Part 1 out of 5
This etext was prepared by a team of Arizona women.
Much of the colloquial grammar and spelling is retained,
only minimal corrections have been made in obvious cases.
Recollections of the Army Life by a New England Woman
by Martha Summerhayes
TO MY SON HARRY SUMMERHAYES
WHO SHARED THE VICISSITUDES OF MY LIFE IN ARIZONA,
THIS BOOK IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED
I have written this story of my army life at the urgent and
ceaseless request of my children.
For whenever I allude to those early days, and tell to them the
tales they have so often heard, they always say: "Now, mother,
will you write these stories for us? Please, mother, do; we must
never forget them."
Then, after an interval, "Mother, have you written those stories
of Arizona yet?" until finally, with the aid of some old letters
written from those very places (the letters having been
preserved, with other papers of mine, by an uncle in New England
long since dead), I have been able to give a fairly connected
I have not attempted to commemorate my husband's brave career in
the Civil War, as I was not married until some years after the
close of that war, nor to describe the many Indian campaigns in
which he took part, nor to write about the achievements of the
old Eighth Infantry. I leave all that to the historian. I have
given simply the impressions made upon the mind of a young New
England woman who left her comfortable home in the early
seventies, to follow a second lieutenant into the wildest
encampments of the American army.
Hoping the story may possess some interest for the younger women
of the army, and possibly for some of our old friends, both in
the army and in civil life, I venture to send it forth.
POSTCRIPT (second edition).
The appendix to this, the second edition of my book, will tell
something of the kind manner in which the first edition was
received by my friends and the public at large.
But as several people had expressed a wish that I should tell
more of my army experiences I have gone carefully over the entire
book, adding some detail and a few incidents which had come to my
I have also been able, with some difficulty and much patient
effort, to secure several photographs of exceptional interest,
which have been added to the illustrations.
I. GERMANY AND THE ARMY
II. I JOINED THE ARMY
III. ARMY HOUSE-KEEPING
IV. DOWN THE PACIFIC COAST
V. THE SLUE
VI. UP THE RIO COLORADO
VII. THE MOJAVE DESERT
VIII. LEARNING HOW TO SOLDIER
IX. ACROSS THE MOGOLLONS
X. A PERILOUS ADVENTURE
XI. CAMP APACHE
XII. LIFE AMONGST THE APACHES
XIII. A NEW RECRUIT
XIV. A MEMORABLE JOURNEY
XV. FORDING THE LITTLE COLORADO
XVI. STONEMAN'S LAKE
XVII. THE COLORADO DESERT
XVIII. EHRENBERG ON THE COLORADO
XIX. SUMMER AT EHRENBERG
XX. MY DELIVERER
XXI. WINTER IN EHRENBERG
XXII. RETURN TO THE STATES
XXIII. BACK TO ARIZONA
XXIV. UP THE VALLEY OF THE GILA
XXV. OLD CAMP MACDOWELL
XXVI. A SUDDEN ORDER
XXVII. THE EIGHTH FOOT LEAVES ARIZONA
XXVIII. CALIFORNIA AND NEVADA
XXIX. CHANGING STATION
XXX. FORT NIOBRARA
XXXI. SANTA FE
XXXIII. DAVID'S ISLAND
GERMANY AND THE ARMY
The stalwart men of the Prussian army, the Lancers, the Dragoons,
the Hussars, the clank of their sabres on the pavements, their
brilliant uniforms, all made an impression upon my romantic mind,
and I listened eagerly, in the quiet evenings, to tales of
Hanover under King George, to stories of battles lost, and the
entry of the Prussians into the old Residenz-stadt; the flight of
the King, and the sorrow and chagrin which prevailed.
For I was living in the family of General Weste, the former
stadt-commandant of Hanover, who had served fifty years in the
army and had accompanied King George on his exit from the city.
He was a gallant veteran, with the rank of General-Lieutenant,
ausser Dienst. A charming and dignified man, accepting
philosophically the fact that Hanover had become Prussian, but
loyal in his heart to his King and to old Hanover; pretending
great wrath when, on the King's birthday, he found yellow and
white sand strewn before his door, but unable to conceal the
joyful gleam in his eye when he spoke of it.
The General's wife was the daughter of a burgomaster and had been
brought up in a neighboring town. She was a dear, kind soul.
The house-keeping was simple, but stately and precise, as
befitted the rank of this officer. The General was addressed by
the servants as Excellenz and his wife as Frau Excellenz. A
charming unmarried daughter lived at home, making, with myself, a
family of four.
Life was spent quietly, and every evening, after our coffee
(served in the living-room in winter, and in the garden in
summer), Frau Generalin would amuse me with descriptions of life
in her old home, and of how girls were brought up in her day; how
industry was esteemed by her mother the greatest virtue, and
idleness was punished as the most beguiling sin. She was never
allowed, she said, to read, even on Sunday, without her
knitting-work in her hands; and she would often sigh, and say to
me, in German (for dear Frau Generalin spoke no other tongue),
"Ach, Martha, you American girls are so differently brought up";
and I would say, "But, Frau Generalin, which way do you think is
the better?" She would then look puzzled, shrug her shoulders,
and often say, "Ach! times are different I suppose, but my ideas
can never change."
Now the dear Frau Generalin did not speak a word of English, and
as I had had only a few lessons in German before I left America,
I had the utmost difficulty at first in comprehending what she
said. She spoke rapidly and I would listen with the closest
attention, only to give up in despair, and to say, "Gute Nacht,"
evening after evening, with my head buzzing and my mind a blank.
After a few weeks, however, I began to understand everything she
said, altho' I could not yet write or read the language, and I
listened with the greatest interest to the story of her marriage
with young Lieutenant Weste, of the bringing up of her four
children, and of the old days in Hanover, before the Prussians
She described to me the brilliant Hanoverian Court, the endless
festivities and balls, the stately elegance of the old city, and
the cruel misfortunes of the King. And how, a few days after the
King's flight, the end of all things came to her; for she was
politely informed one evening, by a big Prussian major, that she
must seek other lodgings--he needed her quarters. At this point
she always wept, and I sympathized.
Thus I came to know military life in Germany, and I fell in love
with the army, with its brilliancy and its glitter, with its
struggles and its romance, with its sharp contrasts, its
deprivations, and its chivalry.
I came to know, as their guest, the best of old military society.
They were very old-fashioned and precise, and Frau Generalin
often told me that American girls were too ausgelassen in their
manners. She often reproved me for seating myself upon the sofa
(which was only for old people) and also for looking about too
much when walking on the streets. Young girls must keep their
eyes more cast down, looking up only occasionally. (I thought
this dreadfully prim, as I was eager to see everything). I was
expected to stop and drop a little courtesy on meeting an older
woman, and then to inquire after the health of each member of the
family. It seemed to take a lot of time, but all the other girls
did it, and there seemed to be no hurry about anything, ever, in
that elegant old Residenz-stadt. Surely a contrast to our
bustling American towns.
A sentiment seemed to underlie everything they did. The Emperor
meant so much to them, and they adored the Empress. A personal
feeling, an affection, such as I had never heard of in a
republic, caused me to stop and wonder if an empire were not the
best, after all. And one day, when the Emperor, passing through
Hanover en route, drove down the Georgen-strasse in an open
barouche and raised his hat as he glanced at the sidewalk where I
happened to be standing, my heart seemed to stop beating, and I
was overcome by a most wonderful feeling--a feeling that in a man
would have meant chivalry and loyalty unto death.
In this beautiful old city, life could not be taken any other
than leisurely. Theatres with early hours, the maid coming for me
with a lantern at nine o'clock, the frequent Kaffee-klatsch, the
delightful afternoon coffee at the Georgen-garten, the visits to
the Zoological gardens, where we always took our fresh rolls
along with our knitting-work in a basket, and then sat at a
little table in the open, and were served with coffee, sweet
cream, and butter, by a strapping Hessian peasant woman--all so
simple, yet so elegant, so peaceful.
We heard the best music at the theatre, which was managed with
the same precision, and maintained by the Government with the
same generosity, as in the days of King George. No one was
allowed to enter after the overture had begun, and an absolute
The orchestra consisted of sixty or more pieces, and the audience
was critical. The parquet was filled with officers in the gayest
uniforms; there were few ladies amongst them; the latter sat
mostly in the boxes, of which there were several tiers, and as
soon as the curtain fell, between the acts, the officers would
rise, turn around, and level their glasses at the boxes.
Sometimes they came and visited in the boxes.
As I had been brought up in a town half Quaker, half Puritan, the
custom of going to the theatre Sunday evenings was rather a
questionable one in my mind. But I soon fell in with their ways,
and found that on Sunday evenings there was always the most
brilliant audience and the best plays were selected. With this
break-down of the wall of narrow prejudice, I gave up others
equally as narrow, and adopted the German customs with my whole
I studied the language with unflinching perseverance, for this
was the opportunity I had dreamed about and longed for in the
barren winter evenings at Nantucket when I sat poring over
Coleridge's translations of Schiller's plays and Bayard Taylor's
version of Goethe's Faust.
Should I ever read these intelligently in the original ?
And when my father consented for me to go over and spend a year
and live in General Weste's family, there never was a happier or
more grateful young woman. Appreciative and eager, I did not
waste a moment, and my keen enjoyment of the German classics
repaid me a hundred fold for all my industry.
Neither time nor misfortune, nor illness can take from me the
memory of that year of privileges such as is given few American
girls to enjoy, when they are at an age to fully appreciate them.
And so completely separated was I from the American and English
colony that I rarely heard my own language spoken, and thus I
lived, ate, listened, talked, and even dreamed in German.
There seemed to be time enough to do everything we wished; and,
as the Franco-Prussian war was just over (it was the year of
1871), and many troops were in garrison at Hanover, the officers
could always join us at the various gardens for after-dinner
coffee, which, by the way, was not taken in the demi-tasse, but
in good generous coffee-cups, with plenty of rich cream. Every
one drank at least two cups, the officers smoked, the women
knitted or embroidered, and those were among the pleasantest
hours I spent in Germany.
The intrusion of unwelcome visitors was never to be feared, as,
by common consent, the various classes in Hanover kept by
themselves, thus enjoying life much better than in a country
where everybody is striving after the pleasures and luxuries
enjoyed by those whom circumstances have placed above them.
The gay uniforms lent a brilliancy to every affair, however
simple. Officers were not allowed to appear en civile, unless on
leave of absence.
I used to say, "Oh, Frau General, how fascinating it all is!"
"Hush, Martha," she would say; "life in the army is not always so
brilliant as it looks; in fact, we often call it, over here,
'glaenzendes Elend.' "
These bitter words made a great impression upon my mind, and in
after years, on the American frontier, I seemed to hear them over
and over again.
When I bade good-bye to the General and his family, I felt a
tightening about my throat and my heart, and I could not speak.
Life in Germany had become dear to me, and I had not known how
dear until I was leaving it forever.
I JOINED THE ARMY
I was put in charge of the captain of the North German Lloyd S.
S. "Donau," and after a most terrific cyclone in mid-ocean, in
which we nearly foundered, I landed in Hoboken, sixteen days from
My brother, Harry Dunham, met me on the pier, saying, as he took
me in his arms, "You do not need to tell me what sort of a trip
you have had; it is enough to look at the ship--that tells the
As the vessel had been about given up for lost, her arrival was
somewhat of an agreeable surprise to all our friends, and to none
more so than my old friend Jack, a second lieutenant of the
United States army, who seemed so glad to have me back in
America, that I concluded the only thing to do was to join the
A quiet wedding in the country soon followed my decision, and we
set out early in April of the year 1874 to join his regiment,
which was stationed at Fort Russell, Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory.
I had never been west of New York, and Cheyenne seemed to me, in
contrast with the finished civilization of Europe, which I had so
recently left, the wildest sort of a place.
Arriving in the morning, and alighting from the train, two
gallant officers, in the uniform of the United States infantry,
approached and gave us welcome; and to me, the bride, a special
"welcome to the regiment" was given by each of them with
Major Wilhelm said, "The ambulance is right here; you must come
to our house and stay until you get your quarters."
Such was my introduction to the army--and to the army ambulance,
in which I was destined to travel so many miles.
Four lively mules and a soldier driver brought us soon to the
post, and Mrs. Wilhelm welcomed us to her pleasant and
I had never seen an army post in America. I had always lived in
places which needed no garrison, and the army, except in Germany,
was an unknown quantity to me.
Fort Russell was a large post, and the garrison consisted of
many companies of cavalry and infantry. It was all new and
strange to me.
Soon after luncheon, Jack said to Major Wilhelm, "Well, now, I
must go and look for quarters: what's the prospect?"
"You will have to turn some one out," said the Major, as they
left the house together.
About an hour afterwards they returned, and Jack said, "Well, I
have turned out Lynch; but," he added, "as his wife and child are
away, I do not believe he'll care very much."
"Oh," said I, "I'm so sorry to have to turn anybody out!"
The Major and his wife smiled, and the former remarked, "You must
not have too much sympathy: it's the custom of the service--it's
always done--by virtue of rank. They'll hate you for doing it,
but if you don't do it they'll not respect you. After you've been
turned out once yourself, you will not mind turning others out."
The following morning I drove over to Cheyenne with Mrs. Wilhelm,
and as I passed Lieutenant Lynch's quarters and saw soldiers
removing Mrs. Lynch's lares and penates, in the shape of a sewing
machine, lamp-shades, and other home-like things, I turned away
in pity that such customs could exist in our service.
To me, who had lived my life in the house in which I was born,
moving was a thing to be dreaded.
But Mrs. Wilhelm comforted me, and assured me it was not such a
serious matter after all. Army women were accustomed to it, she
Not knowing before I left home just what was needed for
house-keeping in the army, and being able to gather only vague
ideas on the subject from Jack, who declared that his quarters
were furnished admirably, I had taken out with me but few
articles in addition to the silver and linen-chests.
I began to have serious doubts on the subject of my menage, after
inspecting the bachelor furnishings which had seemed so ample to
my husband. But there was so much to be seen in the way of guard
mount, cavalry drill, and various military functions, besides the
drives to town and the concerts of the string orchestra, that I
had little time to think of the practical side of life.
Added to this, we were enjoying the delightful hospitality of the
Wilhelms, and the Major insisted upon making me acquainted with
the "real old-fashioned army toddy" several times a day,--a new
beverage to me, brought up in a blue-ribbon community, where
wine-bibbing and whiskey drinking were rated as belonging to only
the lowest classes. To be sure, my father always drank two
fingers of fine cognac before dinner, but I had always considered
that a sort of medicine for a man advanced in years.
Taken all in all, it is not to be wondered at if I saw not much
in those few days besides bright buttons, blue uniforms, and
Everything was military and gay and brilliant, and I forgot the
very existence of practical things, in listening to the dreamy
strains of Italian and German music, rendered by our excellent
and painstaking orchestra. For the Eighth Infantry loved good
music, and had imported its musicians direct from Italy.
This came to an end, however, after a few days, and I was obliged
to descend from those heights to the dead level of domestic
My husband informed me that the quarters were ready for our
occupancy and that we could begin house-keeping at once. He had
engaged a soldier named Adams for a striker; he did not know
whether Adams was much of a cook, he said, but he was the only
available man just then, as the companies were up north at the
Our quarters consisted of three rooms and a kitchen, which formed
one-half of a double house.
I asked Jack why we could not have a whole house. I did not think
I could possibly live in three rooms and a kitchen.
"Why, Martha," said he, "did you not know that women are not
reckoned in at all at the War Department? A lieutenant's
allowance of quarters, according to the Army Regulations, is one
room and a kitchen, a captain's allowance is two rooms and a
kitchen, and so on up, until a colonel has a fairly good house."
I told him I thought it an outrage; that lieutenants' wives
needed quite as much as colonels' wives.
He laughed and said, "You see we have already two rooms over our
proper allowance; there are so many married officers, that the
Government has had to stretch a point."
After indulging in some rather harsh comments upon a government
which could treat lieutenants' wives so shabbily, I began to
investigate my surroundings.
Jack had placed his furnishings (some lace curtains, camp chairs,
and a carpet) in the living-room, and there was a forlorn-looking
bedstead in the bedroom. A pine table in the dining-room and a
range in the kitchen completed the outfit. A soldier had scrubbed
the rough floors with a straw broom: it was absolutely forlorn,
and my heart sank within me.
But then I thought of Mrs. Wilhelm's quarters, and resolved to
try my best to make ours look as cheerful and pretty as hers. A
chaplain was about leaving the post and wished to dispose of his
things, so we bought a carpet of him, a few more camp chairs of
various designs, and a cheerful-looking table-cover. We were
obliged to be very economical, as Jack was a second lieutenant,
the pay was small and a little in arrears, after the wedding trip
and long journey out. We bought white Holland shades for the
windows, and made the three rooms fairly comfortable and then I
turned my attention to the kitchen.
Jack said I should not have to buy anything at all; the
Quartermaster Department furnished everything in the line of
kitchen utensils; and, as his word was law, I went over to the
quartermaster store-house to select the needed articles.
After what I had been told, I was surprised to find nothing
smaller than two-gallon tea-kettles, meat-forks a yard long, and
mess-kettles deep enough to cook rations for fifty men! I
rebelled, and said I would not use such gigantic things.
My husband said: "Now, Mattie, be reasonable; all the army women
keep house with these utensils; the regiment will move soon, and
then what should we do with a lot of tin pans and such stuff? You
know a second lieutenant is allowed only a thousand pounds of
baggage when he changes station." This was a hard lesson, which I
Having been brought up in an old-time community, where women
deferred to their husbands in everything, I yielded, and the huge
things were sent over. I had told Mrs. Wilhelm that we were to
have luncheon in our own quarters.
So Adams made a fire large enough to roast beef for a company of
soldiers, and he and I attempted to boil a few eggs in the deep
mess-kettle and to make the water boil in the huge tea-kettle.
But Adams, as it turned out, was not a cook, and I must confess
that my own attention had been more engrossed by the study of
German auxiliary verbs, during the few previous years, than with
the art of cooking.
Of course, like all New England girls of that period, I knew how
to make quince jelly and floating islands, but of the actual,
practical side of cooking, and the management of a range, I knew
Here was a dilemma, indeed!
The eggs appeared to boil, but they did not seem to be done when
we took them off, by the minute-hand of the clock.
I declared the kettle was too large; Adams said he did not
understand it at all.
I could have wept with chagrin! Our first meal a deux!
I appealed to Jack. He said, "Why, of course, Martha, you ought
to know that things do not cook as quickly at this altitude as
they do down at the sea level. We are thousands of feet above the
sea here in Wyoming." (I am not sure it was thousands, but it was
hundreds at least.)
So that was the trouble, and I had not thought of it!
My head was giddy with the glamour, the uniform, the
guard-mount, the military music, the rarefied air, the new
conditions, the new interests of my life. Heine's songs, Goethe's
plays, history and romance were floating through my mind. Is it
to be wondered at that I and Adams together prepared the most
atrocious meals that ever a new husband had to eat? I related my
difficulties to Jack, and told him I thought we should never be
able to manage with such kitchen utensils as were furnished by
the Q. M. D.
"Oh, pshaw! You are pampered and spoiled with your New England
kitchens," said he; "you will have to learn to do as other army
women do--cook in cans and such things, be inventive, and learn
to do with nothing." This was my first lesson in
After my unpractical teacher had gone out on some official
business, I ran over to Mrs. Wilhelm's quarters and said, "Will
you let me see your kitchen closet?"
She assented, and I saw the most beautiful array of tin-ware,
shining and neat, placed in rows upon the shelves and hanging
from hooks on the wall.
"So!" I said; "my military husband does not know anything about
these things;" and I availed myself of the first trip of the
ambulance over to Cheyenne, bought a stock of tin-ware and had it
charged, and made no mention of it--because I feared that
tin-ware was to be our bone of contention, and I put off the evil
The cooking went on better after that, but I did not have much
assistance from Adams.
I had great trouble at first with the titles and the rank: but I
soon learned that many of the officers were addressed by the
brevet title bestowed upon them for gallant service in the Civil
War, and I began to understand about the ways and customs of the
army of Uncle Sam. In contrast to the Germans, the American
lieutenants were not addressed by their title (except
officially); I learned to "Mr." all the lieutenants who had no
One morning I suggested to Adams that he should wash the front
windows; after being gone a half hour, to borrow a step-ladder,
he entered the room, mounted the ladder and began. I sat writing.
Suddenly, he faced around, and addressing me, said, "Madam, do
you believe in spiritualism?"
"Good gracious! Adams, no; why do you ask me such a question ?"
This was enough; he proceeded to give a lecture on the subject
worthy of a man higher up on the ladder of this life. I bade him
come to an end as soon as I dared (for I was not accustomed to
soldiers), and suggested that he was forgetting his work.
It was early in April, and the snow drifted through the crevices
of the old dried-out house, in banks upon our bed; but that was
soon mended, and things began to go smoothly enough, when Jack
was ordered to join his company, which was up at the Spotted Tail
Agency. It was expected that the Sioux under this chief would
break out at any minute. They had become disaffected about some
treaty. I did not like to be left alone with the Spiritualist, so
Jack asked one of the laundresses, whose husband was out with the
company, to come and stay and take care of me. Mrs. Patten was an
old campaigner; she understood everything about officers and
their ways, and she made me absolutely comfortable for those two
lonely months. I always felt grateful to her; she was a dear old
All the families and a few officers were left at the post, and,
with the daily drive to Cheyenne, some small dances and
theatricals, my time was pleasantly occupied.
Cheyenne in those early days was an amusing but unattractive
frontier town; it presented a great contrast to the old
civilization I had so recently left. We often saw women in cotton
wrappers, high-heeled slippers, and sun-bonnets, walking in the
main streets. Cows, pigs, and saloons seemed to be a feature of
In about six weeks, the affairs of the Sioux were settled, and
the troops returned to the post. The weather began to be
uncomfortably hot in those low wooden houses. I missed the
comforts of home and the fresh sea air of the coast, but I tried
to make the best of it.
Our sleeping-room was very small, and its one window looked out
over the boundless prairie at the back of the post. On account of
the great heat, we were obliged to have this window wide open at
night. I heard the cries and wails of various animals, but Jack
said that was nothing--they always heard them.
Once, at midnight, the wails seemed to be nearer, and I was
terrified; but he told me 'twas only the half-wild cats and
coyotes which prowled around the post. I asked him if they ever
came in. "Gracious, no!" he said; "they are too wild."
I calmed myself for sleep--when like lightning, one of the huge
creatures gave a flying leap in at our window, across the bed,
and through into the living-room.
"Jerusalem!" cried the lieutenant, and flew after her, snatching
his sword, which stood in the corner, and poking vigorously under
I rolled myself under the bed-covers, in the most abject terror
lest she might come back the same way; and, true enough, she did,
with a most piercing cry. I never had much rest after that
occurrence, as we had no protection against these wild-cats.
The regiment, however, in June was ordered to Arizona, that
dreaded and then unknown land, and the uncertain future was
before me. I saw the other women packing china and their various
belongings. I seemed to be helpless. Jack was busy with things
outside. He had three large army chests, which were brought in
and placed before me. "Now," he said, "all our things must go
into those chests"--and I supposed they must.
I was pitifully ignorant of the details of moving, and I stood
despairingly gazing into the depths of those boxes, when the
jolly and stout wife of Major von Hermann passed my window. She
glanced in, comprehended the situation, and entered, saying, "You
do not understand how to pack? Let me help you: give me a cushion
to kneel upon--now bring everything that is to be packed, and I
can soon show you how to do it." With her kind assistance the
chests were packed, and I found that we had a great deal of
surplus stuff which had to be put into rough cases, or rolled
into packages and covered with burlap. Jack fumed when he saw it,
and declared we could not take it all, as it exceeded our
allowance of weight. I declared we must take it, or we could not
With some concessions on both sides we were finally packed up,
and left Fort Russell about the middle of June, with the first
detachment, consisting of head-quarters and band, for San
Francisco, over the Union Pacific Railroad.
For it must be remembered, that in 1874 there were no railroads
in Arizona, and all troops which were sent to that distant
territory either marched over-land through New Mexico, or were
transported by steamer from San Francisco down the coast, and up
the Gulf of California to Fort Yuma, from which point they
marched up the valley of the Gila to the southern posts, or
continued up the Colorado River by steamer, to other points of
disembarkation, whence they marched to the posts in the interior,
or the northern part of the territory.
Much to my delight, we were allowed to remain over in San
Francisco, and go down with the second detachment. We made the
most of the time, which was about a fortnight, and on the sixth
of August we embarked with six companies of soldiers, Lieutenant
Colonel Wilkins in command, on the old steamship "Newbern,"
Captain Metzger, for Arizona.
DOWN THE PACIFIC COAST
Now the "Newbern" was famous for being a good roller, and she
lived up to her reputation. For seven days I saw only the inside
of our stateroom. At the end of that time we arrived off Cape St.
Lucas (the extreme southern point of Lower California), and I
went on deck.
We anchored and took cattle aboard. I watched the natives tow
them off, the cattle swimming behind their small boats, and then
saw the poor beasts hoisted up by their horns to the deck of our
I thought it most dreadfully cruel, but was informed that it had
been done from time immemorial, so I ceased to talk about it,
knowing that I could not reform those aged countries, and
realizing, faintly perhaps (for I had never seen much of the
rough side of life), that just as cruel things were done to the
cattle we consume in the North.
Now that Mr. Sinclair, in his great book "The Jungle," has
brought the multiplied horrors of the great packing-houses before
our very eyes, we might witness the hoisting of the cattle over
the ship's side without feeling such intense pity, admitting that
everything is relative, even cruelty.
It was now the middle of August, and the weather had become
insufferably hot, but we were out of the long swell of the
Pacific Ocean; we had rounded Cape St. Lucas, and were steaming
up the Gulf of California, towards the mouth of the Great
Colorado, whose red and turbulent waters empty themselves into
this gulf, at its head.
I now had time to become acquainted with the officers of the
regiment, whom I had not before met; they had come in from other
posts and joined the command at San Francisco.
The daughter of the lieutenant-colonel was on board, the
beautiful and graceful Caroline Wilkins, the belle of the
regiment; and Major Worth, to whose company my husband belonged.
I took a special interest in the latter, as I knew we must face
life together in the wilds of Arizona. I had time to learn
something about the regiment and its history; and that Major
Worth's father, whose monument I had so often seen in New York,
was the first colonel of the Eighth Infantry, when it was
organized in the State of New York in 1838.
The party on board was merry enough, and even gay. There was
Captain Ogilby, a great, genial Scotchman, and Captain Porter, a
graduate of Dublin, and so charmingly witty. He seemed very
devoted to Miss Wilkins, but Miss Wilkins was accustomed to the
devotion of all the officers of the Eighth Infantry. In fact, it
was said that every young lieutenant who joined the regiment had
proposed to her. She was most attractive, and as she had too kind
a heart to be a coquette, she was a universal favorite with the
women as well as with the men.
There was Ella Bailey, too, Miss Wilkins' sister, with her young
and handsome husband and their young baby.
Then, dear Mrs. Wilkins, who had been so many years in the army
that she remembered crossing the plains in a real ox-team. She
represented the best type of the older army woman--and it was so
lovely to see her with her two daughters, all in the same
regiment. A mother of grown-up daughters was not often met with
in the army.
And Lieutenant-Colonel Wilkins, a gentleman in the truest sense
of the word--a man of rather quiet tastes, never happier than
when he had leisure for indulging his musical taste in strumming
all sorts of Spanish fandangos on the guitar, or his somewhat
marked talent with the pencil and brush.
The heat of the staterooms compelled us all to sleep on deck, so
our mattresses were brought up by the soldiers at night, and
spread about. The situation, however, was so novel and altogether
ludicrous, and our fear of rats which ran about on deck so great,
that sleep was well-nigh out of the question.
Before dawn, we fled to our staterooms, but by sunrise we were
glad to dress and escape from their suffocating heat and go on
deck again. Black coffee and hard-tack were sent up, and this
sustained us until the nine-o'clock breakfast, which was
elaborate, but not good. There was no milk, of course, except the
heavily sweetened sort, which I could not use: it was the
old-time condensed and canned milk; the meats were beyond
everything, except the poor, tough, fresh beef we had seen
hoisted over the side, at Cape St. Lucas. The butter, poor at the
best, began to pour like oil. Black coffee and bread, and a baked
sweet potato, seemed the only things that I could swallow.
The heat in the Gulf of California was intense. Our trunks were
brought up from the vessel's hold, and we took out summer
clothing. But how inadequate and inappropriate it was for that
climate! Our faces burned and blistered; even the parting on the
head burned, under the awnings which were kept spread. The
ice-supply decreased alarmingly, the meats turned green, and when
the steward went down into the refrigerator, which was somewhere
below the quarter-deck, to get provisions for the day, every
woman held a bottle of salts to her nose, and the officers fled
to the forward part of the ship. The odor which ascended from
that refrigerator was indescribable: it lingered and would not
go. It followed us to the table, and when we tasted the food we
tasted the odor. We bribed the steward for ice. Finally, I could
not go below at all, but had a baked sweet potato brought on
deck, and lived several days upon that diet.
On the 14th of August we anchored off Mazatlan, a picturesque and
ancient adobe town in old Mexico. The approach to this port was
strikingly beautiful. Great rocks, cut by the surf into arches
and caverns, guarded the entrance to the harbor. We anchored two
miles out. A customs and a Wells-Fargo boat boarded us, and many
natives came along side, bringing fresh cocoanuts, bananas, and
limes. Some Mexicans bound for Guaymas came on board, and a
troupe of Japanese jugglers.
While we were unloading cargo, some officers and their wives went
on shore in one of the ship's boats, and found it a most
interesting place. It was garrisoned by Mexican troops, uniformed
in white cotton shirts and trousers. They visited the old hotel,
the amphitheatre where the bull-fights were held, and the old
fort. They told also about the cock-pits--and about the
refreshing drinks they had.
My thirst began to be abnormal. We bought a dozen cocoanuts, and
I drank the milk from them, and made up my mind to go ashore at
the next port; for after nine days with only thick black coffee
and bad warm water to drink, I was longing for a cup of good tea
or a glass of fresh, sweet milk.
A day or so more brought us to Guaymas, another Mexican port.
Mrs. Wilkins said she had heard something about an old Spaniard
there, who used to cook meals for stray travellers. This was
enough. I was desperately hungry and thirsty, and we decided to
try and find him. Mrs. Wilkins spoke a little Spanish, and by
dint of inquiries we found the man's house, a little old,
forlorn, deserted-looking adobe casa.
We rapped vigorously upon the old door, and after some minutes a
small, withered old man appeared.
Mrs. Wilkins told him what we wanted, but this ancient Delmonico
declined to serve us, and said, in Spanish, the country was "a
desert"; he had "nothing in the house"; he had "not cooked a meal
in years"; he could not; and, finally, he would not; and he
gently pushed the door to in our faces. But we did not give it
up, and Mrs. Wilkins continued to persuade. I mustered what
Spanish I knew, and told him I would pay him any price for a cup
of coffee with fresh milk. He finally yielded, and told us to
return in one hour.
So we walked around the little deserted town. I could think only
of the breakfast we were to have in the old man's casa. And it
met and exceeded our wildest anticipations, for, just fancy! We
were served with a delicious boullion, then chicken, perfectly
cooked, accompanied by some dish flavored with chile verde,
creamy biscuit, fresh butter, and golden coffee with milk. There
were three or four women and several officers in the party, and
we had a merry breakfast. We paid the old man generously, thanked
him warmly, and returned to the ship, fortified to endure the
sight of all the green ducks that came out of the lower hold.
You must remember that the "Newbern" was a small and old
propeller, not fitted up for passengers, and in those days the
great refrigerating plants were unheard of. The women who go to
the Philippines on our great transports of to-day cannot realize
and will scarcely believe what we endured for lack of ice and of
good food on that never-to-be-forgotten voyage down the Pacific
coast and up the Gulf of California in the summer of 1874.
At last, after a voyage of thirteen days, we came to anchor a
mile or so off Port Isabel, at the mouth of the Colorado River.
A narrow but deep slue runs up into the desert land, on the east
side of the river's mouth, and provides a harbor of refuge for
the flat-bottomed stern-wheelers which meet the ocean steamers at
this point. Hurricanes are prevalent at this season in the Gulf
of California, but we had been fortunate in not meeting with any
on the voyage. The wind now freshened, however, and beat the
waves into angry foam, and there we lay for three days on the
"Newbern," off Port Isabel, before the sea was calm enough for
the transfer of troops and baggage to the lighters.
This was excessively disagreeable. The wind was like a breath
from a furnace; it seemed as though the days would never end, and
the wind never stop blowing. Jack's official diary says: "One
soldier died to-day."
Finally, on the fourth day, the wind abated, and the transfer was
begun. We boarded the river steamboat "Cocopah," towing a barge
loaded with soldiers, and steamed away for the slue. I must say
that we welcomed the change with delight. Towards the end of the
afternoon the "Cocopah" put her nose to the shore and tied up. It
seemed strange not to see pier sand docks, nor even piles to tie
to. Anchors were taken ashore and the boat secured in that
manner: there being no trees of sufficient size to make fast to.
The soldiers went into camp on shore. The heat down in that low,
flat place was intense. Another man died that night.
What was our chagrin, the next morning, to learn that we must go
back to the "Newbern," to carry some freight from up-river. There
was nothing to do but stay on board and tow that dreary barge,
filled with hot, red, baked-looking ore, out to the ship, unload,
and go back up the slue. Jack's diary records: "Aug. 23rd. Heat
awful. Pringle died to-day." He was the third soldier to succumb.
It seemed to me their fate was a hard one. To die, down in that
wretched place, to be rolled in a blanket and buried on those
desert shores, with nothing but a heap of stones to mark their
The adjutant of the battalion read the burial service, and the
trumpeters stepped to the edge of the graves and sounded "Taps,"
which echoed sad and melancholy far over those parched and arid
lands. My eyes filled with tears, for one of the soldiers was
from our own company, and had been kind to me.
Jack said: "You mustn't cry, Mattie; it's a soldier's life, and
when a man enlists he must take his chances."
"Yes, but," I said, "somewhere there must be a mother or sister,
or some one who cares for these poor men, and it's all so sad to
"Well, I know it is sad," he replied, soothingly, "but listen! It
is all over, and the burial party is returning."
I listened and heard the gay strains of "The girl I left behind
me," which the trumpeters were playing with all their might. "You
see," said Jack, "it would not do for the soldiers to be sad when
one of them dies. Why, it would demoralize the whole command. So
they play these gay things to cheer them up."
And I began to feel that tears must be out of place at a
soldier's funeral. I attended many a one after that, but I had
too much imagination, and in spite of all my brave efforts,
visions of the poor boy's mother on some little farm in Missouri
or Kansas perhaps, or in some New England town, or possibly in
the old country, would come before me, and my heart was filled
The Post Hospital seemed to me a lonesome place to die in,
although the surgeon and soldier attendants were kind to the
sick men. There were no women nurses in the army in those days.
The next day, the "Cocopah" started again and towed a barge out
to the ship. But the hot wind sprang up and blew fiercely, and we
lay off and on all day, until it was calm enough to tow her back
to the slue. By that time I had about given up all hope of
getting any farther, and if the weather had only been cooler I
could have endured with equanimity the idle life and knocking
about from the ship to the slue, and from the slue to the ship.
But the heat was unbearable. We had to unpack our trunks again
and get out heavy-soled shoes, for the zinc which covered the
decks of these river-steamers burned through the thin slippers we
had worn on the ship.
That day we had a little diversion, for we saw the "Gila" come
down the river and up the slue, and tie up directly alongside of
us. She had on board and in barges four companies of the
Twenty-third Infantry, who were going into the States. We
exchanged greetings and visits, and from the great joy manifested
by them all, I drew my conclusions as to what lay before us, in
the dry and desolate country we were about to enter.
The women's clothes looked ridiculously old-fashioned, and I
wondered if I should look that way when my time came to leave
Little cared they, those women of the Twenty-third, for, joy upon
joys! They saw the "Newbern" out there in the offing, waiting to
take them back to green hills, and to cool days and nights, and
to those they had left behind, three years before.
On account of the wind, which blew again with great violence, the
"Cocopah" could not leave the slue that day. The officers and
soldiers were desperate for something to do. So they tried
fishing, and caught some "croakers," which tasted very fresh and
good, after all the curried and doctored-up messes we had been
obliged to eat on board ship.
We spent seven days in and out of that slue. Finally, on August
the 26th, the wind subsided and we started up river. Towards
sunset we arrived at a place called "Old Soldier's Camp." There
the "Gila" joined us, and the command was divided between the two
river-boats. We were assigned to the "Gila," and I settled myself
down with my belongings, for the remainder of the journey up
We resigned ourselves to the dreadful heat, and at the end of two
more days the river had begun to narrow, and we arrived at Fort
Yuma, which was at that time the post best known to, and most
talked about by army officers of any in Arizona. No one except
old campaigners knew much about any other post in the Territory.
It was said to be the very hottest place that ever existed, and
from the time we left San Francisco we had heard the story, oft
repeated, of the poor soldier who died at Fort Yuma, and after
awhile returned to beg for his blankets, having found the regions
of Pluto so much cooler than the place he had left. But the fort
looked pleasant to us, as we approached. It lay on a high mesa to
the left of us and there was a little green grass where the post
None of the officers knew as yet their destination, and I found
myself wishing it might be our good fortune to stay at Fort Yuma.
It seemed such a friendly place.
Lieutenant Haskell, Twelfth Infantry, who was stationed there,
came down to the boat to greet us, and brought us our letters
from home. He then extended his gracious hospitality to us all,
arranging for us to come to his quarters the next day for a meal,
and dividing the party as best he could accommodate us. It fell
to our lot to go to breakfast with Major and Mrs. Wells and Miss
An ambulance was sent the next morning, at nine o'clock, to bring
us up the steep and winding road, white with heat, which led to
I can never forget the taste of the oatmeal with fresh milk, the
eggs and butter, and delicious tomatoes, which were served to us
in his latticed dining-room.
After twenty-three days of heat and glare, and scorching winds,
and stale food, Fort Yuma and Mr. Haskell's dining-room seemed
Of course it was hot; it was August, and we expected it. But the
heat of those places can be much alleviated by the surroundings.
There were shower baths, and latticed piazzas, and large ollas
hanging in the shade of them, containing cool water. Yuma was
only twenty days from San Francisco, and they were able to get
many things direct by steamer. Of course there was no ice, and
butter was kept only by ingenious devices of the Chinese
servants; there were but few vegetables, but what was to be had
at all in that country, was to be had at Fort Yuma.
We staid one more day, and left two companies of the regiment
there. When we departed, I felt, somehow, as though we were
saying good-bye to the world and civilization, and as our boat
clattered and tugged away up river with its great wheel astern, I
could not help looking back longingly to old Fort Yuma.
UP THE RIO COLORADO
And now began our real journey up the Colorado River, that river
unknown to me except in my early geography lessons--that mighty
and untamed river, which is to-day unknown except to the
explorer, or the few people who have navigated its turbulent
waters. Back in memory was the picture of it on the map; here was
the reality, then, and here we were, on the steamer "Gila,"
Captain Mellon, with the barge full of soldiers towing on after
us, starting for Fort Mojave, some two hundred miles above.
The vague and shadowy foreboding that had fluttered through my
mind before I left Fort Russell had now also become a reality and
crowded out every other thought. The river, the scenery, seemed,
after all, but an illusion, and interested me but in a dreamy
sort of way.
We had staterooms, but could not remain in them long at a time,
on account of the intense heat. I had never felt such heat, and
no one else ever had or has since. The days were interminable. We
wandered around the boat, first forward, then aft, to find a cool
spot. We hung up our canteens (covered with flannel and dipped in
water), where they would swing in the shade, thereby obtaining
water which was a trifle cooler than the air. There was no ice,
and consequently no fresh provisions. A Chinaman served as
steward and cook, and at the ringing of a bell we all went into a
small saloon back of the pilothouse, where the meals were served.
Our party at table on the "Gila" consisted of several unmarried
officers, and several officers with their wives, about eight or
nine in all, and we could have had a merry time enough but for
the awful heat, which destroyed both our good looks and our
tempers. The fare was meagre, of course; fresh biscuit without
butter, very salt boiled beef, and some canned vegetables, which
were poor enough in those days. Pies made from preserved peaches
or plums generally followed this delectable course. Chinamen, as
we all know, can make pies under conditions that would stagger
most chefs. They may have no marble pastry-slab, and the lard may
run like oil, still they can make pies that taste good to the
But that dining-room was hot! The metal handles of the knives
were uncomfortably warm to the touch; and even the wooden arms of
the chairs felt as if they were slowly igniting. After a hasty
meal, and a few remarks upon the salt beef, and the general
misery of our lot, we would seek some spot which might be a
trifle cooler. A siesta was out of the question, as the
staterooms were insufferable; and so we dragged out the weary
At sundown the boat put her nose up to the bank and tied up for
the night. The soldiers left the barges and went into camp on
shore, to cook their suppers and to sleep. The banks of the river
offered no very attractive spot upon which to make a camp; they
were low, flat, and covered with underbrush and arrow-weed, which
grew thick to the water's edge. I always found it interesting to
watch the barge unload the men at sundown.
At twilight some of the soldiers came on board and laid our
mattresses side by side on the after deck. Pajamas and loose
gowns were soon en evidence, but nothing mattered, as they were
no electric lights to disturb us with their glare. Rank also
mattered not; Lieutenant-Colonel Wilkins and his wife lay down to
rest, with the captains and lieutenants and their wives, wherever
their respective strikers had placed their mattresses (for this
was the good old time when the soldiers were allowed to wait upon
Under these circumstances, much sleep was not to be thought of;
the sultry heat by the river bank, and the pungent smell of the
arrow-weed which lined the shores thickly, contributed more to
stimulate than to soothe the weary nerves. But the glare of the
sun was gone, and after awhile a stillness settled down upon this
company of Uncle Sam's servants and their followers. (In the Army
Regulations, wives are not rated except as "camp followers.")
But even this short respite from the glare of the sun was soon to
end; for before the crack of dawn, or, as it seemed to us,
shortly after midnight, came such a clatter with the fires and
the high-pressure engine and the sparks, and what all they did in
that wild and reckless land, that further rest was impossible,
and we betook ourselves with our mattresses to the staterooms,
for another attempt at sleep, which, however, meant only failure,
as the sun rose incredibly early on that river, and we were glad
to take a hasty sponge from a basin of rather thick looking
river-water, and go again out on deck, where we could always get
a cup of black coffee from the Chinaman.
And thus began another day of intolerable glare and heat.
Conversation lagged; no topic seemed to have any interest except
the thermometer, which hung in the coolest place on the boat; and
one day when Major Worth looked at it and pronounced it one
hundred and twenty-two in the shade, a grim despair seized upon
me, and I wondered how much more heat human beings could endure.
There was nothing to relieve the monotony of the scenery. On each
side of us, low river banks, and nothing between those and the
horizon line. On our left was Lower * California, and on our
right, Arizona. Both appeared to be deserts.
*This term is here used (as we used it at Ehrenberg) to designate
the low, flat lands west of the river, without any reference to
Lower California proper,--the long peninsula belonging to Mexico.
As the river narrowed, however, the trip began to be enlivened by
the constant danger of getting aground on the shifting sand-bars
which are so numerous in this mighty river. Jack Mellon was then
the most famous pilot on the Colorado, and he was very skilful in
steering clear of the sand-bars, skimming over them, or working
his boat off, when once fast upon them. The deck-hands, men of a
mixed Indian and Mexican race, stood ready with long poles, in
the bow, to jump overboard, when we struck a bar,and by dint of
pushing, and reversing the engine, the boat would swing off.
On approaching a shallow place, they would sound with their
poles, and in a sing-song high-pitched tone drawl out the number
of feet. Sometimes their sleepy drawling tones would suddenly
cease, and crying loudly, "No alli agua!" they would swing
themselves over the side of the boat into the river, and begin
their strange and intricate manipulations with the poles. Then,
again, they would carry the anchor away off and by means of great
spars, and some method too complicated for me to describe,
Captain Mellon would fairly lift the boat over the bar.
But our progress was naturally much retarded, and sometimes we
were aground an hour, sometimes a half day or more. Captain
Mellon was always cheerful. River steamboating was his life, and
sand-bars were his excitement. On one occasion, I said, "Oh!
Captain, do you think we shall get off this bar to-day ?" "Well,
you can't tell," he said, with a twinkle in his eye; "one trip, I
lay fifty-two days on a bar," and then, after a short pause, "but
that don't happen very often; we sometimes lay a week, though;
there is no telling; the bars change all the time."
Sometimes the low trees and brushwood on the banks parted, and a
young squaw would peer out at us. This was a little diversion,
and picturesque besides. They wore very short skirts made of
stripped bark, and as they held back the branches of the low
willows, and looked at us with curiosity, they made pictures so
pretty that I have never forgotten them. We had no kodaks then,
but even if we had had them, they could not have reproduced the
fine copper color of those bare shoulders and arms, the soft wood
colors of the short bark skirts, the gleam of the sun upon their
blue-black hair, and the turquoise color of the wide bead-bands
which encircled their arms.
One morning, as I was trying to finish out a nap in my
stateroom, Jack came excitedly in and said: "Get up, Martha, we
are coming to Ehrenberg!" Visions of castles on the Rhine, and
stories of the middle ages floated through my mind, as I sprang
up, in pleasurable anticipation of seeing an interesting and
beautiful place. Alas! for my ignorance. I saw but a row of low
thatched hovels, perched on the edge of the ragged looking
river-bank; a road ran lengthwise along, and opposite the hovels
I saw a store and some more mean-looking huts of adobe.
"Oh! Jack!" I cried, "and is that Ehrenberg? Who on earth gave
such a name to the wretched place?"
"Oh, some old German prospector, I suppose; but never mind, the
place is all right enough. Come! Hurry up! We are going to stop
here and land freight. There is an officer stationed here. See
those low white walls? That is where he lives. Captain Bernard of
the Fifth Cavalry. It's quite a place; come out and see it."
But I did not go ashore. Of all dreary, miserable-looking
settlements that one could possibly imagine, that was the worst.
An unfriendly, dirty, and Heaven-forsaken place, inhabited by a
poor class of Mexicans and half-breeds. It was, however, an
important shipping station for freight which was to be sent
overland to the interior, and there was always one army officer
Captain Bernard came on board to see us. I did not ask him how he
liked his station; it seemed to me too satirical; like asking the
Prisoner of Chillon, for instance, how he liked his dungeon.
I looked over towards those low white walls, which enclosed the
Government corral and the habitation of this officer, and thanked
my stars that no such dreadful detail had come to my husband. I
did not dream that in less than a year this exceptionally hard
fate was to be my own.
We left Ehrenberg with no regrets, and pushed on up river.
On the third of September the boilers "foamed" so that we had to
tie up for nearly a day. This was caused by the water being so
very muddy. The Rio Colorado deserves its name, for its
swift-flowing current sweeps by like a mass of seething red
liquid, turbulent and thick and treacherous. It was said on the
river, that those who sank beneath its surface were never seen
again, and in looking over into those whirlpools and swirling
eddies, one might well believe this to be true.
>From there on, up the river, we passed through great canons and
the scenery was grand enough; but one cannot enjoy scenery with
the mercury ranging from 107 to 122 in the shade. The grandeur
was quite lost upon us all, and we were suffocated by the
scorching heat radiating from those massive walls of rocks
between which we puffed and clattered along.
I must confess that the history of this great river was quite
unknown to me then. I had never read of the early attempts made
to explore it, both from above and from its mouth, and the
wonders of the "Grand Canon" were as yet unknown to the world. I
did not realize that, as we steamed along between those high
perpendicular walls of rock, we were really seeing the lower end
of that great chasm which now, thirty years later, has become one
of the most famous resorts of this country and, in fact, of the
There was some mention made of Major Powell, that daring
adventurer, who, a few years previously, had accomplished the
marvellous feat of going down the Colorado and through the Grand
Canon, in a small boat, he being the first man who had at that
time ever accomplished it, many men having lost their lives in
At last, on the 8th of September, we arrived at Camp Mojave, on
the right bank of the river; a low, square enclosure, on the low
level of the flat land near the river. It seemed an age since we
had left Yuma and twice an age since we had left the mouth of the
river. But it was only eighteen days in all, and Captain Mellon
remarked: "A quick trip!" and congratulated us on the good luck
we had had in not being detained on the sandbars. "Great
Heavens," I thought, "if that is what they call a quick trip!"
But I do not know just what I thought, for those eighteen days on
the Great Colorado in midsummer, had burned themselves into my
memory, and I made an inward vow that nothing would ever force me
into such a situation again. I did not stop to really think; I
only felt, and my only feeling was a desire to get cool and to
get out of the Territory in some other way and at some cooler
season. How futile a wish, and how futile a vow!
Dellenbaugh, who was with Powell in 1869 in his second expedition
down the river in small boats, has given to the world a most
interesting account of this wonderful river and the canons
through which it cuts its tempestuous way to the Gulf of
California, in two volumes entitled "The Romance of the Great
Colorado" and "A Canon Voyage".
We bade good-bye to our gallant river captain and watched the
great stern-wheeler as she swung out into the stream, and,
heading up river, disappeared around a bend; for even at that
time this venturesome pilot had pushed his boat farther up than
any other steam-craft had ever gone, and we heard that there were
terrific rapids and falls and unknown mysteries above. The
superstition of centuries hovered over the "great cut," and but
few civilized beings had looked down into its awful depths.
Brave, dashing, handsome Jack Mellon! What would I give and what
would we all give, to see thee once more, thou Wizard of the
We turned our faces towards the Mojave desert, and I wondered,
The Post Surgeon kindly took care of us for two days and nights,
and we slept upon the broad piazzas of his quarters.
We heard no more the crackling and fizzing of the
stern-wheeler's high-pressure engines at daylight, and our eyes,
tired with gazing at the red whirlpools of the river, found
relief in looking out upon the grey-white flat expanse which
surrounded Fort Mojave, and merged itself into the desert
THE MOJAVE DESERT
Thou white and dried-up sea! so old! So strewn with wealth, so
sown with gold! Yes, thou art old and hoary white With time and
ruin of all things, And on thy lonesome borders Night Sits
brooding o'er with drooping wings. --JOAQUIN MILLER.
The country had grown steadily more unfriendly ever since leaving
Fort Yuma, and the surroundings of Camp Mojave were dreary
But we took time to sort out our belongings, and the officers
arranged for transportation across the Territory. Some had
bought, in San Francisco, comfortable travelling-carriages for
their families. They were old campaigners; they knew a thing or
two about Arizona; we lieutenants did not know, we had never
heard much about this part of our country. But a comfortable
large carriage, known as a Dougherty wagon, or, in common army
parlance, an ambulance, was secured for me to travel in. This
vehicle had a large body, with two seats facing each other, and a
seat outside for the driver. The inside of the wagon could be
closed if desired by canvas sides and back which rolled up and
down, and by a curtain which dropped behind the driver's seat. So
I was enabled to have some degree of privacy, if I wished.
We repacked our mess-chest, and bought from the Commissary at
Mojave the provisions necessary for the long journey to Fort
Whipple, which was the destination of one of the companies and
the headquarters officers.
On the morning of September 10th everything in the post was astir
with preparations for the first march. It was now thirty-five
days since we left San Francisco, but the change from boat to
land travelling offered an agreeable diversion after the monotony
of the river. I watched with interest the loading of the great
prairie-schooners, into which went the soldiers' boxes and the
camp equipage. Outside was lashed a good deal of the lighter
stuff; I noticed a barrel of china, which looked much like our
own, lashed directly over one wheel. Then there were the massive
blue army wagons, which were also heavily loaded; the laundresses
with their children and belongings were placed in these.
At last the command moved out. It was to me a novel sight. The
wagons and schooners were each drawn by teams of six heavy mules,
while a team of six lighter mules was put to each ambulance and
carriage. These were quite different from the draught animals I
had always seen in the Eastern States; these Government mules
being sleek, well-fed and trained to trot as fast as the average
carriage-horse. The harnesses were quite smart, being trimmed off
with white ivory rings. Each mule was "Lize" or "Fanny" or
"Kate", and the soldiers who handled the lines were accustomed to
the work; for work, and arduous work, it proved to be, as we
advanced into the then unknown Territory of Arizona.
The main body of the troops marched in advance; then came the
ambulances and carriages, followed by the baggage-wagons and a
small rear-guard. When the troops were halted once an hour for
rest, the officers, who marched with the soldiers, would come to
the ambulances and chat awhile, until the bugle call for
"Assembly" sounded, when they would join their commands again,
the men would fall in, the call "Forward" was sounded, and the
small-sized army train moved on.
The first day's march was over a dreary country; a hot wind blew,
and everything was filled with dust. I had long ago discarded my
hat, as an unnecessary and troublesome article; consequently my
head wa snow a mass of fine white dust, which stuck fast, of
course. I was covered from head to foot with it, and it would not
shake off, so, although our steamboat troubles were over, our
land troubles had begun.
We reached, after a few hours' travel, the desolate place where
we were to camp.
In the mean time, it had been arranged for Major Worth, who had
no family, to share our mess, and we had secured the services of
a soldier belonging to his company whose ability as a camp cook
was known to both officers.
I cannot say that life in the army, as far as I had gone,
presented any very great attractions. This, our first camp, was
on the river, a little above Hardyville. Good water was there,
and that was all; I had not yet learned to appreciate that. There
was not a tree nor a shrub to give shade. The only thing I could
see, except sky and sand, was a ruined adobe enclosure ,with no
roof. I sat in the ambulance until our tent was pitched, and then
Jack came to me, followed by a six-foot soldier, and said:
"Mattie, this is Bowen, our striker; now I want you to tell him
what he shall cook for our supper; and--don't you think it would
be nice if you could show him how to make some of those good New
England doughnuts? I think Major Worth might like them; and after
all the awful stuff we have had, you know," et caetera, et
caetera. I met the situation, after an inward struggle, and said,
weakly, "Where are the eggs?" "Oh," said he, "you don't need
eggs; you're on the frontier now; you must learn to do without
Everything in me rebelled, but still I yielded. You see I had
been married only six months; the women at home, and in Germany
also, had always shown great deference to their husbands' wishes.
But at that moment I almost wished Major Worth and Jack and Bowen
and the mess-chest at the bottom of the Rio Colorado. However, I
nerved myself for the effort, and when Bowen had his camp-fire
made, he came and called me.
At the best, I never had much confidence in my ability as a cook,
but as a camp cook! Ah, me! Everything seemed to swim before my
eyes, and I fancied that the other women were looking at me from
their tents. Bowen was very civil, turned back the cover of the
mess-chest and propped it up. That was the table. Then he brought
me a tin basin, and some flour, some condensed milk, some sugar,
and a rolling-pin, and then he hung a camp-kettle with lard in it
over the fire. I stirred up a mixture in the basin, but the
humiliation of failure was spared me, for just then, without
warning, came one of those terrific sandstorms which prevail on
the deserts of Arizona, blowing us all before it in its fury, and
filling everything with sand.
We all scurried to the tents; some of them had blown down. There
was not much shelter, but the storm was soon over, and we stood
collecting our scattered senses. I saw Mrs. Wilkins at the door
of her tent. She beckoned to me; I went over there, and she said:
"Now, my dear, I am going to give you some advice. You must not
take it unkindly. I am an old army woman and I have made many
campaigns with the Colonel; you have but just joined the army.
You must never try to do any cooking at the camp-fire. The
soldiers are there for that work, and they know lots more about
it than any of us do."
"But, Jack," I began--
"Never mind Jack," said she; "he does not know as much as I do
about it; and when you reach your post," she added, "you can show
him what you can do in that line."
Bowen cleared away the sandy remains of the doubtful dough, and
prepared for us a very fair supper. Soldiers' bacon, and coffee,
and biscuits baked in a Dutch oven.
While waiting for the sun to set, we took a short stroll over to
the adobe ruins. Inside the enclosure lay an enormous
rattlesnake, coiled. It was the first one I had ever seen except
in a cage, and I was fascinated by the horror of the round,
grayish-looking heap, so near the color of the sand on which it
lay. Some soldiers came and killed it. But I noticed that Bowen
took extra pains that night, to spread buffalo robes under our
mattresses, and to place around them a hair lariat. "Snakes won't
cross over that," he said, with a grin.
Bowen was a character. Originally from some farm in Vermont, he
had served some years with the Eighth Infantry, and for a long
time in the same company under Major Worth, and had cooked for
the bachelors' mess. He was very tall, and had a good-natured
face, but he did not have much opinion of what is known as
etiquette, either military or civil; he seemed to consider
himself a sort of protector to the officers of Company K, and
now, as well, to the woman who had joined the company. He took us
all under his wing, as it were, and although he had to be sharply
reprimanded sometimes, in a kind of language which he seemed to
expect, he was allowed more latitude than most soldiers.
This was my first night under canvas in the army. I did not like
those desert places, and they grew to have a horror for me.
At four o'clock in the morning the cook's call sounded, the mules
were fed, and the crunching and the braying were something to
awaken the heaviest sleepers. Bowen called us. I was much upset
by the dreadful dust, which was thick upon everything I touched.
We had to hasten our toilet, as they were striking tents and
breaking camp early, in order to reach before noon the next place
where there was water. Sitting on camp-stools, around the
mess-tables, in the open, before the break of day, we swallowed
some black coffee and ate some rather thick slices of bacon and
dry bread. The Wilkins' tent was near ours, and I said to them,
rather peevishly: "Isn't this dust something awful?"
Miss Wilkins looked up with her sweet smile and gentle manner and
replied: "Why, yes, Mrs. Summerhayes, it is pretty bad, but you
must not worry about such a little thing as dust."
"How can I help it?" I said; "my hair, my clothes, everything
full of it, and no chance for a bath or a change: a miserable
little basin of water and--"
I suppose I was running on with all my grievances, but she
stopped me and said again: "Soon, now, you will not mind it at
all. Ella and I are army girls, you know, and we do not mind
anything. There's no use in fretting about little things."
Miss Wilkins' remarks made a tremendous impression upon my mind
and I began to study her philosophy.
At break of day the command marched out, their rifles on their
shoulders, swaying along ahead of us, in the sunlight and the
heat, which continued still to be almost unendurable. The dry
white dust of this desert country boiled and surged up and around
us in suffocating clouds.
I had my own canteen hung up in the ambulance, but the water in
it got very warm and I learned to take but a swallow at a time,
as it could not be refilled until we reached the next spring--and
there is always some uncertainty in Arizona as to whether the
spring or basin has gone dry. So water was precious, and we could
not afford to waste a drop.
At about noon we reached a forlorn mud hut, known as Packwood's
ranch. But the place had a bar, which was cheerful for some of
the poor men, as the two days' marches had been rather hard upon
them, being so "soft" from the long voyage. I could never
begrudge a soldier a bit of cheer after the hard marches in
Arizona, through miles of dust and burning heat, their canteens
long emptied and their lips parched and dry. I watched them often
as they marched along with their blanket-rolls, their haversacks,
and their rifles, and I used to wonder that they did not
About that time the greatest luxury in the entire world seemed to
me to be a glass of fresh sweet milk, and I shall always remember
Mr. Packwood's ranch, because we had milk to drink with our
supper, and some delicious quail to eat.
Ranches in that part of Arizona meant only low adobe dwellings
occupied by prospectors or men who kept the relays of animals for
stage routes. Wretched, forbidding-looking places they were!
Never a tree or a bush to give shade, never a sign of comfort or
Our tents were pitched near Packwood's, out in the broiling sun.
They were like ovens; there was no shade, no coolness anywhere;
we would have gladly slept, after the day's march, but instead we
sat broiling in the ambulances, and waited for the long afternoon
to wear away.
The next day dragged along in the same manner; the command
marching bravely along through dust and heat and thirst, as
Kipling's soldier sings:
"With its best foot first
And the road
An' every bloomin' campin'-ground
Exactly like the last".
Beal's Springs did not differ from the other ranch, except that
possibly it was even more desolate. But a German lived there, who
must have had some knowledge of cooking, for I remember that we
bought a peach pie from him and ate it with a relish. I remember,
too, that we gave him a good silver dollar for it.
The only other incident of that day's march was the suicide of
Major Worth's pet dog "Pete." Having exhausted his ability to
endure, this beautiful red setter fixed his eye upon a distant
range of mountains, and ran without turning, or heeding any call,
straight as the crow flies, towards them and death. We never saw
him again; a ranchman told us he had known of several other
instances where a well-bred dog had given up in this manner, and
attempted to run for the hills. We had a large greyhound with us,
but he did not desert.
Major Worth was much affected by the loss of his dog, and did not
join us at supper that night. We kept a nice fat quail for him,
however, and at about nine o'clock, when all was still and dark,
Jack entered the Major's tent and said: "Come now, Major, my wife
has sent you this nice quail; don't give up so about Pete, you
The Major lay upon his camp-bed, with his face turned to the wall
of his tent; he gave a deep sigh, rolled himself over and said:
"Well, put it on the table, and light the candle; I'll try to eat
it. Thank your wife for me."
So the Lieutenant made a light, and lo! and behold, the plate was
there, but the quail was gone! In the darkness, our great kangaroo
hound had stolen noiselessly upon his master's heels, and quietly
removed the bird. The two officers were dumbfounded. Major Worth
said: "D--n my luck;" and turned his face again to the wall of
Now Major Worth was just the dearest and gentlest sort of a man,
but he had been born and brought up in the old army, and everyone
knows that times and customs were different then.
Men drank more and swore a good deal, and while I do not wish my
story to seem profane, yet I would not describe army life or the
officers as I knew them, if I did not allow the latter to use an
occasional strong expression.
The incident, however, served to cheer up the Major, though he
continued to deplore the loss of his beautiful dog.
For the next two days our route lay over the dreariest and most
desolate country. It was not only dreary, it was positively
hostile in its attitude towards every living thing except snakes,
centipedes and spiders. They seemed to flourish in those
Sometimes either Major Worth or Jack would come and drive along a
few miles in the ambulance with me to cheer me up, and they
allowed me to abuse the country to my heart's content. It seemed
to do me much good. The desert was new to me then. I had not read
Pierre Loti's wonderful book, "Le Desert," and I did not see much
to admire in the desolate waste lands through which we were
travelling. I did not dream of the power of the desert, nor that
I should ever long to see it again. But as I write, the longing
possesses me, and the pictures then indelibly printed upon my
mind, long forgotten amidst the scenes and events of half a
lifetime, unfold themselves like a panorama before my vision and
call me to come back, to look upon them once more.
LEARNING HOW TO SOLDIER
"The grasses failed, and then a mass Of dry red cactus ruled the
land: The sun rose right above and fell, As falling molten from
the skies, And no winged thing was seen to pass." Joaquin Miller.
We made fourteen miles the next day, and went into camp at a
place called Freeze-wash, near some old silver mines. A bare and
lonesome spot, where there was only sand to be seen, and some
black, burnt-looking rocks. From under these rocks, crept great
tarantulas, not forgetting lizards, snakes, and not forgetting
the scorpion, which ran along with its tail turned up ready to
sting anything that came in its way. The place furnished good
water, however, and that was now the most important thing.
The next day's march was a long one. The guides said:
"Twenty-eight miles to Willow Grove Springs."
The command halted ten minutes every hour for rest, but the sun
poured down upon us, and I was glad to stay in the ambulance. It
was at these times that my thoughts turned back to the East and
to the blue sea and the green fields of God's country. I looked
out at the men, who were getting pretty well fagged, and at the
young officers whose uniforms were white with dust, and Frau
Weste's words about glaenzendes Elend came to my mind. I fell to
thinking: was the army life, then, only "glittering misery," and
had I come to participate in it?
Some of the old soldiers had given out, and had to be put on the
army wagons. I was getting to look rather fagged and seedy, and
was much annoyed at my appearance. Not being acquainted with the
vicissitudes of the desert, I had not brought in my
travelling-case a sufficient number of thin washbodices. The few
I had soon became black beyond recognition, as the dust boiled
(literally) up and into the ambulance and covered me from head to
foot. But there was no help for it, and no one was much better
It was about that time that we began to see the outlines of a
great mountain away to the left and north of us. It seemed to
grow nearer and nearer, and fascinated our gaze.
Willow Grove Springs was reached at four o'clock and the small
cluster of willow trees was most refreshing to our tired eyes.
The next day's march was over a rolling country. We began to see
grass, and to feel that, at last, we were out of the desert. The
wonderful mountain still loomed up large and clear on our left. I
thought of the old Spanish explorers and wondered if they came so
far as this, when they journeyed through that part of our country
three hundred years before. I wondered what beautiful and
high-sounding name they might have given it. I wondered a good
deal about that bare and isolated mountain, rising out of what
seemed an endless waste of sand. I asked the driver if he knew
the name of it: "That is Bill Williams' mountain, ma'am," he
replied, and relapsed into his customary silence, which was
unbroken except by an occasional remark to the wheelers or the
I thought of the Harz Mountains, which I had so recently tramped
over, and the romantic names and legends connected with them, and
I sighed to think such an imposing landmark as this should have
such a prosaic name. I realized that Arizona was not a land of
romance; and when Jack came to the ambulance, I said, "Don't you
think it a pity that such monstrous things are allowed in
America, as to call that great fine mountain 'Bill Williams'
"Why no," he said; "I suppose he discovered it, and I dare say he
had a hard enough time before he got to it."
We camped at Fort Rock, and Lieutenant Bailey shot an antelope.
It was the first game we had seen; our spirits revived a bit; the
sight of green grass and trees brought new life to us.
Anvil Rock and old Camp Hualapais were our next two stopping
places. We drove through groves of oaks, cedars and pines, and
the days began hopefully and ended pleasantly. To be sure, the
roads were very rough and our bones ached after a long day's
travelling. But our tents were now pitched under tall pine trees
and looked inviting. Soldiers have a knack of making a tent
"Madame, the Lieutenant's compliments, and your tent is ready."
I then alighted and found my little home awaiting me. The
tent-flaps tied open, the mattresses laid, the blankets turned
back, the camp-table with candle-stick upon it, and a couple of
camp-chairs at the door of the tent. Surely it is good to be in
the army I then thought; and after a supper consisting of
soldiers' hot biscuit, antelope steak broiled over the coals, and
a large cup of black coffee, I went to rest, listening to the
soughing of the pines.
My mattress was spread always upon the ground, with a buffalo
robe under it and a hair lariat around it, to keep off the
snakes; as it is said they do not like to cross them. I found the
ground more comfortable than the camp cots which were used by
some of the officers, and most of the women.
The only Indians we had seen up to that time were the peaceful
tribes of the Yumas, Cocopahs and Mojaves, who lived along the
Colorado. We had not yet entered the land of the dread Apache.
The nights were now cool enough, and I never knew sweeter rest
than came to me in the midst of those pine groves.
Our road was gradually turning southward, but for some days Bill
Williams was the predominating feature of the landscape; turn
whichever way we might, still this purple mountain was before us.
It seemed to pervade the entire country, and took on such
wonderful pink colors at sunset. Bill Williams held me in thrall,
until the hills and valleys in the vicinity of Fort Whipple shut
him out from my sight. But he seemed to have come into my life
somehow, and in spite of his name, I loved him for the
companionship he had given me during those long, hot, weary and
About the middle of September, we arrived at American ranch, some
ten miles from Fort Whipple, which was the headquarters station.
Colonel Wilkins and his family left us, and drove on to their
destination. Some officers of the Fifth Cavalry rode out to greet
us, and Lieutenant Earl Thomas asked me to come into the post and
rest a day or two at their house, as we then had learned that K
Company was to march on to Camp Apache, in the far eastern part
of the Territory .
We were now enabled to get some fresh clothing from our trunks,
which were in the depths of the prairie-schooners, and all the
officers' wives were glad to go into the post, where we were most
kindly entertained. Fort Whipple was a very gay and hospitable
post, near the town of Prescott, which was the capital city of
Arizona. The country being mountainous and fertile, the place was
very attractive, and I felt sorry that we were not to remain
there. But I soon learned that in the army, regrets were vain. I
soon ceased to ask myself whether I was sorry or glad at any
change in our stations.
On the next day the troops marched in, and camped outside the
post. The married officers were able to join their wives, and the
three days we spent there were delightful. There was a dance
given, several informal dinners, drives into the town of
Prescott, and festivities of various kinds. General Crook
commanded the Department of Arizona then; he was out on some
expedition, but Mrs. Crook gave a pleasant dinner for us. After
dinner, Mrs. Crook came and sat beside me, asked kindly about our
long journey, and added: "I am truly sorry the General is away; I
should like for him to meet you; you are just the sort of woman
he likes." A few years afterwards I met the General, and
remembering this remark, I was conscious of making a special
effort to please. The indifferent courtesy with which he treated
me, however, led me to think that women are often mistaken judges
of their husband's tastes.
The officers' quarters at Fort Whipple were quite commodious, and
after seven weeks' continuous travelling, the comforts which
surrounded me at Mrs. Thomas' home seemed like the veriest
luxuries. I was much affected by the kindness shown me by people
I had never met before, and I kept wondering if I should ever
have an opportunity to return their courtesies. "Don't worry
about that, Martha," said Jack, "your turn will come."
He proved a true prophet, for sooner or later, I saw them all
again, and was able to extend to them the hospitality of an army
home. Nevertheless, my heart grows warm whenever I think of the
people who first welcomed me to Arizona, me a stranger in the
army, and in the great southwest as well.
At Fort Whipple we met also some people we had known at Fort
Russell, who had gone down with the first detachment, among them
Major and Mrs. Wilhelm, who were to remain at headquarters. We
bade good-bye to the Colonel and his family, to the officers of
F, who were to stay behind, and to our kind friends of the Fifth
We now made a fresh start, with Captain Ogilby in command. Two
days took us into Camp Verde, which lies on a mesa above the
river from which it takes its name.
Captain Brayton, of the Eight Infantry, and his wife, who were
already settled at Camp Verde, received us and took the best
care of us. Mrs. Brayton gave me a few more lessons in army
house-keeping, and I could not have had a better teacher. I told
her about Jack and the tinware; her bright eyes snapped, and she
said: "Men think they know everything, but the truth is, they
don't know anything; you go right ahead and have all the tinware
and other things; all you can get, in fact; and when the time
comes to move, send Jack out of the house, get a soldier to come
in and pack you up, and say nothing about it."
"But the weight--"
"Fiddlesticks! They all say that; now you just not mind their
talk, but take all you need, and it will get carried along,
Still another company left our ranks, and remained at Camp Verde.
The command was now getting deplorably small, I thought, to enter
an Indian country, for we were now to start for Camp Apache.
Several routes were discussed, but, it being quite early in the
autumn, and the Apache Indians being just then comparatively
quiet, they decided to march the troops over Crook's Trail, which
crossed the Mogollon range and was considered to be shorter than
any other. It was all the same to me. I had never seen a map of
Arizona, and never heard of Crook's Trail. Maps never interested
me, and I had not read much about life in the Territories. At
that time, the history of our savage races was a blank page to
me. I had been listening to the stories of an old civilization,
and my mind did not adjust itself readily to the new
ACROSS THE MOGOLLONS
It was a fine afternoon in the latter part of September, when our
small detachment, with Captain Ogilby in command, marched out of
Camp Verde. There were two companies of soldiers, numbering
about a hundred men in all, five or six officers, Mrs. Bailey and
myself, and a couple of laundresses. I cannot say that we were
gay. Mrs. Bailey had said good-bye to her father and mother and
sister at Fort Whipple, and although she was an army girl, she
did not seem to bear the parting very philosophically. Her young
child, nine months old, was with her, and her husband, as
stalwart and handsome an officer as ever wore shoulder-straps.
But we were facing unknown dangers, in a far country, away from
mother, father, sister and brother--a country infested with
roving bands of the most cruel tribe ever known, who tortured
before they killed. We could not even pretend to be gay.
The travelling was very difficult and rough, and both men and
animals were worn out by night. But we were now in the mountains,
the air was cool and pleasant, and the nights so cold that we
were glad to have a small stove in our tents to dress by in the
mornings. The scenery was wild and grand; in fact, beyond all
that I had ever dreamed of; more than that, it seemed so untrod,
so fresh, somehow, and I do not suppose that even now, in the day
of railroads and tourists, many people have had the view of the
Tonto Basin which we had one day from the top of the Mogollon
I remember thinking, as we alighted from our ambulances and stood
looking over into the Basin, "Surely I have never seen anything
to compare with this--but oh! would any sane human being
voluntarily go through with what I have endured on this journey,
in order to look upon this wonderful scene?"
The roads had now become so difficult that our wagon-train could
not move as fast as the lighter vehicles or the troops. Sometimes
at a critical place in the road, where the ascent was not only
dangerous, but doubtful, or there was, perhaps, a sharp turn, the
ambulances waited to see the wagons safely over the pass. Each
wagon had its six mules; each ambulance had also its quota of
At the foot of one of these steep places, the wagons would halt,
the teamsters would inspect the road, and calculate the
possibilities of reaching the top; then, furiously cracking their
whips, and pouring forth volley upon volley of oaths, they would
start the team. Each mule got its share of dreadful curses. I had
never heard or conceived of any oaths like those. They made my
blood fairly curdle, and I am not speaking figuratively. The
shivers ran up and down my back, and I half expected to see those
teamsters struck down by the hand of the Almighty.
For although the anathemas hurled at my innocent head, during the
impressionable years of girlhood, by the pale and determined
Congregational ministers with gold-bowed spectacles, who held
forth in the meeting-house of my maternal ancestry (all honor to
their sincerity), had taken little hold upon my mind, still, the
vital drop of the Puritan was in my blood, and the fear of a
personal God and His wrath still existed, away back in the hidden
recesses of my heart.
This swearing and lashing went on until the heavily-loaded
prairie-schooner, swaying, swinging, and swerving to the edge of
the cut, and back again to the perpendicular wall of the
mountain, would finally reach the top, and pass on around the
bend; then another would do the same. Each teamster had his own
particular variety of oaths, each mule had a feminine name, and
this brought the swearing down to a sort of personal basis. I
remonstrated with Jack, but he said: teamsters always swore; "the
mules wouldn't even stir to go up a hill, if they weren't sworn
at like that."
By the time we had crossed the great Mogollon mesa, I had become
accustomed to those dreadful oaths, and learned to admire the
skill, persistency and endurance shown by those rough teamsters.
I actually got so far as to believe what Jack had told me about
the swearing being necessary, for I saw impossible feats
performed by the combination.
When near camp, and over the difficult places, we drove on ahead
and waited for the wagons to come in. It was sometimes late
evening before tents could be pitched and supper cooked. And oh!
to see the poor jaded animals when the wagons reached camp! I
could forget my own discomfort and even hunger, when I looked at
their sad faces.
One night the teamsters reported that a six-mule team had rolled
down the steep side of a mountain. I did not ask what became of
the poor faithful mules; I do not know, to this day. In my pity
and real distress over the fate of these patient brutes, I forgot
to inquire what boxes were on the unfortunate wagon.
We began to have some shooting. Lieutenant Bailey shot a young
deer, and some wild turkeys, and we could not complain any more
of the lack of fresh food.
It did not surprise us to learn that ours was the first
wagon-train to pass over Crook's Trail. For miles and miles the
so-called road was nothing but a clearing, and we were pitched
and jerked from side to side of the ambulance, as we struck large
rocks or tree-stumps; in some steep places, logs were chained to
the rear of the ambulance, to keep it from pitching forward onto
the backs of the mules. At such places I got out and picked my
way down the rocky declivity.
We now began to hear of the Apache Indians, who were always out,
in either large or small bands, doing their murderous work.
One day a party of horseman tore past us at a gallop. Some of
them raised their hats to us as they rushed past, and our
officers recognized General Crook, but we could not, in the cloud
of dust, distinguish officers from scouts. All wore the flannel
shirt, handkerchief tied about the neck, and broad campaign hat.
After supper that evening, the conversation turned upon Indians
in general, and Apaches in particular. We camped always at a
basin, or a tank, or a hole, or a spring, or in some canon, by a
creek. Always from water to water we marched. Our camp that night
was in the midst of a primeval grove of tall pine trees; verily,
an untrodden land. We had a big camp-fire, and sat around it
until very late. There were only five or six officers, and Mrs.
Bailey and myself.
The darkness and blackness of the place were uncanny. We all sat
looking into the fire. Somebody said, "Injuns would not have such
a big fire as that."
"No; you bet they wouldn't," was the quick reply of one of the
Then followed a long pause; we all sat thinking, and gazing into
the fire, which crackled and leaped into fitful blazes.