Historic Resource Study
The recreational activities formulated by the soldiers, in the absence of programs provided by the military, were not sufficiently fulfilling for many soldiers who sought further escape from the monotony of garrison life in saloons, gambling houses, and establishments of prostitution which opened shop near every military post, including Fort Union. The consumption of alcohol, usually available at the post trader's store as well as shops in communities off the military reservation, was heavy among frontier soldiers. As one soldier expressed the widespread opinion of drinking, "it is too much the impression among us that whisky justifies anything, and that a free use of it is a necessary qualification of a gentleman." 
A similar viewpoint was expressed in 1880 by a retired officer, Duane M. Greene, who wrote:
"The officers still cling to that antiquated idea that the hospitality of a gentleman is not complete without liquor, and therefore they keep it in their houses. They entertain generously, and the guest who drinks the greatest quantity of spirits without losing control of his senses is generally looked upon with favor." 
Greene noted that intoxication of officers and enlisted men was common. He concluded that "the blighting curse of intemperance destroys ninety per cent more of the Army than powder and ball." He believed the major source of alcohol for the troops was the sutler's store. "Virtually," he wrote, "the Army is a school of dissipation; and it really seems as if the establishment were kept up chiefly for the benefit of the Post Traders." He declared of post traders, "their chief business is to sell intoxicating liquors to the troops." As a result, "they get rich in a short timerich by destroying the bodies and souls of human beings, and their occupation is dignified by the guarantee and protection of the Government!" 
Greene observed that some soldiers had joined the army because they were "inveterate drunkards" who were "unable to obtain employment at their trades." And if they were not heavy drinkers when they joined, the pressures to consume were powerful. Greene explained:
"Young men not inclined to intemperate habits before entering the service soon acquire them after joining. There are some who enlist through patriotic motives, expecting soldier life to be one grand gala day of hunting, bugles and "shoulder arms, but find the reality quite different from their ideal. They are compelled to associate with uncongenial people. . . . They find themselves companions of debauches of the lowest order, and are greeted on every side with prison slang and oaths. On pay-day, they see that drunkenness is almost universalseemingly an obligationand, unwilling to shirk anything that pertains to duty, they join in the common revelry with a vigor that soon begets the title of 'veteran.' Such is the force of example when it is constantly before a man's eyes." 
Although excessive consumption was disruptive and dangerous, a moderate use of alcohol was considered to be beneficial. A small issue of whiskey was a part of army rations, although not regularly provided, until 1865.  Before and after 1865, many soldiers purchased and consumed alcohol intemperately. Drunkenness contributed to problems of discipline and created headaches for officers (commissioned and noncommissioned) as well as the imbibers themselves. As Rickey explained, "sutlers and traders carried on a heavy whisky business immediately after payday, and high spirits rose still higher." 
The favorite beverage was beer, usually sold in quart bottles. The price per bottle at the trader's store on post ranged from fifty cents to one dollar, and the prices off post were about the same. After the office of post trader was abolished in 1889, post canteens, operated by the army, offered beer and wine at lower prices (from eighteen to fifty cents per drink). Although plans were made to establish a canteen at Fort Union in 1889, Commander A. P. Morrow reported in the spring of 1890 that "no Canteen has been established at this Post for the reason that the Commanding Officer was officially notified that the Post would soon be abandoned."  The post trader's store was destroyed by fire on December 1, 1889, and reopened in another building a few days later. Although no date has been found to indicate when the trader's store was closed at Fort Union, it apparently ceased to operate during the early months of 1890 and was not immediately replaced by a canteen for the reason noted above.
Sometime later, however, because of the depressed disposition (and accompanying disciplinary problems) of many soldiers who stagnated at the condemned post which offered neither an opportunity for rewarding action nor a place to relax and revive their spirits, the post council of administration authorized the establishment of a post canteen on October 9, 1890. Lieutenant John M. Shollenberger, Tenth Infantry, was placed in charge of the new service which included a "bar-room, billiard-room and lunch counter." Sergeant Mathias Smith, Company I, Tenth Infantry, was appointed canteen steward. Major Edward William Whittemore, Tenth Infantry, commanding Fort Union, praised the results: "The effect on discipline of the post has been marked; confinements and trials have been reduced more than one half." He attributed "the success of the canteen in a great measure to the interest taken in the same by" Shollenberger.  A soldier at the post, reporting on the canteen for a Las Vegas newspaper, confirmed the improvements and reported that "the men are more content now than previous to its establishment." Regarding what drinks were served at the canteen, the soldier stated that "beer is sold freely to the men; nothing stronger."  The availability of hard liquor had undergone several changes at the post.
Whereas the sale of whiskey at Fort Union by the post sutler was restricted during the Civil War, it was legally available for a few years thereafter. Occasionally there were restrictions. For example, Post Commander William B. Lane addressed the following instructions to William H. Moore, post sutler, at 10:20 a.m. on July 4, 1867: "There are at this early hour in the day so many evidences of drunkenness and disorder, you will please not sell or give away any more liquor to soldiers or citizens, during the day."  It was a day of national celebration, and an opportunity for brisk sales at the trader's store, but Moore apparently complied with the request.
Except for temporary restrictions, liquor was available at the trader's store until 1881, when President Rutherford B. Hayes, by executive order, prohibited the sale of hard liquor at all military posts. That was part of a national prohibition reform movement that swept the nation during the 1880s and after, leading eventually to the prohibition amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1919. What was not available on post, however, could be obtained at nearby drinking establishments. Sometimes the quality was inferior, even dangerous, but that did not stop the intemperate consumption and concomitant complications of drunkenness.  At Fort Union periodic efforts were made to remove peddlers of spirituous liquors from the reservation. As late as July 1890 that was being done, as shown in an order issued by Post Commander Albert Morrow: "1st Lieut. John N. Glass 6th Cavalry with a suitable mounted detachment will search the reservation for persons illegally engaged in the sale of liquor and if any person is found, thus engaged Lieut Glass will destroy all liquor found, together with all buildings occupied by said person or persons." 
Rickey discerned that "drinking can hardly be considered an approved form of recreation, but certainly it was an important relaxation and pastime for many frontier regulars." He noted that there were soldiers who refused to consume alcohol and some who drank moderately but found that "large numbers were accustomed to heavy drinking, and many spent most of their pay for beer and whisky." Despite the ramifications of excessive drinking, "the army's general attitude was one of tolerance, because officers realized that liquor provided an escape or, at least, an artificial and temporary amelioration of the dull, hard, and lonely lives of the men."  One Fort Union soldier, Eddie Matthews, Eighth Cavalry, pledged to his family "never to drink one drop of intoxicating liquor while I am in the Army."  He kept that promise and was active in temperance efforts at Fort Union. He was, however, in the minority regarding the consumption of alcohol. In 1870 he reported that, "Since Pay day, the Guard House had been full of drunken Soldiers."  The court records at Fort Union revealed literally hundreds of cases in which intoxication was a factor.
Many officers were just as inclined as enlisted men to consume intemperate quantities of liquor. In 1886 Second Lieutenant George B. Duncan, Ninth Infantry, who joined his regiment at Fort Wingate, New Mexico, fresh from the military academy at West Point, was offended by the drunkenness of officers and enlisted men following pay day. For "five or six days," he recalled, "intoxication was evident on all sides." Duncan recoiled from "this introduction" to army life which "made a deeply unfavorable impression and a regret that I had not resigned after graduation and taken a job which had been offered me on the New York Central Railroad." The young shavetail was soon in garrison at Fort Union, where he "began to enjoy army life" and "decided to take my profession seriously and fit myself for its responsibilities." He commented on the prevalence of pay-day intoxication at the post. "On pay day and for two days thereafter not even fatigue duty was attempted as the men were expected to get drunk and they did." 
At Fort Union periodic efforts were made to control the liquor traffic on and off the military reservation, with limited success.  The problems associated with drinking by soldiers had not been resolved by the time Fort Union was abandoned. In 1868 Colonel William N. Grier, Third Cavalry and commander of Fort Union, directed J. E. Barrow, operator of the post trader's store, to stop selling liquor to enlisted men at his "Billiard Saloon." Grier declared that the daily consumption of alcohol easily obtained there tended "to keep men in the Guard House away from duty." Somewhat apologetically, Grier recognized that this would affect the post trader's profits, and he wrote "I also understand that the Saloon pays better than the Store."  The trader's profits, however, were secondary to the problems created by the liquor. The success of the order could not be determined from available records. There were other sources of supply off the post, not nearly as convenient, however, as the "Billiard Saloon."
Drunkenness remained a problem despite the restrictions. In addition to preventing soldiers from performing their duties, disrupting the routine of garrison life, and increasing the population of the guardhouse, the intemperate consumption of alcohol contributed to violence, including murder. On July 6, 1869, Private Lanaghan (first name unknown), Third Cavalry, let a New Mexican into quarters to sell eggs. It was common practice for citizens in the area to sell produce to soldiers. For an unknown reason, except that he was "drunk at the time," Lanaghan "got mad" at the vendor and began to break the eggs. He then chased the New Mexican from his quarters with a pistol and shot him dead outside.  In spite of such tragedies, intoxication remained an inveterate problem. Such destructiveness undoubtedly persuaded temperance and prohibition advocates to intensify their campaigns.
Soon after Frank G. Jager became the new post trader at Fort Union in 1881, following President Hayes's prohibition order, Jager was directed by the post commander to close the saloon connected with his store and "see that no intoxicating Liquids of any description are sold or in any manner disposed of from your place of business until permission for doing so shall have been obtained from the Comdg Officer of the Post."  This was not an outright prohibition but a requirement of authorization for the sale of whatever items did not fall under the president's category of "hard liquor." The post commander presumably received clarification and Jager apparently made the proper request, for on November 1, 1881, he was granted permission "to sell beer and light wines."  Three weeks later Jager was provided with precise guidelines regarding the sale of those refreshments. Colonel Granville O. Haller, Twenty-Third Infantry, commanding the post, directed the post trader to close "the saloon, or drinking establishment, connected with your place of business immediately" and, thereafter, to have it open only between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and noon. In addition, Jager was forbidden to "sell, or give, to any soldier, more than three drinks of beer or wine in any one day."  Again, the results were not available.
The sale of hard liquor by the post trader was restricted but not always halted entirely. Rarely did evidence surface to prove that it was dispensed illegally. In the summer of 1886, however, Private David Nelson, Tenth Infantry, filed a complaint with the post adjutant against the post trader for selling him "a pint of whiskey yesterday." A. W. Conger, the post trader, declared that his barkeeper was "a reliable man" and accused Nelson of lying. Post Commander Douglass investigated the incident and concluded that Private Nelson's story was confirmed by a member of the band named Riddell (first name unknown). Riddell attested that the bartender at Conger's store sold him "a pint of whiskey for . . . fifty cents, money furnished by Nelson." Douglass then directed Lieutenant Robert C. Van Vliet, post adjutant, to inform Conger of the facts "in order that he may give special instructions to his Bar Keeper, to sell no spirituous liquors of any kind either by the drink or in quantity, under penalty of removal from this Reservation." 
The sale of beer continued to be the prerogative of the post trader. In 1887 a private in Company B, Tenth Infantry, requested permission to set up a company canteen in the billiard room of the company and sell beer. Colonel Douglass refused the petition and stated that the sale of beer "seems to be the exclusive privilege of the Post Trader." Moreover "the sale of beer, would be in violation of orders prohibiting any liquor in Company quarters." Douglass also argued that granting the request would set "a bad precedent, for all other companies would claim the same privilege." The increased availability of beer, Douglass believed, "would operate injuriously to discipline and good order."  Drunkenness was a problem to be contained as much as possible.
Attempts were periodically made by a few officers and other concerned individuals to promote temperance or abstinence. Some soldiers who had a problem with alcohol promised to stop drinking. An example was Private Thomas Howard, Company J, Regiment of Mounted Riflemen. In 1857 he was in confinement at the Fort Union guardhouse with a ball and chain because of drunkenness and insubordination while intoxicated. Post Commander Llewellyn Jones, shorthanded at the post because so many soldiers were in the field, requested permission to remit the remainder of Howard's sentence. He reported that "Howard a good man and efficient soldier when sober, makes me very solemn pledges, to abstain entirely hereafter from drinking, and I feel confident that the Public interests would be subserved, by taking him from the baneful associations of this guard house, and restoring him to duty under these pledges."  It was not determined if Howard made good his promises. Others continued to imbibe.
The efforts of officers to combat intoxication was aided by at least one temperance society. The Independent Order of Good Templars was founded in Utica, New York, in 1851, the same year that Fort Union was established, to promote temperance, peace, and brotherhood of all men. This fraternal organization was part of the wave of temperance reform that began in the 1820s and slowly increased in influence until nation-wide prohibition was inaugurated in 1919. The Good Templars constituted one of the strongest temperance societies during the third quarter of the nineteenth century, with thousands of lodges in the United States and several other nations by the end of the Civil War. Its influence was later superseded by the Women's Christian Temperance Union founded in 1874. Membership in the Good Templars was open to all races and creeds, and affiliates were expected to practice temperance and encouraged to abstain from the consumption of alcohol altogether. The regular meetings of the lodge members were designed to support each individual in avoiding intemperance and to seek new members. By the time of the Civil War Good Templars lodges had been established at several military posts.
The Good Templars came to Fort Union with Company K, First California Volunteer Cavalry, in 1863. As one of the soldiers in the company reported to a Santa Fe newspaper in 1864, "we were once known as the 'Drunken Ks,' & deserved it. But a good Templar lodge in our Co. has effected a radical change in our character giving us the title 'Bully Ks.'" Before leaving California, the men of Company K had organized a couple of lodges there. At Fort Union they started three Good Templar lodges, one in another company of their regiment, one in a company of the Eleventh Missouri Volunteer Cavalry, and the third as the post lodge. The Fort Union lodge was a vigorous association by late 1864, when officers and enlisted men met frequently in the evenings to promote "the cause" of temperance.  The location of those meetings was not determined.
The results were gratifying to the reporting soldier, who avowed that the consumption of liquor at Fort Union had decreased and drunkenness was on the decline. He enjoined his "fellow readers" to consider the merits of the Good Templars. He asked them to "contemplate the sad effect of alcohol," to "pause and reflect" on the destruction brought by intemperance, and to "resolve that you will never present an order for whiskey."  The validity of the claims of dwindling incidents of drunkenness were difficult to confirm, and the number of soldiers in the guardhouse as a result of infractions of regulations while under the influence of alcohol were not significantly different after the establishment of the lodge at the post. The excessive consumption of alcohol did not disappear, and the sprees after payday continued.
The Good Templars continued their efforts, usually with the support of the commanding officer because any reduction in drunkenness would benefit the garrison. In the spring and summer of 1865, when the lodge (named Washington Lodge) was reportedly "flourishing" at Fort Union, the 70 to 80 members (including civilians as well as soldiers) built a lodge hall for their meetings (a structure that apparently was also used at times as the post chapel and meeting place for other fraternities, particularly the Freemasons). The hall, the construction of which was aided by Post Commander Abreu and Quartermaster Enos, was located between the hospital and the old earthwork.  The lodge remained active for several years, and no record has been found to indicate when it ceased to function.
Eddie Matthews was an active member of the Fort Union Good Templars in the early 1870s. He reported in 1873 that the lodge membership included approximately 50 men, mostly soldiers, and about 15 women.  Later that year, the day after a lodge meeting, he wrote: "Ten men members were added to our number and still the cause is progressing."  Matthews was elected Worthy Recording Secretary of the Fort Union Good Templars, and he proclaimed, "It is an elegant Office but don't pay anything." He saw it as just another clerking job.  The following year he was elected Worthy Vice Templar.  The effectiveness of the Good Templars in reducing drunkenness could not be determined from available records. Matthews was pleased to report, without giving any reason for the unusual conduct, that on January 1, 1874, "New Year's day passed off quietly and was an exception to most holidays seen in the Army. As no drunken Soldiers were seen meandering about the Garrison." 
In February 1874 the Fort Union Good Templars sponsored a lecture by Acting Assistant Post Surgeon C. M. Clark, apparently expecting him to further their cause. They were sadly disappointed, however, as Matthews explained:
"The Monotony of Garrison life was disturbed a little by the Lecture delivered by Dr. Clark, Acting Post Surgeon, this evening. Subject "A trip to the Moon". The Hall was crowded, and every person anticipated a Comic Lecture, for the subject would naturally impress one as being if not Comic (rather flighty)."
"Finally the Lecturer arose with a pile of Manuscript before him which looked like he intended business, but alas for great expectations, for a sillier discourse I never listened to. Neither sense or nonsense could be heard. Nothing but the foolish ideas of an idiot who's small brain was destroyed altogether from the influence of liquor. After listening to this lunatic for an hour we returned to our homes feeling something like I suppose a dog would that had been caught in the act of sheep stealing. We were badly sold." 
Perhaps Dr. Clark's aberrant behavior convinced some of the listeners of the deleterious effects of excessive drinking. According to Matthews, following a lodge meeting a few weeks later, the Good Templars continued "in a flourishing condition and increasing in number every meeting night. Initiated three new members tonight and received propositions for membership of two others."  Two weeks later Matthews reiterated the lodge's success: "The Lodge is in a flourishing condition and new members joining every meeting night. We meet again tonight and will have four or five to initiate."  Clearly, Matthews believed in the cause and was convinced the lodge helped to deal with a serious problem. The Good Templars may have reduced the consumption of liquor, certainly they did in some cases, but inebriation of enlisted men and officers continued to be a problem so long as troops were stationed at Fort Union.
Because of various restrictions on the sale of liquor at the post, much of the drinking was done off the reservation, especially at the community of Loma Parda, approximately six miles away.  Loma Parda was an irrigation farming and grazing community established about the time Fort Union was founded as part of the expansion of Hispanic settlement along the Mora River. The farmers sold produce at Fort Union throughout the life of the post. The area was noted for its fine vegetables and fruits. It was Loma Parda's proximity to the garrison that made it an attractive site for soldiers and civilian employees at Fort Union to obtain what was not available on the military reservation. Although Loma Parda was the premier retreat for soldiers with a pass to leave the post, a number of other communities were also visited. These included Tiptonville, La Junta (later Watrous), Mora, Las Vegas, and Wagon Mound. As David Keener noted in his thorough study of Loma Parda, the "interaction" between New Mexicans and soldiers in these communities developed "the cultural amalgamation characteristic of the American Southwest." 
Some citizens of Loma Parda, including Hispanos and Anglos, catered to the desires of soldiers seeking pleasure. There were saloons, dance halls, gambling joints, and prostitutes. The town also had a mill, general store, repair shops, school, and church. In 1870 the town and surrounding community had a population of 412, and occupations represented besides farmers and housekeepers were merchant, stonemason, miller, tailor, baker, butcher, carpenter, tinsmith, freighter, and laborer.  The town received economic benefits from Fort Union, and it declined after the post was abandoned. During the four decades of affiliation between the fort and the town, which Keener called "a relationship of mutual exchange," Loma Parda was a favored spot for soldiers to unwind. It was, for that reason, also a headache for commanding officers.
Interestingly, no references to Loma Parda were found in military records until the time of the Civil War. One of the First Colorado Volunteers who served in New Mexico in 1862, Ovando J. Hollister, later recalled the activities in the town which he called "Lome." After explaining that some members of his regiment broke into the sutler's "cellar and gobbled a lot of whisky, wine, canned fruit, oysters, etc." the night before they departed from Fort Union to meet the Rebels at Glorieta Pass, Hollister left a vivid description of the departure on March 22, 1862: ". . . the command was scattered from Dan to Beersheba, burying plunder, drinking, fighting and carousing with Mexican women, at the Lome, a small 'Sodom' five or six miles from Union." 
A few days after the engagement at Glorieta, the troops returned to Fort Union only to leave a day later to help chase the Confederates from the territory. Hollister's company camped the evening of April 5 at Loma Parda. The following day five men of the company deserted, and on April 7 a detail was sent "back to Lome to see if our supposed deserters might not possibly be there on a spree."  They were not found. Later in the summer the Colorado Volunteers returned to Fort Union, and Hollister described the enticements of Loma Parda.
"The small Mexican town called Lome . . . became the rage. Fandangos, Lome lightning, and Pecadoras [sinners] were the attractions, and rows of considerable magnitude were of nightly occurrence. The guard-house was filled with Lome cadets, and the hospital with Lome patients. The hole was an unmitigated curse to the soldiers, but was most generously patronized nevertheless." 
Later, when one of the volunteers killed a man on the march to Denver, Hollister stated "the act was laid to the Lome 'rot,' in which he had soaked himself for the last few weeks." 
One incident at Loma Parda had international ramifications. A citizen of the village, José; Miguel Bernadet, presumably a Spanish national, complained to the minister plenipotentiary of Spain at the nation's capital that some of the Colorado Volunteers had attacked his residence on June 21, 1862, and inflicted $4,101.17 in damages (this figure apparently included the theft of valuable bill of exchange). Bernadet begged for assistance in obtaining compensation from the U. S. government. The grievance was sent to Secretary of State William H. Seward, who informed the war department. In due course, over one year later, Brigadier General Carleton was directed to investigate, and he sent Captain William H. Rossell, Tenth Infantry, to examine the facts and "so conduct the investigation as to shew the character . . . of the complainant . . . [and] to shew the disreputable character of Loma Parda, and its inhabitants generally." 
Captain Rossell gathered statements under oath from the complainant, Bernadet; the post commander, Captain Peter Plympton; Justice of the Peace José M. Nabardo; a notary public in Mora County, Thomas H. Thompson; and the following citizens: J. A. LaRue, William Krönig, William A. Bransford, Patrick Phelan, José C. Archuleta, and Juaquin Rodrigues. The contents of those statements were not found, but they apparently attested that Bernadet's claim was unsubstantiated."  Exactly what damage, if any, was inflicted on his property by the Colorado Volunteers was not determined. It is important to note, however, that Carleton's instructions emphasized the military department's view of the village as a disreputable place.
Other incidents contributed to that perception. In August 1862, Major Henry Wallen, commanding Fort Union, reported to department headquarters that he received information that "a riot was going on at Loma Parda." He sent troops to assess the situation. They found that a recently-discharged soldier named Esler (alias Curley) had shot and wounded another discharged soldier. Esler, described as "a desperado" who had "the reputation of having killed one or two men," was apprehended and incarcerated in the post guardhouse. Major Wallen requested instructions regarding Esler, wanting to know if he should be tried by a military commission or released.  The response was not located, but the report confirmed that the village beside the reservation was a troublesome site.
The drinking, fighting, and other disruptions caused by the purveyors of refreshments at Loma Parda brought intervention by the post commander, Captain Peter Plympton, Seventh Infantry, in March 1863. He secured a bond of $1,000 from three businessmen of Loma Parda: Martias Baca, Antonia Montoya, and Julian Baca. The latter operated the famous dance hall at Loma Parda and the others presumably managed saloons or similar establishments. The three agreed to forfeit the $1,000 if they violated the terms of the bond, "to sell no Liquors of any kind whatsoever to the U. S. troops or to Army followers during the present rebellion."  If the parties kept the terms of the agreement could not be determined, but liquor continued to be available in Loma Parda during the remainder of the Civil War and after. The town remained a source of affliction in the eyes of military authorities.
Even though most of the residents of Loma Parda were engaged in agriculture and legitimate businesses, the disreputable enterprises made the entire community an object of contempt to officers concerned about the deleterious effects on soldiers who patronized them. Apparently all efforts to prevent enlisted men from frequenting Loma Parda failed. Some officers were known to sojourn there. Near the close of the Civil War the department inspector general, Colonel Nelson H. Davis, in his report of an inspection of Fort Union, noted his objections to Loma Parda and recommended that something be done about it. Davis described Loma Parda as "a Mexican village" which was "a vile immoral and demoralizing place, and a festering nuisance to this Post." It was not clear if Davis had visited Loma Parda or was reporting what the officers at the post told him. His condemnation was harsh. "Whiskey and women," he declared, "curse this locality." He stated that "some fifteen soldiers, more or less, are reported to have been shot at this place." The provost sergeant stationed at Loma Parda had recently been shot in the leg. Davis strongly urged that "some means . . . be devised to abate this evil." 
Colonel Davis and Department Commander Carleton soon conceived a plan "to break up that great nuisance to the post and depot at Fort Union, viz: Loma Parda." After consulting with a territorial judge, Joab Houghton, regarding the possible solution, Carleton directed Major Herbert M. Enos, quartermaster department, to attempt to lease the entire village of Loma Parda from its owners for "a nominal rent." If leases could be arranged with all the property owners, Enos was authorized to do so.  Enos was unable to conclude such arrangements. Even if he had, most likely the businesses that profited from the soldiers would have found new locations near the military reservation and continued to offer the same products and services.
In fact some civilians came to the post, in violation of army regulations, to offer their disreputable professions to enlisted men and officers. In May 1865 the new post commander, Lieutenant Colonel Edward B. Willis, First New Mexico Volunteer Infantry, directed the provost marshal at Fort Union to notify all citizens "within the limits of the garrison not in Government employ," to remove themselves within 24 hours. Any who remained were to be arrested and placed in the guardhouse. The order especially applied to "any citizens at the Post for the purpose of gambling either with officers or enlisted men" and to "females without legitimate business."  It would seem that not all soldiers had to visit Loma Parda to engage the services of gamblers and prostitutes, although such orders, if strictly enforced, may have made that necessary at times.
Frank Olsmith, an eighteen-year-old private soldier who later recorded his recollections of escort duty with the Doolittle Commission to New Mexico in the summer of 1865, was attached to the garrison at Fort Union when those restrictions were in effect.  He characterized life at the post during the time of transition from the earthwork to the third fort, which he described as "located in a dreary, treeless and practically grassless plain," as "monotonous and uninteresting." He found the place lonely and dreary. "There was a great dearth of white feminine society, no provision whatever being made for comfortable housing of ladies, and very little for the officers and men." Olsmith commented on leisure activities and the popularity of Loma Parda.
He noted that "gambling with cards, dice, and now and then horseracing formed the principal recreation." He also observed, in contrast to the conception of many officers, that "there was little drunkenness at any time." The reason, he believed, was that "whiskey was so scarce and hard to get that it was better to stay sober." Perhaps the various restrictions on the availability of alcohol were being effectively enforced at the time. Olsmith confirmed that "a little village called Loma Parda, within a half hour's ride of the post, was the chief recreation center." His recollections, similar to those of other soldiers and apparently oblivious to the fact that Loma Parda was predominantly a village of agriculturalists, were that "the population derived their subsistence largely from catering to the desires of the troops for social entertainment, amusement, wine rooms and restaurants." He remembered that "dancing pavilions, most of them with gambling places in connection, were plentiful and were for the most part well patronized from early eve to dewy morn."
"The music was very good, exclusively of the Spanish type. At the fandangoes, as the balls were termed, the New Mexican girls were adept at waltzing. The young fellows our command found it all most enjoyable." 
Olsmith retained favorable attitudes toward the natives and observed that, "for amusement they depended chiefly on dancing, music and gambling."
"It was this trait, I grieve to say that made Loma Parda one of the principal resorts for pleasure of our command. Every night parties were formed with consent and often the participation of our commanding officers, where we danced, smoked and indulged in flirtations with the native damsels over glasses of white Mexican wine, until the approach of dawn in the Eastern sky. With it all there was little drunkenness, the utmost of good humor." 
According to Olsmith, Loma Parda was a fountain of pleasure for many soldiers, a refreshing escape from the lackluster life at the post. "For many of them," he reminisced, "it was the one place in all that country that they left with a feeling of regret." Before the summer was over and Olsmith's unit was sent to escort Carson, he avowed that several soldiers "had acquired sweethearts among the damsels of Loma Parda and were loath to leave them." Those feelings were reciprocated "by a number of the young women." In fact, Olsmith claimed, when some of the women heard the soldiers were leaving, they "packed their possessions in a bundle, brought them to our camp, and with tears of sorrow streaming down their cheeks, besought Captain Hyde for permission to share our march to the states, with their lovers." But, Olsmith concluded with a tone that hinted he may have been personally involved rather than merely a disinterested reporter, the pleas were "to no avail. Permission could not be granted, for under regulations no provision is made for taking along the wives of soldiers on a march through enemy country." 
Few other enlisted men had provided such detailed information about the enticements of Loma Parda. Olsmith's perspective was generally more moderate and positive about the community than were the disapproving opinions of some officers. The latter, on the other hand, responsible for discipline and safety of the troops, were often justified in their attitudes. Because some of the soldiers had appetites for the offerings at Loma Parda and similar places beyond their meager pay, they misappropriated government property which they traded or sold in order to support their habits.  The losses were sufficient cause to police the traffic from the post to the village. In addition, there were acts of violence, usually fueled by consumption of too much alcohol, that resulted in injury, sometimes death, destruction of property, and hard feelings.
On the night of May 20, 1866, two soldiers from Fort Union were badly wounded in a fight with citizens at Loma Parda. Major John Thompson, First New Mexico Volunteer Cavalry, who assumed command of Fort Union on April 27, 1866,  went to Loma Parda to investigate. He concluded that the soldiers had been attacked by citizens "without any provocation on the part of the soldiers." Thompson requested the alcalde to arrest the guilty citizens. The alcalde responded with a requisition that a number of soldiers be turned over to him to charge with "a breach of the peace." 
Thompson considered the complaint against the soldiers to be an attempt to shield the guilty citizens at Loma Parda. He reported to district headquarters that "it is a notorious fact, that a majority of the residents of the place are thieves and 'Cut-throats' subsisting entirely, upon what they can procure from the Soldier, and do not hesitate to resort to any means, however infamous to procure it." Thompson considered the motive to arrest soldiers to be a scheme to make more profits from their presence in the town. "Should I accept the statement of these notorious characters," Thompson wrote, "charging soldiers with offences; and permit them to be taken to Loma Parda for trial by the Alcalde, this post would be largely represented at the place." Once there, the commander predicted, "the soldiers would be detained, so long, as a dollar, or a dollar's worth of property could be gleaned from them." He refused to surrender any soldiers to the alcalde. 
After the episode of May 20, Thompson was determined to do everything possible to stop soldiers of the garrison from visiting Loma Parda. First, he sent a small detachment of soldiers to the village to "arrest and send to the Post of Fort Union any and all soldiers who may visit the Loma Parda, N. M." Second, he issued an order prohibiting any enlisted men at the post "from visiting the Loma Parda, N. M. under any pretext whatever." He promised that violators would "be severely punished." 
The threat of punishment did not prevent soldiers from going to Loma Parda. On July 15, 1866, Major Thompson learned that Sergeant José M. Martinez and six privates Nicolas Apodaca, Rafael Baca, José I. Gonzales, José Cordero, Jesus Paz, and Polonio Paz) of the First New Mexico Volunteer Infantry had gone to Loma Parda, where they were arrested and detained by the alcalde. Thompson sent Lieutenant Thomas Clancy, First New Mexico Volunteer Infantry, with a detail of soldiers to investigate and demand the release of the troops. Clancy was unsuccessful, and the alcalde stated he would hold the soldiers "until he saw fit to try them." 
Clancy reported that the alcalde exclaimed "that he did not care a damn for me, the Commanding officer, or any other Military authority (or words to that effect)." Clancy's request to be informed "as to the cause of the detention of the soldiers" went unfilled, except the alcalde "alleged that they were under charges for a breach of the peace." It appeared that the alcalde, after failing to obtain the surrender of troops from the post commander, had taken it upon himself to arrest troops who came to Loma Parda. Because of the clash between the military and the alcalde, Clancy recommended that a special guard be established at the Loma Parda to prevent soldiers from going to that resort of "thieves and Cut-throats."  Lieutenant Clancy did not state how the guard was to be kept from patronizing the shops at the town.
Further confrontation over this particular incident was avoided when the detained soldiers were quickly tried at Loma Parda, on July 16, acquitted of all charges of breaking the peace, and released. As soon as the seven soldiers returned to Fort Union, they were confined to the guardhouse for being absent from the post without leave and violating the ban on visiting Loma Parda. They were likely punished by courts-martial, although the records of their trials were not located. The recommendation to station a guard at Loma Parda was sent to district headquarters, and Brigadier General Carleton rejected the idea.  Thompson probably was relieved when he was transferred from Fort Union in August 1866, leaving the problems of Loma Parda to his successors and the district commander. Brigadier General Carleton, who had encouraged all efforts to close down Loma Parda, was replaced in March 1867.
Before new commanders were prepared to deal with the notorious (and reviled) community, Lieutenant Charles Speed, Fifth Infantry, who was stationed at Fort Union and a product of excessive consumption of liquor and patron of the unscrupulous pleasures at Loma Parda, was dismissed from the service. A native of England who entered the army as a private in 1855 and became an officer during the Civil War, Speed became a wretched and irresponsible troublemaker following his defeat by demon rum. Two senior officers of his regiment, Major Elisha G. Marshall and Captain Henry C. Bankhead, brought a series of charges against Speed (Bankhead preferred the charges which were approved by Marshall), which resulted in his dismissal by approval of the war department on January 29, 1867, and effective March 1 of that year. 
Major Marshall described Speed as a "Miserable man . . . of the most disreputable character." Speed was guilty of "vicious conduct" who had "made threats" against his superior officers. Marshall also reported that Speed was "a dishonorable and disreputable person" who refused to "pay his mess bill and . . . his commissary and Sutler's Accounts." After his trial it was learned that Speed "was also guilty of visiting the Town of Loma Parda, and gambling with Qr. Mr. Employes and Enlisted men, being absent without leave and returning without hat, coat or pants in almost a nude state to his quarters at the Post."  That statement implied that Speed's reputation was further tarnished (if that were possible) by his association with Loma Parda, as though somehow the infamy of the community made those who went there disgraceful. The insinuation was that the mere name of the community was a synonym for contemptible behavior.
Certainly Speed was a contemptible being, whether he went to Loma Parda or not, and he did not take his dismissal calmly. He preferred charges against Bankhead and Marshall, accusing them, among other things, of filing false reports, making false musters, keeping private horses in government stables, having soldiers neglect their public duties in order to perform private duties, and illegally using soldiers as servants. Although Speed dated his charges with February 28, 1867, which was the day before his dismissal was effective, he did not offer the charges until March 3. It appeared Speed had backdated his letter. His charges were not taken seriously because the records did not substantiate nor would any soldiers corroborate them. No other officer endorsed them because, as Marshall stated, "Speed's reputation in the 5th Infantry is so well known that he was Coventry [ostracized] by all officers who have served with him."  It was revealing that the unfortunate case of Speed's behavior was associated with Loma Parda.
When Colonel George W. Getty became district commander in 1867, and Captain Lane was commanding at Fort Union, Getty thought he may have found a solution to the problem of Loma Parda. On some maps of the Fort Union military reservation, it appeared that the village was on the reserve. Getty directed Lane to determine if that were true and, if so, to shut down all businesses in the village for violating army regulations that prohibited the sale of any item by civilians (except appointed sutlers) on military reservations. It seemed to be a feasible solution, if Loma Parda were on the reserve. Of that fact, however, Captain Lane had serious doubts. 
Lane had a map that had been drawn in 1866, which had apparently never been approved by proper authority, showing a portion of Loma Parda within the reservation. On that map, according to Lane, Loma Parda was shown "to consist of between two and three hundred people, some four or five stores, and numerous places for the sale of liquor." "In the vicinity," he continued, "there is quite a quantity of land under cultivation, a large portion of which is included in the map referred to." Lane feared the 1866 map was not an accurate reflection of the reservation that had been established years earlier, and was hesitant to try to evict anyone from Loma Parda. He explained his apprehensions and gave his views on the place:
"In view of all these facts, I do not feel authorized to act so far as to close stores, or remove the inhabitants of a town (Loma Parda) of comparatively long standing, without instructions, especially when such action on my part, would probably, be met with resistance, and be the subject of litigation for years to come."
"The town itself is a nuisance to the Post, and although there are doubtless some good people in it, its general character is that in the male population there is a large majority that are rascals, thieves, and murderers, and as regards the women, they are very much abused, if a majority are not prostitutes of the lowest class; I do not however speak from experience."
"It is proper to add however that the bad name of the place is increased from the fact, that it is a favorite place for the blackguards of this vicinity (This Post and Depot included) to meet and concoct schemes of rascality, and to fight out old and make new quarrels." 
Lane confirmed what many officers thought about Loma Parda, but a resolution for the problem seemed beyond the reach of the army.
Some officers believed that Loma Parda might be a temporary hideout for deserters. Rarely, however, were soldiers who had decided to separate prematurely from the army found there. Undoubtedly some potential deserters decided to flee while at Loma Parda or as a result of the temerity they acquired there. In 1869 two deserters from Fort Bascom, Privates Walter F. Woods and Henry Rauscher, Third Cavalry, were apprehended at Loma Parda.  Instead of encouraging desertion, however, the pleasures available at Loma Parda may have provided sufficient relief from the tedium of garrison life to help combat the propensity to escape from the service.
So long as there were no blatant offenses associated with Loma Parda, it seemed easiest to most commanders to look the other way and permit the soldiers to visit the village, provided they had a pass to leave the post. It was virtually impossible to enforce regulations placing Loma Parda off limits. An incident, involving an attack against New Mexican citizens by soldiers, in September 1870, engendered the next crackdown. Details of the incident were provided by Private Eddie Matthews, Eighth Cavalry, who was not present although troopers of his regiment were involved. Matthews described Loma Parda as "a Mexican town seven miles from here" where "there are several drinking saloons and two dance halls" and "plenty of Mexican Women in the town to dance." 
The trouble began, according to Matthews, on the evening of September 11, 1870, when a bugler of Company D, Eighth Cavalry, was beaten at Loma Parda by "a couple of Mexicans." There was no explanation as to how this fight had occurred. When it was learned at the post, "about forty Soldiers" slipped away from Fort Union "after Tat-too, . . . all armed with Revolvers, with the intention of taking the two Mexicans that whiped the bugler out and hanging them." They found the accused New Mexicans at a wake being held for a child that had died, captured them, and headed toward Fort Union with the prisoners. The local alcalde attempted to halt the proceedings with a drawn revolver, but he was disarmed and made prisoner as well. At some point on the military reservation the party stopped and decided on the punishment of the prisoners. Some of the soldiers wanted to hang them, but the majority determined to whip them as a warning. Each of the three prisoners, including the alcalde, was given "fifty lashes on the naked skin" with a soldier's belt. 
The New Mexicans were then warned that, "if any man of the 8th Cavalry was ever touched again by any of them, they would come over and hang every Mexican in the town." Matthews believed that the point had been made effectively. However, one or more officers at the post had seen the troopers leaving the post without leave and had conducted a roll call to determine who was not present in quarters. The following day all those who had been absent, including four sergeants, were confined to the guard house for several hours.  Colonel Gregg, commanding Fort Union, declared on September 13 that "the disgraceful and unlawful proceedings of a few of the Non-Commissioned Officers and private soldiers of this Garrison on Sunday last [September 11] at or near Loma Parda" made it necessary to issue an order regarding soldiers' behavior and to request the assistance of the alcalde at Loma Parda in its enforcement. 
The new orders specified that no enlisted man could go to Loma Parda "without express permission of the Commanding Officer." An ordinary leave of absence was not sufficient. Those who received permits were forbidden "to carry with them any public arms." The soldiers were also instructed "to be of such a character as to command the respect of the people." These orders were to be read to the garrison daily at retreat. The circular admonished each soldier "to uphold the laws, not to violate them; to protect the citizen, not to outrage and maltreat him." Gregg warned that a soldier who "permits himself to be hurried into such excess of outrage and cruelty as that of Sunday night he justly loses the respect of all good citizens and the confidence and sympathy of his Officers." 
The alcalde was asked to "rigidly enforce the civil law against Soldiers from this Garrison who may visit the town," and to apprehend any found in violation of the new orders. Gregg carefully explained his motives to the alcalde: "It is not my intention to forbid all intercourse between the citizens of Loma Parda and the Garrison, but in a repetition of the disgraceful occurrences of last Sunday night, it is necessary that the intercourse should be guarded by rigid rules."  How cooperative the alcalde was could not be discerned. Most of the soldiers followed the regulations, including the restrictions on weapons.
At least one enlisted man was caught and convicted of violating the rules. Undoubtedly there were others. Private John Raerick, Troop L, Eighth Cavalry, was charged with visiting Loma Parda without proper permission, December 24-28, 1870, and being absent without leave. At his trial on January 6, 1871, Private Raerick pled guilty to both charges and was sentenced to forfeit one month's pay, to be confined to the limits of the garrison for the same period of time, and to perform whatever extra police duty his troop commander directed during that month.  In January 1871 Private Matthews informed his family that he had missed seeing a horse race at the post because he had been "on Patrol after absent Soldiers in Loma Parda." 
There were occasional incidents of violence at Loma Parda. A member of the Eighth Cavalry band, stationed at Fort Union, was murdered near Loma Parda in October 1871. It was believed he was killed for his clothes and any money he may have possessed. His body was found nude and mutilated. Two "natives" were arrested and charged in the case.  In November 1882 Private James Gay, Company A, Twenty-Third Infantry was assassinated at Loma Parda. After spending "the greater portion of the night in the company of a Mexican woman," Gay was shot in the back of the head when he left her house.  The violence was compounded when some of Gay's fellow soldiers went to Loma Parda to avenge his death. They lynched the man they thought was guilty and committed an even greater crime in the process. They later discovered they had hanged the wrong man. 
In 1887 Sergeant Winfield S. Hamilton, Company B, Tenth Infantry, was found dead at Loma Parda. The cause of death was not determined, and there was no evidence of foul play.  Several other deaths of soldiers and citizens of Loma Parda were reported but not confirmed.  The prostitutes at Loma Parda were also sources of venereal diseases, which Rickey found "were the most common and widespread serious illnesses among the rank and file." 
In December 1877 an outbreak of smallpox at Fort Union was traced to prostitutes at Loma Parda.  The following month, because of the dangers of that disease, the post commander, Major Albert P. Morrow, Ninth Cavalry, directed that residents of the post who had not been vaccinated were to be inoculated by the post surgeon, and "officers, servants, and camp followers" who had been vaccinated were to be revaccinated. Morrow also prohibited "all communication between this post and Loma Parda." How long Loma Parda was to be off limits was not specified, but presumably the ban was enforced until the smallpox outbreak was over. Morrow put some teeth in his interdiction by providing that "any violation of this order will be punished by General Court Martial in cases of enlisted men, or expulsion from the Reservation in cases of Civilians and Laundresses." 
Despite the risks of violence, disease, and death, as well as the many restrictions placed on getting there, Loma Parda remained the popular place for soldiers to unwind. And the townspeople usually welcomed the soldiers because the money they spent contributed significantly to the local economy. In the 1870s, and perhaps before and after, some resourceful merchants in Loma Parda and enterprising individuals from the area provided taxi service for troops going to and from Loma Parda. The going rate was fifty cents one way. When taxi service was not available, the soldiers usually walked to and from the village. Sometimes as many as 20 to 25 soldiers would go to Loma Parda at the same time. 
There was no record that Loma Parda was again placed off limits to soldiers after 1878. The policy of restricting passes, as was done in 1870 (see above), was periodically revised by commanding officers. In 1881 Colonel Granville O. Haller, Twenty-Third Infantry, soon after taking command of Fort Union, issued "rules relating to the performance of military duty" at the post.  Included were details on passes, designed to constrain the soldiers' visits to Loma Parda and other such places. Enlisted men were "positively forbidden to go beyond one mile from the flag-staff . . . (except when upon military duty,) for any purpose whatever, without passes duly signed by their immediate commanding officer." Passes were to be issued to individuals only and include the place or purpose of the permit. If a soldier planned to go to Loma Parda, for example, that would have to be designated on his pass. Any enlisted man found beyond the limits prescribed by his pass or without a pass was to be arrested for desertion. 
When the soldier returned to the post from authorized leave, he was to report to the guardhouse and surrender the pass to the noncommissioned officer in charge of the guard. That officer was to "inspect each soldier as to sobriety and cleanliness" and record his findings on the pass. The results of that inspection were significant. Colonel Haller made it clear that, while he would make passes available to those who followed the rules, "any one returning in a demoralized condition, or who has behaved badly, will be deprived of the privileges of again leaving the post on pass."  The order did not specify how long the ban would be in effect, which doubtless meant it was at the discretion of the commanding officer. As always, it should be noted, some soldiers failed to follow regulations and were arrested for being absent without leave, confined to the guardhouse until a court-martial tried their case, and punished by loss of pay, special duty assignments, or both. Repeat offenders usually received more severe penalties.
The urge to visit Loma Parda remained strong and at least one additional restriction was imposed to reduce unauthorized ventures at night. In the autumn of 1885 Colonel Henry Douglass, post commander, inaugurated a curfew at the post which required all enlisted men to be in bed in their barracks at 9:00 p.m. To enforce the rule, noncommissioned officers were ordered to conduct bed checks. Sergeant Neihaus recalled that, for some soldiers, the desire to visit Loma Parda was so powerful that they placed dummies in their bunks to fool inspecting sergeants.  In 1888 Private John Nolan, Company F, Tenth Infantry, was found guilty by court-martial as follows: "Having been refused permission by his Company Commander to be absent from his company barracks after taps, did, with intent to deceive and prevent his absence from barracks being discovered, persuade a Recruit to sleep in his bunk."  Another soldier remarked that the curfew meant that "the mashers, who used to walk their girls through the sagebrush under the silvery moon, must now go to sleep at 9:00." As a result, he asserted, "the girls are now happy for they can get a little rest at night." 
Soldiers continued to visit Loma Parda so long as they were stationed at Fort Union. Among many officers, the little village remained synonymous with evil and wickedness. David Keener, in his comprehensive investigation of the history of the town, concluded that the incidents of violence at Loma Parda "have been exaggerated out of proportion and beyond what can be documented." He found insufficient evidence to show that Loma Parda was more violent than other communities in the region. The army caused as many problems for the citizens of Loma Parda as the unscrupulous dispensers of pleasure there created for the military. Neither the army nor the law enforcement officials in Loma Parda were able to control rowdy elements. The town had a reputation that it did not entirely deserve.  It undoubtedly was maligned more than other towns around the military reservation because it was the closest and most convenient community to the post.
Loma Parda, unlike the many "hog ranches" associated with frontier military posts, was not founded primarily to provide entertainment for the troops. It had done that because it was conveniently situated and entrepreneurs were always available to cater to military personnel. The village, it must be emphasized, existed as a viable agricultural community during and after the time Fort Union was an active post, and it became a ghost town in the twentieth century, long after the post was abandoned, as did many other small agricultural communities in the region.  It needs to be emphasized, too, that gambling, prostitution, and alcohol were often available at Fort Union, usually illegally (except for the alcohol in some periods) to be sure.
In October 1867 John Smith and Andrew Cameron were caught selling whiskey to soldiers on the military reservation. They were also purchasing clothing, arms, and other military equipment from the soldiers. Post Commander John R. Brooke, Thirty-Seventh Infantry, confiscated all their property, including a wagon, two ponies, three mules, harness, and a "number of articles." These were held at Fort Union awaiting word from the district commander regarding disposal. Brooke believed that Smith and Cameron were "part of the gang of horse thieves infesting this country." 
In June 1870, in another case involving alleged thieves, Post Surgeon DeWitt C. Peters endorsed a complaint from Adolph Griesinger, who operated a restaurant and bowling alley at Fort Union, to Colonel John Irvin Gregg, Eighth Cavalry, commanding the post, as follows:
"I have the honor to inform the Commanding officer that I reported the Market House next to Griesinger's Restaurant as being the resort of thieves vagabonds and the worst class of Mexican Prostitutes - who plying their various vocations contaminate the garrison. . . . I would recommend that the Officer of the day and guard visit the place daily and cause these bad characters to leave as a sanitary measure." 
Colonel Gregg immediately ordered that, "the Mexican Market, . . . having been reported as a nuisance and resort of thieves and gambling, hereafter the Officer of the Day will cause the place to be visited frequently during the day and night by patrols, whose duty it will be to prevent loafing and gambling."  Later that same year Colonel Gregg took action against other vendors of joy at the post. He instructed the commander of Company L, Eighth Cavalry, to "direct Citizen Charles ______ and Mrs. Charles ______ the latter a Laundress in Troop 'L' 8th Cavy, to leave this military reservation at once, and not to return, the former for selling whiskey, and the latter for allowing women of bad character in their quarters." 
Thus it was not always necessary to reach Loma Parda or some other facility off the reservation for such diversions as drinking, gambling, and prostitution. The various restrictions on such activities at the post, on the other hand, must have contributed to the attractiveness of Loma Parda, a place some officers considered, like the Mexican Market, to be "a nuisance and resort of thieves and gambling." Such claims were indubitably exaggerations. The assertion of Major Thompson in 1866 that a majority of the citizens of Loma Parda were cutthroats and thieves was untrue, as the census of 1870 confirmed.  Despite its reputation, a good portion of which was apparently undeserved, the town outlasted the fort. The relationship of Loma Parda and the soldiers at the post formed an important component of life at Fort Union. It was one of the few places where officers and enlisted men intermingled. The prime opportunities for fellowship between military classes was found in fraternal orders, such as the Good Templars (see above) and Freemasons.
Many army officers and some enlisted men were members of Masonic organizations prior to their assignment to duty in New Mexico. They provided the leadership in getting a Masonic lodge organized at Fort Union during the Civil War. Since there was no Grand Lodge in the territory, they sought and received authorization from the Grand Lodge of Missouri to organize Chapman Lodge (named to honor the post commander, Colonel William Chapman, who was a steadfast Mason) at Fort Union in 1862. Joab Houghton, New Mexico territorial judge, was a district deputy of the Grand Lodge of Missouri and started the work of Chapman Lodge. This lodge operated under special dispensation from the Missouri Grand Lodge (officially known as Chapman Lodge Under Dispensation) for several years. They conducted meetings in various buildings at the post during the next few years, including the lodge hall of the Good Templars, a former officer's quarters at the site of the first post, a vacant room in a set of former quarters in one of the demilunes at the earthwork, and possibly others. Marion Russell recalled that, in 1864, she and her mother "lived in a long, low adobe house whose six rooms were all in a row. The eastern room of that house we rented to the Masons for a lodge room." She also noted that Masonic lodges traditionally met in an upper-story room but, since "there were no upper stories in Fort Union," special permission "was obtained from the mother lodge in Missouri to use the ground floor as a lodge room." 
Many officers and some of the enlisted men transferred their membership from their home lodges to Chapman Lodge, and new members were initiated from both ranks. Civilians at the post, such as the post sutler and employees of the quartermaster department, were also welcome to membership. Among the new members of Chapman Lodge was Kit Carson. Mrs. Russell, whose close friendship with Carson has been noted before, recalled "the discussions that we had pro and con when Colonel Kit Carson applied for membership. His wife, 'little Jo' was a Catholic, and he had been married within the Catholic Church; yet he did become a member."  It is interesting to note that a lodge in New Mexico was later named for the famous frontiersman. Kit Carson Lodge No. 326 was founded in Elizabethtown, New Mexico, sometime in the 1870s.  Other than his marriage in the church and the fact that his wife was Catholic, Carson apparently had little connection with the denomination. Actually, there were no Masonic rules prohibiting a communicant of the Roman Catholic Church from joining the lodge. The church, on the other hand, discouraged its members from becoming Freemasons.
If Marion Russell's recollections were accurate, there was an ironic relationship between the church and Chapman Lodge. "The first altar cloth my mother made for the Masons," Marion reminisced, "was made from a fragment of one of Bishop Lamy's robes." She explained that the "cloth had come all the way from Leavenworth by ox team" and "factory woven cloth was precious." Whenever someone had such cloth "left over from the making of a garment, they were permitted to put it back in store at Santa Fe for reselling." Marion's "mother bought the beautiful remnant on one of her trips to Santa Fe and from it made the altar-cloth. I am told," Mrs. Russell concluded, "that old altar-cloth is preserved at Wagon Mound today. It is under glass on the wall of the Masonic Lodge there." 
After several years of activity under dispensation, Chapman Lodge No. 95 received its charter from the Grand Lodge of Missouri in 1866. The following year the lodge was directed, for reasons not explained, to move its meeting place off the Fort Union military reservation. Marion Russell believed that the meeting room at the post was partially destroyed by fire sometime after the Civil War,  and the need for a lodge hall may have been a consideration in the move. It should be noted, too, that District Commander James H. Carleton, an active Freemason, was replaced in 1867 by Colonel George W. Getty (whose views on Freemasonry have not been determined). Getty's appointment and the decision to relocate the lodge may or may not have been coincidental. Captain William B. Lane was post commander during much of 1867, and available records do not indicate his views on Freemasonry. Regardless of who was responsible or the reasons, the membership voted in May 1867 to move the lodge to Las Vegas as soon as a building could be obtained. The last meeting was conducted at Fort Union on July 27, when one of the members was expelled. The official home of Chapman Lodge was transferred to Las Vegas, where the first meeting was held on August 14, 1867. For the next seven years Masons at Fort Union, when they were able to attend, traveled to Las Vegas for regular and special meetings of the order. 
In 1874 the members at Fort Union requested permission to organize a new lodge at the post. Colonel Getty, incidentally, had been replaced by Colonel Gordon Granger in 1871. Chapman Lodge agreed to the plea and the new lodge was founded under dispensation from the Grand Lodge of Missouri in June 1874, and it received its charter from Missouri as Union Lodge No. 480 in October of that year. It has not been determined where on the post this lodge conducted its rituals, but the room was consecrated and dedicated at the first meeting under the new charter on November 14, 1874. 
The initial membership of Union Lodge included more civilians than soldiers, and most of them had been members of Chapman Lodge (several were initiated into the rites of Masonry in Chapman Lodge). The master of Union Lodge was Morris Bloomfield, a clerk in the quartermaster department. The senior warden was Lachonius Frampton, a stonemason at the post. Both had received their Masonic degrees in Chapman Lodge in 1864, and both had gone through the progression of offices and served as master of Chapman Lodge. Bloomfield had also been a member of Kit Carson Lodge at Elizabethtown just prior to the organization of Union Lodge. Jeremiah W. Heeps, a saddler at the fort, was junior warden. He had joined Chapman Lodge in 1863. The treasurer was John Longmuir, an employee of the quartermaster department who had joined Chapman Lodge in 1868. 
The secretary was Charles Bowmer, a surgeon and a native of England who had received the degrees of Masonry before coming to America. He transferred to Union Lodge from Montezuma Lodge No. 109 at Santa Fe. Albert F Bruno was senior deacon, and he was a gunsmith at the arsenal. The junior deacon was Lieutenant John W. Eckles, Fifteenth Infantry, post commander at Fort Union. Eckles transferred from Alamo Lodge No. 44, San Antonio, Texas. The tyler was Carl W. Wildenstein, who may have been associated with the post sutler's store. He had joined Chapman Lodge in 1870. The other two initial members were T. Bainbridge, a saddler, and F J. Kearny, blacksmith. Both had also been members of Chapman Lodge. The first petitioner to seek initiation into Union Lodge, Joseph B. Morris (occupation unknown, but a "resident of the post"), was rejected (blackballed). Thomas Henderson (trade not known) was the first candidate to receive degrees.  Visitors from other lodges were welcome at the meetings.
During 1875, again not known by whose order or for what reasons, this new lodge was enjoined to move off the reservation. Union Lodge No. 480 made the village of Tiptonville, some six miles from the post, its official location in December of that year. The regular meetings of the fraternity were scheduled on what was called "moon schedule," the Saturday night on or before the full moon; the intent was to make travel at night as safe as possible. The last official function of Union Lodge before moving to Tiptonville was to conduct Masonic funeral ceremonies for member George W. Cole, who was buried in the private cemetery of Ceran St. Vrain at Mora. After the Grand Lodge of New Mexico was formed in August 1877, Union Lodge 480 surrendered its charter to the Grand Lodge of Missouri and was chartered by the New Mexico Grand Lodge as Union Lodge No. 4 in October 1877. Chapman Lodge 95 at Las Vegas became Chapman Lodge No. 2. 
Following the abandonment of Fort Union, Union Lodge No. 4 moved to the town of Watrous in May 1891, where a stone building served as the hall. The membership in Watrous later declined until, in 1919, the lodge could only hold meetings when members from the community of Wagon Mound made the trip to Watrous. Because the preponderance of the membership was in Wagon Mound, the lodge was relocated there in June 1919. The lodge had several halls in that community, including the second story of an old opera house (1919-1929), the second story of the telephone building from December 1929 until that structure was destroyed by a wind storm in May 1930, after which the lodge purchased an adobe building that had once served as a saloon. This was probably the home of Union Lodge No. 4 when Marion Russell noted in her memoirs that the lodge was still active at Wagon Mound and that "the lodge room is still on the ground floor."  This structure was destroyed by fire in 1934 and later that same year, with the insurance money and additional funds raised by the members, a new adobe building was constructed by the lodge.  Union Lodge No. 4 was still active in the same building in 1992. The traditions of Freemasonry, started in New Mexico by military lodges from Missouri during the Mexican War and permanently established by soldiers and civilians at Fort Union during the Civil War, continued to live at Union Lodge in Wagon Mound. Freemasonry was one of several fraternal organizations at the post designed to improve the mind and quality of life of at the post.
Santa Fe Trail Research Site
"E-Mail & Home Page"
Larry & Carolyn
St. John, Ks.