1. Judd to Munroe, Mar. 15, 1850, LR, 9MD, M-1102, roll 2, USAC, RG 393, NA. If the attitudes contained in the letters of Katie Bowen, wife of Captain Isaac Bowen, department commissary officer, 1851-1855, are representative of her class, it would seem that officer's wives at Fort Union had little concept of the realities of the lives of enlisted men, military employees, or the native people of New Mexico. The families of officers apparently existed in their own little world, insulated from many conditions outside of officers' row. See below.
12. According to one military historian, "gambling, drunkenness, and even the fandango were never ending sources of trouble." Not only that, but the army's "efforts to control vice were largely futile." Frazer, Forts and Supplies, 25-26.
13. Arthur Woodward, "Fort Union, New MexicoGuardian of the Santa Fe Trail," typescript report on historical materials at Fort Union National Monument for the National Park Service, 1958, FUNMA. pt. I, 126-127.
20. Isaac Bowen was a native of New York and attended West Point, earning his commission in 1842. He met Catherine Cary of Houlton, Maine, when he was stationed at Hancock Barracks, near Houlton. They were married in 1845. Isaac served in the Mexican War and won two brevet commissions for his accomplishments. In 1850 he was appointed a captain of the commissary of subsistence and went to New Mexico on Colonel Sumner's staff as the department commissary officer. Heitman, Historical Register, I, 233; and undated letter from Gwladys Bowen to James Arrott, AC.
27. As the commanding officer's wife, Mrs. Alexander was accorded the highest status of women at the post. According to one historian, "the commanding officer's wife [was] known to the Army as the K.O.W, because the literal abbreviation would not do." Knight, Life and Manners in the Frontier Army, 43.
28. Katie Bowen to Mother, Sept. 28, 1851, Bowen Letters, AC. Katie would later write that "there are a good many ladies at this post but only three of us seem to know how to enjoy ourselves. Mrs. Alexander, Mrs. Sibley and myself, are always sewing and run into each others rooms every day. Gossip that is new news we have to retell to each other and when one has anything a little better than her neighbor, why we all get a show. You would like the social way we are living." Katie Bowen to Father & Mother, Nov. 2, 1851, ibid. She became closest to Charlotte Sibley, and later wrote to her mother: "Mrs. Sibley and myself spend nearly all of our time together. . . . She is a very nice person and we enjoy each other very much. She has a dear Mother as much like you in all her thoughts, feelings and actions as can be, and we talk all day long of you both. . . . We have a great many feelings in common." Katie Bowen to Father & Mother, Nov. 30, 1851, ibid.
31. Katie was often critical of the extravagance of Captain and Mrs. Sibley, and declared "Maj. Sibley gives an Irishman and wife $25 a month and that would clothe our nigger a year for her dresses are blue check for summer and homespun plaid woolen for winter, with strong warm underclothes of factory cotton." Katie Bowen to Father & Mother, Nov. 3, 1851, Bowen Letters, AC.
37. Ibid., Sept. 28, 1851. In that same letter, Mrs. Bowen also mentioned a few of the sutler's prices: "Saleratus, 50 cents lb[,] small tin, coffee pots and pans, pails etc, 1.25 each and everything in proportion. Sealed oysters, 3.00 pint, quarter boxes, sardines, 3.00 each, but we took good care to stuff every cranny with something useful and find ourselves more independent than any family here."
38. Katie Bowen to Father & Mother, Nov. 30, 1851, ibid. She also sent a recipe to her parents: "A Mule power corn mill furnishes us with nice corn meal and in lieu of buckwheat cakes I will send you the recipe of our breakfast cake. 1 pint sifted meal; 1 pint sour or buttermilk sweetened with saleratus [baking soda]; 2 spoonfulls melted butter and two eggs. If you do not find this nice, if well baked in an oven or hot skillet, then it must be owning to the climate. I pour the mixture into a skillet and put a bake oven cover on covered with hot coals and it always comes out like a loaf of sponge cake." Ibid.
49. The barege was a popular day dress of the mid-19th century, made of an "open, almost transparent wool, fine as muslin, called barege." Nancy Bradfield, Costume in Detail: Women's Dress, 1730-1930 (Boston: Plays, Inc., 1968), 187.
53. Katie Bowen to Father & Mother, Nov. 2, 1851, ibid. Thompson was an alcoholic. His behavior at Fort Atkinson on the trip to New Mexico had precipitated a near conflict with the Cheyennes. Mrs. Bowen, in the same letter, told what she knew of his problems: "Frequently he has had "the man with the poker" after him and always carries his pistols loaded. He fancies, when in his cups that some of his men are going to kill him, and last night, as this man was cooking by the fire, the Maj called him and presented a pistol to his head, but immediately lowered it and told the man to go about his work. When, as he was stooping over the fire, the Maj deliberately shot him in the back, the ball passing through the body under and into one arm. Medical aid from here was soon procured and the man is still alive but little hopes of recovery. Maj Thompson has been arrested. . . . He is very polished and agreeable when himself, but can not live long at the rate he has drank while here. He has nights of delirium . . . but is always gentle with his wife. She, poor soul, must be in trouble enough now. I have not heard how she bears it. Mrs. Carleton is still at the fort with her."
58. They later learned that the fireplaces were not so genial. Except when the wind was in the north, "the chimneys smoke so badly that we have to leave the doors ajar, which is not so pleasant of a cold night. Pine makes hot fires, but the smoke is rather too black to be pleasant." Katie Bowen to Mother, Feb. 2, 1852, ibid.
61. Later, to reassure her parents, Katie begged: "Do not let any rumours of indians distress you for they are much exagerated. Men get killed, tis true, traveling in the lower country, but it is through their own imprudence." Ibid., Jan. 2, 1852.
77. The aggregate number of men stationed at Fort Union, which had averaged over 250 during the first nine months of its existence, dropped to an average of 160 during the period from April through August, 1852, and the members of the garrison available for duty and extra duty, which had averaged over 200 before, dropped below 100 for the above months. Post Returns, Fort Union, July 1851-Aug. 1852, AGO, RG 94, NA.
79. Post Returns, Fort Union, Aug. & Sept. 1852, AGO, RG 94, NA. The shortage of personnel in the summer of 1852 was reflected in Capt. Brooks's requisition for a drummer for his company of infantry. He had received fifers from the recruits but needed a drummer. Brooks to AAAG 9MD, June 30, 1852, LS, FU, USAC, RG 393, NA. The infantry relied on drums and fifes for the various calls of the day, while the dragoons used bugles.
90. Cheryl J. Foote, Women of the New Mexico Frontier, 1846-1912 (Niwot: University Press of Colorado, 1990), 37, 42. Anna Maria De Camp, born at Morristown, NJ, on Nov. 25, 1813, was the daughter of an army surgeon. Her husband, Gouverneur Morris, was the descendant of an aristocratic New York family. He was born in 1804 and graduated from West Point in 1824. He served in the Mexican War and was sent to New Mexico in 1850. Anna Maria's diary covering their trip from Fort Leavenworth to Santa Fe was published in Kenneth L. Holmes, ed., Covered Wagon Women: Diaries and Letters from the Western Trails, 1840-1890, vol. II (Glendale: Arthur Clark Co., 1983), 15-43. The remainder of her diary, covering their three years in New Mexico and return trip on the Santa Fe Trail to Fort Leavenworth in 1853, has not been published. Mrs. Morris expressed the same attitudes toward New Mexico and its people as did many of her peers. She described Santa Fe upon her arrival there in 1850 as "the most miserable squalid looking place I ever beheld." Like many Anglos, she was not impressed with adobe construction. "The houses are mud, the fences are mud, the churches & courts are mud, in fact it is all mud." Ibid., 41.
119. Ibid., June 24-30, July 22, 1853. This trip of 23 days probably seemed fast to Anna Maria. When the Morrises traveled to New Mexico in 1850, they were on the trail over 50 days. Holmes, Covered Wagon Women, II, 42.
143. Post Returns, Fort Union, Oct. 1853-Sept. 1854, AGO, RG 94, NA; and Cooke to Rucker, Nov. 16, 1853, LS, FU, USAC, RG 393, NA. Fauntleroy had stopped at Rayado on his way to Fort Union. Private James A. Bennett, First Dragoons, was there. He recorded in his diary that, on September 17, "the band came out and played today. They were all mounted on black horses. They looked fine and played well. This is the first brass band I have heard since 1850. The first tunes played were 'Old Folks At Home' and 'Sweet Home.'" James A. Bennett, Forts and Forays: A Dragoon in New Mexico, 1850-1856, ed. by Clinton E. Brooks and Frank D. Reeve (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1948), 57.
144. Percival G. Lowe, Five Years a Dragoon ('49 to '54) and Other Adventures on the Great Plains (1906, reprint; Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1965), 124. Lowe was later at Fort Union as a civilian freighter.
149. Special Orders No. 12, HQ DNM, Feb. 5, 1855, DNM Orders, v. 27, p. 140, USAC, RG 393, NA; Fauntleroy to Jesup, Fauntleroy to Gibson, & Magruder to Williams, Feb. 10, 1855, Joseph H. Whittlesey to Cunningham, May 20, 1855, & Whittlesey to Easton, June 8, 1855, LS, FU, USAC, RG 393, NA.
152. In addition to his religious duties, including Sunday church services, the post chaplain conducted a school for enlisted men who wanted to learn to read and write. He also taught the children at the post.
153. Post Returns, Fort Union, Jan.-Dec. 1856, AGO, RG 94, NA; Fauntleroy to Cooper, May 7, 1856, & Magruder to Stoddert, May 19, 1856, LS, FU, USAC, RG 393, NA; and Frazer, Mansfield on the Condition of the Western Forts, 38. McFerran and Letterman contributed greatly to the Union cause during the Civil War. McFerran may have been the most important officer in New Mexico during the Confederate invasion, and Letterman developed the field hospital plan for wounded troops.
154. Letterman, "Sanitary Report," 222, observed that many of the troops had been occupied "in working upon the arrival of stores from Fort Leavenworth and their distribution to the different stations in this department."
157. Fauntleroy to PMG James Campbell. May 3, 1856, LS, DNM, USAC, RG 393, NA; Orders No. 13, HQ DNM, October 11, 1856, DNM Orders, v. 36, p. 373, USAC, RG 393, NA; Bonneville to Thomas, October 31, 1856, LS, DNM, v. 10, pp. 33-34, USAC, RG 393, NA; Loring to Cooper, Jan. 17, 1857, LS, FU, USAC, RG 393, NA; and Thian, Military Geography, 79.
158. Post Returns, Fort Union, Jan.-Dec, 1857, AGO, RG 94, NA; Orders No. 7, HQ DNM, May 12, 1857, DNM Orders, v. 38A, USAC, RG 393, NA; Llewellyn Jones to Jesup, July 1, 1857, & Loring to Cooper, Oct. 18, 1857, LS, FU, USAC, RG 393, NA; and Garland to Thomas, Aug. 1, 1857, LS, DNM, v. 10, p. 132, USAC, RG 393, NA.
170. Ibid., 38-41, 47-48. One of Napton's memorable ordeals while hunting antelope in New Mexico came when he attempted to shoot a large buck antelope with a double-barreled shotgun he borrowed from the captain of his wagon train, James Chiles. The youthful Napton recalled that the shotgun "was so heavy that I could scarcely handle it." His inexperience with the weapon resulted in a painful escapade. He wrote, "just as I was in the act of placing the breech of the gun against my shoulder, but before I had gotten it fairly in place, off it went, both barrels simultaneously, sounding like a cannon, and kicking me with such force as to turn me over and over, rolling me down nearly to the foot of the mound. The gun struck my face, bruising it badly, making my nose bleed profusely and stunning me, but not so badly but that I noticed the bunch of fine antelope scampering off, frightened, but untouched." Ibid., 48. Despite the image of frontiersmen as great hunters, many were not successful all the time.
184. A few years later, in 1863, a chapter of the Independent Order of Good Templars, a temperance fraternal organization, was organized among the soldiers at Fort Union to help combat the deleterious effects of excessive alcohol consumption.
185. Post Returns, Fort Union, Jan.-Dec. 1858, AGO, RG 94, NA; Special Orders No. 80 & 81, HQ DNM, Sept. 14, 1858, DNM Orders, v. 39, pp. 162-164, USAC, RG 393, NA; Orders No. 2, HQ FU, Sept. 14, 1858, FU Orders, v. 46A, USAC, RG 393, NA; General Orders No. 6, HQ DNM, Sept. 15, 1858, DNM Orders, v. 36, p. 414, USAC, RG 393, NA; Loring to AAG DNM, Nov. 11, 1858, LS, FU, USAC, RG 393, NA; and Thian, Military Geography, 79.
186. DuBois Journal. 1857-1862. Portions of this journal and some of DuBois's correspondence was published in Campaigns in the West, 1856-1861; The Journal and Letters of John Van Deusen DuBois, ed. by George P. Hammond (Tucson: Arizona Pioneers Historical Society, 1949).
197. It is interesting that DuBois's initial observation was that the log quarters were "comfortable," when almost every other officer stationed at the post had been complaining for several years that the quarters were practically unfit for human habitation. From DuBois's perspective, after moving almost every day and living in a tent, the quarters probably did look good.
198. Alexander McRae graduated from West Point in 1851 and was appointed a second lieutenant in the Regiment of Mounted Riflemen. He was promoted to first lieutenant in January 1857. He became a captain in 1861, the year his regiment became the Third Cavalry in the reorganization of the army. McRae was killed at the Battle of Valverde, New Mexico, on February 21, 1862. Heitman, Historical Register, I, 682.
209. James L. Collins to William Carr Lane, Dec. 10, 1852, printed in Marc Simmons, ed., On the Santa Fe Trail (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1986), 14-15; Barry, Beginning of the West, 527, 530; and James Josiah Webb, Adventures in the Santa Fe Trade, 1844-1847, ed. by Ralph P. Bieber (Glendale: Arthur H. Clark Co., 1931), 107-108.
210. Napton, Over the Santa Fe Trail 1857, 37-38. Napton gave 1847 as the date for the incident, claiming he had heard the details from John S. Jones. All other evidence supports the date of 1850. Napton reported that Jones told him they received $40,000 to cover their losses, but the act of Congress stipulated that no more than $38,800 in claims would be allowed. Barry, Beginning of the West, 964-965.
231. Post Returns, Fort Union, Jan.-Dec. 1859, AGO, RG 94, NA; Loring to Cooper, Feb. 10, 1859, LS, FU, USAC, RG 393, NA; Bonneville to Thomas, Sept. 3, 1859, LS, DNM, v. 10, p. 366, USAC, RG 393, NA; National Intelligencer (Washington, D.C.), Nov. 28, 1858; and Simonson to Wilkins, Dec. 8, 1859, LS, FU, USAC, RG 393, NA.
235. Hezekiah Brake, On Two Continents: A Long Life's Experience (Topeka: Crane & Co., 1896); and Simmons, On the Santa Fe Trail, 37-39. Brake's account of his trip on the Santa Fe Trail is reprinted in ibid., 39-51.
236. Brake stated in his book that they left on February 1, 1858, and arrived at Fort Union on March 1, 1859, but the trip only lasted one month and, from the context of his book, the trip was made in 1859. Brake, On Two Continents, 120, 134.
246. Captain Earl Van Dom, Second Cavalry, led 225 troopers in an attack on a Comanche village located on Rush Creek in present Oklahoma on October 1, 1858. Approximately 70 of the Comanches were killed in what became known as the Battle of Wichita Village. The soldiers suffered five killed, including Lieutenant Cornelius Van Camp, Second Cavalry. See William Y. Chalfant, Without Quarter: The Wichita Expedition and the Fight on Crooked Creek (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991), chap. 3.
268. It is interesting to note that Maury, a Virginian whose sympathies were with the South, recalled "that at our last Christmas dinner in Santa Fe, we carefully selected our guests according to their avowed intentions in the coming crisis." Maury, Recollections, 128. Ironically, although he was a slaveholder and native of Kentucky, Lane was solid for the Union and remained in the federal army. Lydia Lane remembered that, at the Christmas dinner, "the possibility of war between North and South was freely discussed at table, with considerable excitement, and so hotly at times the ladies were embarrassed considerably. There were advocates for both sides, while others were reticent as to their sentiments." I Married a Soldier, 92.
270. DuBois Journal, Sept. 3, Oct. 3, 10,30, Nov. 30, 1860, Jan. 5, Mar. 17,30, April 12, 1861. DuBois stopped keeping his journal during the Civil War when a superior officer requested him to do so for fear it might fall into the hands of the enemy. He had a distinguished record during the war, including service as Chief of Artillery of the Department of the Mississippi, Brigade Commander at Corinth, and Chief of Cavalry, Chief of Staff, and Inspector General of the Department of Missouri. He served in New Mexico after the war, 1866-1867, at Fort Sumner (which he declared was "at the end of the world") and Fort Bascom (which he commanded). He was at Fort Union again at least once, serving on a court-martial there in the spring of 1867. Unfortunately, he left no description of the new post nor a comparison of it with the first fort where he had served. He retired as a major in the Third Cavalry on May 17, 1876. He died July 31, 1879, at his residence at Hudson, NY. DuBois to Father, Oct. 4, 1866, & DuBois to Mother, April 5, 1867, filed with DuBois Journal; Circular No. 8, series 1879-1880, Military Order of the Loyal Legion, Jan. 10, 1880, copy filed with DuBois Journal; and Heitman, Historical Register, I, 385.
Last Updated: 09-Jul-2005