Historic Resource Study
Other Indians, Navajos, soon threatened more New Mexican settlements and resulted in further calls on the troops at Fort Union. On July 30 Indians were raiding near Pigeon's Ranch at the eastern entrance to Glorieta Pass. A detachment was sent from Fort Marcy at Santa Fe to investigate, and when Lieutenant John Pegram, Second Dragoons, confirmed the raiders had killed citizens and stolen livestock only a few miles from Santa Fe, the troops at Hatch's Ranch and Fort Union were notified. Any citizens in Santa Fe who volunteered to help deter these raiders were provided with horses, mules, and equipment. Some of the volunteers attacked a party of Navajos near Galisteo on August 1, reportedly killing and wounding 20 Indians while suffering 10 casualties. The troops at Albuquerque were alerted and directed to attempt to catch the Indians when they headed west. 
Lieutenant Tilford and 25 mounted riflemen were ordered from Fort Union on August 2 to proceed to Johnson's Ranch near the western entrance to Glorieta Pass, clearing the road to Santa Fe of Indians on the way if necessary, and provide protection in that area until the Indian threat was gone. After completing the assignment, Tilford was to take his detachment to Hatch's Ranch and, if they were not needed there, return to Fort Union. Before that could be done, however, additional orders were received. On August 4 Captain Duncan and his company (including Tilford's detachment) were ordered to travel via Anton Chico to Manzano southeast of Albuquerque, where Indians were reported to be raiding settlements in the Manzano Mountains. Tilford's detachment was diverted from its mission to Johnson's Ranch to Manzano via Galisteo, and Duncan and the remainder of the company proceeded a few days later via Anton Chico. The Navajos escaped back to their homeland west of the Rio Grande before the troops caught up with them. A detachment from Albuquerque did engage a small party of the Navajos near the Rio Grande and inflicted four casualties on the Indians. Captain Duncan's company returned to Fort Union in late August. Fauntleroy was soon planning an expedition against the Navajos for later in the year. 
The troops who had remained at the posts were seeing as much if not more activity in the field against Indians as those with the Kiowa-Comanche expedition. Upon his return to Camp Jackson at the end of July, Major Ruff was too ill to continue in command of the campaign. Captain Porter was placed in command of the expedition, and Ruff returned to Fort Union and assumed command of the post on August 15 because Major Simonson's health had deteriorated to the point that he was sent to Fort Leavenworth for treatment. A detachment of troops from Fort Union accompanied Simonson as far as Fort Larned, providing some protection for other travelers on the Santa Fe Trail at the same time. Late in August one of the companies of infantry at Hatch's Ranch was sent to Fort Union to replace the mounted riflemen being sent to participate in the Navajo campaign. Early in September the company of infantry from Hatch's Ranch comprised the entire garrison at Fort Union. 
Captain Porter took command of the New Mexico column of the Kiowa-Comanche expedition just in time to benefit from requests made by Major Ruff. Five guides, three Pueblo Indians and two New Mexican buffalo hunters, were sent to help the troops locate Indians. Major Donaldson sent 5,000 fanegas of bran and some corn for the horses on the campaign. The arrival of 158 horses with the party of recruits which arrived from Fort Leavenworth at Fort Union on July 5 made it possible to assign approximately 10 horses to each mounted company in the department. Thus 60 remounts were made available to the troops with the Kiowa-Comanche expedition in August, and Captain Porter came to Fort Union to obtain the horses and refit his command for the field. Porter had moved his base from Camp Jackson to a point closer to Hatch's Ranch, which he called Camp Winfield Scott (exact location unknown). The paymaster came to Camp Winfield Scott and paid the members of the expedition. Colonel Fauntleroy requested more horses and recruits for the mounted riflemen, noting that 315 members of that regiment were eligible for discharge before November 1, 1860. 
When Porter left Fort Union with the column on September 8 to seek out the Kiowas and Comanches, the troops and horses were in the best condition since the campaign began. The column boasted 250 horses "fit for active service." DuBois had obtained the services of one of the best guides in the territory, Antoine Leroux, who became the chief guide for the battalion. They were confident they would find the Comanches. The results, however, were the same because the Indians continued to avoid contact with the troops. Porter led the column along the Cimarron Route of the Santa Fe Trail to Rabbit Ear Mountain, then to the southeast as far as the Canadian River. They arrived back at Fort Union after being gone one month, during which time they had not seen a Kiowa or Comanche. Their sole accomplishment had been to capture "two horse thieves who were returning to Texas with thirty stolen horses." When the column returned to Fort Union, Fauntleroy declared the expedition "suspended for the present." 
Lieutenant Colonel George B. Crittenden, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, commanding at Fort Union, was placed in charge of the column and directed to send the six companies to garrison duty at several forts (three of the companies remained at Fort Union). After several months of almost fruitless search for Indians by the column from Fort Union, the Kiowas and Comanches had not been seriously challenged. They continued to harass travelers on the plains and at frontier settlements. The army could not punish what it could not find. Fort Union had been active for almost a decade but the Indian problems in the territory remained as threatening as when it was founded. Military operations continued to occupy the garrison. 
Before the Kiowa-Comanche column returned to Fort Union, for a short time in September, there was no company of troops present and available for "the ordinary details" at the garrison. Lieutenant Colonel Crittenden assumed command on September 17, after the company of infantry from Hatch's Ranch had been sent back to its station, and found only the regimental band of the mounted rifle regiment, 12 men from the companies in the field (left behind but subject to call to join their command), and 69 recruits (who had accompanied Crittenden to Fort Union and who, by order of the department commander, were "not detailable for duty") at the fort. One other regimental officer, Lieutenant Enos, was present and performing the duties of post and subdepot quartermaster and commissary of subsistence, regimental adjutant, and post adjutant. The post surgeon and the new chaplain, Samuel B. McPheeters who arrived with Crittenden, were also present. Crittenden requested another regimental officer and a company or part of a company of troops be assigned for duty at Fort Union until the men absent on field duty returned. Brevet Second Lieutenant Joseph Wheeler, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, was sent as the officer and detachments of infantry and mounted riflemen were temporarily assigned for duty. Crittenden, despite his lack of manpower, found it necessary to send some of his small garrison into the field. On October 1 Wheeler and eighteen men were detailed with six days' rations to go to Ocate in pursuit of a party of Indians reported to be raiding there. On October 5 an escort of infantrymen was sent with Assistant Surgeon W J. Sloan as far as Fort Larned. The garrison was shorthanded until Captain Porter returned with the column of mounted riflemen on October 7. 
|George B. Crittenden, Photo Collection, Fort Union National Monument.|
The Kiowa-Comanche expedition had been unable to locate the Indians, but the Indians continued to visit New Mexican settlements. On October 3 Captain Edmunds B. Holloway, Eighth Infantry, commanding at Hatch's Ranch led 25 men from his garrison to the village of Chaparito where about 100 Comanches had come to trade. Holloway was convinced that the "constant trade" between the New Mexicans and the Comanches was how the Indians obtained ammunition. The soldiers arrived while the Comanche party, including women and children, were at the village and attacked. They killed two and wounded two of the Indians, and captured thirty-two horses, nineteen mules, and a "considerable amount" of saddles and other horse equipment. The troops had no losses. The captured horses were sold at Las Vegas. 
Because the horses that had been on the Kiowa-Comanche campaign were in poor condition, those belonging to the three companies of mounted riflemen stationed at Fort Union were sent to a grazing camp on the Cimarroncita a few miles west of Maxwell's Ranch on the Cimarron to recuperate. All mules at Fort Union not in use were also taken. Crittenden personally selected the location for the camp. The horses were protected by two companies of riflemen who camped with them, and grain for the horses was purchased from Maxwell. The horses received ten pounds of grain per day and the mules received nine pounds. These horses were reported to be "doing well" at the end of the month. They returned to Fort Union early in November. 
The horses had more than adequate protection, but a party of Comanches, probably in retaliation for the attack at Chaparito, stole the government beef herd of 460 cattle located on the Conchas River (under a contract herder, John L. Taylor) and some cattle from a private ranch, a total of about 1,000 head. The cattle were reportedly being driven toward Mesa Rica near the Canadian River close to its crossing of the eastern boundary of New Mexico Territory. A combined force of mounted riflemen from Fort Marcy and Fort Union were sent via Hatch's Ranch to attempt to recover the livestock. Lieutenant DuBois and 21 men were dispatched from Union on October 31. The cattle were not recovered because, as DuBois recorded, at Mesa Rica the trail "split up into fifty different trails." The troops followed what appeared to be one of the most prominent trails and ended up at Anton Chico. They had followed a party of Comancheros returning from "trading powder & lead to the indians for skins." DuBois and his detachment returned to Fort Union on November 10. Their horses were "totally ruined" by the 300-mile expedition. 
The campaign against the Navajo resulted in several battles in which the troops were successful, but the overall effect on the Navajo people was negligible. Captain George McLane, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, was killed in battle with the Navajos on October 13. Major Ruff was detailed on November 13 to head an escort of nine enlisted men from Fort Union to accompany McLane's widow and children to Fort Leavenworth. The escort troops were to go only as far as Fort Larned and return to Union. This assignment provided Ruff a chance to secure additional medical treatment for his illness. Ruff was also responsible for taking Second Lieutenant Edmund Freeman, Fifth Infantry, who was declared to be insane, to Fort Leavenworth where some of his family was to meet and care for him. If the family was not there, Ruff was authorized to see Lieutenant Freeman to the farm home of his family in Illinois, not far from St. Louis. 
On December 15 a squadron of 40 dismounted riflemen from the garrison at Fort Union was sent to report to Captain Benjamin S. Roberts at Hatch's Ranch. They were to assist Roberts in establishing Fort Butler on the Canadian River, which never happened as explained in the previous chapter.  They remained at Hatch's Ranch until the following February. Most of the troops available for field duty at Fort Union left the post on December 27 to scout for Kiowas and Comanches who were reported to be raiding travelers on the Santa Fe Trail. Lieutenant Crittenden commanded the force of 88 mounted riflemen, accompanied by civilians George M. Alexander and Edward Shoemaker, leaving Lieutenant Enos in command at Fort Union. Perhaps this was an opportunity to find and defeat some of the Indians who had eluded the column in the field during the previous summer and fall. Crittenden's command surprised an encampment of Kiowas and Comanches about 10 miles north of Cold Spring on the Cimarron River on January 2, 1861. They captured the camp of about 175 lodges, killed 10 and wounded an undetermined number of Indians, captured 40 Indian horses, and destroyed the village and its contents. According to the regimental adjutant, who was not present at the engagement, "not a woman or child was hurt." Three or four soldiers were slightly injured. This was a severe blow to the inhabitants of the camp who lost most of their supplies in the middle of winter. It marked the greatest achievement of the campaign against the Kiowas and Comanches. Some of the Comanches offered to talk about a peace agreement. 
Crittenden hoped to put together a larger force and inflict further punishment on the Kiowas and Comanches, but hostilities by the Mescalero Apaches in southeastern New Mexico required more immediate attention. Crittenden was selected to lead a campaign against the Mescaleros in March 1861. The campaign against the Navajos had just reached what Fauntleroy and other officers considered a successful conclusion, with the Navajos agreeing to sign a peace treaty, and some of the troops who had been involved against the Navajos were sent to participate in the efforts against the Mescaleros. Others were assigned to join in a campaign against the Apaches in southwestern New Mexico, led by Major Isaac Lynde, Seventh Infantry. Crittenden was given authority to draw troops from Fort Union and Hatch's Ranch as needed, as well as from Forts Stanton and Fillmore. Crittenden took most of the mounted riflemen from Fort Union with him on March 11. 
Crittenden was still organizing his expedition against the Mescaleros when Colonel William W. Loring took over the command of the department from Fauntleroy on March 22. Loring immediately started cutting back on transportation expenses, which affected Crittenden's plans. Of the three companies of mounted riflemen from Fort Union originally scheduled to serve under Crittenden, two were called back to Fort Union. Hatch's Ranch was abandoned and the troops and supplies there were sent to Fort Union. Even though his force was reduced, Crittenden marched into Mescalero country and pursued them ceaselessly. No battles were fought but within six weeks the Mescaleros promised to stop raiding and to meet to negotiate a peace agreement later in the summer. The company of mounted riflemen from Fort Union who had served with Crittenden returned to Fort Union. Crittenden had compiled a good record against Indians in New Mexico Territory, but he, like many of the other officers from the southern states serving in the department, resigned his commission to join the army of the Confederate States of America. 
With no idea what the unsettled conditions between the states might bring, the army and officials of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in New Mexico sought peace agreements with all the Indians possible in the spring of 1861. Until an arrangement could be made with the Kiowas and Comanches, Loring decided to keep a scouting party of 25 men from Fort Union on patrol to help protect the settlers at Chaparito, Hatch's Ranch, Anton Chico, and Giddings's Ranch and to help safeguard travelers on the Fort Smith road. Each detachment was rationed for 30 days, at the end of which time one unit was to be replaced by a fresh squadron from Fort Union. Soon after the first detachment left under command of Lieutenant Alexander McRae, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, it was reported that Comanches had stolen cattle from Giddings's Ranch, and McRae went to investigate. The second detachment sent out to replace McRae's squadron was increased to a full company of troops in anticipation of further hostilities. 
While these troops were in the field, agreements were signed with the Navajos and Comanches in May. An agreement was signed with the Mescaleros later in the summer. The treaties were not honored by the United States or the Indians. The negotiators with the Comanches, Captain Robert A. Wainwright and Superintendent of Indian Affairs James L. Collins, were accompanied by two companies of mounted riflemen from Fort Union. One of these companies was to replace the detachment in the field on scouting duty after the conference, and the other was to relieve that company a month later. 
The conference with the Comanches was held on May 10 and 11 at Alamo Gordo Creek, a tributary of the Pecos River. In return for peace, the Comanches promised to stop raiding along the Santa Fe Trail, stay away from the settlements of eastern New Mexico, and trade only at places approved by the government. The agreement was broken a few days later when one of the Comanche chiefs, who probably did not understand the meaning of the agreement about approved places to exchange goods, came with his people to Chaparito to trade. The Anglo-Americans had never accepted the trading relationship between the Comanches and the New Mexicans. Captain Duncan, camped near Hatch's Ranch, ordered the Comanches to leave Chaparito and, when they did not do so, forcibly drove them away, killing one, wounding three, and capturing two. The peace was broken and the settlers feared retaliation from the Comanches.  The Comanches left the area and remained east of New Mexico during much of the rest of the year. When the troops in New Mexico were preoccupied with the Civil War, the Comanches returned to "their old-time relationships" with the New Mexicans. 
The mail coaches between New Mexico and Independence were following the Bent's Fort or Raton Route (also commonly known, later, as the Mountain Route) of the Santa Fe Trail in February and March 1861, taking advantage of the protection provided by the establishment of Fort Wise near Bent's New Fort the previous year. The size of escorts for the mail had been reduced to the number of soldiers who could ride in the coach. Three soldiers went with the mail from Fort Union to Fort Wise in late February, but there was room for only one of the soldiers on the return trip. The others remained at Fort Wise until the next westbound mail, which presumably had room for them.  Colonel Loring was a passenger on the westbound stage in March, and Second Lieutenant DuBois was on the eastbound coach the same month, beginning a leave of absence. They met and talked at the crossing of the Arkansas River near Bent's Old Fort. 
In addition to protecting the mails on the trail, Colonel Loring offered protection to families of officers and other persons desiring to go to Fort Leavenworth because of the impending outbreak of war between the states. An escort comprised of soldiers whose term of service was about to expire was scheduled to leave Fort Union on April 25, and everyone who wished to travel with it was invited. The date of departure was later changed to May 20. 
Just as the Civil War was breaking out and many officers in New Mexico were resigning to join the Confederate Army, several of the Indian tribes in the territory were temporarily at peace. The peace would not last because the conditions which caused hostilities had not been removed and the army had not established effective control over several tribes. The series of conflicts between soldiers and Indians had seldom been decisive, and Indian troubles would continue to occupy the army in the Southwest during and after the Civil War. The Civil War would bring new tensions between Indians, Hispanos, and Anglos in New Mexico.
The troops at Fort Union had been extensively involved in military operations in the region throughout its first decade of occupation. Even when some of the soldiers were serving in the field, there was a community life at the post regardless of the size or composition of the garrison. The routines of the frontier post may have been less dramatic than looking for and pursuing Indians, but those everyday activities required the majority of the time of officers and enlisted men. There were many other people besides military personnel at any army installation, including officers' wives and children, laundresses, civilian employees, merchants, and camp followers. The story of life at Fort Union before the Civil War is a subject worthy of consideration before examining the ramifications of that tragic conflict on the army at the post and in the Southwest.
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