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Title: Little Pills, An Army Story - Being Some Experiences of a United States Army Medical Officer on the Frontier Nearly a Half Century Ago
Author: McKay, Robert Henderson
Language: English
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An Army Story



Formerly Acting Assistant Surgeon United States Army

Being Some Experiences of a United States Army
Medical Officer on the Frontier Nearly
A Half Century Ago


Published by
Pittsburg Headlight
Pittsburg, Kansas



This little sketch of army life on the frontier was first written,
merely for the pleasure it might bring to my children in looking it over
in after years. It remained in the form of a manuscript for that
purpose, until some of my friends urged its publication. The merit of
the story itself, if it has any, lies in the fact of actual experience,
but probably a matter of more importance is to call attention to the
wonderful changes that have taken place in the fifty years just passed.
The term frontier today would be a misnomer. There is no frontier. The
immense areas of wild and waste country that then existed has vanished
before the tide of civilization and settlement. The present generation
can never realize the vast changes. Possibly this little book may bring
to mind, by way of contrast, at least some of the conditions then and



My children have often asked me to write out some of my experience while
a medical officer in the United States Army on the frontier, and I have
often resolved to do so. But for many years after leaving the service my
time was so thoroughly taken up in an effort to make a living and
educate the children that my good resolutions received scant attention.
Now in my 78th year the apathy of old age is such a handicap, that great
effort is required to do things that at one time I could have done
cheerfully but did not.

I think my experiences during the Civil War gave me something of a taste
for military duty, for when in the summer or early fall of 1868 I
noticed that an Army Medical Board was in session at New York, I at once
made application to appear before it for examination for a position in
the regular service. I was examined in October, 1868, and as the board
continued in session for some time afterwards I waited with some anxiety
and misgivings as to the result of my examination. I had the impression
that the examination would be severe and was doubtful of my ability to
pass. In this connection it is proper to say that some had failed in
these examinations that afterwards became noted medical men. Among them,
I was informed, was Dr. Austin Flint, Sr., whose work on the practice of
medicine was standard and considered the best when I was a student. His
son, Dr. Austin Flint, Jr., also became famous as our great Physiologist
and his work on that subject is standard today. It was not until the
following January that I heard from my examination, and was then
directed to report at St. Louis to be mustered into the service as
Acting Assistant Surgeon in the United States Army. There was
necessarily some delay in disposing of the few things we had, some of
which we sold and some of which we stored. Finally everything being
disposed of, we left our home in Washington, Iowa, and from there, after
a day with friends, took a train for Burlington, thence to Keokuk, where
my wife remained visiting relatives, I going on to St. Louis to report.

I was mustered into the service January 29th, 1869, and ordered to
report to the Medical Director, Department of the Missouri at
Leavenworth, Kansas, for assignment to duty. The Department of the
Missouri at the time comprised the States of Missouri, Kansas, Colorado,
New Mexico, The Indian Territory, and I think Arkansas.

General Sheridan was the commanding officer of the department at that
time. He also had a brother who was a captain and who was also stationed
at Leavenworth. Dr. Miles was the Medical Director of the Department and
Dr. McGruder was Post Surgeon at Leavenworth. I was on waiting orders at
Fort Leavenworth for something over a month during which time I got my
first impression of the rank and file of the Regular Army. The officers
impressed me as very self important, exceedingly courteous and cordial,
and charming in their broad-gauge views of current events and their
unreserved candor in discussing all subjects. I must except one subject,
however, and that was politics. An army officer is supposed to have no
politics, or if he has he keeps them in reserve. Seldom during nearly
seven years of my life in the army did I hear politics mentioned. An
army officer is supposed to do his duty regardless of who holds
political authority over him, and this he does most loyally. The
enlisted men impressed me as a clean, attractive and well disciplined
body of soldiers. Another thing that impressed me was the absolute
separation of the officers and enlisted men. It may be different now but
at that time there seemed to be nothing of even a fraternal interest.
The officer commanded and the soldier obeyed. In this way they seemed as
distinct as oil and water, and it was a rather surprising contrast to
the volunteer service during the war, where enlisted men and officers
often from the same town and nearly always from the same community
fraternized and often addressed each other by their given names; while
in the regular service there was nothing of the kind. An officer when
passing an enlisted man always received a salute. The men or man
standing at attention when giving it and the officer was required to
return the salute. The men may be sitting down, say outside of their
barracks, and when an officer approaches and gets within a certain
distance they all rise at once, stand at attention, and give the salute,
and this is the extent of their relations with each other.

The officers mess at Leavenworth was quite a large one, mostly of
unmarried men, although there were maybe two or three married couples,
and was exceedingly cordial and sociable with each other. Those of the
rank of Captain or higher up in rank were always addressed by their
military title of Captain or Major, as it might be, but the Lieutenants
were addressed as Mister, or by their surnames, as Mr. Jones or simply

The first of March came and with it came pay-day, a matter that seemed
of much interest to the officers. It did not take me long to learn its
importance for army officers at that time as a rule literally lived up
their salaries. I finally learned that an officer was considered by many
other officers as a little off color if he was close-fisted and tried to
save money out of his pay. To me it was a matter of importance because I
was poor and needed it. I sent most of my first month's pay, after
paying mess bill and a few other necessary expenses, to my wife, not
keeping enough, as I afterward learned, for an emergency that might
arise. Expecting to be ordered to some frontier post, I took the
precaution to invest in a pistol, a very ridiculous thing to do, as I
now think of it. The further history of that pistol will appear later on
in this story.

While at Leavenworth the officers gave a hop. I never knew why it was
called a hop instead of a dance, but it was always so designated in the
army. Officers came from other places, particularly Fort Riley, among
whom was General Custer of cavalry fame during the Civil War, and a
noted Indian fighter on the frontier. I watched him with a good deal of
interest, for at that time he was a distinguished man in the service,
and I must say that I was rather disappointed in his appearance. He
seemed to me to be under-sized and slender, and at first blush to be
effeminate in appearance. Maybe his long hair, almost reaching to his
shoulders, gave this impression, but the face was something of a study
and hard to describe. Something of boldness or maybe dash, a quick eye,
and he was intensely energetic, giving the impression that he would be a
veritable whirlwind in an engagement. He did not convey the idea of a
great character. He was a very graceful dancer. His career ended at the
famous battle in our Indian warfare, that of the Little Big Horn. Not a
man of his command escaped to tell the story.

I think it was about the 8th or 9th of March that I received orders to
report to the Chief Medical Officer, District of New Mexico, for
assignment to duty. The quartermaster furnished transportation, that is
to say, orders to the transportation companies, railroads, stage-lines,
etc., to carry the officer to point of destination. This, together with
the order of assignment to duty, would carry one wherever the assignment
directed. At this time the so-called Kansas-Pacific railroad was built
out pretty well towards the west line of the state, but there were no
transcontinental lines finished until the following summer. The Union
and Central Pacifics joining that year in Utah in July.

I left Fort Leavenworth in the morning and before night was out on the
plains. From Leavenworth to Topeka there was some settlement. The towns
as I remember them were mere railroad stations, except Lawrence, which
was more pretentious, and the scattering farmhouses were small and
primitive in style. Topeka seemed to be something of a town, but from
there west the country was only partially inhabited. Fort Hayes stood
out prominently to the left of the railroad but the whole country seemed
one great sea of desolation unlimited in extent. At that time I would
not have given ten dollars per square league for what has since become
one of the famous wheat fields of the country. The evening of the second
day we arrived at a place called Sheridan which was the terminus of the
railroad. It was a straggling place of tents and wooden shacks, dance
halls, bawdy houses, gambling houses and saloons. Murders were of
frequent occurrence and it was considered dangerous to be on the street
at night. There was only one street in the town. I started out on this
street about dusk, thinking I had better go to the stage office and
arrange for my transportation on to Santa Fe. The landlord happened to
notice me and called for me to wait a minute and when he had joined me
he inquired where I was going. He said he would go with me as it might
not be safe for me to be alone, and told me of a killing in front of the
hotel the night before.

My bed that night was on the second story, merely floored, and not
plastered or sealed, and the roof slanted down close to the bed. The
space between the floor and the edge of the roof was open and I could
look down into the saloon. I watched the patrons of this place for some
time for it was altogether a new experience. The clinking of glasses;
the loud talk; the dim lights; and the thorough abandonment of the
motley crowd remains quite vividly in my memory. It finally occurred to
me that in the event of a shooting scrape, even there in bed was not a
very safe place, so I edged over to the far side of the bed and soon
dropped to sleep, not waking until called in the morning.

We got an early start and I had the stage mostly to myself until we
crossed the Raton spur of the mountain. The nights were chilly and I was
not over-warmly clad, but I managed after the first night to get a fair
amount of sleep. I felt some fear of Indians although it was too early
in the season for them to go on the war-path. The summer before had been
a particularly bad one on the plains. Forsythe's command was almost
annihilated in October, 1868, on the Ariskaree Fork of the Republican
river, and at every stage station until after we reached Trinidad,
Colo., the first salutation between the men at the station and our
conductor was whether either had seen any Indians. The apprehension was
not that the Indians would go on the war-path at that time of the year,
because their ponies could not exist until the grass was well started,
but that some of the venturesome young bucks might take it into their
heads to attack the stage coach. I peeked out of the coach at night and
wondered if there was any probability of Indians attacking us and
thought of my pistol, but was not proud of it, or of my ability to use

The stage stations were interesting to me. On the plains proper they
were uniformly built, underground as far up as the sidewalls extended,
and was located near some water hole and at an elevation that would
command a view of the surrounding country for some distance. Above the
dirt walls large logs were laid, upon which the cross timbers were
placed for supporting the roof. These logs were raised from the ground
enough, say three or four inches, to give the occupants a good view of
the surrounding country, and an opportunity of using their carbines
against attack from the Indians, with comparative safety to themselves.
The roof was covered with dirt. The stables were built the same way with
underground passages or open ditches connected with the station proper.
Both station and stable were connected in the same way with the water
hole. At these stations on the plains proper, were stationed a small
squad of soldiers, maybe a half dozen, under the command of a
noncommissioned officer, generally a sergeant, and you can readily see
that the Indians would be a little cautious about getting too near such
a place although during the summer season they often attacked the stage
between stations. The stations were at variable distances apart,
depending on the water supply, generally from eight to twenty miles
apart, and were supplied by government trains on their way to the
military posts of the West. There was not much to attract attention in
approaching these stations, no building in sight, no sign of life. The
first thing you knew some one would hollow "Hello!" and "Hello!" would
come back. "Have you seen any Indians?" and there you are. The last
inquiry was natural enough when you consider the near approach of
spring, when the grass would be green enough to furnish feed for Indian
ponies. Indians would not appear in large numbers at this time of the
year, but little roving bands, maybe one or two venturesome bucks might
be seen almost daily at a safe distance, evidently spying out the
prospects for more serious work later in the season. Of course we got
our meals at these stations, consisting generally of bacon, hot
corn-bread or biscuit, a vegetable or two, and black coffee. This menu
varied some after we crossed the Raton Mountains and were practically
out of Indian troubles, when we had a greater variety, and it was
better prepared.

We got to Trinidad late at night, the first town after crossing the
plains, and located just at the base on the north side of the Raton
Range near the Purgatory river. This was a mining town of some
importance in those days, and had the usual quota of dance halls,
gambling dens and other equipment of a typical mining town.

We got to Dick Wooton's early the following morning and had a good
breakfast. His place was located near the top of Raton Pass and
consisted at that time of a rambling lot of log buildings; one for a
house proper, which was clean, comfortable, and attractive inside, and
the others for stables, blacksmith and wagon shops, and in fact anything
and everything where repairs to transportation could be made. Dick
himself was an attractive personality, was large, quite above the
average in size, with a cheery open face giving little evidence of the
frontier man, and yet he was almost as noted as Kit Carson with whom he
was associated as pioneer and scout. Both were noted men on the
frontier. Wooton, however, took a more practical view of life than
Carson and conceived the idea of building a wagon road over the Raton
Pass. This road was completed and I think had been for some time before
I crossed the pass. If I remember correctly we crossed a little stream
coming down from near the top of the range thirteen times before we came
to the top of the pass. Wooton had some kind of permit or authority from
the government for building this road and was authorized to make it a
toll road. He was reported to have made quite a fortune from the revenue
derived from it.

A little place called Cimarron, (which in Spanish means mountain of
sheep) or Maxwell's ranch was the next place of interest to me. This is
some distance south of the Raton Range, maybe half way from Trinidad to
Fort Union. It seemed that Maxwell married a high class Spanish woman
whose family owned an immense estate in what was Mexico before it was
ceded to the United States. In the division of the estate Maxwell's wife
got a grant of many thousands of acres on the head waters of the
Cimarron, a tributary of the Canadian, which I understand was very much
reduced as a result of extended litigation with the government as to
title. We traveled for miles on what was then called Maxwell's Ranch,
where great herds of sheep, cattle and horses were to be seen, with an
adobe house here and there, where herders lived. It was a great pleasure
to stop even for one meal at such a place as Maxwell's. The house was
commodious and handsomely furnished and everything was prosperous and
home-like. Some years later I had the pleasure of acquaintance of a
daughter of Mr. Maxwell's who married a lieutenant in the army and we
were serving at the same post.

We passed Fort Union in the night and I did not get to see much of it,
but I understand it to be only a military post and base of supplies, for
the Quarter-Master or Commissary Department of the army for the District
of New Mexico.

My first view of Las Vegas (The Meadows, in Spanish) was over a
beautiful wide valley, some three or four miles across, through which a
pretty little stream of water, the source of the Pecos river, was
wending its way. The view was beautiful and the town looked to be a
place of importance, but proved to be disappointing on a closer

Not far from Las Vegas we passed what was called the old Pecos church.
It was only a little distance from the road and said to have been built
in the seventeenth century. It stood alone in its desolation and had
partially fallen into decay. The roof was off, the walls partly broken
down and it looked to be as old as reported.

We arrived in Santa Fe late in the evening and stopped at the hotel or
fonda, as it is called in Spanish. At first one feels that he is in a
different country; something foreign and out of the usual, and this
feeling grows with closer acquaintance. For instance you go direct from
the street to your room if your wife is with you, or to a kind of a
lobby or sitting room with a bar at one side if alone.

I was thankful that the stage ride was ended. We had been going night
and day since leaving the railroad at Sheridan, Kans., a distance of
nearly four hundred miles, and although I had the stage to myself most
of the way, one passenger got on at Cimarron that I will feel grateful
to the balance of my days, and from Fort Union to Santa Fe the coach was
crowded all the way. The stage lines in those days had a conductor who
went to the end of the route, much as our railroad conductors do today,
while the drivers like our engineers, only went to what might be called
division points, say twelve-hour trips.

The conductor has charge, and is responsible for the United States mail
and the express packages which are carried in what is called the front
boot, and where the conductor curls up among the mail sacks and packages
and sleeps at night. The back boot is devoted to baggage. Inside there
are generally two seats facing each other and wide enough for three
persons if not too big, on each seat. The stage coach had a great
swinging body resting on two immense leather straps for springs, one on
each side underneath and extending from front to back. These flexible
springs gave the coach an easy side swing and it was not a particularly
unpleasant thing to ride in.

Having arrived in Santa Fe late Saturday evening I did not report until
next morning, and about noon an orderly brought to the hotel my orders
from the Chief Medical officer directing me to report to the commanding
officer at Fort Selden, New Mex., for assignment to duty. This was
startling news, for Fort Selden was the last military post before
reaching the Mexican border and I had only $2.50 in my pocket and my
hotel bill to pay. Being new in the service and something of a
tenderfoot I did not want to go to the other officers for help. I left
my room and went down to the hotel lobby and among others who were there
was the gentleman who got on the stage at Cimarron. We had traveled
together from Cimarron to Santa Fe with hardly the exchange of the usual
courtesies. I was not a good mixer and he had nothing to say, but my
case was very desperate. I had to talk to someone so I asked if he was
acquainted in Santa Fe and he said "some." I told him my troubles and
that I had a good watch and a good pistol (that pistol was a hoodoo by
this time) that I would put up as security for a few dollars to pay my
expenses on the way to Fort Selden. He said: "Well, nobody would give
you anything for them things. If I had the money I would let you have
it." This in a rather slow drowning voice. I took this as a matter of
course. Anybody would talk the same way, I thought, whether they had it
or not.

Dinner was soon ready. The dining room was away to the rear end of this
somewhat rambling hotel building. We passed through a billiard hall and
maybe some store rooms before reaching it. I think, however, there was a
different route for the ladies. I suppose the dinner was good but do not
remember much about it. I do remember, however, on the way back through
the pool hall I stopped to glance around the room which was a very long
one with many tables and many players. The second table away became very
interesting to me for near it stood my man of short acquaintance
apparently talking to one of the players, a large fine looking man who,
laying his cue across the corner of the table, pulled out such a wad of
bills as I had never seen before and commenced counting out the money to
my newly made acquaintance. I passed and went up to my room wondering if
he would keep his word, now that he had the money. I tried to read but
made poor headway. Pretty soon there was a light tap on the door and I
said "come in." The door opened and there was my new found friend who
took a seat in a rather deliberate way and said nothing. I made some
remark about the weather which seemed to meet his approval but directly
he asked me: "About how much money do you think you will need?" I told
him I thought about twenty dollars would be enough. He brought from his
pocket a great bunch of bank notes and counted out twenty dollars and
handed it to me. When I offered my security he politely turned them down
saying he would take chances. When I asked him if he had never lost
money that way he replied, "Yes, some." And when I said I would feel
better myself if he would take something to make himself safe he said,
"Oh no, I'll take chances." When next I inquired about his knowledge of
Santa Fe and the west generally he became more communicative and
informed me that he had spent all his life from a youngster as a
prospector, sometimes striking it good and selling out and trying it
again; sometimes having plenty of money, and at other times having
nothing. Someone else would then furnish him a "grub-stake" as he called
it with which to try again. He and his partners had just sold out a gold
mine at Cimarron and I presume the money I saw him receive from the big
man at the pool table was part of the proceeds of that sale. He finally
asked me if I cared to walk about the town some. I think I would have
gone with him anywhere, so I responded very promptly that I would like
to. The town was utterly strange to me, so different from anything I had
ever seen: adobe walls, adobe houses, and the people were as strange
looking as the houses. The women wore some kind of a wrap over their
head called a mantilla (pronounced man-tee-ya, with the accent on the
second syllable) leaving a little open space for one eye to peep out at
people they met, and the men with the wide brimmed, high peaked hats
that I afterwards learned are the universal costumes of the Mexican
people. After looking around a bit my companion asked me if I would like
to see a cock-fight. Sure thing, of course I would, although having been
raised a strict Scotch Presbyterian I felt some qualms of conscience
about witnessing such an exhibition on the "Sabbath."

[Illustration: SATANTA War Chief of the Kiowas

Original in our possession, taken by Soule, of Boston, while we were
stationed at Fort Sill]

The amphitheater in which the exhibition was given was without cover and
enclosed by a high adobe wall. It was crowded with men and women, mostly
Mexicans, in gala dress, some very richly dressed women and some whose
attire attested poverty, but even these wore bright colors. The head
covering was universal but as varied in colors and quality as the fancy
and wealth of the wearers suggested. I think some of the hats of the men
must have cost a small fortune. The exhibition itself was not very
attractive to me. I could see the chickens sparring around as though for
a good opening and finally one of the cocks would drive the gaff home
with deadly effect and the people would shout and clap their hands and
exchange the money they had wagered on the result. The management would
then bring in another pair of birds for another contest. The betting
consisted not only of money but all kinds of trinkets and valuables. I
saw one woman take off her white slippers handsomely ornamented with
gold braid and spangles and bet them on the result of the contest. The
affair was conducted in Spanish-Mexican and I could not understand
anything that was said, but they all seemed to be delighted with the
exhibition. To me it was not only cruel but was uninteresting. We did
not stay until the finish but went out and saw some more of the town,
then returned to our hotel.

My newly made friend came up to my room after supper, and spent part of
the evening with me. I found his experiences interesting. The old story
of ups and downs, money to spare, and grub-stakes furnished by some one
else, to give him another start. He gave me his address and I was very
prompt in returning his twenty dollars as soon as I got to Fort Selden,
which by the way, I borrowed from the post trader until pay-day. In
answer to my remittance I received a post card without address or date
saying, "You needn't have been in such a hurry." Thus ended an
acquaintance and experience that I think could not have happened
anywhere else than on the American frontier. His name was Robert
Daugherty and nothing could give me greater pleasure than to meet him
again and furnish him a "grub-stake" if he needed it.

Santa Fe (Holy Faith, in Spanish) was an old town when the Pilgrims
landed at Plymouth Rock. About 1606 according to Colonel R. E.
Twitchell, the best authority on the early history of New Mexico, it was
made the capital of one of the Spanish provinces, and had been built on
the site of two small Indian pueblos. I believe if I had been dropped
down in some town in the interior of China and had found a few Americans
to talk to it would not have seemed more strange to me. The office of
the chief medical officer of the district was located in a building on
the plaza that someone told me was the old palace, but which I thought
did not look much like a palace, and which I understand is now used as a
museum in which are to be found the most remarkable collection of
archaeological specimens in America.


Monday morning I started for Fort Selden on the Rio Grande, nearly three
hundred miles away. We had a different type of stage coach, a small
affair, more like a carriage, and drawn by two horses. Some eight or ten
miles out of Santa Fe we almost literally dropped off into a canon that
widened out into more of a valley as we continued our journey until we
reached the Rio Grande some distance above Albuquerque. This town was at
that time a straggling Mexican village of adobe houses along the east
bank of the river. It is now a city of considerable size on the east
side, with modern improvements and is a division point on the Santa Fe
railway and a town of commercial importance.

The river was disappointing. I expected something bigger, and it wound
around from one side of the valley to the other as though in doubt as to
the best way to go. The valley was interesting because of its being
occupied by an altogether different type of Indians. We had left the
plains Indian at Trinidad and from there to Santa Fe had seen only
Mexicans with a fair proportion of Americans whose business interests
were in the country. The Plains Indian, Cheyennes, Commanches, and
Kiowas and Arapahoes, were nomadic and warlike. Here was an agricultural
people who lived in little villages called pueblos, a name also attached
to the Indians themselves. Their villages were located at convenient
distances apart and both men and women went to the fields to work. The
land was divided off into little patches separated by irrigating
ditches, called asacies, and there were no fences or lines to show
individual ownership. It was seemingly a community interest, a kind of
socialism. The Pueblo Isletta was the capital and principal town and was
the place of meeting for the disposal of important questions of interest
to the tribe, and for the observance of such religious services as was
their wont. The hoe was the principal agricultural implement, both for
making ditches and for cultivating the land. The people seemed to be
kindly disposed, and in every way a contrast to the Plains Indian whose
women do the work while the men do the hunting and fighting. They enter
their houses by way of the roof, climbing a ladder from the ground to
the roof and pulling the ladder up after them, then descending by way of
an opening in the room to the room or rooms below. No doors, and only
little peep-holes for windows, sometimes covered with a thin cloth of
muslin. I suppose this was done in the first place as a protection
against the Mountain Indians (Utes and Navajos) who in early times
raided the valley and carried off anything they could lay their hands
on. The valley was sparsely wooded except here and there when we would
come to great groves or boscas as they were called, of immense
cotton-wood trees which were very beautiful. The valley as described
above was the same all the way down to Fort Selden.

After leaving the Pueblo settlements we came to a country occupied
nearly altogether by Mexicans. The commercial interests were conducted
by so-called foreigners: Americans, Germans and Jews, the latter
predominating, but the population was principally Mexican. Stock raising
and farming were the principal industries, the latter in a very
primitive way. They had no modern farm implements, such as plows,
harrows, wagons, etc., and only such improved tools as they could
construct from the scant material at hand. I saw at one place a man
driving a yoke of cattle attached to what appeared to be the limb of a
tree with a projecting prong entering the ground, and at the other end,
which bent up something like a handle, was another man holding it. They
were going back and forth making little ditches or furrows but not
turning the ground over as our plows do. It looked primitive indeed and
reminded me of a picture I saw in an almanac when a kid, representing
the Egyptian plowing. Stock business was more promising. A good many
cattle were reported on the range and I was told the sheep numbered many
thousands scattered all along the mountain range to the west. Soccorro
was the principal town, typically Mexican, but a place of some business
importance. There were small villages at frequent intervals all the way
to Paraja, the last town near the river before crossing the Jornada del
Muerto (or "Journey of Death" in Spanish) which extends from Paraja
(pronounced Paraha, j having the sound of h in Spanish) to Fort Selden,
nearly one hundred miles across, a desert properly named and that has
some pitiful associations in my memory. It was what was known as the
Apache Indian country and grewsome stories are related concerning it.
Death by Indians, famishing for want of water, etc., etc. I must tell a
legend concerning it and the desert country to the east and north. Near
Paraja and rising bluff from the river's edge is a high bit of mountain,
hardly worth the name of range, on the top of which lying in a recumbent
position is as perfect profile of a face and bust as you could imagine.
You get a fine view of it from Fort Craig and for a great distance to
the northwest and northeast. The legend is that a friar, Christobal by
name, and for whom the mountain or range was named, was traveling
through the country on his work for the souls of men when he perished
from thirst. Some supernatural agency brought his body to this mountain
top where it hardened into stone and remains to this day a monument
commemorating a tragedy, and a land mark and guide to the weary and
thirsty traveler pointing the way to where he may find water.

We left Paraja and the river and valley at night after a good supper,
having supplied ourselves with water enough for the trip, expecting to
get breakfast at a place about half-way across, called the Alaman
(Allemand) literally meaning "Dutchman" where it was reported a German
had been found some years before, killed and scalped by Indians. There
had been repeated efforts made to find water on this desert. General
Pope when a young officer of the service had spent a large amount of
government money digging for water. Finally a man by the name of Martin,
a Scotchman, who furnished the meat supply at Fort Selden, was so
persistent with the commanding officer in asserting his ability to find
water, that he was furnished a body of soldiers as an escort and guard
and commissary supplies for the undertaking. He had been working
faithfully and persistently for some months. He had also put some adobe
rooms and had them furnished, his hauling his water supply from a spring
in a canon some six or eight miles away and had built an adobe wall
around his camp. He had also put some adobe rooms and had them
furnished, his wife being an important assistant in the undertaking, and
he was still sinking his well deeper and expressing an abiding faith in
the result. It must be a glorious feeling to be vindicated in such an
undertaking. It was rumored along the overland route that Jack Martin
had found water but not enough, and upon our arrival we found that he
not only had water but had an abundance of it and our stage was the
first to arrive after he struck it. After eating a late breakfast, which
was a very good one, we started for Fort Selden still some fifty miles
away. This part of the trip was uneventful as we only stopped once to
feed and water the team, having carried the necessary supplies with us.
We arrived at Fort Selden in the evening. All the way from Santa Fe down
I frequently noticed little piles of stone by the wayside, sometimes
with little hand-made wooden crosses standing up in the center marking
the place where someone had met a violent death, maybe by Indians or
maybe at the hands of some renegade Mexicans. It is the custom among the
Mexican people in passing to toss another stone on the pile and in this
way some of them became of considerable size, the size of the pile
indicating in a way the time that had elapsed since the murder had been

I reported to the commanding officer at the post and the following day
was assigned to duty. By invitation I took dinner with one of the
officers the evening of my arrival. Among other good things we had a
choice roast of beef which they informed me was from their very choice
and only milk cow. It seems the herders were not sufficiently on guard
and this animal had become separated from the herd but in rounding up
the herd in the evening it was discovered that this particular cow had
an Indian arrow in her side and on examination it was thought best to
kill her. The good woman did not have much appetite for beef but grieved
over the loss of her favorite cow. There was some small timber and
underbrush along the streams affording a good hiding place for sneaking
Apaches who might be disposed to commit depredations. It was the rule at
this post that when the officers' wives wanted to take an airing to
send an escort along with the ambulance as a protection against the

It was a two company post and the duties of the medical officer were
light; so much so as to become a little monotonous, but was sometimes
varied by a trip to Las Cruces or Messilla, some fifteen or eighteen
miles distant. These towns were at one time separated by the river but
some years before an unusual flood had swept down the valley and the
river had made a new channel leaving the towns close neighbors. Even in
those days they were places of some importance.

While stationed at this post I made my first acquaintance with gambling.
It did not take me long to learn that it was the universal custom in the
country. The Sutler's or Post Trader's store was a favorite resort for
those who indulged in the various games. I remember an old man camping
not far from the post who made it his business. He remained there for
some time and in conversation one day I expressed my surprise at the
universal custom and he informed me that he had rather bet his money on
Monte than loan it out at ten per cent interest, and yet his dress and
camping outfit did not indicate a man of fortune.

One of the most interesting incidents of my experience here was one
Sunday morning after inspection when a group of officers were standing
out on the parade grounds talking on various subjects when one of them
was attracted by something at our feet and called attention to it. Upon
closer investigation we discovered it to be the outlines of a human
skull, the top of which had been worn away by the trampling of many feet
over the parade ground. The post commander ordered the dirt removed from
around it and thus unearthed a complete human skeleton except where the
top of the head had been worn away. It was in a sitting position with
the knees flexed up close to the chin but the bones crumbled upon being
exposed to the air. There was no evidence of shroud or other covering to
the body. What race of people buried their dead that way? How long had
it been in its resting place?

This post at that time was about seven hundred miles from the railroad.
I doubt if there is a place in the United States today outside of Alaska
or our insular possession where one could go and be seven hundred miles
from a railroad.

Along in the first part of May of that year I received orders from the
chief medical officer of the district to exchange places with Dr.
Seguin, post surgeon at Fort Craig. General Grover was the commanding
officer at Fort Craig and was considered a good deal of a Martinet. As
explained to me by Doctor Seguin, it seems that Mrs. Grover wanted
something from the hospital which the doctor declined to send her and
General Grover thereupon ordered it sent. The doctor disobeyed the order
and the matter was carried to district headquarters and probably higher
up for it involved the question of military discipline and also the
rights of medical officers under army regulations. It is well enough
here to say that the medical corps is a corps to itself, distinct from
any other branch of the service, and orders come through the medical
officers from the surgeon general down to the divisions; departments and
districts, and yet at the military post the commanding officer is
supposed to be "monarch of all he surveys" as you see there was a chance
for controversy. Any way it was settled by Doctor Seguin being ordered
to Fort Selden to take my place and I to his place at Fort Craig.

General Grover was a severe looking man past middle age, and had seen
service on the frontier before the Civil War. He was a strict
disciplinarian and held himself aloof from everything around. I have
seen him walking down the line of officers' quarters straight as an
arrow, maybe with hands clasped behind his back and an orderly walking
the proper distance behind. He never entered an officer's quarters but
if he wanted anything he would send his orderly to the officer with "the
General's compliments and would like to see you." The officer then
walked out to where the general was standing and at the proper distance
stopped, stood at attention and saluted and waited for such
communications as the general would make. He then saluted again and
returned to his quarters and the general went on his way.

Mrs. Grover was confined soon after my arrival at the post and gave
birth to a daughter. When the general was called in to see the new
arrival he merely looked at it, gave a grunt, or "huh," and then turned
and walked out. Mrs. Grover was the most queenly looking woman I ever
saw; a magnificent physique; a commanding presence and a dignified and
gracious manner. She seemed to possess all the qualities my imagination
had conjured up as befitting a queen. She was the daughter of Dr. Austin
Flint, Sr., whom I mentioned in an earlier chapter, and a sister of Dr.
Austin Flint, Jr., the eminent physiologist. I was frequently called to
their quarters to see the baby, not I thought, that it needed anything,
but that the mother wanted someone to talk with. The general was civil
enough to me but never cordial. I think it was not his nature to be so.
He invited me occasionally to go with him in his carriage to places away
from the post, say to Paraja some twelve miles away, or perhaps just for
a ride, a courtesy he never extended to other officers of the post. On
these little excursions I found that the general was an interesting
talker, mostly with reference to his experiences on the frontier before
the war. The war itself and the army since the war was never mentioned
that I remember. He had been a major general during the war and was now
a colonel and it was thought by most of the officers that he felt
humiliated by being assigned to a negro regiment, the twenty-fourth
infantry. I was invited to their quarters one morning for breakfast and
maybe one or two other meals during the summer but as I remember them
now they were rather formal and uninteresting.

Fort Craig was a walled fort, made so in early days as a protection
against Indians. It was typical of most of the posts at which I served
in being built in the form of a square. The parade ground being a square
plot varying in size at different posts, around which are located the
buildings. The officers occupying one side of the square; the barracks
being directly opposite and the commissary and quarter master department
generally occupying one side and the commanding officer's quarters and
post headquarters and adjutant's office occupying the other side. At
Fort Craig just outside of these buildings was an adobe wall about ten
feet high. Next to the guardhouse was an opening large enough for wagons
to enter the parade ground with heavy gates to close at night, and there
were some small openings in the wall for other purposes, one being near
the hospital. The walls of the buildings were of adobe with heavy
timbers across to support the roof of dirt. The floors were what the
Mexicans called "Jaspa" (pronounced Haspa), a kind of cement made of
gypsum or lime sulphate which is found in great beds through a great
portion of New Mexico. It is quarried or blasted out, heated to drive
out the water or crystalization, then ground into a powder and when
mixed with sand and water makes a pretty fair quality of cement. It was
used altogether in the floors for the military posts along the Rio

The water supply at Fort Craig was obtained from the Rio Grande river
and there were times about June when the snows melted in the mountains
that it answered very well to a description I once read of the Missouri
river water, "Too thick to drink and too thin to cultivate." This was a
great bother to us during the summer rise for it was persistent for more
than a month. I conceived the idea of making a filter by making a good
sized ball of jaspa and charcoal which I held together by mixing a
little cotton batting carefully in the mortar and kneading it into a
very stiff paste. After it hardened I bored a hole in the ball and
inserted a rubber tube and then put the ball in a "Tanaja," a large
ungalvanized earthen jar holding eight or ten gallons of the muddy
water. This jar was put in an army blanket and was swung in the hallway.
The jar being porous would let enough water through to keep the blanket
damp, which cooled the water. By swinging another tanaja just below the
first and having it blanketed in the same way, and having a rubber tube
connecting the two, I had a filter that furnished clear, sparkling, cool
water. I put one in the hospital and they became quite the vogue at the

The wood supply was brought from the mountains some thirty miles away.
Trains comprising several wagons would be sent out in charge of a
wagonmaster with men enough to load them promptly and by starting early
and returning late they sometimes made the round trip in two days, but
generally they were three days out.

For a month or more I was in the officers' mess, consisting only of
single men or those whose families were away. The meals were rather
stately affairs and to me seemed a little tinged with the ridiculous in
that far-away place. There was a colored man standing behind each
officer's chair dressed in the proper toggery to do his duty and to give
him every attention. I never saw any more perfect service at any hotel
and the table was the best the commissary department and the surrounding
country would provide.

Prices outside the commissary were much higher than we had then in Iowa.
Eggs were fifty cents a dozen; butter a dollar and a quarter a pound. I
paid these prices regularly when I started my own mess. I had what was
called a student's lamp in those days and paid five dollars a gallon for
coal oil, as it was then called. Of course that was before oil tanks
were known and it was carried across the plains in barrels, maybe in hot
weather, and on slow moving ox trains, being months on the way. The
evaporation would necessarily be very great, and by the time the
sutler's store got its percent of profit (probably one hundred percent
or more) one could easily see that fifty cent oil in Iowa could easily
be five dollars in New Mexico. Some years later at Fort McRae, further
down the river, we got it for two dollars and a half per gallon by
sending a five gallon can to Santa Fe to be filled.

Thinking that I was a fixture at Fort Craig for some time I wrote my
wife and asked her to join me after her visit in the East was over. In
view of her coming I started a mess of my own and had a little colored
drummer boy detailed as servant and cook. He was as black as night and I
called him Sandy. To start with I laid in a pretty good supply of
commissaries, among them ten pounds of cut loaf sugar. I had my first
dinner on Saturday and the following Monday morning I asked Sandy if
anything was needed. "Yas sah, Doctor, we needs some moah sugar." Why
Sandy, I said, we got ten pounds of each kind on Saturday, which kind do
you want? "We needs some moah cut loaf sugar, sah," he said. What, cut
loaf sugar? "Yas sah, Doctor, it takes a powerful sight 'o sugar for
deserts." Well all right Sandy, I said, I'll see about it. I thought it
was going pretty fast for only two dinners so I stopped on my way back
from the hospital at Major Sweet's quarters and asked Mrs. Sweet how
much cut loaf sugar they used. She was bright and quick as a flash, and
wished to know, while trying to look serious, why I asked such a
question. Finally she broke out into a jolly rippling laugh and said, "I
know what's the matter, Sandy has been carrying your sugar off to the
laundresses." I told Sandy when I returned to my quarters that I did not
mind his having all the sugar he wanted himself but I did not want to
feed all the laundresses at the post on cut loaf sugar. He did better
afterwards but I still think the laundresses got some sugar.

There is no other part of the country so far as I know where skunks were
so plentiful as in New Mexico. They were a nuisance at all the posts at
which I served in that territory, but if possible were worse at Fort
Craig than elsewhere. One evening I had gone to the post trader's to get
my mail and upon my return I found the odor in my quarters so pronounced
that I investigated and found that Sandy had killed a skunk in the
kitchen. He explained by saying that he had tried to drive it out and
could not do so and that he had killed it. I told him to open up all the
windows and doors and scrub the kitchen floor and I went back to the
sutler's store in self protection. I did not return until late when I
found the odor worse than ever and Sandy explained the matter this time
by saying another skunk came in and had made its way into my bed-room
and got under the wardrobe and he could not get it out and was compelled
to kill it. This he did by punching it to death. The result can be
imagined, but not very well described. I slept on a cot in the front
room for some time afterwards and found hunting and out-door exercise
more interesting than remaining in my quarters.

The sand storms at Fort Craig were something to remember, or rather I
should say impossible to forget. They are simply a straight wind blowing
with terrific force and loaded with fine sand and dust and very fine
gravel. I remember particularly one that came up one day when the
steward and I were making out the monthly reports at the hospital. The
windows and doors were closed and everything made as snug as possible,
yet when the storm was over one made tracks when walking across the
floor as visible as he would have made walking along a sandy highway. It
was a serious matter to be out in one of them, for unless the face was
covered one would suffer severely from the stinging sand and fine
gravel, and everything a short distance away was shut out from sight.
There are also some pleasant things to remember of my experience at this
post. The hunting, particularly of wild fowl, was very good, the ducks
remaining late in the spring and returning early in the fall. The
sunsets were beautiful beyond my power of description. It was my first
summer in a rarified atmosphere and I imagined at times I could see
objects moving along the mountain range some thirty miles away. I
remember one evening when Doctor Seguin was visiting a few days with me
on his return from Fort Selden to New York, having left the service, we
were out for a walk together and were up on a little mound just west of
the post as the sun went down and his attention was called to the
beautiful cloud effects. He remarked that he had never seen anything
more beautiful in Italy. The doctor was a Frenchman by birth; his father
was a medical man of distinction, and while most of his life had been
spent in this country he had traveled extensively abroad and his
education, particularly in medicine, had been acquired in Europe. He was
now returning to New York to take up his work as a lecturer on nervous
diseases in the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

While the doctor was visiting with me we went up to San Marcial to
witness the games on St. John's day, June 24th. San Marcial was at that
time a small straggling Mexican village of one street with adobe houses
on each side and all told maybe had one hundred inhabitants. We did not
go into any of the houses and only witnessed one game of any interest,
it was a rough-and-tumble affair and excited great interest among the
Mexicans. A rooster with its legs tied would be buried in a little mound
of sand in the middle of the street, leaving only its head and neck
sticking above the mound. The game was for the horsemen to form in line
some distance up the street and come at full speed swooping down from
the saddle, grab the chicken by the head, and then the battle was on for
the chicken. The possessor of the unfortunate chicken would strike out
over adobe walls and across irrigating ditches, anywhere to get out of
the way of his pursuers and when at last he would be cornered, or
surrounded, a battle royal would follow. I could not determine how the
matter was decided but when the game was over they would come back and
repeat the performance. There were many misses in their efforts to pick
up the rooster, but a few of the contestants were more expert than the
others and several succeeded in swinging down and retrieving the rooster
from the mound of sand. We left while the game was still in progress. In
all the games I witnessed among the Mexicans there appeared the element
of cruelty in some form or other.

During the summer of 1869 while stationed at this post I went to Paraja
to see the Penitentes parade. I don't know why it was called a parade
for it was an exhibition of cruelty that I have never at any other time
in my life seen equaled. It was supposed to be a religious ceremony but
consisted of a procession in single file of those who had committed
great crimes or sins. The one in front carried a great wooden cross, the
cross-bar of which rested on his neck and shoulders, he carrying it in a
somewhat stooped position. It was of an enormous size, the cross-bar
extending as I estimated it, at least eight feet in length and the stem
in proportion. It had been made of dry cotton-wood logs and hewn out to
probably eight or ten inches square and was a crude looking affair, but
was probably not as heavy as it looked. The one bearing this cross took
the lead and was naked to the waist and from there down wore only a
single cotton garment, pants-like in shape, but very full, something
like a skirt, and all those following were dressed in a similar way. All
were bare-footed and there were probably twenty or more of them. Each
carried thongs with which he struck the man in front of him on the bare
back, all acting in something like uniformity as to time and repeating
in unison and in a drone like voice something in Spanish that I could
not understand. Before the procession ended the backs of most of the
participants were notably bloody and some of them very much so. Paraja
is located literally in a bed of sand and I wondered how they could
stand it that hot August day in their bare feet and the bloody work of
the thongs left the impression on my mind of being a most brutal
performance. But they were sincere and no doubt believed they were
atoning for sins committed. What kind of a God is it who would accept
such an atonment or approve of its offering? The faces of the
participants were mostly of a brutal type and they looked as though they
were capable of committing almost any crime. This exhibition did not
impress me as in any way religious but on the contrary as exceedingly
barbarious and superstitious.

By act of Congress during the winter of 1868 and 1869 the army was
ordered reduced, which to me was a serious matter as it rendered
improbable any convening of a medical board for examination of medical
officers for promotion, at least for some years to come. As I remember
such line officers as wished to resign could do so with the privilege of
a year's additional pay, and enough others would be dropped from the
service to bring the number down to the required standard, also with a
year's additional pay. The only difference being that of resigning or
being dropped from the service. Quite a number of line officers
preferred resigning. Among those who did so was Lieutenant Page of the
twenty-fourth infantry at Fort Craig. He proposed selling me his cow and
I proposed trading him my pistol for it. He thought the matter over and
said that he proposed locating on a farm in Missouri and the pistol
might come very handy, so we made the exchange. He came to visit me at
Girard, Kansas, after I had quit the service and gave me a farther
history of the pistol. He had missed a good deal of corn from his fields
and watched for the thieves and shot one of them quite seriously. The
matter got into the courts and being so soon after the War the factional
feeling had not died out, and the long litigation that followed almost
bankrupted Mr. Page, rather a disreputable record for a pistol to make,
but I imagine that there have been comparatively few occasions where
pistols were used in personal encounters, that it would not have been
better if they had never been made.

I expected my wife in September. In the meantime Captain Lawson had
returned from a leave of absence and joined my mess until his wife
should come. Just before I expected my wife to start on her trip to join
me, a command came up from Texas, an exchange of regiments had been
ordered. The fifteenth infantry went to the Department of the Missouri,
and the twenty-fourth infantry to the Department of Texas, and I was
ordered to accompany a part of the fifteenth infantry from Fort Craig to
Fort Wingate, New Mex. I at once wrote my wife to await developments.
She had already started and got as far as Fort Wallace, Kans., near the
terminus of the railroad when word reached her from Fort Wingate that I
was to go with one company of the fifteenth infantry to Fort Dodge,
Kans., and she could meet me at Fort Lyon, Colo., which would be on my
way to Fort Dodge.


Santa Fe, New Mexico, as it appeared in 1869. Army Headquarters for the
District of New Mexico was located at the far end of this building.]


Fort Wingate is a post about one hundred and fifty miles west and a
little north of Albuquerque and in the mountains in what was then called
the Navajo country. While there I saw one of the squaws making a Navajo
blanket. I supposed it would be called weaving but was unlike any
weaving I ever saw, yet when a lad I was quite familiar with the looms
and spinning wheels of the times, and the making of cloth. The blanket
making appeared to be a very tedious process, the warp being held taut
by stakes in the ground and the filling or woof worked in under and over
the threads forming the warp and pressed in place by a little flat piece
of wood passing between the threads of the warp. I could more readily
understand why the blankets were so expensive.

We remained at Wingate probably two weeks. I was a guest of Doctor
Vickery, the post surgeon. He was a most charming host and all-around
good fellow. He gave me a little handful of garnets the Indians had
brought him from the little ant hills so abundant in the country. I sent
a few of the choicest stones to Tiffany & Company of New York and had
two rings made; one for my wife and one for a friend, the post surgeon's
wife at Fort Wallace, who had been most kind to her while she was
waiting for an opportunity to join me.

The company from Fort Wingate to Fort Dodge together with the
headquarters' paraphernalia was under the command of Mr. Krause, a
lieutenant of the fifteenth infantry. Instead of coming around by
Albuquerque we came part way and then cut across country to the
northeast. When within a few miles of the Rio Grande the wagon road bore
down to the southeast. The infantry cut across in the direction of
Barnalillo (double L has the sound of E in Spanish) and the
transportation followed the wagon road. Mr. Krause and I took the
ambulance and when we reached the river in place of going up stream on
the west side as the wagons were directed to do we crossed over to the
old overland stage route and then went north on the east side. It was
late when we reached the outskirts of the town and we noticed a great
light as though some building was on fire. We had now left the stage
road and were trying to find one that would take us to a crossing on the
river. We were about to enter the town or pueblo, for it was an Indian
pueblo, when we had a good view of the fire which proved to be an
immense bonfire in the middle of the street with many people gathered
around it. An Indian met us and gave us to understand that we could go
no farther. With what little Spanish we could command, and by signs, we
got him to understand that we wanted to reach the command on the other
side of the river. By that time another Indian or two had joined us and
they at once took the matter in hand. One of them got into the ambulance
and by signs indicated to the driver which way to go and the first man
to meet us signalled Mr. Krause and myself to follow him. He would take
us through the pueblo, but started around the outskirts of the place and
after what seemed to me an interminable time brought us up at a high
bluff. It was quite dark and we could see the campfires across the
river, but how to get there, or whether we would get there, seemed
questionable to me. However, the Indian knew what he was about, and soon
found the place he wanted, and disappeared over the side of the bluff on
what proved to be steps cut out of the rock, leading down to the valley
below. It was then only a short distance to the ford and our guide
motioned us to stay there, and we understood he wanted us to wait for
the ambulance, but he waded across the river. We found him on our
arrival in camp carrying wood for the campfires and seemingly greatly
pleased at being able to help us. We gave him a dollar at which he was
evidently delighted. The transportation arrived soon after we reached
camp and all was right again.

We reached Santa Fe early in November--I think the 4th--and only stayed
in town a few hours to rest and report to district headquarters where
arrangements were made to have the paymaster come out to a place agreed
on some five miles out where we would camp that night and pay off the
men. This precaution was taken because there are always some men who
cannot stand prosperity and will blow their money for anything they may
fancy, particularly for liquor, and quite a number of them were likely
to get drunk and be put in the guardhouse and cause delay in getting
away from the town. It seems however, that some of them had money and
those disposed to load up on "tangle-foot" had borrowed enough to put
themselves past good marching condition, for at roll call preparatory to
being paid off, some were missing and came straggling into camp one at a
time later on in the afternoon, one without shoes, hat or clothing,
excepting underwear, and one entirely naked. They had fallen out of
ranks and taken a nap, and on trying to join the command had been held
up by Mexicans. Of course their guns and accoutrements had gone with
their clothing. We were camped where we could see some distance back
along the road we had come and it was rather an odd sight to see the men
coming into camp in that condition. It was quite ridiculous to see men
in such uniforms, or rather lack of them, come into camp, stand at
attention and salute when reporting to the commanding officer.

We followed the old overland stage route from Santa Fe to Fort Lyon,
Colo., a distance of nearly three hundred miles. From there it was some
two hundred miles to our destination at Fort Dodge. There was little of
interest on the way to Fort Lyon, the usual routine of making and
breaking camp and marching during the day. By this time the men were
thoroughly hardened to the march and the roads being good we made good
time. It is interesting to know that for a distance of one thousand
miles men will beat horses.

At Cimarron we waked up in the morning to find six inches of snow on the
ground and at Wooton's just north of the crest of Raton Pass, we stayed
two or three days to have transportation repaired. I hunted a little but
as I was afraid to go far from camp found nothing. One evening while
there, Mr. Krause and I went down to Trinidad, a mining town of some
importance in those days with the usual equipment of saloons and
gambling halls. I had some curiosity to see the later, so we visited
one. It was located in a long room a hundred feet or more in length by
probably forty feet wide, in which there were many tables, at most of
which were men engaged in playing games. The poker players sat at small
tables, four or five players around each one, with stacks of chips or
money at their side, or perhaps a buckskin sack containing gold dust,
(for this was a placer mining camp) which was weighed out as occasion
demanded in the fluctuations of the game. At other tables dice were
used, or balls were rolled, and the bets were made as to which little
pocket they would enter. Everything was quiet and orderly and seriously
business-like. It was a curious exhibition and to this day I do not
understand the fascination that seems to be in it.

At Trinidad we were still a hundred miles or more from Fort Lyons where
I expected to meet my wife, and while we made exceptional progress for
infantry it seemed all too slow for me. It was on the 25th of November
when we reached Fort Lyons, and I had the great pleasure of seeing my
wife and baby boy again. We rested over for two or three days at Fort
Lyons and then started on the last long lap of nearly two hundred miles
down the Arkansas river to Fort Dodge, Kans. We did not see a habitation
or a soul on the way except at one place where a man was standing at the
roadside as we passed along. He informed us that he and his partner were
there killing buffalo and poisoning wolves for their hides. We found an
immense gray wolf lying by the roadside and the men threw it on one of
the wagons and we left it with the lone hunter by the roadside.

When pretty well down toward Fort Dodge, I had one of the most exciting
hunting experiences of my life. Buffalo in great numbers were seen
nearly all the way down and I was anxious to get a fine robe from an
animal I had killed myself. My opportunity occurred one afternoon after
we had gone into camp. I saw a good sized herd leave the river and start
back to the high ground to graze, probably a mile or more away. I did
not know any better than to go on foot and alone. It never occurred to
me that there could be any danger. The ground was level as a floor and I
got up within a hundred yards or less and picked out a large black bull
that I thought would furnish the prize I was after, and fired. At the
crack of the rifle he started for me and of course I turned and ran, and
ran for my very life. I thought how hopeless it looked for me, for the
camp seemed far away, but I did my best. Finally I could hear him close
behind me and while I expected every moment to be gored it occurred that
he was breathing heavily, and I kept the pace as best I could until the
breathing seemed less distinct and looking over my shoulder I discovered
that he had stopped running and was walking around and around. However,
I kept going until I was sure I was at a safe distance and then fell on
the ground and lay there for a while. My heart was beating like a
trip-hammer. I had no notion then of giving up the contest and as he
turned broadside to me I fired and he started, and I started for another
race. He did not make much headway this time and my courage arose
accordingly. Pretty soon he stopped again and commenced turning around.
He did not chase me again, but it took the fourth shot before he fell.
The rifles of those days were very different from the modern repeating
rifles. This was a breech loader with only a single shot and it was
necessary to raise up what was called the breachblock by hand and insert
the cartridge, then replace the breachblock, cock the gun, and you were
ready for another shot. Too slow a process when a mad buffalo is chasing

I had been aiming for the heart but shot too high and the wound in the
lungs had caused the blood to choke him so he could not keep up the
pace. All four of the shots went into a space not larger than my hand
and one of the bullets lodged under the skin on the opposite side which
I was careful to keep as a souvenir of the chase. Some of the enlisted
men who had gone out to the right for a shot came to my assistance and
skinned the animal for me and carried the hide into camp. They assured
me that the animal was certainly within ten or fifteen feet of me at one
time during our race.

Another hunting incident occurred on our trip down the valley in which I
was only a spectator. Some men had gone off into the hills to get a
buffalo for the command. They had separated one from the herd and had
wounded it and got the animal turned in the direction so as to cross the
road ahead of the command. When it came in sight our cook became
enthused with the idea of going out and killing it and thus have some of
the glory of the chase. He asked permission to take my riding mule that
followed behind the ambulance. I readily gave my consent and watched the
proceedings with a good deal of interest. He started away at full speed
with a pistol in one hand swinging it in anticipation of a great
victory. All went well enough until the mule got close to the game when
I suppose he got a whiff of an odor that did not please him, for without
slacking his pace he turned and never stopped until he was back in the
rear of the ambulance again. All this with the rider making the most
frantic effort to get him into the fight. He did not even get a shot.
The buffalo was killed near the road and loaded on one of the wagons and
taken into camp.

Another little incident occurred on this trip that was quite exciting
for a few moments: We had camped near the river in some very tall grass,
blue-stem I think it was called, the company some little distance away
and to windward of headquarters. Some way in starting their campfire, it
got beyond their control, and a shout in that direction gave as warning.
I gathered the baby in my arms and we all ran for the river. Fortunately
there was a sandbar extending out from the bank and we jumped some four
or five feet down to that, and huddled up against the bank until the
danger was past. There was a strong wind blowing and it was all over in
a few moments. We thought of the ammunition wagon and feared the
results, but the only harm done was a little scorching of my wife's
side-saddle which was under the wagon. Only those who have seen a
prairie fire in tall grass with a stiff wind blowing, can picture the
scene as it actually happened. The ground was swept clean but was black
with the ashes and stubble of the burned grass.

On arriving at Fort Dodge we stayed a few days waiting for a surgeon who
was returning from Fort Larned and who accompanied us from Fort Dodge to
Fort Hayes, Kans. While at Fort Dodge there was a dust storm that
continued for three or four days, blowing a steady gale during that
time. Major Morris was commanding officer at that post and I remember a
lieutenant, Phil Reed, who was a charming and entertaining talker at the
table. My recollection is that he was afterwards married to Minnie
Reams, an actress of note at that time. The road from Fort Dodge to Fort
Hayes was a very desolate one. By starting early and urging our team
along until after dark we came to a stream bordered by timber where we
camped for the night. It was snowing very hard when we reached camp and
by morning there were six or eight inches of snow on the ground. The
road was so obscure in many places that we were doubtful whether we were
on the right road or on any road at all. Not a house or sign of life in
all that great white waste and even now I think of it as the most
desolate day of all my life. We arrived at Fort Hayes after midnight of
the second day, and were soon comfortably located at Doctor Meacham's
quarters and sound asleep. My orders read to accompany the command to
Fort Dodge and then proceed to St. Louis, Mo., and report to the medical
director of the department which had been changed from Fort Leavenworth
to that place. We were now at the railroad and the worst of the long
journey from Fort Craig, N. Mex., to St. Louis was over.

When in the ticket office at Fort Hayes arranging my transportation, I
was introduced to one of the most noted characters on the frontier. He
was generally known as "Wild Bill," but his name was Hickok and his
brother had been our wagon master from Fort Wingate to Fort Dodge. He
did not look wild at all but was a rather mild mannered and genteel
looking fellow. He had long hair and wore good clothes and had nothing
of the appearance of a desperado.

The trip to St. Louis was uneventful.


On reporting to the medical director at St. Louis I was ordered to Fort
Sill, Indian Territory, (now Oklahoma) by way of railroad to Fort Scott,
Kans., and thence by stage to my destination. We arrived at Fort Scott,
Kans., late in the evening. This was the end of the Kansas City, Fort
Scott and Gulf Railroad at that time, and a booming town. The hotels
were crowded and we had great difficulty in finding a place to sleep,
but finally were located at what was called the Western Hotel where we
were fortunate enough to get a room for ourselves. Many were compelled
to sleep on cots or beds made down on the floor in sitting rooms, dining
rooms and parlors.

The next morning I waded through deep snow some distance southeast of
town to a soldiers' camp where Major Roy was in command and reported. He
informed me that it would be impossible for me to go by stage to Fort
Sill, that the stages had quit running on account of the deep snow, and
that he would order me back to St. Louis, which he did. We arrived in
St. Louis about the 20th of December, and stopped at the Lindell, one of
the good hotels in those days. The controversy between Doctor Mills, the
medical director and the department quartermaster was quite amusing. The
doctor ending up by saying, "You sent him the only road he couldn't go."
It was decided I should wait for a boat down the Mississippi and up the
Arkansas to Fort Smith, and stage across country from there to Fort

On my first arrival at St. Louis from the West I had gone to see a
furrier about tanning my buffalo hide and he informed me it would
require several days to put it in prime condition. I went to see him
again on our return to St. Louis and was told it would probably be ready
by the time we would start to Fort Sill by boat and that he would make a
robe I would be proud of. He sent it to the boat the day before we left,
and as it seemed a little damp, I spread it out on the hurricane deck to
dry. As it dried it became hard around the edges and I kept trimming
away the hard parts, particularly those of the neck and legs until I
had my robe in the shape of a parallelogram. This was disappointing but
I still praised it as a souvenir of the chase. We found it a very great
help in keeping us warm while in the stage from Fort Smith to Fort Sill.
It disappeared one night while hanging outside of our tent at Fort Sill
which was only a camp at that time. It had cost me a most thrilling
experience when first getting possession of it and then ten dollars to
have it tanned, and now after a short service it was gone and I
concluded it was hardly worth the ammunition.

We were in St. Louis a week or more waiting for the boat to start and
while there we had the pleasure of seeing Joseph Jefferson in "Rip Van
Winkle." He was then in his prime and although I have seen and heard him
since in the same play it did not appeal to me in the same way it did at
the first performance.

I think it was the last day of December that we went on the boat and
started on our trip down the river the following evening. It was a light
craft, stern wheel boat, and I was amazed at the vast quantity of
freight that it carried. The trip down the Mississippi was without
incident but we had frequent delays on the Arkansas unloading freight
and crossing sandbars. From Little Rock to Fort Smith we tied up every
night. Most of the time up the Arkansas a man stood at the head of the
boat taking soundings.

We were cordially received and entertained on our arrival at Fort Smith
by the post surgeon, Doctor Theibaut and his family, where we remained
two or three days.

We started from Fort Smith very early in the morning, about four o'clock
if I remember rightly, and it was very cold. In the stage with us, was a
deputy United States marshal, who told us of the disastrous results
attending those who brought liquor into the country--confiscation of
property, jail sentences, etc. The trouble with us was that we had a
bottle of brandy with us. By the time we stopped for breakfast my wife
was thoroughly aroused to the importance of the occasion and whispering
to me expressed her fears. I tried to assure her that it would be all
right, and that no one would search an army officer's baggage, but it
was of no use, and when the marshal was out of sight I broke the bottle
over the fence corner and went into breakfast as though nothing had
happened. We learned afterwards that army officers were permitted to
bring it in for their own use and while at Fort Sill I had some sent me
with other medical supplies.

It was very cold for a day or two and we had the stage to ourselves
after the marshal left us. I think it was the following night when we
were in some very rough mountainous country that the driver stopped the
stage and asked if I would get up on the outside with him, explaining
that his team was hard to manage and that he might need assistance, to
which I readily consented. The team was spirited enough and we went
along at a spinning gait. I thought noticeably so for such rough roads
and I believe my wife thought it was the ride of her life. After two or
three hours the driver said he believed the team was settling down and
would probably not give any trouble and if I wished I could go back
inside the stage where it was warmer. I accepted this suggestion
promptly and found it much more comfortable. The driver explained to me
at the end of his division that in the rough country we had passed there
were frequent hold-ups and he thought someone ought to sit with him to
create the impression that the stage was loaded and highwaymen would be
less liable to attack it.

The second day out we had dinner at the house of the chief of the
Chickasaws, having had breakfast at a freedman's house, both of which
were worth describing. When we entered the house for breakfast there
were a few smoldering coals in the fireplace although it was quite cold.
There was some wood by the chimney and I stirred up the embers and put
on some wood and soon had a fire started. The table was set in the next
room, if so called, for it was only partly enclosed, so it was
practically as cold as out of doors. On the table was some headcheese
and cornbread, light rolls and sweet potatoes, all frozen so that the
frost stood out on them, and some black coffee and no cream or milk. I
managed to cut off a piece of the headcheese and cornbread and took my
coffee and went back to the fireplace to eat and my wife soon followed,
making her breakfast on some cookies we had brought with us. For this
treat we were charged the modest sum of fifty cents each. At dinner we
had some fried pork, fried eggs swimming in grease, and coffee similar
to that we had at breakfast, and cornbread and all at the same price.

The evening of the third day we arrived at Fort Arbuckle and were the
guests of Doctor Brewer and family for two or three days and were most
hospitably entertained. From Fort Arbuckle to Fort Sill we went in an
army ambulance, the distance being eighty to a hundred miles. We camped
one night along the road and I shot my first wild turkey at this camp.

Fort Sill at that time was only a camp, but there was a sawmill on Cache
creek a short distance below, where they were getting out material for
permanent quarters, barracks and storehouses. The plan was for a six
company post, and at that time there were two companies of infantry and
six troops of cavalry stationed there. I reported on my arrival as usual
and after being settled in our tent, was assigned to duty by Doctor
Forward, the post surgeon.

Doctor Forward was among the oldest assistant surgeons in the service
and I thought a little peculiar in some ways. He was dignified and
cordial but after assigning me to duty I thought he showed little
interest in the service. He would call at my quarters occasionally and
say that he wished to go over to the hospital and would look carefully
over everything and would go away simply remarking that everything was
all right. I remember going to his quarters one day and informing him
that a man by the name of Fields in the hospital had fistula and I
thought an operation necessary. He replied: "Can't you stick a knife in
it?" I told him I thought I could and he came a few days after the
operation and expressed his satisfaction at the results. He was promoted
to a full surgency while I was there and assigned to a different post.
It is proper here to say that the medical officers in the army are never
addressed by their military title or rank but always as doctor. Although
their military rank may be that of major (for full surgeon) or captain
or lieutenant (for assistant surgeon).

General Grierson of note as a cavalry commander during the Civil War
was in command of the camp. Our quarters consisted of one hospital tent,
fourteen by sixteen and two wall tents ten by twelve for bed room and
dining room, and still back of that was the kitchen which was used for
servants' quarters. All these tents were framed to hold them in shape
and as a protection against strong winds.

Our first experience with what was called a "Norther," was at this post.
These usually occurred in the change of the seasons from cold to hot
weather or the reverse. They are typical, resembling other storms only
in their intensity. They are always preceded by delightful weather. My
first experience was in the early spring of 1870. I was on the roof of
the new commissary building where the quartermaster's employes were
putting on shingles and one of them happened to look up and said,
"Hello; that looks like a Norther coming." The weather was quite warm
but ideally pleasant and he noticed my light clothing and said, "You had
better get down off here and hunt some heavier clothes." I followed his
suggestion at once and by the time I got to our quarters a half mile
away I noticed the difference in the temperature and in a few minutes it
came on us in all its fury. It is simply the coldest wind I have ever
experienced. It blows straight and with a mighty force and is so
penetrating that one is thoroughly chilled in a few minutes. I have
since learned that it often kills cattle and other live stock down in
Texas and occasionally people who are not properly clothed. It comes up
from the Northwest, a bank of clouds, not clearly outlined but hazy, I
suppose from dust that gathers on the way. Anyone who has once
experienced it looks at its coming with dread and apprehension. We had
two or three experiences with a "Norther" at Fort Sill while still in
camp. In one of these my wife and I both braced ourselves against the
tent frame to keep it from blowing down.

There were six companies of colored troops of the Tenth Cavalry of which
General Grierson was the colonel, stationed at Fort Sill. I did not see
that they were very different from other enlisted men. If anything they
seemed to take more interest in their personal appearance than the
white soldiers but were accused in the army as they are out of it, of
petit larceny. I had one experience in the hospital that may be worth
relating: A trooper by the name of Stanley had shot the index finger off
his right hand, he claimed accidentally, but it was thought by most of
the officers that it had been done for the purpose of getting a
discharge from the service. I kept him as nurse in the hospital as he
was capable and did his work promptly and carefully and we often had him
come to our quarters to stay with our little boy when we were spending
the evening with our fellow officers and their wives. I had frequently
missed small change and little things of no great value but he would
deny any knowledge of them with such apparent candor and honesty that my
suspicions were allayed. One morning, however, when attending sick calls
at the hospital the hospital steward informed me that Stanton was
discovered taking money from under the pillow of one of the sick men
during the night. I sent for him and explained the matter to him for I
was really disposed to let him off as easy as possible. He denied any
knowledge of it, so I said to him: "Now look here Stanton, the evidence
is too strong against you, you go and give Fields his money and behave
yourself hereafter and I will let the matter drop. You are a good man
and I would like to keep you." He looked me straight in the face and
said: "Fore God, Doctor, I never did take that money." I sent the
steward's assistant over to the guardhouse with orders to the sergeant
of the guard to send a man over to take charge of a prisoner. A corporal
came and I explained the matter to him and I directed him to take
Stanton to the guardhouse and to tell the sergeant of the guard that I
wanted him to get that money and for him to resort to any means
necessary to get it, even if he had to tie the prisoner up by the
thumbs. This is of course a very severe punishment, and consisted of
using a very strong cord, the ends of which are looped over each thumb
and then thrown over a crossbar a short distance above the prisoner's
head and drawing him up, if necessary, off the ground. When I got
through my hospital duties and was on my way to my quarters I heard the
howling of the prisoner at the guardhouse and stopped where I had a
good view and watched the results with interest. Stanton was protesting
his innocence, and the sergeant's orders were "pull him up a little
higher." It did not take long for Stanton to see his mistake, for he
said, "Let me down and I will tell you where it is." "No you don't. Tell
me first where it is, then I will let you down." Stanton said, "It's in
the lining of my cap." And sure enough there was the ten dollars. The
result was that a courtmartial gave him six months with "ball and
chain." I think this occurrence illustrates one of the characteristic
traits of the colored race, and to me it is remarkable that he would
have taken such a course when he was offered the chance of taking one
that in every way would have been so much better for himself.


Fort Sill was the first post at which I had any experience with Indians.
It was located on what was then called the Kiowa and Comanche
reservation near the junction of Cache and Medicine Bluff creeks. Mount
Scott, the highest point of the Wichita mountains was some nine miles to
the northwest and both places had been geographically located and were
used as a base for triangulation in locating other points. These tribes
of Plains Indians were famous fighters and were finally subdued and
brought to terms by Custer's great battle on the Washita. They were very
numerous and there was always a feeling that an outbreak might occur at
any time. During my service there from January, 1870, to August, 1871,
there were seventeen men brought in and buried who had been killed and
scalped by Indians. They would not attack a large party of men in
soldier's uniform but boot-leggers and stragglers stood a poor show if
caught out alone. Once while there a woman, one girl sixteen or
seventeen years old, and one about twelve years old, and two smaller
ones and two boys, one of whom belonged to another family, were brought
into the camp on the promise of a hundred dollars apiece ransom. They
were from Texas and at their homes when attacked by Indians, and the men
were killed and these people brought away captives. If attempt had been
made to recover them by force they would have been killed.

I once saw Lone Wolf, a Comanche chief, with a United States mail sack
of leather on his pony, and the interpreter, Mr. Jones, told me that he
and some of the other young bucks had been on a raid down in Texas and
among other depredations they had killed the mail carrier and destroyed
the mail, only keeping the sack for his own use. I saw him frequently
with it afterwards. Mr. Jones told me that Lone Wolf had said that his
heart felt better now, as he had avenged the death of his son who had
been killed on one of their raids in Texas. These raids were of frequent
occurrence, and there was generally some evidence of them in the wearing
apparel or trinkets, or anything the Indians might fancy, and that had
evidently belonged to some settlers or travelers who had been so
unfortunate as to come in their way. But so far as I know, they never
killed a soldier.

I have witnessed from the bluff near the hospital on Medicine Bluff
creek their dances in the valley just across the streams at night, many
times, but never had any desire to make a closer acquaintance. It always
seemed to me a wild kind of a thing, consisting of jumping and gyrating
and stooping and gliding and then straightening up suddenly, and
swinging the arms, and all the time droning in short jerky cough-like
notes, interspersed with sharp penetrating yells. There might be only
one performer or maybe a half dozen or more. Where there is a number
engaged, it is not only exciting but decidedly wild, certainly unlike
any other dance I have ever seen.

They were great thieves and anything left outside of our tents which
might strike their fancy was liable to be carried off. One day a squaw
brought a venison ham to our tent to sell. The regular price was fifty
cents and I bought it although we had bought one less than an hour
before, and when taking it back to hang up with the first one I thought
the squaw looked very much like the one from whom I had made the first
purchase, and was not much surprised to find the first ham missing. We
usually hung them out for a while to get the Indian odor off them, and I
have no doubt that I bought the same ham from the same squaw the second

There were fixed days each month on which rations were issued to the
Indians by the commissary department and I have seen the squaws carry
sacks of flour a little distance away from the place of issue and empty
out the flour and carry off the sacks, hundreds of them, so that the
ground for a considerably distance around would be literally white with

They were permitted to go about the camp any where during the day, but
at sundown scarcely an Indian was to be seen and none were permitted in
camp at night.

It was a very comfortable feeling to hear the hours called at night, by
those on guard if one should happen to wake up and hear the announcement
that "All's well." For instance, the sergeant of the guard announces in
a loud enough voice to be heard by the first sentinel, "Two o'clock and
all's well." On hearing it the sentinel repeats the message, and so on
around the camp, and when the last sentinel has finished, the sergeant
of the guard says, "Two o'clock and all's well all around." This is
repeated each hour during the night.

[Illustration: MEDICINE BLUFF

The original of this picture is in our possession, and was taken by
Soule, of Boston, when we were stationed at Fort Sill]

A very different announcement is the long roll of the drums which
happened twice while we were at this camp. It is the alarm to awaken the
camp, and made by rapid and long continued beating of the drum without
break or stop until the garrison is fully aroused. The assembly call by
the bugle of the cavalry, takes the place of the long roll of the drum
for the infantry, and the two together, and the clanking of arms, and
the orders to "Fall in," "Fall in," "Fall in," makes an exceedingly
interesting, not to say exciting experience. If you are quick in getting
out of your tent you may see the officers scurrying across the parade
ground to their command, fastening on their clothes as they go and soon
everything is in order for whatever may happen. The women and children
in these cases, hurry with all possible speed to a place of safety. At
this camp it was always at Major Van De Weile's quarters, some of them
very scantily clothed, generally with some kind of wrap over their night
clothes, but it was not cold weather, and any way what did it signify in
such an emergency. The major's quarters were what was called a "hakel"
building and the only one in camp better than a tent except General
Grierson's that offered any protection. Such buildings are made by
standing posts on end in the ground and as close together as possible
and filling in the cracks with mortar and pieces of boards or anything
suitable, and the inside is then plastered up along the cracks until it
makes a fairly smooth wall and is then whitewashed and makes comfortable
quarters but not a first class protection against rifle bullets. They
would huddle together and talk in undertones as to what might happen
until the report came that it was a false alarm. In both these instances
it proved to be so, but the anxiety and excitement was just as real as
if the results had been different. Probably some nervous sentinel had
fired his gun at what he supposed to be an Indian crawling toward him,
but that may have been only a dog or some other animal, or it may have
been purely his imagination. Any one who has not gone through such an
experience cannot imagine its uncanny quality as the Scotch would
express it. It is a very vivid impression with me today after more than
forty years.

We remained under more or less strain of anxiety until the new quarters
were finished or enough of it so that we could crowd into them. Officers
take quarters according to rank, and it not infrequently happens that
one will have to vacate his quarters and give place to another who
outranks him, the ranking officer having this right and as a rule he
does not hesitate to use it although he may be a single man and the man
displaced be a man of family. This is so well understood and so
graciously accepted that there is seldom any feeling or resentment about

In our own case we had to occupy quarters with another officer and his
wife, Mr. Spencer of the Tenth cavalry, and this reminds me of an
experience we had that shows something of the Indian character. We had
for some time previous to this, a Cherokee Indian woman employed as
servant. She probably had a little negro blood in her veins as her long
black hair was slightly wavy, but in every other way she was typically
Indian. She was exceedingly neat and clean and a thorough housekeeper
and an exceptionally good cook and a most devoted servant, but she would
take orders from no one except my wife. Soon after going into our new
quarters she informed my wife that she was going to leave us, and this
she did, knowing full well that she could not remain at the post if she
did so. My wife was surprised and so expressed herself and also her
sorrow at having her go, but no inducement she could offer had any
effect on this high-strung woman. She cleaned out the stove and put in
the kindling and had everything neat and clean as possible before
leaving. It developed afterwards that she was offended at some orders
given her by Mrs. Spencer.

Another little incident will show the Indian blood: One of the colored
sergeants took quite a fancy to her and would often stand in the door
and talk to her, which was all well enough with Charlotte until she
wanted him to go. I think on this occasion he was disposed to nag her
about something, for I overheard her say in a loud and angry tone, "Now
you go, I won't talk to you again. Go now!" I hurried to the kitchen and
opened the door just in time to see the butcherknife sticking in the
outside door-jam and still vibrating from the force that sent it. The
sergeant had jumped in time, but Charlotte was furious. When I asked,
"Why, Charlotte, what is the matter?" she simply replied, "Next time I
tell that nigger to go I guess he will go." I frequently thought how
near we came to having another patient in the hospital.

I will relate one or two other instances that occurred while we were
stationed here that may be interesting: My wife had the only sewing
machine in the camp and one day Satanta, the war chief of the Kiowas,
was passing down the line of officers' quarters and heard the hum of the
sewing machine. It was summer time and the door was open so he stalked
in and sat down without any ceremony or sign of recognition and watched
my wife sewing. He was evidently very much interested but gave no
evidence of it by word or look. He remained for quite a while observing
the performance intently and then got up and said, "Adios!" and stalked
out again. He made several calls afterwards and went through the same
performance each time until I suppose he became satisfied for his visits
ceased. He was the finest specimen of an Indian I ever saw; very large,
well proportioned, with a remarkably forceful expression of face and
walked with a dignity becoming a prince.

Adjacent to the sutler's store was a large corral enclosed by a high
stockade, inside of which were the necessary buildings for storage,
stables, etc., and near the front of this corral and on a line with the
store was the houses for the clerks, a few feet back from the stockade.
In front of each house was a small gate which was always closed at night
but often kept open during the day. In the summer the front doors were
also left open. One day a tall, rather handsome Indian, that I had often
noticed about the camp, and who was something of a "dandy" in dress,
happened to be passing and happened to catch his reflection in a large
mirror on the dresser that stood in line with the door and gate. He
immediately marched in without looking right or left, made a thorough
survey of himself in the glass then turned and walked out saying "How"
to Mrs. Rector, who was sitting in the room during this rather
unceremonious call.

I had a little experience one day with Stumbling Bear, a subchief of the
Kiowas that at that time made me a little nervous and I have since
thought with little reason. I was returning from a duck hunt up Medicine
Bluff creek and was a short distance above the bluff that gave it its
name when Stumbling Bear came up behind me, and we talked a little and I
offered him some ducks which he took, and soon rode ahead. I knew of a
little canon that broke its way down to the stream a little distance
ahead and across which the trail must lead. For some reason which I
cannot explain, I thought it best to wait until he came up on the other
side of the canon. This canon opened out into the river valley and from
my position I could see the valley thoroughly. He did not come upon the
opposite side as I expected, and I felt equally sure that he did not go
down the canon and come out in the valley. He had his rifle with him and
of course could have killed me as he came up behind, if he had wished to
do so, but I was nervous about him not showing up on the opposite side
of the canon, and so I concluded to make a detour around the head of the
canon and out of gunshot range, and went on my way to camp. That he
could have gotten out of there without my seeing him still seems to me
impossible, and why he should stay in there until I had gone seems
equally unaccountable. Any way I did not see him again for several days
when he rode into camp as usual.

The Indian agency was located just outside the military reservation,
some five or six miles down the creek from the fort. Colonel Boone, a
nephew of Daniel Boone of frontier fame, was Indian agent when we
arrived at the camp but was succeeded the following spring by an
appointee under a new ruling of the Interior Department. Colonel Boone
was a very large man and his wife was quite below the average sized
woman. I mention him here only because we were mutual friends, but also
of at least one commendable trait of Indian character that is
illustrated by their journey back to their ranch in Colorado. The
colonel had decided, much against our protestations of the dangers, to
go across the country, which to us seemed to be wilfully sacrificing
their lives; but he insisted that he would send up to the chief of the
Arapahoes, whose name I have forgotten, and if he thought it fairly safe
and would send an escort, he certainly would take the chances.

The escort came in a few days and they were certainly a fine looking lot
of fellows, being extra well mounted and equipped and I felt sure that
they would give a good account of themselves in case of trouble and the
colonel assured us that the last one of them would die in defense of
himself and wife if necessary. So, we said good-bye to them with some
misgivings, but with a strong hope that they would make the journey
safely. I got a letter from the colonel some months later announcing
their safe arrival home, and praising the fidelity and other good
qualities of his Indian escort. It was refreshing to hear and know
something good of Indians that had so much that was bad to their credit.

I am quite convinced that any Indian appreciates justice and a square
deal as much as we do, and recognizes force and submits to it quickly
enough, if tempered with justice, but he does not understand moral
suasion as we understand it. I think that his conception of it is
cowardice. He cannot comprehend why one should return good for evil but
believes in an eye for an eye and he faithfully carries it out in
practice. He believes in all kinds of ghosts and spirits, good and bad,
and his life is largely shaped by this belief.

A story Mr. Jones told me one day will illustrate their practical view
of things: Mr. Jones had married a squaw and some of the chiefs were at
his house for dinner that day. He tried to explain to them our Bible
history of how sin came into the world, and they listened intently, and
without interruption, until he had finished. Then one old chief spoke up
and said, "That is just like a white woman. Now if that had been a
squaw, she would have taken a stick and killed that snake, and saved all
the trouble." And while it may sound funny it was not intended as
levity or anything like a joke, but was said in all seriousness. He
evidently did not grasp our interpretation of it in any way, but on the
contrary he looked on the woman's actions as cowardly and inexcusable.


During General Grant's first term as President, the Indian agencies were
put in the hands of the representatives of the following churches,
namely: Congregational, Presbyterian, Catholic, Dutch Reform, Episcopal,
Methodist, Baptist, Unitarian, and the two branches of Friends. This was
brought about by a resolution on January 13th, 1871 at a conference of
the President, the board of Indian commissioners and the official
representatives of the religious bodies above mentioned. This was
considered at the time as the President's policy and was something of a
surprise to many army officers. But there was no marked criticism, most
of them believing that if the management of Indian affairs could not be
in the hands of the war department, it would have as good a chance of
being honestly managed by representatives of the churches as in any
other way.

The Kiowa and Commanche agency was put in the hands of a Mr. Tatum, a
Quaker and most estimable gentleman, but I afterwards thought he as illy
understood the Indian character as the Indians did the peace loving
creed of the Quaker persuasion. He was unfortunate in being found in his
shirt sleeves and at work, when the first delegation of the Indian
chiefs went to the agency to see him, and from that time was spoken of
by the Indians as the squaw agent. They could see nothing elevating or
even respectable in a man working, that being the squaw's duties, and
had little respect for the agent afterwards, although he did the best he
could for them.

Mr. Tatum thought it would be better for the Indians to live in houses
like white people, instead of in tents, and proposed building them
houses, and some of the chiefs agreed to occupy them. He at once got
busy and built six or seven neat log houses in the timber a few miles
north of the camp. The Indians moved in as they had agreed and it was
reported that some of them put their tepees up inside the houses. Of
course they did not stay long in such an unnatural place, and when I saw
the houses some time afterwards, there was no evidence of recent

He also established a school for Indian children at the agency, and I
think it was patronized by some of the Indians sending their children,
but up until the time we left the post, the attendance was small. We
cannot tell what the eventual results of these honest efforts to do good
may be.

One of the most interesting places about the camp to me was Mr.
Orleman's office. He was a West Point graduate, a lieutenant in one of
the companies at the camp, and was the engineer under Major Rockwell,
who had charge of the construction of the new post. Maybe my everlasting
desire to know things interested him, for he was very kind in showing me
his instruments and explaining their uses. I was a frequent caller at
his office and he always seemed glad to see me. I mention this more
particularly from the fact that in the spring of 1871 there was a part
of the garrison, I think two troops of cavalry sent to establish a camp
on or near the junction of Cache creek and Red river, and I was ordered
to make a survey of the route and distance. I had never done such a
thing and was more than doubtful of my ability to do it properly, so I
went to see Mr. Orleman about it. He said, "Oh, you can do it as well as
anybody. I have explained these instruments, and how to use them; of
course you can do it." And that settled it. It was simple enough after
all. A meter is fastened to the hub and spoke of one of the rear wheels
of the ambulance, the hand pointing down and with a weight on the end of
it to hold it steady over rough ground. A clockwork inside records the
revolutions of the wheel. In other words, the clock goes around instead
of the hand, and by knowing the circumference of the wheel it is easy
then to calculate the distance traveled. The compass and tripods were
not so easy, but a little practice before starting gave me some
confidence. The zig-zag course we had to take to get around the head of
the canons and to avoid rough ground where the ambulance could not go,
were the principal difficulties, but by recording the degrees of each
change of direction one gets fairly good results. Mr. Orleman came down
some time after we had established that camp, and corrected the survey
by triangulation, and complimented me on missing the location less than
one-fourth of a mile in a distance of more than forty-five miles

From this camp I was ordered to make a topographical survey to the
junction of the North fork of the Red river with the main stream, a
distance of about one hundred miles by the route we took along the
river. Mr. Spencer with a detachment of about thirty troopers was sent
with me as an escort. This kind of survey did not pretend to be accurate
but was intended to observe and record the principal features of the
country, such as canons, high points of land, valleys and table lands,
and to estimate the altitudes and distance. The compass was the only
instrument used on this trip. We arrived at our destination about the
middle of the forenoon of the third day and crossed the North fork and
went into camp at the junction of the two streams. There was an immense
cottonwood tree just on the bank where the two streams united and we
conceived the idea of marking our names and date on it, supposing that
we might be the first white people in that locality. After the work was
done I suggested that we have a picket pin heated and burn the letters
to keep them from healing over so soon, but we discovered there were no
matches in the command to start a fire, a piece of carelessness that we
thought inexcusable. It occurred to me that the medical panniers are
always provided with matches and on investigation I found a little box
of wax matches and we soon had a fire started. When we had seared the
letters over thoroughly we were quite pleased with the result and if
that tree is still standing it will probably show some marks of the
vandal hands that scarred its magnificent body. I remember the dinner
that day among other good dinners that I have had on my hunting trips.
We had buffalo hump and I thought it at that time the best thing I had
ever tasted.

The country from our camp at the mouth of Cache creek to the junction of
North fork and the main stream of Red river is made up mostly of wide
valleys and high table lands called mesa in Spanish. These vary in
extent from a mile or less to several miles and near the river the
country is broken up by frequent canons. It was a beautiful country to
look at but it was, of course, entirely uninhabited except by prairie
dogs and wild game and buffalo were plentiful, and I recall one bunch of
wild horses.

We came on them unawares, going up from a wide valley to a mesa or table
land, and they were grazing some three or four hundred yards from the
edge of the mesa. It was astonishing how quickly they were bunched up,
the colts in the middle, the mares on the flanks and the stallions in
the lead, going full speed to get away. When we came to the edge of the
mesa again they had crossed a wide valley and were going up on another
mesa several miles away still at full speed. They were a beautiful bunch
of animals, a reddish roan in color, long tails and manes, and in size
much larger than the Indian ponies, but were of a pony build and smaller
than our best roadsters.

Prairie dog villages were numerous. We went through one that must have
been four or five miles in extent.

We had an early dinner that day, and concluded to start on our return
march, and about five o'clock in the evening we came to a pretty little
valley with numerous water holes and some dead timber and went into

I took my shotgun and was having some good sport with the ducks when Mr.
Spencer's orderly came to me and said, "the lieutenant's compliments and
he would like some matches to start a fire." I replied, "give the
lieutenant my compliments and tell him I gave the matches to the trooper
to start a fire to heat the picket pins, and have not seen them since."
When I returned to camp and was within hearing distance I saw two men
riding away and heard Mr. Spencer hallow and say, "Corporal, it will be
about midnight when you get back, and we will have a bonfire on the hill
for you as a guide to our camp." When I got close enough I said,
"Spencer, how are you going to get a fire?" and then it dawned on him
that we had no matches. "My God," he said, "I never thought of that."
But the men had gone at full gallop and we let them go. I thought of
the powder I used in my shotgun and thought I would try an experiment.
That was when muzzle loaders were still in vogue, the breechloader not
having come into general use, and I cut a hole in the lining of my coat
where it was padded about the shoulders and took out some cotton wadding
which I tamped lightly down on the powder in the gun. At first I had too
much powder and it would not work but after a few trials the wadding
caught fire and with some dry sticks for kindling we soon had a fire
under way and Mr. Spencer had his bonfire on the hill that night. The
corporal and the careless troopers who had left the matches at our
midday camp returned before midnight having made the round trip of about
twenty-eight miles for a little box of matches.

The following day was uneventful until toward night. Some troopers who
had permission were out hunting. We had heard a shot occasionally but
attached no importance to it, but late in the afternoon an Indian or two
were seen off on the hills to the north and in a little while they
became numerous enough to create some apprehension. It developed that
one of the fool troopers had taken a shot at one of them, but
fortunately had missed him and by nightfall there were great numbers of
them in sight.

We soon found a little water hole and went into camp and made the best
preparation we could for trouble if it came. We got everything close
about the water supply and the horses lariated close around us and
awaited results. Soon the advance guard of the Indians appeared in
perfect alignment silhouetted against the western sky and Mr. Spencer
with two men went out to meet them. Explanations and apologies followed,
but before the parley was over they informed Mr. Spencer that if they
had found us to have been soldiers from Texas they intended to make a
clean sweep of it, but as we were from Fort Sill they wanted to be
friends. I have often thought it was fortunate for us that we were from
Fort Sill, as they outnumbered us twenty or more to one. We waited a
half hour or more after they had gone and then quietly mounted and rode
away, not a man saying a word until we felt that we were out of danger.
We camped again about midnight and saw no more of the Indians.

The following morning I had taken my gun and gone ahead a mile or so and
came down off the mesa and found a pony in the valley below. I rode up
to it and tried to catch it but it would not allow me to get close
enough. I then waited until the command came up. The column marching in
twos separated at the order right and left oblique march and made a V
shape that surrounded the pony and we took him along with us. We soon
came to the trail where the Indians had crossed, a very wide one,
showing that great numbers had passed. There were other evidences of
their having been on a raid in Texas; some bed ticking and feathers,
some pieces of clothing, evidently taken from some settler whom they had
probably murdered and scalped. The pony had a sore back and had
evidently been abandoned as useless and a hindrance on their march.

Although it was a long day's march we concluded to try and make the camp
at Cache creek that night, which we did, getting in very late. We had
come by compass directly across country from the junction of the two
forks of Red river instead of following the stream as we did going up.

We captured a young antelope, the last day out, and one of the troopers
carried it on the saddle in front of him into camp. It lived until we
were back at Fort Sill some time, but that kind of life was too hard for
it and it gave up the struggle.

There was plenty of game in the country around the camp at Cache creek.
Turkeys were very abundant and duck shooting was good in season, and the
fishing was fine. I have always regretted my impulsive disposition when
thinking of my first shot at turkeys near this camp. When the command
was nearing the mouth of Cache creek from Fort Sill, I had taken my last
observation with the compass and directed the ambulance driver to a
point indicated, and went ahead of the command to select the camp.
Having decided on a desirable place I went down stream a little distance
and heard some turkeys making a great ado about something. I got down on
a sand bar and slipped along the river bank until I thought I was at the
right place for a shot. On looking over the bank I discovered that
there was quite a bunch of turkeys standing around in a circle and
making a great chatter. I fired into them without waiting to see what
caused such a commotion, and when I was near where two of them lay an
immense diamond rattler uncoiled and glided away. What would have
happened if I had waited? Would the turkeys have killed the snake, or
the snake some of the turkeys, or would the turkeys have gotten tired of
the game and quit? I have often asked myself these questions. Does
anybody know? If so I would like to hear their comment. While in that
camp we killed two diamond rattlers, one six feet and the other six
feet, four inches in length. It may be that one of them was among my
first acquaintances in that camp.

There was a turkey roost some three miles above camp where we generally
got our supply of turkeys. A young son of General Grierson, having
returned from school for his summer vacation, came down to our camp, and
was enthusiastic for a visit to the turkey roost, so we arranged to go
the following evening, and got permission to take a couple of troop
horses for the purpose, a thing not provided for in the regulations.
When we had reached the timber we left the trail and hunted for a secure
place to tie our horses, as dense a thicket as we could find. We found a
place where we thought they would be secure and from there walked to the
roost, a short distance away, and sat down and waited for the birds to
come in. We did not have long to wait until we could hear the sound of
wings, and they commenced lighting in the tree tops above us. We waited
until they were well settled before shooting. It had been a warm day and
by this time was murky and getting quite dark, and we had difficulty in
marking our birds, but we soon had four handsome ones and gathered them
up and started to find our horses. I was confident I had observed
closely the directions and distance we had gone from the trail and also
from the horses to the roost, but we failed to find them where we
expected. It was pitch dark by this time and very still and we tramped
the neighborhood where we thought we had left them, and then sat down
and waited, hoping they might neigh or make some noise and thus guide
us to them. When this failed we went to the trail and by lighting
matches found where we had left it, and from there we followed the
course that we thought would take us to the thicket where we had left
the horses. We found it, or thought we had, and tramped it over
thoroughly without finding them. We carried our guns and turkeys with
us, not daring to put them down for fear we would lose them. We finally
concluded some thieving Indians had watched us and had followed us into
the timber and stolen our horses, and so we started for the camp on
foot. It was a hot, sultry night and I soon began to think three turkeys
and a shotgun a good deal of a load and when I inquired of my companion
how he was making it he admitted that he was getting a little tired. We
rested a little bit and started again, I having taken his bird, much
against his protest, and by frequent rests on the way we got into camp
between ten and eleven o'clock, a very tired pair of hunters. I sent for
the sergeant of the guard and told him I wished to be awakened at four
o'clock in the morning. The young lad insisted that he would go with me
but I told him no, that he was too tired and had better sleep and that I
could get the horses if they were there. At four o'clock, however, he
was up as quick as I was and we were soon on the way afoot to the turkey
roost. We found the horses just where we had tied them and I felt
greatly relieved, not only because it saved me the price of two valuable
horses but because it saved the captain of the company who loaned them,
as well as myself, a severe reprimand. I came to have a great admiration
for the pluck and manliness of my young hunter friend, and if he is an
officer in the service now, as many of the sons of my army acquaintances
are, and he should ever see this story of army life on the frontier, I
wish here and now to present him my compliments, and would like to hear
from him.

We had an abundance of fish while at this camp. The quartermaster had
built us a little boat so we could stretch troutlines across the stream
and we not only had the officers' mess well supplied but often had
plenty for the men of the command.

A few days after we had returned from the North fork or Red river,
Captain Norvel's troop of cavalry was ordered out on a scout down the
valley on the north side of the river, and I was ordered to accompany
the command. We started late in the afternoon and by evening it
commenced a drizzling rain. We went into camp about dark but did not
unwrap our blankets as expected to be out some days and did not wish
them to get wet. The blankets in a scout like this are made into a roll
and wrapped in a poncho or oil cloth covering and fastened up against
the cantle of the saddle by straps which are always a part of the
equipment of the army saddle. The captain and I placed our rolls of
blankets at the foot of a big tree and with our waterproof to protect us
against the rain, sat down on them until the shower should be over. It
never let up raining during the whole night, and there we sat dozing and
talking by spells until morning. Soon after daylight a messenger arrived
with orders to return to camp.

We found nearly everything ready for the return trip to Fort Sill and
were soon on the way. We had already heard that General Sherman and
staff, Colonels Marcey, Audenried and Tourtellotte, were there on an
inspection trip of the military posts of the west. They had come by way
of Texas and were fully informed of the doings of the large band of
Indians with whom we had our little pow-wow and whose horse we had
captured, and whose trail we had crossed on our return from the north
fork of Red river to the camp on Cache creek. They had also learned that
they came very near being in line with the depredations committed. This
band had not only burned houses and killed settlers but had also
captured a government wagon train and had tied the teamster to the wagon
and having looted the train of all they wanted, burned the teamsters
with the wagons and contents. The young bucks on their return to the
reservation, and feeling secure at Fort Sill had bragged about it. The
names of the leaders in the raid were known and the matter could not be
overlooked by General Grierson, but he was powerless without the
authority of Mr. Tatum, the Indian agent. This always struck me as a
ridiculous phase of our Indian policy.

It was a universal feeling in the army that the war department should
have the exclusive control and management of the Indian problems,
instead of the interior department, but I suppose politics, the bane of
the country in so many ways, ruled in Washington then as it does now,
and it was to the interests of the politicians to have it where it was.
General Grant was at this time President and had served as a young army
officer on the frontier and knew better. The Republicans were in control
of congress but it would have been the same with any other political
party in control, and was probably the worst that could have been done.
Mr. Tatum was fully informed of the raid and the leaders in it, and
called for a pow-wow at General Grierson's quarters. A number of Indian
chiefs came in to talk the matter over, among them being Satanta, the
war chief of the Kiowas; Big Tree, a young chief of the same tribe, and
Satank, an old and wizzened up and vicious looking Indian, and council
chief among the Kiowas; all known to have been in the raid. There was a
heavy guard standing around the quarters ready for any emergency. Mr.
Tatum had demanded the surrender of the guilty parties. While the
pow-wow was in progress Lone Wolf, chief of the Comanches, came among
them, a rifle in each hand, and a couple of bows and a quiver full of
arrows swung over his back. I suppose it was a pre-concerted arrangement
among the Indians for he handed one gun to an Indian near him, and a
couple of Indians behind him grabbed the bows and arrows and in an
instant these were pointed at the breast of Mr. Tatum, General Grierson,
General Sherman, and other officers present. I suppose the click, click,
click of the rifles as the guard cocked and brought them to shoulder,
gave Lone Wolf a better understanding of the bloody work at hand, for he
raised one hand and said "No shoot! No shoot!" and by the interpreter
explained that it was only a joke and that he did not intend to hurt
anybody. The interpreter reported afterwards that he had also said when
presenting these guns to the breasts of those men mentioned, "Now let
these men go and we can fix things up all right." During the excitement
Big Tree broke away from the crowd and mounted a horse near by, and
tried to escape but the garrison was wide awake to the condition of
things, and after a shot or two he surrendered. He and Satanta and
Satank were put in the guard-house, a newly built one at the new post,
and a strong guard placed about the building, until they were removed to
Texas to be tried by the civil authorities.

We arrived at Fort Sill from our camp on Cache creek a day or two after
these occurrences but I got the details of the incident from officers
present and from my wife who remembers them better than I do. Promptly
after the depredations had been committed General Mackenzie of the
Department of Texas with several troops of cavalry got on the trail of
these Indians and had followed it up into the territory and into the
Wichita mountains and from there to Fort Sill and arrived at the post
shortly after our return from camp.

After resting his troops for a few days General Mackenzie was ready for
the march back to Texas with his prisoners. Quite a number of officers
were present to witness their departure. I was standing next to Mr.
Jones, the interpreter, when they were brought out of the guard-house,
all hand-cuffed, and all in the usual blanket attire of the Indians.
When old Satank appeared he set up the most weird and doleful sing-song
wail I ever heard, and his face I thought was not so vicious looking as
usual, but was more solemn and maybe with a trace of sadness in it. I
asked Mr. Jones what it meant, and he replied in an undertone, "It means
he ain't going far."

Satanta and Big Tree were placed in one wagon with guards sitting behind
them and Satank in another wagon with one of the sergeants sitting
beside him and guards behind and when the columns were formed troopers
rode alongside the wagons and in this formation they left the post. When
in the valley south of the post and probably a couple of miles away we
heard the report of firearms from that direction. Soon a messenger
arrived with the compliments of General Mackenzie and requested that an
ambulance be sent for a trooper who had been wounded. He also gave the
essential particulars of what occurred. It seems that by some means
unknown, Satank had a knife hidden about his person somewhere and
although hand-cuffed had got possession of it and stabbed the sergeant
sitting next to him and then grabbed the sergeant's gun and shot the
teamster. The sergeant's wound was only slight and he went forward with
the command, but the teamster was shot through one side of the neck and
fell from his saddle and was brought back to the post hospital for
treatment. It proved to be only a deep flesh wound and he was soon
discharged from the hospital, and returned to his own command. When the
guards realized the state of affairs they made short work of it, and
Satank was laid by the roadside and General Grierson sent a squad of
soldiers and buried him there in his blankets. It was his death song
that had so impressed me as they brought him from the guard-house.

Satanta and Big Tree were tried and convicted in Texas and sentenced to
the penitentiary for life. It was reported in the papers some years
afterwards that Satanta jumped out of a window at the prison and killed
himself and it was rumored that Big Tree had hung himself, but so far as
I know this was not confirmed.


The first time I saw General Sherman was at Rome, Georgia, during the
Civil war. I was in the field hospital there at that time and was in the
dispensary one day when my attention was called to some military
procession on the street. It turned out to be only General Sherman and
his staff, the general riding alone in front, his orderly a few yards
behind, and a few yards farther back the general staff officers. The
procession, if it could be so called, impressed me; first the isolated
position of the commanding officer. I thought of pictures I had seen of
Napoleon, always alone, and while I could not see the general's face to
advantage, for he looked neither to the right or left, I thought him a
stern, unbending, self-centered, iron-hearted military despot, without
sentiment or generous impulse. I saw him often thereafter, for I was
with his command from "Atlanta to the Sea" and up through the Carolinas,
and he was always alone on horse-back and in the order mentioned. I
never saw him in company with anybody. I had occasion to change my
impression regarding him somewhat at the battle of Bentonville. We had
marched all night to reach the battlefield in time to take part in the
engagement, and arrived on the ground early in the afternoon. As it
happened, we stopped near the general's headquarters. The battle was in
progress and as we could not go into the trenches until night, I had a
good opportunity of observing him during the afternoon. He was walking
back and forth along a space of ground a hundred feet or more in extent
and when there was a lull in the firing he would slow up to a very
moderate walk, but when it became heavy his pace would increase and when
it became a roar, as it did several times in the afternoon, he would go
at great strides back and forth, back and forth, until it would again
quiet down, when he would slow up in harmony with the lull in the
battle. From this I learned that he was at least impressionable.
Officers would arrive from different parts of the field and report, and
instantly receive orders and return at full speed as they came.

From that time I never saw him until at Fort Sill at a "hop" given by
Colonel Carpenter in his new quarters at the post. Here I had to again
change my impression of the general. He was one of the most cordial of
men; he seemed to know everybody, and I was told seldom forgot a name or
a face. He had the remarkable gift of making everyone feel that he was
an old acquaintance, and he entered into the amusements of the evening,
mostly dancing, with zest, and after supper went with the officers to
the front porch to smoke and talk. He ridiculed the idea of being a
candidate for the presidency, saying he did not possess the temperament
or disposition that seemed necessary to qualify one for holding an
office where there were so many adverse interests to consider, and where
they were so frequently presented from questionable motives, but as far
as I remember he admitted no preference for political parties. However,
he did express a desire to pass his old age in a quiet way, and free
from political strife. He left the crowd on the porch before all were
through smoking, and joined the ladies with whom he seemed to enjoy
himself as much or more than with the men. I though him a rather awkward
dancer but he took part with apparent enthusiasm.

After General Sherman and his party had left the post the feeling of
uneasiness increased in the camp, and General Grierson ordered the
remaining officers into the new post which was being built. It fell to
our lot to be quartered with Mr. Spencer and wife and except for losing
a good servant we found it a pleasant change, and were relieved of all
apprehension regarding Indians.

There was a band-stand in the center of the parade ground and the Tenth
Cavalry band was an excellent one, and in the summer evenings when
retreat had been sounded by the buglers and the signal gun fired "just
as the sun went down," the band struck up and gave us very delightful
music for an hour or so. At such times the families of the officers
would be sitting on the front porches of their quarters or visiting with
others and chatting and listening to the music.

The bugle calls at the army posts were always interesting to me, and
seemed to convey the idea intended almost as well as words. A number of
them have words set to the music, if it can be so called, as "Give your
horses some corn and some hay" for stable call, and "Take your quinine"
for sick call. Reveille had a rousing, get-up quality about it. Sick
call was for those who had only slight ailments and were treated at the
hospital and returned to duty, or if found to be something serious
enough, were sent to one of the wards in the hospital for treatment.
Maybe a so-called bilious condition or a scratch on the hand, or if a
colored soldier a "misery," or he was "powerful weak." There were not
many maligners, and they were soon detected. In the cavalry drill there
are many bugle calls for the different evolutions. The bugler rides near
the commanding officer and receives the orders and transmits them by
bugle to the command. Of all the bugle calls in the service "Taps" the
last call at night, affected me most. It has all the quality of our
good-bye or goodnight, but to me it had much more. To me our good-bye
conveys only the idea of separation, and I like the Spanish word "Adios"
much better. It not only conveys the idea of separation but also the
sentiment "God be with you" and so "Taps" always impressed me
"Good-night, and God be with you," and as the last prolonged note died
away the lights went out and everything was still. This did not apply to
the officers when at the post, and they and their families could enjoy
themselves in their own way, and could put out their lights early or

Toward the latter part of June, 1871 a command came up from the
Department of Texas on its way to the military posts in Kansas. The
medical officer accompanying it returned from Fort Sill to his own
department and post, and I was ordered to accompany the command to
Kansas. My recollection is that there were three companies. In this
command were two young officers, lieutenants, not long out of West
Point, who proved very charming companions. One was a Mr. Reese from
Kentucky and the other was a Mr. Parker from Connecticut, a son of the
maker of the famous Parker shotgun, generally thought to be the best to
be had in those days.

The first thing of special interest on this march was when we had gone
into camp about sixty miles north of Fort Sill, which was the second day
out. This was about four o'clock in the afternoon, to give the horses
and transportation mules a chance to graze. I happened to look back in
the direction of our march and saw a small black object far in the
distance that I could not make out. I borrowed field glasses of one of
the captains and discovered it to be a horse and buggy. I became quite
curious about it, as I did not think any sane man would travel through
that Indian country alone for any consideration. I would not have done
so for all the money in the mint unless in military dress. He came
directly to our camp and I walked out to meet him. He proved to be
Father Poncelona of Osage Mission, now St. Paul, Kansas, who had been
down to Fort Sill to baptise the children and give what comfort he could
to the followers of his faith at that post. He was very tired for he had
started before daylight, and had driven all day hoping to find our camp
somewhere, but he did not know where. I took him to my tent and insisted
on him lying down on my cot, which he did under protest, and I brought
him some brandy which he drank with seeming relish, and by the time
dinner was ready he was ready to join us. I asked him how he came to
take such chances alone. He said it was part of his work and that there
was a higher power (pointing his finger upwards) that would take care of
those who were doing God's service. He was past middle age and had spent
most of his life since taking orders as a missionary among the Indians.
He had a benign faith-abiding expression of face, such as I have never
seen on any other man, and his voice was low and musical, and his manner
most winning. I had some difficulty in getting him to take my cot for
the night, he insisting that he was used to sleeping on the ground and
did not mind it. I finally told him that I was boss of the ranch, and he
must do as I told him. To this he smilingly assented, and said that if
it was orders he would have to obey. We always had breakfast and broke
camp early in the morning and aimed if a suitable campground could be
found to go into camp by four o'clock in the afternoon. The priest had
expressed a wish for an early start, and I had ordered his horse and
buggy to be ready for him, and he had breakfast with us and went his way
across the prairie and was soon out of sight in the direction of Camp
Supply where he intended going. I have often thought of this and
wondered at it. Why did he do it? It was not for money for he was poor
and had spent years at the work. What motive had he? What guardian angel
accompanied him and kept him from harm? If it is true that there is a
divinity that shapes our ends, why are they shaped so differently, and
why is it that some are immune where others fear to tread? Right here I
think it proper to say that the Catholic priests have always been the
pioneers in religious matters on the frontier.

During this trip Mr. Reese and Mr. Parker and myself rode ahead one
afternoon to select camp. We went at good speed and were soon out of
sight of the command when Mr. Reese discovered he had lost his pocket
book. He was quartermaster and it contained about fifteen hundred
dollars of government money. He was sure he had taken it from under his
pillow in the morning and he became quite nervous about it. He referred
to his loss several times before the command came up with, "Well, if I
am mistaken and Andy (his old negro servant whom he had brought from
Kentucky) got it I am all right, and I will quit talking about it." But
he was ill at ease and went out to meet the command as it approached and
we could see the old darky take something from his pocket and give it to
Mr. Reese who came back smiling and told us Andy said, "Oh yes, Massa, I
just got it right down here, I done found it under your pillow" and this
illustrates a phase of negro character quite in contrast with my
political experience with Stanton.

Mr. Reese, Mr. Parker and I generally rode together on this march and
were seldom out of sight or hearing of prairie dogs. It was suggested
one day that maybe they would be good to eat. Knowing that they were not
dogs at all but rather a kind of marmot, and sometimes called so, and
are strict vegetarians, we killed a young one and had it for dinner. I
was quite pleased with the experiment before trying it, and was not
particularly enthusiastic about it afterwards. It was not very bad but
was not very good. It tasted something like rabbit but I think mostly
like prairie dog. At one time in my life I wanted to try almost
everything that was brought to bag in my hunting experiences and I have
tested worse things than prairie dogs, and I think that if one were
hungry enough he might relish it.

We crossed the line into Kansas about the last of July and soon saw a
new house away to the front, a thing we had not seen since leaving Fort
Sill. It proved to be a kind of business and residence combination and
was the first house in what is now known as Caldwell, Kansas, now the
county seat of one of the famous wheat counties of Kansas, and a
thriving city. The contrast between the two sides of the land separating
Kansas and the Indian territory was very pronounced. Small houses of
settlers and little patches of broken ground and other evidences of an
inhabited country on the one side, and nothing but absolute vacancy on
the other.

At Wichita we remained three or four days, having our transportation
repaired. As I remember it, we had a long stretch of sand before
crossing the Arkansas and forded the river below the town and then
turned to the west. It was a little village of one main street and I
think they called it Douglas avenue. The houses were small but neat, and
being the first town I had seen for a year or two it looked very
attractive. We were there over the Fourth of July and I remember a
delightfully clean, attractive little place where they sold ice cream.
We had camped just north of the village and Mr. Reese, Mr. Parker and I
frequently visited the ice cream parlor. If there were any saloons in
the place I do not remember them for if there had been it would have
probably shown on the enlisted men of the command.

I do not remember which one suggested it, but we concluded that it would
be some fun to visit the real estate offices, of which I think there
were two in the town, and hear what the agents had to say. They treated
us most cordially and were anxious to show us around and told us what a
wonderful city it was going to be. All the southwest was going to be a
great wheat country, although we saw no wheat, and would be tributary to
their town and they were going to vote bonds the following Monday for a
railroad from Newton, then the terminus of the Santa Fe. If not the
terminus it was the great cattle shipping point for the immense herds
that came up the Chisholm trail from Texas, the trail we had followed
some distance from Fort Sill. Everything would eventually come to
Wichita and it would be a second Chicago. One agent offered us a corner
lot centrally located for one hundred dollars, and out farther to the
west, or north, whichever it might have been, I don't remember, on down
to fifteen dollars a lot. We approved of the wonderful prospects for the
town and told them we would consider the the matter of investing, and
then went back to our tents and laughed about it. We at least had an
enjoyable hour or so.

I have had occasion to think about it since, not with any particular
feeling of hilarity, but rather one of regret that I did not grasp the
wonderful possibilities of the country. Either of the three of us could
have invested a little money if we had known enough. After we had again
started on the march I stopped and talked with a man standing by the
roadside and he told me each alternate section of the land was offered
by the Santa Fe railroad at two dollars per acre. It was a beautiful
valley and the land looked rich but the country generally looked very

One company left our command near here and I think went to Fort Larned
or Fort Dodge, Kansas, the other two going on to the railroad at Fort
Harker, where one company remained, and if I remember right, one company
went on to Fort Hayes. I remained with Captain Kerin's company at Fort
Harker for a day or two during which time the paymaster came and paid us
for June. Captain Kerin was a typical Irishman and his company, almost
without exception were Irish, and they were very much devoted to each
other. The captain looked on his men very much I thought, as a father
would look on a bunch of wayward children. The payment was made by the
middle of the afternoon and by night I think most of the men were
drunk, the few on guard duty being about the only sober ones, and the
captain told me they would stay that way until their money was all gone.

A funny thing occurred that evening. The captain and I were sitting in
his tent talking when there was a scratch at the tent cloth and when the
captain said, "Come!" the flap was thrown back and one of the sergeants
saluted and said: "Report for duty, captain." The captain said:
"Sergeant, have ye got any money?" "Yis, captain, a little." "Go and
spend it, go and spend it." The sergeant saluted and dropped the tent
flap and walked away and the captain turned to me and said: "No use
trying to do anything with them until the money is spent, and the
whiskey is out of them." Two or three hours afterwards the sergeant
returned, scratched on the tent, threw the flap back as before and
saluted, and again said in a rather husky voice: "Report for duty,
captain." "Sergeant, have you got any money?" "Not a cint, captain."
"Very well, report to the first sergeant for duty." The captain told me
this was a fair illustration of his experience on every pay day. It is
hardly necessary to say that the captain was not a West Point graduate,
but he was a royal good fellow and a good soldier and I observed while
in the service that officers promoted from the ranks were the most
devoted to the interests and comforts of their men. The trip back to my
post was east by rail to Junction City and thence on the M., K. and T.
to its terminus in the territory. The railway was then under
construction and the terminus was changed every month or so. From the
railroad I went by stage to Fort Sill. Nothing of interest occurred on
the way until we arrived at the last stage station east of the fort. We
had breakfast there and were told we had better get in the stage as they
were about ready to start. We found a bunch of men hitching up a pair of
mules to a light stage-like vehicle, and were told that they were just
breaking them in and that it was better to get in the stage first. The
driver was already up in his seat and Mr. Stearns, a very large man and
owner of the ranch where we had breakfast, was up beside the driver, and
was going with us some three or four miles to where they had made a
cut-off that took us by a large spring of water, the last we could get
before reaching Cache creek, some eighteen miles away. When all was
ready and the driver had the lines well in hand the word "Go" was given,
and away we went at full speed, much like a horse race. The driver's
efforts being wholly devoted to keeping the team in the road. They ran
full speed most of the way to the springs but when we arrived there they
were going in a quiet little trot, seemingly satisfied with the fun they
had had on the way. Mr. Stearns got down and held their bits and the
driver got down and we got out of the stage--another man and myself
being the only passengers--and walked toward the springs. I do not know
how it happened, but when one trace was unfastened the mules broke away
from Mr. Stearns and struck out over the prairie. My first thought was
that we would have to walk back and wait for some other means of
conveyance, but the off mule having one trace unfastened had the
advantage in the race and out over the prairie they went in a great
circle, round and round at full speed, scattering luggage from the hind
boot of the stage until they ran themselves down, the driver and Mr.
Stearns cutting across and trying to catch them. At last they succeeded
for the mules were pretty well winded by this time and ready to go slow.
We found nothing broken and soon had our luggage gathered up and the
mules watered and were on our way. We got into Fort Sill a little later
than the usual stage time, nothing the worse for the wear.

I do not remember whether it was before or after my trip to Fort Harker
that I was called to the Indian agency near Fort Sill to see Black
Beaver, the chief of the Delawares, who was sick and had come there for
treatment. I found him suffering from dysentery and was seriously ill,
and as he was an old man I had serious doubts as to his recovery. He was
neither able nor disposed to talk although he knew enough English to
make himself understood, but after a few days he began to feel some
interest in life and gradually improved until he was convalescent. I
felt particularly interested in him because of a story I had read about
him as interpreter in an early day for Colonel Marcey who was one of
General Sherman's staff officers when they visited Fort Sill a short
time before. When the colonel was a young officer in the service and had
been sent out to make talks to the Indians, the story ran that the young
officer had a pow-wow day appointed with the Kiowas and Comanches, and
when they had assembled and gone through the preliminaries of such an
occasion Captain Marcey told them of the great benefits the great father
at Washington wished to confer on them, and wound up by saying: "We wish
to put up poles across the country and string a wire on them and then
you can talk over that wire to the Great Father in Washington and not
have to wait until some of your people travel such a great way to see
him." When he had finished he waited for Black Beaver to get up and tell
it to the Indians, but Black Beaver did not move but hung his head and
sat there. "Why don't you tell them," asked the captain. Black Beaver
shook his head and said: "It's no use to tell them, I don't believe it
myself." I was anxious to hear Black Beaver's report of that pow-wow, so
when he was well enough I said to him one day: "General Sherman and
staff were here a short time ago and Colonel Marcy was among them. I
understand you knew Colonel Marcy a good many years ago." He brightened
up and said: "Yes, I heard Captain Marcy was here and I wish I could
have seen him." By careful questioning I got the story from him
practically as Colonel Marcy had recorded it in his book. I said to him:
"Well, do you believe it now?" He replied: "Oh, yes, I know it now, I
know it can be done, but I don't know how." How much more ignorant was
he than the most of us?

I find I have not made my sketch of the events at Fort Sill in order of
their occurrence and must now refer back to the winter of 1870 and '71
and we were still under canvas in the camp. It was an unusually cold
winter. The thermometer fell to fourteen degrees below zero and the snow
was a foot or more deep on the ground. I mention this incident both for
the purpose of showing some of the hardships that officers and their
wives underwent and also to show the self-sacrifice and loyalty and
devotion of the enlisted men in an emergency. Doctor Brown and his
young wife were on their way to Fort Sill where he was to become post
surgeon, a position I had held since Doctor Forward had been transferred
to another post, and they were at the half-way camp between Fort
Arbuckle and Fort Sill when the storm broke. The doctor's wife was
confined there and the escort accompanying them devoted themselves night
and day to making the camp as comfortable as possible, getting water,
bringing wood, building fires and cooking, and this they kept up until
the weather moderated and Mrs. Brown was sufficiently recovered to make
it safe for her to travel. As the result of such heroism and devotion
some of them were badly frost bitten, and all suffered more or less. I
removed all the toes except one from one man's feet--only one of the
large toes being left--and others lost a finger or two or parts of
fingers and were otherwise frost bitten. In these cases nature sets up
the line between the healthy and dead tissue and the amputation is made
in the healthy part and far enough back to get a flap sufficient to
cover the bone if possible.

Mrs. Brown and her beautiful baby came with us when we left the post,
intending to quit the service. She to visit with friends and relatives
in the east.

Another interesting occurrence took place when we were still in camp at
Fort Sill. This was the loss of the quartermaster's mules, which
occurred the latter part of the winter. The Indians--supposed to be--by
some means got the gate of the corral open and with the leader on
horseback rushed into the corral and set up the usual yells and shouts
and soon had the whole bunch of 140 mules under way before the alarm
could be given and the cavalry mounted for pursuit. They had such a
start that they could not be followed in the night, it being very dark.
Different commands of cavalry were sent out in pursuit but returned in a
few days empty-handed. There was one young officer by the name of
Harmon, a second lieutenant in the Tenth cavalry, a tall, rather good
looking young fellow who had said to some officers that if they would
give him a chance he would like to show what he could do. I think he
finally went to General Grierson and expressed a wish to try. The
general promptly gave him a detachment of cavalry, some thirty or more
men, and told him to stay as long as he liked, but to bring back the
mules if possible. Nothing was heard of him for some time but finally
word came from Fort Arbuckle that Mr. Harmon had reported there with a
bunch of horsethieves and that most of the mules were then on their way
back to Fort Sill. I heard Mr. Harmon himself tell some of the details
of the scout. He had got on the trail of the thieves--not Indians at
all--somewhere south of Red river and found two of them in a house he
went to at night for information, believing he was close to their camp.
He took these two prisoners and waited until morning to attack the camp.
The ranchmen where they had stopped and where they had already captured
two of the thieves, knew the country well and acted as guides. Mr.
Harmon and he had exchanged firearms on the way, he taking Mr. Harmon's
pistol and Mr. Harmon his shotgun. They rode along the bed of a little
stream until quite near their camp. Most of the thieves were still in
bed but the negro cook was busy about the fire. Mr. Harmon's horse being
much superior to anything in the command, he was among the thieves
practically alone. He shot and wounded one of the men with the second
barrel of his shotgun, and commanded them all to throw up their hands or
he would kill the last one of them. He dropped the shotgun and reached
for his pistols but of course they were gone. However, the thieves stood
there with their hands up until the command came and they were
hand-cuffed and were soon ready for the march to Fort Arbuckle, the
nearest military post. Not more than a half dozen mules had been
disposed of.

The sequel to this story was interesting to me for it caused me a trip
to Fort Arbuckle and back. The guardhouse at Fort Arbuckle was not
considered safe and it was thought best to send the thieves to the new
guardhouse at Fort Sill until the law could take its course. They were
sent under a guard of colored troops commanded by a sergeant with
instructions to kill them if they tried to escape. The guard claimed
that one man made a break for the brush, but the prisoners claimed that
he did nothing of the kind, anyway one of them was badly wounded and
was taken back to Fort Arbuckle, and as Doctor Brewer, the post surgeon
was sick at that time a request for a medical officer come to Fort
Arbuckle and cut a man's leg off was received at Fort Sill and I was
ordered on that duty. Before I arrived at Fort Arbuckle, Doctor Brewer
considered it too urgent a case to be delayed any longer, and although
hardly able to handle the knife, he had amputated the leg before I got
there. I remained a few days until the doctor was sufficiently recovered
to attend to the medical duties of the post, and then returned to Fort

I now come to the last record I shall make of service at this post and
have hesitated about mentioning it at all, and do so now in as few words
as possible, not only because "there are sorrows too sacred to be
babbled to the world" but also because they pull so hard on the heart
strings. Our little boy was scalded to death at this camp. The negro
servant had set a large kettle of boiling water off the stove, and some
way in his play he fell into it. We laid him away in the cemetery on the
hillside and had a stone covering placed over his grave, to mark the
place where his little scalded body lay.


This experience with the little prospect of promotion in the service
decided us on our desire to return to private life, and I wrote to the
medical director of the department expressing my wishes in the matter,
and my reasons for quitting the service, and received orders to report
at the headquarters of the department, Leavenworth, Kansas.

It may be well here to relate an experience of army life that occurred
at Fort Sill after we had left the post. The feeling of apprehension
regarding the Indians had subsided to such an extent that the officers'
wives would take outings in the ambulance, and it became in time
considered safe to go to the Washita agency and make purchases and
return the same day. Two of the officers' wives had made the trip and
were nearing the head of Cache creek on their return, when they saw the
Indians coming. The negro driver urged the mules with such good effect
that they reached the timber and the driver escaped but the women were
carried away to the mountains, and for two weeks were subjected to all
the brutal horrors to be expected of savages and then were ransomed. We
were well acquainted with one of these women but the other had only been
at the post a short time before we left.

I think few of the people of our country today realize how recently such
horrors have been committed. For most of them it is a matter of the long
forgotten past.

We left Fort Sill about the middle of August, 1871 and had for company
Mrs. Harmon, wife of Lieutenant Harmon, who captured the horse thieves
and Mrs. Brown, wife of the post surgeon, and their little baby and
nurse girl. We had an escort of a half dozen men under command of a
sergeant as far as Fort Gibson, Indian Territory, near the junction of
the Grand and Arkansas rivers, and from there to the end of the railroad
two or three men to help about camp. The M., K. and T. railroad was then
only finished to Pryor's creek and we had to take a freight train from
there to Chetopa, Kansas, the end of the passenger run. We camped at
Stearn's ranch the first night out of Fort Sill. As we were starting the
following morning we were informed that a dead man had just been found
near the road we were to take, and only two or three miles away. We got
some tools at the ranch and stopped long enough to bury him. He had
soldier's clothes on and had probably been only recently discharged from
the service. A little money was found in his pocket which I told the
sergeant to take and on his return to Fort Sill try and have the man
identified, if possible, and send the money to his friends. He had not
been dead long as the wolves had not disturbed the body.

Our night camp on the Washita was something we shall always remember.
Before it got dark the mosquitoes had made our acquaintance in such
numbers that we were doubtful of our night's rest, but we had the tent
put up and supper over without suffering serious loss of blood. They
kept coming in greater numbers until we realized that the first were
only installments of the advance guard, and by bedtime they were almost
unbearable. We smudged the tent to drive them out but only succeeded in
driving out the little nurse girl who was caring for the baby. I tried
my usual place in the ambulance for a nap but could not sleep and heard
the women talking in the tent until toward midnight when I called my
wife and told her that if she would come out to the ambulance I would
try and keep the mosquitoes off her until she could get a little rest.
We tried that for an hour but had to acknowledge our defeat and we still
heard the other women talking in the tent. I was now ready to surrender,
so called the sergeant and told him to have the ambulance driver hitch
up and we would get out of there and he and the escort could come on
when they liked, as we were then away from danger from the Indians. We
drove for some time after daylight and found a beautiful camp ground
with fine running water and went into camp. The escort was not far
behind us--they had also met with defeat. We spent that day and the
following night in that camp and had a good rest. The escort had brought
a cub bear along and he was a very amusing rascal although a cause of
some anxiety to the women. This day after we had sat down to dinner
some trash fell on the table and looking up we discovered him out on a
limb above us. The women thought best to have the table removed. His
home while on the road was in the feed box at the rear of the wagon
where he was chained, and the first thing when released was to hunt the
water and take a good bath and then he was ready to investigate
everything around camp. He would roam around at his own sweet will until
away in the night when he would return to his box where we always found
him in the morning. We had to keep the commissary supplies well
protected, for he was a born thief.

We had a good supply of small game on the way particularly turkeys and
prairie chickens. We found the young turkeys at this season of the year
to be unusually fine.

When we arrived at Oswego my wife went to visit friends in the country
and I went on to the department headquarters at Leavenworth to report.
When I got there the medical director was anxious that I should remain
in the service and said that he would give me a good post and suggested
Camp Limestone in Southeast Kansas in what was then known as the
Cherokee neutral lands, about thirty miles south of Fort Scott. It would
be close to the railroad and other conveniences and comforts of
civilization, and he was sure I would like it, and he hoped there would
be an examining board before long for promotions and I had better
consider the matter. I asked for two weeks leave of absence to consider
his proposition which was cheerfully granted, and I went back to Iowa
and looked up the prospects and in ten days was back to continue in the

My wife and I together went to our new station at Camp Limestone and
arrived there September 9th, 1871. At that time the railroad was
finished to Baxter Springs but there had been trouble with the settlers
when crossing the Cherokee neutral lands, an area embracing Cherokee and
Crawford counties and the southern tier of townships in Bourbon county.
The land had been sold for the Indians by the government to James F.
Joy, representing what was then known as the Kansas City, Fort Scott and
Gulf railroad. The settlers thought they should have the right to
homestead the land, and resisted the construction of the railroad,
caught and whipped the engineers and threatened their lives and burned
their instruments, the result being that troops were sent to protect the
purchasers and their employees in the construction of the road.

There were three camps established along the line of the railroad on
these lands, one at Drywood, one at Limstone creek, and one near
Columbus, and occupied by one company at each post. Temporary buildings
were constructed and the troops made as comfortable as possible where
they were not expected to remain permanently. Fort Scott was the
headquarters, General Neal being in command, but there was a company
commander at each camp. We arrived late in the afternoon and went to a
house close by and remained there until the mail messenger from the camp
should return and report our arrival. In the course of an hour an
ambulance came, and we made our way across country to camp and I
reported to Captain Fenton of the Sixth cavalry in command of the camp,
and we remained at his quarters over night and had our own quarters
ready for occupancy the following day. The country was fairly well
settled immediately around the camp and along the streams, and there was
a schoolhouse less than a mile away.

Part of the settlers had been there for some years and were getting
things about them to look quite home-like. Fruit trees growing, peach
trees bearing, and hedge-fences set out, and while there was always a
seeming scarcity of money and farm products brought low prices, the
people seemed contented and hopeful. This was a very comfortable
contrast with our experiences among the Indians. Small game,
particularly quail and prairie chickens were plentiful, and wild fowl
abundant in season. There being very little to do in a professional way
I had plenty of time to indulge in my favorite sport with dog and gun.
We had not been at that camp long until Captain Fenton's company was
replaced by another company of which Captain (Brevet Major) Upham was in
command and Mr. Gordon, first lieutenant and Mr. Kerr, just recently
from West Point was second lieutenant, and this company remained at Fort
Limestone during my service there, and until the spring of 1873 when
all the camps on the neutral lands were discontinued, the Supreme Court
having decided the title of the land in the railroad company.

When General Neal was assigned to another post, Major Upham took his
place at Fort Scott, leaving Mr. Gordon in command at our camp. The
officers of the different camps had transportation or yearly passes on
the railroad from Fort Scott to Baxter Springs and Fort Scott being then
the principal town in the southeast part of the state we were frequently
there to make purchases or for any purpose our wishes might suggest. We
boarded the train at a place called Engleton, since changed to Beulah
although there was no station or side-track and only one house close by,
and trains only stopped on signals or to let off passengers. Take it
altogether it was very much like living on a farm in a new country that
was fairly well settled, but we had many comforts that farmers could not
afford and did not have to work as they did to earn a living.

Most of the farmers belonged to what was called the Settlers' League and
those of them who did not belong from choice did so from fear. I got
acquainted with a number who felt no way in sympathy with some of their
doings such as burning bridges and other unlawful acts. They were all
civil enough to the officers and men of our camp and quite a number were
disposed to be friendly. Some of them had contracted their land from the
railroad company considering their investments, which in many cases
embraced good improvements, too valuable to take chances but kept their
contracts a secret. I frequently took their payments to the land offices
in Fort Scott, they preferring to send it rather than go themselves.

Eighteen hundred and seventy-two was a bountiful crop year and we could
get all the peaches and many other things we needed very cheap. The
quartermaster contracted his corn that year at 14 cents a bushel and the
farmers who furnished it were greatly pleased at getting such a good
price for shelled corn. Early in the spring of the year I received
orders to take charge of the surgical needs of the camp near Columbus
and to make a trip three times each week and as much oftener as I though
it necessary. This I could do and return to my own camp the same day.
This was a pleasant duty for it gave me more to do and I was taken to
and from the railroad in the ambulance each trip.

Captain Bennett of the Fifth infantry was the commanding officer at
Columbus, a dignified, courteous, soldierly gentleman, to whom I became
very much attached. In a letter from General Miles he speaks of Captain
Bennett as follows: "Captain Bennett who was in command of the camp at
Columbus was a very gallant officer. He had an excellent record during
the Civil war and went with the regiment to Montana. He was engaged in
several Indian campaigns and in 1879 was killed in an engagement with
hostile Bannock Indians at Clark's Fork of the Yellowstone. He was an
ideal officer and one of the many heroes who gave his life in protecting
the homes of the defenseless settlers and maintaining the supremacy of
the government." This duty continued until late the following fall when
another surgeon, Doctor Gray, was sent to take charge of that camp.

When the open season for chicken shooting began we had frequent visitors
who were fond of the sport. Major Upham, commanding at Fort Scott, would
come often and bring friends from Fort Scott, generally Mr. Drake and
Mr. McDonald and sometimes others, to spend a day with dog and gun.
Captain Butler from the camp on Drywood would come for a day. Colonel
Delancey Floyd-Jones of the Third infantry came down from Fort Hayes for
two or three days, and brought with him an excellent setter dog, that
could not stand the heat as well as the pointers, but was much more
easily controlled. I was a bit amused at his experience while there.
When asked at the dinner table the first day if he would be helped to
both beef and chicken he replied, "No beef for me while I'm here, I can
get all the beef I want at Fort Hayes, I came down here to eat prairie
chicken." The last morning he was there I said, "Well Colonel, how is it
this morning, prairie chicken or steak, or both?" "Well, he said, I
believe I will try a little steak this morning." He went away delighted
with his experience and promised me another visit in the fall, but for
some reason we did not see him again. He was a fine type of the old
army officer, dignified, courteous and cordial.

I had done my first chicken shooting on the way in from Fort Sill, and
was by no means a good shot. Mr. Kerr, the young lieutenant, who was
stationed here, was the best wing-shot I have ever seen on the sporting
field. He had his gun made to measure and although he was six feet tall
and finely proportioned he had ordered his gun to be only 6½ pounds in
weight. Up to that time I had thought the bigger the gun the more deadly
the weapon. I found I had a good deal to learn about guns and how to
shoot them. I must tell you about one of my first experiences in
chicken-shooting with Mr. Kerr. I happened to see one on the ground and
could not resist the temptation and I will never forget the disgusted
expression on his face as he turned to me and said, "For God's sake, are
you hungry." That one precipitation cured me of shooting birds on the
ground, unless I was hungry. Time and practice finally made me a fairly
creditable shot but I was never steady in the field or at the trap. Mr.
Kerr on the other hand was always steady and reliable. I remember one
day just before Christmas when the snow was several inches deep he asked
me to count out one hundred loaded cartridges for him while he attended
guard mount. The ambulance was at the door and he started promptly when
guard mount was over. He brought back eighty-four quail and nine loaded
cartridges. Poor old Dick, his faithful pointer had retrieved them all,
and was an invalid for two or three days thereafter.

Mr. Kerr's quarters and ours were just across the corner of the parade
ground from each other, his facing north and ours east, and he was at
our house a great deal, especially in the evenings. The conversation
generally turned to guns and their different makes and merits; to dogs
and their different breeds and training; the loads to be used and the
proper proportion of powder and shot. All these things were discussed
until we felt we were authorities on the subject but for fear we might
be wrong about the powder and shot, we experimented to find if any of
the powder left the gun-barrel unburnt, and with target we settled at
least to our own satisfaction, the amount of shot and powder to be used.
My subsequent hunting experience has not materially modified our
conclusions. In those days we used black powder and loaded our own
shells, the smokeless powder and machine loaded shells being then

One of the interesting things at this camp that year was Mr. Gordon's
company garden, some four or five acres in extent with everything
imaginable planted in it. The company did the work of planting and
cultivating but the rabbits did a large part of the eating. There would
be days when all the company would be out shooting rabbits and it was
much like the picket firing I had become familiar with in the volunteer
service. This was kept up until the rabbits were comparatively few
around camp, and the garden produced abundantly and was a great help in
rounding out the men's rations. One of the enlisted men was an expert
with the rifle and caught many of the rabbits on the run.

While here I had an opportunity of observing for the first time the
variableness in area of rainfall at different seasons of the year. The
latter part of winter and early spring I observed that if it was cloudy
or raining at Fort Scott, it was the same way at Columbus fifty miles
away and I presume over a much greater area. But as the season advanced,
I would find it raining at Limestone, while on my arrival at Columbus
the weather would be clear and dry only twenty miles away. Sometimes a
heavy shower would fall between the camps and both camps would be dry.
This was a surprise to me because I had not thought of it before, and I
think the feeling generally is if it is raining where you happen to be,
it is raining everywhere else.

Before this camp was abandoned I had some hospital property on hand for
which I was responsible, and that had ceased to be of service, and I had
applied for its inspection and condemnation. Soon afterwards Colonel
Nelson A. Miles of the Fifteenth infantry and inspector general of the
department came and condemned the property. After dinner we played chess
until time for him to be taken to the northbound train, and I have often
wondered since that time if he remembers victory as well as I do
defeat. Since then he became a distinguished officer in our Indian
warfare and finally attained the rank of lieutenant general and
commander-in-chief of the army.

Most of the officers who served at the different camps on the neutral
land while I was at Limestone have since died. So far as I know, General
Kerr--the Mr. Kerr of our camp life there--and myself are the only ones
remaining. Mr. Kerr became a captain in 1885 and was wounded in the
assault on San Juan ridge July 1, 1898, promoted to major in October,
1898, was military attache at Berlin in 1900 to 1902, promoted to
colonel in 1903 and to brigadier general in 1908 and retired from active
service in 1909 as brigadier general in the United States Army. He saw
much Indian fighting on the frontier, and received numerous medals and
honorable mention, in orders from different departments and army
headquarters. It is a pleasure to mention these promotions and orders
commending him for meritorious conduct for as a young man good things
were expected of him by his friends. He is still living and it must be a
great comfort to him in his old age to reflect on the distinguished and
valuable services he has rendered his country.

The following winter the Supreme Court rendered its decision in the case
involving the title to the Cherokee neutral lands in favor of the
railroads. I think the settlers generally felt that the decision would
be against them for many of them sold their improvements and moved away,
and most of those remaining contracted their land from the railroad


Orders came the latter part of March to abandon the camp and I was
ordered to accompany the command to Fort Gibson, Indian Territory, and
then to report to the commanding officer at Fort Garland, Colorado, for
assignment to duty. From Fort Gibson I returned to Camp Limestone for my
wife and little girl baby, who was born the previous November. We were
furnished tickets by the railroad as far as Kansas City, but when we
came to use them we found they had been packed with our baggage and of
course had to pay car-fare. We went over the same railroad from Kansas
City as the one I had first taken in crossing the plains but in place of
stopping in Kansas, as it did then, it had been finished to Denver.

There was a narrow gauge road from Denver to Pueblo. Its passenger train
was at the depot when ours pulled in and our train stopped beside it. It
was quite a curiosity to me. It looked so very small, I thought of it as
a toy affair and wondered if we could make any headway on such a thing.
I was surprised and much gratified to soon know how much I had
miscalculated its merits. It was a long train and went in and out among
the canons and around the mountain sides in an amusing way and with
surprising speed. Maybe we would look out and see an engine coming down
the track across the canon from us and would discover it to be our own
engine puttering along as though pleased with its job. We stayed over
night at Pueblo and in the morning we found there was an ambulance to
take us and Major Hartz over the mountains to Fort Garland. The major
had introduced himself the previous night on our arrival from Denver. On
the route to Garland we spent the night at the different stage stations
and were made fairly comfortable. As we neared the summit of Sangre De
Cristo Pass (Blood of Christ) the snow was very deep and soft. We
thought it too much of a load for the mules and so the major and I
concluded to walk. It was well we did so, for the mules had all they
could do to flounder through it. I stood the walking very well but it
was laborious work. The major did not fare so well, for as we neared
the top, which is about eleven thousand, five hundred feet above sea
level, he was spitting blood and having difficulty in breathing. The
west side of the range was clear of snow and it was only two or three
miles from the summit to Stearn's ranch, where we stayed over night, and
by morning although the major had a restless night the hemorrhage had
stopped. The following day we drove to Fort Garland only twenty miles

Fort Garland is situated at the edge of the foothills just south of old
Baldy, one of the highest peaks of the Sangre De Cristo range. It was a
pretty location overlooking the Rio Grande valley to the south and west
and we were assigned to comfortable quarters.

About the first part of May a troop of cavalry under command of Major
Carraher was ordered to establish a camp at the junction of the west
fork with the main stream of the Rio Grande, about one hundred miles
west and a little north of the post, and I was assigned to duty as
surgeon of the command. This camp was established as a base of supplies
for government surveyors who were to survey the San Juan Indian
reservation. There had been trouble for some years between the Ute
Indians and prospectors who had gone into their reservation and located
some valuable mines, and warfare between them had resulted in the
government buying the land and opening it to settlers, and this survey
was to fix the boundaries and divide the land into sections and cross
sections so legal title could be given.

The surveyors arrived a few days after we had established camp. A Mr.
Prout was in charge of the party and they stayed at camp several days to
establish the exact latitude and longitude of the camp as a base from
which to make additional surveys. I became very much interested in this
work and they explained a good deal of it to me but I was surprised at
the time it required and the figuring necessary. I had the pleasure of
watching the chronometer and calling time on signal from the observer.
The nights were clear and in that rare atmosphere the stars shone with
great brilliancy.

An escort accompanied the surveyors in their work, a squad of a half
dozen men in command of a noncommissioned officer, generally a sergeant,
and each week these were relieved by others and returned to camp. There
was practically no need for a surgeon with the camp that summer, the
only two cases in the hospital being a man who was blinded by a
premature shot in the mines and my pointer dog which I shot on one of my
hunting trips.

The country along the Rio Grande was unsettled, there being but one
abandoned log-house between Fort Garland and Loma, now called Del Norte,
a Mexican village with a good sprinkling of American houses, and located
at the head of what was called the San Luis valley. The log-house was
dignified by the name of Alamoosa and was our camp-ground and half-way
place between Fort Garland and our summer camp. The trip was generally
made in two days although the distance was nearly one hundred miles.
From Loma to the camp, a distance of some fifteen miles, the mountains
sloped gradually to the river and there were a few adobe houses occupied
by Mexicans. As there was very little to do I spent a good deal of time
hunting and fishing. Rainbow trout are very plentiful in the river for
here it was a clear rushing mountain stream with deep pools and the
water was cold throughout the summer from melting snows. We had fish at
all times and cooked in every imaginable way until we were almost
sickened at the thought of fish, although they were always pretty to
look at. To this day my wife does not want to see or eat fish. All kinds
of game were abundant but I never had much success with the larger
varieties, I did not understand deer hunting and always managed it the
wrong way. I did not know anything about their runways, so still hunting
was not practical and in riding over the mountains they saw me before I
saw them and that settled the matter. I tried repeatedly to get a shot
at an elk that I frequently saw on his favorite grazing ground, a small
park a half mile or more away near the top of one of the high points in
the mountains, but with all my care, and calculating the direction of
the wind, and figuring on the best way of approach, he would always
scent the danger while I was making my way through the thicket of
aspens that surrounded the park and I could hear the keen whistle-like
note and hear him bounding away before I caught sight of him.

On these hunting trips I rode a government mule that General Alexander,
the post commander at Fort Garland, had given me for the summer's use,
and who spoke of him with great praise as an exceptionally good saddle
animal. He was said to be twenty-seven years old, and had formerly been
used as a messenger mule between Fort Garland and Taos when the mail was
brought to the post from the latter point. I suppose he had been gray at
one time but now he was white from age, but had been well cared for and
although in fine condition, had been retired from actual service. I
found him all that he was recommended to be, and with an additional
merit that he was not afraid of a gun. I could fire from the saddle and
he would not flinch, and because of this exceptional quality, I had a
great deal of sport shooting jack-rabbits. They would jump up and run
away fifty or a hundred yards and sit up straight, which is their habit,
and I would aim in line and a little below the mark and as the mule
would inhale it would raise the muzzle of the rifle and by pulling the
trigger at the right moment I was sure to see the rabbit tumble over. I
never had much chance from the saddle at larger game. The color of the
mule was against it, and I was not a good shot with the rifle at moving

I became much attached to this mule for his exceptionally easy gait and
his fine disposition, however, he played me a bad trick one day for
which I have since forgiven him because of my own culpable ignorance. It
was getting late and I was out of my usual hunting range when I saw an
antelope grazing in one of the many beautiful parks to be found in the
mountains. There was a small ravine down the center of this park near
which I noticed a clump of willows and figured that if I could approach
from behind the willows I could get a good shot. My scheme worked all
right and I got up within range and fired. To my great surprise I saw
the shot take effect on the hillside beyond and had passed over the
antelope's shoulders. This was a puzzle to me for I was sure I had taken
good aim, and equally sure that I did not have the "buck-ague." The
antelope ran away and stopped and looked back at me when I estimated him
to be about two hundred and fifty yards away. I made a careful allowance
for the distance and fired at the shoulder and at the report of the gun
he dropped in his tracks apparently without a struggle. I thought a
little strange of this, for I had aimed just back of the shoulders and
supposed he would at least make a jump or two and struggle some after
falling. Imagine my surprise when I found his neck broken just back of
his ears, a purely accidental shot. I went back to my mule, which by the
way I had named "Paddy O'Rooney" but always addressed him by his given
name, and I thought I would put the antelope on him without dressing it
as it was getting late and I wanted to find a trail down to the valley.
I found that Paddy had an altogether different view of the matter, for
he had no desire to get acquainted with the dead antelope. There was no
timber near where I could tie him to a tree, to force him to accept the
load and so a bright idea occurred to me. I have done a good many
foolish things in my life, but I think nothing quite so idiotic as this.
I decided that I would tie the end of the lariat rope to the antelope's
hind legs, the other end being fastened around Paddy's neck and I would
then get on the mule and pull the antelope up. This scheme worked pretty
well at least part way. I was in the saddle and my gun across in front
of me and I backed Paddy up toward the antelope, wrapping the lariat
around the horn of the saddle as he backed. Paddy would look back and
snort a little, but was quite gentle until I attempted to raise the
antelope up to me. When Paddy saw it move I believe he thought the thing
had come to life and was going to swallow him, for the way he went down
the mountain side would have shamed John Gilpin and his foam covered
horse. I tried to hold him but I might as well have tried to hold a
cyclone. I had been raised on a farm and helped break the young horses
to ride and work, and I thought I could hold anything, but I had never
been on a scared mule before, and I found I was utterly helpless. My
first impulse was to throw away my gun and try to get off and let the
mule and the antelope have it out together but the lariat was across my
right thigh and I could not get away from it. I believe the thing
following him added to his terror, for we went over places I could not
have forced him over in his sane condition. I went over the track of our
runaway race a few days later and found a ledge of nearly four feet in
height that we had gone over, and I really think it would have been the
same thing to Paddy if it had been forty feet in place of four. The old
saying "All's well that ends well" proved true in this case. The lariat
rope slipped around the saddle horn caused by the jerking of the
antelope as it bounded along and choked Paddy down just as we got to the
edge of the timber. I hurriedly dismounted and loosened the lariat so
that he could get his breath and found that he was pretty well tuckered
out. I tied him to a tree and then went back to examine my antelope. The
hind and fore-quarters were held together by the backbone and a strip of
skin along the belly but the ribs and entrails were gone. Fortunately we
had stopped near a trail which I knew would lead down to the valley,
although I had never been over it before. When I tried to put what was
left of the antelope on Paddy's back he again rebelled. I then tied his
neck up against a small tree and wrapped the lariat around the tree and
his neck until he could not buck, but in his struggles he lost his
footing and hung himself. I cut the rope as quickly as I could, and got
him on his feet again and gave him a little more freedom the next time
and while he protested most vigorously, I finally got my antelope
securely fastened in the saddle and led the poor worn-out mule down the
trail. It was very dark by this time and we made slow progress but
finally reached the valley and I estimated that we were not more than
three or four miles from camp. We had only gone a short distance when we
met a detachment of cavalry that had been ordered out by Major Carraher
in search of me. The major had been over to my tent two or three times
and finding I was not there became uneasy, thinking I might have met
with some accident, or the Indians might have found me. We arrived in
camp about nine or ten o'clock with what was left of the antelope, a
very tired hunter and a very tired mule.

The following day I tested my rifle at a mark and found good cause for
my wild shooting the previous day. I suppose the front sight had been
slightly moved by striking on a tree or something on my trip before I
found the antelope. Paddy and I still remained good friends and he took
me many pleasant rides through the mountains.

With the latter part of August came the wing-shooting of the dusky
grouse (Canace of the Ornothologist) a large slate-colored bird, some
larger than our prairie chickens (Cupidonia Cupido). The young birds
could then fly strong and afforded great sport. My observation is that
it is a very stupid bird. I have seen them sit on the limb of a tree
until knocked off after repeated throwing and have seen them sit on the
bare ground apparently thinking they were hid, until I have walked up to
within ten or fifteen feet of them, before they would take wing. Until
well grown I found them most frequently in the open parks where there
was a ravine with water and willows and other undergrowth, and more or
less grass for cover, but later in the season they took to the large
timber. So far as my experience goes they are the best table bird of all
the grouse family. The flesh is white and delicious. Their range is as
high as timber line in the summer but they go lower as the season
advances. There were no quail at this altitude. I think they do not go
so high and I saw no other game birds.

There was a bird about camp called the "Nut-cracker" and I believe in
some places known as "lark's Crow" (Nussifrage Columbrana) that for a
nuisance I believe could not be equalled. In action, in size and
something in appearance and rasping voice he much resembled our jays.
They were in great numbers about our camp and were impudent fellows and
seemed determined to get into everything. Mr. H. W. Henshaw was with us
that summer collecting natural history specimens for the Smithsonian
Institute. He was quite anxious to find the nest and eggs of this bird.
I supposed from their abundance this would be a matter requiring little
effort, but I found I was mistaken. I made it my special part that
summer to locate a nest of these birds and was constantly on the
lookout. I often went out with Mr. Henshaw in the morning when he would
start on his day's round but generally lost out after the first hour. He
was an athlete in size and finely proportioned and hardened to the work
by constant practice, and could walk the legs off me in an hour's
travel. I would then strike out for myself but was always looking for
the Nut-cracker and trying to locate his nest. One day I saw him fly
away from a hole some fifteen feet up in an old tree stump, the limbs
having fallen away. This looked encouraging so I climbed up and found a
nest but no eggs. I reported my find to Mr. Henshaw that evening and he
was pleased with the prospects and said we would go together in about a
week, and by that time we might find eggs in the nest. I had marked the
place well and we had no difficulty in finding it. Mr. Henshaw did the
climbing this time and thrust his hand in the hole but found no eggs.
"Wait a minute though," he said and thrust his hand down in the hole
again, but brought it out in a hurry and the blood was dripping from it.
He suggested I make a forked stick such as every boy knows who has ever
twisted a rabbit out of a stone wall or hollow log, and he twisted the
thing out which proved to be a mountain rat, something entirely new to
me. It was a rat in every way I had known them but had a bushy tail like
a squirrel. We took it to camp with us and the skin went away with his
other specimens to the institute. This is commonly called the
bushy-tailed rat but is designated Neotoma Cinera Orelestes by the

Mr. Henshaw is now chief of the biological survey in the United States
Department of Agriculture, to whom I am indebted for many agreeable
experiences and for most of my knowledge concerning most of the birds
and animals herein mentioned. His contributions to the National
Geographical Magazine are particularly interesting and instructive. The
rat mentioned is also one of the varieties of what is known as
pack-rats. They construct a nest of sticks and other rubbish found in
the neighborhood, and if near a house may carry off spoons or knives or
anything that attracts their attention. There is a smooth tailed rat
belonging to this genus that is very abundant in New Mexico and is apt
to leave something in place of the article he carries away, and on that
account is often called the swap-rat.

General Alexander and some other officers from the post at Fort Garland
came to our camp the latter part of July. Complaint had been made by
cattlemen, really some Englishmen by the name of Hamilton, that some of
their cattle had been killed and they blamed the escort that accompanies
the engineers for their death. Mr. Delaney, who came with the general,
and I were detailed to go to Antelope park, where the ranch was located,
and investigate the matter. The general and some other officers
accompanied us as far as Wagon-wheel Gap and with a small escort we
continued on to the park, the general and other officers returning to
camp. We found the Hamilton brothers very cordial and hospitable. We
talked the business over quite thoroughly and remained until near
midnight before returning to our camp a short distance away. The
following morning we found a half-inch or more of ice in a cup that had
been left with some water in it the night before, rather cool weather I
thought for the 30th of July. It was very chilly riding for the first
two or three hours in the morning, but the sunshine finally got the
better of the cold, and we were comfortable for the balance of the day.
We camped at Wagon-wheel Gap the following night and found it an
interesting place, although there was but one log building and that
unoccupied, in the place.

The river here makes a great circular bend around an almost
perpendicular wall of rock that I judged to be about a half-mile high.
Across the river from this was a beautiful valley sloping gradually up
into the mountains and in it were many hot springs varying in
temperature from barely tepid to boiling hot.

The following day brought us back to our summer camp again. Our camp
here was beautifully located among the pines and between the camp and
bluff there was a pretty little lake which had been made by turning a
little mountain stream into the low ground between the camp and the
bluff. The officers' tents were in line facing this lake, and at the
back ground sloped gradually to the river about a half-mile away. A very
interesting "nature feature" of this camp, was the uniformity with
which we got a shower of rain every morning during July and August, and
we got into the habit of expecting it at eleven o'clock and were seldom
disappointed. One day, August 17th, the water from the cloud in passing
over became congealed and formed snow-flakes that for size were really
astonishing. I was on my way to Loma on my faithful mule Paddy O'Rooney,
and when it came it shut out practically everything from sight, a few
yards away, and lasted probably twenty or thirty minutes. About four
inches of snow fell in that time, then the sun came out bright and warm,
and it seemed to go away almost as fast as it came. On my way back to
camp the depressions along the way were flooded and by night only the
spots protected by ledges of rock or dense foliage were left. With all
these pleasant surroundings, and nothing to do but fish and hunt, life
became a little monotonous. I sometimes wonder if people will get tired
of golden streets and heavenly music.

The survey being ended we broke camp September 9th and started back to
Fort Garland. Mr. Prout and one other engineer, whose name I cannot now
recall, accepted commissions in the Egyptian army and a letter received
some months later assured me it was not a very comfortable service.

While in this camp my wife and I thought one day it would be fine to
take an outing together, so the ambulance was ordered and she and our
little baby girl and nurse girl and myself and the driver made up the
party. We crossed the west fork of the Rio Grande and went up the valley
for some distance. The west fork is smaller than the main stream, with
many pools and little rapids and hugs close to the north side of the
valley as far as we went. The mountains rose abruptly from the waters
and at a great height divided into peaks and spires, pinnacles and
domes, in abandoned confusion, that impressed me not only as most
remarkable but also the most beautiful combination of mountain scenery I
had ever witnessed. The pools were especially attractive for I had taken
my tackle with me, so I left the party in charge of the driver and
started out for some good sport. I did not meet with the ready response
I expected from the fish, and kept going on up stream trying one pool
after another until I was quite out of sight of the ambulance but still
kept going, each pool looking more inviting than the one just passed. I
finally came to an unusually large pool, deep and wide, and that ran
close to the perpendicular bluff on the opposite side. I had made a
number of casts when a voice from somewhere called out "What luck?" It
might have been from the clouds and I would not have been more
surprised, and at first I could not locate it, but looked up and down
stream and back over the valley but saw no one. Finally just across from
me on a big block of rock that had become detached from the mountainside
and in plain view sat a man. His clothing was so near the color of the
rock and he sat so stalk still that I would never have discovered him if
he had not made the inquiry. Answering I said, "Not very good," but some
way I was so startled by that inquiry seemingly coming from the unknown
and then finding a real man where of all places I least expected him,
that I think I was a little nervous about it, and soon lost interest in
fishing and returned to the ambulance. He had evidently been watching me
as I was going up stream but made no other effort for closer
acquaintance and I left him with that one response, "Not very good."


A few days after returning to Fort Garland I was ordered to report to
Major McClave who commanded a troop of cavalry and was camped near the
top of Sangre De Cristo pass. The nights were cold and the camp was in
every way an unpleasant one. We only remained there a few days when we
broke camp and went down the Veta pass. The Sangre De Cristo and Veta
passes joined just beyond the top of the range on the west side. We
camped near La Veta, a Mexican village, the first night. In coming down
La Veta pass we had a good view of the Spanish peaks, a name I
remembered in connection with my very limited study of geography when a
lad, and which for some reason I expected to be grand and commanding.
After spending a summer in the mountains and seeing them in all their
rugged grandeur, the peaks looked small and their hay-stack tops were
disappointing. We went by easy marches until we reached a point on the
Purgatory river some forty miles above its mouth where we remained in
camp about a month. Our camp here was several thousand feet lower than
the one near Sangre de Cristo pass and was in a fine grove of large
cotton-wood trees and by comparison was a very comfortable place. The
nights were a little cool but the days were delightfully pleasant. The
Purgatory valley was practically unsettled in those days except near
Trinidad, where there were a number of small ranches but I only remember
one ranch between our camp and the mouth of the river. While in this
camp a wind-storm came up one afternoon and grew in volume as the
evening advanced but we felt secure on account of the bluff just across
the river to the windward of us. However, I could hear it among the tree
tops before dropping to sleep, and I wondered if it could do any harm.
When I awoke the next morning the ridge pole of my tent was broken, and
the tent crushed in by some great thing extending obliquely upward, and
only a few inches above my chest. I hurried outside as quickly as I
could and found an immense dead cotton-wood tree lying across my tent
with the top caught in the forks of another tree a few yards away.

I found both Major McClave and Mr. Williams, his lieutenant, very
interesting companions. The major had served in the ranks before the
war, and had been promoted for bravery and efficiency in the service. He
was a thorough soldier, courteous and considerate to everybody, and like
all the officers I met from the ranks, was very devoted to his men. Mr.
Williams was a West Point graduate and an accomplished gentleman, and I
shall always remember my experience with this command with pleasure. Mr.
Williams and I had found a fine bathing pool in the river and had
frequent occasions to enjoy its chilly but invigorating qualities. One
day when in the midst of our bath the bugle call for "boots and saddles"
sounded. We hurried from the water, dressed and got to camp in time to
find everything ready to move. A messenger had arrived in camp bringing
word of an Indian raid and the killing of cattle at some point down the
river toward Las Anamis. We kept going until some time after midnight
when we were within a few miles of Fort Lyon and from there the major
and I took the ambulance and went on into Fort Lyon to report and get
such information as we could, and instructions for any further action
that was considered necessary. We got back to our camp just at good
daylight and found Mr. Williams and the men almost ready for the march.
After a hurried breakfast we were soon on the way up the Arkansas
Valley. We followed this valley to where Wild Horse creek enters the
river, then turned up that creek and marched until near sundown when
some cattlemen and rangers met us and reported that the Indians had
turned east and would probably cross the Arkansas below Fort Lyon. Right
here it is just as well to say that cavalry stand a poor show to
overtake a band of Indians if they have a few miles the start. The
Indian pony does not eat corn; the cavalry horses must have it or at
least some kind of grain. Stop and unsaddle your Indian pony, lariat him
out and give him an hour to rest and graze, and he is ready for another
jaunt of a half day or more. He is a tough, hardy beast and can be
forced to keep going when the cavalry horse will simply quit. We
returned slowly to Fort Lyon and reported to the commanding officer for
instructions, and were ordered back to Fort Union where Major McClave's
troop of cavalry belonged.

There was nothing of special interest on this trip although the night we
camped at Dick Wooton's there was a heavy snow and the major spent a
good part of the night looking after the comfort of his men and horses.
After crossing this spur of the mountains the weather was pleasant and
the country free from snow and we reached Fort Union without further
incident. I returned by stage to Fort Garland and arrived at that post
the forepart of December and was there awaiting orders until the 18th.
The weather was cold, Fort Garland being at an altitude of about seven
thousand feet above sea level, and it was comfortable to be with my wife
and little girl, and in good quarters again.

General Kautz had taken General Alexander's place as post commander, but
Dr. Happersett, the post surgeon, and the other officers were the same
as when we arrived the preceding April. The social features of the post
were charming and I hoped it would be my good fortune to remain there
during the winter, but a few days after my arrival orders came for me to
report to the commanding officer at Fort Stanton, New Mexico, for duty.
We started on December 18th and the thermometer registered eighteen
degrees below zero that morning. We were well equipped for the trip,
having four mules to the ambulance and a six-mule team and wagon for our
baggage. The question may occur to some of my readers how could all your
household goods be carried in one wagon? We did not have much to carry,
particularly in the way of furniture. The quarters at the different
military posts were furnished by the quartermaster with stoves, tables,
bedsteads and all kinds of furniture that would be cumbersome to move.
We carried folding chairs, carpets, bedding and numerous household
necessities and comforts with us, but one wagon was sufficient for this
purpose in addition to carrying grain and hay for the mules from one
government supply station to another. On most of the routes traveled
there were government stations where grain and forage were kept for the
animals used in government transportation. We started early, having
forty miles to make that day to reach Conejos (Jackrabbit) the first
government station on the route. We heated bricks for our feet and by
drawing the curtains around the ambulance, it was made quite
comfortable. We crossed the Rio Grande on the ice and reached Conejos in
the evening and had a very comfortable place for the night. We remained
one day at Conejos for supplies of grain and hay for the mules. For the
next three days and two nights we were in deep snow all the way, and of
course made slow progress, and the escort melted snow for water for
ourselves and the animals during this time. We hoped to reach San Juan
on the Rio Grande by the end of the third day, but were apprehensive,
for we knew we had to cross the Rio Chama, a stream that had acquired an
unenviable reputation because of its quicksand. We reached this stream
just at dusk of the third day and for the first time in three days saw
the friendly lamplights at a Mexican village a short distance above the
ford. This was my first acquaintance with quicksand, and I would know
better now. We should have unfastened the mules from the wagon, and
broken the ice, which was not strong enough to hold them up, and thus
made the way clear so we could cross without stopping. To stop is fatal.
In place of doing this, we expected the mules to break the ice as they
went. About the middle of the stream was a sand-bar only slightly
covered with ice and water and the water had been shallow over to this
bar, but when the mules came into the deep water beyond, the leaders
refused to break the ice, the team stopped, and the wagon gradually
settled down until the running gear and bed rested on the sand-bar. I
ordered the team unhitched and the ice broken so we could get around
with the ambulance, and we made the crossing without difficulty. It was
then quite dark and I decided to ask for a volunteer to remain with the
wagon and the balance of us would go on to San Juan.

I called the men together, and asked if any one of them would volunteer
to stay with the wagon over night. An Irishman stepped out and said,
"Yis Doctor, I will stay with it." It seems to me that in a case like
this, or for that matter in any emergency, one can always depend on the
Irishman. I knew his habits at the post, for he was in the guardhouse
occasionally for drunkenness, so I said to him, "Look here, this is not
an easy job. If those Mexicans up there knew this wagon was in here they
might give you trouble, and if they found you drunk they would probably
kill you and loot the wagon. Now I am going to leave a bottle of whiskey
with you, for it is a very cold night and you will need some before
morning, so be careful and do not take too much of it. Get out and walk
when you get too cold to sleep but don't get drunk for your life may be
in danger if you are not able to take care of yourself." "Yis Sir,
Doctor, I understand that sir, and I will keep sober, sir, and I will
take care of the stuff all right, sir." We left him there and the
balance of the escort with the six mule team, and my wife and baby and I
in the ambulance, started on to San Juan some six miles away. We got off
the road as we neared the station, and our ambulance got into an
irrigation ditch and turned over on one side, but did no harm and we
soon had it right again, and after some trouble in finding a road,
finally reaching San Juan about midnight. We had wandered around a good
deal in trying to find the road again.

The following day the escort returned to the Rio Grande, and found the
Irishman all right and only about half of the whiskey gone. He had fully
merited all my confidence. They unloaded the wagon and slid the contents
across the river on the ice, and by digging and prying with the tools
they had taken from the station, and hitching all ten mules to the
wagon, they drew it out the quick-sand and across the river and arrived
at the station with everything in good shape about dark that evening.
The morning before Christmas my wife and I concluded to ride to Santa Fe
about twenty miles away for breakfast. It was a stinging cold morning,
and we had to go over a little mountain range on the way, but the roads
were hard and smooth as a pavement, and we made the trip at a clipping
gait, but were thoroughly chilled by the time we reached Santa Fe. There
was no fire in our room and I went to the landlord, Alex McDowell and
asked him to send us something to warm us up. In a few minutes a man
came in with a tray and glasses and something he called Tom-and-Jerry
and hoped we would like it. I think I never tasted anything so
delicious, and I believe my wife appreciated it as much as I did, and
the effect was marvelous. We were soon warm and comfortable, and by
comparison with the experience of the past few days, it seemed a
paradise indeed. This was my first acquaintance with Tom-and-Jerry, and
while I became better acquainted with these gentlemen afterwards, we
were never very cordial friends but I never met them under such
favorable conditions as on the morning after that cold ride over the
mountains. We did some shopping on the 24th and remained over Christmas
at the hotel. The morning after Christmas we again started on our way to
Fort Stanton.


The trip from Santa Fe to Fort Stanton was not an attractive one. There
was not much snow and no mountains to cross but the route was
uninhabited and dreary, consisting of alternate stretches of timber and
alkali lands, until we neared Fort Stanton when the timber improved in
quality, and the country generally was more inviting. We reached Fort
Stanton on the second of January and were at once assigned to
comfortable quarters which we occupied the following day but stayed with
a brother officer's family the first night. I found Fort Stanton a very
desirable post at which to serve. Major Clendenning was in command and
Doctor Fitch was post surgeon until my arrival. The fort and military
reservation were beautifully located on what was then the Mescalero
Apache reservation in the White mountains, El Capitan being the nearest
peak, and on a little stream called Rio Bonito, (pretty little river)
and it was an exceptionally pretty stream. Anywhere east it would have
been called a creek or branch. It was a mountain stream of clear cold
water and the post was supplied with water through a ditch taken out
from the river at some distance above the post, and carried to the
highest point on the parade ground, and from there distributed each way
around the parade ground and then taken to the corral and the stables
lower down the valley. In front of each officer's quarters a barrel was
sunk in the ditch to a depth where the water would almost reach the top
of the staves and the up and down stream sides were cut away as low as
the bottom of the ditch, thus allowing the water to pass through freely.
Small trout were often dipped up in the water taken from these barrels.
Fort Stanton is located at an altitude of a little over six thousand
feet and is not only a beautiful location but is a very healthy post. It
was abandoned long ago as a military post but is still owned by the
government and used as a sanitarium for tuberculosis. I have visited it
since it was converted in to a sanitarium, and for cleanliness and
general sanitary conditions it did not compare with the post when used
for military purposes.

In those days game was plentiful in the mountains and the duck shooting
along the pretty little river was exceptionally good.

What was afterwards known as the Lincoln County War was just then in its
incipiency. Considerable shooting was done between the cattle and sheep
men, and the death of a sheepherder--always a Mexican--or a cattleman,
was of frequent occurrence. Word came to the post one evening, that a
deputy sheriff had been shot while attempting to settle some difficulty
between the cattle and the sheep men, and a surgeon was requested to go
to Lincoln, the county seat some ten miles down the valley to see him.
Major Clendenning sent for me and explained the matter, but said if he
were in my place he would not go, as those Mexicans would just as leave
take a shot at me as anybody else. He said, however, that if I decided
to go I should have the ambulance and any help I needed. I decided no
help was necessary, but took the ambulance and driver and went to
Lincoln that night. Mr. Mills, the deputy sheriff who had been shot had
a half-brother at the post by the name of Stanley and I had heard the
story of one of their shooting experiences when little fellows. They
were practising with pistols and had become so expert that one day they
tried the experiment of holding something out in one hand for the other
to shoot at, but as this was not exciting enough, one of them extended
his arm and pointed out his index finger and said to the other: "See if
you can clip the end of that." He clipped a little too much for I had
seen Stanley's hand and the finger was off at the first joint from the
end. "You fool, you, you took too much. Now give me a chance." The other
being willing to play fair, extended his finger the same way and lost
the same amount of finger. This was the story, and I was curious to see
Mr. Mills' hand which I took good care to observe while dressing his
wound and found it almost exactly like Stanley's. Mr. Mills' wound was
by a shot that entered near the heart, struck a rib and did not enter
the plural cavity, but followed the rib around and came out on the back
and was not a very serious wound.

The Sutler's store at Fort Stanton was up-stream some distance and just
around the point of a little canon that led down to the river. A path
from the corner of the parade ground led up to the store but there was
only a narrow space between the point of the canon and the ditch that
supplied the post with water. There was also a bridge across the ditch
at the Sutler's store, for the convenience of getting in and taking out
goods. One dark night I had been up to the store and started home, and
after going a short distance, I concluded I had crossed the ditch on the
bridge, instead of going along the narrow strip between the ditch and
canon. To save time and retracing of steps I concluded to jump into the
ditch. I knew it was wide and required a good jump but I found that
instead of jumping the ditch, I had jumped off the bluff into the canon.
Fortunately it had been made a dumping ground for chips and trash from
the wood-yard, and I landed on this trash and rolled the balance of the
way to the bottom of the canon among the rocks, probably twenty-five or
thirty feet. My first thought was that I was seriously hurt, but after
groaning a while and finding no bones broken, I got up and felt my way
out at the top of the canon near the Sutler's store. I was very sore for
a few days but no serious injuries resulted.

In March of this year Captain Fechet (pronounced Fe-sha, accent on the
last syllable), with his troop of cavalry, was ordered to go over on the
Jornada del Muerto, and try to find a shorter route across that desert
from Fort Stanton to Fort Selden, and I was sent along. We took the
usual route to Fort McRae, where I again met Dr. Lyons, the post
surgeon, whom I had visited at this point when I was post surgeon at
Fort Craig in 1869. We found the doctor at dinner when we arrived. The
cloth was spread at one end of the table and just beyond the cloth, at
the farther end, was a human skull, with the necessary instruments,
which the doctor had been dissecting. It struck me as a rather strange
mixture of diet and scientific investigation. It is hardly necessary to
say that the doctor was not a married man, for no woman would stand for
that sort of table decoration, but would probably prefer a bunch of
flowers as a center-piece for the table. Some unfortunate had been
fished out of the river, and no relations having been found, the body
was considered of service for a better knowledge of anatomy.

From Fort McRae we went to the Aleman, or as it was better known, Jack
Martin's, where we stayed over night, and from there we went to Fort
Selden and remained several days. While there the captain and I made a
trip to Las Cruces where we remained over night, and had a very pleasant
evening with some Catholic priests, where we were cordially received and
entertained. On our return to Fort Selden we again took up the march to
Fort Stanton but did not leave the beaten track either going or coming.
We had taken some half-dozen Mescalero Apache Indians along with us as
guides and scouts, but I could never see that we accomplished anything
by the trip, or that we made any effort to do so.

Along about the first of April I received a suit of clothes from Fort
Leavenworth, Kansas, that I had ordered the previous September upon my
return from the summer camp on the Rio Grande. It had not occurred to me
that I might have changed some in physique, but when I got the clothes I
found that I could only wear the pants by putting a V-shape in the back
of the waistband and I could only wear the vest by inserting pieces
below the arm-holes, but the coat was entirely too small to be of any
practical service. My experience in the mountains had evidently made
quite a different type of man out of me, and I should have had my
measure taken again before sending orders to the tailor.

Soon after our return from the trip to find a new route across the
Jornada, I received a letter from Doctor Lyons asking me to exchange
stations with him. I wrote back that I would make the change if he would
make the application, which he did, and orders soon came directing the
change. We started from Stanton the latter part of April, with the usual
ambulance, and wagon and baggage, and an escort to care for us on the
way. Between the White mountains and the lower range to the west is
quite a wide valley which is called the Malpais (or bad country) near
the center of which is a lava flow a few hundred yards wide. The crater,
or peak from which it came is not in the mountain range as one would
naturally suppose it to be but stands out near the middle of the valley,
maybe ten miles above where we crossed. The outlines of the streams are
quite distinct until some distance below, where it is lost in a great
white plain of alkali. There had been much work done to make a road
across this lava flow passable for vehicles, but it was still very rough
when we crossed it, so much so that my wife preferred to walk, and
nearly wore her shoe soles out in doing so. When did this lava flow
occur? I don't know. Maybe ten thousand years ago, but it looked as
though it might have been last week.

There were quite a number of little cone-shaped mounds in this valley,
and I examined some of those close to the road. They varied in size, and
none that I saw were more than ten or twelve feet in height, and they
all had craters, containing blackish looking water. In some of them the
water seemed to be higher than the valley in which they were located.

We camped on the second night in the foothills of the San Andres range,
and the following evening at the Oho De Anija. These springs were
interesting because of the great amount of painted and broken pottery to
be found nearby. I think some excavating might bring to light whole
pieces of value to the archaeologist. The spring is located only a few
miles from Paraja a on the Rio Grande, and at the extreme northern limit
of the Jornada del Muerto, and the next day we arrived at Fort McRae.


McRae was a one company post, and located on a little bench of land at
the side of the canon that led down to the Rio Grande from the Frau
Christobel mountains. There were no square for a parade ground but all
buildings faced toward the canon, of which at this point was not abrupt
but sloped gradually to the bottom.

The officers' quarters were very comfortable, being built of heavy adobe
walls, and covered with dirt, consequently were warm in winter and cool
in summer. The rooms were large and had the usual jaspa floors common to
the military posts along the Rio Grande. Government blankets are first
laid on these floors and over them is laid the carpet and both are
nailed down with lath or shingle nails, with leather heads, to hold the
carpet in place. There was a fireplace in both living and dining rooms
and water was obtained at a spring in the canon, a short distance away.
While the quarters were comfortable the outlook and surroundings were
anything but attractive. The view from the front porch was of a bleak
cactus covered ridge across the canon, and this was limited in extent
and back of the post the canon rose abruptly to a great height. Up the
canon was the barracks of the men, and farther up was the Sutler's
store. Below the officers' quarters, was the quartermaster and
commissary storehouses and corrals and stables.

For some time we were quite reconciled to the situation. Both the
commanding officer, Captain Farnsworth and his lieutenant, a Mr.
Carlton, were bachelors, and were courteous and pleasant gentlemen. They
did not remain long, however, after our arrival at the post, but were
superseded by Captain Kauffman and Mr. Fountain, the latter a West
Pointer, but Captain Kauffman was raised from the ranks, and to me never
seemed to fit the promoted position he held. Mr. Fountain on the
contrary, I thought, gave promise of becoming a distinguished officer.
Until they came, my wife was the only officer's wife at the post, and
with the addition of Mrs. Kauffman it could hardly be considered a
great social center. We made the most of it, however, and were fairly
well satisfied with our position.

During the early part of the summer we attended an entertainment given
by the men at the barracks, and our little girl caught cold. At first we
thought it only a temporary illness and that she would soon be better,
but in this we were disappointed. She gradually lost appetite and grew
weaker and I wrote to Dr. Boughter, post surgeon at Fort Craig,
requesting him to come and see her, which he did. We concluded the water
at the post was bad for her, as it was strongly impregnated with alkali,
and we thought it best to take her out to Jack Martin's ranch, where we
knew the water was good. Captain Kauffman was very considerate about the
proposed change, and we agreed that I should return to the post three
times a week to look after any who needed medical attention. This trip
could be made in one day on horse-back, the distance for the round trip
being about forty miles. We got out there the latter part of July, but
within a few days realized more fully the serious nature of our little
daughter's illness. Dr. Boughter came from Fort Craig to see her but
could give us no encouragement.

The Scotch are a superstitious folk, and up to the age of fourteen I was
raised in an atmosphere of superstition. They had signs and omens, and
attributed a personality to everything, animate and inanimate. While
they denied a belief in spirits and hob-goblins, I am satisfied these
things influenced their lives. I remember two old crones at an uncle's,
wizened up old maids, that I think were no relation, but just lived
there, who used to tell us little ones spook and ghost stories until I
was afraid to go to bed in the next room, or out of doors at night. It
seemed to be in the blood and Walter Scott's books are full of it. This
may explain in a way my hope that something would happen that would
bring our little one back to health again. My frequent trips to the post
and sitting up at night to give my wife a little rest, which she so
sorely needed, together with my anxiety, had probably made me morbid,
for one day, August 14th, as I remember, I was on my way to the post. It
was a very hot day and the atmosphere was shimmering with radiated
heat, and not a living thing was to be seen over that vast, desolate
Jornada del Muerto, except maybe a lizard scurrying across the road, and
I was half-way or more to the head of that canon in which the post was
located, when a little grayish-brown bird suddenly appeared from
somewhere, and fluttered over the horses' head just out of reach of my
hand. I accepted it at once and without question, as a messenger sent to
me, and my anxiety was to interpret its message. I tried to reach it
with my hand, but it kept just out of reach, and presently lit in the
road in front. I immediately got off my horse, and taking the lariat
rope in my hand, walked up to it, but it kept moving out of the way, but
only just out of reach. I again got on my horse but had no sooner done
so, than it came back again and fluttered over the horse's head. From
there it flew to a cactus bush by the roadside, and I got off my horse
again and walked up to the bush and took my canteen--no one travels
through such a country without a canteen of water--and holding it up
over the bush poured out a little stream of water. The bird at once
gathered from the leaves, such drops as lodged, and seemed greatly
delighted. I then pressed my left hand, back downward, into the sand,
and holding the canteen up poured a little stream of water into the palm
of my hand. The bird at once left its perch, and flew down and lit near
my hand, and after a little debating with herself, hopped up on my hand
and drank, and at each swallow would look up at me as if to say, "Oh, I
am so thankful." I was greatly comforted and got on my horse again
feeling that my hopes would be realized, and that I would find my little
child on the road to recovery, upon my return in the evening. I had only
gone a short distance when the little bird again flew around in front of
me and again fluttered its wings just out of reach of my hand. I got off
again and this time did not take the lariat rope down, but merely
stepped up by the horse's head, stooped down and pressed my hand in the
sand as before, and the bird did not hesitate, but came at once, and
stood on my hand and drank the water, and when its thirst was fully
satisfied it hopped away, and I got on my horse and went on to the
post. When I returned that evening I found our little child no better
and she died that night.

A messenger was sent to the post and the ambulance came the following
day with a little coffin made at the quartermaster's and the trip back
to the post was to us indeed the "Journey of Death." Our home was so
desolate that I became more morbid than ever, and was soon taken down
with typhoid dysentery, and Dr. Boughter came from the Fort Craig to
wait on me. My recovery was very slow and I was indifferent to anything
that might happen. My wife at last became discouraged and she and
Captain Kauffman talked the situation over, and after consulting Dr.
Boughter concluded to have me taken to Fort Craig for treatment. I was
not informed of their conclusion, and when they told me the ambulance
was at the door, and a bed in it and that I was going to Fort Craig, it
did not even interest me. If they had told me I was going to the
cemetery I would have been just as well satisfied with the arrangement,
although they thought I would be interested because of having been post
surgeon there some years before. After I was at Fort Craig a few days, I
began to take some interest in life and thought I would like to see what
changes had been made, and the more I thought about it, the more
interest I took until I finally wanted to see for myself. With this
awakening I began to have some appetite for food, and I soon began to
gain strength and as I improved I wanted to cross the river and see my
old hunting grounds. All these things undoubtedly contributed to my
recovery for I soon made rapid progress toward good health again. The
doctor had given us his quarters to occupy while there and they were
handsomely furnished and we were made most comfortable. It was then the
latter part of September and the nights were cool and the days pleasant.
We took our meals at the officers' mess and had good things to eat, and
I shall always remember how delicious the pigeon squabs were to me.
Before returning to Fort McRae the doctor and I planned to hunt across
the river. One of the officers had a gun he would loan us, and the
doctor said the blacksmith had one, and he had no doubt he would loan
it. I preferred going for it myself, as I wanted to see the shop and
house close to the bluff where the blacksmith lived. The blacksmith was
very well pleased to loan his gun, but said one barrel was loaded, and
he shot it off and handed the gun to me, saying, "Now it is all right."
It was a muzzle-loader and after wiping it out carefully at the doctor's
quarters I found one of the tubes were stopped up. I put a cap on the
tube and in place of taking the gun out of doors, or pointing it in the
fireplace, I merely turned the muzzle down toward the carpet and pulled
the trigger. A report followed that astonished the doctor, my wife and
myself, who were all taking interest in the preparation for the hunt.
The shot tore through the carpet and into the jaspa floor and sent the
plaster flying in all directions, and made a hole in the floor big
enough to bury a small-sized dog. Another instance of where the gun that
was not loaded, did serious damage, but fortunately no one was hurt.

The post had changed very little since I was there five years before but
I took great interest in seeing everything. Doctor Boughter was a
bachelor, a man of ability in his profession, an accomplished gentleman,
and a friend in our great affliction.

On our return to Fort McRae, while I felt a great repugnance to ever
seeing the place again, I was more resigned to what I considered the
inevitable that is, that death comes to everybody, is one of nature's
laws, and is the culminating process, just as birth is the beginning of
life. When we reached the head of the canon leading down to the post I
was able to look upon the incident of my experience with the little
bird, from a very different point of view.

It was now clear enough to me, that there was nothing miraculous or
unnatural about it, but that for some cause it had simply become
separated from the flock to which it belonged, for they are generally
found in flocks along with cattle. I think it was the female and may
have gone to some other bird's nest to deposit its egg, as is its habit,
for I had studied it closely while drinking out of my hand, and
recognized it as one of the cowbirds or buntings, and I have since been
able to identify it as belonging among the blackbirds and orioles or the
icteridae of the ornothologist, its special division being Molothrus
Aster, a division found in Texas and Southern New Mexico, but I think
not much farther north. The sexes are difficult to distinguish at a
distance, differing in this respect from their near relatives farther
north, where the male is a glossy black with chocolate colored head and
neck. Whatever the cause may have been this one was evidently lost, and
was famishing for water, and recognized the horse as a friend, and in no
way could have considered me in that relation, it came to my hand simply
and only as a matter of necessity. It was pleasant to relieve the thirst
of the little lost bird, but I shall never again think of it as in any
way supernatural.


Our quarters were just as we had left them but with the added feeling of
desolation, and from that time we frequently discussed the question of
leaving the service. It being then well toward winter we deferred it
until spring, and we spent the time until then performing our duties in
a perfunctory way, and planning and rejecting plans as we made them,
being undecided where to locate. I spent a part of the time in hunting
with more or less success, but more as a recreation than as a matter of
interest. On one of these trips I killed three antelopes with two shots,
being the only ones seen that day. I managed to get in good range and
when the first one fell the other two ran together and stood looking at
the fallen one. They stood so that a shot through the flank of one would
hit the other just back of the shoulder. I dressed the first one and got
it on the horse and found the second some two hundred yards away, but by
the time I had it on the horse it was too dark to track the third. Next
morning I went out and found only the bones and some pieces of the hide,
the wolves having cared for the rest of it. On another occasion I took
an orderly with me to care for my horse in case I found occasion to
stalk any game, but when we got into a valley which was the customary
route for Indians from the White mountains on the east, to the
Magdalenas west of the river, some horsemen came in at the head of the
valley, and set up a yell and at that distance we took them for Indians
and did not wait for a closer acquaintance but made for the post with
all possible speed.

My wife visited that winter at Fort Selden with Mrs. Conrad, wife of
Lieutenant Conrad, who was quartermaster at Fort Stanton when we were
there, and who died at sea on his way back from the Spanish war in Cuba.

We were in the habit at Fort McRae of trading an army ration to which I
was entitled, in addition to my pay, to Mexicans for vegetables, eggs,
etc., or paying cash as the occasion offered. One day a Mexican brought
a grain sack full of onions and we weighed them and found they weighed
a little over forty-one pounds. I agreed to pay him four cents a pound,
but said to him we will call it forty pounds and allow the balance for
the weight of the sack. He could not speak English but I could talk
Spanish enough to make him understand and he would nod his head and say
"Bueno" (Good) but when I counted out the money he did not seem
satisfied. I went over it repeatedly showing it was one dollar and sixty
cents and he would nod his head and say "Bueno" but went away and
brought another Mexican with him who understood and talked English, and
when he heard the transaction repeated he called his fellow countryman a
fool and they walked away together. I counted the onions after they had
gone, and there were just twenty-four of them. I like to tell this story
to my friends, for while they smile their assent, there is an expression
on their faces that is at least suggestive. Two or three of the onions
that I measured were over eighteen inches in circumference. These onions
were raised in the Rio Grande valley and were as crisp as celery, and
comparatively free from the characteristic sting of the ordinary onion.
Eggs were fifty cents per dozen and if one did not need any today, they
would take them back home, and perhaps bring them tomorrow at the same
price, but would not take less. We paid one dollar per pound for butter
to Mrs. Jack Martin who sent it to us by the messenger who went there
for our mail, and it was very choice butter.

At the Sutler's store one day I was introduced to a Mr. Garcia, a young
man of fine appearance, and who could talk English well, who had
returned from the university for his vacation. I found him very
interesting and intelligent, and while we were talking, Mr. Ayers, the
post trader, brought us some native wine which we sipped while in
conversation. He belonged to a wealthy family of Spanish descent and was
quite a different type from the ordinary Mexican, and would compare
favorably with our average university student. After he had gone Mr.
Ayers told me his name in full was "Hasoos Christo Garcia." I spell it
this way to give the Spanish pronunciation, and not the Spanish
spelling. In the middle name the accent is on the first syllable. In
English the name would be Jesus Christ Garcia, and this is not mentioned
in this startling way, in any spirit of irreverence, for a name that is
held sacred over a great part of the world, but is done for the purpose
of showing the difference in the customs of different countries. Jesus
Christ is almost as common a given name among the Mexicans as James or
John is with us.

While at Fort McRae Mr. Fountain had heard of a beautiful place on the
Rio Polomas, a little stream that enters the Rio Grande from the west a
few miles below the post, and that he thought might be worth
investigating. I agreed to join him and we had a few troopers detached
as an escort, and went to see it. On the way we passed through the
little Mexican village of Polomas, where a Jew had established a
business and who had told Mr. Fountain of the proposed place of visit.
He joined us and acted as guide for the trip. On the way while working
our way through a thick undergrowth Mr. Fountain and I became separated
from the men and came out on a pretty open park of a few acres in
extent, about the middle of which was an immense cinnamon bear,
apparently waiting to see what caused the disturbance in the brush. On
our coming into the open he took to his heels and we followed, the men
having joined us, and firing our pistols and shouting, but when my horse
caught the scent of the bear, he just stopped and stood there trembling
with fright, and all my efforts to make him go by spurring and cuffing
him, were unavailing. I could not move him, but sat there and awaited
his pleasure. After a bit he began to move cautiously but was much
frightened, and I did not join the crowd until they had chased the bear
into the rocks at the foot of the canon, and had returned to the place
we intended to visit. It was a beautiful place indeed, and a beautiful
stream of water came out from the side of the bluff some twenty feet
above the valley, and meandered down to the main stream. The valley was
not wide but impressed both Mr. Fountain and myself, as a desirable
place to establish a ranch, which he was desirous of doing for a brother
he wished to set up in business. I agreed to join him in the enterprise,
and we sent for a Studebaker wagon and the necessary implements and
outfit for starting a ranch. I afterwards disposed of my interest to Mr.
Fountain, and have since learned that he had his brother come out, and
fitted him up with stock, etc., sufficient for a start, but that the
Indians took a part in the affair; destroyed his ranch and killed his
cattle. I have since then, often thought of it as a desirable place for
a cattle ranch.

In the spring of 1875, there having been no medical examining board
ordered, and so far as we knew no prospect of one, we fully decided to
try our lives in a different way, and made preparations accordingly. I
ordered a metallic casket for the body of our little daughter, believing
that the post would soon be abandoned, and we could not bear the idea of
leaving her in that wretched place, and the first part of May we packed
such household goods as we thought desirable to take with us, only
leaving such as I might need after my wife should start, it being my
intention to go during the summer or early fall. My wife started about
the middle of May and soon afterwards the casket came, and the captain
gave me a detail of men to take up the body of our little girl and place
it in the quartermaster's storehouse until we should decide where to
have it shipped. This we were to do after I should join my wife and
decided on a location for a home. My wife had gone to her old friend's
home west of Oswego, Kansas, where she had stopped on a previous
occasion when we thought of leaving the service. On application, Doctor
Lyon returned to his old post at Fort McRae and I went to Stanton in
July and about the first of September together with Mr. Clark, who was
going on leave of absence, I proceeded to the end of the railroad at Las
Animas, Colorado, and thence to Leavenworth, Kansas, where I reported to
the medical director of the department and left the service October
30th, 1875.

Upon my return to Fort Stanton from Fort McRae I found Mr. Stanley, the
one who had his finger shot off when a boy, was just able to hobble
about again from an experience he had with a cinnamon bear. He had gone
out to some ranch where they were losing some of their stock,
particularly their pigs, by what they thought to be a bear, and Stanley
went out to kill it. He was an excellent shot, was fearless and
deliberate and found the bear as he expected, but in some unaccountable
way which he could not explain, he failed to stop it, and the result was
most disastrous to himself. It had torn one side of his face away, and
had broken both legs and one arm, before leaving him. They found him the
next day and brought him to a hospital and he was able to get around on
crutches when I saw him, but would be a cripple for life. The ranchmen
went out and finished the bear, but it was found he had nine shots
through his body before giving up the fight.

The military reservation at Fort Stanton was the largest of any post at
which I served, and is located as before mentioned on what was then
known as the Mescalero Apache Indian reservation. These Indians were
considered friendly, and so far as I know have remained so, and they are
the only tribe of Indians of which I have acquaintance who cremate their
dead. I was invited one day to go with the hay contractor, who intended
making the rounds of his various hay camps, and on the way we passed
through an Indian camp not far from the post at which there was a sick
Indian. We stopped to inquire as to his condition. It seems that a day
or so before they had gone to the post for medicine, and had said the
patient was suffering great pain, and asked for some physic. The post
surgeon, a Spaniard by birth, and educated abroad, understood the term
physic in its generic sense and not as it is so universally used by us,
and had sent him opiates, when a cathartic was probably indicated. When
we saw him that day, which we did from our saddles, as we did not
dismount, he was greatly swollen up, and when we passed the same
neighborhood a few days afterwards, the Indian had died and his tent and
all his belongings including a pony to ride, had been burned and the
band had moved across the river and established a new camp.


(Social Life at the Military Posts.)

The social life at the military posts on the frontier, nearly a half
century ago, was necessarily very limited. Except at Fort Sill, I served
at no post at which more than two companies of troops comprised the
garrison, and even in these cases there was not always the full
complement of officers, some probably being on detached service, or
maybe on leave of absence. As before remarked, Fort McRae was only a one
company post, and at no time were there more than three officers, and
there were only two officers' wives. There were no social relations
outside of the post, and no effort or disposition to form acquaintances.
The nearest military post was fifty or more miles away, and the
exception to the usual dull routine of life in such an isolated place,
was when some fellow officer happened to come our way, enroute to some
other post, maybe for assignment to duty or maybe on detached service.
Another exception was when the paymaster made his appearance to pay off
the garrison, which he did every two months. These were always enjoyable
occasions, and we would sit up late and talk about everything of
interest at the different posts, or of what may have been seen or heard
on the way. This was the most isolated and desolate of all the posts at
which I served. It was about twenty miles from the southern overland
stage line, and we had to send a messenger from the post for our mail
which we did three times a week. Magazines and such reading matter as
could be brought by mail helped cheer our lonely lives, so that taken
altogether, it was a good deal better than being in the penitentiary.

At Fort Garland, though only two companies were stationed there during
my service at the post, there were about the full complement of
officers, several of whom were married, and it proved to be an unusually
pleasant place socially. There was no formality, and so far as I know
this was true at all the military posts on the frontier, except at Fort
Craig where my wife was not with me, but on the contrary there was a
feeling of mutual interest and sympathy that made it seem like one
family. We would meet at some officer's quarters for dinner or luncheon,
and maybe at some other officer's quarters in the evening to play a
social game of cards, and the officers' wives would make informal visits
with each other and maybe spend an hour or so, very much as if they were

Fort Sill was one of the largest military posts in the service at that
time, and there were twenty or more officers there, probably half of
whom were married and had their families with them. It will be readily
seen that this made quite a social center.

There were frequent military dances or "hops" as they were called in the
service. There were also card parties, not always by invitation, but
maybe a half-dozen would be talking together, and would decide to drop
into some officer's quarters for a game of cards, others were likely to
drop in also, so that sometimes there would be quite a crowd of us
together to spend the evening. I thought the informality of these
meetings added very much to their charm.

There was a good library at this post which was liberally patronized by
the officers and their families, and also by the enlisted men.

A jockey club was formed among the officers and a race-course laid out
on the flat south of the post, and race meetings were held on Saturday
afternoons, which afforded a great deal of pleasure and amusement. In
one of these races which was to take place in the course of a month, it
was agreed that each officer should ride his own horse. The difference
in the weight of the riders it was thought, would be an important factor
in determining the results. Major Van de Weyle weighed one hundred and
ninety pounds while Mr. Lebo weighed only one hundred and fifteen
pounds. They all had good horses and the race was looked forward to with
great interest. The major was jollied a good deal about his weight, but
he insisted that he would be able to train down, and he would show them
what his horse, which was a fine one, could do. The race-course was a
mile in length and it was supposed the heavyweights would stand no
show, but Captain Walsh, who weighed one hundred and sixty-five pounds,
won the race and Major Van de Weyle, who had increased six pounds in
weight, came in fourth, in a bunch of seven, who started in the race.

In addition to the social life at the post, the fishing and hunting were
good for those of us who cared to indulge in that kind of sport. Both
Medicine Bluff and Cache creeks were fine fishing streams, and I found
congenial company in one or two of the officers who enjoyed the fishing
as much as I did myself. Among those most pleasantly remembered, was a
Mr. Pratt, a lieutenant in one of the cavalry companies at the post He
was an expert fisherman and a cordial good fellow and I have always
thought of our fishing trips with pleasure.

After we left Fort Sill he was detached from his command and put in
charge of the educational interests of the Indians.

He became a distinguished officer in this work. When still a lieutenant
he established the Indian school at Carlisle, Pa., a well known
industrial school, in 1879, and was superintendent until 1904. In 1916,
when my wife and I were on our golden wedding trip we met him again at
Nye Beach, Oregon, and were pleased to renew our acquaintance after more
than forty-five years.

His distinguished services raised him to the rank of brigadier general,
and he is now on the retired list of the army.

At Camp Limestone there were three officers and two officers' wives. We
had acquaintances at Fort Scott and Girard, who either visited us or
made the customary calls. These, with the officers and others who came
in the shooting season, made up the social features of the camp.

In those days drinking was far more prevalent, both in the army and out
of it, than it is today. I think none but the old people of today can
have the correct "view-point" of the difference in which the use of
alcoholic beverages was considered fifty years ago and now. At that time
it was not considered harmful, but rather commendable, if not taken to
excess, as a means of promoting social intercourse, and except at Fort
Sill it was to be had at all the post trader's stores at the military
posts on the frontier, and at most of them it was on the sideboard or on
the mantle over the fire-place, in the officers' billiard room free to
those who cared to use it. Of course, even in those days, there were
those who talked very energetically if not violently against the use of
it and some preachers would even tell you you would go to hell if you
drank it. But people don't scare easily, and you would maybe think about
it and take another drink, concluding that maybe there is no hell, or if
there is you won't go there, or maybe the preacher didn't know anything
about it anyway. Since then the scientific medical man has come to the
front. He does not try to scare you, but he has some scientific facts
which he has fully proven, and tells you about them, among these are: it
promotes hardening of the arteries (Arterio Sclerosis); it produces
fatty degeneration and other diseases of the liver; it impairs
digestion; it interferes with the assimilation of food; it impairs heart
action, and has many other injurious effects on the system, such as
preparing it for fatal results in pneumonia and most of the acute
inflammatory diseases.

He appeals to your reason in place of to your fears, and you are bound
to take notice. The result is a vast difference in public opinion
regarding its use then and now.

In the army it was used almost exclusively in a social way. There were
occasional excesses, but these were not of frequent occurrence and there
was one restraining influence; the fear of court-martial.

It will be readily understood that there were so-called "black sheep" in
the army as well as in the churches, and in the fraternal orders. In the
army, however, there was no hesitancy in getting rid of them, a thing I
have seldom known to be done either in the churches or in the fraternal
orders, and this was by means of court-martial. No matter what the
specific charges may have been, there is generally, if not always added
this one: "Conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman." This it will
be readily seen covers a wide range, and permits thorough investigation
of character and the very terms of this charge indicates not only the
high character that is expected, but that is demanded of an officer in
the service.

I had been in the army nearly seven years with no chance for promotion,
and while feeling some doubt as to my success in private life we felt it
to be the best thing to leave the service. We decided to live at Girard,
Kansas, and came to this place in November of that year.

Two things have particularly impressed me, in looking back over the
nearly half century since I entered the service--one is the amazing
development of the west, and the other is the wonderful evolution in the
practice of medicine and surgery. As an example of the first, take
Kansas--not because it is Kansas, but because it is typical of the great
west. Population in 1870, 364,399; in 1914, 1,677,106. Wheat crop in
1871, 4,614,924 bushels; in 1914, 180,925,885 bushels. And other crops
in proportion. The western half of the state was then practically
uninhabited. Today it is the great wheat belt of the country.

When I entered the service people died wholesale from diphtheria,
typhoid fever and inflammation of the bowels. Bacteriology, the great
searchlight of medicine, as we have it today, was then practically
unknown. Today we innoculate against typhoid fever and are immune. Today
we operate for appendicitis and inflammation of the bowels practically
disappears from our list of diseases. Today we give antitoxin and the
child's life is saved. We used to expect pus after a surgical operation
and were disappointed if we did not get a so-called "healthy pus." Today
the surgeon would be ashamed of it.

Both before leaving the army and since, I have had people refer to our
army officers and their families, with some degree of aspersion, saying
they were too proud and would not speak to common folk; that they were
aristocrats, and much other nonsense. Possibly their isolated condition
when I was in the service, gave some color to such accusations, but as
far as I can estimate them, if they are an aristocracy, it is an
aristocracy of merit; of intellect; of honor; of integrity; of loyalty;
of a strong sense of duty and many other worthy qualities that mark them
as distinguished from any other kind of aristocracy we have in this
country, and I think particularly from our so-called aristocracy of
wealth, so often associated with snobbery, and whose daughters so often
present the nauseating spectacle, of trading themselves off to some
degenerate and profligate descendant of inherited title and giving a
million to boot.

Just now, 1918, we hear a great deal about the army and the necessity of
increasing its numbers, and much about its officers, but do we ever hear
anything about the officers' wives? They may not be of great importance
now, but how was it forty or fifty years ago? At that time the great
western half of our country was practically unsettled. There were few
railroads, and no transcontinental line until 1869. Denver and Santa Fe
were considered mere trading posts. There were only two overland stage
lines and no settlements of consequence. The military posts were
scattered over this vast region, separated from each other by many miles
of distance and the ever present danger of attack from Indians. How
about the wives of the army officers of that day, who shared with their
husbands the dangers and hardships of frontier life? I wish here to pay
my tribute to one who shared with me all of the sorrows, and most of the
hardships herein related, and many others not considered of sufficient
importance to mention. One who seldom complained; whose courage never
faltered; whose abiding faith often prompted her to say, "It will all
come out for the best in the end."

Thus, we have traveled along life's pathway, with its joys and sorrows,
until now we realize that we have crossed the divide, and are going down
the western slope. The shadows are growing longer, the valley is not far
distant, night is coming on, it will soon be taps and the lights will go

|Transcriber's note:                                |
|                                                   |
|Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.  |
|                                                   |

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