Historic Resource Study
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Life is more than work and leisure, even at a frontier military post. The fitness and discipline of every soldier contributed to the effectiveness of each military unit and the overall mission of the army. The health of every enlisted man and officer was affected by diet, water supply, sanitary conditions, protection from the elements, and medical care provided by surgeons and their staffs. Illnesses and injuries were constant threats and claimed the lives of many more soldiers than did battle casualties, of which there were few. The army provided free medical and dental care for every soldier, and a surgeon was almost always assigned to each military post. A surgeon frequently accompanied troops into the field on extensive campaigns.

Healthy soldiers could be most effective in all duties assigned to them, too, if they were well disciplined, followed prescribed patterns of action, and obeyed their commanding officers. Military regulations were numerous and precise, and soldiers were regularly punished for breaches of conduct. Health care and military justice were indispensable components of army life, essential to the physical and social potency and performance of officers and enlisted men. The capability and fortitude of every military unit resulted from the combined fitness of each individual and the structure and teamwork of all those who comprised it. The functions and contributions of the medical department (post surgeons, hospitals, and medical staff) and disciplinary actions (usually implemented through the institution of courts-martial) comprise salient elements of the history of Fort Union and the army in the Southwest.

The post surgeon and hospital were important to the health and well being of the garrison, troops in the field, and citizens (employees, residents of nearby communities, emigrants, and others). [1] Sometimes the surgeons left the post to treat civilians. In 1875 Post Surgeon Peter Moffatt, as he put it, attended "a case of midwifery at Mora." [2] Occasionally the post surgeon was called on to treat Indians. [3]

The Fort Union hospital served many patients in addition to those from the garrison, depot, and arsenal, as Post Surgeon Moffatt explained in 1875:

For the reason that this post is located on the thoroughfare to and from New Mexico, and that it is the base of supplies of the district, it occurs that there are at almost all times men in the hospital not belonging to the command at Fort Union, but who have been taken sick or hurt while en route to or from other points, and been detained at this post for treatment or discharge on surgeon's certificate of disability. [4]

This factor explains why the Fort Union hospital was the largest and best equipped such facility in the region.

It should be noted that not every soldier who reported to the post surgeon was actually ailing. According to Eddie Matthews, Eighth Cavalry, who frequently denounced shirkers and deserters in his letters to his family, "a great many soldiers go on the sick report just to get excused from duty, half of them are not sick." [5] The surgeon had assistance from hospital stewards, matrons, and enlisted men assigned temporarily to duties at the hospital. Many of the attendants were assigned on a rotation basis from the companies stationed at the post. Thus most were inexperienced when assigned to duty and were rotated off duty about the time they gained essential experience. Their duties included nursing care for the sick and wounded, administering medications, preparing meals, providing proper diet, changing bandages, bathing hospital patients, changing bedding, and cleaning. In 1874 the secretary of war was authorized to appoint hospital stewards who became permanent members of the medical corps. [6] This policy was instituted at Fort Union in 1887. [7]

The surgeon and hospital attendants had other duties in addition to seeing patients, diagnosing and designing treatment, prescribing and mixing medications, and performing surgery. The surgeon and his staff were responsible for such health-related duties as sanitation at the post, living conditions in the barracks and guardhouse, diet, examination of recruits, issuing certificates of disability which authorized the medical discharge of soldiers, sending severe cases of mental illness to appropriate institutions, and maintenance of medical records. In addition, the surgeon was required to administer the hospital, supervise all other medical personnel, dispense drugs, act as coroner, keep zoological and botanical records of the region, and record daily weather conditions. The primary concern, however, was always the health of soldiers and their families. Overall, the health of the Fort Union garrison was good, especially in comparison to some other forts in New Mexico, [8] and the health care facilities were the best in the Southwest. For a few years after the Civil War, the Fort Union hospital was the best equipped such facility between Fort Riley, Kansas, and California.

Diseases and injuries affected many more soldiers and resulted in far more fatalities than did gunshot wounds. A few soldiers were hospitalized for gunshot wounds, but some of those were not inflicted by enemy combatants. A few resulted from fights with other soldiers and civilians, many were from accidents, and some were self-inflicted. After a Fort Union soldier died from a gunshot wound in the head that occurred during a drunken brawl in 1873, Eddie Matthews wrote: "It is too bad that a young man should be killed in that manner, but nearly all the deaths among Soldiers on the frontier occur in that manner. Very few die from sickness or at the hands of Indians." [9] Actually, Matthews was mistaken about the statistics regarding the causes of death, except that few soldiers died from engagements with Indians. In New Mexico, during the period from January 1849 through December 1859 (which included Fort Union, 1851-1859), a total of 40 soldiers died from gunshot wounds. During those eleven years less than two percent of all soldiers in the department received gunshot wounds and fewer than one-third of those were fatal. By comparison, during the same years, 249 soldiers died from diseases and injuries (or, put another way, gunshot wounds were the cause of death in fewer than one of every seven deaths recorded). Combat, as noted in previous chapters, was a rare experience for most enlisted men, and it was a minor cause of disability and death. During the period identified, 1849-1859, 30 soldiers died from fevers, 59 from digestive diseases, and 41 from respiratory diseases. The remainder, 119 men, succumbed to other causes. [10]

Many health problems resulted from the environment. Crowded and poorly ventilated quarters fostered respiratory illnesses, unsanitary water induced diarrhea and fevers, [11] inadequate bathing facilities contributed to boils, and the prostitutes at and near the post spread venereal diseases (considered by some historians to be the most common affliction of soldiers). [12] Post Surgeon Moffatt confirmed that, when he wrote: "Gonorrhoeal and syphilitic affections are probably the greatest scourge we have to deal with." Although he treated many white males for these afflictions, he noted that he had "not been called upon to treat a single native, man or woman, for either of these affections." He believed the reason they did not come to him was because "they use two native plants which have a very high local reputation in these diseases." [13]

A ready supply of liquor, as noted in previous chapters, contributed to drunkenness and alcoholism. There were occasional fights while under the influence, resulting in injuries and even death. Cavalrymen were injured by their horses. There were a few epidemic diseases that occasionally affected the garrison, including smallpox and cholera. No cases of cholera were reported in New Mexico prior to the Civil War, and there were very few afterward. On a few occasions the post was quarantined, mostly for smallpox. Inoculation was available for smallpox, which tended to affect more natives of New Mexico than soldiers who received vaccine.

The epidemic diseases were rare, however, and other problems usually confronted the medical staff, such as blisters, cuts, bruises, colds, bronchitis, coughs, tonsillitis, influenza, pneumonia, fevers, diarrhea, dysentery, constipation, ulcers, rheumatism, hemorrhoids, broken bones, venereal diseases (predominantly gonorrhea and syphilis), nervous disorders, and many others. [14] During the period from 1849 through 1859 a total of 3,470 cases of venereal disease were treated among troops stationed in New Mexico, of which only seven were fatal. In those same years a total of 4,908 wounds and injuries were treated, of which 63 were fatal (40 of those fatalities, as noted above, resulted from gunshot wounds). With an annual average death rate from all causes of 21.4 per 1,000 troops stationed in New Mexico during those eleven years, soldiers in the department fared as well as the general population in the nation which had an estimated death rate of 21 to 22 per 1,000. [15]

A summary of the medical records of troops garrisoned at Fort Union, 1868-1869, revealed that a total of 852 were treated for diseases by the post surgeon during those two years. The statistics did not include injuries. The cases were categorized as follows: tonsillitis, 1; scurvy, 2; tuberculosis, 11; malarial diseases, 32; rheumatism, 94; diarrhea and dysentery, 147; venereal diseases, 152; and respiratory diseases, 170. Only four soldiers died during that time. [16]

The death rate at Fort Union was lower than at many other frontier posts. It should be noted that the remains of those who died were quickly interred in the post cemetery, usually within 24 to 48 hours, because of rapid deterioration. Little was written about funeral ceremonies or burials. Private Matthews, Eighth Cavalry, reported in the autumn of 1870 that a soldier of the regimental band had died of typhoid fever at Fort Union. The day after this death, Matthews wrote to his family, noting that the remains were "to be buried this evening." He continued, "While am writing can hear the Band practicing the funeral dirge. Oh how solemn it sounds. There is nothing that makes me feel so sad, and home sick, as to hear the Band playing in front of one of their comrades, the Dead March. All the Soldiers in the Garrison have to turn out for this funeral this evening." [17] The medical department, however, was mostly concerned with the health of the living rather than the disposal of the dead.

Another perspective on the health of the garrison was provided in a compilation of consolidated sick reports at the Fort Union hospital, 1871-1874, summarized in the following table. [18]

Table 15
Fort Union Consolidated Sick Report, 1871-1874

(Note: Statistics show number of cases treated; deaths are shown in parentheses.)

Mean Strength of Post322222164195
Accidents & injuries9279 (1)4655
Diarrhea & Dysentery99 (1)813367
Gunshot Wounds42(1)75
Homicide1 (1)1 (1)1 (1)1 (1)
Other Diseases8143
Other Fevers150513956
Other Local Diseases250130 (1)52117
Respiratory Ailments160 (1)842172

1 (1)

Typhoid Fever9 (4)
3 (1)

TOTAL974 (7)522 (4)239 (2)439 (4)

Because diet is so important to health (for example, Vitamin C deficiency causes scurvy, a disease that at times plagued troops everywhere, including Fort Union), military posts and post hospitals were required to plant gardens to provide fresh vegetables. Fort Union had gardens most years it was occupied, but the results were not always satisfactory. Even the most successful gardens produced fresh vegetables for a small portion of the year. Citizens from the surrounding area sold vegetables, fruits, eggs, milk, butter, cheese, and other produce at the post to those who could afford it. Improvement in diet, with foods containing antiscorbutics, was the major treatment for scurvy.

In the summer of 1855 three recruits arrived at Fort Union from Fort Leavenworth with severe cases of scurvy. They remained in the post hospital while the other recruits were assigned to their stations. When the three were able to report for duty they were sent to department headquarters at Santa Fe for assignment. Post Commander Fauntleroy encouraged Department Adjutant Nichols to provide the three recruits with a couple of months' pay "to enable them to purchase some little necessaries fruits, &c, as they have had the Scurvy very badly, and have not yet quite recovered." [19]

Even though the health of the soldiers was considered of prime importance in the army, facilities provided for hospitals were frequently inadequate until after the Civil War. At the first Fort Union the post hospital suffered from the same problems as most of the other structures built of unbarked logs without adequate foundations or roofs. When the building originally planned for the hospital in 1851 did not, as the post quartermaster explained, "exactly answer the purposes for which it was intended," another hospital was erected. The building first designated as a hospital became a storehouse. [20]

Construction of the second building designed as the post hospital at Fort Union was completed in late 1851 or early 1852. Post Surgeon Thomas McParlin performed his duties in a hospital tent until the permanent hospital was occupied. It was a log structure, 48 by 18 feet, with a wing, 46 by 16 feet. It originally had an earthen roof which was later covered with boards. Although Inspector Mansfield described the hospital as "comfortable" in 1853, [21] others declared that it was, like the other buildings at the first post, "badly built" and constantly in need of repairs. Post Surgeon Letterman complained in 1856 that the "dirt roof" leaked whenever it rained. He stated that, during the late summer rainy season, "not a room . . . remained dry . . . and I was obliged to use tents and canvass to protect the property from damage." Presumably tents were also used to protect the patients. [22]

In addition to the post hospital, the department medical depot was maintained at Fort Union for a few years. Although the medical depot and chief medical officer were left in Santa Fe at the time Fort Union was established in 1851, the depot and chief surgeon soon joined the other department depots (quartermaster, commissary, and ordnance) at the new post. [23] Soon after Brigadier General Garland transferred the quartermaster and commissary depots from Fort Union to Albuquerque in 1853, he directed that "the medicines, hospital stores, bedding, surgical and other instruments, books, stationery, dressings &c of this Department will be transferred from Fort Union to the depot at Albuquerque." The chief medical officer was also moved to Albuquerque. [24] A few months later the medical depot was relocated at Santa Fe, where it had been prior to the founding of Fort Union and where Garland established department headquarters. The post surgeon at Fort Union was not affected by those changes, except that his requested supplies and medicines were not so readily available.

The Fort Union post hospital was left without a surgeon in the spring of 1859 when Acting Assistant Surgeon John H. Bill was sent into the field with troops. Major Simonson, post commander, requested Dr. W. W. Anderson at Cantonment Burgwin near Taos to come to Fort Union to see about "a patient affected with a very dangerous illness." [25] Anderson was unable to go because he could not leave the number of sick soldiers at his post. Ten days later the new Fort Union commander, Captain Robert M. Morris, begged department headquarters for permission to hire a civilian surgeon (Dr. J. M. Whitlock of Las Vegas) to treat "a non Commissioned officer lying at the point of death, thirteen men on the sick report, in addition to these there are several Officers and their families here, who may require medical attendance." [26] Morris received no reply.

On July 3 Captain Morris appealed to Surgeon Anderson at Camp Burgwin to "come with as little delay as possible" to treat "Mrs. LeRoy a camp woman at this Post" who was "in a very critical condition." The woman had been sick for about two weeks. [27] The situation was more critical by late July when Morris again requested a surgeon for Fort Union and reported that there were "now two dangerous cases in Hospital and have lost two from the want of proper Medical attendance." On July 31 he wrote to department headquarters, "I now for the third time earnestly and respectfully ask the attention of the Colonel commanding the Department to send a Medical Officer immediately to this Post, or grant me the authority asked for" to hire Dr. Whitlock. He enclosed a list, not located, of those who had died without benefit of a surgeon. Almost 10% of the garrison present was on the sick list. [28]

A response was finally sent in August. The director of the medical department sent the callous word that "it is absolutely impossible to furnish a Medical Officer to each Post and every Detachment in the field, in this Department, nor do I know of a Citizen Physician who would give up his business and go to Fort Union." He recommended that Surgeon Anderson be sent, "temporarily," to Fort Union. That would leave Cantonment Burgwin without a physician. Apparently Anderson never went to Fort Union. On August 11 Captain Morris sent an urgent request to Dr. Whitlock to come to Fort Union and treat Captain Wainwright, department chief of ordnance, who had what the hospital steward believed was "billious fever." He also had the quartermaster make a "Mosquito bar" to protect Wainwright. Captain Whitlock was again called out two weeks later to attend a man with a compound fracture of the leg. The absence of a post surgeon was alleviated when Assistant Surgeon Elisha I. Baily arrived about September 1, 1859. [29]

In November 1859 Lieutenant Julian May, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, became ill while returning to Fort Union from Santa Fe. He died at Tecolote on November 22 under the care of Dr. Whitlock, who had been sent for at Las Vegas. The cause of death was apoplexy (commonly known as a stroke). [30] In 1860 the department medical director, Dr. William J. Sloan, recommended that arrangements be made at the Fort Union hospital to supply the sick with vegetables. The department commander, Colonel Fauntleroy, directed that a hospital garden be planted and a gardener from the garrison be detailed for that purpose. [31] The hospital garden was in addition to the post garden.

By the time of the Civil War the Fort Union hospital had deteriorated until it was considered uninhabitable. While the earthwork was under construction, the old commanding officer's quarters at the first post became the post hospital and the "old hospital building" was assigned to the ordnance department in 1862 to store ordnance supplies arriving for the department. [32] The old officer's quarters were an improvement, but that structure was also in a bad state of repair and inadequate for the medical demands of the Civil War era.

The increase in military activity and in the number of troops stationed in New Mexico during the Civil War placed increased demands on the post hospital and other medical facilities in the department. Surgeons accompanied troops into the field. A temporary field hospital was established at Kozlowski's Ranch after the engagements at Glorieta in March 1862. The wounded were treated there until they could be moved to the hospital at Fort Union. The old commanding officer's quarters at the first post were inadequate for the enlarged task. In 1862 Post Surgeon James T. Ghiselin reported that "the building used for a Hospital at this post is old and so badly out of repair the sick are made very uncomfortable after every rain storm by the excessive dampness of the walls and flooring." He recommended building a new hospital because the old one was practically beyond repair. Post Commander Wallen endorsed the request, mentioning the "decayed" condition of the building and the need for a ward to isolate patients with contagious diseases. There were several cases of smallpox at the hospital at that time. [33]

The overcrowded conditions of the Fort Union hospital were partially relieved by sending some patients to a military hospital which was established at the hot springs near Las Vegas. The hot mineral waters there had been visited for some time by people with a variety of ailments, including venereal diseases, who believed the soothing effects of bathing in the warm waters cured or helped cure their diseases. The site was destined to become a popular spa after the Civil War and especially after the railroad built into New Mexico. Some army surgeon or surgeons also must have considered the hot springs to have therapeutic benefits and persuaded Colonel Canby to authorize a general hospital there. A structure near the springs that had been built for other purposes was converted into a hospital, and plans were made to build a new hospital there to serve troops from throughout the department. [34]

Those plans changed when Brigadier General Carleton became department commander in September 1862. Carleton opposed the concept of a general hospital which was not located near a military post, and he directed that the facility at the hot springs be closed as quickly as practicable. Everything there, including equipment, supplies, medicines, patients, and medical staff, were sent to Fort Union. Because the post hospital was inadequate, Carleton directed the quartermaster at Fort Union to prepare additional facilities "for these sick and wounded." [35] It was not determined where the additional patients were accommodated at Fort Union, but their arrival amplified the need for a new hospital at the post. [36]

In June 1863 Carleton appointed a board of officers to design and select a site for a new hospital at Fort Union. [37] The result, an adobe structure set on a stone foundation with a shingled gable roof, was completed in the spring of 1865 at an estimated cost of $57,000. The conditions at the old hospital, during the time it took to erect the new facility, were "bad." The new hospital, as noted above, was the largest and best equipped medical center in the region. In 1866 a "dead house," 52 by 13 feet, was added to the post hospital. Other additions were made later. [38]

The basic structure comprised a large central hall running the full length of the building, 147 feet, with three wings adjoined on each side and an open space between each wing. There was a covered veranda on the front of the building. Each wing was divided by an adobe wall, providing a total of twelve large rooms, each of which had a fireplace. The two rooms in front and the two rooms in back were also divided in two and served special purposes. The front rooms on the west side of the hall comprised the surgeon's office and examination room, and the front rooms on the east side were used for the dispensary and storage of medicines and medical supplies. The rear rooms on the west side were used as the kitchen, and the rear rooms on the east were used for dining. The hospital initially had a capacity of 100 patients [39] (120 in case of emergencies), but later, when the needs were less, some of the rooms were used for storage and the number of beds per ward was reduced until there were six beds in each of six wards, a total capacity of 36 patients (figure shown on plan of hospital drawn in 1878, reproduced on the following page).

Plan of the hospital at Fort Union, 1878, Misc. Fortifications File, Cartographic Branch, RG 77, National Archives. (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

The hospital complex eventually included quarters for hospital stewards and hospital matrons, a cistern to store water, laundry, bath house, and an adobe wall around the compound. In 1866 a windmill and pump were requisitioned and approved by Post Commander Thompson to be placed at a well near the hospital to pump water to irrigate the hospital garden. [40] It may be presumed that the windmill was installed and operated but no confirmation was found in the records.

Fort Union hospital
View of Fort Union hospital from the south, 1866. U.S. Signal Corps Photo No. 88007, courtesy National Archives.

While the records of the Fort Union hospital prior to 1863 have not been located, the records from that year until the post was closed in 1891 have been gathered at the National Archives. The medical history kept by the post surgeon, also preserved at the National Archives, covered the period from 1873 to 1891. A list of post surgeons at Fort Union is included in Appendix B. Additional information about health and medical care has been gleaned from other post records. For example, late in 1866, army medical officers were directed to "furnish to civilian employes the necessary medical attention and medicines, without additional compensation therefor." [41] Prior to that time civilian employees had been required to pay for such services. Selected examples from medical records and other sources provide some understanding of health and medical care at Fort Union.

In October 1866 the chief medical officer of the district, Dr J. C. McKee, requested permission to authorize additional hospital attendants at Fort Union. McKee noted that "there are at present in the Hospital at Fort Union some fifty sick and wounded men, some of them very bad cases." Army regulations provided for assigning hospital attendants on the basis of the number of troops in the garrison. McKee explained that the Fort Union hospital had "to receive many sick from passing troops not belonging to the post." The small garrison, therefore, was "not sufficient in numbers to give these men the attention they require." He asked District Commander Carleton to "furnish as many attendants as the wants of the sick require." Carleton approved the request. [42]

In November 1866 the number of soldiers treated at the Fort Union hospital was given by Post Commander E. G. Marshall as "about 100 sick men from all parts of the Territory." He noted that a library had been established in the hospital. [43] The number of patients continued to be high into the following year, requiring additional nurses. When Surgeon Henry A. DuBois requested that a patient at the hospital, Private Thomas King, Company I, Fifth Infantry, be assigned as a nurse when he was well enough to perform such duties, the surgeon justified the need as follows: "I report 84 beds, and have patients in five separate wards, and I cannot diminish the No. of wards occupied without placing white and black patients, and contagious cases in the same wards." At least one nurse was required for each ward. The request was approved. [44] A variety of cases was under treatment.

Fort Union hospital
View of Fort Union hospital from the east, 1866. U.S. Signals Corps Photo No. 87994, courtesy National Archives.

Approximately twenty cases of scurvy were treated at Fort Union in 1866. Most of these were "recruits who had just arrived from the States and had been for months without fresh vegetables and the scurvy existed to an alarming extent." Post Surgeon DuBois directed Major Charles McClure, commissary officer, to purchase vegetables for these patients, which was done. The men quickly recovered with the proper diet. [45] Unfortunately, some diseases and injuries were not so easily treated.

James Keller, a recently discharged soldier of Company G, Third Cavalry, died at the post hospital at Fort Union on February 26, 1867, from a "fracture of skull and compression of the brain." The fracture appeared to have been inflicted by "a blow given from behind," although "it might have been caused by a fall on a rock, or by a stone thrown." Surgeon DuBois could do nothing to save the patient, but he urged the post commander to arrest "the guilty parties, if any." [46] No record was found to indicate if Keller had been murdered or was the victim of an accident.

In the summer of 1867 there was an outbreak of epidemic cholera along the Santa Fe Trail and other overland routes, with a large number of cases and many deaths in Kansas, and two companies of the Thirty-Eighth Infantry coming to New Mexico from Kansas carried the disease with them. Post Commander William B. Lane established a board of health at Fort Union in July 1867 "to establish rules and regulations to prevent the introduction of this scourge into this Post and Territory." The members of the board were Surgeon DeWitt C. Peters, Assistant Surgeon Henry A. DuBois, and Lieutenant Francis B. Jones, Thirty-Seventh Infantry. These officers were authorized to keep close watch on the disease, enforce rules of sanitation and health, and report regularly to Lane. Strict sanitary regulations were established at the post on July 27. [47]

Surgeon DuBois left Fort Union by stage to meet the diseased troops along the road. Those troops were halted at Ocate Creek before they reached Fort Union. They encamped there, approximately nine miles from A. J. Calhoun's ranch and stage station, under quarantine until the disease had run its course. This prevented cholera from affecting the post and settlements in the area. Major W. C. Merriam, commanding the two companies of Thirty-Eighth Infantry, reported to Lane early in August that his troops had developed no new cases of cholera since they left the Arkansas River on July 24. His command was suffering from scurvy. Surgeon Peters and Second Lieutenant Scott H. Robinson, Third Cavalry, visited the camp on August 9. Robinson had been sent earlier to help enforce the quarantine. Dr. Peters examined everyone in the camp, which included 220 enlisted men and six officers (two with their wives), six laundresses, and twenty-two civilians employed as teamsters and herders. He found no evidence of cholera. He believed it was safe to permit the command to proceed to Fort Union as soon as the troops had recuperated. [48]

Another battalion of Thirty-Eighth Infantry, under command of Lieutenant Colonel Cuvier Grover, came from Kansas and joined the quarantine encampment on the Ocate on August 25. The quarantine was lifted on September 20, and the companies detained there proceeded to their stations at posts in New Mexico. They passed Fort Union but none was stationed there. [49] There were no cases of cholera at Fort Union. The precautions would likely have prevented that, but the disease had ceased before the soldiers of the Thirty-Eight Infantry reached New Mexico Territory. The fear of cholera, which stimulated a thorough cleaning up at Fort Union, improved the sanitary conditions of the post and, perhaps, made it a more healthy place in general.

Surgeon DuBois was granted a leave of absence in the summer of 1867. He was replaced by Surgeon DeWitt C. Peters. Peters requested additional medical staff to handle the "fully 100 patients under medical treatment and a large number of families in the Garrison." Not only was he responsible for the health of the garrison, but the post hospital was the only place the 600 employees of the quartermaster department could receive medical assistance. Additional staff was approved, including more surgeons. At least three other medical doctors served at the post hospital before the end of the year. [50] Peters also found the supply of firewood for the hospital to be inadequate and requested "an ample supply of fuel" to "prevent suffering." He noted that "twenty fires are needed during the cold weather" to heat the hospital and cook the food. This required, in his estimation, two cords of wood per day. [51]

Mental illness, usually called "insanity" in the nineteenth century, affected soldiers and their performance of duties and required the attention of post surgeons. It also affected officers' wives and other civilians. In 1873 Fort Union Post Surgeon Peter Moffatt sent Private John Anderson, ordnance detachment at Fort Union Arsenal, to the "Insane Asylum at Washington" after treating him for several months in the post hospital. Moffatt observed that Anderson's "insanity . . . continued to grow more and more aggravated." He explained that Anderson's affliction "was not maniachal in character but was of the busy mischievous and vigilant type." Unable to help the patient, the surgeon sent him to the army's institution for the mentally ill. [52] The post medical records identified several such cases through the years, most of which were resolved in the same manner.

One of the most interesting cases of mental disturbance, about which only a portion of the story has been found and for which the conclusion remains unknown, was that of Mrs. John Lafferty, wife of the post and depot subsistence officer in 1873 and 1874. Also her husband, Lieutenant Lafferty, Eighth Cavalry, had suffered wounds in combat which were an intriguing part of army medical history. The story of this couple, including their medical and mental problems, was unique in the annals of Fort Union but worthy of being recorded for the widespread fascination among people of all eras in aberrant behavior and scandalous conduct. Because the tale loses much of its flavor in being retold, excerpts from the documents have been quoted.

John Lafferty, born in Oneida County, New York, August 23, 1835, had served as a lieutenant in the First California Volunteer Cavalry, 1864-1866. He was appointed a second lieutenant in the regular army, Eighth Cavalry, in July 1866 and was promoted to first lieutenant one year later. He received "a severe gunshot wound" in the right jaw in a battle with Apaches at Chiricahua Pass, Arizona Territory, October 20, 1869. The bullet tore away a portion of his lower jaw, took out twelve lower and four upper teeth, destroyed a portion of his tongue and lips, and left him unable to masticate his food properly. He suffered, according to Surgeon W H. Gardner in 1875, "almost constantly with Dyspepsia and is unable to digest any kinds of solid food without great pain and difficulty, the destruction of a portion of the tongue and lips also interferes materially with articulation." Remarkably, despite the pains he suffered, Lafferty continued on active (although sometimes limited) duty until he retired in 1878. He lived until October 15, 1899. [53]

Lafferty's troubles included a wife who caused considerable problems for him and many others at Fort Union in 1874. Lieutenant John W. Eckles, Fifteenth Infantry, submitted the following to the temporary post commander, Captain Henry A. Ellis, Fifteenth Infantry, on November 17, 1874:

I have the honor to call your attention to a very unpleasant subject. I do it most unwillingly but necessity compels me to lay before you the extremely unladylike conduct of Mrs Lafferty wife of Lieut John Lafferty 8th Cavalry. For the good of the service generally and particularly for the best interests of the Military Garrison of Fort Union some action must be taken in this matter. The conduct of Mrs Lafferty for this past several months has been of such a nature as to create scandalous gossips, both among the enlisted men of the garrison and citizens living in the immediate neighborhood. The wives of the Officers of the garrison are actually afraid to go on the sidewalk alone for fear of meeting this woman.

That she would attempt to do them bodily harm I do not believe but that they fear it I know. When Mrs Lafferty came to this Post she was most kindly received by all the Officers families of this Post - but her conduct since has been of such a nature as to bar out all intercourse between them and other families.

She is in the habit of invading officers private quarters on the pretense of looking for her husband if the doors are not barred against her. She makes an attempt to batter them down or break in the windows. The Traders Store Billiard Saloon has been attacked by her several times - in one instance the door and entire casings would have been carried away by her enormous weight had they not been securely propped in the inside, and this the door of a private saloon not in the Post.

I happened in the quarters of an Officer a few evening ago - shortly afterwards there was a great banging at the door, on its being opened Mrs Lafferty came bolting into the room. I spoke to her and told her she should refrain from such conduct - that her conduct was creating talk and Scandal and if she persisted in it I would feel compelled to make an official report

- Whereupon she replied in a terrible rage shaking her fist in my face that I could report and be dammed.

Lieut Lafferty has told me on several occasions that no one could imagine his anguish of mind on account of his wife's conduct but that he had no control over her - that he had done everything he could to pacify her but all was of no avail and that he was really afraid of her

- In submitting this letter I desire it understood that so far as I know Mrs Lafferty's Virtue is not questioned.

There is one thing certain if an Officer should keep a Garrison in such a state of commotion he could not stay in this army twenty four hours and for the sake of good order - friendly feeling social intercourse Mrs Lafferty should be removed from the Garrison. The details of her conduct further than is already stated I refrain from repeating on paper. [54]

On the same date Captain Ellis forwarded the above to department headquarters, adding the following cover letter:

I have the honor to invite attention to inclosed letter of Lieut J. W. Eckles 15th Infantry concerning the conduct of Mrs. John Lafferty. The scandal caused by this womans course of action and the abortive attempts of her husband to stop it is something that cannot be understood by anyone but a resident of this Post. Lieut. Eckles informs me that Lieut. Lafferty told him he had been trained as a prize fighter but being smaller than his wife I am told he only succeeded in blacking her eyes, bruising her body and partly obliterating her features without accomplishing the desired end. Being in but temporary Command by a Court of Inquiry I can do nothing in this unpleasant matter but report it to Hd Qrs. of the Department for such action, if any, that may be deemed necessary. [55]

If any action was taken, the records have not been found. Lieutenant Lafferty continued to serve at Fort Union until granted sick leave late in 1875. Whether his wife remained there until that time was unknown. He was promoted to rank of captain in 1876 and was recommended to the appropriate military board for retirement because of his wounds. He served in California until that recommendation was approved, and he retired on June 28, 1878. He later was accorded brevet rank for "gallant service against Indians" in 1867 and 1869. Whether it was the same Mrs. Lafferty or another, he was, according to the notice of his death in 1899, survived by "his widow and children." [56] Perhaps additional material will eventually surface to resolve the unanswered questions.

Surgeon Moffatt, who was present during a portion of the time Mrs. Lafferty was creating havoc, made no mention of her in his reports, nor did his successor. There were more pressing cases that required their attention. Moffatt treated successfully "a case of concussion of the brain of great severity" in the autumn of 1873. The soldier was not identified but "was struck upon the head with a shovel felling him to the ground with great violence" on October 27, 1873. He was able to return to duty one month later on November 27. [57] Such serious cases stood out in the medical records, exceptions to the routine diseases and injuries. Gunshot wounds, mostly accidental or self-inflicted, were of special interest to army surgeons.

An unidentified soldier suffered a gunshot wound to the thigh on November 16, 1873, which grazed the femoral artery. The wound was apparently an accident. The victim survived. Private John McCaffery, Company M, Eighth Cavalry, was not so fortunate. On December 12, 1873, he was "shot and killed accidentally by a pistol in the hands of another man" while on detached duty at Johnson's Ranch at the western entrance to Glorieta Pass. McCaffery was shot between the eyes and the bullet passed through his brain, resulting in instant death. On January 22, 1874, Private Michael Cullen, Company M, Eighth Cavalry, "committed suicide by shooting himself through the chest in the vicinity of the heart with a carbine." [58]

Epidemic diseases occasionally reached Fort Union. In December 1873 the wife and seven children of a civilian employee in the quartermaster department experienced an outbreak of scarletina (scarlet fever), resulting in a miscarriage for the woman and the death of three of the children, ages two, four, and six. The older children had a milder form of the disease, as Surgeon Moffatt reported, "the severity of the disease seemed almost in inverse ratio to the age of the patients." In fact, "in the oldest of the family aged 16 the affliction was so mild that it was not necessary to confine the patient to bed." The children who died, however, suffered rapid deterioration of the nervous system and expired within forty-eight to seventy-two hours. The surgeon declared that their "convulsion movements, constant tossing to and fro upon the bed, the throwing of the limbs about, and moaning with delirium were painful to witness." Moffatt speculated that the origin of the outbreak may have come from "associating a good deal with the Mexicans from the surrounding localities" where scarletina was reported to be present with "great fatality in their respective communities." A few other cases were reported at the post, none of which was fatal. [59]

The surgeons were not exempt from ailments and sometimes became patients in the post hospital. Surgeon Moffatt received two "simple fractures" of the tibia and fibula of the left leg when his horse fell and rolled over him in February 1874. [60] Acting Assistant Surgeon C. M. Clark applied plaster and splint and performed surgeon duties at the post while Moffatt recuperated. Moffatt was able to resume some of his responsibilities in March 1874, although he was "disabled with fracture." He was replaced as post surgeon by W. H. Gardner the following month, on April 9. Gardner began his assignment with a report on the "sanitary condition of Fort Union." [61]

Surgeon Gardner was critical of what he found. He described the adobe buildings at Fort Union, most of which had been erected within the previous decade, as looking "dilapidated and old" with the exterior plaster "falling off." The interior conditions were equally adverse. "In nearly all the rooms I have entered," wrote Gardner, "the ceiling is down in one or more places and I am informed that there is not a roof in the Post that does not leak badly." In addition he found the post "to be in a bad state of police, particularly in regards to sand and dirt." He was not sure that could be helped, however, "for during the two days that I have been here there has been a constant cloud of dust, which has penetrated every crack and crevice and now lays embanked against the north fence of the parade ground from three to four feet deep." Finally, he declared, "the drainage of the post is very bad." [62] Despite the unsanitary conditions, Gardner found the health of the garrison to be satisfactory. Most patients treated at the post hospital were "afflicted with ephemeral diseases, such as catarrh, tonsillitis and bronchitis, probably in a great measure due to the inclement weather." During the month of April, Gardner recorded, the weather was "cold, windy, and disagreeable," with "frequent snow storms." In the summer Gardner found that "the hot weather has increased the number of cases of Diarrhea and Dysentery." [63]

On November 21, 1874, Major A. J. Alexander and two companies of Eighth Cavalry returned to Fort Union from the field, and one of the soldiers with the command had typhoid fever. This man, "nearly moribund when admitted to the hospital," died a week later. A post mortem examination showed that, in addition to typhoid, the victim's gall bladder contained 215 gall stones. This specimen was sent to the Army Medical Museum, Washington, D.C. No one else contracted typhoid fever, but there were "many cases" of diarrhea and dysentery at the post, especially among children, during the same month. [64]

In October 1875 Surgeon Thomas A. McParlin, who had served as the first post surgeon at Fort Union in 1851, spent two days at Fort Union on his way to Santa Fe to assume his assignment as chief medical officer for the District of New Mexico. He replaced Surgeon J. P. Wright in that capacity. Surgeon Wright spent two days at Fort Union on his way to Fort Leavenworth later the same month. [65]

Surgeon McParlin attended District Commander Gordon Granger at Santa Fe when Granger suffered a paralytic stroke on November 19, 1875. Colonel Granger, Fifteenth Infantry, succumbed to another stroke on January 10, 1876. His remains were taken to Fort Union by Lieutenant Thomas Blair, Fifteenth Infantry, who had served as Granger's adjutant. Post Surgeon Gardner embalmed the body at Fort Union, which was sent to Granger's wife at Lexington, Kentucky, for interment. [66] The reason the body was sent to Fort Union for embalming was not stated, but it may have been because the hospital there was best equipped for the procedure.

Colonel Edward Hatch, who replaced Granger as district commander, stopped overnight at Fort Union on February 4, 1876, on his way to Santa Fe. A few days later it was learned at Fort Union that Captain Henry Ellis, Fifteenth Infantry, former commander of Fort Union and absent from the post on a surgeon's certificate of disability on account of valvular disease of the heart, had died at San Francisco, California, on January 25, 1876. Acting Assistant Surgeon J. S. Martin reported for duty at Fort Union on February 29, 1876, joining Surgeon Gardner's staff. A month later, on March 28, 1876, Dr. Martin, assisted by Dr. John Shout of Las Vegas, operated on Surgeon Gardner for internal hemorrhoids. During the same month the bodies of three troopers of Company G, Ninth Cavalry, who were killed in a brawl at Cimarron, New Mexico Territory, were brought to Fort Union for interment. Post-mortem examinations on these bodies were conducted by Dr. Martin. [67]

Another army surgeon was operated on at Fort Union in April 1876 for internal hemorrhoids. Assistant Surgeon Carlos Carvallo, post surgeon at Fort Stanton, New Mexico Territory, was sent to Fort Union by the district commander for the surgery. Surgeon Gardner, assisted by Dr. Martin, performed the operation on April 28. On May 22 Dr. Carvallo left Fort Union to return to his station. He was accompanied by Surgeon Gardner, who was detailed for court-martial duty at Fort Stanton. [68] One wonders if the surgeons discussed their respective operations during the trip. Travel by army ambulance may not have been comfortable for either of them.

Dr. Martin was left in charge of the hospital at Fort Union during Gardner's absence. Martin helped host and entertain District Commander Hatch, who inspected Fort Union on June 21, 1876. Gardner arrived back at the post on July 1. Gardner continued to request improvements in the sanitary conditions at Fort Union, pointing out that the "drainage is bad, the quarters of the troops are in great need of repair, of proper and efficient means of ventilation, and especially of some means of bathing facilities for the men." He lamented that, "for more than two years, these evils have been constantly brought to the notice of the various commanding officers," little had been done "from want of means, (men and money)." He also reported that the hospital was "in sad need of repairs and is badly constructed for the requirements of the command." Nevertheless, and in spite of sanitary conditions, he was pleased to report that, "with all the adverse circumstances the health of the post has been remarkably good, and for the last two years has been free from any epidemic disease." During that time only two soldiers had died at the post, one of typhoid fever and the other from an aneurysm of the aorta. [69]

Another death occurred soon after Gardner's September report. On October 4, 1876, John Sullivan, a civilian employee in the quartermaster department, was admitted to the post hospital "with severe contusion of chest and fracture of ribs." The cause of the injuries was not reported. Sullivan died the following day. Surgeon Carvallo reported for duty at Fort Union on October 4, the same day of Sullivan's accident, and replaced Dr. Gardner as post surgeon on October 6. Carvallo reported, in contrast to his predecessor, that "the hospital was clean and in good condition, the files of orders, publications, and journals in satisfactory state, the supply of medicines, stores and other hospital supplies and property abundant." He also declared that "the post was well policed." Surgeon Carvallo ordered a printing press for the hospital, sending $60.00 to the firm of S. P. Round in Chicago, leaving a balance due of $19.00 at 10% interest. The balance of $19.25 was paid the following month. [70] The need for a printing press at the hospital was not explained.

Surgeon Carvallo reported the names of the medical staff at Fort Union who were under his command. Dr. Martin continued as his assistant. There were two hospital stewards: Charles Hoffmier (medical corps) and John V. Noel (private, Company C, Fifteenth Infantry). The hospital cook was Private Emil Fisher, Company F, Fifteenth Infantry. The two nurses were Private John Thornton, Company C, Fifteenth Infantry, and Private John Weaver, Company F, Fifteenth Infantry. There were three hospital matrons: Mary Hoffmier (wife of Steward Hoffmier), Sylvia Francisco, and Guadalupe Garcia. Carvallo provided detailed monthly reports about activities at Fort Union during his tenure at the post. He noted about the social life of the garrison soon after his arrival, "several very agreeable gatherings took place during the month, harmony reigns supreme at the post." The following month he reported that on Thursday, November 30, "all the companies and the hospital had extra dinners for Thanksgiving." [71]

Surgeon Carvallo regularly inspected the guardhouse and prison at the post as well as the quarters, kitchens, and sanitary conditions inside and outside the buildings. He noted in November 1876 that the average daily occupancy of the guardhouse was 9.23 and the average daily occupancy of the military prison was 2.33, for a total prisoner population of 11.56 per day. [72] During the same month the average daily occupancy of the post hospital was 3.53 and the average number of soldiers treated daily in their quarters was 6.47, for a total patient load of 10 per day. During the month 39 new cases were seen by the surgeon, and seven cases were carried over from the previous month. Of the 46 total cases, 35 were returned to duty and 11 remained under doctor's care at the end of the month. That was in a garrison comprised of 106 white officers and enlisted men and 100 black enlisted men. [73]

Surgeon Carvallo recorded details of events connected with the medical department at Fort Union. On November 4, 1876, Emma Beeks, a black servant employed by Dr. Carvallo, "gave birth to a male child." Following a "severe snow storm and cold snap" on November 21 and 22, Carvallo recommended that the convicts held in the military prison be permitted to "have a straw bed sack in their cells," which was done. One of the prisoners, a convicted deserter named Henry Everts, was taken to the hospital, November 23 to 26, for treatment of a fever. On December 5, 1876, two laundresses (Mrs. Ferrell and Mrs. Marshall, first names unknown) and their families were quarantined at the post hospital "on account of having chicken pox." They returned to their quarters on December 12. An enlisted man was diagnosed with chicken pox on December 9 and returned to duty December 14. [74]

Also on December 14 the hospital steward second class, name not recorded, who was in charge of the dispensary, took "two grains of morphine with intent to commit suicide." Dr. Carvallo reported that the patient was unconscious for more than six hours, during which time he was in and out of a coma. The procedures used, according to the surgeon, included "stomach pump, electricity, hypodermic injections of atrophine, counter irritation, and constant rousing for over six hours finally cured him." Some people were trying to end their lives at Fort Union while others were bringing new lives into the world. On December 17 the wife of the post adjutant, Second Lieutenant George H. Kinzie, Fifteenth Infantry, gave birth to a daughter. A few weeks later, on January 6, 1877, Mrs. Nicholson, wife of the master mechanic, gave birth to twin boys. Children were considered an important part of society. In December 1876 Post Chaplain Simpson raised funds for a Christmas tree and to purchase "over $60.00 worth of presents for the children in and about the post." Although it was not a Christmas present, Surgeon Carvallo received a rain gauge on December 26, which he had ordered a month earlier. This helped with the accurate recording of weather records, part of his duties. [75]

In addition to the rain gauge the post surgeon had a thermometer and barometer. Each day he recorded the direction of the prevailing wind, high and low temperature, barometric pressure, and precipitation (including form and amount), and these were summarized and averaged at the end of every month. Severe storms, including high winds and hail, were also noted. On January 3, 1877, a "new house for safe keeping of Meteorological observations was erected." [76]

Weather records, births, and deaths comprised a part of the surgeon's monthly reports and medical history. On January 8, 1877, John Allen, who had recently been discharged upon completion of his term of service as a private in Company A, Ninth Cavalry, died at the quarters of Jane W. Brent, postmistress at Fort Union, where he was employed. An inquest into the "causes of the sudden death of John Allen" was held the following day by a board comprised of Drs. Carvallo and Martin, Post Trader John C. Dent, and H. V. Harris, a civilian. The cause of death was "hemorrhage from the lungs, originating in an abscess in the posterior lobe of left lung." Allen's remains were buried in the post cemetery on January 10 "with Hospital shirt, drawers, and stockings, he having no friends from whom they could be obtained." [77] Although Allen, a civilian, had received no medical care from the post hospital, he was the beneficiary of the hospital in death.

A civilian who was treated at the post hospital the same month was Dr. John L. Gregg, a 48-year-old physician who was emigrating to Arizona Territory. He had suffered a fracture of the left femur by an accidental shot of his pistol at La Junta, New Mexico Territory, on July 24, 1876. He had been treated at La Junta by Dr. Martin from Fort Union. Because the "surroundings not being favorable there for his recovery, he was brought to hospital where he could receive suitable attention." Dr. Gregg was required to pay the cost of his rations (thirty cents per day) but his medical treatment was provided without charge. He remained a patient until April 16, 1877, when he "was discharged from the hospital much improved in general health." His leg, however, still had a "running wound." [78] It was common procedure to charge civilian patients for their rations.

Another civilian at the post hospital was Alcetus J. Scorse, late private of Company C, Fifteenth Infantry, who received a medical discharge from the service for spasmodic asthma on September 13, 1876. Scorse was "in destitute circumstances" and had been admitted to the post hospital on December 3, 1876, for treatment of his asthma. Being destitute and a former soldier, he was not charged for his rations. His condition deteriorated and he died of asthma complications and cardiac "derangements" on February 9, 1877. He was buried at the post cemetery on February 11. His remains were disinterred on November 16, 1877, at the request of his sister, were "thoroughly disinfected and packed under the supervision of Post Surg.," and were sent to the sister at Niles, Michigan, on November 21. [79]

Mary Strass, wife of Private Patrick Strass, Ninth Cavalry band, was admitted to the post hospital in January 1877 with a venereal disease, chancroid, and she was "quarantined to prevent contagion among the troops." She was still under treatment at the end of February 1877 and no further mention of her case appeared in the records. [80]

Another outbreak of scarletina occurred in March 1877. Royal Lackey, nine-year-old son of a civilian employee at the post, was the first case, reported on March 4, and his family was immediately quarantined. Royal's younger brother, Willie, age seven, died of the disease on March 19. Another boy at the post, son of Private and Mrs. Cunningham (first names and his regiment unknown), showed symptoms of scarlet fever on March 5, and the family was "at once isolated in one of the Hospital wards and their house thoroughly disinfected." No other cases were reported and there were no further fatalities from the disease. Surgeon Carvallo declared that "measures taken to prevent further cases of contagion were very successful in this instance and prove what can be done by vigilance." [81]

Carvallo had better luck with his treatment of scarletina than he did with the hospital cook, Private Emil Gashot, Company C, Fifteenth Infantry, who had to be relieved from that extra-duty assignment. In April 1877 Gashot had "got drunk" and broken some of the kitchen ware, for which he was tried by garrison court-martial, found guilty, and sentenced to be confined for thirty days and forfeit $10.00 of his pay. Carvallo's choice for a replacement cook from the men of Company C, Fifteenth Infantry, was denied by the company commander, Captain Casper H. Conrad, who detailed Private Edward J. Cahota to be the new cook. [82] The hospital's milk supply was another problem faced by the post surgeon.

On May 6, 1877, one of the two hospital cows failed to come in. A mounted detail was sent to search for her. She was found, with a newborn calf, in the Turkey Mountains on May 8. In November 1877 Surgeon Carvallo was authorized to sell the two hospital cows and their two calves and to place the money received into the hospital fund. Hospital Steward Charles Hoffmier paid $45.00 for the entire hospital herd. [83] Carvallo never explained from where the hospital acquired milk for patients following the sale, but it was possible that Hoffmier sold milk from his cows to the hospital.

There seemed to be no end to the problems faced by a post surgeon. Another epidemic disease came near Fort Union in May 1877, when smallpox was reported at some of the villages in the area and it was believed that two cases of the disease had passed through the post. Information also reached the post that "two or more trains en route from Santa Fe N.M. to El Moro Col. are infected with small pox." Post commander Dudley immediately ordered that "all parties in any way attached or belonging to the garrison of Fort Union or residing on the reservation are hereby prohibited from visiting or going near any trains that may pass this post going north the next ten days." A non-commissioned officer was charged with seeing that "all trains coming from the South pass the garrison either east or west instead of the usual travelled road [in] front of Post Traders." In addition, the post was quarantined on May 5, although the quartermaster depot and arsenal refused to cooperate (as explained in the preceding chapter), and a number of people residing at the post were revaccinated. No cases of the disease were reported at the post, and the quarantine was discontinued on May 25. [84] Smallpox did reach Fort Union later in the year.

Alma Sanchez, fourteen-year-old daughter of Manuel Sanchez, a civilian quartermaster employee, was diagnosed with smallpox on November 26, 1877, and the home of the family was quarantined. Surgeon Carvallo reported that "the contagion was supposed to have been brought to the reservation by Sylvia Francisco, Lt. Col. Dudley's servant who visited Loma Parda where the disease prevailed at the time." [85] On December 12 the two sons of Manuel Sanchez were found to have smallpox and they were sent away from the reservation (where not recorded). On December 16 J. D. Davis, the post trader's black servant, was placed in the "quarantine hospital" with smallpox. This was a hospital tent set up to be used only by smallpox patients. Davis remained there until January 27, 1878. Surgeon Carvallo believed that Davis "contracted the disease from his concubine Lulu, a Mexican woman who visited Loma Parda, a small Mexican village 4 miles distant from the post, with frequency." On December 22 Corporal Lewis Nehren, Company F, Fifteenth Infantry, was also placed in the quarantine hospital with the disease. He also remained there until January 27. Carvallo traced this case to Loma Parda, too, and noted that Nehren had "gone to Loma Parda on a two days pass, and spent his time in the bar room and with a Mexican woman." [86]

The patients at the quarantine hospital, location not indicated in the records, were tended by Private John McMahon, Company C, Fifteenth Infantry, who had previously had smallpox. As an added precaution, Surgeon Carvallo directed that all enlisted men, quartermaster employees, and women and children at the post be revaccinated. Also, the post commander forbade all communication between the post and Loma Parda. At least one additional case was reported. Private Daniel Green, Company E, Ninth Cavalry, was admitted to the quarantine hospital with smallpox on February 23. Carvallo believed the source of Green's disease was the village of La Junta. Green died of the disease on March 5. In order to remove all traces of smallpox from the post, all medical property used by smallpox patients and the quarantine hospital were "destroyed by fire March 8th." Surgeon Carvallo was proud that "the precautions and sanitary measures taken" at Fort Union had successfully limited the effects of smallpox, especially "considering the fatality in the neighborhood and throughout the Territory." [87]

Many of the serious cases treated at the post hospital were civilians. L. T. Emery, age 30, was admitted to the hospital on May 9, 1877, "with necrosis of left femur" which resulted from a case of typhoid fever several years previous. A large, discharging abscess remained on his thigh. It was surgically removed and the rough bone of the femur, which was irritating the flesh, was smoothed with a chisel. Emery paid for his rations. On May 12 Remedio Apadaca, a "Mexican" citizen, was admitted "with constitutional syphilis." According to Carvallo, "the disease had four years ago deprived him of his virile member." For treatment, "the ulcers were freely cauterized with pure bromine and poultices, and supporting treatment given." Because Apadaca was "a pauper he is treated gratis." He was released "with ulcerations healed up" on June 26. Isaiah Louisburg, a 26-year-old civilian suffering from "enteritis complicated with liver abscess" was admitted to the post hospital on June 8 and died June 21. [88]

Mr. Emery remained a patient and was declared a destitute citizen on July 14, meaning his rations were provided thereafter without charge. Before that, Post Chaplain Simpson was directed by the post commander, at the request of Dr. Carvallo, "to refrain from speaking on religions to . . . Emery as they had the tendency to depress him." In August 1877 Rev. Simpson, who had been granted sick leave for four months, and his family left Fort Union. Simpson was later relieved of his duties at Fort Union, [89] and Rev. LaTourrette arrived to serve as post chaplain on September 30, 1877. His relationship with Emery was not recorded, and no indication was found that LaTourrette was restricted from visiting the patient. Rev. Simpson was back at Fort Union, December 5-7, 1877, from his sick leave at Baltimore, as a witness in the court-martial trial of Lieutenant Colonel Dudley, but he was not placed on the witness stand. It would be interesting to know if he visited or attempted to visit Emery, who was still a patient at that time. Emery never recovered and was treated at the post hospital until his death, May 1, 1878. [90]

Meanwhile there were some severe cases at the hospital involving soldiers. On September 7, 1877, Private John Conviss, Company D, Ninth Cavalry, was admitted to the post hospital "with severe concussion of brain, nervous shock, compound fracture of left humerus, lower 3rd and simple fracture of 2nd rib, right side." His injuries resulted from "being dragged, by a chain twisted around his right wrist, by a horse who pulled him down and dragged him 600 yards around the cavalry corral." Private Conviss never regained consciousness and died forty-two hours after the accident. He was buried in the post cemetery. [91]

Lieutenant Horace P. Sherman, age 38, Company F, Fifteenth Infantry, who served as post commissary officer and post treasurer, "was taken sick Sept. 26 with pleurisy of right side which was followed Oct. 1st by pneumonia." He died October 6 of pleuro-pneumonia and asthma. His remains were embalmed and placed in an oak coffin. Following a brief funeral service at the post surgeon's office on October 10, the coffin was packed into "an outer coffin, with saw dust, wedge coppers, lime, charcoal, and permanganate of potash, and securely hooped" for shipment to his family. His remains were escorted to the railroad at El Moro, Colorado, by five soldiers. In his honor the garrison flag flew at half mast and the officers agreed to "wear mourning for 30 days." According to Surgeon Carvallo, "Lt. Sherman was a universal favorite among the post inmates and his untimely death is deeply lamented." [92]

There were two more deaths at Fort Union in January 1878, both civilians. Manuel Francis Carvallo, three-month-old son of Post Surgeon and Mrs. Carvallo, died of spinal meningitis, following surgery for "Opima bifoida." He was buried in the post cemetery. Josepha, a "Mexican" woman who was employed as a servant by a laundress at the post, died of congestion of the lungs without having requested medical treatment. Her remains were "turned over to her relatives at La Junta, N. M." A soldier and two more children died in February 1878. Private Edward Armstrong, Company F, Fifteenth Infantry, succumbed to pneumonia on February 16. A one-year-old child (probably one of the twins born in 1877) "of Mr. Nicholson," an employee in the quartermaster department, died of unknown causes on February 27. On the same day a five-year-old child "of Mr. Harris," a former clerk in the quartermaster department, died of "inflammation of the Bowels." [93]

The post surgeon oversaw the end of life for some and the beginning for others. In April 1878 the wife of Post Commander Whittemore gave birth to a son who was named James Whittemore. In August the wife of Private John W. Harper, ordnance detachment at the arsenal, delivered "a fine living female child." In November Surgeon Carvallo's wife gave birth to a daughter. During the following year seven more babies were born at the post hospital. Throughout that time the health of the garrison was good, but there were a few fatalities (including civilians). [94]

In addition to the death of L. T. Emery in May, the following occurred. In August the two-month old adopted daughter of Manuel Sanchez and his wife died of unknown causes. On September 30 Jose Antonio Chavez, who was freighting supplies from the railroad at El Moro, Colorado, to the San Carlos Indian Agency in Arizona, was admitted to the post hospital "in a moribund condition," suffering from gastro-enteritis. He died a few hours later. Surgeon Carvallo declared there was "no hope of his recovery." In November 1878 David Lewis, an unassigned recruit of the Ninth Cavalry, died at the post hospital from gastro-enteritis which Carvallo believed Lewis had contracted before leaving St. Louis to travel to New Mexico. Private Leven Louds, Company K, Ninth Cavalry, was struck by lightning on November 7 while traveling from Fort Union to Fort Garland, Colorado. He received no medical care because of the distance from the post hospital. He died the following day and was buried at Willow Springs, New Mexico. [95]

Post Chaplain LaTourrette was granted a year of sick leave in November 1878, suffering from several ailments. Surgeon Carvallo issued the certificate of leave and noted that LaTourrette had chronic rheumatism, cardiac "irritations," and spasms. The combination of afflictions, according to Carvallo, had so "impaired his general health and that in consequence thereof his condition is unfit for duty." In 1878 two soldiers received discharges on the surgeon's certificate of disability. Musician Charles F. Wood, Company F, Fifteenth Infantry, and Private Bernard Levy, ordnance detachment at the arsenal, were both discharged because of hernias received "in the line of duty." Surgeon Carvallo and his staff examined fifty-eight recruits during 1878, and twenty-six were rejected as unfit. [96]

On March 10, 1879, Emma Beeks, a black female servant employed by Surgeon Carvallo, who had worked occasionally as a nurse at the post hospital, died of "peritonitis and hemorrhage from criminal abortion." This happened while Dr. Carvallo was absent from the post at Santa Fe. [97] Carvallo suspected that Margaret Berry, a black woman who served as hospital matron, assisted with the abortion. Berry had been involved in other abortions. The cause of death, loss of blood and infection, resulted from a puncture in the wall of the vagina by a sharp instrument, such as a needle. Beeks, a native of Georgia, was thirty-five years old at the time of her death. She was unmarried and had worked for the Carvallo family for eight years. She resided on laundresses row at the post. When Carvallo discovered that Margaret Berry, who also lived on laundresses row, had appropriated some of Beeks's property for herself, he saw that Berry was removed from the military reservation. [98]

In April 1879 Assistant Surgeon Walter Reed, who was serving as post surgeon at Camp Apache, Arizona Territory, stopped overnight at Fort Union on his way to the terminus of the railroad, April 17-18, and on his return to his station, April 28-29. [99] Dr. Reed was later to achieve international recognition as head of the U. S. Army Yellow Fever Commission, which established by experimentation on human subjects that the disease was transmitted by mosquitoes. This led to the control of yellow fever. Later, Walter Reed Army Hospital was named to honor the work of the famous surgeon.

On May 27, 1879, James Whittemore, infant son of Captain and Mrs. Whittemore, died of diarrhea, "result of teething and cerebral effusion." It was the last death presided over by Post Surgeon Carvallo at Fort Union. He was relieved from duty there on May 31, 1879. He was replaced by Acting Assistant Surgeon W. H. Comegys, who was succeeded by Assistant Surgeon John J. Kane on August 6, 1879. Acting Assistant Surgeon Joseph H. Collins joined the medical staff at Fort Union in February 1880, replacing Dr. Kane. Kane returned December 21, 1880, and administered the post hospital, until March 19, 1881, when Assistant Surgeon Frederick W. Elbrey became post surgeon. [100]

The garrison at the post was reduced in number during much of 1880 and 1881, resulting in fewer cases treated at the hospital. In June 1881 Surgeon Elbrey recorded: "No births, no deaths, and no vaccinations this month." During that month he had seen a total of nine patients, three of whom carried over from the previous month. In July there were five new patients, in August five, and in September none. With an increase in the size of the garrison in October, the number of cases treated increased. There were thirteen new cases in October, twenty-six in November, and thirty-five in December. Even so, Surgeon Elbrey considered the health of the troops to be "good." The prevailing illness was catarrh (inflammation of the mucous membrane of the breathing passages). Elbrey was most concerned about sanitation. "In the immediate vicinity of the post," he informed the post adjutant in November, "there still lie many heaps of offal, forming, indeed, an unsanitary corridor as it were, around the post." He recommended that garbage be "carted to a greater distance from the post." He reported the situation much improved a month later. [101]

Post surgeons were not immune from accidents and diseases. On March 21, 1882, Surgeon Elbrey fell down the stone steps in front of the post hospital and struck the right side of his head behind the ear on one of the steps. He was in a coma for an unspecified time and suffered paralysis of the left side. Dr. Kane was brought from Fort Craig to treat Elbrey and serve temporarily as post surgeon. Dr. Collins returned to Fort Union on April 14 to serve as post surgeon, and Kane returned to Fort Craig the following day. Dr. Elbrey remained at Fort Union until July 1, 1882, when he was relieved from duty at the post. He departed for Washington, D.C., on July 6. His condition at that time was not revealed. Major Surgeon Albert Hartsuff became post surgeon on August 12. Dr. Collins died on January 30, 1883, from "active inflammation of the brain membranes." His remains were shipped to Topeka, Kansas. Acting Assistant Surgeon Fred S. Dewey joined the medical staff to replace Collins on February 15. Major Surgeon Peter J. A. Cleary relieved Hartsuff as post surgeon on May 11, 1883. [102]

The medical histories recorded by these surgeons and their successors were usually routine in nature. Occasionally details were provided about a specific case. On January 22, 1883, twenty-six-year-old Private Leon Gingras, Company E, Twenty-Third Infantry, a native of Quebec, was severely burned on the "head, body and extremities by explosions of powder while refilling cartridges in magazine." He was treated at the post hospital for 459 days and given a medical discharge in May 1884, according to Surgeon Cleary, by reason of being "incapable of performing the duties of a soldier because of loss of power of both hands and extensive scars on hands and face and body owing to burn from explosion of powder." He was certified as totally disabled. [103]

Some soldiers were incapacitated in the line of duty. Others were unable to face their military responsibilities and took their own lives. On April 30, 1884, twenty-nine-year-old Sergeant Francis C. Rinn, Company I, Twenty-Third Infantry, a native of New York, committed suicide by shooting himself three times with a revolver. He directed two shots "to the upper part of his head right side. The balls were found imbedded in the scalp, entirely flattened against the skull." Finding his head too hard, Rinn directed his next shot at his heart. "The third ball entered the thorax near the left nipple and penetrating left ventricle of heart proved fatal at once." [104] Surgeon Cleary provided additional details about Sergeant Rinn in his consolidated report for May 1884:

Deceased had been absent from Post and drinking for several days immediately preceding his death. The night before his death he returned to the post and though apparently perfectly sane showed that he had been drinking. Next morning at reveille he was found dead in his room adjoining Company quarters, an English bulldog pistol with 3 chambers empty by his side. . . .

Post mortem 5 1/2 hours after discovery of his body and probably not over 6 hours after death. Rigor mortis commencing. Upon the head and right parietal region three inches above right ear are two bullet wounds, one above the other about an inch apart. The hair around the wounds is somewhat burned with powder, indicating close contact with the weapon used. On the thorax two inches in a straight line to the right of the left nipple is a third bullet wound. Shirt at point of penetration blackened with powder. An incision extending from the right ear upwards across the head discloses two bullets, flattened to a remarkable extent, and embedded in the soft parts. Parts surrounding the wound on head slightly swollen and infiltrated with blood. The skull is neither broken or indented.

Examination of the thorax. Pericardium distended with semi-coagulated blood. The heart weighs ten ounces. A large bullet wound is found completely penetrating the left ventricle obliquely backwards. The left lung present strong pleuritic adhesions. At its root is found the third bullet, slightly scratched by contact with the rib in it passage to the heart. Right lung normal. Other viscera not examined. Heart and three bullets preserved. [105]

The post surgeon witnessed the end of those who chose to commit suicide, the beginning of newborn life, and the loss of those who struggled to survive. On May 2, 1884, Ellen Killeen, wife of Private John Killeen, Company A, Twenty-Third Infantry, gave birth to a son who was named Joseph. The surgeon noted that the parents were Irish, the father was "aged 40, mother 28 and is fourth child by this mother." The child died two days later from "cerebral compression during labor." [106] Surgeons also witnessed and recorded information about other events.

The surgeons usually kept detailed records of the weather and commented on calamitous storms. A "terrific gale" hit the post on January 30, 1883, the day Dr. Collins died. Much damage was done to buildings and the flag staff was destroyed. A severe thunderstorm, with hail and more than two inches of rain, struck on July 12, 1883. On May 31, 1884, "a terrible hailstorm with 'hailstones as large as hens eggs'" damaged the post. At least "375 window panes were broken in the hospital and stewards quarters by the hail." The "roof leaked very badly during the time, in many places." Such damage, of course, required expenses for repairs. [107]

Assistant Surgeon Norton Strong reported for duty at Fort Union on October 15, 1884, replacing Acting Assistant Surgeon William Parker, whose contract with the army was terminated. [108] On October 25 Private Charles Humphrey, Company I, Tenth Infantry, died in the hospital "of Peritonitis resulting from inflammation of the bowels." [109] Like most deaths of soldiers that occurred at Fort Union, Humphrey's illness was not directly related to his military service. In fact that was true of many cases treated at the post hospital.

During the Civil War army surgeons perfected the amputation of limbs, but there were few such operations performed at the Fort Union hospital. Surgeon Cleary, who began his career as a military surgeon in 1862, found it necessary in the case of Private Frederick K. Walter, Company C, Tenth Infantry, in 1884. Private Walter entered the post hospital on July 20 with sarcoma (malignant tumor) of the right thigh. The tumor, which weighed seven ounces, was removed on August 30. A few weeks later another tumor appeared on the same thigh. Surgeon Cleary decided "to resort to amputation with a view to prolong and possibly save his life." This operation was performed October 28, removing the leg at the "lower third of thigh." Private Walter recuperated at the post until April 28, 1885, when he was granted a medical discharge for total disability. [110]

Surgeon Cleary declared in January 1885 that the health of the garrison was good, with most patients being treated for injuries rather than diseases. He declared that "the general sanitary condition of the post is good." However, there was one problem: "I desire to call attention to the fact," he wrote, "that . . . some policing could be done to advantage—in the rear of the laundresses quarters and more particularly around the hospital where the melting of the snow has revealed a number of beer bottles (empty) and tin cans." There were also "old shingles and general debris on the hospital premises caused by the recent repairs done at the hospital." A potential disease problem existed at the nearby community of Watrous. Cleary reported, "diphtheria prevails to some extent in Watrous and vicinity; it would be well to have the men cautioned against going into any house in that neighborhood." He especially recommended that soldiers not visit "in the store of Mr. Watrous as the family of Mr. Watrous was severely afflicted with that disease." [111]

There were two deaths at the post in March 1885, one civilian and one soldier. Timothy O'Brien, a citizen under treatment at the hospital for "consumption" (tuberculosis), died March 25. His remains were buried at the Catholic Cemetery at Tiptonville. The soldier, Private Patrick Murtagh, Company I, Tenth Infantry, committed suicide. His body was found about seven miles west of the post on March 31, "his rifle lying between his knees, muzzle towards his head, a string passing from the trigger to his foot, the boot of which was off, and bullet wound passing from the upper and anterior aspect of neck to upper and back part of head, shattering the skull." It was believed "he had been dead at least a week when found." He had been absent from the post since March 17. His remains were interred in the post cemetery on April 1. [112]

Activities at the medical department at the post were routine for several months, with few serious cases noted. In June 1885 Surgeon Cleary reported: "No marriages, births, deaths, recruits examined." The general health of the garrison continued to be "good." In July Sergeant Willis W. Warren, Company I, Tenth Infantry, received a medical discharge because of diabetes which rendered him totally disabled. There were only five new cases treated at the post during July, none of which was serious. In October Musician Ludwig Dietrich, Company I, Tenth Infantry, was granted a medical discharge for "Jaundice," his degree of disability being three-fourths. In the same month Dr. Strong was treated for "acute Rheumatism." Strong was transferred to Fort Marcy at Santa Fe the following month. [113]

On January 1, 1886, two military convicts at the post, while on a work detail, overpowered the guard and escaped. One of them froze to death the night after they escaped, when the thermometer at the post recorded -9° F., and the other (James McEvoy) had "both feet frost bitten." He was captured at the house of a "Mexican" about six miles from the post on January 6. The body of the frozen convict was found approximately four miles from the post on January 7. His remains were buried at the post cemetery. A soldier from the garrison suffered frostbite of both feet in January, "returning from a neighboring village through a violent snow storm," and "he recovered without any permanent injury." Convict McEvoy was treated at the post hospital until March 11, when he made good his escape. There were ten military convicts gathered at the Fort Union prison and sent, on April 1, 1886, to the military prison at Fort Leavenworth. [114]

Post Trader A. W. Conger was the only civilian treated at the post hospital in July 1886. He suffered from "Acute Dysentery." There were only two new cases treated during the same month, one for hemorrhoids and the other for "acute alcoholism." There were two patients in the hospital from the previous month, one with pneumonia and the other with tuberculosis. There seemed to be little need for additional surgeons at the post. Nevertheless, on September 12, Assistant Surgeon Charles Anderson and Acting Assistant Surgeon Emil I. Pring, joined the medical staff. Acting Assistant Surgeon Prescott L. Rice joined them the following month. Although there was no connection with the increase in surgeons at the post, five people died there during September and October. [115]

Colonel Lewis Cass Hunt, Fourteenth Infantry, died at the post hospital from "Chronic Dysentery" on September 6. He arrived at the post on August 31 "in a dying condition." He had suffered with "chronic bowel affliction, contracted during the Mexican War, a disease of which he has never been wholly free from since." Hunt was buried in the post cemetery. Captain Shoemaker, retired military storekeeper of ordnance, died at his residence at the old arsenal "from enlarged Prostate, chronic Cystitis and General Senile Debility" on September 16. His funeral was conducted "at Fort Union Arsenal" on September 18, and he was buried beside his wife at the site of his private home northwest of the post on the reservation. Bertha Fogarty, wife of First Sergeant Martin Fogarty, died from typhoid fever on September 25. She was buried in the post cemetery. Private John Maher, Company B, Tenth Infantry, died at the post hospital from tuberculosis and pneumonia on October 18. Private James S. Williams, of the same company, died from a gunshot wound to the chest on October 24. He was supposedly shot by "a soldier of the 10th Cavalry, following a gambling quarrel." [116] It was ironic that his death occurred just ten days after Post Commander Mizner issued the following order: "Gambling of every species among the enlisted men within the limits of this post is prohibited." [117]

Fort Union hospital courtyard
Fort Union hospital courtyard, 1889, showing steward's quarters at left and the rear of hospital on right. Water was collected from the roots and piped into the cistern in front of the steward's quarters. The second person from the right is believed to be Post Surgeon Henry Lippincott. Photo Collection, Fort Union National Monument, courtesy Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.

Dr. Pring's contract with the army was "annulled" January 1, 1887. Dr. Anderson was ill with acute rheumatism the same month. Dr. Pring signed another contract in February and continued to serve at Fort Union. Additional deaths were recorded at Fort Union, none of which was connected with military duties. On February 24 Chief Musician Thomas Rogers, Tenth Infantry band, died in the post hospital of acute meningitis. On March 14 Musician John Pyne, Company E, Sixth Cavalry, "was found dead in his bed." An autopsy revealed the cause of death to be "congestion of the right lung, . . . due indirectly to alcohol." On March 16 Sergeant Winfield S. Hamilton, Company B, Tenth Infantry, "died suddenly at Loma Parda, N. M. while absent on pass." His body was returned to the post for autopsy. "The body was too far advanced in decomposition to warrant an intelligent post-mortem examination." [118]

Major Surgeon Henry Lippincott
Major Surgeon Henry Lippincott was the last surgeon to serve at Fort Union, 1887-1891. Photo Collection, Fort Union National Monument, courtesy Aubrey Lippincott.

Surgeon Anderson was granted sick leave in March 1887 and was sent to serve in Arizona Territory when he returned to duty in May. Dr. Rice's contract was "annulled" May 1, leaving Surgeon Cleary and Dr. Pring the only medical doctors at the post. Cleary declared the health of the garrison and sanitation of the post to be "excellent." On July 8 Surgeon Cleary was ordered to transfer to a post in Wyoming. Before he left, his orders were changed, and there was another death. On July 17 Private John R. Rickley, Company B, Tenth Infantry, succumbed to acute pneumonia involving both lungs. He was interred in the post cemetery. Cleary was relieved of his duties at Fort Union by Major Surgeon Henry Lippincott on August 8, 1887. Lippincott served there until Fort Union was closed. Cleary left Fort Union on September 2, 1887, to serve as post surgeon at Fort Huachuca, Arizona Territory. Surgeon Lippincott kept thorough records during his tenure at Fort Union. He found the health of the garrison and sanitary conditions at the post to be "very good." [119]

Under Surgeon Lippincott two reforms in the medical department were instituted at Fort Union. Selected privates from regular regiments were appointed to the hospital corps by the secretary of war. The first appointees at the post were Privates Adam Delman, Charles L. Noblett, and Max Rothschild of Company E, Tenth Infantry, and Private Richard F. King, Company B, Tenth Infantry. The other change was the appointment and training of litter bearers (officially called "company bearers") for each company of soldiers. Four bearers were selected for each of the five companies stationed at Fort Union in October 1887, and these twenty men were trained by Surgeon Lippincott "in 'litter bearing' and in rendering first aid." A classroom was established at the post hospital for this purpose, and Surgeon Lippincott requested anatomical charts and other materials to assist with the training. At the end of November 1887 Lippincott reported: "Members of Hospital Corps and Co. bearers were instructed every Friday, during the month, from 1 to 2 P.M. in rendering first aid to sick and wounded, litter bearing and in ambulance drills, they have made excellent progress." [120] Although there would be few opportunities for them to use these skills at Fort Union, this was part of the reform movement to create a more efficient army, undertaken by the government in the 1880s and 1890s.

There were few events connected with the hospital beyond routine activities during the final years of occupation of Fort Union. In January 1888 several children at the post had measles. In February a cavalry recruit arrived at the post with measles and he "was immediately isolated." In April 1888 Surgeon Lippincott granted a medical discharge to Private John H. Russell, Company I, Tenth Infantry, "on account of very frequently recurring palpitation of the heart and marked tendency to Asthma." Lippincott, perhaps anticipating what later army surgeons would conclude, declared that the heart trouble was "due to excessive use of tobacco." In September 1888 Private William H. Shannon, Company F, Tenth Infantry, was discharged "on account of confirmed lameness of both feet." This resulted from "being run over by a dumpwagon while he was performing his duty as teamster in the quartermaster's dept. driving said wagon on the 17th of Nov. 1887. On sick report since injured." Shannon's disability was determined to be three-fourths. Hans Schroeder, hospital steward, was also discharged in September "on account of loss of power of right wrist caused by sleeping on right hand in a cramped position on night of August 6, 1888, and in the line of duty." His disability was considered "total." His character was "excellent when sober." [121]

Classroom at Fort Union hospital
Classroom at Fort Union hospital, 1888, established by Surgeon Lippincott to train litter bearers in basic medical knowledge. Photo Collection, Fort Union National Monument, courtesy Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.

Dr. Pring's contract with the army was "annulled" on September 13, 1888. On the same date Private Samuel R. Newman, Company F, Tenth Infantry, "died in the orderly room of his company." The cause of his death was given as "asphyxia from smothering in bed and consequent upon inordinate use of alcoholic liquor and opium." His remains were buried in the post cemetery the following day. Acting Assistant Surgeon Samuel T. Weirick reported for duty at Fort Union in October 1888. The health of the garrison was "excellent" until June 1889, when diphtheria appeared. Several children in one family contracted the disease in July and August, and all survived. Another child in the same family was diagnosed with diphtheria in November and recovered. An outbreak of influenza struck the post December 26, 1889, and lasted until February 25, 1890. Approximately one-fourth of the garrison and civilian population at the post were affected. Lippincott noted that men experienced more cases which were of greater severity than those of women, and persons between the ages of twenty-two and thirty-five "seemed to suffer most." All patients recovered. [122]

Rear view of Fort Union hospital complex
Rear view of Fort Union hospital complex, 1889. Note adobe wail around the area. Photo Collection, Fort Union National Monument, courtesy Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.

Side view of medical facilities
Side view of medical facilities, 1889. Note that plaster has fallen off the buildings. Photo Collection, Fort Union National Monument, courtesy Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.

Surgeon Lippincott remained at Fort Union and closed the post hospital on April 20, 1891. For almost forty years post surgeons and their staffs had provided medical care for the garrison and civilians in the area. The records indicated that their duties were performed well, that health care was beneficial and adequate (with few exceptions), that the hospital (especially the facility at the third post) was sufficient to excellent, and that the health of soldiers and civilians at Fort Union was usually good to excellent. The medical department contributed significantly to the performance of the soldiers at the post and the army in the region. Military discipline and justice also influenced the efficiency and well-being of the army.

Front view of Fort Union hospital
Front view of Fort Union hospital, 1889. Photo Collection, Fort Union National Monument, courtesy Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.

Soldiers could be effective in combat and other missions only if they were well disciplined, followed prescribed patterns of action, and obeyed their commanding officers. It was traditional in the army, especially among some officers, that harsh discipline made good soldiers. It also, unfortunately, made many unhappy soldiers. Military historian Jack D. Foner concluded: "For many years, American military penal philosophy was dominated by the concept that severe punishment alone could preserve order and deter potential offenders. Therefore, the sentences imposed by the military tribunals reflected an emphasis on harsh and cruel treatment." [123] Soldiers were punished for breaches of military regulations (of which there were many), including absence without leave, sleeping while on duty, drunkenness, theft, desertion, and conduct prejudicial to good order which covered a multitude of sins from insubordination to swearing. Guilt and punishment were determined by courts-martial. [124]

Military regulations authorized any officer to charge any enlisted man with a breach of conduct and to order the soldier to be confined pending disposition of the alleged violation of rules. If the post commander or commander of the regiment considered the soldier's behavior should be tried by court-martial, formal charges were filed and the case was heard when the court was convened. The accusations comprised a charge or charges against the defendant, which identified the offense with which he was charged (for example, desertion), and a specification (which summarized the details of when, where, and what was alleged to have occurred). Foner found that "since even the slightest breach of discipline could become the basis for court-martial action, the number of army trials reached staggering proportions." During fiscal 1888 there were 13,542 trials conducted, when the size of the army was 24,110, giving the appearance that more than half the entire number of enlisted men were brought up on charges in one year. This was somewhat misleading, however, because there were a number of repeat offenders. [125] Many officers may have been assigned to serve on a court about as often as enlisted men were detailed for guard duty. Reform of the system of military justice did not occur until after Fort Union was abandoned.

There were three types of courts-martial. A garrison court-martial, ordered by the post commander and tried by a panel of officers from the post (who served as both judge and jury), determined guilt or innocence and set the penalties for most offenses by enlisted men. Garrison courts-martial were held as often as once a month or as needed. A regimental court-martial was similar in organization and jurisdiction (but rarely used), except that it was ordered by the commander of the regiment. Major offenses of enlisted men and charges against officers were tried by a general court-martial, which was ordered by the department or district commander or higher officer and included officers from other posts. After hearing the charges and specifications against the accused, the court listened to testimony, questioned witnesses, and provided the alleged offender an opportunity to respond. If the defendant were found guilty as charged, the court established the penalties. [126]

Punishments included confinement in the guardhouse or prison for a specified period, forfeiture of pay for a given time, reduction in rank, hard labor, walking a prescribed pattern while carrying a heavy weight for several hours each day, a sentence in a penitentiary (such as Fort Leavenworth), dishonorable discharge, disfigurement (branding, for example), and occasionally execution. A few soldiers were executed at Fort Union during the Civil War. A garrison or regimental court was limited in the cases it could try, for example it could not hear a capital case, and was restricted in the penalty it could assess. They could not "inflict a fine exceeding one month's pay, nor imprison, nor put to hard labor, any non-commissioned officer or soldier for a longer time than one month." [127]

Punishment often varied for the same crime, and was frequently severe. In February 1851 a general court-martial in Santa Fe tried the cases of several Second Dragoons charged with forming a secret society in New Mexico known as the "Dark Riders," which included among its objectives "robbing and desertion." Of those found guilty, one was sentenced "to forfeit twelve dollars of his Pay, to work under charge of the Guard for one month & then be returned to duty." Two others received a much stronger sentence, "to forfeit twenty five dollars of his pay, to walk a ring daily six hours for one month twelve feet in diameter, then to labor two months with Ball & Chain attached to his Leg under charge of the Guard & be returned to duty." Each of four others faced the much more severe sentence "to forfeit all pay and allowances that are now or may become due him, to have his Head shaved, to have his face blackened daily and placed standing on a Barrel from 9 to 12 O'clock A.M., and from 2 to 5 O'clock P.M. daily for twenty days, then placed under charge of the Guard at hard Labor, with Ball & Chain attached to his Leg until an opportunity affords to be marched on foot carrying his Ball & Chain to Fort Leavenworth and there be drummed out of the Service." [128]

Sometimes, after reviewing a case, superior officers objected to the severity of punishment or reduced the sentence. Private John Donavan was found guilty of desertion by a garrison court-martial at Fort Union in April 1852. Donavan had been sentenced to forfeit part of his salary for one month and to "walk in a ring for 15 days from reveille to retreat, with 15 minutes interval for each meal." General in Chief Winfield Scott later reprimanded Post Commander Carleton, declaring the punishment "was excessive and unreasonably severe, and ought not to have been approved and executed by you." [129] By the time that communication reached Fort Union, Donavan had already served the sentence. General Scott's protest presumably was considered in other similar cases.

The military court had considerable control over punishment, regardless of what superior officers thought. The rules of military discipline and punishment were found in the "Articles of War," published in the Revised Army Regulations. The salient articles specified the behavior that subjected the offender to the judgment of a court-martial. These included any enlisted man or officer who displayed "contempt or disrespect toward his commanding officer" (Article 6); any enlisted man or officer who offered "any violence" against or disobeyed "any lawful command of his superior officer" (Article 9); desertion, for which the penalty could be death in time of war (Article 20); being absent without leave (Articles 21 and 41); selling or wasting ammunition (Article 37); selling, losing, or damaging "his horse, arms, clothes, or accoutrements" (Article 38); being found drunk while on duty (Article 45); and being found asleep while serving on guard duty or abandoning his post while on guard duty (Article 46). Article 99, under which numerous soldiers were charged and tried, provided that "all crimes not capital, and all disorders and neglects which officers and soldiers may be guilty of, to the prejudice of good order and military discipline, though not mentioned in the foregoing articles of war, are to be taken cognizance of by a general or regimental court-martial, according to the nature and degree of the offense, and be punished at their discretion." Virtually any minor offense could be construed to include "the prejudice of good order and military discipline." [130]

The articles of war provided that enlisted men who were charged with any crime were to "be confined until tried by a court-martial, or released by proper authority." Frequently, if they were confined for some time before their case was heard, that period of confinement was considered part of their punishment. Thus, for example, if a soldier charged with an offense was held in the guardhouse for thirty days before his trial, and the court found him guilty and sentenced him to confinement for thirty days, his sentence was considered served by the time of his pre-trial confinement. Soldiers who committed a crime against a civilian were not tried by court-martial. They were turned over to civil authorities for judicial purposes. [131]

Because desertion was a constant problem in the nineteenth-century army, additional regulations applied to that crime. A reward was authorized for "apprehension and delivery of a deserter to an officer of the army at the most convenient post or recruiting station." The rewards and other expenditures which resulted from the apprehension of deserters were, at the discretion of the court, deducted from the guilty soldiers' pay. An apprehended deserter received no pay for the time he was absent nor for the time he was awaiting trial in confinement. Deserters who were apprehended were required to serve the length of time they were absent in addition to the term of their enlistment, and deserters were not to be returned to duty "without trial." [132] Some deserters, usually repeat offenders, were dishonorably discharged. When Private Eddie Matthews, Eighth Cavalry, arrived at Fort Union in 1870, he found there were 29 prisoners in the guardhouse, "most all for desertion." [133]

The amount of the reward paid to those who captured deserters varied over time. A minimum of $5.00 was authorized but rewards as high as $50.00 were given. In 1857 the reward was $30.00 at Fort Union. In that year Private Michael J. Frayne, a deserter from Company B, Third Infantry, was caught at Las Vegas and taken to Fort Union. While in confinement at the Fort Union guardhouse, awaiting trial, Frayne escaped but was captured the next day. A reward of $30 was paid for his apprehension. [134] A few weeks later Private John M. Forrest, Company A, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, deserted from Fort Union. He was caught and brought back the following day, and $30 was paid to his captors. [135]

Desertion was considered a serious crime because almost always the departing soldier took government property and, sometimes, the property of other soldiers with him. For example, in 1867, Private Eugene Smithline, Company I, Fifth Infantry, deserted from the post hospital at Fort Union, "carrying with him three blankets, two bottles of Brandy, one bottle of Whiskey and one bottle of Sherry Wine." He also stole "a number of watches, chains, and rings belonging to parties unknown." Post Surgeon DuBois notified the post commander and requested that "a party of men be detailed and ordered to search for the said Smithline with as little delay as possible." [136] Smithline apparently made good his escape, for no record of his capture was found. Had he been caught, he would most like have been tried by a general court-martial and kept at the Fort Union guardhouse.

Soldiers convicted of serious crimes in New Mexico Territory were often incarcerated, at least temporarily, at Fort Union. In the fall of 1855 Captain Richard S. Ewell, First Dragoons, headed an escort of twelve soldiers to accompany Governor David Meriwether across the plains via the Santa Fe Trail. Ewell was also charged with the transport by wagon of four prisoners, who had been convicted of mutiny, were incarcerated in the Fort Union guardhouse, and were ordered "sent out of New Mexico in irons" and to "be put to labor with ball and chain at Fort Leavenworth." [137]

Another example of this procedure, selected from a later era, occurred in late 1877. Then Sergeant John N. Davies, with two corporals and seven privates, Company H, Nineteenth Infantry, served as the guard to conduct eight convicts (six from Ninth Cavalry and two from Fifteenth Infantry) from the prison at Fort Union to Fort Leavenworth Military Prison. They were transported by wagon to the railroad in Colorado and traveled by rail the rest of the way. [138] Information about the crimes for which the convicts had been found guilty and the terms of their punishment were not located.

It was common practice during most of the history of Fort Union to gather the most callous prisoners from throughout the department or district at that post, pending their delivery to the military prison at Fort Leavenworth or, occasionally, other places. If the soldiers were discharged from the service as part of their punishment, they were usually sent to a state prison. In 1868 thirteen prisoners were sent to the Missouri State Penitentiary. This practice explains why the third Fort Union had a guardhouse, to detain members of the garrison who committed minor violations of army regulations, and a prison with stone cells and iron bars, to secure those convicted of major crimes. Indian prisoners were occasionally held at Fort Union. The Fort Union guardhouse was also used, on request of civil authorities, to house civilian criminals temporarily. [139]

There were times when the prison population exceeded the capacity. In 1871 Post Commander Gregg complained that there were forty-nine prisoners assigned to Fort Union. The prison, with ten cells, had been designed for ten prisoners. It was possible to place two prisoners in each cell, but there was no way they could accommodate four or five each. Some of those prisoners were kept at the post guardhouse and, apparently, others were kept in other buildings under constant guard. Many of the prisoners were bound by shackles and chains. [140] Some of the prisoners were serving terms assigned by a court-martial and others were awaiting trial. [141]

There were hundreds of enlisted men and several officers at Fort Union who were tried by courts-martial during the forty-year history of the post. A perusal of the records could lead to the conclusion that virtually every soldier, at some time or other (in some cases many times), appeared before a panel of judges to face charges for some offense. There were, of course, officers and enlisted men who were never tried, but a majority of them were participants in military justice. Something so pervasive deserves further consideration. A few of the cases tried at Fort Union illustrate the operation and importance of military discipline and justice. [142] Some of those examples, especially the testimony presented during the trials, also reveal other aspects of army life and provide insights into the way the military organization was structured and functioned. In addition, disciplinary problems, the importance of rules and regulations, and the significance of the guardhouse and prison, as well as the trials, may be better understood by examining the records (the numerous cases of absence without leave and drunkenness have not been included unless other circumstances were involved). [143]

One of the first cases at Fort Union involved drunkenness, disobedience of orders, and death. Captain Carleton led his company of dragoons from Fort Union in February 1852 to investigate and report on conditions along the Pecos River and at Bosque Redondo, as detailed in chapter three. The last night of the expedition was spent at the town of Las Vegas, where some of the soldiers attended a fandango and became intoxicated. On the final day of that reconnaissance mission, February 24, one of those soldiers, Private Patrick O'Brien, died on the way from Las Vegas to Fort Union. A court of inquiry at Fort Union was appointed to examine the circumstances. [144]

Carleton explained that on the morning of February 24, at reveille, several of the men from his command were absent. They eventually showed up while the other dragoons were tending their horses and, according to Carleton, "appeared to be generally sober, yet looked as if they had been drinking freely." After breakfast several of the men, including the quartermaster sergeant (who had disappeared) and a teamster, were found to be drinking again and intoxicated. Two of the intoxicated soldiers, Privates McCleave and Feely, refused to obey orders and were taken in hand by the guard. McCleave then said he was ashamed of his behavior, but the obstinate Feely was tied to a wagon. Carleton concluded that "there was a determination on the part of many of the men of my company to throw every obstacle possible in the way of my leaving Las Vegas that morning." [145]

It was a windy, dusty day, and Carleton thought some of the men were feigning drunkenness so they could ride on the supply wagons back to Fort Union. As the company mounted and rode into the plaza and the two wagons were brought to that place, another soldier, Private Patrick O'Brien, fell or tried to make Carleton "believe that he fell off" his horse. Carleton ordered that O'Brien be tied to the back of the wagon with Feely, and McCleave was tied to the back of the other wagon. These men had to walk or be dragged along behind the wagons. Feely reportedly cursed Carleton and threatened to shoot him, and Carleton had the man gagged. Feely managed to get the gag out of his mouth within a couple of minutes, and it was not replaced. The prisoners were, according to Carleton, "all tied by putting the rope around under their arms: so that they could rest their hands upon the feed-box, but so that they could not lay down again in the road, or lag behind." [146]

When all was ready, Carleton recalled, "the wagons preceded the column, the prisoners walking behind them." Carleton watched them leave the plaza on the way to Fort Union. Carleton remained behind to visit briefly with his friend, Judge Herman Grolman, in whose home Carleton had spent the previous night and to ask Grolman to attempt to get the missing quartermaster sergeant and drunken teamster to return to Fort Union when they were sober. Approximately ten minutes after the column left the plaza, Carleton rode out to join his company. He reached the wagons after they had crossed the Gallinas River, and recalled that the prisoners appeared to be too drunk to walk and had been dragging behind the wagons. They had been dragged though the small stream. Carleton thought they were "feigning drunkenness," kept them tied to the wagons, and insisted that they walk. [147]

McCleave and O'Brien continued to drag on the ropes. After passing the cemetery outside Las Vegas, estimated to be from one-half to one mile from the plaza, Carleton had these two prisoners placed in the feed boxes at the back of the wagons. Later, after traveling perhaps seven or eight miles, Carleton "came to the conclusion that they were really very drunk, and ordered them to be put up on the loads." Feely continued to walk behind, sometimes dragging in his rope. Another private, Mahoney, fell from his horse and declared he could not ride. Carleton had him tied behind the wagon on which McCleave rode. In this way they continued until within sight of and approximately four miles from the Sapello River, when Feely and Mahoney were placed on the loads to ride the rest of the way to Fort Union. Carleton explained what followed:

After proceding some two (2) or three (3) miles further, I being ahead near the column, and the wagons some half (1/2) mile behind - Sergeant Wells rode up to me and reported that O'Brien was dead. . . . I went to the wagon felt the man's pulse . . . and found that he was dead. . . .

I came on to the post and reported the fact to the Commanding Officer, and requested the Assistant-Surgeon of the post, that evening to make a "post mortem" examination of O'Brien's remains. [148]

In another statement to the court, Carleton declared, "I had no intention of injuring the man. I had no motive for doing so. I was trying my best to fulfill my orders and to keep the service respectable and efficient so far as my individual company was concerned." A variety of testimony supported the general facts of the case, with each of the witnesses declaring that Private O'Brien had been extremely intoxicated, and the court of inquiry concluded, as had the surgeon, that "the death of the late Patrick O'Brien of Company 'K' 1st Dragoons, was caused alone by the poisonous effects of the alcohol he had taken during the night of the twenty third (23d), and on the morning of the twenty-fourth (24th) of February 1852." Colonel Sumner approved the decision of the court, and the case was closed. [149] There was no trial, no one was charged with misconduct, and no one was punished.

Later in 1852, when Captain Carleton commanded Fort Union, Private Robert T. Baines, Company G, Third Infantry, was charged with desertion, tried by a general court-martial, and found guilty. He, along with five of his fellow soldiers found guilty of the same offense, was sentenced to forfeit pay and to be whipped. Private Baines was sick at the post hospital when the other five were whipped. Carleton requested direction from Colonel Sumner when Private Baines was released from the hospital, inquiring if the whipping should be administered. Carleton stated that, since the whipping of the five others had undoubtedly made the desired impression upon the rest of the troops, there was little to be gained by whipping Baines, Carleton requested that the whipping portion of Baines's sentence be remitted. [150] Sumner directed that "no part of the sentence of Private Baines will be remitted." [151]

There were occasions when all or a portion of a sentence was remitted. Territorial Governor William Carr Lane appealed successfully to General of the Army Scott to change the punishment of some military convicts in New Mexico. Lane objected to the practice of shaving the heads of deserters and other criminals "before they are drummed out of the service." This marked them so they were unable to find work in the territory and, "being destitute of means to get through the Desert back to the States," forced them "to steal, or rob" to survive. Lane requested that "criminals of this kind . . . be kept in custody, until they reach the States." General Scott, unwilling to transport the discharged criminals to the States, directed Colonel Sumner to "please remit such portions of their sentences as directs their heads to be shaved, or places upon them any other distinctive marks that would render them objects of suspicion or distrust to the inhabitants of that territory." [152]

Some of the inhabitants of the territory were engaged in criminal activities at or near Fort Union, providing whiskey and prostitutes for the soldiers. [153] When Lieutenant George Sykes, Third Infantry, ordered two of those citizens (both women) to be punished, Sykes was charged with conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. His trial by general court-martial, convened at Albuquerque in April 1853, provided information about illegal activities at the post. As with many courts-martial, the information about social life at the post was more revealing and significant than the actual charges against the accused and the decision of the court.

Sykes was prosecuted for ordering two "Mexican women" (Maria Alvina Chaires, commonly known as Jesusitta or Black Sus, and Maria Dolores Trujique y Rivale, commonly known as Dolores), who had been arrested for prostitution, selling whiskey, and receiving stolen military property at their place of residence in the caves in the bluffs overlooking the post, to be shorn of their hair, publicly whipped, and drummed off the reservation by the guard detail. This allegedly occurred on January 17, 1853, when Sykes was officer of the day. The two women, both of whom were reported to have helped spread venereal diseases among the garrison, had been arrested the day before and placed in the post guardhouse overnight. All testimony confirmed that the women were shorn, whipped, and driven from the post, but Sykes denied that their punishment was inappropriate and pleaded not guilty to conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. [154]

Testimony also confirmed that the two women had been engaged in the activities ascribed to them. Corporal James Cowan, Company D, Second Artillery, stated: "I have known the woman Jesusitta for upwards of three years, in Santa Fe she was a common prostitute about the streets, acting badly there but much worse at Fort Union." When asked if the two women lived in the caves near the post and if soldiers from the garrison visited them there, Cowan replied, "Yes Sir they did, the men did visit them day and night." Private Alexander Lavery, Company D, Third Infantry, was a member of the guard that punished the two women, and he testified that he had briefly whipped them by order of Lieutenant Sykes and that "the hair was also cut off their heads with scissors." Lavery also testified, under cross examination, that one of the women had given him venereal disease, that the women sold whiskey to soldiers, and that they received army property in payment for their services. [155]

Other members of the guard detail who had witnessed the events on January 17, including Private Robert Collum, Company D, Third Infantry, and Private George Mapon, Company D, Second Artillery, confirmed the details of how the women were treated. Attempts to locate the two women and have them testify were not successful. In his defense, Lieutenant Sykes called Post Surgeon John Byrne, who entered into the record a list of items stolen from the medical department. Sykes also submitted a list of items lost by the commissary department, a sworn affidavit by Captain Bowen. [156] His argument was that the activities of the two women were criminal and in violation of military orders. The question to be decided, implied by Sykes, was whether the punishment of the women was appropriate or not. [157]

Surgeon Byrne testified that the "Mexican prostitutes" and whiskey peddlers around the post were "a source of annoyance to the garrison." He stated that sixty cases of venereal diseases had been treated among the soldiers during the first year after Fort Union was established, and he attributed the sources of most of those cases to the "Mexican women living in the rocks." Byrne summarized earlier efforts to remove the "nuisances" by civil authorities, without success, and explained that the theft of government property at Fort Union was so excessive that "honest merchants said that they had to shut up their grocery stores, because dishonest ones who bought stolen commissary provisions from Fort Union, under sold them." [158]

The surgeon also explained that Lieutenant Sykes had come to him for advice regarding the "Mexican women confined in the guard house," noting that they had been arrested a number of times before and then released to continue their illegal operations. Byrne told the court that he had recommended to Sykes "that if he would give them a few light blows before discharging them they would be frightened and not return." He reported that Sykes "replied that he did not like to whip women, to which I answered certainly not so as to hurt them, but only to frighten them." Byrne further testified that, to his knowledge, from the time the two women were whipped and sent from the post until after Lieutenant Sykes was arrested, "there were no women about the rocks" near the post plying their trade. [159]

Captain Carleton also appeared to testify in defense of Lieutenant Sykes. Carleton declared that, when he commanded Fort Union during much of 1852, "the command was exceeding intemperate," in fact, "more so than any command of the same size that I have ever seen in the service." Sykes asked Carleton, "Did not intoxication and crime exist to an alarming extent among the troops?" Carleton responded, "In my opinion it did." He declared that the quantity of military property stolen "was enormous" and attributed many of the desertions at Fort Union to the influences of alcohol obtained illegally. He noted that "numerous groggeries" had been established near the post and that he, Carleton, had assisted the territorial marshal in arresting some of the proprietors. He explained that, during the process of arresting those offenders, he had seen several women "which I supposed to be prostitutes. I soon afterwards heard that some caves in the bluffs which overhang Fort Union, were infested with these women, and I ordered the Sergeant of the guard to take them off the military reserve." [160]

Carleton explained that prostitutes and whiskey peddlers had been removed from the reserve a number of times, but they had quickly returned. Carleton was officer of the day when the two women involved in the case were arrested, and he noted that three men were arrested at the same time. He had not witnessed the punishment of the two women and knew nothing about, except that it had apparently been effective. Carleton, like Dr. Byrne, confirmed that the garrison had not "been annoyed either by whiskey sellers or depraved women after the punishment said to have been inflicted on the latter" until after the arrest of Lieutenant Sykes. [161]

Sheriff Richard M. Stevens of Santa Fe County and the deputy U.S. Marshal was called to testify by Lieutenant Sykes. The sheriff estimated that twenty prostitutes were routed out when the proprietors of the saloons were arrested in May 1852. He also testified that he had seen large quantities of government property in the possession of whiskey sellers and prostitutes, including saddles, bridles, guns, axes, and sugar candy. Corporal Cowan was recalled to testify about the severity of the punishment. He stated that the whipping "was trifling, slightly laid on." The two women had their clothes on and were whipped lightly over their shoulders. [162]

Other soldiers were called by Lieutenant Sykes to establish the criminal activities of the two women. Corporal John Einseidel, Company D, Third Infantry, stated the "Mexican women" were "notorious as pimps and whores." In response to a question about how long he had known the women, Private Einseidel replied: "One of them I have known since I came into the territory nearly four years, and the other ever since Fort Union was established about a year and half ago." During that time they were "constantly selling whiskey to the troops and receiving their clothing rations &c. in exchange." He responded affirmatively to the question, "Do you not know that many of the troops were diseased by Mexican women at Fort Union and would not report themselves as such at the hospital?" He also stated that the women had not returned to the vicinity of the post until after the arrest of Sykes. [163]

Lieutenant Sykes, as part of his defense, read into the record portions of the laws of the Territory of New Mexico relating to the punishment of pimps. Whether male or female, persons found guilty of procuring "women for the purpose of lascivious connection with men" were to "be publicly whipped, receiving thirty lashes." Women who were convicted could also be made to perform "three months service in a house to which they may be assigned with a shackle on their foot." Sykes then called Musician Michael Salmon, Company D, Third Infantry, who swore the two women, one of whom he had known nearly four years and the other since Fort Union was established, were "notorious as pimps and whores." He had received venereal infection from one of them. He confirmed the testimony of other soldiers regarding the payment of these women with stolen government property. He stated that the whipping was "very trifling" and "I think it would not have hurt a child." Likewise, he affirmed that the two women had not returned to the vicinity of the post until after Sykes was arrested. He stated that one of the women "returned about five days after Captain Sykes arrest." Salmon had "asked her if she was not afraid to come back, she said no because Captain Sykes was arrested, and that nothing more would be done to them." [164]

In conclusion of his defense, Lieutenant Sykes presented a written statement, portions of which follow:

I had hoped that no occasion could arise in which my honor as a gentleman, or my conduct as a soldier could be impeached; least of all, that acts done for the welfare of the Service, & the dignity of the profession, could be construed into a departure from all that invests Military men with any claim to consideration or respect. The object of my defence has been to justify my conduct, and to show the necessity of the acts set forth in the specification against me. If discipline and the good of the Service rendered them necessary - they cannot be unbecoming an officer, if the preservation of good morals required them - they cannot be unbecoming a gentleman. [165]

In the same statement Sykes summarized the degradation that had befallen the new post that Sumner had removed from the vice and corruption at Santa Fe. At Fort Union, he continued,

Large quantities of provisions, clothing, medical supplies, material for building forts, for transportation &c were collected there. Soon after, numerous groggeries were erected by citizens for the sale of whiskey to the troops. To all of them swarmed in great numbers, probably the very refuse and dregs of the population of the Territory - thieves, gamblers, and villains of desperate character. Loathsome and abandoned prostitutes were added by the score - Desertions became frequent - the hospital was filled with diseased men - the guard house overflowed with the debauched - Intemperance, disease & crime went hand in hand until nearly the whole garrison by association with such vile and infamous persons became demoralised to an alarming extent - A regular system of stealing was carried on. The public stores which had been gathered there at so great an expense were the pay of a motley assemblage of scoundrels and strumpets. They hovered around the depot like vultures around a carcass. So low did the sense of duty of many of the troops descend by contact with this maelstrom of iniquity, that sentinels were seduced of their integrity, their fidelity, purchased or drowned in liquor, until Subsistence stores by the wagon load, clothing by the bale, medical supplies in large quantities and Quarter Masters Stores by the box were stolen and sold in open market in the towns and villages of New Mexico. Whole teams of mules six at a time were run off by deserters and their confederates outside the garrison and never again recovered. The accounts of the officers responsible for this property exhibit a loss amounting to from ten to fifteen thousand dollars. [166]

All efforts to deal with the problem had been thwarted. Sykes summarized the arrests and destruction of property carried out by civil authorities and the attempts to prevent citizens from invading the reservation. "Every effort was made by the Military to avoid collision with the citizens." They were warned they would be driven from the reservation. In response, however, "they laughed such warnings to scorn and publicly boasted that they would pursue their traffic in defiance of every one." And they had. The loss of property was so great that "the soldiers at this moment are destitute of many necessary articles of clothing and that an officer was sent to Santa Fe to purchase at the high prices of that market subsistence stores for the positive wants of the troops." [167]

In light of all that had happened, Sykes was distressed that his effort to deal with the problem had resulted in a "great outcry" against him. Despite the fact, according to Sykes, that his efforts had resulted in the fleeing of all whiskey traders and prostitutes from the military reservation, "that the hospital was empty; and sobriety common throughout the command," he was arrested and charged with misconduct. He noted that Post Commander Gouverneur Morris had refused to prefer charges against him and that Colonel Sumner, the department commander, had done so. Sykes swore that within a week after his arrest, "the same prostitutes and their gang were infesting the rocks near Fort Union, bringing back their old atmosphere of demoralization & disease, openly avowing that Col. Sumner's course to me had caused their return, and, for the future, would be a warrant to them against all molestation from the authorities at the Post." If what he had done constituted conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman, Sykes believed he was in the wrong profession. He requested that he be acquitted. He was found not guilty by the court. [168] Sykes went on to have a distinguished military career and, after the Civil War, commanded the District of New Mexico for a brief time in 1867. The testimony at his trial revealed much about the seamy side of life at Fort Union. As noted elsewhere, the problems of whiskey and prostitution plagued Fort Union until the post was abandoned. There were other problems, of course, which were related to discipline and justice.

Sometimes, with the many changes in commanding officers at Fort Union and the shuffling of companies from one post to another, prisoners were overlooked. When Colonel Fauntleroy took command at Fort Union in September 1854 there were two privates (H. Donahue and R. Roache), Company K, First Dragoons, in the guardhouse, "confined for desertion." Fauntleroy could find no charges against the two soldiers and asked Brigadier General Garland for "instructions relative to them." [169] Within a few days Garland ordered a general court-martial to convene at Fort Union and enclosed charges against Donahue and Roache as well as five other soldiers. [170] The records of the trial were not located. Donahue and Roache had been held in the post guardhouse for more than six months before charges were filed against them. Justice was not always swift in the military.

Officers, as shown above, were also charged and tried for violations of military regulations. In March 1857 Captain George McLane, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, was placed in arrest at Fort Union by Post Commander Loring and charged with "disrespect and contempt towards his commanding officer" and "conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline." A general court-martial was conducted at Santa Fe to try the case. McLane was incensed because he thought Colonel Loring was going to send him on a scouting expedition so he could not be present when the post council of administration (on which McLane served) voted on the sutler's tax. Apparently, McLane wanted to reduce the tax and Loring did not. Loring denied in writing that he had planned anything to prevent McLane from meeting with the council. McLane returned the letter, stating "this communication is offensive and insulting. I therefore decline to receive it." Also, McLane had threatened Loring in the presence of other officers, stating that if Loring tried to prevent him from sitting on the council he would prefer charges against Loring. [171]

McLane pleaded "not guilty" but the court found the captain guilty of all charges. McLane was reprimanded by the department commander, suspended from command for four months, and confined to the limits of Fort Union for the duration of his suspension. Colonel Bonneville, department commander, declared he was "surprised that Captain McLane, possessing so many qualities to command, should so far forget himself as to deserve the severe reproof given him by the court." [172] McLane served his sentence and returned to duty with his regiment. He was killed in action with Navajo Indians on October 13, 1860. [173]

The decisions of a garrison court-martial were subject to review by the post commander, who occasionally disapproved all or a part of the court's actions. On June 27, 1858, Sergeant Archibald E. Evans, Company H, Regiment of Mounted Rifles, was arrested while serving as sergeant of the guard at Fort Union and charged with falsely reporting that two prisoners who had been sentenced to "walk the ring" as punishment were too drunk to perform that task. Evans was also charged with failure to salute and of speaking disrespectfully to an officer. The court, presided over by Surgeon Letterman, found Evans guilty on all counts. His sentence was reduction to the rank of private. Captain Andrew J. Lindsay, post commander, reviewed the case and found that the testimony given supported the contention that the two prisoners had, indeed, been intoxicated. He disapproved the verdict on those counts, and approved the charge of disrespect for an officer. Lindsay reduced the sentence to a week's confinement to quarters without reduction in rank. [174]

Sergeant Evans was in court again a few days later, charged by Captain Thomas G. Rhett with conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline by entering the post adjutant's office without saluting or removing his cap and speaking to Acting Sergeant Major Thomas Thompson, thereby interrupting the conversation in progress between Rhett and Thompson. Although Evans pleaded not guilty, the court found him guilty as charged and sentenced him to reduction to the rank of private. Captain Lindsay reviewed the case, approved the verdict, and reduced the sentence to "one months confinement to the Garrison . . . and attending to all his duties during that time." [175] Evans surely considered himself lucky to retain his sergeant's stripes.

In December 1858 Privates James Bruce, Edward Cullivan, James M. Waddell, William Hardin, John J. Spann, John O'Donald, George Stickney, and William B. Sheets, all of Company K, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, were tried by court-martial under charges of conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline. They were all found guilty of entering the company kitchen after taps on the night of December 1 and cooking and eating "fresh pork not obtained from the rations" of the company. Private Bruce was assigned to duty as a cook at the time and was also charged with permitting the use of the kitchen after hours. Bruce, Cullivan, and Spann were sentenced to forfeit $8.00 of their pay for one month and be confined at hard labor for two weeks. Private O'Donald pleaded guilty and was sentenced to hard labor cutting wood for two weeks, with no loss of pay. Private Waddell was found guilty only of being present and not of "cooking and eating." His sentence was to "perform three extra tours of stable duty." Private Hardin, who was determined to be the main cook of the after-hours feast, and Privates Stickney and Sheets, who were charged with but not found guilty of obtaining and killing the pig in addition to the other charges, each received a sentence of loss of $8.00 pay for one month and hard labor cutting wood for the post for thirty days. [176]

The owner of the pig which furnished what proved to be an expensive meal for eight troopers was not identified. The incident, undoubtedly, was the cause of a post order issued by Colonel Loring, post commander, a few days later: "All enlisted men, camp women, & Government employes at the post are hereby positively prohibited from owning or having hogs in their possession." [177] That order gave the appearance of blaming the hog rather than the men for the fresh pork dinner. As everyone knew, only those who were caught in violation of military regulations were tried and punished. The ban on hogs may have been only temporary. Less than a year later another order was issued at the post prohibiting hogs "from running loose through the garrison." Any hogs found running loose were to be destroyed. [178]

Private Sheets found himself in more trouble before he had completed his sentence for eating the pig. He was absent without leave at roll call on the evening of December 12 and morning of December 13, 1858. In addition he was charged with the theft of a great coat from a fellow private in his company and the sale of that garment to a member of the band on December 25. Sheets again escaped from the guard on January 1 and was absent from the post until the following day. He was found guilty of conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline and of all accusations except being absent on January 1-2, 1859. His sentence was to be confined at hard labor with a ball and chain for one month, "to be drummed round the garrison after guard mounting every Sunday during his confinement, wearing a placard with 'thief' printed on it," and to forfeit ten dollars of his pay. [179] Sheets's offenses were minor but chronic. There were many repeat offenders in the records.

No matter what the system or how it was arranged, someone usually figured a way to beat it. There were a few men, usually of foreign birth, who developed a scam, the purpose of which was not clear. They would enlist in the army, serve a short time, then receive an advertisement placed in a newspaper by someone in their native land seeking the person in question. The newspaper urged the person to return home to look after a family business, secure an inheritance, care for a sick parent, or some other crisis that demanded the presence of the soldier. This information would be sent to the consul from that country with a request to intercede with the war department to secure the discharge of the named soldier. Often the soldier would claim he had been forced to enlist because of poverty, had been induced to enlist while intoxicated, or had in some way ended up in the service without his consent. The consul would intervene and the soldier would be discharged. Some of them did it again and again, using a different name each time. [180]

Fort Union apparently had one of these cases in the person of Christian Bartholomus, private in the band, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen. He was discharged by Major Simonson at the post on June 30, 1860, after serving about one year. He claimed to be a native of Saxe Weimar and appealed to the consul of that country in St. Louis for his discharge. He had received a furlough for sixty days before his request for discharge was processed, and he had left the post on furlough on May 6. Simonson explained that Bartholomus had seduced the wife of a fellow bandsman, Private Henry Ebert, before he left. Several days after Bartholomus departed on furlough, Mrs. Ebert robbed her husband and ran away to join Bartholomus, leaving behind two small children. Simonson condemned the "swindle" but could do nothing about it. [181] Most cases of desertion were considered criminal, however, and the deserter was punished if caught.

An unusual case of desertion arose during the Confederate invasion. A hospital attendant at Albuquerque deserted and took a supply of hospital stores to the enemy. He joined the troops of the Confederacy and was captured at the engagement at Apache Cañon on March 26, 1862, and taken to Fort Union with other prisoners. When it was discovered he was a deserter from the Union army, he was confined to the guardhouse and charged with desertion. [182] The record of Jackson's trial was not found.

As Union victory in the Civil War became clear an attitude of leniency pervaded the army. In celebration many prisoners were released. On April 28, 1865, at Fort Union, Post Commander Abreu directed, in accordance with directions from department headquarters, that "all noncommissioned officers and privates in arrest or confinement at this post are hereby released." These men were to rejoin "their respective companies at the earliest practicable opportunity." [183] The guardhouse did not remain empty long. By May 13 four soldiers had been arrested and held for trial. They were found guilty as charged and confined in the post guardhouse as part of their punishment. [184]

Later in 1865 one of the soldiers assigned to the garrison at Camp Nichols was tried by court-martial at Fort Union for being absent without leave and the loss of his pistol. Private José-de-los-Angelos Aragon, Company C, First New Mexico Cavalry Volunteers, while serving on escort duty from Camp Nichols to Fort Union, "did absent himself from his escort without proper permission," and remain absent until after said escort had left Fort Union for Camp Nichols. Aragon pleaded guilty to that charge and to the loss of his Colt's army pistol. He was fined ten dollars and "confined at hard labor in charge of the guard for the period of thirty days." Private Antonio Sanchez, of the same company, faced the same two charges plus being charged with selling his great coat. He also pleaded guilty and received the same sentence as Private Aragon. When Fort Union Commander Willis reviewed the cases, he remitted the period of confinement for Private Aragon. [185]

Occasionally the soldiers assigned to guard prisoners violated military regulations and ended up facing charges. In September 1866 Sergeant David W Smith, Company I, Fifth Infantry, while in charge of the guard detail, left the guardhouse without any guard and permitted a prisoner charged with desertion to escape. Smith admitted his guilt and was reduced to the rank of private and forfeited ten dollars of his pay. Lance Corporal John Russell, of the same company, was charged with neglect of duty while serving on guard detail by playing cards with a citizen prisoner, A. L. Stanley, on September 1, and permitting Stanley to escape on September 2. He pleaded guilty to playing cards and not guilty to allowing Stanley to escape. The court agreed with his pleas and sentenced him to reduction in rank to private, to forfeit twelve dollars of his pay, and be confined at hard labor for fifteen days. [186]

Given the findings of the court, it appeared that playing cards with a prisoner was a more serious violation of regulations than permitting a prisoner to escape. That was not necessarily so, however. Private Walter Akins, same company, was also on guard duty when Stanley escaped, and he was charged with and pleaded guilty to permitting that to happen. The court agreed with his plea and sentenced Akins to forfeit twelve dollars of his pay and be confined at hard labor for thirty days. [187] Because Akins was already a private, he could not be reduced in rank as had Smith and Russell.

Soldiers convicted of selling government property were given harsh punishment on the assumption that making an example of them would discourage other soldiers from committing the same offense. Privates Jesus M. Trujillo, Geronimo Romero, Juan Lopez, Pedro Ignacio Trujillo, José de Jesus Papia, and José Jaramillo, Company A, First New Mexico Volunteers, were all charged with selling the Remington pistol issued to them. All were found guilty. For an unexplained reason, the sentences were not the same. Privates Jesus Trujillo, Romero, and Papia were sentenced to pay the value of the pistol, be confined in the guardhouse for ten days, and walk a ring fifty feet in diameter near the guardhouse (carrying a log weighing forty pounds every alternate two hours from reveille to retreat) for the period of their confinement. Private Lopez was sentenced to pay the value of the pistol, be confined for thirty days during which time he was to wear a ball weighing twenty-four pounds attached to his left leg by a chain four feet long. The sentences given Privates Pedro Trujillo and Jaramillo were the same as that of Lopez, except their chains were only three feet long. [188]

Military regulations applied to civilians who were present at any fort. Civilians who were employed by the army or were servants for officers were permitted to live on the post. Those who had no military connection were not authorized to be there without special permission. Because of problems, including criminal activities, unauthorized citizens were periodically removed from the military reservation. Late in 1866 Post Commander Marshall directed that all civilian employees who left their job or were discharged from their duties were to leave the reserve "immediately." He asked the commanders at the quartermaster depot and the arsenal to enforce similar rules. [189]

Marshall directed the removal of two unauthorized women a few days later. "Annie McGee, for being a vagrant, and a notoriously drunken and bad character, prowling around the garrison and entering officer's quarters" was to be "immediately sent from the reserve." The other was Cruz Benner, "a Mexican woman, late a Laundress" for Company G, Third Cavalry, who had been discharged "for being a woman of bad repute." [190] A few months later, Daniel Gillon, a discharged sergeant of Company I, Fifth Infantry, who had remained at the post to seek employment, was ordered off the reserve because of "improper conduct, and abuse of officers." [191] Periodically other citizens were removed from the reservation. In 1878, for example, Mrs. Maria Mason was ordered "to leave the Reservation at once and under no circumstances return to the same." [192] It was the responsibility of the officer of the day and the guard detail to see that unauthorized citizens were kept away. Unlike the soldiers, such citizens had no right to a hearing.

Some soldiers were innocent of charges filed against them. Occasionally a court-martial trial was unable to convict the accused because the key witness was not secured or was not called upon to testify. Two members of the guard detail at Fort Union on March 21, 1867, were charged with permitting one of the prisoners to obtain "spiritous liquors" and become intoxicated while under their responsibility. Private George Smith, Company I, Fifth Infantry, and Private Charles Bryan, Company D, Third Cavalry, were acquitted of the charges because Private Daniel J. Sheehan was not called by the court. Sheehan was the prisoner who had obtained the whiskey and become "drunk." His testimony could have convicted them. Post Commander Lane was not pleased with the result, but he approved the decision of the court. [193]

Sheehan must have been a troublemaker. A few weeks later another sentinel, Private Ernest Snyder, Company I, Fifth Infantry, was charged with permitting Sheehan, while on a prison work detail, "to force open the door, and enter the chicken coop of an officer and did permit or fail to prevent him (Sheehan) killing a number of chickens belonging to said officer." The court found Snyder guilty and sentenced him to forfeit ten dollars of his pay. [194] No record was found to indicate that Sheehan was punished for destroying the chickens. Neither was it clear if Sheehan was sober or had again obtained some whiskey.

The availability of liquor was an incessant problem at the post, as noted numerous times. Two citizens, John Smith and Andrew Cameron, were caught selling whiskey on the reservation in October 1867. They, along with a friend, William McGuire who happened to be at their establishment, were arrested and their supply of whiskey, mules, pony, burro, wagon, and harness were confiscated. [195] Cameron claimed that he was "a commissioned pedler of the second class which permits me to sell throughout this Territory all kinds of merchandize except jewelry." He also claimed that he had received permission from Post Commander Brooke to sell to quartermaster employees and soldiers at the post. Brooke, he declared, had told him he could "sell whatever and to whom you please." Cameron protested the arrest, stating "I do not know what we were arrested for," and the loss of his property (which he valued at $1,500). [196] McGuire was released a short time later he having no connection to the business. Cameron and Smith were held for over a month, at which time their property was returned and they were ordered "off the reservation never to return." [197]

Numerous attempts were made to control the consumption of alcohol, as noted in previous chapters. In 1878 Post Commander Edward Whittemore attempted to reduce drunkenness by prohibiting "the sale of intoxicating liquors, by the bottle, by the Post trader to any person on the Reservation on paydays and for four (4) days thereafter." Several weeks later this was extended to cover every day, with liquor available only by the glass (except to civilian travelers passing through the post) throughout the month. At the request of Captain Shoemaker the rule was expanded to include the ordnance detail at the arsenal (a rare occurrence of cooperative action between the post and the arsenal). [198]

None of the rules was effective. In the summer of 1886 Post Commander Henry Douglass made yet another effort to resolve the problem. His order was comprehensive:

Enlisted men of this Command are prohibited from bringing spirituous liquors of any kind upon this reservation or of purchasing or otherwise obtaining the same at this post from any party, except by prescription of Post Surgeon, any enlisted man who solicits the Post Trader or any other party to sell or give him whiskey, or other spirituous liquors, will be considered as violating the spirit of this order and punished accordingly.

Like all earlier attempts, this one failed. Drinking to excess remained a problem as the garrison and general court-martial records revealed.

Private Thomas Mason, Company D, Third Cavalry, was charged with being intoxicated on duty and tried by a general court-martial because his offense occurred while on field duty in September 1867. The charges filed against him included being "so drunk as to be totally unable to perform his duty as a soldier while on a scout after Indians." He was also charged with "conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline" because, while disobeying orders on the scout, he "did say, 'from the Lieutenant down, may kiss my ass' or words to that effect." Mason was tried only for drunkenness while on duty, the other charge being considered loose and vague. He was found guilty and sentenced to be confined at hard labor for four months and to forfeit ten dollars a month from his pay during the same period. [199] A garrison court-martial, as noted above, could not have inflicted a penalty for the same offense that was greater than one month at hard labor and the loss of pay for one month.

In 1870 Private Eddie Matthews, Eighth Cavalry, reported that a garrison court had recently tried 11 soldiers at Fort Union, several cases of which involved being intoxicated. After summarizing the results, Matthews declared: "If these officers would only Court Martial themselves for being drunk, it would consume all their time sitting on each others cases." A teetotaler active in the Good Templars, Matthews was especially estranged by the conduct of inebriated officers. "A more drunken set I never saw," he continued. "The more I see of their drunkenness the more I become disgusted with liquor and stronger my resolutions are to abstain from using it." [200] However, many of his fellow soldiers, like the officers he described, continued to abuse strong drink and suffer the consequences.

During the late 1860s and the 1870s the trial records showed that soldiers were predominantly charged with conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline and with being absent without leave (both frequently connected with the consumption of alcohol). Soldiers left the post to obtain alcohol when it was not readily available, and while they were under the influence they were prone to misconduct. In 1873 Post Commander John I. Gregg, obviously weary of frequent trials of soldiers who had been absent without leave and the apparent ineffectiveness of the loss of pay or a portion of pay for one month and confinement at hard labor and other punishment of brief duration (less than one month), declared that "hereafter any enlisted man found beyond the limits of the Military Reservation without proper authority will if arrested be considered a deserter and tried as such." [201] A deserter could be tried by a general court-martial and a more severe punishment inflicted. There was no apparent reduction in the number of soldiers who were absent without leave at Fort Union as a result of that order. General court-martial records for the district during that time were not located. Desertion, as noted elsewhere, was also a perennial problem.

Colonel Gregg tried another approach to the problem of soldiers taking leave without permission a few weeks later. He issued an order which stated that "the enlisted men of this garrison are hereby cautioned against the violation of the following Articles of War, viz. 21, 41, 42 & 43." These all concerned absence without leave. Soldiers were commanded to obtain permission from their commanding officers before being absent from the garrison. Gregg also directed that company commanders were to read those articles to the troops at retreat, so all would know the rules. [202] The effects appeared to be negligible. Perhaps the men were bored, with few duties to perform and insufficient leisure activities to keep them occupied. With time on their hands, many soldiers sought pleasures where they were available and flaunted regulations. The number of cases of soldiers being temporarily absent without leave decreased in the spring, especially after field duties provided a welcome break from the monotony of garrison life for some of the troops. Desertions, however continued.

On April 28, 1873, Captain H. A. Ellis, Fifteenth Infantry, with one non-commissioned officer and three privates, left Fort Union to go to Trinidad, Colorado Territory, to conduct three deserters who had been captured at Trinidad back to the post. This party was also charged with searching for two other deserters and for stolen government mules while on the road. They were rationed for fifteen days and carried additional rations for the prisoners. Captain Ellis was directed to take a "sufficient supply" of handcuffs and leg shackles for the deserters. [203] The deserters would be tried later by a general court-martial.

Officers at Fort Union must have spent much of their time in hearing cases. When they were not sitting on a general court-martial, which frequently took them away from the post, they were repeatedly serving on a garrison court. The number of cases was staggering, and it would be interesting to know how many manhours were spent in court each year by officers, soldiers charged with violation of military regulations, and soldiers called as witnesses. The post orders at Fort Union for 1876, a typical year for which complete documentation was available, contained the records of thirty-eight sessions of garrison courts-martial, in which were tried a total of 129 cases. The monthly average aggregate garrison at the post during 1876 was 268 officers and men, of whom an average of 108 were absent on detached service, leaving 160 present. Even though a number of cases involved repeat offenders, a good portion of the garrison was in court at one time or another during the year. [204]

The numerous cases of enlisted men tried by courts-martial revealed little that was new to what has been related above. The occasional case of an officer however, was illuminating. One of the most disputatious officers who commanded Fort Union (during portions of 1876, 1877, and 1880) was Lieutenant Colonel Nathan Augustus Monroe Dudley, Ninth Cavalry, whose long military career (1855-1889) was studded with controversy and trials by courts-martial. Dudley was true to form while serving at Fort Union, and his conduct there resulted in a series of charges and a court-martial trial which disclosed substantial information about conditions at the post. The trial was especially important for the testimony regarding the relationship between the military post and the quartermaster depot and operation of the latter. [205]

Dudley was particularly troubled by the fact that the depot quartermaster Captain Amos H. Kimball, was not under Dudley's direct command (except when Kimball was acting as post quartermaster) but was under the district commander Colonel Edward Hatch. There had been bad blood between Dudley and Hatch over an incident that had occurred in Texas in 1869. Dudley was determined to gain control over the depot, if possible, but Hatch would have none of it. [206]

General Pope, commander of the Department of the Missouri, which included the District of New Mexico, filed charges against Dudley, accusing him of disobedience of lawful commands of his superior officer (Colonel Hatch and General Pope), conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline, disrespect toward his commanding officer and drunkenness on duty. The specifications accused Dudley of preventing Captain Kimball from making repairs on buildings at Fort Union that had been ordered by Hatch, of refusing to submit a report on an inspection of the buildings at Fort Union as ordered by General Pope, of complaining that he had no authority over the post quartermaster (Captain Kimball) to assist with an inspection of the buildings because the department commander had placed Kimball outside Dudley's orders, of malicious intent to vilify and prejudice Captain Kimball in the estimation of his fellow officers by falsely accusing Kimball of fraudulent practices, of defamatory statements about Kimball that he had falsified his records at the depot, of charging Colonel Hatch with covering up Kimball's fraudulent activities, of charging that Hatch and Kimball had conspired to prevent Dudley from having any authority over the post quartermaster of making defamatory and untrue statements about Post Surgeon Carvallo, of "unlawfully and riotously" threatening William B. Tipton (a civilian medical doctor residing at Tiptonville) at his home in Tiptonville and at the home of Enoch Tipton at Boon Valley, of asserting that Colonel Hatch had conducted the affairs of the department "in a loose and irregular manner" of using disrespectful language against Colonel Hatch, and of being intoxicated while on duty on April 27 and May 12, 1877. [207]

The testimony in the case, which lasted from November 29 to December 18, 1877, was extensive and included more than sixty witnesses. Much of it related to the confusion regarding the relationship of the quartermaster depot and the post. Dudley had attempted, without success, to establish his authority over the depot quartermaster, Captain Kimball who, as noted, also served as post quartermaster. Dudley employed the services of two well-known attorneys in New Mexico, Thomas B. Catron and W. T. Thornton, to serve as his counsel. The statements made by various witnesses confirmed some of the charges made against Dudley, who had apparently made accusations he could not prove. Officers who held some loyalty to Dudley downplayed the significance of some of the accusations directed at the post commander. Thus, some witnesses testified that Dudley had been intoxicated on several occasions and others stated they saw no signs of intoxication on those same occasions. [208]

Considerable time was spent during the trial collecting testimony over what Dudley had actually said about other people, such as Hatch and Kimball. Much of what Dudley had said was petty and, generally, harmless. The threats that had been made against Dr. Tipton concerned charges by Lizzie Simpson, daughter of the post chaplain, that Tipton had seduced her. Other testimony, however, indicated that she had been promiscuous and may have contrived the charges to retaliate against Dr. Tipton or to force him to marry her. Dudley, who apparently believed Miss Simpson's sworn statement that she had been raped by Tipton and had threatened suicide, determined to confront Tipton and see that he either married the girl or was punished, although it was not his affair. Some witnesses believed that Dudley had implicated Dr. Tipton so as to cover up similar charges by Lizzie Simpson against Second Lieutenant Ballard S. Humphrey of Dudley's regiment. Humphrey had served as Dudley's post adjutant. The truth of the matter concerning Miss Simpson was not determined. [209]

In all, the testimony and documents assembled for the court-martial provide a mine of information about Fort Union and the quartermaster depot (which was actually being phased out at the time). The resentful, inane, and spiteful images of several of the people who testified, as well as of Dudley himself, did not reflect favorably on the military establishment of that era. Perhaps, more than anything, the evidence produced during that trial indicated strongly that the army was in serious need of reform. The court found Dudley not guilty of most accusations, including drunkenness while on duty, and guilty of the following charges and specifications: (1) conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentlemen for false statements made about Captain A. S. Kimball; (2) conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman for false statements made about Colonel Edward Hatch, (3) conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline, and (4) disrespect toward his commanding officer for remarks made at the time of his arrest. Dudley was suspended from his rank and command with half pay for three months, after which he was transferred to command Fort Stanton, New Mexico Territory, where he played a role in the infamous Lincoln County War 1879, resulting in another court-martial, and he returned to command Fort Union during a portion of 1880. His somewhat hapless military career continued until his retirement in 1889. [210] Robert Utley provided an incisive portrait of Dudley, describing him as

"a man whose genuine professional dedication consistently fell victim to a small intellect and a huge vanity. He suffered from muddled thought and bad judgment, the result of mediocre endowments impaired by years of dissipation. He got drunk often, and whiskey more or less influenced most of his actions. He compensated for his deficiencies with pomposity, bellicosity, petty despotism, and an extraordinary aptitude for contention. Quick to resent a slight, whether real or imagined, and quick to criticize, whether justly or not, Dudley rocked from one controversy to another throughout his career." [211]

During the last years of the occupation of Fort Union, when there were few diversions from routine garrison duties, the cases tried by courts-martial included mainly the same charges as before: absence without leave, conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline, and disobedience of or disrespect for a superior. The abuse of alcohol remained a contributing factor. For example, in November 1886, Private Jacob Morris, Company H, Ninth Infantry, was tried and found guilty of being intoxicated and disobeying orders. According to the court-martial record, Private Morris, who had been "detailed as room-orderly, did become much under the influence of intoxicating liquor, as to be unable to properly perform his duties and having been found by a Non-Commissioned Officer of his Company at the Post Trader's store and having been ordered to return to his quarters, did fail to comply with said orders." He was sentenced to forfeit all his pay for one month and to be confined in the guardhouse and perform "hard labor" for one month. [212]

The same court found Private Charles Dussell, Company I, Ninth Infantry guilty of "drunkeness and unsoldierly and disrespectful language in his Company Quarters, refusal to keep quiet, when ordered to do so by a Non-Commissioned Officer of his Company, with a clenched fist." He received the same punishment as Private Morris, but the remainder of his period of confinement was "remitted" after he had served ten days. Another case decided at the same time was that of Private James Murry, Company I, Tenth Infantry, who was convicted of being absent without leave from company drill on the afternoon of November 9, 1886, and of being intoxicated. The specification of his charge for drunkenness stated, "that having been refused, by his Company Commander permission to [be] absent from drill, did become drunk, with the avowed purpose of being placed in the Guard house." He achieved his purpose. Private Murry was sentenced to forfeit ten dollars of his pay and spend ten days in confinement at hard labor. [213]

Some cases of intoxication were especially ill-timed and unbefitting the occasion. In July 1887 Corporal David Davis, Company F, Tenth Infantry, was assigned to conduct the "firing party" which was detailed to fire the appropriate salute at the funeral of Private John R. Rickley, Company G, Tenth Infantry. Davis "was found drunk while in command of said firing party and utterly unable to perform that duty." He was found guilty of drunkenness by court-martial. His punishment was reduction to the rank of private. [214]

Occasionally malicious actions or attitudes were exhibited by soldiers against Hispanos and other ethnic groups. Sometimes that behavior resulted in trial and punishment. In 1888, as noted in chapter eight, a soldier was convicted of assaulting a Chinese servant at Fort Union. In 1889 Private John Lydon, Company H, Tenth Infantry, was found guilty of "conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline" for making disparaging remarks about Hispanos. Private Lydon was "a sentinel in charge of two prisoners, who had been duly directed to unload certain wagons, driven by Mexicans, and containing Quartermasters stores." He was charged with stating, in the presence of the prisoners and of Sergeant John W. Lambert, Company C, Tenth Infantry, "The damn Mexicans should be made to unload their wagons. If I were a prisoner I would try to make them delay a half a day." Lydon's punishment was to forfeit ten dollars of his pay for one month and to be confined at hard labor for ten days. [215]

Officers' row
Officers' row, Fort Union, in the 1870s. The nine quarters were numbered from right to left. The commanding officer's quarters were No. 5 in the center. U.S. Signal Corps Photo No. 88020, courtesy National Archives.

Acts of violence and bigotry rarely showed up in the court records of Fort Union, but they were not uncommon. There were also a considerable number of assaults by soldiers against their comrades in arms. One of the last cases tried at Fort Union involved an attack on an "assistant to the canteen steward" at the new post canteen. It was an unusual case in that there was no mention of alcohol or intoxication in the court record (beer was available at the canteen). Private James Boyd, Troop G, Sixth Cavalry, was the perpetrator according to the court. Boyd "did without just provocation strike Private Edward Moran Troop G 6th Cavalry on the head with a billiard cue, thereby inflicting a severe wound." Boyd was sentenced to forfeit ten dollars of his pay. Moran was relieved of his duties as canteen steward and treated by the post surgeon. [216] Such fighting was the only combat soldiers at Fort Union had seen in years. Various types of misbehavior continued to keep the officers busy serving on courts-martial.

There were over 120 cases tried by court-martial at Fort Union during 1890, a year during which the aggregate garrison averaged 160 men. Most of the cases involved charges of drunkenness. There were also a number of instances of absence without leave, insubordination, and brawling. The last court-martial of record occurred on December 9, 1890, when Private Thomas Fitzgerald, Company H, Tenth Infantry, was convicted of being absent from duty without leave on December 6 and "conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline" in that he was "drunk and disorderly" and "insubordinate" on that same day. His sentence was to forfeit seven dollars of his pay for one month. If all the courts-martial trials during the active years of Fort Union history were placed in perspective, it would be clear that Colonel Sumner's design to remove the troops from the influences of sin and vice in 1851 had failed, and failed consistently.

depot storehouses, mechanics repair shops, company barracks
This portion of an undated photo of Fort Union shows, left to right, the depot storehouses, mechanics repair shops, company barracks, and the small building at right is believed to be the Good Templars hail which was also used as the post chapel. U.S Signal Corps Photo No. 88005, courtesy National Archives.

While much about the army appeared the same during those final years as in the past, the army was beginning to change. During the 1880s and after, the national government and military commanders made stronger efforts to provide enlisted men with better training and living conditions, instill an esprit de corps, and develop a more professional army. Less time was devoted to manual labor and assigning soldiers to extra-duty chores ad infinitum; more time was spent on drill, field practice, and mastery of specialized tasks. Education, rewards, competitive skills (such as marksmanship, signaling, and litter bearing), and worthy leisure activities began to replace harsh punishment and neglect. [217] Even so, the practice of strict discipline and punishment by courts-martial continued to be central to the enforcement of military regulations.

The army reform movement continued through the war with Spain in 1898, into World War I, and beyond. The results of those changes were felt by the garrison at Fort Union during its last years. Clearly, the representatives of the United States Army who marched away from Fort Union when it was closed in 1891 were a far different set of soldiers than those who had established the post forty years before. Throughout that entire period, as the records of Fort Union verify, health care and military discipline had contributed to the fulfillment of missions assigned to the troops at Fort Union and throughout the region. By the 1890s the Anglo-American frontier of expansion and conquest of the land was ended and the need for a frontier army had disappeared in the process.

Within two generations the Southwest had been acquired and firmly attached to the nation, Indian resistance had been subdued, Anglo-American institutions had been planted in the region, railroads had replaced the thread-like connections of the Santa Fe Trail and other overland routes with strong bands of steel, and Anglo-American migration and power foretold the eventual consolidation of the Hispanic Southwest into the larger nation. The rich blend of Indian, Hispanic, and Anglo cultures gave the region its distinctive identity and heritage. Fort Union had been a vital part of the history of that expansionist era, but it had no further objectives to perform. Like the Anglo-American frontier cycle it represented, the military post at Los Pozos on Wolf Creek, once the knot on the thread that had tied the Southwest to the nation and for a time the largest military installation in the region, was closed.

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Last Updated: 09-Jul-2005