Historic Resource Study
Mental illness, usually called "insanity" in the nineteenth century, affected soldiers and their performance of duties and required the attention of post surgeons. It also affected officers' wives and other civilians. In 1873 Fort Union Post Surgeon Peter Moffatt sent Private John Anderson, ordnance detachment at Fort Union Arsenal, to the "Insane Asylum at Washington" after treating him for several months in the post hospital. Moffatt observed that Anderson's "insanity . . . continued to grow more and more aggravated." He explained that Anderson's affliction "was not maniachal in character but was of the busy mischievous and vigilant type." Unable to help the patient, the surgeon sent him to the army's institution for the mentally ill.  The post medical records identified several such cases through the years, most of which were resolved in the same manner.
One of the most interesting cases of mental disturbance, about which only a portion of the story has been found and for which the conclusion remains unknown, was that of Mrs. John Lafferty, wife of the post and depot subsistence officer in 1873 and 1874. Also her husband, Lieutenant Lafferty, Eighth Cavalry, had suffered wounds in combat which were an intriguing part of army medical history. The story of this couple, including their medical and mental problems, was unique in the annals of Fort Union but worthy of being recorded for the widespread fascination among people of all eras in aberrant behavior and scandalous conduct. Because the tale loses much of its flavor in being retold, excerpts from the documents have been quoted.
John Lafferty, born in Oneida County, New York, August 23, 1835, had served as a lieutenant in the First California Volunteer Cavalry, 1864-1866. He was appointed a second lieutenant in the regular army, Eighth Cavalry, in July 1866 and was promoted to first lieutenant one year later. He received "a severe gunshot wound" in the right jaw in a battle with Apaches at Chiricahua Pass, Arizona Territory, October 20, 1869. The bullet tore away a portion of his lower jaw, took out twelve lower and four upper teeth, destroyed a portion of his tongue and lips, and left him unable to masticate his food properly. He suffered, according to Surgeon W H. Gardner in 1875, "almost constantly with Dyspepsia and is unable to digest any kinds of solid food without great pain and difficulty, the destruction of a portion of the tongue and lips also interferes materially with articulation." Remarkably, despite the pains he suffered, Lafferty continued on active (although sometimes limited) duty until he retired in 1878. He lived until October 15, 1899. 
Lafferty's troubles included a wife who caused considerable problems for him and many others at Fort Union in 1874. Lieutenant John W. Eckles, Fifteenth Infantry, submitted the following to the temporary post commander, Captain Henry A. Ellis, Fifteenth Infantry, on November 17, 1874:
"I have the honor to call your attention to a very unpleasant subject. I do it most unwillingly but necessity compels me to lay before you the extremely unladylike conduct of Mrs Lafferty wife of Lieut John Lafferty 8th Cavalry. For the good of the service generally and particularly for the best interests of the Military Garrison of Fort Union some action must be taken in this matter. The conduct of Mrs Lafferty for this past several months has been of such a nature as to create scandalous gossips, both among the enlisted men of the garrison and citizens living in the immediate neighborhood. The wives of the Officers of the garrison are actually afraid to go on the sidewalk alone for fear of meeting this woman."
"That she would attempt to do them bodily harm I do not believe but that they fear it I know. When Mrs Lafferty came to this Post she was most kindly received by all the Officers families of this Post - but her conduct since has been of such a nature as to bar out all intercourse between them and other families."
"She is in the habit of invading officers private quarters on the pretense of looking for her husband if the doors are not barred against her. She makes an attempt to batter them down or break in the windows. The Traders Store Billiard Saloon has been attacked by her several times - in one instance the door and entire casings would have been carried away by her enormous weight had they not been securely propped in the inside, and this the door of a private saloon not in the Post."
"I happened in the quarters of an Officer a few evening ago - shortly afterwards there was a great banging at the door, on its being opened Mrs Lafferty came bolting into the room. I spoke to her and told her she should refrain from such conduct - that her conduct was creating talk and Scandal and if she persisted in it I would feel compelled to make an official report."
"- Whereupon she replied in a terrible rage shaking her fist in my face that I could report and be dammed."
"Lieut Lafferty has told me on several occasions that no one could imagine his anguish of mind on account of his wife's conduct but that he had no control over her - that he had done everything he could to pacify her but all was of no avail and that he was really afraid of her."
"In submitting this letter I desire it understood that so far as I know Mrs Lafferty's Virtue is not questioned."
"There is one thing certain if an Officer should keep a Garrison in such a state of commotion he could not stay in this army twenty four hours and for the sake of good order - friendly feeling social intercourse Mrs Lafferty should be removed from the Garrison. The details of her conduct further than is already stated I refrain from repeating on paper." 
On the same date Captain Ellis forwarded the above to department headquarters, adding the following cover letter:
"I have the honor to invite attention to inclosed letter of Lieut J. W. Eckles 15th Infantry concerning the conduct of Mrs. John Lafferty. The scandal caused by this womans course of action and the abortive attempts of her husband to stop it is something that cannot be understood by anyone but a resident of this Post. Lieut. Eckles informs me that Lieut. Lafferty told him he had been trained as a prize fighter but being smaller than his wife I am told he only succeeded in blacking her eyes, bruising her body and partly obliterating her features without accomplishing the desired end. Being in but temporary Command by a Court of Inquiry I can do nothing in this unpleasant matter but report it to Hd Qrs. of the Department for such action, if any, that may be deemed necessary." 
If any action was taken, the records have not been found. Lieutenant Lafferty continued to serve at Fort Union until granted sick leave late in 1875. Whether his wife remained there until that time was unknown. He was promoted to rank of captain in 1876 and was recommended to the appropriate military board for retirement because of his wounds. He served in California until that recommendation was approved, and he retired on June 28, 1878. He later was accorded brevet rank for "gallant service against Indians" in 1867 and 1869. Whether it was the same Mrs. Lafferty or another, he was, according to the notice of his death in 1899, survived by "his widow and children."  Perhaps additional material will eventually surface to resolve the unanswered questions.
Surgeon Moffatt, who was present during a portion of the time Mrs. Lafferty was creating havoc, made no mention of her in his reports, nor did his successor. There were more pressing cases that required their attention. Moffatt treated successfully "a case of concussion of the brain of great severity" in the autumn of 1873. The soldier was not identified but "was struck upon the head with a shovel felling him to the ground with great violence" on October 27, 1873. He was able to return to duty one month later on November 27.  Such serious cases stood out in the medical records, exceptions to the routine diseases and injuries. Gunshot wounds, mostly accidental or self-inflicted, were of special interest to army surgeons.
An unidentified soldier suffered a gunshot wound to the thigh on November 16, 1873, which grazed the femoral artery. The wound was apparently an accident. The victim survived. Private John McCaffery, Company M, Eighth Cavalry, was not so fortunate. On December 12, 1873, he was "shot and killed accidentally by a pistol in the hands of another man" while on detached duty at Johnson's Ranch at the western entrance to Glorieta Pass. McCaffery was shot between the eyes and the bullet passed through his brain, resulting in instant death. On January 22, 1874, Private Michael Cullen, Company M, Eighth Cavalry, "committed suicide by shooting himself through the chest in the vicinity of the heart with a carbine." 
Epidemic diseases occasionally reached Fort Union. In December 1873 the wife and seven children of a civilian employee in the quartermaster department experienced an outbreak of scarletina (scarlet fever), resulting in a miscarriage for the woman and the death of three of the children, ages two, four, and six. The older children had a milder form of the disease, as Surgeon Moffatt reported, "the severity of the disease seemed almost in inverse ratio to the age of the patients." In fact, "in the oldest of the family aged 16 the affliction was so mild that it was not necessary to confine the patient to bed." The children who died, however, suffered rapid deterioration of the nervous system and expired within forty-eight to seventy-two hours. The surgeon declared that their "convulsion movements, constant tossing to and fro upon the bed, the throwing of the limbs about, and moaning with delirium were painful to witness." Moffatt speculated that the origin of the outbreak may have come from "associating a good deal with the Mexicans from the surrounding localities" where scarletina was reported to be present with "great fatality in their respective communities." A few other cases were reported at the post, none of which was fatal. 
The surgeons were not exempt from ailments and sometimes became patients in the post hospital. Surgeon Moffatt received two "simple fractures" of the tibia and fibula of the left leg when his horse fell and rolled over him in February 1874.  Acting Assistant Surgeon C. M. Clark applied plaster and splint and performed surgeon duties at the post while Moffatt recuperated. Moffatt was able to resume some of his responsibilities in March 1874, although he was "disabled with fracture." He was replaced as post surgeon by W. H. Gardner the following month, on April 9. Gardner began his assignment with a report on the "sanitary condition of Fort Union." 
Surgeon Gardner was critical of what he found. He described the adobe buildings at Fort Union, most of which had been erected within the previous decade, as looking "dilapidated and old" with the exterior plaster "falling off." The interior conditions were equally adverse. "In nearly all the rooms I have entered," wrote Gardner, "the ceiling is down in one or more places and I am informed that there is not a roof in the Post that does not leak badly." In addition he found the post "to be in a bad state of police, particularly in regards to sand and dirt." He was not sure that could be helped, however, "for during the two days that I have been here there has been a constant cloud of dust, which has penetrated every crack and crevice and now lays embanked against the north fence of the parade ground from three to four feet deep." Finally, he declared, "the drainage of the post is very bad."  Despite the unsanitary conditions, Gardner found the health of the garrison to be satisfactory. Most patients treated at the post hospital were "afflicted with ephemeral diseases, such as catarrh, tonsillitis and bronchitis, probably in a great measure due to the inclement weather." During the month of April, Gardner recorded, the weather was "cold, windy, and disagreeable," with "frequent snow storms." In the summer Gardner found that "the hot weather has increased the number of cases of Diarrhea and Dysentery." 
On November 21, 1874, Major A. J. Alexander and two companies of Eighth Cavalry returned to Fort Union from the field, and one of the soldiers with the command had typhoid fever. This man, "nearly moribund when admitted to the hospital," died a week later. A post mortem examination showed that, in addition to typhoid, the victim's gall bladder contained 215 gall stones. This specimen was sent to the Army Medical Museum, Washington, D.C. No one else contracted typhoid fever, but there were "many cases" of diarrhea and dysentery at the post, especially among children, during the same month. 
In October 1875 Surgeon Thomas A. McParlin, who had served as the first post surgeon at Fort Union in 1851, spent two days at Fort Union on his way to Santa Fe to assume his assignment as chief medical officer for the District of New Mexico. He replaced Surgeon J. P. Wright in that capacity. Surgeon Wright spent two days at Fort Union on his way to Fort Leavenworth later the same month. 
Surgeon McParlin attended District Commander Gordon Granger at Santa Fe when Granger suffered a paralytic stroke on November 19, 1875. Colonel Granger, Fifteenth Infantry, succumbed to another stroke on January 10, 1876. His remains were taken to Fort Union by Lieutenant Thomas Blair, Fifteenth Infantry, who had served as Granger's adjutant. Post Surgeon Gardner embalmed the body at Fort Union, which was sent to Granger's wife at Lexington, Kentucky, for interment.  The reason the body was sent to Fort Union for embalming was not stated, but it may have been because the hospital there was best equipped for the procedure.
Colonel Edward Hatch, who replaced Granger as district commander, stopped overnight at Fort Union on February 4, 1876, on his way to Santa Fe. A few days later it was learned at Fort Union that Captain Henry Ellis, Fifteenth Infantry, former commander of Fort Union and absent from the post on a surgeon's certificate of disability on account of valvular disease of the heart, had died at San Francisco, California, on January 25, 1876. Acting Assistant Surgeon J. S. Martin reported for duty at Fort Union on February 29, 1876, joining Surgeon Gardner's staff. A month later, on March 28, 1876, Dr. Martin, assisted by Dr. John Shout of Las Vegas, operated on Surgeon Gardner for internal hemorrhoids. During the same month the bodies of three troopers of Company G, Ninth Cavalry, who were killed in a brawl at Cimarron, New Mexico Territory, were brought to Fort Union for interment. Post-mortem examinations on these bodies were conducted by Dr. Martin. 
Another army surgeon was operated on at Fort Union in April 1876 for internal hemorrhoids. Assistant Surgeon Carlos Carvallo, post surgeon at Fort Stanton, New Mexico Territory, was sent to Fort Union by the district commander for the surgery. Surgeon Gardner, assisted by Dr. Martin, performed the operation on April 28. On May 22 Dr. Carvallo left Fort Union to return to his station. He was accompanied by Surgeon Gardner, who was detailed for court-martial duty at Fort Stanton.  One wonders if the surgeons discussed their respective operations during the trip. Travel by army ambulance may not have been comfortable for either of them.
Dr. Martin was left in charge of the hospital at Fort Union during Gardner's absence. Martin helped host and entertain District Commander Hatch, who inspected Fort Union on June 21, 1876. Gardner arrived back at the post on July 1. Gardner continued to request improvements in the sanitary conditions at Fort Union, pointing out that the "drainage is bad, the quarters of the troops are in great need of repair, of proper and efficient means of ventilation, and especially of some means of bathing facilities for the men." He lamented that, "for more than two years, these evils have been constantly brought to the notice of the various commanding officers," little had been done "from want of means, (men and money)." He also reported that the hospital was "in sad need of repairs and is badly constructed for the requirements of the command." Nevertheless, and in spite of sanitary conditions, he was pleased to report that, "with all the adverse circumstances the health of the post has been remarkably good, and for the last two years has been free from any epidemic disease." During that time only two soldiers had died at the post, one of typhoid fever and the other from an aneurysm of the aorta. 
Another death occurred soon after Gardner's September report. On October 4, 1876, John Sullivan, a civilian employee in the quartermaster department, was admitted to the post hospital "with severe contusion of chest and fracture of ribs." The cause of the injuries was not reported. Sullivan died the following day. Surgeon Carvallo reported for duty at Fort Union on October 4, the same day of Sullivan's accident, and replaced Dr. Gardner as post surgeon on October 6. Carvallo reported, in contrast to his predecessor, that "the hospital was clean and in good condition, the files of orders, publications, and journals in satisfactory state, the supply of medicines, stores and other hospital supplies and property abundant." He also declared that "the post was well policed." Surgeon Carvallo ordered a printing press for the hospital, sending $60.00 to the firm of S. P. Round in Chicago, leaving a balance due of $19.00 at 10% interest. The balance of $19.25 was paid the following month.  The need for a printing press at the hospital was not explained.
Surgeon Carvallo reported the names of the medical staff at Fort Union who were under his command. Dr. Martin continued as his assistant. There were two hospital stewards: Charles Hoffmier (medical corps) and John V. Noel (private, Company C, Fifteenth Infantry). The hospital cook was Private Emil Fisher, Company F, Fifteenth Infantry. The two nurses were Private John Thornton, Company C, Fifteenth Infantry, and Private John Weaver, Company F, Fifteenth Infantry. There were three hospital matrons: Mary Hoffmier (wife of Steward Hoffmier), Sylvia Francisco, and Guadalupe Garcia. Carvallo provided detailed monthly reports about activities at Fort Union during his tenure at the post. He noted about the social life of the garrison soon after his arrival, "several very agreeable gatherings took place during the month, harmony reigns supreme at the post." The following month he reported that on Thursday, November 30, "all the companies and the hospital had extra dinners for Thanksgiving." 
Surgeon Carvallo regularly inspected the guardhouse and prison at the post as well as the quarters, kitchens, and sanitary conditions inside and outside the buildings. He noted in November 1876 that the average daily occupancy of the guardhouse was 9.23 and the average daily occupancy of the military prison was 2.33, for a total prisoner population of 11.56 per day.  During the same month the average daily occupancy of the post hospital was 3.53 and the average number of soldiers treated daily in their quarters was 6.47, for a total patient load of 10 per day. During the month 39 new cases were seen by the surgeon, and seven cases were carried over from the previous month. Of the 46 total cases, 35 were returned to duty and 11 remained under doctor's care at the end of the month. That was in a garrison comprised of 106 white officers and enlisted men and 100 black enlisted men. 
Surgeon Carvallo recorded details of events connected with the medical department at Fort Union. On November 4, 1876, Emma Beeks, a black servant employed by Dr. Carvallo, "gave birth to a male child." Following a "severe snow storm and cold snap" on November 21 and 22, Carvallo recommended that the convicts held in the military prison be permitted to "have a straw bed sack in their cells," which was done. One of the prisoners, a convicted deserter named Henry Everts, was taken to the hospital, November 23 to 26, for treatment of a fever. On December 5, 1876, two laundresses (Mrs. Ferrell and Mrs. Marshall, first names unknown) and their families were quarantined at the post hospital "on account of having chicken pox." They returned to their quarters on December 12. An enlisted man was diagnosed with chicken pox on December 9 and returned to duty December 14. 
Also on December 14 the hospital steward second class, name not recorded, who was in charge of the dispensary, took "two grains of morphine with intent to commit suicide." Dr. Carvallo reported that the patient was unconscious for more than six hours, during which time he was in and out of a coma. The procedures used, according to the surgeon, included "stomach pump, electricity, hypodermic injections of atrophine, counter irritation, and constant rousing for over six hours finally cured him." Some people were trying to end their lives at Fort Union while others were bringing new lives into the world. On December 17 the wife of the post adjutant, Second Lieutenant George H. Kinzie, Fifteenth Infantry, gave birth to a daughter. A few weeks later, on January 6, 1877, Mrs. Nicholson, wife of the master mechanic, gave birth to twin boys. Children were considered an important part of society. In December 1876 Post Chaplain Simpson raised funds for a Christmas tree and to purchase "over $60.00 worth of presents for the children in and about the post." Although it was not a Christmas present, Surgeon Carvallo received a rain gauge on December 26, which he had ordered a month earlier. This helped with the accurate recording of weather records, part of his duties. 
In addition to the rain gauge the post surgeon had a thermometer and barometer. Each day he recorded the direction of the prevailing wind, high and low temperature, barometric pressure, and precipitation (including form and amount), and these were summarized and averaged at the end of every month. Severe storms, including high winds and hail, were also noted. On January 3, 1877, a "new house for safe keeping of Meteorological observations was erected." 
Weather records, births, and deaths comprised a part of the surgeon's monthly reports and medical history. On January 8, 1877, John Allen, who had recently been discharged upon completion of his term of service as a private in Company A, Ninth Cavalry, died at the quarters of Jane W. Brent, postmistress at Fort Union, where he was employed. An inquest into the "causes of the sudden death of John Allen" was held the following day by a board comprised of Drs. Carvallo and Martin, Post Trader John C. Dent, and H. V. Harris, a civilian. The cause of death was "hemorrhage from the lungs, originating in an abscess in the posterior lobe of left lung." Allen's remains were buried in the post cemetery on January 10 "with Hospital shirt, drawers, and stockings, he having no friends from whom they could be obtained."  Although Allen, a civilian, had received no medical care from the post hospital, he was the beneficiary of the hospital in death.
A civilian who was treated at the post hospital the same month was Dr. John L. Gregg, a 48-year-old physician who was emigrating to Arizona Territory. He had suffered a fracture of the left femur by an accidental shot of his pistol at La Junta, New Mexico Territory, on July 24, 1876. He had been treated at La Junta by Dr. Martin from Fort Union. Because the "surroundings not being favorable there for his recovery, he was brought to hospital where he could receive suitable attention." Dr. Gregg was required to pay the cost of his rations (thirty cents per day) but his medical treatment was provided without charge. He remained a patient until April 16, 1877, when he "was discharged from the hospital much improved in general health." His leg, however, still had a "running wound."  It was common procedure to charge civilian patients for their rations.
Another civilian at the post hospital was Alcetus J. Scorse, late private of Company C, Fifteenth Infantry, who received a medical discharge from the service for spasmodic asthma on September 13, 1876. Scorse was "in destitute circumstances" and had been admitted to the post hospital on December 3, 1876, for treatment of his asthma. Being destitute and a former soldier, he was not charged for his rations. His condition deteriorated and he died of asthma complications and cardiac "derangements" on February 9, 1877. He was buried at the post cemetery on February 11. His remains were disinterred on November 16, 1877, at the request of his sister, were "thoroughly disinfected and packed under the supervision of Post Surg.," and were sent to the sister at Niles, Michigan, on November 21. 
Mary Strass, wife of Private Patrick Strass, Ninth Cavalry band, was admitted to the post hospital in January 1877 with a venereal disease, chancroid, and she was "quarantined to prevent contagion among the troops." She was still under treatment at the end of February 1877 and no further mention of her case appeared in the records. 
Another outbreak of scarletina occurred in March 1877. Royal Lackey, nine-year-old son of a civilian employee at the post, was the first case, reported on March 4, and his family was immediately quarantined. Royal's younger brother, Willie, age seven, died of the disease on March 19. Another boy at the post, son of Private and Mrs. Cunningham (first names and his regiment unknown), showed symptoms of scarlet fever on March 5, and the family was "at once isolated in one of the Hospital wards and their house thoroughly disinfected." No other cases were reported and there were no further fatalities from the disease. Surgeon Carvallo declared that "measures taken to prevent further cases of contagion were very successful in this instance and prove what can be done by vigilance." 
Carvallo had better luck with his treatment of scarletina than he did with the hospital cook, Private Emil Gashot, Company C, Fifteenth Infantry, who had to be relieved from that extra-duty assignment. In April 1877 Gashot had "got drunk" and broken some of the kitchen ware, for which he was tried by garrison court-martial, found guilty, and sentenced to be confined for thirty days and forfeit $10.00 of his pay. Carvallo's choice for a replacement cook from the men of Company C, Fifteenth Infantry, was denied by the company commander, Captain Casper H. Conrad, who detailed Private Edward J. Cahota to be the new cook.  The hospital's milk supply was another problem faced by the post surgeon.
On May 6, 1877, one of the two hospital cows failed to come in. A mounted detail was sent to search for her. She was found, with a newborn calf, in the Turkey Mountains on May 8. In November 1877 Surgeon Carvallo was authorized to sell the two hospital cows and their two calves and to place the money received into the hospital fund. Hospital Steward Charles Hoffmier paid $45.00 for the entire hospital herd.  Carvallo never explained from where the hospital acquired milk for patients following the sale, but it was possible that Hoffmier sold milk from his cows to the hospital.
There seemed to be no end to the problems faced by a post surgeon. Another epidemic disease came near Fort Union in May 1877, when smallpox was reported at some of the villages in the area and it was believed that two cases of the disease had passed through the post. Information also reached the post that "two or more trains en route from Santa Fe N.M. to El Moro Col. are infected with small pox." Post commander Dudley immediately ordered that "all parties in any way attached or belonging to the garrison of Fort Union or residing on the reservation are hereby prohibited from visiting or going near any trains that may pass this post going north the next ten days." A non-commissioned officer was charged with seeing that "all trains coming from the South pass the garrison either east or west instead of the usual travelled road [in] front of Post Traders." In addition, the post was quarantined on May 5, although the quartermaster depot and arsenal refused to cooperate (as explained in the preceding chapter), and a number of people residing at the post were revaccinated. No cases of the disease were reported at the post, and the quarantine was discontinued on May 25.  Smallpox did reach Fort Union later in the year.
Alma Sanchez, fourteen-year-old daughter of Manuel Sanchez, a civilian quartermaster employee, was diagnosed with smallpox on November 26, 1877, and the home of the family was quarantined. Surgeon Carvallo reported that "the contagion was supposed to have been brought to the reservation by Sylvia Francisco, Lt. Col. Dudley's servant who visited Loma Parda where the disease prevailed at the time."  On December 12 the two sons of Manuel Sanchez were found to have smallpox and they were sent away from the reservation (where not recorded). On December 16 J. D. Davis, the post trader's black servant, was placed in the "quarantine hospital" with smallpox. This was a hospital tent set up to be used only by smallpox patients. Davis remained there until January 27, 1878. Surgeon Carvallo believed that Davis "contracted the disease from his concubine Lulu, a Mexican woman who visited Loma Parda, a small Mexican village 4 miles distant from the post, with frequency." On December 22 Corporal Lewis Nehren, Company F, Fifteenth Infantry, was also placed in the quarantine hospital with the disease. He also remained there until January 27. Carvallo traced this case to Loma Parda, too, and noted that Nehren had "gone to Loma Parda on a two days pass, and spent his time in the bar room and with a Mexican woman." 
The patients at the quarantine hospital, location not indicated in the records, were tended by Private John McMahon, Company C, Fifteenth Infantry, who had previously had smallpox. As an added precaution, Surgeon Carvallo directed that all enlisted men, quartermaster employees, and women and children at the post be revaccinated. Also, the post commander forbade all communication between the post and Loma Parda. At least one additional case was reported. Private Daniel Green, Company E, Ninth Cavalry, was admitted to the quarantine hospital with smallpox on February 23. Carvallo believed the source of Green's disease was the village of La Junta. Green died of the disease on March 5. In order to remove all traces of smallpox from the post, all medical property used by smallpox patients and the quarantine hospital were "destroyed by fire March 8th." Surgeon Carvallo was proud that "the precautions and sanitary measures taken" at Fort Union had successfully limited the effects of smallpox, especially "considering the fatality in the neighborhood and throughout the Territory." 
Many of the serious cases treated at the post hospital were civilians. L. T. Emery, age 30, was admitted to the hospital on May 9, 1877, "with necrosis of left femur" which resulted from a case of typhoid fever several years previous. A large, discharging abscess remained on his thigh. It was surgically removed and the rough bone of the femur, which was irritating the flesh, was smoothed with a chisel. Emery paid for his rations. On May 12 Remedio Apadaca, a "Mexican" citizen, was admitted "with constitutional syphilis." According to Carvallo, "the disease had four years ago deprived him of his virile member." For treatment, "the ulcers were freely cauterized with pure bromine and poultices, and supporting treatment given." Because Apadaca was "a pauper he is treated gratis." He was released "with ulcerations healed up" on June 26. Isaiah Louisburg, a 26-year-old civilian suffering from "enteritis complicated with liver abscess" was admitted to the post hospital on June 8 and died June 21. 
Mr. Emery remained a patient and was declared a destitute citizen on July 14, meaning his rations were provided thereafter without charge. Before that, Post Chaplain Simpson was directed by the post commander, at the request of Dr. Carvallo, "to refrain from speaking on religions to . . . Emery as they had the tendency to depress him." In August 1877 Rev. Simpson, who had been granted sick leave for four months, and his family left Fort Union. Simpson was later relieved of his duties at Fort Union,  and Rev. LaTourrette arrived to serve as post chaplain on September 30, 1877. His relationship with Emery was not recorded, and no indication was found that LaTourrette was restricted from visiting the patient. Rev. Simpson was back at Fort Union, December 5-7, 1877, from his sick leave at Baltimore, as a witness in the court-martial trial of Lieutenant Colonel Dudley, but he was not placed on the witness stand. It would be interesting to know if he visited or attempted to visit Emery, who was still a patient at that time. Emery never recovered and was treated at the post hospital until his death, May 1, 1878. 
Meanwhile there were some severe cases at the hospital involving soldiers. On September 7, 1877, Private John Conviss, Company D, Ninth Cavalry, was admitted to the post hospital "with severe concussion of brain, nervous shock, compound fracture of left humerus, lower 3rd and simple fracture of 2nd rib, right side." His injuries resulted from "being dragged, by a chain twisted around his right wrist, by a horse who pulled him down and dragged him 600 yards around the cavalry corral." Private Conviss never regained consciousness and died forty-two hours after the accident. He was buried in the post cemetery. 
Lieutenant Horace P. Sherman, age 38, Company F, Fifteenth Infantry, who served as post commissary officer and post treasurer, "was taken sick Sept. 26 with pleurisy of right side which was followed Oct. 1st by pneumonia." He died October 6 of pleuro-pneumonia and asthma. His remains were embalmed and placed in an oak coffin. Following a brief funeral service at the post surgeon's office on October 10, the coffin was packed into "an outer coffin, with saw dust, wedge coppers, lime, charcoal, and permanganate of potash, and securely hooped" for shipment to his family. His remains were escorted to the railroad at El Moro, Colorado, by five soldiers. In his honor the garrison flag flew at half mast and the officers agreed to "wear mourning for 30 days." According to Surgeon Carvallo, "Lt. Sherman was a universal favorite among the post inmates and his untimely death is deeply lamented." 
There were two more deaths at Fort Union in January 1878, both civilians. Manuel Francis Carvallo, three-month-old son of Post Surgeon and Mrs. Carvallo, died of spinal meningitis, following surgery for "Opima bifoida." He was buried in the post cemetery. Josepha, a "Mexican" woman who was employed as a servant by a laundress at the post, died of congestion of the lungs without having requested medical treatment. Her remains were "turned over to her relatives at La Junta, N. M." A soldier and two more children died in February 1878. Private Edward Armstrong, Company F, Fifteenth Infantry, succumbed to pneumonia on February 16. A one-year-old child (probably one of the twins born in 1877) "of Mr. Nicholson," an employee in the quartermaster department, died of unknown causes on February 27. On the same day a five-year-old child "of Mr. Harris," a former clerk in the quartermaster department, died of "inflammation of the Bowels." 
The post surgeon oversaw the end of life for some and the beginning for others. In April 1878 the wife of Post Commander Whittemore gave birth to a son who was named James Whittemore. In August the wife of Private John W. Harper, ordnance detachment at the arsenal, delivered "a fine living female child." In November Surgeon Carvallo's wife gave birth to a daughter. During the following year seven more babies were born at the post hospital. Throughout that time the health of the garrison was good, but there were a few fatalities (including civilians). 
In addition to the death of L. T. Emery in May, the following occurred. In August the two-month old adopted daughter of Manuel Sanchez and his wife died of unknown causes. On September 30 Jose Antonio Chavez, who was freighting supplies from the railroad at El Moro, Colorado, to the San Carlos Indian Agency in Arizona, was admitted to the post hospital "in a moribund condition," suffering from gastro-enteritis. He died a few hours later. Surgeon Carvallo declared there was "no hope of his recovery." In November 1878 David Lewis, an unassigned recruit of the Ninth Cavalry, died at the post hospital from gastro-enteritis which Carvallo believed Lewis had contracted before leaving St. Louis to travel to New Mexico. Private Leven Louds, Company K, Ninth Cavalry, was struck by lightning on November 7 while traveling from Fort Union to Fort Garland, Colorado. He received no medical care because of the distance from the post hospital. He died the following day and was buried at Willow Springs, New Mexico. 
Post Chaplain LaTourrette was granted a year of sick leave in November 1878, suffering from several ailments. Surgeon Carvallo issued the certificate of leave and noted that LaTourrette had chronic rheumatism, cardiac "irritations," and spasms. The combination of afflictions, according to Carvallo, had so "impaired his general health and that in consequence thereof his condition is unfit for duty." In 1878 two soldiers received discharges on the surgeon's certificate of disability. Musician Charles F. Wood, Company F, Fifteenth Infantry, and Private Bernard Levy, ordnance detachment at the arsenal, were both discharged because of hernias received "in the line of duty." Surgeon Carvallo and his staff examined fifty-eight recruits during 1878, and twenty-six were rejected as unfit. 
On March 10, 1879, Emma Beeks, a black female servant employed by Surgeon Carvallo, who had worked occasionally as a nurse at the post hospital, died of "peritonitis and hemorrhage from criminal abortion." This happened while Dr. Carvallo was absent from the post at Santa Fe.  Carvallo suspected that Margaret Berry, a black woman who served as hospital matron, assisted with the abortion. Berry had been involved in other abortions. The cause of death, loss of blood and infection, resulted from a puncture in the wall of the vagina by a sharp instrument, such as a needle. Beeks, a native of Georgia, was thirty-five years old at the time of her death. She was unmarried and had worked for the Carvallo family for eight years. She resided on laundresses row at the post. When Carvallo discovered that Margaret Berry, who also lived on laundresses row, had appropriated some of Beeks's property for herself, he saw that Berry was removed from the military reservation. 
In April 1879 Assistant Surgeon Walter Reed, who was serving as post surgeon at Camp Apache, Arizona Territory, stopped overnight at Fort Union on his way to the terminus of the railroad, April 17-18, and on his return to his station, April 28-29.  Dr. Reed was later to achieve international recognition as head of the U. S. Army Yellow Fever Commission, which established by experimentation on human subjects that the disease was transmitted by mosquitoes. This led to the control of yellow fever. Later, Walter Reed Army Hospital was named to honor the work of the famous surgeon.
On May 27, 1879, James Whittemore, infant son of Captain and Mrs. Whittemore, died of diarrhea, "result of teething and cerebral effusion." It was the last death presided over by Post Surgeon Carvallo at Fort Union. He was relieved from duty there on May 31, 1879. He was replaced by Acting Assistant Surgeon W. H. Comegys, who was succeeded by Assistant Surgeon John J. Kane on August 6, 1879. Acting Assistant Surgeon Joseph H. Collins joined the medical staff at Fort Union in February 1880, replacing Dr. Kane. Kane returned December 21, 1880, and administered the post hospital, until March 19, 1881, when Assistant Surgeon Frederick W. Elbrey became post surgeon. 
The garrison at the post was reduced in number during much of 1880 and 1881, resulting in fewer cases treated at the hospital. In June 1881 Surgeon Elbrey recorded: "No births, no deaths, and no vaccinations this month." During that month he had seen a total of nine patients, three of whom carried over from the previous month. In July there were five new patients, in August five, and in September none. With an increase in the size of the garrison in October, the number of cases treated increased. There were thirteen new cases in October, twenty-six in November, and thirty-five in December. Even so, Surgeon Elbrey considered the health of the troops to be "good." The prevailing illness was catarrh (inflammation of the mucous membrane of the breathing passages). Elbrey was most concerned about sanitation. "In the immediate vicinity of the post," he informed the post adjutant in November, "there still lie many heaps of offal, forming, indeed, an unsanitary corridor as it were, around the post." He recommended that garbage be "carted to a greater distance from the post." He reported the situation much improved a month later. 
Post surgeons were not immune from accidents and diseases. On March 21, 1882, Surgeon Elbrey fell down the stone steps in front of the post hospital and struck the right side of his head behind the ear on one of the steps. He was in a coma for an unspecified time and suffered paralysis of the left side. Dr. Kane was brought from Fort Craig to treat Elbrey and serve temporarily as post surgeon. Dr. Collins returned to Fort Union on April 14 to serve as post surgeon, and Kane returned to Fort Craig the following day. Dr. Elbrey remained at Fort Union until July 1, 1882, when he was relieved from duty at the post. He departed for Washington, D.C., on July 6. His condition at that time was not revealed. Major Surgeon Albert Hartsuff became post surgeon on August 12. Dr. Collins died on January 30, 1883, from "active inflammation of the brain membranes." His remains were shipped to Topeka, Kansas. Acting Assistant Surgeon Fred S. Dewey joined the medical staff to replace Collins on February 15. Major Surgeon Peter J. A. Cleary relieved Hartsuff as post surgeon on May 11, 1883. 
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