THE ENGLISH WESTERNERS' SOCIETY
This article first appeared in the Brand Book (April 1961 Volume 3 Number 3, Publication No. 68)
THE MEN AT FORT STANTON
By PHILIP J. RASCH
Through the tapestry of the Lincoln County War runs the blue thread representing the officers and troops of the United States Army stationed at nearby Fort Stanton. The student of these troubles continually reads of their comings and goings-guarding the roads, protecting the county officials, preserving the peace, recovering herds of stolen cattle, pursuing rustlers - but almost never does he become aware of them as individuals. With the single exception of the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Nathan Augustus Monroe Dudley, 9th Cavalry, none of them seems to have been the object of a biographical sketch. And even Dudley’s portrait needs refurbishing, as it was drawn before the War Department removed the “restricted” status from certain extremely important documents bearing on his career. Yet, since at least some material about him is available,1 he shall be ignored here in favour of brief descriptions of his officers, and a curiously mixed assortment they will be found.
Assistant Surgeon DANIEL MITCHELL APPEL was born in Pennsylvania October 28, 1854, graduated from Jefferson Medical College in 1875, and entered the Army in 1876. Appel’s professional services were in great demand during the Lincoln County War. He tended the wounded after the battle at Blazer’s Mill (and was afterwards recalled by George Coe as “Dr. Gordon,”2) and the Five Days’ Battle, as well as on numerous other occasions, and was frequently delegated by Dudley to make investigations and reports of the situation in the county.
With Captains Purington and Blair he visited Lincoln on July 17, 1878 to investigate the alleged attempted shooting of Private Berry Robinson by the McSween Party. Learning that one of the sheriff’s posse, Charles Crawford, was lying wounded on a hillside, Appel and Blair went to assist him, whereupon they came under fire from men in the Montana house. With Captain Blair, Appel rescued Mrs. McSween, the Ealys, and Miss Gates, together with Ealy’s personal property, from the burning McSween home at the height of the Five Days’ Battle.
Appel married Miss H. Kate Godfroy; daughter of Frederick C. Godfroy, agent of the Mescalero Apaches, at that agency on February 3, 1879. That summer he appeared as one of the witnesses at the Dudley Court of Inquiry, where, among other things, he testified that Colonel Hatch had told him he did not believe Governor Wallace could sustain his charges against Dudley.3
Later Appel was transferred to Fort Bayard and was responsible for its conversion to a tuberculosis hospital, winning widespread praise for the procedures which he instituted. After leaving New Mexico he served as Chief Surgeon of the Central Department, with headquarters at Chicago. He had experience as a medical supply officer in the Philippines for a number of years, but was in charge of a hospital on the mainland during the Spanish-American War.
By 1914 Appel was the second ranking colonel in the medical corps, and was Chief Surgeon of the Hawaiian Department. On the night of April 21 he attended a party at the Young Hotel, Honolulu. It was remarked by his friends that he appeared unwell, but was one of the liveliest and most jovial members of the gathering. Appel returned home about 11 p.m. and apparently read in bed for a while before falling asleep. About noon the next day the Japanese maid entered his room and found him dead. His passing was attributed to heart failure.4
Captain THOMAS BLAIR, Company H, 15th Infantry. Thomas Blair Nichols was born in Scotland about 1838. He emigrated to the United States in 1861 and dropped the name Nichols. As Blair he enlisted in the Army in 1865 and won a commission in 1867. At the time of the death of Colonel Gordon Granger, 15th Infantry, in Santa Fe in 1876, Blair was regimental adjutant and accompanied the body east. He was present at the Salt War in San Elizario, Texas, in December, 1877, where his efforts to relieve the besieged Texas Rangers were something less than gallant.5
In the fall of 1878 Blair went to Kentucky and married the widowed Mrs. Granger. The happy couple returned to Santa Fe, where Blair assumed command of Fort Marcy. Upon his promotion to captain, he was transferred to Fort Stanton. Perhaps because of his comparatively senior rank, Dudley employed Blair a good deal in investigations of conditions in Lincoln County. He examined the troubles at San Patricio, the murder of Morris Bernstein, and in other ways viewed the fighting from a ringside seat.
A few months later the American consul at Glasgow forwarded papers charging Blair with bigamy. He emphatically denied the charge, admitting that he was the father of a Mrs. Nichol’s children, but denying that he had ever married her. Blair obtained leave to go to Washington to explain the matter. Evidently his excuses were far from satisfactory, since he was ordered placed under arrest and confined at Governors Island pending trial by court-martial Blair at first attempted to brazen it out by pleading “not guilty,” but the evidence was so overwhelming that he changed his plea to “guilty.” He was promptly sentenced to be dismissed from the Army, the order being officially promulgated on March 6, 1879. Blair was released from confinement and promptly departed for Canada, there to disappear into obscurity.6
Captain HENRY CARROLL, Company F, 9th Cavalry, was born in New York City on .May 20, 1838. After service as an enlisted man, he was commissioned a second-lieutenant, 3rd Cavalry, in 1864. He was transferred to the 9th Cavalry in 1867 and immediately found himself fighting Indians in Texas. The highlight of this stage of his career was the attack by 100 men under his command on 300 Indians encamped near the headwaters of the Salt Fork of the Brazos River on September 16, 1869. Twenty-five Indians were killed or wounded, at a cost of three soldiers wounded.
At the outbreak of the Lincoln County War his company was stationed at Fort Union and was not ordered to Fort Stanton until June 1, 1878. Almost at once he undertook a very active role in the troubles. He was in hot pursuit of McSween’s Regulators following the San Patricio affair and no doubt would have captured them if he had not been recalled when Dudley received word that Congress had forbade the use of troops as a posse comitatus. He was later assigned to duty at Roswell, being charged with patrolling the roads between Roswell and Fort Sumner and between Roswell and Seven Rivers. Early in 1879 he recovered nearly 300 stolen cattle, of which 138 belonged to the estate of the murdered John H. Tunstalt,7 and were turned over to Mrs. McSween.
His loyalty to Dudley appears more than doubtful. While in temporary command of Fort Stanton following the latter’s removal, he refused to permit his erstwhile superior to copy official records which were essential to the latter’s defence of his actions,8 and it is noteworthy that he was not called upon to testify at Dudley’s Court of Inquiry. His co-operation with Governor Lew Wall ace was almost subservient, leading that worthy to request Colonel Edward Hatch, 9th Cavalry, Commanding the District of New Mexico, to leave him in command of the fort, since, “His action of late has commended him so greatly that he appears to be the man for the place.”9 Hatch, however, turned the command back to Captain George A. Purington, 9th Cavalry.
During the night of March 19, 1879 Jessie J. Evans and William Campbell, under arrest at Fort Stanton in connection with the murder of Huston I. Chapman, Mrs. McSween’s attorney, bribed a recruit known as “Texas Jack” and silently stole away. Texas Jack was soon retaken. The newspapers alleged that this man was from Carroll’s company, but a careful review of his muster roll covering this period reveals no deserter who could possibly be the guilty man.
During the Civil War Carroll had been wounded during operations on Morris Island, South Carolina. Two more wounds were inflicted by the Apaches, but the contemporary accounts of what happened differ so widely that it is almost impossible to reconcile them. Apparently Carroll was in pursuit of Victorio. On April 6, 1880 he sent Lieutenant Conline and 31 men of the 9th Cavalry to scout ahead of the main body. Late that afternoon the scouts were attacked by a band of Mescaleros under El Tuerto, also known as Pablo. The Indians withdrew during the night and Conline fell back on Carroll, whom he found at Hembrilla, about 20 miles southwest of Tulerosa. The following morning the troops started up the Membrillo Canyon for water, but were ambushed. Carroll was wounded in the leg and right shoulder. Fighting continued throughout the day and that night. The troops had been without water for two days and their situation became desperate, but the following morning reinforcements from Major Albert F. Morrow’s battalion reached the scene and the Indians moved off to the south. Seven soldiers had been wounded and thirteen horses killed. Only one Indian’s body was found; some accounts state it was that of El Tuerto. Carroll’s wounds were slow to heal and he went to Arkansas, where his family resided, on six months’ sick leave. Ten years later he was brevetted a major for gallant services in this and previous campaigns against the Indians.
In 1898 Carroll was severely wounded at San Juan Hill, Cuba, during the Spanish-American War, but again recovered, to retire the following year with the rank of brigadier-general. He settled in Lawrence, Kansas, but suffered considerably from rheumatism and finally moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado, in hope that a change of climate might benefit him. On February 12, 1908 he died suddenly from blood poisoning, resulting from an ulcerated tooth. His remains were sent to the National Cemetery at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.10
Captain CASPER HAUZER CONRAD, 15th Infantry, was born in Stone Ridge, New York, on March 30, 1844. He enlisted as a private in the 120th New York Volunteer Infantry on August 18, 1862, stating that he was a printer by occupation. He was honourably discharged in 1865, but secured a commission as a first-lieutenant, 35th Infantry, in 1867.
Conrad arrived at Fort Stanton on December 2, 1878, so played little part in the troubles which beset that area. He was promoted to major in 1897, and died in the U.S. Hospital Ship Olivette, off Santiago, Cuba, on August 15, 1898. The National Archives possesses a 19-page biography compiled by members of the family.
First-Lieutenant BYRON DAWSON, Company M, 9th Cavalry, was born in Johnson County, Indiana, August 29, 1838. He enrolled in the 3rd Cavalry, 45th Regiment Indiana Volunteers, as a 1st Sergeant in 1862, and was promoted to second-lieutenant on September I, 1864. He is described as 5’ 11” tall, with grey eyes, black hair, and a dark complexion. He was mustered out as a captain and accepted an appointment in the regular army as a second-lieutenant, 9th Cavalry, in 1866.
While serving in Texas, he participated in a successful attack against 300 Kiowas and Comanches near the headwaters of the main Brazos River on October 28-29, 1869, and was later brevetted Captain for gallantry in this and other actions against the Indians.
It was Dawson who found Chapman’s body lying in the street at Lincoln, but on the whole his company appears to have been too busy with the wily Apache to spend much time in Lincoln. This came near costing Dawson his life on September 17, 1879, when, with some 46 men of the 9th Cavalry, he rode into one of Victorio’s ambushes near the headwaters of the Las Animas, about 30 miles above Hillsoro, New Mexico, and found himself unable either to advance or to retreat. Later in the morning a mixed force of soldiers and citizens under Captain Charles D. Beyer, 9th Cavalry, appeared on the scene and supported their fellows. When night fell the troops withdrew under cover of darkness, having lost several men killed and several others wounded, a large number of horses, the hospital train, and most of the personal baggage of the officers.11
Later Dawson served under General George Crook, in campaigns against the northern Indians. He is to be seen in the photograph of Crook’s staff taken at Fort Duchesne, Utah, in 1887 and published in Martin F. Schmitt’s edition of Crook’s Autobiography [University of Oklahoma Press, 1960]. Two years later Dawson retired. His last years were passed near Indianapolis, Indiana, where he died on December 20, 1913.12
Second-Lieutenant JAMES HANSELL FRENCH, 9th Cavalry, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, March 14, 1851, and graduated from the Military Academy on June 17, 1874. Apparently he earned something of a reputation for being reckless and daring. He was posted to the 9th Cavalry and served in Texas and Colorado until August 31, 1876, when he resigned because of ill health. Two years later he was reappointed and ordered to Fort Union, New Mexico. He was transferred to Fort Stanton in November, 1878, thus arriving after the worst of the fighting there was over.
However, it took him only to the middle of the next month to involve himself in serious trouble. While aiding Sheriff George W. Peppin in making arrests, French became embroiled in a series of bitter personal clashes with Mrs. McSween’s lawyer, Huston I. Chapman, as a result of which Chapman swore out some warrants against him. Dudley promptly placed French under arrest. When he appeared in Lincoln for trial before Justice of the Peace John B. Wilson, Dudley took the precaution of sending Dawson and a detachment of men to protect him from violence. French was acquitted on a charge of feloniously entering the de Guebara home and the charge of feloniously entering the McSween house was dismissed. He waived examination on a charge of assault on Chapman and was bound over to the District Court. By this time Dudley had become convinced that the whole thing was part of a conspiracy on the part of Chapman and Mrs. McSween. He appointed a Board of Officers, consisting of Appel, Conrad, and Dawson, to investigate. They reported that the charges had been inspired by malice and vindictiveness against the officers stationed at Fort Stanton and recommended that no action be taken.13 Later the Board of Officers conducting the Court of Inquiry demanded by Dudley refused to receive any testimony concerning French’s conduct on the grounds that the Board appointed by Dudley had already taken official action on the matter.14
During 1879 French was actively engaged in campaigning against the Apaches. About December 1 he reached Fort Bayard and accompanied Major Morrow on his pursuit of Victorio. On January 17, 1880, Morrow came up with his quarry in the San Mateo Mountains, near Ojo Caliente. In the ensuing fight French was killed. His body was brought to Santa Fe to be sent to Philadelphia. Somewhat smugly the Daily New Mexican remarked:
The funeral procession was one of the largest Santa Fe has ever witnessed, and that our citizens took the opportunity of paying their last respects to an officer who gallantly fell at his post, is worthy of commendation and praise….15
Second-Lieutenant CHARLES ELIAS GARST, 15th Infantry, was born in Ohio August 21, 1853, and graduated from the Military Academy on June 14, 1876. He played a very minor role in the Lincoln County troubles, although he seems to have spent three weeks in the village in February and March of 1878. During his time at Fort Stanton he wooed and won the daughter of the post trader, John C. DeLany.
Garst went on leave from the Army on July 12, 1883, still a second-lieutenant, and became a missionary to Japan. His resignation from the Army was accepted on January 10, 1884, and he died in Tokyo on December 28, 1898.
Second-Lieutenant MILLARD FILLMORE GOODWIN, Company F, 9th Cavalry, was born in the state of New York on May 25, 1852. He graduated from the Military Academy on June 14, 1872 and saw extensive service on the Texas frontier before being ordered to Fort Stanton. He seems to have been a good soldier - on one occasion Carroll wrote, “I take pleasure in calling attention to the efficient and agreeable manner in which Lieutenant Goodwin assisted me throughout the toilsome and disagreeable march.”16 The march in question was made while Carroll was assisting Sheriff George W. Peppin in an attempt to arrest the McSween partisans following their fight against the Sheriff's posse in the vicinity of San Patricio on June 27, 1878.
Goodwin played a very active role in Lincoln County, being frequently placed in command of troops ordered to assist the sheriff. It seems clear that he had but little use for the McSween faction; on one occasion, after arresting a number of that party for whom Sheriff John N. Copeland had warrants, he suggested that being placed in irons would not hurt Josiah G. “Doe” Scurlock.17 On June 19 he led troops which surrounded Lincoln while Sheriff George Peppin searched the town. During the Five Day’s Battle18 he served as Dudley’s Adjutant, and was later sent in pursuit of the murderers of Morris J. Bernstein. After the murder of Chapman, Goodwin was sent to Lincoln to maintain order, and his troops made an unsuccessful attempt to arrest Billy the Kid and Yginio Salazar. Later the Kid warned Governor Lew Wallace, “tell the Commanding Officer to Watch Let Goodwind he would not hesitate to do anything.”19
Following the Lincoln troubles Goodwin was transferred to Fort Bayard and participated in the expeditions against the Apaches. He appears to have been with Carroll during the battle with El Tuerto. Goodwin won promotion to first-lieutenant, but contracted tuberculosis and was forced. to go on sick leave August 1, 1882. On July 19, 1888 he passed away in Yonkers, New York.20
WILLIAM B. LYON, Acting Assistant Surgeon, is something of an unknown quantity. The National Archives possesses a voluminous file on him, but the expense of having a microfilm copy made would be greater than his role in the Lincoln County troubles appears to justify. He did spend a good deal of time in Lincoln under official orders, and testified at Dudley’s Court of Inquiry that the citizens of the village had exhibited especially kind feelings toward that officer.
Lyon evidently had problems of his own, since Hatch recommended on March 19, 1879 that his contract be cancelled, as “he is a person of dissipated habits, and therefore not fit for the position.”21 Lyon apparently left the Army in April, and located in Mesilla,22 where he soon received an appointment as First Lieutenant and Adjutant, First Regiment of Militia. Whatever his habits, there was no question regarding his courage. On October 12 of that same year word was received at Mesilla that the Apaches were prowling around Mason’s ranch, some 30 miles from the town, and that immediate help was needed. Five Americans, including Dr. Lyon, and 11 Mexicans immediately set out. Finding no Indians at Mason’s the following morning the party started for L1oyd’s ranch, about 17 miles from Colorado, N. M. Some 10 or 12 miles from the ranch they were ambushed. W. T. Jones, Probate Clerk of the County, Nepumuseno Barragan, Cleto Sanches, Venceslado Lara, and Pancho Beltran were killed, the others escaping back to Mason’s.
W. L. Rynerson, Colonel of the First Regiment of Militia, and a large party, came to their succour, and then went on to bury the bodies of the fallen. Lyon accompanied them. En route they found a train apparently from Mexico, with the corpses of ten men scattered around. After burying these and those of Jones and his comrades, they pushed on to the Lloyd ranch, where another five bodies were found. The ranch itself was completely destroyed; every living thing – men, horses, cattle, and chickens – had been killed. The Indians had disappeared without a trace: 23, 24
In May, 1880 Lyon was appointed Deputy Collector of Customs at Mesilla.25 He married the daughter of George D. Bowman, of Mesilla, and lived for a number of years in the vicinity of Las Cruces.
Second-Lieutenant SAMUEL SPEECE PAGUE, Company H, 15th Infantry, was born in Ohio on April 14, 1855 and graduated from the Military Academy June 14, 1876. He went immediately to Fort Stanton, but during the latter part of 1877 and the beginning of 1878 was on duty in Texas in connection with the San Elizario riots. He must have had many fine characteristics, for Lieutenant G. W. Smith described him as "a good and noble boy.” 26 At the outbreak of the Lincoln County War, Pague was serving as Post Adjutant at Fort Stanton. He accompanied Goodwin when he surrounded the village on June 19, but was left in command of Fort Stanton during the Five Day's Battle; hence had no opportunity to observe what transpired in the plaza. At the Dudley Court of Inquiry Pague testified that Dudley had granted James Dolan permission to have Robert Beckwith buried at Fort Stanton and that Pague himself had read the ceremony over the body. That was the extent of his evidence; the story contained in a recent bit of nonsense by William Lee Hamlin [The True Story of Billy the Kid. Caldwell, Idaho, 1959] to the effect that he asked Mrs. McSween some questions which boomeranged on Dudley is simply a fraud on the unwary reader.
In March, 1879 Garst relieved Pague and the latter joined his company at Fort Marcy (Santa Fe). After leaving New Mexico Pague served in Colorado and Dakota. In 1884 he was promoted to first-lieutenant. From 1886 to 1889 he was Professor of Military Science and Tactics at Pennsylvania State College, rejoining his regiment upon completion of this tour of duty. In 1895 General Wesley Merritt reviewed the troops at Fort Sheridan. Pague was drunk when he appeared for duty and became abusive toward his commanding officer, Colonel Robert E. A. Crofton. He was arrested and placed in hospital for treatment for alcoholism. He made his escape the next day, appeared at his home, and tried to kill Colonel Crofton, whom he found discussing the situation with Mrs. Pague. A court-martial promptly followed. Considerable speculation resulted when he requested that the court be cleared while he offered his defence. Whatever it was, it was not sufficient to save him; the unfortunate soldier was sentenced to be dismissed from the army.27 Mrs. Pague then divorced him on grounds of cruelty and returned to her parents’ home in Pennsylvania.
Pague obtained employment as a draughtsman in Chicago, but drifted from one job to another, seemingly incapable of holding a position for any length of time. In July, 1899 he registered at the New Era Hotel in Chicago. Rooms were only 15c., but he was forced to confess that he had but l0c. to his name and obtained quarters only after the clerk offered to trust him for the other 5c. On July 8 the unhappy man committed suicide by drinking chloral in the hotel office.28
Captain GEORGE AUGUSTUS PURINGTON, Company H, 9th Cavalry, was born in Ohio July 21, 1837. He enlisted in the 19th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry on April 22, 1861, and by the end of the Civil War was a colonel in the 2nd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. His record shows that on March 2, 1867 he was brevetted major for gallant and meritorious service in the Battle of the Wilderness lieutenant-colonel for similar actions during the Battle of Winchester, and colonel for identical conduct during the Battle of Cedar Creek-all in all quite a memorable day in any man’s career.
During the winter of 1877 and spring of 1878 Purington was in command of Fort Stanton, and had the questionable pleasure of notifying Colonel Hatch of the outbreak of what was to become known to historians as the Lincoln County War. He stated that he had sent a detachment of troops to Lincoln to prevent destruction of property and loss of life, and requested instructions.29 Hatch’s reply emphasised that troops were not to be used to enforce civil law save by orders of the President of the United States30 On April 5, 1878 Purington was relieved of command of the post by Lieutenant-Colonel Dudley – and thereby saved from a great deal of trouble.
On June 1 Purington’s company was ordered to Roswell to disarm and disband outlaws operating in that area, but it returned to Fort Stanton on June 21, 1878. He wrote the draft of the paper requesting Dudley to go to Lincoln to protect the lives of the women and children, and rode at the head of the column when the troops entered Lincoln during the Five Days’ Battle. Command of Fort Stanton again devolved upon Purington when Dudley was summarily removed, and he vigorously defended his superior’s conduct at the time of the latter’s court of inquiry.
In 1883 Purington transferred to the 3rd Cavalry. His last tour of duty appears to have been as Commander of Jefferson Barracks, in St. Louis. He retired from the Army on 17 July 1895, and died at Metropolis, Illinois, on 31 May 1896. His remains were interred at Jefferson Barracks.31
Second-Lieutenant GEORGE WASHINGTON SMITH, Company H, 9th Cavalry, was born in Virginia March 11, 1837. He was commissioned major for gallant and meritorious service in the Battle of Chickamauga and lieutenant-colonel for similar service during the Atlanta campaign and in the Battle of Jonesboro. At some time during this period he apparently served under and became friendly with Lew Wallace, the future Governor of the Territory of New Mexico.
Smith resigned on 15 May 1866, but accepted an appointment as second-lieutenant, 9th Cavalry, in 1873. He appears to have seen a great deal of service against the Apaches and won the praise of the Silver City paper32 for the untiring manner in which he pursued them.
While McSween was hiding out near the Bottomless Lakes in March, 1878, Smith took Dudley’s offer of protection to him. McSween accepted, and thus arrived in Lincoln just after the killing of Brady. When the Seven Rivers men under W. A. Johnson descended on Lincoln on April 29, it was Smith and twenty men who were detailed to answer Sheriff John N. Copeland’s call for help, and arrested 22 persons. Smith’s “good judgement, courage and ability” were officially commended in Dudley’s report of the affair.33
Smith was with Captain Carroll when he made a scout into Dog Canyon in August, 1878 but had the misfortune to sustain a severe injury to his left ankle when his horse fell. Carroll sent him to the Indian Agency to recuperate, and it thus happened that he was present when McSween’s desperadoes killed the agency clerk, Morris Bernstein. Smith immediately sent to the Fort for assistance and Goodwin and 15 troopers were detailed to pursue the murderers, while Smith was ordered to protect the agency until relieved.
The Lincoln County troubles eventually simmered down, but hostile Indians gave the 9th Cavalry little rest. The year 1880 was introduced at the Mescalero Agency by friction between the Apaches and some Mexicans which resulted in the Indians burning seven wagons loaded with hay. Smith and 14 men covered the twenty miles to the scene in an hour and forty-five minutes; his forced march was credited with saving the agency and the lives of those living there.34
On August 18, 1881 hostiles attacked the ranches in the vicinity of Lake Valley. The following afternoon Lieutenant Smith and 19 troopers from the 9th Cavalry, accompanied by George Daly, the superintendent of a local mine, and 20 civilians, took up the trail. They were promptly ambushed in Gavallan Canyon, where Smith, Daly, two soldiers, and two civilians were killed, and a number more were wounded. The command took to the hills, losing about 30 horses and 1,000 rounds of ammunition in the process. When reinforcements arrived, Smith’s body was found to have been horribly mutilated and partially burned, although the others had not been touched. His body was interred at Fort Bayard.35
Since most of the officers who played leading roles in the Lincoln County troubles were members of the 9th Cavalry, it might be of interest to review briefly the history of this organisation.
The regiment was formed 21 September 1866 at Greenville, Louisiana, with negro enlisted personnel. In 1869 it was distributed to posts in Texas and waged a series of vigorous campaigns against the Indians infesting that area until it was ordered to the District of New Mexico in October, 1875. Here the situation was nearly as bad; fighting was more common than peace and the Army was not always the victor. A particularly severe defeat was suffered from the hands of Victorio at the head of Las Animas Creek on September 18, 1879, but the Ninth had the final word. The regiment served under Crook as his ceaseless campaigns finally brought the Apaches under subjection and accompanied the Buell Expedition into Mexico in the operations that led to the final destruction of Victorio’s band.
The contemporary southern New Mexican papers, however, made no secret of their contempt for the fighting ability of the negro troopers, and relations between the Army and the newspaper editors in Silver City, Las Cruces, and Mesilla were generally more than a little strained. Eventually, in fact, the Las Cruces Thirty-Four found it expedient to admit that they had “unintentionally done great injustice to the officers and men.” They conceded that there was “no reason why the officers of negro regiments should be inferior to others in capacity or gallantry,” but remained adamant in their contention that negro troops lacked bravery.36
Later in its history the 9th Cavalry won battle honours in Cuba and in the Philippines. During World War II it fought in North Africa and was inactivated there on 7 March 1944. In 1950 it was reactivated as the 509th Tank Battalion. At present its only active element is the 1st Reconnaissance Squadron, 9th Cavalry, an element of the 1st Cavalry Division in Korea.37, 38
During the period of the Lincoln County troubles the regiment was commanded by Colonel EDWARD HATCH. Hatch was born in Bangor, Maine, on December 23, 1832, and attended Norwich University in Vermont for two years. On August 1, 1861 he was appointed Captain, Company A, Second Cavalry, Iowa Volunteers. Promotion was both regular and rapid. Hatch became a brevet major-general of volunteers on December 15, 1864 for gallant and meritorious service in the battle for Franklin. Mustered out of the volunteer service in 1866, he joined the regular army, and on March 2, 1867 was brevetted a major-general for gallant and meritorious service in the battle for Nashville.
After the war he was stationed in Texas, and those who are familiar with the voluminous Congressional reports on the difficulties along the Mexican border during this period 39, 40 will grant that he could have had no easy time during these years. More germane to this paper is the fact that it was then that he clashed head on with former brevet brigadier-general, Lieutenant-Colonel Nathan Augustus Monroe Dudley, also of the 9th Cavalry. The cause of their animosity developed from a race riot which took place in Jefferson, Texas, on October 4, 1868, resulting in the lynching of a carpetbagger named George Smith and two of his negro henchmen. A military court was convened to try the members of the mob. During the trial Hatch accepted the hospitality of the father of one of the prisoners, for which he was severely criticised by Dudley.41 In 1877 Dudley found himself in command of Fort Union, New Mexico, with Hatch in command of the District. Relations between the two men deteriorated to the point that Hatch asked permission to relieve his subordinate. General John Pope, commanding the Department of the Missouri, replied that if there was something wrong, charges should be prepared.
On November 26, 1877 Dudley was charged with numerous acts of disobedience to lawful commands, disrespect, defamation of character, drunkenness, and other crimes, and placed under arrest. A court-martial agreed that he was indeed guilty of defamation of character and of disrespect to a superior, but held that he was innocent of all other charges. He was sentenced to be suspended from rank and command and to forfeit half of his pay for three months, but when the sentence reached the War Department, the unexecuted portion was remitted.42
This must have been a bitter blow to Hatch, and it is probable that he found it a distinct pleasure to grant Governor Wallace’s request in 1879 for the removal of Dudley from the command of Fort Stanton. Cynically, he told Dr. Appel that he did not believe the Governor could sustain his allegations. He proved a good prophet; the Court of Inquiry demanded by Dudley delivered the opinion that he had violated neither laws nor orders, and had shown good judgement under exceptional circumstances.43 Hatch was now about to have his turn at seeing how the shoe fit.
During the Apache outbreak in 1879-1880, he was, of course, in charge of the defence of the Territory. If he did anything right, it did not come to the attention of the editors of the great majority of the New Mexican newspapers. By November, 1879 the Las Cruces Thirty-Four was demanding that he be removed and that a Congressional Committee investigate his management of affairs.44 In March, 1880 the citizens of the Mesilla Valley held an indignation meeting at Mesilla and complained, “That the campaign instituted by the military authorities ... against these Indians has resulted in a complete and disgraceful failure.”45 The people of Grant County met at Silver City on April 23 to request that the President remove Hatch.46 A second meeting was held there on June 1, in which they adopted resolutions condemning Hatch as “chiefly responsible for these failures on the part of the military and that we consider him wholly incompetent and unfit for the position he holds,” and therefore “we demand his removal from this command.”47 The Las Vegas Optic got into the act by alleging that Hatch’s bungling was responsible for Carroll’s defeat.48 How far these strictures by the citizenry were justified must await a definitive study of the Apache wars, but it requires only a slight effort to imagine the grim amusement with which Dudley must have read the newspapers, while sagely reminding his friends that this was just what he had been telling them all along.
In the midst of these troubles the harried commander suffered a blow even more severe. While on a visit to Washington, D.C., Mrs. Hatch contracted smallpox and died within two days. We may wonder whether his sorrowful journeying east to attend her funeral was accompanied by any ‘premonition that the days of the 9th Cavalry in New Mexico were numbered. Less than three weeks after he left that ancient city word reached her that the District of New Mexico had been assigned to General Ranald S. Mackenzie and his 4th Cavalry.
Of all the officers whose careers have been traced in this paper, Hatch was the only one destined to die an accidental death. In March, 1889 he was thrown from his carriage at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, and suffered a fractured hip. He was thought to be recovering uneventfully, but died suddenly on April 11, 1889. With him passed one of the most turbulent, colourful, and exciting periods in the history of the American West.
Rasch, P. J., “A Note on N. A. M. Dudley” Los Angeles Brand Book. 3:207-214. 1949.
Coe, George, Frontier Fighter. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1934). p. 69.
Proceedings of a Court of Inquiry in the case of Lt. Col. N. A. M. Dudley. QQ 1284. Records of the War Department, Records of the Judge Advocate General. In the National Archives.
Honolulu Pacific Commercial Advertiser, April 23, 1914; Honolulu Star-Bulletin, April 23, 1914.
Webb, Walter Prescott, The Texas Rangers. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co. 1935), pp. 358-362.
Santa Fe Weekly New Mexican. December 28, 1878; January 11, February 22, March 8, 15 and 22, 1879.
Rasch, Philip J., “Prelude to War in Lincoln County: The Murder of John H. Tunstall.” Los Angeles Westerners’ Brand Book. 7:78-96. 1957.
Henry Carroll to His Excellency, The Governor of New Mexico. March 12, 1879. In William Henry Smith Memorial Library of the Indiana Historical Society.
Lew Wallace to General Edward Hatch, March 9, 1879. In William Henry Smith Memorial Library.
Colorado Springs Gazette. February 13, 1908.
Santa Fe Weekly New Mexican. September 27 and October 11, 1879.
Indianapolis News. December 22, 1913.
Rasch, Philip J., “The Murder of Huston Chapman.” Los Angeles Westerners’ Brand Book, 8:69-82’, 1959.
Proceedings of a Court of Inquiry in the case of Lt. Col. N. A. M. Dudley, op. cit.
Santa Fe Daily New Mexican, February 27, 1880.
Henry Carroll to Post Adjutant, July 1, 1878. Records of the War Department, Office of the Adjutant General. 1405 AGO 1878. Consolidated File Relating to the Lincoln County War, New Mexico. In National Archives,
M. F. Goodwin to General Dudley, 2 May, 1878. Ibid.
Rasch, Philip J., “Five Days of Battle.” Denver Westerners’ Brand Book, 11:294-323, 1955.
W H. Bonney to General Lew Wallace [March] 20, 1879. In William Henry Smith Memorial Library.
Westchester [New York] Times, July 28. 1888.
Edward Hatch to Assistant Adjutant General, Department of the Missouri, March 19, 1879. Record Group 98.In National Archives.
Las Cruces Thirty-Four, April 23, 1879. Ibid.
October 15’. 1879.
Ibid., October 22, 1879; Santa Fe Weekly New Mexican, October 25, 1879.
Las Cruces Thirty-Four. May 26, 1880.
[G. W.] Smith to Lewis Wallace, March 19th 11879 In William Henry Smith Memorial Library.
New York Times, October 23, 27, 30, 31, November 2, 1895; Chicago Daily Inter-Ocean, October 24, 1895.
Chicago Tribune, July 9, 1899.
Gee. A. Purington to Act. Asst. Adjt. General. February 21st, 1878 1405 AGO 1878. op. cit.
John S. Loud to Commanding Officer, Fort Stanton, N. M .. February 27, 1878. 1405 AGO 1878, op. cit.
Bloomington [Illinois] Pantagraph, June 3, 1896.
Silver City Grant County Herald, July 20, 1877.
N. A. M. Dudley to Lieut. John S. Loud, May 4. 1878. 1405 AGO 1878, op. cit.
Las Cruces Thirty-Four, January 7, 21, 28, 1880.
Silver City New Southwest and Grant County Herald, August 21. 1881; Las Vegas Daily Optic. August 31, 1881.
La. Cruces Thirty-Four. November 19, 1879.
Anonymous, The Ninth Cavalry. Santa Fe Weekly New Mexican. November 29, 1879.
D. G. Gilbert to P. J. Rasch, January, 18, 1960.
Report of the Special Committee on Texas Frontier Troubles. Report No. 343. 44th Congress. 1st Session, February 29, 1876. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office.
Report and Accompanying Documents of the Committee on Foreign Affairs on the Relations of the United States with Mexico, April 25, 1878. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office.
J. H. Woodard to W. McKee Dunne. In Proceedings of General Court Martial Convened at Fort Union, New Mexico. In National Archives.
Proceedings of a Court of Inquiry in the case of Lt. Col. N. A. M. Dudley, op cit.
Las Cruces Thirty-Four. November 19 and 26, 1879.
Ibid., March 31. 1880.
Ibid., April 28. 1880.
Ibid., June 16, 1880.
Las Vegas Daily Optic, cited in Silver City Grant County Herald, June 26. 1880.
Acknowledgements: The author is indebted to a great many people for their help with this article. It is impracticable to attempt to acknowledge all of them. but particular mention must be made of Mrs. Violet A. Silverman, Library of Hawaii; Miss Bonnie-Jean Duncan, Library, University of New Mexico; Louise F. Kampf, Coburn Library, Colorado College; Leonard F. Olliver, Adjutant General, United States Military Academy; Victor Gondos Jr., National Archives and Records Service; Rutherford D. Rogers, New York Public Library, and Donald F. Danker, Nebraska State Historical Society.
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