Three Dragoons on Trial

Much of all I know about U.S. Army historical research I learned from the late George Stammerjohan during our twenty-year-friendship. George had spent most of his adult life as a historian for the California Department of Parks and Recreation. Among the unique research skills George developed during his lifetime, researching enlisted personnel of the antebellum U.S. Army was his forte. The task was not easy for these men were barely educated, left only a few journals and letters, and were seldom mentioned in official reports. Yet muster rolls and Army court-martial records are often overlooked troves for military historians as they provide a solid view of the enlisted soldier’s life. For instance, Pvt. John Fullmer, a man who served in the U.S. Dragoons between 1848 and 1859. Fullmer’s court-martial, or, should I say, series of court cases, was one of George’s favorite stories.

John Fullmer (or Follmer or Fulton or Fullmore) began his military career innocently enough. In 1845, the under-aged Pennsylvania native enlisted at Pittsburgh in Company B of the 4th Infantry. His recruiting document lists his birthplace as in Germany and he was a laborer, standing 5 feet and 6 inches. Follmer had gray eyes, light colored hair, and a fair complexion. He served with the 4th at the Battle of Monterrey in 1846. The regiment, caught in a deadly cross-fire, suffered serious casualties in that battle, as a third of its troops were killed or wounded during an ill-advised charge. Although he may have not have been wounded in this battle, the private was left behind as sick in hospital as the regiment moved on. Follmer shortly returned to duty and was detailed to serve in the quartermaster department in Monterrey where he stayed until the Army evacuated the city at war’s end.

Upon reaching the Brazos Landing, Texas, Follmer apparently presented himself to Gen. John Wool and applied to be transferred to Company E of the 2d Dragoons, then about to march west. He arrived with this regiment in Los Angeles, California, from where he was transferred to Company A, 1st Dragoons, under the command of Lt. Cave Couts. The private participated in the international boundary expedition and was honorably discharged in May 1850 near El Centro, California.

An 1859 Ft. Tejon regimental court-martial panel composed of Lt. Col. Benjamin Beall, Capt. James Carleton, and Lt. Charles Ogle tried his case in 1859. They knew Fullmer, using the name Jacob Fillmore, enlisted in the newly formed 1st Cavalry in 1855, and was assigned to Company H, then stationed at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. From this post he deserted and headed west. Reaching San Francisco, he enlisted as John A. Fulton in K Company, 1st Dragoons, stationed at Ft. Tejon. Shortly after his arrival at Tejon he confessed to Captain Carleton he had deserted from the 1st Cavalry and was tried by court-martial in January 1859.

Fullmer admitted he was a deserter but pled for leniency. His defense was he was not supplied a horse and consequently was assigned but menial fatigue duty. He alleged he “left because the men of the Company were stealing clothing all of the time and selling it for Whiskey. I lost two overcoats and two Blankets.” The court-martial panel found him guilty of desertion and sentenced him to be drummed out of the service. It spared trooper Fullmer the usual punishment for desertion in the form of fifty lashes well laid on the following grounds:

John A. Fullmer of Co. H., U.S. 1st Cavalry, who has been tried before this Court, so much of the sentence in his case as relates to the infliction of stripes, be remitted, and more particularly for the reason that the undersigned are of the opinion that Fullmer is so stupid a man as hardly to know the magnitude of his offense.

The panel, serving three thousand miles from Army headquarters in Washington and New York, and not having access to their Army records, could not have been aware of his two previous desertions from the 1st Dragoons, or he had not served with the 2d Dragoons at the Battles of Palo Alto and Buena Vista.

A perusal of Army records now held by the National Archives reveals in May 1851, Fullmer enlisted (as Jacob Fullmore) in 1st Dragoons at Philadelphia. His given age was listed as 21, gray eyes, fair hair and skin. Six years older than his initial enlistment he gained an inch and one-half, standing 5′ 7 1/2″. Private Fullmore claimed to be born in Pennsylvania, and gave his occupation as a farmer in Chester County. The Army at this time assigned him to Company F, stationed at Las Vegas, New Mexico Territory. In July 1852, Fullmer deserted and was arrested in St. Louis on 5 May 1853. He was confined in Jefferson Barracks, but escaped custody on 18 May 1853, and headed west.

Army documents reveal one year later Fullmer showed up in San Francisco where he was enlisted by Capt. John Lendrum (this time as Johann August Fulmer) on 22 July 1854. The Army sent him to serve with Company A, 1st Dragoons, at Fort Miller, California. He immediately went on sick leave. It was soon discovered at the time of his enlistment there was an arrest warrant pending in San Francisco. Fullmer was detained in the post guardhouse, but twice escaped. He was captured, tried, and dishonorably discharged on 19 December 1854 by Standing Order no. 110, Headquarters Department of the Pacific. Returning to the East he would twice more enlist under bogus names.

In short, Fullmer might not have been “so stupid a man as hardly to know the magnitude of his offense.” Early in his soldiering career he learned to acquire the skill to avoid the dangers of combat his regiment faced throughout the war in Monterrey. He later escaped from imprisonment at Jefferson Barracks and then at Fort Miller. Fullmer’s frequent enlistments allowed him to crisscross the continent at a time when few people traveled more than fifty miles from where they were born. Finally, he cleverly spun a false tale of woe, which pulled at the heartstrings and hoodwinked the court martial panel at Tejon, all tough career officers who were not easily deceived by enlisted personnel.

Fullmer was hardly an honorable man, but he was not stupid in the way he worked the antebellum Army to his advantage: running about the county, deserting the Army on at least three occasions while avoiding serious punishment the antebellum Army was perfectly capable of imposing, and commonly did, to deserters. My mentor George, a former enlisted man, must been especially fascinated as he unearthed the exploits of this long forgotten soldier.

Another of George’s favorite cases was the court-martial of Farrier Morris Hurley of K Company, 1st Dragoons. He was recruited in Boston on 8 September 1857, by Lt. Arthur MacArthur and assigned to the 1st Dragoons. Hurley had been born in Cork, Ireland, and stood 5 feet 8 inches, with grey eyes, brown hair, and a fair completion. His civilian training as a blacksmith made him a perfect candidate to be made a farrier.

With the commencement of the Civil War, Companies B and K of the 1st Dragoons were moved from Ft. Tejon and stationed in Los Angeles at an encampment outside of town, known as Camp Fitzgerald. It seems on the morning of 23 May 1861, Lt. Benjamin Davis found Farrier Hurley drunk. Hurley got into an altercation with Davis who had a sergeant arrest him. While in the guard tent, Hurley became loud and ill mannered, telling the other prisoners to leave the tent. Hearing the commotion Lieutenant Davis entered the tent and told Hurley to stop making noise. Hurley called the lieutenant a “damn son of a bitch,” ordering him out of the guard tent and threatening his life. Davis testified the drunken farrier began to shove him, first with his hands and then threatening death by pointing the muzzle of a Sharps carbine at Davis.

Hurley denied aiming the muzzle at Davis or threatening to kill him. He admitted to using the butt of the carbine to strike the lieutenant and produced witnesses to give his side of the fight. Unfortunately, most of the disturbance occurred inside of the guard tent and the prisoner’s witnesses did not observe what took place.

The lieutenant claimed he left the tent and ordered a sergeant of the guard to take a file of men to the tent and secure Hurley, but they did not do so as they were afraid of the belligerent Hurley. A frustrated Davis stormed back into the guard tent and attempted to seize the carbine. He was not successful. The sergeant and his men were again ordered by Davis to secure Hurley. The prisoner once again threaten the guard, fought them, lost the struggle, was retrained, and then tied up and taken to the city jail.
The Army charged Hurley with conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline. Possibly, because it needed men to fight in the Civil War, Hurley wasn’t charged with a violation of Articles 7 and 9 of the Articles of War with mutiny and striking a superior officer, each of which allow for the imposition of the death penalty. On 5 July 1861, the general court-martial panel, headed by Capt. John Davidson, 1st Dragoons, found Hurley guilty of the specifications and charge. It ordered him to suffer a forfeiture of pay and to be confined under guard for six months. During his confinement the farrier was to carry each day in prison a pack weighing fifty pounds.

It is unlikely that Hurley served the entire sentence. Skilled farriers were difficult to come by, all the more so during wartime. Consequently, Maj. James Carleton testified Hurley, when sober, was a valuable soldier in his company. In the fall, Company K sailed for the East Coast and the war. Army records reveal Hurley served his full five year term enlistment and was honorably discharged in Mechanicsville, Virginia on September 8, 1862.

Ruination by drink is an unfortunate but common tale, and here is the story of a dragoon officer with a promising career ruined by alcohol. This problem oft repeated in all ranks of all the other regiments of the antebellum army or, for that matter, among any other army in history. Serving with the army out west was dangerous, living in a distant and hardscrabble land—far from friends and relatives; promotion it was slow, and living in close quarters with hard-drinking officers and enlisted men. Thus, it was not surprising that many a soldier would find solace in a bottle of whiskey. An officer on the frontier stated, “the soldier who will have whiskey can procure it,” and Ulysses Grant concurred stating, “soldiers are a class of people who will drink.”

Indeed, Felix Legit, a member of Co. K, 1st Dragoons, who got drunk while on occupation duty in Mexico City in 1847. He walked into a room, cursed, killed for no apparent reason, a Mexican stable hand, and then passed out dead drunk. Felix’s defense was that, while sober, he was a kindly fellow, a good soldier and because he was drunk, had no memory of the event. The Court martial panel convicted him of the murder and sentenced him to be strung up. Leggit was executed on January 5, 1848, becoming the only regular soldier to be executed for an atrocity committed against a civilian during the war. Or to quote Lt. Col. Benet,

“[e]xperience teaches us that drunkenness is the prolific source of most serious offenses committed in the military state, and the only way of eradicating the evil is not overlooking the cause in punishing the crime”

My interest in the matter originated when, after viewing an ambrotype of Second Lieutenant Charles H. Ogle and an unidentified first sergeant, him sharing a drink at a small table. This is not to say that antebellum officers never drank with non commissioned officers. They often did. But this image fed my suspicion of Ogle’s alcoholism. I thought it odd that a West Point-educated officer would have preserved this image recorded for posterity in which he is depicted sharing a drink with a non-commissioned officer.

I recalled hearing rumors of Ogle’s alcoholism during his service in the 1st Dragoons and decided to dig into his service record. The first hints of this officer’s alcoholism did not surface until late in his career. If anything, the first eleven years of his military service appear to be unblemished.
The only known written account of his addiction to spirits appeared in a book published long after the end of the Civil War. The author, former Lieutenant William Beach, who served with Ogle in the 1st New York Volunteer Cavalry, tersely noted that the Ogle was “a West Point graduate, a trained and competent soldier, but given to drinking habits.” Lt. Beach mentions but a single incident of possible intoxication in which Major Ogle, while in command of the 1st New York Cavalry, approached a campground. Suffice it to say, Ogle was in no condition to be civil and lost all control.

As the companies had arrived the sergeant had directed each to its place, and had received a respectful “Thank you,” especially from the German officers. But Major Ogle was in no condition to be civil. In response to his question as to where his companies were to go, the sergeant, referring to his plan of the camp, pointed to a tree and some stakes that marked the place for his companies. With a perfect torrent of oaths and abuse, and with a violent motion of his arm that indicated the way in which he would have liked to take off the sergeant’s head if he had had his sabre in his hand, said, “I don’t want anything of your — paper! Mount your horse and show me where to go !” The sergeant mounted his horse, and rode to the head of one of the lines and called to the major that there was the line of his first company.

Charles Ogle, the son of Alexander and Charlotte Ogle, was born in 1826, and grew up in Eastern Pennsylvania. His father, who had served in Congress as a representative of Pennsylvania, died at age 32 when Charles was but six years of age. The lad, upon graduation from West Point in 1848, 29th in his class, received a temporary 2nd lieutenant’s brevet in the 1st Dragoons and, on August 3, 1848, gained a full promotion to 2nd lieutenant.

On the 22nd of October, within slightly more than a year of his promotion and in command of a Company B patrol of twenty men out of Fort Kearney, Ogle became engaged in combat in western Missouri Territory. The troop came into contact with an estimated one hundred Pawnee warriors at the Little Blue River. Ogle ordered his men to draw their sabres and charge. In the ensuing charge two dragoons fell, mortally wounded and four others were injured. The Pawnees fled into a deep ravine. The lieutenant, although wounded by an arrow that grazed his mouth, managed to rescue one of his fallen men who was about to be scalped.

The Army in 1852 transferred Ogle to Company A where he served at West Coast posts at San Diego, Benicia, Fort Redding and Fort Lane. While serving in Oregon, on October 23, 1853, Ogle fought at the Battle of the Illinois River, a desperate struggle in which Company A was nearly overwhelmed by the Rogue River people.

This proficient officer, on January 7, 1855, this proficient officer became the regimental adjutant of the 1st Dragoons, and in the same month, gained a promotion to 1st Lieutenant. This promotion required his transfer to dragoon headquarters at Fort Union, New Mexico Territory. In the winter of 1856, Ogle led dragoon headquarters to its new post at Ft. Tejon, California. A bright future seemingly awaited him.

In the antebellum army, a regimental adjutant, a prized staff officer position, usually a 1st lieutenant, served at headquarters directly under a field grade officer and was responsible for the day-to-day administration of the regiment. General August Kautz described the position as follows:
The Adjutant is the official organ of the Regimental Commander through whom he communicates with the subordinates in the Regiment. He has charge of the books, records, and papers pertaining to the Regiment. He superintends the machinery and workings of the Regiment. He communicates the orders of the commander, and sees that they are obeyed, and that the regular returns and reports are made. He keeps the roster of the officers, makes the details that are called for from the Regiment, and forms and marches on the guard at guard mounting.
It was hardly a position that can be maintained by an irresponsible alcoholic. Ogle held this important position for five years.

After serving a year as a dutiful adjutant Ogle was granted leave to return to visit his home in Pennsylvania. To secure passage for the return trip to his post, Ogle, as did most other officers of the period, secured orders to attach him to a westward bound column. While serving in this capacity the lieutenant again ran into armed combat—this time against an enlisted man in his detachment, whom Ogle shot and killed. Following this tragedy, Army provided Ogle with a court of inquiry. The following facts were adduced at the hearing.

On June of 1856, Lt. Ogle was returning to Santa Fe following his leave in Pennsylvania. He was serving with a detachment under the command of Major Enoch Steen traveling on the Santa Fe Trail. In this detachment was James Flood, an infantry private. Flood was a troubled individual who had previously tried to kill another soldier. The post surgeon at Ft. Leavenworth had warned Major Steen of Flood’s dangerous and erratic behavior.

On the night of June 3, 1856, the detachment encamped at Big Cow Creek, 250 miles from Ft. Leavenworth. It seems that, on the day before, Corporal William McBride had mistakenly taken Flood’s blanket to own his tent. Flood went to McBride’s tent, found his blanket, and took it back. McBride later testified that initially Flood did not appear to be angry. All so far appeared to be calm.

Winfield Scott in California, by George Stammerjohan

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.

Dragoons 1833-1850



What follows is an attachment of sundry materials dealing with the 1st Dragoons gathered over by the years by the authors and Tim Kimball.


  1. Muster Rolls of Selected Companies of the 1st Dragoons, 1834-1847

Company B, 1st Dragoons, May 30, 1834



Capt. E. V. Sumner

1st Lt. Thomas Swords

2nd Lt. J. H. K. Burgwin

Bvt. 2nd Lt. George McClure


Non-Commissioned Officers Place and Date of Enlistment   Stoppages for lost equipage


1st Sgt. Samuel Roberts           Youngstown, Ohio      May 12, 1833

Sgt. John Leton                       Utica, N.Y.                  May 21

Sgt. Samuel Jordan                  Salina, N.Y.                 May 20

Sgt. Jacob Martin                    Canandaigua, N.Y.      April 17

Corp. Aaron Young                Cleveland, Ohio          Aug. 6

Corp. Nelson Derthick           Canandaigua, N.Y.      May 1

Corp. Joseph Fenton              Watertown, N.Y.        May 27

Corp. Timothy Kempshall     Utica, N.Y.                  June 17

Bugler John Leprey                Brownsville, N.Y.       July 11

Bugler Caleb Goodrich            Utica, N.Y.                  May 21

Farrier James White                Sackets Harbor, N.Y.  July 23




William Belding                       Canandaigua                April 22, 1833

Theodore Bingham                  Utica                           July 22

William Bennett                      Utica                           June 6

Benjamin Casterline                Utica                           May 3

James Craig                             Brownsville               July 6  rifle flask

George Clarke                         Canandaigua                July 23            breast plate, rifle flask,

Faustus Close                         Canandaigua                April 29

Robert Dickerson                    Canandaigua                May 11

George Daggett                       Brownsville                 July 6    spur

Norman Fullington                  Canandaigua                May 9

James Fletcher                                    Brownsville                 July 6

Nathan Fitch                           Cleveland                    April 5

David Grummon                     Canandaigua                May 9

John Grantor                           Utica                           June 25   spur

John Goodall                           Utica                           June 13

Phillip George                         Brownsville                 June 21

Seth Hubbell                           Utica                           May 20

Lewis Halstead                       Canandaigua                May 3 wiper

James Heald                            Brownsville                 July 6

James Hildreth                        Genoa, N.Y.                Aug. 6

Willis Kelsey                          Cleveland                    Aug. 2

Aron LaFleu                            Canandaigua                April 15

George Latham                        Utica                           July 1

Archibald Montgomery          Youngstown, Ohio      May 4 curry comb, brush

Alfred Miller                           Sackets Harbor            May 28

John Marble                            Watertown                  June 6

William McCann                     Utica                           June 17 rifle flask

John Oatman                           Utica                           June 12

Abel Osmun                            Cleveland                    Aug. 6

William Pennington                 Utica                           July 1  screw driver

Horace Partridge                     Canandaigua                May 30 waist belt, plate, wiper

Peter Rhoda                            Canandaigua                April 18 rifle flask

Ira Rosier                                Youngstown                April 27 pair of spurs

Samuel Runnion                      Youngstown                May 30

James Rundel                          Cleveland                    August 6

George Rockwood                  Brownsville                 June 30

John Smith                              Utica                           May 3

Joseph Sayer                           Canandaigua                June 26

William Sheldon                      Utica                           July 20

Andrew Snyder                       Canandaigua                May 16

John Sherwood                       Cleveland                    April 15

George Thatcher                     Canandaigua                May 30

Lester Templar                       Utica                           May 10

William Vann                          Utica                           June 25

Benjamin Vanbauchoten         Cleveland                    Aug. 6

Arthur Washburn                    Utica                           June 22

Abiatha Walden                      Cleveland                    Aug. 6

Hiram Young                           Canandaigua                May 9




Robert Green                          Roscoe, Ohio              Aug. 9




James Fitch                             Brownsville                 June 21






Company I, 30 April 1835

Camp Des Moines, Iowa Territory



Capt. Jesse Browne, present, sick.

1st Lt. Abraham Van Buren, absent, ADC to Gen. in Chief.

2nd Albert M. Lea, present, commanding company.


Non Commissioned Officers When and Where Recruited    


J.C. Parrot,               1st Sgt.         Feb 10, 1834     Wheeling, Va.

B.F. Price                   Sgt.                 “       8,   “               Parkersburg, “

Styles, L.A.                 “                   “     10,                    Wheeling,   “

Heishberger, H.R.,   “                   “     11, 1835         Carlisle, Pa.

Burtlett, S.M.           Corp.             Jan. 30, 1834          Parkersburg, Va.

Barnett, R.,                 “                   Apr.   4,   “              Lancaster, Pa.

Wilson, C.C.               “                     Mar. 11,   “              Wheeling, Va,

Haber, B.M.              “                    Feb. 5,       “                   “             “

Deem, J.                   Bugler               “   3, 1835           Reading, Pa.

Deem, R.,                     “                           5,   “                     “           “

Ambold, F.             Farrier           Jan 30,   “                  Harrisburg, “





Britte, Jacob                                            March 13, 1834   Wheeling, Va.

Browne, Geo. S.                                 “       12,   “               “                “

Brown. A.C.                                     Feb.       27,     “       Parkersburg, “

Bishop, Benj.                                   “           20,   “       Carlisle, Pa.

Cornoy, Wm.                                   “            9     “             “           “

Chapman, A.                                     “           18   “             “           “

Deem, Daniel                             Feb. 3, 1835           Reading, Pa.

Dennis, James                                 “   13,   “                        Carthage, New York

Eastman, John                             March 31, 1834             Portsmouth, Pa.

Foley, Jas. A.                                  Feb. 8,         “                  Parkersburg, Va.

Farmer, John                                March 18, 1835             Carisle, Pa.

Gaston, Chas. W.                          Feb. 17,     1834              Clarksburg, Pa.

Herr, Henry                                   “     12,         “                 Wheeling, Va.

Holladay, A.G.                              April 16, 1834         Chilicotthe, Va.

Heermance, Ed                          March 12, 1835       Carisle, Pa.

Hoffman, John                             Feb. 9,         “             Reading, Pa.

Kent, William                           Jan. 30,       “              Harrisburg, Pa.

Lockard, A.M.                              March 5     “               Carlisle, Pa.

Magonan, James                        Jan. 30, 1834             Parkersburg, Pa.

Miller, O.H.P.                               Feb. 11,     “                Wheeling, Va.

Mitchell, C.S.                               “     19,     “                        Clarksburg, Pa.

Mitchell, Robert                     Jan. 27, 1835                       Harrisburg, Pa.

Morrison, Daniel                   Feb. 11,     “                           Carlisle, Pa.

McDonough, Jos.                   Mar. 4,       “                     “           “

McKinley, Alex                           “ 15, 1834                        Parkersburg, Pa.

McCleary, Wm.                       Feb. 4, 1835                         Harrisburg, Pa.

Mc Farland, Gil.                     Mar, 27, 1834                        Zanesville, Oh.

Neely, John                               Feb. 18,     “                         Clarksburg, Pa.

Norton, Abel                           April 16,   “                           Chillicote, Va.

Pennington, Jos.                         “     12,   “                         Baltimore, Md.

Piper, Conrad                         March 7, 1835                      Carlisle, Pa.

Platte, John                             Feb. 18,     “                     “

Robinson, John                         “     17, 1834                      Parkersburg, Va.

Rubble, Geo. W.                     February 8, 1834         Parkersburg, Va.

Strait, J.B.                                       “         20,   “                       “

Smith, John                                   “         3, 1835               Clarksburg, Pa.

Shelton, Jacob                             “         6,     “               Harrisburg, Pa.

Shoemaker, A.W.                        “         8,     “                   Reading, Pa.

Sheffer, William                         “         4,     “                 Harrisburg, Pa.

Trowbridge, Levi                     “         7, 1834             Parkersburg, Va.

Willey, Henry                             April 11,   “                   Baltimore, Md.

Wolf, John                                  February 11, 1835     Carlisle, Pa.

Worth, Henry                                 “             9,     “                   “

Wynkoop, Isaac                           “             “                             “

Young, William                         Jan. 31,                 “ Harrisburg, Pa.


Muster Roll Company C, October 31, 1846 (prior to San Pasqual)


Captain Benjamin Moore, commanding *

Lieutenant Andrew J. Smith

Lieutenant Joseph McElvain

Bvt. Lt. John Adams


Non Commissioned Officers Where recruited and Stoppages


Sergeant R.T. Falls                January 1, 1844, Weston, Mo. (re-enlisted) Great coat                                                    $4.75.

Sergeant Richard Williams   May 24, 1846, St Joseph, Mo.

Sergeant John O’Brien         December 15, 1845, Weston, Mo. Pistol $8.00, Boots                                                       $1.22

Sergeant John Cox *                         May 24, 1846, Leavenworth (re-enlisted)                                                                                     Promoted sergeant, July 1, 1846.

Corporal Paul Woods             September 24, 1844, Weston, Mo.

Corporal John Cassin           July 19,1846, Leavenworth (re-enlisted)                                                                          surcingle $.73.

Corporal Edward Heinrich   July 28, 1843,            Ft. Scott, Mo. (re-enlisted)

Corporal Oliver Wilson        November 4, 1845, Leavenworth (re-enlisted)

Daily duty in charge of Howitzer; 2 pr. Socks $.49.

Bugler Michael Halpin          October 7, 1843, Leavenworth (re-enlisted) due                                                                         sutler $8.00

Bugler James McKee            December 8, 1845, Leavenworth (re-enlisted) Daily                                                       duty escort to Kearny.

Farrier John Roady                 January 19, 1846, Dayton, Ohio, appointed farrier                                                         August 1, 1846.



George Ashmead *                 October 1, 1845, Leavenworth (re-enlisted) Flannel shirt                                            $.49, greatcoat $4.95.

Stephen Bishop                     May 20, 1844, Leavenworth (re-enlisted)

George Bryan                       October 7, 1844, St, Louis, Mo. Headstall $.55.

Zarah Bobo                                       January 14, 1846, Dayton, Ohio. Flannel shirt $.49.

John Brown                                       January 24, 1846, Dayton, Ohio. Gen’l court martial                                                        suspension of half-month’s pay for 12 months.                                                                        (Wounded at San Pasqual.)

George Casselt                         February 10, 1846, Leavenworth (re-enlistment).

Edward Cumen                        October 14, 1845, Leavenworth (re-enlistment) Flannel                                                        shirt $.49, socks $.49,carbine sling swivel $.75.
Mark Childs                               June 27, 1844, St. Louis, Mo. Screw driver $.24,                                                                       cartridge box plate $.10, carbine sling swiverl $1.50.

Joseph Campbell *                   February 14, 1846, St. Louis, Mo.

Jeremy Crab                             January 20, 1846, Dayton, Ohio. Wool jacket $4.19.                                                      (Wounded at San Pasqual.)

Caroloust Callahan                July 26, 1844, Louisville, Ky.

John Douglass                           May 7, 1846, Leavenworth

John Dunlap *                        August 10, 1845, Ft. Washita, IT, re-enlistment. Pistol                                                     $8.00.

A.C. Donaldson                         December 17, 1845, Wheeling, W. Va.

William Dalton *                       June 18, 1844, Louisville, Ky. Pistol $8.00 (in                                                                 confinement)

Peter Forney                             December 14, 1843, Weston, Mo.

Erasmus French                       January 3, 1846, Dayton, Ohio. Fatigue frock $.61,                                                       flannel shirt $.61 (hospital stewart). Deserted, Los                                                         Angeles, September 25, 1848.

Thomas Grady                         January 26, 1846, Leavenworth (re-enlisted). Sling &                                                  swivel $1.50, sabre $2.50, 2 cotton shirts $.86. Daily                                                        duty Howitzer.

John Henerle                             April 2, 1846, St. Louis, Mo. Sling & swivel $1.50.

Joseph Kennedy *                 July 15, 1844, Louisville, Ky. Daily duty escort Kearny.

Matthew Louber                     July 10, 1845, St. Louis, Mo.

William Lecke*                       January 6, 1845, Dayton, Ohio. Fatigue cap $.95.5, cotton                                               jacket $.72.

Jacob Mauser                           May 7, 1846, Leavenworth (re-enlisted). Daily duty                                                    Howitzer.

John McNeilly                      May 3, 1846, St. Louis, Mo. Wool overalls $3.36, flannel                                                   shirt $.90, fatrigue frock $.61. (Wounded Jan. 6, 1847.)

James Murphy                           December 24, 1845, Dayton, Ohio. $9.00 due to court                                                            martials of May 22 and August 28, 1846. Wool jacket                                                          $4.19.

George Myers                           December 29, 1845, Dayton, Ohio. Fatigue frock $.61.

John Murtry                               July 23, 1844, Louisville, Ky. Resigned.

Ferdinand Nichols                  June 27, 1846, St. Louis, Mo. Extra duty under                                                               Quartermaster.

John Osborne                                     July 30, 1844, Louisville, Ky. Reins $.40, snaffle bit $.62,                                                           2 cotton shirts $.86.

George Pearce                           July 1, 1844, Louisville, Ky. Company letter $.05. Daily                                                            duty escort Kearny.

Henry Purcell                        January 16, 1846, St. Louis, Mo. Sabre $4.50, belt $1.50,                                                             cartridge box $1.10, wool jacket $4.19, flannel shirt                                                     $.90.

Amasa Palmer                                   Jan. 15, 1846, Dayton, Ohio.

James Pinkerton                       January 9, 1846, Dayton, Ohio. Cartridge box and plate                                                          $1.10. Daily duty Howitzer.

Isaac Randolph                         August 29, 1844, Jefferson Barracks. Pistol $8.00,                                                        fatigue shirt $.90, 2 pair socks $.49.

Samuel Repose *                              December 10, 1845, Dayton, Ohio. Wool jacket $4.19.

James Reppeto                       October 30, 1845, Dayton, Ohio. Fatigue cap $.95, wool                                                             jacket $4.19, cotton jacket $.72, cotton frock $.61.

John Stokely                             February 2, 1846, Dayton, Ohio. Sling swivel $1.50.

Michael Tubb                           July 19, 1844, St. Louis, Mo. Daily duty escort Kearny.

William Tubb                                    January 16, 1846, (re-enlisted) St. Louis, Mo. Daily duty                                                             escort Kearny.

Christian Teinchand               May 5, 1843, Dayton, Ohio. 2 shirts $.86.

Paul Vanaken                                     December 13, 1843, St. Louis, Mo. Boots $1.22.

John Vyzer                            November 1844, Dayton, Ohio. Ramrod $.59; fatigue cap                                                           $.95; wool jacket $4.19; wool overalls $3.56; sling &                                                            swivel $1.50; cotton jacket $2.00; cotton overalls $.98,                                                    ramrod $.59

George Williams                    August 20 1845, Leavenworth (re-enlisted). Wool                                                          overalls $3.36; belt plate $.10; socks $.49

Jacob Westfall                        December 22, 1845, St. Louis, Mo. Cotton overalls $.98

William West*                        August 3, 1844, Leavenworth (re-enlisted). Flannel shirt                                               $.90

John White                            February 6, 1846, Dayton, Ohio. Daily duty driving                                                         howitzer.

Harry Walker                         May 26, 1842, Leavenworth (re-enlisted).            Left sick at                                                      Leavenworth


  • Died, Battle of San Pasqual



German born soldiers who served with Company B, 1st Dragoons 1847, Lt. John Love commanding. This information was gleaned from the muster roll and recruitment records for Company B of the 1st Dragoons. At the time this company left Ft. Leavenworth for Santa Fe in June of 1847, over one-quarter of its privates were of German extraction.
1st Sgt. Frederick Muller 15 Apr. 1844, St. Louis, Mo., Prussia, Promoted Ordnance    Sergeant and died at Fort Wood, NY Harbor, 1860.
John Baker 29 April 1845 St. Louis, Mo. Prussia, Fireman Discharged due to   Disability, Chihuahua, Mexico 27 Apr. 1848
Henry Heineke 16 Feb. 1847 St. Louis, Mo.; Wounded at Battle of Rosales, 16 Mar.,    1848, Discharged due to Disability Chihuahua, Mexico, 15 May, 1848: Civil        War service: Lt., 14th Illinois Cavalry
Joseph Hoerner 29 Dec. 1846, St. Louis, Mo.; left sick at Santa Fe, 10 Feb. 1848
Phillip Joost 4 Jan. 1847, St. Louis, Mo. Germany; Signmaker Deserted Ft.         Leavenworth, 4 June 1847
Joseph Kieffer 23 Dec. 1846 St. Louis. Mo. Germany Laborer Discharged Disability
19 March 1850, Taos, NM
Hy Kroaus (Kraus?) 27 Dec. 1846 St. Louis, Mo. Germany Tailor Discharged due to   Disability, 24 Aug. 1848, Santa Fe, NM
Edward Langerwelsh 13 Jan. 1847 Jefferson Bks Germany Laborer 19 Aug. 1848,   Santa Fe, NM
Conrad Leffler 16 Feb. 1847 St. Louis, Mo. Germany Laborer Discharged Disability
28 Dec. 1848, Alburqueque, NM
Frederick Lohrmeyer 19 Apr. 1847 St. L. Mo. Germany; Laborer; Dicharged 19 Aug   1848; re-enlisted 1 Dec. 1855 Alburqueque, NM
George Meyers, St. Louis, Mo. Feb. 25, 1847 Wounded at Rosales 16 Mar. 1848 (lost             right arm); left sick Santa Cruz de Rosales (18 Mar. 1848)
Peter Mokenhanbt 3 March 1845 St. Louis, Mo. Germany Laborer Deserted 28 May             1848; captured.
25 Nov. 1846.; Detached Duty as officer’s servant Feb-Apr. 1848; Discharged end of            service 3 March 1850

John Mokenhanbt 21 Jan. 1845 St. Louis, Mo. Germany Laborer Deserted 4 May       1846, captured 25 Nov. 1846. Discharged end of service 1850
Jno Racener 9 Feb. 1847 St. Louis, Mo. Germany Farmer Discharged 9 Aug. 1848      Santa Fe.
Jno Scott (Schott?) 9 Jan. 1847 St. Louis, Mo. Germany Painter Discharged 9 Aug.      1848 Santa Fe.
Frederick Sick 28 June 1846, Ft. Scott Germany Soldier 2d Enlistment. Discharged
Disability 24 Aug. 1848 Santa Fe.

John Stein 14 January 1847 St. Louis, Mo. Germany; Wheelwright; Deserted Ft.         Leavenworth, 7 June 1847; captured 21 Dec.1847; Discharged General Ct.
Martial 16 Jan. 1848.

Edward Schobe 24 Apr. 1847 St. Louis, Mo. Germany Clerk Discharged 19 Aug. 1848           Santa Fe,

Jno Shobe 9 Jan. 1847, St. Louis, Mo. Germany, painter; Discharged Santa Fe, 19 Aug.            1848.
Herman Sigler 11 Apr. 1846 St. Louis, Mo Discharged 11 April 1850 Taos
George Sigler 11 Apr. 1846 St. Louis, Mo. Dischgd 11 Apr. 1850, Taos
Wm Strobe 10 Dec. 1846 Jefferson Barracks Hanover Laborer, Discharged at            Sonoma Barracks California, 10 Dec. 1851
Geo. Stremmle 5 Dec. 1846 St. Louis, Mo. Germany Locksmith Discharged 5 Dec.        1851 Ft., Leavenworth; end of service
Peter Trimborn 22 Jan. 1847 St. Louis, Mo Germany Carpenter Dischgd 19 Aug.        1848, Santa Fe; Civil War service: pvt. West Missori Volunteers.
Henry Vankaster 24 Mar. 1847 St. Louis, Mo. Germany Farmer; Severely wounded in           battle with Commanche; 26 June 1847; Discharged Disability 19 Aug. 1847        Santa Fe
Jno Wedeg 15 Feb. 1847 St. Louis, Mo. Germany Laborer Discharged Disability 15    Feb. 1848, Chihuahua, Mexico
Henry White 23 Mar. 1847 Jefferson Bks. Germany Farmer Discharged 19 Aug, 1858          Santa Fe


Muster Roll of Phil Kearny’s Company F of the First Dragoons, Following the Battle of Churubusco, Mexico City, October 31, 1847
Capt. Philip Kearny, Jr.         Sick
1st Lt. A. Buford                     Absent. Never Joined. Place and duty not known.
1st Lt. Richard Ewell             Commanding Company.
2d Lt. Oren Chapman           Joined from duty 2d Drags. 5 Sept. 1847


Non Commissioned Officers     When and where recruited

1st Sgt. David Reed               9 Jan. 46, Ft. Leavenworth
Sgt. Henry Hence                   23 Nov. 46, Sick
Sgt. Fleming Megan               8 Aug. 46, Terre Haute Sick, Pueblo, Mexico, since 8 Aug.
Corp. James Clark                  7 Sept. 46, St Louis
Corp. John Perkins                8 Aug. 46, Shelbyville
Corp. Wm Anderson             28 Aug. 46, St Louis
Bugler Joe Hodgson              25 Sept. 47, Joined City of Mexico
Farrier George Thompson    12 Jan. 44, Ft. Scott,  $2.00 stoppage garrison ct martial


Daniel Alaways                      21 Aug 46, Chilicotte
John Alaways                         “     “    “               “             Sick, Pueblo, Mexico, since 8 Aug.
Joseph Aleut                          21 July 46. St Louis
John Askins                            8 Aug. 46, Shelbyville     Detached service, since 31 Oct.
Allen Bullard                          13 Aug. 46, Terre Harte
Michael Brophy                     20 Apr. 46, Rayado, joined co. prisoner exch. Sept. 3
Thomas Bryant                      5 Aug 46, St Louis, Sick, Pueblo, Mexico since 8 Aug.
Morris Kane                           18 Sept. 46,  “    ”
Hugh Call                               16 Oct. 46, near St Louis
Peter Christman                    6 Dec. 43,  St Louis, Sick; wool infy coat, $2.28
Alonzo Clark                           16 May 47, Jalapa, Mexico,     joined during march.
James Curley                                     18 July, 46, St Louis
Eleazor Dort                                       10 Aug. 46, Terre Haute
William Donovan                               29 Aug., St Louis                           Daily duty
David Dunton                        9 Dec. 46, Saltillo, Mex.               Daily Duty
Samuel Flint                           14 July, 46, Chilicotte
Philip Frankenberg               6 Aug. 46, Ft. Leavenworth, Sick, Puebla, Mex., 8 Aug.
Charles Graman                    10 Aug. 46, Terre Haute        Sick
David Giesler                                     21 July 46, Chillicothe
Andrew Gillespie                               26    ”      ”       ”
James Grace                                       16 June 46, Ft. Leavenworth
Jacob Grant                                        5 July 46, Jefferson Bks, Sick Puebla, Mex. 25 May
Augustus Gruber                               6 July 46, Ft. Leavenworth, Sick, Puebla, Mex., 8 Aug.
Thomas Hall                                       5 July 46, Jefferson Barracks, Sgt. until 29 October.
John Harper                                       28 July 46, Chillicote, Stoppage pistol $7.50.
Patrick Hart                                       4 August 46, St Louis; Tabacayo 5 Sept. prisoner exch.
Michael Henry                       12 Sept. 46, Philadelphia; from desertion 16 Feb 47.
Thomas Hewitt                      27 Aug. 46, Terre Haute, Sick, Puebla, Mex., since 8 Aug.
Henry Hoffman                     14 Jan. 46, Dayton                  Sick
Martin Howard                      11 Aug. 46, Terre Haute, Sick, Puebla, Mex., since 8 Aug.
John Howell                                       6 Feb. 46, Ft. Leavenworth; flannel shirt and pistol
William Jeffers                       19 Oct. 46, New Orleans
John Kaler                                          4 June 46, St. Louis
John Keckler                          17 Aug. 46, Chillicote
Levi Kimball                                       1 June 46, Sackett’s Harbor; Detached Service 31st Oct.
Antone Lange                                    14 Aug. 46, St Louis                     Daily duty.
William Martin                                  8 Aug. 46, Terre Haute
Persaruis Maypelle               25  July 46, St. Louis
John Moore                            10 Aug, 46, Terre Haute
Wm McAllister                       17 Aug. 46, Covington, Ind., 1 blanket $2.22.
Wm McCrea                                       19 Aug. 46, Roseau, Ind.         Daily duty.
John McDonald                      19 Aug. 46, Chillicote, pistol $7.50.
Anthony Pulver                     7 Dec. 46, Corpus Christi; det. ser. since 31 Oct.

Charles Prother                                 10 Aug. 46, Terre Haute
Christian Ranner                   10 Aug. 46, Terre Haute
John Roberts                                      1 April 47. Vera Cruz    Sick at Puebla since 8 August.
Frederick Rodewald              16 Aug 46, St Louis, left sick at Puebla since 8 August.
William See                                        15 Aug. 46, Terre Haute    Detached service since 31 Oct.
John Smith                                         10 Aug. 46.

John W Smith                                     “    “          “  , stoppage flannel shirt $1.30.
Robert Stewart                                  8    “       “     “          ”
James H Stevens                                1 Apr.  46, Vera Cruz.
Daniel Suter                                       6 Aug. 46, Ft. Leavenworth; Daily duty.
Clinton Thompson                14 Aug. 46, Terre Haute, sick at Puebla since 8 August.
Harvey Thompson                4 Aug. 46, Shelbyville; Daily duty.
James Thompson                              8 Aug. 46,        “                     Sick at Puebla since 8 August.
John Walkes                           24 Aug. 46, St. Louis; Sick
Joseph Westgenes                 17 Aug. 46,  “      “          “   ; Sick, Puebla since 8 Aug.
Robert Whitener                               7 Jan. 41, Ft. Crawford; Sick Perote, since 25 May.
Andrew Whitley                    31 July 46, Geldon, Ind.
William Wilson                                  25 Sept. 46, Jefferson Bks.
Robert Wright                       8 Aug. 46, Terre Haute.



  1. The Otoe Question: June 28, 1843, Jefferson Barracks Col. Kearny to Major Samuel Cooper, Assistant Adjutant General, 3rd Military Department, St. Louis, Missouri, Dragoon Letter Book 197





I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of a communication from Major General Gaines, Commdg. 3d Military Dept. & of yesterday’s date on the subject of the late disorderly conduct of the Otoe Indians, and requiring a report from me of my opinion of the measures which should be adopted towards them.

By letters (which you sent to me, and from which I now return) from Capt. Burgwin, U.S. Dragoons, and Mr. Daniel Miller (Ind. Agent) it appears that Otoes are evincing “a restless and turbulent spirit, and that they have openly and directly insulted their agents and the Government.”—“That their feelings are hostile to the Government and the authorities”—“That they told him [their agent] that he must go away, and that they expected to find his house empty when they returned from their hunt”—“That their [sic] would return is about the 20th August”—That “they may have 350 or 400 warriors, active, well armed, and having the reputation of being misbehaved on that frontier”—and by the deposition of Mr. P. D. Passin and of Mr. T. Roberts it appears that the latter was dangerously wounded on the 9th inst. when they were peacefully descending the Platte River in their Boats, when opposite the Upper Platte Otoe Village, by a ball from a party of 10 or 12 Otoes, who fired four vollies of shot at them!


If a Military force is to be sent into the Indian Country, “to convince the Otoes & Missouri Indians into a sense of their duty to the Central Government”, as their agents Mr. Miller requires, is should be large enough to put down opposition (should any be exhibited) from 400 well armed and discontented Indian Warriors; and full powers should be given to the Officer in command to decide upon a Peace or War with them, as their conduct may call for! If it be deemed necessary to apprehend those Indians who on the 9th inst. fired at the Boats and wounded Mr. Roberts, it should be previously determined what it to be done with them? Will the Officer in command of the troops be authorized to caused those Indians to be whipped or authorized punished as is his judgment may deem with? I have no reservation in saying that it would have a bad affect to those Indians into the State of Missouri and turn them over to the civil court for trials–no testimony could be produced there which would ensure their conviction & [im]prisonment.


Another course towards the Otoes & one more pacific than the former may be entitled to consideration! They are now in receipt of annuities amounting to about $2,000! What would be the effect of instructions being given to their agent to tell them that he is directed to stop any further payments of their annuities—to present officially any direct or indirect intercourse between them and the Traders—to remove the Missionaries & any other White who may be living with them—that we with hold no kind of communications whatever with any of them, will they repent of their former bad conduct and then their submission and a proper respect to the Government of our Country & its Representatives sent among them. Should they not soon find their situation a deplorable & intolerable one! Like outlaws they would be surrounded by Persons of their own Race, enjoying privileges from which they were debarred & in sight of comforts & necessities which their own conduct prevented them from obtaining. Their annuities stopped & unable to get any thing from the Traders, and all their intercourse with the Whites having ceased. They would soon become the scorn of other Nations of Indians & would assuredly be made to feel it in with this subject, I have to state, that on the 25th April 1838, Capt. Boone & myself being commissioners under the Act of July 2, 1836, in a communication to the Q.M. General, urged upon the Secretary of War, the establishment of a Military Post at the mouth of Table Creek—I send a copy herewith—That point is in Otoe Country & a Post were would serve to quiet those Indians, as well as to produce much other good—It would be the starting point from the Missouri River to Oregon Country. Should a line of posts to connect them be determined upon & the point from which Emigrants to that Country will commence their land journey. The Sect. of War in June 1838 told me that he highly approved of the site selected, & that he would cause a Military Post to be established there, as soon as he could draw troops from Florida.


In connection also with this subject I have to state what I have frequently reported to the authorities in Washington, that the laws relating to the Indians could as much better executed & peace with them more officially secured, if Congress could be induced to proclaim Martial Law over the whole of the Indian Country.

Very Respectfully,

Your Ob[edient] Servant],

S.W. Kearny

Col. U.S. Dragoons









  1. Weapons Seized by Dragoons from the Snively Party in 1843.


29th Congress, 1st Session. Senate Document 43, 1846

DOCUMENTS SHOWING The description and value of the arms taken from a party of Texans, within the Territory of the United States, by Capt. Cooke, 1st Regt Dragoons, June 30, 1843, and deposited at Fort Leavenworth, Mo.

January 8, 1846.
Submitted, and ordered to be printed, to accompany bill S. No. 37

Head Quarters, Fort Leavenworth, 4th August, 1844. Sir : I have to acknowledge the receipt of the communication, addressed to me from your office by Capt. Freeman, Assistant Adjutant General, on the subject of the arms, &c, taken from a party of Texans on the 30th June, 1843, by Capt. P. St. G. Cooke; and I now transmit a return of those arms, and a report of a board of officers convened by my order, for the purpose of furnishing the information desired by Captain Freeman for the department of State.

I understand from the president of the board that the value placed upon the several arms is rather their worth, with respect to condition when seized, and their probable cost, than their value here, and now.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major 1st Dragoons, commanding.

Brigadier General Jones,

            Adjutant General, Washington, D. C.

Proceedings of a board of survey convened at Fort Leavenworth by virtue of the following orders, viz:

Orders}                       Head Quarters, Fort Leavenworth, Mo.

No. 85}                       August 3, 1844.


A board of officers, to consist of Capt. Moore, 1st dragoons, 1st Lieut. Johnson, and bvt. 2d Lieut. McClelland, 3d infantry, will assemble this morning at half past 9 o’clock,, and proceed to ascertain “the number, description, and condition, and as nearly as may be the value of the arms ken from a party of Texans on the 30th of June, 1843, by Capt. P. St.Geo. Cooke, commanding a detachment of U. S. dragoons,” and which arms are now in possession of the ordnance sergeant, by whom they will be shown the board. As the report of the board is intended for the
Department of State, the board will be as minute as possible in stating the variety, condition, and value of the respective arms.
By order of Major Wharton:

  1. C. HAMMOND, Bvt. 2d Lieut. 1st DragoonsPost Adjutant

Fort Leavenworth, August 3,1S44.

The board met pursuant to the above orders: present, all the members.

The board then proceeded to the careful examination of a number of arms presented by Sergeant Hemming [sic, Ross Flemming], ordnance sergeant at Fort Leavenworth, being those taken from a party of Texans by Capt. P. St. Geo. Cooke, viz: Thirty flint lock rifles, valued at eighteen dollars each, including the barrel of one which has no stock, which appears to have been 1st in transportation. Twelve percussion rifles, valued at twenty-two dollars and fifty cents, including the barrel of one which has no stock, which appears to have been lost in transportation. Fifteen English flint lock guns, valued at ten dollars each. Three tower pieces, valued at seven, dollars each. One large American flint lock shot gun, valued at twenty dollars. Two double barreled flint lock shot guns, stub and twist, at fifty dollars each. Four percussion lock double barreled shot guns and twist, valued at sixty five dollars each. Three half stock Middletown rifles, percussion lock, valued at eighteen dollars each. One full stock percussion lock, valued at eighteen dollars. One half-stock flint lock Middletown rifle, valued at eighteen dollars. Two American dragoon carbines, valued at seventeen dollars each. One American and two Texas muskets valued at sixteen dollars each. Four pairs of flint lock holster piston valued at twenty dollars a pair. Two pairs percussion lock pistols, valued at forty dollars a pair. Eight flint lock holster pistols, odd, valued at ten dollars apiece. Seven percussion lock belt pistols, valued at fifteen dollars apiece. One percussion lock duelling pistol, valued at forty dollars. One sabre and scabbard, brass mounted, valued at ten dollars. One steel mounted sabre, no scabbard, valued at ten dollars. One steel sword and scabbard valued at ten dollars.

The board are of opinion that the arms are considerably injured from rust, and many of them broken, apparently from transportation from the place of capture.

  1. D. MOORE, Capt. 1st Dragoons. B. R. JOHNSON, 1st Lieut. 3d Infantry. Geo. C. McClelland, Bvt. 2d Lieut. 3d Infantry

The above is the original official record.


         Major 1st Dragoons, commanding


Return of arms taken from a party of Texans, by Capt. P. St. G. Cooke, 1st Regt. Dragoons, June 30, 1843, within the territory of the United States, and now deposited in the ordnance store at Fort Leavenworth, Missouri.

No.      Description of arms.

30        Flint lock rifles.
12        Percussion rifles.
15        English flint lock shot guns.
3          Tower pieces.

1          Large American flint lock shot gun.

2          Double barreled flint lock, stub and twist, shot guns.

4          Percussion lock, double barreled, stub and twist, shot guns.

2          Half-stock, percussion lock, Middletown rifles.

1          Full stock, percussion lock, Middletown rifle.

1          Half-stock, flint lock, Middletown rifle.

2          American dragoon carbines.

1          American musket.

2          Texas muskets.

4          Pairs flint lock holster pistols.

4          Pairs percussion lock pistols.

8          Flint lock holster pistols.

7          Percussion lock belt pistols.

1          Percussion lock dueling pistol.

1          Sabre and scabbard, brass mounted.

1          Sabre, no scabbard, steel mounted.

1          Steel sword and scabbard.

Head Quarters, Fort Leavenworth,

August 5, 1844.

  1. WHARTON, Major


  1. D. Plans to return Arapahoe Captives, Col. Kearny to Capt. William Eustes, Dragoon Letter Book 1845:270


Head Quarters, 1st Regt. Dragoons

Camp on Platte River 55 miles

Above Ft. Laramie

June 18, 1845


Two men of Co. Pvts Callahan & Buckner return to your camp in charge of a Squaw and 2 children, supposed to belong to the Arapahoe Tribe of Indians, and having seen out column from a bluff on the opposite side of the river, followed on and came into camp after we had halted for he day. The Squaw relates as far as her signs and language have been understood, that she is of the Arapahoe Tribe, and living on the prairies north of us with a party of Ree Indians, they were attacked by a War party of Sioux, and that she with the 2 of her was permitted to escape, the rest having been killed. The Colonel supposes that through the interpreter at Laramie you will be able to obtain more satisfactory information from this Squaw, and he instructs me to say that should an opportunity [arise?] offer of sending her home, that you will do so—if not, that you will give her protection in your Camp until our return, when she can accompany us towards the Arkansas and be returned to her people.


Capt. W. Eustes                                             I am Sir,

Comdg Dragoon Camp                                   Very respectfully,

Near Fort Laramie                                           Your Hum. Servt.

Platte River                                                     Signed H.H. Turner

Adjt. 1st Drags.


P.S. Should you have an opportunity, the Colonel desires that you will write to some one at Bents Fort starting that we expect to be three towards the last of July and will need the Government provisions supposed to be there.

  1. Correspondence between Capts. Sumner and Cooke with the Adjutant General re their availability for war with Mexico.


Fort Atkinson Iowa
May 18th 1846
I have this day received the startling information of the commencement of hostilities in Texas. As I presume this will lead to the rapid concentration of all our regular troops that can possibly be spared from their present stations, among the rest a large part of the 1st regiment of dragoons, I hasten to state to you that Capt. Cooke’s company and my own can be withdrawn from this frontier. If a single company of volunteers was raised (which can be easily and quickly down) to garrison this post, with a detachment at Fort Crawford, and the frontier put under the charge of Governor Dodge [original Colonel of the 1st Dragoons, at this time Governor of Wisconsin Territory], it would be perfectly secure. The Winnebagoes, although troublesome, are not at all inclined to be hostile, and there is no man in the country for whom they have more respect & fear than for Govr. Dodge.
These two companies of dragoons are full and effective, the horses are in fine condition, and I can safely guaranty they will do good Service.
We could leave immediately, & could join the Army in Texas (by Steamboats) in less than 20 days from the receipt of the order. Will you please take this subject into consideration. Capt. Cooke and myself have been so long in Service it would be very humiliating to us, to be left at these remote posts, while the rest of the army, and particularly our own regiment was actively engaged in the field.
I am Sir,
With high respect
Your obt. Servt.
Signed E. V. Sumner
Capt. 1 Drags
[To:] Brig Gen. G. M. Brooke
Comdg 3rd Dept
True Copy
PS GeoCooke
Capt. 1. Drags

[the following personal enclosure was included:]
Fort Atkinson Iowa
May 18th ’46
My dear Sir
I have just addressed you officially about affairs in Texas. May I ask the favor of you to do what you can for me consistently with your public views. I have been so long in service and on a peace establishment at that, it would be particularly mortifying to me to be left up here, if the rest of my regiment takes the field. I don’t know what effect this news will have upon the Bill for the Mounted [Rifle] Regiment. It appears to me there is some secret and powerful hostility to that bill. If it should be determined to replace my compy with volunteers, Mr. Rice [Henry M. Rice, Post sutler, soon to be Tty Congressional Delegate for Minnesota, later a Senator as it became a state ] will raise a company, if authorized to do so, and he would be an excellent person to take charge of these two posts [Fort Crawford, Wisconsin Tty, also] and all the public property for he is both responsible and careful.
I am Sir
Very sincerely yours
E V. Sumner
[To:] Genl Geo. Brooke

[Attached letter]
Fort Atkinson Iowa
May 18th ’46
My Dear Sir

Index 218-C, 1846, filed with 80-K, 1846
Fort Crawford May 20th 1846
I enclose this with a letter from Capt. Sumner Commander of Fort Atkinson reporting that his and my company can be spared from this part of the frontier at this time with other states & remarks relative to the commencement of hostilities at the south.
So far as my short command here has enabled me to judge of its Indian relations, I must concur with the opinion of Capt. Sumner which he has had every opportunity to mature & I heartily respond to his whole letter.
The 1st Regiment of Dragoons have steadily matured & perfected a system of tactics and discipline of cavalry, its equipment for, and the art of making, long and active campaigns without disorganization or deterioration. The Mexicans are understood to be strong in this arm, (which must be met by its like,) and it is precisely that which cannot be created on such a sudden requisition as the present war, which takes the most time & pain for sufficient organizations.
Under these circumstances I trust the general has even anticipated our earnest request to be sent where we may be of much more importance to the public service.
Very respectfully
Yr. Obt. Servant
Capt. 1st Drags.
[To:] Lieut R. B. Garnett [for Brooke]
ADC &AAAdjGen 3 Mil. Dept.
Saint Louis


  1. Battle of Santa Cruz de Rosales, as reported in the Santa Fe Republican, April 22, 1848.



We copy the following from the Santa Cruz

Banner, a small sheet published at that place by P. G. Ferguson.


On the first of March Gen Price set out from El Paso with four companies of the Missouri regiment of horse under command of Colonel Ralls, two companies of U. S. Dragoons under command of Major Beall, and two mounted howitzers with an artillery detachment under command of Capt Hasseduebel for a forced march upon the city of Chihuahua, 300 miles distant, south from El Paso, at Carasel [sic, Carrizal], 100 miles upon the road.  The Santa Fe battalion, Major Walker’s, joined us, making in all, nine companies, with which we marched on to Chihuahua, in the unprecedented time of six days; reached the city with the nine companies, but the enemy under Gen. Trias, with his forces some eight hundred strong, with principally Cavalry, had left some12 hours before with all the public property, including a [blurred] of newer artillery for the South.  A few hours after our arrival at Chihuahua, we were put en route to over take the enemy.  Our forced march upon the city exhausted a great many of our horses and men and we set out for the South with skeletons of nine companies, numbering in all about 300; with this force, we kept our march in pursuit—we made sixty miles march in about 12 hours, and approached Santa Cruz at about sunrise,where the enemy had already fortified himself, his batteries fixed, and full and efficient disposition made for defence of the place, he having reinforced himself to the number of about 1200 in all behind his barriers, also occupying the church itself, a perfect fortification.  As we moved our column around the west of the city, a nine pounder was discharged by the enemy, passing our centre, when several of the companies of his infantry filed through the balcony, ranging in order upon the church, a person supposed to be a priest, harangued them, and the surrounding populace, a part of which was heard and distinctly understood, was replied to by loud cheers by the soldiery, and the people with many “vivas” “vivas” and vevar Republicano Mexicano.”


An express was sent back to hurry on the pieces, and the place was put under siege.  We permitted no communication with the place, allowed omen and children and non-combatants two days to leave the city with their effects, when our pickets were closed upon them. The siege last from the 9th to the 16th. Many attempts were made by parties of the enemy during the siege or leave the town, but few succeeded—now and then, a fleet horse would out run our pickets and get to the mountains.  The third day of the siege, the commander of one of the pickets, sent word to the general that a number were escaping, which he could not prevent, his picket was too small.


On the morning of the 16th, Lieut. Col. Lane, arrived with artillery &C., and we received the enemy’s invitation to come on.  Our forces are referred to the reports of Col Ralls and to Lt. Col. Lane in this number, which detail their part of the affair.  The reports of Major Walker andBeall would make this account complete.  Maj.Walker’s command distinguished itself by storming the South of the town while the dragoons acted well the part assigned them, and Capt. Hassandeuebel [sic] and Lieut. Love, gallantly

managed their batteries the whole day, with great science and skill. The charge of Col Rall’s column was a splendid affair.  It moved like a thunder-bolt, precisely in the direction it was sent spreading dismay, death and destruction, and it was over this column that Col Sanchez extended the flag of surrender.  It was a proud day for all, but for those leading and directing this column, it was particularly so, and Col Ralls in his report has but rendered justice to his officers and men, and that report does that commander distinguished honor for the virtue of his head and heart.


An entire park of artillery was captured with about 2,000 stand of arms and munitions, with other public property to the value of seven to eight hundred thousand dollars. We captured the whole force, including thirty commissioned officers, Gov. Maj. General Trias at their head. After the day had nearly expired we learned that the place could only be carried by storming. The order to charge was given, and in one hour’s time the city surrendered, our arms as ever, victorious, adding another trophy to the Fame of the great Republic we serve.


LIST OF THE KILLED AND WOUNDED. – 2d Lieut. George O. Hepburn of Co. D, privates Schafenberg and Bockman, co. B.

WOUNDED.—Private Ripper, Greff and Dedrich, co. B, Jackson, Kearnes, Williams and Gillam, co. D.

We also understand by a private letter that a young man by the name of Maston, commissary Sergeant, started out from Santa Cruz, to meet Love’s command, and has never since been found or heard from, he is supposed to have been killed.

  1. Dragoon Recruitment Advertisement 1847

On the front page of the Indianapolis Indiana Journal for February 8, 1847, there appeared the following notice:
Recruiting Service: Wanted for the United States Army,
able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 35 years, being
above 5 feet 3 inches, of good character, and of respectable
standing among their fellow citizens. None need apply to en-
ter service, but those who are determined to serve the period
of their enlistment, honestly and faithfully for the term of five years.
Table of established rates of pay agreeably to existing laws.
Monthly Pay
Sergeant Major, Quarter-
Master Sergt. Chief Musician
and Chief Bugler, $17
1st Sergeant of a Company 16
Ordnance Sergeant 18
All other Sergeants, 13
Corporals 10
Buglers 9
Musicians 8
Farriers 11
Privates 8
Besides the monthly pay, as above stated, one ration per day
is allowed every soldier, which is amply sufficient for his sub-
sistence; also a large supply of comfortable and genteel cloth-
ing. Good quarter and fuel are at all times furnished; and
every attention will be paid to those men who may enlist and
are determined to serve their country in good faith. The best
medical attendance is always provided for the sick soldier; and
no deduction of pay is made during the period he is unable to
perform his duty. Should the soldier be disabled in the line of his
duty, the laws provide a pension for him.
By the above it is seen that pay and allowances are res-
pectably and that, with prudence and economy, the monthly
pay of the soldier may be laid up—”as every thing requisite for
his comfort and convenience is furnished by the Government,
including sugar and coffee. The prudent soldier, therefore,
may readily save from $420 to $1020 during his enlistment of
Five years; and at the expiration of the term he can, if he
chooses, purchase a small farm in any of the Western States,
and there settle himself comfortably, on his own land, for the
rest of his life.
1st Lieut. 1st regt. Dragoons
Recruiting Rendezvous
Drakes Hotel

  1. Letters from Corporal Matthias Baker, Company B., 1846-1847

Santa Fe, Mexico, Sep 13th 1846
Dear Sister [Mrs. Hugh Martin],
I suppose that by my previous letter you have long since known my starting for Mexico and by this time you will see I have advanced as far as Santa Fe which at present is held by an American Army, commanded by Gen—™l Kearney [sic]. You will have seen by the papers that the Mexican soldiers & officers on the approach of the American Army, retired and totally dispersed. The whole country gave up without a gun being fired, if I except the firing of the American Artillery (blank cartridges) on this day of the entry into Santa Fe. I am much disappointed in this country. It is bare of wood and water, mountainous and the only parts they can cultivate is [sic] a few of the valleys that are watered by springs and small streams from the Mountains. The houses of town and country are built of mud bricks dried in the sun, are one story high and have no windows, so when the door is shut the room is dark at mid-day. However they are very warm in the winter & cool in summer. The roofs all flat. They raise corn, wheat onions, no potatoes, have thousands of goats sheep, some cattle, plenty of asses and mules with some fine Pony horses. The silver and gold mines siren to be plenty and no doubt before long Yankee skill & perseverance will bring many to light, as yet undiscovered. The Americans have heretofore been afraid to hunt for and work the mines on account of the Indians, who have been the Real masters of the country. But the American Dragoons will soon learn them to keep quiet. They have no mills for grinding wheat except some small hand concerns, and they have to use to the sieve or what is commonly done [to] eat bran and all. They kill-dry both corn & wheat. They have some apples & peaches as well as melons and their grapes equal those I saw in France. They are fond as a nation of dancing and have Fandangos every night in town & country and the way the Mexican Senora dances could be a caution to a Broadway belle. The beauty of Mexican ladies is not generally great but in some cases is extraordinarily fine and brilliant. They become women very young and marry early, but fade and become old & haggard in proportion. Indian blood is almost universally mixed through out the population & the language is far from the pure Spanish. I have given you some few ideas of this country & people but cannot dwell at length on the subject now. You know I must have something to talk about when I see you. I suppose you are anxious to know when that may be, I cannot say for certainly when for I start the 25th of this month to go some hundreds of miles south into the country, to Chuwauwau and then west into California, to Monterey, about 1400 miles off. This is the most healthy country in the world, and I am much larger and heavier than ever before. It rains only in the Spring & Fall. You would laugh to see what a complexion I have, burnt to the colour of Mahogany and with an immense Moustachios.
This will be carried by Government express to Fort Leavenworth on the Missouri about 1000 miles from this and hence mailed to New York. I wish you would write me and direct to me care of Major E. C. Sumner Santa Fe via Fort Leavenworth, Missouri. I wish you would also have mailed to me the latest N.Y. Weekly Herald. I suppose the difficulties between the two countries have been settled before this time, if not all our troops have to do is to march from our part of of the country to the other for the Mexican Army will not fight.
Well good bye for the present. Remember me to all of the members of our family. I am anxious to hear how brother James—™ healt is. I have not heard since he left for England. I hope you are in good health and spirits. I always am,
Affectionately your brother,
M. L. Baker
Fort Leavenworth Dec. 10 1846
Dear Nephew,
I was much pleased to receive your letter in fact I was delighted to receive a communication from any one East, but was most highly gratified to get a letter from you which is perhaps the first one you have sent to any one. Your first inquiry is —œare you in the Army—and next add that my previous letter must have been miscarried as none had been received.— That must be the reason, the letter must have been miscarried and therefore you left in ignorance of my whereabouts. And so you hope I am not in the Army! Why not? Should a consideration of fear keep an American back when he may be wanted by his country to fight for its causes? No my dear boy; you should not have any selfish feelings on such a subject, you should hope and wish for a x welfare that would go to the x , but at the same time feel proud of a relative—™s determination in such a matter. Yes, my dear boy, I am in the Army, and although I do not rank as high as some yet without the influence of powerful friends, but my merit alone am already a N. C. Officer of B Troop of the U.S. Dragoons. I went out last spring under Gen Kearney [sic] and was with him in entering the Mexican Territory and in the taking of Santa Fe. When Gen. Kearney [sic] left for California our Company was broken up and the men out in other companies to fill them up, and our officers ordered to the U.States to fill up a new company. Some are now in Ohio, St. Louis & [et]c recruiting for us and by spring our Troop will be organized and sent to the seat of War. As to the exact point I cannot say, perhaps, to join the Southern Army commanded by Gen Taylor or which is very probable ordered to California. But the whereabouts is very uncertain as a soldier seldom knows where his presence may be wanted for an hour ahead.
We had a hard time of it in coming from Santa Fe this time of the year. Scarcely any grass was left, and very little wood. We had two six mule teams and one four mule carriage and put in much corn as we could carry besides our own food. We could only give our mules but two quarts a day! Yet enough of them lived to bring our waggons to this post, having lost about Ten, but we replaced them by saddle mules and by the saddle party (17.) walking the last 150 miles. Yet notwithstanding all this we made the trip in thirty one (31) days! We had plenty of Buffalo and Antelope meat on the way with an occasional Squirrel, Hare. Turkey & [et]c. Some shoot the Prairie Dogs but I don—™t fancy them as for friends and inhabitants of their holes [,] Owls, a Rattlesnake and a horned frog! This is singular, but true and the Frog is a most curious and beautiful animal, entirely harnless. The Dog is about the size of a plump rabbit and their meat and [et]c resembles a squirrel, but they resemble very much a bull pup as they sit at the mouth oftheir holes and bask at you. They live in Towns, never above, for when you come across a dog hole you will see debris in extent all dug up huge rattle snakes running in and out of the holes, here and there, an Owl hopping in and out, the prairie dog shaking his little tail and shirilly barking, while here and there is the most curious of all curious animals the horned frog. The Grass grows around a dog town. For hundreds of mile in the Buffalo range, we see in all directions as far as the eye the eye can reach the ground blackened by Buffalo. To look at this you would not expect they could run very fast but it takes a very fast horse to keep up with them. Their meat is most excellent and no butter can compare to the marrow in their bones. A person can eat four fold the quantity of this meat than of Beef, and feel no inconvenience. The road is infested part of the way by the Comanche Indians, but we saw none of them except one evening, when by a timely precaution we perhaps saved ourselves from a night attack. The place is called Rocky Point and is noted for many attacks being made there by the Indians on Traders & others. We noticed on coming into Camp we noticed some dung from Indian ponies grazing at a . . . .and suspected immediately that some of these devils were in the neighborhood. As soon as we got supper over a few of us went out armed to the teeth to reconnoitre. We had had proceeded about one hundred yards when the Mules were panicked, when up jumps an Indian from behind a rock and starts off with the speed of a Deer. He was distant—“above 90 or 100 yds when he started, and it being after dark he certainly could be x seen again, but on [letter damaged hereon] carbine at the rascal but none of the Balls hit him as he . . . . coursed and suddenly disappeared among the rocks. . . . . him/loading as we ran, but could find no trace . .. . . put on guard to keep watch but we sure . . . . more by them. They know the difference between a Dragoon . . . . I find my letter must come to a close for . . . .

Fort Leavenworth April 28, 1847

My Dear Boy,
I received your letter a short time since and from its date, I see that it has laid in the office for some time. In the Army, we know not at which moment our services may be required and although we may be at this post to day, yet we may be about some fifty miles by the morrow. Such as been the case with me during the past winter. I have been ordered to take charge of a party to go among the Indians, and in one quarter of an hour have been in my saddle, and on my journey, fully armed and equipped. Such is a Dragoon—™s life, he must have always, all his accoutrements ready, and in the proper place, so that whether we are ordered night or day, it makes no difference in the dispatch. I have been called upon at 10 O Clock at night and traveled without moment—™s rest the distance of one hundred and forty miles. Some say a soldier—™s life is an easy or lazy life. In some respects, the Infantry does lead such a life (as garrison), but no one can say our Corps, (that is the Dragoons) are ever idle. I will give you a small detail of my duties during the day. I rise at Reveille (that is early dawn.) The men are all formed into line and the roll called = one half hour. After Drill Call is blown, and we mount our horses and Exercise with Carbine, Sabre and pistol for an hour or so. Then comes breakfast call. The men are all paraded and they march into the eating room. But previous to this all the horses are thoroughly groomed and watered. In mornings we have ourselves except we may be on Guard or on some fatigue party, which a non commissioned officer (like myself) always has charge of—”in x. (for a non commissioned officer is not supposed to labor at all) At 12 O Oc[lock] Stable Call, when all the horses are led into line and watered. At One O Clock Dinner. At Two—”Drill for something like an hour. At Six P.M. stable call, the horses groomed, watered, & [et]c. At sun down, Retreat sounds, all are paraded during the fifteen minute of the Band playing, from thence to supper and at 9 Oclock Tattoo sounds, all parade again answer to their names. Half an hour after this call sounds second Tattoo, at which all the lights in the garrison are put out, and all have retired to bed. Such is a garrison life of a Dragoon, and considering the different set of arms he has to use, as well as his horse equipage, all of which must be in a clean state, I am sure no one can say he has an idle and lazy life. At our leisure moments, we repair to the library and read the papers & periodicals of the day and take perhaps some work home to our quarters to peruse. I have been very busy since I last wrote you. Lately a number of Recruits have arrived from St Louis all of which now being drilled. Three of us have that duty to perform, dividing the men into different squads. I need not say it is a very serious task to be drilling a lot of green horns and especially when they are sometimes so Dutch as not to understand or be understood. Our Company is about full and will be organized either here or at Jefferson Barracks near St. Louis in about three weeks, when we will get orders to proceed either to join Gen. Scott or, once again, to visit Santa Fe, I prefer the latter, on account of the climate for it is the most healthy climate in the world. Wherever I go, I shall sit down before I start, and let you know so you will do in the public print the departure of B. Company. I should like much to see you all again, but no one cannot say when. Certainly not until the close of the War and maybe not for some years afterwards. You must let me hear from you, as soon as you receive this, for I know not how soon I may be on my way to Mexico, and be sure to give me all the news concerning the family & [et]c. & [et]c. I am enjoying the best of health and satisfied and contented with my present mode of life.
When the war closes, I may perhaps leave the Army, but I do not promise for I may have inducement held forth to help me, for the balance of my life. But if such shall be the case, I shall see you much more and perhaps more for I can get a furlough (that is, leave of absence) when the Army is laying still. My dear boy, make as rapid progress as possible in your studies, for perhaps you may in time be thrown on the world like myself and then you will see the advantages of improving one—™ self in early life. Give my love to Pa & Ma, as well as other friends and relatives. I much need close, so good bye and believe me to be an uncle that wishes you all the happiness this world can bestow.
M. S. Baker
Corporal B Troop & 1st Regiment
of U.S. Dragoons

  1. Please say, I received the Phila. papers and should be pleased to receive any that my friends would take the trouble to send me.

Council Grove                      June 14, 1847
My dear Nephew,
We arrived at this place to day and will remain encamped until the morning—”On the 17th inst., Company B 1st Dragoons left Ft. Leavenworth as an escort and Guard to Maj Bodine Paymaster in U.S. army who takes out some $350,000 —“ to pay off troops in Santa Fe.  We are about 100 strong and have 12 waggons —“ On the 3d day out an express brought out the last Eastern mail and was pleased to receive your one (a letter) from you. I can spare but a moment to acquaint you that I am again going out to New Mexico —“ I forgot to say we have 120 waggons loaded with provisions for our troops in Santa Fe which are a few days ahead of us which will proceed in company as soon as we get up. The whole road is full of hostile Indians who are plundering all the trains not guarded by a military escort. They have some 800 lodges about 200 miles from here and it is our commanding officers intention to give battle on coming up. They are Comanches & Pawnees. I hope we may be able to find them and give them a severe punishment for they richly deserve it —“ Yesterday we met a train waggons belonging to the Government returning and they had a man who was scalped by three monsters —“ Four of the men were out hunting buffalo, when suddenly the Indians burst on them killing two, wounding one who escaped and the fourth supposing him dead took his scalp!! His friends found him still breathing, they took him to the waggons, and by a miracle almost is still alive. It was a horrific sight, not a vestige of hair remains and the skin was taken off clean to the skull! It made a great impression on our men and they swear signal vengence on such demons. We just now hear they have taken the mules from a train of ours ahead of 30 waggons, we of course move rapidly and try to regain them with other property. The Mexicans have visited these tribes and made them presents to induce them to harass & stop all American trains. I shall not be surprised that after having been to Santa Fe we shall have to return and Guard this road until Winter sets in —“My health continues uninterruptedly good. You must not expect a long letter for I have little chance to write much. You can see by any large map of the U. Sates where I am penning these few lines —“ it is 160 miles from Ft. Leavenworth. We have made but small progress as yet owing to the roads which are the worst in the whole route. Give my love to Ma & Pa Also to my relatives and friends. I may perhaps never be permitted to see you again and I will again remind you to pursue your studies diligently while you have the chance, to be kind & dutiful to your dear Parents for you cannot expect to have them always with you and you will in so doing remember your Uncles advice after having grown to manhood and learned by experience and observation the cares & duties of the life man. I should much like to see you my dear nephew before I shall I suppose you will have grown to be quite a man. If any one should wish to write me they can direct to me B. troop U S Dragoons Santa Fe via Ft. Leavenworth and I will get it sooner or later. Well I must close and bid you and all friends good bye and believe me to be your affectionate uncle.
M Baker
P.S, It is uncertain whether we remain in Santa Fe, go to California go to the Southern Army and come back to guard the road, or return immediately to Ft. Leavenworth, but when we started we expected we should return to Ft. Leavenworth. I am glad to hear brother James is in such good health and spirits. My best respects to folks next door &c &c.
Your &c
M. L. B.

Arkansaw River one days march
From Pawnee Forks June 27 1847
My dear Nephew
When I last wrote you I was at Council Gove on my way to Santa Fe. After leaving there we proceeded on our journey and nothing of note happened until we reached Pawnee Forks, where we arrived just one day late to have had an encounter with a party of Comanches & Pawnees, who attacked a homeward bound train of waggons  and drove off over one hundred oxen and wounding some of the men. We found here two government ox trains of thirty waggons each, which started the next day with us. Two other trains of thirty each had started some two or three days ahead. We traveled some 16 to 18 miles and encamped on the Arkansaw. At Revielle or light the next morning we discovered that the Indians had made a charge on Haydens train and were driving off their oxen —“ The order to saddle and mount our horses was given and in a few moments all were in the saddle.  I was among the first in the ranks, but was ordered to remain behind to help guard the camp.  About Twenty one men (only) started off in pursuit of the Indians —“ Opposite to us on the other sie of the river, was a large crown of Indians, ready to cross and fall on our camp if we went away with our men. Our men (21) headed by a sergeant made a gallant charge on the Indians and they commenced to run off. At this time the Indians on the other side run their horses up the river a few hundred yards, crossed and charged in the rear after our men. The Indians in front seeing this, turned around and there was our poor fellows with enemies in the front & rear and ten to one at least (When the Indians commenced crossing the river I foresaw the result and wanted only twenty men to attack them and keep them from attacking our men in the rear but our commanding officer Lt. Love would not send the men and the result was horrid to relate. I make no comment, but leave the facts to speak for themselves) There was at least two hundred warriors all mounted, with lances, bows & arrows & a few guns, all of them on trained horses and themselves the best horsemen in the world. Those could not last only a few moments, when our men made a retreat for camp at the top of their horses speed. They got by this time all the cattle, some 70 to 80 yoke of oxen across the river and had about one hundred and fifty men on foot during this part. The first man that came in was Segt. Bishop, wound with a bullet just above the kidneys. He is not as yet thought dangerous, although it is rather doubtful. The next was a young man by the name of Vancaster, son of a German Baron, who fell from loss of blood &c off his horse some 200 yds from Camp. Besides being lanced, he had an arrow, still in him, which entered under the right arm and the steel point was sticking out through him just above the heart. He still is living but his has is thought hopeless. The next was the Farrier of the Company Seeing he was fainting I ran out, several hundreds from camp and held him on his horse until he got in. He held on to his sabre until I told him to let go his grasp. His case is doubtful, another came in lanced in the back and is very bad to day, but not dangerous. Two belonging to my mess were slightly wounded with lances. The roll was called and we found five men missing & party of umounted and went over the field of battle and the first one we found was the dead body of a fine young man of my mess —“named Arlidge. He was stripped of all clothing, but his scalp wasn’t taken. Then on looking around we found the dead bodies of three more Blake, Short & Dickhart, all three were horribly butchered. Most besides being lanced in a dozen places had his throat cut from ear to ear. Dickhart had his ears cut off and mouth mutilated. All of these three had their scalps taken.We buried them all in a single grave with honors of war. The fifth man, Gaskin, we did not find until this morning, he was dreadfully mutilated, his scalp was not taken, but half of his hair was pulled out, I suppose the one that killed him had no knife about him. So you see we have had five brave fellows taken from us and six wounded, four of them badly. We do not know for a certainty how many of the Indians died with them, but it cannot fall short of thirty, for almost all of our men killed one and those of our men that got killed, each killed two to four & five.  The Indians have not as yet made another attack, but we expect nothing else every moment. We are well prepared for them. The two ox trains lay close along the side of us and shall remain here until we can get cattle to take along the waggons.  There are some days behind us several hundred head of cattle going to Santa Fe, which when they come up will I suppose be put in the waggons. We have just learned the Indians have taken and destroyed the new fort lately built at Jackson Grove near the crossing of the Arkansaw. They killed three men, the rest escaped with a six pounder and have gone to Santa Fe with Smiths train as guards. We are somewhat fearful they will in a few days bring a still larger number and give us battle. I do Not think they can harm us, as long as we remain encamped as we now are, and very soon we will have a reinforcement as several companies of volunteers are on the road. Almost all the men remain under arms day & night. I have given you a hasty but impartial account of this tragic event, and one must be on the spot & participate in the scene to have any idea. It may be my fate never more to return if such should be the case it is my wish that whatever may be due me by government as well as my other property shall become your own. I will write again when I arrive in Santa Fe. Give my love to Ma, Pa, and all my relatives and friends. Good bye. God bless you, and sometimes if you see me no more spare a moment to think of your uncle
M L Baker
P.S. An express starts at dark for Fort Leavenworth by which I sent you this letter. I hope it may get through safe.

  1. Two Dragoon Deserters in Puebla, Mexico

The Puebla American Star for June 20, 1847, reported:

DESERTERS—No instance could more clearly demonstrate the fats we urged in our last, relative to the treatment deserters would receive from the enemy, than the fact that we are going to state:–Two dragoons having taken French leave from their quarters, thought they would better their condition by repairing to the enemy’s camp. They had not proceeded three leagues on the road to Alixco, before they fell in with a party of the enemy, who stripped them of every thing but their shirts. The greasers then took their arms, mounted their fine American horses, and rode off, notwithstanding the deserters exhibited to them a pass from a Mexican officer in Puebla. The most degraded nation in the world despises a deserter, and the treatment such as the above shows it. This is the way they pay deserters for their arms and public property they may take away with them. Excellent indeed.

  1. P. Kearny to Love 1848 re Churubusco


On Nov 4, 1848, Kearny wrote the following to fellow 1st Dragoon, Lt. John Love.

I understand that there are whispered rumors of rashness on my part to detract from what our troop did at Churubusco. My answer is, that those who investigate the matter will find far sooner cowardice, (of, at least, a moral nature), and stupid doltish incapacity on the part of Col. Harney, who interfered with our columns which he was too far in the rear to comprehend the position of. I hold Harney, who took the command out of my hands, responsible for sounding the “Recall” at all, or too late, [as when the head of it being committed, the foremost were left in the lurch.] From the first moment of seeing the “El Pinon,” and understanding the enemy’s double line of defences, I had determined, when opportunity offered, to win distinction for ourselves, by ___?___ into the second line of defences, protected by their own fugitives. It was on the eve of accomplishing this, when I found the rear part of the column had been withdrawn. The ordeal of [re]-calling a squadron of ho[rse] on a hard gravelled [sic] avenue [[with?]] cries, in the [[turn]] around & confusion to boot!!! Lt. [Julian] May [Mounted Rifles] recalled the men from his rear. Neither Ewell nor myself, nor Sergt. Reid ever saw or heard him. Thank God we are all young. I may have another chance yet. You would be surprised to find how little the loss of an arm incommodes me. I heard from Ewell yesterday. He is at “Buckland, Prince William County, Virginia.”See him if you can. We old men of the First must rally warmly to each other. We are all getting (young though we be) too old & form new friendships and god knows our late [ranks?] & [dearest?] ones have been decimated. I was very glad that Mrs. Stewert has seen you. Believe me, very Truly Yours
P. Kearny

  1. Col. Thomas Swords writes to Capt. Love

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

Thos. Swords






Lt. Ben Allston leaves Ft. Leavenworth for Utah in 1854

Fort Leavenworth I.T.

May 19, 1854

Mt dear Mother,

Here I am at the jumping off place. I wrote to you some time since today that I had applied for this duty. I wrote also a few days ago to inform you that I had got my request and then was making every preparation for leaving St. Louis as soon as possible. I left on the evening that I anticipated and having had a safe passage up I find myself at the post. Col. Steptoe and his command are here, also Capt. [Henry] Judd and Mrs. Judd.

I do not think we will get off before the 1st of June. There is no other lady along with us but Mrs. Judd and I think it very doubtful if either they Capt or herself go ahead with our party. They are both in very delicate health.

I am very sorry that this should be the case. I like them both very much from what I have seen of them. But I do not think their health will justify their going! Fort Leavenworth is a very pretty place. Much prettier than Jefferson Bks. The Country differs in being a rolling prairie Country where Jefferson Bks or the County around and about is full of what are termed sinkholes, deep natural pits. The grass here is very fine and an excellent place for grazing. My horse and mule, for I have one, spend most of their time grazing, picketed with a rope of about 20 feet. I bought a mule when I was here a short time since. It is a small animal but a very nice little thing having the particular property of being very gentle. Horses and Mules are very high here. They average from 140 to 130 dollars. The Indians [?] buy them up almost as rapidly as they are brought in. I think it more than probable that the Command will Winter in Salt Lake. Yet I do not know, neither can I tell, whether we are on the Plains some distance and see how many miles we travel a day. I am afraid that I will walk almost all the way, though I will have my very own horses and mules. Yes the men of my Command Dragoons will buy the strange fancy of Genl Jesup have to walk while there are 300 and more horses going out, some of which are for these very same men when they get there. I will be unwilling to ride when they walk, knowing full well that they ought to ride as well as I. I hope we may have a pleasant time crossing the Plains and many a time while trudging along very weary way I think of you. And oft when I am smoking my pipe in the evening after supper sitting around the fire if it is cold enough or by the stream on the grass if we are lucky enough. I will think of you, father, and the children sitting on the steps of the house on the beach, talking perhaps of the absent member. And when I stop at Noon I will think of you sorting out and your fruit and saying “Now children go away. Don’t bother me” or “Children behave,” or “Jane I will slap you if you do so again,” and many other nice sayings to keep the too desirous hands from dipping into the pears, figs and apples. Ah! How well do I remember those days of my childhood passed and never to return.

The Missouri River is the most rapid stream I think I saw taking it as a river. There are portions of other streams more rapid to observe but as a body of water I have never seen any which in my opinion can compare with the Missouri. There is very little difference between the Missouri and Mississippi, but I think that from what I have seen that the former is even more rapid than the latter. It is much more muddy and a much faster river. The banks a short distance from the mouth are high and well filled with grass and trees which give a very pretty appearance while here and there you see the ragged and the timeworn rock jutts out in defiance to the storms of heaven. This river is completely filled with snags. The Mississippi in this respect cannot compare with it. In some places it seems as though the boat could not possibly get through, and certainly nothing but nice steering and excellent management can do so sometimes. I thought when I was at home and looked on the map that Fort Leavenworth was out of civilization altogether, but when I got here I found I was mistaken as every [one] else will be who comes out [here] with any such notion.

I must draw to a close here my dear Mother as you see. My Father is getting written up. I will write again before I leave though by the time this reaches you I will be upon the Plains. Theophilus [the slave] is well and so am I. Give my love, etc.


Camp on 3 Mile Creek near Fort Leavenworth

May 26, 1854

My dear Mother

As you see from my heading I am in Camp, and I have been there for a few days passim. I should have written to you but that I have been so busy     since I have been here that I scarcely know which way to turn around. Our friend Capt. [Robert] Judd [3d Atry] and his excellent Lady, who as I before told you to have gone with us, sharing a separate command of an hundred men and even I for a subaltern have been compelled, through the very ill health of the Capt. to return to New York. The Dr. of the Post positively forbid the Capt. to go out with the Command and to leave the Post as soon as possible. Being very desirous of joining his Comp. which is in Cala. is determined to go by sea by which route he would if the trip prove successful much sooner then we shall. By this time of affairs, I was left in Command of the Dragoon Detachment of which he had been. As soon as I was placed in Command by turning over the Papers &c. to me I moved into the Camp and the next day Capt. Judd & Lady took their departure. I was very sorry to see the Capt. leave, for I had formed a very favorable opinion of him. I have had very much to do. Papers to make out, receipts to sign &c. and the worst of it is that I am not through yet.

My sources of consolation are however various and not the least is that I am acquiring knowledge every day which may be of use to me one of these days. My Camp is pitched about two or three hundred yards from Col. Steptoe’s. I have my own sentinel and over every thing am Comdg. the Camp and in that small space of the camp, I am a big man, much bigger than anywhere else. My tent is placed just at the head of the Camp, and I think I look very comfortable. I wish you could see me just as I am now, writing to you to describe it to your ________ and impossibility for me, but I think I must draw you a plan of the encampment.

Genl. Jessup and the other knowing ones at Washington think that this Comnd. of Col. Steptoe’s ought to walk across the plains 2,000 miles and guard almost 800 horses which they may mount upon when they get over. But Col. Steptoe has thought fit from the exigencies of the Case to Mount a certain number of the men, for the protection of himself and others of his Comnd.

As I am the only Dragoon Officer present and have Comnd. of the Dragoons recruits, I have mounted part to be selected by myself from my men, is placed under my Comnd and the remainder of the men are to be placed under the Comnd. of another officer to ________ I will have a Comnd. independent of all save Col. Steptoe and I will take great pain in making it efficient &c. for all duty. Whether I will be able to effect this or not is another thing but I will try and do so. I think we will learn more on Monday 29th inst. It is late at night now when I am writing. My camp is quiet and still. I am going around to inspect the Centinels. I have a very good set of men much better behaved than they are in the Artillery Camp. I think it very probable that I we will Winter in Salt Lake or near there. I will try and write to you from someplace on the route. I suppose we will be at Fort Kearney by the end of June. I have given you my address for California but I told you to address to Salt Lake. So you may write to me there and if I am there the letters will be forwarded to me. If we Winter there, we will not leave before the Spring. Give my love to all of my friends at home and say that I am very well satisfied. I have a good deal to do, more papers to sign. They so cover up and smother my ________ that I can hardly see through them. But I have managed thus far to get through with them and I hope to manage the rest of them. Give my best to Father, Adele and all of the children and tell them I am comfortable. I must now wind up my letter to you. It has not been a long one, but share in time my letter with them, to write more. Many of my letters will be much shorter than any you have received for a long time. Give my love, etc.

Ben Allston


Camp on Oak Point

June 6, 1854

My Dear Mother,

I must drop you a few lines from this solitude wilderness. Here we are a short distance from the Fort on our winding way to California. This makes the sixth day since we have been out from our Encampment three miles from the Fort. I am quite well and every thing my self. I wrote to you just before I left the Fort informing you that I was in command of Capt. Judd’s party. I am still in command of 50 of them, being number of the only mounted party along.

You would laugh to see my Costume—one of your check shirts rather more dirty-stained you would like to see it, no collar and no cravat and a common grey flannel shirt used as a coat—This with my pants rolled up to my knees almost, completes my costume.

The opportunity of sending in a letter to you occurs from meeting the Pay Master on his way to the Fort from Fort Laramie.

I wish I could see you. You have by this time learned of my departure for California. I wish that it had been possible to give you notice it and receive an answer in reply before I went but this was impossible.

I leave many friends behind in St. Louis and the day may soon come when you or I may have the opportunity to return them the kindness they have shown you.

I must close this short, but I know I know it will be an acceptable letter. I must not allow the opportunity to slip by me. Give my love to Father and Adele and all the Children, to Joe you will also. Joe has not written to me since I left. And so he is going to Europe   success be with him. Theophilus is well and is my cook.

Adieu Mother, etc.

Ben Allston



Dragns & Artillery Camp 30 miles from

Fort Kearney June 20th 1854

My dearest Mother

Taking advantage of an early Camp and knowing that we shall or rather stand a chance of meeting the Mail from Salt Lake on its way in, in a day or so now, I sit down to write you a few lines informing you of my well being. I am thanks to the gun in most excellent health, now in better. I enjoy my self in the wild life, so you would term it, but I cannot call it so exactly. The life is certainly very different from any that I had heretofore led but I thing much more charming and delicious. The only thing in my opinion approaches it in the slightest degree is the summer on the beach where you are now. There you seldom if ever breathe impure air. There I might say more the air is balmy and delicious. Imagine to yourself Mother a line of tents and wagons such as you have seen driven into town with cotton, I might say a long line for it is indeed pretty long 70 odd wagons and 50 odd tents. Now if you should look at the fourth tent from the right, you might see me sitting under it under a fly facing the west with my dog in front of me barking in the sun after the march. The front of my tent stretches out the east plain green as possible undulating, and wavering over 800 mules and horses together picketed out grazing on the       , until this time near-failing grass. Look around you and you will not be able to see a tree or shrub as far as the eye can reach. There is a small stream scarcely running but yet not stagnant, particularly through the sand in some cases and running in others. Here we all are without a stick of wood to cook on_______ except what we brought with us which is not much. We laid to Sunday as is the Col.’s intention. It rained very harshly the night previous as also that morning but it cleared off about twelve o’clock and a party of five of us went out to see if we could come across a stray buffalo. We crossed the little Blue and went about five or eight miles. We saw several antelope with their faerie figures, if you so might call them. They are the most curious creatures I have ever saw. They somewhat resemble the deer, but they move differently and not so fast. When they are running from you, you can see nothing but their tails white as cotton and much larger. But we could not get any of them because we were all foolish enough to go out without anything but our pistols. We saw tracks yet no Buffalo, I hope we may be more fortunate the next time.

I must now bid you goodbye my dear Mother…   I will write again from Kearney where we will be tomorrow or the next day. Adieu

Ben Allston


Camp on North Folk of the Platte

Near the Court House Rock

July 11, 1854

My Dearest Mother

Here you see I am on the North Fork of the Nebraska or Platte—I am quite well and in good spirits. The life has not yet lost its pugliancy [?] and pleasure for me. The scenes, though very much the same, are changing every day and the constant and daily exercise keeps me always with a good appetite, not to say am or have been generally without it. But there is a pleasure in feeling tired and then have the time to eat. Something which I presume you do not often feel, sometimes maybe when you have taken a race after the children at the Beach or have carried the baby on your back for the sake of the thing, you may feel a little tired, but it is not the tire of a hot and long march. There is a luxury about it that you cannot well understand I presume. A little incident occurred to one party the other day which broke very much on the monotony and rest of the Sabbath. On Saturday the 1st of the present month one of our party, a very nice fellow, in his thoughtlessness and excitement of the matter, left the party alone in the pursuit of a Buffalo. Capt. Ingalls by whose side he was riding saw him disappear on the crest of the hill. This was the last that was seen of him. We got into Camp soon after, this happened about then and thought nothing of his absence. He was not missed by myself. But when dawn came on _______ and he was still absent, we became alarmed and a party of five or six was made up to go in search of him. They returned at twelve at night with no intelligence of him. Capt. Ingalls and myself then determined to go out at 3 o’clock in the morning with a large party consisting of some civilians in his employ, and I took 15 (fifteen) of my Dragoons. One of the other officers started also and we got up at four o’clock. It was then broad daylight. We took a wagon with us to bring him in if we found him, and carried some provisions in it as we had no breakfast. I ordered my men to take some bread with them. We went out. I took nothing but a glass of cold water, and started. We soon got separated from each other. I with my men travelled over a whole area of at least ten miles by six or seven. Any quantity of Buffalo went soon. I was out without a morsel to eat for 10-l/2 hours with but little water. I was determined not to leave him out there until the necessity of the case I was obliged to come in. I would not have come in then believing as I did not had he not been found. Had it not been both men and horses were suffering from the length and fatigue of the work. I got into camp at half past two when I came in I felt very tired and exhausted having had but an hour and a half’’s sleep the previous night. I took a little to eat and drink. I found all the parties already in very much to my surprise a captain told me that they had him. My first question is, is he dead? Much to my joy he told me that he was not, but that he was crushed. I immediately went in to see him. He was perfectly sensible and told me how the accident occurred. He said that he had scarcely been out of sight of the Capt. when being in full chase after his game his horse stumbled and fell throwing him out and then rolling twice over him crushing his hind parts. For ten minutes he says he was delirious from pain, when he came to his senses he found that he was entirely disabled in his lower parts, from the small of his back. His suffering was intense. He had been without food for more than twenty-four hours but did not feel it was the thirst that he suffered from the most. His mouth was thoroughly parched. He heard the men when they were shouting for him during the night and says that they could not have been more than 60 to 100 yards from him but he was unable to give them the least due to him. Wolves and ravens, the buzzards of the plains, ______and owls around him all night. How great his anguish must have been when he heard the party go off and leave him you may imagine. He said that seeing nothing of anyone in the morning early he supposed that we had given him up and moved on. Where he was found he was lying on his face. He had been crawling with his hands and elbows, which were full of prickly pear, in order he said to try and reach the River— for he said that he could not make up his mind to die without one drink of water— if he could have got that he was willing to die. It was a great relief to me to find that he had been found. Messengers were sent out to me as soon as he was found but they all missed me. He is doing quite well at present but still unable to move or act for himself. As soon as I had eat and taken something to quench thirst I lay down in the shade of the tent and slept for five hours so soundly that the firing of the mountain howitzers did not disturb me. I am writing this now partly after the twelfth our camp is beneath Chimney Rock and the Capitols as Stansbury calls them. I drank today of the identical stream, five miles from Chimney Rock, where Stansbury and his party were encamped five years ago. I have had my chase after Buffalo and am in Company with Capt. Ingalls killed the first buffalo that was killed in the Camp. It is not safe to chase buffalo alone. If any accident should occur there should be one to tell the tale. I must close of this letter now as we may meet the mail tomorrow and this request not miss it for you would not get it for a month later. Give my love &c. …. I think I am growing shorter and may be a little taller. If the mail does not meet us tomorrow I shall write Laramie, I was prevented from writing to you at Kearney by being placed on duty on a Court Martial if no such intervening accident occurs I shall write from Laramie. Give my love to all &c. Affectionately yours, Ben Allston


Camp Near Fort Laramie

July 17th 1854

Mt dear Mother

I have just your two letters of the 25 May and June 6th and though there is a letter in the same mail that this will be in, I write this to inform you of the condition of affairs. I am quite well and in good spirits. I cannot give you much of a letter for my time is very limited. Fort Leavenworth is as different from Carlisle Bks as you can well imagine. The buildings are all old and not in the best condition. There are no farmers about it, and some few Indians. The Country on the opposite side of the River is well settled. But Fort Leavenworth being is in Indian Territory there are no settlements around it to speak of. The Indians who are about it are harmless. I saw none while there. Indeed, I saw none at all during the trip until a few days since where a War Party of the Sioux caught up with us, since then we have seen quite a number. They are odd looking subjects. But they, I meaning the tribe, is well disposed to the Whites. Fort Laramie is situated on the tongue of land situated between the North Folk of the Platte and the Laramie River. It seems to be quite a pleasant place. As fpr the Indians they are thick around this place. Any quantity of them may be seen hanging around. Many of them have come into our Camp to ask for sugar and Coffee and whatever else they can get. The first that came into our Camp near at the foot of Scotts Bluffs. The scenery about here is quite pretty. There is some wood around here—which is seldom seen on the Platte River. We will probably leave here tomorrow for the Salt Lake where we hope to arrive before September. I am sorry that I cannot write more but I really have not time. Have you heard any of the various experts that were flying around about      &c They were all      I have not been indisposed once. Give my love to …… etc. Ben Allston




Camp on Echo Canon

August 24th 1854

Here I am again my dearest Mother writing to you on the green turf. I am now about twenty miles west of Bear River—and in among the Wasatch Mountains. First and foremost I am well and am well-placed. I have had nothing like sickness since I left—have enjoyed myself very much. There is such a great variety in scenery, and at the same time such a vast monotony. I wrote to you from Laramie and I presume that you have received and read that letter to this time, and are looking-out for another. I will come in the course of time Mother—I am keeping myself quiet by thinking what a feast I will have when I get to Salt Lake. I expect any quantity of letters. I expect many from you to be waiting there for me. I would delay writing to you until I arrive in the City but I am afraid though not now distant over 60 miles from it, that I might miss the mails for there is no telling when we will get into the City. I intend to send this letter in by Col. Steptoe who goes in, in a day or two and will leave the Commd to wait his return to them. He will be certain to get in in time for the Mail as he will go in one day. If I am in time for the Mail in the City I will give you some account of it. Leaving Fort Laramie on the 19th ultimo, where we had received as much attention as it was possible for them to show there being only two officers and a Surgeon there with nothing much about them. We started for the – The road was quite rough for a short distance and some pretty steep hills to get up and down but nothing like we had gone up and done since. In ascending the Black Hills we took a road which left the river entirely. There is another road which follows the river called River Road in Contra distinction of the Hill Road that we took. We had got 12 to 15 Miles from Laramie and on the edge of the Hills when we were over taken by a violent hail-storm. Most unluckily my animals alone caught the hail. The rest of the Comm’d all caught the rain but not the hail or it have played a sorry part to us. Several of my horses burst away from those holding them and ran at a most precious rate. I had great doubt of ever seeing any of them in a woeful condition again. The hail fell very thick and my own horse, Falstaff, was most anxious to race with the rest. He had not the slightest shelter, I had a poncho of Indian rubber about me but it was not the slightest use, I had enough to do to keep it around me, the wind having a great propensity to take it away from me.

As soon as the storm was over I dispatched several men after the horses and proceeded with the rest of the Comm’d & Camp. The horses were recovered but ten of then were very badly hurt. One of them so badly that after carrying him along until we get to the Crossing of the N. Fork of the Platte, I determined to leave, and send him back to Laramie to the Q.M., the other horses recovered.

The country over which we travelled was mountainous, bleak and sterile except on streams where there was generally good grass to be found if we went off the road and hunted it. These Hills or Mountains as you please to call them evidently derive their name from the quantity of pine which grows on them, giving them at a distance black and dismal appearance. After four or five days travel we again struck the Platte, our old “Compagne du Voyage”. The second day travel after striking it brought us to the Crossing, where finding good grass we remained two days to recruit the Animals before we started over the country between it and the Sweet Water. Crossing the Platte on the 31st we followed it up for nine miles and encamped opposite the “Red Buttes.” I crossed over to these and found them to consist primarily of red sandstone — which had been heaved up, and teetered at a considerable angle. There is also a great deal of red clay in them. The Butte breaks through the Black Hills here their having a butte on each side of their banks. I picked up here a great many specimens of petrified wood of which there seems to be a great quantity about. I have now one or two specimens with me besides a section of a petrified Buffalo horn. We did advance to the Platte on the 1st of August and commenced the crossing of a country still more of a desert if possible than any we have yet crossed and in two days reached the long looked-for and wished-for Sweet Water. We struck this beautiful stream at Independence Rock. Having the desire to go to the top of this famous Rock, I watered my horses and dismissing my men let the horses graze while I proceeded to look for the Col who was ahead of me. The Rock as Stansbury says is literally covered with names but I recognized none of them. It is an immense rock of granite. I do not know the dimensions of it exactly. We encamped on the Sweet Water about two or three miles from the Devils Gate. Starting the next day I attempted to pass through the Devils Gate or rather the Col thought he would try to have me go through, but it was a most signal failure. I rode my horse in through about the middle where it was very cool. The size of it are 400 ft. high and a short time before we were there a young lad had fallen from the top of the rock. He belonged to a party of immigrants, the family consisting of Father, Mother & Son. The mother died some days before reaching here and the son was killed and the poor bearded father went alone. Camp on the Werber River               Aug. 25th I take up my [narative?], again having time to write more. Yesterday evening, leaving the Devils Gate which is a curious formation and, in my opinion, water had nothing to do with its formation; it must have been an immense fracture which the water took advantage of. We followed up the Sweet Water several days and then came to the South Pass. The Sweet Water falls undoubtedly may many feet in some places and forms tremendous cascades—although I saw none of them, I know that this must be the case because while following it we ascended at times many feet at a time. It is really a beautiful stream winding way along with the utmost regularity. The course is most irregular something like this (squiggly marks) making the strangest bends, imaginable, when you consider that the soil of the valley is to all appearances exactly the same—and one can see no cause for its meandering in the way it does. We did advance through this little stream with reluctance knowing that we would have a sorry time of it for grass and water for our next two camps at least. Dr. Wirtz and two other officers and myself went back to the summit of the South Pass and sat down, having drank to the remembrance of our Eastern friends, smoked a pipe, picked up a specimen or two and then proceeded to join the Commd. Such a Country as we passed over is something that you have never seen. Almost in complete dissent. The wild sage which Stansbury called Artemesia to use his own words “has taken complete possession of the grounds.” But such a sight was not at all uncommon [?] to us. Indeed the whole Country is the same except at intervals where we find a stream then there is grass in the small valley of it. We found no grass hardly until we struck Green River where descending it some five or six miles we encamped in a lovely spot on Grand Islands, remained there two days to recruit the animals. Green River as we saw it is a most beautiful stream running in some places with a very rapid current and then suddenly subsiding into a slow deep and dark green-looking river—soon again it rumbles forth its hoarse tones, and rushes madly over rocks and stones of every description. The waters of it where we crossed it, appeared to me like molten metal they seemed so solid, yet they were as clear as crystal. I meant to have said some more about South Pass before I left it, but I “slipped up”, as the Q.M. would say and forgot it. There is a full report given of it in Fremont’s Report, but I judge that a few words from me would not set you in “arrears” at all. It is a most remarkable formation.

To commence with, the road which by the [Commd ?] is an excellent one, one of the best roads I have been on, artificial or natural, passes between two little knobs about fifty to sixty feet high, which stand as sentinels to guard the pass and see that the ground is not violated which separates the waters of the Atlantic from those of the Pacific. Standing thereto the North offers nearby the Wind River Mountains, to one of which Fremont has given his name. They appear with patches of snow but we did not see them, as Stansbury did come with snow about one third of the distance down. We did not the pleasure of seeing them thus. To the South of us arose hills of considerable height but nothing like the mountains exept away in the far distance so they could be scarcely be seen. Standing there I did not feel as if I was in and among the great Mountains of the Western Continent. I did not feel that that I was among Mountains at all—although I was then on seven thousand feet above the sea, looking down upon all my friends, be they on sea or mountain. This Pass is certainly a very curious break in the great chain of Mountains, but I am told by some of the rough Mountaineers who live out here, there are many passes possible for wagons, both north and south of this one. What reliance is to be placed upon this statement I cannot say, certain it is that nest of them are in the habit of romancing a great-deal.

Saturday 25th Still in camp on Wind River. Having finished my digression on about the South Pass I will proceed with my account. About a mile and a half from our camp on Grand Island, was a trading post, belonging to an old French-man or half-breed French. I had occasion to go up there and such a set as I found there I cannot well describe to you. There was a perfect round of drinking and its concomitance, although I had the good fortune not to see any of them. A fight with knives is a now usual occurrence out here, where men all collect together at one of these posts.

Leaving Green River on the 17th of this month we crossed several streams, tributaries to Green River, all of which we found good grass and water and arrived at Fort Bridger on Saturday 20th. The intervening Country is one of the most remarkable I ever saw. It is between streams, as the Country already passed can, a complete desert incapable of producing any thing. Even the Sage here grows very sparse and is a miserable looking specimen. The Country seems to have been completely burned up by an immense heat. Any quantity of volcanic rock are to be found there, pieces of obsidian, trup, and all the others of the same nature. The face of the Country also shows the signs of a by-gone immense action of water on a grandiose scale as indeed the whole country since first striking the Platte at Kearney does. The soil is almost altogether Clay incorporated with stones—small boulders of sand and lime stone and igneous rock, together with the soil resulting from their decomposition. There was one isolated peak just on the side of the road particularly attracted my attention, and halting my horses to give them half an hours rest after a ride of three hours, I went up to this and examined it in a curiosity manner. From the road it appeared to be covered with the most curious and antique kind of covering. On approaching I found it to consist of red sandstone, & bluish or greyish limestone and a whitish clay. What appeared as a carriage was the effects of the weather, some portions of the hill bring, as you will readily see, much after the others. There were great caves so I might call them which had been excavated by the rain &c. If this could be painted as it actually exists, you would find few who would believe that this was a hill covered by natures own workmen so much are we accustomed to judge a painting by what we ourselves have seen.

I see that I will have to commence on another sheet of paper, or else break off in the midst of my ideas and account. Whether the subject matter of this epistle will replay you for the reading of it I know not, but as I have commenced it I will proceed though I hope it will not be to your annoyance. I might cross this but I do not like to do it, is the writing bold enough without being confusion?

Leaving this hill as soon as I had rested sufficiently we proceeded with our journey. The whole day it appeared to me as if I was travelling through the remains of what was at some far distant day, an immense Fortification. There were ramps and slopes and heights and all so completely and thoroughly blended together, as to give this appearance, while their utter destitution from vegetation appear the work, I could not help thinking while passing through, one of the Plains summoned on all sides with a vast rampart, what a fine place for a battle and I don’t doubt but that some battles of our country will there be fought.

The whole country is pretty much the same until we reach Fort Bridger. As you have already found, without doubt, some idea of this celebrated Station. Doubtless you have formed, allow me to say, a very extravagant idea of this place. I know that I did. I thought it was quite something of a building, where a person could be accommodated comfortably. But I was most woefully mistaken. It is a small dirty little building in the form of a square—with an opening or gateway. Black’s Fork, which branches off into many small streams forming many glades. The Country immediately surrounding would be pretty were it not for the fact that thousand upon thousand Cattle have accumulated there. The Fort, so called, it is the most perfect abode of filth I have ever seen. There were hides, feet, heads and almost every other portion of the carcasses, collected just in the immediate vicinity of the door and the idea of the old man’s wanting to sell it to the government for $50,000 is I have heard he did so is preposterous. It would take the garrison stationed there two weeks or more hard work to put it in a habitable condition for any one unaccustomed to the life of a mountaineer or an Indian trader. I bought here three four pence chickens, as we call them for the benefit of the mess,          the caterer and paid a dollar a piece for them $3.00. How many chickens would you buy at this rate? Not many. I suppose. We stayed at Bridger being encamped being about three quarters of a mile above the Fort the day following our arrival being Sunday—although the grass was very indifferent, simply because it passed Sunday. Leaving this place, about which Stansbury speaks a good deal, on the 22nd we commenced closing up the last 100 miles between the states and Salt Lake. The aspect of the country is entirely changed after the first 20 miles. The signs of fertility become more numerous and we commence to very sensually to feel the cool mountain air and at sight Bear River is a fine stream but we did not catch trout here as we thought we should do. We caught them in Blacks Fork and in this stream. After leaving Bear River we continued crossing the Wasatch range of mountains. The country is truly picturesque and interesting. For the last four days we have been travelling down Canon (Canyon) with steep hills or mountains on either side of us. On our right is the rare rock exposed. It is sandstone or conglomerate. The sandstone is of the brightest colors. Deep and light red, yellow, green, white &c. I never saw rocks so variously and brightly colored, but shows evidence in the tilt all the             of being powerfully and       . I went fishing with the Col. today and caught my first trout. It is a beautiful fish and delicious eating, the regular mountain trout. The Col starts to morrow morning early for the City. I would write more if I had time, but it is now night and I must rise early to morrow to attend to some duties besides I have scribbled you ten pages, the longest letter I have ever wrote in all my writing. I sincerely hope that it will not tire you. Theophilus is well and sends love to all, wishes to know something about his things, wife &c. Remember me most kindy to all my friends, [etc.] Ben Allston



Camp in Rush Water Lake Valley

Sept. 29, 1854

My Dear Mother

I have not more than time to write that I am quite well and as far as circumstances will admit, enjoying myself well. I should have written more at leisure and meant to please you had it not been that [the] Col Sunday noon last I received orders to strike our tents and move on the next morning. This order went so decidedly beyond any thing I had though of, took me quite unprepared and by surprise, consequently I will be obliged to make some of my auditors wait long before I they get them over. I am now 45 miles from the City and have been as busy as I could possibly could ever since I have been here—building a corral for my horses, I have been here for two days and have 99 yds or 100 yds of the wall built consisting of rods, being 6 ft high or more. This is I think doing very well, I know not what you or Father may think of it. I promise in my last which was eleven pages, I don’t know whether you will ever get it or not, to give you a description of Salt Lake City &c but you will have to wait until some other and more favorable time arrives for as I before said my dear Mother I actually have not time. I must start off my expressman early in the morning in order that he may ride from this the City 45 miles and get there before the mail closes. You never saw such a place as this for ducks and geese. They thoroughly abound, but I have not yet shot none. Stanbury’s description of the City is very good, but as regards its inhabitants, I think it is the lowest of the low. I cannot express to you what a thorough disgust I have for the whole religion and it only in my opinion, needs one to be an eyewitness to be of the same tone of feeling. Honor and integrity I see none—Truth and justice, I see none. Religion and chastity—I see none. Purity of thought, and delicacy of sentiment—there is none. This is my opinion and it goes of course only this far no farther.

But of this, sometime hence—You know or rather will know before this letter reaches you of wht has occurred at Laramie. We do not know here yet and every man is in suspense. It has been reported that the whole garrison was cut off and the fort burned down how this is I cannot say.

I am well and in good health and good spirits. Give my love to all of my Relatives & Friends—Father, Sister and all and may the ever living God protect and guide you all aright is the sincere prayer of your most devoting attached Son,

Ben Allston





  1. L. City March 15th


My dear Mother

I commence this letter as you will perceive, in the middle of the Month. I am ordered away and I know if I will return in time to write you by the Mail. In my last letter, I wrote that I was to start the next morning for Fillmore to obtain some of the Indians who were concerned in the murder of Gunnison and party. We made the trip in very rapid time, but arrived in the City the day the Mail left it so that I could not write to you by the Mail. We got all of the number except one who is yet to be given up. The Indians were very much agitated on the day they were given up and for several days previous. But they were delivered. There were several to have been given up. There were to have been seven given up, we received four men, one woman and her child which counted for one. The other man is yet to be given up. We came back from Fillmore to the City a distance of 150 miles in three days. This is what I call good travelling for teams. What say you [?] We are going down to Nephi a distance of 90 mi for the purpose of attending the trial of the prisoners and protecting the Judge from receiving any injuries at the hands of the enemy. Our force consists of sixty eight men, not including the officers and the quartermaster. Col. Steptoe goes down himself I think or so he says though I know not if he will. I take twenty of my men, the rest are from other Companies. I sincerely hope that we may get back in time for the Mail that I may give you an account of it and relieve your mind from the anxiety under which I know it will labor. But I apprehend little or no danger. The town in which we will encamp is a walled town and adaptable of defending itself against the Indians. Besides the one wall which encloses it , it consists of three or four stockade forts, all of which make up the city of Nephi. Nephi is one of he Prophets mentioned in the Book of Mormon, indeed it commences with the Book of Nephi.

The weather curious to relate has been very unpleasant it was when I started two weeks ago. It has been blowing and threatening all day and now at half past eleven P.M. it is snowing, sweet prospect for the morrow. But the weather is very changeable here that we may have tomorrow a fine and pretty day. Last night at 12 o’clock if was first the reverse of what it is now. Now as I have just said is dark cloudy and snowing. Last night it was clear starlight, and pleasant, and when I woke it was blowing and slating a little.

We may count upon one thing, however, very bad roads for travelling, muddy and slippery.

I was enabled to write Father only a short note by last mail, acquainting him with the summer full fact that I had again given a draft on him for $18.00. Mr Perry came here just before I started and stated he was in need of so much money, and requested me to let him have it. I could not refuse, and so I gave it to him. I do not mean that there was any           in the matter, but I considered it obligatory upon me, and I then cancelled the obligation. $500 is a pretty large sum to spend in a few short months, and if I continue I will soon spend all that I have, there being not much more than that very sum remaining. Put every thing will have a beginning and an ending and so will these large expenditures. I will see the Company and every body in it in the                 imaginable before I again do the like. I am out of debt to Mr. Perry and intend to stay so. I leave here even with the world and draw no more either. My investment in goods at Fillmore is I am afraid not going to turn out as well by a good deal as I fondly hoped it would. But if my partners are the honest men I will at least secure my capital back “Experientia docet.” The only Latin proverb I know, but a good one for all that. I intend to hold on to my lands, and expect in the course of time to make my losses on them, and at last come out even. To sell them would only be a loss, for I doubt if I could sell them for what they cost me, but this will change in the course of a year or two. We are anxious here to learn of the proceedings of Congress in regard to the Army Bills. And as no Eastern Mail came in last month, we are expecting some [unintelligible] developments in the expected Mail. You of course know all about it now, and can tell better than I can what impact what prospect is before me. If it is good congratulate me if not do not console me, for it is of very little to me; but nevertheless would like a little more rank in the Army, then I have at present.

I hope and trust you are all well my dear Mother, I have had serious apprehensions to the contrary coming into my brain how I cannot tell, but there they live and continue for some days until I drive them away as foolish. I am quite well except a slight Cold which is nothing. I do not think I will have much of a beard when I see you. It appears to be slow in its growth I know not why. Give my love to Father, Adele and all of the children and to all my Relatives and friends. Remember me to all of the servants, Theophlius is well, but not as dutiful as one might desire. Hoping to add to this before. The mail leaves I remain all affectionate, Your Ben Allston


Lieutenant Love’s Indiana Recruits


By Will Gorenfeld

After he left the military, John Love became a successful businessman in Indianapolis. Active in civic affairs, he was a co-founder of the Indiana Historical Society. In this capacity, he left his collection of correspondence with the society. This is a brief account of his recruiting efforts in Indiana during the Mexican War.

An intrepid horseman and a dragoon, John Love was born in Culpepper County, Virginia. He was the son of Richard H. Love and of Eliza Matilda Lee, the granddaughter of Richard Henry Lee, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Raised in Tennessee, Love entered the United States Military Academy at West Point, graduating in 1841, he secured a lieutenancy in the First Dragoons.[1]

When war came between the United States and Mexico in 1846, he was on recruiting duty in Indiana. Lt. Love remained on recruiting duty while his regiment was getting ready to ship out for the war. As might be expected of a young officer eager for glory, he chaffed at being precluded from joining his company and repeatedly wrote to Kearny and to Adjutant General Roger Jones, seeking permission to shut down his recruiting depot and “join my Company should my Regiment be ordered into the field.” Captain Henry Turner, Kearny’s adjutant, calmly instructed Love to remain at his post.[2] Three agonizing weeks passed before orders arrived relieving Love of recruiting duties, commanding him to report to Ft. Leavenworth to serve on Kearny’s staff. He reached the fort on June 15th and, attached himself to Kearny’s staff, departing from Ft. Leavenworth on June 30, 1846.[3] Participating in the conquest of Santa Fe, Love returned to Fort Leavenworth with orders to rebuild Company B.

First Lieutenant John Love must have felt he was in a rut that winter of 1846-47. As in the year before, he was on recruiting duty. Lt. Love desperately sought to recruit a full company of men so that he might return to New Mexico before the fighting was over. On December 20, 1846, the Lieutenant again wrote to Roger Jones, the Army’s grandfatherly Adjutant General, expressing how “extremely anxious” he was “to fill the Company which fortune has given me the command” and that he expected to take the field by April 1, 1847. Finding recruits in a hurry was not going to be an easy task. Lt. Anderson Nelson of the regular Sixth Infantry, one of Love’s West Point classmates, complained to him in February of 1847 that, after “pegging away since some time last summer and [he had] done any thing but a ‘land office’ business” finding Hoosier recruits for his regiment.

By 1847, much of the nation was fast growing weary of a war that seemed to have no end in sight. Nearly a dozen volunteer regiments had already been raised in the states of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, stripping the landscape of those young men willing to fight a war in a distant land. The volunteer regiments offered cash bounties and short terms of enlistments. Equally valuable as an inducement was the regulation that permitted company officers of the volunteer regiments be selected by a democratic vote of the men. In contrast, officers of the regular regiments gained their commissions by way of a presidential appointment and, for better or worse, the recruit was stuck with the officers assigned to his given regiment.

In February of 1847, Lt. Love was in Indianapolis, Indiana, with his recruiting flag draped from a balcony of the Drake Hotel. He placed an advertisement in the Indiana State Journal requesting the wartime services of men of good character, between the ages of 18 and 35, in the elite United States Dragoons. “Only those who are determined to serve the period of their enlistment, honestly and faithfully” need apply. The advertisement promised each recruit eight dollars a month, good quarters, the best of medical attention, as well as a “large supply of comfortable and genteel clothing.” The recruiting laws, now having been changed by Congress, made service in the regulars somewhat more attractive. Upon enlistment, the regular recruit would be paid a bonus of six dollars and receive another six dollars when he joined his regiment for duty. A recruit was now allowed to opt for a shorter term of enlistment: “duration of the war.”

The 1st Dragoons were a mounted regiment; the volunteer regiments, for the most part, were infantry. Lt. Love knew that he had an ace in the hole and he was quick to play it–pointing out to the Hoosier farm boys the glory of their becoming splendidly clothed and mounted “bold dragoons”–whose military status, uniform and bearing was unquestionably superior to that of the humble and often ill-clad “dough foot” of most volunteer regiments.

When some of Love’s recruits arrived at Newport Barracks, Kentucky, they found there were no horses available and, worse, infantry officers were daily putting them through the wearisome close order drill of the foot soldier. Included in the John Love collection at the Indiana Historical Society is a letter from three recruits from Indianapolis expressing their “not inconsiderable dissatisfaction prevailing in regard to our having no officers of our own company with us.” The trio complained that, “[w]e are here drilled in the infantry squads [by Infantry officers], and obliged to do duties that we believe we would be exempted of.” [4]

Love quickly “liberated” his men from Newport Barracks and sent them down river to Fort Leavenworth. On June 7, 1847, B Company took the salutes of Lieutenant Colonel Clifton Wharton, paraded out of the fort and headed west. George Ruxton, an English cavalry officer and adventurer, observed Company B on its march. He was less than impressed with what he saw and wrote that although “superbly mounted” ‘on full-blooded sorrels, these men were “soldier like neither in dress nor appearance.”[5] In less than three weeks these men tasted combat on the Santa Fe Trail.

Below is a list of the twenty-three men recruited by Lieutenant Love while in Indiana in 1847, and what became of them while in the service. Most of his recruits fought at the battles of Coon Creeks against the Comanches on the Santa Fe Trail and against the Mexican Army at Santa Cruz de Rosales, in the State of Chihuahua. Five of the men died while in the service, at least two were wounded and one man deserted. Except where otherwise noted, all of the men were discharged at Santa Fe, on August 19, 1848. Four men remained with the army after the end of the war.[6]

Demaree, Isaac, Blacksmith, February 5, 1847, Madison.

Dunbar, Louis, Blacksmith, Mar. 27, 1847, Madison.

Elkins, Martin, Laborer, February 5, 1847, Madison, discharged March 22, 1851, Rayado, New Mexico Territory.

Gardner, Anthony, Laborer, February 22, 1847, Madison, Died Newport Barracks, March 27, 1847.

Gaskill, George, Clerk, April 17, 1847, Edinburgh, Killed in Action at Coon Creeks, Missouri Territory, June 26, 1847.[7]

George, John, Physician, February 23, 1847, Indianapolis, discharged October 1, 1848, Indianapolis.

Gibson, George, March 7, 1747, Indianapolis, clerk, appointed corporal June 10, 1847.

Hahasey, Michael, Framer, March 16, 1847, Indianapolis.

Hazel, William, Farmer, March 22, 1847, Indianapolis.

Harper, Thomas, Farmer, March 22, 1847, Indianapolis, Died December 13, 1847, Albuquerque, New Mexico Territory.

House, Alber, April 9, 1847, Lafayette, Deserted from Fort Leavenworth, June 7, 1847.

Jones, William, Shoemaker, March 17, 1847, Madison.

Lane, Jonathan, February 23, 1847, Madison, transferred to Company I, September 1, 1848.

Lewis George, Laborer, February 15, 1847, Madison, Discharged February 15, 1852, Los Linares, New Mexico Territory.

Leaverton, William, Laborer, March 7, 1847, Indianapolis, Discharged July 14, 1848, Chihuahua, Mexico.

McCole, March 27, 1847, Indianapolis.

Powell, Jepha, Farmer, March 16, 1847, Indianapolis.

Puterbaugh, Adam, Blacksmith, February 16, 1847, Transferred to Company I, discharged surgeon’s certificate, October 16, 1849, Taos.

Turner, Dempsey, February 16, 1847, Madison, Died December 25, 1847, Albuquerque.

Ward, Thomas, Cooper, April 12, 1847, Lafayette.

Walker, George, Farmer, March 27, 1847, Indianapolis, Died March 27, 1848, Chihuahua.



[1] George Cullum, Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point from its Establishment, March 16, 1802 to Army Reorganization of 1866-67 (New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1868) 2 vols, “John Love” 2:14. John Love (1820-1881) was born in Culpepper County, Virginia, the son of Richard H. Love and of Eliza Matilda Lee, the grand-daughter of Richard Henry Lee, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He was raised in Tennessee. Two older brothers, Ludwell and Thomas, died in infancy; and a third, Richard, served in the U.S. Navy until his death in 1855. Sister Cecilia Lee Love married Lewis Armistead, a regular officer in the Sixth Infantry and later a Confederate general. She died in 1850. Cadet Love attended West Point from 1837 to 1841 Graduating 14th in a class of 52. He was stationed at the cavalry school at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, later assigned to serve with Company A, stationed at Fort Gibson in Indian Territory, and then to Forts Scott and Leavenworth in Missouri Territory. Tenth Annual Reunion of the Association of the Graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point, June 12, 1879 (New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1879) 33; Patricia Duncan, Genealogical Abstract from the Democratic Mirror and the Mirror, 1857-1879, Loudoun County, Virginia (Westminster: Heritage Books, 2008) 202.

[2] Adjunct General Roger Jones to Love, May 22, and 27, 1846; Colonel Stephen Kearny to Love, February 9, 1846; Captain Henry Turner to Love, April 9, 1846. All correspondence mentioned in this article may be located in the John Love Collection, 1837-1886, at the Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis, Indiana.

[3] Louis Barry, Beginning of The West, (Topeka: Kansas Historical Society 1972) 620.

[4] This letter seems not to have offended Lt. Love: in June of 1847, he promoted George Gibson, one of the signatories, to the rank of corporal. All three of the men served honorably in Company B. I have left intact the spelling and grammatical errors contained in the original.

Newport Barracks

April 2, 1847

Liet Dear Sir

We wish to inform you that our condition is very unpleasant

on account of the absence of our officers. We are here drilled in the infantry

squads, and obliged to do duties that we believe we would be exempted

of, were you with us and on this account there is some, not inconsiderable dissatisfaction prevailing in regard to our having no officers of our own company with us. We would inform you that the discord refered to, has already been the cause of the one of the company’s “deserting”, but we do not think that any who came with us, will, on any consideration be guilty of so base an act, but could you favor us with an officer of our own greater satisfaction would exist, and a greater degree of confidence would be concentrated in you by your men. We consider it right you should know these circumstances and also that is binding on us to inform you of it. Gardener is dead and another one of the Company not expected to recover. We have considered it our duty to write this much.

We remain your friends and Obedient soldiers

John W. George

Jeptha Powell

George W. Gibson

[5] George Ruxton, Adventures in Mexico and the Rocky Mountains (New York: Harper & Bros. 1847).

[6] For further accounts of the Battles of Coon Creeks and Santa Cruz de Rosales, see Dragoons vs. Comanches, Wild West Magazine, June 2004; Such is a Dragoon’s Life: Corporal Mathias Baker, Company B, First Dragoons, 1845-1849, Missouri Historical Review, July 2011, vol. 105, No. 4.

The Cowpen Slaughter: Was There a Massacre of Mexican Soldiers at the Battle of Santa Cruz de Rosales? 81 New Mexico Historical Review 413 (Fall 2006)

[7] George Gaskill’s body was found by Corporal Mathias Baker who describe what he found: The fifth man – Gaskin [sic] –we did not find until this morning, he was dreadfully mutilated, his scalp was not taken, but half of his hair was pulled out, I suppose the one that killed him had no knife about him. The father of the slain trooper wrote to Lt. Love on July 19, 1847, from Shelbyville seeking further information on the loss of his son.

At the 17th [of July] I rec’d a letter from Mr. [Private] Jno H. George giving us the painful intelligence of the untimely death of my son George at the skirmish with the enemy near Camp Raccoon on the 26th June last. And as you was the officer under whom he enlisted I am induced o ask your assistance in sending me a certificate of his enlistment & subsequent death in the service of the United States and all necessary papers & communications that may be requested towards selling his estate.

Any information in regard to the particulars of his death will be most gratefully received. And should you on your return to the States find yourself near us–you will confer a lasting favor by calling upon us at this place.

I am with Respect,

Your friend,

George Gaskill

Such is a Dragoon's Life (State Historical Society of Missouri, July 2011, vol 105, no. 4)

Such is a Dragoon’s Life: Corporal Mathais Baker, Company B, 1st Dragoons, 1845-1849[1]

By Will Gorenfeld and Tim Kimball
The year 1845 found Mathias L. Baker, a twenty eight year old clerk from Middlesex County, New Jersey, residing in a reasonably comfortable neighborhood in St Louis. On October 17, 1845, he enlisted in the United States Army.  His enlistment papers indicate that blue eyed, dark haired, fair skinned Mathias stood six feet tall.  Assistant Surgeon William Hammond certified that he was free of all bodily defects and mental infirmities.   Recruiting officer 1st Lieutenant Henry S. Turner certified that Baker was entirely sober when he enlisted and of lawful age (twenty one). [2]

After a short stay in the recruit depot at nearby Jefferson Barracks, on November 13, 1845, Private Baker and seven other recruits were escorted up the Mississippi River to Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin Territory, by the 1st Dragoons Regimental Sergeant Major.  From that river port the recruit party traveled another forty eight miles west, arriving at castle-like Fort Atkinson, Iowa Territory on November 25, 1845.  The fort and its stone buildings, on the heights above the Turkey River, had been home to Company B of the First Dragoons since June 1842.  Company B and its long-time Captain, Edwin Vose Sumner, had just returned from a late summer’s typical campaign, marching northwest almost to the Canadian border, showing the flag, and encouraging peace among the Natives. [3]

There is no detailed record of Baker’s winter at Fort Atkinson, but likely it was spent learning the rudiments of Dragoon skills—the School of the Soldier and School of the Company.  It would have included dismounted and mounted drill and use of the dragoon weapons: pistol, carbine, and sabre.  Baker’s other winter duties would have been caring for his assigned horse, occasional guard duty, and fatigue details.  More experienced men from the company would undertake a series of assignments during the hard winter, including removing Winnebago Indians from the Neutral Ground, testifying at a murder trial, chasing deserters, and maintaining the peace during payment of annuities by Indian Agents.  Baker probably had little time or inclination to visit the adjacent off post drinking sites known as “Sodom and Gomorrah,” or “Whiskey Creek,” nor spend time with the dissolute Winnebago and Minominee women found there.  No indications of disciplinary problems or extended illness involving Baker are found in company records.  Baker also would have learned—if he did not already know—that in the army, even in the dragoons, many of the men were chronic drunkards and shirkers.[4]

Less than five months after his enlistment, probably as a tribute to his discipline, reliability, and perhaps the legible hand of this former civilian clerk, Sumner selected Baker to be 4th corporal, the most junior of the core of eight non-commissioned officers authorized for each company. This gave Baker a raise from eight to ten dollars a month, a substantial increase in responsibility, and a set of a Non Commissioned Officers as peers who would stay with him through the duration of his life: Sergeants Frederick Muller, Benjamin Bishop, Corporals Jacob Martin, Michael Albert, Israel Haff, as well as Bugler Langford Peel.[5]
By May 11, 1846, Congress declared war on Mexico. On June 20, Baker and his comrades of Company B were ordered from Fort Atkinson, leaving it to be garrisoned by a volunteer force during the war. Reaching Prairie du Chien on June 22, they joined forces with 1st Dragoons Captain Philip St. George Cooke’s Company K from nearby Fort Crawford, with Sumner serving as commander of the two company squadron.  They and their mounts embarked on the Steamboat Cecelia and a pair of towed barges for St. Louis, traveling 370 miles downstream on the Mississippi River and arriving June 28, 1846.[6]

The original orders for Companies B and K had directed them to San Antonio, Texas, join the forces of Major General Zachary Taylor.  But Dragoon Colonel and commander of the Army of the West, Stephen Watts Kearny insisted that Sumner, Cooke, and their companies (“among the very best”) were indispensable to his assignment: the conquest of Mexican-held New Mexico and California.  In St. Louis, they were redirected to Fort Leavenworth, assembly and starting point for Kearny’s Army of the West.  On July 3 they loaded on to the Steamboat Amaranth, traveling the length of the Missouri to that post, over 300 miles west.  On July 6 they disembarked at Fort Leavenworth and, and began their march to Santa Fe on the same day, becoming the last of Kearny’s initial force to leave for the Conquest of New Mexico.  Company B headed overland with a total of 63 dragoons in the ranks, having left a trail of seven deserters in its wake.[7]

Sumner’s squadron made up for lost time, traveling across the picked-over prairie. On July 31 they rendezvoused with the 1600-man balance of Kearny’s troops camped around Bent’s Fort, on the north bank of the Arkansas River.  Kearny turned over command of the five dragoon companies (B, C, G, I, and K) and a St. Louis mounted volunteer company (the Laclede Rangers, equipped for dragoon service) to Sumner, the senior Captain.  Crossing the Arkansas River, the border between the now-warring United States and Mexico, on August 2 Kearny (and Private Baker) began the 250-mile balance of the march down the Mountain branch of the Santa Fe Trail, through Raton Pass to Santa Fe, capital of the Mexican Department of New Mexico. This portion of the march was hard on man and beast–with scanty forage for the animals and half rations for the men.[8]

The Army of the West entered an undefended and partially deserted Santa Fe on August 18, 1846. Kearny took formal possession of New Mexico late that afternoon with a flag rising and the firing of a national salute. Baker and his dragoon comrades fared well enough on the march—Missouri volunteer private John Hughes complained that Kearny favored them unfairly—but even the regulars would soon turn in their already worn out, starving horses and resort to mules or even shoe leather.[9]

Soon after arrival in Santa Fe, Kearny began planning and organizing for his California trek. Although plans were constantly changing with the circumstances, his next mission was to head to California by marching south along the Camino Real, west to the basin of the Gila River, across to the Colorado River, and enter California from the south.  Kearny’s force would include his  “three hundred wilderness-worn Dragoons, in shabby and patched clothing,” and a like number of emigrating Mormons recruited as infantry volunteers for California (the Mormon Battalion), which had left Fort Leavenworth in mid-August but not yet arrived in Santa Fe.  In California this force was to be increased by a regiment of New York volunteers and a regular army artillery battery sent by sea.[10]

By the time Kearny returned to Santa Fe from a show-the-flag march south to Tomé, he realized that most of the Army of the West’s original horses were too worn down to make a march to California. The general ordered the dragoon horses replaced with the best mules the Quartermaster could find, directing the return of the surviving dragoon mounts to Fort Leavenworth.  The dragoons had first established a grazing camp in the Galisteo Basin, south of Santa Fe.  By the time of Baker’s first letter, they had moved to the village of La Cienega, in the valley of the Santa Fe River.  Neither venue had enough grass to even begin to restore their mounts.[11]

First Letter:

Baker’s observations about New Mexico were fairly standard for an American who had recently arrived in the region.  As with so many others, he was consciously (or unconsciously) repeating negative observation found in two very popular works about New Mexico: Josiah Gregg’s 1844, Commerce of the Prairies, and George Wilkins Kendall’s 1843 Narrative of the Santa Fé Expedition, both of which expressed a substantially jingoistic and ethnocentric view of New Mexico and New Mexicans. Baker had seen little of populated New Mexico, passing through Las Vegas and the few villages between there and Santa Fe, with a single day or two in the capital, starting south later on the march to Tomé, but being turned back to the grazing camp he wrote from shortly after that journey began.[12]

On Sept. 13, 1846, Baker wrote his sister, Mrs. Hugh Martin (1 Hudson Street in Manhattan) from the dragoon grazing camp.  He described New Mexico as bare and mountainous, with only a few valleys capable of cultivation.  Its homes of sun-dried bricks he found to be limited to a single story and devoid of windows, dark during day time when the door is shut, but warm in winter and cool in summer.  Some of the ladies were “extraordinarily fine,” though generally the population was of “mixed” Indian blood.  All this from a man who had arrived less than a month before and spent most of his time on isolated duty in the grazing camps!  Baker urged his sister to write him back AND to send the latest copies of the New York Herald.  He did not expect any fighting, as “the Mexican Army will not fight.”  He asked about the family’s health and assured them that HE was healthy (“This is the most healthy country in the world.”) and “burnt to the colour of Mahogany and wear immense Moustachios.”  He expected to be marching to Monterey, California, soon, via “Chuwauwau” (Chihuahua).[13]

Second letter:

On September 27, Kearny set off for California with all his Dragoons, a topographic engineer party, and his staff.  His plans changed significantly when on October 6, he encountered eastbound Christopher Kit Carson south of Socorro.  Carson carried dispatches announcing that American naval forces, Fremont’s topographical engineer party, and local American residents had seized control of California.  Relying upon this information and Carson‘s assessment of the extremely limited resources available on the coming march, Kearny reduced his force to a small staff, the Topographic Engineer party, and a 100-man Dragoon escort composed of only Companies C and K.  Baker’s Company B, along with Companies G and I, each stripped of their of the best of their mules, were ordered by Kearny to return to Albuquerque and winter under the overall command of Captain Sumner.[14]

On October 13, the Kearny party was below Fra Cristobal, last camp before entering the Jornado del Muerte from the north.  Kearny now had learned that wheeled vehicles would be more of a hindrance than an asset on the Gila route, and sent back for pack saddles and men to collect all the rolling stock except for two small mountain howitzers and their limbers.  When a last mail arrived, Kearny received notice of a series of promotions that set several final changes into motion for the stay-behind Dragoons.  Sumner had been promoted to Major in the Second Dragoon regiment and ordered to join his regiment in Mexico. Kearny directed that Sumner’s Company B, already returning north with companies G and I, be broken up. Its privates were distributed among the other two companies, and recently promoted 1st Lt. John Love was to return east with the balance of company B’s non-commissioned staff and recruit the company full again.[15]

Baker would be included in Sumner’s party of seventeen Dragoons and discharged volunteers returning to Fort Leavenworth.  Beginning on October 18, from Sabinal, north of Socorro, his party traveled the more direct  “Dry” route of the Santa Fe Trail, bypassing Bent’s Fort. Included in the Sumner group were Love, 1st Lt. Henry Stanton, 2nd Lt. Bezaleel Armstrong (also newly promoted and headed for the Second Dragoons), the 1st Dragoons’ non-commissioned regimental staff, and Baker’s cadre of fellow non-commissioned officers of Company B: Sergeants Muller, Martin, the newly promoted Sgt. Albert, Corporals. Haff, Baker, Nickerson, and Bugler Peel.  Sgt. Bishop and Corporal McFeters—the balance of  Company B’s non-commissioned staff—had headed east with earlier returning parties.  Baker by now had become a solid member of this core leadership group, and would continue so for the balance of the Mexican War.[16]

Sumner passed through Santa Fe on their way out.  Love secured wheat and corn as forage for the party’s mules in San Miguel, Tecolote and Las Vegas. In Las Vegas, they exchanged five unserviceable mules for five fit ones, paying the standard premium of $20 each, $100 total. This party made a well managed late Fall trip, the main group arriving at Fort Leavenworth on November 20, 1846. [17]

Sumner and Armstrong continued on to join the 2nd Dragoons in Mexico, where Sumner won Brevets of Lt. Colonel at Cerro Gordo and Colonel at Molina del Rey. Baker, Martin, Albert, Haff and Peel remained in the Dragoon detachment at Fort Leavenworth while Lt. Love and Sgt. Muller journeyed to Ohio and Indiana to seek recruits; Bishop was assigned to the regimental depot at Jefferson Barracks with 2nd Lt. Leonidas Jenkins  [18]

Three weeks after the arrival of the Sumner return party at Fort Leavenworth, on Dec. 15, 1846, Baker began penning a letter to his namesake nephew, Matthais Lee Baker Martin, son of his sister, Mrs. Hugh Martin, to whom he had addressed the first of this series of letters.  It seems young Martin had written his uncle, telling him that he “hoped” that he was NOT in the army!  Baker shot back with pride in his service, his role in the occupation of New Mexico and his achievement of non-commissioned rank.  Corporal Baker described the Sumner party’s return trip:  two wagons and a carriage (probably a spring wagon) with most of the men mounted on mules and living largely off game.  They had a single brush with the increasingly aggressive Indians, at what Baker called “Rocky Point,” probably Point of Rocks, the beginning of that dangerous middle portion of the Santa Fe Trail in which native raiders often held the upper hand.  Towards evening Baker and his comrades encountered a single native lurking outside their camp and chased him off with carbine fire.   The Corporal speculated that the fugitive was a “Camanche” who would now recognize and avoid Dragoons.   Ten of the party’s mules died on the journey, leaving most of the men to walk the last one hundred and fifty miles.[19]

Third Letter:

Lt. Love sought to recruit a full company of men quickly, return to the war, and actually TASTE gunpowder before the war was over. On December 20, 1846, he wrote to Roger Jones, the Army’s grandfatherly Adjutant General, expressing how “extremely anxious” he was “to fill the Company which fortune has given me the command” and that he expected to take the field by April 1, 1847. Finding recruits in a hurry was not going to be an easy task. One of Love’s West Point classmates, also on recruiting duty, complained to him in February of 1847 that, after “pegging away since some time last summer and [he had] done any thing but a ‘land office’ business” finding Hoosier recruits for his regiment.[20]

February of 1847 found Lt. Love in Indianapolis, Indiana, with his recruiting flag draped from a balcony of the Drake Hotel. He placed the army’s prepared advertisement in the Indianapolis  State Journal, requesting the wartime services of men of good character, between the ages of 18 and 35.  “None need apply to enter the service but those who are determined to serve the period of their enlistment honestly and faithfully.”  The advertisement optimistically promised each mounted recruit eight dollars a month, good quarters, the best of medical attention, as well as a “large supply of comfortable and genteel clothing.”  The recruiting laws, now having been changed by Congress, made service in the regulars somewhat more attractive. A recruit was now allowed to opt for a shorter enlistment, the “duration of the war,” instead of only a five year term with no alternative.[21]

The 1st Dragoons were a mounted regiment; the five Mexican War volunteer regiments from Indiana, were all infantry.   Lt. Love knew that he had an ace in the hole and he was quick to play it–pointing out to the Hoosier farm boys the glory of their becoming splendidly clothed and mounted “bold dragoons”–whose military status, pay, uniform, weapons, and bearing were unquestionably superior to that of the humble and often ill-clad “doughboys” of the volunteers or regular infantry, stumbling along with their “fence rails” (a derogatory term for the long, heavy musket with which they were perpetually burdened). When Love’s bright-eyed recruits arrived at Newport Barracks, Kentucky, however, they found there were no horses available and, worse, infantry officers were daily putting them through the wearisome close order drill of the foot soldier. Many of Love’s recruits were not happy with their training at Newport Barracks, and wrote to tell him so.[22]

Due to the immediate need for a completed company, recruits would be limited in their training to the basics: mounted and dismounted drill, care of their mounts and equipment, and use and care of their carbines, sabres, and pistols.   Many recruits would have less than two months to develop adequate skills, a time frame far better than volunteer received and typical of the other two 1st Dragoon companies reorganized during the Mexican War.  It was incumbent upon Stanton, Jenkins and the non-commissioned cadre of company B at Fort Leavenworth and Jefferson Barracks to use the available time to train the recruits on hand with the skills necessary for them to be competent soldiers. [23]

At Jefferson Barracks Lt. Leonadis Jenkins had been seeking men, horses and equipage for B Company around the St. Louis area.  On February 17, 1847, Jenkins marched his accumulation of twenty five recruits and their mounts more than 300 miles overland across Missouri to Fort Leavenworth in sixteen days.  There they would undergo further mounted training under the tutelage of Albert, Baker, and Peel.  On return to Jefferson Barracks, Jenkins wrote a March 20, 1847, letter to Love boasting of his completed trip, the quality of his recruits, the status of equipping the company, and army gossip.  Jenkins promised that if more mounts could be furnished, he could advance the training of the next group of Company B recruits at the Depot.[24]

By April, the Company B non-commissioned officers available for training the initial recruits at Fort Leavenworth were down to Baker, Sgt. Albert, and Bugler Peel, under the command of Stanton.  Bishop was at Jefferson Barracks and Haff had joined Love at the recruiting rendezvous in Indiana.[25]

The third letter was also written by Baker for his namesake nephew.  Dated April 28, 1847, it reflected on his daily duties, the training of the recruit party left by Jenkins on March 4, the prospects and schedule for Company B as it completed its reorganization and returned to service.  Baker was hoping to dissuade his nephew from the common notion that all soldiers’ lived an easy life in garrison—perhaps an additional response to the nephew’s apparent negative opinion of the army mentioned before.  Baker wrote that while an infantryman’s life might be easy, a Dragoon’s life was filled from Reveille (at sunup) to final Tatoo (long after dark), and must always be prepared to ride out.  “Such is a Dragoon’s life…”  Baker wrote of how difficult it was training 25 recruits with only three non-commissioned officers, “especially when they are sometimes so Dutch as to not understand or be understood.”   And he figured that the company was likely to be full enough to be officially reorganized “in about three weeks” (actually two and a half weeks, May 15), and would either be sent south to join Scott in his assault on Mexico City or returned to Santa Fe.  Baker wrote that he preferred the latter, as the “climate is the most healthy” in the world.  As for the future, perhaps Baker would stay in the army if “inducements” were held forth, but in such a case he surely would take a furlough and visit his nephew.[26]

Fourth Letter:

Love would bring twenty five men he had recruited in the East with him to Jefferson Barracks on April 25, 1847. There they joined with the on-hand recruits and recycled veterans—sick returned to health, confined men returned to duty—to make a contingent of fifty eight men when Company B was officially reorganized on May 15, 1847.  The company marched for Fort Leavenworth that same day. [27]

The Missouri Republican was quite impressed with what they saw in a public drill of the company in St. Louis on May 11:

“[Lt. Love] has with him a very fine company of men and they are probably the best fitted and prepared for service of any company which has ever left this city.  They are all mounted on horses which in appearance, for strength and beauty, cannot be surpassed in or out of the service, and their military trappings correspond.  When the company is full, as it will be upon its arrival at Fort Leavenworth, they will of themselves constitute a body in appointments, command and stamina, almost sufficient to overrun a large portion of New Mexico.”[28]

George Ruxton, an English officer touring Mexico and the West in mufti, observed this same group of fifty Company B recruits and Lt. Love as they were finishing their march from St. Louis to Fort Leavenworth in late May. Ruxton was less than impressed with what he saw and wrote that while the group was “superbly mounted” on beautiful horses “fifteen hands high, in excellent condition,” the raw recruits were “soldierlike neither in dress nor appearance.” [29]

The reorganized company arrived at Fort Leavenworth on May 31, joining with the on-hand group of thirty four NCOs and men already on hand.  With B Company recruited up to full strength and well mounted—albeit neither men nor horses fully trained— and present at Fort Leavenworth, the army considered it ready to march to Santa Fe. The troops stationed in newly conquered New Mexico and the locals provisioning them had not been paid for several months.  Now Company B would escort Paymaster Major Charles Bodine and $350,000 in specie on his trip to Santa Fe, and do the same for slower moving quartermaster trains and beef herds already en route as they were overtaken.[30]

A week after arrival of the reorganized Company B at Fort Leavenworth, Lt. Love, the only officer, with Corporal Baker and an eighty three man strong Company B, paymaster Bodine, and various supernumeraries, paraded out of the fort on June 7, 1847 in a column of fours.  Each dragoon was astride his government sorrel, the column trailed by the nine mule-drawn wagons of the paymaster and three more of Company B.  Following the custom of the time it is likely they were played out of the Fort by First Dragoon Principal Musician John Schnell and the 1st Dragoon Regimental band, with a selection of songs that included “The Girl I Left Behind.”  This time the company left six deserters behind—including Privates Isaac Cameron (who also had deserted in St. Louis the year before) and John Stein, recaptured the next day across the Missouri in Weston.[31]

Prior to the commencement of the Mexican War, Native Americans living near the Santa Fe Trail controlled their outrage at the invasion and destruction of their range by raiding only the smaller trading caravans, confining themselves to horse stealing, pilferage, and simple begging.  Experienced traders traveled in large numbers, heavily armed, and were rarely attacked. By 1847 the Santa Fe Trail became the highway of conquest as a vast stream of troops, animals and supplies headed west along the 873-mile path that crossed the Great Plains from Ft. Leavenworth to Santa Fe. As troop movements and supply trains proliferated during the war, the travelers not only polluted the streams and spread contagion, but consumed the sparse grasses, fuel, and water along the trail, and butchered or chased off the game.  Drought put further pressure on the Plains tribes, as did the necessary hunting of many once-eastern tribes, Cherokee, Delaware, Osage, and others, forced to migrate and subsist on the fringes.   Starvation and disease were becoming progressively more widespread among the Plains tribes, even more so after 1845. The boldest and most desperate of them began to assault nearly every one of the caravans and quartermaster trains—even those accompanied by troops—that traveled on the route.   It was reported that the raiding was encouraged or participated in by Mexicans, fugitive slaves, and American renegades.  During the summer of 1847, 47 Americans would be killed, 330 wagons destroyed, and 6,500 head of stock plundered. [32]

Although Lt. Love, in his six years of military service, had never commanded a troop in the field and most of his men had limited training, his experience suggested that tribesmen would not be so foolish as to attack this large force of armed Dragoons.   In 1843, while on an expedition on the Plains, he wrote, “6 men could have kept off 500 Indians as they never approach within gun shot.” Corp. Baker observed the carnage caused by the tribesmen.   Baker was confident that his company would soon give battle with the Comanches and Pawnees and avenge the deaths of travelers recently murdered on the Santa Fe Trail. [33]

On June 14, 1847, a day Company B spent at Council Grove, the usual rendezvous site on edge of contested portion of the Santa Fe trail, Baker responded to his nephew’s letter brought with the previous day’s express in our fourth letter.  He described the party as including over one hundred men, twelve wagons, the paymaster and his specie, and another one hundred and twenty wagons moving slowly ahead of them, to be added to those already escorted as the faster moving Company B caught up with them.  Baker wrote that eight hundred lodges of Comanche and Pawnees were within 200 miles and that he hoped that Company B would get a chance to give them the “severe punishment” they “deserved.”  He told of the suffering of men in a returning quartermaster train the Company had encountered and claimed that Native’s attacks had been encouraged by the Mexicans.  Baker speculated that Company B might be returning to guard the threatened central portion of the trail after delivering Bodine and the specie to Santa Fe.  He advised his namesake to obey his parents and study, and hoped to see him someday.[34]

Fifth and Final Letter:

Newly appointed Indian Agent, but old time mountain man Thomas “Brokenhand” Fitzpatrick, making his way to his assignment at Bent’s Fort, overtook the Dragoon column at Council Grove and traveled on with it and our bold corporal. Fitzpatrick, a trapper, guide, scout, and Indian agent, had ranged the frontier since 1823. Fitzpatrick would later write that the Dragoons and paymaster’s wagon train “traveled along happily and with much expedition, until we arrived at Pawnee Fork, a tributary of the Arkansas River, three hundred miles from Fort Leavenworth.” It was at this point that, on the early evening of June 23, they came upon the encampment of three large government commissary wagon trains (two outbound and one homebound). These wagons had been attacked two days prior by a large body of Native Americans Indians, who left three men wounded. The eastbound train had lost most of its oxen to the marauding raiders. Left without the means of hauling several of its wagons any further, the wagon master destroyed the badly needed wagons.[35]

Seeking the dragoons’ protection, the three trains traveled along with the dragoons at a brisk pace, making 27-miles on the 25th and, camped on a plain in about a mile from the Arkansas River. The dragoons made their camp on the north bank of the Arkansas River, at a site known as Pawnee Fork.  Two of the trains made camp nearby. The third, headed by Hayden, a wagon master reluctant to take orders from young Lt. Love, camped almost out of sight.   Although the plain was sandy and nearly barren of grasses, the river bottoms provided good grazing for the animals. The treeless prairie was bisected by two washes that flowed into the Arkansas, known as Little Coon Creek and Big Coon Creek.[36]

In the pre-dawn hours of June 26, 1847, Lieutenant Love mounted and rode to the top of a slight hill. The sky was clear and a slight breeze blew up from the south. This young officer knew that horses and mules should not be allowed to freely graze until it was safe to do so—i.e., when no raiders lurked in high grasses of the nearby washes. For the moment, all horses and mules remained tethered to the picket lines. Looking to the west he noticed that Hayden had turned his oxen out of his evening’s corral  (formed of wagons circled, wheel to axel) to graze. Love opened his spyglass for a better view of the early morning countryside. He saw well over one hundred Comanches spilling out of the Big Coon Creek wash. Lt. Love could see the teamsters frantically grabbing what few clumsy weapons they possessed and firing wildly at the raiders. The Comanches fought back, wounding three teamsters; within minutes they had stampeded Hayden’s oxen and seized control of the herd.[37]

The next day Baker began the final one of our known letters to his nephew from the Pawnee Fork campsite, as Company B lay by to allow its seriously wounded a chance to recover before moving on.  He told how they had encountered the quartermaster trains and incorporated them loosely into their party, after the homebound train had been attacked, stock stolen, and men wounded.  Baker wrote of how Hayden’s stock was carelessly turned out that morning and quickly being driven off.  All of Company B saddled up, Baker being one of the first.  Only a party of twenty one dragoons and Sergt. Bishop, according to Baker, were allowed out to halt the stock theft, the rest being held back to protect the camp from a large party of threatening hostiles on the opposite side of the Arkansas.  Baker wrote when he saw the Bishop group get cut off by at least two hundred warriors, he begged for a party of twenty dragoons to intercede, but was refused by Love.  The teamsters from the train whose stock was being run off had themselves fallen back and left Bishop and his party helpless and surrounded.  Bishop’s dragoons retreated as quickly as they could, but five men were unable to reach the camp, and were later found dead.  Of those getting back, Bishop and four others were badly wounded—Baker himself leaving the camp to bring in the wounded Farrier, John Lovelace, holding him on his horse until safe inside.  After roll was called, Baker was part of the group that went out to recover their comrades’ bodies.  That day they found four bodies, badly mutilated, the next morning they recovered the last one.[38]

Baker was not sure what would happen if the Comanches would attack again, or they would be able to move on before being hit again.  “Fort” Mann, a small and adobe and cottonwood
palisade erected by quartermaster teamsters, the strongest point on the central trail, just had been abandoned under repeated attacks.  Baker told his nephew that if he should perish in coming assaults, he wanted him to have whatever the government owned him and anything else of value, and “if you see me no more, spare a moment to think of your uncle.”[39]
We have not, as yet, found any later letters from Mathias Baker. From military records, we know that he and his fellows did NOT return to guard the Santa Fe Trail nor to Fort Leavenworth until after the end of the war.  Six weeks after he wrote his last letter Baker was with Love’s battered command when it reached the end of the Trail in Santa Fe on August 6, 1847.  Though bloodied and reduced in numbers, these dragoons had accomplished their primary mission of protecting the paymaster funds and quartermaster trains.  Now they stayed on to reinforce New Mexico. At this time the twelve month enlistments of Price’s Missouri volunteer 1846 force had been completed and the companies had marched back to Fort Leavenworth to be paid off and discharged. This left the occupation to companies G and I, and now B, of the 1st Dragoons, four volunteer companies being reenlisted in Santa Fe to create the Santa Fe Battalion, and the last hand full of Price’s original force.  Soon though, New Mexico would be crowded once again with newly recruited “for the war” volunteers, including both a mounted regiment and infantry battalion from Missouri and an infantry regiment from Illinois.[40]

On August 19, 1847, Love turned in the wagons, mules and gear Company B had used in conveying Bodine and his specie.  They left Santa Fe at the end of the month, spending four days in Albuquerque, and formed a grazing camp near the mountain village of San Antonio.  On October 15, they returned to Albuquerque and its Dragoon garrison. In December, Company B received all the mules, guns, and ordnance it would use as a scratch light artillery battery in Price’s hoped-for expedition against Chihuahua—including two 24-pound howitzers, two of the captured Mexican 5-pounder guns, the recaptured “Texian” 6-pounder, and one of the dragoons’ on-hand 12-pound Mountain Howitzers.  During December, three privates died of illness.[41]
The company’s captured deserter, Pvt. John Stein, had been released from confinement and sent on by Acting Regimental Commander, Lt. Col. Clifton Wharton as part of the escort party for the returning Sterling Price, now promoted to Brigadier General of volunteers.  Price, his staff, and the escort arrived in Santa Fe on December 9, 1847.  Stein immediately disappeared again, to be recaptured on the 16th.  Twelve days later an Albuquerque general court martial composed of Dragoon officers found him guilty of both desertions as well as selling his army great coat. He was sentenced to forfeit all pay, have his head shaved, be stripped of all badges, receive 50 lashes “well laid on, with a raw hide ,” and be drummed out, in front of the assembled Dragoon command. Other Company B Dragoon miscreants were tried before the same court along with Dragoons from companies G and I.  Stein was convicted as were all others charged.   His horrible sentence approved and carried out.[42]
The month of January was filled with preparation for a possible march south by Price, his volunteers stationed below Albuquerque, and the three Dragoon companies.   On February 11, Company B marched, the last to do so.  An alarm had been sent up by Missouri volunteers from occupied El Paso, announcing the approach of General Urea and 3,000 Mexican troops. The company made a difficult crossing of the swollen and ice-choked Rio Grande above Fra Cristobal.  On February 28, Company B reached El Paso, a 280 mile journey from Albuquerque.  Price left that city the next day with his advance units, leaving the slower artillery and infantry to catch up.   Price’s immediate command reached Chihuahua on March 7, to find their prey—Governor Angel Trias, with a few Mexican regulars and several hundred recently enrolled militia—had fled south.  Price again set off at a fast pace, following the wheel ruts of Trias’ cannon. At 9 a. m. the morning of March 9, the American advance group brought Trias and his 900 man force to ground in the town of Santa Cruz de Rosales, which Price immediately besieged.[43]
Price had sent back an express, reaching the slower parties on March 12 and hurrying them forward. Love and Company B immediately left their baggage wagons behind and began a fast march, covering 150 miles. They reached Chihuahua on the 15th, pressed (confiscated) fresh mules for the guns, and hurried the last 60 miles at a pace that put them in front of the enemy town at 5 a. m. on March 16.  As Company B wheeled its six guns into position, it was reported that the volunteers heard the defenders cry “Estos dos carajos!” “Here come two monsters!”  Company B immediately began firing shell and canister against fortified Mexican positions in the city center. Company B’s Dragoons-as-light-artillery played a major role in the victory at Santa Cruz de Rosales that day—the last of the already-concluded Mexican War.[44]
General Price’s report declared: “The distinguished conduct of Lieutenant Love–in the highly efficient manner in which his battery was served; in the rapidity of movement which characterized his conduct, when ordered to reinforce me, traveling night and day, going into battery four hours after his arrival, and his unceasing efforts during the entire day in working his battery–deserves especial notice…”  Love apportioned plenty of praise to the men who did the fighting, singling out section commanders Sergeants Muller and Bishop (still weak from his Coon Creek wounds), gun commander Corp. Haff, and all of the privates. The company suffered two men severely wounded and five slightly, one of the heavier tolls among the American units engaged.[45]
Company B was ordered to serve as part of the occupation force in or near the beautiful city of Chihuahua for the following four months of peace.  There some Dragoons fell in love and everyone enjoyed the city life, bullfights and horse races. When the peace finally was approved, army command ordered Chihuahua to be evacuated.  On July 17, Company B began its return march to Santa Fe.  On August 19, 1848, the ordnance was turned in there and the “for the war” enlistees discharged. On August 21, Company B once again was broken up, with the few remaining privates distributed to Dragoon Companies G and I, again remaining in New Mexico.  And again, Corporal Baker would form part of the core of a rebuilt Company B.  With Love, Muller, Bishop, Haff, and Peel, much of the same party as Baker had traveled the length of the Santa Fe Trail with three times in two years, he left Santa Fe on September 2, 1848, arriving at Fort Leavenworth twenty six days later.[46]
Baker was shown on the October 1848 return as a Sergeant for the first time, promoted up as Muller took the position of Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant.  Captain Robert H. Chilton, the designated commanding officer of Company B, arrived at Jefferson Barracks to take command at that post on November 9.  Recruits began filling out the reforming company the same month.  Lt. Love left on leave.[47]
Once again, on December 19, 1848, a Company B recruit group was mounted at Jefferson Barracks and marched out for Fort Leavenworth where Sgt. Baker and his non-com friends awaited them.  The newly organized company arrived on Dec. 31, 1848.  In January, Baker’s first company commander, Sumner, now promoted to Brevet Colonel and line Lt. Colonel, arrived at the post as the new regimental commander.  That same month Baker, Sumner’s one time clerk recruit from Fort Atkinson days, was designated as Acting Sergeant Major of the First Dragoons.  On February 8, 1849, the promotion was made permanent, and with it Baker became the senior non-commissioned officer of the regiment.  When the reorganized Company B left to reoccupy Fort Kearny on May 11 (nine of these recent recruits deserted on the three days before the company marched—some things never change), Baker stayed  at Fort Leavenworth with his new regimental duties, along with Sumner, Lt. Love (now Regimental Quarter Master), and Quarter Master Sergeant Muller.  The history and traditions of the company would travel with Bishop, Martin, Haff, and Peel, and several of the once new recruits who had fought Comanche and Mexicans, now part of a new Non Commissioned core.[48]
Some four months later, on June 7, 1849, Sergeant Major Baker suddenly sickened and died of Cholera (then epidemic in the West) at Fort Leavenworth.  As did so many unheralded antebellum regulars in dirty shirt blue, Baker stood ready to pour his life-blood freely pro bono publico and died in the quest of manifest destiny, four and one half years after he began his dragoon adventure. That his death was from sickness rather than in battle was hardly exceptional; in the war and on the frontier deaths of soldiers from disease far outnumbered those in combat.  One hopes that his friends Sumner, Love, and Muller were able to be part of their comrade’s Dragoon funeral.[49]
No marker for our bold Dragoon was found twelve years later when the graves from the “Soldiers Burying Ground” were moved to what became Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery. Baker’s remains likely lie there among some two hundred mostly anonymous dead of those earlier decades, far away from family and childhood friends.  Such was a Dragoon’s death.[50]




The Baker Letters of letters Sept. 13, 1846, Santa Fe; Dec. 13, 1846, Fort Leavenworth; and April 28, 1847, Fort Leavenworth, were found as photocopies of originals in the Beinecke Rare Book and Library, Yale University, WA MSS S-502, B175.  Extracts of these same letters were found, with two additional complete letters  (June 14, 1847, Council Grove; and June 27, 1847, Pawnee Fork), all in typescript form, in the Missouri Historical Society Archives, Mexican War Collection 1846-1940, Mathias Baker Folder, RSN: 01/A1037.   Subsequent references to these five feature letters will only be as Baker Letters, referring to the first three from the Beinecke, the last two from the Missouri Historical Society.


[1] A Dragoon, in the United States Army, was a utility soldier, intended generally to served mounted, armed with a sabre, pistols, and carbine.  The regulations provided for his service on foot as required, at which time his pay was reduced.  Baker served in the First Dragoon Regiment, established 1833.  In 1836 a second dragoon regiment was formed; both consisting of ten companies, designated A-K, with no J (a duplicate of the cursive I, too easily confused).  At the beginning of the Mexican War dragoon company size limits were expanded to a minimum of sixty four and maximum of one hundred privates, plus three officers, eight non-commissioned officers, and four specialists  (Captain) Abner Riviere Hetzel, Military Laws of the United States, Third Edition (Washington City: G. Templeman, 1846), 232. 275-278, 282.  There are two excellent and extensive memoirs of enlisted dragoon life by men who, like Baker, served  as members of Company B.  Private James A. Hildreth was in the original Company B and described its first year, 1833-34, in Dragoon Campaigns to the Rocky Mountains (New York: Wiley & Long, 1836); Sergeant Percival Green Lowe described his enlistment during 1849-1854, including mentions of many of Baker’s one time comrades, in Five Years a Dragoon (’49 to ’54) (Kansas City, Mo.: The F. Hudson Publishing Co., 1906).  Private (later Brevet Brigadier General) Samuel E. Chamberlain penned a rollicking, somewhat exaggerated story of his Mexican War adventures in Company E, My Confession: The Recollections of a Rogue  (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1956). Sergeant Major Frank Clarke succeeded Baker as Regimental Sergeant Major; he also served in Company F in New Mexico; his letters have been collected and edited by Darlis Miller as Above a Common Solidier: Frank and Mary Clarke in the American West and Civil War, 1847-1872 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press,1997).  Private, sometimes Sergeant, James A. Bennett (who enlisted and served as James Bronson) served in New Mexico variously with Companies I, G, and B; his occasionally truth-stretching diary of two 1st Dragoon enlistments and a desertion was edited by Clinton E. Brooks & Frank D. Reeve, as Forts and Forays: A Dragoon in New Mexico, 1850-1856 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press: 1996).  The memoir, “Personal Recollections—A Trumpeter’s Notes (‘52-’58),” of Bugler (Later Chief Bugler) William Drown, which includes his time in Company H, 1st Dragoons, also in New Mexico, is contained in Brevet Brigadier General Theophilus F. Rodenbough’s From Everglade to Canyon with the Second United States Cavalry (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2000).  While focused on the 2nd Dragoons, the work is filled with memoirs from men of both dragoon regiments.  The composited articles and journals of 1st Dragoon Captain, later Brevet Major General, Philip St. George Cooke, are in Scenes and Adventures in the Army (Philadelphia: Lindsay & Blakeston, 1856), and The Conquest of New Mexico and California: An Historical and Personal Narrative (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1878).  Cooke’s Company K, served with Baker and Company B from June-October 1846, the beginning months of the Mexican War, covered on pages 10-86 in the later work.

[2]Enlistment papers, Mathais L. Baker (Washington, D.C., National Archives and Records Administration, Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780-1917, Record Group 94, 1845, volume 44, entry 271).   “Baker Matthias M, ns Myrtle e of 2nd.” Green’s St. Louis City Directory, 1845, 15. Baker’s first name is found with both a single and a double “t;” we use the form found on the Dragoon rolls (his own signature was “M. L. Baker”).  William Hammond, SR., assistant surgeon 1 June 1834, Maryland, promoted to surgeon 7 Aug. 1847, died at Benicia, California, 13 Feb. 1851.  Heitman, Register, 74; “Hammond W, M.D., U.S.A., ns Washington Av w of 3rd,” Green’s  St. Louis City Directory 1845,  76.

Henry Smith Turner, was born in Virginia, 1811, attended West Point, graduating 1834, and assigned to the Dragoons.  At the time of Baker’s enlistment Turner was a 1st Lt.; in April 1846 he was promoted to Captain and soon made Acting Assistant Adjutant General to the Army of the West; Dwight L. Clarke, “Introduction,” in The Original Journals of Henry Smith Turner (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1966) 9-15, also George W. Cullum, Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy [3rd. Edition], 2 vols.,  (Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company: 1891), #770.  All U.S.M.A. graduates are assigned a unique Cullum number, ordered by chronology, then class rank.  ANY set of Cullum’s Register will show graduates’ biographies sequentially by number, regardless of volume, publisher, or date, and hence, graduate’s information from Cullum is cited by number, i.e. Cullum, Register, #770 (no pages numbers).

[3]National Archives and Records Adminstration (hereafter, NARA), Returns from Regular Cavalry Regiments, 1833-1916; First Cavalry; 1845-1847 (Microfilm Publication M744, Roll 2), First Cavalry; 1848-1850  (Roll ), Records of U.S. Regular Army Mobile Units, Record Group 393  (Washington, D. C: National Archives, 1972); hereafter NARA, 1st Dragoon Returns, 1845-1847 and NARA, 1st  Dragoon Returns, 1848-1850.   Company B, 4th Quarter 1845, Regiment, Nov. 1845, and Regimental History, 1845; also C. Stanley Stevenson, “Expeditions in Dakota,” South Dakota Historical Collections, Volume IX (1918), 347-375.  Edwin Vose Sumner, born in Boston 1797, was commissioned directly as a 2nd Lt. in 1819, became commanding officer Company B, (1st) Dragoons on creation of the Regiment in 1833, and was promoted Major, 2nd Dragoons, June 30, 1846. Heitman, Register, 836.

[4]“Fort Atkinson, 1840-46,” Jeffery T. Carr and William E. Whittaker, Frontier Forts of Iowa: Indians, Traders, and Soldiers, 1682-1862, edited by William E. Whittaker,  (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2009), 145-160; Francis P. Prucha, Broadax & Bayonet: The Role of the United States Army In the Development of the Northwest, 1815-1860  (Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 1995) 36-37, 129-130; NARA, 1st Dragoon returns 1845-1847, Company B and Regiment, January-May 1845.

[5] NARA, 1st Dragoon Returns, 1845-1847, Company B, April, 1846; Adjutant General and Brigadier General Rodger Jones, General Order #2, January 8, 1847,  as published by directive in (St. Louis) Missouri Republican, January 28, 1847.

[6]Justin Smith, The War With Mexico, 2 volumes  (New York, McMillan & Co. 1919) 1:181-183; NARA, 1st Dragoon Returns, 1845-1847, Sumner Squadron (Co.s B & K), June 1846; Company K commanding officer Captain Philip St. George Cooke, was born in Virginia and graduated from West Point in 1827.  He too was an original officer of the Dragoon regiment, becoming a Captain in 1835. Cooke would serve as a volunteer Lt. Colonel commanding the Mormon Battalion after arrival in New Mexico.  Cullum, Register, #492

[7]NARA, 1st Dragoon Returns, 1845-1847, Sumner Squadron, June, July 1846; Louise Barry, The Beginning of the West: Annals of the Kansas Gateway to the American West 1540-1854 (Topeka, KS: Kansas State Historical Society, 1972), 623; Stephen Watts Kearny, Winning the West: General Stephen Watts Kearny’s Letter Book 1846-1847, edited by Hans von Sachsen-Altenburg and Laura Gabiger (Boonville, MO: Pekitanoui Publications: 1998), 134 (Kearny to Brooke, May 31, 1846). Colonel, later Brigadier General Stephen Watts Kearny entered the Army as a young man from New Jersey in 1812 to fight the British; he was made Lt. Col. of the newly created Dragoons in 1833 and in 1836 became the regiment’s commander.  His vast experience on the western plains, the Santa Fe Trail, and his presence at Fort Leavenworth made him a natural choice as commander of the Army of the West in May of 1846; Dwight L. Clarke. Stephen Watts Kearny: Soldier of the West  (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1966) 101-115; Heitman, Register, 380.

[8] NARA, 1st Dragoon Returns, 1845-1847, Sumner Squadron, June, July 1846; Barry, The Beginning of the West, 623; National Archives, Orders issued by Brig. Gen. Stephen W. Kearny and Brig. Gen. Sterling Price to the Army of the West, 1846-1848 (Microfilm Publication T1115), Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780’s-1917, Record Group 94 (Washington, D. C: National Archives, ND) Orders No. 11, July 31, 1846, hereafter  NARA, Orders, Army of the West; Abraham Robinson Johnston, Journal, in Marching with the Army of the West, Volume IV, The Southwest Historical Series, edited by Ralph P. Bieber (Philadelphia:  Porcupine Press, 1974), 92

[9]2nd Lieutenant George Rutledge Gibson, Journal of a Soldier Under Kearny and Doniphan 1846-1847,

edited by Ralph P. Bieber,  (Glendale, CA: Arthur H. Clark Company, 1935) 203-206; 1st Lt.Christian Kribben, letter of Aug. 19, 1846 in (St Louis) Täglich Anzeiger des Westens Sept. 28, 1846 (all items from Anzeiger and (St. Louis) Deutsche Tribüne translated by Kimball); James McGoffin, letter of August 22, 1846, in, Brothers on the Santa Fe and Chihuahua Trails: Edward James Glasgow and William Henry Glasgow 1846-1848, edited by Mark L. Gardner (Nitwot, Colorado: University Press of Colorado, 1993), 87; Private Marcellus Bell Edwards, Journal, in Marching with the Army of the West, 139-140, 158-159; Lieut. Col., W. H. Emory,  Congressional Serial 517, Notes of a Military Reconnaissance, from Fort Leavenworth in Missouri, to San Diego, in California, Ex. Doc. No. 41, 30th Congress, First Session (1848), 32-33, 36, hereafter Emory, Notes of a Military Reconnaissance; Cooke, Conquest, 70-71.

[10] Letter of Sept. 24, 1846, to Adj. Gen. Jones, in Kearny, Letterbook, 168-169; also see Army of the West Orders No.s 18 (Aug. 27, 1846) and 22 (Sept. 18, 1846), Special Order No. 8 (Sept. 20, 1846), in NARA, Orders, Army of the West, 1846-1848; Cooke, Conquest, 69-70.  Actual count of Dragoons present for service on the September 30, 1846 return is 317.

[11] Cooke, Conquest,51-71.

[12] See: Josiah Gregg , Commerce of the prairies: or, The journal of a Santa Fe trader, during eight expeditions across the great western prairies, and a residence of nearly nine years in northern Mexico, 2 vols. (Philadelphia: J. W. Moore, 185); and George Wilkins Kendall, Narrative of the Texan Santa Fe Expedition, 2 vols. (New York:  Harper and Brothers, 1844); John Taylor Hughes, Doniphan’s expedition and the conquest of New Mexico and California, edited by William Elsey Connelley  (Topeka, KS: Published by the editor, 1907) 207-217; George Rutledge Gibson, Journal of a Soldier,  209-245; see also Auguste deMarle’s letters of August 31, 1846 and September 16, 1846 in (St. Louis) Deutsche Tribüne, October 10 and 25, 1846.

[13] Baker to “Dear Sister” (Mrs. Hugh Martin), 1 Hudson Street (Manhattan), New York, from Santa Fe, Mexico, Sept. 13, 1846. An extract of this Baker letter was published in, Chronicles of the Gringos: the U. S. Army in the Mexican War, 1846-1848, Accounts of Eyewitnesses & Combatant, edited by George Winston Smith and Charles Judah (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1868) 123-124. Baker is incorrectly identified in the editors’ comments as “a traveler en route to Mexico.”

[14] NARA, Letters received by the Office of the Adjutant General (Main Series); Papers relating to the activities of Maj. Gen. Stephen W. Kearny and to the Army of the West 1846-1847  (Microfilm Publication M567, Roll 319), Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780’s-1917, Record Group 94 (Washington, D. C: National Archives, 1965), Kearny letters of Oct. 6 and 11, 1846 (both to  Adj. Gen. Jones), and Oct. 9, 1846 (to Sumner); a published but unsigned letter from “commander of companies C and K” (Benjamin Moore) to “relative” (probably Moore’s father-in-law, Judge Mathew Hughes) of Oct. 6, 1846, from “Camp on the Rio Grande Del Norte,” in Jefferson [Mo.] Inquirer, December 1, 1846.

[15]NARA Orders, Army of the West, Kearny, Order No. 35, Oct. 10, 1846; Turner, Original Journals, 80-83. Emory, Notes of a Reconnaissance, 55-56.  Just-promoted 1st Lieutenant John Love was to become a central character in Baker’s life as the new commander of Company B.  Born in Virginia, a resident of Tennessee when appointed to West Point, Love graduated and was assigned to the First Dragoons in 1841. Since then he had garnered typically extensive experience on the plains and Rockies.  As 2nd Lt. of Moore’s Company C, Love had been on recruiting duty in Dayton Ohio, from 1845 until the outbreak of the war. Companies C (without Love) and G had left Fort Leavenworth on June 5, 1846, being the first departing detachment of the Army of the West.  Love traveled as a supernumerary on Kearny’s staff, leaving June 30, 1846, returning to Company C at Bent’s Fort the end of July; Cullum, Register, #1072, Barry, Beginning of the West, 591, 620.  Love had been the officer who acted as negotiator for Cooke as the Dragoons disarmed the Texian partisan “Battalion of Invincibles” lurking on the Santa Fe Trail at Jackson’s Grove June 30, 1843.  Philip St. George Cooke, edited by William E. Connelley, “A Journal of the Santa Fe Trail,” in Mississippi Valley Historical Quarterly, Vol. XII. No. 2(June, 1925), 227-236.

[16]NARA, 1st Dragoon Returns, 1845-1847, Companies B, G, & I, Oct. 1846;  2nd Lt. Henry W. Stanton, from New York, had graduated from the Military Academy in 1842 and been assigned to the 1st Dragoons.  He had accompanied Capt. Moore to New Mexico, where his Company was broken up. Upon his return to Fort Leavenworth, he would serve a dual role, as Acting Assistant Adjutant General for the 1st Dragoons and commander of the detachment of 1st Dragoons (progressively composed more and more of the rebuilding Company B) accumulating at the post; Cullum, Register, #1155; National Archives, Returns from U. S. Military Posts, 1800-1916; [Fort] Leavenworth, KS; Aug 1827-Dec.1850 (Microfilm Publication M617, Roll 610), Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780’s-1917, Record Group 94 (Washington, D. C: National Archives, 1968) Nov. 1846-May 1847; hereafter  NARA, Fort Leavenworth Returns.  Ohioan 2nd Lt. Bezaleel W. Anderson graduated from the Military Academy in 1845 and been assigned to Company G, 1st Dragoons.  He had marched west on June 5 as a Brevet 2nd Lt. and was now promoted and assigned to the 2nd Dragoons.  Like Sumner, Anderson was returning to the States with the intention of traveling on and joining his new regiment in Mexico. Cullum, Register, #1253; NARA 1st Dragoon Returns, 1845-1847, Regiment, June 1846; NARA, Fort Leavenworth Returns, June, 1846.

[17] Cooke, “Journal of the March of the Mormon Battalion,” entries for Oct. 19 and 23, 1846, in NARA, Letters, Army of the WestNARA, Fort Leavenworth Returns, Dec.1846; Love, “Abstract of Purchases made during the Quarter ending December 31 46.” (Will Gorenfeld Personal Collection);

[18] NARA, Fort Leavenworth Returns, Nov. 1846; Heitman, Register, 625.  A “Brevet” was an honorary promotion rewarding valor or service.  West Point graduates were initially only Brevet Second Lieutenants (as had been Armstrong); Hetzel, Military Laws, 24, 116, 155.  Baker and the detachment at Fort Leavenworth never seemed to have been idle; his second letter described duties that seem like those detailed by Sergt. Percival Lowe when in similar small detachments; Five Years a Dragoon.

[19] Baker to “Dear Nephew,” Fort Leavenworth, Dec. 10, 1846.  The public has generally thought poorly of enlisted regular soldiers.  See for instance, Bennett (who enlisted under an alias), glad NOT to be recognized by his mother the first time he ventured on to the streets of his home town in uniform; Forts and Forays, 4.  Drown thought it best not to tell any of his Chicago friends when he reenlisted, “Trumpter’s Notes,” in Rodenbough, Everglade to Canyon, 203-204. Ulysses Grant wrote in his wonderful memoir that in the summer of 1843 he returned to his parents’ home in Bethel, Ohio, as a Brevet 2nd Lieutenant on graduation furlough.  While riding out in his new uniform (hoping to impress the neighbors, particularly the young ladies) he was accosted on the street by an urchin with the chant of “Soldier! Will you work? No, sir—ee; I’ll sell my shirt first!” Personal Memoirs (New York: Random House, 1999), 18.  Percival Lowe, alone, never seemed ashamed of his uniform or his service during his enlistment (nor did anything of which to be ashamed), Five Years a Dragoon.  Rocky Point was most often the sight of theft and raiding by Jicarilla Apaches.s

[20] 2nd Lt. Anderson O. Nelson to John Love, Terre Haute February 12, 1847, Will Gorenfeld Collection.  Nelson would soon return to duty with his regiment, the 6th Infantry, and be in combat by May 14, as Scott’s army fought its way to Mexico City (Cullum #1101).

[21] Indiana State Journal, February 8, 1847.

[22] Wm. Hugh Robarts, Mexican War Veterans: A Complete Roster (Washington, D. C.: Brentano’s, 1887) 47-50.   Letter of (Pvts.) John W. George, Jeptha Powell, and George W. Gibson to “Liet [Love] Dear Sir,” from Newport Barracks, April 2, 1847, in John Love Papers, 1837–1886, Collection #M 0653 OM 0320, William Henry Smith Memorial Library, Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis; hereafter John Love Papers, Indiana Historical Society.  Will Gorenfeld wishes to express his thanks to Mrs. Betsy Caldwell for access to this and related documents.  Lt. Love did not regard the letter as a slight to his rank and station. In June of 1847, he promoted George Gibson, one of the signatories, to the rank of corporal. All three of these men would serve honorably in Company B.

[23] Such accelerated and abbreviated training was typical in the army, particularly during the Mexican War. The Missouri volunteers who had marched with Kearny in June 1846 had less than two weeks between muster and departure for New Mexico, some units, less than a week—Murphy’s Platte County Volunteer Infantry Company actually marched for New Mexico two days after mustering into service.  Missouri Secretary of State, On-Line Archives, Soldiers’ Records (for muster dates); Barry, Beginning of the West, 594-596 (for departure dates).  1st Dragoons, Company F, reorganized on August 31, 1846, shipped out for Mexico Oct 6, 1846 (37 days); Company K reorganized August 15, 1847 and left for Mexico September 15, 1847 (31 days).  Company B had thirty-six days from its reorganization  (and only seven days with the forty-two man detachment at Fort Leavenworth consolidated with the St. Louis party—less desertions, of course) until its departure. NARA, Dragoon Returns, 1845-1847, Annual Reports, 1846, 1847.  In 1849, dragoon recruit Bennett seems to have received only infantry and musician training as he began his 1849 enlistment with six months of time wasted on Governor’s Island in New York Harbor. (Bennett, Forts and Forays, 4-8)Enlisted a month earlier, Lowe went to Carlisle Barracks for two months of initial instruction under the then-Brevet Lt. Col. Philip St. George Cooke, proceeding to Company B before Christmas 1849; Lowe. Five Years a Dragoon, 5-11.

[24] Jenkins to “Dear Love,” March 20, 1847, from Jefferson Barracks; Will Gorenfeld Personal Collection; 2nd Lt. Leonidas Jenkins, 1st Dragoons, had been on recruiting duty at Jefferson Barracks and nearby St. Louis since Oct. 1845.  He had graduated from USMA 1841 and been with the 1st Dragoons since then. Jenkins would soon reorganize Company K at Jefferson Barracks, lead it to Vera Cruz, and die there of the vomito, Oct. 18, 1847; (Cullum #1071; NARA, 1st Dragoons Retuns, 1845-1847, Annual Report 1847;    NARA, Fort Leavenworth Returns , March, 1847.

[25] NARA, 1st Dragoon Returns, 1845-1847, Company B, April, 1847.  Stanton was serving as Regimental and Post Adjutant AND commander of the Dragoon detachment.

[26] Baker to “My Dear Boy,” Fort Leavenworth, April 28, 1847. Peel was a Bugler, not technically an NCO, but apparently quite competent.   Of the twenty five recruits and their mounts marched by Jenkins from Jefferson Barracks and undergoing training at Fort Leavenworth after march 4, 1847, twelve were listed as born in “Germany.”  Five more had distinctive German names (i.e. Fosbenner, Schoele, etc.) and may have been German born as well; see Gorenfeld’s “German Born Men of Company B,” on line at   St. Louis, host city to Jefferson Barracks and source of many of the 1st Dragoons’ recruits, had a substantial and growing population of German immigrants—largely military-age men.  Robyn Burnett, Ken Luebbering, German settlement in Missouri: new land, old ways (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1996), 20-22.

[27] NARA, Returns from U.S. Military Posts, 1800-1916; Jefferson Barracks, MO; Jan. 1826-Dec. 1851  (Microfilm Publication M617, Roll 546), Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780’s-1917, Record Group 94 (Washington, D. C: National Archives, 1968), April and May, 1847. NARA, 1st Dragoon Returns, 1845-1847, Company B, May 1847.

[28] Missouri Republican, May 11, 1847.  In perspective though, such superlatives were tossed about rather carelessly.

[29] George F. Ruxton, Adventures in Mexico and the Rocky Mountains (New York: Harpers & Brothers: 1848), 294.  Ruxton continued on to Fort Leavenworth and there came in contact with a deserter from his British regiment in Canada, the 89th Regiment of Foot, Pvt. Thomas Crosby, a reenlisted regular of Company B. “Memoir of Lieut. G. A. F. Ruxton,” The Daguerreotype, Volume 3, 1849, 238-239; NARA  Discharge papers, Crosby.  While traveling through New Mexico and enjoying the hospitality of the Burgwin Dragoon Squadron in Albuquerque on December 17, 1846, Ruxton had an encounter with another deserter from the 89th  Foot, 1st Dragoon Pvt. Henry Herbert, of Company G.  Ruxton, Adventure, 186.

[30] NARA, Fort Leavenworth Returns, May, 1847; Love to Adj. Gen. R. Jones, June 27, 1847, from Camp on the Arkansas, in Niles National Register 72 (1847), 343-344; hereafter Love to Jones, NNR, June 27, 1847.  On June 20, 1847, Fort Leavenworth Acting Commissary of Subsistence 1st Lt. William Prince wrote from Fort Leavenworth to his superior, Major R. B. Lee, that “the determination of the Indians” would prevent the successful transit of any unescorted trains that season.  William Prince Letterbooks, 1845-48, Beinecke Rare Book and Library, Yale University, WA MSS S-551, 343-344.

[31] NARA, Fort Leavenworth Returns, June 1847; see (then-Major) Clifton Wharton, on the Band playing out a departing force, in “Expedition,” in Kansas Historical Collections, Vol. XVI (1925): 272.

[32] William Y. Chalfant, Dangerous Passage: the Santa Fe Trail and the Mexican War (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1994), 165-185; Kevin Sweeney, “Thirsting for War, Hungering for Peace: Drought, Bison Migrations, and native peoples on the Southern Plains, 1845-1859,” Journal of the West, Vol. 41,

No. 2 (Summer 2002): 70-78. Lt. Col. William Gilpin to Adj. Gen. R. Jones, August 1, 1848, from Fort Mann, in Congressional Set 537, Report of the Secretary of War, Executive Document No. 1, 30th Congress, 2nd Session, 1848, 136-140; hereafter Congressional Set 537, Operations of the Army of the West.  The earlier Prince letter (supra, Fn 30) and that of March 3, 1847 from Adj. Gen. Jones to Missouri Governor Edwards (Niles National Register72 (1847), 206 make clear that the danger to transportation trains from Native raiding along the Santa Fe Trail during 1847was understood by the military and that all trains were intended to be escorted between Council Grove and Las Vegas, New Mexico.

[33] Will Gorenfeld and George R. Stammerjohan., “Love’s Defeat: Dragoons vs. Comanches,” Wild West, v.17, no.1 (June 2004), 38-45. Baker to “My Dear Nephew,” Council Grove, June 14, 1847.

[34] Ibid.

[35] LeRoy R. Hafen, Broken Hand: The Life of Thomas Fitzpatrick, Mountain Man, Guide and Indian Agent (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press: 1981) 245-246; Thomas Fitzpatrick to Thomas H. Harvey (Superintendent Indians Affairs, St. Louis), Sept. 18, 1847, Bend’s Ford [sic, Bent’s Fort], in Congressional Set 503, Appendix to the Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Executive Document No. 8, 30th Congress, 1st Session, 1847, 238-240.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Baker to “My dear Nephew,” Arkansas River, June 27 1847.

[39]Ibid.  Love himself called attention to the courage and sacrifice of his men and called for better planning and logistics to prevent recurrences of what became known as “Love’s Defeat.” Love to Jones, NNR, June 27, 1847.  Sgt. Ben Bishop, leader of the badly mauled detachment, paid tribute to Lt. Love.  Like Fitzpatrick, Bishop  insisted that Love had acted “prudently and wisely;” see Bishop’s July 1, 1847 letter from “Camp Battleground” reprinted in James Madison Cutts, The Conquest of California and New Mexico by the forces of the United States in the Years 1846 &1847 (Philadelphia: Carey & Hart, 1847), 240-243.

[40] NARA, 1st Dragoon Returns, 1845-1847, Company B and Regiment, August 1847;  Santa Fe Republican, September 10, 1847; 1st Lt. A. B. Dyer wrote that all of the replacement volunteer regiments and battalions had arrived in Santa Fe by Sept. 6, 1847, though Company B, 1st Dragoons, was clearly the first new unit to arrive in 1847.  A. B. Dyer, typescript Mexican War Diary, entry for September 6, 1847, in Alexander Brydie Dyer Papers, Collection AC 070-P, Fray Angélico Chávez History Library, Santa Fe, NM; hereafter Dyer Diary, Chavez Library.

[41] John Love Papers, IHS: “Received Santa Fe New Mexico, August 16, 1847, of Lieutenant John Love… Wm. McKissack, Capt., AQM,” with a list of turned in items, and (same source) “Invoice of Ordnance and Ordnance Stores… August, 1848;” NARA, 1st Dragoon Returns, 1845-1847, Company B and Regiment,  Sept. -Dec. 1847; Dyer Diary, Chavez Library, Dec. 2-19, 1847.

[42]NARA, Returns From U.S. Military Posts, 1800-1916, Albuquerque, NM: Oct 1846-July 1867 (Microfilm M617 Roll 13), Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780’s-1917, Record Group 94, (Washington, D.C: National Archives, 1968), Nov. 1847; Lt. Col. Clifton Wharton, directly commissioned as a 2nd Lt. in 1818, became a Captain of the original Dragoons in 1833.  He was serving as Acting Commander of the 1st Dragoons and Post Commander of Fort Leavenworth in 1847 (Heitman, Register, 686; NARA, Fort Leavenworth Returns, 1847.   Dyer Journal, Dec. 9, 1847; NARA, Orders, AOW, Record of General Court Martial, Albuquerque, Dec. 24-28, (Report, Santa Fe, Jan. 1, 1848).

[43]NARA, 1st Dragoon Returns, 1848-1850, Company B, Jan. and Feb., 1848; Lt. Col. R. H. Lane  from El Paso, to 1st Lt. W. E. Prince, Jan 30, 1848 , in Missouri Republican, May 2, 1848.  Shepard, Autobiography of Elihu H. Shepard (St. Louis: George Knapp & Co., 1869), describes the extremely challenging crossing of Easton’s Infantry and Walker’s Santa Fe battalions on the evening of Feb. 6, 1848.  The Rio Grande was likely to have still been in flood when Love crossed, 151-154. Unsigned (author “our correspondent,” Pvt. Philip Gooch Ferguson) letter of April 6, 1848 from Chihuahua, in Missouri Republican, May 15, 1848;

[44] Missouri Republican, May 2, 1848; (St. Louis) Deutsche Tribüne, June 7, 1848, letter of March 20, 1848, from Santa Cruz de Rosales, signed “Der Rekrut von Santa Cruz” (probably Orderly Sergt. Herman Weber); Brig. Gen. Sterling Price to Adj. Gen. Jones, from Chihuahua, March 31, 1848, Congressional Set 537, Operations of the Army of the West, 113-119.

[45]Report of 1st Lt. John Love, March 22, 1844, 124-126; Report of Major B. L. Beall, March 23, 1848, 122-124; both in Congressional Set 537, Operations of the Army of the West.

[46] Deutsche Tribüne, June 7, 1848; Shepard, Autobiography, 170-174; Dyer Diary, Chavez Library, March 16-July 18, 1848; NARA, 1st Dragoon Returns, 1848-1850, Company B and Regiment, March-August 1848.  Considering this the end of their Mexican War era journeys, the cadre of Company B had completed marches totaling over 5,036 overland miles since leaving Fort Atkinson at the beginning of the war (not counting the additional 670 steamboat miles); Love, Muller, and others had actually covered more in their 1846-1847 recruiting journey and return.

[47] NARA, 1st Dragoons Returns, 1848-1850, Company B and Regiment, Oct. and Nov. 1848.

[48] Ibid, Company B and Regimental Returns, Dec. 1848 through May, 1849, NARA, Fort Leavenworth Returns, January 1849.

[49] NARA 1st Dragoon Returns, 1848-1850, Regiment, June, 1849; Death Notice, Boston Evening Transcript, June 29, 1849.  Thanks to John Maurath for contributing this and for his wonderful tour and perspective on Jefferson Barracks, which he and his friends are actively preserving and promoting.

[50]Ebenezer T. Carr, “Addenda,” in Collections of the Kansas State Historical Society, Volume 12 (1912), xv-xvi, described the 1861 removal of all bodies from every distinguishable grave in Fort Leavenworth’s  “old soldiers burying ground,” including any associated markers.  No record of Baker’s grave remained; confirm,, and telephone conversation with Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery staff member, Sept. 24, 2009.

George Henneberg: Immigrant Bugler and Deserter

Kearny to Adj. Gen. Jones, January 27, 1839, Letter Book 410


By the last mail received your instruction of the 8th Inst. to send George Henneburg one of the Principal Musicians of the 2d Dragoons, to Jefferson Barracks that he may be sent over there to join his Regiment in Florida, & for the information of the Com. in Chief I sent to you his history as I understand it.

In June 1836 Henneberg with his family (a wife & 3 children) arrived in the U.S. from Germany. In November (in five months after his arrival) he was enlisted in Baltimore by Capt. Winder, 2d Dragoons. He, not understanding our language was (as he says) promised by the Capt. [through a doctor Hantz?] (who acted as an Interpreter and who he thinks was the Examining Surgeon) that he should not be sent to Florida , but to Jefferson Barracks to serve there during his enlistment as        instructor to both bands. He was sent there; [unintelligible] with his Reg’t., having his family with him; and when it left there in Sep’t ’34 for Florida, he started with it, but on arriving at Shawneetown on the 15th of that month, considering the promise made to him at his enlistment had not been fulfilled, he deserted, went to New Orleans where his family with the Baggage of the Re’t had been sent. He returned with them to Jefferson Barracks, and on the 11th Dec. delivered himself up to Brig. Gen’l Atkinson (without expenses to the U.S.) who in October ’38 sent him under Capt. Perkins to this Post to serve with the 1st Drags. ‘til further orders.

On my return to the Reg’t in December I found him here & assigned him to Co. “B” as a Bugler, as I reported to you in my letter of the 11th of that month. He is now in that Company having with him his wife , two young children and daily expecting another.

This man appears to me like a very respectable German and still understands our language very imperfectly. As I have been thus particular about his family, that the Comd. In Chief may himself judge, & I have no doubt he would agree with me, in crediting his story, that he was deceived in his enlistment when promised that he was to serve at Jefferson Barracks, & not to be sent to Florida where he is most unwilling to go, as it would separate him from those far removed as from the native Homes and dependent upon him. I have now to recommend that he be transferred from the 2nd to the 1st Dragoons, in Exchange for one of the many men that Regt had received the letters. I will detain him here ‘till the decision of the Comd. in Chief is received in reply to this communication.

Bugler George Henneberg re-enlisted in Company F on 16 July 1846. Lt. Phil Kearny, the recruiting officer promised to keep Henneberg with his family. The movement of Co. F to San Antonio, Texas and the replacement of the easy going Capt. Philip Thompson with the wild eyed Lt. Kearny, resulted, on 14 September 1846, of Henneberg’s 2d desertion. This time, having his fill of broken promises, he did not return,

Beall's 1849 Expedition


Maj. Ben Beall to Lt. John Dickerson, 2d Arty., AAAG, Head Quarters, 9th Military Dist.

Don Fernando de Taos, NM, March 12, 1849


Agreeably to a letter of instructions from Head Quarters 9th Mily Department, dated 27th January 1849, directing me to “proceed as soon as possible to the country inhabited by the Kiowa Indians” for the purpose of releasing “a number of prisoners in their possession who have been captured in New Mexico,” I have the honor to submit the following report.

On the morning of the 10th ultimo I left Taos with Company I 1st Dragoons under the command of 1st Lieut Whittlesey accompanied by 2d Lieut. J. H. Adams 1st Dragoons acting adjt to the Detachment, and asst. Surgeon H. R. Wirtz. I crossed the mountains of the “Rio de la Mora” by different passes and through deep snow and reaching the Prairie on the eastern side I was joined Lieut. A. Pleasanton in command of Co. H, 2d Dragoons, on the 14th. I then took the most direct route to the Arkansas River and camped on the “Rio Lempa” on the 22d being then within thirty miles of Bent’s Fort.

It appears that news had reached Bents Fort from the “Green Horn” that a military force was en route to the Kiowa Nation to liberate the Mexican prisoners in their possession and accordingly on the evening of that day I received a letter by express from the Fort from the U. States Indian Agent for the Upper Platte and Arkansas (Mr. Fitzpatrick) and also one from an influential resident at the Pueblo. The purpose of these letters was as follows—That the Indians in the vicinity of the post were at present exceedingly civil, but that if forcible measures were resorted to in order to liberate the prisoners in the hands of the Kiowas, the lives and property of the Americans residing in that portion of the country would be in the most imminent danger if they were not absolutely compelled to leave the settlements at the sacrifice of all they possessed. The Indian Agent, therefore, requested that I come on to Bents Fort in advance of my command in order that we might confer together about the feasibility of the expedition. On the following morning, I marched to the Arkansas, and early the next day reaching the Fort encamping my command on the South bank of the Arkansas river.

By the letter of instruction to me directed, I understand that every possible measure was to be adopted in order to secure the liberation of the captives in the hands of the Kiowa Indians, but that if they could not be obtained “peaceably” they must be obtained “otherwise.”

I was convinced by the opinion of every person on the Arkansas who was acquainted with Indian affairs that to obtain the Mexican captives by peaceable means was a thing impossible and great stress being laid in the above mentioned letter of instruction upon the desirability of a continuance of the friendly relations between the Kiowas and Whites I was in doubt how to act.

On arriving at the Fort I learned from the U. States Indian Agent that the greater part of the Kiowa nation was absent on a great hunt with the Comanches and that but a few lodges were at that time on the Arkansas River. The majority of the prisoners I also understood were with the absent party.

The expediency of an attack upon the few Kiowas who were then on the Arkansas (for I was convinced they would not release their captives without a fight) and the chance of losing thereby those persons who were with the remainder of the nation, thus defeating in a measure the object of the expedition, induced me to call a council of my officers, and I now present for the consideration of the comg officer of the 9th Mily Department my reasons for acting as I have done, and the conclusion which I have adopted.

1st In the first place I thought it best to learn the disposition of the Kiowas in regard to their prisoners, and I obtained the following information—the majority of the captives are women who are married to Indians and have by their numerous children. This portion is perfectly satisfied, with but a few exceptions, to remain, and even if offered their “liberty” would doubtfully refuse to leave a nation with which they have so many ties. The male portion of the captives have become perfectly barbarianised, and in their mode of life and custom have affiliated themselves            more or less completely with their captors. These individuals if liberated would be totally unfitted for and made miserable by the usages of civilized life. The Indians themselves are much attached to their prisoners from affection or cupidity and would fight for them with as much tenacity as for their own people. I therefore saw that the Kiowa would must certainly give us battle rather than give up a portion of their own nation as it were into our hand.

2dly  The feasibility and expectancy of successfully resorting to forcible measures was there to be considered. (1) The great map of the Kiowa nation was absent. The majority of the prisoners was with them. To attack those who were in camp on the Arkansas was no easy matter.  Here was a Kiowa lodge, there Arapahoe lodge; here again a Kiowa lodge — there a Cheyenne lodge, for about fifteen miles along the river bank, indeed so interrupted and scattered were they that in a sudden attack upon the Kiowas, many Indians of other tribes would have been there fired, and many Kiowas would have escaped.  To tell them the object of the expedition, to order them to separate themselves and fight us, would have been the extreme of folly, inasmuch as if they did present a bold front, the prisoners would certainly be run off or if there was no chance to effect this they would massacre them rather than let them fall into our hands. (2) Even supposing it to have been reasonable to have obtained every prisoner there from the Arkansas, all hope would have been lost of our regaining by forcible means the remainder and the majority.  In the inaccessible vastness of the mountains and in the wide spread plains of the Indian country they would have hidden them from us most probably successfully. (3) Again — several Comanche chiefs have lately arrived at this post suing for peace.  Now the Comanches have more prisoners than any other tribe of the Plains, and as a peace with the Comanches was considered a desireable object by the U. States Indian Agent, and as a statement of the object of my expedition would most certainly have interrupted such arrangements by informing them that the United States intended to take all prisoners from the Indians forcibly and not purchased them as has always been done heretofore I give to this consideration also its proper weight. (4) There was still another consideration of great importance, namely defenseless condition of the American citizen on the Arkansas, far away from the new Mexican settlements, exposed to the cruelty of outraged savages and unable by their number or strength to stand such odds.  The effect of a fight with the Kiowa would have certainly have broken up the prospect of civilization along the course of the Arkansas and the valley of the “greenhorn.”

Under these adverse circumstances I concluded according to the best of my judgment that it would be to the interest of the service and the general Government to delay forcible measures until I could lay the state of the case before the army officer of the 9th mily and Department and at the same time to avail myself of every piece of useful information I could collect for their action.

That the expedition might not be unproductive of useful results, and there being present at the fort several principal Chiefs of the different tribes, I concluded to call them together in Council and give them some advice and information with regard to the present State of New Mexico, Texas and the Plains carefully advising in conformity with my conclusions herein stated, any mention of the Mexican Prisoners in the hands of the Kiowas.

Leaving Bents Fort on the 2d inst, I directed my course up the Arkansas, ordering Lieut. Pleasanton with his command to return to Santa Fe via the Mora intending myself to reach this post with Company I, 1st Dragoons via “Sierra Blanca” leaving the Spanish peaks on my left.

The passage of this mountain was very difficult.  The snow in many places ten or fifteen feet deep, and was only by the most untiring exertion on the part of the command in beating down the drifting snow that a track was formed. The command reached this Post on the 9th inst.

Subjoined are the minutes of the council, and two letters from the U. States Indian Agent, and one from a citizen of the Pueblo.

I am very respectfully your obt. Servt.,

B.L. Beall, Major, 1st Dragoons Comy

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Thomas Fitzpatrick to Beall

Bents Fort, February 2, 1849


Being at the Puebla a few days ago on my way to the Katty [?] I learned that you were en route for this place, and being apprehensive that some difficulty might arise out of your mission I thought it best to return and be present. There are great numbers of Indians in this vicinity at present all of which are exceedingly civil, but should you be obliged to resort to harsh measures in regard to the Mexican prisoners I doubt much whether they will remain civil longer than your presence will keep them in awe. Such a state of things, you are aware will leave many American citizens in a very dangerous situation in this country. But I hope that your judicious management in the matter will not leave the least appearance of danger behind. Your arrival here at this time is very opportune for more reasons than one, as four Comanche Chiefs suing for peace have just arrived.

You may rely implicitly on my cooperation with you and would be glad if you could arrive here in advance of your command in order that we might confer together on the whole subject.

Thos. Fitzpatrick

I have just arrived last night late in haste.

Thomas Fitzpatrick to Beall

Bents Fort, February 24, 1849

Sir, For the purpose of fulfilling, and carrying out the 4th article of the late treaty between the United States and Mexico (which obligates the United States to liberate and restore to Mexico all persons in possession of Indians residing within the territories of the United States), being the object of your visit here at present, with your command. I hope you will not consider me presuming too much if I take the opportunity of submitting my opinion and views on a matter which so deeply interests the general government, as well as many American citizens whose business leads them into this remote and unprotected region.

I am not aware, nor do I make pretentions of possessing any power or authority whatever that could give one a right to interfere in the smallest degree with the performance of your duty or instructions. On the contrary I feel bound by duty as well as inclination to cooperate with and aid you to the utmost of my abilities, and inasmuch as I consider myself acquainted with the disposition, manners, customs, habits and prospects of the Indian tribes of this country, as well as the situations of the whites thereby, I respectfully lay before you the following statement in order that you may thus more readily decide on the most proper course to pursue.

There is immediately in the vicinity of this place at the present time, a portion of several tribes—Cheyenne’s, Kiowas, Aripahoes [sic], Apache, and a delegation of Comanche Chiefs now in this fort who have first arrived and are immediately suing for peace with the American people. Of all these tribes, the Kiowas are the only tribe who have prisoners amongst them, and I am quite certain that they will never surrender them without ransom of by force of arms, which if resorted to will not only cause the death of some of the prisoners, but will drive them once more into an inveterate state of hostility against us. What is meant by force of arms causing the deaths of a part of the prisoners is that, whenever the Indians are attacked on their account, those having any in possession will immediately will put all those to death whom they suppose have any inclination to leave them. A similar effect with a like policy will be produced on the Comanche, who have, perhaps more Mexican prisoners than all the others put together, and are now, as before observed, within this fort seeking the “olive branches”. But the greatest difficulty which I perceive you are likely to meet with in the accomplishment of the object of the present campaign is that the Indians are so scattered and interspersed, that in making an attack on any encampment you will liable to injure necessarily olf each of the above tribes and thereby embroil yourself with the whole.

In bringing to you notice all of the foregoing considerations you will perceive that I have said little or nothing in regard to the very dangerous, and precarious situation which such a state of affairs as I have referred to, would place many American citizens pursuing a lawful and laudably, and laudable business in this country. But the many disasters and misfortunes which American citizens have been subjected to in this country, are well known, yet up to this moment there has never been the slightest effort made towards their protection, or redress for wrongs.

The foregoing is but a brief and hasty writing of what is likely may arise out of any attempt to obtain the Mexican prisoners by force of arms. Indeed, the whole matter seems to be so different from the first and various usages of the United States government towards the red man, that I can with difficulty, and only because coming from so respectable source, realize or believe the fact. It is well known that any thing taken in war by Indians, according to their notions is of more value than any other sort of property, inasmuch as it becomes a portion of the history and fame of the warrior.

When I first became acquainted with the article of the treaty which is the subject of this letter I at once came to the conclusion that congress as soon as practicably devise and means for its fulfillment, by appointing commissioners, or agents to treat with the friendly tribes and thereby accomplish the object amicably. I wish to be understood as having no objection whatever to any thing or course you may see proper to pursue. I only beg to be allowed to say that this is not the proper season of the year to accomplish this object in view, over winter, is your command sufficiently strong in case of a union of the bands now almost together, as it were in one camp on the river.

What is a Dragoon?

If the antiquated term dragoon manages to appear in current literature, it may conjure, to some, images of antiquated mounted troops, fighting in antediluvian European wars of a forgotten past; to others, the forcing of somebody to do something he doesn’t want to do.

The word has its origin on the fields of battles fought five hundred years ago. Mounted warriors using missile weapons, such as bows, have their roots in ancient times. Soon after the introduction of firearms in the 15th Century, there appeared mounted sharpshooters who discarded their traditional mounted weapons of sabre, bow or lace and chose to fight with the arquebus, were dominated arquebusiers a cheval. [i] The term “Dragoon” came into popular use during the European wars of the 16th Century to describe this hybrid military formation, mounted on horse who rode to where they were needed on a battlefield, dismounted, and fought on foot with their firearms. Because they were well mounted and armed with longarms, these soldiers could often reach an important location or cover a retreat than faster foot soldiers. In this capacity, dragoons came to represent an amalgam of infantry and cavalry. Their short-barreled muskets sometimes featured a dragon–shaped side plate. Comparing these swift-moving troops, who used fire-spitting weapons, to dragons of fable, the Count of Mansfeldt fashioned the name “Dragonieres”, shortened to “Dragoons” to describe them.[ii] Armies soon equipped dragoons with sabres in addition to firearms and put them to use as shock troops.[iii]

The Napoleonic era brought with it revolutionary changes in the use of dragoons. Cavalry, armed with sabre and pistol, had long did their fighting in the saddle. Most European armies came to the realization that all mounted soldiers should remain in the saddle and not be trained to fight dismounted. Enlightened generals came to realize swords and spurs encumbered a soldier attempting to fight on foot; there was a need to protect the horses when fighting dismounted and this necessarily reduced the size of the force; and the training recruits to perform double duty of fighting mounted as well on foot is time consuming.[iv] The infant military of the United States balked the trend of European armies. Until mounted forces were fully mechanized in 1941, they used their horses to ride to where they were needed, and then did most of their fighting on foot.

There was a time in our nation’s early history that dragoons formed a important part of the army. Trooper James Hildreth wrote in 1836, “The regiment of the United States dragoons forms, although a small, yet conspicuous portion of the American army.”[v] Then, in August of 1861, the War Department, caught in the grip of the Civil War, merged the nation’s two dragoon regiments with its two cavalry and a mounted rifle regiment, added a new cavalry regiment, forming a corps of six regiments of cavalry. The First Dragoons became the First Cavalry and the term dragoon, henceforth, disappeared as a designation of regular army formations. With these steps, the appellation dragoon, in effect. disappeared from the name of federal military formations, but from everyday speech.

[i] V. Vuksic and Z. Grbasic, Cavalry: The History of a Fighting Elite 650 BC – AD1914 (London: Cassell 1993) 25-26; Louis Nolan, Cavalry: Its History and Tactics (Originally printed 1854, reprinted Yardley: Westholme 2007) 39.

[ii] Nolan, Cavalry, 39; Peter Schmidt: Hall’s Military Breechloaders (Lincoln: Andrew Mowbray, 1996) 57; Theophilus Rodenbough. From Everglade to Canyon with the Second United States Cavalry: An Authentic Account of Service in Florida, Mexico, Virginia and the Indian Country, 1836-1875 (Reprinted Norman: University of Oklahoma Press 2000) 8.

[iii] Nolan, Cavalry, 38. The American army later added a light howitzer to the dragoon’s arsenal, allowing this versatile corps to encompass all three combat arms: horse, foot, and artillery. John Elting, A Dictionary of Soldier Talk (New York: The Scribner Press 1984) 90

[iv] Nolan, Cavalry, 39.

[v] James Hildeth is the putative name most historians have given to the anonymous author of Dragoon Campaigns to the Rocky Mountains: Being a History of Enlistment, Organization, and First Campaigns of the Regiment of United States Dragoons; Together with the Incidents of a Soldier’s Life and Sketches of Scenery and Indian Character (New York: Wiley & Long, 1836). 111. One writer expresses doubt that Hildreth, having due to a physical disability to have left the service prior to the expedition depicted in the book, was not the author. (Joseph B. Thoburn, Dragoon Campaigns to the Rocky Mountains” Chronicle of Oklahoma, Vol. 8, 1930, 35.

A Gold Rush Officer's Card Game Feud

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,

Cave Couts

[p.s.] The Maj. [Benjamin Beall?] desires to be remembered.
Present my regards particularly to Col. F[auntleroy] & his family