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Title: On the Trail of Deserters - A Phenomenal Capture
Author: Carter, Captain Robert Goldthwaite
Language: English
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                       ON THE TRAIL OF DESERTERS

                         _A Phenomenal Capture_

                   Captain Robert Goldthwaite Carter
                               U. S. ARMY

                            WASHINGTON, D. C.
                      GIBSON BROS., PRINTERS, 1920

On The Trail of Deserters.

The year of 1871 had been so full of incidents and far reaching results
for the Fourth Cavalry and its new Colonel, Ranald S. Mackenzie, that it
is somewhat difficult to go back into the dim vistas of that period and
select the one incident, or absorbing event which would be either of
greatest magnitude or afford the most thrilling interest--

This capture of ten deserters, however, under circumstances of more than
ordinary importance, since it is believed to be the record capture ever
made in the Military Department of Texas, or, perhaps for that matter,
of any Military Department in the United States--came about as closely
in touch with the writer's life as almost any other experience he ever
had while serving as an officer of that regiment--including, as it did,
terrible exposure, and unavoidable hardships and privations--

Like all of the other Cavalry regiments in our Army, which were then
doing about three fourths of all the active, effective work--the work
that disables or kills--in the subjugation of the savage tribes in the
United States, driving them into Indian reservations, and rendering it
possible for the frontier border to be settled, and civilization to be
advanced to a point where it could feel safe from raids and bloody
incursions, the Fourth U. S. Cavalry, notwithstanding its high morale
and almost perfect state of discipline--had its share of desertions--

Was Mackenzie a "Martinet"

Mackenzie was not a West Point "martinet", as that term is generally
understood in our Army--but, from four wounds he had received, three in
the Civil War, and one that year in the campaign against Quan-ah Parker,
the Una-ha-da Comanche Chief--and almost criminal neglect of his own
health, in his intensity of nature and purpose in prosecuting these
arduous Indian campaigns--he had become more or less irritable,
irascible, exacting--sometimes erratic, and frequently explosive--

This much may be said, however, it is certain that notwithstanding
his physical condition, and his mental temperament resulting therefrom,
he never sought to inflict an injury or punishment upon anybody
unnecessarily--never became a petty or malicious persecutor, hounding
a man into his grave--and when it became evident to him as well as to
others that he had done any of his officers or men an act of injustice,
nobody could have been more open, free and frank in his disavowal of
that act, or quicker to apologize and render all the reparation possible
in his power-- This applied to any and all down to the last Second
Lieutenant and private soldier in the regiment--

One man never knows another so well, even intimately--as when he is
thrown closely in contact with or lives and sleeps and eats with him--
The writer had done all with Mackenzie during a greater part of this
period of 1871--having been his Post Adjutant twice--during Gen.
Sherman's inspection in May, at the time of the massacre of Salt Creek
Prairie, and prior to our Expedition of that year, and his Field
Adjutant on his entire campaign in his abortive attempt to strike
Kicking Bird's band of Ki-o-was before he could be stampeded into the
Fort Sill Reservation--from May 1st until Oct. 3--I had got to know
him very well--

Causes for Desertion

Both officers and men had been under a terrific high-keyed pressure--a
very great mental and physical strain, almost to the breaking point;
were tired and dispirited because the results and the hard work
performed, had not justified their expectations and because they could
not then see any immediate relief from the performance of such exacting
duty-- The pace had been a little too fast even for the Fourth
Cavalry-- Much of the spirit and enthusiasm for such unremunerative work
was at a very low ebb-- While it had not yet approached a complete
discouragement, it was a condition of supreme disgust and contempt at
the methods employed-- They felt that with the Government at Washington
nullifying and rendering most of their hard labor abortive, that success
in those long, weary and extremely exhausting Indian campaigns was not
so much dependent upon their absolute loyalty to duty and perfect
willingness to sacrifice themselves when necessary in achieving results,
as upon the paralyzing acts and influence of the "Indian Ring" in
Washington and the ever changing political cesspools of a politically
ridden country-- They wanted to see the tangible results or fruits of
such terribly hard service and to feel that such hardships, privations
and sacrifices as they had experienced, had not been in vain or wasted
by a gang of cold blooded, unscrupulous plunderers and grafters remote
from the scene of these border activities. We have but recently passed
through a similar experience with the same class--in fact are doing
it now. Like "_death_ and _Taxes_," we have them with us always,
especially in time of wars-- It is then the vultures abound-- It is
then we have the jelly-fish, spineless slackers, the pussy-foot
pacifists--conscientious objectors, chicken hearted shirkers--and--"let
George do it" fighters--coming down to the secret renegades--traitors,
and Bolshevist anarchists and bomb throwers-- They have always been the
curse of this Nation--the natural result,--as a rule--of the "Melting
Pot" that does not melt--breeding a lot of mongrel curs and hybrids that
should no longer be a part of our American life. It is feared they will
always be with us--

Thus they reasoned--and the propaganda poison spread. These were some of
the contributing, but not all of the real causes that led to what soon
became almost an epidemic of desertions in the regiment-- The last snow
storm in which they had floundered and wallowed into Fort Richardson,
seemed to have destroyed the last atom of patriotic ardor and martial
enthusiasm among even some of the best of our Indian scrappers-- The
loss of Quan-ah Parker's village in the snow, sleet and hail of that
black, awful night on the solitary plateau of the "Staked Plains", when
the entire command came so near perishing, and the swiftly moving mass
of fleeing panic-stricken Indians was "so near, and yet so far"--had
taken nearly all of the gimp, snap, and live-wire spirit out of our
hitherto bold Fourth Cavalry warriors-- Following this--the terrible
monotony of the life--without amusements or recreations of any kind--no
athletics or competitions; no libraries--infrequent mails; no hunting
except a few men selected on account of their being expert shots (no
ammunition then being issued by the Government for that purpose); no
theaters or concerts; nothing but the dreary monotonous grind of guard
and police duty--detached service, and the rather questionable pleasure
they got out of some saloons and gambling hells which generally landed
them "broke" and subjects for the guard house and disciplinary measures
and more forfeiture of pay, hard labor or other punishment-- These were
the causes for the desertion epidemic. During this period of unrest and
discontent, however, on account of the conditions described, there were
few courts martial, nearly all corrective or disciplinary measures being
applied by the Troop Commanders through the First Sergeants, under
proper restrictions or limitations by the Colonel-- "Knock downs"
and "drag outs" were not infrequent, and at no extra expense to the
Government-- Sometimes the victim of an unfortunate "jag" was got under
control by a 24 hours sojourn in the "orderly room", a "dip" in a water
hole near by, the "boozer" being thrown in a few times "by order", or,
if he became too obstreperous, abusive or insubordinate--a "sweat
box"--a "30 pound log on a ring", or a "spread eagle on the spare wheel
of a caisson" was resorted to to fully control the habitual drunk,
shirker or malingerer, all with the knowledge of and under the direct
or indirect supervision of the Commanding Officer--

On the 29th of November it was reported that ten (10) men had deserted
from one troop ("B"), and Mackenzie, thoroughly aroused now by the
frequency of these wholesale desertions--took immediate and decisive

Rock-Ribbed Orders vs. Elastic Verbal Instructions

About dark on this day Mackenzie sent in great haste for Lawton and the
writer and told us the situation; that he was going to send us out on
this special trip in pursuit of deserters and to get ready as soon as
possible. He would have a written order for us in a few minutes-- We
were generously informed that while it was not our turn on the detached
duty roster for this service, yet--so and so was too sick--another had a
cold--still a third was inefficient, and would never get results--and a
fourth could not stand the gaff of a "Norther"--etc., etc.--_all so
comforting and soothing_ (?)-- We were, therefore, "It"-- We were to
report to him in 30 minutes. We were each to select any Corporal in the
regiment to accompany us-- A black, and ominous "Norther" was brewing
and it was then beginning to be bitter cold-- We reported within the
time given with our Corporals--and the following official order was
placed in the writer's hands.

                            HEADQUARTERS FORT RICHARDSON, TEXAS,
                                              _November 29th, 1871._

                         SPECIAL ORDERS NO. 280


       *       *       *       *       *

    V. Second Lieutenant _R. G. Carter_, 4th Cavalry, with a detail
    consisting of two non commissioned officers and eleven privates
    of that Regiment, mounted, fully armed and equipped, furnished
    one day's rations and sixty rounds of ammunition per man, will
    proceed at Retreat this day, in pursuit of deserters under the
    _verbal instructions_ of the Commanding Officer of the Post. The
    A. C. S. will turn over to _Lieut Carter_, the sum of ($250) Two
    hundred and fifty dollars, subsistence funds, for the purchase
    of subsistence for the men of his detail-- The A. A. Q. M. will
    turn over to _Lieut Carter_, the sum of ($300) three hundred
    dollars, Quartermaster's funds, for the purchase of forage for
    the public animals.

                By Command of Colonel RANALD S. MACKENZIE,
                                          (Signed) W. J. KYLE,
                          1st Lieut. 11th Infantry, Post Adjutant.
    Lieut R. G. CARTER, 4th Cavalry--

The money was turned over to us by the Post Adjutant--Lawton receiving
the same amount--and then turning to both of us--Mackenzie said: "In
addition to those orders, I wish to give you special instructions for
your guidance in this most important duty you are going on-- I shall not
expect you to follow them implicitly but to be guided by circumstances
arising at the moment--and which, being on the spot, you will know how
to deal with better than anybody else--and to use your best judgment and
wisest discretion at all times-- You are to keep one Corporal with you
all the time, taking him into your confidence so far as you may deem
it necessary for your success. You are to go in different directions--
Lawton is to go on the Decatur road--while you (the writer) are to
follow the Weatherford road-- You are to cover all of the intermediate
settlements near and beyond those towns, seeking at all times the
assistance of the Civil authorities and holding out to them the prospect
of the Government reward ($30) for the apprehension and delivery to
you of each deserter-- The towns should only be entered at night and
then with a deputy sheriff or other civil officer-- It should be
systematically and thoroughly searched-- Should you find that these
deserters have headed for the railroads, and you have traced them that
far--and it becomes necessary, drop your detachment, leaving it in
charge of one non-commissioned officer, while you take the other with
you, continuing the pursuit, even if it leads to Galveston and New
Orleans, or, even to New York"--and then, hesitating somewhat--he
added--pitching his voice to a high key, and as was his habit--snapping
the stumps of his amputated fingers--"_I don't want either of you to
come back until you have accomplished results-- I want these men brought
back and punished_-- Obey the _Civil Laws_ and if they are not violated
and you stick to the spirit of your instructions, I will cover all of
your acts with a '_blanket order_.'" The writer suggested that Lawton
and himself, and the Corporals whom we might select to remain with us
wherever we went--should go in citizens clothes, since, if we had to
"cut loose" from our detachments, we would be able to co-operate more
effectively with the Civil Authorities when we might be acting as
detectives about the large towns, especially at night-- To this
Mackenzie readily agreed, saying that it was an excellent and practical
suggestion-- He included this idea in his instructions-- The writer had
been at an immense conscript and draft rendezvous during the Civil
War--among the worst classes of "substitutes" and "bounty jumpers"--ever
known in the history of our Army-- They were deserters from every Army
and Navy of the world; had come over here for the huge bounties paid
under our vicious conscript laws--only to desert--re-enlist and repeat
the method again and again-- We frequently mingled with them in citizens
clothes--got their plans, and either thwarted them or caused their
arrest and punishment; On one occasion the execution of two for

We thought that these instructions were very lucid and certainly were
very wide sweeping--enough so to satisfy the most exacting soldier-- It
looked like a winter's job had been cut out for us--and secretly in our
hearts--we wished the trail might lead through the places he named.
Visions of Galveston, New Orleans and "Little Old New York" loomed up
very large--and alluring, for neither of us had visited those attractive
"burgs" and elysiums of pleasure--for a long time--but the conditional,
or "_If_" clause in this interview caused us to dubiously shake our
heads--with feeling of hope, it is true, but not of elation--and not
unmixed with some dread and apprehension for the future, hardly knowing
what was before us in this, to us, most novel frontier adventure-- It
was now nearly dark, and wishing Mackenzie "Good Night", and stepping
out into the gloom of approaching night to face the drizzle of a
gathering "Norther," we (Lawton and the writer) shook hands and
separated, both busily chewing the cud of reflection, inwardly cursing
our reputed Civil War efficiency that had led to our selection for such
"beastly" service, and industriously trying to digest and assimilate
these most elaborate and elastic, carte blanche instructions the "Old
Man" had given us-- While we felt that in a measure, we were free
lances--all freebooters, with nobody to say "Yea or Nay", our own
Commanding officers with no one to disturb our independence of thought
and action (and with such limited means of communication at that period
and under such conditions, one can easily see that no such limitations
could be imposed as are placed to-day), we also realized the terrible
responsibility so suddenly thrust upon us, and the great risks we ran in
dealing with determined men wrought up to such a desperate pitch as they
were by alleged acts of injustice--and hard and fast conditions under
which they were serving-- All this aided, as we felt these men might be,
by other equally bad gun-men--all over and down through that country
wherever we might trail them.

I had selected Corporal John B. Charlton of Troop "F" for my _civilian_
companion-- I considered him one of the best non-commissioned officers
in the regiment-- While he had a free, rollicking, reckless, dare devil
spirit about him--he was easily controlled, and perfectly amenable to
discipline-- He was a very handsome, intelligent, active, energetic
man of about 24 years of age--and was on his second 5 years
enlistment--his first having been in the Fifth Artillery-- He was fully
six feet--spare, sinewy, straight as an arrow--an athlete--one of the
best riders, shots and hunters, and all round soldiers in the regiment--
He had a straight nose--strong chin and steel-blue eyes, the glint
of which, when he was aroused--looked dangerous when squinting down
the sights of our old Spencer Carbines-- He reminded me of that
free, rollicksome--"devil-may-care" d'Artagnan, one of the "Three
Musketeers"-- He probably had a past like many other enlisted men who
entered the regular army after the Civil War-- If so, for obvious
reasons, we never pried into that past. He entered into the spirit and
novelty of this new adventure with commendable zeal, energy, spirit and
enthusiasm-- I felt that I knew my man perfectly, and that, under all
circumstances, he would prove absolutely loyal to all duty and be
faithful to whatever trust I reposed in him--

We were all well mounted, well armed, and had one good, well trained
pack mule to carry our grub-- We both had guides, the one assigned to
the writer being William Rhodes, a rancher, who had been driven in to
the shelter of the post by Indians, a very quiet, sturdy, honest and
reliable man who knew the country fairly well within a radius of 40
miles, but beyond that his knowledge was no better than my own or any
other man in the detachment, besides being one more man to feed and care
for after he had got beyond his bailiwick as a post guide-- I never took
another guide beyond a 50 mile radius.

The Pursuit--A Howling "Norther"

At 7:15 we made the start--the writer taking the Weatherford stage road
across the prairie, a mere trail-- The "Norther" broke with full force,
with alternate snow, rain, hail and sleet--a heavy gale driving it into
our faces-- We left the trail and rode into several freighters' camps,
where they had sought shelter in the timber, at great risk to our
lives--to search for the missing men but without learning anything--
They had immense roaring fires which could be seen for a long distance,
but so great was their fear of Indians, that we found them up and ready,
rifle in hand--and behind their wagon bodies--determined to sell their
lives as dearly as possible-- It was hard to tear ourselves away from
these huge fires--and plunge across the interminable prairies in the
teeth of the increasing gale-- We were none too warmly clothed-- The men
and horses--hardly recovered from their year's hard work--were beginning
to show the effects and wear and tear of such a frightful storm.
Believing that we should all perish if we continued the ride all night,
and Rhodes, the guide, agreeing with me--upon his informing me that his
brother had a ranch only a mile or two off the road, directions were
given to him to head for the ranch by the shortest line so that we could
secure the needed shelter-- After a fearful struggle over several miles
of an open stretch of prairie, breasting into the teeth of one of the
worst blizzards ever recorded in Texas, we reached the ranch, the men
and horses almost exhausted, and completely coated with ice-- The ranch
proved to be a low, one story log house, with several out-buildings--a
ramshackly horse shed and corn crib-- It was midnight-- Several dogs
announced our approach, and Rhodes aroused his brother-- Ordering the
men to unsaddle, blanket the horses with their saddle blankets, and to
"tie in" under the "lee" of the buildings, the men to occupy the horse
shed--Rhodes, the Corporals and the writer stalked into the shelter of
the "shack"-- There was but one room with a large stone fire place--
Rhodes piled on the logs-- The room had two beds in it-- He and the
writer, stripping off our outer frozen clothes, and hanging them up to
dry in front of the blaze--occupied one bed--his brother, wife and
infant child were in the other, while the two Corporals, with several
large ranch dogs, curled up in their blankets on the open hearth-- It
was a "wild and wooly" night--when the baby wasn't crying the dogs were
sniffing, growling, whining or whimpering over being disturbed by such
an influx of strangers-- We wore out the night with little or no sleep--
When day broke it was found that the storm was still raging although the
wind had somewhat abated-- Feeding the horses liberally from Rhodes'
corn cribs, for which we paid him generously--and after a hasty
breakfast, we saddled up and started across the prairie to find the
road-- The country was one sheet of glare ice-- Our horses were smooth
shod-- At the road we met Sergeant Faber of Troop "A" with a small
detachment returning from some duty and going into Fort R. We learned
from him that the deserters had been seen the night before in
Weatherford, which was but a few miles away-- We skated, slid and
floundered along through the ice crust, a horse going down now and then
until we reached a creek about one-half mile from W---- when the command
halted and was placed in bivouac, concealed by heavy chaparral--
Corporal Charlton was directed to get ready to accompany the writer at
dark and afoot for a thorough search of the town and to begin to assume
his role--

The Search--Amateur Army Detectives--The Corporal's Joke

We struck the town under cover of darkness, and proceeded to "comb" it,
both heavily armed and with no insignia of rank on or about our citizens
clothes or any indication that we were of the army-- "Now, Corporal, you
are to preserve your incognito-- You are to deal with your Commanding
Officer as though we are simply two friends or acquaintances on a
night's drive through the 'slums'; there are to be no--'Yes, Sir!'
or--'No, Sir!'-- No deference is to be paid--him-- Don't forget your
part! You are to be simply--'Green',--and the other party is to be plain
'Brown'-- Have your guns handy, and at a given signal be prepared for a
quick pull on the trigger-- These are all the instructions necessary,
except that you are under no circumstances to be separated from me for a
moment--and watch me all the time for signals"-- Charlton straightened
up--saluted--replied--"Yes, Sir"! and that was the last recognition of
rank the writer got during this adventure--

All night long we plied our trade of amateur detectives-- No stone was
left unturned-- We worked the "dives", faro banks--brothels, saloons and
questionable resorts, but without avail-- The deserters had been seen
but everybody seemed mum and blind or deaf and dumb-- They had been paid
off for several months--had scattered it--their money--liberally and had
left the town-- Nobody knew where-- At one _gilded dive_ "Green",
becoming bold and watching his chance, assuming the detective role with
some slight show of experience and with a most startling blasé air said
to the bespangled proprietress--"Didn't you have a place at one time in
Jacksboro"? "Yes"!-- "Well, then, you must remember Brown, here",
pointing a finger at me-- "Oh, yes!" was the reply-- "I remember him
well, and that he came often and I have often wondered what became of
him"-- Anger came to the front at this joke--but it had to be choked
back--the instructions had been given-- No frowns or even scowls or
anything but a _positive order_ would have disturbed the imperturbable
musketeer Corporal--the d'Artagnan of our adventure at this point. The
writer was married and had left his wife and child in the howling gale
at Fort R----; and had never seen this "Jezabel"-- His outraged dignity
sustained a distinct shock-- The Corporal was mildly rebuked later and
it was passed by as part of the duality of character which Mackenzie had
forced me to assume if success was to be assured-- Nothing was
accomplished by our night's work-- At day break, sending the Corporal
back to the bivouac of the command, it was ordered to meet me in town at
once-- Just as we were deliberating what the next move was to be--Sergt.
Miles Varily of Troop "E" with a mounted detachment rode into
town-- He had been to Huntsville, Texas, where he had conveyed Satanta
and Big Tree, the Ki-o-wa Indian Chiefs--who had been in confinement at
Fort R---- under sentence since July 6--to the State Penitentiary where
they were to be confined for life for the massacre of Henry Warren's
teamsters on Salt Creek Prairie-- Varily had met and talked with the
deserters on the Bear Creek Road to Cleburne-- He said they were all
well armed--and had declared that they would not be taken alive--
This--he gave as his reason for not arresting them with his small
force-- He knew all of them and had identified them as men of Troop
"B"-- They were in a two-mule freighter's wagon, with a low canvas top
drawn down tight for concealment-- It was driven by a medium sized, but
stocky built--civilian-- At last there seemed to be a definite clue--
They were evidently heading for Cleburne and Waxahatchie-- I must
overtake and capture them before they reached Cleburne--which was 45
miles distant, an all day ride-- There was no time to lose--placing
Charlton in the road--and the other Corporal with his men on both sides
fanned out or deployed for a mile or more, and combing all of the
ranches and small settlements, the writer pushed and directed the search
all of the way without any further developments-- Occasionally the
detachments were signalled in to the road-- Cleburne was reached at dark
after a terribly hard ride, the storm still continuing, with a lull in
the wind but growing colder-- Securing the services of the Deputy
Sheriff--we made a thorough search up to one o'clock but with no

A Sleepless Night--The Gettysburg "Johnny"

At 3 o'clock A. M. having sent the Corporal to bed and placed the men
in bivouac in the edge of the town, the writer, having secured a small
map of Texas, was seated in front of a log fire diligently studying
the situation-- The deserters must surely be somewhere in the near
vicinity-- They were certainly not in Cleburne-- Where had they
disappeared to after leaving Weatherford? Many roads and trails led
out of Cleburne--some towards the railroads-- No mistake must be made--
A sudden inspiration seized me-- I woke up the Corporal-- "Corporal,
find me a two seated carriage or conveyance of some kind with
driver--'rake' the town--and get it here as soon as possible; rout out
the detachment--and report yourself mounted to me at the same time"--
"Never mind the expense"! In about 30 minutes Charlton was there with a
closely curtained-in two-seated carriage, carry-all, or Texas "hack",
with two mules, and a _one-legged driver_; also the entire detachment
mounted-- Amazement was on the faces of all-- What was the play?-- What
was the game being "pulled off" by the "Old Man"? "Corporal Charlton,
take your carbine and pistol and get in the front seat with the
driver"--and turning to the other Corporal--(Jones)--"You will take our
two led horses--and follow this 'hack'--never losing touch with it--but
always remaining as much as possible out of sight--about a mile or two
in the rear--concealing yourself as much as possible by the timber--
Keep your eyes on this 'hack'--_one flash_ of my handkerchief and you
will drop further back out of sight if it is open country; two flashes,
and you are to come up with your detachment and our led horses at a
run--remember, and always keep out of sight as much as possible"-- We
moved out on the Hillsboro road--inquiries were made all along but with
no satisfactory results-- We scoured the settlements, ranches and side
trails but without avail-- We had had a description given us, however,
of a certain two-horse team--with a number of men in it, which partially
filled the bill-- Feeling perfectly sure that they were breaking for the
railroad, either at Corsicana or Waxahatchie--yet it was feared that we
were on the wrong road-- The driver of our conveyance, or "dug out", it
seemed, had been a confederate soldier, and had lost a leg at Gettysburg
in the desperate charge of Longstreet's Corps on July 2--upon the "Round
Tops" and the "Peach Orchard"-- He had belonged to the Fifth Texas,
Robertson's "Texas Brigade", Hood's Division, and strange to record had
confronted the First Brigade--First Division, Fifth Corps, in which the
writer had served on that fateful day, and in that death-strewn spot. He
immediately _recognised an old enemy_, became extremely voluble, and
insisted upon fighting the battle "o'er again", with many a story and
reminiscence of his many campaigns, until, at length, he, not having
been let into the secret of our plans, was so inclined to put in his
time telling stories that we were in great danger of losing the object
of an entire night's hard work-- He even wanted to stop his mules to
emphasize his points, when much to the "Johnny's" chagrin and to the
intense amusement of Charlton, my d'Artagnan Musketeer, the "lines" "by
order", were turned over to the latter, while the writer having no
whip--prodded the mules along with a sharp stick--_Time_--and then
_Time_--was our one objective-- We were not so sure of our direction--
It was getting late--and with our delays we were still some miles from
Hillsboro-- All was working well in our plans; the detachment was out of
sight well to the rear--

We emerged from the cover of the timber upon a "hog wallow" prairie--and
from this high, rolling hill or divide, when descending to the valley of
a small creek, saw ahead--two miles or more--a small train of wagons in
the hollow, moving to head this small "branch"-- Talk about the thumping
of one's heart!! Some intuition told me that my deserters were there; my
pulse quickened perceptibly, and I almost shouted to the "Jehu"--who had
been allowed to resume the "lines" but was slacking up--to "keep
busy,"--and to gather his animals for a rallying burst of magnificent
speed-- Now the train was seen to split--some going around--while _one
low canvas-topped two-horse wagon_ kept on the road for the "branch"--
Then I saw a number of men--6 _or_ 8--get out and try to wade across the
stream. _They were the deserters!_ of this I now felt sure-- I said
nothing--but sharply touched the Corporal's elbow, jumped from the
"hack" and running back a few yards gave the handkerchief signal "two
flashes"-- The _detachment was in full view_ on the high ground
silhouetted against the sky. The Corporal had closed up too much while
we were in the timber, and when emerging--exposed himself to the view of
the men in the valley as I had feared-- They had seen him, and scenting
danger made a wild break-- The detachment came forward with our led
horses at a gallop--but the deserters, having crossed the stream and
scattered, were now heading for the fringe of timber, chaparral and
brush which either skirted, or was near, the creek--

The Capture

Once mounted I shouted for one Corporal to head off the main wagon train
on the road--and detain it and _hold it at all hazards_ until my return.
Taking Charlton we dashed for the stream. My powerful horse
bogged;--Dismounting in water up to my waist, by careful management
he was soon out on dry land. Charlton led-- "Get after them now,
Corporal--Open fire! Shoot over their heads and close to them, but not
to kill"-- Finely mounted--and one of the crack shots in the regiment,
with carbine advanced, he was in his element and "swung out" at a gallop
for the men who were trying to gain the bushes or chaparral in the
distance-- He was an absolutely true type of the handsome, graceful
soldier and rider, with the close seat and the American or cow-boy
stirrup, and the resourceful, masterful, trained cavalryman of the days
closely following the Civil War-- Bang! Crack!! Crack!!! went his
carbine-- As I followed him I could see the dirt and dust sprayed over
the fleeing deserters-- As the shots whistled and struck about them,
they instantly dropped to the ground for safety--and lay there until
some men, whom I had recalled from the detachment, had followed me and
gathered them up as prisoners-- None were to be shot unless they
resisted. I gained the road to the brow of a hill overlooking the
country. After securing five with no resistance, and being told by them
that there were two more--a little darkey near by shouted--"Oh, golly
Massa, dere dey go ober de hill, way yonder"-- At least two miles away
they could be seen running, fairly flying. The Corporal and writer
dashed after them, and after a long ride and a diligent search in the
bushes, together with a few warning shots--we secured them. With these
men and the driver of their team we returned to the train-- I had
not fully trusted the other Corporal, on account of his seeming
indifference, and he had somewhat hampered my plans and movements--so
I felt anxious as to whether my orders to hold the train fast had been
obeyed. He had, however, stopped the train and held the wagon master,
and the whole "outfit" at the point of his carbine, as in a vise.

The wagon master was a cool and determined fellow with cold, grey eyes,
and a pugnacious nose and chin; he and his teamsters were well armed,
their guns showing conspicuously in their holsters--or open belt
scabbards-- He had been threatening the Corporal, and now, seeing no
insignia of rank on my citizen's clothes, he began to threaten me with
criminal prosecution as soon as he reached Hillsboro for illegally
holding up his train-- Visions of Mackenzie's instructions relating to a
"violation of the Civil Laws", began to loom up large before my eyes. He
saw my hesitation and becoming abusive began to be more insistent for
the release of himself and men-- Sizing up the situation at a glance,
the bluff was made-- "Look here, my man! We have found a wagon in your
train filled with deserters from the United States Army-- I am an
officer of the Army--and if you don't stop your abuse I will put you in
irons and take you along to the Civil authorities and turn you over on a
charge of assisting them to escape"-- That quieted him-- "Are these all
of the teamsters in your train? Produce every man who was with you when
it was first sighted, or I will order my men to search it before you can
go! Never mind your threats! _We are out for deserters_". He replied:
"These are two men who joined my train a few days ago; they are
citizens-- I know nothing about them-- They can tell their own story."
The two men stepped forward in citizen's clothes unarmed and with no
"set up" or the slightest appearance or sign of the soldier about them.
The larger and older, told with a strong Irish brogue a very straight
story; how they had "been working" their way along; had sought the train
for "shelter"--had "not been in the country very long", etc. The other
was a mere boy. I was about to let them go with the train, none of the
detachment or the deserters whom I had already secured being able to
recognize or identify them, when my attention was suddenly attracted to
the older man's face-- It showed distinctly that a heavy beard _had but
recently been shaved off_--and this as winter was coming on-- I gave no
signs, however, of having made this discovery, but said: "You teamsters
can go--but I shall hold these men-- If they are not deserters, they can
easily clear themselves, and will be released". As I watched the older
man's face, I saw him change color, but he maintained his
nerve--replying that he would "prosecute me for false arrest and
imprisonment," probably taking his cue from the wagon master--who, after
more bluster and more threats of what he would do, disappeared in the
distance and we never saw or heard of him again. It was a chance on the
bluff-- Loading the nine men thus accumulated into the old man's wagon,
upon reaching Hillsboro, a few miles away, and securing the services of
Deputy Sheriff, H. A. Macomber, we and the prisoners were given a good
meal at the house of the jailer, J. A. Purnell, the first any had had
since leaving Fort R---- and shortly after dark, the jailer leading with
a lantern, the prisoners closely guarded, and the three citizens (?)
loudly protesting in Chimmie Fadden's vernacular: "Wot 'tell"!--and then
adding: "What's the use"! etc., the astounded ranchers of H---- saw this
strange procession proceeding to the county jail to give them protection
from the howling, icy gale--still blowing-- All jails in Texas were then
made of huge, square-hewn, green logs--built up solid, and the outside
thickly studded with sharp nails-- Upon the outside a flight of rickety
steps led up to a door heavily padlocked and barred. We entered by file,
a sort of chamber or loft, about 12 or 14 feet square. In the centre of
the floor was a large trap door with a ring in it-- This trap being
lifted a ladder was lowered down to the ground floor inside, and the
prisoners were ordered to descend into this ground cell in which was
but one small grated window, high up--for air only. The ladder then
being drawn up and the trap door secured, they were supposed to be safe,
as it was eight or ten feet from the floor of the cell to the floor of
the loft-- In this Hillsboro jail, however, the ladders had been broken
and had disappeared, so that the deserters had to be let down by hand,
the little short old wagoner coming last-- It was most amusing to hear
this well paid old scoundrel's squeals and whining, and his piteous
appeals for mercy as he hung dangling in mid-air through the "Man hole"
before dropping him the four or five feet to the ground. He kicked,
squirmed and wriggled in his agony of fright; he moaned,
groaned--grunted and sighed; begged, implored and prayed--in the most
ridiculous manner-- All the time the deserters below him, realizing how
fortunate they were in being sheltered from the icy blast of the
"Norther" now howling around the corners of the old log jail, were
mocking--"_booing_" and sarcastically commenting on the little man's
lack of sand--grit and courage-- Having heard much and seen little of
these Texas jails, except the outside, and at a distance, my curiosity
was aroused to more closely examine one-- The jailer tried to persuade
me not to take the risk-- But after assuring him that I had nothing to
fear from these men in going down among them as I knew every one--and
handing him my pistols--he lowered me down--passing the lantern down
after me. After carefully examining this uninteresting hole very
carefully, however, I felt that my curiosity had been amply
satisfied--and cheering up the "old man" much to the amusement of the
prisoners, all of whom seemed to be contented with their blankets and a
comparatively warm shelter from the storm--telling one of the men to
give me a "leg up"-- I was pulled up by the jailer--all of the prisoners
assisting and bidding me a most cheerful "good-night". The next morning
after "turning out" the deserters and filling them with a hot breakfast
at the jailer's where Charlton and the rest of the detachment with
myself had spent the night, they opened up with a long and very strange
story-- Peters, the spokesman for the deserters, declared that two
detectives (?) or, as they called themselves--"_constables_"--had
followed them from near Weatherford, on the Bear Creek road, and
arrested them. Instead of being armed as Sergeant Varily had informed
the writer, they (the deserters) had parted with all of their carbines
before reaching W---- for a good round sum. The pseudo detectives,
therefore, found it a comparatively easy matter, with their double
barrel shot guns to persuade the unarmed soldiers to "throw up their
hands"-- They had even started to turn back to Weatherford, when at the
suggestion of one of their number negotiations were opened by which they
were released by the fake constables--but, at the sacrifice of all the
"greenbacks" the entire party possessed-- After this compulsory squeeze,
the detectives (?) and their plucked friends parted company. The writer
resolved, upon his return, to investigate this matter and if the
deserter's story proved true--and they had all corroborated Peters'
statement--to secure the arrest and indictment of these Border Sharks.

The march back was cold and bitter-- We were more than 100 miles from
Fort R---- No handcuffs or irons could be obtained--and it was decided
not to "rope them"-- Thick ice was in all the streams-- Calling Peters,
the most intelligent of the prisoners, to me, the writer laid down the
law: "Peters, I am going to march you to Fort R---- and I want no
trouble; tell the men they shall be well fed and they shall have shelter
whenever it is possible to obtain it-- Corporal Charlton will be placed
in direct charge of you--'fall in'--the men in the middle of the road in
column of twos"-- Then turning to the men--so that all could hear me--I
added: "You men must keep the middle of the road and obey all orders
issued through Corporal C---- by me, without any question or discussion;
Any movement by you to bolt the trail, or to escape into the chaparral
will only result in your being shot down-- You can talk and smoke and
have freedom of movement--but you know both of us well enough to
understand that there will be no trifling"-- At 11 a. m. we started and
camped at the Widow Jewell's ranch, 15 miles from Hillsboro-- Placing
the men in an open corn crib--assigning each a sleeping place and
posting a man at the log door--he was ordered to "shoot the first man
who left that position without authority from me". This was said loudly
in the hearing of every man, and he was then asked if he understood it.

For the first time we now ascertained from the prisoners why they had so
mysteriously disappeared from the map after leaving Weatherford and
after being seen and talked to by Sergt. Varily on the Bear Creek
Road--and why we got no trace of them the next night in Cleburne. It
seems that just before reaching the town, upon the advice of the wily
driver of their get-away wagon--they had turned off the Bear Creek Road
and following a blind trail to the right had reached the little
settlement of Buchanan--and bivouacking there that night--had come into
the Cleburne-Hillsboro road again the next morning--shortly before I
sighted them at the small creek or "branch" near H. During all of that
miserable night while we were searching the slums and dives of Cleburne,
they were at a comfortable, blazing bivouac fire not more than three or
four miles away, debating the probabilities of their being followed.

At the first opportunity I proved the two citizens--who had been
"kidnapped" from the train near Hillsboro--to be deserters-- While
giving them the "Third degree" in camp the first night after leaving
H---- they were thrown off their guard by my suddenly shouting-- "Stand
Attention, Sir! when talking to an officer"! Which he did _instantly_. I
then had them stripped and found Government shirts and socks on both of
them-- They then made a "clean breast" of it, declaring that they were
recruits of Troop "K" and had been enlisted but two or three months; all
of which accounted for their non-military appearance when it was decided
to hold them on suspicion-- It also accounted for the inability of any
one, either in the detachment, or among the old deserters of Troop "B",
to identify them. Turning out the prisoners in the morning they were
placed in column and the order was repeated-- "Shoot dead instantly any
man who starts to leave the road without my permission". It had the
desired effect. Wherever I could find one they were placed in jail. In
passing through Cleburne and stopping off to pay some bills--suspicion
having been attracted to another man, I "rounded him up"--and after some
strenuous "Third Degree" questioning--he proved to be a deserter from
"Troop F" who had preceded the others by a few days-- I had now ten
deserters, and the "old man" driver of the freight wagon. As we
approached Weatherford--I began to give some thought to the two alleged
detectives or constables (?), and ransacked my brain as to the method
for their capture. The rascally old driver had, after much diplomatic
persuasion, informed me that these men were really constables and acting
detectives, and one was even then acting as Deputy Sheriff of the
County, and lived just outside of W---- While I was doubtful as to my
power to arrest either, I determined to make a show of frightening them,
and to report their case to the Civil Authorities for their disposal--
I commenced a vigorous search-- Riding into a ranch, pointed out by the
prisoners, I inquired--"does Mr. ---- live here"? Being in citizen's
clothes and alone, my mission was not suspected-- "That is my name",
said a man sitting in a chair on the porch-- "I arrest you then in the
name of the United States Government for accepting bribes of deserters
from our army, and allowing them to escape-- My men are outside in the
road--don't waste any words, but come right along"-- To my astonishment,
the man was so frightened that mounting his horse, which stood outside,
and surrendering his gun--he preceded me to the road--where he came face
to face with all of his accusers, who now seeing him under arrest, made
bold to unmercifully taunt him with his rascality--shouting--"Hey,
Johnnie, where's my $10.00?" "How much of a pile did you pull out
of me at Bear Creek (?)" etc., etc., much to the bogus detective's
discomfiture and chagrin. They had now the "whip hand". He rode like
a little kitten under charge of Corporal Charlton into W---- when a
complaint was entered and sworn to by all of the deserters, and he was
placed under bonds for his appearance at the Spring term of the U. S.
District Court at Tyler, Texas, where, some months later, the writer was
ordered from Department Headquarters to appear as a witness against him,
and the second constable whom I captured in much the same manner as the
first, but nearer Weatherford. The old wagoner pleaded hard, saying that
he had never been in such a scrape. It would "kill him to have to go to
prison", etc.--but, knowing that Mackenzie was anxious and determined to
break up these wholesale desertions that were then taking place in the
regiment--many of them with the secret connivance and assistance of
citizens, although it was never discovered that any of them were
_constables_--and would endorse the most extreme measures I might make
to accomplish it, I promptly placed him under bonds--and left him in
W---- in charge of the Civil Authorities.

The Discovery--The Deserter "Squeals"

The streams were all frozen up-- The weather was still icy cold-- So far
I had been unable to get any trace, or sure clue of the missing carbines
which the men had carried with them when deserting, and sold. The
deserters refused to divulge their whereabouts except to hint that they
were somewhere between Crawford's Ranch and Fort R---- At last I
determined to use heroic methods-- At that date such methods were
recognized as _legitimate_, if not _legal_ in bringing recalcitrants to
their senses, instead of resorting to the slow and laborious, as well as
questionable methods of Court Martial. These methods were legacies of
the Civil War, and in the field, away from the complicated machinery of
Post Administration--and on such duty--and under such _wide open
instructions_ as Mackenzie had given us, I considered it absolutely
necessary to employ-- I resolved to select the weakest minded man in the
group of deserters, and, in the presence of them, the two corporals and
the entire detachment, "_tie him up by the thumbs_", until he
"squealed"-- Such punishment was of almost daily occurrence at the great
Draft Rendezvous-- This was done with the desired result--and I located
the missing arms, the property of the United States which I was out
after, without further trouble. This man was Crafts-- Placing the
deserters in Mrs. Crawford's corn bins, the ground still being covered
with snow and ice and the weather bitter cold--I determined to send in a
mounted courier or runner to Mackenzie. Writing a hasty message--a
personal note on a piece of soiled brown paper--a brief announcement of
the capture was made, but reciting no details--also the condition of
both the men and horses--"all nearly exhausted from cold and loss of
sleep--the prisoners nearly barefooted, and with sore and blistered
feet, chafed legs, etc.--but plenty to eat; horses unshod." He was urged
to "send a wagon, some handcuffs--ropes--rations, etc., to meet me
somewhere on the road--and without delay--between Crawford's Ranch and
Fort R---- I was proceeding slowly", etc.-- The wagon met me, but not
until I was within a few miles of the post--and just as the prisoners
were emphatically exclaiming that they "_could go no further._" They
were bundled into the wagon, much to their and my relief, for these
footsore and chafed cavalrymen, as I had seen them in October after
being dismounted in the stampede near Cañon Blancho, were now in the
same demoralized condition, and it is extremely doubtful if they could
have been pushed any further afoot.

Hardin's Ranch--Two Viragos--The Search--The Threat

When Hardin's Ranch, 16 miles from Fort R----, was reached, I bivouacked
my men and taking Charlton proceeded to reconnoitre-- I found two tall,
gaunt, leathery, bony, unprepossessing, sour-looking females-- With
some hesitation, I approached my delicate mission or undertaking and
began to interview them, using all of the engaging manners and suave (?)
diplomacy I was capable of--which, as a soldier--so I have been
told--has never been of a very pronounced character. It availed me
nothing-- To the inquiry as to whether any of the men were at home, and
if any carbines had been left at the ranch by these soldiers when going
down the country, the reply was curtly snapped out--"No"!-- They 'lowed
they hadn't never seen no carbines; the "old man" wasn't home-- I
_politely_ asked if I might "look about the ranch and premises"-- That
stirred the gall of these specimens of the gentle, tender sex-- "No! you
can't"!-- Then I began a mild form of the "Third Degree"--and bringing
up the man who had--under pressure--"Squealed"--to identify the
women--and to make an even stronger statement as to the disposal of
their carbines--we were met with nothing but repulses, followed by foul
abuse--such as: "You blue-bellied Yankees better go away from here--if
the "old man" was here he would lick you uns outen yer boots", etc.-- I
was not, at this point, inclined to spoil the reputation I had already
acquired or sacrifice my good name, or make any slip by any "Violation
of the Civil Law" now in full force in all parts of Texas--in view of
Mackenzie's explicit instructions on that point-- Neither did I feel
inclined to be beaten just at this stage of the game--the end of this
frightfully exhausting and most momentous trip, or to be balked and
bluffed by these two raw bone, belligerent termagants, and lose the
fruits of my thus far assured success-- I wanted to make a clean "sweep
up" of my trip, and, in order to do so--_I must have those carbines_,
now that I felt I was so close to them-- So I swung around to other
tactics--or, rather _Grand Strategy_-- "If you don't produce those
carbines from their places of concealment, which I know to be here or
about your premises, I shall be compelled to search your ranch"-- This
last shot hit hard-- More and more abuse, coupled with more threats of
what the "old man" would do to me. The climax had now come-- I could not
see my way clear to bluff any longer-- I felt that I must act at once
and decisively-- "Corporal Charlton, call the men at once-- Search this
ranch thoroughly-- If necessary rip up the floors, and turn over the
"_loft_"; ransack all of the out buildings, but be careful that you do
not injure these _ladies_" (?) "If they resist or try to use any guns,
treat them as you would 'he' _men_; jump on them, and securely rope
them--and don't let them get 'the drop' on you-- You take charge of the
job and see that it is well done"-- His steel-blue eyes flashed-- My
musketeer Corporal--"d'Artagnon"--sprang at it with a relish-- He had
heard, and been the object--of much of the abuse of these scolding
viragos-- The ranch was thoroughly searched--the "rough-neck" women
offering no resistance except with their bitter tongues which shot off
the vilest sort of "_Billings gate_"-- It was without avail. The
carbines were evidently concealed at some point distant from the house--
As we were about to leave--the women, unconquered--again spat out-- "If
the 'old man' wuz heah he would lick you uns out o' yer boots". Here was
a fine chance for another bluff. I walked up to them, and in my most
impressive manner gave here this decisive Coup d'Etat-- "_If your old
man doesn't deliver those carbines into Fort Richardson by 10 o'clock
to-morrow morning--I will bring this same detachment out here with a raw
hide lariat and hang him to that oak tree_"-- They had seen me ransack
the ranch, they had known what that threat of hanging meant in the
reconstruction days among the "bad men"--the "gun men" and desperadoes
of the far South West-- They showed signs of wilting--and I departed,
inwardly cursing the luck which had deserted me at the last moment and
compelled me to make a raw bluff which I knew full well I could not
carry out or enforce in view of Mackenzie's _most strenuous official

Land the Prisoners--The "Old Man" Makes Good

Reaching Fort R---- in a few hours and reporting to Mackenzie the
prisoners were "turned over"--and I was just seeking a shave, a hot
bath--some good grub and a rest from the dreadful "wear and tear" of one
of the most wearing and completely exhaustive duties I had ever
performed, either during the Civil War or later, when Mackenzie sent for
me-- I was still in a very dirty and bedraggled suit of citizen
clothes-- I needed complete relaxation and rest from my week's gruelling
trip--during which, with the exception of two nights, I had slept, or
tried to sleep--"out in the open" in this howling icy "Norther"--and
with much responsibility pressing upon me. "Ask the General to please
excuse me until I shave, wash, and change my clothes"-- Word came back
at once-- "Tell him that Gen. Hardie is here and wishes to see him
particularly. Never mind his personal appearance--come now just as he
is"! It was virtually an order-- So I went but in a condition of wilted
militarism. Mackenzie opened up with a most cordial introduction to Gen.
H---- and the remark: "Gen. Hardie, I want you to see what my officers
of _Civil War record_" (I inwardly grew profane) "can accomplish when
they are sent out in weather like this to get results under merely
'_verbal instructions_', and acting alone under their own initiative,
good judgment and discretion-- He has done far more than I expected of
him and I am extremely gratified". He continued with profuse
congratulations, thanks and personal commendations.

"Congratulations"--"Thanks"--"Special Commendations," Etc.--A Soothing
Balm (?)

Gen. James A. Hardie, then an Assistant Inspector General U. S.
Army--the one time friend and confidential Military Adviser of Abraham
Lincoln, whom he selected to send on that delicate mission to Frederick
City, Md., to relieve Gen. Hooker from command of the Army of the
Potomac just prior to the Battle of Gettysburg--appointing Gen. Meade to
succeed him--happened to be at Fort R---- on his annual tour of
inspection of the frontier posts. After such an introduction from
Mackenzie--Gen. Hardie was very informal-- He was a very handsome man,
then about 48 years of age-- He was very courteous and had an
exceedingly attractive personality-- With the disparity in our ages, he
seemed, at that period, to be a very "old man". He had served in the
Mexican War, and died as a Brevet Maj. General, Dec. 14, 1876-- Placing
both hands on my shoulders he said: "Young man, I am proud of you--
General Mackenzie ought to be proud of having such an officer in his
regiment." "I want to personally congratulate and warmly thank you for
the fine work you have done-- It was a duty of very great
responsibility, and you should be commended not only by the Department,
but by the entire Army. I believe it is a record that you should be very
proud of." In rehearsing my adventures to them, I came to the incident
at Hardin's ranch, and my encounter with the two "Jezabels"-- Mackenzie
flared up-- "Didn't I particularly impress upon you in my '_verbal
instructions_' that you must not '_violate the Civil Law_' in any
way--I----" Without waiting for him to finish his sentence, I replied:
"Well, Sir! I have violated no Civil Law. I have hung nobody as yet,
only made a huge bluff. You will see those carbines here to-morrow
morning". The "old man" who was going to "lick me out of my
boots"--promptly at 10 o'clock--rolled into Fort R---- _with all of the
carbines_. I happened to be at the Adjutant's office-- "Is the Gineral
in"? "He is"!-- "I've brought in them guns"!-- After making a statement
more or less satisfactory of how they happened to come into his
possession, and after Mackenzie had "hauled him over the coals" for a
"send off"--the rancher departed--"a sadder but a wiser" man. I never
got any _sweet looks_ from the "ladies" after that when duty called me
past that ranch.

Lawton came in a day or two later. He certainly was "out of luck"-- The
deserters had not headed his way. He had gone farther than the writer--
Way up into the Indian Nation (now Oklahoma), and not only had not
succeeded in "bagging" anybody, but, most unfortunately, one of the best
men in his detachment deserted, taking his horse, arms and entire
equipment with him. After ascertaining what had come my way, he seemed
to be much crest fallen.

A few days afterwards Mackenzie, upon hearing that another man of Troop
"F" was known to be a deserter, and had been located rather vaguely as
being in the "Keechi Valley"--sent for me, and, after smilingly giving
me as well as he was able, the location of the ranch--and announcing
that as I had been proved the "_champeen_" catcher of deserters, he was
going to send me out after him-- He trusted that I would not belie my
"reputation"-- After a day's trip in fine weather I was able to
definitely place him, and after watching the ranch all day--surrounded
it, and, without any trouble, captured him as he came in from his work
in the field-- My record now was: 11 deserters and 3 citizens, two of
them Constables--with all the arms carried away from the post. Corporal
Charlton had proved himself a very invaluable man. As a soldier he was
wonderfully resourceful and active; in action he was intense, energetic
and decisive. With his intelligence and good, horse sense, he would,
even without the complete education which some men have _without
sense_--have made a good all round commissioned officer--a credit to the
regiment and to the Army-- It is a pity that we did not have more of his
type with which to build up the army with practical men of his
caliber--instead of having so much over educated material.

I had gained much valuable experience in the methods of unearthing
rascality, and in accomplishing results, under dreadful exposure and
hardships; many trials and difficulties.

Shortly after this the writer received a letter of thanks from the
Department. As it is the only one that he ever received, and as he never
expects to receive another--it is esteemed as a rare curiosity--and it
is modestly added to complete the record and round out the story.

                            HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF TEXAS,
                             Office of Ass't Adjutant General,
                                 _San Antonio, Texas, Jan. 4, 1872_.

    Second Lieutenant ROBERT G. CARTER, 4th Cavalry,
      (Through Headquarters, Fort Richardson, Texas)--


    I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your report of the
    9th ultimo, relative to your pursuit of deserters under Special
    Orders No. 280, Fort Richardson, Texas, dated November 29,
    1871,--which resulted in the capture of ten deserters.

    The Department Commander desires me to express to you his
    _gratification at your success_, and his _special commendation
    for the zeal and ability displayed by you_.

    The good conduct and faithful services of the enlisted men
    composing the detachment, and Mr. Rhodes, citizen guide, is
    deemed a proper subject for a letter of commendation to the
    Post Commander.

           I am Sir, very respectfully, your ob't servant,
                                          (Signed) H. CLAY WOOD,
                                            _Assistant Adjutant Gen_

Military Experience and Common Sense vs. Military Education and
"Intensive Training"

If a man is not endowed with good common sense, or it is not an inherent
trait--no amount of training he might receive at West Point or any other
Military institution for the purpose of educating that sense into him,
or cultivating what little sense he possesses--especially the military
or fighting sense--or, any effort to convert him into a practical
soldier, could make him one, and the time and effort will have been
worse than wasted-- It is simply impossible to supply in him by mere
education what he is lacking through nature's gift--and this
truth--absolutely axiomatic--applies to all walks of life-- Good sense,
combined with a liberal education well directed along right lines, makes
for success in all pursuits, whether as President, lawyer, doctor,
minister, the business man or the professional soldier-- But all the
education in the wide universe, unaccompanied by good sense, spells
defeat for any class--and would not rescue a man from common
mediocrity-- The world's trail is strewn with such senseless wrecks--
They are mere human derelicts on the ocean of life--and the more a man
of that type is educated or over educated the worse it is; and the more
accentuated does his failure become--the more apparent his lack of
common sense, and the more liability there is to wreckage-- In no other
profession does this become so painfully apparent or more pronounced
than in that of the professional soldier, when some desperate effort is
being made to create--manufacture, or transform a little man in uniform,
a parvenue or a man of mediocre caliber--into a great commander of
men--one whose horse sense is particularly lacking--or which cannot by
any amount of education or training be developed--and worse still when
he himself through an over supply of egotism or conceit is not, nor can
he be made aware of his failing, but bungles along until disaster
overtakes him and his command, and every thing connected with him and

The writer claims that there has not been, nor is there now sufficient
care taken in the selection of candidates for entrance to the Military
Academy. Little or no heed is taken of their aptitude or fitness for a
Military career--and that there are in the service to-day many officers
who, from this lack of fitness and deficiency in common sense, are an
incubus to the Army--and should be "canned"-- Competitive examinations
in Congressional Districts develop a class of bright students--some
honor men ranking high in their class studies and highly specialized
along certain lines, but who, from lack of inherent qualities, fail in
the essentials that go to make up an alert, well-balanced, clear-headed,
resourceful, decisive, "cracker-jack"--rough and tumble soldier in the
field-- It is not in them-- Those who have had campaign and battle-field
experience--have all seen this-- Entrance to West Point on certificates
or diplomas from High Schools do not altogether fill the bill
either--for they are apt to be guided by political favoritism or
Congressional pull rather than a selection on general merit and fitness
for a military life[A]--based generally upon good health--a sound body
and a clear, receptive mind--"Mens sana in corpore sano" but, above all
things the one dominating desire to adopt the Army as a life career
alone--combined with plenty of good, sound--horse sense--West Point
will do the rest in the way of preparation and training-- Many of the
College and School systems are not uniform or in any way co-ordinated
with the class instructions at West Point--and much that these students
have gone over in Freshmen--Sophomore--Junior or even Senior courses
have to be undone--gone over again--or entirely reversed-- The writer
has seen a College junior utterly fail or "fall down" at his preliminary
examination for lack of thoroughness and drill in the _three "R's"_--
All this is a waste of time-- If then, the student's bent is not
inclined to an Army life--and his heart is not in it--but to
the law, medicine or the ministry--there is more waste and loss of
time--in trying to convert a good minister, lawyer, doctor or grocer
into a mighty poor soldier-- All of these qualifications, and
predilections--the individual tastes and preferences of the young
candidates should be considered, looked into and carefully weighed in
selecting, educating and launching men into a career where they, by
rapid promotion, are bound to become the future ranking officers and
commanders of our Armies-- Many a slip and disaster have occurred in an
Army by misplaced judgment--slowness of decision and lack of common
sense in trying to fit a "square peg into a round hole" or by educating
a man for the service and permitting him to attain high rank and high
command before it shall have been discovered that he not only does not
possess the necessary qualifications for the same but is absolutely
deficient in good sense--good judgment, decisive action, or even the
ordinary military instincts to maintain the high standard of efficiency
and success pertaining thereto--and upon which all depends-- In a
garrison of 10 troops of Cavalry and three Companies of
Infantry--Mackenzie had not only carefully gone over the entire roster
from which to select two officers upon whose experience and good
judgment he could absolutely depend for the performance of a duty in
which he not only wanted but expected and demanded decisive results, but
he had revolved all the possibilities and probabilities of dismal
failure had he selected any other than Lawton and myself.

    [A] Theodore Roosevelt in his "Letters to His Children"--pp.
    87-89, referring to his son "Ted" entering West Point, says: "It
    would be a great misfortune for you to start into the Army or
    Navy as a career and find that _you had mistaken your desires_
    and had gone in without fully weighing the matter. You ought not
    to enter _unless you feel genuinely drawn to the life as a
    life-work_. If so, go in, but not otherwise." * * "Mr. Loeb
    (Secretary to President Roosevelt) says he wished to enter the
    army _because he did not know what to do_, could not foresee
    whether he would succeed or fail in life, and felt that the army
    _would give him a living and a career_. Now, if this is at
    bottom of your feeling I should advise you not to go in. I
    should say _yes_ to _some boys, but not to you_." If all fathers
    had given as good advice to their sons who have been aspirants
    to that kind of military glory which would give them "_a living
    and a career_", we would have been saved the mortification of
    "canning" some of our graduates of West Point during this world
    war, who having acquired the "_career_" were not worth the
    powder with which to blow them out of their O. D. (Olive Drab)

It is hoped that the writer will neither be charged with petty conceit,
undue egotism nor personal vanity in making these simple declarations of
facts the absolute truth of which never was, nor ever could be gainsayed
by any officer of that period in the Fourth Cavalry.

In this entire campaign after these deserters, success was dependent,
not upon any study or knowledge of tactics, strategy, or any game of
war, but largely upon good, common sense, sound judgment--almost
intuition--a ready resourcefulness and quick, decisive action-- It was
practically outside of a theoretical conception of any war problem--as
we understand it, but included within the scope of its practical
activities. No book has ever been written, or ever will be, which could
begin to lay down any cut and dried plan of action, rules, or any
fundamental principles in a case like this, or hundreds of other cases
similar to the performance of such special duties, any more than a text
book could have been written prior to 1914 on how to deal with the
German methods of conducting a war for the subjugation of the world by
trench, barbed wire and dug-out systems along the Hindenberg lines, etc.
All the study of a life time involving such problems, or military
knowledge, would be of no avail to some men,--whether civilians or
soldiers--unless they possessed, at the same time, plenty of
resourcefulness and horse sense and could readily adjust themselves to
the ever changing conditions of those same problems. The factors never
remain fixed or constant. It is the same in battle and with the factors
controlling it--which accounts for the lack of success of many so called
soldiers by their failure to get away from fixed rules. There is one
word that seems to involve the main spring of a soldier's action in all
such emergencies--and that is--_Experience_--and the practical
application of that experience to all of the problems of life whether
great or small, but especially in puzzling situations like this, where
the factors are dependent on no fixed rules--are never constant--and
therefore events so shape themselves in such rapid succession that
without quick, decisive action based upon one's resources and sound
judgment gained by experience--the dependence upon study of any books
which might bear in any way upon such conditions would, not only prove a
most ridiculous farce, but would be offering a premium on commonplace
student soldiers--obtuseness and asinine stupidity.

There is such a thing in the development of a soldier along certain
lines for practical work, as _over education_, as well as _over
training_-- In the one case he thinks he knows so much that he cannot be
taught any more, and is apt, therefore, to eliminate entirely the
element of common sense--the one factor for success upon which he must
largely depend--and to neglect to apply some of the most simple and
practical principles in his earlier education--and, in the other case
he may go stale, and lose much of his spirit, enthusiasm and energy
while waiting to test out his knowledge in the real field of endeavor
and practical experience.

Soldiers Not Born

It has been said that "artists and poets are born"--and "_soldiers are
made_". True it is, however, that Soldiers are not born. There is not,
and there never will be such a thing as a born soldier, not even in a
hereditary sense. They must be trained. But--to educate and train a man
to be a soldier certain basic elements are absolutely necessary. Ever
since the world began, and hero worship and the cheers, applause and
adulations were first bestowed on such warriors as Cæsar, Hannibal,
Alexander and Frederick the Great, Napoleon, and on numerous other
returning conquerors, it has become well known that certain elements or
basic principles have been necessary upon which to build in order to
develop and produce the really great soldier.

Taking the raw material to educate and train, it has been found
essential that a man should possess one or more of the following
requisites. Military bent, instinct or intuition-- Military aptitude and
spirit--and any one or all of these must necessarily be combined with
good, sound, common sense. All, or any one of these elements must either
be inherent or latent and ready for development--for it is--and has been
found--absolutely impossible to develop these essentials in any one man
by a mere process of military education or intensive training-- Unless a
man possesses one or more of these necessary requisites or material to
work on, such education or training is so much wasted effort or labor

It has frequently happened that men, without possessing any of these
basic elements, not even military sense--or instinct, or the military
spirit--have undergone a military education and severe intensive
training to fit them for what they have been led to believe through
their theoretical instruction are the problems of battle which they
have got to face up to and overcome. Sometimes it has been found
necessary that this initiatory effort shall be made on a real (not a
sham) battle-field. The shock--the rude awakening, the stress, strain
and disillusionment of real battle has then come with such a startling
surprise to some men not physically up to a soldier's standard as to
throw them off their feet--break them down before it is discovered that
lack of physical strength alone debars them from the military
profession, and so destroys their morale and esprit de corps as to
render them unfit for further field service. The ever changing and rapid
developments of battle are so great and constantly pressing that they
call for all there is in any man--and in the twinkling of an eye; his
cool courage--his level-headed judgment--his every ounce of
resourcefulness--and instant decision is called into such rapid action
and it is so quickly drawn upon as to afford no opportunity for much
study, long deliberation, or the privilege of consulting with others.
During this sudden trying out process--the most strenuous that can be
applied to any human being as a complete test of the would be and so
called professional soldier--he may develop just this lack of stamina
and courage-- Of what possible use then is the swivel chair soldier who,
without military bent, instinct or spirit--the military coup d'oeuil
or sense--rushes into battle only to find that it is not what has been
described to him--that the spectacular and moving picture feature of it
is all lacking--and that he is, in every sense out of place in command
of battle service soldiers and an entire "misfit." Could anything be
more pitiful or pathetic than to see an over educated, over trained
soldier of twenty or thirty years' service who has never been "tried
out" when he first makes this discovery? The writer has seen it! These
men when faced up with responsibility, and an emergency, exigency or
crisis arises--always "fall down". They are soon led to recognize their
absolute unfitness for the military profession, for a military command
or to handle any problem growing out of a military position requiring
ripe experience along the lines of ready judgment, rapid action and
quick decision. It is generally too late then, however, few having the
good sense to recognize their failure and leave the service in time to
avoid the disaster that is sure to overtake either themselves or the
unfortunate men under their command and subject to their blunders and
almost criminal short comings. This disposes of an officer's going into
battle before he is ripe--or has been given the battle instinct and
battle sense to try out his theoretical battle knowledge in the presence
of any enemy on the assumption that the book knowledge he has gained has
fitted him for such a test out.

Sometimes--all this effort to make a man a soldier who does not possess
the necessary elements, is attempted through the "Plattsburg system" of
intensive training with the same result-- Again it may be tried through
numerous service schools--the General Staff--the War College course,
etc. But--eventually and inevitably without some one or all of these
basic elements to build on--to unfold, develop and train whatever of the
military spirit that there is in him, it will become necessary, sooner
or later to eliminate him from the game--i. e., to "Can" him. The writer
has scarcely ever seen it fail-- And when there has been any exception
to the rule through political pull or favoritism--and this incompetent,
would-be professional soldier is retained, disaster has been written all
over the pages of his unfortunate military career. All of our wars--the
Civil War--Spanish-American--and now our great World War have clearly
demonstrated this. It is pitiful therefore to see men struggling along
in uniform--absolutely incapable of acquiring battle instinct or battle
sense (simply because they cannot be taught) and the requisites for a
rough and tumble soldier in the field, capable of commanding men under
all circumstances of the emergencies and crises continually arising to
test out a man's military resources--and his ready adaptation to the
problems before him, etc.--because of the lack of just those elements
that go to make up the ever ready soldier. The education of such men
along military--but, more especially along the line of battle problems
is an offense to the nostrils and a clear violation of common sense,
besides giving most battle-service soldiers an indescribable weariness.

Courage Alone Not Effective

Courage, either in the Army or civil life, is a cheap commodity. Almost
every soldier should and does possess it to a certain degree. All
combative animals have it more or less. It certainly is not a rare
virtue in our service. The man who does not possess it is an exception
to the rule-- The point is, however, whether he has that amount of
physical and moral courage to a degree which, without common sense and
the military spirit--would make his acts a military success. The writer
thinks not-- Too much stress has been laid on the mere physical brute
courage of the soldier. Without it is combined with good military
sense--it is doubtful if possessing courage alone could ever make a
success of anything in which any of the military elements cited enter as
a factor. Nothing so surprises a man of mediocre caliber--one who has
been mistakenly or wrongfully steered into a military career without
there being the slightest evidence of his fitness for it--one who has
been stuffed full of the theory of war and of battle conditions, as
to--suddenly butt up against the real article--a genuine wild-cat battle
with all of its quickly varying conditions and phases. And by such a
battle I do not mean one afar off; at some observation or listening post
within sound of the guns--or in some bomb proof or sheltered dug
out--where he can talk over the telephone; or look upon it as he would a
moving picture--but directly on, or right in rear of an infantry
battle-line under direct rifle, shrapnel, canister, or machine-gun
fire--a bullet-swept field--such as many of us Civil War men saw on the
battle-field of Fredericksburg, Va., Dec. 13-14, 1862. One hundred and
fifty yards from the "Sunken Road"--at the foot of "Maryes Heights".
With no cover except the shell-mangled, disemboweled bodies which we
rolled up in front of us and used for breast works, behind which we
sought the only shelter we had for 30 long winter hours in the half
frozen mud--the plane of fire just grazing our heads on that
bullet-swept terrain--and the bodies being whipped, frazzled and torn to
pieces in front of our noses by terrific rifle and shrapnel fire as we
vainly endeavored to relieve our weary frames by turning over from right
to left or on our backs and stomachs.

That was a battle-field where the soldier not only had to use his
courage, his wits and common sense, but all of his resources. He will
doubtless discover in a few minutes that this situation and this crisis
was not included in what he has studied and booked up as theoretical
battle knowledge and does not apply or fit in to any battle scheme that
has been--without consulting him--staged on his front--and particularly
to such a frightful and perilous situation. Right here will come in his
aptitude and true merit as a soldier--and his real practical test out.
It applies to any other military problem where the element of common
sense must enter as a determining factor. It enters into all walks of
business where business sense is so absolutely necessary. It entered
into this problem of the pursuit of deserters. All of our varied
campaign and battle service, and experience and knowledge gained during
that great Civil War--and our practical activities in scouting and
campaigning after wild, hostile Indians subsequent to that war entered
into this chase and capture, as _Military factors_--without which we
would have been as helpless as two children.

Who could look ahead into that long, trackless, desolate hundred miles
of thinly settled country--almost a wilderness--with small towns more
than 40 miles apart--in the midst of a bitter cold tempest of rain,
snow, sleet and ice--and rely upon any Service School scheme of study,
or War College papers and compositions upon obsolete campaigns and
battles--or any extended use of war games--annual maneuvers or sham
battles, etc., things that many of our young officers have been fed upon
for years to fit them for great wars, emergencies, crises, etc.--and
predicted any success for either Lawton or the writer? Any experience
(?) gained in such theoretical military knowledge as would fit into such
a case--would have been about as effective for Lawton and myself as our
study of the Sanskrit and Chinese languages.

It was a problem based purely upon military experience gained by hard
knocks and campaigns and in battles--seasoned up with plenty of good,
sound horse sense--combined with our battle discipline and morale;
courage, resourcefulness and powers of endurance entered, of course, as
factors. These were our guides. One's complete education, and years of
the most violent intensive training ever devised by any military machine
of West Point Manufacture would have accomplished absolutely nothing
along the lines we worked to secure the unqualified success--that was
expected and demanded of us by such an exacting soldier as Mackenzie.
There was nothing the writer had so laboriously studied and learned in
his course at West Point that could by any construction or stretch of
the imagination, have fitted in, or been of the slightest use in this
problem. No Mathematics--No Algebra with its "Binomial Theorem;" no
plane Geometry with its fascinating "Pons Asinorum"; No Trigonometry
with its sines and co-sines; no Descriptive or Analytical Geometry with
planes of reference, etc. No Calculus with its integrations and
differentiations; or equations "A" and "B". No Spherical Astronomy with
its "Polaris"--or projections of the Eclipse; No Optics or Acoustics. No
spectral Analysis. No trays of Minerals--with the blow pipe and testing
acids to determine "Fools Gold" or Iron Pyrites from the real article,
would have fitted one for the real acid test when the most critical
stage of the game--confronted him. Neither would the perfect tactical
drills--magnificent parades and inspections which have so delighted
foreign visitors and the American people who have a right to be so
proud--as the writer is himself--of our great National Military
Academy--probably the finest Academy in the world-- But--and here comes
the crux of one's best endeavors along military lines where complete
success is the goal--the education the writer gained during that Civil
War--the daily experience--the frequent campaign and battle tests--the
self control--the patience--the confidence--the discipline and morale,
tried out as in a crucible--the strength, steadiness and tenacity of
purpose under battle conditions--with rifle, shrapnel and canister
fire--for there were no machine guns or grenades in those days--in such
battles as Bull Run--Antietam, Fredericksburg--Chancellorsville,
Gettysburg, etc., and the influences which they wrought upon one's
character in later years to deal with things that to some men would
appear to be simply impossible--all these combined with the true
military spirit--and good, common sense were the determining factors
in that strange adventure so far as they are able to guide us in
this mysterious and complex game of life--or can enter into the
human problems in which we engage and are ever attempting to solve
to our satisfaction and credit. Such was the philosophy and logical
reasoning of we two "hold overs" of the Civil War, as we plodded
our weary way across the black prairies--in the howling "Norther"--in
our pursuit of these deserters. Little or no thought was given to the
training received at the Military Academy beyond a well nourished
pride in its motto of "Honor--Duty--Country"--the balance was in our
pride as battle-service soldiers of the Civil War--and all of our
knowledge and experience gained thereby--but especially so far as the
writer was concerned to a short period of service at a huge conscript
and "substitute" camp[B] where he acted as a provost guard--and as a
young detective among many deserters from every Army and Navy in the
world--hardened and desperate criminals of the worst description--intent
on receiving a large bounty only to desert at the first opportunity and
enlisting at another rendezvous--repeating this trick ad libitum.
Here was real human character depicted in its worst forms of
iniquity--depravity--greed--selfishness--low cunning--trickery,
treachery--atrocity--and the most desperate crimes--not stopping short
of black-jacking--garroting--sand-bagging--robbery and frequent murders.
To mingle with them was to know their types--their methods--habits,
resources, etc. All this knowledge was of incalculable value to the
writer when the plunge was made into darkness and the depths of an
uncertainty--of an adventure the outcome of which could be but
problematical or only to be guessed at.

    [B] Note--Men who had been paid large bounties during the draft
    period to take the place of men who were _long_ on money, but
    were _short on gall_--and who had no stomach for a fight of any

All this applied to Lawton, who, although he was not a graduate of West
Point, had had the same campaign and battle experience as the
writer--and as Lieut. Colonel Commanding the 30th Indian Volunteer
Infantry had developed in him all of the necessary elements at
Chickamauga--Missionary Ridge--Dalton--Resaca--Kenesaw Mountain and in
his march with Sherman "from Atlanta to the sea"--which, as essential
factors would fit into our problem--and which, many years later, he
fully exemplified in the Philippines by his push, energy, iron will,
resourcefulness, well-balanced judgment and quick, decisive action which
strongly marked every movement in his campaigns, and characterized him
as the personification of an ever ready and perfectly trained--although
not _intensively_ trained--soldier--the magnificent soldier without
frills, furbelows, fuss or feathers--that he was--

Training of the "Rough Riders"

Too much stress has been given to a long, intensive training as
absolutely necessary to fit men to become good, reliable battle-service
soldiers, or to enable them to tackle either purely military problems,
or such problems as confronted us in our long, exhaustive pursuit of
those deserters. Perfection of drill and military training is one thing
through a continuous and harassing barrack or field training. To fit men
to become alert, resourceful, obedient soldiers for quick and ready
service through discipline and a minimum of tactical drill is altogether
another thing when a war is fully on. Theodore Roosevelt in his
Autobiography (p. 250) says: "The reason why it takes so long to turn
the average citizen, etc., into a good infantryman or cavalryman is
because it takes a long while to teach the average untrained man how to
shoot, to march, to take care of himself in the open, to be alert,
resourceful, cool, daring and resolute, and to fit himself to act on his
own responsibility (individual initiative). If he already possesses
these qualities there is very little difficulty in making him a good
soldier (nor should it take a long time). All the drill necessary to
enable him to march and to fight is of a simple character. _Parade
ground and barrack square maneuvers are of no earthly consequence in
real war._ When men can readily change from line to column, and column
to line, can form front in any direction, and assemble and _scatter_
(deploy), and can do other things with speed and precision they have got
a fairly good grasp on the essentials."

No amount of long drawn out drill will give him battle instinct or
battle sense; not until he goes in under fire and faces up to what he
sooner or later has got to encounter,--drill or no drill--does he
acquire it.

Leaving out the non-essentials and endless repetitions of drill during a
war crisis (and by the non-essentials the writer means a cut and dried
program from 5.00 A. M. to 10 P. M., with "manual of arms by the
count"--all dress parades, reviews and other ceremonies, marching or
"hiking" with a full infantry pack in a temperature of 109° in the
shade, to see how men can _intensively_ endure such heat, or, in other
words, a persistent effort to break these men down and determine whether
they have any courage, endurance or guts)--it should take less than
three months to make an alert, steadfast, reliable and efficient battle
soldier in time of war, and not more than six months in time of peace if
more perfection is arrived at, unless it is desired to specialize in
artillery, engineering and the Scientific Corps. Much less time was
taken during the Civil War. Most of these intensive training sharps and
cranks harp incessantly about the absolute necessity for a long period
of "_discipline_". The writer is nearly a crank on that subject, for
discipline is the real, true and vital basis on which to build for a
battle soldier. Then employ most of the few weeks, taken as a limit for
training, in discipline alone--making that the one objective upon which
to concentrate the intensive effort, devoting the balance of the time to
sufficient tactical drill to readily handle them under fire, and no
more, or until the first deployment and the shrapnel or machine gun fire
of battle demonstrates the fact that any and all tactical formations
whether perfect or more loosely co-ordinated are soon broken up. Any
more tactical drill than is sufficient for such a purpose in time of
war--when all preparation must necessarily be hastened--is simply a mere
repetition looking to more perfect formations and movements and
therefore a sheer waste of time and effort.

Both Theodore Roosevelt and General Leonard Wood were then right in
their grasp of the situation and summing up of five weeks of _training_
and _battle activities_ of the "Rough Riders". Neither had had any
military training, either theoretical or practical--one having been a
college student, writer, ranchman, police commissioner, Secretary of the
Navy, etc., while the other had been a medical officer. Both, however,
had been out in the open under the stars, were alert, self-reliant,
versatile, many-sided, broad-guaged, tense, strenuous, level-headed,
far-sighted, sagacious, but withal, endowed with a large stock of good
judgment and plenty of good, sound horse sense. Neither had drilled a
troop of cavalry--much less a regiment--but they had had some good
regular officers and old non-commissioned officers assigned to start
them off, and furthermore, in the face of a war, then on, and quick
preparation for immediate battle service absolutely necessary, both saw
at a glance what every good soldier--whether theoretical or
otherwise--should see, that there was no time to waste in the mere
niceties of a perfect tactical drill; that all of the non-essentials
would have to be cut out--and the one essential, which they kept
steadily in view, in dealing with and licking into shape such a body of
men as the "Rough Riders" were, and which they were so suddenly called
upon to organize and put into battle--was _discipline_, more
_discipline_, and then _some_; to control the unruly elements, eliminate
the really vicious, and administer the severest punishment, tempered
with justice and mercy, for any and every infraction of the disciplinary
laws governing any large bodies of men trying to adjust themselves to
the novelty of control by superior authority appointed by the Government
to hold them in check, and to give them just sufficient tactical drill
to get them into and out of a battle mess, in a fairly orderly fashion.
The "Rough Riders" had been gathered from the "four corners of the
earth." What good could six months or a year, or even longer, of hard
drill or long drawn out intensive training have done these men with war
already on? They would soon have "bucked"--grown disgusted--gone
stale--lost their spirit and enthusiasm--their morale and force, and
given their officers no end of trouble by their restlessness and
eagerness to try out their mettle and "get in". They needed plenty of
hard discipline and proper guidance daily, and Theodore Roosevelt says
they _got it_. They already possessed most of the other qualifications
which he so clearly enumerates. They needed to be taught prompt
obedience to lawful authority, and they soon found that out and who were
their leaders. What more did they need to fit them for battle than what
he so concisely states in the way of tactical drill, to enable them to
get on and off a battle-field, and the courage-born stimulus of good
competent officers and non-commissioned officers? Most of them already
knew the use of arms, and nobody ever stands up on a battle line and
exercises in the manual of arms, either "by the count" or "at will".
There was no time to put them into large cantonments with other troops
and intensively train them according to a War College prescribed
schedule. _Everything had to be sacrificed to time._

The late Col. Arthur Wagner, U. S. Army, is reported to have said
shortly after the Spanish-American war, when asked what his experience
had been at Santiago--"There was nothing I saw there that fitted into my
text books in any way."

No cut and dried plans such as might be worked out in a Staff War
College to fit into every program could be used, unless, perchance, the
conditions which we were constantly meeting fitted into such
plans--which they seldom do--and we could not afford to fall back on any
"perchances", necessitating, as they would, the rapid changing of such
plans, in the face of a situation or crisis which might and did demand
immediate and decisive action.

The query then naturally arises--of what vital or practical use is much
of these enforced student theoretical courses at Leavenworth and the
Staff War College, especially in feeding up officers--who have no
special aptitude for the profession--on sham battles and sham war
maneuvers, if, after stacking up hundreds of these worked out war
problems, such as four or five different plans for the invasion of
Mexico, and the same number for the invasion of Canada, it shall be
found that just at that particular time the conditions bear no relation
whatever to, or fit into these carefully worked out and elaborate
plans, all of which may, and probably will have to be hurriedly changed,
when there is little or no time to do so, just as the crisis of a sudden
campaign is forced upon us or is quickly culminating. Any commanding
officer of our army who cannot then quickly change that cut and dried
plan thrust into his hands by the War Department, and in the face of
sudden and almost insurmountable obstacles, and all of these conditions
entirely foreign to such plans, to work out in front of an enemy already
mobilized for battle--why--his name is--_MUD_!!

In all measures of this kind we felt compelled to take relating to these
deserters, the exigencies we had to face at any moment and the plan we
hastily made to fit into them, proved to be the deciding factor. Such a
thing as pursuing those deserters under any cut and dried programme
would have been not only ridiculous, but a blithering farce. That is
why, with a man of Mackenzie's horse sense, we were left to perfect
freedom of action, and our own independence or individual initiative.
Therefore, while it may seem almost treason for a graduate of West Point
to declare it, nothing that the writer had ever learned there was of the
slightest value to him in trailing these men. It was a problem
absolutely separate from the ordinary military processes, and governed
entirely by other factors than those to which an education at the
Military Academy had any relation.

Intensive Training as a Fine Art (?)

The writer's son, a Major of Infantry (a temporary Lieut-Colonel), took
over to France a training battalion of the Sixteenth U. S. Infantry from
Syracuse, N. Y., in November, 1917. He was trained in the Toul Sector by
a Major Rasmussen of the Canadian Infantry (later killed by an H. E.
shell). He says that a few weeks of practical trench training and hand
grenade work, etc., was of more value to him than months of such
training as he had had in the Syracuse Camp.

The writer had a son-in-law who had had fifteen years' experience
in the field as a Civil Engineer with the largest company in St.
Louis--surveying, platting, laying out suburban tracts, including road
building, sewer and culvert construction, etc. He lacked the elements of
military engineering, pontoon bridge building, military trenches, with
barbed wire placing, hand grenade work, etc. He entered the Fort Riley
Training Camp in May, 1917, was transferred to Leavenworth, thence to
Camp Meade, Washington Barracks, Laurel, Md., and then to Camp Lee, Va.,
where he was employed digging trenches for the third or fourth time, and
building pontoon _land bridges_, when he had made a record throwing
bridges again and again with his company across the Eastern Branch of
the Potomac river. His skin was almost trained off his body. He lost his
spirit and enthusiasm, became absolutely disgusted, but finally, through
a "_pull_" at Headquarters, A. E. F., he got "over" in March, 1918. Was
immediately assigned as a Captain of the 101st Pioneer Regiment, 26th N.
E. ("Yankee") Division, and after some more _sector training_ was in the
Chateau Thierry and St. Mihiel drives and "made good" under Colonel
George Bunnel (a graduate of West Point, who was a practical soldier,)
as a pioneer engineer on the battle line, opening the roads for the
Infantry and Artillery, cutting barbed wire, etc. _No more army for
him!_ But for my earnest protest and advice he would have resigned in
disgust several times.

When the word goes forth from our intensive trainers and sham battle
heroes that it takes nearly a year to make of such a man an efficient
engineer in the field, when for practical road building, rough pioneer
work under fire, and all round resourcefulness he could give many of our
West Point graduates "cards and spades", most of such enforced training,
which the writer has knowledge of, is a disgrace, and the would-be
trainers should be "canned" before they reach a battle line.

The writer was credibly informed that some of the so called intensive
training took this form. A lot of condemned rifle cartridges from one of
the arsenals was sent to Camp Meade, Maryland, and, on the score of
economy, it is presumed, they were issued for target practice on the
range. Some of the officers knew of the danger in their use and
protested--as it was "slow fire" ammunition-- But they were directed to
instruct their men to "_hold on_" to the target so many seconds (20 more
or less) to compensate for the time lost. Several men were badly injured
(burned) by the "back fire" upon throwing the bolt. The ammunition was
still used under protest-- _Fine training for sharpshooters_. Any battle
soldier knows that these officers would have been fully justified in
refusing to obey such orders--when it had become known what risks were
involved--even life itself. These cartridges were not only absolutely
useless for such training--but it was little less than a crime for any
officer to compel his subordinates to expend such dangerous ammunition.
It was reported that the men seized the balance and either buried or
otherwise destroyed it. What a travesty on preparing men for battle! If
_such intensive training_ was employed in these Cantonments to fit men
for fighting, with a war already on, what could be expected of the
Instructors, employed in that kind of work, who had got to taste the joy
of battle? This matter was not made public, but was either concealed,
camouflaged or treated so lightly as to suggest a case of "whitewash."
Men were sent on "hikes" over hard, frozen roads, covered with snow and
ice--in old, worn out shoes--their feet nearly bare; all under protest
from their new, untried officers--who naturally wondered at such
training and the necessity for it,--also the risk in the face of an
epidemic of "_flu_"--

The True Test-Out--Acquiring the Fighting Sense

The writer, the youngest of four brothers, was mustered into the
volunteer service, Aug. 5, 1862, at the age of 16 years, having been
rejected the year before on account of age and an over supply of men.
His regiment, the Twenty-second Mass. Vol. Infantry (Henry Wilson
Regiment), was a fighting regiment from Boston and vicinity. Only 45
Union Infantry regiments lost 200 and upwards in killed and died of
wounds on the field during the Civil War. The Twenty-second lost 216 and
stands 27 in that list. In a list of all Union Infantry regiments that
lost over 10 per cent in killed on the field, it stands number 13--with
a percentage of 15.5 per cent--and, based upon a maximum percentage of
enrollment (1393 men), it stands number 16--("Fox's Regimental
Losses")-- Its service was in the First Brigade--First Division--Fifth
Corps, Army of the Potomac. We recruits arrived on Arlington Heights to
join this fighting regiment, en route (whereabouts not located) from the
"seven days' battles" on the Peninsula. The officer in charge of us had
given us no drills--no training of any kind. He was returning from
leave, and spent most of his time _rusticating_ around the "Old
Willard". We joined the regiment at Halls Hill, Va. (near Falls Church),
bivouacked in a battle line as it was marching into the defences of
W---- from the second battle of Bull Run. The noise of battle was on; a
spluttering picket firing was in evidence a few hundred yards from us.
During our stay here of two days--a first class drill sergeant gave us
an hour each day in the "facings" and the use of our guns, which had
been issued to us at midnight of Aug. 29--in a terrific thunder storm,
during which we were soaked--and in a bivouac without shelter. This
consisted of instructions in taking them apart, cleaning, assembling,
rapid loading and sighting. We remained in reserve in the fortifications
of Washington, marching hither and thither until Sept. 12--when we
started, in a temperature of 98°, after a drenching night's storm, on
the Antietam Campaign-- There was no time for further training. We were
put on the battle line--sandwiched between our Peninsula veterans of
seven battles. The lines were so close that our range was practically
point blank. There was no adjustment of sights--no wind guages--none of
the usual methods for work on a target range. It made little difference
whether the trajectory was flat or otherwise. Any boy who had ever used
a shot gun could load and blaze away into the close lines. The line
officers and file closers were veterans. The battle discipline was
flawless-- We touched elbows with men who had acquired the battle sense
and instinct in the hell of rifle fire--shell--shrapnel and close up
canister guns of the 12 pdr Napoleon type. A few days after a bloody
reconnoissance across the river, in which one of our regiments lost 289
men killed, wounded and missing in 20 minutes, we had a few days'
drill--and that _was all we ever got_. We were as good soldiers as ever
marched the roads or ever went in under our battle flags--at
Fredericksburg--Chancellorsville, Gettysburg--and on to the Seige of
Petersburg. We needed no long, drawn-out intensive training--because
there was no time to give it to us-- Our superb officers all recognized
that--and, as soon as we had got our _balance_, and recovered from the
battle shock--we fitted into the bloody game of war without any waste of
time, effort or lost motion. Our manual of arms would not have undergone
the critical scrutiny of a "_yearling Corporal_" at West Point--or a
"color man" "throwing up" for colors at guard mount--nor would our crude
attempts have excited much pride in the tactical officers at a perfect
West Point dress parade. Our shooting in the open at from 150 to 500
yards might also have aroused the merry laugh of a target range
sharpshooter with all of his implements for making a record score. But
we were _not striving_ for a _record score_--just shooting into massed
formations and closed up battle lines to kill--and we got there just the
same with the official record as cited. That record tells the story-- At
midnight on May 8, 1864, near Spottsylvania C. H., in a hand to hand
fight with the Sixth Alabama, the regiment captured their colors and
more prisoners than were in the ranks of the Twenty-second
Massachusetts. Two of these brothers, on account of their youth, refused
commissions, although their father, who had spent two years at the Mil.
Academy in the class of 1836, was then Chairman of the Mil. Com. of the
Mass. Senate; was in daily conference with John A. Andrew, the great war
Governor--and could, by a "pull" have easily secured them. One was
"specially commended" for good conduct at the Battle of Fredericksburg,
Va., while the other untrained brother, (Walter Carter) as Sergeant
Major of the regiment, was specially mentioned in the report of the
Commanding officer of the regiment for "_coolness under fire_, and
_personal bravery in all battles of the campaign_"; (Reb.
Rec--Ser--I--40: 459) this Campaign, May 4 to June 18--1864--from the
Wilderness--Laurel Hill--Spottsylvania C. H. (May 8-22--under fire day
and night), Jericho Mills--North Anna, Totopotomoy Creek, Bethesda
Church--Cold Harbor--Jerusalem Plank Road (Norfolk and Petersburg R
R--later, the spot where the Battle of the "_Crater_" was fought). If
there was ever any better soldier than this untrained but not
_world-advertised_ Sergeant-Major of one of the best fighting regiments
in the Army of the Potomac--the writer, in nearly 60 years since those
old days, has not met him. On May 10, 1864, while acting as liaison
officer for the Major--commanding the left wing of the regiment, which
was cut off from the right wing and in a cul de sac swept by a frightful
cross fire--he was directed to cross the Brock Road (about a mile or
more from Spottsylvania C. H.) and communicate to the Colonel the
perilous position of the left wing. He crossed this sunken road--swept
by rifle and canister fire, at close range. His blanket roll was cut in
several places; his eye was burned and closed by a _hot bullet_--for
several days-- The next morning he took in on his back, from a rifle pit
to save his life, a wounded comrade and friend under fire. Being a
non-commissioned officer, he received no brevets--no medal of honor--no
Legion of Honor, or Croix de Guerre--etc. So much for this
battle-trained, but not _intensively_ trained--volunteer Sergeant-Major
of an Infantry fighting regiment in the old battle swept Army of our
youth. And he wears nothing to indicate his record of valor--not even
the "Little Bronze Button" of the G. A. R.; nothing more than the
satisfaction or consciousness of having done well his part in helping to
preserve the Union and making it possible for the present generation of
soldiers to have a country in which to exist, and looking on with a
certain degree of smug complacency at the smiling assurance with which
these present day trainers of men declare that it takes from six months
to a year, or even more, to fit the average American boy to be an
effective battle-service soldier-- So much for this so called
"_Intensive Training_" as a fine art.

The writer trained for three boat races at West Point in the '60s,
rowing as "stroke" in one. He was urged to take up "_intensive
training_" in the gymnasium. He did nothing of the kind, but simply used
the dumb bells and Indian Clubs in his room to limber up and harden the
muscles, and after a morning plunge, took a brisk walk and run of about
two miles every morning for wind. There was no "training table", and he
simply took care not to take on any extra flesh when eating the "hash"
and "Slumgullion" of our plainest of plain Mess Hall fare. We consulted
the famous Ward brothers of Cornwall-on-Hudson--"Hank", "Josh" and
"Ellis" (who has been a famous Coach for years) as to our style and
effectiveness of stroke. They were simple Hudson river shad
fishermen--long, lean, lank and spare as greyhounds, sinewy as whip
cord--and as hard as steel nails-- Every muscle was taut and tense as a
racing oarsman's should be. I doubt if they ever saw the inside of a
gymnasium--and laughed to scorn the idea that they had got to train in
one. Rowing all day, for months, had, without developing their muscles
into Sandow monstrosities--hardened them like steel--and they were,
after pulling a long, swinging stroke, with quick recover, ready at all
times to row for their lives. I do not recall of their ever being
defeated--either abroad or in our own waters. _They were our trainers._
They were the finest oarsmen America ever produced. The writer saw them
row the Harvard "Varsity" crew on the Charles River, and after passing
them as though they were almost standing still, play with them and
"_loaf home_". William Blaikie, Harvard's famous stroke, and later their
professional "Coach," wrote after graduation, a book, "How to Get
Strong". He advocated the gymnasium--the fatal trainer's paradise that
has killed so many men. He died, when he had just passed his 50th year,
of dilation of the heart superinduced by _intensive training_. He
believed in enormous muscles and brute strength, rather than skill,
endurance, and good form. He had overtrained and had an overworked
heart. The writer was pitted against a man who was almost a duplicate of
Sandow. He could have pitched me over his head. He could, with a twist
of his immense arms, break a spruce oar in a racing shell. When the last
few boat lengths of the long three miles loomed up--and victory for him
was almost in sight--his sand gave out--his heart was almost broken and
he lay down and threw up the sponge in defeat. He was "pumped out"; he
had overtrained and "gone stale". He pulled "too much beef", and lacked
the courage--sand--nerve and guts that wins at the most critical moment.
He weighed 180 pounds. He could have been better utilized as a battering
ram on a foot ball team to fall down upon some smaller player and break
his back or neck. Our stroke weighed 140 pounds. Some men may train for
a prize fight until they can run 15 miles without breathing hard, and
then, inside of three or four minutes after entering the ring begin
wheezing like an old wind-broken horse. This is due to a _nervous
contraction_ of the pulmonary region, caused generally by nervous
fright. They are too tense and rigid to fight effectively. The writer
has seen the same thing in battle with over trained men--perfectly
tense, dazed--almost speechless--from fright and nerve shock alone
before they could get it under control. This does not imply that they
were cowards-- A man's supreme or best mental and physical efforts does
not depend upon his size, his huge muscles abnormally developed by a
long period of intensive training, or through his intellectuality
acquired by years of school, college and university education, but,
largely through the _spirit_, _force_, _courage_, _discipline_ and
_morale_ which are behind his purpose--that purpose which must furnish
the mainspring of his action.

This refers particularly to the soldier in his _intelligent_ (and by
this the writer does not mean the intellectual) application of that
power and those resources to the actual conditions of the problem with
which he is hourly, even momentarily, confronted when on a battle line
under the hell of fire. This he has got to face, not as a highly
organized or perfectly educated human being, trained, or over trained to
the last limit for a specific purpose, but, on his _individual
initiative_, and his _combative instincts_ or _fighting senses_--without
which no highly educated or purely intellectual human machine could long
withstand the strain, for, until a man goes in under fire he cannot
know, or even guess at his power and resources--his balance and morale
which iron discipline combined with moderate, common sense training
alone has inspired.

Many a soldier has gone into battle, and proved his bravery and battle
efficiency under fire, without being a highly intellectual or even an
educated man, and with no previous training that approaches any where
near perfection, or that was given in these Cantonments, or, with any
other feeling or inspiration than the patriotic motive which has led him
to fight for a great principle, or the incentive in the performance of a
duty in strict obedience to the orders of his superior officers who, if
they are true, and loyal leaders, with the right stuff in them, will
supply all the deficiencies that any long drawn-out intensive training
so often fails in.

It is now that his _real intensive training_ has begun without his
spirit and enthusiasm having become impaired, and he is better able to
fully grasp its meaning than he would had it been daily, weekly and
monthly crammed down his throat by rule, and by some theoretical trainer
who had never seen a battle field--never been on one--or under fire, and
who would scarcely know one if he should see it.

Our intensive training in most of these cantonments was begun backwards.
Teaching men to shoot--and to shoot straight, preferably under
conditions of noise, after a few days--closely simulating a real
battleracket--is much more effectual as a starter--after he has been
taught to knock down, clean, assemble and quickly load his rifle--and
the proper use of it, than a manual of arms "by the count" (as the
writer saw it) or any attempt at a perfect knowledge of the intricacies
of the School of the Company, etc.

A man, unless he has been designated as a sharpshooter, or for
"sniping"--or, has been ordered to remain under permanent or
semi-permanent trench cover--is not satisfied to fight at from 1000 to
1200 yards--the range of a high power rifle,--for, under most
atmospheric conditions and when in the smoke and confusion of battle, he
cannot pick up his target, or see the object aimed at, or determine
whether his fire is effective, therefore he is going to push forward to
from 300 to 500 _yards_--the range of our old muzzle loading
Springfield rifles. There, _in the open_ he can see the enemy he is
fighting--almost the whites of his eyes--and how effective his fire
should be. _There is the place to fight_--and that was where our
American lads after the Hindenberg lines were destroyed--or turned--and
the Huns were driven out into open ground--in their forward rushes--were
so effective in cleaning and mopping up the best troops Germany had.
They could not resist close fighting. They had not been trained that
way, and we ought not to dream even of training our men in _long
range_--_trench cover fighting_--except under certain conditions which
are clearly indicated. Circumstances will govern those conditions.

A Brief Summary--A Record "Round-Up"

While this was not the concluding chapter, or the end of my dealings,
either by way of experience or adventure with these deserters, or all
that was likely to grow out of it, I felt that much of the burden had
been lifted. The long chase in the howling "Norther". The novelty of our
night at "Rhodes Ranch"--with seven people, including the crying baby,
and the three dogs in a one room "shack" to keep us from perishing;
sliding and skating over the desolate solitude, wind-swept and ice
crusted; the two long, weary nights among the dens, dives and slums of
Weatherford and Cleburne with my optimistic, jovial, joking--Musketeer
Corporal; the all night study of the map--the one-legged, "_Johnny
driver_" with his friendly Gettysburg battle-field reminiscing that came
so near losing me the fruits of a night's hard labor--and uncertainty
of plans in the early morning at the latter town;--the exciting,
thrilling--almost spectacular capture of the men in the brush near
Hillsboro; the bluff and threat of the wagon master; the novelty of a
Texas log jail with its forbidding exterior and interior, but sheltering
walls; the little, panic-stricken wagoner; the indictment of all the
citizens implicated in their escape and temporary release under the
stimulus of "blood money"; the "squealing" of Crafts on the concealment
of the arms; the identification of the raw recruits;--the encounter with
the fighting termagants at Hardin's Ranch; the hasty return of the
carbines by the "old man" who would "lick you uns outen yer boots"; the
commendations and warm personal thanks of Generals Mackenzie and Hardie;
the letter of thanks and congratulations from the Major-General
Commanding the Department of Texas; all were now over, and I could
at last, heave a great sigh of relief--and for a few days, at least,
indulge in a brief period of well earned rest.

It is believed that this march of over 200 miles in the dead of winter,
during an unprecedented severe "Norther" (10° below zero) with sleet,
snow, hail and ice almost thick enough to bear the weight of our horses,
and for a part of the time in jeopardy of our lives--the capture of
these ten (10) men with all of their arms and safe delivery into a
military post, and the apprehension and indictment of the three (3)
civilians for their share in the adventure--stands on record as the
most complete and wide-sweeping "round up" of deserters, under all of
the circumstances, ever known in the official Military Annals of the
Department of Texas, if not in the entire United States Army-- At all
events, in any way it may be summed up, it was a most remarkable and
"Phenomenal Capture".

Transcriber's Notes

1. Several typos have been corrected. The exception to this is when the
same word was misspelled more than once (e. g. "guage").

2. The word "coup d'oeuil" uses an oe ligature in the original.

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