FORT UNION
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CHAPTER FOUR:
LIFE AT THE FIRST FORT UNION (continued)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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