures, including photographs of his family and friends; (16) on the wall where the door was located was a large clothes' rack covered with a curtain, in which were found stable frocks, two caps and a hat, two sabers, two carbines, two bridles, a saddle blanket, a canteen, and, on the floor, a "box for trash"; and (17) in the center of the room was a table "with a collection of papers, books and other trash too numerous to mention," around which were two chairs and a bench. The size of the room was not given, but it must have been cozy. [20]

The men spent much time in their quarters, but they sought other activities too. Except when they were on guard duty, enlisted men had considerable leisure time available in the arrangement of routine duties. At the same time, however, few recreational opportunities were offered at the post except for the library and whatever pastimes the soldiers provided themselves. Some time was spent at the post sutler's store, where a variety of items could be purchased and recreation was sometimes available. When opportunities were presented, the men left the post to visit entertainment enterprises (providing liquor, gambling, and prostitutes, and euphemistically known as "hog ranches") available nearby. The community of Loma Parda, a few miles from Fort Union, was a favorite hangout for soldiers.

The composition of the enlisted ranks was similar to what it had been prior to the Civil War, with many recent immigrants (particularly from Ireland, Germany, and England, and lesser numbers from Canada, Scotland, France, and Switzerland) volunteering for service. [21] The number of Hispanos was reduced markedly from what it had been during the Civil War (when they were found predominantly in volunteer units), but the postwar regular army enlisted more New Mexicans than had been enticed into the prewar ranks. A new element in the regular army, a direct result of the Civil War experience, was the African-American soldier, serving in segregated regiments under white officers. [22] There was evidence of discrimination against Hispanic and black soldiers by Anglo officers and enlisted men. [23] Most enlisted men, regardless of national and ethnic ancestry, were from the bottom of the economic class structure, predominantly unemployed and unskilled laborers. In most companies there were a few skilled laborers and, less often, professional men (including teachers and lawyers). A large number of soldiers in the late 1860s were veterans, having served in regular or volunteer units during the Civil War.

The quality of military personnel was often deplored by officers and even enlisted men. Eddie Matthews had been in the cavalry only two months when he bemoaned the fact that,

I left my dear home and all that is dear to me in the world to associate myself with the scrapings of the world, for I do think that the Army is composed of the scrapings of Penitentiaries, Jails and everything else combined to make an Army suitable for this Government, both Officers and men. The Officers steal from the men and the men steal from each other. Everything is steal, steal, steal. Well I have only 58 months to serve yet. [24]

Throughout the postwar era, there was a large turnover in enlisted personnel. Thus the regiments were comprised of many (from one-fourth to one-half) inexperienced soldiers at any given time. A small number of troops died each year. The term of service expired for approximately 20% of the enlisted men every year, and only about one-fifth of them signed on for another term. The greatest loss was to desertion, with about one-third of the soldiers departing before the completion of their five-year enlistment. During 1871, the year after a pay reduction, nearly one-third of the troops deserted. The following two years were nearly as bad. When all losses were combined, from 25% to 40% of the enlisted men were lost each year. This was a great waste of manpower and money, and it affected, as Utley expressed it, the "morale, discipline, and efficiency" of those who remained. It also made recruitment of new soldiers a vital part of the army's responsibilities. Good recruits were hard to attract to the rigors and low pay of military life. [25]

After the Civil War the army continued to recruit men between the ages of sixteen and thirty-five for a five-year period. Volunteers under age twenty-one were required to have permission of a parent or guardian, but this prerequisite was frequently neglected. Enlistment and reenlistment were possible at recruiting stations, mostly located in larger cities and at military posts. Fort Union periodically had a recruiting officer. New recruits were not permitted by regulations to have a wife or child, although a soldier could marry during his term of service with the consent of his company commander (wives of enlisted men often served as company laundresses). The ability to read and write was not mandatory until after Fort Union was abandoned. A medical examination was required. [26]

Despite the restrictions on married soldiers serving in the army, and official discouragement of enlisted men being married, the records show that a number of soldiers at Fort Union were permitted to marry. The vows were usually taken before the post chaplain, but some couples were married by civil officials in nearby communities. Virtually no information has been found about most of the parties involved in matrimony in the frontier army, but one such couple at Fort Union has been documented from records and photographs. [27] On August 3, 1873, Private Patrick Cloonan, Company B, Eighth Cavalry, married Bridget Molloy at the post. Both had immigrated from Ireland. Like many of his fellow countrymen, Cloonan enlisted in the army until something better was available. Molloy may have been a servant for an officer's family, but it was not determined how she came to New Mexico.

When Cloonan completed his first enlistment in 1873, Colonel J. Irvin Gregg noted on his discharge papers that Cloonan was "an excellent soldier and most reliable man." Private Cloonan reenlisted in April, married Bridget in August, and was promoted to corporal in December 1873. A few months later he was advanced to sergeant. Bridget served as a laundress for Company B, a common practice, holding the only position for women recognized by the army. The Cloonans remained at Fort Union until January 1876, when Company B was transferred to another station. Sergeant Cloonan received his final discharge in April 1878.

Bridget Molloy Patrick Cloonan
Bridget Molloy married Patrick Cloonan at Fort Union, August 3, 1873, and she served as a laundress for his company until they were transferred in 1876. Photo Collection, Fort Union National Monument, courtesy William Duggan. Patrick Cloonan, Company B, Eighth Cavalry, in his corporal dress uniform, late 1873 or early 1874, at Fort Union. He held that rank only two months. Photo Collection, Fort Union National Monument, courtesy William Duggan.

Many other soldiers were permitted to marry while in the service, and there were a few exceptions to the rule that a married man could not enlist. One such case at Fort Union, in which a recruit had children as well as a wife, was described by Private Matthews, who wrote the following to his family in the summer of 1870:

We have a new Laundress in the Company. Her husband enlisted a few weeks ago. He was raising stock in the country, and was doing very well till last fall when Indians ran away six hundred head of Cattle for him. . . . They have been very kind to me, have taken several meals in the house. While I was sick, made Tea and toast for me, and sent it to me. Am to take some Ice Cream with them soon as finish this. They are both young and have two children. [28]

The unidentified soldier Matthews described had enlisted because of economic hardship. Many young men joined military ranks because other employment was not available. William Edward (Eddie) Matthews left the home of his English-immigrant family at Westminster, Maryland, in 1869 and traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio, with two companions in search of gainful employment. Without success, the two friends returned home, but Matthews informed his family of his decision to join the army:

We have all been unsuccessful in getting anything to do. I have tried most everything but in every instance was unsuccessful, and as a last resort went down to the Recruiting Office for the purpose of enlisting in the regular Cavalry for 3 years, but found out that they were only taking men for 5 years. [29]

Matthews declared he had little desire to serve in the army, and "if I possibly could get anything let it be what it may I would take it, but there is not much chance for anything else here." [30] He later declared that "more men enlist in Cincinnati, than any other in the United States. If you once get strapped in the miserable place you are bound to enlist." [31] He served a large portion of his term of enlistment in Company L, Eighth Cavalry, at Fort Union, where he continually counted and reported to his family, in letters that averaged nearly one per week, the number of years, months, days, and hours remaining until he would be free from the army. He found conditions to be deplorable, causing many of the soldiers to desert. At one point, irritated by the way soldiers were treated, Matthews declared that "every man in the Regular Army would be justifiable in deserting according to my idea." [32] Matthews, however, was determined to honor his commitment for the entire five years, which he did.

Matthews did not enjoy "the common duty of a Soldier" but declared "I will try to make the best of a bad bargain. And do my duty like a man." [33] He had the good fortune to be selected to serve most of his tenure as a clerk, because he was literate and practiced good penmanship, which exempted him from many of the routine duties of most soldiers. His extensive correspondence to his family, copies of which were presented to Fort Union National Monument Archives in 1993, provided the best view of life in the post-Civil War frontier army by an enlisted man that has been found to date. [34]

Matthews periodically informed his family that his enlistment had been a blunder and he was sorry he had done it. In 1873, after serving more than three years of his term, he wrote to his folks as follows:

What a great mistake I made when I left home. And to make bad worse turn around and enlist in the Army for five years. Had only I bound myself down to some good man, who would have been willing to take and learn me some trade, how much better off would I be now. But regrets will do no good in the present case. I will have to sleep in the bed I made for myself, but I tell you it is a hard bed. [35]

Many other soldiers must have had similar feelings and wondered why they had joined the army. Almost everyone who volunteered was accepted. The screening of potential recruits was not stringent, in order to fill the ranks. Physical requirements for service were specified in regulations for medical examination of recruits, but these were laxly enforced:

In passing a recruit the medical officer is to examine him stripped; to see that he has free use of all his limbs; that his chest is ample; that his hearing, vision, and speech are perfect; that he has no tumors, or ulcerated or extensively cicatrized legs; no rupture or chronic cutaneous affection; that he has not received any contusion, or wound of the head, that may impair his faculties; that he is not a drunkard; is not subject to convulsions; and has no infectious disorder, nor any other that may unfit him for military service. [36]

As important as the selection of recruits was their training, which was generally deficient. Until 1881, when four months of basic training was established at recruitment depots, rookies received most of their training after assignment to the unit with which they were to serve. As noted in the previous chapter, recruits for the District of New Mexico were usually brought to Fort Union and distributed to their respective posts from that point. They generally were delivered with only a rudimentary understanding of basic military skills at best. The introduction to the authentic life of a soldier, when he finally reached his assigned company, most likely terminated any delusions about the romance of military life which some enlisted men may have entertained.

Captain Gerald Russell, a native of Ireland who had entered the service in 1851 as an enlisted man, spent several years as a first sergeant before being promoted to a commissioned officer, and who was stationed at a number of posts in New Mexico Territory (including Fort Union) before, during, and after the Civil War, greeted a body of recruits to his company of Third Cavalry at Fort Selden in 1869 as follows:

Young Min! I conghratulate yiz on bein assigned to moi thrupe, becos praviously to dis toime, I vinture to say that moi thrupe had had more villins, loyars, teeves, scoundhrils and, I moight say, dam murdhrers than enny udder thrupe in de United States Ormy. I want yiz to pay sthrict attintion to jooty—and not become dhrunken vagabonds, wandhrin all over the face of Gods Creashun, spindin ivry cint ov yur pay with low bum-mers. Avoide all timptashuns, loikewoise all discipashuns, so that in toime yiz kin become non-commissioned offizurs; yez'll foind yer captin a very laynent man and very much given to laynency, fur oi never duz toi no man up bee der tumbs unless he duz bee late for roll-call. Sarjint, dismiss de detachmint. [37]

Such an introduction, indicative that pitiless discipline would bring retribution for the slightest infractions of rules and regulations, provided little help for the newcomers. It may have inspired them to regulate their behavior but shed little light on what was expected beyond submission. Without special training in basic military decorum and discipline, the new soldiers were expected to discover their status and obligations in the service through observation and emulation of the veterans, attention to routine activities, instruction, and drill. They were, as one scholar noted, "in a system far more rigid and austere than any environment most of them had previously known." They learned much of what they needed to know from the older men in the company [38]

They learned to obey orders and perform assignments or pay the penalties. Teresa Griffin Viele, wife of Lieutenant Egbert L. Viele (First Infantry) who served on the Texas frontier, proclaimed that "prompt obedience is the first lesson a soldier must learn" and quoted a brief rhyme to illustrate the point:

Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die. [39]

Eddie Matthews quickly discovered after his enlistment in 1869 that "Officers are very strict, but you can get along very well if you only pay attention." He informed his parents, "I am trying to do right in my new duty." Even so, he wrote, "Every little thing you do the Officers curse you for it, and call you all kind of names," Matthews was pleased that "I have not missed one roll call or had a cross word spoken to me yet. I have made up my mind to do what is right." [40] His efforts were successful. During his time at Carlisle Barracks Matthews was twice excused from guard detail "for being the cleanest man." [41]

Although enlisted men did not need to know why they were to conform, they needed to understand what they were to obey. To help in that regard, army rules and regulations were periodically read to all troops, many of whom were illiterate. Commencing in 1884, every man was issued a copy of The Soldier's Handbook, a pocket-sized guide that detailed most things a soldier needed to know. [42] The guide may have been helpful, but it was difficult to discover the elements of soldiering in a book. Most continued to learn the essentials from the members of their company.

A soldier lived in barracks in close association with the men of his company, enjoying little, if any, privacy. The company, usually not filled to legal capacity and comprised of 40 to 50 (sometimes fewer) enlisted men, was the soldier's "family" during his term of service. The small number of soldiers in a company fostered cohesiveness. The men of a company usually developed a loyalty to the unit and counted among its members their closest comrades. Many soldiers were known to their companions by nicknames, often the result of physical appearance or behavioral traits. As Don Rickey observed, "the company tended to be a self-contained social as well as military unit." With the officers and men of his company, each soldier "would live, eat, sleep, march, brawl, and possibly die." [43] As one soldier declared, "the company is everything to a soldier." [44]

Many soldiers complained about their officers, often with justification. While some officers who had served before and after the Civil War complained about the lower quality of enlisted men after the war compared with those before, [45] other officers deplored a similar decline in the character of the officer class. Duane M. Greene, a retired lieutenant, wrote in 1880 that "it is worthy of remark that the chivalrous spirit which had attained its full perfection in the Army before the Great Rebellion of 1861 is nearly extinct." He explained what had happened, in his opinion.

The present organization lacks that ambition—that esprit de corps—which characterized the Army prior to the war. Some of the senior officers still maintain among them a remnant, though feeble and mutilated, of the essence of the "good old time." . . . Degeneracy has been increased by the appointment of men who have not received a military education. Add to these the "graduates" whom a superabundance of black bile has rendered unsusceptible of refinement beyond the limited demands of civility, and the sum comprises so much of the unit that the remainder is a negative power. The homogeneity that should characterize the military establishment has been destroyed by the mingling of incongruous elements. The contact of the truly meritorious professionals with non-professionals has given rise to arrogance, and has almost annihilated the spirit of chivalry. [46]

The result, as Greene saw it, was that many officers exhibited a "haughty assumption of superiority." He continued:

Rank is the shield behind which they stand to heap tyranny upon insult and wrong. They do not regard inferiors has having rights which they should respect, and by the tyrannical exercise of authority, they extort a slavish obedience from those over whom they are placed. They look upon a private soldier as a machine—animate, yet without sense of justice or wrong; exacting of him the offices of a menial—a serf—degrading him even in his own estimation. [47]

While that may have been true of many officers, there were rare expressions of loyalty and respect for some officers who understood and sympathized with the conditions of enlisted men. In what was undoubtedly an uncommon demonstration of affection for a commissioned officer, in 1870 forty men of Company L, Eighth Cavalry, including Private Eddie Matthews, "put in one dollar each, and bought a very handsome Saddle, Bridle, and Saddle Blanket, and presented it to our Second Lieut." This was Second Lieutenant Edmund Monroe Cobb, who graduated from West Point in 1870 and joined his company at Fort Union in September of that year. Matthews declared that Cobb was "the finest Officer I ever saw that came from that place [West Point]." He was pleased to report that Cobb had "received the present and thanked us very highly for it." Matthews did not record his feelings when Cobb was transferred to the Second Artillery the following year. [48] It may be presumed that the change in personnel affected the emotions of the men in the company.

Each company contained a variety of personalities and backgrounds, a cross-section of humanity. Although there were exceptions, many soldiers had a tendency to consume too much alcohol as a form of escape from the realities of army life. Drunkenness was a problem at all military posts, including Fort Union. The failure of the army to provide leisure activities fostered visits by soldiers to gambling dens, saloons, and brothels in nearby communities, such as Loma Parda just off the Fort Union reservation. Soldiers, and sometimes officers, also developed sporting activities. Fort Union soldiers played baseball in the post-Civil War era. Private Matthews, Eighth Cavalry, noted that some of the men in his company organized a baseball team at Fort Union in 1871. He was selected team captain. When they were sent on scouting duty, they took their "bats and balls along with us, and have been amusing ourselves and passing away the time playing ball." [49] One place where officers and men breached the rigid distinction between their respective classes was at the meetings of Masonic and other lodges, where members of both sides met as equals and followed the rituals and rules of the fraternal orders. Such fraternization seldom extended beyond the gatherings of the lodges.

Among enlisted men, as among officers, rank was important and had its privileges. The commissioned officers had little direct contact with enlisted soldiers and relied upon the noncommissioned officers to handle the daily affairs of the men. The company was primarily managed by the first sergeant who, in turn, depended on the duty sergeants and corporals. They kept the soldiers in line, saw that duties were performed, and enforced discipline. According to Rickey, "if a single word were chosen to describe the noncommissioned officers, . . . that word would have to be—tough." [50] Rickey also emphasized that the noncommissioned officers were the "backbone" of the army. [51] Other noncommissioned officers at military posts included an ordnance sergeant, quartermaster sergeant, commissary sergeant, hospital steward, and a sergeant major who assisted the post adjutant and oversaw the daily change of the guard. Most of the noncommissioned soldiers had a long record of military service, often ten years or longer. A few of them had even served previously as commissioned officers.

Information about most noncommissioned officers who served at Fort Union was as elusive as records about other enlisted men. Thomas Keeshan, who served as commissary sergeant at Fort Union, 1884-1889, was an exception, and his story provides an example of those who filled similar positions in the post-Civil War army. [52] Keeshan was born in Queens County, Ireland, in 1846. He enlisted at New York City on June 21, 1865, when he was 19 years old. He was five feet three and one-half inches tall, with red hair and blue eyes. His occupation at the time of enlistment was musician.

Thomas Keeshan Robina Keeshan
Thomas Keeshan, about 1885. He lived until 1943. Keeshan Collection, Fort Union National Monument. Robina Keeshan, about 1875. She died in 1920. Keeshan Collection, Fort Union National Monument.

Thomas and Robina Keeshan with their children
Thomas and Robina Keeshan with their children (five of their six children survived) at the post commissary sergeant's quarters at Fort Union, about 1887. These board and batten frame quarters were located north of the depot storehouses. Keeshan Collection, Fort Union National Monument.

Walter Keeshan
Walter Keeshan, son of Thomas and Robins, at Fort Union, about 1887. Keeshan Collection, Fort Union National Monument.

Keeshan served in several infantry regiments, ending up in Company C, Sixteenth Infantry, with the consolidation of the army in 1869. He was appointed corporal on September 1, 1867, was promoted to company quartermaster sergeant, December 10, 1868, and became first sergeant, October 3, 1873. He married Robina Gibson, born in Scotland in 1859, at Little Rock, Arkansas, on August 6, 1875, when he was 29 and she was 16. They had six children, some of whom were born at Fort Union.

In 1883, while serving at Fort Concho, Texas, Keeshan applied for an appointment as commissary sergeant, and the letters of recommendation submitted to support his application revealed a dedicated, competent, and loyal soldier. His company captain, Thomas E. Rose, wrote on November 23, 1883:

I have known Sergeant Keeshan personally since March 20th 1870. . . . I have found him thoroughly efficient in the performance of every duty that has ever been assigned to him. Intelligent, energetic active & indomitable, he has ever been more than any other soldier I ever saw. In garrison or in the field he has ever been ready for the most important service and was never known to be unequal to any task.

. . . He is a man of thorough business habits, careful active infallible, and his appointment to the position of Commissary Sergeant would make a most valuable acquisition to that branch of the service. [53]

On March 7, 1884, Captain Rose submitted another letter of recommendation, similar to the first but with additional information. Keeshan, he stated, "is a good shot and has been for years back a marksman." More relevant to the duties of a commissary sergeant, Rose continued, "He has for more than ten years done all the clerking of the Company keeping the books records & returns in a good and presentable condition." Keeshan also had improved his knowledge. Rose declared, "From 1870 to 1874 he studied Mathematics under my own tuition during which time he showed remarkable proficiency in Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Surveying, Analytical Geometry, Differential & Integral Calculus & Mechanics." [54]

Thomas Keeshan
Thomas Keeshan's appointment as commissary sergeant, June 26, 1884, when Robert Todd Lincoln was secretary of war. Thomas Keeshan File, Fort Union National Monument Collection, New Mexico State Records Center and Archives, Santa Fe.

Lieutenant William V. Richards, post quartermaster and commissary officer at Fort Concho, stated on November 27, 1883, that he had known Keeshan for 15 years and found him to be "a most excellent 1st Sergeant, a thoroughly reliable, temperate, and responsible man." He noted that Keeshan had "a large and most interesting family, of which he takes most excellent care, and as the time approaches for educating them, the Sergeant naturally wants to improve his condition." Richards concluded by noting that Keeshan was also "an excellent accountant and would make a most excellent Commissary Sergeant." [55]

Keeshan was appointed commissary sergeant on June 26, 1884, and assigned to duty at Fort Union, replacing post commissary sergeant William Bolton. Keeshan and his family lived at the post until he was transferred to Fort Clark, Texas, on October 22, 1889. He later served at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and retired from the service there on September 29, 1894, having served almost 30 years. He settled at Junction City, Kansas, near Fort Riley where he had once served, and operated a greenhouse for many years. He died in 1943, when he was considered to be the oldest army veteran in the United States on the retired list.

Lucy Margaret Keeshan Walter Keeshan
Lucy Margaret Keeshan, in 1887, youngest daughter of Commissary Sergeant Thomas and Robina Keeshan, was born at Fort Union on May 19, 1886. She died at Manhattan, Kansas, January 1988. Keeshan Collection, Fort Union National Monument. Walter Keeshan, in 1887, was born at Fort Concho, Texas, October 14, 1883. He lived with his parents at Fort Union, 1884-1889. He died at Junction City, Kansas, September 7, 1984. Keeshan Collection, Fort Union National Monument.

Lucy Margaret Keeshan, daughter of Thomas and Robina born at Fort Union on May 19, 1886, reported in the late 1960s a story that was part of her family heritage, about how her father kept cash for the commissary department at Fort Union hidden in sacks of beans at his office. Once, when the paymaster came to pay the garrison but the shipment of money had not yet arrived, the paymaster explained his predicament to the post quartermaster and commissary officer. This officer suggested that the paymaster borrow the required funds from Sergeant Keeshan and replace them when the shipment of money came. Keeshan opened some sacks of "beans" and counted out $5,000 to pay the troops. A few days later the payroll funds arrived and the paymaster and Keeshan counted the required $5,000 and concealed it back in the bean bags. Whether folklore or fact, it was a good story. [56]

There may have been some friendship between the commissary officer and Sergeant Keeshan, but most likely they were parts of two different worlds. Just as before and during the Civil War, there remained a vast gulf between the officer class and enlisted men. [57] The Civil War, with its thousands of volunteers and futile carnage, had helped to weaken some of the earlier aristocratic pretensions of many officers and their wives. Countless officers of volunteer units were appointed from civil life and therefore had not been indoctrinated, as some soldiers believed, "by teaching the officer-enlisted man caste system as if it existed by divine right." [58] Nevertheless, as Duane M. Greene, a former officer in the frontier army who wrote a book on military social life in 1880, declared, "the Army is a little domain of its own, independent and isolated by its peculiar customs and discipline; an aristocracy by selection and the halo of tradition." Greene argued that the army was not the paragon "of morality, honor and chivalry that many believe." [59] Although Greene wrote primarily about officers and their wives, he understood the unique station of the ordinary soldier.

full dress uniform jacket
Commissary Sergeant Thomas Keeshan's full dress uniform jacket. Museum Collection, Fort Union National Monument.

The enlisted men of the postwar era, whether veterans or newcomers, were somewhat less servile as a class than their prewar counterparts. Even though they were legally subservient to commissioned officers, many enlisted men expected to be treated fairly and with respect. As Rickey asserted, "reciprocal loyalty between officers and men was vital." [60] The rate at which they were subjected to courts-martial for various offenses and the high rate of desertion, however, indicated that military discipline was still harsh (even capricious) and many soldiers failed (by choice or nature) to adjust to the conditions and discipline of the army. [61] At western military posts the conduct of officers strongly influenced the behavior of enlisted men. Drunkenness, for example, was a problem for many men of both classes. Officers and their wives continued to provide more details about military life at Fort Union than did enlisted men, so that much of the information available contains a deliberate or involuntary officer bias. An exception was Eddie Matthews, Company L, Eighth Cavalry, whose prolific correspondence represented the viewpoint of an enlisted man at the post during the early 1870s.

Following the Civil War, a parsimonious Congress reduced the military budget to a point that funds were sometimes insufficient for fundamental activities. The army became a virtual skeleton as the authorized strength of the postwar regiments was reduced from 57,000 (in 1866) to 25,000 officers and men (by 1874). The number of military posts was reduced from a peak of 255 in 1869 to 96 in 1892, the year after Fort Union was abandoned. Sufficient funds were not provided to maintain adequately even the reduced number of military posts and authorized troops. In fact, most companies operated with fewer than the authorized number of enlisted men for many years (in 1881 the cavalry regiments averaged 82% of authorized strength and the infantry averaged 85%, and those figures included the sick, prisoners, and others unfit for duty—many infantry companies did not have 25 men available for duty). [62] The provisions and equipment left over from the Civil War, regardless of condition and serviceability, were utilized by the army for approximately the next decade. At times the availability of ammunition was so limited in the immediate postwar era that the men could not participate in target practice. Marksmanship received much emphasis in the 1880s, a time when there were few military demands on the troops at Fort Union.

The soldiers' pay had increased during the Civil War, part of the inducement to recruit needed volunteers. At the end of the war the base pay for privates was $16 per month, with one dollar deducted and kept until discharge (a forced savings plan to provide a new veteran with a small lump sum to begin life as a civilian and to discourage desertion because soldiers who departed early did not receive it), and a deduction of 12.5 cents for maintenance of the Soldiers' Home in Washington, D.C. Soldiers continued to dispose of their pay in many ways, including payment of debts, sending money to their families, newspaper subscriptions, personal items, additional food, tobacco, alcohol, gambling, prostitutes, and obligations to the company laundress, [63] tailor, cobbler, barber, and others. After the Civil War the army did a better job of fulfilling its promise of paying troops every two months, another practice designed to reduce desertions. Even so, many soldiers borrowed money to make it from one payday to the next, pledging their future pay (a process that took a portion of each payment immediately and necessitated borrowing again, keeping them almost perpetually in debt). In comparison to other jobs (many paying two, three, and four times the amount provided by the army), the soldiers' cash pay looked inferior after the war. When their food, clothing, shelter, and medical care were included, however, the disparity was not as great as it appeared.

Eddie Matthews explained in 1869 that recruits were not paid until they were assigned to a regiment and had served for several weeks. [64] Meantime each new soldier was given $3.00 worth of scrip to be used at the sutler's store "to buy the little necessaries to keep clean and eat." These included "a quart cup, tin plate, knife and fork, and spoon, blacking amp; brush, pr of white gloves, towel and soap, plate powder to clean your plate and buttons, a little thread, for that you pay 2.30." Matthews did not purchase a button brush and used his toothbrush for that purpose. With the 70 cents remaining, he "bought ten sheets of paper and that many envelopes, a little looking glass for ten cents, a comb, some tobacco and mailed one letter." He promised to send his parents "just as much money as I possibly can" after each payday, which he faithfully did during his five-year term. [65]

Matthews sent his family $20 after he was paid in July 1870, stating that it was "not much I know." He explained that, after the deduction for his revolver and payment of the laundress, tailor, and "several others," he had "run pretty short." He commented that he was most ashamed to send so small an amount, but have only kept 5.00 myself to have some pictures taken." [66] Matthews was apparently more concerned than most enlisted men about sending home as much of his pay as possible.

In 1874, near the end of his term of enlistment, Matthews explained in detail how enlisted men spent what money they received. He considered the purchase of supplemental food and the alteration of clothing issued by the army to be primary expenses. Beyond those were many other expenditures:

Then comes your Laundry bill $1.25 each month, and . . . your barber bill is another $1.00 per Mo. . . . One cannot wash his hands and face with Gov't Soap, and this takes a few more dimes. Nearly every soldier wears paper collars in Camp 40 cents a box. . . . Then comes combs, hair and tooth brushes, a little hair oil occasionally (for bacon grease won't answer). . . . The Gov't does not provide you with towels and one cannot always use his shirt tail. Nearly every soldier wears fine boots on stated occasions such as Inspections, Musters, Sundays and many other times. . . . This article of itself in this country costs a months soldiering. . . . These boots will not look well all the time without they are blackened, . . . and then you cannot blacken them without a brush, (a horse brush Gov't issue won't do the work). . . . (1) cloths brush 75 cents then you need several little brushes for cleaning your arms and equipments. . . . Paper, envelopes, stamps, pens, ink and paper are an expense to some. . . . Another little necessary and indespensible article is tobacco, most every soldier uses it. It is one of the greatest comforts we enjoy. . . . Cigars are too expensive and Uncle Sam has failed to supply us with pipes, so you see this is an expense that could not possibly be avoided. . . . There are many other little necessaries to be purchased with our little $13.00 per month, and when it is all added up it leaves a balance of $000,000. [67]

In 1870, in an economy drive in Congress, the base pay was reduced (effective July 1, 1871) to $13 per month with the same deductions noted above. The primary reaction of the troops was a marked increase in desertions. Over 32% of all enlisted men in the army deserted in 1871 and the rate remained high for several years. [68] At Fort Union 84 soldiers deserted in 1871. That was 20% of the average aggregate monthly garrison that year. [69] To help combat desertions, Congress established a schedule of longevity pay increases in 1872. The soldier who completed his required five-year enlistment received an additional one dollar per month for the third year of service, two dollars per month for the fourth year, and three dollars for the fifth year, all of which was retained until the soldier was discharged. The retained funds also collected 4% simple interest. [70] Longevity pay was not sufficient incentive, however, for many soldiers to put up with harsh discipline and other conditions for five years, and desertion remained a serious problem for the army. The tightfisted Congress refused to spend money to reform and improve military life. A retirement plan for enlisted men was not provided until 1885, and it required 30 years of service. [71]

There were idiosyncrasies in the system of pay. Eddie Matthews, who served in the Eighth Cavalry from 1869 to 1874, resigned his noncommissioned office of sergeant in 1873 to become a private and a clerk in the subsistence department. Because he received extra-duty pay for being a clerk, in addition to his private's salary, Matthews was paid $4.20 per month more in that position than he had received as a sergeant. As he explained to his parents, to whom he sent as much of his pay as he could spare, "I am after the dollars and cents, instead of rank." In addition, he noted, "My duties are less bothersome now than they were as Sergt." [72] An anomalous and parsimonious military system affected more than salaries.

Technological improvements in weapons, communication, clothing, accouterments, and other areas were not utilized or were introduced slowly because of the costs involved and the stocks of supplies left over from the Civil War. Army reforms came ponderously slow, too, because changes required revenues and the bureaucracy was inherently reluctant to innovate. Officer promotions were exceedingly retarded because vacancies in the finite positions seldom occurred, and the abundance of brevet ranks continued to cause confusion. [73] Second Lieutenant George B. Duncan, Ninth Infantry, began his duties as a newly commissioned officer at Fort Union in 1886. He described the post commander, Lieutenant Colonel Henry R. Mizner, Tenth Infantry, as "a relic of the Civil War, as were all the captains and many first lieutenants, probably good soldiers in their day but stagnated with inactivity and slow promotion." [74]

The lack of incentives and rewards for outstanding performance of duties was not unique to officers. Because of low pay and low esteem for soldiers, the enlisted men, according to Utley, did not "rise above mediocrity." [75] Some soldiers had little desire to risk their lives for the compensation provided. Perhaps Eddie Matthews, Eighth Cavalry, summed up the sentiment of many of his fellow soldiers when he penned his thoughts during a potential engagement with Indians while on a scouting expedition in 1872:

I knew what had to be done in case we met the Indians. My own life was at stake as well as the Generals or any of the command, and I was willing to risk that life with the rest, but not foolishly. I have too much to live for. Too many bright hopes for the future to recklessly run myself into danger. . . . As regards myself, cant say that I felt very rejoiced at the prospects of a fight with the Indians, $13.00 a month is not an incentive to throw ones life away. And as to my patriotic feelings, I candidly say, I have none. I have never been blessed with the inspiration. [76]

Later, after the Indians his detachment were pursuing had retreated and the officers ordered the troops to withdraw because of a possible ambush, Matthews declared:

And we turned and marched back to Camp. Many were the countenances which brightened up and many were the hearts made glad by this Command. I also experienced a feeling of relief when saw we were marching back to Camp, for have had all the Indian fighting I wish for the remainder of my life. [77]

Throughout the postwar years the capability and efficiency of the nation's military arm stagnated and deteriorated. Fortunately the demands on the army decreased as the Indians of the West were subdued, and places like Fort Union were active but nonessential during the last years of their existence. Significant reform of the nation's army came in 1890 and after, when Fort Union was abandoned. Life at the third Fort Union, without a driving mission, was certainly less exciting than when military action was required, as during the Indian campaigns or Confederate invasion of New Mexico. Even so, the story of people and activities form an important part of the history of the post.

The daily life of the soldier was affected by the quarters in which he lived [78] and the clothing, food, and equipment he was issued. Clothing left from the Civil War, although much of it was of inferior quality, was issued to troops for almost a decade after the war ended. Dress uniforms underwent periodic style changes during the 1870s and 1880s, but the basic dress remained the same: woolen trousers, shirts, blouses, socks, long underwear, forage caps and campaign hats (later helmets), and shoes for the infantry or boots for the cavalry. [79]

In December 1873 Eddie Matthews, Eighth Cavalry, described the changes in clothing just issued to his regiment, the new style being "taken from the Prussian Soldiers." He was pleased with the results.

We have received our New Uniform and are very well pleased with it. It consists of a Helmet with Cords, bands and plume with a large brass Eagle in front, the Cords, bands and plume are yellow. . . . The dress coat is very nice, is trimed with yellow (buff)[,] pants same as before. . . .

We all turned out this morning for Inspection in full rig for the first time and made quite a display. [80]

A few days later he expressed further pride in the attire: "We cut a dashing appearance in our New Uniforms and look quite flashy." [81]

Footwear was poorly constructed and did not fit the shape of many soldier's feet. One soldier recorded that the proper method for breaking in new shoes was to walk in the creek until they were soaked and keep them on until they had molded to the shape of the foot and dried completely. Much of the clothing issued required modifications before it fit the size and shape of the individual. Each company usually had a soldier who performed the duties of tailor in his spare time, altering and repairing uniforms for pay. Many companies also had a cobbler who repaired shoes and boots. [82]

Matthews explained the necessity and expense of utilizing the services of a company tailor:

The great trouble with the clothing is it will not fit you, and for one to dress in Government issue without having it altered is to make yourself a ridiculous looking object, and to feel generally uncomfortable. And to have your clothing altered costs considerable. In fact it costs more to have them made over than the original price of the article. . . . If we did not have them altered for our own comfort, the officers would make you have them so for appearance sake. [83]

If the post did not have a barber, someone in the company who had some skill at the trade was able to earn fifty cents per haircut in his spare time. [84] Shaving and trimming beards and mustaches, also a part of the appearance of the soldier, was usually performed by each individual. Personal hygiene was often ignored by many soldiers because bathing facilities were limited. Private Matthews, Eighth Cavalry, provided a rare description of bathing at Fort Union in December 1870 in a letter to his folks back home:

Have just taken my Saturday evenings bath. And as feel somewhat refreshed, concluded would try and write to you. The manner in which we get a bath now reminds me of home and my little brothers. We borrow a tub from one of the Laundresses, put on a large pot of water. When it is warm enough put it in a tub and jump in. Wash yourself as well as you can in front, then get one of the boy's to wash your back. That done you step out of the tub and walk forth a cleansed man. [85]

Many of the soldiers did not attend to personal cleanliness as carefully as Private Matthews, but their clothing and bedding were regularly scrubbed by laundresses (except when they were in the field). [86] Even so, the smell of the barracks where unwashed men were crowded together in compact conditions with limited ventilation added to the unpleasantness of the lives of enlisted men. Most, however, complained more about the food they received than the scent of quarters and companions.

Most soldiers reportedly grumbled about how their rations were prepared. An example of their grievances was provided by Eddie Matthews while on a scouting expedition in 1872:

Our Cooks (kind hearted fellows) thought they would treat us to some soft bread. So last night they baked. At breakfast this morning I was handed something which from its color and weight I presumed must be part of a brick, but was told by the cook that it was my ration of bread. Now I believe my digestive organs are about as strong as the majority of the white race and I would no more attempt their powers on that piece of bread, than I would on a 12 lb solid shot. I politely thanked our gentlemanly cook, but declined eating any of his fresh bread, prefering "hard tack" which had been baked in some mechanical bakery in the first year of the late Rebellion. [87]

Matthews also testified that the soldiers did not always receive full rations as regulations required. In 1874, when his company quartermaster sergeant was shorting the enlisted men on beef and bread at Fort Union, Matthews complained to his company captain, Louis T. Morris. Captain Morris investigated the complaint and, finding it to be true, ordered the errant sergeant to see to it that full rations were issued "hereafter." Matthews, who had only six months left to serve, explained to his parents:

This is the first time during my service that I made a report of the kind. And would not have made this one, only the living was getting too bad. And as my time was getting short did not want to die of starvation at this stage of the game. The men of the Company have been praising me all day for making such a change in their living. And say had any other man in the Company made the same report very likely he would have been put in the "Guard House" and no change made after all. [88]

The quality of food issued remained much as it had been prior to the Civil War. From the war years through the early 1890s, the basic army menu included hash (comprised of meat and desiccated potatoes, sometimes with other vegetables such as onions), slumgullion stew (meat and vegetables), beans, fresh beef, hardtack, salt bacon, coffee, vinegar, molasses, and bread. Bread was baked for the garrison at the post bakery and by designated cooks when troops were in the field. [89] Fresh vegetables were provided in season by post and company gardens (gardens were cultivated at Fort Union until the post was abandoned). Occasionally dried fruits (especially apples and prunes) were issued and usually cooked for serving. As before the war, fresh milk, eggs, and butter were not issued, and company funds (raised primarily from the sale of surplus rations issued to the company) were sometimes used to purchase these when available. Other purchases with such funds included, when available, fresh fruits and vegetables, poultry, pickles, sauerkraut, raisins, and condiments. [90]

The soldiers usually were treated to special meals on holidays, a pleasant break from the usual fare. Eddie Matthews described the "elegant dinner" served to the 20 men of his company present at Fort Union on Thanksgiving Day in 1873: "Had four roast turkeys, (nice ones) none of your old Gobblers, two hams, . . . biscuits, butter, pickles, (Cucumber and Beet), Coffee, bread and for desert pudding and pies in abundance. . . . We had enough left for our supper and breakfast." [91] Matthews always expressed appreciation for good food, and he was also critical of unsavory fare.

Enlisted men, as well as officers and their families, could spend some of their pay for produce brought to the post by New Mexican farmers and gardeners. In the summer of 1870 Private Matthews reported that raspberries, apples, and peaches were available from local citizens, but he complained that the berries were expensive and the apples and peaches were small, about the "size of a plum." [92] Soldiers were also able, at their own expense, to purchase all types of food from the post sutler's store, where a wide variety of basic foods and delicacies (including sardines, canned oysters, and candy) were available. After 1866 the commissary department was authorized to supply to enlisted men as well as officers, at cost, a number of foods not issued as part of the regular ration (including such items as canned fruits, vegetables, and meats). The post sutlers generally opposed this because they considered the sale of such items to be competitive and an invasion of their monopoly trade rights. Canned tomatoes and other canned vegetables were added to the regular rations issued to the soldiers in the late 1880s. [93]

Matthews testified that many soldiers spent a portion of their pay to supplement the rations they received, and he confessed that he had "spent more money perhaps than I should have since have been in the Army." He justified what he had spent to augment the army rations of "plain and substantial food" of which "one tires," and noted that a soldier "in five years will spend considerable money for little extras which help his health and living wonderfully, and which added to his government rations one can live very well." [94]

Throughout the postwar era, as before, the quality of the food was affected by the skills of the cooks. Soon after his arrival at Fort Union in 1870, Private Eddie Matthews, was "elected for a turn in that disagreeable business" of the "Cook House" for a period of ten days. He informed his family back home that,

I am very much opposed to working in the Cook House, but under the present circumstances am better off than would be, were I in the company for duty. Out of 56 men, we have only 12 for duty. Those twelve have to go on Guard every other day, only get one night in bed [out of two]. And it will be that way for two months, and perhaps more. . . . Another advantage I have in the cook house, is I always get enough to eat. And can always make some fancy little dishes to coat the appetite. At least something better than Hard Tack, and Pork. But I must say we are living very well since we came here. In the morning have Beef Steak, Bread and Coffee. Dinner Beef, Bean Soup and Bread. Supper, Coffee, Syrup Bread and Pickles. Splendid cucumber pickles. The 1st Sergt, Quarter Master Sergt & three Cooks, mess by ourselves. We always have something extra. Such as Eggs, Milk, Butter, Bread Pudding, Doughnuts &c. How is that, don't that make your mouth water. Eggs are worth 25 cts doz., Butter 50. Beef Steak 10 cts. lb., Milk 10 cts Qt. Prices here for everything is very reasonable. Very much the same as prices in the States. So different from miserable Arizona. [95]

When he was not assigned to kitchen police, however, Private Matthews frequently complained about the quality of the meals. For example, he facetiously informed his family on Sunday, June 12, 1870, that he had "just finished devouring a sumptuous repast composed of tough roast Beef and burnt beans." [96] In April 1874 he described his dinner, which included a piece of roast beef "about the size of a small sized mouse." He continued in his typical style:

And that little piece of meat contained about as much toughness as anything of its size I ever saw, not excepting rubber. I hardly think there is a dog in the Garrison (and there are about five hundred) that could make an impression on that bit of meat. Am sure he could not eat it and live. Then I had soup, soup that would make an invalid die to look at, and a well man sick to indulge in. This soup was composed of three nearly equal parts, namely cabbage, rice and sand, if there were any perceptible difference in the equalization of the ingredients it was in favor of sand. Of course I enjoyed the soup, for desert we had dry bread, so you imagine how good I feel at the present moment. It is a singular thing that here in one of the best stock raising countries in the world we get the poorest meat. One would imagine from the toughness of the meat served up to us that we are consuming some of the old pioneer cattle that crossed the plains in 49. And I guess some of it did. [97]

Later, after serving several weeks in the field and subsisting on a diet in which the principal ingredient was beans, Matthews wrote:

When I say we have had bean soup for dinner, and baked beans for supper every day for the past month and that I have eaten heartily of them at every meal, and that I like them, I only tell the truth. Still when one has beans for about a thousand meals in succession the thing becomes monotonous and considerable on the order of sameness. And I have no doubt but that I would fight if any person said beans to me when I leave this bean bellied Army. [98]

Food was always something about which soldiers could grumble. One veteran, Sergeant George Neihaus, recalled that the food at Fort Union was "rough." He remembered that the enlisted men constantly complained about the vittles and discussed how they would redress the privations endured when they returned to civilian life. [99] Eddie Matthews frequently disclosed his plans to eat well when he returned home, often expressing his desire for a chicken dinner. After the meal of tough beef and sandy soup he described above, Matthews concluded: "If I don't make those chickens wish they had never come out of their shells when I come home, it will be because I can't run fast enough to catch them." [100]

One might conclude from the sparse accounts of enlisted men which have survived that grumbling was a major leisure-time activity of frontier soldiers. Undoubtedly, complaints (real and imagined) were common subjects of conversation. How soldiers relaxed when not on duty varied considerably, but Don Rickey derived general conclusions from his interviews with veterans active during the era of the last three decades of Fort Union history, and the records of Fort Union contribute additional details. Rickey concluded that, for the enlisted personnel, "the principal barracks relaxation was visiting and talking among themselves," which would have included the ubiquitous complaining. [101]

A popular pastime for many soldiers was playing cards in the barracks, at the post trader's store, or at saloons and other places off the military reservation. Some card games involved betting and others simply provided entertainment and an atmosphere for affable conversation. Popular games without stakes included euchre, cribbage, casino, and pinochle. Whist was enjoyed by a few enlisted men, but it was a game more common among officers and their wives. The favorite gambling card games were stud and draw poker, three-card monte, and black jack. Although all forms of gambling were prohibited among soldiers, Rickey noted that some soldiers regularly "squandered all their pay in gambling." In addition to cards, dice were sometimes used for betting. Horse racing was popular among soldiers and frequently involved wagers. Despite the ban on all gambling, Rickey found that "the average low-stake barrack room games, however, were usually not rigidly policed." [102]

A rare mention of gambling at Fort Union appeared in the post records for 1886, when Post Commander Henry R. Mizner issued an order declaring that all types of gambling were prohibited "among the enlisted men." [103] It may be assumed that the order was a response to information that there was widespread gambling among the troops. The order was probably ineffectual. Aubrey Lippincott, who spent part of his youth at Fort Union as the son of the post surgeon, 1887-1891, recalled many years later that "there was always gambling." [104]

horseback riding
Horseback riding was a popular pastime at Fort Union, especially for officers and their families. Here an unidentified couple, officer and woman, are on the bluffs west of the post, which is barely visible in the background. Photo Collection, Fort Union National Monument, courtesy B. William Henry.

The soldiers also engaged in many other types of recreational activities. Rickey noted the growing importance of athletic contests after the Civil War, including "foot racing, jumping, weight-throwing, horseshoe pitching, and field sports." Baseball became one of the most popular sports in the 1870s and 1880s. [105] Other sports included boxing, horse racing (a race track was built at Fort Union in the late 1870s), lawn tennis, [106] billiards (billiard tables for officers and enlisted men were available at the post trader's store at Fort Union soon after the Civil War), bowling (Adolph Griesinger built a bowling alley in connection with his restaurant in 1868), [107] hunting, and fishing. Hunting was popular throughout the history of the post. Second Lieutenant Duncan recalled of his time at Fort Union, "I spent much of my time on horseback, hunting and riding over the country, not a fence impeded progress in any direction." [108] There was at least one sleigh at Fort Union in the winter of 1873-1874, apparently used by officers and their families for pleasure trips. [109]

A soldier-correspondent at Fort Union in the late 1880s wrote in an area newspaper that entertainment at the post included good trout fishing, duck hunting, band concerts, theater, and visits to Loma Parda, Tiptonville, and the hot springs near Las Vegas. [110] In the 1880s bicycling became a popular pastime for a few people at the post. Additional forms of recreation included dominoes, chess, checkers, practical jokes, story telling, and humorous tales. Some of the officers and their families played croquet. [111] Other diversions included singing, musical instruments (banjo, guitar, violin, and harmonica), variety shows, minstrel shows, and dances.

Philip Herrier C. E. Borden
Musician Philip Herrier, Third Cavalry band at Fort Union, about 1807. Photo Collection, Fort Union National Monument, courtesy of Grace Winterton. Private C. E. Borden, Tenth infantry bands man at Fort Union, about 1887. J. R. Riddle photo, courtesy Kansas State Historical Society.

Almost everyone who wrote about life at Fort Union, including enlisted men and officers' wives, testified to the popularity of dances. In February 1873 Sergeant Eddie Matthews, Eighth Cavalry, noted that there had been four "grand balls" at the post during the winter. Three of those had been hosted by three companies of his regiment, respectively, and the other was sponsored by the Good Templars, in which Matthews was an active leader. [112] In November 1873 the Good Templars sponsored a dance the night before Thanksgiving. Matthews reported the details to his family.

Had our Hall decorated very nicely with Flags and pictures. At 8:30 nearly all the Officers and Ladies of the Post came in and opened the Ball for us, they danced one Quaddrill and one Waltz, thanked us for the pleasure and departed. Soon as they made their exit, dancing commenced in earnest and was kept up until 12. Lunch in abundance consisting of Bread, Biscuits, butter, Ham, tea, Coffee, Cake, Lemonade, Candy and Cigars to wind up with was then served. One hour was very pleasantly spent in that kind of pastime and then dancing resumed and kept up until 6 A.M. . . . Thirteen ladies (nearly all married) and about three times that many men composed the party. And I must say it was the most pleasant little party I have seen since leaving home. [113]

Twenty-Third infantry band
Twenty-Third infantry band at Fort Union, 1883, courtesy Fort Sam Houston Museum, Department of the Army.

The Good Templars sponsored another dance on New Year's Eve, December 31, 1873. Matthews attested, "We had a real delightful time." He again provided details:

Danced from 8 to 12 M and then got on the outside of a good substantial supper. At 1 A.M. resumed hostilities and kept it up until 5 A.M. I don't think there was one in the Hall that night but what enjoyed him or herself, and I guess they all felt like me: "tired but satisfied". I was quite an important individual in the affair, was one of the Committee on Invitations, Music, and the only Floor Manager we had, besides served as Head Waiter at Supper, and in fact made myself generally useful. [114]

Music for dances was usually provided by the post band. The presence of an army band at any post was a source of entertainment for enlisted men as well as officers and their families. After the Civil War Fort Union was fortunate to have a regimental band assigned to the garrison much of the time. The bands played regularly at the post, provided music for dances and special occasions (such as weddings, welcome and farewell parties, birthday parties, and holiday festivities), and frequently gave concerts in outlying communities. In 1870 the Eighth Cavalry band from Fort Union performed for the July 4 celebration in Las Vegas. A few weeks later ten additional bandsmen and a new band leader joined the regimental band at Fort Union. Private Matthews exclaimed, "We have much better music now." [115] A few years later the Ninth Cavalry band, at that time stationed at Fort Union, presented a Fourth of July concert in Santa Fe in 1876, the centennial of American independence. A permanent bandstand was erected at the post in 1876 (there may have been temporary bandstands earlier), and weekly concerts (held inside when the weather was intemperate) were popular with enlisted men, officers and their families, and civilians. After the railroad was available for transportation, the bandsmen were invited to play for dances and other diversions in communities as far away as Denver to the north and Albuquerque to the south. The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway acquired the resort hotel at the hot springs near Las Vegas in the early 1880s, and the band was repeatedly invited to perform there for tourists and health-seekers. The musicians provided a popular form of entertainment on and off the post. [116]

Interior of quarters of Musician Joe Nevins and his wife at Fort Union, about 1887. Keeshan Collection, Fort Union National Monument.

The resourcefulness of enlisted men in providing their own entertainment at the post blossomed forth in various types of dramatic presentations, ranging from comedy to serious drama. In 1870 Private Matthews, Eighth Cavalry, noted that some members of his and another company of the regiment had presented "a Variety Theatre performance here a few nights ago." He observed they had "done very well, they took in about one hundred dollars." The participants planned "to have a performance once a week," but Matthews, who did not want to spend his austere pay for entertainment, declared, "Don't think I shall go soon again." He went one more time, however, and concluded not to go again because "the performance is very poor." [117] The officers usually encouraged play acting and occasionally joined in the act. Sometimes the actors organized a dramatic club and sometimes a group of volunteers would present a program without a formal association. Now and then a traveling show would perform at the post. The plays, regardless the sponsors and the talents of the players, were usually enjoyed by residents at the post. Once in awhile, during the latter years of Fort Union, enlisted men gave performances in nearby communities, especially Las Vegas.

In 1883 the Fort Union Dramatic Club, assisted by the Twenty-Third Infantry band stationed at the post, presented a two-night variety show in Las Vegas to raise funds for the post school. Tickets were 75 cents for reserved seats and 50 cents for general admission. After each show the band played for a dance. In 1885 the Club gave a performance of a melodrama titled "Ben Bolt" to a standing-room-only audience. Another group of enlisted men organized the Fort Union Comedy Company (later Fort Union Minstrel Troupe) which also performed in Las Vegas as well as at the post. [118] The Fort Union Minstrel Troupe was active and popular in 1888, giving performances at the post library on Monday evenings. [119]

In the 1880s, and perhaps earlier, several clubs were organized for entertainment and edification of the members, providing recreation for themselves that the army failed to offer. The recreation provided by those organizations was a more desirable alternative to the dissipation provided by saloons, gambling dens, and brothels nearby. The most popular groups, supported by many of the troops, were the social clubs, such as the Young Men's Social Club, the Crystal Social Club, and the Excelsior Social Club. The social clubs were founded primarily to sponsor hops (dances) on a regular basis at the post. Some clubs arranged for monthly hops and, at times, the dances occurred semimonthly or even weekly on Saturday nights. Most soldiers participated in these hops because the dances were an enjoyable diversion from the monotony of routine post life. [120]

In 1884 a Mr. Cory (first name unknown) offered dancing instructions for soldiers willing to pay to learn the popular steps. Apparently Cory had obtained the services of women to serve as partners for the lessons, and some of the soldiers were willing to pay for the instruction because of the opportunity to meet a female. Because of the shortage of women at the post, citizens from surrounding communities (such as Watrous, Wagon Mound, and Las Vegas) were sometimes invited at attend. Because there were always more men than women, it was common practice at the hops for some of the men to assume the identity of "ladies" (usually by tying a handkerchief around their arm) for the evening and serve as dancing partners for other men. [121] The dearth of unattached females was a chronic complaint. Most soldiers would have agreed with one of their number who bemoaned "there are few single women in the Post." [122] The hops were apparently the most popular form of entertainment at the post for enlisted men, perhaps because they usually included young women from the area, and they were also enjoyed by officers and their wives.

There were also organizations that appealed to the interests of smaller groups of enlisted men. The debating club, which apparently invited anyone interested to listen to its disputations, argued about current events and social issues as well as humorous questions. One topic was "resolved, it is better for a man to have a good mule than a wife." One soldier reported in 1885, probably in jest, that the club was debating whether macaroni grew on bushes or trees. [123] There were literary societies (one organized in 1887 was known as Kramer's Literary Association, named to honor Captain Adam Kramer, Sixth Cavalry, [124] designed to encourage reading and discussion, usually of materials contained in the post library. Literary societies also raised funds to purchase books, magazines, and newspapers. There were music clubs organized to play and sing popular music, [125] and there may have been sports clubs to encourage racing, wrestling, boxing, and baseball. Fort Union had a baseball team that competed against teams from other communities, including Las Vegas, Wagon Mound, Mora, Santa Fe, and Albuquerque. Although officers and enlisted men usually did not fraternize in sporting events, some officers did join the enlisted men to play baseball. [126]

Fort Union Baseball Club
Fort Union Baseball Club, taken at Las Vegas about 1888. Larsen Collection, Fort Union National Monument.

The recreational activities formulated by the soldiers, in the absence of programs provided by the military, were not sufficiently fulfilling for many soldiers who sought further escape from the monotony of garrison life in saloons, gambling houses, and establishments of prostitution which opened shop near every military post, including Fort Union. The consumption of alcohol, usually available at the post trader's store as well as shops in communities off the military reservation, was heavy among frontier soldiers. As one soldier expressed the widespread opinion of drinking, "it is too much the impression among us that whisky justifies anything, and that a free use of it is a necessary qualification of a gentleman." [127]

A similar viewpoint was expressed in 1880 by a retired officer, Duane M. Greene, who wrote:

The officers still cling to that antiquated idea that the hospitality of a gentleman is not complete without liquor, and therefore they keep it in their houses. They entertain generously, and the guest who drinks the greatest quantity of spirits without losing control of his senses is generally looked upon with favor. [128]

Greene noted that intoxication of officers and enlisted men was common. He concluded that "the blighting curse of intemperance destroys ninety per cent more of the Army than powder and ball." He believed the major source of alcohol for the troops was the sutler's store. "Virtually," he wrote, "the Army is a school of dissipation; and it really seems as if the establishment were kept up chiefly for the benefit of the Post Traders." He declared of post traders, "their chief business is to sell intoxicating liquors to the troops." As a result, "they get rich in a short time—rich by destroying the bodies and souls of human beings,— and their occupation is dignified by the guarantee and protection of the Government!" [129]

Greene observed that some soldiers had joined the army because they were "inveterate drunkards" who were "unable to obtain employment at their trades." And if they were not heavy drinkers when they joined, the pressures to consume were powerful. Greene explained:

Young men not inclined to intemperate habits before entering the service soon acquire them after joining. There are some who enlist through patriotic motives, expecting soldier life to be one grand gala day of hunting, bugles and "shoulder arms, but find the reality quite different from their ideal. They are compelled to associate with uncongenial people. . . . They find themselves companions of debauches of the lowest order, and are greeted on every side with prison slang and oaths. On pay-day, they see that drunkenness is almost universal—seemingly an obligation—and, unwilling to shirk anything that pertains to duty, they join in the common revelry with a vigor that soon begets the title of 'veteran.' Such is the force of example when it is constantly before a man's eyes." [130]

Although excessive consumption was disruptive and dangerous, a moderate use of alcohol was considered to be beneficial. A small issue of whiskey was a part of army rations, although not regularly provided, until 1865. [131] Before and after 1865, many soldiers purchased and consumed alcohol intemperately. Drunkenness contributed to problems of discipline and created headaches for officers (commissioned and noncommissioned) as well as the imbibers themselves. As Rickey explained, "sutlers and traders carried on a heavy whisky business immediately after payday, and high spirits rose still higher." [132]

The favorite beverage was beer, usually sold in quart bottles. The price per bottle at the trader's store on post ranged from fifty cents to one dollar, and the prices off post were about the same. After the office of post trader was abolished in 1889, post canteens, operated by the army, offered beer and wine at lower prices (from eighteen to fifty cents per drink). Although plans were made to establish a canteen at Fort Union in 1889, Commander A. P. Morrow reported in the spring of 1890 that "no Canteen has been established at this Post for the reason that the Commanding Officer was officially notified that the Post would soon be abandoned." [133] The post trader's store was destroyed by fire on December 1, 1889, and reopened in another building a few days later. Although no date has been found to indicate when the trader's store was closed at Fort Union, it apparently ceased to operate during the early months of 1890 and was not immediately replaced by a canteen for the reason noted above.

Sometime later, however, because of the depressed disposition (and accompanying disciplinary problems) of many soldiers who stagnated at the condemned post which offered neither an opportunity for rewarding action nor a place to relax and revive their spirits, the post council of administration authorized the establishment of a post canteen on October 9, 1890. Lieutenant John M. Shollenberger, Tenth Infantry, was placed in charge of the new service which included a "bar-room, billiard-room and lunch counter." Sergeant Mathias Smith, Company I, Tenth Infantry, was appointed canteen steward. Major Edward William Whittemore, Tenth Infantry, commanding Fort Union, praised the results: "The effect on discipline of the post has been marked; confinements and trials have been reduced more than one half." He attributed "the success of the canteen in a great measure to the interest taken in the same by" Shollenberger. [134] A soldier at the post, reporting on the canteen for a Las Vegas newspaper, confirmed the improvements and reported that "the men are more content now than previous to its establishment." Regarding what drinks were served at the canteen, the soldier stated that "beer is sold freely to the men; nothing stronger." [135] The availability of hard liquor had undergone several changes at the post.

Whereas the sale of whiskey at Fort Union by the post sutler was restricted during the Civil War, it was legally available for a few years thereafter. Occasionally there were restrictions. For example, Post Commander William B. Lane addressed the following instructions to William H. Moore, post sutler, at 10:20 a.m. on July 4, 1867: "There are at this early hour in the day so many evidences of drunkenness and disorder, you will please not sell or give away any more liquor to soldiers or citizens, during the day." [136] It was a day of national celebration, and an opportunity for brisk sales at the trader's store, but Moore apparently complied with the request.

Except for temporary restrictions, liquor was available at the trader's store until 1881, when President Rutherford B. Hayes, by executive order, prohibited the sale of hard liquor at all military posts. That was part of a national prohibition reform movement that swept the nation during the 1880s and after, leading eventually to the prohibition amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1919. What was not available on post, however, could be obtained at nearby drinking establishments. Sometimes the quality was inferior, even dangerous, but that did not stop the intemperate consumption and concomitant complications of drunkenness. [137] At Fort Union periodic efforts were made to remove peddlers of spirituous liquors from the reservation. As late as July 1890 that was being done, as shown in an order issued by Post Commander Albert Morrow: "1st Lieut. John N. Glass 6th Cavalry with a suitable mounted detachment will search the reservation for persons illegally engaged in the sale of liquor and if any person is found, thus engaged Lieut Glass will destroy all liquor found, together with all buildings occupied by said person or persons." [138]

Rickey discerned that "drinking can hardly be considered an approved form of recreation, but certainly it was an important relaxation and pastime for many frontier regulars." He noted that there were soldiers who refused to consume alcohol and some who drank moderately but found that "large numbers were accustomed to heavy drinking, and many spent most of their pay for beer and whisky." Despite the ramifications of excessive drinking, "the army's general attitude was one of tolerance, because officers realized that liquor provided an escape or, at least, an artificial and temporary amelioration of the dull, hard, and lonely lives of the men." [139] One Fort Union soldier, Eddie Matthews, Eighth Cavalry, pledged to his family "never to drink one drop of intoxicating liquor while I am in the Army." [140] He kept that promise and was active in temperance efforts at Fort Union. He was, however, in the minority regarding the consumption of alcohol. In 1870 he reported that, "Since Pay day, the Guard House had been full of drunken Soldiers." [141] The court records at Fort Union revealed literally hundreds of cases in which intoxication was a factor.

Many officers were just as inclined as enlisted men to consume intemperate quantities of liquor. In 1886 Second Lieutenant George B. Duncan, Ninth Infantry, who joined his regiment at Fort Wingate, New Mexico, fresh from the military academy at West Point, was offended by the drunkenness of officers and enlisted men following pay day. For "five or six days," he recalled, "intoxication was evident on all sides." Duncan recoiled from "this introduction" to army life which "made a deeply unfavorable impression and a regret that I had not resigned after graduation and taken a job which had been offered me on the New York Central Railroad." The young shavetail was soon in garrison at Fort Union, where he "began to enjoy army life" and "decided to take my profession seriously and fit myself for its responsibilities." He commented on the prevalence of pay-day intoxication at the post. "On pay day and for two days thereafter not even fatigue duty was attempted as the men were expected to get drunk and they did." [142]

At Fort Union periodic efforts were made to control the liquor traffic on and off the military reservation, with limited success. [143] The problems associated with drinking by soldiers had not been resolved by the time Fort Union was abandoned. In 1868 Colonel William N. Grier, Third Cavalry and commander of Fort Union, directed J. E. Barrow, operator of the post trader's store, to stop selling liquor to enlisted men at his "Billiard Saloon." Grier declared that the daily consumption of alcohol easily obtained there tended "to keep men in the Guard House away from duty." Somewhat apologetically, Grier recognized that this would affect the post trader's profits, and he wrote "I also understand that the Saloon pays better than the Store." [144] The trader's profits, however, were secondary to the problems created by the liquor. The success of the order could not be determined from available records. There were other sources of supply off the post, not nearly as convenient, however, as the "Billiard Saloon."

Drunkenness remained a problem despite the restrictions. In addition to preventing soldiers from performing their duties, disrupting the routine of garrison life, and increasing the population of the guardhouse, the intemperate consumption of alcohol contributed to violence, including murder. On July 6, 1869, Private Lanaghan (first name unknown), Third Cavalry, let a New Mexican into quarters to sell eggs. It was common practice for citizens in the area to sell produce to soldiers. For an unknown reason, except that he was "drunk at the time," Lanaghan "got mad" at the vendor and began to break the eggs. He then chased the New Mexican from his quarters with a pistol and shot him dead outside. [145] In spite of such tragedies, intoxication remained an inveterate problem. Such destructiveness undoubtedly persuaded temperance and prohibition advocates to intensify their campaigns.

Soon after Frank G. Jager became the new post trader at Fort Union in 1881, following President Hayes's prohibition order, Jager was directed by the post commander to close the saloon connected with his store and "see that no intoxicating Liquids of any description are sold or in any manner disposed of from your place of business until permission for doing so shall have been obtained from the Comdg Officer of the Post." [146] This was not an outright prohibition but a requirement of authorization for the sale of whatever items did not fall under the president's category of "hard liquor." The post commander presumably received clarification and Jager apparently made the proper request, for on November 1, 1881, he was granted permission "to sell beer and light wines." [147] Three weeks later Jager was provided with precise guidelines regarding the sale of those refreshments. Colonel Granville O. Haller, Twenty-Third Infantry, commanding the post, directed the post trader to close "the saloon, or drinking establishment, connected with your place of business immediately" and, thereafter, to have it open only between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and noon. In addition, Jager was forbidden to "sell, or give, to any soldier, more than three drinks of beer or wine in any one day." [148] Again, the results were not available.

The sale of hard liquor by the post trader was restricted but not always halted entirely. Rarely did evidence surface to prove that it was dispensed illegally. In the summer of 1886, however, Private David Nelson, Tenth Infantry, filed a complaint with the post adjutant against the post trader for selling him "a pint of whiskey yesterday." A. W. Conger, the post trader, declared that his barkeeper was "a reliable man" and accused Nelson of lying. Post Commander Douglass investigated the incident and concluded that Private Nelson's story was confirmed by a member of the band named Riddell (first name unknown). Riddell attested that the bartender at Conger's store sold him "a pint of whiskey for . . . fifty cents, money furnished by Nelson." Douglass then directed Lieutenant Robert C. Van Vliet, post adjutant, to inform Conger of the facts "in order that he may give special instructions to his Bar Keeper, to sell no spirituous liquors of any kind either by the drink or in quantity, under penalty of removal from this Reservation." [149]

The sale of beer continued to be the prerogative of the post trader. In 1887 a private in Company B, Tenth Infantry, requested permission to set up a company canteen in the billiard room of the company and sell beer. Colonel Douglass refused the petition and stated that the sale of beer "seems to be the exclusive privilege of the Post Trader." Moreover "the sale of beer, would be in violation of orders prohibiting any liquor in Company quarters." Douglass also argued that granting the request would set "a bad precedent, for all other companies would claim the same privilege." The increased availability of beer, Douglass believed, "would operate injuriously to discipline and good order." [150] Drunkenness was a problem to be contained as much as possible.

Attempts were periodically made by a few officers and other concerned individuals to promote temperance or abstinence. Some soldiers who had a problem with alcohol promised to stop drinking. An example was Private Thomas Howard, Company J, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen. In 1857 he was in confinement at the Fort Union guardhouse with a ball and chain because of drunkenness and insubordination while intoxicated. Post Commander Llewellyn Jones, shorthanded at the post because so many soldiers were in the field, requested permission to remit the remainder of Howard's sentence. He reported that "Howard a good man and efficient soldier when sober, makes me very solemn pledges, to abstain entirely hereafter from drinking, and I feel confident that the Public interests would be subserved, by taking him from the baneful associations of this guard house, and restoring him to duty under these pledges." [151] It was not determined if Howard made good his promises. Others continued to imbibe.

The efforts of officers to combat intoxication was aided by at least one temperance society. The Independent Order of Good Templars was founded in Utica, New York, in 1851, the same year that Fort Union was established, to promote temperance, peace, and brotherhood of all men. This fraternal organization was part of the wave of temperance reform that began in the 1820s and slowly increased in influence until nation-wide prohibition was inaugurated in 1919. The Good Templars constituted one of the strongest temperance societies during the third quarter of the nineteenth century, with thousands of lodges in the United States and several other nations by the end of the Civil War. Its influence was later superseded by the Women's Christian Temperance Union founded in 1874. Membership in the Good Templars was open to all races and creeds, and affiliates were expected to practice temperance and encouraged to abstain from the consumption of alcohol altogether. The regular meetings of the lodge members were designed to support each individual in avoiding intemperance and to seek new members. By the time of the Civil War Good Templars lodges had been established at several military posts.

The Good Templars came to Fort Union with Company K, First California Volunteer Cavalry, in 1863. As one of the soldiers in the company reported to a Santa Fe newspaper in 1864, "we were once known as the 'Drunken Ks,' & deserved it. But a good Templar lodge in our Co. has effected a radical change in our character giving us the title 'Bully Ks.'" Before leaving California, the men of Company K had organized a couple of lodges there. At Fort Union they started three Good Templar lodges, one in another company of their regiment, one in a company of the Eleventh Missouri Volunteer Cavalry, and the third as the post lodge. The Fort Union lodge was a vigorous association by late 1864, when officers and enlisted men met frequently in the evenings to promote "the cause" of temperance. [152] The location of those meetings was not determined.

The results were gratifying to the reporting soldier, who avowed that the consumption of liquor at Fort Union had decreased and drunkenness was on the decline. He enjoined his "fellow readers" to consider the merits of the Good Templars. He asked them to "contemplate the sad effect of alcohol," to "pause and reflect" on the destruction brought by intemperance, and to "resolve that you will never present an order for whiskey." [153] The validity of the claims of dwindling incidents of drunkenness were difficult to confirm, and the number of soldiers in the guardhouse as a result of infractions of regulations while under the influence of alcohol were not significantly different after the establishment of the lodge at the post. The excessive consumption of alcohol did not disappear, and the sprees after payday continued.

The Good Templars continued their efforts, usually with the support of the commanding officer because any reduction in drunkenness would benefit the garrison. In the spring and summer of 1865, when the lodge (named Washington Lodge) was reportedly "flourishing" at Fort Union, the 70 to 80 members (including civilians as well as soldiers) built a lodge hall for their meetings (a structure that apparently was also used at times as the post chapel and meeting place for other fraternities, particularly the Freemasons). The hall, the construction of which was aided by Post Commander Abreu and Quartermaster Enos, was located between the hospital and the old earthwork. [154] The lodge remained active for several years, and no record has been found to indicate when it ceased to function.

Eddie Matthews was an active member of the Fort Union Good Templars in the early 1870s. He reported in 1873 that the lodge membership included approximately 50 men, mostly soldiers, and about 15 women. [155] Later that year, the day after a lodge meeting, he wrote: "Ten men members were added to our number and still the cause is progressing." [156] Matthews was elected Worthy Recording Secretary of the Fort Union Good Templars, and he proclaimed, "It is an elegant Office but don't pay anything." He saw it as just another clerking job. [157] The following year he was elected Worthy Vice Templar. [158] The effectiveness of the Good Templars in reducing drunkenness could not be determined from available records. Matthews was pleased to report, without giving any reason for the unusual conduct, that on January 1, 1874, "New Year's day passed off quietly and was an exception to most holidays seen in the Army. As no drunken Soldiers were seen meandering about the Garrison." [159]

In February 1874 the Fort Union Good Templars sponsored a lecture by Acting Assistant Post Surgeon C. M. Clark, apparently expecting him to further their cause. They were sadly disappointed, however, as Matthews explained:

The Monotony of Garrison life was disturbed a little by the Lecture delivered by Dr. Clark, Acting Post Surgeon, this evening. Subject "A trip to the Moon". The Hall was crowded, and every person anticipated a Comic Lecture, for the subject would naturally impress one as being if not Comic (rather flighty).

Finally the Lecturer arose with a pile of Manuscript before him which looked like he intended business, but alas for great expectations, for a sillier discourse I never listened to. Neither sense or nonsense could be heard. Nothing but the foolish ideas of an idiot who's small brain was destroyed altogether from the influence of liquor. After listening to this lunatic for an hour we returned to our homes feeling something like I suppose a dog would that had been caught in the act of sheep stealing. We were badly sold. [160]

Perhaps Dr. Clark's aberrant behavior convinced some of the listeners of the deleterious effects of excessive drinking. According to Matthews, following a lodge meeting a few weeks later, the Good Templars continued "in a flourishing condition and increasing in number every meeting night. Initiated three new members tonight and received propositions for membership of two others." [161] Two weeks later Matthews reiterated the lodge's success: "The Lodge is in a flourishing condition and new members joining every meeting night. We meet again tonight and will have four or five to initiate." [162] Clearly, Matthews believed in the cause and was convinced the lodge helped to deal with a serious problem. The Good Templars may have reduced the consumption of liquor, certainly they did in some cases, but inebriation of enlisted men and officers continued to be a problem so long as troops were stationed at Fort Union.

Because of various restrictions on the sale of liquor at the post, much of the drinking was done off the reservation, especially at the community of Loma Parda, approximately six miles away. [163] Loma Parda was an irrigation farming and grazing community established about the time Fort Union was founded as part of the expansion of Hispanic settlement along the Mora River. The farmers sold produce at Fort Union throughout the life of the post. The area was noted for its fine vegetables and fruits. It was Loma Parda's proximity to the garrison that made it an attractive site for soldiers and civilian employees at Fort Union to obtain what was not available on the military reservation. Although Loma Parda was the premier retreat for soldiers with a pass to leave the post, a number of other communities were also visited. These included Tiptonville, La Junta (later Watrous), Mora, Las Vegas, and Wagon Mound. As David Keener noted in his thorough study of Loma Parda, the "interaction" between New Mexicans and soldiers in these communities developed "the cultural amalgamation characteristic of the American Southwest." [164]

Some citizens of Loma Parda, including Hispanos and Anglos, catered to the desires of soldiers seeking pleasure. There were saloons, dance halls, gambling joints, and prostitutes. The town also had a mill, general store, repair shops, school, and church. In 1870 the town and surrounding community had a population of 412, and occupations represented besides farmers and housekeepers were merchant, stonemason, miller, tailor, baker, butcher, carpenter, tinsmith, freighter, and laborer. [165] The town received economic benefits from Fort Union, and it declined after the post was abandoned. During the four decades of affiliation between the fort and the town, which Keener called "a relationship of mutual exchange," Loma Parda was a favored spot for soldiers to unwind. It was, for that reason, also a headache for commanding officers.

Interestingly, no references to Loma Parda were found in military records until the time of the Civil War. One of the First Colorado Volunteers who served in New Mexico in 1862, Ovando J. Hollister, later recalled the activities in the town which he called "Lome." After explaining that some members of his regiment broke into the sutler's "cellar and gobbled a lot of whisky, wine, canned fruit, oysters, etc." the night before they departed from Fort Union to meet the Rebels at Glorieta Pass, Hollister left a vivid description of the departure on March 22, 1862: ". . . the command was scattered from Dan to Beersheba, burying plunder, drinking, fighting and carousing with Mexican women, at the Lome, a small 'Sodom' five or six miles from Union." [166]

A few days after the engagement at Glorieta, the troops returned to Fort Union only to leave a day later to help chase the Confederates from the territory. Hollister's company camped the evening of April 5 at Loma Parda. The following day five men of the company deserted, and on April 7 a detail was sent "back to Lome to see if our supposed deserters might not possibly be there on a spree." [167] They were not found. Later in the summer the Colorado Volunteers returned to Fort Union, and Hollister described the enticements of Loma Parda.

The small Mexican town called Lome . . . became the rage. Fandangos, Lome lightning, and Pecadoras [sinners] were the attractions, and rows of considerable magnitude were of nightly occurrence. The guard-house was filled with Lome cadets, and the hospital with Lome patients. The hole was an unmitigated curse to the soldiers, but was most generously patronized nevertheless. [168]

Later, when one of the volunteers killed a man on the march to Denver, Hollister stated "the act was laid to the Lome 'rot,' in which he had soaked himself for the last few weeks." [169]

One incident at Loma Parda had international ramifications. A citizen of the village, José; Miguel Bernadet, presumably a Spanish national, complained to the minister plenipotentiary of Spain at the nation's capital that some of the Colorado Volunteers had attacked his residence on June 21, 1862, and inflicted $4,101.17 in damages (this figure apparently included the theft of valuable bill of exchange). Bernadet begged for assistance in obtaining compensation from the U. S. government. The grievance was sent to Secretary of State William H. Seward, who informed the war department. In due course, over one year later, Brigadier General Carleton was directed to investigate, and he sent Captain William H. Rossell, Tenth Infantry, to examine the facts and "so conduct the investigation as to shew the character . . . of the complainant . . . [and] to shew the disreputable character of Loma Parda, and its inhabitants generally." [170]

Captain Rossell gathered statements under oath from the complainant, Bernadet; the post commander, Captain Peter Plympton; Justice of the Peace José M. Nabardo; a notary public in Mora County, Thomas H. Thompson; and the following citizens: J. A. LaRue, William Krönig, William A. Bransford, Patrick Phelan, José C. Archuleta, and Juaquin Rodrigues. The contents of those statements were not found, but they apparently attested that Bernadet's claim was unsubstantiated." [171] Exactly what damage, if any, was inflicted on his property by the Colorado Volunteers was not determined. It is important to note, however, that Carleton's instructions emphasized the military department's view of the village as a disreputable place.

Other incidents contributed to that perception. In August 1862, Major Henry Wallen, commanding Fort Union, reported to department headquarters that he received information that "a riot was going on at Loma Parda." He sent troops to assess the situation. They found that a recently-discharged soldier named Esler (alias Curley) had shot and wounded another discharged soldier. Esler, described as "a desperado" who had "the reputation of having killed one or two men," was apprehended and incarcerated in the post guardhouse. Major Wallen requested instructions regarding Esler, wanting to know if he should be tried by a military commission or released. [172] The response was not located, but the report confirmed that the village beside the reservation was a troublesome site.

The drinking, fighting, and other disruptions caused by the purveyors of refreshments at Loma Parda brought intervention by the post commander, Captain Peter Plympton, Seventh Infantry, in March 1863. He secured a bond of $1,000 from three businessmen of Loma Parda: Martias Baca, Antonia Montoya, and Julian Baca. The latter operated the famous dance hall at Loma Parda and the others presumably managed saloons or similar establishments. The three agreed to forfeit the $1,000 if they violated the terms of the bond, "to sell no Liquors of any kind whatsoever to the U. S. troops or to Army followers during the present rebellion." [173] If the parties kept the terms of the agreement could not be determined, but liquor continued to be available in Loma Parda during the remainder of the Civil War and after. The town remained a source of affliction in the eyes of military authorities.

Even though most of the residents of Loma Parda were engaged in agriculture and legitimate businesses, the disreputable enterprises made the entire community an object of contempt to officers concerned about the deleterious effects on soldiers who patronized them. Apparently all efforts to prevent enlisted men from frequenting Loma Parda failed. Some officers were known to sojourn there. Near the close of the Civil War the department inspector general, Colonel Nelson H. Davis, in his report of an inspection of Fort Union, noted his objections to Loma Parda and recommended that something be done about it. Davis described Loma Parda as "a Mexican village" which was "a vile immoral and demoralizing place, and a festering nuisance to this Post." It was not clear if Davis had visited Loma Parda or was reporting what the officers at the post told him. His condemnation was harsh. "Whiskey and women," he declared, "curse this locality." He stated that "some fifteen soldiers, more or less, are reported to have been shot at this place." The provost sergeant stationed at Loma Parda had recently been shot in the leg. Davis strongly urged that "some means . . . be devised to abate this evil." [174]

Colonel Davis and Department Commander Carleton soon conceived a plan "to break up that great nuisance to the post and depot at Fort Union, viz: Loma Parda." After consulting with a territorial judge, Joab Houghton, regarding the possible solution, Carleton directed Major Herbert M. Enos, quartermaster department, to attempt to lease the entire village of Loma Parda from its owners for "a nominal rent." If leases could be arranged with all the property owners, Enos was authorized to do so. [175] Enos was unable to conclude such arrangements. Even if he had, most likely the businesses that profited from the soldiers would have found new locations near the military reservation and continued to offer the same products and services.

In fact some civilians came to the post, in violation of army regulations, to offer their disreputable professions to enlisted men and officers. In May 1865 the new post commander, Lieutenant Colonel Edward B. Willis, First New Mexico Volunteer Infantry, directed the provost marshal at Fort Union to notify all citizens "within the limits of the garrison not in Government employ," to remove themselves within 24 hours. Any who remained were to be arrested and placed in the guardhouse. The order especially applied to "any citizens at the Post for the purpose of gambling either with officers or enlisted men" and to "females without legitimate business." [176] It would seem that not all soldiers had to visit Loma Parda to engage the services of gamblers and prostitutes, although such orders, if strictly enforced, may have made that necessary at times.

Frank Olsmith, an eighteen-year-old private soldier who later recorded his recollections of escort duty with the Doolittle Commission to New Mexico in the summer of 1865, was attached to the garrison at Fort Union when those restrictions were in effect. [177] He characterized life at the post during the time of transition from the earthwork to the third fort, which he described as "located in a dreary, treeless and practically grassless plain," as "monotonous and uninteresting." He found the place lonely and dreary. "There was a great dearth of white feminine society, no provision whatever being made for comfortable housing of ladies, and very little for the officers and men." Olsmith commented on leisure activities and the popularity of Loma Parda.

He noted that "gambling with cards, dice, and now and then horseracing formed the principal recreation." He also observed, in contrast to the conception of many officers, that "there was little drunkenness at any time." The reason, he believed, was that "whiskey was so scarce and hard to get that it was better to stay sober." Perhaps the various restrictions on the availability of alcohol were being effectively enforced at the time. Olsmith confirmed that "a little village called Loma Parda, within a half hour's ride of the post, was the chief recreation center." His recollections, similar to those of other soldiers and apparently oblivious to the fact that Loma Parda was predominantly a village of agriculturalists, were that "the population derived their subsistence largely from catering to the desires of the troops for social entertainment, amusement, wine rooms and restaurants." He remembered that "dancing pavilions, most of them with gambling places in connection, were plentiful and were for the most part well patronized from early eve to dewy morn."

The music was very good, exclusively of the Spanish type. At the fandangoes, as the balls were termed, the New Mexican girls were adept at waltzing. The young fellows our command found it all most enjoyable. [178]

Olsmith retained favorable attitudes toward the natives and observed that, "for amusement they depended chiefly on dancing, music and gambling."

It was this trait, I grieve to say that made Loma Parda one of the principal resorts for pleasure of our command. Every night parties were formed with consent and often the participation of our commanding officers, where we danced, smoked and indulged in flirtations with the native damsels over glasses of white Mexican wine, until the approach of dawn in the Eastern sky. With it all there was little drunkenness, the utmost of good humor. [179]

According to Olsmith, Loma Parda was a fountain of pleasure for many soldiers, a refreshing escape from the lackluster life at the post. "For many of them," he reminisced, "it was the one place in all that country that they left with a feeling of regret." Before the summer was over and Olsmith's unit was sent to escort Carson, he avowed that several soldiers "had acquired sweethearts among the damsels of Loma Parda and were loath to leave them." Those feelings were reciprocated "by a number of the young women." In fact, Olsmith claimed, when some of the women heard the soldiers were leaving, they "packed their possessions in a bundle, brought them to our camp, and with tears of sorrow streaming down their cheeks, besought Captain Hyde for permission to share our march to the states, with their lovers." But, Olsmith concluded with a tone that hinted he may have been personally involved rather than merely a disinterested reporter, the pleas were "to no avail. Permission could not be granted, for under regulations no provision is made for taking along the wives of soldiers on a march through enemy country." [180]

Few other enlisted men had provided such detailed information about the enticements of Loma Parda. Olsmith's perspective was generally more moderate and positive about the community than were the disapproving opinions of some officers. The latter, on the other hand, responsible for discipline and safety of the troops, were often justified in their attitudes. Because some of the soldiers had appetites for the offerings at Loma Parda and similar places beyond their meager pay, they misappropriated government property which they traded or sold in order to support their habits. [181] The losses were sufficient cause to police the traffic from the post to the village. In addition, there were acts of violence, usually fueled by consumption of too much alcohol, that resulted in injury, sometimes death, destruction of property, and hard feelings.

On the night of May 20, 1866, two soldiers from Fort Union were badly wounded in a fight with citizens at Loma Parda. Major John Thompson, First New Mexico Volunteer Cavalry, who assumed command of Fort Union on April 27, 1866, [182] went to Loma Parda to investigate. He concluded that the soldiers had been attacked by citizens "without any provocation on the part of the soldiers." Thompson requested the alcalde to arrest the guilty citizens. The alcalde responded with a requisition that a number of soldiers be turned over to him to charge with "a breach of the peace." [183]

Thompson considered the complaint against the soldiers to be an attempt to shield the guilty citizens at Loma Parda. He reported to district headquarters that "it is a notorious fact, that a majority of the residents of the place are thieves and 'Cut-throats' subsisting entirely, upon what they can procure from the Soldier, and do not hesitate to resort to any means, however infamous to procure it." Thompson considered the motive to arrest soldiers to be a scheme to make more profits from their presence in the town. "Should I accept the statement of these notorious characters," Thompson wrote, "charging soldiers with offences; and permit them to be taken to Loma Parda for trial by the Alcalde, this post would be largely represented at the place." Once there, the commander predicted, "the soldiers would be detained, so long, as a dollar, or a dollar's worth of property could be gleaned from them." He refused to surrender any soldiers to the alcalde. [184]

After the episode of May 20, Thompson was determined to do everything possible to stop soldiers of the garrison from visiting Loma Parda. First, he sent a small detachment of soldiers to the village to "arrest and send to the Post of Fort Union any and all soldiers who may visit the Loma Parda, N. M." Second, he issued an order prohibiting any enlisted men at the post "from visiting the Loma Parda, N. M. under any pretext whatever." He promised that violators would "be severely punished." [185]

The threat of punishment did not prevent soldiers from going to Loma Parda. On July 15, 1866, Major Thompson learned that Sergeant José M. Martinez and six privates Nicolas Apodaca, Rafael Baca, José I. Gonzales, José Cordero, Jesus Paz, and Polonio Paz) of the First New Mexico Volunteer Infantry had gone to Loma Parda, where they were arrested and detained by the alcalde. Thompson sent Lieutenant Thomas Clancy, First New Mexico Volunteer Infantry, with a detail of soldiers to investigate and demand the release of the troops. Clancy was unsuccessful, and the alcalde stated he would hold the soldiers "until he saw fit to try them." [186]

Clancy reported that the alcalde exclaimed "that he did not care a damn for me, the Commanding officer, or any other Military authority (or words to that effect)." Clancy's request to be informed "as to the cause of the detention of the soldiers" went unfilled, except the alcalde "alleged that they were under charges for a breach of the peace." It appeared that the alcalde, after failing to obtain the surrender of troops from the post commander, had taken it upon himself to arrest troops who came to Loma Parda. Because of the clash between the military and the alcalde, Clancy recommended that a special guard be established at the Loma Parda to prevent soldiers from going to that resort of "thieves and Cut-throats." [187] Lieutenant Clancy did not state how the guard was to be kept from patronizing the shops at the town.

Further confrontation over this particular incident was avoided when the detained soldiers were quickly tried at Loma Parda, on July 16, acquitted of all charges of breaking the peace, and released. As soon as the seven soldiers returned to Fort Union, they were confined to the guardhouse for being absent from the post without leave and violating the ban on visiting Loma Parda. They were likely punished by courts-martial, although the records of their trials were not located. The recommendation to station a guard at Loma Parda was sent to district headquarters, and Brigadier General Carleton rejected the idea. [188] Thompson probably was relieved when he was transferred from Fort Union in August 1866, leaving the problems of Loma Parda to his successors and the district commander. Brigadier General Carleton, who had encouraged all efforts to close down Loma Parda, was replaced in March 1867.

Before new commanders were prepared to deal with the notorious (and reviled) community, Lieutenant Charles Speed, Fifth Infantry, who was stationed at Fort Union and a product of excessive consumption of liquor and patron of the unscrupulous pleasures at Loma Parda, was dismissed from the service. A native of England who entered the army as a private in 1855 and became an officer during the Civil War, Speed became a wretched and irresponsible troublemaker following his defeat by demon rum. Two senior officers of his regiment, Major Elisha G. Marshall and Captain Henry C. Bankhead, brought a series of charges against Speed (Bankhead preferred the charges which were approved by Marshall), which resulted in his dismissal by approval of the war department on January 29, 1867, and effective March 1 of that year. [189]

Major Marshall described Speed as a "Miserable man . . . of the most disreputable character." Speed was guilty of "vicious conduct" who had "made threats" against his superior officers. Marshall also reported that Speed was "a dishonorable and disreputable person" who refused to "pay his mess bill and . . . his commissary and Sutler's Accounts." After his trial it was learned that Speed "was also guilty of visiting the Town of Loma Parda, and gambling with Qr. Mr. Employes and Enlisted men, being absent without leave and returning without hat, coat or pants in almost a nude state to his quarters at the Post." [190] That statement implied that Speed's reputation was further tarnished (if that were possible) by his association with Loma Parda, as though somehow the infamy of the community made those who went there disgraceful. The insinuation was that the mere name of the community was a synonym for contemptible behavior.

Certainly Speed was a contemptible being, whether he went to Loma Parda or not, and he did not take his dismissal calmly. He preferred charges against Bankhead and Marshall, accusing them, among other things, of filing false reports, making false musters, keeping private horses in government stables, having soldiers neglect their public duties in order to perform private duties, and illegally using soldiers as servants. Although Speed dated his charges with February 28, 1867, which was the day before his dismissal was effective, he did not offer the charges until March 3. It appeared Speed had backdated his letter. His charges were not taken seriously because the records did not substantiate nor would any soldiers corroborate them. No other officer endorsed them because, as Marshall stated, "Speed's reputation in the 5th Infantry is so well known that he was Coventry [ostracized] by all officers who have served with him." [191] It was revealing that the unfortunate case of Speed's behavior was associated with Loma Parda.

When Colonel George W. Getty became district commander in 1867, and Captain Lane was commanding at Fort Union, Getty thought he may have found a solution to the problem of Loma Parda. On some maps of the Fort Union military reservation, it appeared that the village was on the reserve. Getty directed Lane to determine if that were true and, if so, to shut down all businesses in the village for violating army regulations that prohibited the sale of any item by civilians (except appointed sutlers) on military reservations. It seemed to be a feasible solution, if Loma Parda were on the reserve. Of that fact, however, Captain Lane had serious doubts. [192]

Lane had a map that had been drawn in 1866, which had apparently never been approved by proper authority, showing a portion of Loma Parda within the reservation. On that map, according to Lane, Loma Parda was shown "to consist of between two and three hundred people, some four or five stores, and numerous places for the sale of liquor." "In the vicinity," he continued, "there is quite a quantity of land under cultivation, a large portion of which is included in the map referred to." Lane feared the 1866 map was not an accurate reflection of the reservation that had been established years earlier, and was hesitant to try to evict anyone from Loma Parda. He explained his apprehensions and gave his views on the place:

In view of all these facts, I do not feel authorized to act so far as to close stores, or remove the inhabitants of a town (Loma Parda) of comparatively long standing, without instructions, especially when such action on my part, would probably, be met with resistance, and be the subject of litigation for years to come.

The town itself is a nuisance to the Post, and although there are doubtless some good people in it, its general character is that in the male population there is a large majority that are rascals, thieves, and murderers, and as regards the women, they are very much abused, if a majority are not prostitutes of the lowest class; I do not however speak from experience.

It is proper to add however that the bad name of the place is increased from the fact, that it is a favorite place for the blackguards of this vicinity (This Post and Depot included) to meet and concoct schemes of rascality, and to fight out old and make new quarrels. [193]

Lane confirmed what many officers thought about Loma Parda, but a resolution for the problem seemed beyond the reach of the army.

Some officers believed that Loma Parda might be a temporary hideout for deserters. Rarely, however, were soldiers who had decided to separate prematurely from the army found there. Undoubtedly some potential deserters decided to flee while at Loma Parda or as a result of the temerity they acquired there. In 1869 two deserters from Fort Bascom, Privates Walter F. Woods and Henry Rauscher, Third Cavalry, were apprehended at Loma Parda. [194] Instead of encouraging desertion, however, the pleasures available at Loma Parda may have provided sufficient relief from the tedium of garrison life to help combat the propensity to escape from the service.

So long as there were no blatant offenses associated with Loma Parda, it seemed easiest to most commanders to look the other way and permit the soldiers to visit the village, provided they had a pass to leave the post. It was virtually impossible to enforce regulations placing Loma Parda off limits. An incident, involving an attack against New Mexican citizens by soldiers, in September 1870, engendered the next crackdown. Details of the incident were provided by Private Eddie Matthews, Eighth Cavalry, who was not present although troopers of his regiment were involved. Matthews described Loma Parda as "a Mexican town seven miles from here" where "there are several drinking saloons and two dance halls" and "plenty of Mexican Women in the town to dance." [195]

The trouble began, according to Matthews, on the evening of September 11, 1870, when a bugler of Company D, Eighth Cavalry, was beaten at Loma Parda by "a couple of Mexicans." There was no explanation as to how this fight had occurred. When it was learned at the post, "about forty Soldiers" slipped away from Fort Union "after Tat-too, . . . all armed with Revolvers, with the intention of taking the two Mexicans that whiped the bugler out and hanging them." They found the accused New Mexicans at a wake being held for a child that had died, captured them, and headed toward Fort Union with the prisoners. The local alcalde attempted to halt the proceedings with a drawn revolver, but he was disarmed and made prisoner as well. At some point on the military reservation the party stopped and decided on the punishment of the prisoners. Some of the soldiers wanted to hang them, but the majority determined to whip them as a warning. Each of the three prisoners, including the alcalde, was given "fifty lashes on the naked skin" with a soldier's belt. [196]

The New Mexicans were then warned that, "if any man of the 8th Cavalry was ever touched again by any of them, they would come over and hang every Mexican in the town." Matthews believed that the point had been made effectively. However, one or more officers at the post had seen the troopers leaving the post without leave and had conducted a roll call to determine who was not present in quarters. The following day all those who had been absent, including four sergeants, were confined to the guard house for several hours. [197] Colonel Gregg, commanding Fort Union, declared on September 13 that "the disgraceful and unlawful proceedings of a few of the Non-Commissioned Officers and private soldiers of this Garrison on Sunday last [September 11] at or near Loma Parda" made it necessary to issue an order regarding soldiers' behavior and to request the assistance of the alcalde at Loma Parda in its enforcement. [198]

The new orders specified that no enlisted man could go to Loma Parda "without express permission of the Commanding Officer." An ordinary leave of absence was not sufficient. Those who received permits were forbidden "to carry with them any public arms." The soldiers were also instructed "to be of such a character as to command the respect of the people." These orders were to be read to the garrison daily at retreat. The circular admonished each soldier "to uphold the laws, not to violate them; to protect the citizen, not to outrage and maltreat him." Gregg warned that a soldier who "permits himself to be hurried into such excess of outrage and cruelty as that of Sunday night he justly loses the respect of all good citizens and the confidence and sympathy of his Officers." [199]

The alcalde was asked to "rigidly enforce the civil law against Soldiers from this Garrison who may visit the town," and to apprehend any found in violation of the new orders. Gregg carefully explained his motives to the alcalde: "It is not my intention to forbid all intercourse between the citizens of Loma Parda and the Garrison, but in a repetition of the disgraceful occurrences of last Sunday night, it is necessary that the intercourse should be guarded by rigid rules." [200] How cooperative the alcalde was could not be discerned. Most of the soldiers followed the regulations, including the restrictions on weapons.

At least one enlisted man was caught and convicted of violating the rules. Undoubtedly there were others. Private John Raerick, Troop L, Eighth Cavalry, was charged with visiting Loma Parda without proper permission, December 24-28, 1870, and being absent without leave. At his trial on January 6, 1871, Private Raerick pled guilty to both charges and was sentenced to forfeit one month's pay, to be confined to the limits of the garrison for the same period of time, and to perform whatever extra police duty his troop commander directed during that month. [201] In January 1871 Private Matthews informed his family that he had missed seeing a horse race at the post because he had been "on Patrol after absent Soldiers in Loma Parda." [202]

There were occasional incidents of violence at Loma Parda. A member of the Eighth Cavalry band, stationed at Fort Union, was murdered near Loma Parda in October 1871. It was believed he was killed for his clothes and any money he may have possessed. His body was found nude and mutilated. Two "natives" were arrested and charged in the case. [203] In November 1882 Private James Gay, Company A, Twenty-Third Infantry was assassinated at Loma Parda. After spending "the greater portion of the night in the company of a Mexican woman," Gay was shot in the back of the head when he left her house. [204] The violence was compounded when some of Gay's fellow soldiers went to Loma Parda to avenge his death. They lynched the man they thought was guilty and committed an even greater crime in the process. They later discovered they had hanged the wrong man. [205]

In 1887 Sergeant Winfield S. Hamilton, Company B, Tenth Infantry, was found dead at Loma Parda. The cause of death was not determined, and there was no evidence of foul play. [206] Several other deaths of soldiers and citizens of Loma Parda were reported but not confirmed. [207] The prostitutes at Loma Parda were also sources of venereal diseases, which Rickey found "were the most common and widespread serious illnesses among the rank and file." [208]

In December 1877 an outbreak of smallpox at Fort Union was traced to prostitutes at Loma Parda. [209] The following month, because of the dangers of that disease, the post commander, Major Albert P. Morrow, Ninth Cavalry, directed that residents of the post who had not been vaccinated were to be inoculated by the post surgeon, and "officers, servants, and camp followers" who had been vaccinated were to be revaccinated. Morrow also prohibited "all communication between this post and Loma Parda." How long Loma Parda was to be off limits was not specified, but presumably the ban was enforced until the smallpox outbreak was over. Morrow put some teeth in his interdiction by providing that "any violation of this order will be punished by General Court Martial in cases of enlisted men, or expulsion from the Reservation in cases of Civilians and Laundresses." [210]

Despite the risks of violence, disease, and death, as well as the many restrictions placed on getting there, Loma Parda remained the popular place for soldiers to unwind. And the townspeople usually welcomed the soldiers because the money they spent contributed significantly to the local economy. In the 1870s, and perhaps before and after, some resourceful merchants in Loma Parda and enterprising individuals from the area provided taxi service for troops going to and from Loma Parda. The going rate was fifty cents one way. When taxi service was not available, the soldiers usually walked to and from the village. Sometimes as many as 20 to 25 soldiers would go to Loma Parda at the same time. [211]

There was no record that Loma Parda was again placed off limits to soldiers after 1878. The policy of restricting passes, as was done in 1870 (see above), was periodically revised by commanding officers. In 1881 Colonel Granville O. Haller, Twenty-Third Infantry, soon after taking command of Fort Union, issued "rules relating to the performance of military duty" at the post. [212] Included were details on passes, designed to constrain the soldiers' visits to Loma Parda and other such places. Enlisted men were "positively forbidden to go beyond one mile from the flag-staff . . . (except when upon military duty,) for any purpose whatever, without passes duly signed by their immediate commanding officer." Passes were to be issued to individuals only and include the place or purpose of the permit. If a soldier planned to go to Loma Parda, for example, that would have to be designated on his pass. Any enlisted man found beyond the limits prescribed by his pass or without a pass was to be arrested for desertion. [213]

When the soldier returned to the post from authorized leave, he was to report to the guardhouse and surrender the pass to the noncommissioned officer in charge of the guard. That officer was to "inspect each soldier as to sobriety and cleanliness" and record his findings on the pass. The results of that inspection were significant. Colonel Haller made it clear that, while he would make passes available to those who followed the rules, "any one returning in a demoralized condition, or who has behaved badly, will be deprived of the privileges of again leaving the post on pass." [214] The order did not specify how long the ban would be in effect, which doubtless meant it was at the discretion of the commanding officer. As always, it should be noted, some soldiers failed to follow regulations and were arrested for being absent without leave, confined to the guardhouse until a court-martial tried their case, and punished by loss of pay, special duty assignments, or both. Repeat offenders usually received more severe penalties.

The urge to visit Loma Parda remained strong and at least one additional restriction was imposed to reduce unauthorized ventures at night. In the autumn of 1885 Colonel Henry Douglass, post commander, inaugurated a curfew at the post which required all enlisted men to be in bed in their barracks at 9:00 p.m. To enforce the rule, noncommissioned officers were ordered to conduct bed checks. Sergeant Neihaus recalled that, for some soldiers, the desire to visit Loma Parda was so powerful that they placed dummies in their bunks to fool inspecting sergeants. [215] In 1888 Private John Nolan, Company F, Tenth Infantry, was found guilty by court-martial as follows: "Having been refused permission by his Company Commander to be absent from his company barracks after taps, did, with intent to deceive and prevent his absence from barracks being discovered, persuade a Recruit to sleep in his bunk." [216] Another soldier remarked that the curfew meant that "the mashers, who used to walk their girls through the sagebrush under the silvery moon, must now go to sleep at 9:00." As a result, he asserted, "the girls are now happy for they can get a little rest at night." [217]

Soldiers continued to visit Loma Parda so long as they were stationed at Fort Union. Among many officers, the little village remained synonymous with evil and wickedness. David Keener, in his comprehensive investigation of the history of the town, concluded that the incidents of violence at Loma Parda "have been exaggerated out of proportion and beyond what can be documented." He found insufficient evidence to show that Loma Parda was more violent than other communities in the region. The army caused as many problems for the citizens of Loma Parda as the unscrupulous dispensers of pleasure there created for the military. Neither the army nor the law enforcement officials in Loma Parda were able to control rowdy elements. The town had a reputation that it did not entirely deserve. [218] It undoubtedly was maligned more than other towns around the military reservation because it was the closest and most convenient community to the post.

Loma Parda, unlike the many "hog ranches" associated with frontier military posts, was not founded primarily to provide entertainment for the troops. It had done that because it was conveniently situated and entrepreneurs were always available to cater to military personnel. The village, it must be emphasized, existed as a viable agricultural community during and after the time Fort Union was an active post, and it became a ghost town in the twentieth century, long after the post was abandoned, as did many other small agricultural communities in the region. [219] It needs to be emphasized, too, that gambling, prostitution, and alcohol were often available at Fort Union, usually illegally (except for the alcohol in some periods) to be sure.

In October 1867 John Smith and Andrew Cameron were caught selling whiskey to soldiers on the military reservation. They were also purchasing clothing, arms, and other military equipment from the soldiers. Post Commander John R. Brooke, Thirty-Seventh Infantry, confiscated all their property, including a wagon, two ponies, three mules, harness, and a "number of articles." These were held at Fort Union awaiting word from the district commander regarding disposal. Brooke believed that Smith and Cameron were "part of the gang of horse thieves infesting this country." [220]

In June 1870, in another case involving alleged thieves, Post Surgeon DeWitt C. Peters endorsed a complaint from Adolph Griesinger, who operated a restaurant and bowling alley at Fort Union, to Colonel John Irvin Gregg, Eighth Cavalry, commanding the post, as follows:

I have the honor to inform the Commanding officer that I reported the Market House next to Griesinger's Restaurant as being the resort of thieves vagabonds and the worst class of Mexican Prostitutes - who plying their various vocations contaminate the garrison. . . . I would recommend that the Officer of the day and guard visit the place daily and cause these bad characters to leave as a sanitary measure. [221]

Colonel Gregg immediately ordered that, "the Mexican Market, . . . having been reported as a nuisance and resort of thieves and gambling, hereafter the Officer of the Day will cause the place to be visited frequently during the day and night by patrols, whose duty it will be to prevent loafing and gambling." [222] Later that same year Colonel Gregg took action against other vendors of joy at the post. He instructed the commander of Company L, Eighth Cavalry, to "direct Citizen Charles ______ and Mrs. Charles ______ the latter a Laundress in Troop 'L' 8th Cavy, to leave this military reservation at once, and not to return, the former for selling whiskey, and the latter for allowing women of bad character in their quarters." [223]

Thus it was not always necessary to reach Loma Parda or some other facility off the reservation for such diversions as drinking, gambling, and prostitution. The various restrictions on such activities at the post, on the other hand, must have contributed to the attractiveness of Loma Parda, a place some officers considered, like the Mexican Market, to be "a nuisance and resort of thieves and gambling." Such claims were indubitably exaggerations. The assertion of Major Thompson in 1866 that a majority of the citizens of Loma Parda were cutthroats and thieves was untrue, as the census of 1870 confirmed. [224] Despite its reputation, a good portion of which was apparently undeserved, the town outlasted the fort. The relationship of Loma Parda and the soldiers at the post formed an important component of life at Fort Union. It was one of the few places where officers and enlisted men intermingled. The prime opportunities for fellowship between military classes was found in fraternal orders, such as the Good Templars (see above) and Freemasons.

Many army officers and some enlisted men were members of Masonic organizations prior to their assignment to duty in New Mexico. They provided the leadership in getting a Masonic lodge organized at Fort Union during the Civil War. Since there was no Grand Lodge in the territory, they sought and received authorization from the Grand Lodge of Missouri to organize Chapman Lodge (named to honor the post commander, Colonel William Chapman, who was a steadfast Mason) at Fort Union in 1862. Joab Houghton, New Mexico territorial judge, was a district deputy of the Grand Lodge of Missouri and started the work of Chapman Lodge. This lodge operated under special dispensation from the Missouri Grand Lodge (officially known as Chapman Lodge Under Dispensation) for several years. They conducted meetings in various buildings at the post during the next few years, including the lodge hall of the Good Templars, a former officer's quarters at the site of the first post, a vacant room in a set of former quarters in one of the demilunes at the earthwork, and possibly others. Marion Russell recalled that, in 1864, she and her mother "lived in a long, low adobe house whose six rooms were all in a row. The eastern room of that house we rented to the Masons for a lodge room." She also noted that Masonic lodges traditionally met in an upper-story room but, since "there were no upper stories in Fort Union," special permission "was obtained from the mother lodge in Missouri to use the ground floor as a lodge room." [225]

Many officers and some of the enlisted men transferred their membership from their home lodges to Chapman Lodge, and new members were initiated from both ranks. Civilians at the post, such as the post sutler and employees of the quartermaster department, were also welcome to membership. Among the new members of Chapman Lodge was Kit Carson. Mrs. Russell, whose close friendship with Carson has been noted before, recalled "the discussions that we had pro and con when Colonel Kit Carson applied for membership. His wife, 'little Jo' was a Catholic, and he had been married within the Catholic Church; yet he did become a member." [226] It is interesting to note that a lodge in New Mexico was later named for the famous frontiersman. Kit Carson Lodge No. 326 was founded in Elizabethtown, New Mexico, sometime in the 1870s. [227] Other than his marriage in the church and the fact that his wife was Catholic, Carson apparently had little connection with the denomination. Actually, there were no Masonic rules prohibiting a communicant of the Roman Catholic Church from joining the lodge. The church, on the other hand, discouraged its members from becoming Freemasons.

If Marion Russell's recollections were accurate, there was an ironic relationship between the church and Chapman Lodge. "The first altar cloth my mother made for the Masons," Marion reminisced, "was made from a fragment of one of Bishop Lamy's robes." She explained that the "cloth had come all the way from Leavenworth by ox team" and "factory woven cloth was precious." Whenever someone had such cloth "left over from the making of a garment, they were permitted to put it back in store at Santa Fe for reselling." Marion's "mother bought the beautiful remnant on one of her trips to Santa Fe and from it made the altar-cloth. I am told," Mrs. Russell concluded, "that old altar-cloth is preserved at Wagon Mound today. It is under glass on the wall of the Masonic Lodge there." [228]

After several years of activity under dispensation, Chapman Lodge No. 95 received its charter from the Grand Lodge of Missouri in 1866. The following year the lodge was directed, for reasons not explained, to move its meeting place off the Fort Union military reservation. Marion Russell believed that the meeting room at the post was partially destroyed by fire sometime after the Civil War, [229] and the need for a lodge hall may have been a consideration in the move. It should be noted, too, that District Commander James H. Carleton, an active Freemason, was replaced in 1867 by Colonel George W. Getty (whose views on Freemasonry have not been determined). Getty's appointment and the decision to relocate the lodge may or may not have been coincidental. Captain William B. Lane was post commander during much of 1867, and available records do not indicate his views on Freemasonry. Regardless of who was responsible or the reasons, the membership voted in May 1867 to move the lodge to Las Vegas as soon as a building could be obtained. The last meeting was conducted at Fort Union on July 27, when one of the members was expelled. The official home of Chapman Lodge was transferred to Las Vegas, where the first meeting was held on August 14, 1867. For the next seven years Masons at Fort Union, when they were able to attend, traveled to Las Vegas for regular and special meetings of the order. [230]

In 1874 the members at Fort Union requested permission to organize a new lodge at the post. Colonel Getty, incidentally, had been replaced by Colonel Gordon Granger in 1871. Chapman Lodge agreed to the plea and the new lodge was founded under dispensation from the Grand Lodge of Missouri in June 1874, and it received its charter from Missouri as Union Lodge No. 480 in October of that year. It has not been determined where on the post this lodge conducted its rituals, but the room was consecrated and dedicated at the first meeting under the new charter on November 14, 1874. [231]

The initial membership of Union Lodge included more civilians than soldiers, and most of them had been members of Chapman Lodge (several were initiated into the rites of Masonry in Chapman Lodge). The master of Union Lodge was Morris Bloomfield, a clerk in the quartermaster department. The senior warden was Lachonius Frampton, a stonemason at the post. Both had received their Masonic degrees in Chapman Lodge in 1864, and both had gone through the progression of offices and served as master of Chapman Lodge. Bloomfield had also been a member of Kit Carson Lodge at Elizabethtown just prior to the organization of Union Lodge. Jeremiah W. Heeps, a saddler at the fort, was junior warden. He had joined Chapman Lodge in 1863. The treasurer was John Longmuir, an employee of the quartermaster department who had joined Chapman Lodge in 1868. [232]

The secretary was Charles Bowmer, a surgeon and a native of England who had received the degrees of Masonry before coming to America. He transferred to Union Lodge from Montezuma Lodge No. 109 at Santa Fe. Albert F Bruno was senior deacon, and he was a gunsmith at the arsenal. The junior deacon was Lieutenant John W. Eckles, Fifteenth Infantry, post commander at Fort Union. Eckles transferred from Alamo Lodge No. 44, San Antonio, Texas. The tyler was Carl W. Wildenstein, who may have been associated with the post sutler's store. He had joined Chapman Lodge in 1870. The other two initial members were T. Bainbridge, a saddler, and F J. Kearny, blacksmith. Both had also been members of Chapman Lodge. The first petitioner to seek initiation into Union Lodge, Joseph B. Morris (occupation unknown, but a "resident of the post"), was rejected (blackballed). Thomas Henderson (trade not known) was the first candidate to receive degrees. [233] Visitors from other lodges were welcome at the meetings.

During 1875, again not known by whose order or for what reasons, this new lodge was enjoined to move off the reservation. Union Lodge No. 480 made the village of Tiptonville, some six miles from the post, its official location in December of that year. The regular meetings of the fraternity were scheduled on what was called "moon schedule," the Saturday night on or before the full moon; the intent was to make travel at night as safe as possible. The last official function of Union Lodge before moving to Tiptonville was to conduct Masonic funeral ceremonies for member George W. Cole, who was buried in the private cemetery of Ceran St. Vrain at Mora. After the Grand Lodge of New Mexico was formed in August 1877, Union Lodge 480 surrendered its charter to the Grand Lodge of Missouri and was chartered by the New Mexico Grand Lodge as Union Lodge No. 4 in October 1877. Chapman Lodge 95 at Las Vegas became Chapman Lodge No. 2. [234]

Following the abandonment of Fort Union, Union Lodge No. 4 moved to the town of Watrous in May 1891, where a stone building served as the hall. The membership in Watrous later declined until, in 1919, the lodge could only hold meetings when members from the community of Wagon Mound made the trip to Watrous. Because the preponderance of the membership was in Wagon Mound, the lodge was relocated there in June 1919. The lodge had several halls in that community, including the second story of an old opera house (1919-1929), the second story of the telephone building from December 1929 until that structure was destroyed by a wind storm in May 1930, after which the lodge purchased an adobe building that had once served as a saloon. This was probably the home of Union Lodge No. 4 when Marion Russell noted in her memoirs that the lodge was still active at Wagon Mound and that "the lodge room is still on the ground floor." [235] This structure was destroyed by fire in 1934 and later that same year, with the insurance money and additional funds raised by the members, a new adobe building was constructed by the lodge. [236] Union Lodge No. 4 was still active in the same building in 1992. The traditions of Freemasonry, started in New Mexico by military lodges from Missouri during the Mexican War and permanently established by soldiers and civilians at Fort Union during the Civil War, continued to live at Union Lodge in Wagon Mound. Freemasonry was one of several fraternal organizations at the post designed to improve the mind and quality of life of at the post.

Such institutions were usually encouraged by officers as beneficial to the enrichment of civilization. The army practice of providing chaplains, schools, and libraries at military posts embodied the most visible attestation of government sponsorship of improvement of spiritual and intellectual life of military personnel. The efforts were somewhat sporadic, as shown by the intermittent presence of chaplains at Fort Union, and the results difficult to measure objectively.

Rickey concluded from his interviews with veterans that "Post Chaplains seem to have exercised little influence on the soldiers, and some of them were not respected by officers or soldiers." Even where "church services were conducted regularly . . . and . . . enlisted men were welcome to participate," he noted, "the services were held mainly for the benefit of the officers and their families." Even though some enlisted men were religious and participated in chapel liturgies, Rickey concluded that "formal religion was apparently not a very significant factor in the lives of rank and file regulars." [237] In 1870 Private Eddie Matthews, Eighth Cavalry, noted soon after his arrival at Fort Union that the post had a chapel but no chaplain. He observed that it was "strange not to have a minister at such a Post as this one." [238] Matthews's interest was apparently academic, for he made no mention when a new chaplain arrived at Fort Union a few months later and subsequently stated that he had not attended church since his enlistment. Near the end of his term of service Matthews informed his family that he had "not attended divine service since August 1869 [in Cincinnati], except on three funeral occasions when heard the Episcopal burial service read and nothing more." [239] Of the last chaplain at Fort Union, Rev. G. S. Seibold, a soldier declared in 1891 just prior to the abandonment of the post: "He preaches some fine sermons, but possibly pours theology into unwilling ears." [240] Chaplains were usually in charge of post schools, where they may have exerted more influence for transformation than in chapel.

The army encouraged the establishment of schools at military posts to provide basic education for enlisted men and for the children who resided there. At Fort Union it was usually the responsibility of the post chaplain to oversee the operation of the school. As noted in chapter four, the first post chaplain, Reverend William Stoddert, started a post school in 1856. [241] Thereafter the school was discontinued and reestablished several times, depending on the presence of sufficient numbers of students and teachers, the whims of the many post commanders, and the availability of a place for classes to be conducted. The post school apparently was neglected during the chaotic era of the Civil War.

After the war, with the arrival of Chaplain John Woart in 1866, the post school was resumed. Woart thought the requirement that he teach the post school interfered with his ministerial duties. He was not pleased when the adjutant general's office sent word that post chaplains were required "to perform the duty of school masters." The same communication clarified some other questions about the status of chaplains. They were to have a captain's allowance of quarters and were ineligible for assignment to courts-martial, boards of survey, and other military responsibilities. Woart reluctantly accepted the decision that he teach school. [242] A little over a year later a private soldier, Henry Edgar, Third Cavalry, was designated as a schoolteacher at Fort Union, so, perhaps, Rev. Woart's prayers were answered. [243]

Soon after Chaplain David W. Eakins arrived at Fort Union in September 1870, the post school was established under his supervision. The post chapel was to serve as the school room. The children at the post were taught basic skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Enlisted men who wished to learn to read and write were instructed at other times, usually in the evenings. The prisoners at the post were assigned the task of custodial work at the school, "under the charge of the guard at such hours as will not interfere with the school." [244]

Major Andrew J. Alexander, Eighth Cavalry, served as commanding officer at Fort Union during the winter of 1873-1874. In February, on behalf of the post council of administration, he contacted the adjutant general's office in Washington, D.C., to inquire if it was permissible to pay a schoolteacher at a post that had a chaplain. Rev. Eakins was "physically unable" to serve as a teacher as well as post chaplain. Major Alexander reported that there were "a great many children and enlisted men at this Post who are much in need of instruction." Army regulations specified that a post chaplain was to "perform the duties of Schoolmaster." If possible, they wanted to hire a teacher. [245] The response was not located. Because enlisted men had been detailed to serve as a schoolteacher before at Fort Union and were so designated later, it was likely that such an arrangement was again permissible. [246] In 1878 the war department issued orders that enlisted men detailed as teachers were to receive extra-duty pay of thirty-five cents per day. The same decree stipulated that the enrollment of enlisted men was voluntary, but children were required to attend. [247] At the beginning of September 1884, Private Robert L. Farr, Company B, Tenth Infantry, was relieved from extra duty as the post schoolteacher and Private James O'Hara, same company, was appointed to take his place. [248] The extra-duty pay for teachers was increased to fifty cents a day in 1885. Congress was reluctant to provide adequate funds for schools. [249]

The major inadequacy of the post schools, according to a recent study, was "the lack of competent teachers." [250] Another problem was the paucity of materials. The availability of books and school supplies was difficult to determine from the records. There undoubtedly were educational materials, some provided by the families of students and some by the post council of administration. For example, in December 1878, the post council of administration authorized the expenditure of $12.61 for school books and supplies (including six slates, twenty slate pencils, ten copy books, and Franklin's Reader—twelve first readers and six each of the second and third readers). These items were ordered from "the States." The order for the slates was canceled because "they could not be shipped by mail, without breaking." The books were received and "exceeded the price estimated by Council." A few weeks after the books arrived, the post school was closed in May 1879 because there were so few troops at the post that it was not feasible. [251]

When Lieutenant Colonel Nathan A. M. Dudley, Ninth Cavalry, assumed command of Fort Union the following year, he directed Chaplain James LaTourrette to conform to orders issued by the headquarters of the army in 1878 relating to post schools. That directive, Dudley explained, "makes it the duty of the Post Chaplain to instruct the enlisted men in the English Branches." The commanding officer did not know if there were "sufficient enlisted men, at the Post, to warrant the establishment of a class," but he enjoined the chaplain to "ascertain" that information. Dudley also "believed that there are some twenty children who reside at or near the Post, who should be required to attend School." He requested a report from LaTourrette on the subject of a post school "with as little delay as practicable." [252]

Chaplain LaTourrette confirmed the need to reopen the post school, and Dudley directed the post quartermaster, Captain Thomas Hunt, to have built in the quartermaster shop at Fort Union, within ten days, the necessary furniture for two school rooms, one for children and the other for enlisted men. The children's room was to receive eighteen chairs (built at three different heights for children of different ages) and three ten-foot-long desks (also at different heights), with the desk tops "slightly inclined towards seats" and with shelves underneath for books and supplies. The furnishings for the enlisted men's room included one table, eight chairs, one blackboard and one-half pound of chalk, two water buckets, one tin cup, one broom, and one sponge. [253]

The school began on April 26, 1880, in the center set of officers' quarters at the quartermaster depot. Chaplain LaTourrette was the superintendent (charged with visiting the school "daily"), and an enlisted man, Private Arthur Brus, Company F, Fifteenth Infantry, was detailed as teacher with extra-duty pay. The children at the post attended classes Monday through Friday, from 9:30 a.m. to noon and 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. The enlisted men presumably attended classes at other times, not specified but probably in the evening, and they had a separate room. The children were "required to be neatly and cleanly dressed." The "School Call" was sounded fifteen minutes before classes began each day. To prevent truancy, absentees were reported to the post adjutant, who informed the parents. [254]

Lieutenant Colonel Dudley established rules for the teacher. For example, "no favoritism will be shown towards officers' children." Regarding discipline, "rewards and punishments of a mild character will be allowed but no whippings." The commanding officer also made it clear that the school would continue only so long as the parents sent their children "promptly and regularly" and the enlisted men attended. Regarding the latter, Dudley declared that the school offered "every enlisted man at the Post an opportunity to learn to write a good hand in a short season, a chance that may not again occur in the lifetime of a soldier." [255] Because many of the enlisted men were illiterate and a number of them were foreigners who had difficulty with the English language, the school was, indeed, an opportunity.

The records do not show how successful the school was. In December 1881 Colonel Haller directed Chaplain LaTourrette to "assume general charge and control of the Post School." At the same time Haller detailed Private George M. Mason, Company B, Twenty-Third Infantry, on extra duty to teach the enlisted men and children of the post and to "report for duty to the Post Chaplain." [256] In 1882 a new post commander, Captain Thomas Smith, Twenty-Third Infantry, requested that a schoolteacher be assigned to Fort Union because no soldiers at the post were qualified for that duty. [257] A similar request was made by Post Commander Henry Mizner in 1886, when he noted there were six companies stationed at Fort Union and "no soldier in the command to perform the duty of school teacher." [258] Mizner must have found a teacher, for on December 13, 1886, he issued an order proclaiming that school would meet daily, Monday through Friday, with the children of the post attending from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. and enlisted men attending "immediately after retreat." [259]

The post school continued, off and on, through 1889, when the war department decided to require the attendance of enlisted men in need of basic education as part of their military duty. [260] Lieutenant Colonel Albert P. Morrow, Sixth Cavalry, commanding Fort Union in 1889, directed the "Superintendent of Post Schools" (who was Chaplain LaTourrette) to inaugurate a new school session "at once" and to recommend "a competent enlisted man" to serve as the teacher. Morrow noted that Private W. H. H. Pope, Company H, Tenth Infantry, "has been highly spoken of as a School teacher." The superintendent was also directed to take an inventory of school equipment and supplies and to requisition anything additional "needed to properly furnish the school." [261] Private Pope was detailed on extra duty as the schoolteacher. He was relieved of that duty in December 1889. He was replaced briefly by Private John Walton, Company H, Tenth Infantry, who was succeeded by Private Fletcher R. Tilton, Company C, Tenth Infantry. Tilton was replaced by Private Charles Buckles, Company C, Tenth Infantry, as the schoolteacher in January 1890. Buckles had earlier served as the telegraph operator at the post. He served as the schoolteacher until July 9, 1890. He was relieved because he was found intoxicated on that date. Private Alonzo Plumb, Company C, Tenth Infantry, was detailed to extra duty as the schoolteacher on July 11. Private Tilton returned to that assignment in November 1890, replacing Plumb. [262]

There were few reports about the school during the final years. The annual inspection report of the post in March 1890 indicated that there were eight soldiers and five children attending at that time. [263] No statistics on enrollment after that time have been located.

Private Tilton continued to serve as schoolteacher until February 20, 1891. [264] The quality of education dispensed at the intermittent post schools from the 1850s through 1890 cannot be verified but undoubtedly varied from time to time. Overall, according to Bruce White, "a considerable number of soldiers learned to read and write." [265] The opportunity for basic education was probably important in the lives of countless enlisted men and children at the post. Aubrey Lippincott, son of Surgeon Henry Lippincott, attended school at Fort Union during the final years. He recalled some eighty years later that one of his teachers (an enlisted man), among other things, spent much of his time smoking a big pipe. He remembered that there were about fifteen children enrolled and that they learned little or nothing. The young Lippincott's education must have been adequate, in spite of or because of the school, for he rose to rank of colonel in the army before he retired. [266]

In addition to schools, the post library enhanced the quality of life at Fort Union. [267] Eddie Matthews, Eighth Cavalry, made good use of the library during his service at Fort Union and periodically commented to his family about the books he had been reading. [268] There a sizable collection of newspapers, periodical magazines, and books (fiction and non-fiction) available to those who could read, providing news, information, and entertainment, as well as a diversion from the monotonous routines of garrison life. Most library holdings were purchased by the post council of administration with some of the tariffs collected from the post sutler, but company funds and individual contributions were occasionally used. Some books were donated. Several lists of library holdings appeared in the post records, including over 300 volumes (mostly history, biography, and popular fiction). [269] Table 3 on the following page lists the newspapers and periodicals, with annual subscription rates, received at Fort Union in 1883.

Table 3
Newspapers and Periodicals Received at Fort Union Post Library, 1883

Newspapers & PeriodicalsAnnual Cost
Army and Navy Journal, weekly$6.00
Army and Navy Register, weekly3.00
Atlantic Monthly2.00
Boston Globe, weekly1.00
The Century, monthly4.00
Chicago Times, daily13.00
Detroit Free Press, weekly2.00
Forest and Stream, weekly4.00
Frank Leslies Illustrated, weekly4.00
Frank Leslies Popular Monthly3.00
Harper's Monthly4.00
Harper's Weekly4.00
Journal of the Military Service Institutions of the U.S.2.00
Leavenworth Times, daily5.00
New Mexican, daily10.00
New York Graphic, daily12.00
New York Herald, daily10.00
New York Ledger, weekly3.00
New York Times, semiweekly2.50
Philadelphia Times, weekly2.00
Puck, weekly5.00
San Francisco Chronicle, weekly2.00
United Service Monthly3.00
Washington Sunday Herald, army & navy edition1.50

The post librarian, usually an enlisted man selected for the duty, was responsible for keeping the collection in good order and making it available to patrons. The location of the library changed from time to time. In 1873 it was moved from an unidentified location into "quarters No. 4," probably in one room in that set of officers' quarters. It was unusual to place a post library on officers' row. At that time Private Charles Bugbee, Troop H, Eighth Cavalry, was assigned to serve as librarian and to catalogue the collection. A short time later Corporal William H. Andy, Company C, Fifteenth Infantry, was appointed librarian. He was relieved of that duty on April 15, 1873. [270] Since no records were found to indicate the utilization of the library, it was not possible to assess the effects it had. Like the post school, however, it was a commendable service provided by an army which otherwise showed little interest in the leisure activities of its soldiers. Rickey found in his interviews with veterans from the era that "library facilities were appreciated and used by some of the men." [271] That undoubtedly was true at Fort Union.

The generalizations about military life help illustrate a portion of what enlisted men and officers experienced. Details about individual personalities, points of view, and events, however, bestow a comprehension unavailable in any other form. As in the early era of the history of Fort Union, the writings of officers' wives and other observers contributed much to an understanding of life at the third post. One aspect of that life was the widespread influence of rumors and gossip, typical of such outposts. One young officer found the post rife with hearsay and started a rumor for the fun of it. Soon the entire garrison was "excited" that one of the regiments in New Mexico was supposedly going to be sent to serve in Alaska. [273] Fortunately some writers were able to reveal much more than rumors about garrison life.

Larsen was a Danish immigrant who, like many other young men upon their arrival in the United States, enlisted in the army. He joined in 1884 and was assigned to Company G, Sixth Cavalry. He saw service in the Geronimo campaign and, after the end of that conflict in 1886, his troop was sent to Fort Union. Because the quarters at the post garrison were filled at the time, Troop G occupied the site of the first Fort Union which had served as the Fort Union Arsenal from the Civil War era until the early 1880s.

The soldiers stationed at Fort Union were photographed by J. R. Riddle, a photographer who visited the post in 1887 and 1888 and perhaps other times as well. Larsen collected photos of many soldiers, most of whom he never identified, and some of his collection was donated to Fort Union National Monument by his descendants.

Troop G, including Larsen, and the entire regiment of Sixth Cavalry were transferred to the Sioux country of South Dakota in December 1890 to assist with putting down the so-called Ghost Dance movement. They were present in that area when the era known as the Indian Wars came to an end at Wounded Knee during the last days of 1890.

Among of the Fort Union residents who wrote about their experiences was Marion Sloan (later Mrs. Richard D. Russell), who arrived to live at Fort Union with her mother, Eliza Mahoney, in 1864. Her charming memoirs, Land of Enchantment, as noted in a previous chapter, provide a woman's perception of life on the Santa Fe Trail, at Camp Nichols and Fort Union, and pioneer life in New Mexico and Colorado. Marion first visited Fort Union, with her mother and brother, in 1852 when the fort was merely one year old and she was only seven. They had accompanied a caravan of two wagon trains of supplies from Fort Leavenworth, one an army supply train and the other led by a leading Santa Fe Trail merchant and freighter, Francis X. Aubry, who was the friend and, perhaps, the lover of Eliza Mahoney. There were also 200 horses for the troops at Fort Union. [274] Marion was at Fort Union many times thereafter and proclaimed some 80 years after that first visit that "my own life story and the story of Fort Union have been strangely interwoven." [275]

Sergeant Strupp Bismark
Sergeant Strupp, first name unknown, Company G, Sixth Cavalry, Fort Union, 1888. Larsen Collection, Fort Union National Monument. Trooper identified only as "Bismark" Company G, Sixth Cavalry, Fort Union, 1888. Larsen Collection, Fort Union National Monument.

William Walton First Sergeant Huffman
Private William Walton, Company F, Tenth Infantry, Fort Union, 1887, J. R. Riddle photo, courtesy Kansas State Historical Society. First Sergeant Huffman, first name unknown, Company F, Tenth Infantry, Fort Union, 1887, J. R. Riddle photo, courtesy Kansas State Historical Society.

There is a mystery connected with Eliza Sloan Mahoney and her family that remains to be unraveled. Eliza's first husband, the father of Will and Marion, was an army surgeon, William James Sloan. In her memoirs Marion stated that her father was killed at the Battle of Monterey during the Mexican War, and that was probably what her mother told her. Marion was born in 1845 and never knew her father. Eliza and the surgeon were most likely separated, and Eliza married a soldier, Jeremiah Mahoney. Marion recalled of her step-father, "I do not know why I was not taught to call him 'father.' To me he was always Mr. Mahoney." That made sense if her father were alive, which he was until 1880, an army surgeon until his death. Marion stated in her reminiscences that Mr. Mahoney was killed by Indians when she was about five years old. That turned out not to be true either, and Mahoney lived until 1899. [276]

Eliza Mahoney took her children over the Santa Fe Trail the first time when Marion was seven. Although Marion was not aware of it, her father, Dr. Sloan, served as the chief medical officer of the Department of New Mexico from 1856 to 1860. One wonders if Eliza knew, and if his presence was the reason she left Santa Fe soon after he arrived and returned about the time he left. Equally important, was Dr. Sloan aware that his children resided in Santa Fe while he was serving there? Did he perchance see "Little Maid Marian" on the plaza at Santa Fe? Did she see him? [277]

Marion did not explain why her mother moved to Fort Union in 1864, but she operated a boarding house (something she had done at Santa Fe) and cooked for officers who pooled their rations and hired her to prepare them. Marion recalled, "we lived in a long, low adobe house whose six rooms were all in a row." This seems most likely to have been one of the sets of quarters erected in the demilunes of the earthwork. One of their rooms was rented to the Masonic Lodge at the post. [278] For Marion, age 19, the importance of Fort Union in her "life story" was that there she met the man who became her husband. The history of Fort Union was comprised of innumerable stories, including this delightful romance recorded by this remarkable woman.

It was at Fort Union in the year of 1864 that I first met Lieutenant Richard D. Russell. I was rounding a corner rather suddenly, my green veil streaming out behind me. The wind was blowing my hair in my eyes and I was trying to keep my long skirts where they belonged when suddenly he stood before me. That was the moment the whole wide, world stood still. My tall, young lieutenant stood and smiled at me while I struggled with my skirts, veil and hair. Then on he marched with his company, taking my ignorant young heart right along with him. [279]

That was the beginning of the most renowned love story at what was usually considered an unemotional place. The enamored young woman declared:

Love, they say, is like the measles: We take it only once. Cupid spends no second arrow on our hearts. I am sure that was true in my case, for from that August day when I met Richard on the streets of old Fort Union, to that other August day twenty-three years later when an assassin's bullet took him from me, my love never faltered. Indeed, that love is a living part of the soul of me today, although the grass has waved over my lieutenant these forty years and more. [280]

Richard Russell was born in Canada in 1839 and grew up in Illinois. At age 16 he ran away from home and went to California where he tried prospecting and had a ranch until he joined the First California Volunteers early in the Civil War. He came to New Mexico with Carleton's California Column and ended up at Fort Union, where he joined the New Mexico Volunteers upon expiration of his term of service with the California troops. He was as smitten with Marion Sloan as she was with him. Marion's mother, Eliza, who had tried unsuccessfully to match Marion with a Kansas City merchant, hoped her daughter would do better than marry a soldier. She discouraged the budding relationship. A few weeks later Mrs. Mahoney took Marion back to live at Santa Fe. "I was sick at heart," Marion remembered, "because so far she had never permitted Richard and me a moment alone together." [281]

At Santa Fe Marion pined for her "tall lieutenant." When she saw a wagon train arrive from Fort Union, Marion expected there would be a letter from Richard. She "dressed up a bit and walked to the post office," only to be told "there was no letter for Miss Marian Sloan." A disheartened young woman "turned sadly from the post office window and was starting homeward when some one came up behind me and drew my hand through his arm. I turned quickly. It was Richard. He had come with the emigrant train from Fort Union." Their courtship began in earnest and "six months from the day of our meeting Richard and I were married in the little military chapel at Fort Union; that was in February 1865." The exact location of the chapel at the post on that date has not been determined. There was no post chaplain in 1865. Possibly the Good Templars' building was utilized as a chapel, for it was used for that purpose after the arrival of Chaplain John Woart in 1866. A nostalgic Marion professed decades later, "that day at the post office lies in my memory as faint and sweet as the scent of old lavender." [282]

Richard Russell and Marion Sloan
Lieutenant Richard Russell and Marion Sloan were married at Fort Union in 1865. She held fond memories of life at the post, which are included in her Land of Enchantment, from which this photo was copied.

Of her matrimony at Fort Union, she confessed, "I am afraid that I did not hear a great deal of our wedding ceremony, for something sacred and triumphant was going on in my heart." The young couple "lived in Fort Union. Our honeymoon in the old fort was a happy one." It was not clear if they resided at the first post or the earthwork, but probably the latter. A few weeks after their marriage Richard accompanied Kit Carson to establish Camp Nichols, and Marion joined him there later, as recorded in a previous chapter. How she persuaded her dear friend Carson to let her go is also part of the story of life at Fort Union. [283]

She "knew that Colonel Carson would not think it was very safe" and began conspiring how she could obtain his consent to join her husband at Camp Nichols. She hosted a dinner party, with Carson as the guest of honor, knowing that "he liked my cooking." She did her best. "I prepared the pot-roasted buffalo meat the way I knew that he loved, with the red chili pods mixed with it." Carson enjoyed the meal but was not persuaded. "I think that he saw through my little ruse," Marion recalled, "but enjoyed it." Before she could even beg for his permission, Carson informed her, "I promised your mother I would look out for you, Marian. You are safer here than at Camp Nichols." [284]

Carson, she remembered, "stood under the hanging coal oil lamp in our quarters, a slight man with a frown between eyes that showed an infinite capacity for tenderness." What good food could not achieve tears were able to accomplish. With no sense of shame or guilt, Marion proclaimed, "when he saw the tears that were gathering he said, 'Little Maid Marian, believe me, I will take you out to Camp Nickols as soon as it is safe for you there.'" Within a month, as she remembered, "Colonel Carson, true to his word came to get me." He could not deny his "Little Maid Marian." [285]

Marion was apparently the only officer's wife at Camp Nichols. A soldier was assigned to cook for the Russells, leaving the young bride free time to read and go riding. There were at least four other women at the little post, "two Mexican laundresses" who were wives of New Mexico Volunteers and "two Indian squaws" who were wives of Indian scouts. Marion had little to do and spent part of her time watching "the Mexican women pounding dirt out of the soldiers clothing" or "the squaws tanning buckskin." Richard and Marion returned to Fort Union when Camp Nichols was closed in September 1865. [286]

They were soon transferred to Fort Bascom, where their first child, a girl, was born in March 1866. The child, Hattie Eliza Russell, died five months later. The Russells returned to Fort Union and remained there until Richard was mustered out of the service in 1867. Mrs. Russell experienced the problem of drunkenness and the punishment for it before they left Fort Union. Looking back some 60 years, she recalled:

I remember my last Fourth of July at Fort Union. Some of the soldiers had free whiskey given them. One that had been assigned us as cook became intoxicated and wandered away. I went ahead with the cooking for I know what Independence Day meant to the soldiers. Louis was a good boy and Independence Day came but once a year. However, that evening a drunken private came to our quarters where I was alone. He ordered me in a loud insulting voice to prepare supper for him. An officer who happened to be passing heard his loud voice. He came in and broke his cane over the drunken private's back. That private was sentenced to thirty days of the California Walk. I tried hard to harden my heart against him, but I was glad when he was mustered out of the army before his punishment ended. [287]

Marion had earlier observed and described the "California Walk," used to punish enlisted men found guilty of disciplinary infractions. A soldier sentenced to this particular punishment carried a "four-foot length of green log" on his shoulders and marched "around the flag pole from daylight until dark. One hour of marching was followed by one hour of rest." Marion believed the name had been given to this sentence by members of the California Volunteers who had made the difficult march from California to New Mexico during the early part of the Civil War. Marion had great sympathy for the lives of enlisted men. She probably echoed the opinion of many soldiers when she commented that "the stern military discipline seemed cruel to me." [288] She liked almost everything else about the army, however, and was sorrowful when they left military life and Fort Union.

"At last there came a day," Marion reminisced with a combination of fondness and sadness, "when we left Fort Union forever; Fort Union that had sheltered and protected me since I was seven. I tried not to look back, for a new life was beginning for me." For five years, with a partner (Joseph A. DeHague, a former lieutenant who had served with Russell in the army) they operated a trading post in Tecolote, a village on the Santa Fe Trail about 35 miles southwest of Fort Union. They provided some supplies (including salt) for Fort Union and served as the army forage agent at Tecolote for a while. [289]

After "Mr. DeHague had absconded with much of our money," Marion related, she and Richard sold their store in Tecolote in 1871 and settled on a ranch at Stonewall, Colorado. Marion bore a total of nine children, "admitting the fact that . . . it seems that must have been too many." As noted above, Richard was murdered in 1888. When Marion dictated her memoirs her living descendants included six children, sixteen grandchildren, twenty-two great-grandchildren, and four great-great-grandchildren. She declared, as she "watched my young descendants swimming" at a family reunion: "Surely all these young amphibians could not have resulted from that old Fort Union marriage." Marion, who never forgot her close ties to the military post and the Santa Fe Trail, died on Christmas Day in 1936 after being stuck by an automobile on the route of the old Santa Fe Trail in Trinidad, Colorado. Because of her famous reminiscences, the popular Land of Enchantment, Marion Sloan Russell is one of the best-known residents of Fort Union and, undoubtedly, the most-recognized woman connected with the history of the post and the Santa Fe Trail. [290]

A short time before Richard and Marion Russell left Fort Union in 1866, Captain Andrew Jonathan Alexander, Third Cavalry, and his wife, Eveline Martin Alexander, arrived at the post en route to duty in the district. They were nearly newlyweds, having been married on November 3, 1864. Captain Alexander, a native of Kentucky, had received his first appointment as an officer from civilian life early in the Civil War. While serving in New Mexico, Alexander received notice of his promotion to major in the Eighth Cavalry (he apparently declined an appointment as major in the Ninth Cavalry). Mrs. Alexander, daughter of a prominent New York family, kept a diary of their service in New Mexico, 1866-1867, and sent copies of it to her family to keep them informed of military life on the frontier. The diary was published over a century later. [291]

Eveline Alexander, 23-year-old daughter of Enos and Cornelia Martin, was well educated, class-conscious, and wedded to the traditions of her respectable and religious upbringing. She did not entirely approve of army life. On the way to New Mexico, she wrote, "it distresses me to travel on the Sabbath and to see the day so little regarded as it is in the army." There was no chaplain with the regiment, "which I regret" she noted, but she and Andrew "had a service" in which she read from "the Dutch church liturgy" and the Bible. Eveline's sense of propriety was greatly incensed when a lieutenant in her husband's regiment had "forgotten himself so far as to be profane in my presence, which I cannot but consider the greatest possible insult a gentleman can offer one, and which I always resent." [292]

She also found the environment difficult. On the march to New Mexico, she recorded that "it was too hot to wear a dress, and during the march I rode in the ambulance in a white wrapper and managed to survive." [293] Undoubtedly Eveline accommodated herself to military conditions because her diary does not show her as being constantly resentful or uncomfortable. In fact, she apparently enjoyed camping out, even during the winter in New Mexico. "A winter camp," she wrote, "was quite a novelty to me and presented a beautiful picture with the numerous campfires lighting up the pines, or the huge cottonwoods, and the white tents gleaming in the moonlight." On the trip from Fort Union to Fort Bascom, she continued, "we had a Sibley tent and stove and were quite comfortable, though the weather was right cold for camping out." That was several months after she had arrived in New Mexico. By the time she left New Mexico in 1867, Eveline was looking forward "to be living again in the open air. . . . I shall be glad enough to exchange my comfortable bedroom for a tent." [294] She had adapted well since she came West the previous year.

After a 68-day march with a column of troops from Fort Smith, Arkansas, the Alexanders arrived at Fort Union on August 14, 1866. On August 20 Captain and Mrs. Alexander left the post, with three companies of troops (one company of Third Cavalry and two companies of Fifty-Seventh Colored Infantry), to establish a new military post, Fort Stevens, in Colorado Territory. During the few days she was at Fort Union on this occasion (the Alexanders returned later), Eveline briefly described the third post which was still under construction. "The new Fort Union . . . has very fine officers' quarters that have just been completed [actually, only some of them were completed]. They are built of adobe with zinc roofs and are very comfortable and nice looking." [295]

She also visited the remains of the first post "to return the calls I had received from Captain Shoemaker's family." The original buildings had been reassigned to the district arsenal, commanded by Shoemaker. Mrs. Alexander was amused to discover that "some of the old houses had quite a flower garden, which had sprung up from the mud on their roofs." She also noted that some of the original quarters had "been torn down." Near the first post she "saw the house where George and Mary had lived, which was partly in ruins." This was the old sutler's dwelling, where Captain Alexander's brother George M. Alexander and his wife had resided while George was the post sutler, 1856-1859. [296] The fact that the sutler's home near the first post was abandoned would indicate that a new sutler's complex must have been built by 1866 closer to the third fort. George Alexander died in 1866, presumably prior to the arrival of Andrew and Eveline. [297]

Before the new Fort Stevens was established it was abandoned. Captain Alexander and his command were engaged in combat with a band of Utes in Colorado and then joined the garrison at Fort Garland where Colonel Carson was in charge. It is interesting to note that almost every officer's wife in New Mexico during and immediately after the Civil War, whose diaries or memoirs have been published, had an occasion to spend some time with the legendary Carson. Eveline saw him to be "a most interesting, original old fellow." He told her much about Indians. In November 1866 the Alexanders returned to Fort Union for a few weeks. They spent some time in Santa Fe, returned to Fort Union in time to celebrate Christmas, and were sent to Fort Bascom at the end of the year. [298]

At Fort Union they were provided quarters in the home of the post commander, Major Marshall. This was before the new commanding officer's quarters were completed at the third post. Eveline described Mrs. Marshall as "a very pretty woman." She noted that Major Marshall was "very much an invalid, the result of wounds received during the war." Because of those injuries, Marshall was retired from the service the following year. Eveline also met Mrs. Henry Bankhead, who would die of cholera at Fort Wallace, Kansas, the following year. [299]

During the short time the Alexanders were at Fort Union Eveline enjoyed horseback riding around Fort Union with Andrew, and he appreciated the opportunities for wolf hunting there. Eveline noted that "the country around here is very fine for running wolves, as it is smooth and not undermined by prairie dogs." In one diary entry she recorded: "Andrew had a successful wolfhunt today and brought home a fine skin." She also remarked that "running wolves and foxes is the only amusement one has here, . . . and I am sorry to say the frequent windstorms and dust make any outdoor exercise almost impracticable." [300]

The Alexanders were present when the annual caravan of officers and recruits arrived from the states on November 24, 1866. Among the newcomers were Rev. John Woart and family, the new post chaplain. Although Eveline and Andrew had been at Fort Union less than three weeks, they opened their small quarters (three rooms and a kitchen), as was the army custom, to some of the visitors. Captain Joseph G. Tilford, Third Cavalry, his wife, baby, nurse, and sister-in-law, shared the Alexander's quarters. In addition, Eveline noted that four other guests "take their meals with us, so we have quite a houseful." [301] Fortunately, the visitors were soon assigned to their own quarters at Fort Union or another duty station.

Meanwhile, on November 29, Thanksgiving Day, the Alexanders "had quite a dinner party." The usual diners were joined by Chaplain Woart and family, Mrs. Charles J. Whiting, and Captain Henry Inman (quartermaster). Eveline proudly stated: "We had a very successful dinner and all seemed to enjoy themselves." Although she was not lonely amidst such numbers, Eveline expressed a longing for her family back home with whom she had enjoyed Thanksgiving the previous year. [302]

In December the Alexanders made a trip to Santa Fe in an ambulance on official business. There Andrew received his promotion to the rank of major in the Eighth Cavalry. Eveline described the trip and confirmed the reputation of Kozlowski's Ranch for serving fine food. "They gave us a delightful supper and breakfast consisting of trout, broiled turkey, omelette, potatoes, etc." She toured the historic sites of Santa Fe and noted the Americanization that was taking place. "The city," she wrote, "is not as curious and interesting in appearance as Taos, as here the American element is decidedly visible." [303]

Eveline and Andrew enjoyed New Mexico although their initial stay was destined to be brief (approximately nine months). In a letter to her mother, December 16, 1866, Eveline wrote: "To hear many of the officers' wives here talk you would think New Mexico was a purgatory, and their husbands are no better." She assured her mother, "on the contrary I have enjoyed myself exceedingly here, and have never had a sad hour." [304]

The Alexanders were back at Fort Union in time for Christmas, but it was a hectic day for them since they were leaving the next day to move to Fort Bascom. Eveline and Andrew attended chapel, which she described as "very prettily trimmed with greens and looked really like Christmas." The Alexanders "had all the noncommissioned officers of G Company to take eggnog and lunch with us. A sort of farewell to G Company. It passed off very successfully." They were at Fort Bascom before the end of the year. [305]

In the spring of 1867, when Andrew was sent on an inspection tour in the district, Eveline moved back to Fort Union and lived with the Shoemakers at the arsenal for about a month. There she was "comfortable and contented." She enjoyed visiting with Captain Shoemaker and declared "I am quite contented with the old gentleman." Shoemaker was a good host and always popular with officers' wives. "Captain Shoemaker," Eveline recorded, "has a buggy and pair of horses, with which he takes me to drive whenever the wind does not blow too hard." Eveline spent much of her time at the arsenal "sewing and mending, as my clothes are beginning to give out a little." [306]

Because the Alexanders were planning to travel to the states as soon as Andrew's inspection tour was completed, Eveline had her "things packed." As was common practice, she disposed of some items. "I sold my stove and my crockery," she wrote, "as I thought the money was easier to pack around than the articles; at all events the transportation would cost less." She had paid $20 for the stove at Little Rock, Arkansas, had used it for a year, and sold it for $15. "You see," she concluded, "I am getting to be quite a manager. I am now trying to sell my ambulance!" After all, Andrew had "to attend to Uncle Sam's interests, and it is as well for one of us to look after the family affairs." [307] In the spring of 1867 the Alexanders left New Mexico and traveled the Mountain Route of the Santa Fe Trail to the states. They later served at other posts in Arizona and New Mexico, and Andrew was the member of the special board that revised army regulations in the early 1870s. In 1873 and 1874 the Alexanders returned to Fort Union, when Andrew served as post commander (September 15, 1873, to March 23, 1874; April 13 to May 5 and November 22 to December 12, 1874). [308]

If Eveline kept a diary during that time, it has not been found. It would be interesting to have her observations from that time to compare with her earlier observations of life at the post. Unfortunately, the memoirs of Marion Russell and the diary of Eveline Alexander do not compare in content of information about the post and the daily lives of its inhabitants with the unpublished letters of Katie Bowen at the first Fort Union. There was no one like Katie Bowen at the third Fort Union, no similar body of letters about life at the post, but a few officers' wives besides Marion Russell and Eveline Alexander provided some in sights. [309]

One of these was Lydia Lane, who with her husband William had been stationed at the first Fort Union in the 1850s (see chapter four) and returned in 1866 and 1867. After crossing the plains from Fort Leavenworth on the Santa Fe Trail in 1866, the Lanes spent several weeks at Fort Union "camping in a house, and awaiting assignment to a station." While there they called on Andrew and Eveline Alexander, during the Alexanders' brief stay at the post. [310] After a few months as commander of Fort Marcy at Santa Fe, Major Lane, Third Cavalry, returned to command Fort Union from February to October of that year. Mrs. Lane, apparently similar to Katie Bowen, Marion Russell, and Eveline Alexander in temperament, was also a spunky woman with strong opinions and whose writing was both fascinating and revealing. [311]

While the Lanes were waiting at Fort Union in 1866 for William's assignment, Mrs. Lane recalled with some delight a gathering of several officers' wives in the same situation at her quarters when General Pope arrived. Many of the other wives inquired of the department commander where their husbands were to be stationed in the District of New Mexico, and Pope asked each one where she would prefer to be located. Each, naturally, selected a post that she had heard would be a good place. Lydia Lane, however, "knowing how useless it was to make a choice," refused to choose and declared it made no difference where her husband was stationed. When Major Lane was assigned to command Fort Marcy at Santa Fe, the other wives, "mad with envy," believed that was Lydia's reward for not selecting a post. Lydia, however, dismissed such claims, explaining that "the likes and dislikes of the wives were not taken into consideration, or even remembered, when their husbands were assigned for duty at a post." Nevertheless she was pleased to live at Santa Fe, despite the inadequate quarters, until her husband was assigned to Fort Union. [312]

Mrs. Lane suffered a loss common to many officers' wives who accompanied their husbands to western military posts. One of her female servants was quickly lost through marriage to a man in a society where there was a disparate ratio of eligible women to men. Mrs. Lane, like many of her counterparts, was also amazed that her cook was claimed at all, let alone almost immediately following her arrival at Fort Union in 1866. Only Mrs. Lane's words do justice to the situation, and she clearly had no comprehension of the law of supply and demand where the sexes were concerned.

The cook, ugly as she was, won the hand—I cannot say the heart—of a stone-mason at Fort Union, almost immediately,—how, I never understood. She was old as well as ugly, and not at all pleasant-tempered, and, to crown all, a wretched cook. When she was disagreeable, she always showed it by reading her Bible,—always a sure sign of ill temper with her. The man must have needed a housekeeper badly to marry old Martin. [313]

Lydia, adapted to the situation and found domestic help less likely to be claimed by marriage, including a young New Mexican man when she returned to Fort Union.

Eddie Matthews, who served at Fort Union in the early 1870s, presented his views on nearly every subject, so it was not surprising that he commented on this topic. Matthews may not have understood the reasons any more than Mrs. Lane, but he succinctly stated the fact that all women, including the unattractive and unpleasant, were acceptable candidates for a hasty marriage in the hinterland: "The frontier is the best place in the world for Old Maids or fat women to migrate, they can always get a husband, and will always be admired by the rough frontiersman and boys belonging to Uncle Sams outfit, whether they are pretty or not." [314] Undoubtedly, Lydia Lane would have agreed.

Lydia Spencer Lane and her children
Lydia Spencer Lane and her children in front of the commanding officer's quarters at Fort Union, where they lived with their husband and father, Major William B. Lane, in 1867. Courtesy United States Army Military History institute, Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

In February 1867 the Lanes, with three children, were early (perhaps the first) occupants of the new commanding officer's quarters at the post (the house which had been rejected as unfit for habitation by Major Marshall in December 1866 and which he may or may not have inhabited before the Lanes arrived). Mrs. Lane recalled, "we proceeded to Fort Union, where we found new quarters awaiting us. Their appearance was imposing, but there was no comfort in them." [315]

The Lanes may have been the only family that had lived in the officers quarters at both the first and third posts, and Lydia was the only one known to compare the two. Despite all the accounts of the inadequacies of the quarters at the first post during the 1850s, Mrs. Lane strongly stated her preference. "We liked the old log quarters, up towards the hills, much better than the new adobe houses, planted right down on the plain, which was swept by the winds all summer long." [316] Perhaps she had forgotten that the wind blew at the first post, as many residents had verified, but Lydia cared little for the new quarters.

The house we occupied, built for the commanding officer, consisted of eight rooms, four on each side of an unnecessarily wide hall for that dusty, windy country. They were built of adobe, and plastered inside and out, and one story high, with a deep porch in front of the house. There was not a closet nor a shelf in the house, and, until some were put up in the diningroom and kitchen, the china, as it was unpacked, was placed on the floor. After great exertion and delay the quartermaster managed to have some plain pine shelves made for us, which, though not ornamental, answered the purpose. [317]

Because William Lane's military career meant frequent moves and adapting to all sorts of dwellings and conditions at various military posts, the Lanes, Lydia recalled, "were quite at home in a short time." [318] Additional problems with the new quarters soon developed. "As the plaster dried in our new quarters the ceilings fell one by one." This created several unpleasant experiences. "At least a bushel came down one night on my maid as she slept, and she nearly roused the garrison with her wild shrieks, although she was not hurt the least bit." [319] The servant was a woman from England who remained in New Mexico when the Lanes left the territory late in 1867 because of the captain's health.

A more disastrous episode with the ceiling plaster occurred in the dining room. As Lydia explained, she often fed large numbers of guests because her husband, "as commanding officer, seemed to feel obliged to entertain everybody who came to the post." This, for Mrs. Lane, was not always an easy task, especially since the cook she brought to New Mexico had almost immediately been claimed as a wife by "a stone-mason at Fort Union." The nurse was drafted for cooking duty. According to Lydia, "I had to teach her everything. . . . We managed not to starve." It turned out the nurse was not much help in the kitchen because she "was useless half the time with rheumatism." With the aid of a young New Mexican man, identified only as Jose, who "helped me in many ways, washing dishes, preparing vegetables for cooking, etc.," Lydia did the cooking herself. She doubted the results, recalling that "as our servants were inefficient and there was no market at hand, it was very difficult to have things always to please us, and, I fear, to the satisfaction of our guests." [320]

Mrs. Lane fed the many guests because it was her duty as a commanding officer's wife, but she resented that some guests were ungrateful. She felt somewhat handicapped because "house-keeping on the frontier had its drawbacks." Her memories were bittersweet. "We had plenty to eat, such as it was, but we thought it not always dainty enough to set before our visitors." On the other hand, in her opinion, some guests did not deserve anything better than she had to offer. "Our friends appreciated our efforts in their behalf; but we entertained many people we never had seen before and never met again." Some of their guests, Lydia commented, "were so situated that they could have returned our hospitality later, but they never did, nor did they even seem aware of our existence." With a note of sarcasm, Lydia remarked: "We are told to take in the stranger, as by so doing we 'may entertain an angel unawares.' I do not think that class of guests often travelled in Texas and New Mexico, at least while I was out there; if they did, their visits were few and far between, and their disguise was complete." [321]

With this insight into Mrs. Lane's attitudes, it is difficult to assess what must have been her somewhat mixed emotions when the dining-room disaster struck. Only her words can effectively portray the occasion.

One day I had cooked a dinner for a family of seventeen, including children. It was on the table, and I was putting the last touches to it preparatory to retiring to the kitchen. I could not sit down with my guests and attend to matters there at the same time. I was stooping over to straighten something when I heard an ominous crack above my head, and, before I could move, down fell half the ceiling on my back and the table, filling every dish with plaster to the top. The guests had just reached the dining-room door in time to see the catastrophe and finding I was unhurt they retired until the debris was cleared away and a second dinner prepared. Fortunately, I had plenty of food in reserve, and it was soon on the table and disposed of by my friends with apparent relish. I, in the solitude of my kitchen, could not do justice to the subject, so kept quiet. [322]

The demands on Mrs. Lane to cook for a constant succession of visitors eventually affected her wellbeing. "My efforts to entertain an old friend at Fort Union cost me dear," she asserted. "I became overheated in the kitchen and had an attack of pleurisy, which left me with a cough and so weak the doctor advised me to go to Santa Fe for a rest and change." With maid and children, Lydia traveled with an escort of "tried and trusty soldiers in whose care we were perfectly safe, and who would have stood by us in any emergency." After a few weeks of rest and relaxation in Santa Fe, Lydia reported, "I was quite well, and we returned to Fort Union." [323]

Mrs. Lane made several trips between Fort Union and Santa Fe, and while traveling back to the post from one of her visits to the territorial capital she found among her traveling companions "no less a person than Kit Carson—then having the rank of general." Her recollections about this military leader and legendary frontiersman, whom she "never saw . . . again after we reached Fort Union," help to provide additional insight into his character and humanity.

To see the quiet, reticent man, you never would dream that he was the hero of so many romances. I believe he would rather have faced a whole tribe of hostile Indians than one woman, he was so diffident. But had she required assistance, he would have shed his last drop of blood in her defence.

We travelled and ate at the same table together for three or four days, and I never met a plainer, more unpretentious man in my life. [324]

Back at the post, Mrs. Lane declared, "we had a pleasant garrison at Fort Union in the summer of 1867." Despite her domestic servant difficulties, Lydia (who considered many of the natives to be savages) appreciated the New Mexicans the family employed. José "brought wood and water, scrubbed floors, etc., besides telling the children the most marvelous tales ever invented. When a little boy he had been captured by the Indians, and, if he could have spoken English better, would have had many a blood-curdling story to relate. The children understood his jargon better than I did, and adored him." Lydia's maid, "being English, called him 'Osay. She was an endless source of amusement to him, and he tormented her beyond endurance." A New Mexican girl helped look after the Lane children. "The Mexican child, Haney, was a fine playmate for the children; she was good-natured, and suffered in consequence, and when the play became too rough she ran to 'Mama,' as she called me, to complain." Lydia was amused at the way her children and the girl communicated. "Their language was a wonderful mixture of Spanish, English, signs, and nods, but each understood it perfectly." [325]

Lydia was witness to a small part of the ethnic amalgamation that the army in the Southwest fostered in the region. By a matter of some degree, impossible to fix precisely, Mrs. Lane at the third Fort Union in the late 1860s was less prejudiced and more tolerant of New Mexicans than Mrs. Bowen had been at the first post in the early 1850s. If each could be considered representative of their class in the two eras, a combination of close social contacts, economic relationships, and the overall "Americanization" of cultures in New Mexico (especially during the Civil War) had resulted in a blurring of rigid distinctions in less than two decades. The differences would remain until the end of the twentieth century, but an atmosphere of increasing accommodation of counterparts by both Anglo and Hispanic peoples was apparent over time at Fort Union. The post was a vehicle of Anglo intrusion and eventual domination of the territory.

Lydia Lane was unaware that she was documenting the social evolution of southwestern cultures, and most of her writing was concerned with more mundane matters, such as finding capable servants and obtaining clothing for the family. Like Katie Bowen, who ordered cloth from the East to make her families' garments in the early 1850s, Lydia purchased cloth and ready-made clothing from the states in the late 1860s. Both complained about the high costs of transportation to New Mexico in those pre-railroad days. According to Mrs. Lane, "while on the frontier we received a great deal of our clothing through the mails, as express charges were very high, often amounting to more than the cost of the article received." [326]

Like Katie Bowen, who kept a close eye on the family budget, Lydia did what she could to protect family finances and secure provisions for her own household. While at Fort Union, Lydia recalled, "I spent much time making pickles and plum-jam of the wild fruit that grew abundantly in New Mexico." Like Mrs. Bowen, Mrs. Lane also took pride in her homemaking skills and described the results as "delicious." The Lanes kept cows for milk, cream, and butter. They apparently had a vegetable garden and probably kept chickens for eggs. [327] Like many officers' wives, Mrs. Lane also had interests beyond domestic labors and family.

Lydia enjoyed music and ordered a melodeon (a small keyboard organ, similar to a harmonium, in which tones are produced by pedal-operated bellows forcing air through metal reeds) from Philadelphia while she was at Fort Union. "There was not then a piano at the post," she recalled, "and, although a melodeon is a mournful, grunty, wheezy instrument, a cross between an accordion and an indifferent organ, it was much better than nothing." She also remembered that the cost to ship the melodeon was more than the price of the instrument. "The box was marked distinctly, 'to be sent by first wagon-train from Fort Riley, Kansas, to Fort Union, New Mexico.' By some blunder it was sent out on the stage as express matter, and the charges were 'fifty-three dollars.' The melodeon cost fifty." [328]

Mrs. Lane avowed that "the pleasure it gave me more than compensated for the large amount paid for getting it out." While she was at Fort Union the melodeon was used to accompany singing at Sunday chapel. She "and several ladies" comprised a choir. She remembered that they "made the music, which perhaps was not the finest, but was not bad." Sometimes, as during the Easter service in 1867, the singers forgot the correct words but improvised the "sweetest music." Lydia did "not believe the congregation knew" of the mixup. When the Lanes left New Mexico a few years later, Lydia sold the melodeon "for one hundred dollars, to be used in a Protestant church in Santa Fe." [329]

It was common practice for officers and their families to sell many household items when transferred in order to reduce the expenses of moving. Officers were responsible for their own relocation expenditures. Because of high transportation charges to move bulky objects in the Southwest prior to the coming of the railroad, after the Civil War the quartermaster depot shops at Fort Union manufactured furniture which was allocated to officers' quarters and remained there to serve whomever the occupants were. Even so families still had many articles of necessity which were easier to sell at one station and replace at the next military post than to transport. Public auction became the almost universal practice.

Lydia was experienced with the system and lamented that "it required a great deal [of money] to travel to and from a country as far away as New Mexico." The Lanes had not recovered from the burden of the move to New Mexico in 1866 when Major Lane, whose health was not good, was told by the Fort Union surgeon in 1867 that "he must apply for a leave and go East." Mrs. Lane noted that to move again so soon "was a serious drain on our finances." She prepared to sell at auction "such things as we did not require for the road." [330]

Lydia made careful preparations for the sale and declared, "I was well aware how all the articles would be examined by my army sisters for spots and specks, and I was determined they should find neither." She "hired a man to come daily to scrub and scour until everything shone." She was "quite indignant," as she remembered, "when one of the ladies called to see me and take notes . . . [and] whispered to me to remember how much better things sold 'when clean!'" Despite the putdown, most items sold well. "In several instances things brought far more than they were worth." A short time later the Lanes departed from the post. "We had not been particularly comfortable at Fort Union," Lydia remembered, "but we were sorry to leave." [331] In less than two years they were back in New Mexico. They sold more items at auction whenever they were transferred.

Mrs. Lane was one of the few participants in frontier army life who provided details about the prevalent auctions associated with almost every transfer of station. In 1869, while stationed at Fort Selden in New Mexico, Major Lane's health again deteriorated and he was directed to move once more. The family sold almost everything that was not "absolutely necessary" to keep. Because of their financial condition, the result of frequent transfers, Lydia was pleased when the sale "made money." She had mixed emotions about the results. "The high prices realized at our sale were absurd, and I was actually ashamed when articles were bid up far beyond their value. Our cook-stove, which cost us about forty-five dollars, sold for eighty. My sewing-machine, for which I paid less than forty, brought one hundred dollars, and everything went at the same rate." [332] The Lanes lived at Santa Fe for a time before leaving New Mexico. At Santa Fe Mrs. Lane conducted her last sale in the territory, disposing of her melodeon as noted.

In the autumn of 1869 the Lanes moved to Fort Union to prepare for their seventh trip across the plains. Lydia remembered, "we remained at Fort Union some days. Before we left we were serenaded by the band of the Third Cavalry. . . . After the music was over the soldiers drank to the health of their old officer and, as they expressed it, 'his lady.'" It was the end of their service in New Mexico. Because of health problems, Major Lane retired in December 1870, to Lydia's "great grief." She enjoyed military life, declaring "I liked it," including "nine moves in eighteen months in New Mexico." William and Lydia Lane visited New Mexico after the railroads were built and always held a special affection for the area and Fort Union. [333]

Looking back on her military life in New Mexico from the perspective of the 1890s, Lydia, who had by her calculation traveled more than 8,000 miles in army ambulances, asked and answered her own question: "Army quarters are better, distance is annihilated by steam, transportation is excellent, even to remote stations; but yet, with all these advantages and so-called modern improvements, are army officers and their families happier than those of thirty or more years ago? I tell you, nay!" [334] In the 1890s William Lane published some of his recollections of life at Fort Union in the 1850s. [335] He died in 1898 and she in 1914. Lydia Lane may not have been a typical officer's wife because of her obvious love for military life, but she was one of a rare few (and a good storyteller too) who provided valuable information and understanding of society at Fort Union and other posts in the Southwest.

Before the Lanes left Fort Union in 1869, Captain Andrew K. Long, commissary department, arrived there. He was soon joined by his wife, Elizabeth Foster Long, and year-old daughter, Mary. Mrs. Long dictated her memoirs in the 1920s. [336] She and Mary traveled to Fort Union by rail to Sheridan, Kansas, and by stagecoach the rest of the way. Elizabeth was the only woman passenger, and there were nine men. She remembered, "as I was the only woman on the coach and the baby was a great pet, the men took turns in holding her in order that I might have a rest, which kindness I appreciated very much." Several of the men got off at Trinidad, Colorado, and more men and an elderly woman who talked continuously got on there. The woman was not nearly as pleasant company as the men. "After passing a day and night shut up with a creature like that," Elizabeth divulged, "I was utterly exhausted." [337]

Mrs. Long witnessed the issue of rations to the Indians at Cimarron while the coach stopped there. She testified that "the beef was issued in a herd alive and the Indians would kill them and eat their flesh while it was still warm, entrails and all." To her it was "a sickening and repulsive sight." She was somewhat taken aback when some of the Indians offered to trade some of their possessions for baby Mary. Elizabeth was glad to get beyond Cimarron, and she arrived at Fort Union the following night. The Longs resided in the depot commissary quarters, which she described as "delightful" and "quite large," with a big hall, spacious rooms, and wide porch. Elizabeth, like many other officers' wives, thought the "climate was simply perfect" except for the wind and "sand storms." "The skies," she remembered, "were the most beautiful blue I have ever seen." She also loved the nearby mountains, wild flowers, shrubs, and trees which "lent enchantment to these mountains." [338]

The Longs went to Las Vegas "to do some shopping, as it was the only place near where there were any stores." [339] Las Vegas had, indeed, become one of the most important mercantile centers in the territory since it was founded on the Santa Fe Trail in 1835. Private Matthews affirmed that in 1870 after he was sent there with a small detail to recover three government horses that had been stolen by deserters. He declared, "Las Vegas has about two thousand inhabitants, principally all Mexicans. Some Jews and Americans. There are some very fine stores there. It is a kind of supply depot, for Country Merchants. They can buy what they want there cheaper than could have it brought from St. Louis." [340]

Elizabeth Long, like some other officers' wives, was fascinated with the New Mexican people, and she described the Penitentes of the region with some understanding. When the Longs found it was difficult to obtain reliable servants at Fort Union, they sent for the young black servant, Albert, they had when stationed at Fort Harker, Kansas, and he traveled to New Mexico with a company of soldiers. Albert was "a good cook, waiter and nurse." The child, Mary, had a tendency to run off, so they "kept her tied to the front porch when she was alone." [341]

Elizabeth recollected a frightening experience that occurred with Mary. An employ in the commissary department, "in whom we had the greatest confidence," offered to take Mary and the daughter of the depot quartermaster, Bella McGonnigle, same age as Mary (two or three years at the time) for a ride in the Longs' buggy.

I consented [said Elizabeth] and told him not to go far. They left about one o'clock p.m. and as the day wore on and they did not come back we became alarmed, and after retreat we were almost distracted, the post commander sent out men in all directions to look for them, and as nine, ten and eleven o'clock came and no news of them, another set of men were sent out. About midnight one of them discovered a buggy standing in the middle of a creek, the man drunk and asleep in it with these two little girls asleep also. They turned the man out in the road and brought the children home safely, but it was almost morning when they arrived as they were about 15 miles from the fort. [342]

Andrew and Elizabeth Long practiced the customary hospitality at frontier posts and took fellow officers and their families into their home as guests when the visitors were passing through or awaiting the availability of quarters. In the spring of 1870 Captain William P. Wilson, who was at the time attached to no regiment but had been specially assigned to oversee the distribution of rations to the Utes and Jicarillas at Cimarron, [343] along with his wife and baby son, Alan, requested permission to live at Fort Union because the quarters at Cimarron were inadequate. Captain Wilson's brother, Frank, a captain in the Third Cavalry, was stationed at the post at the time. When permission was received, Frank went to Cimarron with an ambulance and carried his brother and family to the fort. [344]

Mrs. Wilson, who had experienced a difficult trip to New Mexico with an infant son and a black servant, Rachel, and had briefly endured the one-room cabin at Cimarron, was ecstatic when they were taken in by the Longs. She reminisced:

I shall never forget the blessed sight of that big regular parade ground at Union with the flag flying and the band playing and, most beautiful of all, such a welcome from perfect strangers. Colonel and Mrs. Long's quarters to which we were invited seem to me as I look back to have been the airiest, neatest, prettiest house I was ever in. . . . I remember the guest room where I was put had Mexican rugs and a great bed with fluted pillow shams, and, most wonderful of all, an ice pitcher on a stand with ice in it which clinked and tinkled as I walked across the floor. [345]

The Wilsons remained with the Longs until quarters were available, and they were entertained by the other officers and their families. As Mrs. Wilson remembered, "every one was very good to us and called and gave dinners for us and made up riding parties and made us feel generally as if our presence was the one thing necessary to complete the Post life." In addition to her praises for the Longs and others, Mrs. Wilson left some brief vignettes about a few individuals at the post.

Colonel William N. Grier, Third Cavalry, was post commander when the Wilsons arrived. Mrs. Wilson described the 58-year-old Grier as "a fine, courtly man with a good deal of rather pompous humor." She delighted in his response to her query if he were related to Supreme Court Justice Robert G. Grier: "'Very distantly, very distantly indeed, Madam,' he replied, drawing himself up and expanding his chest. 'Judge Grier was the eldest and I the youngest of eleven children.'" [346] Colonel Grier left Fort Union a few weeks after the Wilsons arrived, and he retired from active duty later in 1870. [347]

Like many other officer's wives, Mrs. Wilson found Captain Shoemaker of the Fort Union Arsenal to be "a perfectly delightful officer." She noted that the story was told of Shoemaker, who had been at the post since it was founded in 1851, that he had been at Fort Union so long that "the Government had forgotten him." Her recollections of Shoemaker add to an understanding of that popular officer:

He was a widower and very deaf, yet one of the most delightful hosts I ever met. His dinners were very choice affairs and his quarters were the finest at the Fort; partly because he had been there so long and partly because he was lucky enough to have a spring on his grounds. He irrigated the place and made a superb garden. . . . He had a beautiful Arabian horse that he used to ride himself and a dapple sorrel named Julieka that he lent me. I suppose we rode with him nearly every day, the Colonel [Captain Wilson] and I. He had been terribly in love with his wife and yet he never spoke of her, though the garden, indeed all that he did, was more or less a kind of going over the things she loved. He showed me her miniature once, a thing he had never done to anybody else out there, then. . . . He never came East again. Perhaps it was true that the War Department had forgotten him." [348]

Mrs. Wilson enjoyed visiting with many officers' wives but gave only brief descriptions of them. It is difficult to determine how long the Wilsons stayed with the Longs, but they were there until after Colonel Grier left the post on May 22, 1870, and had moved into other quarters before Colonel J. Irvin Gregg, Eighth Cavalry, arrived to command Fort Union on June 16 of that year. [349] As Mrs. Wilson remembered, as "kind and hospitable as the Longs were, we could not just stay with them indefinitely." Colonel Gregg and William Wilson were cousins and friends, and Gregg was a bachelor. When the Wilsons learned that Gregg was coming to command the post, the spunky Mrs. Wilson disclosed, "we did the very cheekiest thing that can be done in the army. We moved into his quarters . . . and put down carpets and tacked up curtains and arranged furniture and started housekeeping." [350]

Fearing what Gregg might think on his arrival, she recalled, "I must say my heart was in my mouth at the audacity of the thing." Had Gregg chosen to do so, he "could have ranked us out the minute he crossed the threshold." The Wilsons went to meet Colonel Gregg when he arrived and rode with him to the post. Gregg inquired where they were quartered and, Captain Wilson, without revealing the whole story, invited the new commander to "come stop with us for the night, Irvin." The colonel replied, "Indeed I will gladly, if you will have me." He confessed that he dreaded "starting up a makeshift of a home in my lonely barracks of a Commandant's quarters." And, as Mrs. Wilson concluded, "nothing could have been pleasanter than to escort him into his own house." Their gamble paid off and Gregg permitted the Wilsons to remain. [351] He probably welcomed their company but may have felt obligated, too.

Mrs. Wilson and Alan sometimes accompanied Captain Wilson to Cimarron on issue days, and she provided a synopsis of what she considered to be a deplorable event. After explaining that the region where the Moache Utes and Jicarilla Apaches lived was "too poor either for cultivation or hunting to support life," Mrs. Wilson reported that "the Government had to feed them." She continued, with more details than Elizabeth Long had provided from her glimpse of issue day:

Every ten days they came to the station at Cimarron and got their rations. Each living soul was entitled to considerably more than even a U. S. soldier got. The flour, meal etc. were dealt out by the pound and the meat, beef generally, was given on the hoof, as they termed it. That is, the live animals were driven into the enclosure, one animal being apportioned to so many persons. Within an hour the cattle would be killed, generally with arrows, cut and hacked apart and eaten raw, down to the very innards. Indeed most of the rations meant for a fortnight were eaten on the spot within 24 hours, after which the tribe would generally sleep for another forty-eight hours, then disappear until the next date came around. [352]

On the return trip to Fort Union after one issue day, the Wilsons were confronted by a party of Indians who demanded at gunpoint that the captain issue tobacco and whiskey to them. Their threatening disposition frightened Mrs. Wilson, who tried the best she could to promise the Indians whatever they wanted. She never forgot that, "after the very fiercest talk in which our lives plainly hung in the balance, they lowered their guns and let us drive on." The Wilsons were unharmed, but she and William decided that she and Alan would no longer accompany him to Cimarron. He usually found other officers at the post who were willing to make the trip, for "the general fun of the thing," so he did not have to go alone. [353]

The Wilsons enjoyed their opportunity to host guests, and visitors were always welcome. Mrs. Wilson remembered that one of "the most amusing and altogether memorable" visitors were Captain and Mrs. Augustus G. Robinson. Captain Robinson had been district quartermaster, and he and Mrs. Robinson were at Fort Union for about a week, preparing for their trip to the States. They stayed with the Wilsons. Mrs. Wilson explained that "the whole colony entertained them from morning until night, indeed far into the night." What impressed and amused Mrs. Wilson were the disparate personalities of the Robinsons, as she perceived them. She described their characteristics in her own inimitable way. Captain Robinson "was big and easy-going and delighted to be visiting about." His wife "was a nervous much-wrought-up-over-small-things woman." Mrs. Wilson also described some of the quarrels the Robinsons got into over silly little things. [354] In many ways, Mrs. Wilson exhibited some of the same delightful traits as distinguished Katie Bowen, Marion Sloan Russell, and Lydia Lane. It was too bad that Mrs. Wilson did not record more of her memories of Fort Union. Captain William Wilson resigned from the service in October 1870, and the family, after living in New Mexico for approximately six months, returned to the East. Mrs. Wilson never forgot the generosity of Andrew and Elizabeth Long when they arrived at Fort Union.

The Longs had another daughter, Emily, born at Fort Union in 1871. When Emily was one month old, Elizabeth took the girls back to her family home in Pennsylvania. Captain Long accompanied them to the railroad at Kit Carson, Colorado, and returned to his duties. A few months later, in November 1871, Elizabeth and her daughters rejoined Andrew at Fort Union. They traveled from Kit Carson in an army ambulance with a detachment of troops from Fort Lyon, and they were caught in a severe snowstorm. It took them over two weeks to reach Fort Union. The day after they arrived, the Longs' quarters caught fire. They lost most of their belongings (except for some baggage that had not yet arrived) and the interior of the house was mostly destroyed. [355]

The other officers' families at the post shared clothing and household items until replacements could be ordered from the States. The Longs moved into the quarters adjoining their old ones and borrowed beds from the post hospital and obtained "what odds and ends of furniture we could get from the Quartermaster." Despite their losses, Elizabeth recollected, "we passed a charming winter at the post. . . . I had never seen such beautiful weather, and such blue sky, and we had many ways of making the time pass pleasantly." The bachelor officers visited often and frequently brought food for "midnight suppers." On June 15, 1872, the Longs left Fort Union for service at the commissary depot in Wyoming. Elizabeth found the quarters there to be considerably inferior to what they had enjoyed at Fort Union and was happy when they were "ranked out" and had to move to Fort D. A. Russell. The Longs had two more children in Wyoming, where they lived until 1876. Captain Long was assigned to duty in Washington, D. C., at that time and died in January 1878. Mrs. Long held fond memories of their time at Fort Union. [356]

About the time the Longs left Fort Union, Frances Anne Boyd (wife of Lieutenant Orsemus Bronson Boyd, Eighth Cavalry) arrived with her husband who was assigned to duty there for a few months in 1872. Mrs. Boyd's memoirs, Cavalry Life in Tent and Field (published in 1894), covered the years from 1867 until her husband's death in the Apache campaign in 1885. She confirmed much of what other officers' wives experienced and added her unique perspective to army life and Fort Union. She was a native of New York City who, like many others of her background, adapted well to conditions of the frontier. After a few years in New Mexico, she proclaimed, "I love the West." Unlike Lydia Lane, Frances Boyd (according to Darlis A. Miller, the editor of her memoirs) "disliked the frequent moves and uncertainties of army life." But she appreciated the land and portrayed Indians and Hispanos "in a positive light." She "found happiness" in the West and "reserved her highest praise for the men and women of the frontier army." [357]

Frances Boyd noted that most officers' wives wanted to be with their husbands, regardless of the conditions and hardships they had to endure. She lamented the fact that wives had no status in the view of the army. "It is notorious," she declared, "that no provision is made for women in the army. Many indignation meetings were held at which we discussed the matter, and rebelled at being considered mere camp followers." She saw a serious contradiction between military regulations, on the one hand, and, on the other, the "recognized fact that woman's presence—as wife—alone prevents demoralization, and army officers are always encouraged to marry for that reason." [358] If the army had made "provisions" for officers' wives, their living conditions might have been more desirable.

Another point of view on officer's wives was expressed by Duane M. Greene, a former lieutenant in the frontier army who wrote a book about military social life in 1880, in which he was less than complimentary to women who married officers:

In our Army the enlisted men are restrained, but the officers marry at their option. However agreeable may be the presence of ladies, it is a noticeable fact that the lack of discipline is most conspicuous at stations where the number of ladies is greatest. They monopolize the time of the bachelors as well as the time of their husbands, and, consequently, those little attentions which are indispensable to the welfare and comfort of the enlisted men are neglected. The married officer is more prone to shirk duty than the unmarried. [359]

Greene also argued that officers' wives used their influence with superior officials to advance and protect the careers of their husbands.

The morale of the Army is seriously depreciated by the influence of women. A lady of fine social qualities, whose husband may be an irredeemable drunkard, a disgrace to the Army, and a fraud on mankind, insures his commission by the adroit manipulation of her admirers. If he stands condemned before a court-martial, she may be the means of his salvation. Her artfully-planned supplications seldom fail to excite sympathy for herself, and to restore her profligate lord to all the dignity of his former rank and position. Thus the Nation, as well as the Army, feels her power. [360]

Many observers noted the importance of post surgeons at the remote outposts in the Southwest, and most officers' wives expressed admiration for them. Frances Boyd declared she had "the greatest regard for physicians." The surgeon's "constant presence in cases of emergency gives one a feeling of comfort and security nothing else can afford." She was also impressed that the army doctors "displayed so warm an interest in my children." In fact, she believed that children "thrive so much better" on the frontier than in large cities. [361]

Mrs. Boyd passed through Fort Union in the autumn of 1871, on her way from Fort Stanton to Denver (her husband accompanied her that far) to travel home for a visit and to deliver her second child. She said little about the post but commented on the land and people, giving a more favorable view of both than had most officers' wives who were in New Mexico prior to the Civil War. Frances declared that "the country between Forts Stanton and Union was simply superb in its wild grandeur and beauty." The one thing which gave her "so much trouble" was the cactus plant, for which she had no good words. Of the New Mexicans, she recalled, "We stopped every night with Mexican families, who in their simple kindness were most truly hospitable. They made us welcome, and yet exacted no reward for the time and attention bestowed." [362]

Lieutenant Boyd joined his family in New York after the baby was born and accompanied them back to New Mexico in 1872. Frances declared that the expenses of a visit back home were so excessive (almost $1,300 in their case) that it was almost impossible for army officers to visit "home and relatives in the East." Lieutenant Boyd did so by going into debt, a debt that "involved him for years afterward in difficulties." As a result, the Boyds did not "again come East until compelled to do so on account of our children's education." [363]

Frances Boyd had what was almost a universal experience with a female servant (apparently her first, having utilized enlisted men for servants previously). While in New York she "found a servant willing to return West with us, which seemed desirable, as a nurse would be needed on that long journey." Like others who feared the quick loss of a female servant who might "desert us for matrimony," Frances rationalized, "we congratulated ourselves on the servant's appearance, which was so far from pleasing it seemed safe to take her." Perhaps feeling compelled to justify the risk, Mrs. Boyd provided further details. "The girl," she continued, "was almost a grenadier in looks and manners; and although not absolutely hideous, was so far from pleasing that we were confident of retaining her services, so made a contract for one year." [364]

The results, however, were too familiar. The family and servant traveled by rail to Cheyenne, Wyoming, and then by ambulance to Fort Union, where Lieutenant Boyd was assigned. Their trunks were delayed, and when they finally arrived it was found they had been left in the rain and the "contents were saturated with water and had mildewed." The servant wept and mourned and could not be comforted because "all her finery was ruined." Frances found everything "delightful in every respect . . . but for the sour face of our nurse." While Mrs. Boyd viewed Fort Union as "a pleasant home," the girl "preferred New York." [365] The conclusion to the story was best told by Mrs. Boyd.

Having known the pangs of homesickness, I sympathized with her deeply; but she kept up so continuously her wail of despair over the discomforts of our life generally, and it became so tiresome, that when, five months afterward, she married a soldier, I was rather glad than otherwise, and returned with a sense of relief to the faithful men for service.

We had soon discovered the fallacy of our belief that her plainness would prevent the possibility of a lover. Women were so scarce, and men so plenty, that no matter how old or ugly, a woman was not neglected, and our unprepossessing nurse had scores of suitors for her hand. [366]

Unlike her servant, Frances Boyd was pleased with Fort Union. Although aware that "many ladies greatly dislike Fort Union," Mrs. Boyd considered it a beautiful place. "Every eye is said to form its own beauty. Mine was disposed to see much in Fort Union, for I had a home there." "We had," she wrote, "clean, sweet, fresh quarters, which to me seemed perfect." She called their quarters "a dear little house" and went on about "new carpets and curtains, and the absolute freshness of all." Still, some things did trouble her. In addition to "the discontent of our servant," two other things disquieted Frances during the summer of 1872 at Fort Union: the absence of her husband on field duty and "the load of debt that was constantly worrying me." The worry took its toll. "Before the summer was over," Mrs. Boyd remembered, "I had lost twenty-five pounds." [367]

Except for the debt, things looked up in the autumn. The servant got married and Lieutenant Boyd returned from the field. "We were always delighted to welcome back the troops from their Indian reconnoitering," she exclaimed, because "life was so dull without them." She noted the garrison was much reduced in size (the number of troops available for duty at Fort Union averaged 75 from June to October 1872, and it averaged 225 from October to December that year), with only a small group of officers present, including "of course a doctor, who was our mainstay, and to whom we rushed if only a finger ached." During the summer of 1872, "even the band was in the field, so we had no music to cheer us." [368]

The return of the troops and the band was cause for celebration, and "we inaugurated a series of hops that were delightful." The wide hallways in the officers' quarters at Fort Union were "superb for dancing." According to Mrs. Boyd, "we had only to notify the quartermaster that a hop was to be given, when our barren hallway would immediately be transferred into a beautiful ballroom, with canvas stretched tightly over the floor, flags decorating the sides, and ceiling so charmingly draped as to make us feel doubly patriotic." [369] The band provided the music and the officers' wives served refreshments. Dancing was one of the most popular leisure activities at the post.

Frances Boyd was contented with life at the post. "We were so happily situated that I hoped to remain at Fort Union, but as usual springtime saw us on the wing." She recalled, "we were looking forward to a long stay at our pleasant post, when an unexpected order came." Lieutenant Boyd was sent to Fort Bayard, New Mexico, to oversee the construction of officers' quarters. Frances remembered that her husband did not tell her of his new orders when they arrived because she "was deeply engrossed in preparations for a hop to be given at our house that evening, and he did not wish to spoil my pleasure." Unfortunately, "the first guest who arrived effectually dampened my spirits" by expressing his sorrow that the Boyds were leaving Fort Union. "I was too unhappy," Mrs. Boyd recollected, "to enjoy a single moment of the festivities which followed." Later she "packed our household belongings with a heavy heart." [370] Frances Boyd visited Fort Union again in 1886, the year after her husband died in Arizona, and in 1894, when her memoirs were published, she still held fond memories of life at the post. Presumably she cherished those remembrances until her own death in 1926.

Not all memories of Fort Union were pleasant, of course, especially those of problems with the conditions of living quarters. In 1877 Post Surgeon Carlos Carvallo and his family had an encounter falling plaster, showing that the hazard faced by the Lanes a decade earlier was not unique. Dr. Carvallo reported the incident on July 11, 1877:

. . . A portion of the plastering of the ceiling in one of the front rooms of my quarters fell down yesterday afternoon, it having been previously loosened by the severe concussion daily produced by the morning and evening gun. The rain of the last three days probably moistened the loosened portions to such a degree as to cause them to fall. My child providentially escaped serious injury as he stood, at the time, scarcely two feet from the spot where the plastering fell; the remainder of the ceiling is eminently dangerous, and to avoid any catastrophe resulting either by the morning or evening gun or the rain knocking it down, I urgently request that it be taken down without delay. [371]

Officers' wives and officers were important sources of information about life at Fort Union. Occasionally the children of officers recorded their recollections of the post. Genevieve LaTourrette, daughter of Chaplain James A. M. LaTourrette (who served at Fort Union from 1877 to 1890), later wrote about the things she remembered. Genevieve came to Fort Union with her parents and a brother and a sister (two older sisters had previously married). She described their trip from Chaplain LaTourrette's previous station, Fort Lyon, Colorado, as "one long picnic." [372]

Fort Union quarters of Post Chaplain
The Fort Union quarters of Post Chaplain James A. M. LaTourrette and his family, 1884, with an assemblage of men, women, and children from the post included. Rev. LaTourrette is standing at the left of the open door. Mrs. LaTourrette is seated, the fourth person left of her husband. The post commander, Lieutenant Colonel Henry R. Mizner, Tenth Infantry, is standing at left side of lamp post (fourth person right of Rev. LaTourrette). Genevieve LaTourrette Collins is the last person seated on the right, in front of a standing woman. The other people have not been identified, although a granddaughter of Lieutenant Edward Plummer, Tenth infantry, believes Lieutenant Plummer may be the sixth person from the left, seated by the porch column. If so, it is possible that Mrs. Plummer and their two children are also in this photograph. Courtesy Arrott Collection, New Mexico Highlands University, Las Vegas.

The LaTourrettes received a "hearty welcome" at Fort Union. According to Genevieve, "a new arrival in a garrison in those days was an eventful occasion." Her family had the good fortune to arrive at the time the post trader, John Dent (brother of Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant), and his family were "leaving for the East." As was customary, the Dents were selling their household goods so they would not have to pay transportation charges. Chaplain LaTourrette purchased much of what the Dents had for sale, including "quite a good deal of their furniture—among it a bedroom set, the four poster of which they said Gen. Grant had often slept on." [373]

In 1882 Genevieve married Dr. Joseph H. Collins, Fort Union post surgeon, which made her an officer's wife as well as an officer's daughter. Dr. Collins died there a few months later, on January 30, 1883, leaving a young widow and a daughter who apparently remained at Fort Union, living with Genevieve's parents. Late in her life (which ended in 1930), Genevieve penned her brief memoirs. Despite the tragic loss of her husband at Fort Union, she held pleasant views of the land and people at the post. [374]

LaTourrette family quarters
Interior view of LaTourrette family quarters at Fort Union, about 1885. Courtesy Arrott Collection, New Mexico Highlands University, Las Vegas.

She described the family quarters as "most comfortable both in winter and summer owing to the very thick walls and spacious rooms." She declared "the climate is most bracing and healthful, so conducive to health and comfort." She thought the post was "the safest place in the world to bring up children." From the perspective of the era after World War I, Genevieve held a nostalgic feeling for her days at Fort Union during its last decade. "The social atmosphere in a frontier post, such as Fort Union, in those days, and the happy freedom of all out-of-door life, as well as in, presented an altogether different view with that of the present day." Like many other residents of the commodious officers' quarters, she found them "well adapted for entertaining—with halls extending from the front door to the back, with large rooms on either side." [375]

Chaplain LaTourrette, the only clergyman in the vicinity, was often called upon to perform weddings for civilians as well as soldiers. Genevieve recalled, however, that during his thirteen-year tenure at Fort Union there were only five weddings of members of officers' families at the post, and two of those were her sister's and her own. The wedding ceremonies of the daughters of Chaplain LaTourrette were not presided over by their father but by the Episcopal bishop who resided at Las Vegas. According to Genevieve, "a military wedding is a brilliant affair." [376]

LaTourrette family quarters
Another view of the LaTourrette family quarters at Fort Union, about 1885. Courtesy Arrott Collection, New Mexico Highlands University, Las Vegas.

Recalling her own and her sister's wedding (February 11, 1885), Genevieve noted that the wedding ceremony took place in the decorated central hall of the family quarters. The post band provided music, "playing both wedding marches and gay music." All guests were dressed in their finest for the occasion. Her sister, Mary, and her husband, Lieutenant J. M. Stotsenburg, Sixth Cavalry, "left for the East immediately after their wedding amid the playing of the band, shoes and plenty of rice being thrown after them." When Genevieve married Dr. Collins, they spent their two-week honeymoon at the famous Montezuma Hotel at the hot springs near Las Vegas. When they returned to Fort Union, "the hop room had been beautifully decorated with flags and greens for a reception by the whole garrison—the usual custom on such occasions." [377]

Genevieve LaTourrette Collins
Genevieve LaTourrette Collins in the chaplain's quarters at Fort Union, about 1885. Courtesy Arrott Collection, New Mexico Highlands University, Las Vegas.

Despite his position at the post and the chance for association with the families of the officers stationed there, Chaplain LaTourrette "led a very lonely life" because there was not another "clergyman nearer than Las Vegas." His daughter recalled that "he enjoyed anyone he could find to talk to." He delighted in "getting into conversation with Mexicans and Indians who came around selling vegetables, blankets, etc." The chaplain spoke only a little Spanish, but the vendors "seemed to enjoy him and always made it a point to see him, and he always bought something from them whether he needed it or not." [378]

Officers' row
Officers' row at Fort Union, about 1887. Photo Collection, Fort Union National Monument.

Genevieve documented that, during "the latter years at Fort Union, the quarters needed renovating badly." She explained how perennial requests for funds to make needed repairs were not forthcoming until an officer came to inspect the post during "one of the worst rain storms we ever experienced at the post." Genevieve had to put the top up on the carriage in which her infant daughter was placed in order to keep the child dry. After witnessing the leaking roofs and the occupants using umbrellas inside the quarters to keep dry, the inspector had "a better idea of the condition of the quarters. It was not long before an appropriation was forthcoming and all put in perfect condition." [379]

Joseph and Genevieve Collins had the same experiences with servants as many of their colleagues. After trying to keep young women servants brought from Kansas City or Denver, only to see them married to soldiers "as soon as possible," most of the officers' families at Fort Union secured "Chinamen for cooks and general housework." This was a satisfactory arrangement for the officers and their families, but the enlisted men protested the change because there were not enough young women left at the post "to continue their weekly dances" and the supply of potential wives was gone. Thus, according to Genevieve, the enlisted men "threatened to get rid of these chinese servants by frightening the poor things almost to death." They chased the servants at night, threatening to kill them if they did not leave. [380]

In 1888 one of the enlisted men of Company H, Tenth Infantry, was convicted by court-martial of attacking a Chinese servant employed by Lieutenant J. R. Cranston, Tenth Infantry. The specific charge against John McCormick was that he "did without provocation assault & strike, kick and otherwise maltreat Loui Way Yang, a Chinaman." [381] According to Genevieve Collins, the retaliation against the Chinese servants was effective, and "it was not long before every one of them was gone, and one by one each family returned to their women servants, and the band played on with their dances." [382]

Officers' row
Unidentified people in front of one of the officer's quarters at Fort Union, about 1887. Courtesy Arrott Collection, New Mexico Highlands University, Las Vegas.

The bachelor officers also had difficulty finding dependable servants, and many utilized enlisted men as strikers as noted above. Second Lieutenant Duncan, stationed at Fort Union in 1886, recalled that "two other second lieutenants and I lived together. We kept house with the wives of two soldiers as domestics, their husbands as strikers." They found the arrangement to be "expensive" and complained that "both women bossed their husbands and us and gave a small party to their friends nearly every night." The two women wanted a milk cow and found one for the officers to buy. They "corralled" the cow in the "back yard," but found she was "excited and refused to eat." They had great difficulty milking because the cow was so "wild." After a few days they discovered the reason. The cow belonged to another officer, who thought she was lost, and he had the cow's "young calf in his stable yard." The cow was turned loose to "go home." [383] Perhaps the cow had been sold to them as a practical joke.

The general popularity of practical jokes was confirmed by Aubrey Lippincott, another officer's child whose recollections of life at Fort Union have been recorded. The young Lippincott and George Douglass, son of Post Commander Henry Douglass, once disrupted a band concert. In 1887 the band gave an outdoor concert at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday of each week. [384] The boys, Lippincott recalled, tied tin cans to the tails of two burros to make them run so they could have a race. They rode the burros with cans clanging across the parade ground during the performance. [385] He and George were "troublemakers." They once got into Colonel Douglass's cigars and smoked until they were sick. Lippincott declared his punishment was the only whipping he ever received. He recalled playing at the site of the abandoned earthwork, which had all caved in by the late 1880s, and the abandoned arsenal where Indian prisoners were sometimes kept. He remembered visiting the Apache prisoners and noted they suffered from the cold during the winter months. Looking back some 80 years later, he considered the Indian policy of the United States to have been "outrageous." [386]

quarters of Lieutenant Edward Plummer
Interior view of quarters of Lieutenant Edward Plummer, Tenth infantry, Fort Union, 1885, showing his wife, Georgia, and their daughter, Bessie, and son, Edward, neither of whom was able to sit still long enough for the exposure and are blurred. Courtesy Arrott Collection, New Mexico Highlands University, Las Vegas. According to a granddaughter of Edward and Georgia Plummer, their daughter, Bessie, enjoyed her childhood at the post. She recalled going to the post bakery to pick up fresh bread, visiting the hospital where the post surgeon gave her licorice, and catching the train at Watrous. The Plummers' son, Edward, died when he was 12 years old.

Lippincott reminisced that the trumpeter at Fort Union, an Englishman, was "very talented" and played the various calls, such as reveille, tattoo, and taps, with admirable skills. He was especially impressed that the trumpeter could run while playing fire call when the post trader's store burned on December 1, 1889. The store, operated by Edward P. Woodbury (the last post trader of record), was remembered by Lippincott as a big "general store" with counters on both sides of the main store room and a saloon attached. He also testified to the drunkenness that occurred after pay day, to the deficiency of recreational facilities, to the boredom and monotony of garrison life, to the popularity of dances, and to the fact that soldiers visited nearby communities for drinking, gambling, and prostitutes. [387]

infantry and cavalry officers
Unidentified infantry and cavalry officers, a regimental sergeant major, a regimental quartermaster sergeant, and one man in civilian dress in front of the post headquarters at Fort Union, late 1880s. Photo Collection, Fort Union National Monument, courtesy Dogie Jones.

Lippincott remembered some things about his home life at the post. The family had a "Mexican" woman for a cook. They purchased fresh vegetables from "Mexicans" in the area. His mother had a piano and he liked to lie on the couch and listen to her play. He remembered that Christmas was celebrated at the post with decorations in quarters, a tree, and a big meal. [388] There was a big celebration on July 4, including races and other competition. [389] Aubrey enjoyed the dramatic presentations of the soldiers and appeared in some of their plays when they needed a boy character. All in all, he held fond memories of the four years his family lived at Fort Union. [390]

ompany G, Sixth Cavalry
Troopers of Company G, Sixth Cavalry, lounging on rocks at the base of the bluffs west of Fort Union, 1888. Larsen Collection, Fort Union National Monument.

Almost everyone who recalled life at the post noted the need for recreation and entertainment. Sometimes pleasure was combined with benevolent endeavors. While Rev. LaTourrette was chaplain at Fort Union, some of the women at the post undertook to raise funds to purchase an organ for the chapel in 1884. Cornelia Black, daughter of Post Commander Henry M. Black, arranged a Japanese tea party as the primary fundraising project. She headed a committee that decorated the room at the post used for hops with Japanese ornaments and invited all officers and enlisted men to attend one of three evening programs where refreshments were served, donated items were sold, and contributions were solicited. The series of tea parties netted about $400 to assist with the acquisition of the organ. [391] Later in 1884 Cornelia Black married Lieutenant John Rosier Claggett, Twenty-Third Infantry, in ceremonies at the post conducted by Rev. LaTourrette. [392]

Weddings, tea parties, dances, band concerts, and other leisure activities helped to allay the tedium of garrison life and to enrich the lives of everyone at the fort. Second Lieutenant Duncan provided a favorable, and somewhat idyllic, summary of existence at Fort Union:

The life of the garrison at Fort Union was typical of all our western posts. Officers and wives were simple in taste and dress, satisfied with their homes, entertaining their friends in wholesome ways, frugal in expenditures, trying to save something for the education of children, loyal to the traditions of the service, its honor and good name. In such an intimate life squabbles would occur over the neighbors' dogs or children or chickens, but withal life was an open page. . . . Young girl relatives were usually guests in the post; they seemed to arrive about the time a bachelor lieutenant reported. Propinquities and opportunities took a hand and soon settled the affairs of the heart for the young officer and the relative soon joined the circle of army wives. Due to the isolation and life, such marriages were usually happy and contented. Such a thing as a divorce or a domestic triangle was unheard of. [393]

The congenial social atmosphere among the officers and their families lasted as long as Fort Union was active. Despite the absence of any military mission for the troops, beyond occasional training exercises, the enlisted men continued the daily routine of garrison duties (including guard duty) [394] and sought entertainment wherever they could find it. In February 1888, Troop G, Sixth Cavalry, stationed at the old arsenal, gave a "brilliant ball." The Tenth Infantry band provided music and there were plenty of young women for partners. A correspondent at the post informed a nearby newspaper that the dance lasted until 6:00 a.m. and a good time was had by all. In another issue of the same paper he jokingly commented that not all the women who came to the post were as young as they pretended to be, describing one of the "belles" as having "a beautiful crop of hair, [and] a perfect sunshine of glory purchased at a high cost from a tonsorial artist in Las Vegas." Of her age, he surmised, "I feel certain her certificate of birth would show the four figures which represent two girls alongside of two dudes: 1818." [395] The same correspondent wrote a series of humorous fictional accounts about life at Fort Union, in which he always referred to the post as "Fort Windy." He probably entertained some residents of the area as well as some of the soldiers. [396]

Even so, for the most part, post life for enlisted men continued to be humdrum and dreary according to Private Richard F. King, serving in the hospital corps at Fort Union, in a series of letters to his niece, Gabriella King, written from late 1888 to early 1890. Many of his letters expressed a feeling of lonesome isolation, and he constantly indicated his thanks for letters he received from family and friends. He apparently saw few single women and often revealed his desire to find a wife, even enlisting the aid of his niece and other relatives in the search. [397] In addition to yearning for a mate, King revealed a few things about life at Fort Union. He probably spoke for many of his fellow soldiers when he wrote, "you do not know how lonsom I am out hear." He explained, "it was not so bad a few weeks ago, but now it is horible[,] 2 company's left hear the other day with the Band and Head Quarters." He made similar statements frequently, including the following: "You know it is so lonsom out hear that I almost go mad once and [in] a while, and probley you would not believe me but then it is so all the same. I did not see one woman for a year and 2 months except the oficers wifes." He was especially pleased when he was sent to Santa Fe to work temporarily in the hospital at Fort Marcy during the last week of 1888 and the first week of 1889. Another time he informed Gabriella that, if she and other family members "were to stop writing to me, I should go crazy out hear, which I sometimes think I will any way." [398]

Private King frequently requested photographs of family members, and he had his picture taken by a photographer at the post in the spring of 1889. He promised to send prints as soon as he received them, warning it might be awhile because the photographer sent everything to Topeka, Kansas, to be printed. [399] In addition to thanking Gabriella for sending pictures of herself and family, King expressed gratitude to her for sending flower seeds which he planted in a window box in his quarters. In May 1889 he informed her that the "flowers are in bloom now and look awfull nice. I have my window full." [400]

In earlier years itinerant photographers periodically came to the post to take pictures of those wanting the service. In 1888 and 1889, perhaps earlier and later too, a photographer set up a studio at the site of the old arsenal along with a couple of other businesses. They occupied the former residence of Captain Shoemaker, which a reporter at the post described for a newspaper at Wagon Mound as follows: "The exterior of this house has a dilapidated and worn out appearance, but the interior is properly decorated and would suit any business man in civil life." With a jocular pun, declaring there were " no shoemakers in it," the correspondent reported that the old house was home to three businesses, a photographer, a barber, and a tailor. [401] King undoubtedly patronized that photographer.

Periodically King reported about other things that broke the monotony of his life at Fort Union. He was overjoyed when his lottery ticket won $1,000. [402] There must have been some excitement when the post trader's stored burned in the early hours of December 1, 1889, but King only mentioned it in passing when he informed Gabriella that he had planned to get her something for Christmas "but the Trader-Store was burnt down the other night, and I can't get any thing." [403] The store, including the post office, was completely destroyed, and the loss was estimated at $10,000 to $12,000. The trader had insurance to the amount of $9,000. Although the destruction of the store was a good excuse for King's failure to send a Christmas present, Woodbury reportedly was open for business in another building within two weeks. [404]

King's greatest delight while at Fort Union, according to his letters, was the 1890 New Year's dance. "I had a splendid time," he proclaimed. "I danced all night. We Soldiers gave a Ball, and it was just grand." He explained how the hall was adorned with evergreen boughs, decorations for each branch of the service represented at the post (infantry, cavalry, and hospital corps), "all the flags in the Post up on the walls," and "arms at diferent points about the hall." He did not say how many women were present but implied there were dancing partners. He noted that "the 'Grand March' was lead by us Soldiers in full-dress." The party did, indeed, last all night, with supper at midnight, lunch at 4:00 a.m., and the end of the dance at 5:00 a.m. [405] King affirmed that dances were an important leisure activity as long as the post was active.

King occasionally mentioned his duties at the post hospital, where he served under Surgeon Henry Lippincott. In December 1888 he reported, "we got a new Steward hear today and I have been relieved and sent to a ward for duty. I like it much better than putting up prescriptions all day I can lay down on my bunck and read novels to my hearts content." The following month he wrote that he helped Surgeon Lippincott with the hospital records, spending about an hour each day in the office while "the rest of the time I have to myself." He was not happy that Lippincott had made him quit smoking his pipe but disclosed that he managed to sneak occasional puffs without getting caught. [406]

King never complained about the condition of quarters, the food he received, nor the amount of pay. He was delighted that the army provided his medical care, especially after he was sick for three months during the previous year and "had no doctor bill to pay or I would of been paying it yet." [407] King was appointed to the hospital corps in October 1887, when he was a private in Company H, Tenth Infantry. [408] For the most part he enjoyed the assignment. His least favorite task was working in the dispensary because, as he explained, "I have nothing to do, and I must set in the office the live long day - that is all I do." [409]

King was busy at other times, for example when many soldiers of the garrison were sick and the hospital corps was reduced to himself. "I have all the patients to look after," he wrote, "and I assure you that they keep me busy." The long hours were unpleasant, and he declared, "I am so sleepy that I can hardly keep my eyes open. I am up part of ever night and all day but once and [in] a while I catch a snooze in the rocking chair when no one is looking at me." [410] Another time King noted that the hospital steward was gone and he "had his duty to do along with mine [and] it has given me plenty to do." [411] His own health must not have been good, for he wrote in the spring of 1890 that he had again "been sick for a long time." [412]

Early in 1890 King mentioned that smallpox was in the area and Lippincott feared that it might strike the garrison. He wrote about the serious threat with a degree of humor, rather typical of the way many people discuss life-threatening topics.

We are expecting to have some fun here pretty soon with the Small-Pox. They are all around the Post and the Doctor is running around like an old woman, one would think the whole world was going to have it from the way he acts. And what makes me so out of sorts is that the old man wants me for his Orderly and I would rather have any other job then that, but he always takes me for any thing that comes along. [413]

King, like everyone else who wrote from or about Fort Union, commented on the weather. In January 1889 he related that it was "very cold . . . so cold that I haft to stay in by the fire to keep warm, and the snow is 2 feet deep and has been for some time, and it wont get any warmer like it should." He was relieved two weeks later when he observed that "the snow is melting now and it is quite warm to day." [414] In March 1890 Private King, along with Corporal David Davis, Company H, Tenth Infantry, escorted Private Henry Courtney, Troop G, Sixth Cavalry, to the military hospital for the insane at Washington, D.C. King and Davis returned to Fort Union. [415] The last letter in the King collection was written in April 1890, one year before Fort Union was abandoned. In it King mentioned that he had requested a transfer to Fort Reno, Indian Territory. [416] Perhaps his request was granted, which would explain why he wrote no more from the post.

Unfortunately only a few such records remained from the final years of Fort Union, possibly because so little happened that inspired journals or memoirs, but the information in this chapter elucidates the essence of social life among enlisted men and the officer class at the third Fort Union. During all the time that Fort Union was an active post, there were other important aspects to life and duty there. Several auxiliary departments (including the quartermaster and subsistence depots, the ordnance depot and arsenal, medical services, and judicial system) made possible the military activities and the way of life of the garrison. The purposes and records of those departments round out the essential history of Fort Union.

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Last Updated: 09-Jul-2005