THE FIRST DRAGOONS AND FORT STANTON CAVE
By Mike Bilbo (Outdoor Recreation Planner/Cave Specialist, BLM-Socorro Field Office)
In 1855, a patrol of the 1st Dragoons from Fort Stanton, New Mexico Territory, explore a large limestone cave located about one mile north of the fort. Their horses tied up and under guard, the men slowly and carefully make their way down the steep, loose entry sink talus. At the dripline the musty smell of the cave assails them. The soldiers are dressed in the military clothing typical of the period: white wool shirts under dark blue wool shell jackets, sky blue wool kersey trousers supported by cotton galluses, leather boots, and either non-descript campaign hats, brims flopped down in the slouched style of the western hat, or M1839 forage caps.