A CAMPAIGN WITH COL. DONIPHAN.

CHAPTER III.

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Ugly old women. Cigaritos. Game of monte. Grazing ground. Reconnaissance of General Kearney down the Rio Grande, andappointment of George Bent, Esquire, as Civil Governor. SanDomingo and Puebla Indians. Albuquerque. Armijo. The Priests. Valentia and its vineyards, and soldiers buying fruit of theIndians. Tomae and a religious celebration. A fandango. Return,and bilious fever. Bringing in of Apache chiefs. Making sugarfrom cornstalks. Wheat harvest. Houses of Indians entered by aladder. Priestly mummery on the disappearance of the ears ofgrowing corn. Colonel Doniphan goes South. A theatre started bythe soldiers. Men picked out to join Colonel Doniphan. Waking inthe snow. Author buying corn of a priest. Buying sheep of anotherwho was to catch and deliver them. Lightning rod. TheMissourian and his "buckram" tents and big wagons. Join ColonelDoniphan. A slight sketch of him. The journey of death. Soap weed. The traders. A Scotchman taken, supposed to be a spy.Three unburied bodies. Sheep, and little flesh upon them.

EVERY morning saw collected along the Southern side of the Plazaan assemblage of ugly old women, trying to sell three or foureggs, a couple of quarts of goats' milk, pinones, watermelons, ormolasses made from corn stalks. When trade was dull they wereactively employed upon the head of a youngster. These ancientdames also sold the dry shuck or covering of the ear of theIndian corn, cut into oblong pieces of three inches in length andone inch in width. These are for making the eternal cigarito. When neatly tied in bundles, these skins are called hojas. EveryMexican, male or female, carries, at the girdle, a pouch whichcontains a bundle of hojas and a small bottle of powdered tobacco(which is sparingly sprinkled in the shuck), and flint, steel andtinder. As tobacco is very scarce with them, they are not overfree to offer a cigarito; but when they do, they always firstkindle it with the assistance of the mouth. This, from theirgeneral use of garlic, does not improve the flavor of thecigarito. In the more southern provinces, the corn skin isaltogether repudiated, and the paper cigarito substituted, thesale of which is a government monopoly. I did not observe asingle Mexican make any other use of tobacco; and yet you rarelysee either man or woman without a cigarito. Children quite smallwill go teasing their mothers with "Da me una cigarita, maman."and, on obtaining it, they sit down quietly and smoke with themost ludicrous gravity.

The universality of the cigarito is only equaled by that of theireternal game of monte, played with cards. The suits whereof areclubs, swords, suns, and cups, all delineated in their own propercolors and figures. Each suit numbers ten cards, namely, (likethe American,) from ace to seven, and then knave, horse standingin the place of queen, and king. The mysteries of the game canonly be learnt by losing at it. The coolness with which theMexicans lose or win at this game is remarkable, theircountenances never changing. Men and women of all degrees may beseen sitting at the green cloth covered table. It is said thatthe

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priests also indulge at it, but I never saw one playing. Sittingon the curbstones in the street, may be continually seen fellowswithout shoes, and almost naked, who,having scraped together afew coppers, are dealing monte, with a greasy pack of cards, forthe benefit of half a dozen poor wretches as ragged asthemselves. One day, in Chihuahua, I gave a little fellow, aboutsix years of age, a quartilla, a small copper coin worth threecents. The child went up to its mother, and holding up the coin,lisped out "monte." His gaming propensities seemed to have comeupon him as early as his Da me una Cigarita, maman.

Although Gregg, in his work on The Commerce of thePrairies, speaks of the valley of Santa Fe as a fine grazingspot, we found it just the contrary, there not being any grasswithin twenty miles; and we were obliged to send our horses asfar as Galisteo to find a sufficiency. After a time, we sentthem to Bent's Farm, above Taos, where there is always grazing tobe had all the year round. The only objection is the distance,being over a hundred miles.

On the second of September, General Kearney, having firstappointed George Bent, Esquire, civil governor of New Mexico,started on a reconnaissance down the Rio Grande, with fivehundred of Colonel Doniphan's regiment, one hundred and fiftyartillery, (the writer being among them,) and one hundredregulars, leaving the remainder of the troops to garrison SantaFe.

Our first encampment was at the village of San Domingo, which isinhabited by the Puebla Indians, and supplies Santa Fe with thesmall amount of fruit which it consumes. It

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page 61 SAN DOMINGO. - ALBUQUERQUE

has a very pretty appearance, every house being surrounded bysmall fruit trees. We were received here in Indian style. Theinhabitants were dressed in their gayest trappings; all mountedand armed. They dashed down towards us at full speed, and onlywhen almost touching us, wheeled to right and left along ourfront, all the while discharging their few guns and pistols; andafter separating into two parties, and going through a mimicbattle, they formed around our officers, and escorted them intothe Place. These were the largest and finest Indians I saw, andwere dressed in showy costume. I observed one particularly. Itwas a coat, or rather shirt of bright blue and red cloth, half ofeach color; the division running down the chest and back -- thecoat, as well as the buckskin legging being trimmed with blue andwhite beads very handsomely. Although they evidently liked to benoticed, yet they did not move a muscle of their painted faces,as we handled their dresses. They behaved hospitably; and wereevidently satisfied with the change that had taken place in thegovernment.

The next place worth mentioning is Albuquerque, a town of somesize. It has a fine church (although made of mud). Theresidence of ex-governor Armijo is here. His wife was in thetown, at his residence, which has since been used as barracks fora detachment of our troops.

The priest's house, which I saw the inside of while on anothervisit to Albuquerque, is the best adobe dwelling I observed inthe country. The priests are high in position, and always rich;but in morals and character they are, with few exceptions, evenbelow their followers. It is not unu-

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sual for them to have three or four wives, all living in thehouse with them, who, as well as the other people, manifest themost servile attention to them. It really used to make my bloodboil, to see these poor wretches come into the room where I mighthappen to be in conversation with the padre, and after kneelingdown and kissing the hem of his garment, stand on one side, hatin hand, awaiting the moment when he might condescend to speak tothem; while the rascal was trying, with all his skill, to cheatme in the bargain I was making with him; not scrupling to tellthe most abominable falsehoods, if they became necessary to aidhis plan. Even in the street, the people will frequently kneeland kiss his robe, as he passes them, while he manifests,outwardly, no knowledge of the salute, passing on as if he hadattracted no notice.

Until we reached Tomae, which was to be the extent of ourjourney, we passed no place worth mentioning except Valentia,which is a large and handsome town, supported by its extensivevineyards, which add to the appearance of the place, beinginterspersed with melon patches and fruit trees. The vines areneither staked nor trellised, but grow to the height of perhapsfour feet, perfectly straight, and when at that height spread outbroad and bushy. The grapes are very fine, and of the Muscatelkind.

At this town, many of the soldiers being almost destitute ofmoney -- none of the troops having received any pay -- stripped theircoats of their military buttons, and passed them for the value oftwelve and a half cents each -- buying fruit with them.

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page 63 VALENTIA. -TOMAE.

The most industrious part of the population is Indian; and manyaim to our camp with fruit. The Indians are well made, butseldom over five feet in height. They are dressed in tunics ofthe same material as the Mexican blanket, and wear what is calledthe Navajo poncho; so named from being made by the NavajoIndians. It is of very fine texture, with both sides alike, andthe pattern always in broad black and white stripes.

The women are singular objects; not over four feet in stature,with little round faces, of a rich light copper color. Theirdress consists of a tunic of blue or white, made quite full, witha girdle at the waist, and being made very low at the neck,without sleeves, only descend to the knees; while the leg, fromthe knee downwards, is wrapped closely in several finely dressedgoatskins, which end in a neat moccasin -- all this giving them asingular yet pretty appearance. The hair is cut short all roundthe head, and kept nicely trimmed. Drawn together by the uppertwo corners, and around their neck, they wear what is called a"tilma." It is a beautiful robe, about three feet square, wovenof black mules' hair, with a showy edging of red. One of theselittle women, with a basket of grapes or peaches placed upon herhead, which apparently pressed her broad good-humored face into ayet more good-humored expression, and accompanied by three orfour naked children, made a picturesque object.

We arrived at Tomae on the eve of a great religious fete. Thecelebration of which commenced over night, by the firing of guns,and the ringing of bells, and this was contin-

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ued all through the following day. I would warn a lover ofcampanology against Mexican bell ringing, for nine out of ten oftheir bells are cracked, and the study is to make the greatestpossible noise. During the morning, mass was celebrated; and thefigure of the Virgin Mary was carried along the streets inprocession -- in which walked General Kearney and his officers withlighted candles in their hands. The day closed with verytolerable fireworks, which, however, were got up on the sameprinciple as the bell ringing, viz., to make the utmostnoise.

There were also several fandangos in town. The word fandango isonly used when you wish to express a ball among the peasantry;and much fun is to be found at them. The largest rooms are ofcourse selected. At one end, carpets are spread, and all the women squat themselves on them, the men occupying the remainderof the room. The most common dance is the cuna, whichresembles our Spanish dance. After all the couples are placed,the women begin a song, as dreary and monotonous as a dead march.The song keeps time with two squeaking fiddles. After eachdance, your partner is allowed to find her way to her seat alone,where she again squats herself down, unless you have invited herto take a glass of brandy or wine -- a stall for the sale of whichis always kept in an adjoining room -- and where, also, is generallykept a monte table.

At a ball, baille of the higher class, the singing would,of course, be vulgar, but generally there are the squatting,fiddling, inviting and monte table.

On our return from Tomae, all the troops were quartered

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page 65 FORT MARCY. -APACHE INDIANS.

in the houses formerly occupied by the soldiers of Armijo. Itwould have been better for us if we had remained in camp, for theaccommodations were not spacious, and bilious fever began tocarry off the men. The stock of medicines was reduced so low asto become alarming. In order to show the limited size of ourquarters, the room that I and eight others were in was only aboutfourteen feet by eight. Here we cooked, ate and slept; and had,as it may well be presumed, close stowage at night. It waslighted by a window hole about fifteen inches square. Most of mycompany, however, had their health. We seem to have been anexception to the general sickliness. A gentleman recently fromSanta Fe tells me there are now over three hundred graves ofAmerican soldiers in the burying-ground under the walls of FortMarcy. This fort is on the top of a very high hill, commandingthe town and surrounding country. It was built by the troops whoremained in Santa Fe during the winter, and the cold work wasfrequently put a stop to by the snow.

During the latter part of September, a detachment of fifty menfrom the artillery companies, under the command of CaptainFisher, was sent towards the North, in order to bring in some ofthe chiefs of the Apache tribe of Indians, with a view to forcethem into a treaty, as they had been committing depredations onthe Mexicans. After three days' scrambling over steep mountains,up and down which our horses had to be led, and after passingthrough numerous villages, we met several of the chiefs upon theroad. They at once consented to return with us. These men werevery

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commanding in their appearance, of a remarkably large size, andhaving a wild look. I was amused with an old chief who appearedto be the oracle. As we had invited these Indians to come withus, of course we had to feed them. We gave them some flour andbacon. They boiled the bacon and then stirred the flour into thesame water. The former of these rather puzzled them,particularly the rind, which resisted their knives. As they didnot understand it, they appealed to the old chief, who gravelydeclared, after much examination, that it was bone with which theAmerican pigs were encased -- all my assurances to the contrarynotwithstanding. The old chief's two sons were with him, and oneof them was the possessor of a beautiful elk-horn bow, which Icoveted very much. We amused ourselves by getting them to shootat pieces of tobacco. These pieces were about the size of asixpence and were placed at one end of a fallen tree, while theywould sit upon the other end, and, after removing the iron pointsof their arrows, they would; shoot, and seldom miss striking theprize.

Our journey had ended just by the village of San lldefonso ????, andwe encamped in the plaza of that village. Here, I witnessed thefabrication of sugar from corn stalks. The alcalde owns the milland boiling house, and the using of these is paid in syrup. Theowner of the corn stalks assembles his neighbors, and, proceedingto the mill, places the stalks, cut into short pieces, in a largewooden trough; and each man, arming himself with a heavy mallet,soon breaks the stalks into small fragments. Boiling water ispoured upon them, and then the mass is put into a hollow

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page 67 SUGAR FROM CORN-STALKS.

tree set upright in a trough; into this a plug is loosely fitted,across which a long pole fixed at one end is laid, and all theyoung people getting upon this lever, the juice is soon pressedout and poured into earthen pots built into the top of a largefurnace kept burning night and day; women continually stirringthe liquor, until it is thick, when it is run into small claymoulds (unless it should be wanted for molasses). The workmenare repaid by an invitation to the house of the owner of thesugar, where they are regaled with molasses and tortillas. Inthis way these people help each other through the busiestseasons. They were, also, getting in their wheat while we werethere. After being reaped and bound into sheaves, it is spreadover a clay threshing floor, in the open air, and surrounded byhigh poles. Upon it are men with rude Pitchforks, made of limbsof small trees. They throw the straw into the air as oxen,driven round the enclosure, trample out the grain. The poleskeep in the large straw and let the light part blow away. Thestraw, by this means, is broken up very fine, but being of no useto them, is not regarded. The wheat, after being collected, iscarefully washed by the women and children, and then spread uponcloths to dry. The agricultural implements are very rude. Theirploughs are made of wood, without a particle of iron, and veryoften in one piece, which is in the shape of a three pointedstar, with one of the points short, and to one of the longer endsis attached, by means of a raw-hide-rope, oxen yoked by binding along stick to their horns; the other long end serves for ahandle, while the

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short one turns up the ground. A rude heavy hoe and a commonspade are precious things.

On our return, we passed through a large town, inhabited by thePuebla Indians, called Tezuque. Here I first saw the singularcustom which these Indians have of making the entrance to theirhouses by a ladder placed against the second story window, therebeing no opening to the lower story. This makes each house aneasily defended place, for the raising the ladder leaves no easyingress. The village looked pretty-numerous bowers of greenbranches being erected outside the place to protect the women andchildren from the sun, while making the earthen jars I havepreviously mentioned. The Indians we brought in very willinglyaim to terms. They saw they had men of a different characterfrom Mexicans to deal with. As to the latter, although perhapsarmed with carbine and sabre, twenty would frequently fly beforea couple of Indians. But here were only fifty of us marching tosubdue, if necessary, their village of, probably, two thousandinhabitants. Our Indians moved on -- those who had wives takingthem with them upon their mules, while others, who had not, goingon foot and outwalking our best horses, and, no doubt, allthinking to receive handsome presents. These people are powerfuland brave, but treacherous. A year or two before we had arrivedin Santa Fe, they were invited into the city by Governor Armijo,and signed a treaty and received presents. On departing, they tookthe opportunity to stop in the outskirts murder several herdsmen,and drive off a large quantity of cattle.

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page 69 THE VIRGIN MARY.

Before proceeding on the southern trip to Tomae, I witnessed oneof the ridiculous mummeries frequently practiced by the priest.Our men, while at the grazing camp at Galisteo, were kept twodays accidentally without their regular supplies of food; and,therefore, were obliged to forage upon the corn-fields around,especially as the inhabitants had previously refused to sell anyto us; and it had also been our constant habit to boil a pot ofmaize each night just before going to sleep, and, sitting roundthe fire, to eat and talk. The surrounding corn-fields began tolook rather unproductive, much to the astonishment of thenatives; so, to remedy this, the figure of the Virgin Mary wascarried around the fields, in solemn procession -- solemn, perhaps,to the poor Mexicans, but by no means so to us. The figure,which was very fantastically dressed, was carried by a woman inthe same manner as she would have carried a child, and over themwas held an old red umbrella, the only one in the village, andreserved for great occasions like the present. At the head ofthe procession walked the priest, book in hand, sprinkling holywater on all sides, followed by two musicians with squeakingfiddles, and also by two men firing off continually a couple ofold rusty fowling pieces, to the great admiration of the youngfolks. After them came the figure; and the procession was closedby all the rest of the inhabitants. At every twenty or thirtysteps they would all kneel down and pray audibly. We smoothedour faces as we best could, not wishing to be supposed to knowanything about the maize just then.

During the early part of the month of October (1846),

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Colonel Price's regiment from Missouri arrived at Santa Fe; andGeneral Kearney having left for California with all the regulars,Colonel Doniphan immediately withdrew his regiment from the placeand left Colonel Price in command, marching southward, with aview, first, to bring the Navajo Indians to terms, and thenproceed, as he supposed, to report himself to General Wool, whowas expected to be near or in possession of the city ofChihuahua.

Soon after Colonel Price's arrival, the Mormons, numbering fivehundred, with several women and children, arrived, on their wayto California; and on the 12th of September an express -- on its wayto Washington -- brought intelligence of Colonel Fremont's successin that country. This intelligence induced General Kearney tosend back nearly half of his men, some of whom were posted atAlbuquerque, while the remainder were sent to Fort Leavenworth,with the horses of the whole force -- they having previously beenmounted upon mules. We were sorry to part with General Kearney.He had gained the good wishes of every man; and I believe thatthe Taos insurrection and the murder of Governor Bent and otherswould not have taken place if he had remained.

During the month of November a dramatic society was started byseveral members of our battalion, patronized by all the officers,and upon mentioning the want of a suitable room to Governor Bent,he immediately gave us the use of the large fandango room in thepalace, which we soon converted into a handsome theatre. A goodwardrobe and suitable scenery were procured with greatdifficulty, but in

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page 71 DRAMATIC SOCIETY. -LEAVES SANTA FE.

the middle of the month we opened with Pizarro and BombastesFurioso. From this time until the first of December, when mostof the performers went South, we played to crowded houses. Ourgreatest difficulty was on the score of female performers, beingobliged to take these from the ranks; but, luckily, three of thesociety made very good looking women when dressed in character. The Mexican ladies would persist in smoking during the wholeperformance, and they generally laughed where they ought to havecried, and au contraire, but, on the whole, were much pleased. Towards the latter end of November an order was published bycommand of Colonel Price that ten men from each company of hisown regiment, as well as from the artillery companies, should beselected by their respective captains, "with regard to theirmental as well as their physical capabilities," to be wellmounted and to form an escort of one hundred men to accompanyLieut. Colonel D. D. Mitchell in an effort to open acommunication with General Wool, who was supposed, as I havebefore remarked, to be in or near Chihuahua. The writer had thehonor to be appointed Assistant to the Quartermaster of thisescort, or, as it is termed, Quartermaster Sergeant. At first,Captain Weightman was named as the officer selected to commandour little force, and this made every man eager to go, being sureof good treatment. However, Captain Hudson, who was not afavorite, was appointed, and we started with only ninety-fivemen, in consequence.

On the 1st of December (1846) I bade farewell to Santa Fe, and Itrust I may never again see its dirty, unpaved

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streets. In a few days we arrived at Albuquerque. Herewe crossed the Rio Grande, which was only waist deep. The weather had been very cold beforewe left Santa Fe; but still most of us slept outside of ourtents. One morning, on waking, I raised my head, which caused aquantity of snow that had fallen during the night to get into myneck, giving me a sudden cold bath. On looking about, I couldonly see the rounded forms of my companions lying under the snow.After passing the Rio Grande, we travelled down its oppositebank, which was thickly settled both by Indians and Mexicans.

While on our journeys southward we had to buy corn wood andfodder every night. This duty, generally, fell to my lot, andalthough we had an interpreter, I soon managed to pick up enoughSpanish to purchase without his assistance: At one of the Indiantowns called Iseleta, I found a regular monastery; and makinginquiries where I could buy corn, a jolly looking old monk in acowl and rope told me he would be too happy to accommodate me. After partaking of a bottle of good wine with him, he took me toan upper room in one of the corners of the church, and showed mea large quantity of Indian corn piled up, being the tithes fromthe poor inhabitants. After purchasing a sufficiency, which wasmeasured in sacks, two of which are supposed to hold, when thecorn is shelled out, a fanega, equal to two bushels and aquarter, I found the padre was trying hard to cheat me, both inmeasure and count; so, taking an opportunity to accidentally putout the light, I told the ten men who were with me to fill uptheir sacks, which were larger than the measuring sack, and alsonot to forget their pockets. When the light returned, every manhad his full sack on his shoulder ready to carry off. The oldfellow, evidently, noticed the fullness of the sacks, but knew itwas not worth while to say anything -- so, after all, he did notmake much out of me.

The Mexican measures are less than ours; for instance, theirleagues are only about two and a half miles; a yard is thirtyinches; the pint and the quart are proportionably undersized. South of Chihuahua things are sold by the arroba of 25 poundsweight: thus, if you want to buy 100 pounds of flour you ask forfour arrobas. Their Fanega, which is used to measure grain,contains, in New Mexico, 2 1/2 bushels, and further south 2 1/4,which is divided into 12 measures called Almos. The Fanegameasure is in the shape of the box of a wheelbarrow, that is,oblong, but with one end at an angle, and open at the top andbranded by the government at all the joints.

At Sabinal I had again to deal with a priest; and upon presentingmyself at his house, I found him a little dried up young man, andfrom the first, did not like the look of his countenance. He wasin his small store, in which he sold "odd notions," and amongthem native whisky. After bargaining with him for a quantity ofcorn, which he charged for at the rate of about two dollars and ahalf the bushel, I observed in his court yard two black sheep,which he told me he was fattening up for his own eating, but Isoon bought them at a dollar a piece. The only difficulty was incatching them. I was, from laughter, soon incapable of assistingin this. The priest, who had his long silk gown on, whiskedit

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under his arm, and running at the sheep, attempted several timesto catch them; but one would bolt between his legs, knocking himdown, while the other jumped over his head. But he was notdiscouraged, particularly as I made it a part of the bargain thatthey were to be delivered. At last, on one of them jumping overthe priest, he caught it by the hind legs and came to metriumphant. I never saw a more ridiculous figure than hisreverence with the sheep struggling on his back. In the evening,while measuring the corn, a dispute about it arose between us, hetrying to cheat me. At last he told me that I lied! on which, Icaught him by the neckcloth, drew out my butcher's knife, toldhim that, in my opinion, he was a rascal, and that if he dared torepeat such words, I should use my cold steel. This brought himto his senses at once, the people, who had just before beenkissing his hands and garments, stared at me as if I were a wildbeast, although I could see that some were secretly well pleasedat the strong hints I gave the Padre. Upon leaving the house, Iread him a short sermon on the impropriety of insultingAmericans, and this had such an effect on him, that he presentedme with a glass of excellent brandy as a peace-offering, which Igenerously accepted.

On the day before we arrived at the ruins of Valverde, where wewere again to cross the river, a trifling occurrence took place. My duty consisted partly in seeing that the wagon-train, whichwas frequently five or six miles behind, got safely into camp. In order to protect the train, I had a wagon-guard of twelve men;and among them, was a tall, lanky Missourian, standing nearlyseven feet high, and of an almost inconceivable thinness, whosesobriquet was Lightning Rod. The last of our wagons having beendetained this day, some distance behind the others, I remainedwith it, having among them my long friend. After travelling withit until about five o'clock in the afternoon, I observed a smokeascending from a wood, about two miles off the road, to the left;and I sent Lightning Rod to see if it was our camp. I observedthat he did not enter the timbered part, and only gave a lookinto it from a short convenient distance. When he returned hetold me, in rather a troubled tones that it was not ourencampment, and that he could not imagine what it was, as he sawimmense herds of cattle and numerous tents more than twenty feetin length. This of course convinced me that it was not our camp,but also excited much speculation among us, as to whose it couldbe, and the size of the tents especially puzzled us. I continuedalong the road for three or four miles, when a Mexican, whom Imet, assured me that it was our company. More and moresurprised, I turned back, when, upon approaching the camp sowonderfully described by Lightning-rod, I found it to be the oneI was in search of -- his suspicious fear having multiplied fivebeef cattle into a herd, and our four wagons into numerous tentstwenty feet in length. It was some time before he heard the lastof that adventure.

After again crossing the Rio Grande at Valverde, once a fineplace, but now destroyed by the Navajos, where the water washardly as deep as we had found it at Albuquerque, we aim uponColonel Doniphan, encamped on the river bank, with only abouteighty men. He had dis-

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patched Major Gilpin ahead with one battalion of about fourhundred. He, himself, was only waiting to collect the remainderof his command, which was scattered through the mountains, on anexpedition against some Navajo Indians, who had murdered two ofhis men while tending a quantity of sheep. However, the Colonelat once made up his mind to accompany us with what men he nowhad, amounting to about fifty; and the next morning we started,expecting to be joined by straggling parties as we proceeded. Myreaders may like to have a slight sketch of Colonel Doniphan. Inage, about forty; and in stature, six feet two inches; of largeframe; and with a very intelligent face. His great charm lies inhis easy and kind manner. On the march he could not bedistinguished from the other soldiers, either by dress, or fromhis conversation. He ranked high as a lawyer in Missouri. Thecolonel is in the habit of interlarding his language with strongexpressions which many eastern men would call something very likeswearing.

At Fray Christobal we encamped one day to cook for the twofollowing, as, during this time, we were to be away fromwater -- being about to cross the large bend which the river heretakes. This dry stretch of road is called La Jornada del Muerto,or The (day's) Journey of Death. Although the word Jornada onlymeans a day's journey, yet, from this day forward, our men calledevery long dry extent of road a Jornada. In passing through thecountry, if you ask a peasant how far it is from one place toanother, he will tell you so many jornadas (pronouncedhornarthars), meaning, that to encamp at water each night, itwill take so many days

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page 77 LA JORNADA DEL MUERTO.

to travel it. But, as they always estimate road by the time ittakes a pack-mule to go over it, you must allow accordingly. This long piece of road, La Jornada del Muerto, obtained its namefrom the circumstance of a Mexican having attempted to cross itin a day, and from his not being provided with water or food,having perished on the road. It is usually called ninety, but,by the road we followed, it is really not more than sixty milesin length. Near to the middle of it is a large hollow in theground, which, if rain has fallen lately, usually contains water.A Spaniard who had just come through informed us that this wasdry.

About noon on the following day, we entered upon this drearyjourney; and after travelling fifteen miles, sent all of our livestock six miles off the road for water, to where there was asmall spring. I took my horse, old Tom, to it, but was sorry,afterwards, I did so, as the long distance, twelve miles thereand back, had wearied more than the water had refreshed him.

We again moved on, and marched until twelve o'clock at night; andpushed forward after daybreak.

One thing we particularly observed: that here the grass was finerand better than we had ever seen elsewhere, which, from the wantof water and scarcity of rain, was a singularity.

We first met, on this part of the road, with the species of palmcalled by us Soap-weed, from the fact that the Mexicans use itsroot as a substitute for soap, for which it answers very well. Indeed, it is considered superior to it for

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the washing of woolens. I believe it is rightly named theLechuguilla. This singular shrub, which is, to be also met withon the prairies, but where it never grows to any considerablesize, consists of a trunk very pithy, surmounted by a fine headof stiff leaves, each of which is about two feet and a half inlength, and armed at the eyed ???? with a long thorn. The leavesproject from the stalk on all sides, and set as close aspossible, and are of a dark-green color. The flower is white andvery pretty. As each year's foliage decays, it drops downagainst the trunk of a light-brown color. These dry leaves, whenfire is applied, flash up like gunpowder, and burn with a brightlight. Our night marches could be marked by their flames, which,as the nights were cold (although the days were comfortable) werecheering.

I have been thus particular in describing this plant for severalreasons: one is, its many uses of the leaves, the natives maketheir hats; also, when dressed like hemp, it is formed into ropesand sacks, looking like the material known as Manilla-hemp,though coarser. These plants have a singularly provokingquality; being from two to eight feet in height, they will assumeto the eye, in the twilight, the most deceptive forms. To thesentinel, they will appear as forms of men; and many anunconscious soap-weed has run the chance of a sentry's shot, fromnot answering to the challenge of "Who goes there? " If yourmule or horse has strayed from camp, and you start to hunt forhim in the gray of the morning, you are sure to be led first inone direction and then in another, by one of these shrubs, which,from a short distance, has taken the form of your animal. Timeafter time you may have been thus deceived -- yet never seeming tolearn experience from a soap-weed.

Some of our men, thinking to avoid the usual suffering for wateron this trip, got rather tipsy just before entering the jornada,calculating that, with a canteen full of whisky, they could keepin that state all the way across. Some did so, but others havingused their canteens too freely, exhausted their stock the firstnight, and suffered terribly from thirst.

The second night, about eleven o'clock, we again struck the Riodel Norte, having left the old road and moved to the right toreach it. Here we found the traders, who had left Santa Fe inSeptember, encamped with their wagons, being too much alarmed tocontinue their journey. The night before we arrived, one of themhad hitched up his teams to start back to Santa Fe, some friendlyMexicans having brought intelligence from El Paso, that thepriest there, named Ortis, was raising a party of men to come androb them. Our arrival put an end to their alarm. Encamped hereand a few miles below were about three hundred wagons belongingto the traders; and to one who has never seen these travellingmerchants on their journey, the whole is interesting. Theirwagons, called Conestoga or Pennsylvanian, are of the largestkind, covered with three or four cotton covers or sheets drawnclose at each end so as to exclude moisture, and these aresupported by high hoops, and, as those at the ends of the wagonare much higher than those in the middle, it has a very singularappearance. The height to the top

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of these end-hoops is usually from eighteen to twenty feet. Theyare each drawn by ten mules or six yoke of oxen, and containabout forty hundred weight of goods each. Seen from a distance,while moving on their way -- one following another, with their longstrings of mules, always harnessed, with the smallest in thelead, and gradually increasing in size to those at the pole ortong, upon the left one of which the driver sits with his longwhip in one hand, and single rein in the other, with the sunshining on the white covers, -- they present a very interestingsight.

On the twenty-third of December we encamped just below the newand rich town of Dona Ana, where we found Major Gilpin and hisbattalion who had preceded us. He gave as his opinion that weshould have trouble in entering El Paso, but being a sanguineofficer, we knew not how far to be guided by it.

That night, our picket-guard took a Scotchman, who was lurkingaround the camp. He was ragged and footsore; and said he hadescaped from the Calaboose in El Paso, and was starving. Foodwas given to him, but it was remarked that he did not very wellsupport the character of starvation -- not paying much attention toour humble fare. From subsequent events, I have no doubt he wasa spy from the Mexicans.

The next day (the twenty-fourth), we encamped in a wood which wenamed Dead Man's Grove, from the circumstance of our finding,among the bushes near to our camp, three unburied bodies; andfrom their dresses, two must have been Americans and the third aSpaniard. Who they were

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page 81 MEXICAN SHEEP.

or how they came there has remained a mystery -- the probability isthat they were murdered by Mexican scouts.

This evening, I killed fifteen sheep for our company, which hadbeen procured on our route above. Although apparently healthyand three years old, they, when dressed, weighed only seventeenpounds on an average; some, it is true, twenty-five pounds, butothers not more than twelve. I could not have believed the wantof substance, if I had not weighed them myself. (A New Yorksheep will weigh over forty pounds.) Our mess, this night,illuminated the carcass which had been served out to them byenclosing a lighted candle in it, and its thinness made a capitallantern; some suggested that such fine mutton should have beenreserved for the following day, to help out a Christmas dinner -- little knowing the sort of celebration which was in store!

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