First Dragoons

A site dedicated to the 1st US Dragoons 1833-1861 (What is a Dragoon?)

Monday, February 27, 2006

Capt. William Grier's Pursuit of the Jicarillas 1855

This report furnished courtesy of Gary Cozzens, Ft Stanton, Inc.

Fort Stanton, N. M.
June 21st 1855


For the information of the Commanding Officer, I have the honor to make the following report of detached service performed by my Company (“I” 1st Dragoons) in connection with Captain Pino’s Company of Mounted Mexican Volunteers of Blas Guerro Company of Guides and Spies.

Pursuant to Post Order No. 23, dated HdQrs Fort Stanton on June 10th 1855, I marched on the afternoon on the same day with five days provisions, taking with me my own Company, (Lieut. Davidson, 1st Dragoons temporarily attached thereto), and Captain Guerro with his “Guides and Spies” – Agreeably to verbal instructions from the Commanding Officer, I proceeded down the Rio Bonito in order to intercept the Indians in case they were attempting to cross this river and penetrate the Mescalero Country in the direction of the Pajaro. – Captain Pino with his Company of Mounted Mexican Volunteers at the same time marched for the Capitan Mountains passing around the western end of that range to look for the trail which road reported to have been seen the day previous – Very early on the morning of the 11th I had made sufficient examination to satisfy myself that the Indians could not yet have passed in the direction of the Pajaro. I then marched around the eastern end of the “Capitan” with a view to find, if possible, the fresh trail of the Indians. About two o’clock P. M., having passed around the end of the Mountain, we discovered a fresh trail (perhaps made early that morning) of ten or twelve animals, giving evidence that a small party of Indians had been there – followed the trail until dark when we were obliged to leave it an hunt a camp with water for men & animals – reached camp about 10 o’clock P.M. – Early next morning proceeded to take up the trail, and after about an hour’s march discovered that it united with a much larger one coming from the opposite direction and that Captain Pino had discovered it the day before and was evidently in hot pursuit. The trail led directly out from the Capitan across the plains, toward the Pecos. We followed it two or three hours until I became satisfied that from the speed with which Captain Pino had been preceding from the previous day, we could do no more than meet him on his return from the pursuit. I then made a detour to the left in order to reach the Cienega opposite the gorge in the Capitan Mountains and encamped there for the night.
Next morning had not marched more than half a mile when we met two Volunteers of Captain Pino’s Company returning themselves and had completely worn out suffering for want of water. They stated that the Captain and his men were still some distance in the rear, men and horses have totally broken down for want of water.
I then returned to camp and dispatched a party with pack mules laden with water for their relief and by five o’clock I had the satisfaction of seeing them arrive safely in camp with only the loss of two horses.
Captain Pino informed me that he came upon the Indian trail (giving sign of at least on hundred animals) on the 11th and pursued it rapidly towards the Pecos hoping to overtake them in pursuit and kept up so well, that they come in sight of the Indians in the distance, but owing to the broken down condition of his horses he could not overtake them. The Indians, however, were so closely pursued as to be compelled to abandon a horse which they had killed and dressed ready for eating recovered five horses & two mules, one or two buffalo robes, & bundles of roots intended for food were also abandoned. And in their haste, the left a boy about two years of age, whom the Captain took charge of, and brought with him. He also brought in two mules and horses ~ four of the abandoned Indian horses were too much exhausted to be led or driven in.
The party proved to be a band of the “Jicarilla” Apaches with their families who were doubtless intending to seek safety in the Capitan or other mountains in the vicinity ignorant of the fact of troops being stationed at this point. The Captain reported a position of the Indians to have gone in the direction of the Gallinas Mountains and the others toward the Pecos River and thinks that amongst the latter many of the women and children, most of their animals, and probably some of their men, must have perished for want of water, and they had a greater distance to go from it than he did but returned and he considered them as much broken down as his own party was when he gave up pursuit and but for the timely relief afforded by the supply of water from my camp, he might have lost some of his men and more of his horses.
The same day Captain P joined me, I sent Lieut. Davidson to this Post, for a further supply of four or six days provisions, and enough fresh animals to mount twenty of Captain Pino’s men – The Lieut. returned in good time the next day with the supplies and we marched toward the Gallinas leaving one half of the Volunteers to return to this Post with the broken down animals – Arrived at the Gallinas on the 18th – reconnoitered the country toward the “Lion” of [“Canisleon”] mount ruins.—A trail of a small party of Indians was found in the “Gallinas” or Canadian Mountains, but the Indians had evidently gone there for water and then moved toward the Pecos several days before. – There was therefore no prospect of overtaking them. The weather was very hot, frequently we had to march long distances without water. I returned to this Post about 11 o’clock A. M. yesterday – my men in good spirits and my animals much in need of rest.

To: Lieut. R. V. Bonneau Very Respectfully,
3rd Infantry Wm. N. Grier Brvt Maj
Acting Post Adjutant Capt. 1st Dragoons

National Archives, RG 393, M1120, [V-9/1]

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Captain Richard Ewell's Report of Death of Captain Stanton

On January 18, 1855, Captain Henry W. Stanton was ambushed and killed by Apache warriors. Details of the life of Captain Stanton are found elsewhere in this blog. Here is the official report filed by Captain Richard Ewell, 1st Dragoons, of Stanton's death and the engagement. Ewell's report was graciously provided to this site by Gary Cozzens of the Fort Stanton, Inc.

Los Lunas, N. M. (1)
Maj. W. A. Nichols, U. S. Army Feb 10 1855
A.A.G. Dept. of N. M.

“Sir: I have the honor to report my return from the scout ordered from your office December 21. On the 7th I proceeded to Anton Chico (60 miles S. E. of Santa Fe) with 61 men, Company “G”, 20 of “K”, and Lieutenant Isaiah N. Moore and H. B. Davidson, 1st Dragoons. Dr. Kennon was the acting surgeon of the command; and his services proved to be highly important and were cheerfully rendered.
“At Anton Chico I learned from your office of the cooperating force from Fort Fillmore to meet me on the Bonito [near the present site of Fort Stanton] and also that the predators were Mescalero Apaches. I accordingly proceeded down the Pecos River and up the Bonito River to the vicinity of Sierra Capitan where on the 13th of January, as previously arranged by Gen. John Garland, I met Capt. Henry W. Stanton, 1st Dragoons, Lieuts. Junius Daniel and Henry W. Walker, 3rd Infantry, and 50 Infantrymen and 29 Dragoons.
On my route down the Pecos I was overtaken at Bosque Redondo by J. Gittings, (2) Esq., who with four Mexicans proved my only reliable guides, and whom Mr. Gittings, at the instance of General Garland, had been active in hunting up he, with great public spirit, mounting them on his own horses. Fatigue and exposure brought on an attack of sickness, which, to his regret, prevented Mr. Gittings from going further.
“I made two night marches on a small Indian trail on the Pecos, which we then abandoned because it was older than we thought, then continued my march to meet the troops from Fort Fillmore.
After combining the two commands I moved south toward the Guadalupe and Sacramento Mountains and then on January 17th, 1855, encamped on the Penasco, a fine stream running from these chains toward the Pecos. Up to this time we had seen no Indians or signs, though constantly on the trail of the cattle, now six weeks old and few in number, which had been stolen by the Indians. This night the camp was attacked by the Indians with arrows and firearms and at the same time they tried to burn us out.
Next morning the Indians seemed in force with every mark of defiance and during the whole day opposed our march, disputing every ravine at times under cover within arrow shot.
A body of skirmishers, first of Infantry, under charge, at different times, of Lieutenant Danels and Walker, and then of mounted and dismounted dragoons, under Lieutenant Moore, was engaged the whole day in clearing the line of March. The country was broken into high hills, with deep ravines crossing the line of march. Lieut. Moore, with some of the best horses, gave chase to some Indians on the open ground but a winter march of 450 miles had reduced the horses too much to catch the Indians on their fresh animals. The Indians gave the impression from their boldness that they were trying to keep us from their families.
Hoping to bring on a close fight, we kept up the march as rapidly as possible. During the day some 15 of them were shot from their horses and carried off by their comrades, leaving the ground marked with blood and at one time, after the fall of the boldest, they collected on a high hill and set up a lamentation, afterwards becoming even bolder in their attacks. None of my guides had ever seen the country I passed through after reaching the Penasco.
About 3 PM on the 18th of Jan, I came to the first of their abandoned camps where thy command was halted for the night and Captain Stanton was directed to take his company, with some additional men and examine a small open valley to the right where were some more abandoned lodges, about 500 yards distant, and endeavor to find the direction taken by the Indians when they left.
This officer, after reaching the place designated, charged after some Indians he saw in front and in following up the steep hillside in the ardor of the chase, became separated from some of his men, badly mounted, who were unable to join him when he sounded the rally. After rallying about a dozen men he proceeded up the valley until he became satisfied that the Indians had not retreated in that direction, then he started back, leading his horses. About three-fourths of a mile form the camp the valley narrowed with trees, and here he was ambushed and fired into, the first fire killing one of his men. He ordered his party to take to the trees, but the Indians being in too great force, he mounted and ordered his party to retreat, remaining in the rear himself, firing his Sharps carbine, when he received a shot in the head and was instantly killed.
One of the men when he first charged, Private Duger, (4) Company B, 1st Dragoons, was dismounted, surrounded and lanced after killing an Indian. As soon as I ascertained that Capt. Stanton was engaged, I ordered Lieut. Moore with a strong party on foot, whose approach dispersed the Indians. Lieut. Moore brought in the bodies of Capt. Stanton and the two men killed, and the Horse and rifle of the Indian killed by Duger. After the Indians had dispersed my guides were utterly incapable of tracking them, and on the 20th, having passed the source of the Penasco, I stated back with my horses so worn out that I was forced to lead them to the post. Within five miles of my camp the day of the fight were over 300 newly abandoned lodges.
The infantry were of invaluable service and towards the last were able to out-march the dragoons. The Indians were not aware of musket range until they paid for their experience. M. Gleason, Esq., gave me important assistance not only in the fight, but in keeping in advance with Mexicans when trailing. I had the hearty cooperation of Officers and men. Enclosed is a map of my route, drawn by Lieutenant Moore.
The signal smokes of the Indians, on my return, satisfied me that they retreated towards the lower rang of the Guadalupe Mountains.”

I remain,
R. S. Ewell,
Captain, 1st Dragoons

1. National Archives, Letters Received, Department of New Mexico, Record Group 393, Microcopy 1120, Roll 4.
2. Probably James M. Giddings. James Giddings had a ranch at the junction of Auga Negra Creek (Pinata Creek) and the Pecos River about two miles north of Puerta de Luna.
3. Private John Hennings, Company B, 1st Dragoons
4. Private Thomas Dwyer

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Stanton to Love June 8, 1847: A Deserter is Captured

Company B left Ft. Leavenworth on 7 June 1847, under the command of Lt. John Love. He was under orders to take the troop to escort the paymaster and his wagons to Santa Fe. On that date, troopers John Stein and Albert House deserted from the company. They headed to the nearby town of Westport hoping to gain passage on a passing steamboat. On the evening of 8 June, trooper Stein was apprehended by a Dragoon detachment, brought back to the fort and placed in confinement. Prior to his capture, he had managed to sell his Aston Pistol and forage cap to a civilian He was charged the cost of these items (forage cap $.90 and pistol $8.00). Trooper House, recruited 9 April, 1847, in Lafayette, Indiana, by Lt. John Love, made good his escape and disappears from Army records.

Trooper Stein, who had been recruited by Lt. Leonadis Jenkins in St. Louis on 14 january 1847, was sent West to rejoin his troop. On 16 December 1847, the trooper was ordered by Major Benjamin Beall to report to his company in Albuquerque. Stein failed to report and also sold his Army overcoat. He was court-martialed on 16 January 1848, given fifty lashes, had his head shaven and ordered to perform hard labor.

More details on the background of Lieutenants John Love. Leonadis Jenkins and Henry Stanton as well as the 1847-48 military expeditions of Company B appear through out this blog.

Fort Leavenworth June 8th 1847

Dear Love

I have got this man Stein safely lodged in the Guard House with a ball and chain appending to his pedal extremity. I heard of his being held in Westport and sent a party after him just before Retreat to night. I learned that the other man was in or near Westport. I have accordingly dispatching a party after him and hope to have him by morning.

In looking over my Returns I find that I have omitted to put in the receipt you gave me for the 25 sets of Horse Equipage with 25 gun buckets and straps. I wish you would insert them in the Invoice I gave you. I will put it in the Receipts you gave me as I will not have time to wait for anything from you to do so. I hope you will update it. I have just got orders to go to Jef Bark to relieve Jenkins who will perhaps go to Galena. If he does not I am order to join my company.