Historic Resource Study
When the Carletons and Company K, First Dragoons, left Fort Union, Company H, Second Dragoons, joined the garrison. On November 4, 1853, Lieutenant Colonel Philip St. George Cooke assumed command of the post, and he retained command, except when he was in the field, during a series of conflicts with Indians during much of 1854. With two companies of dragoons at the post, Cooke instructed the quartermaster to utilize extra-duty soldiers to construct "a log picket stable without separate stalls . . . for the shelter of the horses of Co. 'H' 2d Drag." Company H, First Dragoons, arrived at the post in March 1854, and Company D, Second Dragoons replaced that company in May of that year. Company H, First Dragoons, returned in September 1854 when both companies of Second Dragoons transferred out. On September 18, 1854, Colonel Thomas T. Fauntleroy, First Dragoons, took command of the post. Accompanying him was the regimental band, the first military band to be stationed at Fort Union. 
Fauntleroy's command included Sergeant Percival G. Lowe, Company B, First Dragoons, one of the few enlisted men at Fort Union during the 1850s who wrote about his experiences. Lowe was especially delighted with the way the soldiers of his company performed on the march from Fort Leavenworth to Union:
"I was as proud of it as I ever have been of anything under my immediate charge. On every hand the troop attracted attentionthe manner of marching, care taken of their horses, appearance of horses and men, the short time necessary to put up their tents, and the lightning speed with which they were struck, folded and loaded in the wagons, the neatness and dispatch in everything, and the quietness and lack of confusion on every hand, seemed a wonder to many of the officers of long experience." 
Many hunting stories were told by soldiers who served in New Mexico, and Lowe related one of the best. When Fauntleroy's entourage was near Raton Pass on the way to Fort Union, Sergeant Langford M. Peel rode a mule out hunting. When he was some distance from camp, a thunderstorm struck, the wind howled, and it poured down rain and hail. Sergeant Peel and his mule took refuge under a thick cluster of pines. There he found a flock of turkeys, also seeking protection from the storm, and proceeded to shoot seventeen of them, "hitting every one in the head." Amazingly, the big birds remained close by and were not frightened. Then he wounded one, which flew away, and the others followed. "Peel came into camp about dark," Lowe reported, "with all that his mule could stagger under."
Sergeant Lowe was not assigned to the garrison at Fort Union. His company was soon to proceed to station at Fort Stanton, so they camped approximately two miles from Fort Union. Because Lowe's term of enlistment would soon expire, he remained encamped near Fort Union until he joined Lieutenant Colonel Cooke's party on the way to Fort Leavenworth a few weeks later. Before he left, the two married men in his company (Sergeant Langford Peel and Sergeant Espy, first name unknown) and their wives gave Lowe a farewell dinner. Peel and Lowe must have been close friends, for Peel's only son was named Percival Lowe Peel. Lieutenant David Hastings, of Lowe's company, and his wife, upon hearing about the farewell dinner, provided "some delicacies not to be had otherwise." Lowe left the service at Fort Leavenworth and spent the next few years as a wagonmaster for the quartermaster department.  He may have found that job more rewarding than a sergeant's pay.
The soldiers at Fort Union and throughout the army received an increase in pay during 1854. The rate for privates was increased to $13.00 per month (it had been $7.00 for infantrymen and $8.00 for cavalrymen), although $2.00 was held back each month until the soldier completed his enlistment (an unsuccessful attempt to entice the men to remain in the service and not desert). Each soldier was taxed 12.5 cents per month for the support of the United States Soldiers' Home. From what was left, he had to pay the laundress and sutler. The sutler could take up to one-sixth of a soldier's salary each payday to satisfy the enlisted man's indebtedness (a claim that was abolished in 1861).  The additional pay may have improved the attitudes of many soldiers toward military life, but those at Fort Union would also have appreciated some improvements in their quarters.
By late 1854 the buildings at Fort Union were deteriorating badly. The roofs of the company quarters were "in such a bad state as not to afford protection from the weather." Because there was no lumber at the post and no one available to operate the sawmill, Fauntleroy directed Quartermaster Rucker to "use the tents condemned by a Board of Survey" to make temporary repairs to the roofs. A few weeks later Rucker was directed to employ a civilian to operate the sawmill, have lumber sawed as soon as possible, and use it to repair the company quarters. Keeping the buildings habitable at Fort Union became a major task for the quartermaster department. Fauntleroy's experiences with such problems while he was post commander probably influenced his decision, when he became department commander in 1859, to close Fort Union and find another place for a military post and depot. 
The musicians at Fort Union were issued dragoon sabers to wear at inspections and dress reviews. Because these weapons were "too heavy for the musicians to wear on foot parades," the post adjutant requested permission from department headquarters in January 1855 to permit the musicians to dispense with wearing the sabers. Permission was also solicited to turn in the weapons to the ordnance depot, where they might be issued to dragoons for service in the field. 
Many of the troops stationed at Fort Union in 1855 were sent into the field to participate in the campaigns against Indians. A regiment of New Mexican Volunteers, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Ceran St. Vrain, was armed and equipped for field service at the post. Because so few officers remained with the garrison, Second Lieutenant Robert Williams, First Dragoons, was assigned the duties of both the post quartermaster and post commissary offices. For some reason, perhaps because of the Indian wars, by June of 1855 the troops at Fort Union had not received any pay for seven months and were much in need of money. 
During 1855 the garrison at Fort Union averaged 135 officers and men. Because Fauntleroy was absent on field duty much of the time, several other officers commanded the post for short durations, including Captains N. C. Macrae and Joseph H. Whittlesey and Major Horace Brooks. In August a large party of recruits arrived from Fort Leavenworth under command of Captain Israel B. Richardson, Third Infantry, to fill the many vacancies in companies in the department. Brigadier General Garland met the recruits at Fort Union and arranged for their distribution from that point. He was disappointed in their condition. "They were in a bad plight," he wrote, "having lost most of their clothing by fire on the plains." Many of them suffered from scurvy. The recruits for the infantry were described by the general as "about the poorest set of recruits I have ever seen." 
When Governor Meriwether returned to Kentucky in September for a visit, he was escorted across the plains by Captain Ewell and thirteen dragoons from Fort Union, a non-commissioned officer and twelve privates whose terms of service were soon to expire. This escort was also responsible for the delivery of four prisoners from the Fort Union guardhouse to Fort Leavenworth. The four were privates of Company F, First Dragoons, who were "sent out of New Mexico in irons to "be put to labor with ball and chain at Fort Leavenworth." The prisoners were to ride in the wagon with provisions for the escort.  It became common practice to send the most intractable prisoners from the Department of New Mexico to the military prison at Fort Leavenworth.
The rest of the troops at Fort Union continued with their duties. During 1856 the average garrison included 140 officers and men and the commanding officers were Lieutenant Magruder, Colonel Fauntleroy, Captain William N. Grier, Lieutenant Henry B. Clitz, Third Infantry, and Lieutenant Colonel William W. Loring, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen. Regiments represented included the First Dragoons, Third Infantry, and Regiment of Mounted Riflemen. By the end of the year three companies of mounted riflemen comprised the entire command. With the appointment of Reverend William Stoddert, who arrived at the post on June 12, 1856, Fort Union had its first chaplain and schoolmaster.  The post council of administration had apparently found someone, as Mansfield had stated, "to conform to their peculiar views. Two officers who were to have outstanding careers in their respective fields arrived in 1856 to serve at Fort Union. Captain John C. McFerran became the quartermaster for the post and subdepot in January, and Assistant Surgeon Jonathan Letterman became post surgeon in June.  Although the major quartermaster depot was at Albuquerque, huge quantities of military stores were still brought to and distributed from Union. 
Captain McFerran reported the buildings of Fort Union were in such a state of decay that it would be easier to build a new post than to repair the old one, but if repairs were to be made they should be done immediately. According to Captain Grier, "even with such repairs as can be made to the Quarters, they will be barely tenable, but not really comfortable or very safe for another year." He suggested that, if another post were to be built at or near the site of Fort Union in 1857, the lumber could be cut during the coming winter and be seasoned by the time it was needed. No decision was made to build a new post and repairs on the buildings continued. One of the company quarters was torn down because it was in danger of collapsing on its inhabitants. Letterman corroborated everything Easton and Grier had said, declaring: "Badly laid out and badly built, it is now essential that the post be rebuilt, and buildings erected with some regard to the welfare of those who are destined to occupy them." 
Colonel B. L. E. Bonneville found the ordnance depot at Fort Union in the same condition as the rest of the post. He reported that some of the buildings had "already fallen to the ground in a late storm" and many "others made of upright sticks, are propped to keep them standing." He urged army headquarters to act quickly on Garland's recommendation that a new site be found for the ordnance and quartermaster depots and a site be determined for relocation of the garrison at Fort Union.  Somehow the post survived far beyond 1856.
The year 1856 turned out to one of many changes at the post. The post sutler and postmaster, Jared W. Folger, died on April 21 and Ceran St. Vrain, a merchant and contractor who operated flour mills and also served as the commander of New Mexican volunteer troops, became the new post trader. Colonel Fauntleroy requested that St. Vrain be appointed postmaster at the fort. Evidence was not located to show that he served as postmaster, and St. Vrain resigned as post sutler on December 4, 1856. His replacement was George M. Alexander who was selected on December 31. Changes also occurred in the department. On October 11 Garland took a leave of absence and placed Colonel Bonneville, Third Infantry, in command of the Department of New Mexico. Garland left Fort Union with a small escort to travel across the plains to Fort Leavenworth. He returned to New Mexico in May 1857. 
The garrison at Union remained fairly stable during 1857 with troops of the Regiment of Mounted Rifles present the entire year. The aggregate number of officers and men averaged 229. The post commanders were Colonel Loring and Captain Llewellyn Jones, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen. Captain William B. Lane was transferred from Hatch's Ranch to Fort Union in the spring of 1857. His wife Lydia was there a few months before she went east to visit family and friends. He served at Fort Union until November 1857, when he was transferred to Fort Stanton. Brigadier General Garland resumed command of the department on May 12 when he arrived at Fort Bliss. He found the companies in the department were over 700 men short of being filled to authorized capacity and requested recruits to be sent as quickly as possible. The department was also in need of horses. At Fort Union Captain McFerran again recommended that the post be rebuilt; Captain Jones endorsed the recommendation; but no action was taken. The need for repairs was emphasized by a request from Post Commander Loring for more blank report forms because those in his office were "nearly all damaged by rain leaking through the roof." 
In January 1857 Major Albert J. Smith, paymaster, arrived at Fort Union to pay the troops. This was a routine, though often tardy, part of life at the post. Major Smith had recently employed a young traveler from St. Louis, James Ross Larkin, as a civilian clerk to assist him in paying troops in the department. Larkin kept a diary of his travels in New Mexico and described activities at the post, including how the pay was issued, during his short stay there. 
Larkin left Santa Fe with Major Smith, riding in an army ambulance pulled by four mules, on December 31, 1856. They were accompanied by George Alexander, new post sutler at Fort Union, and an escort of ten soldiers. The group arrived at Fort Union early in the afternoon of January 2. Major Smith stayed at the quarters of Captain Llewellyn Jones. Larkin had a room at "Alexander's store." This was Larkin's first visit to the post (he had bypassed it when he came into New Mexico), and he provided his view of the place. "Fort Union is beautifully situated on a large plain, protected on both sides by mts. . . . The house, dwellings for officers & soldiers, are built of logs (filled up with mud), & present quite a handsome appearance, with their whitewashed fronts."
Larkin named the officers at the post whom he met, including Colonel Loring, Captain Llewellyn Jones, and Lieutenants John P. Hatch, George McLane, Robert M. Morris, Roger Jones, Hyatt C. Ransom, and Edward Treacy, all Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, and Surgeon Jonathan Letterman, Captain James C. McFerran (quartermaster department), and Captain Shoemaker in charge of the ordnance depot. He was impressed with the daughter of Llewellyn and Mrs. Jones, and wrote in his diary, "in the evening I called on Miss Freddy Jones."
The next morning Major Smith and Larkin began "making out pay accounts & pay rolls," using Dr. Letterman's house as their office. This was Larkin's first assignment with Major Smith and described the work as "a rather tedious and confining operation." Larkin was a dinner guest at the home of Llewellyn Jones and family. The food was exquisite, "reminding me of city life." The captain's daughter was also a hit. "Miss Fred as she is called is a very lovely lady, & gave us some capital songs. I passed the time very agreeably." That evening Lieutenant McLane raffled off a horse at the sutler's store, where Larkin was quartered. "Quite a jolly time among those interested."
The following day, Sunday, January 4, the mail passed through Fort Union on the way from Santa Fe to Independence. Smith and Larkin continued "making out the pay rolls." As a result, Larkin regretted, "I . . . do not have much leisure today." He was so busy he "Almost missed dinner." He ate with Lieutenant Ransom. On Monday, January 5, "Being ready with our Roll, we commenced paying off the troops." They dispensed nearly $10,000 in specie. As soon as the troops were paid, Larkin dined again with Lieutenant Ransom, and then he and Major Smith departed for Las Vegas, where they arrived that evening. Larkin did not remain at the post long enough to observe the celebrating that followed payday. It would be interesting to have his comments, especially since he was quartered at the post sutler's store where the enlisted men most likely would have spent their new cash. Like most observers of the frontier army, Larkin revealed little about the life of the enlisted men.
The department was much in need of additional recruits to fill the ranks of enlisted men, as General Garland emphasized, but the quality of the soldiers recruited for service in New Mexico was not always the best. During May 1857, while Colonel Loring and most of the garrison at Fort Union were on an Indian campaign, temporary post commander Captain Jones reported that varied duties required of the men could not be completed by the few soldiers left. Among the duties he listed were post guard, stable guard, herding parties, and "the labor essential for putting the quarters in repair before the rainy season." For all these tasks he had available four non-commissioned officers, one bugler, and thirty-two privates. Regarding the privates, Jones declared, "they would be more appropriately in their vocation under than on Guard." 
Lydia Spencer Lane provided a few lines in her memoirs about her first stay at Fort Union in 1857. She was the youngest daughter of Major George Blaney, U.S. Engineers Corps, who had died in 1835. In May 1854 at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, she married William B. Lane, a native of Kentucky who was promoted to first lieutenant a few months before. Lydia and her sister, Valeria Elliott, had been together at Hatch's Ranch and came to Fort Union with their husbands in April 1857. The two families had lived together at Hatch's Ranch and continued to do so at Fort Union. According to Lydia, "the quarters being large enough to accommodate us all, we remained with Captain and Mrs. Elliott." Fort Union was quite a change from the small garrison at Hatch's Ranch. "The post seemed very gay to us," she recalled, "with the band and so many people. We had seen no one but each other for such a long time, we were quite bewildered with all the stir and bustle about us." 
A few weeks later Lydia Lane and her two-year-old daughter, Mary (called Minnie), joined Captain Benjamin S. Roberts, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, and his family, and some discharged soldiers on a trip across the plains. They traveled with "an empty train of Mexican wagons." Lydia and Mary had "a great big ten-mule wagon in which we were to travel and sleep." They lived in that wagon for 24 days before they reached Westport. Captain Roberts had two wagons for his family. Lydia ate meals with the Roberts family, "some of the discharged soldiers cooking for us."  Lydia Lane was at Fort Union again in 1860 for a few months. She passed through the post in 1861 and later returned in 1867, when her husband was commander of the post. Lydia enjoyed frontier military life and would be sorry when her husband retired, but her sister Valeria grew tired of it after three years in the Southwest. In 1860, both Valeria and Lydia visited their family at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and Lydia recalled, "my sister . . . never returned to the frontier. She went to housekeeping in Carlisle, where Captain Elliott joined her some time afterwards." 
When Lydia and Mary Lane departed from Fort Union in 1857, Lieutenant Lane accompanied on horseback the caravan in which they traveled for three days. He wanted to see them as long as possible and assure himself that they were safe and well cared for on the trip. The first encampment after leaving the post was at a spring near the north end of the Turkey Mountains, some ten miles from the fort, where a "milk ranch" had been established (operated by two or more African-Americans) to supply dairy products to Fort Union. This was one of the first mentions of a dairy which supplied the post. This same milk ranch was noted by a Santa Fe Trail traveler, William B. Napton, in the same year. There apparently were other dairies near the post at different times. 
Lieutenant Lane had arranged for one of the soldiers in his company to meet him at the milk ranch with a fresh horse on his return trip four days later. The caravan carrying Mrs. Lane and the child camped beyond the Canadian River the second night, and they stopped approximately 60 miles from Fort Union at the end of the third day. On the morning of the fourth day, the lieutenant bade his family goodbye, watched them head east, and began his lonely ride back to the post. He recalled later that there had been rumors of Indian troubles "in the vicinity" and he rode toward his home station as fast as his horse could safely travel. He was relieved when he arrived at the milk ranch "some time after dark" without difficulty and "found the soldier with my fresh horse anxiously expecting me." 
Lane was disturbed to learn from the proprietor of the ranch and the soldier that a party of Indians had attacked a New Mexican along the trail between the ranch and Fort Union that same day and that one of the men from the ranch ("also a negro") had gone to Fort Union for supplies and had not yet returned. Despite the threat, Lane was determined to reach the post that night and proceeded with the soldier. After traveling some three or four miles, they "heard a noise which at first was faint, but rapidly grew louder." They stopped and listened until "we were both satisfied" the sound "was made by pots and pans and other traps pertaining to an Indian outfit, which were fastened to lodge-poles and dragged by Indian ponies." It became clear that the "supposed . . . small party of Indians with their families" were coming toward them on the same trail. 
Lieutenant Lane thought "the night was too dark and the ground too rough . . . to attempt to go off the road and around the party." Finally, he "determined to make a dash at the noise on the road and to get by on the other side, so as to have a clear run for the fort." He and his companion charged, "making as much noise as possible by yelling, and firing our pistols" so as "to so astonish the Indians by our sudden attack that we would get by safely and be well under way for the fort before they could do much harm by firing on us or discover our numbers." Everything went off according to plan, except the party was not Indians, and "the anxiously expected negro of the milk ranch was scared almost into fits." 
The man from the ranch had been to the sutler's store at Fort Union, where he purchased buckets, pans, cups, and other items needed for the dairy operation. He had loaded these items on a pack horse, according to Lane, "in a way to produce the greatest variety of sounds." Before leaving the post, this man had also heard about the Indian attack and "was anticipating all sorts of horrors." Lane realized the situation and, greatly relieved himself that there were no Indians, went back to assure the dairyman that he was safe. Having frightened the man almost to death, Lane declared, "had it not been a natural impossibility every hair on his head would have 'stood on end.'" After all concerned had calmed down from this "interesting affair," the parties went there respective ways. Lane concluded that "in little over an hour about the longest and most miserable day's ride I ever remember came to an end, and I entered again my very empty room at Fort Union."  Another ride recalled by Lane, and detailed below, was even more memorable and the outcome at least as humorous. Lieutenant Lane was not short of excitement in his life while his family was away.
It is possible that Lydia Lane met a westbound traveler from Missouri, William B. Napton, who was making his first trip to New Mexico over the Santa Fe Trail at the age of 18 in 1857. Napton later published his recollections of the venture. He stopped briefly at Fort Union, which he noted "had no appearance of a fortified place." He saw the post as "substantial and comfortable barracks, stores and warehouses," all of which "had a look of military precision, neatness and cleanliness about it not seen elsewhere in New Mexico." He also told of the ranch mentioned by Lieutenant Lane, located some ten miles northeast of Fort Union, which operated a dairy and "supplied the fort with milk and butter." Napton was impressed with the spring house at the ranch, "supplied with water by a cold and bold spring running out of the foot of the mountain." There "the milk was kept in large open tin pans, set in a ditch extending around the room, constructed so as to allow a continual flow of cool water about the pans." 
Napton did not mention in his reminiscences whether or not he met Lydia Lane on the trail or her husband, Lieutenant William B. Lane, at Fort Union. He did note the abundance of antelope along the Santa Fe Trail and in New Mexico and recalled some of his experiences, not all of which were pleasant, while hunting them.  Lieutenant Lane was also fascinated with the hunting of antelope and, while he was at Fort Union in 1857 and most likely while his wife was away, had one of the most memorable adventures of his life. 
Lane prided himself as being a good hunter and was impressed that he "could, from the front door of my quarters at the old post up against the bluffs at Fort Union, see at one time nearly any and every day several hundred antelope on the plain between the post and the Turkey Mountain." At the time, however, he was "having very bad luck in hunting." Not only that, but Captain Shoemaker at the ordnance depot at Fort Union "had been killing an antelope, and sometimes two, nearly every time he went out, which was once or twice a week." Lane was competitive and "determined to go beyond and on the east side of Turkey Mountain for a day's hunt, . . . hoping to find the game less wild than nearer the post." The result, he recalled, demonstrated "how a hunter can have an interesting and exciting day without killing game, or even getting a shot,that is, if he is in a rattlesnake country." 
Lane rode his horse across Maxson Crater at the south end of the Turkey Mountains and along the east side of that small range without seeing any antelope, curious as to why the game was so scarce on that particular day. He was determined to bring back an antelope and continued his search. At a point some 15 miles northeast of the post, he finally spied "a large herd of antelope quietly grazing, and as the cover and wind were all in my favor, my hopes were high for game." As he was driving in a picket pin for his horse, using a stone for a hammer, Lane was struck by a more immediate concern than the antelope. 
Almost 40 years later, Lane could recall the incident as though it had happened only a short time ago. "After about the third stroke with the stone I felt a sharp sting on the back of my left hand, and at the same moment heard the rattle of a snake, and saw within a few inches of my hand the last half of a large and horrid-looking rattlesnake just about to disappear in a hole in the ground." Lane found two small punctures on his hand, was convinced these were the result of a snake bite, and "was of course frightened almost out of my wits." He immediately mounted his horse to return to the post and its surgeon, declaring that "shooting at the antelope I don't think entered my head." Uncertain "how best to proceed," Lane took a flask of brandy from his saddlebag and "took a drink, and a big one." 
He headed "at a gallop" around the north end of the Turkey Mountains and along the main trail to Fort Union. He imagined his left hand was swelling: "I thought I could see it was getting larger." In addition, Lane "began to feel very warm, which was to my mind evidence that the poison was doing its deadly work." After riding awhile, he "halted long enough to take another drink, knowing if I could get thoroughly under the influence of the brandy there would be a chance for me. This time I took 'a whopper.'" 
Fearing that he was soon to die, Lane rode on and thought about "being found on the prairie by my friends, swelled up like a dead toad, and black and ugly from the effect of the snake-bite." He determined not to look at his hurting hand in an attempt to subdue his sensation of terror. As the brandy permeated his system, Lane began to feel "very familiar and good." It occurred to him that he "had felt that way on some other occasion" although he "had never before been snake-bitten." As he began "feeling so much more cheerful and hopeful," Lane resolved to look at his left hand again. "I slowly raised the hand," he remembered, ". . . and realized that there was no hope! The hand appeared to be much swollen, and my whole body seemed to take on a feeling of weariness and lassitude that I thought preceded immediate death." 
Then he decided to compare his two hands and discovered the true nature of his situation. "To my amazement the right one was just as large as the left, and not only that, there seemed to be several pairs of hands; in fact, the air was full of them, and all badly snake-bitten." He realized at this point that he was "very drunk." He was also convinced that he could not have been poisoned by the rattlesnake "or the brandy would not have taken effect so soon." He concluded, correctly as time proved, that he had injured his hand while driving the picket pin (because a piece of stone broke off, hit his hand, and "made the blood come") and had assumed he was bitten because the snake had been nearby. "When it fully dawned on my benumbed brain that I was not bitten," Lane recollected, "I gave one wild, joyous whoop, and then broke out into a series of Indian yells. I leaned forward, or rather fell, on my horse's neck and began to laugh, and roared, in a drunken way, until I was almost exhausted." He attempted to "brace up and look sharp" but found that was more than he "could manage with dignity and ease" until the effects of the brandy diminished. "My whole mind was given to my horse and rifle, and to keep from falling off." 
His mood changed again as the brandy began to dissipate, and "a feeling of pathos crept over me. I wanted to weep, and felt religious." He also "was growing very sleepy." A few miles from Fort Union, Lane saw some geese on a small lake and concluded that he should shoot one so as not to return to the post empty-handed. Foregoing the use of his picket pin, he tied his horse to a rock. Before getting a shot at the geese, he saw three or four men on horseback heading his way. Fearing they might be Indians or "Mexican" bandits, Lane determined to ride quickly to the safety of the post. He was only partially mounted when his horse raced off, "which left me hanging on his side" while the "horse went thundering across the plain." Lane eventually made it into the saddle and arrived back at Fort Union without further incident. 
Lane recalled that he "had had what one might call 'a full day.' I had ridden over thirty miles, been bitten, as I supposed, by a rattlesnake, got drunk and sober, was at the point of death and had recovered, and all this within twelve hours." Upon reaching the post, "I rode quietly to my quarters, dismounted, sent my horse to the stable, and went to bed, feeling thankful."  That day was the one Lane remembered most from his assignment to duty at the first Fort Union, but the earlier incident with the dairyman from the milk ranch must have been a close second. Lane was transferred, in November 1857, to Fort Stanton, where his wife and daughter rejoined him the following year. He returned to the third Fort Union as the post commander after the Civil War.
Although Fort Union was located in rattlesnake country, apparently very few people were victims of snake bite. Cattle, horses, and dogs were occasionally bitten. In 1858, during the march of officers and recruits over the Santa Fe Trail to Fort Union, a dog owned by Lieutenant Gordon Granger, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, was struck on the nose by a rattlesnake near Ocate Crossing on the branch between the Cimarron Route and Fort Union. According to Major John S. Simonson, commanding the troops, the surgeon "scarified the place and applied externals, and also poured down a pint of Whiskey internally." The dog became "much swollen about the neck" but survived the bite and the treatment and made it to Fort Union. 
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