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Title: Forty Years at El Paso - 1858-1898
Author: Mills, William Wallace
Language: English
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                              FORTY YEARS
                                EL PASO






                              W. W. MILLS


                “Around my fire a friendly group to draw
                 And tell of all I felt and all I saw.”


                            COPYRIGHT, 1901,


                              W. W. MILLS.


                         =MARY HAMILTON MILLS=


                              =A WARNING.=


These writings are meant to be truthful, but they are too rambling and
egotistical to possess much historical value. Few subjects are treated
of except such as the writer was personally connected with or in which
he felt a special interest. Much that he was tempted to write has been
omitted out of consideration for the living and the dead and their

The book will have little interest except for those who know something
of El Paso or of the men and events treated of, or of the writer

For such only is it written.

                                                            W. W. MILLS.

  El Paso,
  November, 1901.





 El Paso in 1858                                                        13
 Roster of Ante-bellum Residents of El Paso                             18
 Incidents Before the War and Early Impressions                         22
 Murder and Robbery of Giddings’ Store (Sheldon Block)                  36
 The Canby-Sibley Campaign in 1861-62                                   38
 The Battle of Valverde                                                 56
 Captain Moore                                                          61
 A Story Without a Moral                                                64
 Benjamin S. Dowell                                                     65
 Brad. Daily                                                            68
 John Lemon                                                             71
 “Bob” Crandall as a Damphool                                           73
 Robbery of My House in 1865—Indian Trailers                            74
 Attempt at Assassination in 1867—A Mystery                             77
 Fate of My Custom-House Deputies                                       79
 Change of Customs District—Samuel J. Jones (1863)                      80
 Captains Skillman and French                                           82
 Furnishing Arms to Mexico—1865                                         85
 President Juarez’ Government at Ciudad Juarez, Near El Paso—1865-66    88
 A Visit to Washington—Political Contests                               89
 Reconstruction—Constitutional Convention of 1868-69                    94
 Hamilton-Davis Contest of 1869—Adoption of Constitution               100
 Marriage and Journey to My El Paso Home                               102
 Assault by Kuhn at Fredericksburg                                     108
 Third Voyage Over the Plains—Enemies and Plots                        110
 A. J. Fountain—My Worst Enemy                                         114
 Arrest at San Elezario—Assault by Atkinson                            117
 From El Paso to Austin—Stage Drivers                                  119
 Some Texas Lawyers                                                    122
 Litigation About El Paso Property                                     126
 “Star” Mail Contracts—The First Trust—1869-70                         131
 Victorio, the Great Apache General                                    136
 The Killing of Clarke and Williams—The Causes—1870                    138
 The Cardis-Howard Feud—The Mob at San Elezario, 1877                  142
 The Bloody Reign of Marshal Studemeier                                154
 Longmeier—A Close Call                                                159
 A Hold-Up                                                             160
 The Union Men of the South                                            163
 Enemies and Philosophy                                                165


                       =FORTY YEARS AT EL PASO.=


I was born on a farm near Thorntown, Indiana, in 1836, and labored
alongside of my father and brothers and the hired men during the crop
season, attending the village school during the winter months, till I
was seventeen years old, when my father sent me for two years to an
academy in New York State. While there he secured for me an appointment
as a cadet at the Military Academy at West Point, but I gave way to my
brother, Anson Mills, who is now a Brigadier General in the United
States army. After returning home for a year, I came to Texas with my
brother Anson. We came down the Mississippi at the time of the great
flood in 1857, to New Orleans, and thence up the Red River to Jefferson,
Texas. From Jefferson we walked to McKinney, in Collin County, where my
brother had previously resided, and I secured a school at Pilot Grove,
in Grayson County, and spent a year there happily, and, I trust,
usefully. During that year my brother was appointed surveyor on the part
of Texas to the joint commission which located the boundary line between
Texas and the United States, Col. William R. Scurry being the
commissioner on the part of Texas.

At the suggestion of my brother, I joined this expedition at Horsehead
Crossing on the Pecos River, and accompanied it to El Paso. When we
arrived at Waco Tanks, twenty-six miles east of El Paso, we failed to
find water, and were somewhat distressed in consequence. Colonel Scurry
said that young men on foot could make the trip to El Paso for relief
better than any of our worn-out animals, and my brother and I
volunteered for the tramp. We left the tank, thirsty, at sunset and
reached the river below El Paso before daybreak, and after slaking our
thirst, slept on the ground till morning, when we sent out a relief
party, with water. Soon thereafter I went to Fort Fillmore, in New
Mexico, forty-five miles above El Paso, where I clerked in the sutler’s
store of Hayward & McGrosty, for nearly a year, when I returned to El
Paso, and was employed in the same capacity by St. Vrain & Co.,
merchants. This firm had a branch store at the Santa Rita copper mines
near where Silver City now stands, and I made two journeys to and from
that place, the first time on horseback and alone. There was no
habitation between La Messilla and Santa Rita, and the country was full
of hostile Indians; but of them later on. I remember camping alone over
night at the place now known as Hudsons Hot Springs. The second journey
I made as wagonmaster of our train laden with merchandise for the Santa
Rita store, and brought back a load of copper, which we sent by wagons
to Port La Vaca, eight hundred miles, and thence to New York by Gulf and

While at the copper mines, three prospectors—Tayor, Snively and
another—came to my camp and reported that they had discovered placer
gold at Pinos Altos, near there, and, as they were out of provisions and
money, I gave them what was called a “grub stake”—that is, provisions to
continue their explorations. That was in 1859, and I am told that gold
is still being washed out at Pinos Altos, in 1900.


                            EL PASO IN 1858.

El Paso is situated on the Rio Grande River, in the extreme west corner
of Texas, within a mile of that river, which forms the boundary line
between Texas and Mexico, and very near to New Mexico on the north and
on the west.

The altitude is 3,700 feet and the climate is mild, pleasant and
healthful. El Paso was then a small adobe hamlet of about three hundred
inhabitants, more than three-fourths of whom were Mexicans. Nearly all
that portion of the village or “ranch” south of San Antonio and San
Francisco streets was then cultivated in vineyards, fruit trees, fields
of wheat and corn and gardens, for at that time and for years later
there was an abundance of water in the Rio Grande all the year round,
and El Paso was checkered with acequis (irrigation ditches).

At the head of El Paso street, near the little plaza, where the main
acequia ran, there were several large ash and cottonwood trees, in the
shade of which was a little market where fruit, and vegetables, and
fowls, and mutton, and venison, and other articles were sold. We had no
regular meat market.

To one of these trees some enterprising citizen had nailed a plank,
which for years served as a bulletin board where people were wont to
tack signed manuscripts giving their opinions of each other. Here Mrs.
Gillock, who kept the hotel where the Mills building now stands,
notified the “Publick” when her boarders refused to pay their bills, and
here, in 1859, I saw my brother Anson nail the information that three
certain citizens were liars, etc., and here, just ten years later, I
gave the same information regarding B. F. Williams. Foolish? Perhaps.

The flouring mill of Simeon Hart, about a mile above the village, was
the chief individual industrial enterprise in the valley, and ground the
entire wheat crop from both sides of the river, and supplied flour to
all the people and the military posts.

The proprietor, a man of wealth and influence, staked all and lost all
in the Confederate cause.

The dam which supplied water to this mill had been constructed two
hundred years ago by the people of the Mexican side of the river, who
kept it in repair for all these years without asking any assistance from
the people of the Texas side, although they generously divided the water
with us.

The patience and industry displayed by this people in repairing and
rebuilding this dam, when washed away by annual floods, can only be
compared to that of beavers.

The Texas bank of the Rio Grande was then (1858) only a short distance
south of where the Santa Fe depot now stands, but just how far south it
is impossible for me or any one else, I believe, to tell, though I have
been often asked to testify as to where the river bed was then, and in
later years. It found its present bed more or less gradually by erosion
and revulsion during these years, and left very few landmarks.

The bed of the river was narrower then than now, and many cottonwood
trees grew upon each bank.

At the end of El Paso street was the ferry, where pedestrians crossed in
small canoes, and vehicles and wagon trains in larger boats.

Sometimes, when the spring floods came, it was impossible for any one to
cross for several days.

Be it remembered there was not a railroad or telegraph station within a
thousand miles of us. The business houses, with one exception, were on
El Paso street, and around the little plaza. My brother Anson and I each
built homes at El Paso before the war, he on San Francisco and I on San
Antonio street. The postoffice was on the west side of El Paso street,
facing the head of San Antonio street, and in this same large room there
was also a whiskey saloon, a billiard table, and several gambling
tables. “Uncle Ben” Dowell was postmaster. This room and the street in
front of it were the favorite shooting grounds of the sporting men, and
others, and here took place many bloody encounters, some of which may be
treated of in these idle writings. The graveyard was convenient, being
on one of the hills on what is now known as “Sunset Heights.” At one
time there were more people buried there who had died by violence than
from all other causes. When I state that the writer of these pages
sometimes read the burial service there over the remains of our departed
countrymen, it may be imagined how sadly we were in need of spiritual
guidance. Every citizen, whatever his age or calling, habitually carried
a six-shooter at his belt, and slept with it under his pillow. I
remember a friend, Johnnie Evans, saying to me once, when I was so
thoughtless as to start down street without one: “Buckle it on, Mills;
we don’t often need ’em, but when we do need ’em, we need ’em—Oh, God!”
Every man’s horse, or team, and arms were the best his purse could buy,
and my white saddle horse, that carried me for ten years, was surely a
dandy. Sometimes, when I have journeyed to Las Cruces or Mesilla, fifty
miles, in my buggy, I have turned this animal loose, saddled and
bridled, and he has followed me the whole distance, as a dog follows his
master. I have sometimes been vexed with the best of my human friends,
but “Blanco” never disappointed me in anything.

The Mexican population, now nearly all passed away by death or removal,
were of a much better class than those who came in later with the advent
of the railroads, to sell their labor—and their votes. It is but just to
say, however, that votes cannot be sold unless there be purchasers, and
that the purchasers have ever been of my own race.

The villages below El Paso were more prosperous then than now, because
their population is agricultural and the lack of water in the river in
recent times has caused great discouragement and even distress. The same
was true of Juarez, Mexico, just opposite El Paso, then called Paso del

The county seat was first at San Elezario, twenty-two miles below El
Paso, with fifteen hundred population, and later at Ysleta, with twelve
hundred population (nearly all Mexicans), and still later at El Paso.
Court proceedings and arguments to juries and political speeches were
then made in the Spanish language.

Fort Bliss, garrisoned by regular United States troops, situated at the
place now called East El Paso, was considered by army officers and their
families as one of the most desirable posts in the whole country, and
several officers who subsequently held very high rank during the Civil
War had been stationed there. There was another fort, called Quitman,
seventy miles below El Paso, on the river, and a chain of military posts
from there to San Antonio. The nearest posts in New Mexico were Fort
Fillmore, forty miles to the north, near Las Cruces, and Fort Craig, one
hundred miles still further north toward Santa Fe.

As to hunting, there were at that time comparatively plenty of wild
deer, turkeys, wild geese, ducks and mountain quail on the mountains and
in the valley, and I got my share of them.




J. F. Crosby, then district judge, Confederate; is well known in El

Simeon Hart, mill owner and contractor, Confederate. Died at El Paso.

Henry J. Cuniffe, merchant, Union man. Was United States Consul at
Juarez. Died at Las Cruces.

H. S. Gillett, merchant and Confederate, lives in New Mexico.

J. S. Gillett, merchant, Confederate; lives in New Mexico.

Col. Phil Herbert, lawyer, Confederate; killed in the war.

Col. James W. Magoffin, contractor, Confederate; sutler at Fort Bliss.
Died at San Antonio.

Joseph Magoffin, Confederate; served in the war; now lives in El Paso.

Sam Magoffin, Confederate; killed in the war.

Anson Mills, engineer, Union; now brigadier general, U. S. A. Lives in
Washington, D. C.

W. W. Mills, clerk, Union; served in the war; now United States Consul
at Chihuahua, Mexico.

Emmett Mills, Union; killed in Indian fight in Arizona in 1861.

Samuel Schutz, merchant and Union man; now in El Paso.

Joseph Schutz, merchant, Union; died in 1895.

Col. George H. Giddings, manager San Antonio Mail Co.

H. C. Hall, agent San Antonio Mail Co.

Capt. Henry Skillman, frontiersman, Confederate; killed in the war.

Brad Daily, Union scout and spy; died at Las Cruces, N. M.

Col. Hugh Stephenson, mine owner and merchant; lived and died at
Concordia, near El Paso.

Uncle Billy Smith, patriarch of the valley; thrown from stage coach at
El Paso in 1860 and killed.

Vicente St. Vrain, merchant, Union; died in New Mexico.

A. B. O’Bannon, deputy collector customs, Confederate; dead.

William Morton, district attorney, Confederate; dead.

Charles Merritt, manager Hart’s mill; dead.

Henry C. Cook, lawyer, Confederate; dead.

B. S. Dowell, postmaster, Confederate; died at El Paso.

Nim Dowell, Union; killed by Confederates in Texas.

Fred Percy, English gentleman, Confederate; dead.

Rufus Doane, county surveyor; dead.

Billy Watts, sheriff; dead.

Emilio Deuchesne, merchant, Union; died in 1895, in Juarez.

Russ Howard, lawyer, Confederate; now in San Antonio.

A. B. Rohman, merchant; dead.

R. L. Robertson, agent Overland Mail Company, Union; dead.

Dr. Nangle, agent San Antonio Mail Company, Union; dead.

James Buchanan, merchant in Juarez; dead.

Charles Richardson, Confederate; lives in Juarez.

D. R. Diffendorffer, merchant in Juarez.

F. R. Diffendorffer, merchant in Juarez.

G. W. Gillock, justice of the peace and hotel-keeper; dead.

J. E. Terry, with the stage company; lives in El Paso.

Charles Music, merchant; lives in Mexico; and

Andrew Hornick, H. McWard, George Lyles, —— Tibbits, —— Milby, David
Knox, Bill Conklin and Tom Miller.

There were usually about a dozen United States army officers at old Fort
Bliss, now East El Paso.

The most prominent Mexican citizens in Paso del Norte (now Juarez) were:

Dr. Mariano Samaniego, Inocente Ochoa, José M. Flores, all still
residing in Juarez; José M. Uranga, Jefe Politico, dead; Juan N.
Zubiran, collector of customs, my partner and friend; and the venerable
Ramon Ortiz, who ministered there as curate for fifty years, and died a
few years since, beloved of the two races.

The Americans living at Ysleta and San Elizario before the war were:
Price Cooper, Henry Corlow, Tom Collins, Henry Dexter, James McCarty, A.
C. Hyde, William Claude Jones; and Fred Pierpoint, who died of
hydrophobia at El Paso in 1869.

Of those named above as residing at El Paso in 1860, the following left
with the retreating Texans in 1862: Crosby, Hart, the Gilletts, the
Magoffins, Herbert, Merritt, O’Bannon, Morton, Cook, Skillman, Dowell,
Richardson and Russ Howard. Some of the last named remained away for
years and others never returned.

In their places there came soon (mostly discharged Union officers and
soldiers): A. H. French, J. A. Zabriskie, G. J. Clarke, E. A. Mills,
Nathan Webb, A. J. Fountain, William P. Bacon, Edmond Stein, S. C.
Slade, John Evans, George Rand, Joe Shacker, Solomon Schutz, Louis
Cardis, and Charles H. Howard.

Except those last named, there was but little increase in the American
population of El Paso for about fifteen years.




On the second night after my arrival in El Paso I had my first
experience of the manner of settling difficulties there. Samuel Schutz,
still of El Paso, and one Tom Massie had had a misunderstanding about
the rent of a house. My brother and I went across the river that
afternoon, and on the way we met one Garver, a half-witted fellow,
called “Clown,” who said he had been “fixing a canoe” at the river, and
in a friendly way he advised us to return early because there would be
some fun that night. We asked him what fun, and he replied: “_Oh,
killin’ a Dutchman!_” That night, in front of the postoffice, I heard
Massie say to a friend: “I have taken half a dozen drinks of straight
brandy, but d—n me if I can get drunk.” I went into the postoffice and
found an unusual crowd of men talking in low tones, and Mr. Schutz, in
his shirt sleeves, was playing billiards with a friend. Presently Massie
entered, and saying, “Mr. Schutz, you told a d—d lie,” presented a
cocked pistol at that gentleman. There was no mistaking his intention.
Murder was in his voice and in his face. Then there came from Mr. Schutz
such a sound as I never heard before or since. It was not a shriek, or
an outcry, for he did not distinctly articulate a single word. It was
not exactly an expression of fear, but was more like a prolonged wail
over some tragedy which had already occurred. But Schutz did the right
thing, and quickly. He seized the barrel of Massie’s pistol and held it
upward. Then commenced a struggle for life. Both were powerful men, and
in their prime, one moved by hatred and revenge, and the other by the
instinct of self-preservation. It was some seconds after they grappled
before that strange sound ceased. Massie strove to bring his cocked
pistol to bear on Schutz, and Schutz to move it in any other direction.
Shocked and alarmed, and remembering my teaching about law and order, I
stepped forward and said, “Gentlemen, would you see the man murdered?”
_Not a man moved._ Massie finally let fall his pistol, drew a knife and
drove it into Schutz’s shoulder. Schutz fled, but Massie recovered his
pistol and fired two shots at him as he ran out through the front door.
It was dark outside. Immediately after the shots Schutz stumbled over a
water barrel and fell, and Massie, thinking him dead, crossed to Mexico
in that canoe which Clown had “fixed.” Schutz was untouched by the
bullets, and the knife wound was not serious.

The next day “Uncle Ben” Dowell gave me this advice: “My young friend,
when you see anything of that kind going on in El Paso, don’t interfere.
It is not considered good manners here.” The advice was well intended
and worthy of careful consideration. Tom Massie returned to El Paso, but
was not prosecuted.

Not long after the above occurrence, I saw a certain gambler shooting at
another member of the profession in this same postoffice. A stray bullet
killed an inoffensive by-stander. The coroner’s jury exonerated the
killer, as they said the killing was clearly “accidental.” There was, of
course, some sympathy for the innocent dead man, but most of it appeared
to go to the gambler who had been so “unfortunate” as to kill _the wrong

Of the Americans then at El Paso, some had left wives, or debts, or
crimes behind them in “the States,” and had not come to the frontier to
teach Sunday school. But there were good people here also, and for the
few who were capable of doing business and willing to work, the
opportunities were as good then and as profitable as they have ever been
since that time. The products of the mines, crudely worked, in northern
Mexico, were brought to El Paso and exchanged for merchandise or money.
The military posts (forts) in northwest Texas and southern New Mexico
were supplied with corn, flour, beef, hay, fuel, etc., by El Paso
merchants and contractors.

The Overland Mail Company then operated a weekly line of mail coaches,
drawn by six animals, between St. Louis and San Francisco. The time
between these two cities was usually twenty-six days, the distance being
2,600 miles. These splendid Concord coaches (now almost gone out of use)
carried the United States mail, for a Government subsidy, and usually
four to nine through passengers, besides the driver and “conductor.”
Changes of animals were made at “stations” built of rock or adobe, every
twenty-five to forty miles, or wherever the company could find a stream,
or spring, or water-hole. These coaches traveled day and night, in all
kinds of weather.

El Paso was at this time (1858) the terminus of two other important
stage routes—one from Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the other from San
Antonio, Texas. These were in every particular so similar to the greater
“Overland” route that a description is unnecessary. There was also a
stage line to Chihuahua.

These mail coaches were the forerunners of the “Limited Express” and the
Pullman sleeper of the present day; and the rough, brave men who drove
and managed them and protected the stations, fighting Indians the while,
were the pioneers, the Daniel Boones and Simon Kentons of this frontier!
They opened the way for the Southern Pacific, the Mexican Central, the
“Sunset” and the Santa Fe.

Does the tenderfoot who now rides over these routes, in luxury and
safety, appreciate the work of these men? I have heard more than one of
them intimate that he would have done things much better than we did, if
he had only arrived in time. I am very sure I have heard several of them
say that they would have made and saved plenty of money, if they had
only had our opportunities; and this appears to me the proper place for
a few remarks on success and failure in life; if, indeed, any place is
good for such a homily. By success I, of course mean what the majority
of men mean by the word success—the accumulation of wealth.

Well, during the ten years following my locating at El Paso, I was well
and familiarly acquainted with at least fifty active, intelligent,
educated young men, of whom it might have been predicted that they would
succeed in life. These, if now living, would all have more than
three-score years. Several of them died by the hands of the Indians, and
some of them by the hands of their own countrymen, a number went to the
bad or died early. Several of them lived beyond middle age and led
brave, honorable and useful lives, but I recall _only two_ who could be
classed as successful men, according to the above test. True, some of
them gained much money and spent it liberally and often charitably, or
lost it, but according to the popular idea, a man to be successful must
have plenty of money _when he dies_. And though he leaves no minor
children or dependents, his neighbors will whisper at his funeral, “He
died poor,” in much the same tone as one might say, “He was hanged.”

In order that the importance of these mail routes and other enterprises
on this frontier may be appreciated, I must here state a fact which may
seem strange to some of my readers. At that time this whole frontier was
in the actual possession of savage Indians. The Americans and Mexicans
were secure only near the military posts, or villages, or large
settlements, and when they traveled from place to place, they traveled
in companies strong enough for defense, or at night and by stealth,
trusting to Providence, or luck, each according to his faith.

The men who, for whatever reasons, had made their way to this distant
frontier, were nearly all men of character; not all of good character,
certainly, but of positive, assertive individual character, with strong
personality and self-reliance. (The weaklings remained at home.) Many of
them were well bred and of more than ordinary intelligence, and
maintaining the manners of gentlemen. Even the worst of these men are
not to be classed with the professional “toughs” and “thugs” who came
later with the railroads. They were neither assassins nor thieves nor
robbers. Vices? Plenty; but they were not of the concealed or most
degrading kinds. Violence? Yes, but such acts were usually the result of
sudden anger or of a feeling that under the conditions then existing
each man must right his own wrongs or they would never be righted. Their
ideas of right and wrong were peculiar, but they _had_ such ideas
nevertheless. I knew a young man who was well liked and had good
prospects, who violated confidence and attempted to betray his
benefactor. The facts became known. Now, if he had shot a man because he
did not like him much, anyhow, or if he had run away with his neighbor’s
wife, his conduct might have been overlooked. But treachery?
Ingratitude? Never! He became the most despised man in the community.
The merchants and business men were certainly an exceptional class.
Honorable, highly intelligent, charitable and gentlemanly. I could name
a dozen gentlemen who were here even as far back as the “sixties,” from
which list I believe any President might have selected an able cabinet.
Not all of these were of my own race; and yet, even these did not hold
themselves entirely aloof from the other classes. The times did not
favor or permit such exclusiveness.

Common trials and dangers united the two races as one family, and the
fact that one man was a Mexican and another an American was seldom
mentioned, and I believe as seldom thought about. Each man was esteemed
at his real worth, and I think our estimates of each other’s characters
were generally more correct than in more artificial societies.

Spanish was the language of the country, but many of our Mexican friends
spoke English well, and often conversations, and even sentences, were
amusingly and expressively made up of a blending of words or phrases of
both languages.

To the traveler, who had spent weeks crossing the dry and desert plains,
this valley, with the grateful humidity of the atmosphere, the
refreshing verdure, the perfume of the flowering shrubs, the rustling of
the leaves of the cottonwood trees, and their cool shade, and in the
spring or summer, the bloom of the many fruit trees, or the waving of
grain fields, were all like a sight or breath of the Promised Land!

The people, the peasantry, were content and happy. To them, with their
simple wants, it was a land of plenty. The failure of water in the Rio
Grande has sadly changed all this. It may be said that this valley and
the things here described were not in themselves beautiful, but only
appeared so by contrast with the barren country over which the wanderer
had traveled; and this may be true, but it is not wise to analyze too
severely the things that give us pleasure. They are few enough at best.

Our currency was the Mexican silver dollar, then at par, and the Mexican
ounce, a gold coin worth sixteen dollars.

There were no banks, and no drafts or checks except those given out by
the paymasters and quartermasters of the United States Army.

Everybody loaned money when he had it, but only for accommodation. I
knew of only one man in the whole valley who loaned money at interest or
required security.

It was no unusual thing for merchants to loan large quantities of their
goods, bales of prints and muslin and sacks of sugar and coffee to their
neighbor merchants, to be repaid in kind when their wagon train arrived.

Carriages and buggies were considered as almost community property, and
the man who refused to lend them was considered a bad neighbor.

Everybody had credit at “the store,” and everybody paid up—sooner or

There were no hotels. Travelers stopped at each other’s houses and even
strangers were welcome there. Any one having any claim to gentility or
education was cheerfully received and entertained by the officers at the
army posts, and many, _very many_, by the collector of customs at El

There was one peculiar fact about the El Paso of those early days, for
which I could never give any good reason.

Perhaps there were several reasons.

Our little village was better known, or, rather, it had greater
notoriety and elicited more interest and inquiry, than any other town in
the United States of twenty times its population. I know this from my
own experience during my visits to Eastern cities, and the same
statement was made by every El Paso wanderer on returning home. I mean
that a gentleman registering from El Paso in any of the great cities
received more attention and was more questioned about his town than one
from San Antonio or Denver.

It seemed impossible to go anywhere without meeting an army officer or
some one who had lived at El Paso, or some stranger who had heard of the
little hamlet and was eager to learn more.

In spite of privations, our little village seemed to have an
unaccountable fascination for every one who saw it, refined American
ladies as well as the less fastidious and sterner sex.

This was _my_ El Paso. To me it was like the Deserted Village to

The new El Paso got away from me. _Que sea por Dios._

Our merchandise and supplies were brought from St. Louis, a distance of
sixteen hundred miles, or from Port Lavaca, Texas, a distance of nine
hundred miles, by large trains of immense freight wagons, “Schooners of
the Plains,” drawn by fourteen to eighteen mules, usually four abreast,
at a cost of twelve and one-half to fifteen cents per pound for freight
only. These trains were usually accompanied by twenty-five to forty men,
including the drivers, all of whom were well armed, and stood guard like

The “wagonmaster” was a character of importance and authority, and a
hunter was usually employed to procure fresh meat and to look out for
Indians and for Indian “sign.” These trains, like the stage coaches,
were often attacked by Indians, but because of the greater number of men
and better means of defense, they were not so frequently “taken in” as
the latter.

I quote here the prices of a few of the articles purchased by me of El
Paso merchants during the “sixties,” having preserved the original
bills: One common No. 7 kitchen stove, $125; ham and bacon, 75 cents per
pound; coffee, 75 cents per pound; sugar, 60 cents per pound; lard, 40
cents per pound; candles, 75 cents per pound; one-half ream letter
paper, $4; nails, 50 cents per pound; matches, 12½ cents per box;
tobacco, $2 per pound; calico (print), 50 cents per yard; bleached
muslin, 75 cents per yard; unbleached muslin, 50 cents per yard; coal
oil, $5 per gallon; alcohol, $8 per gallon; lumber, rough sawed, 12½
cents per foot; empty whiskey barrels, $5 each; starch, 50 cents per
pound. But if we paid high prices, we also received high prices for what
we had to sell. I will here state briefly a few of my own business
experiences. I made large quantities of wine from the El Paso grape, and
sold it readily at $5 per gallon, $200 per barrel of forty gallons. For
two years I furnished the Government with all the vinegar and salt used
in the Military Department of New Mexico, vinegar at $1.70 per gallon,
and salt at 17 cents per pound, delivered at El Paso. Vinegar, four
thousand gallons, and salt, one thousand bushels. The vinegar was
manufactured from the El Paso grape, and the salt was brought from a
natural salt lake, one hundred and twenty-five miles northeast of El
Paso, and ground at Harts Mills, near El Paso, and sacked here.

The Government had previously been hauling these articles from St.
Louis, a distance of sixteen hundred miles. My partner, Don Juan
Zubiran, and myself one day delivered three hundred head of beef cattle
to the Government at Las Cruces, New Mexico, at 18 cents per pound on
the hoof—$90 per head. For a year I delivered beef on the block to the
troops at Fort Bliss at 22 cents per pound.

I will now give some items from the other side of my ledger. Three
hundred head of cattle belonging to my partner, Mr. Norboe, and myself
were taken by Indians in Arizona in 1865, and half of our herders
killed. These cattle were being driven to California, where there was
then a good market. A white man, also a partner, got away with $11,000
worth of my cattle at Fort Sumner, New Mexico, by selling them and
running away with the money.

Another partner, an honest man, died my debtor to the amount of $14,000.
This would not have occurred had the gentleman not become insane and
unable to settle his large and complicated business.

From the day of my first arrival at El Paso, I determined to make the
place my permanent home, and I have never had any desire to change that
choice. From the first I foresaw the prospective importance of the
place, and many a still, lonesome night have I listened to the roaring
of the waters over the dam at Harts Mill, a mile above the village, and
tried to fancy it the rumbling of railroad trains, which were then
fifteen hundred miles away. No, I do not claim to have foreseen that El
Paso would be the center of so many railroads, but I felt sure that the
first road to the Pacific Ocean would pass through El Paso, and _so it
would_, had it not been for the Rebellion. I would not claim to have had
this foresight, did not my letters to my friends during those early
years (some of which are still extant) bear out the statement. I
probably wrote more and spoke more about the certain future of El Paso
than any one who ever lived here. I did more. I proved my faith by my
acts. For ten years, amid all the folly and extravagance and vices of my
bachelor youth, I kept one object constantly in view: to acquire and
hold and pay taxes on a sufficient number of town lots to make me
reasonably independent when the railroads should come, and for a time I
owned more desirable property in El Paso than any other individual ever
owned except the proprietors of the town tract.

Well, the greater portion of this valuable property was taken from me by
corrupt courts and officials and by faithless lawyers and supposed
friends, and by other means which I may or may not refer to in these
writings. If any man says he would have defended himself and his rights
better or more courageously than I did, I can only reply that I think I
was fortunate to escape with my life! After all this, more than a
hundred strangers (who never owned enough of mother earth to be buried
in) have said to me: “You have been here a long time, Mr. Mills, and if
you had only known what El Paso would be you could have bought town
property very cheap and could have been wealthy,” etc., etc. Then, for a
moment, homicidal thoughts come into my mind. But it would do no good to
kill such a man. A fool or two more or less in the world, or even in a
community, would make no perceptible difference. There are so many!

It has been said these men of the frontier in those early days led
indolent, idle lives in a “Sleepy Hollow,” and that is true in a way.

The conditions were such that constant toil and endeavor were almost
impossible. A train of wagons would arrive from Mexico with silver or
other products and in a few days the El Paso merchant would sell or
exchange thousands of dollars’ worth of goods, and then for weeks he
might not have a customer worthy of his attention.

Another man would labor almost incessantly night and day for a time in
filling some Government contract, and then for months, perhaps, no other
opportunity would offer for the exercise of his energy. It was “enforced
idleness.” But in the long run these men expended as much effort,
physical and mental, in chasing the nimble dollar as the most plodding,
methodical Chicago business man of today.

Profits were often great and risks were always great. I do not think the
desire for money, for its own sake, was as strong as in older
communities, and this led to what we called liberality and what the wise
call extravagance. If any man had devoted all his energies to
accumulating and hoarding money he would have been viewed with disfavor
by his neighbors, and at that time men were in many ways dependent upon
the good will of their fellows.

If any gentleman did not care to bet on the horse race or to “sit in” at
the poker game, no one criticised his peculiarity, because each granted
to the other the right he claimed for himself, to do as he pleased about
such amusements. But if such a one gave out that he thus refrained
because he feared to set a bad example to others or because he feared
Divine wrath, his sincerity would have been doubted, and frankness and
candor were rated among the essential virtues.

Within the memory of men still living there occurred an incident which
illustrates men’s views of law and order in those days. A certain
desperado had been getting drunk and riding into stores and saloons and
firing his pistols at random in the streets and threatening people’s
lives, till the “good citizens” became weary. Finally he took a snap
shot at the popular member of the Legislature, Mr. Jeff Hall, on the
main street. This was too much. In a few moments fifteen or twenty of
the aforesaid “good citizens” were chasing him over town with shotguns,
rifles and pistols. The desperado was brought to earth in the corral of
the old Central Hotel—“Hell’s half acre”—pierced by many missiles. Then
there was an animated dispute among the above mentioned good citizens as
to who had fired the fatal shot. One claimed to have done the work with
his shotgun. Another said that such small ammunition at long range could
not kill such a man, but that it was his rifle shot in the neck that did
it. A third said that he had dispatched the deceased with three body
shots from his sixshooter, and so on.

At last “Uncle Ben” Dowell said: “Gentlemen, some day some judge or
other may come along and be holding court, and some of us may have
trouble about this business.” Thereupon they organized a coroner’s jury,
composed of the identical men who did the shooting, and sat upon the
corpse and agreed upon a verdict, to the effect that “Deceased came to
his death by gunshot wounds _from the hands of parties unknown_.”

It was about this time that an El Paso merchant, still living in this
valley, had a little experience with the rough Americans here, mostly
gamblers. There were many of the latter class.

At this time the fraternity were broke, and some of them had pawned
their pistols with this merchant for money. But finally one of them
reported to the “boys” that Mr. —— had refused to make any more loans on
pistols. “How did you approach him?” was asked.

“Why, I presented the handle of my pistol and asked him to loan me $25
on it.” “Idiot,” said “Snap” Mitchell, the leader, “you don’t know how
to soak a pistol; watch me.” So “Snap” went to the store and presenting
the _muzzle_ of his pistol asked for a loan. He got it, and went away
with the pistol also.

I believe my friend remembers the transaction. Later this same merchant
was called upon by a party of secessionists, who accused him of being a
—— abolitionist, and talked to him seriously about the penalty, which
was hanging. My friend was a foreigner and did not understand our
language as well as he does now. I asked him what he said to them when
they threatened to hang him, and he replied: “Well, I told them that I
had no ‘scruples’.” Of course, he meant that he had no preference for
either the Union or Confederate cause. It is certain that he did not
mean that he had no scruples about being hanged!

An officer of volunteers bought goods of this same merchant, refused to
pay him, swindled him, and because asked to pay called him a —— Jew and
other pet names, and finally sent him a formal challenge to fight a
duel. The merchant came to me greatly agitated, and declared that he
would rather die than suffer such indignities, and asked my advice. I
knew that he was in earnest, and the officer was notified to appear at
sunrise at the graveyard on the hill, distance ten paces,
double-barreled shotguns loaded with buckshot, to fire at the word. The
officer declined, declaring the terms “barbarous,” and that ended his
career as a valiant son of Mars.



In 1859 the San Antonio Mail Company had its headquarters on the lot
where the Sheldon building now stands. They had in the old adobe house
as large a stock of general merchandise as any El Paso merchant now
carries. The clerks who slept in the store were a Mr. Atkins, familiarly
known as “Ole Dad,” and “Fred” ——, a young German. One night Atkins was
absent and Fred was sleeping in the store alone.

The next morning a window in the south side of the building was found to
have been dug out of the wall and poor Fred was lying dead in his bed
with fourteen knife wounds in his body. A large amount of money had been
taken from the store (there were no safes nor banks here then) and
quantities of valuable goods had also been carried away. This was
evidently the work of robbers from the Mexican side of the river. No
trace of the robbers or money or goods was ever discovered.

After this murder Mr. Atkins declined to sleep in the store alone. The
writer was at that time clerking for St. Vrain & Co., merchants, in the
old Central Hotel building, which was burned down a few years ago. As we
had plenty of people to protect the St. Vrains store it was agreed that
I should go over each night and sleep in the store which had been
robbed. But soon the scare was over and Atkins, saying that “lightning
never struck twice in the same place,” left me alone for one night. I
had a shotgun and pistol, and a good watchdog. The merchants of the
village had employed a Mr. Cullimore (now of Austin, Tex.), familiarly
called “Bones,” to patrol the town of nights.

That night about 2 o’clock I heard the report of both barrels of
“Bones’” shotgun resounding in the little plaza, and his voice calling
to me to “look out, Mills!” Robbers, probably the same party, had
commenced to dig out the same window and had half finished the work when
“Bones” fired on them without effect. They fled, of course, and left
only a hat and handkerchief on the ground as remembrances. It was long
before any one would sleep alone in that store.



                  THE CANBY-SIBLEY CAMPAIGN IN 1861-2.

The following notes are published substantially as they were written
soon after the close of the campaign.[1] The remoteness of New Mexico
from the scenes of vastly more important conflicts prevented historians
of the war from writing of that campaign, which, though insignificant by
comparison, was one of the knightliest and most romantic in history. I
have here aimed to do justice to the brave men, of both armies, who
marched and countermarched, and fought and fled and fought again along
the banks of the Rio Grande forty years ago.

In 1858, when still a youth, accident and adventure brought me to El
Paso. * * * Determining to make my home in this valley, and being
without money or friends or a profession, I commenced life as a
merchant’s clerk. I had spent about three years in that capacity when
the news of the firing on Fort Sumter and the inglorious surrender by
General Twiggs, of all the United States troops in Texas, startled us as
much, though ten days old, as though the lightning had brought it. We
had heard a great deal of street corner talk about secession, and a
packed convention had passed a resolution declaring Texas out of the
Union, which resolution had been submitted to a vote of the people; my
brother (now Col. Anson Mills), myself and only two or three others
voting against it in El Paso County. The Mexican voters, of course, knew
but little about the questions involved in secession and were influenced
by the Americans, most of whom favored secession, those of Northern
birth being loudest in their protestations of devotion to the South and
loudest in denunciation of “abolitionists,” which meant all who did not
favor rebellion.

There was at that time a garrison of United States troops at Fort Bliss,
within a mile of El Paso; another at Fort Quitman, ninety miles below,
on the river, and several other posts in striking distance, all of which
were included in the surrender of General Twiggs to the “Texas
commissioners” at San Antonio, 700 miles away! There was not a
Confederate soldier within 500 miles of Fort Bliss, but such is the
power of military discipline that the post commander, Colonel Reives,
though urged by my brother and myself and others to disregard Twiggs’
order of surrender, turned over his arms and valuable stores to
Commissioner McGoffin and marched with his command, as prisoners, to San

Then we determined that my brother should go to Washington city and
report the condition of affairs here, and try to get the Secretary of
War to order these officers not to respect Twiggs’ surrender, but he
arrived too late.

I and a younger brother, Emmet Mills, remained at El Paso. The feeling
against Union men grew still more bitter. I could see no good in
rebellion. I was willing to make some sacrifices and incur some dangers
for my flag and country.

Colonel Loring at that time commanded the United States troops in the
adjoining territory of New Mexico. There was a garrison at Fort
Fillmore, fifty miles north of El Paso, but United States officers who
had resigned (?) and passed through El Paso going south, gave out that
Loring was “with the South.”

By this time a small force of Texas troops were en route to El Paso and
New Mexico and it was claimed that Fort Fillmore would be surrendered
without a fight.

I then went to Fort Fillmore and en route was given a letter, with the
request that I was to hand it to Captain Lane, then commanding that
post. Being introduced to Captain Lane, in conversation about secession
he complained that we El Paso people had taken advantage of his position
to treat him badly. He said we knew his feelings were with the South,
and that we had presumed upon the fact in taking his horses and placing
him in an embarrassing position. He said he could recapture the horses
and destroy our town, but he would not. This satisfied me that nothing
could be hoped for from him. Of course, Lane supposed that I was in
sympathy with rebellion, and for good reasons I did not undeceive him. I
told him in a jocular way that he might as well turn over his saddles as
they were useless to him without horses, at which he became angry and I
left him. I then proceeded to the town of La Messilla, five miles from
the fort, and found a secession flag flying in the street and the
secession leaders notifying Union men to leave. They had held a
convention and organized a Confederate territorial government for what
they called Arizona.

By this time Colonel Loring had passed south to join the Confederates.
Gen. E. R. S. Canby was now in command of the Department of New Mexico,
with headquarters at Santa Fe. From Messilla I wrote to Hon. John S.
Watts at Santa Fe as follows:

                                     “La Messilla, N. M., June 23, 1861.

“Hon. John S. Watts: Sir—I came up here from El Paso two days ago hoping
to meet you. I assure you that I found matters here in a deplorable
condition. A disunion flag is now flying from the house in which I
write, and this country is now as much in the possession of the enemy as
Charleston is. All the officers at Fort Fillmore except two, are
devotedly with the South, and are only holding on to their commissions
in order to embarrass our Government and at the proper time to turn over
everything to the South, after the manner of General Twiggs. The
Messilla Times is bitterly disunion and threatens with death any one who
refuses to acknowledge this usurpation. There is, however, a latent
Union sentiment, especially among the Mexicans, but they are effectually
overawed. * * * The regular soldiers, in defiance of the teachings of
their officers and the offer of gold from Hart, are yet faithful, and if
a second lieutenant were to ask them to follow him they would tear down
the secession flag and throw the Times office into the river in an hour.
Fifty of them could go to Fort Bliss and capture all the Government
stores at that place, but instead of this a few thieves came up from El
Paso and stole forty of the horses belonging to a mounted company at
Fort Fillmore. No effort was made to recapture these horses, although
the soldiers plead with their officers to allow them to do so. * * *
About 300 Texans are expected at Fort Bliss in about two weeks, and if
something is not done before that time Fort Fillmore will be
surrendered. Very respectfully,

                                                           W. W. Mills.”

(The above letter is copied from the Records of the Rebellion.)

In contrast with this letter, and to show the plots and counterplots of
those days, I copy from the same page of the Rebellion Records the

                                     “Hart’s Mills, Tex., June 12, 1861.

“Col. W. W. Loring: We are at last under the glorious banner of the
Confederate States of America. * * * We shall have no trouble in
reaching San Antonio. Four companies of Texas troops have been ordered
to garrison this post (Fort Bliss). Meanwhile Colonel Magoffin, Judge
Hart and Crosby are very much exercised and concerned on account of the
public stores here in their present unguarded condition. Meanwhile, you
may, by delaying your departure (from New Mexico) a week or two, add
much to the security of this property.

“I regret now, more than ever, the sickly sentimentality by which I was
overruled in my desire of bringing my whole command with me from New
Mexico. I wish I had my part to play over again.[2]

“Should you be relieved of your command too soon to prevent an attempt
on the part of your successor to recapture the property here send a
notice by extraordinary express to Judge Hart. Your seat in the stage to
San Antonio may be engaged. * * * Faithfully yours,

                                                          H. H. Sibley.”

(Note.—Sibley, who afterward commanded the Texas expedition, was a major
of United States cavalry and Colonel Loring was then commanding, and
betraying, the United States troops in New Mexico.)

Judge Watts indorsed my letter to General Canby, who sent a young
officer, Lieutenant Hall, to Fort Fillmore with a copy of it, to
investigate and report.

General Canby read Major Sibley’s letter of June 12th and mine of June
23d on June 29th, and Major Lynde having assumed command of Fort
Fillmore he (Canby) wrote that officer as follows:

“Headquarters Department of New Mexico,

                                        “Santa Fe, N. M., June 30, 1861.

“Maj. I. Lynde, Seventh Inf., Comdg. Fort Fillmore, N. M.: Sir—I had
occasion on the 24th inst. to put you on your guard against the alleged
complicity of Colonel Loring in the treasonable designs of the Texas
authorities at Fort Bliss and El Paso. I now send a copy of one and
extracts from another letter sent to me after the arrival of the mail
yesterday, which fully confirm all the information I had previously
received. Although Colonel Loring was still in the department, I have
not hesitated, since this information was communicated to me, to
exercise the command and to give any orders or to take any measures that
I considered necessary to protect the honor or the interests of the

“Sibley’s letter shows the Texas authorities at Fort Bliss and El Paso
count upon Colonel Loring’s aid in furthering their plans and indicates
the manner (by delaying his departure) in which this aid is to be
rendered. Colonel Loring’s resignation was tendered on the 13th of last
month, and has doubtless long since been accepted; but this is not
material, for any failure to act at once, or any hesitancy in acting,
may be in the highest degree disastrous. In this case, then, as in all
similar cases which may occur, you will at once arrest the implicated
parties and hold them securely until their guilt or innocence can be
determined by the proper tribunals. No considerations of delicacy or of
regard must be permitted to interfere when the honor of the country and
the safety of your command are involved. I send these communications by
Lieutenant Hall, Tenth Infantry. Very respectfully, sir, your obedient

                                                       “Ed. R. S. Canby,
                   “Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel, U. S. Army, Comdg. Dept.”

I then returned to El Paso and settled my affairs preparatory to going
to Santa Fe to take part with the Union people. There was then residing
at El Paso a Col. Phil Herbert, who had been a member of Congress from
California, but who, on account of bad conduct or misfortune, had left
the State under a cloud. Having never seen anything in the conduct of
this gentleman that was not honorable, generous and brave, it is not for
me to speak of his supposed faults. He was an enthusiastic rebel, but my
personal friend. When the stage coach was ready to start I took this man
aside and confided to him where I was going, and why I was going. He
approved of my determination and wished me personal success. I passed
Fort Fillmore again en route to Santa Fe, July 1, 1861, and met Dr.
Cooper McKee, the post surgeon, whom I knew well, and appealed to him to
do something to prevent the surrender of the post. He appeared
displeased at my remarks about his brother officers, and said that their
sympathies or intentions were not his business, nor mine.

I met at the post another young army surgeon, Dr. Alden, who had lately
arrived from Santa Fe. I found him as enthusiastic and as distrustful of
the officers as myself. He told me he had thought of sending a private
express to General Canby, advising him of the danger, but as I was going
he would intrust it to me. He promised to meet me next day in Mesilla,
and did so, but such was the feeling against Union men that this United
States officer, almost under the guns of his post, did not dare to speak
to me on the street, but beckoned me to an outhouse, where he privately
handed me a letter to Lieutenant Anderson, Canby’s adjutant.

I then called upon Dr. M. Steck, a loyal man, who was Indian agent, and
received from him some encouragement and a letter to some friends of the
government at Santa Fe. We started the next morning to Santa Fe by stage
coach. There were nine passengers, all Union men, I believe, and well
armed. When about ten miles out we were overtaken by a Mexican courier
with a note for Don Lorena Labide, a loyal Mexican passenger, informing
him that a force of rebel horsemen had left Mesilla that morning,
intending to capture the stage at the Point of Rocks that night. We held
a consultation and determined to proceed and fight if attacked. When
near the Point of Rocks eight of us got off the coach, with arms, and
followed it at a distance, instructing the driver that if halted he
should get them into a parley and give us the first fire. We, however,
passed the point unmolested, probably because a company of United States
troops camped near there. I went into this camp and found Lieutenant
McNally, with his company, en route to Fort Fillmore, and informed him
of the condition of affairs there. At my request he gave us an escort. I
found him loyal and ready for any duty. Arriving at Santa Fe I was
introduced to General Canby, and delivered Dr. Alden’s letter to his
adjutant, Captain Anderson, who read it and handed it to Canby.

I made a verbal report of all I had seen and heard. General Canby
informed me that he would order Captain Lane away from Fort Fillmore,
and he did. The general also stated that he had ordered Maj. Isaac Lynde
to leave his station in Arizona and take command of Fillmore. He had
confidence in Lynde, and, telling me something of his plans, requested
me to return to Fort Fillmore with dispatches for that officer.

I arrived at Las Cruces, six miles from Fillmore, with these dispatches
at sunset about the 15th of July, and met Dr. Steck, who avoided
recognizing me. I took a room in the hotel, locked the door and tried to
sleep. About 10 o’clock Dr. Steck came by stealth to my room to advise
me of danger. The contents of my letter to Canby had been unwisely made
known, and even United States officers were threatening vengeance.

Before reaching the fort next morning I met two loyal friends, Dr.
Knour, now of Las Vegas, and Mr. Brady, who also informed me that I had
been threatened. I rode into the post and met Captain Lane, who angrily
asked me if I had reported him to General Canby as a traitor. I replied
that I had stated facts and left General Canby to draw his own
conclusions. A strange officer then asked if I had said or written
anything about him. He said whoever called him a traitor was a liar.
That night he ran away from the post and joined the rebels at Bliss.
This was one Captain Garland.

I called on Major Lynde and delivered my dispatches. He sent for his
adjutant, Lieutenant Brooks, who opened and read them with some remarks,
which satisfied me that he was not anxious to lose much blood in defense
of his country. I believe, though I cannot know, that a message went
that night to Colonel Baylor, who had arrived at Fort Bliss with his
command, informing him of the contents of these dispatches. There was an
order from Canby to Lynde to recapture Fort Bliss and the stores there,
which he could easily have done.

After Brooks withdrew Lynde spoke to me of the feeling among his
officers against me. He said he believed I had acted honestly, but
unwisely. Many of his officers, he said, sympathized with the South, but
they had pledged their honors that, as long as they remained in the
service they would stand by him. I pleaded, entreated and tried to
reason with him for half an hour. I told him treachery and ruin were all
around him. “He had six hundred regular troops, well armed and eager for
the fray.” I advised him to arrest a few officers and send them under
guard to Canby! To march on Fort Bliss and capture the three hundred
half-armed Texans and the military stores which had been surrendered
there. Poor old man! It was useless. I have never seen Lynde since that
day, but ten years later I received a letter, from which I extract the

                                            “St. Paul, October 22, 1871.

“W. W. Mills: Dear Sir—Well do I remember the interview you refer to,
but I did not believe then that my junior officers would act toward me
as they did. Sincerely yours,

                                                              I. Lynde.”

Major Lynde, in answer to Canby’s letter indorsing me insisted that I
should undertake to learn and report the exact strength of Colonel
Baylor’s command, promising to fight him if it was not stronger than
represented. I consented to undertake this dangerous service, but before
starting I went to Dr. McKee’s quarters. Several officers were there.
The doctor received me by saying that he had been my friend, but I had
incurred the displeasure of his brother officers and he could be so no
longer. Doctor Alden said I had misrepresented him, that he had never
doubted the loyalty or good faith of any officer. I reminded him of his
letter to Anderson. He replied that it was only a friendly letter,
having no reference to military matters.

A year later, when in the field with Captain Anderson, he referred to
his files and found Alden’s letter to be a warning of treachery and
danger. The gallant Lieutenant McNally was present, but appeared to be
in doubt. I have never seen him since, but subsequent events must have
satisfied him of the truth of my representations to him that night on
the Jornado del Muerto.

But I am running ahead of my story. I procured a horse from my friend,
Dr. Knour, and rode to Paso del Norte (Jaurez, Mexico), fifty miles in
six hours, to watch Colonel Baylor, keeping off the road. While en
route, at Canntilla, I met a deserter from Baylor’s command, Sergeant
Kemp, whom I knew to be a Union man who had been forced by circumstances
to join the Texans. I gave him a letter of credence to Major Lynde, and
he reported the exact strength of Baylor’s command, but Lynde moved not.
Several efforts were made to decoy me off the streets of Juarez, so as
to kidnap me, but I saw through the design and avoided them.

One morning I met three acquaintances near the bridge on the main
street, and as I had a letter for one of them I saluted them with “Good
morning, gentlemen.” One of them, Kelly, secession editor of the Mesilla
newspaper, said: “So you are a spy.” I replied: “No, who says I am?” He
said: “I do.” “Then you are a liar.” He struck at me, but I avoided the
blow and placed a cocked pistol at his breast. He threw up his arms and
said, “Don’t fire,” and I put up my pistol. Kelly was soon after killed
by Colonel Baylor in a street fight at Mesilla. (Kelly was from
Michigan.) There was at that time, at El Paso, a German named Kuhn, whom
I knew, and who had the reputation of being a bad man. He professed to
hate the Texans, and I did not suspect him of any connection with them.

I was ready to return to New Mexico when one day about noon, when
walking on the sidewalk near the corner of the plaza in front of the
store of Mr. Duchene, I saw that Dutchman Kuhn on horseback in front of
me, apparently drunk. I wished to avoid him, but as I neared him he rode
onto the sidewalk and seized me by the shoulder. Half a dozen other
horsemen appeared, as though they had risen out of the ground. One
seized my pistol and ordered me to mount his horse quickly. I did so,
and he vaulted up behind me, and away we all went a clattering gallop
toward the Texas side. When we had crossed the river I asked, “Where do
you intend to take me?” One answered, “To Fort Bliss.” I requested that
they would not take me through El Paso, but they decided to do so. Kuhn
then said to me that it was all right, I would have a fair trial and so
on. I said: “I want no talk with you, sir; you are a scoundrel and a
murderer. These soldiers obey orders. You betray for money.” I said
more, and offered to fight him if they would give me my pistol. As I
expected, this piece of pluck won the chivalrous young Texans. I saw no
possibility of escape, and knowing the bitter feeling against me it
appeared to me the chances were in favor of being hung or shot. Not that
I considered myself a spy, for I had not been in disguise nor in the
enemy’s lines, but I did not suppose those gentlemen would hesitate much
about technicalities.

To a soldier taken in battle imprisonment merely means exchange or
parole, but this was a different matter. It was not probable that the
soil of a neutral republic had been violated merely that the Texan
officers might have the pleasure of my company about their quarters. At
Fort Bliss I was taken before the then post commander, Major Waller, who
said: “You are brought here a prisoner, sir.” I asked why they had taken
me from neutral soil, and he said I would learn in time. He then sent
for the officer of the day, Capt. Ike Stafford, who conducted me to the
guardhouse; it was filled with vermin and bad men. (Captain Stafford
still lives in Texas.)

The first night a blacksmith came and took the measure of my ankle, and
presently returned with a ball and chain which he riveted on my leg. I
soon found that by removing my boot I could slip the iron over my foot,
but the chances for escape were very poor, and I often shuddered when
awakened from troubled sleep by its clanking. The idea of kidnaping me
did not originate with the Texan military, but was instigated by citizen
non-combatants—my own neighbors.

The next day two of the young men who kidnaped me came to see me at the
guard house. Their names were Craig and McGarvey—James McGarvey, now of
Galveston. Before they left they promised to be my friends, and
faithfully kept their words. They told me that Kuhn had offered to
divide with them the reward paid him for my arrest, but they declined
the blood-money.

Colonel Herbert also called to see me, and denounced my arrest and
volunteered to act as my counsel.

The colonel applied for a writ of habeas corpus, but the district judge
refused to grant it.

I asked to see Colonel Baylor, and asked to be tried and hung or shot or
released. He said he had evidence enough to hang me, though he would
dislike to do it. Still, if I insisted, he would give me a court
martial. He recounted very correctly some of the incidents of my journey
to Santa Fe.

The next day Baylor sent his adjutant to inform me that he could not
grant a court martial.

Before my arrest I had written my brother Emmett, who was employed on
the overland stage line west of Mesilla, that there would be fighting
between the Texas and United States troops, and suggested that he come
in and report to the commanding officer at Fort Fillmore. He came, but
received no encouragement at Fillmore, and learning of my arrest and
being in danger of rebels at Mesilla, he attempted to make his way
toward California. He went in the mail coach with a party of six other
young men, all well armed.

At Cook’s canyon, about one hundred miles west of Mesilla, they were
attacked by a large body of Apache Indians under Mangas Coloradas,
“Bloody Sleeves,” and one of the most desperate frontier fights on
record ensued. It appears that our friends had time to gain the top of a
little hill and build a stone breastwork about two feet high, inclosing
a space about twelve feet square. A freighter, Mr. Deguere, who passed
the scene a few days later with his wagons, found and buried the bodies
and found everywhere the evidences of a terrible struggle. Under a
stone, on the top of the wall, he found a pencil note, dated July 23d,
1861, stating that they had been fighting two days; had killed many
Indians; that all were now killed or wounded except two; that they were
out of water and would try to escape that night. I have visited the
scene of this conflict. A tree, not more than ten inches in diameter,
about one hundred yards from the fortification, has many marks of
bullets evidently discharged from inside the wall. I give a list of the
names of these brave men, the extent of whose daring and suffering can
never be known in this strange life of ours. They were: Emmett Mills,
Freeman Thomas, Joe Roacher, M. Champion, John Pontel, Bob Avlin and
John Wilson. _All were killed._ The Indians who sold their arms and
watches in Mexico said that they lost forty warriors in the fight. The
newspaper containing this sad account was thrown to me through the
window of my prison.

It was about this time that I stood at the door of the guard house and
saw Colonel Baylor with less than three hundred poorly armed Texans
start on his march to capture Fort Fillmore, then garrisoned by seven
hundred and fifty regular troops, the flower of the United States army,
and I knew and said that he would succeed. That history is a short one.
Baylor took possession of the town of Mesilla unopposed, Major Lynde
made a show of attempting to dislodge him, and a skirmish ensued in
which Lieutenant McNally, not yet knowing that it was only mimic war,
exposed himself and was wounded.

Lynde retreated in good order(?) and that night abandoned the post and
fled in the direction of Fort Stanton. A show was made of destroying the
stores at the post, but very little damage was done. All was confusion
and demoralization. A patriotic quartermaster, Lieutenant Plummer, left
some government drafts in his pockets at his quarters. These were sent
to Washington indirectly by the rebels, and the money collected.

The command marched, or straggled, to San Augustine Springs, eighteen
miles east of Fillmore, where being overtaken by Colonel Baylor with
about two hundred men, they surrendered unconditionally without firing a
gun. No sooner was the surrender an accomplished fact than the same
subordinate officers who had aided to bring it about, some by
indifference, some by sympathy and some by treachery, united in charging
the whole responsibility upon poor old Lynde.

Major Lynde was dismissed from the service, but was reinstated after the
war. He was not treacherous, he was weak, and he was deceived to his
ruin and the disgrace of his flag. I have never doubted but that had he
been properly supported and encouraged the result would have been
different. Of his subalterns some resigned, some joined the enemy and
some went into the recruiting and quartermaster’s service, none, so far
as I know, except McNally ever did much fighting. I do not censure all
of them, but I thought, and still think, that there should have been one
among them who would have assumed command, arrested Lynde, and won a
colonel’s eagles.

When Colonel Baylor returned to Fort Bliss he sent to me and proposed to
release me on parole. I refused to give my parole, and he informed me
that I was released from close confinement and given the limits of the
post. “But,” said he, “if you attempt to escape to the enemy’s lines I
will capture and hang you.”

The secret of my release was that General Canby had arrested at Santa Fe
a prominent secessionist, General Pelham, and, placing him in prison,
threatened him with the same treatment that I should receive, and Canby
was a man of his word.

At the request of my friends, McGarvey, Craig and others, the “limits of
the post” were enlarged as to me, so that finally I drifted to the
Mexican side of the river. I had been confined about thirty days, in
July and August, 1861.

The nearest United States troops were at Fort Craig, one hundred and
seventy-five miles north of El Paso, but I determined to make the
journey. I obtained a horse from Craig and bought another, and secured
the services of a Mexican who claimed to be a guide.

We started at 11 p. m. from Juarez. We crossed the river below Concordia
and traveled north on the east side of the Organ Mountains, avoiding all
roads. When we thought we had reached a point nearly east of Fort Craig,
we rode west across the mountains. The journey was not so easy as I
supposed. The guide did not know the country, and, the weather being
cloudy, we were lost in the mountains. When the sun came out we traveled
west, knowing that we must strike the river somewhere. The fifth morning
out from El Paso we heard the band play guard mount at Fort Craig, and
rising a little hill my heart was gladdened by the sight of the flag of
my country.

This post, Fort Craig, was then commanded by Col. B. S. Roberts, of the
regular army, a brave and true soldier, who was concentrating a force to
resist General Sibley, who was then (December, 1861) en route from San
Antonio with a force of thirty-five hundred Texans to capture and hold
New Mexico. Colonel Roberts received me very kindly, and after I had
made a written report of what I had seen and learned, offered to procure
me a captain’s commission in the New Mexican volunteers (Kit Carson’s
regiment) or to get me a commission as first lieutenant and place me on
his staff as aide-de-camp. I chose the latter.

Early in February, 1862, General Sibley arrived before Fort Craig with
his whole force and a battery of six guns, Major Teel’s. Roberts had
collected, to oppose him, one thousand regulars, two regiments of
Mexican volunteers (natives), under Colonels Carson and Peno, and two
companies of Colorado volunteers. Two companies of our infantry had been
detached and trained to a battery of six guns, under the brave,
unfortunate Captain McRae. On a Sunday evening the Texans appeared in
force in front of the post, and we marched out to fight them in the
plain, but they retired.

That night they crossed to the east bank of the Rio Grande, below Fort
Craig, and next morning commenced to pass round the post by a road which
our engineers had declared impassable. Their advance reached the river
five miles above the post at 9 o’clock a. m. at Valverde, since changed
to San Marcial. General Canby, who had arrived at Fort Craig, ordered
Colonel Roberts to check them with the cavalry, and I went with him. We
drove their advance back from the water, and Roberts sent me back to
report to General Canby that the enemy’s whole force would reach the
river before noon, and to ask for re-enforcements. Canby sent Major
Selden’s column of infantry, six hundred strong, McRae’s battery,
Carson’s New Mexico volunteers and the two Colorado companies.

When we reached the scene of action the enemy had arrived at the foot of
the hills, about a mile east of the river, there being between them and
the river a level plain studded here and there with cottonwood trees,
but in places the ground was open. Our right and their left rested on a
round mountain on the east bank of the river. This was February 21st,


Footnote 1:

  “All of which I saw and a part of which I was.”

Footnote 2:

  Did Arnold experience similar regrets and wishes?



                        THE BATTLE OF VALVERDE.

This peaceful valley, which had scarcely before echoed to the report of
the sportsman’s fowling piece, was now to resound to the thunders of
artillery and become the scene of bloody conflict. The west bank of the
river where we first took position, was an open, level plain. The Texans
had advanced their battery and support into a clump of trees about three
hundred yards from the bank of the river and almost in the shadow of the
mountain. They were in position when McRae arrived. McRae unlimbered on
the very brink of the river, and this fierce artillery duel commenced.
It did not last more than thirty minutes.

Though McRae’s loss was heavy, his victory was complete. Teel’s battery
was rendered useless for that day. When the artillery fight was nearly
over Roberts sent me across the river with an order to Capt. David H.
Brotherton to charge the enemy’s battery with his two companies of
infantry, and to bring Major Duncan’s cavalry to his support. Brotherton
prepared to obey promptly, but as Duncan refused to obey the order I
took the responsibility of recalling Brotherton and was commended for so
doing. The enemy had now advanced toward the river in force, and Roberts
ordered Selden with his infantry to cross the river, advance into the
wood and attack with the bayonet if necessary. The men received the
order with a shout and plunged into the river, which was cold and
reached up to their armpits. Right gallantly did they obey the order,
but they encountered double their number, strongly posted, and were
compelled to retire, which they did in good order. Meantime our two
Colorado companies had done good service on our left. They were dressed
in gray like our militia, and the Texans, mistaking them for Mexicans,
charged them recklessly. The Colorado men reserved their fire for close
quarters, and emptied many saddles at the first fire. The remainder
retired in disorder.

The New Mexican volunteers were keeping the enemy from the water and
skirmishing briskly at times. There was now, at 2 o’clock p. m., a lull
in the fighting. Some of us had lunch and talked of the prospects. So
far all was favorable to us except the repulse of Selden.

We had kept them from the water, McRae had beaten their battery, and the
Coloradans had gained an advantage. We were well posted and provided;
their animals and men were weary and without water—they could not
retreat; they must surrender or starve or fight quickly and desperately.
During this lull Roberts crossed our battery to the east bank and placed
Selden in support of it.

At 3 o’clock that afternoon General Canby appeared on the field and was
received with cheers by the troops. After a brief consultation with
Roberts he advanced our battery about five hundred yards, withdrew
Selden from its support, leaving only two companies to protect it, and
opened fire. Carson’s Mexican regiment had been moved to our right and
advanced, and with one company of regulars repulsed a charge of Texas
cavalry with some loss. I observed Carson closely. He walked up and down
his line, quietly encouraging his men with such words as “Firme,
muchachos, firme” (steady, boys, be firm).

The Texans now rapidly concentrated all their available force at the
foot of the hills in front of our battery for one last desperate charge.
On they came, on foot, a mass of wild men, without order and apparently
without command, with rifles, shotguns, pistols and all kinds of arms,
and yelling like demons. Colonel Roberts saw the danger and ordered me
to bring all the strength possible to charge their flank as they neared
the battery. I found Major Duncan with his cavalry in an advantageous
position, and gave him the order, but again he failed to obey. Turning
to Captain Wingate, with his two companies of infantry, he responded
promptly and was immediately on the jump. But he was soon mortally
wounded, and Stone, his second officer, being killed, the movement was

I returned to the battery. The small support was giving away; Canby,
whose horse had been shot, was on foot. He had taken a musket from a
retreating soldier and was urging the men to re-form and charge. It was
too late. The battery worked on to the last moment. Captain McRae and
his first lieutenant, Michler, were killed at their guns. Bell, the
second lieutenant, was wounded. Of the ninety-three men belonging to the
battery less than forty escaped. The contest was now ended, but
notwithstanding this disaster, we retired to the post “with the
regularity of a dress parade.”

Considering the numbers actually engaged, Valverde was one of the best
fought and one of the most sanguinary conflicts of the war, the
mortality on either side being near one hundred. Five officers of the
regular army, McRae, Michler, Wingate, Stone and Bascom, were killed in
that fight. I admired General Canby (since treacherously murdered by the
Modocs) alike for his courage as for his amiable character, but I
believe that if Colonel Roberts had been left to carry out his plans
that day Valverde would have been a Union victory and the campaign
closed. General Sibley, although present, did not seem to develop during
the day. The fighting was done mostly by Green, Scurry, Lockridge and
Pryon. The day after the battle a flag of truce was borne into the post
by Colonel Scurry, Major Ochiltre and another. Scurry being an
acquaintance inquired for me, and I was present at the interview. They
demanded a surrender of the post, which Canby of course refused. Some
time was spent in refreshment and conversation, and they retired.

To condense and conclude this story, the Texans reconsidered their
threat of taking Fort Craig and took up their march for Santa Fe. We
followed, leaving a sufficient garrison in the post, but it was not
Canby’s intention to bring on a decisive engagement. He had other plans.

The Texans took possession of Santa Fe, the capital of the Territory,
without opposition; but their good fortune allured them too far. They
determined to attempt the capture of the Government supply depot, Fort
Union, east of Santa Fe. Colonel Scurry commanded this expedition. At
Pidgon’s ranch (Glorietta) they met Colonel Slough’s command of Colorado
volunteers, and the regulars from Fort Union under Colonel Paul, who had
united. Another battle took place almost as desperate and fatal as
Valverde. In numbers they were about equal, but the result was favorable
to the Federals, chiefly because during the day a detachment was sent to
the Texan’s rear, which under the direction and lead of Colonel Collins,
a brave citizen, utterly destroyed their supply train. They slept hungry
that night and then retreated in haste to Santa Fe. Meantime Canby had
from Albuquerque opened communication with Paul and Slough, and a
junction was effected at Tejaras, thirty miles east of Albuquerque.

Sibley had now commenced his retreat to Texas. Our combined forces under
Canby by a silent forced march overtook them at 2 o’clock one morning at
Peralto, the home of the loyal Governor Connolly. We camped within two
miles of Peralto without being discovered. We could hear the sounds of
revelry at the governor’s house, then Sibley’s headquarters. A brief
consultation was held. Roberts proposed to “go in at daybreak and wake
them up with the bayonet,” and, of course, the whole command would have
voted to do so but Canby’s policy was to drive them out of the county
without further loss of life—to “win a victory without losing men,” he
said, and perhaps he was wise.

We skirmished all that day, with advantages in our favor, but neither
commander seemed disposed to bring on a general engagement, and that
night Sibley, with the full knowledge of Canby, continued his retreat
down the Rio Grande, a portion of our troops following them as far as El

Of the thirty-five hundred Texans who entered New Mexico only about
eleven hundred returned to Texas. The others were dead, wounded, sick,
prisoners or deserters. Many were buried on the west side of El Paso
street, near where the Opera House now stands.

This was a disastrous expedition. They were brave men, but their
management, discipline and at times their food, was not good, and the
mortality from disease was great.

I accompanied Colonel Roberts to Santa Fe, where he detailed me as post
quartermaster, but learning that, while I was a prisoner at Fort Bliss
President Lincoln had appointed me collector of customs at El Paso, and
not intending to follow the profession of arms, I resigned and returning
to the home from which I had been driven, took possession of that


                             CAPTAIN MOORE.

While serving at Fort Craig, as above related, and when the Texans were
advancing from El Paso nearer to Fort Craig, we had an outpost of two
companies at a village called Alamosa, thirty miles south of Craig, on
the Rio Grande, under command of Capt. —— Moore of the United States
cavalry. One morning General Roberts said to me: “Take an escort and go
and see what is going on at Alamosa.” That was all the order I had. I
went and met the younger officers, who told me that their captain was
“in a bad way” and had been for several days. Going to Captain Moore’s
quarters I found him in a hopeless state of intoxication. After
interrogating him until I was thoroughly satisfied of his condition, I
demanded his sword and ordered him to go with my escort and report to
General Roberts in arrest.

I charged the sergeant to take good care of him but did not think of his
pistol. When they arrived in view of Fort Craig Captain Moore drew his
pistol and “_blew out his own brains!_”

Captain Moore had the reputation of being a good officer, with only that
one fault, and of course the tragedy, and my connection with it made me
sad—but what else could I have done? My action was approved and

After this campaign General Roberts, being in Washington and testifying
before the Congressional Committee on the conduct of the war, said: “One
young man, W. W. Mills, who had the courage to stand up at El Paso and
Fort Bliss against the secessionists, was thrown into prison there and
kept in confinement and in irons for a long time and his life
threatened. He succeeded in making his escape and in reaching Fort
Craig, having undergone great hardship, being three days without
anything to eat and without water.

“Because of his loyalty and services General Canby appointed him an
acting lieutenant. He was my aide-de-camp at the battle of Valverde, and
his conduct there was not only meritorious, it was highly distinguished
for zeal, daring and efficiency.”—(Report of Committee, part 3d, page

I believe every young American of spirit has a natural desire for some
romantic adventure requiring unusual exertion and involving some danger.
I possessed this desire and it was fully gratified. That the Confederate
soldiers manifested magnificent courage and devotion I freely grant.
They once preserved my life from what General Scott termed “the fury of
the non-combatants;” but I am glad that my feeble efforts were put forth
in behalf of a cause which the civilized world has approved and the
righteousness of which no one now questions, I believe. I have met many
bitter partisans in my time, but I have never heard any one attempt to
defend or excuse the actions of Twiggs or Loring or Sibley or Garland or
any of the officers who connived at or assisted in and about the
disgraceful surrender of Major Lynde as related in these pages. Few
young men ever came home from the perils of camp, prison and battlefield
more victorious or better vindicated than did the writer to El Paso with
the Federal forces in 1862.

The very _charge_ against me then was that I had been the leader of the
Union people of this frontier.

While the advocates of secession had been more active and boisterous in
their display of power than the friends of the Government had been,
there was a strong latent Union sentiment even among the Americans, and
with the Mexicans it was universal; so that a large majority approved of
my course and rejoiced at my safe return.

Some who had bitterly opposed and even wronged me came to make peace
(and promises), and I repulsed no man, because I felt that I could
afford to be generous and desired to live in peace with my neighbors.

There were a few who still cherished the hope and belief that the
Confederate cause would ultimately succeed, and that the El Paso Valley
would be recaptured, and I would fare even worse than before; and the
very few of these latter who are yet living, while they do not now, as
then, denounce me as a “Union man” or as being “false to my home and
fireside,” still occasionally intimate that I must have been guilty of
_something_ wrong—but they do not specify what the wrong was.

I organized the Republican party in El Paso County, and for a decade I
controlled its politics. Yes; a political “boss,” if you will have it
so, but I never purchased any votes nor juggled any man out of an
election after he had won it, as was done in the case of Adolph Krakaner
after he had been fairly and honestly elected Mayor of El Paso in April,


                        A STORY WITHOUT A MORAL.

On my return journey from Washington City in 1863, when traveling in the
stage coach with driver and two other passengers, we halted for supper
and a change of animals at a village seventy miles north of Fort Craig,
where, falling in with some officers who had served with me during the
then recent campaign, I accompanied them to their tents and there became
so interested in telling and hearing stories that I forgot all about
time and the stage went forward without me. I was the more to blame for
this thoughtlessness because I was at the time bearing important
official dispatches.

With many regrets and self-reproaches and good resolutions for the
future, I procured a Government horse and started alone for Fort Craig,
riding all night. I arrived at Fort Craig in due time safe and well, but
learned that the stage coach had been attacked by Indians and that the
driver and two passengers had been killed. It is certainly right to
teach schoolboys (as I did forty years ago) that promptness,
perseverance, diligence and watchfulness will greatly increase their
chances for success, but is it right to teach them that by these means
or by any other means they can _command_ success? But I am not writing
moral philosophy or solving riddles.


                          BENJAMIN S. DOWELL.

On previous pages I have mentioned this character as “Uncle Ben” Dowell,
the postmaster. He was a Kentuckian, who served through the war with
Mexico, and at its close settled at El Paso in the “forties” and married
at Ysleta.

He was an illiterate man, but of great force of character. One day in
the early “fifties” he did good work by killing, in a street fight, a
desperado who was known to have broken into the Customs House and robbed
the safe and who, with a party of men like himself, was defying the
authorities. Dowell and I became friends, but when the question of
secession arose he went wild on that subject and was, in part,
responsible for my arrest as an “abolitionist,” and we were bitter
enemies for several years.

He left El Paso with the retreating Texans just before we (the Union
troops) took possession of that place in 1862. He returned to Juarez,
and we met there several times but did not speak to each other. Finally
Dowell wrote me a letter (printed below) which led to a renewal of our
friendship, which continued till his death:

“Paso Del Norte (Juarez), Mexico, October 12th, 1864.

“Mr. W. W. Mills: Dear Sir—You may think strange to receive a
communication from me, but as circumstances alter cases I will proceed
with my subject. I left Sherman, Texas, on the 27th day of December last
with the intention of making my way, if possible, to El Paso, as I did
not think my life safe in Texas out of the Confederate ranks, which
service did not suit me. I came here with the full intention of crossing
over to El Paso to live, if I could get admission by complying with all
that might be required of a citizen. But when I arrived here I commenced
to talk with some old friends, and changed my notion for a time. I am
now tired of living a dog’s life, and I wish to live on your side of the

“I hope you will pass over in forgetfulness any hard feelings you might
have entertained toward me, and report favorably to the commanding
officer at your post. Please let me hear from you by the bearer, and let
this communication be confidential, and oblige, yours, etc.,

                                                         “B. S. DOWELL.”

This letter was brought to my office by Uncle Ben’s little daughter
Mary, and I immediately replied that I would be his friend, and without
consulting the commanding officer, Col. George W. Bowie, I invited
Dowell to come to my house. He came the next day, bringing his very
valuable race mare, the apple of his eye, and he told me that his
brother “Nim,” whom I also knew, was a Union man and had attempted to
escape from Texas and had been followed and killed by the Confederates.

While we were talking over old times and thinking no harm a file of the
guard appeared at my door and informed me that they had orders to take
Dowell to the guard house and his mare to the Government corral.

I was, of course, indignant. What? Federal bayonets shoved into _my_
door after all that I had gone through? In this frame of mind I called
on Colonel Bowie and gave him what in these days might be called “a song
and dance.” I told the Colonel that Dowell was ready to take the oath
prescribed in President Lincoln’s amnesty proclamation, but he replied
that he would not permit his adjutant to administer the oath, but out of
consideration for me he would permit my friend to return to Mexico with
his mare. He went, but the following day I wrote out the proper paper
for Dowell and he swore to it before Henry J. Cuniffe, United States
Consul at Juarez, and I took my friend and introduced him to Colonel
Bowie as a fully fledged American citizen!

The Colonel gracefully acknowledged that he was beaten, and Dowell
remained with us. Dowell owned some desirable town lots in El Paso,
which were saved from confiscation by his timely oath of allegiance.
These lots were of little value at the time, but he managed to hold them
till the advent of the railroads and the first El Paso boom, so that he
lived poor and died wealthy.

The Dowell race mare proved useful; and here I state some facts of which
I am neither proud nor ashamed. Uncle Ben assured me that she could
outrun any quarter nag that would come to El Paso, and we formed a
partnership under which he furnished the animal and the “horse sense”
and I the money for the stakes. The race track was nearly along the line
of West Overland street, the outcome being at its junction with El Paso
street. Race animals were brought from California, New Mexico and
Colorado to contest with us, and in four years we won several thousand
dollars _without losing a race_.

I withdrew from the partnership and quit all such business after my
marriage in 1869.


                              BRAD. DAILY.

While the hostile Texans were approaching Fort Craig I was a lieutenant
and aide-de-camp to the commanding officer at that post, Gen. B. S.
Roberts. The General directed me to try to find some intelligent,
faithful citizen acquainted with the country to go as a spy to El Paso
(from whence I had escaped) and bring him reliable information of the
Texan forces in that vicinity. Brad. Daily, whom I had known well at El
Paso, was at the time wagonmaster in charge of Ochoa’s train, and in
camp near the post. He was an old frontiersman, an Indian fighter, and
had often been employed as a guide by United States army officers. I
knew that he was a Southerner, but I knew that when a man of that class
took the Union side he could be trusted, and I knew that he possessed
every other qualification for the dangerous service. I visited his camp
and asked him casually what he thought about the war. He replied that
while he was a Southern man “Uncle Sam” had always treated him right and
that he would stand by the Government. I then told him what was wanted,
and he agreed to undertake the enterprise.

I took him to the General and vouched for him, and he was supplied with
two good horses and plenty of gold, and at midnight he started on his
mission. I, of course, gave him no letters but referred him to two of my
friends, whom he also knew very well, Don José Ma. Uranga, then Prefect
of Juarez, and my former employer, Mr. Vincente St. Vrain, a merchant of
El Paso. Daily entered Juarez in the night and went to the Prefect’s
house, where he remained concealed for a week or more, only going out at
night. He met St. Vrain and other Union men at the Prefect’s house, and
he actually prowled through Fort Bliss of nights disguised as a Mexican
peon, and came away as well informed about the number of troops and
other matters at that post as the Texas officers themselves. He brought
an unsigned letter which I knew to be in St. Vrain’s handwriting, giving
wholesale military information. This letter, had its contents been known
to the Confederates, would have cost my friend St. Vrain his life. Said
letter has been published by the United States Government in the
“Records of the Rebellion.”

On his return Daily rode in the dark into a camp of Indians and came
into Fort Craig with an arrowhead in his shoulder. He was paid $2,500
for his two weeks’ work, which he deposited with the Quartermaster, and
was employed as a guide during the campaign which ensued.

This man Daily was at times addicted to drink, and when intoxicated
would gamble. One night an officer awakened me and informed me that
Daily was at the sutler’s store drunk and gambling and being robbed. I
went to the store and found him in company with some gamblers (camp
followers) vainly trying, with their help, to sign his name to an order
on the Quartermaster for two thousand dollars. I tore the paper into
bits and took Daily away. The next morning I reported the facts to
General Roberts, and he directed me to take a file of the guard and
destroy all the intoxicating liquor at the store, place all loafers I
found about the store in the guard house, and lock the store and bring
the key to him. The order was executed. About a dozen “loafers” were
provided with quarters in the guard house; barrels of whisky were rolled
out and the heads driven in and hundreds of bottles were smashed. Some
of the soldiers scooped up whisky in their hands and drank it.

After the campaign Daily with his savings became a respectable and
successful merchant of Las Cruces, N. M., and twenty years later was
sued for that two thousand dollar debt. I was interrogated as a witness,
and testified to the facts as I have written them above. Daily won the



                              JOHN LEMON.

In 1861 John Lemon, a gentleman of about my own age, resided with his
wife and children at La Mesilla, N. M., fifty miles north of El Paso. I
was not then acquainted with Mr. Lemon, but soon after my escape to Fort
Craig from the Confederates at Fort Bliss in 1861, and after the
Confederates had taken possession of La Mesilla, Lemon and one Jacob
Applezoller and a Kentuckian named Critendon Marshall, were arrested and
placed in the guard house as “Union men.” One midnight these three were
taken from the guard house by the guard and a party of citizens to a
bosque and Marshall was hung by the neck until he was dead. Applezoller
was also suspended by a rope, but for some reason was cut down before
death ensued, and I believe is still living in New Mexico. Lemon and
Applezoller were taken back to the guard house and some time later Lemon
made his escape and joined the Union people at Fort Craig, as I had done
a few weeks earlier. There we two refugees met for the first time, and
there commenced an intimate friendship which continued to the time of
his death by assassination, which occurred at La Mesilla about ten years
later. After the Confederates were driven from the frontier Mr. Lemon
returned to his home, where he acquired wealth and popularity, being
repeatedly elected County Judge. One night in 1865 an express came to my
house at El Paso with a note from Lemon requesting me to come
immediately to La Mesilla, but without intimating why. I went at once,
and Lemon explained that he had been slandered by Col. Samuel J. Jones
(a neighbor) and that he was determined to make Jones retract or kill
him. I called on Jones as Lemon’s friend, and he referred me to a young
frontier lawyer then almost unknown but who has since become very
wealthy and very prominent in the politics of the nation, attaining the
very highest offices excepting only those of President and Vice

This gentleman acted as Jones’ friend, and it was due to his fairness
and firmness that Jones signed a retraction and a fight was avoided. I
am proud to say that this friend of Jones’ became my friend, and remains
so to this day. This was Stephen B. Elkins. Of all the men of the
frontier with whom I have been associated I liked John Lemon best, and I
think him the most admirable character of them all. He possessed all the
best qualities of the frontiersman with none of their vices. He was
_with_ us, but not _of_ us. He was strictly temperate, perfect in habits
and morals, and yet a genial, sympathetic companion and faithful friend,
and behind a manner almost as modest and quiet as a Quaker’s there
rested a personal courage and resolution equal to that of Andrew
Jackson. In 1870 Mr. Lemon’s party (the Republicans) had gained a county
election, and while he was going to join the procession which was
celebrating he was struck in the head with a bludgeon from behind and
died a few days later.


                     “BOB” CRANDALL AS A DAMPHOOL.

While I was collector of customs at El Paso a good friend of mine,
Captain Crandall, had been honorably discharged from the Union army and
had located at Tucson.

Crandall came to El Paso and stopped at my house and informed me that
his father had died in Indiana and that he (“Bob”) was en route there to
get his portion of the estate, and he hoped to return pretty well fixed.
After several months Bob returned, and came to my house looking dejected
and rather seedy. He told me that others had administered on his
father’s estate before he arrived and had got away with it all and that
he was destitute.

I asked my friend what he proposed to do? He said he would work his way
back to Tucson and commence life anew. The next morning I asked him to
accompany me to my office, and as we walked I said: “Bob, as soon as we
get to the office I will write your appointment as deputy collector of
customs at Tucson at a salary of $1,800 a year, and I will advance you a
month’s salary.” My friend paused and when he spoke there were tears in
his _voice_. “Mills,” he said, “do you know that I am a Democrat?”
“Yes,” I replied, “but is that any reason why you should be a damphool?”
“Well,” replied the Captain, speaking slowly, “I don’t know that it is,
but sometimes it appears to me _that it amounts to about the same
thing_.” He got the appointment and years later died at Tucson. I told
this story to a mixed audience in a political speech at the Court House
in El Paso, and feel sure that it did not offend even the most
enthusiastic Democrat.



In 1865 I lived, a bachelor, in a house which is still standing on the
lot at the corner of San Francisco and Chihuahua streets. My sleeping
room was in the southeast corner of the house with a window opening on
the back yard (corral) to the south. My brother, E. A. Mills, and a
negro servant slept in the back rooms of the house.

One day a number of Mexicans were carrying and stacking adobes in that
back yard and of course had left five thousand foot tracks. That night I
locked the front door of my room as usual and went to visit some
friends. On my return to my room about midnight I unlocked the door and
struck a light, to find that everything movable which I had left in the
room had been removed. Every article of clothing, bric-a-brac, a Mexican
blanket worth $100, and all such articles as a gentleman keeps in his
private room were gone. If any reader has had a similar experience he
knows what a foolish, puzzled feeling comes over him on making the
discovery; he first thinks he has gotten into the wrong room, then that
somebody has played a practical joke on him, and must be at that moment
watching and laughing at him. Suddenly the unpleasant truth flashes upon
him that he has been robbed. Such was my experience.

Well, I awakened my brother, started him over the river for some Indian
trailers, and then went to sleep. Two Indians came and lay down before
my door till daybreak, and then called me and made an examination. They
informed me that one lone thief had entered my room at the window and
packed my property into a big round bundle, which he had lifted and
dragged through the window. It was, of course, impossible to follow the
thief’s tracks through the corral where so many men had been tramping
the previous day, but the Indians had seen a few of his footprints near
the window, and _that was enough_.

They started to walk slowly in a circle around my premises, going in
opposite directions with their eyes fixed on the ground. Presently one
of them whistled. He had found the trail. The Indians, and I with them,
followed this trail for an hour, through many meanderings, and finally
arrived at an old adobe house near where the Pierson Hotel now stands.
The ground was dry and none but an expert trailer could see a single
track. The Indians walked around the house in a circle, at some distance
from it, and informed me that the thief was inside, and refused to act
further because they feared they might be assassinated by some of his
pals. I entered the house and found two Mexican women, who told me that
no man was there or had been there. I searched all the rooms and found
no one, and so reported to the Indians. They said: “He went in. He did
not come out. _He is inside._” Making a more thorough search, I found
the gentleman concealed in one of the rooms under a stack of beef hides.

He was a noted thief of Juarez. None of the stolen articles were found
on him or in the house. Our prisons were insecure and the courts were
not much safer, and I turned the man over to the “boys,” who somehow
convinced him that this was not a good locality for him, and he was
heard of no more.

Several weeks later a little Mexican boy came to me greatly excited and
told me that he had seen a corner of my Mexican blanket projecting from
a little sandhill near the house where the thief had been caught. Every
article which had been stolen was found tied in that blanket and
uninjured. The Indians in going around the house to find any trail which
might be going out had taken too wide a circle, or they would have found
where the articles were buried.




In 1867 I lived in my home on San Antonio street, two blocks west of
where the Court House now stands. There were two rooms opening on the
street, one of which had a spare bed in it for guests and was never used
by me. Back of this room, with a partition door between and with a door
and window giving into the back yard, was my own private room—the room
in which I habitually slept. My brother slept in another part of the
house. Of course it was my habit to lock the door opening into the back
yard, around which yard there was an adobe wall about six feet high.

I had some bitter enemies among the Americans at that time, some avowed
and others secret, as I afterward learned.

On the night in question I retired as usual in my own room, and,
strangely enough, on _this_ night of all nights, must have neglected to
lock the door. I awoke during the night and for some reason which I have
never been able to explain to myself, a fancy seized me to sleep in the
guest’s room. I went there, taking my pistol and candle, leaving my
watch on the table and all my other belongings handy for any one who
might come to take them, provided _theft_ were the object. I supposed
the back door to be locked, and closed the partition door between the
guest’s room and the bedroom I had left. I awoke again with a
consciousness that some one was in the room. I had not heard any sound.
I could not possibly see anything, yet I was _sure_ that I was not
alone. I was wide awake, was not alarmed; my feeling was rather one of

I said aloud: “Wait a moment; I will strike a light.” I did so, and saw
a man, in his shirt sleeves, going through the partition door into the
bedroom, and closing it after him. I did not see his face. I seized my
pistol and followed through my bedroom and heard some one scramble over
the wall and into the street. Rain had fallen that night, and any man,
in climbing into the back yard, must have soiled his hands with mud and
dirt from the wall.

I called my brother and we found that no article of my belongings had
been disturbed, but my pillow and bed clothes were smeared and
blackened, and we distinctly saw the prints of a man’s fingers! The
object was clearly not theft. It is not usual to awaken a man to steal
his property. _That man’s hand surely held a knife and he was feeling
for my heart!_ I have always felt sure that the man who entered my room
was not an enemy, but a hireling. But who was the instigator, and what
the motive? That remains a mystery to this day. But to me a greater
mystery still is _why_ did I change my room that night? _How_ did I know
that there was some one in the room where I was sleeping, when I could
neither see him nor hear him? “Quien sabe”!



Of the thirty or more young men who were from time to time employes of
mine in this Customs District while I was collector (1863 to 1869), I
believe only two are now living (1900), my brother, E. A. Mills of
Mexico, and Maximo Aranda of San Elizario. Seven of them met violent
deaths, four while in the service. Here is the record: Mills (no
relative of mine), killed by Indians near Tucson in 1864; Virgil
Marstin, killed by Indians near Silver City in 1865; John F. Stone,
killed by Indians near Fort Bowie in 1869; James Taylor, killed by
robbers near where the El Paso smelter is now located, in 1866; Judge
John Lemon, killed by a mob at Mesilla, N. M., in 1869; Moses Kelly,
shot to death at Presidio del Norte, about 1870; Abraham Lyon, shot to
death at Tucson; A. J. Fountain was recently murdered on the plains near
Las Cruces, N. M., and A. H. French died insane in asylum at Austin.




My last military service was as quartermaster and commissary at District
headquarters at Santa Fe, in 1862. In the summer of that year, General
Canby granted me a leave of absence for sixty days, and I visited
Washington City and received from President Lincoln my commission as
collector of customs along with his personal thanks and good wishes.

The collection district of Paso del Norte then comprised only the
Territories of New Mexico and Arizona, the collector’s office being at
Las Cruces, N. M. El Paso county belonged to the Galveston District,
with a deputy at El Paso—A. B. O’Bannon, a Confederate. But Congress, at
my suggestion, passed an act, approved March 3, 1863, attaching El Paso
county to that district, “Provided that the collector should reside at
El Paso.” Thus, by my efforts, El Paso became the permanent residence of
collectors of customs, and as a result, later on, obtained its fine
Government building! Col. Samuel J. Jones was then collector of customs
at Las Cruces. This Jones was prominent and in some respects a
remarkable character. He was the notorious “Sheriff Jones” during the
border troubles in Kansas in 1856, when the attempt was made to make
Kansas a slave State, and was then called a “border ruffian.” Jones was
a man of education, of fine personal appearance, and with a reputation
for courage which had never been questioned. It fell to my lot to be the
first to call him down, and I did it successfully and still have the
hostile letters which passed between us, but I refrain from recording
the particulars of that incident in my life. Jones had been appointed
collector of customs by President Buchanan, but had taken the side of

On my return from Washington, Jones refused to deliver to me the books
and property of the office, and correspondence, quarrels and threats
followed, and we became bitter enemies. But he yielded what I demanded.
Twenty years later I met Colonel Jones at Silver City, old, poor and
paralyzed, just able to walk about, but only able to articulate the
words “yes, yes,” and “no, no.” Knowing his condition, I gave him my
hand, which he grasped eagerly, and that night he signified to me that
he desired me to occupy the same room with him, which I did.



                     CAPTAINS SKILLMAN AND FRENCH.

Capt. Henry Skillman resided near El Paso for many years previous to the
Civil War. He was a Kentuckian, a man of magnificent physique, over six
feet tall, wearing long, sandy hair and a beard flowing to his girdle.

He was an Indian fighter, mail contractor, and a guide and scout for the
United States troops and for wagon trains through the Indian country. He
was the Kit Carson of this section. He was highly esteemed, almost
beloved, by the people of the valley, of both races.

He had one fault. At rare intervals he would get very drunk and become
wild and ride his horse into the stores and saloons of the village,
firing his pistol the while, and order everybody to close up, as he
desired to run the town himself. Then he would go home and sober up and
come to town, pay the damages and apologize to every one and then go
about his business.

As an offset to this peculiarity he would not allow any other man to
play the same role, when he was around. Once, when a stranger attempted
it, and everybody, including the peace officers, was terrified, Skillman
was notified, and came up, sober, took away the ruffian’s arms, boxed
his jaws, and notified him to leave town, which he did.

On another occasion, 1857, when my brother Anson had accused two El Paso
men of counterfeiting, they plotted to assassinate him on the street,
and then to swear that the killing was accidental. As they approached my
brother, pretending to be very drunk, Skillman saw and understood the
maneuver, and, springing to the rescue, called out: “Look out there,
Mills; they are going to kill you.”

When the secession talk commenced, it was known to me and to a few
others that Skillman, although his associates were nearly all
Confederates, inclined strongly to the Union side; but he finally “went
with his State,” and in 1864 he, with a small band of Confederates, was
acting as a scout and keeping up communication between San Antonio and
the Confederate colony at Juarez, Mexico, near El Paso.

General Carleton, then in command of New Mexico, decided upon the
capture of Skillman and his party, and for that service he selected
Capt. Albert H. French, of the California Volunteer Cavalry.

General Carleton was present at El Paso when French left on this
dangerous expedition, and I KNOW that he gave French special
instructions to bring Skillman in alive “if possible,” and I know the
reason for this order.

French was a Boston man. He was as large and as well formed as Skillman,
and, like him, was of sandy complexion, hair and beard.

Skillman and his party were near Presidio del Norte en route for Juarez
when Captain French (himself unseen) discovered them and watched them go
into camp (April 3, 1864).

At midnight, French, with a portion of his little command, including two
citizens of San Elizario, _crawled_ into Skillman’s camp, and, rising to
their feet, called for surrender. Skillman arose, armed, and refused,
when French shot him dead.

In the volley which followed two more of Skillman’s party were killed
and two wounded. The others surrendered and were brought to San

There were citizens of El Paso county in each of these parties, some of
whom are still living.

I regret to see that Col. George W. Baylor has been led, by false
information, no doubt, into doing some injustice to the memory of the
gallant Captain French.

In a late communication to the El Paso Herald the colonel says: “Captain
French killed or rather massacred Capt. James Skillman, who was in the
C. S. A. and on picket duty in the Davis mountains. They had been
personal friends, and through treachery French had located Skillman and
killed him. It has been said that the matter so preyed on French’s mind
that it became unbalanced before his death.”

Colonel Baylor is himself an old soldier, justly proud of his record,
and he should be careful not to place too much reliance on the
statements of others. It is impossible that French and Skillman could
have been “friends,” as the colonel states, because they had never met
each other till that fateful night. And again, the colonel shows lack of
information by speaking of Skillman as “James” instead of Henry.

Captain French’s conduct was soldierly and commendable.



                    FURNISHING ARMS TO MEXICO—1865.

Early in 1865, when the Mexican patriots, under President Juarez, were
hard pressed by the French troops and the forces of the usurping Emperor
Maximilian, my friend, Don Juan Zubiran, then collector of customs at
Juarez, brought a gentleman to my office and introduced him as a
confidential agent of the Mexican government.

This gentleman did not hesitate to confide to me that his mission was to
purchase arms and ammunition for use against the invaders of his
country. This was a delicate matter because, if United States officials
favored his scheme, it might have involved our government in difficulty,
or even war with France, with which country we were friendly, although
all loyal Americans, from the President down, sympathized deeply with
Mexico in her struggle for existence. I could not betray this
gentleman’s secret, and he proceeded to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where Gen.
James H. Carleton was in command of the United States troops, and thence
to Washington City; and it was not long before several hundred stands of
arms in New Mexico were condemned as being “unserviceable” and were
moved down to Las Cruces, fifty miles north of El Paso, and advertised
for sale at public auction. These rifles, with ammunition, were
purchased by my friend, Don Juan Zubiran, and were to be delivered to
the Governor of Sonora at Conalitos, in the State of Chihuahua, near the
Sonora line, and were to be received and paid for there. _Somehow_ these
arms found their way over the boundary line to Conalitos, and now comes
the interesting part of their story—if it has any interest at all.

Mr. Zubiran was about to send an express to Hermisillo, the capital of
Sonora, to notify Governor —— that the arms were ready for delivery, but
it would have been a long and dangerous journey, and as I had a deputy
collector of customs (one McWard) at Tucson, nearer Hermisillo, Mr.
Zubiran requested me to forward his letter under cover to McWard, and
ask him to send it by messenger to Governor —— and ask him to reply
through the same channels. This was done, and in due time there came a
reply to Mr. Zubiran, written on the printed letter-head paper of the
“Executive of the State of Sonora,” signed by the Governor, and to every
appearance genuine. But the contents of this letter were startling. It
stated that the Governor regretted that he could not receive or pay for
the arms; that the Mexican cause was hopeless, and it advised my friend
Zubiran (than whom Mexico had no stancher patriot) to give in his
allegiance to the Empire of Maximilian!

We were astounded; but there was the fact in plain black and white.

Some weeks later an express rider came in great haste from the Governor
of Sonora, with a letter to Mr. Zubiran, asking why such delay about the
rifles, and urging haste, and stating that the money to pay for them was
already at Conalitos.

We finally got at the explanation of this chapter of misunderstandings.
A former Governor of Sonora had espoused the cause of Maximilian, had
fled from his country, and taken refuge at Tucson, carrying with him
some of the stationery of the State, and had become intimate with Deputy
McWard, who had betrayed to him the contents of Zubiran’s letter, thus
enabling him to prepare and forward the bogus reply, with such
appearance of genuineness.

The arms were delivered and paid for, and it is needless to state that
the faithless Deputy McWard lost his official head.




For more than a year, in 1865 and 1866, the village of Paso del Norte
(now Ciudad Juarez), opposite El Paso, was the actual capital of the
Mexican Republic. Benito Juarez, the patriot President, with his Cabinet
and a little remnant of his army, had been driven from his capital by
the French troops and the Mexican adherents of Maximilian, and were
making a last stand on this frontier, the French troops having
possession of the city of Chihuahua, only two hundred and twenty-five
miles to the southward.

The writer happened at that time to occupy the most important United
States office on the frontier. He spoke Juarez’s own language well, and
Juarez knew that he sympathized as deeply with the republican cause in
Mexico as the Mexican President sympathized with the cause of the
Republic of the United States. Our Government had at that time no
minister near the Juarez Government. I visited the President very often.
Was it strange if we held many conversations, in which each confided to
the other his hopes and fears, as to the success or failure of the two
simultaneous efforts then being made to destroy the two greatest
Republics in the world—our own countries? In January, 1866, I informed
President Juarez that I contemplated a journey to Washington City, and
before I started he confided to me a letter to the Mexican Minister,
Señor Romero, and also one to his wife, who, with her two daughters,
were then at Romero’s house in Washington, refugees from their own



This journey was made by stage coach via Santa Fe as far as Kansas City,
thirteen hundred miles, in midwinter, and was not without interesting
incidents, one of which I will relate. We left Santa Fe with six
passengers, Judge S. Watts, two young ladies, two merchants and myself.
There was also the stage driver and the driver of a wagon which carried
our provisions and baggage. The weather, for the greater portion of the
time, was intensely cold, the ground being covered with snow. We slept
under a roof only twice during the journey of twelve days.

My brother, Anson Mills, was then a cavalry captain in the army, but I
had not heard from him for many months, and had not the slightest idea
in what part of the country he might be. One very cold day, about noon,
when approaching the Arkansas River, we met a train of wagons bound for
Santa Fe, and the wagonmaster informed us that he had the day before
been attacked by a party of Indians at the crossing of the Arkansas, but
had stood them off, and had moved on, uninjured. He advised us to return
to Santa Fe, but, incredible as it may seem, we decided to proceed on
our journey. I do not call this courage; to me, after so many years, it
appears more like foolhardiness!

Nearing the river, but before we could see down into the valley, we saw,
far to our right, and apparently flanking us, two men with rifles, whom
we supposed might be Indians.

The coach was halted, we four male passengers, with our arms, moved
toward the strangers and beckoned them to approach. They did so, and I
soon recognized the familiar uniform of United States soldiers! I asked,
“Where are you camped?” Reply: “Down yonder at the crossing.” “Who is in
command?” “Captain Mills.” “What Mills?” “_Captain Anson Mills._”

The ladies slept that night in the captain’s tent and we brothers, by
the camp fire, told each other our adventures since we had separated at
El Paso, five years before, each to take his chances in the desperate
game of war.

Captain Mills gave me his application for promotion to present at
Washington, and after the stage had started he called to me: “Get me a
leave of absence, and I will go to Washington and return your visit.”

Arrived in Washington, I presented the application for promotion to Gen.
John B. Steedman, who indorsed it thus: “Captain Mills served on my
staff for three years. He is the best officer of his rank I ever knew;
intelligent, efficient and fearless. I recommend him for promotion.”

A few days later I went with some New Mexican friends to call on General
Grant, who was then Secretary of war. I told the General about meeting
my brother, and asked a leave of absence for him. The General replied
that such applications must come through the regular channels. I showed
the Secretary the application for promotion, with Steedman’s
indorsement, and told him something of our troubles at El Paso at the
outbreak of the Rebellion. He read the papers and seemed pleased, but
continued talking with my friends and dispatching business. On rising to
take our leave, I told General Grant that I was sorry not to meet my
brother at Washington, but I could not complain, as I saw good reasons
for the refusal. To which he replied: “The telegram has gone, sir; your
brother will be here in a few days.”

He came, and got his promotion also.

Soon after this I was summoned to the State Department for an interview
with the Secretary, William H. Seward. He asked many questions about
President Juarez and his cause, and about the real sentiment of the
Mexican people, and about their probable ability to drive Maximilian and
the French out of Mexico “without assistance.”

Mr. Seward asked me about our consul at Juarez, Henry J. Cuniffe. I
replied that he was an able and patriotic gentleman.

The Secretary then said that in the absence of the United States
Minister, our consul ought to have an extra allowance of money for
expenses during the Mexican President’s stay at Juarez, and asked me
what amount I thought would be sufficient.

I replied $2,500 a quarter, and the Secretary said that would not be too
much, and if the consul would make requisitions they would be honored.

I wrote my friend Cuniffe immediately.

This was before the days of “Retrenchment and Reform.”

Now came one of my hardest battles. My term of four years as collector
of customs at El Paso, under Lincoln, was about to expire, and there was
objection to my reappointment—_there always is_—but in this case there
was a serious charge of misconduct in office to the effect that I had
permitted the exportation of large quantities of arms and ammunition
from my district into Mexico to be used against the French, in violation
of the instructions from my own Government and the neutrality laws; and
“on the face of the returns” the charge appeared to be true, and my
enemies believed my defeat _certain_.

Andrew Johnson was President. When I called on him, with some friends,
to make my formal application, we met, by an awkward accident, a
delegation of my enemies, and we “had it out” then and there. I stated
my own case, and though the President was noncommittal, I felt sure of
reappointment, though my friends did not. A few days afterward, when
Judge Watts was talking to the President on other subjects, the
President said: “Judge, where is your young friend from Texas? Is this
his appointment which I signed to-day?” When told that it was, he said:
“I intended from the first to appoint him. I like that young man.”

In the Senate there was opposition to my confirmation. Senator Conness
of California made a sensational speech against me in executive session,
and presented what he called “proof.” I saw the Senator personally and
made some explanations, which it is not necessary, or proper, to repeat
here, and he withdrew his opposition and moved my confirmation, and I
was unanimously confirmed.

In May, 1866, the President’s private secretary, Col. Henry Cooper,
asked the Texas Republicans then in Washington to agree upon some Texan
to be appointed “Visitor to West Point.”

These appointments are strictly Presidential, not requiring confirmation
by the Senate, and are much desired and sought after, being considered a
high honor and a special favor from the chief executive of the nation.
We met and selected a very distinguished Texan, Judge George W. Paschal,
and sent up his name.

A few days later Colonel Cooper said to one of our friends: “The
President does not like the selection of Paschal. He says he is going to
appoint Mills. Tell Mills to come and see him.” I called and thanked the
President, and had some conversation with him, but later gave my
brother, Capt. Anson Mills, a letter to the President, requesting him to
substitute his name for mine, which was done.

I have known and conversed with four Presidents—Lincoln, Johnson, Grant
and McKinley—and have held office under all of them; but I knew Andy
Johnson best, and I liked the rugged, stubborn Southerner, who had stood
firm as a rock against rebellion in his own section. If I had been
older, or bolder, I am vain enough to believe I might possibly have been
of service to him. He had inherited his Cabinet from Mr. Lincoln, and
some of them were, from the start, not very devoted to him personally.
He was being flattered and cajoled by his late enemies, and he had been
fretted and angered by certain Republican leaders, “wise men of the
East,” who believed that no good could come out of Nazareth, and he was
about to make the mistake of his life—_the break with his party_. I was
pleased when, years later, he came to the United States Senate,
supported by the votes of his best and truest friends—the Union people
of Tennessee.



In 1868 I was elected to represent El Paso county in the State
Constitutional Convention, which was to meet at Austin in May of that
year, to frame a constitution under which Texas might be readmitted into
the Union. At the start I was opposed for that office by Major Joseph
Smith, a popular Democrat, who had been honorably discharged from the
United States military service at El Paso, but early in the contest I
badgered him into saying that if he found a single “Nigger” in the
convention, he would resign.

I then suggested to the Mexican audience that if he had that much race
prejudice, he would not do to represent _them_. Major Smith soon saw
certain defeat before him, and withdrew, and I was unanimously elected.

During April of that year, I went in a buggy, with a single companion,
Hon. W. P. Bacon, Judge of our district, to San Antonio, en route to
Austin, seven hundred and forty miles, in seventeen days, without change
of animals (two horses). We “camped out” and did our own cooking, and
traveled much at night, because marauding Indians were then abundant on
that route. I arrived at Austin a total stranger to every soul in that
capital. The convention had ninety delegates, only ten of whom were
Democrats. There were nine colored delegates, a large contingent of
carpetbaggers, and several new recruits to the Republican party, who
claimed from the day of their conversion to be more “loyal” to that
party than any of us. But about one-half of the body were able,
representative, old-time Texans, who had taken the Union side of the
secession question and had become Republicans. These were led by Gov. A.
J. (“Jack”) Hamilton, a man of Southern birth, once a slave-owner, who
had been from the start the most prominent, boldest and most eloquent of
the Union men of Texas, if not of the whole South. He was a member of
Congress in 1861, and denounced secession both there and at home, and
later was appointed a brigadier general and Provisional Governor of
Texas by President Lincoln, and had gained a national reputation as an
orator. And now the usual thing happened. “He who surpasses or subdues
mankind must look down on the hate of those below.” The small men in the
convention combined to down the greatest one.

A resolution was passed the first day of the convention, without
opposition, requiring all delegates to take what was then known as the
“Ironclad Oath.” This would have excluded several delegates who had, in
one way or another, given aid and comfort to the rebellion.

The next day, Mills of El Paso, a Republican, moved to reconsider that
resolution and to admit all who had been elected by the people. He urged
that we were not officers of the United States, but of Texas, and
scarcely that, because we could do nothing which would bind any one. Our
work would have to be approved by the people, and then by Congress,
etc., etc.

Governor Hamilton came to the rescue and Mills’ motion was passed and
all elected delegates were admitted. (The published records of the
convention bear out the above statement.) And now the first charge was
heard against Governor Hamilton, both in Texas and at Washington, that
he had “sold out to the rebels.”

The opponents of Governor Hamilton had the tact to put forward, as their
leader, Col. E. J. Davis, a Texas Union man, who had done good service
during the war, and against whom nothing can be said except that he was
inordinately ambitious, vain, vindictive, and that he was then, and for
years after, surrounded and influenced by as lordly a set of
unscrupulous adventurers as ever tyrannized over or wronged the people
of any Southern State. He and Morgan Hamilton, a brother of Jack
Hamilton, were almost the only leaders of respectability in the whole
“Davis party.”

The three questions upon which the Davis Republicans and the Hamilton
Republicans wrangled so long in that convention were these:

1st. Davis contended that all who had participated in the Rebellion
should be disfranchised. Hamilton opposed.

2d. Davis contended that all laws passed by the Legislature during the
Rebellion were null and void, _ab initio_.

Hamilton contended that only such laws as contravened the Constitution
and laws of the United States were void.

3d. Davis contended for a division of Texas into three States, and
Hamilton opposed.

(The proposition to divide Texas was finally killed on motion of the
writer of these chapters, and if any Texan thinks that the State was not
then in danger of being divided, let him remember old Virginia.)

Hamilton won on all three of these propositions, and a constitution was
framed in accordance with his views, and submitted to the people. I
quote below a report of the last day’s stormy session of this memorable
convention, by Whilden, the brilliant correspondent of the Galveston

                           “TEXAS CONVENTION.

                                       “Austin, Texas, February 8, 1869.

“Special to the Galveston News.

“Precisely at what point to begin I am in doubt. This convention, which
we thought was to give civil government to Texas and to which we
necessarily attached some dignity, has in the end proved itself to be a
farce on the civilization of the nineteenth century. Jack Hamilton and a
few others did all that genius could do to turn its purposes to
legitimate ends. Partially they failed; but in that failure they left
the impress of brains upon the wild waste of passion which this
convention has given to the world. * * * All mortal things shall ever
have an ending, and this convention is as all other mortal things.

“Strategic movements on the part of Davis and Hamilton have filled up
the time. Between these two men there can be no comparison. * * *

“On last Friday night the cloud burst, and for a few moments the curse
of heaven seemed to hang as a pillar of flame over the convention hall.

“Stern as Davis is, he quivered when Mills of El Paso tore from his
bosom the thin gauze with which he hoped to hide the dark, selfish and
damning purposes of his heart. Yes, he quivered, but it was for a while
only. The devil never deserts his own for a long time at once. Davis
rallied and poured the long pent-up passion of his heart upon Mills.
Confusion ensued. The issue was now made. Davis was right and Mills very
wrong, or Davis was wrong and Mills the Nemesis of the night. A majority
of the convention agreed with Mills. But Davis has his tools. The
convention had one more than a quorum. This quorum must be broken or
Davis meets a Waterloo defeat. Two of Davis’ tools resigned their seats
then and there. Thus was a quorum, under the standing rules, broken, and
fortune for a while declared for Davis.

“But Hamilton was not thus to be defeated. He brought all his forces up
against the political traitors, raised a point of order as to whether a
quorum consisted of a majority of ninety members, which the convention
ought to have had, had every delegate been in his seat, or of a majority
of those who, at that time, were entitled to seats. Plausibility and
common sense were on Hamilton’s side. Davis’ wrath was terrible. Mills
must be punished. The convention could not see it through his
spectacles, and he ordered the sergeant-at-arms to take Mills in
custody. It was a wordy order. Davis, seeing his inevitable defeat, on
his own motion, declared that the convention, as no quorum was present,
stood adjourned till next day at 10 o’clock, and, with the mien of a
lieutenant of his satanic majesty, left the rostrum.

“Before he had gotten half way down the aisle, Armstrong of Lamar had
been elected president. Davis ordered the doorkeeper to open the doors
so that members could go out. The doorkeeper refused.

“Then ensued a scene which cannot be described. Hamilton arose and spoke
under all the excitement of the evening—spoke as only those can speak
who are orators born—spoke until, if I had been in Davis’ place, I would
have prayed that the capitol might crush upon me and hide my awful

The constitution was then adopted as a whole and this revolutionary
attempt to break up the convention and prevent the reconstruction of the
State and her readmission into the Union met a humiliating defeat.

The good General Canby, being then in command of the Department,
approved of our course of action and submitted the constitution to the

Three days later, February 8, 1869, at Austin, Texas, the writer married
Mary, eldest daughter of Governor A. J. Hamilton, who in this year of
Grace 1900, still abides with him; but that is “another story,” which he
reserves for a later chapter.




The reader may think it strange that I give so much space to so common
an occurrence as a State election, but the explanation is simple. It was
the first reasonable attempt to carry our State back into the Union. The
Democrats had made one effort and had failed, because they had offended
the dominant sentiment of the country by “Apprentice Laws,” and other
measures which virtually reduced the freedman to a state of slavery, and
by electing to the United States Senate a man who had presided over the
convention which carried Texas out of the Union. Because of this
failure, the Democrats, as a party, took no part in the second effort to
reconstruct the State, but divided, those of them who voted at all,
between the two Republican candidates.

Thousands of them sullenly refused to vote at all. It was therefore a
contest between _men and ideas_. _The questions were all new._ True,
there have been many State elections since then, but the results have
all been foregone conclusions, so that the younger generation of Texans
know nothing of the excitement, the strenuousness, the manliness, of a
real contest for the political control of a great State.

Davis and his party publicly denounced this constitution as being
“framed in the interest of rebels,” and swore to defeat it either before
the people or at Washington. Will the reader believe that a month later
these same men publicly declared _in favor_ of this same constitution,
and for E. J. Davis as their candidate for Governor under it? But that
is history.

Hamilton also became a candidate for Governor. Gen. J. J. Reynolds was
in command of the Department of Texas, and the elections were held under
military supervision. Although both candidates were Republicans, General
Reynolds and others secured the support of the national administration
and the Republican National Committee for the Davis faction.

This Reynolds, a stranger to the people of Texas, desired to make
himself United States Senator from the State, and with that purpose in
view, permitted the frauds which defeated Hamilton, and he (Reynolds)
declared Davis elected by a majority of only seven hundred votes,
several whole counties being denied by Reynolds the right to vote at
all. The Davis Legislature _did_, later on, elect this same J. J.
Reynolds to be Senator, but the Senate of the United States refused to
admit him, and he was subsequently suspended from the army by sentence
of a court-martial!

The State was admitted to the Union, Davis was inaugurated, and the
notorious Twelfth Legislature convened. I had the honor to be elected a
member of that memorable body, and also had the honor to be counted out
by Reynolds.




I do not know why it is that only in novels and posthumous writings do
men speak much of their wives, and even the novel usually _ends_ where I
think it should _begin_, with the marriage. The man who writes of his
own career usually treats the most important event of his life
incidentally or in a casual way, and if he praises any woman it is
usually his mother. I suppose there must be some good reason for this
general rule, and I deviate from it only to say that for a third of a
century my wife has been the best, the truest and the most constant
friend I have known, and if these writings shall have any interest for
even a few friendly readers, it will be largely due to the fact that she
is still by my side, aiding me with her intelligent criticism and her
finer fancy.

Well, on the 8th day of February, 1869, we were married, she, surrounded
by her family and the friends of her youth, and a few disappointed
beaux, and I, attended by Generals Canby and Carleton, with whom I had
served in the army, and the Hon. William P. Bacon, then Judge of the El
Paso District, who, though he encountered misfortune later on, was, I
believe, an honest man and a true friend. Camped in a grove near the
Hamilton residence was the “outfit” which had brought me from El Paso,
consisting of an ambulance made by Dougherty of St. Louis, especially
for such journeys over the plains, and much more comfortable and better
adapted for ladies and families than even the fine, large Concord stage
coaches. It would “make up” at night like a berth in a Pullman palace
car. My pair of fine, large Kentucky mules, “Seymour” and “Blair,” which
were mine for ten years, hauled us over this long route four different
times without fault or accident. “Johnnie,” my faithful, watchful driver
and companion, was on hand, and also a “Mozo” (Mexican servant) and a
saddle horse. My other team of four horses awaited us at Fort Stockton,
midway of the route, where the mules were to be left, to follow later to
El Paso. The ambulance was a little arsenal. I had a repeating rifle, a
shotgun and a pistol, and Johnnie a rifle and pistol.

The day after the wedding, I called on General Canby and asked for an
escort of ten infantrymen and a Government wagon and team. The soldiers
and our baggage and provisions were to ride in the wagon and the team
was to be changed at each military post. The General at first suggested
that I might take advantage of the escort of a certain army officer,
Captain ——, whom we had both known in New Mexico, and whom I had once
reported to the General as being unfaithful to his country. (I would not
have objected to an out and out Confederate.) When I declined to travel
with this gentleman, Canby replied: “Yes, I remember. You shall have an
escort of your own.”

And now we started westward over the long road of more than seven
hundred miles to our El Paso home, where my wife was to see no familiar
face except my own. But we had youth, and health, and hope, and
self-reliance, and a faith in human nature, which, I regret to say,
subsequent experience did not justify. But enough of that.

During the whole journey of twenty-three days we slept under a roof only
three nights, and usually made our camp away from the mail stations
(which could afford us no accommodations, anyhow), and in order to have
better pasture for the animals.

Here let me say a word in behalf of the much-abused mule. You have been
told that he will kick the hat off your head while you are on his back.
This is a slander. A horse will kick when he is violently and cruelly
treated, but a mule very seldom does, and ours were as gentle as pet
dogs. They roamed unfettered and untethered about the camp day and
night, but would come in at call.

On the Concho River we encountered herds of buffalo, now extinct in
Texas, not so many as I had often seen on the Northern plains, but
many—hundreds and thousands.

I never had the desire, as many had, to wantonly butcher these lubberly
animals, but almost every man has inherited the hunter’s instinct, and I
indulged it to some extent, making the excuse that we needed fresh meat,
as indeed we did.

Shooting antelope was far better sport, but these, like the buffalo and
the wild deer and the Indian, will soon be but traditions, and there
will be no frontier at all. Mrs. Mills had never seen an antelope, and
the first one I shot fell some distance from the ambulance, and I called
out, with some pride, “Send a couple of men to bring in this antelope.”
She repeated my command, mimicking my voice and manner, and then said,
“Why don’t you pick the thing up and bring it yourself?” She said she
supposed it was about the size of a jack-rabbit.

A few days later I alone killed three of these animals within three
hundred yards of our “train,” and _in less than half a minute_. There
were a hundred or more of them on the flat top of a little hill, and I
climbed to the top unseen, and with a repeating rifle fired into the
bunch at about thirty yards. They ran toward me, and I fired seven shots
in quick succession with the result given above. The frightened, crazy
herd of beautiful animals ran toward our little “train” and passed on
each side of it and the colored soldier fired about twenty shots at
them, but not one took effect. Although it was midwinter, the weather
was pleasant with the exception of two or three cold days. There was no
snow or rain on this whole trip.

At that time, thirty years ago, small bands of marauding Indians might
be expected almost anywhere, and particularly as we approached the Rio
Grande, and our chief care was to guard against surprise, which was
almost our only danger. We saw none on this journey, but we passed
several scenes of bloody tragedies, some of them quite recent. When we
descended into the valley of the Rio Grande I pointed to a Mexican
“jacál” and told Mrs. Mills that was the style of house we were to live
in. She was silent for a long time, but when we drove up to my
comfortable, well-furnished little home on San Antonio street, with the
shade trees in front, and she set her feet upon the first plank floor
ever laid down in El Paso, and saw the preparations which my good friend
and neighbor, Mrs. Zabriskie, had made for her reception and comfort,
she brightened up wonderfully.

Yes, other families also crossed these plains, but they were either army
people for whom the Government furnished teams and provisions and
attendants and protection, or others who traveled in the dusty rear of
some freight train at a speed of about ten miles a day. Our voyages were
mostly made independently, comfortably, and speedily, and without a
single accident. All depends upon thorough preparation, good judgment
and constant vigilance.

Mrs. Mills’ reception by the people of both races and on both sides of
the river was very flattering, and I am sure it was sincere, and we
spent nearly a year very happily at El Paso, but now (November, 1869) it
was thought best that I should return to Austin to assist General
Hamilton in his contest for the Governorship and control of the State.
We returned with the same outfit with which we had come, except that we
had no military escort, and Colonel Zabriskie went as our guest.

Soon after we left Fort Davis we saw far to our right a party of mounted
Indians, how many we could not tell, but certainly too many for our
small party. A company of infantry soldiers had left Fort Davis, going
eastward, an hour before we did, and we had passed them on the road, so
we knew they could not be far behind us, and we halted to await their
arrival. The Indians also halted and gave us a free exhibition of fancy
horsemanship and curious antics, until the gleaming rifles of the troops
appeared on the road, when they scurried away around the mountain. We
traveled in company with the soldiers until we reached Fort Stockton.

A year before I had sent five hundred gallons of wine of my own
manufacture to each of the military posts, Davis and Stockton, and on
arriving we found that it had all been sold at $5 per gallon, and Mrs.
Mills stuffed the greenbacks into her little handsatchel for future use.

The postmaster at Fort Concho, “Jim” Trainer, whom I had never seen, had
threatened to whip me on sight because he had been told that I had said
he gave false receipts to the Mail Company, as other postmasters had
done. After we got into camp near Concho I told my wife that I would go
up to the sutler’s store and see Mr. Trainer, and I remember her cheery
words to me as I walked away: “Look out for yourself!”

Arrived at the store I entered and asked for Mr. Trainer. A
good-looking, good-natured gentleman behind the counter replied that he
was the man, and when I told him who I was he hesitated awhile and then
invited me into the office, gave me a chair and a cigar, and after we
had chatted awhile he asked me if I knew he had intended to thrash me. I
told him yes, but that I had never spoken unkindly of him and did not
know anything about his acts as postmaster. He said he had been the
victim of liars, and presented me with a bottle of fine brandy and
wished me a pleasant journey. Trainer was not a coward but had been
played upon by my enemies.




When we arrived at Fredricksburg, sixty-five miles west of Austin, where
Mr. Zabriskie left us for San Antonio, we stopped at Nimmit’s Hotel for
a day’s rest, and Mrs. Mills and I were given a room upstairs. During
the day I met in the hall of the hotel Albert Kuhn, who has been
mentioned in my war story as the man who piloted the party of Texas
soldiers who kidnapped me in Juarez in 1861, and who had received the
reward for my capture. Kuhn had left El Paso with the Confederates in
1862, and I had not seen or heard of him for eight years. Kuhn was a
very large man of rough and almost frightful appearance, and prided
himself on being considered _bad_. He was a prototype of Mark Twain’s
“Mr. Arkansas.” We passed each other without speaking, but when we met a
second time in the back yard Kuhn said: “Mills, don’t you know me?” I
replied: “Yes.” “Then why didn’t you speak to me?” “Because I did not
wish to do so.” Kuhn then went to the bar and proceeded to get himself
drunk. I told “Johnnie” what had occurred and instructed him to harness
the team and be ready to proceed on our journey. I told my wife that
Kuhn was at the hotel and that there might be trouble. I went down
stairs again, armed, of course, and met Kuhn, but he made no
demonstration. Mrs. Mills and I then went to the ambulance, Johnnie
being already on the box, and Mrs. Mills got inside, but before I could
take my seat Kuhn appeared with a cocked pistol in his hand and swore
great oaths that if I did not get out he would kill me where I was.

What could I do? My wife was in as much danger as myself, so I attempted
to descend from the carriage and make the best fight possible, but Mrs.
Mills had more presence of mind than I, and catching hold of me she said
to Kuhn: “You cowardly murderer, would you kill a man in the presence of
his wife? Get away from here.” Kuhn said he had great respect for
ladies, but swore that he would kill me the first time we met. But we
never met. If we had my opinion is that the chances would have been
against him.

We drove only a few miles that evening and camped for the night about a
quarter of a mile from the road and thinking that Kuhn might follow, I
took position with my shotgun at a tree _near_ the road and waited to
give him both barrels of buckshot as soon as he should turn the corner
of the fence. My old friend, Judge Cooley of Fredricksburg, says that
Kuhn _did_ saddle his horse that night and swore he would follow and
kill me, but was restrained by others.

Now, what did this man want to quarrel with _me_ about? I was the one
who had been wronged. I give it up.

We arrived at Austin safe and well. The election resulted in the defeat
of the Hamilton party as related elsewhere, and I made a campaign of
several months in Washington City, where, though the wrong could not be
fully righted, I was of some service to some of our defeated friends,
and was somewhat successful in a business matter.



And now, April, 1871, we again turned our faces toward our El Paso home,
in the hope of recuperating in other business what we had lost in
politics, for my expenses had been very heavy.

I still held my town lots, and having faith in the future of El Paso I
took out a license as a real estate agent ten years before any one else.
“Seymour” and “Blair” and the ambulance were still on hand, and I
purchased another pair of very large mules (which we named “Insect” and
“Fairy”) and a wagon for our baggage, provision, etc., and employed two
Mexican drivers. “Johnnie” was absent this time, but the _Mozo_, Lorenzo
was still with us. The most important and interesting personage in our
party was Hamilton Mills, aged twelve months, who had joined our family
at Austin.

Governor Davis had given El Paso a new District Judge, S. B. Newcomb,
and a new District Attorney, J. P. Hague, neither of whom had ever been
heard of on the frontier. These and two adventurers asked permission to
join our party, which was granted, and these four “tenderfeet” made the
journey with us in a wagon drawn by two little mules. Our ideas as to
traveling over the plains were so different that we sometimes separated
for a day or night. They fondly believed that a “station” was a place
where warm meals and clean beds and forage for animals were to be had,
and their greatest anxiety was to “get in.” We depended upon our mess
chest for ourselves, and grassy camps for our animals, and fared much

Much depends upon selecting a good camp, and some of ours were very
pleasant, and even beautiful, so that we had the appearance of a picnic
party. I remember that sometimes we have made a long drive in order to
reach some remembered nook where we had spent a night on former
journeys, and we would drive into it with a feeling akin to coming home.

We reached the Pecos river at Horsehead crossing (where I had camped
twelve years earlier with the Boundary Commission) at daybreak one
morning. The river was swollen and the crossing dangerous. I first sent
a man across on horseback, and then placing my wife and child in the
ambulance I mounted the box and drove through the torrent, _leading the
way for the four adult male tenderfeet_. Their cries to us when we had
reached the western bank, “We can make it,” “We can make it,” were
intended to cheer us, but really it was not a matter of the greatest
importance to us whether they “made it” or not; and, could we have
foreseen the future we might have felt still more indifferent. It is but
fair to state that, later on Mr. Hayne forsook my enemies and became my
friend and remained so till his death.

And now, arrived at my home, came the most trying days of my life. Up to
this time the malignity of my enemies could affect only myself, but now
my wife and child must suffer also. There were never more than a dozen
of these enemies. They were composed of men of both political parties,
each of whom aspired to be the political leader of El Paso. They were in
full accord only in one aim—the political and personal ruin of W. W.
Mills. The Republicans reasoned thus: “We cannot _lead_ the Republican
party until we down Mills.” The Democrats reasoned thus: “We cannot
_defeat_ the Republican party until we down Mills!” They called
themselves the “Anti-Mills Party.”

In June, 1871, there appeared in all the Republican (radical) newspapers
of Texas to which these parties could gain access a most slanderous and
libelous publication against myself, purporting to be the resolutions of
a Republican convention of El Paso County, declaring me to be of
infamous character and “capable of all the crimes in the calendar.”

This document was signed by three Americans as “President” and
“Secretary” of the convention, and _purported_ to be signed by fifteen
of the most prominent Mexicans of the county, _all_ of whom were my
friends and _none_ of whom had ever attended any such “convention.”

I received written statements from _all_ of these Mexican gentlemen
declaring their friendship for me and denouncing the forgery of their
names. This crime was severely punishable by the laws of Texas, and the
punishment was double wherever the name of another person was used to
give respectability to the libel, and I could have caused these men to
have been arrested and carried to Austin and punished there, but now
that so many years have elapsed and these vicious and guilty men have
gone to their last account I do not regret that they escaped, and I omit
their names.

Simultaneously with the publication of the libel mentioned above there
appeared in all the accessible Democratic papers in the State a letter
signed “Victor” (B. F. Williams), containing the same slanders but
somewhat changed in form, showing concert of action.

Then Governor Hamilton wrote me a letter cautioning me against any
resort to violence and bidding me bide my time.

Then our little boy sickened and died, and Mrs. Mills’ health began to
fail, and as my enemies, nearly all of whom had received substantial
favors from me, showed no sign of relenting, we went again to Austin,
this time in the mail coach, carrying the remains of our first born in
the “boot,” to be buried at the Capital of Texas, where we hope also to
rest when life’s fitful fever is past.

But neither then nor at any time did we intend to abandon our El Paso

Two years later the beautiful little Mary, our second and last child,
died at Austin, and we laid her beside her brother. Then, indeed, our
skies were gray.



                     A. J. FOUNTAIN—MY WORST ENEMY.

In 1869 there arose a bitter controversy between myself and A. J.
Fountain, who had for several years been my special deputy in the
customs house at El Paso, which controversy attracted great interest on
this frontier, and even in Austin and Washington City. There was much
angry correspondence and an official investigation, but as I came out of
the contest unscathed I will content myself with publishing only one of
Fountain’s letters and “let it go at that.”

                                           EL PASO, TEXAS, May 13, 1869.


_My dear Sir_—The conversation I had with you last evening left upon my
mind the impression that you entertained a belief that I would oppose
you and your friends, politically, should your choice for the
Legislature in the coming contest fall upon some other person than
myself, and that I would endeavor to secure to my support cliques and
factions of our party, in this county, that are antagonistic to you, and
that to do so, I would be compelled to give pledges which, if carried
out, would result to your prejudice. If I am correct in my impression
(and I hope I am not), I regret very much that our years of intimate
acquaintance has made you know me only to doubt me.

I, therefore, desire to enter upon a full explanation of my feelings
towards you, not for the purpose of trying to secure your support or
influence in my behalf, but to disabuse your mind of any impression that
you may have that under any circumstances, whatever, I would place
myself in opposition to you. It is unnecessary for me to recapitulate
the circumstances under which we first became associated as friends. I
received from you a lucrative appointment, which I held some two years.
It is not on account of pecuniary obligations that I feel myself in
honor bound to stand your supporter to the last extremity. The year
previous to my coming to El Paso to live I had been engaged in an
enterprise which promised, if successful, a fortune. I had partners who
advanced a small portion of the original capital invested, and who, when
I was confined to my bed suffering for months from wounds received while
risking my life to advance their interest as well as my own, not only
robbed me of all I had, but slandered me to my friends to excuse their
conduct. Weak and poor as I was, I made them such a fight that they were
compelled to use the most despicable means to defeat me, and I
endeavored to find employment to support my children; they, having the
aid of men of influence who still were my friends and desired to assist
me, poisoned them against me by villainous lies and slanderous
misrepresentations of my conduct. They acknowledged that they endeavored
to poison _your_ mind against me when I had a prospect of again rising,
and that if you had not stood my friend they would have succeeded in
their threats of driving me from the country. It was then through your
interposition that these parties failed, and that I have had the
satisfaction of receiving humble apologies from some of them for the
wrong they did me. I was taught in my youth never to allow an insult to
pass unresented, never to forgive an enemy who deliberately injured me,
never to be ungrateful to one who befriended me. I believe that you were
my friend when I most needed one, you _shall never have cause to regret
that act_, and I would consider myself as great a villain as the world
contains, if _under any circumstances whatever_, I arraigned myself
among the number of your enemies, personal or political; or if I should
passively witness any attack upon your private or political character,
and not strike a blow in your defense. Whatever bad qualities I may
possess (and I know I have many faults) I am no _ingrate_. I consider
myself bound to support you whenever you require that support, and will
give you all the assistance in my power to enable you to accomplish any
object you have in view, and if you are not entirely satisfied that all
I do in this connection is to show my gratitude, I am indeed unfortunate
and can only wait patiently for time to prove my sincerity.

                                            Very respectfully,

                                                         A. J. FOUNTAIN.

The recent mysterious murder or disappearance of Fountain in New Mexico
renders further comment from me improper, except to state that very soon
after writing the above letter he became my bitter assailant and
traducer, and at the time _he wrote the letter_ he was secretly
conspiring with my most unscrupulous and most relentless enemies. His
malignity appeared to increase with the failure of every effort to do me




In 1871, when the Davis administration was in full power and the
notorious State police of that day were “rough riding” over the State,
one John Atkinson (of whom more anon) commanded that force in El Paso

I went, with my wife and brother, A. E. Mills, in my ambulance to attend
court at San Elezario, which was then the county seat. There was a State
law against carrying arms, “except when traveling,” and we went armed.
Immediately upon arriving at the county seat my brother and myself were
arrested by Atkinson and his police and taken from the ambulance,
leaving Mrs. Mills alone, and carried toward the jail. At that time the
Mexican people thoroughly hated Atkinson and his party, but were devoted
to me and my friends. There was some halting and parleying before we
reached the jail door, and we saw groups of Mexicans consulting here and
there and occasionally one with arms. I remember my brother whispering
to me: “These people will take us out of jail before morning, but we
will probably be dead.”

A Mexican, Maximo Aranda, who was justice of the peace, summoned
Atkinson to bring his prisoners before him, and immediately ordered our
release upon the ground that we were travelers and had a right to carry

That night I went alone and unarmed to the house of a respectable
citizen, where I had been invited to a party. I took a seat at one side
of the room. The District Judge, District Attorney, Sheriff and Clerk of
the Court, all enemies of mine, were dancing. When all were seated and
the music ceased Atkinson stood before me, one hand on his six-shooter
and the other in my face, and called me many pet names, the mildest of
which were “coward” and “liar,” and threatened to shoot me if I spoke or

I remained silent, and my assailant was called away. Presently Johnnie
Hale sat down beside me and whispered that he had two pistols and would
give me one if I would not use it unless attacked and would go away with
him. I accepted, and we left the house.

Court was in session, and the next day the grand jury presented an
indictment against Atkinson for aggravated assault. The District
Attorney declined to prosecute, and James A. Zabriskie volunteered to
take his place. Will the reader believe that that “carpetbag” Judge
(from Canada), appointed by Governor Davis to administer justice over a
people he had never seen or heard of, forbade Zabriskie to prosecute for
aggravated assault, and declared from the bench that he knew it was
merely a simple assault _because he witnessed it himself_! I take
pleasure in recording the fact that this Judge was removed from office
by the Legislature of Texas. Atkinson’s violent death is recorded in my
account of the San Elezario mob, and that of Johnnie Hale in the account
of the killing of Kramkrauer, Campbell, Hale and a Mexican at El Paso in



In February, 1872, we went in the stage coach from El Paso to Austin.
The party consisted of Mrs. Mills, myself, Charles H. Howard and a young
St. Louis lawyer named Bowman, who was taking his first lessons in
frontier life and customs.

If I desired to learn any man’s true character I would want to take a
long day and night journey with him in a stage coach. Want of sleep and
other annoyances, vexations and privations bring out at times all the
ill-nature and selfishness one may possess; and, again, when everything
goes smoothly and all are moving leisurely and silently over some long
stretch of prairie or plain and the weather is pleasant, men appear to
cast all cares and reserve to the wind and converse with each other more
frankly and confidentially than elsewhere. At least, that has been my
experience and observation.

Here and during other like experiences Mrs. Mills made the acquaintance
of the stage driver, a character difficult to describe and now almost

He possessed the courage of the soldier and something more. The private
soldier goes where he is told to march, and fights when he is ordered,
but he has little anxiety or responsibility; but the stage driver in
those times had to be as alert and thoughtful as a General. There was
not only his duty to his employers but his responsibility for the mails
(he was a sworn officer of the Government), but the lives of the
passengers often depended upon his knowledge of the country and of the
Indian character, and his quick and correct judgment as to what to do in
emergencies. Like the sailor, he was something of a fatalist, but he
believed in using all possible means to protect himself and those under
his charge.

Your stage driver was usually of a serious, almost sad disposition;
inclined to be reticent, particularly about himself and his former life,
and his surname was seldom mentioned by himself or his associates. He
was known as “Bill” or “Dave” or “Bobo” or “Buckskin,” or some such
sobriquet. When, however, he could be induced to talk about himself as a
stage driver his stories were always interesting and sometimes
thrilling. There was occasionally a liar among them, but most of them
had really experienced such serious adventures and “hair-breadth scapes”
that it was not necessary for them to draw upon their imaginations.

Rough, profane and unclean of speech among their own sex, they were
remarkably courteous to lady passengers and ever thoughtful of their
comfort and feelings, and more than once, on arriving at a station where
the drivers were to be changed, I have heard one whisper to another:
“Remember, Sandy, there is a little lady in the coach.” This was

During the most interesting portion of this trip we had two drivers,
“Uncle Billy,” who was going to San Antonio on leave, and “Bobo,” the
regular driver. They vied with each other in trying to make everything
pleasant for Mrs. Mills. They would prepare the high driver’s seat with
cushions and blankets and assist her to mount it, and for hours would
call her attention to points of interest or entertain her with stories
of their experiences, humorous or tragic.

One morning just after daybreak Bobo halted the coach and said:
“Gentlemen, get your guns ready; the prints of moccasined feet here are
as thick as turkey tracks.”

And so it was, and the tracks were fresh. A large party of Indians had
very recently crossed the road, but we saw nor heard more about them.

At “Head of Concho” we came upon a herd of buffalo, and, of course, we
dismounted and wantonly fired into them, with what effect I do not know,
except that some one wounded an immense bull so seriously that he became
angry or sullen and refused to run away as the others did. We, with our
deadly Winchesters, ceased firing at him, as he was of no use to us, but
not so with the young St. Louis lawyer. He wanted to do something that
he could tell about at home, and so he advanced upon the irate animal
with his little thirty-two calibre pistol, firing as he went. He was
encouraged and animated by the shouts of Bobo and Uncle Billy: “Charge
him, mister,” “You’ve got him,” “The next shot will fetch him,” etc.

Mrs. Mills said: “Why, Uncle Billy, that animal will kill the man! Call
him back!” Uncle Billy said: “Why, _of course_, he’ll kill him. Now you
just watch, and you’ll see fine fun. He’ll toss that little lawyer
higher’n the top of this coach.” And yet Uncle Billy and Bobo were not
cruel men.


                          SOME TEXAS LAWYERS.

In 1871 I held a judgment for $50,000 which I had obtained in the El
Paso District Court against a citizen of El Paso County for having
caused my arrest and imprisonment by the Confederates in 1861, as
related in my war story. This judgment being in full force and I being
in Austin, my friend, Major De Normandie, then Clerk of the Supreme
Court, introduced me to a prominent attorney of De Witt County, Texas,
who informed me that the defendant owned property in De Witt County out
of which my judgment, or a large portion of it, could be satisfied. I
implored this attorney to act for me in De Witt County, and on my return
home I sent him, at his request, a certified copy of the judgment and
received a letter from him dated June 7th, 1871, informing me that they
had written out a levy which they would proceed with in a day or two,
and requesting me to send them some money for costs, which I did. After
long delay I wrote this attorney, asking to be informed of the result,
and he replied that the whole proceeding was a failure because he had
dated the levy _on a Sunday_, which mistake vitiated the whole
proceeding and that my rights were lost.

He stated that “strange as it might seem” he had been led to make the
mistake by an error in an almanac in his office. As this attorney did
not suggest any remedy for his own blunder or institute any further
proceeding I concluded then, and believe now, that political prejudice
or some other unworthy motive had influenced him to act in bad faith
with his client. The attorney and the defendant were both Confederates
and Democrats, while I was a Union man and a Republican, and much bitter
feeling had grown out of the suit and the acts preceding and attending

I met this lawyer in Austin a year or so later, and he made no further
explanation except to affirm that it “made no difference, because the
Supreme Court had decided that my judgment was void.” As a matter of
fact, and of record, the Supreme Court had decided that the judgment was
valid. And here I will state a fact which I hope the reader will
remember when he comes to read the case following this one—_this
gentleman was later on elected a Judge of the Supreme Court of Texas_.

My judgment for $50,000 (mentioned in the preceding paragraphs) was in
1868, before the Supreme Court at Austin on writ of error or appeal, or
both, taken or claimed to have been taken from the District Court of El
Paso County by the defendant. A supersedeas bond for one hundred
thousand dollars _damages_, signed by John Hancock and Thomas J. Divine,
was filed with the Clerk of the Supreme Court by the appellant’s
attorney, whom I will not name here.

When this appeal came on for trial my attorney discovered to his
amazement that the words “thousand” and “damages” had been erased on the
face of the bond and the words “costs” inserted instead of the word

It is proper to explain to the non-professional reader that this fraud
and forgery changed the nature of the bond, so that if I gained the
case—and I _did_ gain it—I could recover from the sureties, who were
both wealthy men, only one hundred dollars “_costs_,” instead of the
full amount of the judgment, namely, fifty thousand dollars “_damages_.”
The Judges were, of course, astounded, and called the Clerk, Major de
Normandie, who being sworn testified that the record had been borrowed
by appellant’s attorney when it was in its original condition, and that
when it was returned the erasures and forgery were in the handwriting of
said attorney. The guilty attorney was present, but stood mute, offering
no explanation or excuse for his acts. The Court, at some length and
with strong indignation, rendered its decision dismissing the appeal and
leaving my judgment in full force, but the wrong to me had been done, so
far as the bond was concerned.

My loss was about forty thousand dollars.

If any one questions any of the above statements he will find abundant
proof in the Reports of the Supreme Court of Texas:

Hart vs. Mills, 31st Texas, page 304, and Hart vs. Mills, 38th Texas,
pages 513 and 517.

This thing was not done in a corner. Every attorney of that Court knew
the facts exactly as I have stated them, and it was a duty they owed to
themselves and to the profession to have disbarred the attorney, but he
stood fairly well socially and had been a “good” Confederate and
Democrat and I was only a frontiersman and Republican, and so _they
elected him a Judge of the Supreme Court of Texas_, as had been done
with the lawyer in the case mentioned above. I believe there is a legal
maxim, or a legal axiom, or a legal _fiction_, that there can be no
wrong without a remedy, and I am asked why I did not pursue the remedy.
Oh, I don’t know. I suppose every man of affairs has sometimes in his
life done or neglected things which he could scarcely explain afterward,
even to himself. I was seven hundred miles away, and my attorney was
well paid in advance for looking out for my interests, and unless he
choose to act I don’t think I could have broken the combination. There
are times when even the most energetic men become discouraged and weary
of strife, and for a time at least feel like letting things drift as
they may.

In 1873 I had a suit pending in court at El Paso involving the title to
valuable real estate, and I paid an El Paso attorney $800 to attend to

In my absence and without my consent this lawyer compromised me out of
court for a worthless consideration, and I lost the property. Of course,
I might have repudiated this compromise, but I was handicapped by the
fact that the property in question was held in trust for me by my
brother, E. A. Mills, and the lawyer had induced him, by claiming to
have authority from me, to re-convey the property; and the legal
machinery here at that time was such that I thought it hopeless to
litigate further.




When the Confederate forces left El Paso and the United States troops
took possession, in 1863, such of the county records as had been
preserved from destruction were by common consent delivered to me for
safe keeping, to be turned over to the proper county officers as soon as
such officers should be appointed or elected. This, and my long
residence here, gave me the opportunity of becoming the best informed
man in El Paso as to titles, boundaries, possession, etc., so that when
the railroads and the boom came and city lots became valuable and there
was a general shaking up and deciding of titles by many suits in the
courts, I was almost a standing witness. I verily believe that more of
these cases were decided upon my testimony than on that of any other
half dozen witnesses, and all this testimony was given without receiving
or expecting a dollar’s compensation. The juries believed me, and so far
as I know not even the most zealous lawyer ever questioned my testimony,
though there were some “keen encounters of wits.”

In one instance I saved to a certain litigant property on El Paso street
now worth fifty thousand dollars simply by producing an ancient deed
which I had had in my possession for twenty-five years and had
forgotten. The book, “Record of Deeds,” had been destroyed, but the
acknowledgment of the vendor was on the deed itself, and the suit was

I believe that in the main these cases were decided according to law,
which was the best that could be done; but if, as we are told, there are
certain eternal principles of right and justice, higher than those men
make for their own convenience, then surely these principles were
sometimes violated, for deserving men lost property which by such
principles should have been theirs by such trivial neglect as failing to
record a deed or to pay taxes or to preserve evidence of occupancy, or
some other fact, or worse still, by false testimony.


All Governments, including the Southern Confederacy, have written in
their statute books that whoever engages in rebellion or takes up arms
against their authority shall forfeit not only his property but his

I am glad now that my Government did not enforce these harsh penalties
against any of the Confederates.

In 1864 the United States District Judge for New Mexico, himself a
Southern man, held that his Court had the power to libel and confiscate
the real estate of such citizens of El Paso County, Texas, as were then
in arms against the United States. He based this claim upon an Act of
Congress approved March 3d, 1863, which provided that “The jurisdiction
of the United States Court for New Mexico is hereby extended over the
citizens of El Paso County only in cases not instituted by indictment.”

I, being Collector of Customs, had caused this act to be passed to
enable me to condemn and sell goods smuggled into El Paso County (there
being then no United States Courts in Texas). I am frank to say that I
did not then even dream of the confiscation of any one’s real estate.

The United States Attorney and Marshal for New Mexico came to El Paso
and libeled the property of certain leading Confederates and proceeded
against it in the United States Court at Mesilla, New Mexico, and
certain of these lands and lots were declared forfeited and were sold at
El Paso by the United States Marshal, and I purchased a portion of this
property, as did others. I paid the Marshal eighteen hundred dollars
good and lawful money therefor, and received and recorded his deeds.

I protected the property of some of my Confederate neighbors, Dowell’s
and Stephenson’s and others.

Along with what I purchased was a six-eighths’ interest in the El Paso
town tract belonging to the Gillett brothers, who were then absent with
the Confederate army; but some years later, when they returned to El
Paso and we patched up a peace, I proposed to them that if they would
join their title with mine I would pay their debts, amounting to a few
thousand dollars, which debts were a lien on the property, and we would
hold it share and share alike.

This they declined to do, and in the end they lost it all. So did I, for
years later the Supreme Court of the United States decided, _not_ that
the property was not subject to forfeiture, as all such property
certainly was, but simply that the Act of Congress referred to did not
confer the jurisdiction claimed by the Court at Mesilla.

Without a murmur I reconveyed all the property to the original owners
and lost the eighteen hundred I had paid the Marshal.

Then the Gillett’s creditors sold them out. I had held possession of the
town tract and paid taxes on it for five years.

It has been said that I purchased the property of Simon Hart at the
confiscation sale. That is not true. I purchased that property at
Sheriff’s sale on a judgment for false imprisonment, which I obtained
against Hart in a Texas court, which judgment was twice affirmed by the
Supreme Court of Texas.

In 1871 I was the owner of a portion of Franklin Heights, of the city of
El Paso, then known as Hart Survey, No. 9.

Being in Washington City I met my friend, Gen. Robert B. Mitchell, and
gave him a power of attorney to sell the property. He sold to different
purchasers, to the amount of $14,000, and we divided the proceeds share
and share alike.

The property was then considered valueless by those who knew less than
we did, but it is now worth forty-fold what we received for it. Among
the purchasers were George W. Gray of Washington City and one Peck of
Kansas, and others.

The recording of the deeds in El Paso County aroused the jealousy and
hatred of my El Paso enemies, and, heedless of what harm they might do
to others so long as there was a prospect of injuring me, they wrote the
purchasers that I had no title to Survey No. 9, that the property was
worthless, and that I was a swindler.

It is strange that the purchasers took these statements at par, and
instead of investigating or communicating with me they sued me in
Washington City for the purchase money, charging fraud, and got service
on me there. I demurred them out of court, and came home, and being
angry with the purchasers I paid no further attention to them or their

None of them, ever asserted their rights to the property, WHICH THEY

These strange facts being of record in El Paso County have caused a lot
of talk, and many a lawyer has believed he had made an important
discovery and has had visions of profitable litigation. I have been
interviewed about this transaction one hundred times, more or less.




After the war I and my El Paso friends became involved in a bitter
contest with the San Antonio and El Paso Mail Company, which continued
for several years.

At that time the great lines of railroads were reaching out toward the
west and southwest, and many mail routes, hundreds of miles in length,
were preceding them. These mails were carried in stage coaches,
buckboards and on horseback. Millions were expended annually by the
Government for this service, and it was harvest time for the two wealthy
companies who monopolized the larger routes, the above named company in
Texas and another company in the northwest.

This Texas company failed year after year to deliver the mails at El
Paso according to their contract, and our people were practically
without mail facilities, which was a great privation, and the people
complained to the Post Office Department but without avail, because the
wealthy company had powerful influence with some of its high officials
and a strong lobby in Washington City. Then the El Paso merchants and
people held an indignation meeting, denounced the company and appointed
Col. Jas. A. Zabriskie and myself to represent them at Washington, and
after taking much testimony all along the line we went on our mission at
our own expense.

After a careful investigation in Washington City, during which we found
more rottenness than we had dreamed of, and in higher places than we had
suspected, we secured a hearing before the joint committee of Congress
on Retrenchment, composed of seven Senators and fourteen Representatives
and the contest began.

Zabriskie and Mills for the complainants, “the prosecution,” and the
distinguished Judge Pascal of Texas, and the still more distinguished
Jere Black of Maryland for the Mail Company, “the defense.” It was a “go
as you please” contest. Three days were consumed in reading testimony,
in quarreling and in arguments before that distinguished court or jury,
and I flatter myself that we youths from the frontier held our own with
these veterans of the Washington bar. (At least I am as proud of what I
did there as the average young El Paso lawyer is when he wins a cow case
against a railroad or makes a free silver speech.) I had recently been
“suspended” as Collector at El Paso, and I charged that the Mail Company
had employed Pearson & Williams at El Paso as scavengers to hunt for
charges against me.

F. P. Sawyer, the principal man of the Mail Company, was present and
took the stand and denied this charge, and stated that “out of
consideration for others” he had tried to have me retained in office. On
cross examination I led him to repeat these statements _most solemnly_,
and then handed to Senator Patterson, the Chairman, the original of the
following letter, which he read aloud to the committee:

                                             “Washington, June 2d, 1869.

“W. M. Pearson, Esq., El Paso, Texas.

“Dear Sir: Yours of the 10th instant was this A. M. received and already
placiet in Secretary Boutwell’s hands to strengthen those already on
file in his office which has as I suppose you have hird removed the
greatest man in the U. S. as per his own opinion. I think this last
affidavit of Mr. Wardwell’s is a clincher. You have done your duty
manfilly & have no doubt have done that People of that western county a
great and lasting good. I have written you several letters to El Paso
suppose you have them all. Yours very truly,

                                                “(Signed) F. P. Sawyer.”

The scene was somewhat dramatic. There was no attempt to deny the
authenticity of the letter. I was not in a merciful mood. Never mind
what I said. That millionaire perjurer left that committee room weeping
like a child.

Colonel Zabriskie’s speech before those potent, grave and reverend
Señors was as fine a piece of oratory as one would wish to listen to.
Our victory was complete. The unanimous report of the joint committee,
dated April, 1870, is before me, but it is too long for publication here
and I will condense it conscientiously. They say: “The committee find
that in July, 1867, a contract was awarded to E. Bates for carrying a
weekly mail between San Antonio and El Paso, Texas, seven hundred miles,
for thirty-three thousand dollars a year; and they find that without
warrant of law and without giving other bidders any opportunity to
compete, this compensation was in eighteen months increased from $33,000
to $333,617! This was done by adding new routes, some of them longer
than the original one and running at right angles to it and increasing
the number of trips and ‘expediting’ the ‘speed.’ They say: “Charges
were made that the service was not perfectly performed and that the
contractor had wholly failed to perform his contract, and there is no
doubt in the minds of the committee that these charges were
substantially true up to the latter part of 1868. It is also charged
that the Mail Company had sufficient influence with some of the
postmasters to procure from them false certificates of the arrivals of
the mails. The committee find that —— ——, postmaster at El Paso, Texas,
certified that out of thirty-seven mails due at El Paso for a certain
period, only ten ever arrived, and subsequently sent to the Department a
certificate stating that all of the thirty-seven mails had arrived on
time. For this and other reasons the committee recommend his dismissal.
All the evidence concurs that the mails in Texas are so unsafe that no
one dare trust money to them.” The report says: “In making these
increases of service and compensation the Postoffice Department seems to
have given great weight to the representations of Judge Paschel, State
Agent of Texas, probably not knowing that he was also the attorney of
the Mail Company and himself interested in the contract.” The report
says: “It is evident that much feeling exists and powerful influences
are interested both for and against the Mail Company.” I know of no
“powerful influence” _against_ the Mail Company unless the committee
refer to Zabriskie and myself, for we were alone in that contest.

Well, the result was a curtailment of the Mail Company’s compensation by
several hundred thousand dollars during the years for which they claimed
the contracts, and a saving to the Government of an equal sum, and
finally a return to something like fair and honest dealing in letting of
such contracts.

While we were making our fight on the Mail Company of the Southwest, as
above related, Col. Joe McCibbin was attacking a company who had by the
same means monopolized the main routes in the Northwest, and he was
trying to expose their frauds. Though acting independently, we
sympathized and sometimes consulted with each other, and became fast
friends. McCibbin was a man of fine ability, had been a member of
Congress from California and in 1856 had been the second to Senator
David C. Broderick of that State in the duel with Judge David S. Terry,
in which the brilliant Senator was killed. McCibbin bore a striking
resemblance to and in his manner was much like my friend, the elder Dr.
Samaniego of Juarez. His fight was not concluded when we left
Washington, and on my return a year or two later I asked him how it had
terminated. He replied: “Oh, I am on the inside. I am the attorney for
the Mail Company and am well paid for my services. You and Zabriskie had
better get in. You can easily do so, and it don’t pay to fight other
people’s battles. You get neither money nor thanks.”

McCibbin then told me that the Mail Company had paid him $20,000 in cash
to stop the fight, and were then paying him $10,000 per year as their
Washington attorney. I would not state what McCibbin told me had he not
later on made the same statement under oath to a committee of Congress
and boldly defended his conduct. Did he do wrong? I don’t know. His was
a free lance. I sometimes envy the happy ignorance of those who tell me
that they always know exactly what is right and wrong.

Yes, Zabriskie and I could have “got in,” but we did not.



I could fill a book larger than the one I am writing with true stories
of Indian raids and fights and massacres and captivities on this
frontier, but I refrain.

In my war story I gave an account of one of the most desperate fights,
where one who was kin of mine died, fighting bravely but hopelessly, and
I will briefly mention here that final “round up” of the hostile savages
of this section, the capture of Victorio and his band by the combined
troops of our country and Mexico, within forty miles of El Paso, just
twenty years ago. I give here an extract from a letter I wrote from El
Paso to Mrs. Mills at Austin, dated September 24th, 1880, as follows:
“If I had of late jumbled my accounts of Indians and war and politics
and killings and adventures and anecdotes all into one letter I might
have written one that would have interested all the good people at Fair
Oaks, ‘Chicos y Grandes.’ I wrote you from Fort Davis that the Indians
were gone. They were gone to the Candelerio Mountains, forty miles south
of Quitman, and they are there yet. Since then they have stolen two
herds of cattle from Dr. Samaniego, fifty miles from El Paso, killing
the herders. Yesterday a small band crossed the river at the Canutilla,
sixteen miles above here. Three days ago our troops and friendly Indians
crossed here into the land of God and Liberty to concentrate with other
forces who crossed below and above, to make a combined attack on
Victorio _today_. But the wiley chief may not be there. Considering the
number of his braves, he is the greatest commander, white or red, who
ever roamed these plains. For more than a year he has out-manoeuvered
our officers with six times his number and all the appurtenances of war,
and when he has not out-generaled them he has _whipped them_. In sober
truth, he is the veriest devil ‘that ere clutched fingers in a captive’s

(I regret that neither at the War Department at Washington nor elsewhere
have I been able to obtain an official account of the defeat of
Victorio’s band. The fight took place at Tres Castillas, southeast of El
Paso. Only the Mexican soldiers happened to be in at the death, although
our troops rendered valuable assistance on both sides of the boundary
line in getting Victorio into a position where he was forced to fight
either our troops or the Mexicans. Victorio and a hundred warriors were
killed on the field and as many Indians were made prisoners. Col.
Juaquin Terrazas of Chihuahua, a brave and skillful Indian fighter,
commanded the Mexican troops.)




On a fine autumn day, thirty years ago, on El Paso street, where the
Mundy Block now stands, Gaylord J. Clarke and B. F. Williams were shot
to death within a few moments of each other and within a few feet of
each other.

In order that the reader may understand the causes which led up to these
tragedies I will give a brief sketch of the career of each of the four
men most directly connected with the quarrel or quarrels and their
relation to each other and to the writer. Clarke was a New York man who
had been my college chum, and the most intimate friend of my early
manhood. At the age of twenty-four he was elected to a _State_ office in
New York. Later he had gone to Nebraska in the hope of some day
representing that _State_ in the United States Senate. In 1867 he wrote
me that he had failed in everything and was destitute. I sent him the
means to come to El Paso, gave him an appointment in the Customs House,
and later I sent for his wife and child. Clarke was a scholar, a lawyer
and at the time of his death was Judge of the El Paso District. He was a

B. F. Williams came to El Paso about the time that Clarke came. He was
also a lawyer, had served in the Confederate army and was a Democrat.

Albert H. French was a Boston man, who had gone to California in his
youth and had come to El Paso in 1863 as a Captain of California
Volunteers, had married there and was a peace officer of the county.

A. J. Fountain has been mentioned elsewhere in these pages.

The quarrels grew out of an election held about a year previous, in
which Clarke and French supported Hamilton for Governor and myself for
the Legislature; Fountain and Williams leading the opposition. The
county seat was at San Elizario, and the whole county voted there, the
election lasting four days, and was held under military supervision. I
here show what occurred. Judge French wrote me:

                                  “After the battle, December 4th, 1869.

“Dear Mills: We won the election, but the first night, we having one
hundred and forty-three to their forty-eight votes, they opened the box
and scratched our one hundred and forty-three votes for themselves.
Fountain’s name represents yours on the scratched tickets. I have sworn
two hundred and seventy-seven men who voted for you. You got only one
hundred and thirty-four as counted. Yours,


(French was at the time County Judge.)

Clarke wrote me from El Paso, I being at Austin assisting in the
management of Hamilton’s campaign:

“Whole number of Hamilton tickets polled, two hundred and seventy-three;
number as declared by registrars, one hundred and twenty-two. A majority
of our tickets were scratched clear through and changed to Davis
candidates. As ever yours,

                                                    “Gaylord J. Clarke.”

Lieutenant Verney, who presided over this election, was for other
offences dismissed from the army a few years later. Our Legislative
District, which had three Representatives, was comprised of a dozen
counties and extended from El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico. Col. Nelson
Plato of Brownsville and myself were running as Independent Republicans
on the Hamilton ticket, and were fairly elected by the people, but the
fraud in El Paso County and other places defeated us and gave the seats
to those called “Regular Republicans.”

Davis was inaugurated Governor and Fountain was all powerful at the
State Capital.

But now trouble began for the victors. Williams believed that by
supporting Davis and Fountain and aiding to defeat and otherwise injure
me he had earned the Judgeship of the El Paso District, which was at the
disposal of Fountain. But Fountain, always inexplicable, had other
plans. He conceived an idea that it would be a good move to placate at
least one gentleman and at the same time win away from me my friend, and
so, to the surprise of everybody, he tendered the Judgeship to Clarke,
and it was accepted.

It has been falsely stated that Clarke forsook me for office, but I
quote here a brief note from him, written to me _after_ he became Judge:

“Dear William: There are some things I would give much to talk to you
about, but dare not write. They concern me closely and you, so far as
regards your interests in this valley, but I defer them. When will you
return home? Direct your letters for me _under cover_ to D. C. B., Fort
Davis. As ever yours, Gaylord.”

The directing of letters “under cover” to mutual friends was to prevent
their being stolen by the El Paso postmaster, who was of the Fountain

Williams, by no means a well-balanced man, became furious and desperate
at what he claimed to be, and what probably was, bad faith. He was
particularly bitter toward Fountain and Clarke. He drank deeply and
threatened terribly, and in his ravings declared that he had helped to
“down” a better man than either of them.

In this state of mind on the day mentioned Williams went into Dowell’s
saloon and fired a pistol shot at close range at Fountain’s left breast.
Fountain’s life was saved by his watch and his legs. He ran to Judge
Clarke’s house and asked protection and demanded that Williams be
immediately arrested. Clarke was a firm believer in “the majesty of the
law.” He summoned a posse, consisting of E. A. Mills, John Evans,
Johnnie Hale, John Gillett and J. A. Zabriskie, the District Attorney,
and went to Williams’ quarters where Williams, being inside, had locked
and bolted all the doors. French was there as a policeman. He went to
the rear of the house to prevent Williams from escaping that way.
Admittance being refused, the posse commenced to batter down the door.
Then Williams came out, bare-headed, and leveled his shotgun at Judge
Clarke, who stood very near. Clarke did not move, but said two or three
times: “Don’t you dare, Williams! Don’t you dare!” Williams fired and
Clarke staggered a few steps toward his home, then fell and died in a
few moments without speaking. French, hearing the shot, came immediately
upon the scene, and finding Williams still armed and running “_amuck_,”
shot him twice with his pistol, and Williams died in about an hour.



In 1877 but before the coming of the first railroad to El Paso and when
the population had increased but little beyond what it was in the
“sixties,” there arose a bitter feud between two remarkable men, Lewis
Cardis and Charles H. Howard, which resulted in the killing of both
leaders and many other tragedies and agitated the people of the valley
as nothing else ever did before or since.

Out of this local trouble evil-minded persons sought to manufacture
excitement in Texas and throughout the country about a “war of races,”
“organized invasion from Mexico,” and to involve the two countries in
war. Cardis was an Italian who had served as an officer in Garibaldi’s
army in his youth, and had resided for several years at El Paso as a
merchant and contractor, and knew the Spanish language and the Mexican
character perfectly. He had been my lieutenant in political affairs
during the sixties and early in the seventies he had, with my consent,
succeeded me as the friend, adviser and leader of the Mexican people of
the valley but was not so successful with the Americans.

Howard had come later from Texas. He was a lawyer and had served in the
Confederate army. He was a man of imposing appearance, powerful physique
and wonderful determination and courage, or rather recklessness. A
friend of mine recently told me that the first time he saw Howard,
although he knew nothing about him, _he feared him_. Howard’s chief
characteristic was _force_; that of Cardis was persuasion and
management—a natural diplomat. Howard was a Democrat, Cardis was a

I was absent at the Capital of the State during the tragic month of
which I am writing, but I knew both the parties well and was well
informed of the nature of their quarrels. I had been intimate with
Cardis for several years at El Paso. Howard had been my attorney, and I
and my wife had once made the journey of eight days and nights from El
Paso to Austin with him in the stage coach and he and I had returned to
El Paso together in the same way. Besides, during several months
preceding the tragedies each of them wrote me several letters
complaining of the other, and each invoking my influence with the other.
I still retain these letters, and I have before me as I write all the
testimony taken by a United States Commission, consisting of Colonels
King and Lewis of the regular army, which was appointed to investigate
and report upon the _emente_. Howard had located some salt lakes about
one hundred miles northeast of El Paso, from which (being on public
land) the Mexicans had for many years taken salt free of cost. They were
indignant at his action, and some of them threatened to take salt as
before, but so far none of them had committed any lawless act. Howard,
having influence with the county officials, caused the arrest and
imprisonment of two prominent Mexicans at San Elezario for these
threats. This was September 10th, 1877. A party of forty or fifty armed
Mexicans at San Elezario forcibly released their two countrymen, and in
turn arrested Howard and the County Judge, and organizing a Court of
their own tried them for wrongs (real or supposed) done to them and
their American friends, and possibly might have dealt severely with them
had it not been for the intercession of Louis Cardis and the Parish
Priest. As it was they extorted from him a promise and bond that he
would leave the county never to return. Of course, this was lawlessness,
but no more so than defrauding people of an election fairly won, or many
other things which are common. Howard then went to New Mexico and “fired
the Texas heart” with many telegrams about lawless work, war of races,
invasion from Mexico, etc., etc. He charged that Cardis was the chief
conspirator and marplot who had created all the trouble and had sought
to have him (Howard) assassinated.

Howard called on Governor Hubbard for protection. There was great
excitement throughout the State. Howard returned to El Paso and on the
10th of October, 1877, while Louis Cardis was writing a letter in the
store of Joseph Schutz, Howard walked in with a shotgun and immediately
shot him dead.

Now comes the most strange and pathetic part of this story. The people
of San Elezario were threatening to kill Howard if he returned to that
village, and the letter which Cardis had just finished and placed in his
breast pocket was written to the leaders of that people pleading with
them to refrain from all violence toward Howard and all others. This
letter was bespattered with Cardis’ blood! I print the letter below,
together with some extracts from Cardis’ diary for the few days
preceding his death, and also an affidavit of Adolph Krakaner, an
eye-witness of the assassination:

                                    “El Paso, Texas, October 10th, 1877.

“Friend Cipriano: The notice having been circulated by telegraph and in
the newspapers that our county had risen against the Government and that
the same had been invaded by armed people of the Republic of Mexico,
General Hatch, commander of troops on this frontier, sent Lieutenant
Rucker to investigate whether or not it is true that the property of the
United States and the lives of the citizens of the United States are in
danger on account of the afore-mentioned invasion, but the lieutenant
nor his soldiers have neither the orders nor the wish to molest the
citizens of this county, except to investigate the case and make his
report to the General.

“The false notices that are in circulation are not worth anything, if
the people will continue to do as advised by their friends. Tranquillity
and peace and the truth will manifest itself in time. * * * Your friend,
in haste,

                                                  (Signed) Louis Cardis.

“P. S.—Do not pay any attention to the slanders that you hear against
me, and my life. Let the people remain tranquil and we will get justice,
and this is what we wish and need no more.

                                                                  L. C.”

A true copy.

                            (Signed) John S. Lond,
                            First Lieutenant and Adjutant Ninth Cavalry,
                            Acting Assistant Adjutant General.

(Extract from the diary of Louis Cardis, found on his body after his
death at the hands of Howard. The diary is pierced through and through
with buckshot.)

“October 1st, P. M.—Was told by Mr. Lujan that Juarez had been
incarcerated by order of G. M. Garcia for having said he intended to go
to the salt lakes, and that warrants for his (Lujan’s) arrest had been
issued, and for the arrest of four others.

“October 2.—J. R. Mariani informed me that the people took up arms,
arrested G. M. Garcia and Howard, and asked me to go to San Elezario and
use my influence to pacify the excited people, which I did. Found the
people very much excited against Howard only. I begged for his life with
all my might and left San Elezario at about 3 o’clock A. M. on 3d after
being satisfied that the people had taken my advice to let Howard and
all the rest free. Arrived at El Paso 9 A. M. after twenty-six hours of
no rest or sleep. On the 4th, at night, Howard arrived here at El Paso
escorted by eight of the people, and on the 5th A. M. Howard left (I am
told) for New Mexico.”

                     AFFIDAVIT OF ADOLPH KRAKANER.

“I am the bookkeeper of S. Schutz & Bro., merchants at El Paso, Texas,
who are also agents of the Texas and California Stage Company, of which
Louis Cardis, deceased, was a sub-contractor, running the U. S. mail
between this point and Fort Davis, Texas; hence Cardis had more or less
transactions with the firm and came frequently into the store and
office. On Wednesday, the 10th day of October, 1877, between 2 and 3
o’clock P. M., Louis Cardis, deceased, came into the office, requesting
me to write a letter, which he wished to send down to Ysleta and San
Elezario. He (Cardis) took a seat in a rocking chair standing near by,
with his back turned toward the store door—the main entrance of the
establishment. While I was writing the letter, which occupied my whole
attention, Judge Charles H. Howard came into the store, and when Mr.
Jos. Schutz, a member of the firm of S. Schutz & Bro., who was sitting
at a little table in the office, saw Howard, who had a double-barreled
shotgun in his hand, he left his seat and walked up toward Howard,
saluting him in a loud voice, thus: “How do you do, Judge Howard?” This
salute caught the attention of Cardis, who was yet seated in the rocking
chair, and he turned his face toward the store door. He (Cardis) seeing
Howard, left the chair, passed behind me (I was sitting at the desk
writing), and took a position behind the high office desk. Mr. Schutz,
seeing Howard raise his gun, in a harsh and exciting tone exclaimed:
“Krakaner, come away from there!” I at once dropped the pen, got up from
the office chair and was by no means slow in trying to reach the door.
While I passed the place where Mr. Schutz stood I heard the latter say:
“Don’t shoot here, Judge; respect my house and my family.” The moment I
reached the door I heard the discharge of a gun and another one
following in quick succession. Howard left the store at once, walking
slowly down the street toward his house. When I went back into the
office I found Cardis lying dead at the same place (behind the high
desk), where I left him a few seconds previously alive. The desk behind
which Cardis sought protection did only cover the upper part of his
body; from the navel down to his feet his body was exposed to Howard.
The latter, standing behind a showcase about forty feet from the place
where Cardis stood, fired the first shot under the desk, the balls
(buckshot) taking effect in the abdomen; Cardis then staggered, exposed
his breast and received Howard’s second shot in the heart.

“The time elapsed between my leaving the desk and the firing of the
first shot was but a few seconds. There was not a word spoken between
Howard and Cardis. When Cardis’ body was removed from the place where he
fell his pistol was found in the scabbard and was cocked.

“I omitted to state that to my knowledge Howard had not been in the
store for a period of about nine months prior to this shooting affray.

“El Paso, Texas, January 31st, 1878.

                                                          “A. Krakaner.”

Howard again fled to New Mexico, and on October 25th wrote the Governor
again about the terrible “mob” in El Paso County, the peril of all
Americans, and closed by saying: “If the Governor don’t help us I am
going to bushwhacking.” He forgot that during the whole trouble he had
been the only man who had shed any blood.

Howard returned to El Paso early in December. Lieut. John B. Tays was
then in command of about twenty State troops (Rangers) then in El Paso
County. Tays was a foreigner, an alien and a bitter partisan. I quote
the opening lines of Tays’ report of the bloody tragedies which
followed, in order that the reader may have some idea of the
lieutenant’s conception of his duty. He says: “By request of Mr. Howard
I sent an escort to El Paso on the 13th inst., as he wished to come to
San Elezario on business. He rode down to San Elezario in the ranks.” If
“all Americans” were in danger, why was one man _only_ selected to be
protected by the Rangers?

Howard had tempted fate too far, and his day had come. But the bloody
sequel shall be told in the language of another. Capt. Thos. Blair of
the United States army, was on the ground with a detachment of regular
soldiers, but to “interfere in the domestic affairs of a sovereign
State” would offend the political sensibilities of many.

(President Cleveland was later on repudiated by his party for
interfering with the pastime of a mob at Chicago.)

True, Governor Hubbard had had the good sense to call on President Hayes
for assistance, and it had been granted, but unfortunately the order had
not yet reached the Captain. Captain Blair, in his official report,

“As soon as Howard arrived in San Elezario the town was surrounded by a
cordon of armed men (Mexicans) and pickets posted on all roads. As soon
as Tays saw the state of affairs he and his party retreated to their
quarters (which was a detached building with corral) and barricaded the
doors and windows and cut port-holes in the walls. On Thursday morning
the firing began, and continued with but few intermissions until the
Rangers surrendered on Monday forenoon. Mr. Ellis, a merchant, was the
first one killed; that was on Wednesday night. When the tumult began he
went out to find out what it was, and not stopping when halted by one of
their sentinels, was shot. Afterward his throat was cut and his body
thrown into an acequia. On Thursday morning Sergeant Mortimer, of the
Rangers, was killed while making his way to the building where the
others were posted. The Rangers consisted of just twenty men, I believe.
With them in the building were Howard and his colored servant, Mr.
Atkinson, a merchant of San Elezario, a Mr. Loomis from Fort Stockton, I
believe, and Mrs. Campbell, the wife of one of the Rangers, and her two
children. After hearing that I had been inside Mrs. Marsh and Mrs.
Campbell went down from El Paso on Sunday morning. Mrs. Marsh got out
her son, who was with the Rangers, but the Mexicans disarmed him and
retained him prisoner. Mrs. Campbell got out her daughter-in-law and her
two children. The Ranger party on Monday found that they could not hold
out much longer, the men were being overcome by sleep, and under a flag
of truce went out and had a talk with the leaders, who told them if they
would give up Howard it was all they wanted. This he refused to do. They
then said that if Howard would come out he could soon make arrangements
by which it would be all right. Tays returned and told him so, but told
him also not to go unless he wanted to do so, that he would defend him
to the last man. Howard returned with Lieutenant Tays to the leaders.
However, after some talk they asked Tays to leave Howard to them and go
into another room, which he refused to do, whereupon he was seized by
about a dozen men and carried out and then found that all his party had
surrendered at the instigation of Atkinson (it is said).

“During the afternoon Howard, Atkinson and McBride, Howard’s agent, were
all taken out and shot. A strong effort was made by the more violent of
the party, and by those from the other side, to have all the Americans
shot, but Chico Barela opposed this (it), said there had been enough
blood shed, and that only after they had killed him could any more
Americans be killed. Tuesday forenoon they were released, each one
having his horse returned to him, but their arms were retained. Some of
the Rangers with whom I have talked inform me they were all asked
whether they were employed by the Governor of Texas or by Howard, and
then each one was required to sign a blank paper. They were escorted as
far as Sorocco by a guard.

“The mob is estimated by Lieutenant Tays at not less than five hundred,
many of the leaders being from the other side. The loss was five
Americans killed and at least one Mexican, belonging to a party under
Captain Garcia, who tried to assist the Americans. The losses on the
side of the mob are unknown, but at least five or six are known to have
been killed and a large number, not less than forty or fifty, wounded.”

_During_ the siege Captain Blair held several conferences with the
Mexican leaders, which he relates as follows:

“I found the people much excited over the fact that Howard, who had
taken a life, was permitted to go at large, while two of their number
who had only _said_ that they would go for salt to his ‘salinas’ had
been arrested, tried and sentenced to imprisonment. They said Howard had
killed their friend Cardis, and they would have his life, cost what it
might. I found their force to consist of about three hundred and fifty
sober, well-organized, well-armed, determined men, with a definite
purpose. Howard they wanted, nothing less, nothing else. I told them I
thought they would regret their course, that for Howard personally I
cared nothing, but I would be sorry if anything happened to Lieutenant
Tays. Yes, they said, but why was he defending Howard?”

                  *       *       *       *       *

The object for which the Mexicans had armed and assembled being
accomplished, they disbanded, seeking no more blood. They killed Howard
because he had killed Cardis, their friend and leader. They had known
Atkinson for fifteen years, and they killed him _on general principles_.

The killing of McBride was inexcusable murder. Ellis, the merchant, was,
I believe, murdered by some personal enemy who took advantage of the
turbulence to gratify private vengeance. Sergeant Mortimer, the only
ranger who lost his life, was killed in the fight. Five were killed in
all. All the other unfortunates were citizens who had exasperated the
people by voluntarily attaching themselves to Howard’s fortunes. There
_were_ some Mexicans, many or few, from the Mexican side of the river,
who came as the commission report, “some to fight and some to steal,”
but there was no “organized invasion.” Considerable property was taken
or destroyed, but the _object_ of the uprising was always clearly
stated, and that object was _not_ plunder.

The good feeling which has usually existed between the two races in the
valley was soon restored, and no one has ever been punished for
participation in this deplorable _emente_.

                            THE AFTER MATH.

It is not pleasant to have to write of what occurred after the mob had
dispersed, and therefore I will be brief. The regular force of Rangers
had behaved well and obeyed orders, but now Governor Hubbard ordered
that an additional force should be recruited at Silver City, New Mexico,
to assist the authorities and restore order in El Paso County. About
thirty came. Of these the Judge Advocate General of the Army reviewing
the testimony says:

“Many outrages were committed on innocent people in the neighborhood
during the excitement, but of these not a few were perpetrated by
members of the State force raised in New Mexico under authority of the
Governor of Texas. These last seem especially to be responsible for the
rapes, homicides and other crimes of which the people justly complain.”

The United States Commissioners, Colonels King and Lewis, before whom
all the testimony was given, say:

“On December 22d, another small force of about thirty men arrived from
Silver City, who had been called into temporary service under
telegraphic instructions from the Governor, but unhappily, as was
natural and according to experience in raising volunteers along the
border, when the exigencies of the occasion does not permit that delay
which a wise discrimination in the choice of material would cause, the
force of Rangers thus suddenly called together contained within its
ranks an adventurous and lawless element, which, though not predominant,
was yet strong enough to make its evil influence felt in deeds of
violence and outrage matched only by the mob itself. Notable among these
atrocities should be classed the shooting of two Mexican prisoners, who
were bound with cords when turned over to the guard at Ysleta,
ostensibly to bury the bodies of Howard, Atkinson and McBride, then
lying in the fields of San Elizario, and when next seen, about an hour
after, were pierced with bullet holes, their appearance giving rise to
grave apprehension in unprejudiced minds that their death was ‘neither
necessary nor justifiable.’ Another was the killing of the Mexican and
the wounding of his wife in a house in Socorro, through the door of
which a shot had, it was said, been fired, and, being a spent ball, had
struck without hurting one of the Rangers belonging to Lieutenant Tays’
company. On a personal examination by the board of all the outside doors
of the house, there could be found no marks of a bullet-hole, but
through an inner door, across the ‘Sala,’ behind which the unfortunate
victim had received his death and his wife a serious wound, were counted
no less than fifteen bullet-holes, piercing the door from the outside,
and none merging from the inner side. These are regarded by the Board as
wanton outrages.”

These Rangers, like the leaders of the mob, escaped punishment.



Twenty years ago, with the coming of the first railroads to El Paso,
there came also many bad men, and our mayor and city fathers concluded
in their wisdom that they must have a city marshal who would be “bader
en anybody,” and they succeeded beyond their most sanguine expectations.
They imported one Dallas Studemeier, and installed him in that office.

His coming, if we can trace human events back to their causes, cost the
lives of half a dozen men, his own included. The supplanted marshal, a
Mr. Johnson, was the first victim. He was killed one night on San
Antonio street, near its junction with El Paso, “by parties unknown,” as
was said at the time. No one dared ask why or by whom he was killed.

Studemeier brought with him a brother-in-law, one “Doc” Cummings, a man
of his own ilk. Soon the Studemeier-Cummings party became involved in a
quarrel with the four Manning brothers, who resided here at the time,
and Cummings was killed by Jim Manning in a fight.

It is enough to say that Manning was fairly tried and acquitted on a
plea of self-defense.

In the Bosques above El Paso there were several parties of cowboys, both
American and Mexican, some of whom were, no doubt, looking after their
own cattle, while others were certainly looking after other people’s
cattle. One morning the bodies of two young Mexicans from Juarez were
found dead at their camp near Canutilla, sixteen miles above El Paso.
They had been recently shot. The Mexicans of Juarez asked permission to
send an armed party to take home the bodies, and they passed through El
Paso. With them went a young German named Kramkauer, a stranger in El
Paso, but who we afterward learned was a good man, and he certainly was
a brave man.

On their return, this party of about thirty armed men halted on El Paso
street, appearing angry but making no threats or hostile demonstrations,
but Kramkauer did not hesitate when questioned to say that the signs at
the Mexicans’ camp clearly showed that the two young Mexicans had been
surprised while preparing their breakfast and assassinated. This was too
much for the American cowboys and their friends who had collected on the
street, and for a time I feared a conflict between them and the thirty
armed Mexicans, which I knew would be a bloody affair, and therefore
interceded to prevent it. But the Mexican party sullenly moved south on
El Paso street, and halted when about half way to the river. Now the
wrath of the American party was turned toward Kramkauer, who remained on
El Paso street, near the head of San Antonio, and one Campbell, of whose
history or character I know but little, but who appeared to be the
spokesman of the party, called on Kramkauer to retract what he had said.
Kramkauer quietly but firmly refused, saying that he had stated only the
truth. I was standing near these two men, and was surprised at the low,
protesting, almost pleading tone of voice in which they spoke to each
other. Both were sober, both were brave. The marshal, Studemeier, was
standing near me and them, but spoke no word. Others soon gathered about
us, but the young German was without friends. I believe these two men
might not have fought, but Johnnie Hale, who was intoxicated, called
out: “Turn her loose, Campbell; damn ’em, turn her loose,” and drew his
pistol. Studemeier, who stood within four feet of Hale, shot him in the
back of the head, and Hale fell and died in a few moments. Campbell and
Kramkauer fired simultaneously at each other, both shots taking effect.
Each fired several times. Campbell fell, and the German staggered to the
wall, and, leaning against it with his smoking pistol still in his hand,
said, “I will fight till I die,” and he died soon. Campbell lingered
till the next morning, and died.

A second shot fired by Studemeier accidentally killed a Mexican who
happened to be passing down the street. I do not know who Studemeier was
shooting at then, and I don’t believe he knew himself. Less than ten
seconds time passed between the first shot and the last one, but four
men were killed! Two of the three participants in the above affray
having killed each other, and Studemeier having killed two men “on the
side,” as it were, he became a hero with the rabble and a _terror_ to
the more thoughtful of the city officials, who sought to get rid of him.
But it is sometimes easier to catch such a man than it is to let him go.
I found a way.

I was deputy United States marshal at the time, and at the next meeting
of the council I presented a telegram from the United States marshal of
New Mexico, stating that Studemeier had accepted an appointment as his
deputy, thereby vacating the office of city marshal, and the city
council declared it vacant. An alderman immediately nominated Studemeier
to succeed himself, and Alderman Hague nominated the writer of these
pages. The vote stood four and four, and then the mayor, to the surprise
of many, gave the casting vote to Studemeier! One night, soon after the
above occurrences, I went to a public meeting at the old Central hotel,
and in the hall, in the presence of many people, Studemeier accosted and
cursed and threatened to kill me, and called on me to defend myself. I
was unarmed, and so informed him. He then produced two pistols, and
generously offered to loan me one, but I had seen that trick played
before, and I told him that as he and I were not good friends I did not
feel like accepting a favor from him, and he went away. I went home and
armed myself and returned to the meeting and met Studemeier, but nothing
more was said or done. This was the last time, so far as I know, when I
have been in any great peril from my fellow men—unless from their

There are probably as many Davids as Goliaths, and this desperado was
about to meet his David—and his death. Dr. Manning was small of stature,
modest in deportment, devoted to his family and his profession, and as
to fighting, his disposition is well described in the words of the old
negro, “Mammy,” in speaking of her old master. She said, “Colonel Purdue
want no man to go about hunting for no fuss, but if anybody brought a
fuss to him and laid it in his lap, he would nuss it and coddle it and
try to keep it from ketchen cold.”

Studemeier gathered his few followers about him and announced that he
was going to meet the Mannings and make peace or “have it out.”

The meeting was at the old stand, Uncle Ben. Dowell’s saloon. A peace
was patched up, and of course some drinks were taken, and then all left
except the marshal and Dr. Manning. Suddenly Studemeier found some
pretext for anger, and, drawing his pistol, suddenly fired at Manning’s
heart. The bullet missed its mark but wounded the doctor in one hand
(the other hand had been crippled in a former fight), yet the little man
grappled the large one with one hand and with the other drew his pistol,
and in an instant the giant lay dying on the ground!

This shall be my last story of bloodshed. I was foreman of the jury
which tried Dr. Manning, and he was rendered a verdict of not guilty
without leaving the box.



                        LONGMEIER—A CLOSE CALL.

In the bad times soon after the coming of the first railroad, I returned
to El Paso as deputy United States marshal, and encountered many
strangers, and was called to the custom house to appraise some liquor
which had been smuggled by one Longmeier. Although I had nothing to do
with the seizure of the liquor, Longmeier thought I had, or else he
thought it no harm to kill a deputy marshal, anyhow.

That night, while sitting at supper with my back to a window which
opened on the common (which window had a hanging curtain), I heard the
landlord call from the outside: “Mills, get your pistol; a man is going
to kill you.” The landlord, John Woods, colored (who was afterwards
killed by a policeman), had found Longmeier crouched at the window,
pistol in hand, trying to find an opening through the curtain, and when
asked what he was doing, replied that he was going to kill the d—n
deputy marshal.

Longmeier fled and went to Silver City, and was soon after killed by a
man of his own class.


                               A HOLD UP.

Soon after the above incident, I went one night about 9 o’clock to call
for my wife, who was visiting some friends near McGoffin’s place. As I
walked unarmed and with my overcoat thrown over my shoulder, I heard and
saw a man walking suspiciously behind me, and determined to watch him,
but as he followed a different street at a junction I dismissed him from
my mind. Suddenly he sprang from the bushes about fifteen feet from the
road, with a very large pistol directed at me, and the following
dialogue ensued:

He—“Halt! Your money or your life.”

I—“My friend, I haven’t a damn cent.”

He—“Er, er. Hold up your hands.”

I did as requested.

He—“Ain’t you got no jewelry nor nothin’?”

I—“I told you no.”

He—“I believe you are a d—n liar.”

I—“Ain’t it bad enough to be broke without being insulted about it?”

He—“I’ve a damn notion to kill you, any how.”

I—“I am afraid you will. You don’t intend to kill me, but that pistol is
pointed right at me, and you are nervous and it might go off.”

I positively saw that man move his pistol so that, had it been
discharged, the bullet would have missed me by several feet. His voice
quivered and I could see him tremble.

He—“Throw off that overcoat and step to one side.”

I complied.

I—“When you take the coat please take the papers from the pocket and
leave them in the road.”

More conversation, and then:

He—“Pick up your coat and walk straight down the middle of the road; no
bad breaks, now, or by —— I will kill you.”

And though I was never a Populist, I walked that night down the “middle
of the road.”

                  *       *       *       *       *

One day I passed where two strange roughs were evidently critisizing
some new comer who they thought was claiming honors which did not belong
to him. I heard one of them say contemptuously: “Calls himself the
Deadwood Kid! Why, he’s no more the Deadwood Kid than I am. Why, the
Deadwood Kid has killed half a dozen men, an’ I don’t believe that
‘_moke_’ ever killed anybody!”

                  *       *       *       *       *

Early one morning I heard a saloonkeeper talking to his friend,
evidently about some row he had had the day or night before. He said,
“Well, no; I don’t think I was too drunk. Well, I was just about like I
am now; and if he had got the best of me I wouldn’t have said a word.
But my own opinion is, I would have gone through him p-r-o-p-e-r-l-y.”

                  *       *       *       *       *

The next day after the notorious ex-convict and desperado, Wesley
Harden, was killed on San Antonio street by a worse man than himself,
who was a constable or something, people, though not sorry at Harden’s
taking off, were shocked at the manner of it, but feared to condemn the
act, because no one knew who would be the next victim. I was passing
along the street, and a merchant friend called to me and said, seriously
and in a low tone of voice, “What do YOU think about this killing of
Harden?” I placed my hand at the side of my mouth and whispered, “I’ll
tell you if you say nothing about it. I have just been down to the
undertakers and I saw Harden, and I think—I think he’s dead!” I believe
my friend kept my secret.

                  *       *       *       *       *

Some years ago my friend, Mr. Park Pitman, now (1900) the efficient
clerk of El Paso County, was a candidate for a county office on the
Democratic ticket, and was the only candidate of his party
defeated—possibly because he was the best man on that ticket. Soon
thereafter, I was a candidate for a city office on the Republican
ticket, and was the only Republican defeated (whether we voted for each
other or not is nobody’s business). Soon after my defeat, I met Pitman
with a party of friends, and I said to him: “Let us mingle our tears.”
He replied, “I am writing a book which is to be entitled, ‘Bleeding
Inwardly,’ I will compliment you with a copy.”

                  *       *       *       *       *

On my return from Washington City, in 1897, my friend, Zack White,
congratulated me upon my appointment as United States Consul at
Chihuahua, Mexico, and I told him I had been surprised at receiving so
many congratulations and that I believed most of them sincere. He
replied, “They are _all_ sincere. It’s like this; half of the people of
this town are your friends, and, like me, they are glad of your success,
and the other half are glad because you are going away. _It’s

I think a man who makes an “even break” among the people of El Paso does
fairly well, and I “let it go at that.”


               The North American Review, November, 1889.

                      THE UNION MEN OF THE SOUTH.

                            By W. W. Mills.

In every Southern State at the commencement of the rebellion there lived
a class of men, prominent and influential in political and social life,
whose patriotism, devotion to principle, wisdom and courage, trials and
sufferings, have been scarcely touched upon by late writers upon the war
and its causes and results. Most of them were then of mature years; all
of them had been born and reared in the South and were slave-owners.
Many of them were Democrats; none of them were then Republicans. Most of
them were disappointed at the election of Mr. Lincoln, and feared that
his administration and that of the Republican party, which they
considered sectional and aggressive, would be unfriendly, if not
actually hostile, to the welfare of their section, where their pride,
interests, and sympathies were all centered. Many of their wives,
mothers and daughters were Secessionists. Their sons, many of them, were
the first to enlist in the Confederate ranks. These men doubted the
policy of secession, and, with a courage and manhood which have no
parallel, denounced the movement and predicted its failure and the ruin
of the South. In so doing they knew that they were courting certain
political ostracism and defeat, subjecting themselves to danger and
perhaps to death, and to what was equally terrible to men of their pride
and character—the changing of the love and confidence of their neighbors
and friends, and even their kindred, into bitter hatred; and yet these
men through all those dreary, doubtful years of war, some at their
homes, some in the mountains, some in exile, some in prison and others
on the battlefield beneath the stars and stripes, never wavered or lost
hope in the success of the one cause for which they had sacrificed and
dared so much—the success of the Union arms.

Their voices were never heard among the croakers; when they could not
approve the policy of the government, they fought on in silence; when
colored troops were enlisted, they faltered not; when the Emancipation
Proclamation swept away their fortunes, they did not complain. The
success of one political party or the other was no victory to them,
except as it indicated the determination of the people to preserve the
government by suppressing the rebellion. They did not regard the war, as
many writers do, as a “war between the North and South,” or a “war
between the States,” but a war between those everywhere who loved their
government and those who wished to see it die; and if their hearts were
not too full of sadness to harbor bitter feelings, those feelings went
out toward the Northern “Copperhead” rather than toward their misguided
or even their vicious neighbors. They did not consider it a rebellion of
State, but a rebellion of rebels. They knew that they were sustained in
their own section by thousands of Southerners as courageous and
patriotic as themselves, and by hundreds of thousands who, though unable
to give them active support, were praying for success.

Next to their devotion to the Union their desire for peace, good
government in the South through a liberal policy by the victorious party
was the aim and hope of these men. Then came reconstruction and the
reorganization of political parties in the South. It must be written
that the National Republican party, controlled by Northern politicians,
in the exercise of its powerful political influence and the bestowal of
its great patronage, in every Southern State and in almost every
instance rejected the counsel of these brave and experienced men, and
sought to build upon three elements only—the negro, the carpetbagger,
and a few new converts from the Confederate element. This is the only
blur upon the otherwise magnificent record of that party.



                        ENEMIES AND PHILOSOPHY.

In the summer of 1900 my brother, General Mills, and a sister paid Mrs.
Mills and myself a visit at the United States Consulate at Chihuahua.
One evening he, being in a reflective mood, said, “Will, you and I have
had many difficulties, and quarrels and fights with our personal
enemies, and it is very gratifying to know, as I am growing old, that
these are all over with me. My enemies are all reconciled to me, and I
wish you could say as much.”

I replied: “I do not know that my enemies are all reconciled to me, but
they are all _dead_, and that is better, or at least _safer_.” And it is
the literal truth. All my bitterest foes have been taken hence, most of
them by violence, and I neither rejoice at nor regret their taking off.
I do not claim that I was always right and they always wrong, for I
tried to return blow for blow, but it is certain that they often
resorted to means which I would, under no circumstances, employ. Alas,
most of my friends are gone also. Why I have been spared through it all
is a mystery which I do not attempt to explain.



                           TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE

Punctuation has been normalized.

The author’s spelling and usage of English and Spanish words, including
hyphenation, and variations therein, have been maintained, except in the
following cases:

   {by --> my} permanent home {Page 31}
   stand {my --> by} him. {Page 46}
   Quein sabe --> Quien sabe {Page 78}
   Las {Crues --> Cruces} {Page 85}
   {amublance --> ambulance} {Page 110}
   {composd --> composed} {Page 111}
   {that that the Mail Company --> that the Mail Company} {Page 133}
   {grat --> great} {Page 133}
   {a --> an} acequia. {Page 149}
   {Bosquies --> Bosques} {Page 154}

Variations in spelling of proper names have been standardized.

While spellings for place names have been maintained, following are
corrected or modern-day spellings:

             Candelario Mountains for Candelerio Mountains
             Canutillo for Canntilla or Canutilla
             Fredericksburg for Fredricksburg
             Hermosillo for Hermisillo, Sonora
             Hueco Tanks for Waco Tanks
             Juarez for Jaurez
             Mesilla for Messilla
             San Elizario for San Elezario
             Socorro for Sorocco
             Tijeras for Tejaras

Italicized words and phrases are presented by surrounding the text with

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