페이지 이미지
[blocks in formation]

hundred men, and including many mechanics: they brought with them, in addition to six pieces of artillery and a supply of smallarms, machinery for saw and grist-mills, mechanics' tools, and other materiel of industry. With these forces little fears could be entertained that the peace of the territory would again be easily disturbed. Settlements were made and towns founded, confidence was restored, and industry, released from terror and doubt, was now active, under the impartial and wise protection of the American flag.

The work which had been assigned to General Kearny was completed—the object of his government fully achieved—the honour of his country maintained and exalted—his name and the fame of his little army written imperishably on the brightest pages of that country's history. On the 31st of May, 1847, having transferred to Colonel R. B. Mason the authority and duties of governor and commander-in-chief, the general, with his staff and a small party of officers, set out on his return to the United States. Difficult and hazardous was his route of two thousand two hundred miles across the continent. On the 22d of August he arrived at Fort Leavenworth. A little more than one year had sped by since last its flag saluted him— the story of those intervening twelve months has yet in military annals to find a parallel.


Colonel Doniphan's Expedition against the Navajoes—Treaty with the Indians

The Zumians-March upon Chihuahua-Battle of the Brazito-Town and Valley of El Paso—March continued-Enemy's position at the Sacramento-Battle of the Sacramento-Occupation of Chihuahua–March for Saltillo-Affairs in New Mexico-Plot discovered-Second Conspiracy-Governor Bent murdered -Pueblo de Taos-Insurrection quelled.

FULFILMENT of the promises of protection made to the people of New Mexico by their conquerors, was neither forgotten, nor delayed. From La Joya, on his route to the Pacific, General Kearny addressed to Colonel Doniphan at Santa Fé an express, instructing him to defer his contemplated movement on Chihuahua, and to proceed with his regiment into the hill country of the Navajoes, to effect the restitution of all prisoners and property taken by stealth or violence from the newly-subjugated people, and to exact from that half-civilized, fierce, and powerful tribe, ample security for their future good conduct. These warlike Indians have, for full two centuries, been the terror and the scourge of the New Mexican border. From the


of mountains bounding the valley of the Del Norte, their country stretches away down the tributaries of the Colorado, and towards the settlements of California on the west, the Cordilleras, and the highlands beyond, affording them strongholds and almost inaccessible retreats. Without towns or permanent abodes, they live chiefly on horseback, and in the open air, wealthy in countless herds of horses, cattle, and sheep; yet, ever at the dictate of wild caprice, or in the spirit of a long-cherished hate, descending on the villages and settlements of the valley, plundering and destroying



wherever they come. In their latest incursion they had slain seven or eight men, taken off captive as many women and children, and driven away into their highlands ten thousand head of sheep, cattle, and mules.

Leaving the town of Santa Fé, on the 26th of October, Colonel Doniphan divided his command into separate detachments, and invaded the Navajo country by three routes. The season was far advanced, and winter had set in with more than usual severity. For artillery and wagons the country was wholly impracticable; mules with pack-saddles, therefore, alone accompanied the force, which, without tents, almost destitute of shoes and clothing, and stinted in provisions, pursued over snow-clad mountains, and through precipitous ravines, barricaded by stupendous cliffs, and paved with huge masses and sharp fragments of the living rock, its strangely perilous way. Their daily march was through snows gathered deeply in the gorges, up mountain walls pendent with icicles, along narrow ledges overhanging appalling chasms, where an error or a stumble would have hurled horse and man among jagged and pointed rocks, hundreds of feet below. As the days passed on, the cold became intense ; yet frequently at night, the adventurous soldiers laid down their weary bodies, wrapped in blankets and skins, on the rugged earth or the frozen snow, and rose in the morning from beneath a newly-fallen coverlet of snow, with limbs benumbed, and icicles pendent in clusters from beard and hair. Even when they reached the diversified table-lands and the rich valleys, the snow continued equally deep, and the cold no less severe. Success crowned such fearless resolution. The Mexicans looked with undisguised amazement on what they considered the extreme of temerity ; the braver Indians, with respect upon the strangers whose skill and courage they could appreciate, a respect soon deepened into reverence by the generous confidence, the fairness and fidelity in every instance displayed. Every portion of their

country was visited, and with incredible toil about three-fourths of the adult males of their tribe, including all the head chiefs, were collected to a conference at the Ojo Oso, the Bear Spring, situate in the Navajo country. And here, after two days' deliberations, was made a permanent treaty of peace and amity between the American people—in which term were specially included the New Mexicans and the Pueblo Indians and this hitherto irreconcileable and tameless race. To the memorandum of this treaty, signed on the 22d of November, by Colonel Doniphan, Lieutenant-Colonel Jackson, and Major Gilpin, fourteen Indian chiefs appended their marks.

Returning through the large and singularly built town of Zuni, situate about two hundred miles west of the Del Norte, and containing an interesting, intelligent, and honest population of about six thousand persons, who look upon the New Mexicans as an inferior race, and are said to have preserved to this day the ancient Aztec character, arts, and habits, Colonel Doniphan was enabled by skilful diplomacy to effect a reconciliation and treaty of peace between them and the Navajoes, hitherto mutual foess Thus, in despite of physical privations, in the face of the obstacle. of nature, and the incessant hostility of the elements, the important object of the expedition was accomplished. By different routes, each rivalling each in dreariness, difficulty, and danger, and all by the Mexicans declared to be impracticable, the several detachments of the force arrived, between the 8th and 12th of December, at Valverde, on the Del Norte, the appointed rendezvous.

The advance, consisting of three hundred men under command of Major Gilpin, took up the line of march southward from Valverde, on the 14th of December. Lieutenant-Colonel Jackson followed, with two hundred men, on the 16th. While yet Colonel Doniphan was in the Navajo country, LieutenantColonel Mitchell, accompanied by Captain Thompson, of the United States 1st dragoons, had been despatched by Colonel



Price from Santa Fé with an escort of between ninety and one hundred men, volunteers from the 2d mounted regiment, and the light artillery of Missouri, with the view of opening a communication with General Wool. This force having passed down the valley of the Del Norte, joined the column of Colonel Doniphan, who, thus strengthened, left Valverde, with the remainder of his command, on Dec. 18th. The whole force was eight hundred and fifty-six effective men, armed with rifles—no artillery. Before leaving Valverde, information of the advance of the enemy to the defence of El Paso, on the Chihuahua road, induced Colonel Doniphan to send orders to Santa Fé for Major Clarke, of the Missouri artillery, to join him at the earliest possible moment, with one hundred men, and a battery of howitzers. That union could not be effected until the 1st of February following.

The march lay along the Rio Grande to Fra Christobal, and thence across the dreary and dreaded desert, known by the appropriately ominous name El Jornada del Muerto, “ the journey of the dead.” On the 22d, at Doña Anna, the whole force was consolidated, and a number of traders, with over three hundred wagons, fell in with the baggage and provision trains in the rear. Certain intelligence now came that seven hundred men and six pieces of cannon had reached the pass of the river, sixty miles below. The column moved forward in gay anticipation on the 23d.

About three o'clock in the afternoon of Christmas-day, after a merry march of eighteen miles, the advance of five hundred men was called to a halt, at the Brazito, or little arm of the river, for the purpose of encamping. The horses were unsaddled and let loose to graze, and the men, scattered in all directions, were busy in quest of wood and water. Suddenly a thick cloud of dust arose and moved towards them from the direction of El Paso, and soon one of the advanced guard in full speed announced that the enemy was at hand. To the call of the bugle the men hastily

« 이전계속 »