FORT UNION
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CHAPTER SIX:
THE THIRD FORT UNION: CONSTRUCTION AND MILITARY OPERATIONS, PART ONE (TO 1869) (continued)

    Colonel Carson left Fort Union on April 24, 1866, when he was succeeded as post commander by Major John Thompson, First New Mexico Volunteer Cavalry. When District Commander Carleton mustered out of the volunteer service on April 30, 1866, it appeared that the command would devolve upon Colonel Carson. Carleton was then assigned to the same job at his brevet rank of brigadier general in the regular army and continued to command the district. [64] Carleton was highly respected for his attention to details. Major N. H. Davis, inspector general's department, completed a special inspection of district headquarters early in May 1866. He found the records in Carleton's headquarters to be what might be expected from such a precise commander, "in most excellent condition." Davis declared, "I doubt if there is at any Head Quarters a more complete and neatly kept set of public and official records, excepting none." [65]

diagram
Plan of third Fort Union and Depot in process of construction in 1866, under direction of Captain H. J. Farnsworth. The garrison plan includes quarters for four companies of soldiers and nine officers' quarters. Misc. Fortifications File, Cartographic Branch, RG 77, National Archives.
(click on image for an enlargement)

    Soon after Major Thompson assumed command of Fort Union in the spring of 1866, he was required to file a description of the post with the inspector general's office. His report was of interest as a general sketch and, especially, because it was a time of transition when the new post was not yet completed and the earthwork was still occupied. Thompson stated that the post was located "upon the 'Great Thoroughfare' between Santa Fe and Fort Leavenworth." He elaborated that there were "five roads, converging at, or near the Post: all of which are good." Thompson described the location of the post and noted that the garrison was "supplied with water from a large spring." He mentioned the abundance of timber in the nearby mountains. The soil in the nearby valleys was described as "very productive; the principal productions are Corn and Wheat. Vegetables are also cultivated to a considerable extent (except Potatoes: to the raising of which the soil is not adapted)." Grass was plentiful and "of a good quality." [66]

    He described the quarters at the earthwork as "built of wood" and "in quantity, sufficient to quarter six companies." On the other hand, he reported, "their condition is very bad." Although there were adequate storehouses and stables at the nearby depots, there was neither at the post. Of the depots, Thompson declared he was "unable to give you any information" because he was "not in command of them." At the post, which he commanded, "unoccupied quarters" were used as storehouses, and "sheds" provided "shelter for the animals." He said nothing about the plans for the new post but made it clear that conditions at the old post were inadequate. [67] Thompson's term of service expired a few weeks later and he was not around to see the new post.

    When Brigadier General John Pope, commander of the Department of the Missouri, visited the District of New Mexico in the summer of 1866, Carleton tried to persuade him to enlarge the plan for Fort Union and make it a six-company, instead of a four-company, post. Pope, who with Carleton had first marched to New Mexico in 1851 with Colonel Sumner, the same Pope who as a lieutenant had helped select and mark the site for the first Fort Union, agreed and authorized the change. Even so, Fort Union was built as a four-company post and was not expanded to accommodate six companies until 1875-1876. Carleton's request to set aside the Turkey Mountains as a timber reserve for Fort Union also elicited a favorable response from Pope. [68] The timber reserve, an area of 53 square miles, was set aside by presidential order in 1868. [69] Pope had already authorized more regular troops for the district, including the Fifty-Seventh Colored Troops, the One Hundred Twenty-Fifth Colored Troops, and the Third Cavalry. The return of the Third Cavalry (formerly the Regiment of Mounted Riflemen) brought several officers who had served in New Mexico before the Civil War back to the district, including John V. DuBois, Christopher H. McNally, and William B. Lane. The visit of General Pope at Fort Union may also have spurred increased activity on the construction of the post.

diagram
This plan to expand Fort Union to a six-company post was never completed. It shows the edge of the depot at left, the four-company post that was erected at center, and proposed additions at right, including two more sets of company quarters, four more officers' quarters, a new set of commanding officer's quarters, post quartermaster's office, and adjutant's office. This plan also shows the location of the new hospital, Good Templars' hall, and the edge of the earthwork. Misc. Fortifications File, Cartographic Branch, RG 77, National Archives.
(click on the image for an enlargement)

     At the request of Post Surgeon J. H. Shout, the old butcher corral near Fort Union, described as being "in a very filthy condition & in consequence liable to promote disease," permission was granted to remove the corral and clean the site. There was some question as to whether a new slaughtering corral was necessary because the beef contractors were responsible for butchering the animals. Apparently nothing was done until Captain Charles McClure, depot commissary officer, requested permission to remove the old corral and build a new, larger one, including "a good butcher house." He also requested that the work be done by fatigue parties from the post garrison. In September 1866 Captain C. M. Hubbell, First New Mexico Volunteer Cavalry, was placed in charge of a "working party" assigned to build the corral. [70] The date of its completion was not found.

     The term of service of many volunteer regiments expired in 1866, and the arrival of new troops in the district, as noted above, led to changes in the garrison at Fort Union. Major Elisha G. Marshall, Fifth Infantry, became post commander in August. [71] An outpost of Fort Union was established at Maxwell's Ranch on the Cimarron River to help keep watch on the Jicarillas and Utes located in the area. Carleton found the Utes and Jicarillas to be so destitute, because the department of Indian affairs did not have funds to furnish them with food, that they had to steal or starve. Carleton continued to operate on his long-held belief that it was much cheaper to feed Indians than to fight them. He provided for the issuing of rations to those people by Maxwell, until other arrangements could be made, and the troops at Maxwell's Ranch were to oversee the distributions. The Indians were to receive rations so long as they committed no depredations. [72] The troops stationed at Maxwell's Ranch were supplied with all provisions, except fresh beef which was slaughtered at the ranch, from Fort Union. [73]

     Because the Indians of the plains were comparatively quiet during 1866, following the signing of the Treaties of the Little Arkansas the previous autumn, there was not much demand on the garrison at Fort Union for duty along the Santa Fe Trail. The increase in the number of troops throughout the district placed less demand for soldiers at Fort Union to travel to other places to assist with military operations. The only trouble came in the fall when the Utes north of Fort Union began raiding and were defeated by troops already in the field in Colorado Territory. Troops from Fort Union and Maxwell's Ranch were directed to help protect the settlements and supply trains on the trail. [74] Although both sides were prepared for action, the Utes were quieted down without further conflicts. The new territorial governor, Robert B. Mitchell, went to Maxwell's Ranch to meet with the Indians. The Ute leaders surrendered to Colonel Carson at Fort Garland and asked for peace. [75] There were occasional escapes from the Navajo and Mescalero Apache reservations, including some raids around Las Vegas in October. By the time troops could be sent to the scene of attacks, the Indians had left the area. There was the usual increase in activity at Fort Union in the fall, when recruits for the district arrived and camped there until they were distributed to the various posts. [76] For the most part, however, the troops at Fort Union experienced a routine year, spending much of their time assisting with road repairs and the construction of the depot and post.

     Because heavy rains had damaged the roads from Fort Union "to the interior of New Mexico," making them "nearly impassable," two working parties were sent from the post to repair them. A company of Fifth Infantry, commanded by Captain Simon Snyder, was supplied with provisions and equipment to work on the road to Santa Fe for 30 days. Captain McNally, Third Cavalry, was assigned three officers and 90 enlisted men of the Fifty-Seventh U.S. Colored Troops to labor on the road to Taos for 30 days. [77] Other troops at Fort Union assisted with erection of buildings.

     In October 1866, according to Captain Henry Inman, depot quartermaster, two sets of officers' quarters at the new post were nearing completion. [78] Apparently one of the new company quarters was completed and others were underway. Post Commander Marshall informed Inman that a heavy rain on the night of October 16 flooded the quarters in the earthwork, making them uninhabitable. He requested that one company of the garrison be permitted to occupy the new quarters immediately, and that the other company quarters be turned over for occupation "as fast as the same are completed." Many of the men, according to Post Surgeon H. A. DuBois, were sick from the conditions of the quarters at the earthwork. DuBois was "convinced" the many cases of intermittent fever, rheumatism, and heart complications were the result of living in the damp barracks. Marshall urged that the men and officers "be properly housed as early as possible." Inman replied that the one set of company quarters that was completed could be occupied "any time you desire." [79]

     The following month the post commander reported that no enlisted men remained in the barracks at the earthwork. The garrison had been reduced to three companies (a temporary measure to ease pressure on the quarters at Fort Union until the new facilities were completed), one of which was away on field duty. A company of Fifth Infantry occupied the completed set of quarters, and a company of Third Cavalry had moved into an unfinished set of quarters. Marshall calculated that the other two sets of company quarters would not be ready for use until May 1867. One of those, he observed, could be ready as soon as workers could install "windows, doors, floors, finish chimneys, copings, &c." [80]

     During the peak of construction work on barracks and quarters the depot quartermaster was instructed to fabricate furnishings for the officers' quarters. The fixtures for the enlisted men's barracks were provided by custom, but officers were usually expected to supply their own furniture. Chief Quartermaster Enos instructed Captain Inman at the depot, however, that "owing to the difficulty of procuring house furniture in the District you will cause a set of plain and neat furniture for each set of Officers quarters to be made." Enos specified what was to be done. A complete "set of furniture" for each of the officers' quarters (which by the same instructions were to be numbered from one to nine from north to south) included two wardrobes, two bureaus, one dining table, two kitchen tables, one center and one side table "for each room, except the Kitchen, dining and servants room," three washstands, and three bedsteads. The furniture, each piece of which was to branded with "Q.M.D." and numbered to correspond with the number of the building in which it was placed, was to be listed on the inventory of the post quartermaster. To prevent removal or transfer, the post commander was charged with seeing "that none of this furniture is removed from the buildings for which they are made." [81] Most likely, similar sets of furniture were made for the quartermaster and commissary officers' quarters at the depot.

     Meanwhile, as quarters and furniture were being constructed, officers at the post remained lodged at the earthwork during the final weeks of 1866. The new quarters for the post commander were considered completed and were officially turned over to Major Marshall on December 24, 1866, just in time for Christmas. [82] The day after Christmas, appropriately, Marshall returned his present, explaining, "I return you the possession of the building turned over to me . . . as not being habitable and positively refuse to occupy the same unless the obstacles are overcome." The main problem was "three fire places or Chimneys smoke so that a man's life would be endangered in occupying same." [83] He returned to his old quarters until the situation was corrected.

company quarters
Four views of company quarters under construction at the third Fort Union, from top to bottom, U. S. Signal Corps Photos Nos. 88014, 88015, 88018, 88017, courtesy National Archives.

Officer's quarters
Officer's quarters under construction at third Fort Union, U.S. Signal Corps Photo No. 88013, courtesy National Archives.

    In his November report, Marshall noted that one set of the remaining officers' quarters was expected to be ready in January or February 1867. Additional officers' quarters were anticipated to be finished about the following May. He suggested that the soldiers be moved into the company quarters before they were plastered inside, and that the time gained thereby be utilized to plaster officers' quarters inside, so the officers "may be comfortably quartered as well as the men." Apparently, he thought the enlisted men could be comfortable without plastered walls. He also noted that, in the absence of cavalry stables at Fort Union, it was expected that the old barracks at the earthwork would be converted to that purpose. He concluded that "these quarters are fit only for this purpose, and even in a short time will be unsafe for that purpose." The company of Third Cavalry at the post was expected to have two of the old company quarters converted to stables "in a few days." [84]

    Also in November 1866 a "dead house" was added to the hospital, which was apparently completed according to the plan noted above. The mortuary was a building 52 feet long by 13 feet wide, with walls 10 feet high. There were six windows, each with fifteen panes of glass eight inches by ten inches. During the same month laundresses' quarters were under construction, built of adobe with a tin roof. These were completed except for the plastering and the roof. Also in November a third set of officers' quarters was nearly erected and a fourth was well under way. Carleton described the new post, in November, as "on the eve of being completed" and opined that it would be ready for use by the following summer. [85] The district assistant inspector general echoed those views in his report in December 1866 and noted that "the commanding officer's quarters can now be occupied." [86] That statement, as noted above, was premature, but the new commanding officer's quarters were soon made habitable. The other new facilities were occupied as completed, and work continued on additional structures. There were no provisions in the plan for a post chapel.

Officers' quarters
Officers' quarters under construction at third Fort Union. The site of the first fort is barely visible in left background at base of bluffs. U.S. Signal Corps Photo No. 87997, courtesy National Archives.

    A new post chaplain, John Woart of the Protestant Episcopal Church, his wife, and two daughters arrived at Fort Union on November 24, 1866. He was authorized to conduct services in the hospital until the building used by the Good Templars (a temperance fraternity) was prepared to be used also as a chapel and school room. [87] Woart later described the Good Templars' building, erected by "employees of the Government," as "constructed of logs driven in the ground. The spaces between are filled with mud. The building is covered with timbers and mud." Woart, of course, preferred to have a better building for the post chapel. [88] He was the first chaplain of record since Rev. Samuel B. McPheeters departed in June 1861. [89] Woart was appointed to serve as post treasurer in 1867. [90]

diagram
Design for Chapel and School Room at Fort Union, which was never constructed, Misc. Fortification Files, Cartographic Branch, RG 77, National Archives.

    In January 1867 Major Elisha G. Marshall, Fifth Infantry, commanding Fort Union, submitted a plan and requested authority to build a chapel at the post. Marshall saw the chapel as a way to expand Protestantism in predominately Catholic New Mexico, clearly an attempt to change the native culture of the territory, an example of Anglo-American ethnocentrism. "I believe," wrote Marshall, "the benefits of the Protestant faith will be shown to the future generations of the New Mexican population by the building of the Chapel." His chapel, designed "by an eastern architect," would be "constructed of stone" over a basement (which would serve as a school room) because "adobe buildings constantly require repair" and "no wooden building could stand the high winds we have." Marshall, who had little understanding of the environment or culture of New Mexico, calculated the cost of the chapel at $17,987. [91] Despite his plea, which was supported by the quartermaster general, who submitted a different set of plans for a stone chapel (shown on page 337) and emphasized the importance of a post school, the proposed chapel was never built. The war department considered all posts in the western territories to be temporary and, therefore, outside congressional authorization of structures for religious and educational purposes at permanent military posts. In addition, General in Chief Ulysses S. Grant recommend "suspending the erecting of chapels and school houses . . . until after the troops are provided with comfortable quarters." [92]

Officers' row
Officers' row under construction, U.S. Signal Corps Photo No. 87996, courtesy National Archives.

diagram
This plan for one company quarters at Fort Union was accompanied by Captain H. J. Farnsworth's explanation, Feb. 1, 1866: "The Building is one story high, Adobe walls, 18 inches thick, stone foundation, tin roof, and battlement or cornice of Brick 18 inches high and 18 inches thick, and will cost when completed, including well, $12,527.00. The Building was commenced in July 1865, and will be completed by April 1st, 1866." Misc. Fortifications File, Cartographic Branch, RG 77, National Archives.

Officers' row
Officers' row under construction; note that two of the buildings have been plastered on exterior. U.S. Signal Corps Photo No. 88012, courtesy National Archives.

Officers' row
Officers' row at third Fort Union, with all structures completed. Note flag staff at left. The fence in the foreground separated the garrison from the depot. Photo collection, Fort Union National Monument.

    Before the end of 1867 most of the structures at the third Fort Union were finished and occupied, making it the finest military post between Fort Riley and California. Major William B. Lane, Third Cavalry, who had served at the first post during the late 1850s, returned to command the new fort in February 1867. [93] Lane was post commander when the quarters at the new post were occupied and a new flag staff was erected on the parade ground of the new complex. A special ceremony for the raising of the first flag at the third Fort Union was conducted at 10:00 a.m., June 16, 1867. The honor of hoisting the first flag was accorded to the enlisted man of the garrison who had served the greatest number of years in the army, Corporal Joseph Schweigert, Company I, Fifth Infantry. [94] That flag staff was blown down in a windstorm on January 29, 1883, and another was put up in its place.

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