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

     During the spring and summer of 1867 Major Lane received reports that citizens near Rayado were selling liquor to the Indians at the Cimarron Agency. Because "drunkenness" among the Apaches and Utes was a "very frequent ocurrence, and when drunk the Indians are troublesome and impudent." Lane urged the troops stationed at Cimarron and Indian Agent E. B. Dennison (whom Lane considered to be "inefficient and entirely unfit for the place he fills") to identify and arrest the guilty citizens before "very serious troubles" occurred. Agent Dennison identified Guadalupe Marris of Rayado as the source of the illegal alcohol, and troops from Cimarron arrested him "for selling liquor to Indians." Lane believed that outlaws and thieves were as much or more of a threat to public safety as were the Indians of the area. [133]

     During July 1867 a party of Navajos at Bosque Redondo reservation, believed to have stolen livestock in their possession, fought back when troops attempted to take the livestock from them, killing six soldiers. Troops from Fort Union were ordered to go, under command of Major Charles J. Whiting, Third Cavalry, "to quell the present outbreak and prevent the occurrence of any future troubles with those Indians." [134] The troops at Fort Sumner, however, brought the situation under control. Major Whiting and troops from Fort Union were recalled from the assignment. Whiting later headed a board of officers which investigated the incident at Bosque Redondo, and Whiting was appointed commander of Fort Sumner when it was decided that the former post commander, Captain Elisha W. Tarlton, Third Cavalry, had provoked the incident. [135]

     By the summer of 1867 troops and officers were living in the new quarters at the third Fort Union, while construction work continued. The new facilities were undoubtedly a welcome relief from the conditions of the previous quarters, but sanitary conditions around the post were deplorable. Major Lane appointed a board of health to inspect the area and make recommendations. Surgeon DeWitt C. Peters and Second Lieutenant Francis Bacon Jones, Thirty-Seventh Infantry, comprised the board (Surgeon DuBois was absent from the post at the time). [136]

     They found the corral used for slaughtering beef cattle for the post and depot "in a most horrible condition. Offal, filth, hides and hogs scattered about in a miscellaneous manner." This was "sufficient to produce and generate disease of any type." In addition, the location of the corral was such that any runoff from precipitation "must filter through the ground it occupies, and contaminates the drinking water." The board recommended that the corral be moved to a better location farther from the post, that the site of the old corral be cleaned up immediately, and all the waste buried where it could not contaminate the water supply. They found the springs, from which water for the post and depot was supplied, contaminated and recommended they be cleaned out and the drainage modified "to render them in a good state." [137]

     The camping grounds around the post, where wagon trains were permitted to park, were reported to be "in a bad state of police, and require prompt attention." The refuse found at these places was to be burned. The sites were to be "sprinkled about" with lime to "disinfect" them. They recommended that wagon trains should not be permitted to encamp near the post, and they should be "required to keep their camps clean and orderly." The laundresses quarters at the earthwork needed to be cleaned and whitewashed. All latrines at the post were to be "thoroughly policed and supplied with lime." The "deposits of garbage and filth" around the post were to be burned. The hog pen used by the depot quartermaster should be removed to a location "some distance from the post." The need to clean up was urgent, and the board recommended that all personnel at the garrison be assigned to sanitary duty "without delay" until the improvements were completed. [138]

     The sanitation at Fort Union may have been improved, too, with the construction of the first-known "Bath-House" at the post. The location was not determined (there was a bath house behind the hospital, according to plans, but whether it was available to the garrison or only patients was unclear), but apparently there was only one to be shared by all troops in the garrison. Post Commander Lane issued an order regarding the schedule for the facility: "Now that a Bath-house has been constructed Company Commanders will so arrange the time of bathing of their men that one company will not interfere with another." [139] Maintaining a healthy environment was a constant problem at the post. Early in 1868 two companies of Third Cavalry situated in the new quarters were ordered to clean up the "filthy condition" found behind their kitchens and mess rooms. In the future, empty barrels were to be obtained from the post commissary "to hold slops and garbage." [140]

     Because the troops were engaged in cleaning up the post, Major Lane was unable to send a sufficient detachment to recover stolen army mules found in Cherry Valley. In fact, he declared, "it is with the greatest difficulty that a guard of six men can be mounted at this post, and carry on other necessary duties." Two men had been sent to track some stolen mules, and they recovered five of those mules in Cherry Valley. Within a few days, however, the same mules were stolen again from the government herd at the post. Lane requested another company of cavalry for the garrison to "rid this vicinity of the numerous horse thieves, and murderers that infest this post and reservation." Although he had "some notoriously bad men in the guard house, and they outnumber the guard," Lane believed there were many more criminals to be caught. [141] Company A, Third Cavalry, was ordered from Albuquerque to join the command at Fort Union. [142]

     Post Commander Lane was an officer who believed that troops should be drilled constantly while in garrison so they would be ready to perform at their best in the field. Attention to drill became feasible with the increase of cavalry troops at the post. Lane directed that cavalrymen were to be "drilled each morning at the 'Skirmish drill for mounted troops' prepared by Lieut. [Dabney H.] Maury." Each afternoon the cavalry companies were "drilled . . . at 'the school of the platoon dismounted,' and at the 'manual of the carbine.'" He further directed that, "when the weather is unfavorable the men will be instructed in the stables, in the manner of saddling, bridling, & etc, and in the 'manner of rolling the cloak.'" The latter referred to the packing of each soldier's gear (extra clothing and camp equipment) to carry on the saddle. The overcoat issued to cavalrymen was known as a cloak, defined in army regulations as "a gutta-percha talma, or cloak extending to the knee, with long sleeves." [143] Each company commander was responsible for training the troops to prepare their packs uniformly. They soon had an opportunity to test their skills.

     On September 3, 1867, a party of Indians (tribe unknown but first believed to be Comanches and, later, Navajos and Mescalero Apaches, estimated to number from twenty to fifty men) reportedly killed three men and wounded another and captured three boys near Mora and stole "a large amount of livestock" (later estimated at 150 head, including a herd of mules belonging to Ceran St. Vrain). This provided an opportunity for some of the garrison to get away from the post for a few days and engage in field duty. Lieutenant William P. Bainbridge, Third Cavalry, took 32 men with five days' rations and orders to attempt to "overtake, and kill the Indians, and recapture the stock." If they needed reinforcements, a messenger was to be sent to the post. Bainbridge was replaced in the field two days later by Captain Francis H. Wilson, Third Cavalry, because Bainbridge had to return to the post for court-martial duty. [144]

     A detachment of 37 cavalrymen was also sent from the outpost at Cimarron to search for the perpetrators. The Indians killed another New Mexican near Wagon Mound, where they stole fifteen horses and mules, and were seen later at Cañon Largo, where the Mora River joined the Canadian. The commanding officer at Fort Sumner was notified to watch for the raiding party. Colonel Getty directed that more troops be sent from Fort Union, if necessary, and that no effort be spared in finding and punishing the guilty Indians. [145] Captain Wilson followed the Indian trail beyond Mesa Rica but was unable to catch up with them. His party returned to Fort Union on September 14. [146]

     Colonel Getty directed that Captain Wilson take a company of Third Cavalry from Fort Union, with rations for 30 days, and resume his search for the Indians. On September 21 Wilson left Fort Union with 55 enlisted men. Getty also sent troops out from Fort Bascom to proceed to Mesa Rica and "thoroughly scour that section of country for hostile Indians." [147] The results of their efforts may be found below. Meanwhile, other thieves demanded the attention of the troops.

     Indians, as stated before, were not the only ones stealing horses and other livestock. Thieves were stealing government as well as private stock throughout the region. On September 15, 1867, Major Lane sent fourteen enlisted men under Sergeant Theodore E. Young, Third Cavalry, to Cherry Valley and the valley of the Canadian River to attempt to recover stolen stock and arrest the thieves. They found nothing. At the same time Lane directed that a detachment from the outpost at Cimarron, under command of Second Lieutenant Scott H. Robinson, Third Cavalry, be sent along the Mountain Route of the Santa Fe Trail into Colorado Territory in search of stolen government horses and mules. Robinson learned that a gang of horse thieves was headquartered on the Purgatory River, but "the citizens are afraid to say anything about them" because the thieves had threatened to kill anyone who reported them. One man who had threatened to report them to military officials was found murdered the same day. Robinson learned the names of at least a half dozen thieves and found people who would testify against them "if they were arrested." [148]

     Some of the thieves had reportedly admitted to stealing stock from herds at Fort Union, and Robinson believed they had an accomplice at the post. Also, he was convinced the thieves had been warned of his coming and had hidden all the stolen stock they had. Robinson reported that "I did not recover a single animal although I am well satisfied there are a large number on the Purgatory." He recommended that a detachment of troops be sent to encamp at or near Trinidad to catch or kill the robbers. Also, if a small party could be sent secretly to an area known as Nine-Mile Bottom on the Purgatory, approximately 70 miles downstream from Trinidad, Robinson believed they could recover many stolen animals. [149]

     While Robinson was on the Mountain Route, Major Lane received a report that government stock had been stolen near Guadalupita and was being driven into the mountains west of Cimarron. He sent Sergeant Garrett (first name unknown) and ten men from Fort Union in pursuit. At the same time, because of reports that a group of outlaws had their headquarters along the Cimarron River north of old Camp Nichols, Lane sent Lieutenant Campbell and 30 cavalrymen from Maxwell's Ranch at Cimarron along the Cimarron Route of the Santa Fe Trail to search for stolen livestock and arrest the thieves if they could be found. With Frank DeLisle as a guide, Campbell led his detachment to the area near the site of Camp Nichols and began searching some of the canyons. They found a house in the Cimarron Valley and there arrested Samuel Coe (also known as Samuel Cole), took a horse and a mule believed to be stolen, but gathered no information about a gang of thieves. The house was described as being approximately 40 feet long by 20 feet wide, built of stone, with loopholes on all sides. Campbell believed that this might be a possible stopping place for the thieves but that their main headquarters were probably farther north on the Purgatory River. Campbell offered to "send a sufficient force from my company to arrest these parties." [150]

     That was not done, however, because troops at Fort Lyon, Colorado Territory, commanded by Captain William Henry Penrose, took over the investigation. Coe was later found innocent, for lack of evidence, and released. He was provided with an army mule to compensate him for the mule taken at the time of his arrest. [151] Two months later it was discovered that Coe or Cole, using at least two aliases, was the leader of a gang of thieves operating in Colorado Territory. In February 1868 soldiers from that post joined with the sheriff from Trinidad and captured a dozen members of the gang of thieves, including Coe, at a place known as Stone Ranch. [152]

     While some troops from Fort Union were searching for civilian thieves in the autumn of 1867, others continued to look for Indians who refused to settle down on reservations. On September 21, 1867, as noted above, Captain Wilson led 55 enlisted men of Company D, Third Cavalry, from the post to hunt for "hostile Indians," probably Mescalero Apaches, far to the south (beyond Fort Stanton). Troops from Fort Union were expected to march against Indians wherever they were needed in the district because they were seldom required to perform such service in the immediate vicinity of the post after the Civil War. Wilson's detachment was reinforced by an additional 52 men of Company K, Third Cavalry, at Dog Canon early in October. The latter troops brought a new stock of provisions for the unit. The combined force followed an Indian trail through the Guadalupe and Sacramento mountains and an advance patrol of 43 soldiers attacked a party of 30 to 40 Indians on October 18. [153]

     The Indians fled and the soldiers killed six of their number and pursued them for about 15 miles. There the Indians reached the winter encampment of some 300 to 400 Indians, many of whom joined the fight against the troops. Wilson, seeing that his force was greatly outnumbered, retreated to safety. He believed that approximately 25 to 30 Indians had been killed and wounded in the fighting. One soldier was killed and five were wounded. Wilson led his command to Fort Bliss for medical aid and provisions, arriving there on October 24. He then brought the detachment to Fort Stanton, from which he reported to the commander at Fort Union and awaited further orders. His detachment was directed to return to Fort Union, where they arrived on November 12. They had marched 1,097 miles and the horses "were very much worn out." Captain Wilson commended all the men for their performance of duties and especially lauded Sergeants Theodore E. Young and William Jackson for their extraordinary efforts. [154]

     After Captain Wilson's command left Fort Union in September, only 24 soldiers remained available for duty, and the only duty performed was guard duty. [155] Even guard duty was suspended a few days later. On September 24, 1867, W. B. Tipton of Tiptonville (located on the Mora River a few miles south of Fort Union) sent word to Major Lane that a boy had been killed by hostile Indians at Tipton's ranch on the Canadian River some 60 miles southeast of Fort Union. Major Lane, who expressed concern that Tipton may have been "misinformed" by his employee who related the report which might be "not true," dispatched Captain William Hawley, Third Cavalry, with all the enlisted men that could be spared from the post to investigate. Lane declared that this left the garrison "stripped pretty clean of troops." He was confident, however, that with the help of "citizens that could be got together, with the convalescent soldiers it is thought that the government and other herds in the vicinity can be taken care of." [156]

     Captain Hawley's detachment returned to Fort Union three days later, having found "no trace of the Indians." Major Lane requested Tipton to send a guide, preferably the man who had brought the information to Tipton in the first place, to accompany Captain Hawley on another attempt to find the Indians. Hawley was directed to go to Tipton's ranch on the Canadian and gather as much information as possible about the area and the Indians. [157] The second scouting party was sent out on September 27. Lieutenant Bainbridge, substituting for Captain Hawley, led 25 cavalrymen down the Mora and Canadian, found an Indian trail that was several days' old, pursued it without result for several days, and returned to Fort Union without accomplishing anything. Lane was not happy with this and requested an explanation of the failure. Bainbridge stated that the Indians were on foot and had gone into the mountains where horses could not go. [158] His detachment had enjoyed a few days in the field away from the post.

     There were few descriptions of the new post recorded during 1867, but an English scientist, William A. Bell, left an outsider's view after visiting Fort Union in August of that year while accompanying William J. Palmer's Union Pacific Railway survey. Bell's colorful depiction provided a sense of extensive activity that was not communicated in most insipid military reports. Bell may have exaggerated occasionally, but he disclosed an appreciation for the magnitude of enterprise which he viewed as the essence of the composite institution.

     "Fort Union is a bustling place; it is the largest military establishment to be found on the plains, and is the supply centre from which the forty or fifty lesser posts scattered all over the country within a radius of 500 miles or more, are supplied with men, horses, munitions of war, and often with everything needed for their support. It is not in the least fortified. . . . but it is a vast collection of workshops, storehouses, barracks, officers' quarters, and offices of all kinds belonging to the different departments. The dwellings, although built, as are all other buildings, of sun-dried bricks, are most comfortable. They are roofed with thin iron sheeting. . . . The rooms of the officers are lofty and well-furnished. The hospital, containing about 120 beds, is a very fine building, to which two resident surgeons are attached. A large settler's [sutler's] store must not be forgotten, at which the daily sales average 3,000 dollars. Over 1,000 workmen are here kept constantly employed, building and repairing wagons, gathering in and distributing supplies, making harness, putting up buildings, and attending to the long trains of goods and supplies constantly arriving or departing. . . . Even a traveller cannot help being amazed at the enormous expenditures of money necessary to maintain so large an establishment in such a locality." [159]

     Bell never mentioned how nearly finished the third post was. Even though little information was found about the completion of construction work at the third fort in 1867, all civilian employees engaged by the quartermaster department at Fort Union were discharged in September of that year. It may be assumed from that action that the need for their labor on the structures had been concluded. There was, at least, one exception. In December 1867 the chief quartermaster of the district, Major Marshall Independence Ludington, received permission to retain the services of the masons employed on the prison cells (constructed of stone) "until this work is finished." [160] When the prison was finished could not be determined, but it was not "ready for occupancy" by June 10, 1868. It was in use by early July, when one of the first inmates escaped. [161] No description of the third post, after it was occupied, was located until almost two years later. The district commander directed that officers' quarters at the depot, which were not required by the depot staff, were to be temporarily assigned to officers at the post of Fort Union when needed. [162]

     With the assignment of a company of Thirty-Seventh Infantry to the garrison at Fort Union, Lieutenant Colonel John R. Brooke of that regiment replaced Major Lane as post commander on October 12, 1867. [163] Shortly thereafter it was learned that treaties were signed with the tribes of the southern plains at Medicine Lodge Creek in Kansas. The October agreements provided that the tribes would move to reservations in present Oklahoma. Even though these treaties were later violated and further warfare was necessary on the plains before the tribes settled on their reservations, it was a sign of hope for the safety of travelers on the overland routes to New Mexico. Troops from New Mexico were called to assist in a campaign against those who refused to accept the assigned reserves late in 1868.

     In November 1867 the term of service of the Battalion of New Mexico Volunteers came to an end, and the troops were mustered out of the service. The battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Carson, suffering from the illness which would soon claim his life, ended his distinguished military career on November 22, 1867. He had spent the last few months as post commander at Fort Garland, Colorado Territory, which was within the District of New Mexico. The New Mexico volunteer troops, including Anglos and Hispanos with whom Carson had been associated since the early days of the Civil War, had served their territory and their nation well since the 1850s. They had fought against Confederate troops and Indians, and they had worked on numerous projects, including the building of roads and military posts. They, like other soldiers, had packed and transported supplies, harvested hay, herded livestock, tended gardens, cooked food, hauled water, chopped wood, and guarded public and private property. Many of these New Mexicans had spent some time at Fort Union, and some of them had labored on the earthwork and the third post. Their record, which deserves further study, will always be a significant part of the military history of the Southwest. The remains of Fort Union stand, in part, as a monument to those noteworthy volunteers as well as the regular troops.

     While many regular soldiers were prejudiced against volunteers and New Mexicans and portrayed them disparagingly, some regulars left favorable comments. Private Frank Olsmith, who was a member of the escort for the Doolittle Commission and was stationed briefly at Fort Union in the summer of 1865, gave his frank assessment of the volunteers he knew at the post. "At the time we were there," he recalled, "it was garrisoned by a regiment of New Mexico Volunteer Infantry." Actually, only five companies of the First New Mexico Volunteer Infantry were stationed there at the time, along with one company of First New Mexico Volunteer Cavalry, one company of First California Volunteer Cavalry, and one company of the Fifth Infantry. [164] The New Mexico Volunteers, Olsmith continued, were "composed, with a few exceptions, almost wholly of native New Mexicans, including the commissioned officers." He described them favorably. "They were a fine body of men, perfectly drilled and disciplined, and furnished with a brass band, the equal if not the superior of anything we had ever come in contact in the army." [165]

     Whether volunteers or regulars, the soldiers required large quantities of firewood during winter months. The third Fort Union, like the first two posts, provided an almost insatiable demand for fuel. Firewood was cut in the Turkey Mountains and hauled to the post, depot, and arsenal. In order to protect that resource from exploitation by citizens, the area was declared a timber reserve in 1868. Before the reserve was created, in the autumn of 1867, a wood camp was established eight miles from the post in the mountains, commanded by Second Lieutenant Adolphus H. Von Luettwitz, Third Cavalry. The number of men assigned to duty there was not determined, but it must have been sizable for the quantity of firewood produced. Late in November Von Luettwitz notified post headquarters that "the very cold weather requires me to build loghouses for myself and command." He requested necessary supplies to do that, estimating that it could be done in about four days. During that time, he reported, "I will be able to send about 20 wagon loads of wood to the post daily." As soon as the quarters were done, he promised "about 30 wagon loads every day." [166]

     A week later the post quartermaster, Lieutenant Bainbridge, reported that 40 wagons had gone to the wood camp "this morning, for wood." [167] Later in December, Second Lieutenant James Riley, Thirty-Seventh Infantry, was ordered to replace Von Luettwitz as commander of the wood camp and report daily to post headquarters of the number of wagon loads of wood provided. [168] Riley, who was suffering from "a severe case of bronchitis," refused for reasons of health to go to the wood camp. Post Surgeon Peters, however, saw no reason why Riley could not command the wood camp and "at the same time take every precaution to guard his health." Riley, who had seen volunteer service during the Civil War and had received his commission on March 7, 1867, still refused and was placed under house arrest, charged with disobedience, and later dismissed from the service. It is not known if Riley was a religious man or if he was looking for some way to get out of his quarters for awhile when he requested permission to attend church on Christmas Day 1867. In January Riley was reprimanded for not wearing the "prescribed uniform" of his office. [169] Riley may have been the only officer ever removed from the army for refusing to command a wood detail. In Riley's stead, Second Lieutenant Robinson was sent to command the wood camp. [170] Officers and men were rotated approximately once each month at the wood camp, which was utilized throughout the year. It would be interesting to know how many acres of trees were consumed by the fireplaces and stoves of Fort Union during 40 years. After the railroad reached the area in 1879, coal was also used as fuel at the post. The availability of timber was always a strong point in any argument for the location and retention of the post at Fort Union.

     Chopping wood was apparently one of the major activities at Fort Union during the winter of 1867-1868, for there were few demands on the garrison for military operations until March 1868. The mission then was to provide aid to civil authorities in southern Colorado Territory where lawless elements had gained substantial power. Colorado Governor Frank Hall explained the inability of the sheriff and courts to control the situation at and around Trinidad, where a small body of troops from Fort Lyon had been temporarily encamped after arresting Coe and some of his gang of thieves. Hall called for additional military assistance to bring the criminals to justice and restore the security of citizens, in his words, "to bring order out of the present chaos." Governor Hall appealed for a full company of troops to be stationed at Trinidad, available as needed to assist the sheriff and the courts. [171] A petition of citizens from Trinidad for a military force sufficient to preserve order was also submitted. [172]

     Because General Pope, commander of the Department of the Missouri in 1866, had extended the boundary of the District of New Mexico to include the area of southern Colorado Territory where the trouble was located, [173] troops from Fort Union were sent to deal with the problem. Company A, Third Cavalry, under command of Captain Hawley, was dispatched on March 22 "with instructions to assist the civil authorities as a posse when called upon." They were supplied from Fort Union. [174]

     Captain Hawley reported on his arrival at Trinidad at the end of March 1868 that the neighborhood was quiet and "business goes on smoothly." Coe and the other prisoners had been sent from Fort Lyon to Pueblo for trial. Hawley noted that "the bitter feeling existing between the Americans and Mexicans" appeared to be an important cause of lawlessness and the potential for further violence. Second Lieutenant Leonard Wightman, Third Cavalry, serving as Hawley's adjutant at the camp, reported to the Fort Union adjutant, Second Lieutenant Albert Douglas King, that "the country still swarms with outlaws and murderers." The troops were essential, in his point of view, to prevent "an open war." [175]

     The company remained in camp near Trinidad and kept a close eye on the area. Because the sheriff and his deputies were attending the trial of Coe and his cohorts at Pueblo, the troops were expected to maintain order. No surgeon had been sent with the troops because it was anticipated they could acquire the services of a civilian physician at Trinidad. There was no medical practitioner in that community. Wightman did not consider that a problem so long as the troops remained healthy. A contract surgeon, R. H. Longwill, was sent to Maxwell's Ranch for duty with the company of Third Cavalry stationed there, and he was to be called upon by the troops at Trinidad if needed. It was later found when medical treatment was required that Dr. Longwill was not readily available, and Captain Hawley requested that a surgeon be stationed with his company at Trinidad. [176]

     The presence of the troops continued to suppress lawless acts at Trinidad. Some of the soldiers accompanied a deputy in the search for "notable characters." Captain Hawley reported that "the Mexicans in Trinidad have all been disarmed, and I hardly think they will attempt to make any further trouble." He believed "the tide of the emigration" would "within a year settle the whole question," implying that the influx of Anglo-Americans would ultimately bring law and order. Coe was charged with three murders and the evidence was such that "there seems hardly a doubt about his conviction." Hawley anticipated that the conviction of the criminals would help repress "these dishonest transactions as well as to weaken the inducement, and pecuniary benefit to horse thieving." [177]

     As more arrests were made, the civil authorities became more confident and the citizens felt more secure. Hawley had information that horse thieves were moving their "field of operations" to New Mexico Territory. By May 1 he was confident that law and order had been restored. [178] Because it appeared the troops were no longer required to reinforce civil authorities, the company at Trinidad was sent to take post at Maxwell's Ranch at Cimarron, relieving Company F, Third Cavalry, that was stationed there. [179] The primary assignment at Cimarron continued to be overseeing the subsistence of the Jicarillas and Utes, but these troops were also available to assist civil authorities.

     While Company A was at Trinidad, the troops at the Fort Union outpost at Maxwell's Ranch had been called upon to quell a near outbreak of violence at the new mining camp of Elizabethtown, located on the Maxwell Land Grant approximately 30 miles in the mountains northwest from Maxwell's headquarters on the Cimarron River. A prospector, W. W. Henderson, reportedly killed an unidentified man at Humbug Gulch near Elizabethtown on April 9, 1868. Henderson went to Elizabethtown to surrender to authorities, but a mob of some 80 "well armed men" threatened to execute him without benefit of a trial. A messenger was sent to Captain Wall at Maxwell's Ranch, requesting assistance. A sergeant and ten men were sent immediately and made an overnight march to Elizabethtown, arriving early on April 10. The mob was dispersed and Henderson was taken to Maxwell's Ranch by the detachment. One of the soldiers "drowned in one of the crossings of the Cimarron" on the return trip. [180]

     Captain Wall's quick action was approved by Fort Union Commander Brooke. Wall was authorized to respond to any request for assistance from an authorized civil officer "to help enforce good order, civil law, and the preservation of the peace." Whenever troops were sent to assist civil officials, they were to "act solely under the orders of the authority requesting such help." [181] Following the transfer of the troops from Trinidad to Maxwell's Ranch, the soldiers were still authorized to provide assistance to the sheriff at Trinidad if requested. [182]

     The outpost at the Cimarron Agency remained under the jurisdiction of Fort Union and continued to draw all supplies from the mother post. When the district inspector, Major Andrew Wallace Evans, visited the "cantonment" in June 1868, he found Captain William Hawley, Company A, Third Cavalry, in command of 60 officers and men, including Surgeon Longwill. The buildings were located at the foot of a hill on the left bank the Cimarron River, enclosed by a fence. The structures had been erected by Captain Wall and Company F, Third Cavalry, and included a number of "log huts," one of which was used as a hospital, with dirt roofs and floors, all of which were "very leaky and uncomfortable." Three of the huts were occupied by officers, seven by enlisted men, and "some" by laundresses. The surgeon lived in a hospital tent. Some laundresses and the company gardener were also housed in tents. Other huts were used for the company kitchen, bake house, storehouse, and guardhouse. There was a long stable ("in jacal style"), a chicken coop, and shops for saddler, farmer, blacksmith, and carpenter. Because the shops were so poorly equipped (the saddler's shop had tools but "no leather"), much of the repair work for the outpost was done at Maxwell's blacksmith shop. There were no sinks and an "open trench or ditch" was "used for the purpose." Water for the camp was hauled from the river in barrels. There was a flag staff but no flag was available. The company garden was "rather weedy" and had been damaged by a recent hail storm. [183]

     In addition to commanding the outpost, Captain Hawley was responsible for the distribution of rations to the Utes and Apaches served by the Cimarron Agency. Indian supplies were kept in a log storehouse located on the right bank of the Cimarron and west of Maxwell's mill. That storehouse had several rooms, one of which was used for an office and another for the meetings of the Good Templars. A non-commissioned officer and three privates were employed at the storehouse and lived in the building. There was also a small herd of beef cattle kept nearby for issue to the Indians. The inspector concluded that "the position of the post is not considered a good one; nor its necessity here, at all, clearly seen." He thought the troops might better be accommodated at Fort Union, from where they might still oversee the issue of rations to the Indians, who were considered friendly at the time. [184] Despite Evans's recommendation, the outpost was occupied until October 1870. The troops there, as well as at Fort Union, were involved in suppressing civil conflicts in the area.

     The decline of Indian resistance in northeastern New Mexico and southern Colorado made possible an increase of Anglo and Hispanic settlements. At the same time, the disarray of land titles in the region provided a potential for violence. The opening of mining camps and increasing opportunities for lawlessness contributed to the need for stronger institutions of law enforcement. From the late 1860s to the late 1880s, the troops at Fort Union were available to assist with such problems and their mission to keep the peace in the territory expanded to encompass more civil disturbances. Thus many military operations were not directed toward Indians but against unlawful elements. The troops at the post continued to provide escorts for supply trains, military officers, and civil officials traveling in the region.

     When General William T. Sherman, head of the peace commission which signed a treaty with the Sioux on the northern plains in 1868, brought the same commission to New Mexico in the spring of that year to meet with the Navajos and arrange for their return to a reservation in their homeland from the reserve at Bosque Redondo, soldiers from Fort Union escorted the commissioners. Troops from Fort Union also helped escort the Navajos to their new reservation. [185] Major Whiting, Third Cavalry, who had become commander of Fort Union on May 12 when Lieutenant Colonel Brooke departed for court-martial duty at Santa Fe, was placed in charge of moving the Navajos. [186] A train of 50 six-mule wagons was dispatched from the depot at Fort Union to transport provisions for the traveling Indians and soldiers and to carry the "sick and feeble of the tribe." [187] The Navajos reached Albuquerque on July 8 and it took four days for them to cross the Rio Grande there. [188] Within a year after they arrived at their reservation, Fort Sumner at Bosque Redondo was abandoned as a military post. [189]

     There were still occasional Indian attacks near Fort Union. Vicente Romero, probate judge of Mora County, reported that Indians (believed to be Mescalero Apaches) had killed a "Mexican" a few miles from the town of Mora on June 11, 1868. Romero asked that troops be sent in pursuit of the Indians, and he offered armed citizens from the community to join in the search. [190] The Indians were not found. When it was confirmed that the Mescaleros were raiding near Mora, the commander at Fort Bascom was instructed to send pickets out to attempt to intercept the Mescaleros when they returned to their homeland. It was not determined if any of the Mescaleros were seen, but the pickets were kept out for several weeks. [191]

     The district inspector made an official visit to the post and depot at Fort Union in the spring of 1868. The report on the commissary depot was "most favourable in all its parts & satisfactory in every particular." [192] The evaluations of the quartermaster depot and the depot of clothing, camp, and garrison equipage were both "favourable and satisfactory." [193] The conditions at the post were not so favorable. The general appearance of the post was "disfigured by numerous structures of logs, &c in its vicinity, occupied by employees & others." There were "heaps of rubbish, and manure in vicinity." There were livestock corrals close to the hospital. The bake oven was "imperfect and weak." Private horses were being kept in public corrals. The condition of arms was only "fair," the condition of equipment was "tolerable only," and the police of quarters was "tolerably" good. There were no dress parades, no drills, and no target practice for the troops. Military instruction was termed "indifferent." Colonel Getty hoped that there would occur "a speedy and thorough correction" of the situation. [194] A later inspection of the troops at Maxwell's Ranch found similar conditions. [195]

     Colonel William Babcock Hazen, Thirty-Eighth Infantry, replaced Colonel Getty temporarily as district commander in July, while Getty made a trip to Fort Wallace, Kansas. Getty returned and resumed command on August 16. When Colonel William N. Grier, Third Cavalry, arrived in the district in July, he was assigned the command of Fort Union, replacing Lieutenant Colonel Brooke on July 12. Brooke was sent to command Fort Stanton. [196] Grier had served in New Mexico in the 1840s and 1850s and was expected to improve conditions at Fort Union.

     One of the first changes made by Colonel Grier was the installation of a new "privy on the south side of the post" because "two more companies will soon be here and it will be needed." [197] Company I, Third Cavalry arrived August 4, and Company K, Thirty-Seventh Infantry, came on November 3. [198] It could not be determined from available records how many privies were at the post, but the availability and cleanliness of latrines was extremely important to the overall sanitation and comfort of the garrison. Although these facilities were seldom mentioned in reports on buildings at military posts, they were essential.

     A few months later, Colonel Grier directed that the manure from officers' private horses and cows kept in the yards behind their quarters was to be picked up by their servants and "carried beyond the pond running in rear of the Post" each morning and evening. From that point it would be "removed by the prisoners." [199] It may be assumed that similar measures were taken to dispose of the manure of public animals at the post, thereby improving the general sanitation of the garrison.

Page Five




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