|General Winfield Scott Hancock is often credited with bravely holding the line at Gettysburg and defeating the Rebel onslaught. Hancock known to his army comrades as “the superb”, went on to gain the Democratic nomination for President in 1880, and losing to the race to James Garfield. Early in his career, the young lieutenant of infantry was promoted to Quartermaster Captain in 1855. There were no vacancies in the Quartermaster Department (QMD) in 1855. Hancock, rather, was detached from his spot as a lieutenant in the 6th Infantry, and received an appointment an “acting captain of the QMD. The appointment allowed Hancock to wear the dark blue captain’s shoulder straps and a QMD shako for his full dress uniform. More importantly, while on quartermaster duty Hancock would receive the pay and benefits of a captain, plus a monthly housing stipend as an assistant quartermaster officer.|
|Hancock’s duties required that he perform the quartermaster duties for the 6th Infantry during its expedition to Utah Territory. In the late summer of 1858, the 6th U.S. Infantry received orders to march west to Benicia, California, and Hancock was to assemble civilian employees, wagons, and mules for the march. It was not to be an easy task, but Hancock and Lt. Charles Sawtelle, regimental quartermaster of the 6th Infantry. On the 21st of August, 1858, Brevet Colonel William Hoffman of the 6th U.S. Infantry led a column of 600 soldiers, accompanied by a herd of 822 mules and 137 supply wagons westward out of Fort Bridger, Utah Territory, through the snow covered Carson Valley, to Genoa, a Mormon farm colony tucked in east of the Sierra Mountain Range. After briefly resting the column there, the troops began the climb up and over Carson Pass, south of Lake Tahoe, through knee-deep snow at the summit, and on to the popularly used emigration road to the Sacramento Valley.|
|The mules and the wagon train of supplies for the column were under the command of acting Captain Winfield Scott, of the Quartermaster Department. In 1855, Hancock had been detached from his position as a 6th Infantry Lieutenant. The trip across the Sierras was a rugged task. The single road, dotted with stumps (which held the mountainous road semi-intact), was muddy and treacherous. Double-teaming was necessary at numerous places to get the heavy-laden wagons up a hill and then down the westward slope.|
|Although it was fall, winter had already set in and it meant that rain and melting early snow turned the well-travelled road west into a boggy mess. At Pea Vine Ridge, on the South Fork of the American River, a mountain divided by a large meadow, and usually dry in November, the expedition went into camp. For the first time in weeks the mules in Hancock’s huge caravan could graze to their hearts content. But Hancock, however, was not given the time he really needed to rest the men and mules; Lt. Col. Hoffman wanted to push on for Benicia Barracks. The lieutenant colonel quickly came to the realization that he would have to descend the Sierra foothills, pass through the own of Folsom and march 30 wet and muddy miles to Sacramento.|
|Hoffman would have to parade his dreary and thirsty, recently paid infantrymen a major city where saloons abounded. Hancock, meanwhile, was tasked with moving his wagons and mules through the city, across the Sacramento River—away from the temptations of the riverfront—and into camp in what is today known as West Sacramento. Since Hancock’s men would not be paid until they reached the Benicia Arsenal, not one herder was tempted to vanish into the beckoning bright lights of the river city. Hoffman’s infantry companies could not make the same claim. On November 11th, with its flags flying and the band playing “Yankee Doodle” and “The Jordan is a Hard Road to Travel,” the regiment paraded westward on J Street past the new state Capitol. Hoffman had wisely posted provost guard at the rear of his column and these hard nose police details rounded up more than thirty men who attempted to desert.|
|The next day, notwithstanding the muddy plains and poor roads, the troops moved on to Benicia. The post constituted four different elements of the army’s role in the west. The vast post consisted of facilities occupied by different elements of the Army: a company of 3rd Artillery was housed in the barracks. There were the workshops of an ordinance arsenal, quartermaster warehouses, and the offices of General Wool, the commander of the Department of the Pacific. The arsenal stored weapons, ammunition, and property deemed as ordnance such as canteens, belts, sabres, etc. It also employed civilians who fabricated ammunition, wagons, artillery caissons, and other military items. Finally, there was the Quartermaster Department that controlled clothing, uniforms, saddles, tents, and blankets. The quartermaster organized all transportation or supplies and commissary foodstuffs requested by posts on the West Coast.|
|From Benicia, various elements of 6th received orders to take up posts in other stations on the West Coast. In the spring, Hancock received orders to travel to Los Angles to create a quartermaster warehouse. He was given four month’s leave to visit the East so that he might bring his family to California. He sailed on late December of 1858. On May 4, 1859, he arrived in the cattle town of Los Angeles. The captain rented a room for his family at the Bella Union Hotel, facing Main Street, a short distance west of the main plaza. On his first full day in Los Angeles he had met with his superior, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Swords, a former dragoon and now the senior quartermaster of the Department of California, and his commanding officer, his former colonel in the 6th Infantry, Brevet Brigadier General Newman Clarke.|
|One of Hancock’s first undertakings was to supply Ft. Mojave, 360 miles east. But he had no wagons. Some chroniclers of the 6th Infantry’s trip over the plains and the Sierras, Almira Hancock for one, wrote that Hancock brought intact the wagons from Ft. Bridger. In reality, those wagons arrived as unusable hulks. One of the captain’s first problems upon arriving in Los Angeles was to acquire new wagons. To add to his problems was that the Army had no funds to ship wagons or wagon parts to Los Angeles. He could, and did, hired Phineas Banning of New San Pedro to perform drayage service. Hancock also contracted Banning to store governmental property at his warehouses.|
|Los Angles, although a sprawling town of adobe buildings and 4,000 souls, remained a stagnant backwater. In 1859, it was a town in search of advancement. For businessmen, merchants, cattlemen, and farmers, any source of gold coin was one to be cultivated. It was a close knit community whose merchants who had discovered the advantages of knowing a government officer who could bring and spend hard money in their small village. The town’s businesses had cycles. Most of the time it was stale, only flourishing when wagons loaded with trade goods destined for far away places arrived.|
|Prominent among those tradespersons and businessmen who gathered around Capt. Hancock that foggy morning in Los Angeles was John Temple. He wasn’t alone, but was the most forward of local merchants who came to meet the new quartermaster of the pueblo. Temple was an established wholesaler of merchandise in Los Angeles. At the time he was constructing a three-story brick commercial building. Would Capt. Hancock, perhaps, need a free office therein? He did and would move his “un-official” office into the Temple Building. Hancock’s deal improved his personal finances, for in the meantime he rented a small house on Spring Street from Francis Mellins as his official office for ten dollars a month. The government would authorize him $20.00 per month for office space. What he didn’t tell the government was that into this four-room, so-called “office”, he moved his family.|
|The government, meaning the army, meant the possibility of a new source of revenue, gold coin drawn from the U.S. mint in San Francisco. Temple would have likely introduced Hancock to the town’s other prominent businessmen and merchants who looked upon Hancock as a golden goose, who came to this little burg with hard money to spend.|
|Temple’s little group would have no doubt invited Hancock to the Bella Union Hotel’s well-supplied barroom to test the mettle of this new source of revenue. While it is not know with certainty, the gracious merchant Abel Stearns likely invited Hancock and his wife to attend a dinner at his grand home, El Palacio de Don Abel, located on the corner of Main and Arcadia Streets.|
|Shortly thereafter, Hancock leased stables for his mules and a small warehouse. Along the roads to the forts that were supplied by Hancock he established forage depots. Although Hancock had no soldiers to work at his growing depot, he received federal funds with which to employ dozens of civilians. There were clerks, storekeepers, teamsters, a blacksmith, herders, wheelwrights, and carpenters. As wagons slowly became available, he hired qualified wagon masters and their assistants.|
|All of the while, Hancock’s cost of doing business was steadily rising. Ranchers withdrew their grazing rights and he had to find more expensive forage sites. Men left his employ; he owed them money and he could not pay. What was wrong? The U.S. Congress appropriated monies every two years to finance the Army. On the West Coast the Army was budgeted so much against estimated credit. Against that credit the Army drew gold coins from the Mint in San Francisco to oay its bills to operate. Congress authorize funds to equip, move, and feed the enlisted men, but in the fiscal year beginning in September of 1859 the government ran of funds to operate the Army. In fact, the government considered itself bankrupt and approved no operating funds except for emergency accounts.|
|This was the dilemma Hancock walked into when Hancock arrived in Los Angeles . . . only Hancock was unaware of the problem. He opened his depot, hired personnel, purchased forage, bought wagons and harnesses, acquired satellite supply depots, organized pack mule columns and wagon trains to haul baggage and forage. The result: Hancock contracted indebtedness and discovered he had no funds with which to pay these bills. His average monthly expenses for Los Angeles was $1400, but had but $200 to pay his expenses. Hancock’s bills grew each month and yet he was expected to operate his depot and supply all of the troops within his district. Small amounts of gold coin came occasionally from the mint, but like all quartermasters on the West Coast, Hancock’s office got deeper and deeper in debt. (See Accounts of Articles and Persons Hired, Capt. W. S. Hancock, LA QM Depot in Record Group 92, Quartermaster Files, National Archives.)|
|That Winfield Hancock was an honest man is demonstrated at this time, under the hardships he operated. The fields that quartermasters plowed offered tremendous realms for malfeasance. Hancock, when his records are examined reveals little if any evidence of corruption. True, he padded his office allotment; he gained an extra twenty dollars a month to bolster his family expenses. But when Hancock’s accounts are examined they appear to be correct; no one, civilian or army officer complained about his integrity.|
|To provide an individual for Hancock to be compared with, let us pause momentarily and examine Captain Thomas Jordan, assistant quartermaster at Fort Dalles on the Columbia River. Even before transferring to Oregon Territory, Jordan had used government money to enhance his mining interest. He had a beautiful wife, children and slaves (masquerading as free servants). But, on the Columbia River Jordan discovered a gold mine.|
|Jordan had a district to operate and had army posts to rebuild and supply. He bought off his commanding officer, Colonel George Wright if the 9th Infantry, by building him a fabulous nine room redwood (imported from California) house and named a river steamer after him. Jordan issued pay vouchers to vendors and contractors for his expenses as quartermaster, as did Hancock, but to retrieve those vouchers for payment with gold, when gold coin was available, Jordan demanded and received kickbacks equal to twenty-five percent of the face value. If a contractor did not wish to pay his fee, well then, he could go to San Francisco and cash in the vouchers at the U.S. Mint. Jordan also expected gifts from his contractors such as: a silvery serving set; a piano; etc. And when Jordan’s frauds were discovered, possibly amounting to $250,000, none of his fellow officers wanted to see him punished. On the eve of Civil War, he finally escaped punishment by resigning while facing a court martial in Washington, D.C., and to become Confederate General P. G. T Beauregard’s chief of staff.|
|In contrast to Jordan, Hancock labored away honestly in dusty, dirty Los Angeles with little financial support from the government. Despite complaints from some officers, he performed his job. He built up his wagon column and increased the number of employees, gradually phasing out the drayage services of Alexander and Banning.|
|In mid-1860, Hancock received a letter from the Adjutant General’s Office which call for him to decide. An opening had occurred in the Quartermaster Department. Did Hancock wish to give up his commission as a 1st lieutenant in the 6th Infantry and accept a staff commission as a captain of the Quartermaster Department? Please reply!|
|As the reader will recall, Hancock was an acting captain of the QM Department. If he wished the new commission, he would have to resign his permanent commission in the infantry as a first lieutenant and thus move from being a line officer to becoming a member of army staff. Promotions came slowly in line regiments. The 6th Infantry, as did other regiments, had a fairly established set of middle aged officers and since the end of the war with Mexico, had seen no serious combat which cause vacancies to occur. If he stayed in the infantry, Hancock could see himself as a junior officer (low ranking) officer for a long, long, time. He let the Army know he would accept the new position and resigned his commission in the infantry.|
|Hancock was now a captain of staff in the Quartermaster’s Department. He still had the many problems in the Los Angeles depot hanging around his neck.|
|Captain Richard Garnett’s move to Fort Yuma got Hancock into major trouble with hard-nosed Brevet Major James Carleton, Company K, 1st Dragoons. In a supply mix up, a crate of 60, red striped artillery trousers, destined for Capt. Garnett’s company of infantry, were accidently shipped to Company K at Ft. Tejon. Carleton, who had ordered 80 sets of mounted trousers, was furious. He immediately wrote to the quartermaster depot at Benicia. Lieutenant Thomas Swords referred him to Capt. Hancock. Hancock replied he could do nothing about the problem unless Carleton paid for transshipping the clothing back to Hancock. He recommended to Carleton that he issue them for work detail. Carleton, as was his won’t, castigated Hancock and Swords as “incompetent morons” who should lose their officers’ commissions. Cranky Thomas Swords was outraged at Carleton’s ungentlemanly language and a spate of correspondence soon developed.|
|Hancock was unfortunate to again upset Brevet Major Carleton over the latter’s impossible demands for forage and clothing. When the major escorted the paymaster to Utah in 1859, he expected on his return trip that there would be government forage available at San Bernardino. Unfortunately, he did not inform Hancock of his plans and while Carleton was away, Hancock auctioned the surplus hay at a public sale and discharged the dispersing agent. When Carleton returned, there was no provender for his horses.|
|Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Beall, the commanding officer at Ft. Tejon, let it be known to headquarters that he did not want Hancock involved supply the post. Officers at Tejon, thereafter, routinely by-passed dealing with Hancock and sent their requisitions to Benicia. Thus, when Carleton ordered the new dress hats (the Hardees) for his company, the quartermaster sent but ten hats with the excuse that the hats, newly authorized in January of 1858, were experimental and no company would receive an item declared experimental. The same thing happened when Carleton requisitioned the new fatigue blouse—only 40 were delivered. Each time, a thoroughly frustrated Carleton included Hancock in his wrathful missives to the quartermaster department in Benicia.|
|This article on Hancock in Los Angeles would be incomplete without a discussion of the farewell party that has managed to be chronicled in far too many biographies. Legend has it that on June 15, 1861, there was a grand party at the Hancock on the eve of the departure of two or three or four brother officers (Lewis Armistead, A. S. Johnston, George Pickett, and Richard Garnett?) who had resigned their commissions to fight for the Confederacy and were heading east. Almira Hancock described the evening in her 1888 book, Reminiscences of Winfield Scott Hancock. She wrote that about the sadness of the evening as she played the organ while Mrs. Johnston sung “Kathleen Mavourneen.” At this, she said, “Hearts were filled with sadness over the surrendering of life-long ties.”|
|Suffice it to say, it did not happen. There was no organ in the Hancock home. Nor were any the three attendees were in Los Angeles at the same time. Armistead, the purported party’s guest of honor, was in San Diego tendering his resignation. He had fouled up his first attempt and would not leave San Diego until June 18.[ii] Garnett had already resigned and was on a steamer heading for the East Coast.[iii] Pickett never visited Hancock in Los Angeles. And as for Johnston, he was nearby, but busily getting his gear together to travel to Texas on the next day. Unlike the other resigned officers, there is no indication that Johnston knew Hancock.|
|Two of the four resigned officers passed through Los Angeles during the early part of 1861 and sad farewells were given between brother officers, but few as emotionally passionate as that described by Mrs. Hancock. As written by Professor John Crandell in his 2008 unpublished dissertation, Myth of Heroes, “Although it will never be established to a certainty, it can be speculated that the farewell event alleged by Hancock’s widow was a fictional and romantic construct, rather than a simple confusion of memory.”|
|When news of the Civil War reached California in April of 1861, Hancock volunteered to go east. There was no immediate reply. It was not August that orders arrived directing him to sail from San Francisco to the seat of war.|
|My point here is how easy it is for history to be based upon accounts of those who claim to have witnessed or participated in historical events, such as Almira Hancock. As with other historical myths, over time, historians too often accept these faulty accounts an|
|[i] George Cullum, Register of Officers, vol. II:201.|
|[ii] General Edwin Sumner, General Orders No. 6, May 5, 1861. Official Records of the War of Rebellion, serial 1, volume 50, p. 486; Post Returns, San Diego Barracks, June 1861.|
|[iii] George Cullum, Register of Officers, vol. II: 94; Stewart Sifakis, Who was who in the Civil War, 238.|
Born and reared in Tennessee, Lt. Cave Couts frequently placed personal integrity above all else and a willingness to chastise those opponents threatening his honor. This became evident after an army officer, Major Justus McKinstry, verbally maligned Couts’ new-found novia, Ysidora Bandini. Incensed, Couts sent Lieutenant George Evans, with a note challenging McKinstry to a fight. Declining the summons, McKinstry chose instead to thrash it out with Evans in Old Town Plaza of San Diego , much to the ire of Couts.
McKinstry and Evans were court martialed for their actions. McKinstry suffered “three months suspension of rank, pay and involvements and to be reprimanded by the General Command.” (Letter from Cave Couts to William Emory, January 1, 1851, contemporary copy, San Diego Historical Society, Couts Letter File.) Other primary and secondary sources for the Couts-McKinstry feud include: a letter published in the Missouri Republican, December 1, 1849, p. 2; William H. Goetzmann, Army Exploration in the American West, 1803-1863 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1959), p. 161; and Grant Foreman, Marcy and The Gold Seekers (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1939), pp. 320-321.
The McKinstry-Couts feud seems to go back to a bad debt. In the course of an 1849 card game, McKinstry borrowed seven hundred dollars from Couts of which he would only repay four hundred. As Couts later stated: “… being in want of the money I sent a polite note requesting the difference between us. It was denied me.” Letter from Cave Couts to Thomas Sidney Jesup, Statement Against Justus McKinstry, September 10, 1849, Cave Couts Collection, Huntington Library.
In subsequent years McKinstry’s behavior showed little improvement. After a scandal involving fraudulent administration of his command, he was court-martialed from the army on January 28, 1863, for “neglect and violation of duty, to the prejudice of good order and military discipline.” Thomas W. Sweeney, The Journal of Lt. Thomas W. Sweeney, 1849-1853, ed. by Arthur Woodward (Los Angeles: The Westernlore Press, 1956), p. 260.)
San Luis Rey, Califa
March 1, 1851
Dear [Lt. John] Love,
I recd. your note of 7th Dec. by last steamer. Why did you not tell us something more of the New Regiments? We expect it to be a ten strike for us and of course are materially interested. Also more of our dear regiment? For we are as ignorant of Regimental affairs out here, as though we were in Egypt.
I returned from San Francisco about the middle of the past month, where I had been standing charges prefr. by Bvt. MaJor J. McKinstry, A.Q.M. He resorted to this in consequence of a private difficulty, notified the Judge Advocate that he should put in the presentation of the charges, and here is the findings of the court after find an honorable acquittal): viz
“The court cannot refrain from an expression of decided disapproval of the court which Major McKinstry, the accuser in the case, has thought proper to pursue. His utter failure to prove the charges and specifications, and the circumstances of the case as spread upon the record, constrain the court to believe that these charges have proceeded more from personal ill will, than from a regard to the interest of the public service.”
“The court therefore deems it their duty to make a Public expression of the disapprobation of the course pursued by the accuser, Major McKinstry.”
I mention this because I have understood some 12 or 18 months since he published a letter in a N. Orleans paper (the “Crescent”) where both myself and Evans were placed in an unfavorable light. I have now been able to see this; it resulted from his having found proof upon all gentlemen in the vicinity, that he was a coward & liar and unworthy of their farther attention or intercourse.
I did not have an opportunity of going to Benicia to see Kearny & he was, and had been there sick for some time. Saw Stoneman, who is very well and making a pile of money.
In the event of the “New Regiment” being organized, and a complete Regt. of Dragoons sent to Califa, what say you to making an effort to get all of the 1st out? With a whole Regt here, at least Seven Comp[anies] would be constantly at head quart[ers]: and we would have an infinitely better time on the whole, than any where on the old frontier. In such an event, but little effort on the part of some of our Sr. officers, would accomplish the matter, and one would have the whole Regt., to all purposes together. All who have been to Califa. Would undoubtedly find this strongly. Kind Regards to all friends,
I am, very truly,
[p.s.] The Maj. [Benjamin Beall?] desires to be remembered.
Present my regards particularly to Col. F[auntleroy] & his family
McLean to Love
Fort Leavenworth Mo.
Nov 26th 1845
Had you not said in your first letter, that you would write to me on arriving at Dayton, I suppose I would be obliged to commence this with an apology; but as you were so rash as to give one that piece of information be it on your own bead.
You give a charming picture, truly, of the delights and charms of that famous city; what with tableaux, balls, parties and distinguished consideration I suspect the gallant Captain has changed in so remarkable a degree, that Leavenworth would stand mute with astonished admiration, should any circumstance place him suddenly in the midst of it. But I am glad to see that in all your gaiety and amusements you do not forget those who are sadly doomed to a winter of dull and insipid monotony. You have made a happy escape I do assume (Barring Miss Joe, of course) for if a man here should laugh heartily, no, all would be astonished, so uncommon a thing has it become. Each one seems to be impressed with the conviction that something dreadful is before him and that all he can do, is to brace himself up against it as well as he can, and bear it with as much fortitude as he can muster. The Major has lately introduced an improvement, which perhaps will give a little variety to a few of the subs, and prevent them from positively dying outright with ennui, for he has taken the important step of ordering an officer of the guard, and it only waiting to have the room fixed to keep the young gentlemen from catching cold. Poor subs! Don’t you pity them? I do really and truly! Only think how sad a change it would be from Captain Love, commander of all the military forces of Dayton, favorite of the ladies, associate of Mrs Sink, the tableaux vivaux, in fine the observed of all observers, to “Mr. Love you will visit the sentinels every hour, and see that they perform their duty, you have leave the guard house to go to your meals but on no other account except on duty” Throw back your head dear Captain and pity the poor subs—think of that lonely room, when you are in the midst of a brilliant coterie, think of that supperless belly when your are enjoying your [game?] supper, think of those heavy disconsolate eyelids when your only [illegible] is that you have to return. Oh John you are really a happy dog!
So you think your polka investment is a bad speculation. By the way, have you and Jack [1st Infantry Second Lieutenant John] Terrett settled the pointed of that dispute yet? Or do you both affirm and stick to it that the other is wrong. I had a good laugh at that navigate to this site. [AQM, First Lieutenant William M. D “Issac”] McKissack puts it in his best style; giving to the whole scene the most graphic effect. But speaking of speculations, the richest I have known or heard of for some time in one I made myself and three weeks since, I bought a filly, and such a filly! Your old [Sen?] would have big [delight?] to have looked upon her, a head so small, an eye so big, a neck so beautiful and limbs so perfectly graceful few such have been seen at the old fort. Well John I loved it at first sight and bought it for a cool hundred, brought it here, put it in the stable, and next morning it choked to death. Beat that if you can.
Your bay does not appear to thrive some how or other, he looks rather poorly for some time but now seems to be getting better. I believe I asked Captain B. [1st Dragoons, John H. K. Burgwin] to tell you that the leg which was wounded by the picket pin had broken out, the lower joint swelled up and finally broke; it is now running slightly, but looks as if it were getting better [it appears Love’s bay was on the Dragoon’s 1845 South Pass Expedition, which Love completed just before leaving for recruiting duty in Dayton]. I am keeping him myself, so you will know he has not been rode very hard—Sanderson has the pony and he has recovered so far from his deviltry that Mrs S. rode him over here the other day and swears she never saw his beat for a lady’s horse—Mrs Rich has a bay baby. Mrs Hammond’s [young wife of 1st Dragoons Second Lieutenant Thomas] Shadow is beginning to increase, and Lady Foot got pups!
[1st Dragoons Capt. Phillip St. George] Cooke did not take his horse and is still here. He sent [local attorney, recently resigned former 1st Dragoons Second Lieutenant Charles] Ruff to attend to the business in Phila. I have sold all your things except the guns and horses, at the prices you left. I tried to keep back the rocking chair but the confounded plebe got his eye of that the first thing. Every thing suited him very well except the bed which he swore wouldn’t keep him warm. Nothing known about your lost horse.
Give that recruit Jessie John. Don’t let him come it over you. If you mange that recruit in good style you know not what might come of it. Hell make you a Major Genl, before your turn. Did you ever ask him how he came to enlist? Miss Joe would I expect send her love if I were to tell her that you wished to be remember to her but I believe I’ll tell her that you didn’t say anything about her—think it would have a good effect.
Rich is flourishing as usual quite as fat and jovial as he [used?] to was, hasn’t begun to dance the polka yet tho I told him your opinion of his [illegible]. Major had a party last week at which of course all the elite were present. I enjoyed myself of course. All the young ladies were there. How could 200 of them? John do you know Mrs Ruff [daughter of Indian Agent/contractor John Daugherty, wife of former Dragoon officer Charles]? If not and you are ever so unfortunate as to have to danced with her let me caution you to load yourself up to the muzzle beforehand with small talk for you’ll have use of it all—ten times worse than Mrs. H. she’s staying the winter at Cookes.
I should well like to tell you some news but there is none that would afford you five minutes amusement. I had a letter from [Topog on South Pass Expedition, Brevet Second Lieutenant William] Franklin the other day in which he says they will certain recommend a station a Fort Laramie. Perhaps if they do it will break up the recruiting depot at Dayton and let that recruit see some service. Capt. M. [Benjamin Moore, Love’s Compy Commander] wants the rest. Yours truly E. E. McLean
I raised my hands with pious horror to see the insinuations made against me in your letters to Burgwin & M [illegible] but “Mens ribs can [illegible?]” is my motto, & I defy your gross insinuations. “vox faucibus haesit” [I was dumb with amazement].
Fort Leavenworth Sept. 21st 1846
Lieut John Love 1st Drags
As an express starts out to-morrow I take advantage of it to write you a few lines of what has transpired since my last letter. Tho’ there does not appear top be any thing of any great importance yet almost any thing from here I know will be received by you with pleasure. You see in the first place that we are still here doing peace service, while our “brother warriors” are earning for themselves imperishable fame in the field; and we feel this the more deeply as we appear to be the only company so situated in the whole army; sometimes when I sit down and ponder over matters, I can hardly realize that I am here and every body else fighting, or marching to fight with hearts bounding with hopes of glory and distinction before them. All is here so peaceful and calm; the sad and solemn beauty of the scenery so little like war and its noisy accompaniments that I can scarcely bring myself to think that such a thing is going on. But luck is, nevertheless, the fact, and here are we enjoying all the comforts of a soldier’s life, while you and every one else are undergoing the hardships, fatigues and dangers—I cannot last, I feel as if we could not linger out an inglorious existence here while all our friends are in the field.
A few days ago [Richard] Ewell was here, and tried hard to be ordered out to join you; but it was no use the Lt. Col. Could not take the responsibility.—He says he feels more disgusted that we can; for we have the consolation of knowing that our company has not been ordered, whereas his is in the field, and he on recruiting service. He feels quite bad about it, and would give any thing in the world to be with you. Did you ever see any thing like the promotion your regiment has had. I’m perfectly disgusted with it I assure you. But did you know that you came very near losing two Captains more by [Pat] Trenor and [Philip] Thompson. The one by delirium tremens the other through the medium of a strike of lightning. Old Pat was very near going when he heard of his majority—he guzzled more rum than you would believe and wasn’t right either for a week or two but he’s well now and you need not calculate on him for a year or so. In think if he had another promotion to go through with, it would carry him off. His limits been extended to six miles and he now can visit Marshes as much as he pleases.
Thompson has been ordered to bring his company [F] here to remain during the winter at which no doubt he will be heartily disgusted as he was making arrangements to join General [John] Wool. Assurances have been given however by the Adjutant General that his company will be the first ordered out if troops are needed in the spring. He has from all accounts a fine company of young men raised principally by [Phil] Kearny who exerted himself in every way to fill the company, which by the way he had scarcely done before he was superseded by Thompson.
We have been engaged for the last month mustering in a regiment of Infantry for your army nine companies have been completed averaging more than 100 aggregate—a fine set of men as you ever saw; much superior I think to those already with you. Two mails ago, however, orders were received from Washington disbanding them; at which of course there was great and furious excitement. They were exceedingly anxious to get out, and if there had not been a difficulty about the election of a Colonel, four good companies would already have been many miles on the road—if started the orders were to let them go on. From all accounts however you will not need them, and as I hear provision are rather scarce in your parts you’d just as lief be without them. By the way John how do you like a hungry belly for a companion. I should think it be damned disagreeable—even if you do have silver plates.
Taylor’s army is on the march for Monterrey. Worth is in advance with his divisions where if has luck he may retrieve his former blunder. They marched from Camargo—all their baggage and so on is taken on pack mules—transportation by wagons being, it is said, impracticable. There is no news of importance further than that they have marched. We expect in the course of a week or two to learn of another battle as troops are said to be collecting beyond Monterrey. The health of the regulars is good but there has been much sickness amongst the volunteers and a great deal of mortality.
On the day that our orders came here for the disbanding of the Infantry regiment [3d Missouri Infantry] there was another sad occurrence took place here. A sentinel (a volunteer) at the Magazine had a prisoner placed in his charge by the officer of the guard while he went to get a file of men to take him to the guard house. The officer had gone a hundred yards—the prisoner escaped from the sentinel who cried out to him repeatedly to stop or he would fire. He wouldn’t stop and the sentry fired. Down came the man—dead as Adam. The company to which he belonged then rushed our in mass with a Sergeant at their head crying hang him hang him, and was only prevented from doing violence to the sentinel by the officer of the day Capt. McNair (a bold and daring fellow) rushing out in the from of them drawing his sword and threatening to run the first of them through who advanced. After a good deal of difficulty—the affair was stilled and the men quartered.
If the Regiment had been organized, Daugherty would have been the Col. [Levi] Hinkel ran for Major and if the election had been completed would have been elected I think beyond a doubt.
We are all well and enjoying ourselves greatly. Let me compliment you John on your promotion. My hopes are still pretty slim. Whistler I believe has been cashiered. Thornton acquitted. Wharton is the same old thing. Miss Joe is in fine health. She and Mrs W. have gone to St. Louis for the health of the children. I gave Miss Joe your message. She swears she’s not engaged. Miss Constance sends her love and wanted to know why you didn’t write to her. Mrs. Rich has lost her baby and has moved into the garrison. Report says two companies of the Rifle Regiment are coming up here to winter. Capt. [Nathanial] Boone has got a leave of absence for six months whenever the command of the Department thinks his services can be dispensed with–looks something like resigning ok? Col. [Richard] Mason is still on recruiting service.
Write whenever you can and whenever you have an opportunity, I will let you know what is going on here. Remember me to all most kindly and
E. McLean [, Compy A, Ist Infy, Fort Leavenworth AAAdjGenl .]
MAJOR LEVI HINKLE.
Oct. 12, 1872—Maj. Levi Hinkle died at his home, north of Parkville.
W. C. White administered. Bond, $12,000. Maj. Hinkle
entered the army as a common soldier. After his discharge, he
was appointed foragemaster at Fort Leavenworth, and dealt
extensively with our people. He purchased a large farm near
Barry, resigned his office, and engaged in farming. He was a farseeing
and successful trader, a public-spirited citizen, and a zealous
Presbyerian. He was an ardent Union man during the war,
and for a time was provost-marshal. He was born in 1823; married
Margaret Campbell, daughter of William, of Clay. Oh.
William McClung Paxton, Annals of Platte County, Missouri, from its exploration down to June 1 ,1897: with genealogies of its noted families, and sketches of its pioneers and distinguished people, (Kansas City: Hudson-Kimberly Publishing Co., 1897) 532.
The following was an informal note accompanying an official letter sent by Dragoon Lt. Oliver H. Taylor to Dickerson, who was serving as A.A.A.Genl to Bvt. Lt. Col. Washington, Commander of the 9th Military Department in Santa Fe. Taylor and Dickerson had been one class apart at West Point, and Taylor often included such notes as separate pages in his official correspondence. These personal notes between officers seemingly relieved some of the tedium attendant while stationed at a frontier post.
Jan. 3, 1849 [Albuquerque]
I received your of the 25th Dec yesterday & hasten to inform you that I deem it very important that we should have a Genl Court Martial. One or two of you at least will come down from Santa Fe & perhaps some of our Taos friends. Have not time to write much as I am busy with my quarterly papers, compy, Qtr Mstrs & Compy &c. got a letter from [2nd Lt. William W.] Burns [USMA —˜47, assigned to 5TH Infantry, Ft. Gibson] the other day, wishes me to change in the Infantry with [2nd Lt. Richard H.] Long [USMA —47, also Ft. Gibson] , but as the Mexicans say —quando?—[sic, —Cuando?— (—When?—)] I think a new lot of —œniggers will be hung.— I put the letter of transfer, directed to the Adjt Genl, in the fire & could not help applying the thumb of my dexter hand to my nose & causing the fingers to execute sundry gyrations at the ashes as I thought how easy that little business had been settled & almost felt like sending a challenge to Burns for his impudence in supposing that a Dragoon would transfer with a —Doughboy.— Try & keep yourself alive & hearty. Remember me to all hands—”In haste, Yours Truly O. H. P. Taylor [Bvt. 1st Lt, Commanding G Company, 1st Dragoons]
P. S. I have also other Genl prisoners. Do send a Genl Ct. martial.
Note: This banter between classmates, joking about their branches and hoping for some social contact—”a General Court Martial required at least five officers, and everyone was spread thin in 1849 New Mexico. Tragically, Long died at Fort Gibson, January 30, 1849, of apparent illness, probably before Burns got any reply from Taylor. Taylor himself would be killed at To-kota-mine-me, Washington Tty, May 17, 1858, gallantly leading the rear guard against the united and outraged Spokane, Palouse, Coeur d’ Alene, and Yakama tribes.
One account of the battle states:—On Monday, May 17, 1858, the soldiers’ journey back immediately turned into a running flight for their lives. With the first sound of shots, Lieutenant William Gaston found an opening and led the entire expedition towards a small hill by Pine Creek. The running battle was brutal, as the tribes were skillfull at running their horses up to the troops to attack them. While the men had guns, they were mostly Yager rifles, not meant for firing from horseback, The soldiers’ revolvers were rapidly running out of ammunition. And the sabers, which would have helped the soldiers defend themselves, were left useless back at Fort Walla Walla.
As Steptoe’s expedition floundered toward the small hill, Lieutenant Gaston, along with Captain Oliver Hazard Taylor, guarded the flanks. Their skill was also their death sentence, for upon noticing the effectiveness of these two officers, the tribal leaders ordered their sharpshooters to focus on felling these two men, and soon Steptoe heard the news that these two officers had been killed, and Gaston’s body taken.
Joseph Mansfield’s Inspection Report of Fort Tejon
Los Angeles, California
5 March 1859
Bvt. Major Irwin W. McDowell,
Asst. Adjt. Genl. – Head Quarters Army
On the 18th February ulto., I left San Francisco, in the Overland mail coach, for Fort Tejon, and reached there at daybreak of the 21st ulto. , and have now the honor to report to the General – in –Chief the result of my inspection of that post as follows.
Fort Tejon, from 21 Feb. to 3rd March: The establishment of a Military post at the Tejon reservation, so-called, was designated in 1854, at the time I made an inspection of this Department; and General Wool, then in command of the Department, desired me in connection with the Indian agent at that time E.F. Beale, an Assistant Quarter Master Captain Gordon, to select a suitable site for the same and we fixed on a site some 20 miles from this post, in the Valley near the Indian reservation; which was deemed a strategic, as well as a pleasant, and comfortable, and suitable, place. At that time I could see no valid objection to it, and I have since my arrival at Tejon, visited again, and am of the same opinion still, and I believe it a much more suitable position than the present site. The road through the canyon is better and nearer to Los Angeles. Why it was not adopted as originally selected, I cannot say.
This post is situated in the Paso de Las Uvas, in latitude 34 -54’-40” and longitude 118-54’-01”, about six miles from the outlet into the Tulare or San Joaquin Valley, and about 2500 feet in vertical altitude above that Valley; and in consequence, is a cold, and damp, and unpleasant climate through the whole fall, winter and spring; and on the 1st and 2nd of this month, the ground was white with snow and ice, while in the reservation, the peach trees are in bloom and peas up.
There is no garden here, and no grazing of consequence for animals short of five miles. There is, however, a good spring of water, and abundant oak for fuel. It is particularly exposed to earthquakes , and every building is cracked by them; and on one occasion the gabled ends of two buildings were thrown down by earthquakes: in a few miles off, I saw an immense crack and crevice in the earth extending for many miles, caused recently by them. Since the 1st November 1856 to the close of January 1st there have been many shocks. In November 1856 three, – in 1857 there were in January three severe shocks on the 8th, 20th, and 29th and many light every day from the 9th to the close of the month. – February many shocks through the month, the hardest on the 10th, 11th and 28th. – March 27 shocks and one very severe on the 3rd. – April 22 shocks and one very severe on the 23rd. – May 7th shocks very severe on the 15th, 19th, 20th and 26th. – June 11 shocks, one very severe on the 12th, and severe on the 2nd, 10th and 11th – July 18 shocks eight very severe. – August 12 shocks, two very severe on the 9th and 20th, two severe and eight slight. – September1 heavy on the 22nd and slight. – September 1 heavy on the 22nd and 5 slight. – October 6 shocks, two of them heavy. – November 11 shocks, two heavy on the 20th and 30th and nine light. – December 5 shocks, one heavy on the 12th, and one extremely heavy on the 23rd. In 1858, there were in January, three shocks, one severe on the 17th and slight on the 21st and 26th. – February 2 shocks, one heavy on the 2nd and one slight on the 8th. – March 4 shocks, one heavy, on the 29th , and two slight on the 27th, and one on the 28th. – April 3 shocks, two heavy on the 3rd and six and one slight on the 5th. – May 3 shocks, one heavy, on the 19th, and two slight on the 20th and 27th and one on the 2nd. – June 2 shocks, one extremely heavy on the 15th, and one slight on the 14th. – July 2 shocks, one very heavy on the 21st. – August 3 shocks, two heavy on the 13th and one slight on the 8th. – September 4 shocks. – October 1 on the 6th. – November none. – December 1 tremendous one on the 19t. In 1859 in January one shock on the 22nd. – February, one shock on the 12th. Thus showing the earthquakes to be continuous. One person has been killed by the fall of an adobe building, and a cow has been swallowed up.
Th order e post is 374 miles from San Francisco, and 100 miles from Los Angeles, and all of its supplies are received through that place having first been landed at San Pedro, and transported 25 miles by land. Thus 382 miles from Fort Yuma via Los Angeles, Temecula and Cariso Creek.
I think its site is unfortunately selected. It should have been either north of this Canon de Las Uvas. Yet it has ample drill grounds, and there has been much expenditure here in the construction of quarters that it seems now too late to change the location.
Quarters of the Troops &c
The plan hereunto appended, shows 5 buildings for offices; two for soldiers of the two Companies; one for Adjutant’s Office and Band; one for Hospital and Commissary; two for Quartermaster’s Offices, stores, and workshops; and two supernumary buildings unfinished, all of adobe and shingled and ample. In addition, two wooden buildings for guard and prison; four for stables, granary &c and a suttler store. There seems to be no necessity for any more buildings for the present. If new stables be built on the spot indicated they should be frame buildings.
1st Regt. Dragoons and Command.
This is the headquarters of the 1sr Dragoons, and the regiment as well as the post, inas been since the 21st of January, under the command of Lt. Col. B. L. Beall, who was absent temporarily at Los Angeles on my arrival in the morning of the 21st ulto. And did not return until the evening of the 23d. 1st Liet C. W. Ogle is adjutant of the regiment, as 1st Lieut. M.B. Davidson the Regimental Quaretrmaster, as well as Quartermaster and Commissary of the Post. Thw Sergeant Major of the Regiment is absent on furlough since 1st Dec. 1858. The Regimental Band is made up of 10 musicians of which one was in confinement, on on furlough and 3 sich.
Col. T.T. Fauntleroy absent on sick lave since the 21st October 1857, and extended to 1st May, next. Major Steen absent sick since the 17th May 1858. Major G.A. H. Blake on leave since the 17 January 1859 for 60 days. Capt. L, B. Northrup absent from the Regiment sick since 6th October 1839, over 19 years, and as I understand practicing physic in Charleston, S. Ca. and I wish to call attention of the General-in-Chief particularly to this matter: it is an injustice to the Army however pleasant it may be to Capt. Norhrop. There is provision made for the discharge, an pension to disabled soldiers; and a like provision should be made for a disabled officer. 2d Lieut G. F. Evans has been sick since the 30th October 1850, over eight years. Capt. T. W. Whittlesey absent sick since 21st August 1856,over 2 ½ years. – A retired list is indispensible, in order that there may be efficiency in the service, and those who perform the duty have the benefit of protection,
The Sergeant Major is the Clerk in the Adjutant’s Office, and the Regimental Books are neatly and well kept; and he is an efficient officer. Lieut Ogle is the recruiting officer, and has on hand 73 dolls on this account. He is also the Treasurer of the Regiment and has in his hands a Regimental fund of 353.97 dolls. The Regiment has also quite a Library of Books boxed up, not yet opened. The Companies of the Regiment are distributed as follows: K & B at this post; A & F at Fort Crook; C.E.I. H at Walla Walla; and D & G at Fort Buchanan. Lieut Col B. L. Beall altho’ in command of this Regt. and of this post, likewise has not recovered fromhis hurts, and is not in my opinion able to take the field, but can command here, at headquarters of the Regiment.
Strength of Command
In addition to the foregoing officers there are here on duty, Assist Surgeon P.G..S. TenBroeck since the 2d of January 1855, and he has been in the department since May 1854; and is an efficient officer, but has had the misfortune since my arrival here to dislocate his right shoulder by turning over his carriage down a precipice of the Canon. An ordnance sergeant who has been absent since the 24 January 1859.
The post ordnance was in a state of good preservation. It is mostly stored on the left over the Company store[room?]. There were two 12 lb mountain howitzers in serviceable order, with 17 fixed shells, 24 spherical case, 136 blank cartridges, 600 friction matches and 11 slow matches therefore. Also 3000 blank revolver and 4000 blank musket cartridges; 4400 Musketoon and 2000 rifle and 15000 Sharps carbine and 3000 horse pistol and 1500 revolver ball cartridges. 26500 Sharps primers.
Capt. and Bvt. Major J. H. Carleton, Company K, 1st Dragoons, stationed here since 7 July 1858; 1st Lieut D. H. Hastings absent on sick leave at Carlisle, Penn, since the 12rh April last; 2d Liet A. B. Chapman on detached service to Los Angeles since the 16th February, and returned to the post again on the 28th. A vacancy has occurred which will promote Lieut Chapman out of this company, and then it will be without a Lieutenant, as there is no prospect of Lieut Hastings return to the Company, a brevet 2d Lieut. should be attached to this Company, without delay, in order that 3 0officers to meet the demands of the service against Indians on the Mohave, and elsewhere. When I inspected this Company at Fort Union in 1q853, it was, as it will be soon, without subalterns; 4 sergeants, 2 corporals, 2 musicians, 1 farrier and 46 privates, of which 1 sick, 5 confined, 20 on extra duty. 52 horses.
This company is armed with the sabre, Sharps carbine, Colts belt pistol. In was in uniform except the cap of the old pattern, and was neat on inspection, and the arms in order, and the men appeared well. There was a deficiency of clothing of all kinds at the post; they were in want of drawers, socks, boots, shoes, caps, stable frocks, and the blue blouse. The horses were tolerable, and the horse equipments, generally worn out. There was a deficiency of horse shoes, except a few at the post of a large size suitable for Pennsylvania wagon horses. The Company is well quartered in a good adoby building shingled, with a good mess room. It had a library, and a very excellent set of mess furniture of Britannia ware; and a large company fund of 1177.79 doll. in cash. The Company ordnance and property is in a good state of preservation. Pertaining to this company are 85 Sharps carbines, 60 Colts belt pistols, 85 sabres, 5900 Sharps ball cartridges, 2400 Colts pistol ball cartridges, 2206 large caps, 1470 small caps, 4500 Sharps caps . It had no valises, and but 12 serviceable canteens. The books are properly kept, and written up. There were 6 desertions in 1856—6 in 1857—16 in 1858. One laundress. It has an excellent orderly sergeant, and is in good discipline, was were commanded by Major Carleton, who has done much, and has a large amount of useful property for the men. At the time he took the Company of Col. Cooke in 1848, there was no Company fund, and now is probably the richest in the service. The Company bake their own bread, and as there is no garden here, consume all the flour.
I condemned to be dropped of this Company a large number of saddles, bridles, halters, camp equipage, . Those that might be of service in the Quartermasters Department I ordered turn in , without receipt therefore.
Company B, 1st Dragoons, Capt. J.W. Davidson stationed here since July 1858; no 1st Lieutenant; 2d Lieut G. Davis.—4 serhgeants, 4 corporals, no musicians, 1 farrier, 48 privates of which 3 sick, 7 confined, 16 in extraa duty. –57 horses.
This Company is armed with the [M1833] sabre, Sharps carbine, Colts belt pistol. It was in uniform except for the cap of the old pattern. No sword knots—was neat on inspection, and appeared with arms in order. There was a deficiency of clothing of all kinds as stated for Company K—some had no stocks on. The Company is quartered in a good adoby building, shingled; but the mess, room and kitchen, not yet worked in; yet designed to match that of Company K; and a temporary one in use. There were no bunks yet made.
The Company ordnance and property were stored. At date there was no long forage on hand, and for the last 7 months they have had but half long forage; and the horses are daily herded on the scanty grass in the neighborhood within 8 miles. Pertaining to this there were 61 Sharps carbines, 1 Rifle, 57 Colts pistols, 85 sabres, 2570 Carbine ball cartridges, 3000 Sharps primers all serviceable.
I condemned to be turned in to the Arsenel at Benecia 6 Carbines and 2 Colts pistols and to be dropped a large number of saddles, bridles, valises , and such saddles and bridles as might be of service to the Quartermaster’s department; ordered to be turned in to that Department, without receipt therefrom.
Stables and Forage
The horses of both companies were kept in temporary stables as indicated on the plan of fort Tejon hereunto appended. At date there was no long forage on hand, and for the last 7 months they have had but half long forage; and the horses are daily herded on the scanty grass in the neighborhood within 8 miles. Barley is had in abundance. If this post had been placed as originally selected, the horses could graze the whole winter in the Tulare Valley. Attached to the stables is a small granary and saddle horses and a smith’s shop. New stables of adobies have been commenced near the soldiers’ quarters; but suspended in consequence of the discharge of the civilian employees. These stables should not be erected of adobes. They should be frame buildings to resist the shocks of earthquakes; otherwise the roof might fall in and kill the horses. [I shall?] notify the General Commanding this Department accordingly.
The guard here is six strong and one non-commissioned officer. One sentinel is placed at the stables, and one at the guard house, which is a small wooden building. There is also a small wooden building along side of it to match, for a prison house in which there are 3 cells. There were 10 prisoners—7 undergoing sentences—3 waiting sentence—one minor offence. A new guard house has been mostly built of abodies as indicated on the plan, but not quite finished. It is my judgment too far off, but the work on it has been suspended. The present guard house I think preferable of the two.
Adjutant’s Office, Post Records, Band
The adjutant’s office is a good adoby building, shingled, and the records neatly kept by the Sergeant Major under Lieut. Ogle, the Adjutant of the post. The Band is quartered in the same building with a suitable kitchen and “ room.” The instruments and ordnance of the Band is in good order and state of preservation. Pertaining to the Band there are 21 Sharps carbines, 16 musketoons, ten Colts pistols, 8 holster pistols, 17 artillery sabres.
Asst. Surgeon Ten Broeck is the post Treasurer and has in his hands 15.25 dolls.
Temporarily attached to this post private Egene Lohn waiting opportunity to join his company at Fort Buchanan and private John A. Fulmer waiting result of trial.
At the time of my arrival at this post Assist. Surgeon Ten Broeck was absent temporarily with Lt. Co. Beall in Los Angeles, since the 16th Feb, and returned on the evening of the 23rd, and I went thru the hospital a second time with him. There were but two sick in the hospital, one a recruit subject to fits and unable to do duty. There was a temporary Steward and one cook and attendant–A dispensary and a ward room, with several vacant rooms, and ample for the post.—No iron bedsteads—Supplies ample and nothing wanted—The records are well-kept—The building the north east and of a large aboby building shingled. The south west end being occupied by the Commissary. I regard this post as healthy.
1st Lieut. H. B. Davidson of the 1st Dragoons has been acting commissary of subsistence since the 1st January 1859. His supplies are received from San Francisco, and ample and good for six months on hand, and were stored in a good adoby building shingled. This office is in the same building, and the sergeant major of the Regiment is his acting clerk, and one extra duty man as butcher . His beef cattle are selected at 30 dolls. No head to weight less than 400 pounds, and he pays 6 dolls. the head for mutton. His accounts and records are all properly kept. He was absent in Los Angeles on duty on my arrival, but returned on the 24th Feb. His returns for January are all ready to be forwarded and his accounts show a balance due to the U.S. on the 30th Jan. of 977.18 dolls; and expended since 233.69 dolls. and due the U.S. at date 745.49 dolls., which is in cash. The duty appears to be well performed. I condemned small articles of property to be dropped.
1st Lieut. Davidson is also acting assistant quartermaster since the 1st January 1859. The supplies of the Department seem to be ample, except in the items of clothing, horseshoes, and long forage. Barley is had at 4-l/2 to 5 ½ the lb, and corn at 4 cents the lb. Hay at 40 dolls. the ton, when it is practicable to obtain it at all. Wood is cut by prisoners, and details, close at hand. The supplies generally come via Los Angeles. The sergeant major of the Regiment is his clerk, and 14 extra duty men at repairs.
One citizen putting up a power sawmill @ 100 dolls. and a ration, and one herder @ 60 dolls. and a ration. The saw mill has recently been brought down from the mountains, and is now being put up at the post, and the logs must be hauled to it, a good arrangement. He keeps 17 horses, 46 mules, 6 oxen, and has on his return 37 wagons, 2 ambulances, one mule cart. I condemned to be sold 16 irreparable wagons, and a large quantity of old harness tools that were worn out.
The monthly return for January has been forwarded. At the close of January there was due the U.S. 152.11 dolls. received since 10,000 dolls.; and expended since 1763.27 dolls.; leaving a balance due the U.S., on the 24th February, of 8389,34 dolls.; of which, there is the Department of Treasury at San Francisco 5859.13 dolls. , and 2530 dolls. in cash in a safe. The duties are well performed by Lieut. Davidson.
Payment of Troops
This post was last paid by Paymaster Ringgold to the 31st December 1858. They are generally paid from 2 to 4 months at a time. The paymaster has been here personally but 4 times in 2 years. The sutler sometimes pays for him. I regard this as a bad practice. Private Samuel S. Chaffee, a discharged soldier of K Company, has been waiting at San Bernanrdino for 6 months for his pay; and discharged soldiers have been payed off in San Francisco in consequence of no money here; all the result of public money for private purposes by a paymaster as I have never before reported.
Drills and Target Practice
On the 22d ulto Companies K & B were reviewed and inspected. After which they were resolved into a squadron. I put Maj. Carlegton in command, in the absence of Lt. Cio. Beall at Los Angeles; and the following named officers to wit, Capt. J. W. Davidson, 1st Lieut. C. U. Ogle, 2d Lieut. B.F. Davis, each in succession took the squadron through the various movements and the sabre exercise with the exception of the charge, which, with little practice they had it was deemed advisable not to attempt, and finally Major Carleton drilled the squadron as skirmishers both as mounted and dismounted. The squadron was broken up, and each company fired at the targets 6’ x 22” mounted, with Sharps carbine at 100 yards, and Company K made X 1/3 hits and Company B 8 1/9 hits. They then fired at the same target 20 yards with Colts pistols and mounted, and Company K made X ½ hits and Company B 8 1/3 hits, and the exercises of the day were quite interesting. On the 23rd both Companies fired at the same target with Sharps carbines, on foot, at 100 yards; Company K made X ½ hits; at 200 yards x ½ hits; with Colts pistols at 30 yds. 2 ½ hits. Company B at the same distances made X ½ and x ½ and x 1/3 hits. The men fired at will. The reason that Company K made only 12 hits at 200 yds. Was in consequence of some of the cartridges of that Company not being made with sufficient powder for Sharps rifles, and not cutting off [in the breech]; some of them hung fire. It appears that one box of cartridges, sent by Capt. Callender of Ordnance from Benecia for Sharps carbine were small at the sacrifice of in the use of fire arms, and, I shall write him accordingly to guard against experiments in an arm already for certain ranges.
On the whole the military exercises were conducted by Major Carleton, and indicate a better state of military instruction and target firing in our service can be had if the rank and fire are properly instructed. These Companies have been practicing at the targets prepatory to taking the field on the Mojave River, and Major Carleton on the day of my arrival, paid three premiums out of company fund for the 3 best shots.
Geo. Alexander is the sutler and is established as marked down on the plan of the post.
I visited the Agency on the reservation 20 miles from here, in the Tulare Valley, on the 28ulto and 1 March. There are about 1,000 Indians on the reserve, and about ten “Rancherias”. They have made some progress in civilization since I was here in 1854, but have lessoned in numbers. There are now many of them who live in permanent houses nof adobies, with chimineys;-plant a few acres of land—raise most kinds of vegetables—keep fowls, hogs, cattle, horse and will soon have peaches and other fruit. The wild grape grows abundantly.
The Agent, James Vineyard, was absent in Washington City. His wife and family were here, and I noticed some Indian squaws who used the needle and thread very well, and dressed as other women. There is no danger of these Indians making war on the white people, and I regard them as perfectly peaceable and well disposed. There are no wild Indians here.
I am Very Respectfully,
Your obt. St.
Jos. K. F. Mansfield
Col. And Inspector Gen’l
Fort Tejon Muster Roll complied by George Stammerjohan
Muster Roll for Headquarters, Non-Commissioned Staff and Band,
Regimental Headquarters, 28 February, 1859
Colonel Thomas F. Fauntleroy On leave for 6 Months
Lieut. Colonel Benjamin L. Beall Comdg. Regt. & Post, Fort Tejon
Major George A. H. Blake On Leave since January 17, 1859
Major Enoch Steen Absent sick since May 17, 1858
1st Lt. Charles H. Ogle Regt. Adjutant, Fort Tejon
1st Lt. Henry B. Davidson Regt. Quartermaster, Fort Tejon
Headquarters Non-Commissioned Staff Enlisted At:
Sergt. Major Damuel R. I Sturgeon May 25, 1855 Fort Reading, Ca. (re-enlistment)
Ordnance Sergt. Jone E. Kelly(a) May 31, 1856 Fort Orford (re-enlistment)
Regt. QM Sergt. William Duffy (a) December 1, 1858 Fort Tejon (re-enlistment)
Chief Bugler Carl Caib June 3, 1858 Nr. Los Angeles (re-enlisted)
Bergman, Jacob August 11, 1858 San Francisco
Burke, Patrick June 6, 1854 New York
Chatland, Edwin February 2, 1855 Baltimore
Clarke, Charles April 1856 Fort Union, N.M.
Ferrari, Giaciento October 12, 1856 Philadelphia
Roesch, William June 10, 1857 Fort Tejon
Stark, Dominick September 1, 1858 Fort Tejon
Sugden, Reuben October 1, 1858 Fort Tejon
Tierney, Edmund P. December 7, 1858 San Francisco
Oliver, Francis, Farrier Feb. 12 ’55 Ft. Filmore, N.M.
a. On furlough, each for six months.
Muster Roll for Company B
John W. Davidson, Captain, Commanding Company
Orren Chapman, 1st Lieut., Died at St.Louis 7 Jan. 1859
Benjamin F. Davis, 2d Lieut., with company for duty
The Company Enlisted: At:
1st Sgt. Nathanial J. Pishon August 13, ’56 Ft. Craig, N.M.
*Sgt. Minor C. Tuttle Aug. 26, ’56 Ft. Craig, N.M.
*Sgt. Jmes W. Strawbridge July 18, ’58 Ft. Tejon
Sgt. Joseph E. Smith Feb. 1, ’55 Cleveland, Oh.
Corp. Michael Wheatley May 4, ’55 New York City
*Corp. Frederick Fischer Aug. 20, ’57 Ft. Buchanan, NMT
Corp. James McGuire Apr. 12, ’54 New York City
Corp. John Yaiser Feb 15, ’56 Ft. Fillmore, NMT
Frances Oliver, Farrier Feb. 12, ’55 Ft. Fillmore, NMT
Allen, Robert B. Feb. 24, ’56 Ft. Filmore, N.M.
Arnold, John Sept.9, ’57 Baltimore
Barnard, William Nov. 16, ’57 Boston
Brunning, Heinrich May 23, ’54 New York City
Butler, James May 19, ’54 New York, City
Beecher, George D. Sept. 3, ’57 Harrisburg, Pa.
Betts, William June 1, ’54 New York City
**Buck, James Jan. 2, ’56 Ft. Fillmore, NM
Bresler, John Oct. 15, ’58 San Francisco
Cantrell, James Oct. 28, ’57 New York City
Carr, Joseph June 20, ’54 New York City
Carpenter, Asa Aug 29, ’57 Boston, Mass.
Connolly, Patrick June 21, ’54 New York
Coakley, Charles R. June 12 ’54 Baltimore
Cowan, William Dec. 20 ’54 Nashville, Tenn.
Culligan, Michael April 19, ’55 Ft. Fillmore, NM
Chariasis, Michael August 24, ’57 New York
Dean, James Oct. 26, ’57 New York
Dowd, John Aug. 26, ’55 Ft. Union, N.M.
Eldar, Adam Aug. 22, ’55 Ft. Fillmore, N.M.
Faber, Henry Apr. 17, ’54 New York
Forest, Joseph Y. Aug. 18, ’54 Ft. Union, N.M.
Fogerty, John March 23, ’55 Louisville, Ky.
Galleger, John Feb. 15, ’56 Ft. Fillmore, NM
*Hand, John Sept. 9, ’54 Ft Union, NM
Hade, Patrick Dec. 1 ’57 Ft. Buchanan, NM
Kriesalmayer, Henry Sept. 11 ’57 Philadelphia
*** Lohmeyer, Frederick Dec 5 ’55 Albuquerque, NM
* Maher, Edward Feb. 1, ’56 Ft. Thorn, NM
Miller, Henry May 20, ’54 New York City
Morrissey, John June 8, ’54 New York
* McCoy, Thomas July 15 ’58 Ft. Tejon
Moulton, Harrison Sept. 8 ’57 Philadelphia
****O’Meara, Edward Jan. 8 ’55 Ft. Fillmore, NM
Ott, Heinrich September 3, ’57 New York
Pryor, Robert March 9 ’54 New York
Phillip, George Sept. 11 ’58 San Francisco
Reynolds, William R. June 26, ’54 New York City
Ross, James Oct. 19, ’57 Boston
Swiss, Henry Feb. 23, ’53 St. Louis
Scherrer, John E. Sept. 27, ’53 New York
Scharf, Anton Mar. 16, ’53 Ft. Fillmore, NM
Schafle, Francis P. Nov. 6, ’58 San Francisco
Thomson, Theodore Sept 11, ’55 Ft. Stanton, NM
Tower, John S. Sept. 5, ’57 Boston
Trouton, William Aug. 24, ’57 Philadelphia
Taylor, James Jan. 25, ’59 Fort Tejon
West, John A. June 10, ’58 Baltimore
Washington, George H. April 21 ’58 San Francisco
*$2.00 additional each month for former service.
** $3.00 a month for 2d reenlistment
***German born Frederick Lohmeyer, enlisted, at age 24 years, in Company B at St Louis on April 19, 1847, discharged at Santa Fe on August 19, 1848.
****Edward O’Meara, former farrier of Co. F, who was court martialed for his participation in the 1855 riot in the Taos Plaza, see infra, was transferred to Co. B. Pvt. O’Meara was confined in the post jail at the time of this muster along with privates Beecher, Forest, Morrisey, Pryor and Washington.
Pvt. Miller – absent, sick Ft. Fillmore, since Oct. 16, ’55.
Pvts. Faber and Phillip, sick in post hospital.
James H. Carleton. Captain and Brevet Major, Comanding Company
David H. Hastings, 1st Lieut., Leave of Absence
Alfred B. Chapman, 2d Lieut.; Returned from detached duty of February 28, 1859, present for duty.
The Company: Enlisted: At:
*William McCleave, 1st Sgt. 1 Oct ’55 Albuquerque, NM
*Sgt. Emil Fritz 1 Jan. ’56 Albuquerque, NM
*Sgt. Gustav Brown 1 Dec. ’57 Ft. Buchanan, NM
Sgt. Thomas Yearwood 1 Apr. ’57 Calabaza, NM
Frederick Morris, Corp. 2 Sept. ’57 Ft. Buchanan, NM
Andrew J. Landers, Corp. 5 Feb. ’55 Knoxville, Tenn.
* Joseph Meyer, Bugler 12 Feb. ’56 Ft. Buchanan, NM
John W. Harris, Bugler 11 Dec. ’56 Albany, NY
*William Seyring, Farrier 1 Aug ’55 Albuquerque, NM
Batty, James @ 18 Sept. ’55 Albuquerque, NM
Buell, Sylvester 5 Sept. ’57 Boston
Brannan, Michael 7 Feb. ’55 Jefferson Battacks, Mo.
Cannon, Mchael 7 Sept. ’57 New York
Crowley, Timothy 15 Feb. ’55 Albuquerque, NM
Caskey, Samuel 21 Oct. ’55 Albuquerque, NM
Creevy, William 8 Oct. ’56 Albuquerque, NM
Costellow, Thomas 15 Mar. ’55 Albuquerque, NM
Corringham, Thomas 2 Feb. ’55 Cleveland
Ennis, Thomas 14 Jan. ’55 Cincinnati
**Fitzsimmons, Thomas 23 Nov. ’55 Albuquerque, NM
Fitzpatrick, John 3 Sept. ’55 Albuquerque, NM
Friedberg, Francis 3 Aug. ’57 Boston
**Gray, William 1 July ’57 Ft. Buchanan, NM
Glendmeyer, Frederick 10 October ’57 Baltimore
Henn, Andrew 20 March ’57 Calabasas, N.M.
Hurley, Morris 8 Sept. ’57 Boston
Herring, Robert B. 20 Oct. ’57 New York
*Johnson, Adam 27 Dec. ’55 Albuquerque, NM
Jones, Robert H. 7 Feb. ’55 Knoxville, Tenn.
Louish, James 17 Jan. ’56 New York
*Maroon, Harvey 21 Sept. ’57 Ft. Buchanan, NM
* Mahan, Thomas 28 Jan, ’56 Albuquerque, NM
McNeal, Erastus 20 Jan. ’55 Columbus, Ohio
McDonald, John 18 Aug. ’57 Boston
Moore, Michael 16 Nov. ’57 Philadephia
Moody, Thomas 20 Nov. ’57 New York
Murphy, Hugh 4 Nov. ’57 New York
Mullins, James 3 Nov. ’57 Boston
Miller, Ebenezar 7 Sept. ’57 New York
*O’Carroll, John A. 27 May ’58 Ft. Yuma (Calif.)
Ogilivie, Henry 9 Sept. ’57 New York
Papp, Frederick 9 Nov. ’57 Richmond, Va.
*Quatman, Herman 15 Nov. ’55 Albuquerque, NM
Reinhart, Antony 26 Aug, ’57 New York
Richey, Hamilton 26 Oct. ’57 Philadelphia
Smythe, Henry 17 Aug. ’57 New Yrok
Smith, Abraham B, 26 Oct. ’56 San Francisco
Schaupp, Charles 11 Nov. ’57 New York
Tynon, Michael 8 Feb. ’55 St. Louis
Terrell, Rufus H. 1 Sept. ’57 Philadelphia
Taylor, Daniel 8 Oct. ’57 New York
Thompson, James 10 Oct. ’57 New York
Tooney, Peter 15 Oct. ’58 San Francisco
Van Riper, Cornelius 15 Feb. ’59 Ft. Tejon
Zabel, Gustavus 1 Aug ’55 Albuquerque
* $2.00 a month as former service.
Deserted: Henry Tolman, enlisted 29 Oct. ’59 in Boston.
Confined in post jail: Buell, Johnson, Smythe, and Taylor.
Private John A. Fulton (aka Jacob Fulmer), was dropped from regimental rolls on 20 February 1859, as a deserter from Company H, 1st US Cavalry, Kansas Territory and dismissed from the service on 25 February 1859.
Capt. James Allen’s Burial
Missouri Republican, 31 August 1846
It is with sincere regret that I inform you of the death of Lt. Col ALLEN. He died this morning at 3 o—™clock, of congestive fever, after an illness of ten days, in his 38th year of age.
He, you know, was Capt. of 1st Dragoons, and was deputed by Gen KEARNEY [sic], to muster into service of the United States, the Mormons as Infantry. Of this battalion, he was elected Lt. Colonel. He has endured great fatigue, and hardships, since his election, and his constitution, which was much impaired before, was unable to endure so much. His death has thrown a gloom over every thing at the Fort to day, and every face indicates sincere distress. I understand that he was a noble soldier, and, universally beloved by all who knew him. His battalion (which has been gone ten days) perfectly idolized him, and his death will be a severe blow to them. He was much attached to the soldiers in his command, had brought them under very superior discipline, and said before his death, that he had never commanded a finer, or more orderly company. Indeed every one here (ladies too) speak highly of this battalion.
Lieutenant Colonel ALLEN was without a family but he did not go to the tomb unwept. When he was a young lieutenant, a dying mother, who knew him, and appreciated to the kindness of his nature, placed under his charge, a little orphan daughter. This child he took, and rearing with all the tender affection of fond father, adopted her as his own, and gave her a fine education. She is now grown, the wife of one of the officers at this station. At her house her died, and from her he received the most constant and affectionate attention during his illness. His death deeply distressed her.
His faithful servant, Levi Wells, to whom he was much attached, and who has lived with him for years, hung over his body, and wrung his hands in an agony of grief.
He was buried this afternoon, at five o—™clock, with military honors, by company A of the first Infantry, Lt. Wm E. Prince commanding. This company made a fine appearance on parade. The flag of the United States was folded and laid over his coffin, which was proceeded to the grave by the company of Lieut. Prince and, one of the finest bands of music I have ever heard, belonging to the first regiment of dragoons.
Capt. HOLT, Lieut. SMITH, Dr. SANDERSON, and Lieut BUCHANAN acted as his pallbearers. His body was conducted to a high bluff overlooking the broad Missouri , whose waters lave its base, and thence deposited forever.
In the procession immediately following his body, was his beautifully spotted horse, led by his servant, Wells, caparisoned as if for battle. His boots and spurs were at the stirrups, his sword hanging at the side of the horse, and his pistols, bare and of dazzling brightness, hanging at, the pommel of the saddle.
But alas, the hand that might have wielded that sword in glorious conflict with the enemies of his country, was powerless in death, and the voice that might have cheered on his victorious comrades upon some ensanguined battle-field, was silenced forever. —œWhat shadows we are, [and] what shadows we pursue.— [Edmund Burke”)
Lieutenant Colonel Allen is the first officer who has died at Fort Leavenworth since its establishment, a period of nineteen years. This is a remarkable fact.
From Gen. George Cullum’s Biographical Register (1891):
Born O JAMES ALLEN Ap’d Indiana, Military History Cadet at the Military Academy, July 1 1825, to July 1 1829, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to BVT SECOND LIEUT 5TH INFANTRY JULY 1 1829; SECOND LIEUT 5TH INFANTRY, JULY 1 1829. Served on frontier duty at Ft Brady, Michigan, 1829-33. SECOND LIEUT IST DRAGOONS, MAR. 4 1833, Dearborn, Ill., 1833-34, on Engineer duty Jan 10, 1834, to Oct 15; FIRST LIEUT IST DRAGOONS, MAY 31, 1835-1836, on frontier duty at Ft Leavenworth, Kan., 1837. CAPTAIN, IST DRAGOONS, JUNE 30. 1837. Frontier duty at Ft Leavenworth, 1839-42; Ft Gibson IT 1842; March to Ft Atkinson Io. 1842; Ft Sandford, Io 1842 Raccoon Fork, Io. 1843; Ft Des Moines, Io. 1843-44; Raccoon Fork, Io., 1844; Ft Des Moines, Io., 1844-45; Expedition to Lac Qui Parle 1845 and Ft Des Moines, Io. 1845-46 and in the War with Mexico, 1846 as Lient. Colonel commanding Mormon Battalion of Missouri Volunteers on the march to New Mexico July 16 to Aug 23 1846. DIED AUG 23 1846 AT FT LEAVENWORTH, KAN AGED 40.
James Allen was a member of the orginal cast of 1sr Dragoons. Like so many others in the army, he had a serious addition to spirits. The rigors of hard duty on the prairies served to further weakened his body. Many thanks to Tim Kimball for unearthing this obituary.
George Evans graduated from the Military Academy as a member of the legendary Class of in 1846. Assigned as a brevet 2d Lieutenant to the 1st Dragoons, he received a brevet for bravery at the battle of Buene Vista before receiving his permanent rank of 2d Lt. Assigned to A Company, he suffered what appears to be a stroke while in California in 1850. Sent home to Maine, he languished for another 9 years before dying on 29 March 1859.
Obtaining a rebel commission was not an easy thing for officers of the regular army. First, one had to choose between the loyalty owed to his home state and to the oath to defend the Constitution. Many officers of Southern birth remained in the federal army. Of 821 West Point educated officers actively serving in the federal army in 1861, 184 gained commissions in the army of the Southern Confederacy.
Consider the case of William T. Magruder–an officer who managed to fight for both sides in the war. A native of Maryland, he graduated from West Point in 1850 and landed a commission in the 1st Dragoons. He received a Captain’s commission and the command of Company E to date from 8 January 1861. When the war started, Magruder found himself on leave in the East and ended up fighting for the Union Army at the Battle of Bull Run. After the battle he hurried to the West Coast to take command of his company at Fort Wall Walla, in Washington Territory only to turn around and take his company back to Washington, D.C. Magruder dutifully boarded a steamer and arrived in Washington D.C. with his troop at the end of January of 1862. He fought in a number of battles during General McClellan’s failed campaign to take Richmond in May of 1862. Opposing McClellan was Magruder’s cousin, Prince John Magruder.
With his battered troop in need of new recruits and refitting, Captain Magruder went on leave in August. He did not return. On October 1, 1862, the Union Army accepted his resignation. The capable Magruder quickly obtained a captain’s commission in the Confederate Army and served on General Robert E. Lee’s staff. On July 3, 1863, he was killed while attempting to rally the men of General Davis’ brigade during the final moments of Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg.
Lt. David Bell, of the 2d Dragoons had engaged in several skirmishes with the Utes and Jicarilla Apaches. When he heard of the attempts to cover up Lt. John Davidson’s defeat at Cieneguilla in 1854, Bell could not contain himself and wrote the following letter to a West Point classmate condemning Davidson’s action.
In 1855, a furious Davidson asked for and received a Court of Inquiry which whitewashed his defeat. Recent archaeological studies performed by David Johnson of the US Forest Service have much vindicated many of Lt. Bell’s claims.
Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas Territory
December 27th, 1854
Dear William [Lt. Robert Williams]:
The mail from N.M. arrived here two days since and I was truly gratified to hear from you. The mail was delayed several days, as the contractors have succeeded in disproving one of the received axioms of geometry, namely that —œa straight line is the shortest distance between two points,— and consequently instead of bringing our mail direct from Independence, they cross the river at Liberty to go to Weston and proceed to this place. As the ice has been running in the river for some days, they were unable to do this and I finally sent a sergeant for the mail and got it after being made annoyed by a delay of several days.
You speak of Lieut. J.W. Davidson of your Regt. and his course and situation to his fight &c. Now as Davidson is an officer of your Regiment, I am perfectly willing that he should see anything I write about him and if you think proper, I am perfectly willing you should show him any letter, for I would scorn to say behind his back that I would not report to himself, and indicate in the proper manner, as this is a subject affecting a member of your Regiment. I will give you my opinion in full, which however you will find to be that of officers at your own post.
On the evening of the 21st of March, Lieut. Davidson at Fort Union from Taos (?) where he had left his Company and reported to Col. Cooke for instructions. I was present when he arrived, and afterwards during several conversations between him and Col. Cooke in relation to the Indians, their mode of and ability for war &c. Col. Cooke and myself occupied the same house, and Lieut. D was our guest. He stated that on his way from Cantonment Burgwin to Fort Union, where he had been ordered by Col. Cooke, he met the Apaches in a canyon between the former place and Moro, that he had halted his command and, with Col. Brooks, had a talk with them; he described them as being overwhelmed with fear and protesting that they desired peace, stating also that he had made advantageous dispositions for battle in case they exhibited any signs of insolence or hostility. He also commented upon the miserable quality of their arms, and their mean, shrinking deportment, at the same time averring that he was sorry they did not show some signs of hostility, for that if they had, he would have —œwiped them out—. In the same conversation, he stated that the number of warriors counted at the time amounted to one hundred and seven. When informed that these same Indians had, two weeks previously, when attacked by a command of Dragoons, evinced anything but a cowardly spirit; he reiterated his assertion, for rather brash, as to what he could do with them. On the 22nd instant, I went on a scout down the Canadian and across to Anton Chico, and returned to Fort Union on the 29th. Lieuts. Sturgis and Moore, who left Ft. U. on the 21st and kept further to the east, returned on the 30th. On the 31st an express arrived at Ft. U. from Cant. Burgwin, with a communication from Maj. Blake giving an exaggerated account of the fight at Cieneguilla. In justice to Maj. Blake, however, I will state that the exaggerated account of the affair was founded upon data furnished by Lieut. D. himself. In a few hours, we were en route for Cant. Burgwin, where we arrived on the 1st of April.
Davidson met our command near his quarters, and in reply to some question from Col. Cooke, which was met with much apparent concern as to the result of the affair of the preceding day, he said, in a self-confident and positive tone, that he had —œkilled fifty or sixty Indians.— This was asserted as a fact. I was present. Lt. D. left Cant. B. on the 2nd instant under orders from Major Blake, to follow and watch the movement of the Apaches, but to avoid if possible bringing on an action— He marched a portion of the night and on the morning of the 30th sent a guide with two men, to ford on the Rio Grande below Cieneguilla, to ascertain if the Indians had crossed the river.
A trail was afterwards discovered leading up a hill, the advance guard was sent to reconnoiter the position of the Indians, and some returned saying that when they arrived at the camp which was on the top of a hill, the Indians had leveled their rifles upon them. Upon being thus informed, Lt. D. says he cursed the corporal and demanded to know of him why he had not fired upon them with his revolver. The corporal also reported that the Indians told him (in Spanish) to —œcome on.— Lt. D. now dismounted his command in a canyon, divided it into two platoons, and advanced upon the Indian camp which contained the families and now was to fulfill the prediction about —œwiping them out—.
It is at least doubtful who fired first, but what matters it? Was not the advance upon the Camp in a hostile attitude a bona fide attack? Nobody would doubt it particularly if his position was that of the Indians and Lt. D. would have been one of the last to do so. If he had been under the command of almost any officer other than Maj. Blake he would have been tried for disobedience of orders. Again let me look at the manner in which the affair was conducted.
The command advanced in two platoons as nearly in line as the nature of the ground and other circumstances would admit. This was the most unmilitary as well as the most exposed order possible–it could not be expected that a display of numbers would intimidate the Indians while a large mark was thus presented to their concentrated fire. This is no labored scientific delusion—”a non-commissioned officer who would not have appreciated it upon this ground should have been reduced for incapacity. But if exception is taken to this mode of approaching a crouching and concealed [enemy] for what are we to think of the second attempt to go up a steep hill each man leading his horse. The horses alarmed by the noises and confusion of the fight would refuse to advance and the men would struggle with them unwilling to abandon them and thus instead of using their weapons would fall victims to the fire of a concealed enemy.
An attack could not be made mounted and to attempt to lead the horses would expose the men. What was then to be done? To abandon the horses of course. This ill-advised and unfortunate attack arrived at the top of the hill, leaving behind it those who are killed or wounded, and now the command is given —œMount men a save yourselves.— This Lt. does not or did not deny. This order was calculated to strike terror to heart of the bravest soldier, for he would know that nothing but the utmost exertion could prevent his falling a prey to the merciless savage. This order was alone was sufficient to panic a command. The consequence was a disorderly flight over ground of the difficulties of which the Indians well knew how to take advantage. Every other consideration was forgotten in that of personal safety and hence the entire abandonment of arms & etc. Every man expended his energies to save his own life while he abandoned his wounded comrades to be butchered. I have conversed with Major Blake, Maj. Thompson and Mr. Quinn all of whom visited Cieneguilla the next day and the result of their stories is this that 5 men only were found dead upon the side of the hill up which Davidson advanced, and it is by no means certain they were dead when the retreat was ordered, while 14 men formed on the hill side down which the flight took place, and two other dead in the ravine below. This cannot be denied, and it proves that a command of 57 Dragoons retreated without an attempt to preserve order, when they had lost 5 of their number. Davidson says in his official report which I read there were nearly 250 or 300 Apaches and Utah warriors in the fight he fought for three hours and had every reason to believe he killed a large number of Indians. In the first place there were no Utahs & secondly there were not more than 130 warriors (Apaches) in it, as Carson or any person who followed them will tell you. If 50 or 60 of them been killed the rest must have been wounded if any amt of usual proportion between killed and wounded obtained. As to fighting [for] 3 hours that is the most ridiculously absurd assertion in the whole report. A cartridge box (cavalry) holds some 30 to 50 cartridges. How long would it take a man to fire this number assuming that he fired all of them? But in the excitement of action most men will lose a large portion of their ammunition. I think that any reasonable man will agree that Davidson—™s fight have lasted 30 minutes, his assertion to the contrary notwithstanding. In regard to the probable number of killed I forgot to say that it is a probable fact that the number of lodges after the flight was the same as before and we were informed in every Mexican settlement through which we passed in the pursuit, that the Indians said they had lost only two men in the battle. I could pass over most of the things and sincerely sympathize with
Davidson in his misfortune, but when an attempt is made to transform an unskillful attack, a feeble resistance, a disastrous flight, the combined consequences of which entailed upon others days of toil and night of suffering and present that to the world as a glorious triumph. I do not consider it my duty longer to be silent for I am one of those who suffered from these misguided monuments. However, others may regard the matter I cannot but think remaining silent is very near akin to countenancing tacitly a gross imposture. The correspondence recently published in the Santa Fe Gazette, between Lieut. D and Mr. Davis, should silence all who are cognizant of the facts any feeling of forbearance towards the former he attempts to make capital out of what he knows to be an error and wishes to force upon the public what he did not himself believe. There is one other circumstance of which you are probably not aware. Last winter Davidson preferred charges against Major Blake—”they were of a very grave nature. A few days after the affair at Cieneguilla the major made some remark to the effect that D. had done as could be expected, when D. instantly offered to withdraw the charges although if xxx Maj. B. had signed a false certificate etc. All of which I was prepared to prove. I am also acknowledge himself that Maj. could have presented him —œwith a single word— —“hence the spirit of martial concession. If D. had sustained no feat why did he offer gratuitously to withdraw these charges? But there is another fact where Davidson—™s conduct was assailed and he talked so loudly about asking for a Court of Inquiry why did he change his tone so suddenly when he found it very easy to get the Court and he was even recommended from persons whom he pretended to seek advise. In conclusion I will again say that you are entirely free to show my letter to Davidson or any of his friends for it contains not only my convictions also drawn from unmitigated facts.
We have no news of importance except that there now seems a strong probability that some new regiments will be raised this winter. How many we have no idea but if Congress acts upon the suggestions of the President and Secty. of War it would be very natural to suppose they would raise the force recommended as indispensable. I hope they will for without we have no prospect keeping our [red?] buttons within any reasonable bounds. I have applied for promotion in a new regiment but without much hope of getting it. I will however use what little political influence I can muster for that purpose. I applied to Col. Cooke a few days since for a statement in reference to my standing in my regiment, services, capabilities, etc. And when I received what was willingly handed me an hour or two afterwards, I was almost at a loss to make out my own identity. I had no idea I was half as alone as the Col. made me out and my modesty would hardly allow me to make use of a description by which perhaps I might more afterwards be recognized. The [appropriation?] Bill is expected to pass–it is thought that the new phase under which it will be presented will be of advantage to it. I speak in pay and to the limitation of time. The pay Bill will too come up and as it appears as a fixed fact that Members of Congress are going to raise their own pay [, so] I don—™t see how they can get over giving us a little more.
The Sioux War now seems determined upon. We have it from Genl Scott himself. It is still doubtful what troops will be sent out. The 2d Inftry and our companies of Drags, with one or two companies will go of course and if there is an addition to the Army it is expected that the whole 2d Drags will be ordered out in which case we will have a lively time of it. The Indians are reported as being very hostile and confident in their numbers. I think however with a Battery or two and a regiment of Drags we will rather worst them in a pitched battle. We have not received any more recruits, a detachment was ordered here but the order came so late that navigation had closed. It is probable however that they will reach us from St. Louis. Our Hd. Qts. has not yet arrived but we expect them soon. There is very little pretension to gaiety or even sociability here. No parties or amusement. Besides I have been sick ever since I came here and am so badly broken up by Rheumatism that I can scarcely hobble about.
Robertson received your letter addressed to him at Jefferson Bks. and will write you. He, Polk, Haight & etc. send their love.
You must have had quite a lonely time during the absence of the ladies on a visit to Ft. Filmore. I would give anything to be a Ft. Union for a few days. This place is intolerably stupid. My time principally spent in reading. I have been duly engaged for the last two months in the study of some French military works from which I have derived much pleasure and I think some useful knowledge too. I have poured over them for whole nights when my rheumatism would not let me sleep.
I have now three or four other letters to write to Fort Union. It is now late and I must get them in the post office tomorrow morning. So I will have to conclude. My love to Byrne, McCook & Magruder. Remember me to all my friends at your post and don—™t forget to write by every mail.
Yours very truly,
P.S. Buford has been ordered to his company and Oakes and Garnett detailed on duty at the Cavalry depot. B. has not arrived here yet.
By William Gorenfeld (c) October 9, 2007
In 1825, Thomas Swords, a nineteen-year-old student at Columbia College, New York, gained entry into the United States Military Academy. Upon graduation in 1829, the Army placed him with the 4th Infantry and he served with the regiment in Alabama and Florida. In 1833, he became a 1st lieutenant in the newly formed 1st Dragoons. In 1846, the Army commissioned Swords as an assistant quartermaster. He was attached to Brig. Gen. Stephen Kearney—™s Army of the West and followed the command out to New Mexico and then California. Swords returned to the East but in 1857, now in the position of deputy quartermaster, he was sent by Quartermaster General Thomas Jesup out to San Francisco to take control over the disorganized state of the affairs existing at the quartermaster—™s department in the Department of the Pacific.
In 1973, a packet of personal letters written in 1842-1846 by Swords to Lt. Abraham Johnson, written while he was stationed at Ft. Scott, were discovered at the United States Military Academy and published by the Kansas Historical Society. Recently, the author acquired four more letters. Lt. Col. Swords wrote these letters to his friend William A. Gordon, personal secretary to Gen. Jesup in the late 1850—™s. This unfiltered correspondence of a senior officer, feeling his career to be at a dead-end and yearning to return to the States, offers insight into the state of military affairs in Antebellum California. Swords—™ spelling and grammatical errors have not been corrected.
Also included is an 1850 letter written to Lt. John Love concerning the efforts of Lt. Richard Schaumburg, who had resigned in 1835, to gain a captaincy and how this effort temporarily blocked Richard Ewell’s promotion to captain. (For a good discussion of this see Donald Pfanz’s biography of Richard Ewell.)
As is evident in all of his letters, Swords did not suffer fools and had little use for many fellow officers in the quartermaster department. Of particular interest in these letters are references to the nefarious actions of Capt. Thomas Jordan. This enterprising officer soon would be court martialed in 1861 upon allegations that he fraudulently discounted vouchers to contractors in connection with the construction of lavishly overbuilt Fort Dalles in Oregon. The colorful and personally charming Jordan managed to escape punishment by resigning his commission and joining the Confederate Army where he acted as a valuable adjutant for Generals Pierre Beauregard and Albert S. Johnston. He would eventually rise to the rank of general and have a successful post war career as a writer and participant in the Cuba Libre movement.
Colonel Swords had a much less exciting career. He remained loyal to the Union during the war and in 1861, would replace Col. Charles Thomas as the Army—™s Assistant Quartermaster, earning a major general—™s brevet in 1865. On 22 February 1869, he retired to live in New York.
Washington City. March 8, 1850
My Dear Love,
I had hoped that before that I should be able to tell you something definite in relation to this detestable matter about Schumburg, but it appears this subject is not yet settled. The Senate in acting on the nomination of Ewell, refused to confirm it and called the attention of the President to a former resolution brought by them. I have understood that the President replied that he was aware of the resolution, and the Secy of War had investigated and made a report on the case—”here the subject rests for the present. The President says he will never nominate Schumburg, so the vacancy may remain open, at least until another occurs either among the Captaincies or First Lieutenancies, as if S. is not placed on the Register as 1st Lt. [,] the Senate may refuse the confirmation [of] the next nomination of 1st Lieut.
Everybody here is in quite good spirits to-day from the effect of Mr. Webster—™s speech delivered yesterday and the disunion stock is getting quite below par, if they table the question over a few weeks longer, the probability—”is, it will result like a lover—™s quarrel and all parties will be more loving from the temporary estrangement. I might perhaps to except the abolitionist as I consider them beyond the influence of common sense views which operate in sensible beings. As to the Freesoilers, they may be considered among the things that were, at least as far as their influence is felt in Congress. No notice is taken of them by either of the other parties.
We have nothing new in the way of Army movements, no assignment has yet been made in our Dept. towards scattering some of us in the spring. What will my fate I don—™t know, neither do I much care. Would have no objection to remaining here, if I could be permanent, which is not the case, as every little while I get a scare about going somewhere, I know I could make myself contended in almost any place which Mrs. S[words] could go with me.
We have had a very gay winter of it—”at a party almost every night go at 10 or a 1/2 before and come away at about 1 or 2 , but it makes no difference as to our hour of getting up, which is always in time for breakfast. Ewell has been over occasionally with some ladies from Balt. and if don—™t take care, I think, from what we hear, he will get fixed before he leaves here. I have been locking for him since the action by the Senate, but if he has been [passed] over he has not shown himself to me. 17 member of the Senate were absent when the nomination was acted on, and the resolution of passed by only one majority. Clay voted against Ewell—™s nomination.
I have had a very pleasing reception of Mrs. Love and think you have been fortunate—”as well as myself in your selection. I could wish you no better wish, than that you may continue to be as happy as we have been in our married life.
Give my love to Mrs. Love and say that I hope at some day to have the pleasure of being at the same station with her and that she and Mrs. S. may become friends. I know they would be, if they could be together.
Yours most truly
Other dragoon officers wrote to block Schaumburg’s promotion. In 1848, Captain Henry Turner sent the following letter to the Senate:
January 31, 1848
Hon. Lewis Cass
Chairman of the Mil. Com.
Of the Senate
I am informed that the Mil. Com. of the Senate, has under consideration, a measure, the effect of which would be to restore J. W. Schuamburg to the 1st Regt. of Dragoons in the Army. As I consider it would be an act of great injustice, and as I am, an officer of the Reg—™t, which would suffer by it, I ask leave to make you a statement on the subject, and through you to the Com.
In the first place, I respectfully represent to you that the case has been decided over, and over again—”in every form of adjudication, by which such cases ought to be, and can be settled and quieted—”by Secretaries of War—”by Presidents, and by the Senates of the U.S. and by all them after carefeul investigation. If it is not now an adjudicated case, it is difficult to conceive how this case can be a settlement, or any security in decisions involving the rights and commissions of Officers of thr Army.
2 . . . If it were an open case, it is a bad case. Mr. S has no claim to restoration. He resigned from the Army, and has been out of the Army for 12 years. To present the facts of his case officially, I herewith submit a report of Genl. Scott, and, a decision of Mr. Secretary Spencer upon it. They show how entirely groundless is his claims to be reinstated. I ask your attention specifically to one or two points.
Mr. S. has given different reasons, at different times, for his resignation, any one of which (and which one of them is the real motive) will be sufficient to show, that his resignation was perfect and he had has no claims to be restored.
First, He resigned —œto get away from his Reg—™t to attend to a sacred duty devolved on him by the death of his father, and being unable to get a leave of absence he tendered his resignation(See Genl Scott—™s report—”Mr. S Letter March 25, 1842.) Second. In his letter to Gen—™l Jackson Sept. 25, 1836. He says he resigned in order to get an appointment in the 2d Reg—™t of Drags, having learned from his friends, Dr. Linn, Gov. Dodge, and others that Pres—™t Jackson would not appoint to the 2nd Reg—™t by transfer from the 1st. (see Gen—™t S—™s report.)
Third He says in his letter to Mr. John Bell, Secretary of War in 1841 that he resigned out of disgust at the injustice practiced toward Officers of the Army. The whole of his letter is herewith submitted to you and shows his meaning to be that the injustice he complains of, and in consequence of which he resigned was the treatment of the Army under Gen—™l Jackson—™s administration.
Now, whichever of these was the cause of his resignation, it was a voluntary, perfect resignation, accepted by the Gov’t, and not now to be revoked, and, annulled. In point, of fact, I was an, Officer of the Reg’t, and serving with him, at, the same post, at the time, he resigned under charges, and, in arrest.
I shall not consider the grounds and, arguments, on, which he was claiming restoration heretofore. They have all been successfully refuted in the Official discussions rejecting his claim. I, am informed he has now, a new argument Vis—”his resignation, a Commission of 2d Lieut. whereas the resignation accepted was of the Commission of 1st Lieut. because between the date the date of his resignation, and, acceptance of it, he was promoted. The answer to it, appears very obvious, he had and could have but one Commission to resign. He resigned his Commission, and when he resigned it he surrendered, all the right and incidents belonging to it, the right of promotion—”the actual promotion, If his argument prevails, how many resignations (bonafide made and accepted) may it not vitiate.
The 1st Reg—™t of Drag—™s will suffer great injustice if this act is done. I believe more Officers of this Reg—™t have fallen in battle in this War than any other Reg—™t of the service, but without pleading the services of the Reg—™t. and the claim they may give to the favor of the Govmt. I am sure you will consider that it ought not to appeal in vain to the justice of the Govmnt. My own personal concern in the matter is slight. My interest in it is that Officers of the Reg—™t may not suffer the injustice and humiliation of having Mr. S placed over them in the Reg—™t from which he resigned near 12 years ago while they have served, without other reward for faithful services, than such promotions as the survivors have attained from the death of those who have died in service or fallen in battle.
I am Sir.
Your Obdt Servt
H. L. Turner
April 8th 1857.
My Dear [William A.] Gordon
Although I am nearly written out having been hard at it since 5 o—™clock this morning, giving instructions ruefully to carry out the orders for the march of the 4th Inf. which I did not receive in detail until last night, I cannot let another mail go, without having a little chat with you. Our trip out was a very pleasant one. Though quite enjoyable I sure would have no objection to making it right over to his return to New York that is if the Dept. should think proper to send me there, which both [Maj. Osborne] Cross and myself have some people say [should] be done. He [Cross] is seen in San Francisco, wrote me word he would be up last night if he was well enough, having been suffering for sometime with intermittent fever. I do not know whether he will defer his departure for Oregon, wait until after the time he has permission to delay or will wait in San Francisco after his return.
I wish assignment could be made so that I might go up in his stead and then return to Washington after having completed my duty. I think his long service here would enable him to make arrangement for the march of the 4th Inf. much better than I can–though I will do my very best and go up to Walla Walla before they leave.
Since I have been here I have been down to San Diego with our distinguished commission and the result of the trip is the breaking up of the seaport there and the removal of the troops from the old fortification. The depot had ceased to be of any use since the post in this section is supplied by the Colorado and was only a unnecessary expense to the Dept. All the stores, etc., will be brought to the seaport here. The number not required in California will be sent from all the ports to Walla Walla and these will number 400 or upwards. So we will get rid of a heavy expense on this account.
I very much fear we will lose [Capt. Ralph] Kirkham, he is an excellent officer and would really be a great Col. I wish the Gen—™l [Thomas Jesup] had assigned the officer that is to go with the 4th. [Capt. Robert] Allen is much excited for fear he away go and [Capt. Thomas] Jordan, I suppose would not like it any better. When I submitted my letter to our Col. [Charles Thomas] he did not like to endorse it, in consequence of the illusion I made to Kirkham—™s resigning. I thought it necessary that our chief Thomas would be advised of what might probably be the result but told him he might strike it out, or make any remarks on it he thought preferable. So he finally concluded to put his name on it. He and myself have so far got along most harmoniously and I anticipate no difficulty, this thing of submitting to him everything I may write to the Head of the Dept. will necessarily make my correspondence very brief and confined only to the most necessary subjects.
We are residing in a very nice family house, but as soon as it is decided that senior q[uarter]masters are to remain here and that I am to serve out my duty years, will make ourselves more comfortable at housekeeping.
Am much obliged to you for the copy of the correspondence, which does neither of the parties any credit and will do the late Sec—™try [of War Jefferson Davis] much harm. I think he may consider himself as no longer one of the prominent candidates for the board of the White House.
Let me know where all the officers of our Dept. are stationed, and what is the prospect of [Capt. William] Chapman or any body coming out–but without I can have discreet, reliable officers, would rather have some. There is one here, who is spending a great deal of money who I would be pleased to get rid of. How is old friend [Maj. Michael] Clark. When you see him tell him to please drop me a line and give me all the gossip, although he may not go out of the house. I know he knows everything that is going on. Is it time that [Maj. Ebenezer] Sibley is to take Col, Thomas—™ place. If so, I think our little Col. had better come out to get a look at the mighty Pacific.
Let me have all the news of the office.
_____________________________________________________________Oct. 19th 1857
My Dear [Wm A.] Gordon—”
The Eastern mail is not yet in. So we are in ignorance of what has occurred in the great world for the past month and there has not much been done here that would interest you.
I have been down to Monterey and made an inspection of our old buildings there & which are of little value and probably will not likely ever be again required. So I discharged the agent after the end of this month and made arrangements to have the premises occupied and taken charge of without expense. I am trying to hunt up something in regard to our title to the premises, but fear, like most things other things in this country, no record has been kept of it. Will make a report on the subject by the next mail.
Lieut. [Ralph] Kirkham is here. I want him to go up to Walla Walla & Gen—™l [Newman] Clarke to the Dalles, how it will terminate I don—I know, he is a past favorite with the Genl. as he belonged to his Regt. He bought a place over the Bay in Oakland, where his family will remain. So, I suppose does not wish to go further off there [if] he can help. The Genl. talks of ordering [Capt. Thomas] Jordan to report to the Q M Genl [Thomas Jessup] when relieved. If [Capt. William] Chapman does not arrive by the Isthmus he may find he will have to go to Walla Walla. I want to get Jordan away from the Dalles, and would send him to Humboldt, if I had my way.
I now come to the old [illegible] I have not one cent on loan and if a remittance is not sent by the mail—”will have to draw for the October disbursements.
What has become of [Col. Charles] Thomas? Was the proud army of QMs with the Utah Expedition but a flash in the pan? I understood [Capt. Stewart] Van Vilet was in New York at last accounts.
San Francisco Cal. June 19th ’60
Mr. W.A. Gordon
My Dear Gordon:
I have not a word of news that will interest you, and merely write to let you know that you are not forgotten, as it is some time since I last wrote. We are pretty much over the excitement caused by he outbreak of the [Paiute] Indians in Carson Valley. The Regulars [6th Infantry] have procured arms at Pyramid Lake where I suppose they will wait until something is is determine about the establishment of a post. And the Indians have all fled to the mountains, where they will be beyond the reach of our troops, without the right sort of men properly equipped against them. The Regulars, it appears, got along first rate with Jack Hay’s volunteers. No quarreling, and each speaks well of the other.
[Captain and assistant quartermaster Tredwell] Moore, they say, is very popular, which may perhaps be attributed in part to the liberal use of Uncle Sam’s money and supplies, but I ought not to judge him until his acts come in. He has written for more funds and I have had to tell him until his acts. come in. He has writen for more funds and I have had to tell that I was entirely out. [Moore estimated Fort Churchill would cost $193,000; Swords ordered to Utah Territory October 13, cut off $14,000.] Last mail I got your notification of a remittance of $80,000 for Oregon but none for California. The draft did no come, so [Quartermaster Rufus] Ingalls will have to wait another two weeks. His debts at the end of the month were $65,000 for Fort Vancouver. What they are at Wall Walla and other posts the Lord only knows.
I fear you surmise as to our friend Charlie S. [Lovell] will turn out but too well formed. After he heard of his escape from his last scrape, he got drunk again and has been in arrest ever since, though [Major Albermarle] Cady [6th Inf. commanding Fort Yuma] has not preferred charges and will not do so, if he can help it. He must resign or be disciplined sooner or later, and then what will become of him.
[Brevet Major Robert] Allen [Assistant Quartermaster, Department of Pacific] report about the “Massachusetts” came in a few minutes since. I have not read it, and cannot get Gen’l [Newman S.] Clarke [Commanding the Department] to act on it in time for this mail.
Gen’l Joe Lane was been [politically] killed in Oregon and the Republicans have almost carried the state [and in October, would elect E.D. Baker as U.S. Senatr]. Did the Democrats anticipate this when the state was admitted? We are anxious to hear the result of the Baltimore Convention [for June 16]. Hope they will nominate somebody at least as credible to their party as Lincoln to the Repubicans.
The next time I may be more in the humor of writing or there may be something more interesting to write about.
T[HOMAS] W. SWORDS
Letter courtesy of Dr. Robert Chandler
July 31, —˜60
My Dear Gordon,
I have not had the heart to write since hearing of the death of our dear Gen— [Thomas Jesup], though an event to be at any time expected at his time of life, I could hardly accept it. So sudden, without any indication of previous illness. The good man has gone to his rest—”a gain to him, but an impossible loss to us—”particularly to you and myself. Would be to God that he had been granted a few months longer, as I do not think another administration could be found to such injustice to Thomas, or cause such odium on old officers of the Dept. I have heard but one opinion in relation to the appointment of the successor [Joseph Johnston]—”all of decided condemnation. To be sure we have not much to expect from the present corrupt administration, but might have hoped to have found protectors in the Senate, to which we have always looked for in protection in our rights. Well the deed is consummated now and I suppose we have but to submit. Johnston and I were classmates but what kind of QM Gen— he will make I have no idea—”that you may find your aspiration with him agreeable, and continue to occupy your old desk for many years, I firmly hope—”
As to myself, my military ambition is at an end—”and I never again expect to take that interest in the service which I have heretofore felt. I hope I may continue to perform my duty conscientiously but certainly shall not make myself unhappy if things do not go as I should wish.
Thomas has reaped the reward of overzeal and the Executive and Senate have decided that too quick regard for the interests of the Treasury is cause for being unfit for advancement. Well let it be so—”I shall act on this principle. The only cause now to be pursued is to make myself popular by yielding to the demands of all.
It is perhaps fortunate for the Gen—™l that he did not live a few months longer to witness the disgrace of Charles [Thomas] whose resignation I suppose has been accepted before this. The accounts of him from you are most culpable—”and additional charges have been preferred. These I have had withheld until the War Dept. could take action on his resignation. I wrote to [Capt. Lorenzo] Sitgreaves all about him—”and we will probably have him in a short time again disgracing himself in Washington. He wanted to leave at once, but I thought it better to keep him out of the way as long as possible.
If the vote on the nomination [of Johnston] has been made public, or proposed to, let me have it. I have heard that [Charles] Thomas thought of resigning—“were I he, I would see this done first.
Washington City. March 8, 1850
My Dear Love,
I had hoped that before that I should be able to tell you something definite in relation to this detestable matter about Schumburg, but it appears this subject is not yet settled. The Senate in acting on the nomination of Ewell, refused to confirm it and called the attention of the President to a former resolution brought by them. I have understood that the President replied that he was aware of the resolution, and the Secy of War had investigated and made a report on the case–here the subject rests for the present. The President says he will never nominate Schumburg, so the vacancy may remain open, at least until another occurs either among the Captaincies or First Lieutenancies, as if S. is not placed on the Register as 1st Lt. [,] the Senate may refuse the confirmation [of] the next nomination of 1st Lieut.
Everybody here is in quite good spirits to-day from the effect of Mr. Webster’s speech delivered yesterday and the disunion stock is getting quite below par, if they table the question over a few weeks longer, the probability–is, it will result like a lover’s quarrel and all parties will be more loving from the temporary estrangement. I might perhaps to except the abolitionist as I consider them beyond the influence of common sense views which operate in sensible beings. As to the Freesoilers, they may be considered among the things that were, at least as far as their influence is felt in Congress. No notice is taken of them by either of the other parties.
We have nothing new in the way of Army movements, no assignment has yet been made in our Dept. towards scattering some of us in the spring. What will my fate I don’t know, neither do I much care. Would have no objection to remaining here, if I could be permanent, which is not the case, as every little while I get a scare about going somewhere, I know I could make myself contended in almost any place which Mrs. S[words] could go with me.
We have had a very gay winter of it–at a party almost every night go at 10 or a 1/2 before and come away at about 1 or 2 , but it makes no difference as to our hour of getting up, which is always in time for breakfast. Ewell has been over occasionally with some ladies from Balt. and if don’t take care, I think, from what we hear, he will get fixed before he leaves here. I have been locking for him since the action by the Senate, but if he has been [passed] over he has not shown himself to me. 17 member of the Senate were absent when the nomination was acted on, and the resolution of passed by only one majority. Clay voted against Ewell’s nomination.
I have had a very pleasing reception of Mrs. Love and think you have been fortunate–as well as myself in your selection. I could wish you no better wish, than that you may continue to be as happy as we have been in our married life.
Give my love to Mrs. Love and say that I hope at some day to have the pleasure of being at the same station with her and that she and Mrs. S. may become friends. I know they would be, if they could be together.
Yours most truly
Francis R. Heitman, Historical Register of the Army of the United States Army, from its Organization, September 29, 1789, to March 2, 1903 —œ Thomas Swords— (Washington, Government Printing Office 1903) 2 volumes, vol. I, 941; George W. Cullum, Register of Officers and Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. from March 16, 1802 to January 1, 1850 (N.Y. J.F. Trow, Printer 1850), 155.
Harry C. Myers, From —˜The Crack Post of the Frontier—™: Letters of Thomas and Charlotte Swords— 5 Kansas History: A Journal of the Central Plains (Autumn 1982 Kansas Historical Society) No. 3.
General Order No. 1 War Dep—™t, Adjutant General—™s Office, Washington D.C., January 18, 1861, General Orders of War Department Embracing the Years 1861, 1862 & 1863 by Thos. O—™Brien & Oliver Diefendorf (New York, Derby & Miller 1864) 2 volumes, vol. 1, 1.
Ezra Warner, Generals in Gray, (Baton Rouge: LSU Press 2000) 167.
The 4th Infantry arrived in California in 1852 after a disease-ridden trip across the Isthmus of Panama. By 1861, elements of this regiment were stationed from Fort Yuma to Puget Sound. Thomas Rodenbough, editor, The Army of the United States, Historical Sketches of the Staff and Line with Portraits of the Generals-in-Chief (reprinted New York, Argonaut Press 1966), 463; Will Gorenfeld and George Stammerjohan, Infantry in Antebellum California, Military Collector & Historian. vol. 58, no. 4 (Winter 2006), 241.
Major Osborne Cross graduated from the Military Academy in 1825 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 1st Infantry. In 1836, he was commissioned as an assistant quartermaster and, in 1847, became a major in the quartermaster department. Cullum, 129.
In 1856, tensions arising from the Yakima War resulted in the construction of an army post at Walla Walla, Washington Territory. Robert Utley, Frontiersmen in Blue (New York: The Macmillan Company 1967) 200-201.
Captain Ralph Kirkham graduated from the Military Academy in 1842. He gained second lieutenant—™s commission in the 6th Infantry He fought in the Mexican War, earning brevets for heroism at the Battles of Contreras, Churubusco and Chapultepec. In 1856 he was made an assistant quartermaster and transferred from Ft. Tejon to the quartermaster—™s depot in San Francisco. Heitman, —œRalph Kirkham—, vol. 1, 604; see also Robert Miller, editor, The Mexican War Journal & Letters of Ralph W. Kirkham (College Station: Texas A&M Press 1991).
In 1808, Thomas Jesup was commissioned a 2d Lt. in the 7th Infantry. Rising in rank during the War of 1812, he became Quartermaster General on 8 May 1819. Heitman —œThomas Jesup, vol. I, 573.
Robert Allen graduated from the Military Academy in 1836 and entered service with the 2nd Artillery. Lt. Allen received a brevet for his actions at the Battle of Cerro Gordo and, on 19 October 1847, he gained a commission as assistant quartermaster. Heitman, —œRobert Allen—, vol. 1, 159.
Charles Thomas entered the army in 1819. On 7 July 1838 he was promoted to the rank of Major in the Quartermaster—™s Department. On 1 August 1856, Thomas became the assistant quartermaster general. Heitman, —œCharles Thomas—, vol. 1, 953.
Swords brought his wife Charlotte with him to California.
William Chapman graduated from the Military Academy in 1837 and received a 2d lieutenant—™s commission in the 2d Artillery. He was promoted to Captain in the Quartermaster—™s Department on 11 Mat 1846. Chapman received a brevet to the rank of major for his actions at the Battle of Buena Vista, February 23, 1847. He died on 27 September 1859. Heitman, —œWilliam Chapman—, vol. I, 296.
Michael Clark of Virginia graduated from the Military Academy in 1826, and gained a 2d lieutenant—™s commission in the 2d Artillery. On 18 June 1848 he became an assistant quartermaster and was promoted to major on 1 August 1856. Heitman, —œMichael Clark—, vol. I, 305.
Ebenezer Sibley graduated at the top of his class at the Military Academy in 1827 and gained a 2d lieutenant—™s commission with the 1st Artillery. He became a captain in the quartermaster—™s department on 7 July 1838. Brevetted for gallant conduct at the Battle of Buena Vista, Sibley was, on 22 December 1856, promoted to the rank of major in the quartermaster—™s department. Heitman, —œEbenezer Sibley—, vol. I, 885.
Closing the facility in Monterey was in accord with the recommendation made by Inspector General Joseph Mansfield in his 1854 inspection report. See Joseph Mansfield, Robert W. Frazer, editor, Mansfield on the Condition of the Western Forts 1853-54 (Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press 1963), 120-121.
In May of 1857, the War Department placed brevet Brigadier General Newman Clarke in command of the Department of the Pacific. Utley, 200. Clarke had entered the military as an ensign during the War of 1812 and rose to the rank of colonel of the 6rh Infantry on 29 June 1846. Heitman, —œNewman Clarke—, vol. I, 307.
Captain Kirkham would end up stationed at Fort Walla Walla and participated in the 1858 campaign against the Palouse and Spokane tribes. Lawrence Kip, Indian War in the Pacific Northwest (reprinted Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press 1999) 24. He would remain in Oakland for the remainder of his life, becoming one of the town—™s founding fathers in the post Civil War era. Miller, 115-116.
Lieutenant Colonel Swords was obviously receiving information at this time that Capt. Jordan was committing a series of unauthorized actions rebuilding Fort Dalles and sought to have him transferred. Carl Schlicke, General George Wright: Guardian of the Pacific Coast (Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press 1988) 130; see also infra, footnote 2. Jordan’s actions resulted in his being court martialed.
At the time of the writing of this letter, the Utah Expedition of the so-called Mormon War had, on 18 July 1857, left Fort Leavenworth bound for Salt Lake City. As it entered into Utah Territory, the expedition, harassed by Mormon rangers and physically weakened by cold weather, the vanguard retreated to winter quarters at Fort Bridger. Durwood Ball, Army Regulars on the Western Frontier, 1848-1861, 162.
Captain Stewart Van Vilet graduated from the Military Academy in 1840. After rising to a captaincy with the 3d Artillery, in 1847 he became a captain in the Quartermaster—™s Department. In 1857, Captain Van Vilet In 1857, Van Vilet was in Utah unsuccessfully attempting to secure provisions for the oncoming expedition. He also tried, with slight success, to mediate the dispute between the Mormons and the federal government. Heitman, —Stewart Van Vilet, vol. I, 984, Ball, 161.
Thomas S. Jessup had been in the Army since 1808. Rising to the rank of Colonel of Infantry during the War of 1812, he was made Quartermaster General in 1818. He served at this post until his death on 10 June 1860.
Swords is obviously angered by what he suspects to be a Southern cabal, led by Secretary of War John Floyd, who are fast taking control over the military. Joseph Johnston, a Virginian, graduated from the Military Academy in 1829. Initially posted as a 2d lieutenant with the 4th Artillery, he transferred to the Topographical Engineers in 1838. During the Mexican War, Johnston became Lt. Col. of the Voltigiers. When, in 1855 Congress approved the creation of the 1st Cavalry, Johnston, a close friend of Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, gained a commission as the regiment—™s Lt. Colonel. On 28 June 1860, he succeeded Jesup as Quartermaster General, resigning his post on 22 April 1861, to become a general officer in the Confederate army.
Swords is referring to Col. Charles Thomas, who had been serving Assistant Quartermaster General since 1856 and, in Swords—™ opinion, as well as in the opinion of many others, Thomas should have been made Quartermaster General and would resign in protest. The New York Times for 30 June 1860, reported that Johnston “[w]ith his experience, it is believed that he will make an excellent administrative officer. The friends of Col. Thomas, who was entitled by rule of promotion to the appointment, are exceedingly indiginant at what they denounce as a positive injustice in the appointment of Col. Johnson [sic]. The President had decided to send to the Senate the name of Col. Thomas until a few moments before the nomination, when he yeilded to the wishes of Secretary [of War] Floyd, and nominated Col. Johnson [sic]. Col. Thomas, I understand, will contest the legality of the appointment.”
Thomas would continue to perform in the Quartermaster Department until his death on 1 February 1878.
Lorenzo Sitgreaves graduated from the Military Academy in 1832, and was commissioned as a brevet 2d lieutenant in the 1st Artillery. In 1838, he transferred to the Topographical Engineers where he was serving as a captain at the time of this letter.
I have come this far with the Capts. Whiltsey and Adams–the orphans of Chihuahua.
Through they leave for that forsaken community, I do not give them up until sufficient time shall have elapsed for them to pass Parral; for our Genl. is famous for countermanding orders. The old man Grier, however, will give you an account of him (the Genl, who is accused of all the vile things that could be heaped upon mortal man).
Cpt. Rucker comds. our squ’d at the Willow Spring near Monterey. Maj. Bragg, Comdg. Offr:–I presume you know Cpt. R. and knowing him, you may well fancy how subservient he is to Bragg.
I was very anxious to go up in place of Capt. Grier with “A” Compy–or for Capt. Rucker’s Compy. to go–or for Capt. Grier to remain with us & not go, but things turned out in every way, contrary to my wishes.
When will any portion of the Regt. ever get together again. The Northern Hemisphere, at present, contains the whole of the Regt.–but in the course of time, the Southern may get a small portion of us, if lucky.
We are delighted to hear from Capt. Grier that you had nothing to do with “Cowpen Pen Slaughter” at Santa Cruz.
Something had been heard of it previous to the arrival of the Capt., which agreed with his version of the affair, viz: you penned up a number of Mexican regular greasers, and slaughtered them by file. We are all proud , and feel happy in learning that you gave countenance to no such inhumanity.
A letter was received from Franklin in Monterey, a short time since, and he states that Capts. Turner & Kearney, and a third one, whom he does not recollect, have resigned–the letter was written from Washington. Capt. Rucker is daily in a melancholy mood and always talks of resigning, but this is all in my eye–he is desirous (I believe) of getting a Paymaster’s appointment!
As to the current news, slander too, Grier, Whittlesy & Adams will tell you all of ours.
I have my tail up for the 3d Dragoons; if I can get there as I wish, will have fair promotion–there is no doubt of its being retained–indeed there is a requisition in the War Office for a 4th Regt. of Dragoons.
Buford & Pat. Noble have transferred companies. Buford goes to Gibson & Pat. to City of Mexico.
There are some few in the states–so many indeed, that I cannot enumerate them. Carleton is in Maine exhibiting his various curiosities that he took during the Battle of Buena Vista–presenting them to museum etc.
I had forgotten at the commencement of my letter to congratulate you on your Captaincy–allow me to do so, in a few minutes, with a good gulp of Puros (1200) Ano, not least a keg of fine old Brandy (15 galls). Take a drink with all the fellows in Chihuahua also, for me.
If peace is not mde, we will probably meet in the next world, if not before. In haste.
Truly yr. friend,
Cave S. Couts