FORT UNION
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CHAPTER TWO:
THE FIRST FORT UNION (continued)

     On August 3 Carleton and his Company K, First Dragoons, departed for Fort Atkinson, where they met on August 15 newly-appointed Territorial Governor William Carr Lane, a surgeon from St. Louis, and accompanied his party to New Mexico. Because Lane was seriously ill, suffering from intense pain and unable to eat anything for five days, Carleton and a small party made a forced march from the New Mexico Point of Rocks on August 25 and arrived at Fort Union on August 26, where Lane and Carleton were both ill for several days. The remainder of the company, under command of Second Lieutenant Johnston, returned to Fort Union August 29 after marching a total distance of 682 miles. [230]

     Governor Lane related an incident on the return trip that was not mentioned in the military records. In a letter to Waldo, Hall & Co., mail contractors and operators of the stage line on which Lane had traveled from the Missouri River to Fort Atkinson, Lane told of his pleasant trip on their coach under Conductor William Allison and explained he left the stage at Fort Atkinson to ride in Captain Carleton's "carriage" (probably an army ambulance). Allison, taking advantage of the protection provided by the dragoons, traveled near them for several days and encamped in the same vicinity at nights. [231]

     This arrangement proceeded "in the most perfect harmony" until the afternoon of August 19 at a camp on the Cimarron River. Somehow Captain Carleton drove the mules pulling his ambulance across the picket ropes of some of the stagecoach mules, and one his mules became entangled in the rope holding one of the stage mules, causing only a minor mishap. Conductor Allison, however, to the "utter amazement" of Lane, flew into a terrible rage and in the presence of the entire troop of dragoons "indulged in many loud and indecent oaths & exclamations" and continued the "grossly indecent language" for some time. Carleton remained calm during the entire ordeal. [232]

     Governor Lane informed the owners of the stage line that Allison's behavior was "indefensible" and declared Allison owed Carleton an apology. Until then, Lane concluded, "I could not think of travelling in a Stage, under his control." [233]

     That was not the end of the story. William and John McCoy, managers of the stage headquarters at Independence, Missouri, responded that Allison had a bad temper and they were sorry about what had happened. They also informed Lane that they had forwarded some of his freight from the steamboat at Wayne City Landing (near Independence) via one of Francis X. Aubry's wagon trains, for which there was a $6.94 transfer charge because they had to overtake the train near Westport. The letter and the bill were delivered to Lane at Santa Fe by none other than William Allison, who gave the governor a receipt for the payment. [234]

     Governor Lane became good friends with the Carletons and other officers at Fort Union, and they must have enjoyed the memory of the incident with Allison. In October 1852 Carleton wrote to Lane, "Mrs. Carleton proposed sending you a cake by mail(!) I thru cold water on this for perhaps Mr Allison would not care to be troubled in this way." He also invited the governor to come to Fort Union for Christmas, stating "we will do our best to make it a merry one." [235]

     In November 1852, in order to provide for considerable indebtedness Carleton had accumulated (over $1,000 plus interest), he sold to Governor Lane two black slaves the family had brought from Missouri to Fort Union. Benjamin, age 21, and Hannah, age 28, were deeded in trust to Gov. Lane who agreed either to hire them out or sell them to advantage to pay off the Carleton family debts. [236] Lane took close interest in the lawsuits filed against Carleton for the destruction of whiskey on the military reservation, as noted above, and represented him before the court in Santa Fe.

     During the 12 days Lane spent recuperating at the Carletons' quarters at Fort Union, he observed much that was entered into his diary. [237] He commented on the thunderstorms and one hail storm of the "so-called rainy season." He visited the post garden and gave the most descriptive list available of what was grown there and how the irrigation system operated. He provided a good description of Los Pozos. [238]

     Lane visited in the home of Captain and Mrs. Shoemaker and described their vegetable garden approximately one and one-quarter miles up the valley from the post where there was a "large spring . . . used for irrigation." He "dined and suped" with Captain and Mrs. Bowen, another couple with whom a fine friendship developed and personal correspondence passed during the time Lane was in New Mexico. [239] He was able to leave Fort Union on September 5 and arrived in Santa Fe on September 9, where he took over the executive office from Lieutenant Colonel Sumner. [240] The officers at Fort Union held Lane in high esteem, and he enjoyed their friendship. In November 1852 Lane wrote to a friend in St. Louis: "I am in luck. The officers at Fort Union - 100 miles east of this place, have just sent me some venison (Black-tailed Deer), some Antelope venison, and a Wild Turkey." [241]

     Mrs. Bowen corresponded with Gov. Lane and shared with him her disgust with Col. Sumner, stating a fear her pen might be "court-martialed." She said "Our little Willie C (he's a namesake of yours [hardly true since William Cary Bowen was named after Kate's father and before they knew William Carr Lane]) is well." She invited him to "pay us a visit" and closed with "Excuse me for spinning this yarn so long, but a love for old gentlemen is my weakness." Kate C. Bowen to Lane, Jan. 5, 1853, William Carr Lane Collection, MHS.

     When Major Gouveneur Morris and his wife, Anna Maria, visited Gov. Lane at Santa Fe in December 1852. Mrs. Morris was also impressed with "the elegant old gentleman." The day after their arrival in Santa Fe, she wrote in her diary, "we called to see the Governor. . . . I like him very much & gave him a kiss at parting." Before the Morrises left town the next day to go to Fort Union, "the Governor called to say good bye. He kissed my hand in a very courtly manner & gave me his Blessing." Anna Maria Morris Diary, Morris Collection, University of Virginia, microfilm, Dec. 12-13, 1852 (hereafter Morris Diary).

     Sophia W (Mrs. James H.) Carleton hosted the governor in her home when he was ill upon his arrival in New Mexico Territory, and she kept in touch with Lane. In May 1853, in response to a gift he had sent to her, Mrs. Carleton wrote and thanked him for the present and invited him to visit the Carletons at Fort Union. "You know," she wrote, "I have the heart to treat you well, and if I don't succeed, it must be attributed to the hard life we have here." She shared her personal life and views with him and obviously considered him a special friend. "Both my little children are well and growing finely. Hal is as sweet as he can be. What is the reason that you men do not grow up so sweet?" Sophia W. Carleton to Lane, May 6, 1853, William Carr Lane Collection, MHS. Other officers Lane visited at the post included Captains Sibley, Brooks, and Sykes, Lt. Johnston, and Dr. Byrne.

     Lane was a good friend to have, but he resigned in the summer of 1853, a few months after a change of administrations in Washington, D.C. He and Sumner were unable to work together in New Mexico. [242] Lane negotiated treaties with some of the Indians and promised to feed them, an economical alternative to warfare. The federal administration did not approve the treaties and Congress did not appropriate funds to feed the Indians. When the Indians discovered the promises were not to be fulfilled they retaliated against the New Mexicans, creating new problems for civil and military officials in New Mexico, problems to be dealt with by Lane's and Sumner's successors and the troops stationed at Fort Union. Lane, one of the few Anglo-Americans who admired and respected the people and culture of New Mexico, ran for the office of territorial delegate to Congress and was defeated by Jose Manuel Gallegos. Lane returned to his home and family in St. Louis, where he died in 1863. [243]

     On June 1, 1853, Colonel Sumner announced that he was taking a leave of absence and placed Lieutenant Colonel Dixon S. Miles, Third Infantry, in command of the department. Two days later, Sumner resumed command because of problems with the Navajos. Because of the murder of a "Mexican citizen" by a party of Navajos, Sumner ordered a large force, including most of the available men at Fort Union, to be ready to march against that tribe if the guilty party or parties were not surrendered by July 1. Then, before any action was taken, Sumner left the department and placed Miles in charge until his successor arrived. [244]

     Although Sumner was apparently pleased with what he had accomplished in New Mexico, including the reorganization of the department, construction of new posts, and especially the reduction of expenditures, it soon became clear that he had left the department in an impoverished condition. Kate Bowen provided a perceptive evaluation when she wrote of Sumner: "He is very unpopular throughout the country and his excessive economy with regard to troops and animals has just the effect as meanness in a household, viz; a failure in all arrangements." "Economy," she declared, "wont work in such a poor country as this." [245] Sumner's successor probably would have agreed but was unable to state it so concisely.

     Sumner traveled eastward over the Santa Fe Trail, made a brief visit at Fort Atkinson which he had established in 1850, and met his replacement, Brigadier General John Garland, [246] along the Arkansas River. They almost did not meet on the trail because they followed different routes. Sumner traveled the Cimarron Route to the Arkansas River and took the Dry Route east from near where Fort Dodge, Kansas, was later established. Garland took the Wet Route west of Pawnee Fork and later followed the Aubry Route from the Arkansas River into the present Oklahoma panhandle. When Sumner's party camped on the Dry Route on July 11, several miles west of Pawnee Fork, they learned from "Delgado's train" that Garland and his troops were camped approximately three miles away on the Wet Route near the river. Sumner, Lt. Joseph N. G. Whistler, and "Mr. Papin" rode to Garland's camp and visited with Garland for a time before returning to their own camp late that night. [247]

     Garland assumed command of the Ninth Military Department on July 20, 1853, as soon as he crossed the Arkansas River. He was accompanied by the new territorial governor, David Meriwether (who had joined the caravan along the trail), [248] Meriwether's son Raymond, James J. Davenport the new chief justice for New Mexico, new Indian agents Edmund A. Graves and James M. Smith, a civilian surgeon named Dr. Jacobs, Colonel Mansfield of the inspector general's department, Captain William A. Nichols who served as Garland's adjutant, Assistant Surgeon David C. DeLeon, Major Cary H. Fry of the paymaster department (with $300,000 in specie), 212 troops (many new recruits) under command of Major Electus Backus, Third Infantry, a large number of dragoon horses under the charge of Lieutenant William D. Smith, Second Dragoons, and a train of 51 wagons under command of Captain L. C. Easton, quartermaster department. Other officers making the trip included Captain Macrae, who was accompanied by his family and became commander of Fort Union, Captain Oliver L. Shepherd, Lieutenants William B. Johns and Henry B. Schroeder, Second Lieutenant Horace F. DeLano, and Brevet Second Lieutenants Matthew L. Davis, Alexander M. McCook, and Charles H. Rundell. They arrived at Fort Union on July 31 and the first two days of August. [249]

     Meanwhile Lieutenant Colonel Miles had been left to deal with the Navajos. Garland later provided his views and an explanation of what happened: "I say, with as much regret as sorrow, that Col. Sumner, my predecessor, embarrassed me not a little, by placing an order on the books of the Department for a campaign against the Navajoes which he had not the means of carrying out, and in this state of things left the Department." Miles had avoided the campaign by sending Captain Henry Lane Kendrick with a smaller command to meet with some Navajo leaders who restored the stolen property and promised to deliver the guilty party, who had taken refuge among the Ute Indians, when he returned to their nation. [250] Troops from Fort Union were not required to join in that effort. Garland was to learn many other things about Sumner's administration in the department as he and Colonel Mansfield evaluated conditions there.

     Mansfield was satisfied that Fort Union was "well located for a depot for the supply of the northern posts" in New Mexico Territory. The site was "well adapted for keeping beef cattle and supernumerary dragoon horses and mules &c &c." Regarding the availability of local supplies, the inspector reported that "flour, corn and hay and fuel are obtained from the neighbouring valleys as conveniently as at other posts in New Mexico and on reasonable terms." Finally, he believed that "the buildings of all kinds are as good as at any post and there seems to be enough of them to satisfy the demands of the service." Expressing no objection to Fort Union as a supply depot, Mansfield was concerned about the defensive position of the post. "It is too close under the Mesa for a tenable position gainst an enterprising enemy," he warned, "unless the immediate heights can be occupied by a block house which could readily be done." [251] That was never done, however, and the post was moved approximately a mile away from the mesa during the Civil War in an attempt to secure a tenable position. Mansfield completed his work at Fort Union on August 6 and proceeded to other posts in the department while Garland established department headquarters at Albuquerque.

     After Garland was settled at Albuquerque, he was concerned about the delay in the delivery of mail from the states to his office. Because the mail coaches stopped at Fort Union on the way in, he directed that the mail for headquarters be removed there and sent directly by an "expressman" to him. A few days later, in order to expedite communications among all the posts in the department, Garland set up a monthly system of expresses designed to distribute and collect mail as efficiently as possible. After the express from Fort Union reached Albuquerque, he carried dispatches to Santa Fe and then back to Union. Other riders communicated with the remainder of the posts from Albuquerque and Santa Fe. [252] Garland obviously wanted to be kept informed. He was not especially pleased with what he learned.

     Garland, as noted above, was not satisfied with the military farms and terminated those operations the following year, except for grazing and haying on the Ocate. As Garland became more aware of conditions in New Mexico, and especially after Mansfield completed his inspection tour, he realized that Sumner had left the department nearly impoverished and poorly arranged for defense against Indians. The posts, including Fort Union, were poorly constructed and in constant need of repairs. Garland was especially concerned about the location of Fort Union depot and the suit of Barclay and Doyle regarding the property on which the post stood. He thought several forts in the department should be relocated, including Union. [253] In 1856 Garland reported to army headquarters that the troops in New Mexico were "in good condition for service, notwithstanding the constant labor required of them in repairing decayed Military Posts and in constructing new ones." [254]

     When Captain Easton reported the deteriorated condition of the quartermaster store house at Fort Union and requested authorization to build a new, solid structure, Garland responded: "No additional buildings will be put up at Fort Union. The building erected for a smoke house can be fitted up for temporary use." His views on the future of the depot at Union were indicated by instructions to Easton to move all the supplies intended for Fort Defiance, Albuquerque, and all posts south of Albuquerque to the depot at Albuquerque for storage. In addition, if "fair contracts" could be made with freight contractors delivering to Fort Union to carry the goods on to Albuquerque "without re-handling at Fort Union," Easton was to make such arrangements. [255]

     A few weeks later Garland informed army headquarters that "Fort Union is entirely out of position for a depot, and it has been decided, by a Court of Law, that the title to the land is in an individual. He may at any time claim damages or eject us. I have, under these circumstances, determined to withdraw the supplies and have ordered the principal Quarter Master and commissary of subsistence to a more convenient point, Albuquerque, leaving the present garrison there for the winter." The medical depot was transferred from Fort Union to Albuquerque the following summer. Only the ordnance depot remained at Union. Although the future of Fort Union appeared to be tenuous at that time, the post remained active, albeit less important, and it served the department as a subdepot for several years and later became the main depot again. Garland questioned the judgment that had made Fort Union so important, and he questioned the economizing decisions of his predecessor. [256]

     Within three months after assuming command, Garland was appalled with conditions of the department. He felt obligated to inform his superiors and, as noted above, could not be as concise as Katie Bowen.

     "It is never considered in good taste to attack one's predecessor, but I am forced to do it, else, the odium of bad management, extravagant expenditures, &c &c will fall upon me, however much my course may be blameless. I am restrained too, in some degree, from the fact that my predecessor is an old friend and acknowledged throughout the Army to be one of the most efficient and gallant officers in the field, he is also a man of untiring industry, but his energies have been misapplied, and he has left the Department in an impoverished and crippled condition, wanting in many of the essentials for undertaking a successful enterprise. His great and sole aim appears to have been to win reputation from an economical administration of his Department, in this, he will be found to have signally failed, if all his acts are closely looked into, his economy run into parsimony, the result of which, was the loss of a vast number of horses and mules. He found here an abundance, a plethora of every essential for a military enterprise, and makes capital out of it. In order to make a fair exhibit of the expenditures in the department under his administration of it, it is but fair that he should be charged with everything that has been ordered here to supply his exhausted coffers, Qr. Mrs. Stores, subsistence, ordnance, granaries &c, especially wagons and mules. I found a number of Dragoons mounted on the ponies of the country, to the exclusion of Dragoons horses, which should have been sent here, in place of those which perished for want of forage."

     "The subsistence stores arrived so late and our means of transportation so limited, that some of the articles of supply were exhausted before others could be got to the remote posts." [257]

     The next day Garland informed Lorenzo Thomas that "the empty store houses left by my predecessor are not yet filled." [258]

     The Ninth Military Department was in need of major changes within, and on October 31, 1853, it received a change from without. With the reorganization of military departments throughout the nation, the Ninth Department became the Department of New Mexico, comprised of New Mexico Territory east of 110 degrees west longitude. A few weeks later the boundaries were revised to include the Post at El Paso, Texas, and New Mexico Territory east of 120 degrees west longitude. Little had been changed except the name. Department headquarters remained at Albuquerque until September 6, 1854, when Garland moved to Santa Fe. [259]

     Garland, like Sumner before him, was concerned about the absence of many officers from the companies. He informed army headquarters in January 1854 "that there are not a sufficient number of company officers in this Department for ordinary camp and garrison duty." [260] Noting the effect this had on "the condition of this Department," he requested that officers, especially dragoon officers, be directed to New Mexico. Garland observed that "there is undoubtedly a strong disinclination to serve in New Mex. both on account of its discomforts and the high rates which the officers have to pay for the most common necessaries." [261] Lieutenant Colonel Cooke, Second Dragoons, commanding Fort Union, reported in February 1854 the shortage within his regiment. Only three officers, "two young second Lieutenants and one 1st Lieut, who is sick & unfit for duty, it is supposed permanently," were present with the four companies of Second Dragoons stationed in the department. This meant that ten of the officers were absent. None had arrived in the department by June 1. By October Second Lieutenant Alexander McD. McCook, Third Infantry, was assigned to lead Company H, First Dragoons. [262]

     Cooke was also concerned about the treatment of dragoons from Fort Union who served as express riders in the department, making "journies of four or five days in all seasons & weather." They were unable to carry all the provisions needed, but no arrangements had been made for their food, lodging, or fuel. Most were unable to spend their own money for such essentials. The result, said Cooke, was that "they are at the charity of New Mexicans & hang about kitchens and outhouses, or stables, on sufferance or as trespassers, all of which I respectfully represent, is unjust, impolitic and very degrading to the soldier." [263] It is not clear what if anything was done for the express riders. The outbreak of Indian hostilities a short time later demanded most of the attention of troops at Fort Union. The system of expresses was modified in November 1856, with provisions that two mounted men would comprise an express and the men and horses would be changed at every post. [264]

     With most of the troops, including the post surgeon, in the field in the spring of 1854, Fort Union commander, Captain Macrae, was concerned about the health of the garrison. He informed department headquarters on April 4 that 16 men were on the sick list "and no medical officer at this post." In case of an emergency the closest medical officer was at Santa Fe. An inadequate supply of medical officers was just one more deficiency in the department. Macrae was authorized to employ a citizen physician if he could find one who would take the job. None was available and the post remained without the services of a medical officer until Dr. Byrne returned in May. At the end of July Garland directed that the medical depot at Fort Union be moved to Albuquerque, where the quartermaster and commissary depots were located and from where the medical supplies could be distributed throughout the department. [265]

     While Garland considered Albuquerque the best location in the department for the distribution of equipment and provisions, he disliked it as a place to live. He requested permission to change department headquarters from Albuquerque to Santa Fe. "Albuquerque," he declared, "is the dirtiest hole in New Mexico,and is only occupied from necessity." [266] The move was authorized and made in September. In just a little over three years department headquarters had moved from Santa Fe to Fort Union, to Albuquerque, and back to Santa Fe. There it remained until the Civil War, and Santa Fe was the command center for both military and civil officials in the territory. [267]

     While department headquarters were being moved, Colonel Thomas Turner Fauntleroy, First Dragoons, assumed command of Fort Union on September 18, 1854, at a time when the garrison was the smallest in its pre-Civil War history. He named Second Lieutenant W. T. Magruder of his regiment to serve as post adjutant and placed Magruder in charge of the commissary department at the post. So few soldiers were available to cut hay required for the public animals at the post, Fauntleroy authorized the post quartermaster, Major Rucker, to contract for what was needed. [268]

     Soon after Brigadier General Garland arrived in the department he reported that Fort Union was improperly located, directed that no additional new buildings were to be constructed there, and removed the supply depot from that place. In 1856 he began to search for a location where a new fort could be built. He directed Captain Easton and Captain W. A. Thornton, ordnance department, to investigate the area around the junction of the Mora and Sapello rivers and around Wagon Mound for a possible site to build a new military post. The site was to include adequate wood, water, and grass, and have sufficient land for an arsenal. If they located a suitable place they were to determine who owned the property, discern if the land could be secured for a post, and find out a price to purchase or lease the land for 20 years. [269] Easton was no stranger to this assignment; he had been sent by Colonel Munroe in 1851 for the same purposes. As in 1851 no suitable location was found. Fort Union was going to stay put for the time being.

     Garland continued to study the situation, and he was not satisfied that Fort Union should remain an active post. In October 1856 Garland left the department on a leave of absence, placing Colonel Benjamin L. E. Bonneville, Third Infantry, in command in New Mexico. Garland returned and resumed command in May 1857. [270] The site of Fort Union remained active, but the political administration of the territory soon changed again.

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