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     On February 13, 1876, the planing mill, engine house, and a small shed at the depot were destroyed by fire which began at 3:00 a.m. All were frame structures. The cause of the fire was unknown. The mill contained two planing machines, one sash machine, one scroll machine, one tenoning machine, a turning lathe, other tools and equipment, shafts and belting, and about 8,000 feet of dressed lumber. About 20,000 feet of rough lumber, piled near the mill, was also destroyed. The engine house enclosed the steam engine, which provided power for the mill as well as the water pump and other equipment at the depot. The steam engine was not damaged and was expected to be operating soon. The shed near the mill was burned along with two privately-owned horses within. Other nearby sheds containing charcoal and other supplies were saved. [142]

     By the time Colonel Hatch took command of the district in February 1876, the federal government was on another economy drive. Congress wanted to reduce the military budget. Hatch acknowledged that he understood clearly "that strict economy would be expected in all matters pertaining to expenditures in this District." He objected, however, to the suggestion that the general depot at Fort Union be closed, declaring "it would only compel the creation of another at some Post under control of a Post Commander." Hatch argued for the retention of Fort Union. "If it is the intention to repair trains, recuperate animals, or to hold a small reserve of Transportation in the case of an emergency, I know of no place at present preferable to Union." [143]

     On March 13 Colonel Hatch sent a telegram to Major Wade at Fort Union, inquiring what he had done about sending troops to Cimarron. Wade replied that he had been trying to find out who was to be sent and would dispatch troops as soon as ordered. [144] The next day Captain Moore and 30 men of Company L, Ninth Cavalry, started for Cimarron. The seven infantrymen who had been left at the Cimarron Agency in January were attached to Moore's command. With the help of the soldiers, both McMains and Allison were arrested. McMains, as noted above, was later tried for the murder of Vega. Allison was not charged with any crime and was released.

     Moore had only been at Cimarron a few days when he and 15 cavalrymen of his detachment were ordered back to Fort Union to meet the paymaster. Moore was needed to "render his returns" and witness the payment of his troops. [145] Before Moore could leave Cimarron, three of his command (Privates George Small, Anthony Harvey, and John Hanson, all Ninth Cavalry) were killed, according to Moore, in "a sort of a barroom fracas." The death of these black troopers was more the result of racism than the feud going on at Cimarron.

     The details of the events that led to their deaths remain obscure. Basically, Captain Moore had requested that his soldiers stay out of the saloons in Cimarron and had asked the saloonkeepers not to sell liquor to any soldiers. At least two of the cavalrymen went to a saloon and got into an argument with some Texas cowboys (including David Crockett, nephew of the famous Davy Crockett who died at the Alamo, Henry Goodman, and Gus Heffron) who had been outspoken against the presence of black troops and their part in the arrest of McMains and Allison. Supposedly Crockett had threatened to kill the black soldiers. Later that evening, defying orders from Captain Moore, three black troopers went to the bar at the St. James Hotel operated by Henry Lambert, probably to buy whiskey and, perhaps, to pick a fight with Crockett and Heffron who were there. A gunfight broke out and the three soldiers were killed. Captain Moore reported that Crockett and Heffron had shot the troopers but his troops were unable to find and capture them. The bodies of the three troopers were taken to Fort Union and buried in the post cemetery. [146]

     A short time later another of the black soldiers at Cimarron, William Breckenridge, murdered and robbed two citizens, William and Emmett Maxwell. He was arrested, tried, and convicted by a jury at Taos. He was sentenced to be hanged at Cimarron on May 8, 1876. A crowd of 400 people was reported to be present to see the execution. Before he died Breckenridge confessed to the crime and declared his motive had been robbery. It was not known where he was buried. Dr. W. R. Tipton, of Tiptonville a few miles south of Fort Union, served as an aid to the official hangman's physician. According to testimony given later during a court-martial trial at Fort Union, Dr. Tipton exhumed Breckenridge's body and dissected it.

     Following the death of the three soldiers at Cimarron, more troops were sent from Fort Union. Lieutenant Cornish left the post with the remainder of Company L, Ninth Cavalry, on March 26. Crockett and Heffron continued to elude capture. The following summer the two men were arrested and charged with murder of the three soldiers. They claimed self-defense and the charges were dropped for lack of evidence. In the autumn of 1876 Crockett and Heffron returned to Cimarron and became drunk and disorderly. A sheriff's posse tried to arrest them, managed to capture Heffron who was wounded, and killed Crockett when he resisted. The violence in Colfax County continued and the troops from Fort Union were periodically involved.

     Late in March 1876 Colonel Hatch had some evidence that the telegraph messages between his office and Fort Union and Cimarron were being tapped. In order to prevent information from leaking out about planned troop movements and military orders, Hatch instituted a code for the messages going back and forth about the situation at Cimarron. [147] Hatch also sent Captain Chambers McKibbin, Fifteenth Infantry, and a detachment of 15 men from Fort Marcy at Santa Fe to Taos to assist the court and civil officials in dealing with cases against "offenders in Colfax County." [148]

     In April 1876 the troops from Fort Union stationed at Cimarron were advised that they were to provide assistance to no civil officers except District Attorney Stevens or Sheriff Rinehart. Also the forage agency at Cimarron was abolished and the troops at Cimarron were authorized to purchase forage and fuel in the open market as needed to supplement what was sent from Fort Union. On April 14 Company L, Ninth Cavalry, returned to Fort Union. Lieutenant Cornish and the few infantrymen at Cimarron went to Fort Marcy. [149]

     During the lull in affairs at Cimarron, some troops in the garrison at Fort Union were detailed to make repairs on the cavalry stables, officers' quarters, and barracks. The construction of a band stand was also undertaken in the spring of 1876. Captain Moore, commanding in May, complained that all the carpenters had been pulled off the band stand to work on the stables and buildings. He requested that the band stand be finished before the men were sent to other projects. The band stand was completed during May and served the garrison so long as a band was stationed at Fort Union. The Ninth Cavalry band, stationed at the post, was sent to Santa Fe to participate in the July 4 centennial celebration of American independence, after which it returned to Fort Union. Captain Edward William Whittemore, Fifteenth Infantry, became post commander in June. Colonel Hatch inspected Fort Union during the same month. [150]

Nathan A. M. Dudley
Nathan A. M. Dudley, courtesy United States Army Military History Institute, Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

     In July 1876, when the troops of the Fifth Cavalry in garrison at Forts Lyon and Wallace were sent to Montana to participate in the Sioux War, two companies of Ninth Cavalry were sent on detached service from Fort Union to serve temporarily at Forts Lyon and Wallace. Major Wade resumed command of Fort Union on August 2, having completed his assignment to purchase horses for the Ninth Cavalry regiment. He left again in October to serve on inspection duty, and Captain Whittemore again took command. Lieutenant Colonel Nathan Augustus Monroe Dudley, one of the more colorful and controversial figures of the frontier army, arrived and assumed command of Fort Union on November 18. [151] The routine of garrison duty was interrupted briefly in November when the mail coach from Santa Fe was robbed about twelve miles south of Fort Union. A detachment under Lieutenant Gustavus Valois, Ninth Cavalry, was sent to pursue the bandits. When it was found that their trail led south, Lieutenant Cornish and a small party of troops from Fort Marcy were sent to attempt to intercept the thieves. With the cover of a snowstorm, they escaped. [152]

     There were few demands on the troops at Fort Union during the early months of 1877 and, in addition to routine duties, they engaged in repairs and improvement to the post. A flagstone walk was installed along the front of the laundresses' quarters, prison, and guard house. A carriage road was built in front of the officers' quarters. Repairs were made to the stables, and the ventilation of the cells in the prison "were improved by having the doors perforated." Refurbishing done at the post hospital included the steward's quarters, laundry, furnace, matron's quarters, kitchen, dining room, two wards, fireplaces in all wards, cistern cover, windows, front porch, and exterior plaster and woodwork, and other general repairs. Post Surgeon Carlos Carvallo reported that "a large number of the officers and ladies of the post inspected the repairs and improvements of the hospital and was pronounced in an excellent condition." A new weather vane was installed on the hospital in April. [153] The post bakery was relocated at the north end of the laundresses' quarters, in May, and the post oven was rebuilt. The room next to the bakery was fixed up as a school room. [154]

     In the spring of 1877 troops from Fort Union were sent to southern New Mexico to participate in the war against the "renegade Apaches" who had left their reservation. Major Wade, in command of Fort Union while Lieutenant Colonel Dudley was away on court-martial duty, was sent to command a column of troops that marched from Fort Craig. Companies E and K, Ninth Cavalry, were also sent from Fort Union, fully equipped for field service and provided with pack mules, to Fort Craig to serve under Major Wade. Other companies of the regiment were drawn from other posts in the district to join in the campaign against Apaches led by Geronimo and Victorio. They were to work closely with Indian Agent John Clum. Clum arrested Geronimo before the troops arrived. The troops assisted with the transfer of the Indians to a reservation in Arizona Territory. The action was far from Fort Union and was not conclusive, but it demonstrated that troops from Fort Union were still called upon to face Indian threats in the district and contribute to the eventual defeat of the Apaches a decade later. After this mission was accomplished early in May, Major Wade and the two companies from Fort Union were assigned to other military posts. [155]

Plan of Fort Union, 1877. Source: Robert Utley, Fort Union National Monument, 55.
(click on image for an enlargement)

     In September 1877, when some of the Apaches left their reservation in Arizona Territory, troops were again sent from Fort Union to join those from other posts in the quest for the so-called renegades. [156] All the Ninth Cavalry troops stationed at Fort Union were away from the post on detached service by the end of September. The Indians were rounded up again by November, and the troops from Fort Union assigned to other stations closer to the Apaches in case of further troubles. The number of troops left at Fort Union at the end of 1877 was 45, and of those only 37 were available for duty. Because Fort Union was so far from the scenes of military operations in the district, the number of troops available for duty at the post averaged less than 100 for the next four years. During the last half of 1880 the average was only 17, hardly sufficient to guard the post without performing any other duties. [157]

     As the need for military intervention declined in its vicinity the post became less and less important to military operations in the District of New Mexico. As the railroad approached the territory the role of Fort Union as a supply depot and transportation hub also became less significant. With reliable year-round delivery by rail to points from which each fort in the district could be supplied as required, there was no need to stockpile huge quantities of provisions and equipment at Fort Union for redistribution within the district. Likewise the need for freight wagons, draft animals, and repair shops decreased. [158] In February 1878 General Pope, who had recommended phasing out Fort Union earlier, again announced intentions to close the quartermaster and commissary depots at the fort. Colonel Hatch immediately defended the facility. [159]

     Hatch conceded that the large storehouses and redistribution equipment were no longer required, but argued that was "but a part of the usefulness of the Depot to this District." He noted that it was still valuable for fitting up teams and wagons and outfitting "field trains" for campaigns. Fort Union was equipped to make repairs to worn equipment. It had a large reservation of good grass where animals could recuperate, and grain and hay for livestock was less expensive at Fort Union than anywhere else in the district. Hatch believed "it absolute economy to continue it." He offered to "reduce the expenditures if required to do so," and concluded he did not "think it advisable to give up the Depot at present." [160]

     General Pope took Hatch at his word, and directed that the distribution of supplies from Fort Union be phased out and the depot reduced, as Hatch instructed the depot quartermaster, Captain Amos S. Kimball, "to a mere place where repairing which cannot be done readily at posts, may be made to transportation and where good grazing may be had to recuperate animals." As the provisions in the storehouses were shipped out or issued at Fort Union, they were not to be replaced. In time, thereafter, only the items required for the garrison at the post would be stored there. The number of employees at the depot was to be reduced accordingly and expenses were to be "kept down to as low a point as possible." [161] A more complete history of the supply depots is included in chapter nine.

     A few weeks later, on May 29, General Pope recommended the abandonment of Fort Union, as well as Garland, Selden, and Craig in the district. Hatch did not object to Selden and Craig, but he thought Garland should be occupied until a new post was decided upon in the area of the Ute reservation in the San Juan region [162] and that Union should be occupied by a small force to protect government property so long as the arsenal and storehouses were occupied. [163] Despite Pope's recommendations, the forts remained active for several more years. Fort Garland was closed in November 1883, Fort Craig was active until September 1884, Fort Selden lasted until 1890, and Fort Union until 1891. In 1881 there was a rumor that everything at Fort Union would be moved to Las Vegas in order to be on the railroad, and the Las Vegas newspaper praised the idea and extended welcome to the army. [164] It never happened.

     Some changes did occur. The cavalry troops at Fort Union were transferred to other posts in 1881, there being no further need of their presence in the area. The four cavalry stables at the post were torn down to salvage all the one-inch-thick lumber that could be used in the construction at Fort Bliss, Texas. Other lumber from the stables and "all the long pieces of dunnage in the subsistence storehouse" that could utilized was milled into flooring at the depot shops and sent to Fort Bliss. [165] Fort Union was in a era of descent.

     The depot at Fort Union was being phased out during and after 1878 and the number of troops at the post was inadequate to provide detachments for dealing with Indian or civil problems. Clearly the post was in the nadir of its existence. Even so it was occupied for another 13 years before it was closed completely. During most of that time little was demanded of the garrison beyond routine duty and making constant repairs to deteriorating buildings. Soldiers who had been at Fort Union continued to be involved in other theaters. Colonel Dudley, for example, was the commanding officer at Fort Stanton where he and some troops of the Ninth Cavalry were involved in the events of the Lincoln County War. [166] Troops that had once been stationed at Fort Union were sent to Fort Garland in 1878 to participate in the pacification of the Utes who threatened to leave their reservation in northwestern New Mexico and southwestern Colorado. Fort Union commander, Major Albert P. Morrow, Ninth Cavalry, and Veterinary Surgeon Samuel Burdett, Ninth Cavalry, were both called from Fort Union to join in the Ute campaign. Morrow was given command of the expedition. [167] The depot at Fort Union supplied wagons and teams for some field activities. [168] When the army arrived on the scene the Utes "begged for peace" in early May. [169]

     Following the campaign, Major Morrow returned to Fort Union with two companies of Ninth Infantry in September 1878. [170] The companies were soon sent to other posts where they were needed more than at Union. With a few exceptions, because it was on the periphery of events, Fort Union had no direct connection to most military operations in the district. The post was expected to be utilized during the removal of the Moache Utes and Jicarilla Apaches from Cimarron during 1878, but the Indians finally moved without military assistance. The Moaches eventually accepted life on a reservation with other bands of Utes, but the Jicarillas kept returning to the Maxwell Land Grant.

     After many delays, the Bureau of Indian Affairs determined to place the Moache Utes and Jicarilla Apaches on reservations away from the Cimarron Agency in 1878. Initially, the agent at Cimarron thought a military escort would be needed to assure that each group went to its assigned reserve (the Moaches to the Southern Ute Agency in Colorado and New Mexico and the Jicarillas to the Mescalero reservation in southeastern New Mexico). Plans were laid to make the move in June. [171]

     Thus two companies of the Ninth Cavalry (Company F from San Elizario and Company L from Fort Bliss) were ordered to travel to Fort Union to be outfitted to assist with the removal of the Indians. Captain McKibbin was sent from Fort Marcy to Fort Union and on to the Cimarron Agency to locate where the Utes and Jicarillas were camped, determine their numbers and condition, and devise a plan to make sure they all were rounded up when the removal took place. [172]

     The need for careful planning for the control and transfer of these Indians, who were still reluctant to leave their "homeland," was made obvious when some of the Indians went to Cimarron, obtained whiskey, and started fighting some of the residents. According to reports from Cimarron, two of the Indians were killed and two were wounded in the "drunken row." The following day one of the Indians shot at their agent, without effect. On that day the businesses in Cimarron were closed and the citizens were "on guard all day." When the whiskey wore off the Indians lost their desire to fight. By the following day the situation was quiet at Cimarron. Captain McKibbin and Second Lieutenant George Herbert Kinzie, Fifteenth Infantry, from Fort Union, led a small detachment of troops from Union to the Cimarron Agency to witness the issue of beef to the Indians a few days later. They found the Indians settled down and returned to Fort Union on May 4. [173]

     On May 10 General Pope directed that the removal of the Indians at Cimarron was to be suspended by order of the secretary of war until Congress had voted on a bill to provide compensation to the Utes and Jicarillas for moving. The two companies of Ninth Cavalry that had been ordered to Fort Union were already on the way and arrived at the post about two weeks later. They were directed to turn around and return to Forts Stanton and Bliss, which they did in early June. [174]

     In July Indian Bureau Inspector E. C. Watkins started the Utes at Cimarron on the way to the Southern Ute Agency in Colorado and the Jicarillas to the Mescalero Reservation in southeastern New Mexico without the aid of any troops. Hatch believed they were going without resistance because Congress had appropriated $5,000 to buy presents for them if they moved. [175] Members of both groups returned to Cimarron in 1879. The Moaches returned to their assigned reservation and, with a few exceptions, remained there after 1879. The Jicarillas kept coming back to Cimarron and resisted removal until they were granted a reservation on the Maxwell Land Grant northwest of Cimarron in 1887. [176]

     Although troops from Fort Union were not required to assist the removal of the Indians from Cimarron in 1878, there were a few occasions which offered temporary relief from garrison duty. On August 29, 1878, Second Lieutenant Kinzie was ordered to the railroad at El Moro, Colorado, to receive and conduct 150 recruits to Fort Union, from where they were distributed to their assigned companies. Sufficient transportation for the recruits followed Kinzie, who left on August 30. On this assignment some of the soldiers of the garrison were able to spend a few days in the field. [177] In October Lieutenant Louis Henry Rucker, Ninth Cavalry, escorted 45 cavalry recruits from El Moro to Fort Union from where they were sent to their assignments. [178] Several times each year recruits were brought to Fort Union for distribution. As the railroad built closer the transport of recruits became more efficient, eliminating the necessity for troops to travel farther than the closest railroad station.

     In 1879 the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad built over Raton Pass and into New Mexico Territory, reaching the community of La Junta, renamed Watrous, approximately eight miles from the post. With the arrival of the railroad at Santa Fe in 1880 the Santa Fe Trail came to an end, although portions of it were used for local traffic. Beginning in 1879 supplies for Fort Union were brought by rail to the town of Watrous and transferred by wagon to the post. Soldiers and recruits also traveled by rail to Watrous to reach Fort Union and from Watrous to the states or to other assignments where rail service was available. Horses for the cavalry in the district were brought by rail to Watrous and taken to Fort Union for distribution. [179] The district supply depot at the fort was closed down as the stores were shipped out or consumed at the post. There were few opportunities for the garrison to join in military operations, and the troops must have relished those experiences.

     At the end of August 1879 a company of Ninth Cavalry, commanded by Captain Charles Parker, was stationed at Cimarron to protect settlers and livestock from the Jicarilla Apaches and Moache Utes who had returned to the area and were stealing food because they were not receiving government rations. The soldiers attempted to persuade the Indians to return to their reservation, without success. The Indians refused to go. The troops were directed to protect the settlers and "not to provoke hostilities" until Colonel Hatch could arrive and seek a resolution to the problem. Hatch was slow in reaching Cimarron because he was engaged in several other problems at the same time. He was facing a Ute uprising in New Mexico and Colorado, an outbreak of Victorio's Apaches in southwestern New Mexico, and the on-going Lincoln County War. Before Hatch reached the Cimarron area, the Moache Utes decided to return to their reservation, probably to secure food from their agency and to save their horses. They had been warned their horses would be taken from them if they did not remain on the reservation. [180]

     Colonel Hatch discovered there were about 500 Jicarillas near Cimarron who were supposed to be on the Mescalero Reservation. He found them determined not to be sent back and estimated it would take at least four companies of cavalry to force them to go. The Jicarillas were starving, according to Hatch, and were surviving mainly on stolen cattle. So long as the Indians were hungry the potential for violence was immense. Hatch, as Carleton had done in an earlier era, recommended that the Jicarillas be fed, by the army if the Indian Bureau would not send rations, and that a detachment of troops remain at Cimarron to watch the situation. He suggested, since there was no longer an agency at Cimarron, that provisions might be issued to the Jicarillas from Fort Union. [181]

     Captain Charles Steelhammer, Fifteenth Infantry, and a detachment often soldiers from Fort Union replaced Captain Parker and his command at Cimarron early in October. Steelhammer reported that the Indians were still in need of food and the citizens in the area were becoming angry at the state of affairs. He found that some of the Indians were ready to give themselves up as prisoners of war so they could be fed. Frank Springer requested and received 36 rifles and 3,600 rounds of ammunition from Fort Union to arm a group of volunteer citizens in case they were needed to deal with the Indians. The danger of an explosion was defused several days later when Indian Agent Benjamin H. Thomas distributed rations and agreed to feed the Indians if they would move to his agency at Tierra Amarilla west of the Rio Grande. The Jicarillas went but, as noted above, they later returned to the Maxwell Grant. The detachment of soldiers at Cimarron returned to Fort Union on November 9. [182]

     There were occasional contacts between Fort Union and the Jicarilla Apaches. In February 1881 a band of about 40 Jicarillas, under Chief Santiago Largo, left their reservation and encamped at the north end of the Turkey Mountains about eight miles from the post. They applied for a permit to go to the plains and hunt buffalo, which was denied. There were no buffalo left to hunt. A couple of days later some of the Indians came to Fort Union and asked for food. They were given rations and sent on their way. Nothing more was heard from them. [183]

     In August 1881 Captain Whittemore and a small escort from Fort Union were sent to accompany M. T. Conway, as directed by the commanding general of the army, to seek a suitable location for a colony of "colored people." The party left the post on August 13 and returned August 27, but no mention was made about a possible site for a black settlement. Perhaps Conway went someplace else in search of a good location. [184]

     In October 1881 four companies of the Twenty-Third Infantry arrived to garrison Fort Union, and Colonel Granville O. Haller of that regiment assumed command of the post. Haller appointed a board of officers to examine carefully all the buildings and prepare a statement about the condition of each, noting what repairs were needed and what the renovation would cost. He wanted to make sure that the troops were properly housed and comfortable. The report was not located. When all the men of the four companies arrived, the aggregate garrison of the post, which had been less than 60 for seven months, rose to over 200 and remained at that level for the next seven years. [185] It was not clear why these troops were stationed at Fort Union. They participated in few military operations. Occasionally some of them were sent on detached service to other places.

     The changes at Fort Union were accompanied by changes in the district. Colonel Hatch's wife died in Washington, D.C., early in February and he was granted a leave of absence and left Santa Fe on October 4. Colonel Luther Prentice Bradley, Third Infantry, was appointed temporary commander of the district until Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie, Fourth Cavalry, arrived to take over in late October. [186] In 1881, as part of the periodic rotation of troops among military districts, the Twenty-Third Infantry replaced the Fifteenth Infantry and the Fourth Cavalry replaced the Ninth Cavalry in the District of New Mexico. Colonel Haller retired from the service on February 6, 1882. He was replaced by Henry Moore Black, a lieutenant colonel of the Eighteenth Infantry, who was promoted to rank of colonel of the Twenty-Third Infantry on the same date. When Black arrived in New Mexico later in the year, he took command of Fort Union. [187]

     Sometime each year some of the Jicarilla Apaches returned to their old hunting grounds around Cimarron and created problems, especially when they killed cattle for food. In July 1882 a band of Jicarillas was reported to be near Springer, where the Cimarron River was crossed by the railroad. Agent Thomas had requested those Indians to return to their reservation. The Indians had promised to go back but had not. Thomas then asked for military assistance. Captain George K. Brady and two companies of Twenty-Third Infantry (total of 62 officers and men), accompanied by Lieutenant Abram E. Wood, Fourth Cavalry, with a detachment of 21 men of his company, were sent from Fort Union on August 1 to find, disarm, and bring the Jicarillas to Fort Union. Provisions for the troops were sent in wagons from the post, and enough additional wagons were provided that the infantrymen could ride about one-third of the time. As soon as possible, the Jicarillas were to be sent back to their reservation. [188]

     The Jicarillas apparently learned the troops were coming and split into small groups and headed into the mountains west of Cimarron. Captain Brady and Agent Thomas received permission to employ guides and scout for the Indians. If they caught them, they were to bring them to Fort Union as prisoners. If it appeared the Jicarillas were heading back to their reservation, the troops were to let them go and return to Fort Union. The soldiers captured 39 Jicarillas (12 men, 18 women, and 9 children) and 48 ponies. They destroyed the Indians' weapons. The main portion of the band was headed back to the reservation, led by Chief San Pablo "as fast as he could go." Brady's command brought the captives to Fort Union on August 8. Brady had found no evidence that the Indians had committed any depredations. The captives were returned to their reservation by a guard of 16 soldiers a few days later, leaving Fort Union on August 14. [189] The Jicarillas really were not hostile; they just wanted to return to the Maxwell Grant.

     During the last decade of Fort Union's occupation, Indian prisoners were sometimes incarcerated there. The Indians were closely guarded and provided with food and shelter. Their presence required that more soldiers at the post were engaged in guard duty. A Mescalero Apache prisoner, Muchacho Negro, was being transferred to Fort Union (where he was to be imprisoned) by Paymaster George F. Robinson and his escort when the prisoner escaped early in August 1882. Post Commander Brady was directed by Colonel Mackenzie to investigate "the circumstances attending the escape." Robinson was found to be responsible for "carelessness and neglect" in not keeping a proper military guard over the prisoner at all times. Mackenzie reprimanded Robinson but said he would not hold him to as "serious account" as he would an officer of the line in a similar incident. Muchacho Negro was considered a renegade who would return to his people and continue to cause trouble. [190] He was captured in June 1883 and imprisoned at Fort Sill, Indian Territory. [191]

     Because some of the Mescalero Apaches were raiding off their reservation in September 1882, a short time after Muchacho Negro had escaped from Robinson, troops from Fort Stanton were sent under command of Major James Judson Van Horn, Thirteenth Infantry, to round them up and capture the leaders. The four ringleaders (Roman Chiquita, Hosthea, Horse-Thief, and Maria's Boy) were captured and sent to Fort Union to be imprisoned. Because Muchacho Negro had escaped while being transported to Fort Union, Mackenzie directed that these prisoners be shackled with "double irons" and "placed in charge of some one who will be responsible for their safe keeping and that every precaution be taken to prevent their escape." He emphasized "that they must not escape." Mackenzie later decided to keep Hosthea at Fort Stanton because the Indian agent wanted to file criminal charges of murder against him. The others were moved to Fort Union. [192]

     When these three prisoners arrived at Fort Union, they joined 26 other Indian prisoners (one man, fourteen women, and eleven children) being detained at the post. [193] Roman Chiquita, Horse-Thief, and Maria's Boy were soon sent to Fort Riley, Kansas, to get them farther away from their homeland. According to the new post commander at Fort Union, Colonel Henry M. Black, a guard of 14 soldiers commanded by Captain Brady, accompanied the Indian prisoners to Fort Riley. At the same time, they delivered 10 military convicts from the prison at Fort Union to the military prison at Fort Leavenworth. Escorting prisoners across the plains on the railroad was much different "field duty" than had been performed by soldiers from Fort Union a few years before. [194]

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