Sgt. William Holbrook

Sergeant William C. Holbrook served with Company E of the 3d Missouri regiment at Santa Cruz de Rosales on 16 March 1848. After the battle at Rosales, the sergeant faced a general court martial—”which is the military equivalent of felony proceeding—”for having attempted to enter, while intoxicated, the home of a resident of the city of Chihuahua. The court martial tribunal found him not guilty of the forcible entry, but guilty of the charge of intoxication. Because of Holbrook’s prior service to the country with the 3d regular Infantry at the battles of Palo Alto, Resaca, Monterey and Vera Cruz, General Price annulled the charge and he was honorably discharged from the volunteers.

After the war, Holbrook footloose in New Mexico, enlisted in Company I of the 1st Dragoons and soon became its 1st sergeant. In 1850, while stationed at Rayado, New Mexico Territory, he led a patrol that reportedly killed and scalped five Jicarilla Apache horse thieves. 1

In March of 1854, Sergeant Holbrook, still serving with Company I at the battle with the Jicarilla at Cieneguilla, was struck with an arrow in his shoulder, which Corporal Benjamin Dempsey promptly pulled out. The corporal was immediately hit in the leg with a musket ball and also had a portion of his thumb shot off. He would somehow survive. Sergeant Holbrook’s luck ran out as he was quickly hit by two more arrows, the shaft of one was deeply lodged so that only the fletches could be seen. The sergeant was faintly heard to cry out, —œI am shot and cannot go any further on foot.— Weakened from the heavy loss of blood, Sergeant Holbrook begged trooper Strawbridge to bring up his horse. While attempting to place his foot in the stirrup, the sergeant fell backwards and died.

1. Holbrook to McLaws, April 7, 1850, Letters Received, 9 Military District, M-1102, roll 2, RG 393, Nat—™ Archives; and Munroe to Jones, April 15, 1850, M269/1850, Letters Received, AGO, RG 94, Nat—™l Archives; Carson, Kit, Autobiography (Lincoln, University of Nebraska Press 1966) edited by Quaife, Milo M., 136-137. The report sent along to the War Department included a note from Sgt. Holbrook—™s commanding officer Capt, William Grier, another veteran of Santa Cruz de Rosales, stated that the scalping was performed by Mexican civilians who had accompanied the expedition. Message of the President to the 31st Congress (Washington 1850) Exec. Doc no. 1, Senate version, Report of the Secretary of War, 70-71.
Bennett, James A., Forts and Forays (Albuquerque, University of New Mexico Press 1996) edited by Brooks, Clinton and Reeve, Frank, forward by Thompson, Jerry, xxiii.

Music of the 1st Dragoons

The regimental quick march was D’ye ken John Peel. For the tune see  The words are as follows:

D’ye ken John Peel with his coat so gay?
D’ye ken John Peel at the break o’ day?
D’ye ken John Peel when he’s far, far a-way.
With his hounds and his horn in the morning?

For the sound of his horn brought me from my bed,
And the cry of his hounds which he oftime led,
Peel’s “View, Halloo!” could awaken the dead,
Or the fox from his lair in the morning.

In Sam Chamberlain’s “Confessions of a Rogue” (Goetzmann edition at p. 285) is mention of a song that celebrates Company A’s encounter at the Battle of Buena Vista. Written by “Happy Jack” a member of the company, the first verse (of allegedly 400 verses) goes as follows:

The Battle of Buena Vista

It was on the 22nd, the day being clear.
We espied the advancing Army of Mexican Lancers.
At two o’clk they fired a shot when we returned the same.
Dam ye eyes, Old Zack cries, for now commence the game.

Chorus: So cher up my lively lads, for it never shall be said
That the First Dragoons was ever yet afraid.

Bold Soldier Boy

There is not a man that’s going
Worth a knowing or a showing,
Like Scott from glory growing,
The Bold Soldier Boy.
He went to Mexico,
Sure you know it is so,
And he flogged his country’s foe,
Like the Bold Soldier Boy.
Triumphantly he marched through,

The ladies looking arch through
The window panes they search through
The ranks to find their joy,
While up the street each man they meet,
When Scott passed by they all would cry,
Hurra for Winfield Scott,
The Bold Soldier Boy.

But Pierce and King we’ll rout,
How they flout and they shout,
To the White-House right about
Goes the Bold Soldier Boy.
Then when Locos rant and rare,
Tear their hair in despair,
For they know Pierce won’t compare
With the Bold Soldier Boy.
The Locos shout in chorus,
The Whigs are going to floor us,
For Scott and Graham are roarers,
Uncle Sam will them employ.
The North, the South, the East, the West,
Will vote for them they love the best;
They will go for Winfield Scott,
The Bold Soldier Boy.

Then let’s united be, and agree, you will see,
We shall win the victory,
With our Bold Soldier Boy.
At Chippewa and Lundy’s Lane,
Then again, on the Plain,
He whipped the British train
Like a Bold Soldier Boy.

Ottarson, F. J.; editor; Colston, E. R.; editor. ‘Bold Soldier Boy’ in ‘The Campaign Scott and Graham Songster: A Choice Collection of Original and Selected Whig Songs’ . New York: D. E. Gavit, 1852. [format: book], [genre: song]. Permission: Newberry Library
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