STEPHEN CLYDE BLAIR and SUSAN STAFFORD produced this selection.

Diary of William Anderson Thornton: Military Expedition to New Mexico

About the Author

Gen. Thornton in later yearsWilliam A. Thornton was born in Albany, N.Y. in 1802. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. in 1825. He served in the Black Hawk Expedition of 1832 and in Charleston Harbor, S.C. with General Winfield Scott from 1832-33. In 1855 Jefferson Davis, Secretary of War, sent Major Thornton to New Mexico where he served as Chief of Ordnance of the Dept. of New Mexico until 1857. Returning across the plains, he contracted a lung condition from which he never fully recovered. As Bvt. Brig. General he took command of New York Arsenal at Governor's Island, N.Y. where he died April 6, 1866.

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Page from diary     Friday, June 15, 1855

Took passage on the steamer Edenburg from St. Louis for Fort Leavenworth with Major Nickoles and family, Lieut. Schrodder and family, Doctor Perien and family, and 137 U.S. troops. All destined for Santa Fe, New Mexico. Weather very warm. Entered the Missouri River at 8 P.M. Current strong, causing much difficulty in steaming against it and in finding the channels. Ran all night but frequently struck snags and sandbars. Water quite low and muddy.

     June 16, 1855

Continued to ascend the river. Country a perfect wilderness but in many places the scenery very beautiful. Struck a bar snag but received no material damage and frequently hard aground on sandbars.

     June 17, 1855 - Sunday

Reached Jefferson City, the capital of the State of Missouri, 173 miles from St. Louis. The site is too hilly and, therefore, although the state house and prison are pretty buildings of blue limestone, still the town does not show thrift or make a favorable impression as you approach it. Here the steamer Cataract, with U.S. troops on board, was hard aground. Passed her but made but little progress owing to snags and sandbars and to shallow water. Had to discharge part of the cargo during the night to lighten the boat and leave a guard with the property.

     June 18, 1855

The days work commenced at Grovesburough hard aground, where we remained five hours until we obtained help from the steamer Cataract. Passed Boonville at noon. The town shows very well from the river and appeared to be prosperous. At 4 p.m. again passed the Cataract hard aground. The day closes with one case of Cholera, a laundress of the detachment. The night dark with vivid lightening continued to run notwithstanding and at 11 p.m. struck a snag with great force which came near sinking us. Passed the steamer Australia which had been snagged about three weeks previous and sunk in nine feet of water, having a large amount of government stores on board. Tied up for the night, it being too dark to run with safety.

     June 19, 1855

Morning cold and cloudy. One Cholera patient still alive. At 8 a.m. our boat strained and ran into a raft of snags, whereby we came near losing our guards and horses that were lodged on them as well as sinking the boat. The Cataract close behind us at the time. Sundown - five cases of Cholera. Passed Lexington, 354 miles from St. Louis at 1 a.m., having been much impeded by snags and sandbars.

     June 20, 1855

Landed at Camden, 375 miles from St. Louis, for wood and bury a man and woman who had died during the night of Cholera. The others inking(?) and some sickness among the citizen passengers. The weather oppressively warm. Nights dark and stormy and for the latter cause could not run.

     June 21, 1855

Got under way early and reached Kansas City about sundown, where we landed much freight, and left at 9 p.m. Ran about 10 miles and stopped to bury a woman and two men who had died of Cholera. Wooded and left, but soon had to tie up owing to a severe thunderstorm. Started at daylight and reached Leavenworth City at 1 p.m. with eight men sick with Cholera - distance 430 miles.

     June 22, 1855

Sickness on the increase. Buried three men who had died of Cholera. Employed during the day in getting ready to march for Santa Fe, New Mexico.

     June 23, 1855

Buried one more who had died of Cholera. Doctor Perien sick. Time employed in making ready to march. Weather very warm. Slightly indisposed but received much kindness from Major M. S. Howe with whom I am staying, also from Major Sibley and Doctor Cuyler.

     June 24, 1855 - Sunday

Buried one more who had died of Cholera. Weather warm but continued to make arrangements for my tramp across the plains.

     June 25, 1855

Buried two men who died of Cholera. Two companies of cowboys reached here. Ready to march but detained by the new arrival of friends, which are to go with us to Santa Fe.

     June 26, 1855

Buried one man who died of Cholera. Ready to march but detained as before named.

     June 27, 1855

Buried three men who had died of Cholera. Doctor Cuyler and Major Sibley quite ill, Lieut. Skipord quite so with Cholera. Weather very warm.

     June 28, 1855

Buried Lieut. Skipord and two men who had died of Cholera. Doctor Cuyler and Major Sibley better. Col. Sumner and family, with many other officers, reached Fort Leavenworth. Marched at noon. Route over a beautiful prairie and encamped on Strangers Creek - distance 12 miles.

     June 29, 1855

Marched at 7 a.m. and reached Hickory Grove at noon, encamped. The weather very warm with high wind. Men much fatigued. Country rolling prairie and beautiful. Wood and water plenty. Thunderstorms after encamping. Buried one man who died of Cholera, two others very sick - distance 15 miles.

     June 30, 1855

Marched at 7 a.m. Weather cool, roads very muddy. One man taken sick with Cholera. Reached Grasshopper Creek at 11 a.m., 10 miles, and Rock Creek at 11 a.m. Encamped with plenty of wood and water. Country as before, rolling prairie and beautiful between the creeks. Thunderstorm at the close of the day. The man died of Cholera - distance 15 miles.

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     July 1, 1855 - Sunday

Marched at 6 a.m. Crossed the Little and Big Muddy Creeks, 3 and 5 miles. Weather very warm. Reached Solarens Creek at noon and encamped about one mile beyond it. Sun during the day, on our right the woodland bordering the Kansas River. Met Col. Alexander, Lieut. Lurges, and families 26 days from Santa Fe. Three men taken with Cholera - distance 15 miles.

     July 2, 1855

Marched at 6 a.m. Morning cloudy and prospect of rain. Route S.W.10 miles and west 6 miles on the left side of the Kansas River. The prairie on valley of the Kansas River about three miles wide. Beautiful locations. The ridges rise about 50 feet. It is here that Governor Reeder is said to own 1200 acres, purchased at 90 cents the acre. Encamped at noon at Cross Creek and had many others sick in our wagons. Day very warm without rain. Suffered much from burned lips. General health good. Afternoon closed by the death and burial of two men. Thunderstorm during the night -distance 16 miles.

     July 3, 1855

Marched at 6 a.m. and reached a Potawatomi village known as the Mission at 8 a.m. The building of logs whitewashed externally, giving them an air of neatness. Schoolhouse and chapel. Many children well clad and at play. General appearance of the people very comfortable - distance 6 miles. Reached Lost Creek at 11 1/2 a.m., 15 1/2. Encamped at 1 p.m. on Vermillion Creek. Day oppressively warm - distance 19 miles.

     July 4, 1855

Marched at 5 1/2 a.m. Morning warm and cloudy. Rained during the day. Met many Delaware Indians returning from a buffalo hunt loaded with skins and meat. Reached the Big Blue River at 1 o'clock, crossed on a fine bridge and encamped. Sickness less and men in better spirits. Suffered much from burned lips and nose. Heavy thunderstorm which lasted five hours. One man died of Cholera - distance 22 miles.

     July 5, 1855

Marched at 8 a.m. and encamped at 2 p.m. on Three Mile Creek. Weather warm and cloudy. Country very beautiful. Men much fatigued by travelling over a muddy road and wet grass. One man died of Cholera - distance 16 miles.

     July 6, 1855

Smokey Creek. Also, shod our animals preparatory for a long march to Fort Union.

     July 7, 1855

Commenced crossing our wagons over the Republican Fork and Smokey Creek. The first by a bridge and the 2nd by a roap(?) sc____. At noon the supply train safely over, and at 2 p.m. troops and baggage in motion to make the crossing, and at 9 p.m. all over and encamped about three miles from the ferry.

     July 8, 1855 - Sunday

Marched at 10 a.m. and in half we reached the foot of a high piece of tableland or mesa over which our route lay. It was not possible for our teams to ascend by the road and we had to wind round in a spiral route and with much trouble and fatigue gradually to reach its summit. By so doing we missed the true road and found much difficulty in getting forward. The day was oppressively warm. The wind high, and, as it was driven in our faces, it felt as if it had been blown from a furnace, causing much pain to our eyes. No water could be found and the men were maddened for a drink. Many sank under the heat and finally we turned aside from our route and marched for some woodland, about five miles to our left, where we found water and encamped. Dispatched horsemen back with canteens of water to those who were left behind exhausted and wagons to bring them in, and it was not until some time after nightfall that our command were finally assembled - distance 18 miles.

     July 9, 1855

We remained encamped to enable the men to recover from the great exhaustion caused by the previous day’s heat. Lt. Mercer overtook us and reported for duty. One man died of Cholera and another looked sick.

     July 10, 1855

Up at 3 a.m. expecting to march at sunrise but was prevented by the death and burial of the man that was taken ill the day previous. Marched at 5 a.m., route south of southwest. Saw some antelope arriving and a few deer and soon expect to see buffalo. Encamped at Clark's Creek. Thunderstorm after encamping. Men in better spirits. My own health good - distance 18 miles.

     July 11, 1855

Marched at 5 a.m. but road badly defined. Morning cloudy. Thunderstorm during the march. Struck the Santa Fe road about 5 miles from Diamond Spring about 9 a.m. and reached the Lost Spring about 2 p.m. and encamped. To Council Grove about 35 miles and to Fort Union about 550 miles. Saw some game during the day and marched about 18 miles. Saw some travelers who reported Indians ahead. Poor place to encamp on account of wood, water and grass. Lost a man who died of Cholera - distance 18 miles.

     July 12, 1855

Marched 5 1/2 a.m. Morning cloudy and warm. Reached Cottonwood Creek at 1/2 past one and encamped. Found a party of Crow Indians encamped at the creek curing buffalo meat. Had a visit from a chief and squaw, who wanted money, flour, and sugar. Made a small contribution to there wants and told them to go. Gave them bread and meats, the latter they threw away and left in a thunderstorm - distance 18 miles.

July 13, 1855

Marched at 5 1/2 a.m. and encamped at Turkey Creek. Bad water, no wood, fresh indications of buffalo. Saw some antelope, but so wild I could not obtain a shot at them. Weather very warm but the men in good spirits - distance 19 miles.

July 14, 1855

Marched at 3 a.m., crossed the little Arkansas at 3 p.m. Water poor and no grass. A horse would not fill himself by days grazing over twenty acres. Prospects depressing. No indications of Indians but plenty of buffalo. Men much fatigued by day’s march. Rode at least 38 miles in aiding to find good encamping ground -distance marched by troops 28 miles.

     July 15, 1855 - Sunday

Remained in camp until 4 p.m. then struck our tents and advanced about 6 miles, and bivouacked to let our animals graze. No water but what we had in our kegs - distance 6 miles.

     July 16, 1855

Resumed our march at daylight and encamped at 10 a.m. about 22 miles from the Little Arkansas and Cow Creek. Many buffalo and Indians in our neighborhood. At noon a fire broke out caused by neglect of some servants in lighting the dry grass. The wind was high and it spread rapidly, and in a few moments we lost all of our company tents and most of the men’s knapsacks and baggage. Also, about 60 of our muskets were b_______ burned and by the firing of some of them had four men wounded, one dangerously so. Fortunately many of the muskets had been loaded by the introduction of the ball before the powder, which fortunately saved many lives. The mishap has very much weakened our strength. All the serviceable arms carefully examined and loaded, and the men not on guard caused to sleep on their arms to be ready in case of a surprise by the Indians, who it was thought might take advantage of fire to approach our camp at night - distance 16 miles.

     July 17, 1855

Weather hot with high winds. A whirlwind passed through our camp doing some damage among our wagons. Men employed in repairing and cleaning our damaged arms. Also, two drills ordered to instruct the men how to load. Indians sure about us. Buffalo plenty but none yet killed by any of the command. We will be able to use about 46 of the muskets burned, but we are the worst organized and armed boy of mine even sent by Government to Santa Fe, and if we get through safely it is more than is expected by many of the officers.

     July 18, 1855

Marched at sunrise. Crossed Cow Creek, a small but beautiful stream. Lost 4 dragoons by desertions, who pretended to remain behind to water their horses. Weather warm. Saw many buffalo and wounded three but got none of them. Encamped at 3 p.m., about six miles from Walnut Creek on the great bend of the Arkansas. Stream low, no wood, but good feed for our animals - distance about 18 miles.

     July 19, 1855

Marched at 7 a.m. and crossed Walnut Creek and encamped on the Arkansas about 12 miles from the creek. Saw thousands of buffalo and killed three, and a calf. Three infantry soldiers deserted with their arms. 80 men in our wagons sick caused by eating wild plumbs. No wood but good grass. Passed a surveying party at Walnut Creek locating a position for the establishment of a mail depot. A fine spring at the creek. Tired from horse riding but quite well - distance about 18 miles.

     July 20, 1855

Marched at 6 a.m. Reached Pawnee Rock, 6 miles, at 9 a.m. Crossed Ark. Creek at noon, 12 miles, and encamped after crossing Pawnee Fork. Morning cloudy with rain. Day cool and the men traveled with much more ease. Passed a party of gold finders who had 8 horses stolen by Indians during the night. Few buffalo seen during the day. Pawnee Rock rises about 100 feet above the surrounding prairie and affords a fine view. No Indians seen but they are around us. The night rainy. Our camp is about two miles to the left of the road beside ponds of bad water - distance about 8 miles.

     July 21, 1855

Marched at 7 a.m. Morning rainy. Crossed Coon Creek about noon, turned to the left and advanced to the river and encamped at 3 p.m. This days march was peculiarly hard on the men as it rained heavily almost all the time. 120 men sick in the wagons. Stampede of our train shortly after crossing the creek. Crossed it at the upper fork. Good grass on the river but no wood. The country on the right bank of the river very hard but on the other bank rising in sand hills. The river favorable and was crossed by the men to obtain wood. No buffalo seen during the day and but little game on the prairies - distance about 18 miles.

     July 22, 1855 - Sunday

Marched at 6 a.m. and encamped at 3 p.m. Day warm and foggy until about 10 a.m. and closed by a heavy thunderstorm. Our cattle lost during the night but recovered during the day by a party of 20 dragoons commanded by Lieut. Mercer. Grass and water but no wood to be found near our encampment. Water rising in the Arkansas which may trouble us when we have to cross - distance about 18 miles.

     July 23, 1855

Marched at 7 a.m. and encamped at 2 p.m. Route close along the river. Country rolling with limestone hills resembling chalk. No game or Indians seen. Day warm and partly cloudy and closes with a thunderstorm. Buried a dragoon who died of Cholera - distance 16 miles.

     July 24, 1855

Marched at 6 1/4 a.m. and passed Ft. Atkinson at noon and encamped about 3 miles beyond it. Day very warm and cloudy. Country a rolling prairie, the most desolate we have passed through. No game. Seven Indians seen watching us from the opposite side of the river. Fort Atkinson is a sad work put up but a few years since and abandoned about a year since. It is in the middle of the Indian Country and was once in great danger of being taken by the Indians. It is on the left bank of the Arkansas and close up to it. Its position on the road to New Mex. may have been good, but it is too remote from its most needful supply, that is wood, which could not be obtained short of 18 miles from the post. In case of trouble with the Indians it would require the entire command of the post as an escort to obtain a few loads of wood - distance 18 miles.

     July 25, 1855

Marched at 6 a.m. over a limestone ridge and rolling prairie, very barren. Passed a train encamped on the river having A_________ for the Indians. Came in sight of the 7th infty. commanded by Col. P. Morrison. Found we could not reach their encampment, and therefore we turned to the left and encamped. In looking out our position we came upon a large camp very lately occupied by the Indians. Supposed to be in force at least 3000 strong. Fire and thunderstorm during the afternoon. At sundown large train of wagons seen coming over the hills. It proved to be contractors train 10 days from Fort Union, and we sent letters by it to the States - distance 18 miles.

     July 26, 1855

Marched at 7 a.m. and encamped at noon. A few Indians in our neighborhood who moved across the river. Sent Lieut. Carr forward with a party of dragoons to examine the water in the Cimarron River and if he found a supply to report by sending back some of his men. Crossed the Arkansas during the day and encamped - distance 6 miles.

     July 28, 1855

Marched at sunrise and reached a body of Comanche Indians 2500 strong and one of Kiowa’s 1500 strong. As we approached their positions they broke up their camp, packed their animals, and sent their families away, and formed in line close to the road. All well maintained and armed with rifles, bows, and arrows. At this disposition our wagons were formed in two columns and close up. The space between our leading wagons was about 30 yards. A strong rear guard formed close up to the rear wagons. Our 100 dragoons each leading a horse kept the road and marched directly in front of the leading wagons, with directions that if the Indians made an attack to fall back between the wagons to obtain protection for their horses. Our infantry marched by a flank with bayonets fixed. This arrangement was defective as it threw the infantry too far in advance and placed it in the power of the Indians to have arrowed our animals before the infantry could have given any protection. Our defense should have been wagons in two columns and the dragoons between them. The infantry in two lines marching as flankers on the right and left sides of the wagons. A front and rear guard close on the _____ of the columns, and thus in case of an attack they would have been met promptly at all points by the fire of the infantry. Our position was critical and fortunately there was no one caught on either side, but the Indians for miles pressed hard on our left flank and rear, and if a fight had taken place it is presumed by all that our command would have been wiped out, but they would have had to work hard for it. They left us about noon and we encamped at 3 p.m. Our position strong having the river in our rear and our wagons in a semicircle from flank to flank for our front. Our camp visited by the chiefs, of whom Old Stonehead, the king of the Comanches, was one. White Eagle and Buffalo Rump were the principles after him. Our talk was through a Mexican boy, presumed to be a girl, whom they have in captivity. Gave them some hard bread, some sugar, and they left our camp without causing trouble - distance 20 miles.

     July 29, 1855

Marched at 5 a.m. and encamped at 2 p.m. Position a little below Chouteau Island in the Arkansas. Not troubled during the day with the Indians but crossed many fresh trails. The day warm but men in good spirits. Country more rolling and wood increasing in quantity along the river. Should have remarked that in addition to the body of Indians whose encampment we passed on the 28th, there was a larger party, supposed to be at least a thousand strong, encamped on the opposite side of the river, who did not break upon our approach but turned out on the sand hills to see us pass. If trouble had taken place between us and the party on our side of the river, the two bodies could have united their strengths on us in ten minutes - distance 22 miles.

     July 30, 1855

Marched at 7 a.m. and encamped at 11 a.m. a little above Chouteau Island, preparatory to crossing the sand desert by the Aubrey route. Lieut. Daves sent out with a party of 20 dragoons to examine the supply of water at Bear Creek. Indians discovered watching our movements. Two signal fires lighted by them. A party of dragoons sent to examine the conditions of a large prairie fire, which had been lighted by the Indians and appeared to be approaching us. This was about nine o'clock at night. The party returned in an hour and reported the fire on the opposite side of the river and from sixty to eighty Indians at it - distance - 12 miles.

     July 31, 1855

Still in camp but no news from Lieut. Daves. Apprehensions for his safety. At noon council called and resolved to follow the Lieut. At 4 p.m. crossed the Arkansas and took up our line of march, following the route Lieut. Daves had taken. The watch fires lighted by the Indians where we left the river. At sundown a violent thunderstorm set in which became so violent that at 11 p.m. we were forced to halt. Controlled our wagons as we best could in the dark to protect our animals. This was the most violent thunderstorm I think I ever witnessed, and the night’s tramp we had in it will be long remembered by all of us - distance 18 miles.

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     August 1, 1855

Marched at daylight and reached Bear Creek at 1 p.m. Wood and water plenty and but little grass. Passed a dead horse having a saddle and bridle, and all attached to him. Shortly after, reached a train of wagons from which the Indians had stampeded the animals and was presumed by us that the horse we passed west had belonged to the train - distance 22 miles.

     August 2, 1855

Marched at 8 a.m. and encamped at 3 p.m. Volcanic hill near our camp. Copper and iron indicated. Water scarce, wood plenty, but grass very poor. Buried a man who died of Cholera. I should have noted that we found Lieut. Daves the day previous at Bear Spring, awaiting our arrival. The man he had sent back had halted with the teamsters of the train we passed - distance 18 miles.

     August 3, 1855

In camp recruiting our strengths for a forced march of 40 miles across a sandy desert, which must be made without water.

     August 4, 1855

In camp to let a man recover strength for a march, after a surgical operation of amputation of one arm at the shoulder joint. This poor fellow was one of the men wounded by the firing of muskets caused by the fire we had in camp on the 16th of July.

     August 5, 1855 - Sunday

The man sank under the wound and has been buried. Marched at 5 p.m. Weather warm, indications of a stormy night. The men marched rapidly until midnight and then became disorderly by leaving the ranks. Halted until morning - distance 26 miles.

     August 6, 1855

Resumed our march at daylight, and we reached the Cimarron Creek at noon and encamped. Men mutinous. No grass, bad water, plenty of wood. Country hilly and volcanic - distance about 14 miles.

     August 7, 1855

Marched at 7 and encamped at 11 a.m. at the upper spring, Cimarron River. Country hilly and volcanic. Grass and water very good but no wood. The mail from Santa Fe reported to be about 2 miles above us at another spring. At 2 p.m. sent our letters by express to the mail and had them placed in the bags. The mail passed our camp and the agent made us a visit at 5 p.m. He said he would travel about ten miles farther, and when it became dark he would turn off from the road and without lighting fires encamp for the night - distance about 9 miles.

     August 8, 1855

Marched at 6 a.m. and encamped at noon at the springs of Cedar Creek. Had to open the springs and dig for water. No wood, but grass pretty good. A noted place where trains and the mail have been attacked by Indians. Made preparations accordingly. Rabbit Ear Mountains seen at a great distance on our right, but very remote. The Raton Mountains seen rising like black clouds above the prairies - distance about 16 miles.

     August 9, 1855

Marched at 6 a.m. and crossed McNee’s Creek at 10 1/2 a.m., and encamped on the Cottonwood Creek at 3 p.m. The country more rugged and therefore more interesting and beautiful. Volcanic mountains of various form seen in the distance of at least 50 miles looming up higher than the crows nest at West Point. But little water at McNee’s Creek. Grass poor and no wood. Grass good in camp. Water good but not certain, with a scant supply of wood. Saw many antelopes during the day and Indian fires in the mountains. We are in a hostile Indian country, by the Utah’s and Apaches, and at all the watering places from Cedar Creek to Santa Fe trains and mail parties have been cut off by said Indians. Day part cloudy and warm - distance 20 miles.

     August 10, 1855

Marched at 7 a.m. and encamped at Rabbit Ear Creek at 2 p.m. Day very warm. Grass good, water and wood plenty. Met a war party of Cherokees returning, they said, from a trail after the Ute’s, not painted but in their wardresses. Country becoming more interesting by lofty mountains before us - distance about 16 miles.

     August 11, 1855

Marched at 6 a.m. and reached Rock Creek at 1 p.m., and encamped at White Creek at 5 p.m. Poor water and grass at both creeks and no wood. Many antelopes and rattlesnake. Visited Rabbit Ear Mountains and attempted its ascent, but it was too abrupt and about 1000 feet high. Earth piled in all shapes and forms by volcanic actions around us, bleached by fire and gray with age - distance 25 miles.

     August 12, 1855 - Sunday

Marched at 6 a.m. and reached Point of Rocks at 11 a.m. No water, but wood and poor grazing. Had to return four miles to find a camp, which we established at 1 p.m. Poor grass but better wood, plenty of water. Horses stampeded about 3 p.m. and for a time it looked as if we would loose them all, as well as our mules. Men sent out in every direction in pursuit of them. Fires lighted as signals for the men to return by. About midnight many horses and mules brought back - distance 12 miles.

     August 13, 1855

In camp and four armed parties sent out to recover the balance of our animals. March at 6 p.m., none of the parties having returned. This was an unjust act after the assurance that had been given that we would remain on the ground until the parties came in, and at night light signal fires. Halted at 11 p.m. for the balance of the night but put up no tents - distance 12 miles.

     August 14, 1855

Morning cold. The Raton Mountains looming up beautifully in the distance of at least 60 miles capped with clouds. Our armed parties reached us just after daylight having traveled all day and night for animals that were with us when the parties were sent out, which shows the management of our commander. Marched at 8 a.m. and reached Red River at 1 p.m. Halted an hour and resumed our march, and encamped at the Ocate Creek at 5 p.m. The scenery of the country resembling that at West Point, but much more ground. The Raton Mountains, although very remote, appear at the great distance full as high as the crow's nest when near at hand. Our parties were out after our supposed lost animals and came on some small parties of Indians. Good grass and plenty of wood and water - distance 22 miles.

     August 15, 1855

Marched at 7 a.m. and encamped at 3 p.m. at Biergwin Springs. A thunderstorm when we encamped. The country becoming mountainous and beautiful. Plenty of grass and water, and wood obtained by sending a wagon about 2 miles for it at the foot of the Turkey Mountains. Met a party of dragoons going out to Point of Rocks to escort the express mail to Fort Union - distance 22 miles.

     August 16, 1855

Marched at 6 a.m. and encamped at 11 a.m. at Fort Union. Country beautiful in mountain and prairie scenery. Met several officers from Fort Union who came out to meet us and escort us in. Dined at Captain Shoemakers, the military storekeeper of ordnance. A heavy thunderstorm at sundown. Our commander resolved to resume the march the next morning owing to the interference of Col. Fauntleroy with his command - distance only 10 miles.

     August 17, 1855

Marched at 7 a.m. Road very bad causing much delay to our teams. Met General Garland on his way to Fort Union. Turned back about 2 miles and encamped at 5 p.m. Night set in stormy and it rained heavily the greater part of the night. Campground flooded with water - distance from Fort Union about 10 miles.

     August 18, 1855

Prospects bad, many of our teams had sunk to their hubs in the ground, which had been so badly softened by the great fall of water during the past night. A 15 gallon keg had been set by accident the night previous under the fly of my tent, and when we got up in the morning it was found full and running over, showing conclusively that not less than 4 inches of water had fallen during the night. And, from the prospects among us, it was the general belief that at least 8 inches of rain had fallen in about 10 hours. Marched at 10 a.m. and it was after one o'clock before our last wagon had been pried out of the mud on the road. We found the country covered with water and the streams so much swollen as to render them impassable. Our teams of six mules were constantly miring down, requiring the aid of many men to free them. Reached Sopio Creek at 5 p.m. and found that we could not cross it and consequently encamped on an adjoining ridge of upland. Men and animals much fatigued by the day’s work. Obtained green corn, chickens and eggs from some Mexican families residing on the creek. Prospects of another stormy night - distance about 5 miles.

     August 19, 1855 - Sunday

Remained in camp all day. The morning clear. It had rained heavily during the night. Thunderstorms during the afternoon. The Sopio brimming full of water which prevents our advance. General Garland returning from Fort Union reached our camp about 4 p.m. and is very urgent to cross, but has to give up.

     August 20, 1855

More rain during the past night and therefore still detained in camp. Time employed in disposing of property and dividing the men for the post to which they are assigned in the department. A heavy thunderstorm in the mountains from whence the Sopio drains its water, and the creek rising rapidly.

     August 21, 1855

In camp. Still prevented from crossing the creek which is very much swollen by the fall of rain during the past night.

     August 22, 1855

Made an effort to form a raft of feed troughs, but the current was so strong that it would sink the raft, when it was attempted to haul it across. Weather very warm and indications of more rain.

     August 23, 1855

Received an order to bridge the stream if possible. Only two cottonwood trees to do it with. Swam some men over with axes and in so doing lost one by drowning. Cut down the trees and by much labor formed a foot bridge. Unloaded our wagons and carried our baggage over, then swam over our animals and hauled our wagons across. At 10 p.m. the General and his staff over. Commenced the bridge at 8 a.m. and reported it ready at 1 p.m.

     August 24, 1855

It was found impracticable to cross the heavy wagons and baggage of the troops over the bridge and stream, therefore the commander was ordered to make the crossings as soon as he could and follow. Marched at 8 a.m. with General Garland and passed Las Vegas at 1 p.m. and encamped at 5 p.m. - Tecolote. Shortly after encamping one of Colonel Grayson's servants killed his comrade in a fight, in self defense. From the Sopio to Vegas the country is a rolling prairie, which had come so softened by the heavy rains that in each small area teams mired down, and causing us much hard labor and fatigue to progress. From Vegas to Tecolote the road better but our animals so much fatigued and jaded by the mornings work that we could not urge them beyond a walk. Country exceedingly pretty as we have entered mountain scenery and commenced crossing a spur of the Rocky Mountains. From the storm we could see at various points, remote and near at hand, the tops of the mountains covered with snow. The villages of Vegas and Tecolote made from unburnt clay and in appearances resemble unburnt brick kilns in the States. People poor and dirty. Flocks of sheep, goats and cattle very numerous. Wheat and c. raised by irrigation. From Vegas to Tecolote 10 miles. Had to unload our wagons at Vegas and cross our baggage on a footbridge, and then at the Sopio swim our mules and haul wagons over. As soon as we left Vegas we turned short to the right and entered the gorge of a mountain pass about 50 feet near, evidently the effects of water in forming the passageway. The sides of the passage rising at most vertical many hundred feet above the road. The scenery as we advanced towards Tecolote becoming more grand and beautiful. Our camp is located on a beautiful spot overlooking the mud village through which we had passed - distance about 22 miles.

     August 25, 1855

Marched at 7 a.m. and crossed the lower fork of the Pecos at San Miguel 15 miles, to San Jose 3 miles, and to Gosano 7 miles. Encamped at 5 p.m. En route we passed about 7 miles from San Miguel, the San Barnard Mountains about 1500 feet high. It rises with a rapid slope for about 1400 feet and then terminates with a perpendicular, in fact an overhanging top resembling a stupendous castle set high in the air neatly roofed. I could not bewish that the stars and stripes were wavering from its top. General Kearny strove to place a flag on it, when he marched around its foot during the war with Mexico, but he found it an impossible job. The villages, grounds, soil, productions, herds, and c. as before named, but the scenery even hourly becoming more grand and beautiful. The nights cool and roads rough - distance 25 miles.

     August 26, 1855

Marched at 7 a.m. to Old Pecos 12 miles, to Pigeon Roost 5 miles, to Rock Corrals 9 miles, encamped at 5 p.m. Passed the Old Pecos Church, the age of which is not known to the people of the country. The builders were fire worshippers and until but about 7 years since, fires were constantly kept burning by the devotees expecting that their king, whom they worship, would appear with the rising sun to resume his earthly duties under the name of a Montazuma. Country and scenery the same as the day previous in grandeur and beauty - distance 25 miles.

     August 27, 1855

Marched at 8 a.m. and reached Santa Fe at noon. Roads badly washed by the heavy rains which detained us on the Sopio. The city of Santa Fe had suffered very much by the heavy rains. The flood that had been poured down from the mountains had swept away the mud houses as if they were only cobwebs, and full half of the town had been more or less injured. Our friends however had made arrangements for us until we could do better, and I was accordingly accommodated with a sleeping place by Joab Houghton and Lawyer Smith. Major Smith and brother received like accommodations, and as we had missed together across the plains we determined to remain together and to find quarters that would accommodate us accordingly. Everything exceedingly filthy and the people of the town of the vilest class. Mrs. Major Long, the paymasters wife, says that there is but one hotter place than Santa Fe and that Santa Fe is the place of all others for the old gentlemen - distance 10 miles.


From St. Louis to Fort Leavenworth               430 miles
From Fort Leavenworth to Riley                     133 miles
From Riley to Union                                       619 miles
From Fort Union to Santa Fe                            97 miles
                                                                    1,279 miles
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     September 10, 1855

At 8 a.m. Major Smith with an escort of 10 infantrymen started on a tramp. He to pay the men at Cantonment Burgwin and Massachusetts, and I to examine the condition of the ordnance at the several posts. Our route was north from Santa Fe, and as we progressed we crossed Tesuque Creek, the Pogouque Creek, and the Canada Creek, all mountain torrents, and we encamped at Goat Heard Ranch. The morning was stormy, and it continued to rain all day. The country mountainous and wild, and the road very rough and bare. The scenery very fine as there have been heavy frosts in the mountains which variegated the colouring of the sides of the mountains which were lofty and grand. The valleys through which we passed were loaded with corn, oats, and some wheat, and also clove in the beautiful colours of the autumn. No just idea can be formed of the beauty of the prospect, far and near around us, of the country, and of the filthy, squalid, misery in the ranches and Mexican villages through which we passed.

     September 11, 1855

We started at daylight and after passing La Joya Village, about 6 miles from our camp, we turned abruptly to the right and ascended a valley called a canon, down which in rain storms the water rushed in torrents. As we were progressing slowly up this canon over its bed of sand, gravel, little and big boulders, making the labor so much for our animals that the men, Major, and myself were walking to spare our mules, who had only a light carriage to haul. We met suddenly a torrent of water 18 in. in depth, white with foam, rushing down the canon over the very and only road for us to travel. We had to take to our teams and they to make the best of it. The cause of this rush of water was a cloud had cross the canon a few miles ahead of us and had poured out its waters, and in less than an hour it had passed us and we were again moving on dry ground. At the end of five hours we found ourselves unexpectantly at the top of the canon. On the crest of the mountain, much like being on the ridge of the roof of a house. From our positions we had to descend into a valley of more than 1000 feet in depth as it were going down the steep roof of a house and to prevent our wagons from injuring our mules, notwithstanding our wheels were locked, we had to fasten ropes to them and cause the men to hold back the wagons from their rush upon the mules. The canon we had been climbing was eight miles in length and we were five hours in making its ascent. When we reached its crest the grandeur and beauty of the scenery and valley before us surpassed anything I have seen before. The yellow and red colouring of leaves mixed in with the deep evergreen foliage, which clothed the mountains around us, caused us to halt for a time before we commenced the descent. In our front, and not more than a mile from where we stood, rose an immense mountain so high that much of its top was hid by clouds. Passed Los Franquas Creek and encamped at dark. Our route throughout the day had been over the roughest roads and the wildest country I have ever seen. The wolves as we passed along would stand and bark at us, and there was not a mile of the route that was not marked by a pile of stones to show where some poor traveler had been murdered by Indians, or worse, Mexicans. It is a common practice of the country for every passed to place a stone on the spot where persons have been murdered, and during the day we passed many places where there were five or six such heaps - distance 38 miles.

     September 12, 1855

Started early and shortly after we crossed the Picuris Creek and at noon reached Cantonment Burgwin. Shortly after leaving camp we reached Captain Scummons camp on the Picuris Creek. The captain, with a strong party, is examining the country for a better route to the Cantonment and beyond, but as he has been a long time on the examination and he has done nothing, it is presumed he will expend the appropriation for the road and that will be the end of it. This days march was more rough than the day previous. In many places the scenery was very beautiful, but as we were more shut in by roads the views were not so extensive and grand. The Cantonment is in the valley of Taos at the foot of a high ridge of the Taos Mountains. The post is beautifully located and commanded by Captain McCrae, Lieut. McCook, and Doctor Borg are the officers on duty with him. The doctor is a hired citizen - distance 12 miles.

     September 14, 1855

Left Burgwin at daylight and reached Taos about 8 a.m. Here is where Captain Burgwin fell during the late war with Mexico in an assault made on an Indian church, which was defended by Indians and Mexicans. Doctor Decamp was present when the Captain fell. The church is still standing but not used for worship, still a fire is kept burning in it for the Sun and Montazuma, their god and king. The latter is to come at the rising of the former to give back to the Indians the country occupied by all other people. We left Taos and for miles our road wound around its mountain, which rose about 3500 feet above the prairie road over which we traveled. We crossed the Arroyo Hondo and the Rio Colorado. On the bank of the latter we encamped. Met Col. Brooks on his way to the States. The country beautiful in places and scenery grand. The White Mountains, at the foot of which is Fort Massachusetts, is seen looming up at 75 miles ahead, topped with snow. From Burgwin to Taos 12 miles, from Taos to Arroyo Hondo 12 miles - distance 38 miles.

     September 15, 1855

Marched at daylight and crossed during the day the Doloros, Costilla, and Culebra Creeks and encamped at dark. The country mountainous and prospect very fine. Road in part very good. Valley loaded with corn, oats, and wheat. People half naked, dirty, gathering their crops and making molasses from the juice of the corn stalks. The Rio Grande on our left with high rocky banks - distance 40 miles.

     September 16, 1855

Started at daylight and during the day crossed the Truichea, the San Christo, and Utah Creeks and reached Fort Massachusetts at noon. The post is at the foot of the White Mountain, called so because during the greater portions of the year its top is covered with snow, which was the case when we reached the Fort. The fort is 10,000 feet above the ocean and the mountain top 2500 feet above the Fort, or 12,500 feet. Weather cold, causing us to use our overcoats. Grizzly bears are numerous in this mountain, not long since one attacked a soldier close to the Fort. And the hunter who supplies the Garrison with game had a most desperate fight with one. He killed the bear but was almost eaten up by the animal. Elk, deer, and small game are found in great numbers in the gorges of this mountain, and the streams which flow from it are alive with trout. The officers on duty at the Fort are Lieut. Beall and Smead and Doctor Peaters - distance 25 miles.

     September 17, 1855

Marched at 2 p.m. and encamped at our former places and reached Santa Fe about 5 p.m. on the 22nd, thus travelling about 400 miles in 13 days over the roughest roads and through a mountainous country, in fact nearly crossing the famed Rocky Mountains. One hour after our return to Santa Fe a thunderstorm passed over this place, and for violence I think I c_______ saw its equal. The rain fell in torrents and came rushing down from the mountains doing much damage to the mud houses of Santa Fe, of which many were washed away. Two persons were killed by the fall of these houses. It was well for us that we reached Santa Fe, for if we had not we would have had to encamped for the night, as it would have been impossible to have crossed the foaming streams that supervened on our route.


From Santa Fe to Burgwin                          87 miles
From Burgwin to Massachusetts                103 miles
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     October 24, 1855

Left Santa Fe at 7 a.m. and reached Algodones at 4 p.m. Country barren, hilly, and mountainous. Road good and descending - distance 43 miles.

     October 25, 1855

Left Algodones at 8 a.m. and reached Albuquerque at 1 p.m. Country much the same as the day previous. Pass Indian and Mexican villages. The former much the best in appearance. Albuquerque dirty, people filthy. Public depot and Post Master stores here. A company of dragoons on duty here commanded by Bvt. Major C___ - distance 24 miles.

     October 26, 1855

Left Albuquerque at 9 a.m. Crossed the Rio Grande by fording and encamped at 4 p.m. on the Rio Percoi. Road up hill and sandy. Water bad and scarce. Wood hardly any to be found. Country very barren with sand hills - distance 18 miles.

     October 27, 1855

Left at 7 a.m. and reached Sharp Spring at 10 a.m., distance 10 miles. Road sandy and in many places very heavy. Country barren, bluffs of red and white sand stone. Reached Laguna at 7 p.m., distance 12 miles. Country volcanic and a_____ in appearance. Reached Covaro at 4 p.m., distance 12 miles. Country more mountainous. Road good, grass and ground white with sand - distance 34 miles.

     October 28, 1855

Marched at 7 a.m. and encamped at Agua Azul, or blue water, at 4 p.m. Passed through Covaro village at 7 ½. People and place exceedingly filthy, took corn for our animals. Reached a bed of lava at 9 p.m. Country not describable, being the bed of a crater. The deep feelings that the mass is still burning hot comes over you and you look around you with dread. There before you is a stream of fresh black lava looking as if it had been just thrown up and so porous that appears like foam standing fifteen or twenty feet in height. Everything around you indicates that there must have been terrible commotions there. Mountains from 500 to 1500 feet in height constitute the walls of the burning lake - distance 35 miles.

     October 29, 1855

Marched at 5 a.m. and reached Bacon Spring at 1 p.m., distance 26 miles, and Bean Spring at 4 p.m., distance 9 miles. Wood, water, and grass plenty. Road in places sandy and heavy, otherwise good. North side of valley one continuous chain of jutting mountains of red and white sandstone, and so regular in distance and formations that it looks like an extensive chain of fortification supported and flanked by huge forts many hundred feet in height, constituting the walls of this vast basin of liquid fires. The south side generally sloping to the crest of like walls, but as it rises the ground is covered with stunted pine, cedar, and pinion trees, many of which have been a long time dead but so sound that one would think their decay had taken place but yesterday. No indications of young trees springing up, and the drying up of the streams show plainly that the country has been better than at present. Lava at the beginning of our day’s march and our road the entire day has been over its black mass - distance 35 miles.

     October 30, 1855

Marched at 8 a.m. and reached Fort Defiance at 3 p.m. At 9 a.m. passed out of the crater at the head of which stands a lofty mound on bluff of red and white sandstone. To the east of which is a beautiful mass of stone which at the distance of 8 or 10 miles looks like a large fortress having a thousand chimneys. But, as you approach it, it changes in appearance, and when you get in front of it, it looks like a colossus seated on a huge throne with his scepter over his left shoulder and a vast concourse of people around him, both seated and standing. This is no flight of fancy, but was so striking to both of us that we halted to admire its greatness and beauty. The throne is on a beautiful foot piece, and it is full 200 feet in height, and the surrounding multitude looks as if they were in amphitheater in attendance. As we progressed the country became more rolling, formed of sand hills and huge bluffs of rocks. Within two miles of the fort is a black mass of tross rock standing like a ridge on its back across the valley. The fort is at the gorge of the Bonito Canon in latitude and longitude, and about 210 miles of the headwaters that flow from Sierra de San Juan to the Pacific Ocean - distance 44 miles.

     October 31, 1855

Mustered the troops and inspected the ordnance property at the post.

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     November 1, 1855

At work at papers and indications of a storm. Post commanded by Major Kenarack.

     November 2, 1855

Rain and snow in gusts. Closed our work and made preparations to return.

     November 3, 1855

Detained by a heavy snowstorm.

     November 4, 1855

Remained at the fort. Weather cold but fine. Road through the Canon Bonito, or pretty pass, through the mountain. This defile is about a mile in length and at no point over 200 yards wide. In places it is not 100 yards from crest to crest of the perpendicular walls that form its sides about 500 feet in height. The top of the northern walls overhang the road so that a stone could be dropped on the head of the traveler below. It is a fearful pass, for a stone loosened by an eagle or crow might kill the passer through.

     November 5, 1855

Left at 7 a.m. and encamped at 6 p.m. at our former stopping place. Roadway heavy, caused by snow.

     November 6, 1855

Left at 6 a.m. and encamped at 4 p.m. at Agua Azul or Blue Water Spring.

     November 7, 1855

Marched at 5 a.m. and encamped at 3 p.m. at Covaro Village.

     November 8, 1855

Marched at 6 a.m. Reached Laguna at 9 a.m. Left the road to Albuquerque at 11 a.m. en route across the country for Los Lunas and encamped at 4 p.m. on the Puerco. The road good but no wood, and consequently we had to lay in our supply before we reached our camp. The country more volcanic than on the Albuquerque road. Crossed many beds of lava in ridges and snow-capped mountains seen in every direction around us. Night very cool - distance 40 miles.

     November 9, 1855

Marched at 6 a.m. and reached Los Lunas at 10 a.m. Road good, country descending to the river and volcanic. Los Lunas is commanded by Lieut. Moore, having with him a company of dragoons - distance 20 miles.

     November 10, 1855

Closed our duties at Los Lunas and started at noon for Albuquerque, which we reached at dark. Road up the valley of the Rio Grande in part deep mud or sand. Country a valley, not very interesting and towns on ranch through which we passed, very dirty - distance 23 miles.

     November 11, 1855 - Sunday

Remained at Albuquerque during the day and started at noon on the 12th and reached Algodones that day, and left early on the 13th and reached Santa Fe at 4 p.m.


From Santa Fe to Albuquerque                         67 miles
Albuquerque to Fort Defiance                         166 miles
Fort Defiance to Los Lunas                               23 miles
                                                                      256 miles
     November 15, 1855

Started at 9 a.m. from Santa Fe to make an inspection of ordnance property at Fort Union and reached Peat’s Ranch at the Old Pecos Church at 4 p.m. Roads bad and weather cold - distance 26 miles.

     November 16, 1855

Left Peat’s at 7 a.m. and reached Tecolote at 4 p.m. Weather still cold, roads better - distance 37 miles.

     November 17, 1855

Left Mores at 7 a.m. and reached Fort Union at 8 p.m. Weather warm at midday which melted the snow and made the wheeling very heavy, and consequently fagged our mules - distance 34 miles.

     November 18, Sunday

Remained at rest and on the 19th commenced my inspection and closed the same on Saturday the 1st of December and made preparations to return.

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     December 2 - Sunday

Started for Santa Fe to join General Garland who it was presumed would leave on the 6th for El Paso. To aid us, as the road was heavy, obtained the service of four mules to Vegas and reached Tecolote at nightfall - 34 miles.

     December 3, 1855

Left Tecolote at 8 a.m. and reached San Jose at noon and Peat’s at 4 p.m. Passed the mail for the States near San Jose - distance 37 miles.

     December 4, 1855

Left Peat’s at 8 a.m. and reached Santa Fe at 3 p.m. Road better than when we passed over it for Fort Union. Weather cold - 26 miles.


From Santa Fe to Old Pecos Church               26 miles
From Santa Fe to San Jose                              41 miles
From Santa Fe to San Miguel                          48 miles
From Santa Fe to Tecolote                              63 miles
From Santa Fe to Las Vegas                           74 miles
From Santa Fe to Fort Union                           97 miles
     December 8, 1855

Left Santa Fe for El Paso at midday and reached Delgados Ranch at 5 p.m. Dry, very cold, and snow squalls. Two officers dismounted - distance 16 1/2 miles.

     December 9, 1855 - Sunday

Left Delgados at 7 and reached Algodones at 1 p.m. Day cold and clear - distance 26 1/2 miles.

     December 10, 1855

Left Algodones at 7 a.m. and reached Albuquerque at midday. Day cold and windy - distance 24 miles.

     December 11, 1855

Remained at Albuquerque to prepare for our march.

     December 12, 1855

Marched at 7 a.m. and reached Los Lunas at 2 p.m. Day very windy. The mountains of Los Ladroves, or Robber Mountains, seen looming up a great distance ahead covered with snow. Our route down the valley of the Rio Grande. Country very barren and uninteresting. General Garland, Col. Grayson, Majors Nickoles, Kendrick, Smith, and Thornton, Captain Easton constituting the party. Escort of 25 dragoons - distance 23 miles.

     December 13, 1855

Left Los Lunas at 7 a.m. and reached Sabinole at 3 p.m. Weather fine, country desolate, villages dirty. Pass Mount Los Ladroves on the right. The Socorro Mountains seen far in advance of us - distance 23 miles.

     December 14, 1855

Marched from Sabinole at 7 a.m. and reached Lemitar at 1 p.m. Day very pleasant but cold. Country quite uninteresting. Village at the foot of the Socorro Mountains the place of the late General Armijo residence, at whose house we lodged for the night. Mount St. Christopher seen rising ahead. People and places no better than named before - distance 26¼ miles.

     December 15, 1855

Marched from Lemitar at 7 a.m. and reached Old Fort Conrad at 3 p.m. Day very pleasant. Passed clumps of cottonwood trees along our route called bosques. Hills very barren as scarcely anything else could be seen than masses of stone, generally volcanic or tross rock, with a few stunted cedar trees intervening. Mount St. Christopher becoming more prominent. Passed Fort Conrad about a mile and stopped at Beckwith's Rancho for the night - distance 31 3/4 miles.

     December 16, 1855

Marched at 7 a.m. and reached Fort Craig at 10 a.m. Col. Ch_______ commanding. Country the same as the day previous. Day very fine - distance 10 1/2 miles.

     December 17, 1855

Marched at 9 a.m. and encamped at the foot of Mount Christopher at the Adobe Wall at 3 p.m. Country more rough and barren. The mountain on the opposite side of the river. Being in the valley the night was very cold. Made the inspection of the ordnance property at the Fort previous to leaving, which employed all of my time - distance 20 miles.

     December 18, 1855

Marched at 7 a.m. and encamped at sundown. Wood scarce and that obtained was green cottonwood, about as good for fires as ice. Road very bad during the day being mostly over rough lava on pearegal(?) hills and deep sand valleys. High mountains seen at great distances around us. Passed Mount Christopher on our left during the day. Detailed as officer of the night and in the inspection of the guard a musket doubling, loaded, was accidentally fired, and by its recoil my hand was injured. Camp at south end of "E" Company grove - distance 31 1/4 miles.

     December 19, 1855

Marched at 7 a.m. and reached Fort Thorn at 3 p.m. Road over pearegal(?) hills and very bad. By some care it be much shortened and improved. Country rugged and uninteresting. Weather very fine - distance 31 1/4 miles. Major Goser commanding.

     December 20, 1855

Served as a member of a General Court Martial and inspected the ordnance property at the post. General Garland and other officers left at 3 p.m. and encamped about 10½ miles from the post. Having closed my duties I started with a dragoon as an escort to overtake the command. When I left Fort Thorn it was after dark and I saw a heavy fire ahead and came to the conclusion it must be at the officer’s camp. As I rode on the fires could be seen extending itself and I was apprehensive that it might prevent me from reaching camp. Passed many large wolves out prowling on the road. Reached camp about 10 p.m. and found as I supposed that the fire had originated by lighting the campfires. Captain was out hunting when it took place, and he came very near being burnt by it distance 10 1/2 miles.

     December 21, 1855

Marched at 7 a.m. and reached Don Anna at 2 p.m. Day very fine. Passed Mount Argon and Santa Aigo. Scenery exceedingly beautiful. Road very heavy, being sandy in places. Cross the Rio Grande about 6 miles from camp. Struck the Hornada on desert road about 2 miles from the river. This Hornada is 90 miles across and on account of the Indians who live in the adjoining mountains, and the extreme cold and sand storms, and the great want of water, it is very dangerous to cross. Hence the cause why we have kept down the river route as we have done. The southern mail takes the Hornada road always as it is much shorter and better travelling, but it often has been exposed to great privations and danger - distance 25 1/2 miles.

     December 22, 1855

Marched at 8 a.m. and reached Fort Fillmore at 11 a.m. Road sandy and heavy. Wind strong which drifted the sand and made it very unpleasant travelling. Organ Mountain close on our left, and from its numerous points, like Organ Passes, it takes its name. It is rich with silver ore. A man by the name is working a mine, which is exceedingly rich. We passed his furnace. Col. Mile commanding at Fort Fillmore, and Captain Pope with a force of citizens and a company of infantry at Dona Anna making experiments in sinking artesian wells. Made the inspection of the ordnance property at Fort Fillmore - distance 13 1/2 miles.

     December 23, 1855

Marched at 7 a.m. and reached Fort Bliss three miles below the falls of El Paso at 4 p.m. Day cold and high winds making the travelling quite unpleasant. Country rough. Passed the monuments set up by the boundary commissioners between the U.S. and Mexico. Col. Reeves commanded Fort Bliss - distance 40 1/2 miles.

     December 24, 1855

Made the inspections of the ordnance property at Fort Bliss.

     December 25, 1855

Dined at Juaqin Hearts who has an extensive Flouring(?) Mills at the falls of El Paso and returned to the Fort.

     December 26, 1855

On duty as a member of a General Court Martial. An extensive robbery committed by four soldiers who escaped with their plunder across the Rio Grande into Mexico.

     December 27, 1855

Visited Mr. Hearts to hear a Masonic address by Col. Grayson, and after some refreshments given by Juaqin Hearts returned to the Fort.

     December 28, 1855

Closed our duties as a General Court Martial and inspection of ordnance property.

     December 29, 1855

The General, Major Nickoles, Grayson, Smith, and Kendrick went down the river to the village of Socorro to a Ball on Bylie.

     December 30, 1855

Party returned from the Ball. Weather very cold.

     December 31, 1855

Mustered and inspected and finished our duties.

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     January 1, 1856

Dined at Mr. Magoffins and crossed over to El Paso with several officers to a Ball.

     January 2, 1856

Left Fort Bliss at 8 a.m. and reached Fort Fillmore at 4 p.m.

     January 3, 1856

Returned and inspected Captain Davidsons company of dragoons.

     January 4, 1856

Left Fort Fillmore at 9 a.m. and reached Dona Anna at 1 p.m. Ball that night.

     January 5, 1856

Left Dona Anna and reached Fort Thorn at 5 p.m.

     January 6, 1856

Left Fort Thorn at 10 a.m. and encamped at White Ash Creek - distance 22 1/2 miles.

     January 7, 1856

Marched at 7 1/2 a.m. and encamped at White Bluffs - distance 32 miles.

     January 8, 1856

Marched at 7 1/2 a.m. and reached Fort Craig at 5 p.m. - distance 29 miles.

     January 9, 1856

Left Fort Craig at 8 a.m. and reached Socorro at sundown - distance 33 1/2 miles.

     January 10, 1856

Marched at 8 a.m. Crossed the Rio Grande at Lemitar and stopped at Nutrias - distance 33 1/2 miles.

     January 11, 1856

Marched at 8 a.m. and reached Doctor C__________ ranch at 4 p.m. Day cold with some hail. Road sandy and heavy. Country the same barren rock and baked loam soil as the opposite side of the river - distance 30 miles.

     January 12, 1856

Marched at 8 a.m. and reached Albuquerque at midday - distance 15 miles.

     January 13, 1856

Left Albuquerque at 11 a.m. and reached Algodones at 4 p.m. Weather clear and cold.

     January 14, 1856

Left Algodones at 7 a.m. and reached Santa Fe at 4 p.m. No snow but weather cold.


From Santa Fe to Albuquerque                        67 miles
From Santa Fe to Los Lunas                            90 miles
From Santa Fe Fort Craig                        180 1/2 miles
From Santa Fe to Fort Thorn                         263 miles
From Santa Fe to Dona Anna                        299 miles
From Santa Fe to Fort Fillmore               312 1/2 miles
From Santa Fe to Fort Bliss                          353 miles
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     May 5, 1856

Left Santa Fe for Stanton at 9 1/2 a.m. and reached Algodones at 5 p.m. General Garland, Col. Grayson, Major Thornton, Capt. Easton and Lieut. Craig. Day very cold causing the use of overcoats and buffalo robes - distance 43 miles.

     May 6, 1856

Left Algodones at 7 a.m. and reached Albuquerque at 11 a.m. Weather cold but more moderate. Frost has cut off much fruit and vegetable plants. Remained at Albuquerque the 7th, 8th, and 9th awaiting the arrival of Major Smith from Fort Defiance to take advantage of our escort.

     May 10, 1856

Left Albuquerque on the 10th at 11 a.m. and encamped opposite Los Lunas at 3 p.m. in a bosque(?). Thunderstorm at sundown. Major Smith joined us after dark, and so did Captain Emitt with a detachment of dragoons 50 strong - distance 23 miles.

     May 11, 1856

Marched at 6 1/2 a.m. down the river. At 10½ left the river south and took over the hills on our left and encamped 4 p.m. near the ruins of Juan Lujau. Day warm in the morning but threatening a storm before night. Country a prairie for 20 miles, then our route lay over the Manzano Mountains. Good wood and but little water, and poor grazing - distance 40 miles.

     May 12, 1856

Marched at 6 a.m. Passed the ruins of Abo, differing from anything of the kind seen before by me. Thin flat stones with a joint of mud in place of mortar. Age of structure unknown. Passed at 11 a.m. the ruins of Quivira in all respects the same as its antecedents. Encamped at 11½ because there was no water to be found on our route for a long stretch from this point. Country quite beautiful being along the foot of the Manzano Mountains - distance 20 miles.

     May 13, 1856

Marched at 6 a.m. and encamped at the foot of the Gallinas Mountains. Country prairie with hills of sand causing the road to be heavy. No water found on the route. Had to send 1½ miles for cooking water. Wood in abundance and grass pretty fine. Morning foggy. Grand Covaro ruins seen on our right a great distance from our road. Antelopes and deer frequently seen. Turkeys gobbling at sundown all around us but could not be found - distance 38 miles.

     May 14, 1856

Marched at 6 a.m. and encamped at Patos or Duck Creek at 5 p.m. Crossed a range of Gusano Mountains and Tecolote. Road for the first eight miles very rough and stony. The remainder over beautiful prairies and down ravines. Came in sight of the White Mountain, said to be the highest point in New Mexico, distance to its top not less than 60 miles. It is almost constantly covered with snow. Game plenty, no water during the march. Wood and grass in abundance and water quite near camp. Foundations indicating building regularly laid out for defenses. Indian scenes painted on the bodies of large trees after the bark had been taken off. The Capitan Mountains due east of us. Carrizo Mountains north of northwest of us, rising high in the clouds not two miles from our camp. Capitan Mountain about 10 miles from our camp - distance 45 miles.

     May 15, 1856

Marched at 7 a.m. and reached Fort Stanton at 11 a.m. Weather warm, road good, and scenery beautiful. This post is located 33, 30 latitude and 105 longitude. Santa Fe is in latitude 35, 40, longitude 106. It is in a beautiful valley on the right bank of the Rio Bonito which runs northeast in passing the fort, down the said pretty valley. As you look up this valley the top of the White Mountain covered with snow seems to terminate it but the valley does not reach to the foot of the mountain. The mountain is about 40 miles from the fort, but the air is so pure and clean that distance to the mountain does not appear to be over 20 miles. North of northeast from the fort rises the beautiful Capitan Mountain about 20 miles off. The White Mountain is south of southwest from the fort, while still close at hand rises other points not so commanding as those named. The river passing the fort turns to the eastward. It is but a small stream made by the snow on the White Mountain, but it is alive with fine trout. About 60 Indians came in to see the General. They are a hard set and from appearances have never been flogged. Captain Stanton fell by their hand. We got them to make a treat of arrow shooting which showed how formidable they are in battle. Major Van Horn commanding post - distance 20 miles. Commenced the inspection of ordnance stores.

     May 16, 1856

Engaged in the inspection of ordnance property and making out the usual papers.

     May 17, 1856

Closed inspection duty and acting as a member of a General Court Martial.

     May 19, 1856

Closed our duties and making preparation for our return march.

     May 20, 1856

Marched at 9 1/2 a.m. and encamped at 5 p.m. Carried water with us to shorten the next days march and watered our animals at 2 p.m. in passing our former camp -distance 30 miles.

     May 21, 1856

Marched at 5 3/4 a.m. and encamped at 1 p.m. on our old ground at the Gallinas Mountains. Major Sprague and Van Horn with us for Santa Fe. Lost a horse from the great fatigue and want of water.

     May 22, 1856

Marched at 6 a.m. and reached Manzano, an apple town, at 3 p.m. This the most abominable town I have seen in New Mexico. The people are noted for their vileness and thieving disposition. They are dirty, and as we passed through one of our mules died in the harness from fatigue. We had hardly disengaged it from the wagon when it was surrounded by about 30 Mexicans who soon stripped its hide off and divided it up to eat. It is located in a beautiful valley and if the people chose, they could raise any quantity of corn, wheat, oats, etc. Timber in great abundance. The grazing good and wood and water plentiful - distance 38 miles.

     May 23, 1856

Marched at 6 a.m. and at 10 a.m. parted company with Sprague and Van Horn who had to go by Albuquerque, while we took a more direct route across the country and reached Buffalo Spring at 11½ a.m. - distance 20 3/4 miles. A large herd of sheep here. Lunched and watered our animals and set forward and encamped about 10 miles east of the San Dios Mountain, about opposite Algodones on the Albuquerque road. No wood or water, but good grass. Killed a rattlesnake as we were putting up our tent. During our march passed through several Mexican villages - distance 35 1/4 miles.

     May 24, 1856

Marched at 5 a.m. and reached Santa Fe at 2 p.m. At 7 a.m. came abruptly on the valley of Gallisteo affording the grandest landscape view I have ever seen. We had been travelling for many days on a mesa, or tableland, and the top of Old Baldy had been constantly in view from the time we left the Gusano Mountains at least 150 miles, and notwithstanding we were approaching him for several days, he did not seem to loom up any larger. The cause of this was that the ground over which we were journeying was gently rising, which kept down Old Baldy's white head. Unexpectedly as I have said, we came abruptly to the termination of this table land, and our road descended rapidly into a valley of a thousand or more feet. From the foot of this mesa to the top of Old Baldy, a distance of at least 60 miles, was a landscape spread before us that would be hard to surpass in grandeur and beauty. Around us on every side rose towering mountains, some of which are covered with snow almost the year round, while thousand of others poked their heads of every shape high in the air. The scene burst so unexpectedly on us that we all shouted with surprise and halted to take a long look. The deep furrow cut on the face of nature by the long chisel of time showed many a deep gorge, many a bold bluff of rocks, many a pile of earth partly shaded by the deep green of pine and cedar trees. Nature had labored hard but her work as a whole was perfect. We passed down into the valley and trotted along through Gallisteo and other Mexican towns and finally closed our tramp over mountain and moore, over rough and good roads, with and without water, and with no little fatigue - distance 36 miles.


From Santa Fe to Albuquerque                     67 miles
From Santa Fe to Fort Stanton                    253 miles
Returned by Gallisteo
From Fort Stanton to Santa Fe              174 1/4 miles
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     November 3, 1856

Colonel Bonneville and myself started at 10 a.m. to visit Cantonment Burgwin, Fort Union and a post at Hatches Ranch to make an inspection. The morning was stormy and owing to delay caused by Dr. Anderson, who availed himself of our company to reach his post, we did not leave Santa Fe as early as we had intended by two hours, and this drawback threw us behind until we reached Burgwin. The day was cold and so it continued snowing until afternoon, about which time it cleared up and gave us a fine prospect of the country around us. The winters face of nature was changed by the new dress, which added very much to the beauty of the grand mountain scenery spread out ___ily around us. We could not travel fast on account of the snow that had fallen and the want of energy on the part of the doctor, and it was about sundown when we reached Canada where we found accommodations for the night at the Padres house. Escort 4 infantry and 7 mounted riflemen - distance 28 miles.

     November 4, 1856

Left Canada at 7 a.m. and at 9 a.m. met Lieut. Smead in command of a company of the 2nd artillery en route from Fort Massachusetts to Stanton. He said that we could not progress to Cantonment Burgwin on account of the quantity of snow we would meet with in the mountains. Told him we had the winter before us, and therefore we would not turn back. He had men with shovels to break the road before his teams, making a mountain out of a mole hill, as we did not find his statement verified and met with no obstacle to impede our progress, excepting the Doctor. It was our wish to make Las Traupas but had to stop at Ojo Sarco on the B_____ water at dark, and the Doctor did not reach us for more than two hours after. Two Mexican mud houses constituted our abiding place. One I caused to be put in the best condition I could for Mrs. Anderson when she came up. Set the escort to work at fires etc. to make them comfortable for the night, my men to getting supper, and the teamsters to the care of the teams. Doctor finally came in almost frozen and Madam proceeded at once to write up her journal of the day, and I left them alone in their glory. The Colonel, myself, and Mexican family in one house. The Doctor and Madam, and Mexican family in the other house. Our building was one room. At one end of it was a large pile of corn with farming tools, dogs, cats etc. In the middle against the seal hung half an ox, which looked as if it had been killed at least a year and for a small slice of which they asked a dollar. At the opposite end of the room was the fireplace around which we had to assemble in common. Supper over, I was somewhat curious to know how we would be disposed of for the night, but the Madam of the house soon arranged the matter by putting down on the ground floor a wool mattress and blanket for the Colonel, then more of the like articles for her husband, herself, and five children, and lastly the like for me and the four footed animals of the house. Here we lay, the Col., husband, wife, little, bigger, and biggest children, myself, dogs, and cats. By this arrangement the hostess was perfectly fenced in, and if I could have divested myself of the thought that the blanket and mattress had not other occupants beside myself, I could have slept soundly. As it was, my fingers would not rest, and of a consequence the other parts of my body did not sleep. I could not but think of the poor fellow who springs to his wooden leg and commenced working and as his foot was bound to go ahead, he was run into a river in spite of himself and drowned. - distance 34 miles.

     November 5, 1856

Left our wigwam early. Told the Doctor we would push on and send back for him. Reached Burgwin at 1 p.m. No snow in the mountains and consequently we had a pleasurable drive that day. Doctor came in about three hours after we reached Burgwin, but as soon as we made the post we sent back a mule team to help bring forward the Doctor's baggage. This team did not return until about the close of the afternoon of the next day - distance 25 miles.

     November 6 & 7, 1856

Made the inspection of the ordnance property at Burgwin and arrangements to leave the next day.

     November 8, 1856

Left Cantonment Burgwin for Taos, which we reached at noon. After dinner, visited the Indian village known as the Pueblo of Taos. It was here that Captain Burgwin fell at the head of his men while storming this village during the late war with Mexico. The village is a hill of Mexican houses built one on the top of the other without windows or doors, the entrance to each is from the roof. The first or lower houses are about 12 feet high, and to reach the roof you have to ascend by a ladder, which is drawn up when the occupant wishes to keep back a visitor. He also enters his room through the hole in the roof, draws his buffalo skin as a door over the hole and in case of trouble without, he is ready at the loop holes through the thick walls of his house with his gun and bow and arrows to defend his castle. The other houses of the village are built on this lower house, not quite so high in the side walls, but as the first they are entered from the top, and the ladder is drawn up. There were five ranges of room one above the other, and the half town was about the size of a block in our cities. Fine streams of water ran directly through the town. We visited by special permission and saw the eternal fire, which these people as fire worshippers keep constantly burning. This room is called estufa. It is round and about 30 feet in diameter and to this, in a perfect state of nakedness, men and women once a month retire to have their fire dance, or to excite their women to conception. When the village was attacked by our troops it contained about 300 warriors. At present they number only 85 and they are rapidly passing away. This village, when Captain Burgwin fell, was surrounded by a high adobe wall, which was loopholed. A canon shot would, or did not penetrate through this wall, for the marks of the shot fired against it is still to be seen. The church from which the defense was made has since been abandoned, and the wall with its flank defenses are rapidly tumbling down. The people during our absence to this village had arranged a Fandango for the night. I went with the Colonel to this dance but took no part in it and left before midnight.

     November 9, 1856 - Sunday

We started at 7 a.m., direction east for 13 miles through Taos Canon. In this distance we crossed the Taos Creek 42 times. We then turned to the south of east and in about 2 miles reached the mountain over which our road led. We then ascended abruptly for a mile, and equally abruptly descended on the other side of the mountain about 1¼ miles. From thence we traveled S.E. about 5 miles to Black Lake, and from thence S.S.E. to Coyote Canon about three miles, road very rough and from the head of this canon to Guadalupita, about 10 miles. The scenery through the day was very grand and for the most of the time the snow top of the Taos Mountain, the highest point in the department, could be seen on our right, around which we were travelling. The descent of the mountain and the passage through the Coyote Canon was a hard matter in many places for our wagons, and many times we were in great danger of being turned over. In fact we had to walk a great many times through this days tramp. At Guadalupita our accommodations were but little better than at Ojo Sarco or the b_____ water -distance 36 miles.

     November 10, 1856

Left Guadalupita early and traveled S.W. to Mora Town, 12 miles. Country and prospect beautiful. Taos Mountain still on our right. From Mora to Fort Union 20 miles, passing Coyote Ranch 4 miles from Fort Union, and crossing the water that flows from Black Lake into the Mora River near this ranch which belongs to Mr. Alexander, our fellow traveler across the plains. Mora Town is very thriving village about 10 miles south of east from Cantonment Burgwin, and we have traveled 60 miles to get to it. It is about 20 miles S.E. of Taos. From Mora we traveled about 8 miles southeast and then gradually to the east and finally a little N. of E. to Fort Union, where we arrived about 2 p.m. - distance 32 miles.

     November 11, 12, 13, & 14, 1856

At Fort Union made the inspection of the ordnance property in the hands of the troops and preparing the annual estimate for supplies. Much kindness shown to us by the officers of the post.

     November 15, 1856

Left Fort Union at 8 a.m. and reached Las Vegas at 2 p.m. Passed by Barcley's Fort. Day fine and road good. Stopped at Doctor Boyce's for the night - distance 25. Visited Hot Spring.

     November 16, 1856

Started from Las Vegas early and for the first three miles out took the road for Santa Fe. After passing the gap in the mountain through which this road leads, we left it bearing W. of S.W. on our right and took a road bearing S. of S.W. for about 18 miles and gradually bearing southeast, and finally N. of east to Hatches Ranch about 18 miles more. On our left, around which we were travelling, a bluff mountain until we had turned it, and then the country became more open and prairie like with high bluff of mountains rising like islands. Hatches Ranch is located near one of these bluffs called the Eagle Bluffs. The Indians were troublesome at this point during the past summer and for this cause a company of riflemen has been stationed here. Much corn has been raised by Mr. Hatch without irrigation - distance traveled from Vegas about 36 miles.

     November 17, 1856

Made the inspections of the ordnance property and a visit to Prospect Hill from which we took some observations.

     November 18, 1856

Left Hatch's Ranch, longitude 105 and latitude 35, 15 at 15 minutes of 7 a.m. Course S.W. at 8¼ a.m. Course due west at 15 of nine travelling N.W. by N. Snow top of Taos Mountain bearing N.W. at 9 a.m. travelling N.W. and reached the fork of the road to Anton Chico and Hatch's Ranch at 25 minutes of 10. W. of N.W. and at 10 a.m. crossed Buffalo Creek. Turned point of mountain at ½ 10. Thus N.W., N. of N.W., N. at 11 a.m. N. 10, W. and 11½ a.m. arrived at Stone Fence on Apache Spring where we rested half an hour and watered our animals. Left at noon N.W., 5 W. at 1 p.m., W. 10, S. on Santa Fe road and Tecolote in sight. Taos Mountain N.W. and reached Tecolote ½ past 1 p.m. - distance 30 miles. This will see that we left the route we traveled in going to Hatch's Ranch at the Apache Spring. The road is good but there can be but little effected in establishing a permanent post at Hatch's Ranch, as it will not afford protection to Anton Chico or other places out there. The Indians should be met as they come up from Texas and not be allowed to pass further into the country - Distance 30 miles.

November 19, 1856

Left Tecolote at 8 a.m. and reached Grey’s or Peat’s old place at 4 p.m.

November 20, 1856

Left Grey’s at 7 a.m. and reached Santa Fe at 4 p.m. in snowstorm and weather cold.

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