User Rating: 5 / 5

Star ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar Active

Article Index


 The principal settlement in New Mexico, immediately after it was
 reconquered from the Indians by the Spaniards, was, of course,
 Santa Fe, and ranking second to it, that of the beautiful Valle de Taos,
 which derived its name from the Taosa Indians, a few of whose direct
 descendants are still occupying a portion of the region.  As the
 pioneers in the trade with Santa Fe made their first journeys to
 the capital of the Province by the circuitous route of the Taos
 valley, and the initial consignments of goods from the Missouri
 were disposed of in the little villages scattered along the road,
 the story of the Trail would be deficient in its integrity were the
 thrilling historical facts connected with the romantic region omitted.
 The reader will find on all maps, from the earliest published to the
 latest issued by the local railroads, a town with the name of Taos,
 which never had an existence.  Fernandez de Taos is the chief city,
 which has been known so long by the title of the valley that perhaps
 the misnomer is excusable after many years' use.
 Fernandez, or Taos as it is called, was once famous for its
 distilleries of whiskey, made out of the native wheat, a raw, fiery
 spirit, always known in the days of the Santa Fe trade as "Taos
 lightning," which was the most profitable article of barter with
 the Indians, who exchanged their buffalo robes and other valuable
 furs for a supply of it, at a tremendous sacrifice.
 According to the statement of Gregg, the first white settler of the
 fertile and picturesque valley was a Spaniard named Pando, who
 established himself there about 1745.  This primitive pioneer of
 the northern part of the Province was constantly exposed to the raids
 of the powerful Comanches, but succeeded in creating a temporary
 friendship with the tribe by promising his daughter, then a young
 and beautiful infant, to the chief in marriage when she arrived
 at a suitable age.  At the time for the ratification of her father's
 covenant with the Indians, however, the maiden stubbornly refused
 to fulfil her part.  The savages, enraged at the broken faith of
 the Spaniard, immediately swept down upon the little settlement and
 murdered everybody there except the betrothed girl, whom they
 carried off into captivity.  She was forced to live with the chief
 as his wife, but he soon became tired of her and traded her for
 another woman with the Pawnees, who, in turn, sold her to a Frenchman,
 a resident of St. Louis.  It is said that some of the most respectable
 families of that city are descended from her, and fifty years ago
 there were many people living who remembered the old lady, and her
 pathetic story of trials and sufferings when with the Indians.
 The most tragic event in the history of the valley was the massacre
 of the provisional governor of the Territory of New Mexico, with
 a number of other Americans, shortly after its occupation by the
 United States.
 Upon General Kearney's taking possession of Santa Fe, acting under
 the authority of the President, he established a civil government
 and put it into operation.  Charles Bent was appointed governor,
 and the other offices filled by Americans and Mexicans who were
 rigidly loyal to the political change.  At this time the command
 of the troops devolved upon Colonel Sterling Price, Colonel Doniphan,
 who ranked him, having departed from Santa Fe on an expedition
 against the Navajoes.  Notwithstanding the apparent submission of
 the natives of New Mexico, there were many malcontents among them
 and the Pueblo Indians, and early in December, some of the leaders,
 dissatisfied with the change in the order of things, held secret
 meetings and formulated plots to overthrow the existing government.
 Midnight of the 24th of December was the time appointed for the
 commencement of their revolutionary work, which was to be simultaneous
 all over the country.  The profoundest secrecy was to be preserved,
 and the most influential men, whose ambition induced them to seek
 preferment, were alone to be made acquainted with the plot.  No woman
 was to be privy to it, lest it should be divulged.  The sound of
 the church bell was to be the signal, and at midnight all were to
 enter the Plaza at the same moment, seize the pieces of artillery,
 and point them into the streets.
 The time chosen for the assault was Christmas-eve, when the soldiers
 and garrison would be indulging in wine and feasting, and scattered
 about through the city at the fandangoes, not having their arms in
 their hands.  All the Americans, without distinction, throughout
 the State, and such New Mexicans as had favoured the American
 government and accepted office by appointment of General Kearney,
 were to be massacred or driven from the country, and the conspirators
 were to seize upon and occupy the government.
 The conspiracy was detected in the following manner: a mulatto girl,
 residing in Santa Fe, had married one of the conspirators, and had by
 degrees obtained a knowledge of their movements and secret meetings.
 To prevent the effusion of blood, which would inevitably be the result
 of a revolution, she communicated to Colonel Price all the facts
 of which she was in possession, and warned him to use the utmost
 vigilance.  The rebellion was immediately suppressed, but the
 restless and unsatisfied ambition of the leaders of the conspiracy
 did not long permit them to remain inactive.  A second and still more
 dangerous conspiracy was formed.  The most powerful and influential
 men in the State favoured the design, and even the officers of State
 and the priests gave their aid and counsel.  The people everywhere,
 in the towns, villages, and settlements, were exhorted to arm and
 equip themselves; to strike for their faith, their religion, and
 their altars; and drive the "heretics," the "unjust invaders of
 the country," from their soil, and with fire and sword pursue them
 to annihilation.  On the 18th of January this rebellion broke out
 in every part of the State simultaneously.
 On the 14th of January, Governor Bent, believing the conspiracy
 completely crushed, with an escort of five persons--among whom were
 the sheriff and circuit attorney--had left Santa Fe to visit his
 family, who resided at Fernandez.
 On the 19th, he was early roused from sleep by the populace, who,
 with the aid of the Pueblos of Taos, were collected in front of his
 dwelling striving to gain admittance.  While they were effecting
 an entrance, he, with an axe, cut through an adobe wall into another
 house; and the Mexican wife of the occupant, a clever though shiftless
 Canadian, hearing him, with all her strength rendered him assistance.
 He retreated to a room, but, seeing no way of escaping from the
 infuriated assailants, who fired upon him from a window, he spoke
 to his weeping wife and trembling children, and, taking paper
 from his pocket, endeavoured to write; but fast losing strength,
 he commended them to God and his brothers and fell, pierced by a
 ball from a Pueblo.  Then rushing in and tearing off his gray-haired
 scalp, the Indians bore it away in triumph.
 The circuit attorney, T. W. Leal, was scalped alive and dragged
 through the streets, his relentless persecutors pricking him with
 lances.  After hours of suffering, they threw him aside in the
 inclement weather, he imploring them earnestly to kill him to end
 his misery.  A compassionate Mexican at last closed the tragic scene
 by shooting him.  Stephen Lee, brother to the general, was killed
 on his own housetop.  Narcisse Beaubien, son of the presiding judge
 of the district, hid in an outhouse with his Indian slave, at the
 commencement of the massacre, under a straw-covered trough.
 The insurgents on the search, thinking that they had escaped,
 were leaving, but a woman servant of the family, going to the
 housetop, called to them, "Kill the young ones, and they will never
 be men to trouble us."  They swarmed back and, by cruelly putting
 to death and scalping him and his slave, added two more to the list
 of unfortunate victims.
 The Pueblos and Mexicans, after their cruelties at Fernandez de Taos,
 attacked and destroyed Turley's Ranch on the Arroyo Hondo[27] twelve
 miles from Fernandez, or Taos.  Arroyo Hondo runs along the base
 of a ridge of a mountain of moderate elevation, which divides the
 valley of Taos from that of the Rio Colorado, or Red River, both
 flowing into the Del Norte.  The trail from one place to the other
 passes over the mountain, which is covered with pine, cedar, and
 a species of dwarf oak; and numerous little streams run through
 the many canyons.
 On the bank of one of the creeks was a mill and distillery belonging
 to an American named Turley, who did a thriving business.  He possessed
 herds of goats, and hogs innumerable; his barns were filled with
 grain, his mill with flour, and his cellars with whiskey.  He had
 a Mexican wife and several children, and he bore the reputation of
 being one of the most generous and kind-hearted of men.  In times of
 scarcity, no one ever sought his aid to be turned away empty-handed;
 his granaries were always open to the hungry, and his purse to
 the poor.
 When on their road to Turley's, the Pueblos murdered two men, named
 Harwood and Markhead.  Markhead was one of the most successful
 trappers and daring men among the old mountaineers.  They were on
 their way to Taos with their pack-animals laden with furs, when the
 savages, meeting them, after stripping them of their goods, and
 securing their arms by treachery, made them mount their mules under
 pretence of conducting them to Taos, where they were to be given up
 to the leaders of the insurrection.  They had hardly proceeded
 a mile when a Mexican rode up behind Harwood and discharged his gun
 into his back; he called out to Markhead that he was murdered, and
 fell to the ground dead.
 Markhead, seeing that his own fate was sealed, made no struggle,
 and was likewise shot in the back with several bullets.  Both men
 were then stripped naked, scalped, and horribly mutilated; their
 bodies thrown into the brush to be devoured by the wolves.
 These trappers were remarkable men; Markhead, particularly, was
 celebrated in the mountains for his courage, reckless daring, and
 many almost miraculous escapes when in the very hands of the Indians.
 When some years previously he had accompanied Sir William Drummond
 Stewart on one of his expeditions across the Rockies, it happened
 that a half-breed Indian employed by Sir William absconded one night
 with some animals, which circumstance annoyed the nobleman so much,
 as it disturbed all his plans, that he hastily offered, never dreaming
 that he would be taken up, to give five hundred dollars for the scalp
 of the thief.  The very next evening Markhead rode into camp with the
 hair of the luckless horse-thief dangling at the muzzle of his rifle.
 The wild crowd of rebels rode on to Turley's mill.  Turley had been
 warned of the impending uprising, but had treated the report with
 indifference, until one morning a man in his employ, who had been
 despatched to Santa Fe with several mule-loads of whiskey a few days
 before, made his appearance at the gate on horseback, and hastily
 informing the inmates of the mill that the New Mexicans had risen and
 massacred Governor Bent and other Americans, galloped off.  Even then
 Turley felt assured that he would not be molested; but at the
 solicitation of his men, he agreed to close the gate of the yard
 around which were the buildings of the mill and distillery, and make
 preparations for defence.
 A few hours afterward a large crowd of Mexicans and Pueblo Indians
 made their appearance, all armed with guns and bows and arrows, and,
 advancing with a white flag, summoned Turley to surrender his house
 and the Americans in it, guaranteeing that his own life should be
 saved, but that every other American in the valley must be destroyed;
 that the governor and all the Americans at Fernandez had been killed,
 and that not one was to be left alive in all New Mexico.
 To this summons Turley answered that he would never surrender his
 house nor his men, and that if they wanted it or them, they must
 take them.
 The enemy then drew off, and, after a short consultation, commenced
 the attack.  The first day they numbered about five hundred, but were
 hourly reinforced by the arrival of parties of Indians from the more
 distant Pueblos, and New Mexicans from Fernandez, La Canada, and
 other places.
 The building lay at the foot of a gradual slope in the sierra, which
 was covered with cedar bushes.  In front ran the stream of the
 Arroyo Hondo, about twenty yards from one side of the square, and
 the other side was broken ground which rose abruptly and formed
 the bank of the ravine.  In the rear and behind the still-house was
 some garden ground enclosed by a small fence, into which a small
 wicket-gate opened from the corral.
 As soon as the attack was determined upon, the assailants scattered
 and concealed themselves under cover of the rocks and bushes which
 surrounded the house.  From these they kept up an incessant fire upon
 every exposed portion of the building where they saw preparations
 for defence.
 The Americans, on their part, were not idle; not a man but was an old
 mountaineer, and each had his trusty rifle, with a good store of
 ammunition.  Whenever one of the besiegers exposed a hand's-breadth
 of his person, a ball from an unerring barrel whistled.  The windows
 had been blockaded, loopholes having been left, and through these
 a lively fire was maintained.  Already several of the enemy had
 bitten the dust, and parties were seen bearing off the wounded up
 the banks of the Canada.  Darkness came on, and during the night
 a continual fire was kept up on the mill, whilst its defenders,
 reserving their ammunition, kept their posts with stern and silent
 determination.  The night was spent in casting balls, cutting patches,
 and completing the defences of the building.  In the morning the fight
 was renewed, and it was found that the Mexicans had effected a
 lodgment in a part of the stables, which were separated from the
 other portions of the building by an open space of a few feet.
 The assailants, during the night, had sought to break down the wall,
 and thus enter the main building, but the strength of the adobe and
 logs of which it was composed resisted effectually all their attempts.
 Those in the stable seemed anxious to regain the outside, for their
 position was unavailable as a means of annoyance to the besieged, and
 several had darted across the narrow space which divided it from the
 other part of the building, which slightly projected, and behind
 which they were out of the line of fire.  As soon, however, as the
 attention of the defenders was called to this point, the first man
 who attempted to cross, who happened to be a Pueblo chief, was dropped
 on the instant, and fell dead in the centre of the intervening space.
 It appeared to be an object to recover the body, for an Indian
 immediately dashed out to the fallen chief, and attempted to drag him
 within the shelter of the wall.  The rifle which covered the spot
 again poured forth its deadly contents, and the Indian, springing
 into the air, fell over the body of his chief.  Another and another
 met with a similar fate, and at last three rushed to the spot, and,
 seizing the body by the legs and head, had already lifted it from the
 ground, when three puffs of smoke blew from the barricaded windows,
 followed by the sharp cracks of as many rifles, and the three daring
 Indians were added to the pile of corpses which now covered the body
 of the dead chief.
 As yet the besieged had met with no casualties; but after the fall
 of the seven Indians, the whole body of the assailants, with a shout
 of rage, poured in a rattling volley, and two of the defenders fell
 mortally wounded.  One, shot through the loins, suffered great agony,
 and was removed to the still-house, where he was laid on a large
 pile of grain, as being the softest bed that could be found.
 In the middle of the day the attack was renewed more fiercely than
 before.  The little garrison bravely stood to the defence of the mill,
 never throwing away a shot, but firing coolly, and only when a fair
 mark was presented to their unerring aim.  Their ammunition, however,
 was fast failing, and to add to the danger of their situation,
 the enemy set fire to the mill, which blazed fiercely, and threatened
 destruction to the whole building.  Twice they succeeded in overcoming
 the flames, and, while they were thus occupied, the Mexicans and
 Indians charged into the corral, which was full of hogs and sheep,
 and vented their cowardly rage upon the animals, spearing and shooting
 all that came in their way.  No sooner were the flames extinguished
 in one place than they broke out more fiercely in another; and
 as a successful defence was perfectly hopeless, and the numbers of
 the assailants increased every moment, a council of war was held by
 the survivors of the little garrison, when it was determined,
 as soon as night approached, that every one should attempt to escape
 as best he could.
 Just at dusk a man named John Albert and another ran to the
 wicket-gate which opened into a kind of enclosed space, in which were
 a number of armed Mexicans.  They both rushed out at the same moment,
 discharging their rifles full in the face of the crowd.  Albert,
 in the confusion, threw himself under the fence, whence he saw his
 companion shot down immediately, and heard his cries for mercy as
 the cowards pierced him with knives and lances.  He lay without motion
 under the fence, and as soon as it was quite dark he crept over
 the logs and ran up the mountain, travelled by day and night, and,
 scarcely stopping or resting, reached the Greenhorn, almost dead
 with hunger and fatigue.  Turley himself succeeded in escaping from
 the mill and in reaching the mountain unseen.  Here he met a Mexican
 mounted on a horse, who had been a most intimate friend of his for
 many years.  To this man Turley offered his watch for the use of the
 horse, which was ten times more than it was worth, but was refused.
 The inhuman wretch, however, affected pity and consideration for the
 fugitive, and advised him to go to a certain place, where he would
 bring or send him assistance; but on reaching the mill, which was
 a mass of fire, he immediately informed the Mexicans of Turley's
 place of concealment, whither a large party instantly proceeded and
 shot him to death.
 Two others escaped and reached Santa Fe in safety.  The mill and
 Turley's house were sacked and gutted, and all his hard-earned savings,
 which were concealed in gold about the house, were discovered, and,
 of course, seized upon by the victorious Mexicans.
 The following account is taken from Governor Prince's chapter on the
 fight at Taos, in his excellent and authentic _History of New Mexico_:--
           The startling news of the assassination of the governor was
           swiftly carried to Santa Fe, and reached Colonel Price the
           next day.  Simultaneously, letters were discovered calling
           on the people of the Rio Abajo to secure Albuquerque and
           march northward to aid the other insurgents; and news
           speedily followed that a united Mexican and Pueblo force of
           large magnitude was marching down the Rio Grande valley
           toward the capital, flushed with the success of the revolt
           at Taos.  Very few troops were in Santa Fe; in fact, the
           number remaining in the whole territory was very small,
           and these were scattered at Albuquerque, Las Vegas, and
           other distant points.  At the first-named town were Major
           Edmonson and Captain Burgwin; the former in command of the
           town, and the latter with a company of the First Dragoons.
           Colonel Price lost no time in taking such measures as his
           limited resources permitted.  Edmonson was directed to come
           immediately to Santa Fe to take command of the capital; and
           Burgwin to follow Price as fast as possible to the scene
           of hostilities.  The colonel himself collected the few
           troops at Santa Fe, which were all on foot, but fortunately
           included the little battalion which under Captain Aubrey
           had made such extraordinary marches on the journey across
           the plains as to almost outwalk the cavalry.  With these
           was a volunteer company formed of nearly all of the American
           inhabitants of the city, under the command of Colonel Ceran
           St. Vrain, who happened to be in Santa Fe, together with
           Judge Beaubien, at the time of the rising at Taos.
           With this little force, amounting in all to three hundred
           and ten men, Colonel Price started to march to Taos, or at
           all events to meet the army which was coming toward the
           capital from the north and which grew as it marched by
           constant accessions from the surrounding country.
           The city of Santa Fe was left in charge of a garrison under
           Lieutenant-Colonel Willock.  While the force was small
           and the volunteers without experience in regular warfare,
           yet all were nerved to desperation by the belief, since
           the Taos murders, that the only alternative was victory
           or annihilation.
           The expedition set out on January 23d, and the next day
           the Mexican army, under command of General Montoya as
           commander-in-chief, aided by Generals Tafoya and Chavez,
           was found occupying the heights commanding the road near
           La Canada (Santa Cruz), with detachments in some strong
           adobe houses near the river banks.  The advance had been
           seen shortly before at the rocky pass, on the road from
           Pojuaque; and near there and before reaching the river, the
           San Juan Pueblo Indians, who had joined the revolutionists
           reluctantly and under a kind of compulsion, surrendered and
           were disarmed by removing the locks from their guns.
           On arriving at the Canada, Price ordered his howitzers to
           the front and opened fire; and after a sharp cannonade,
           directed an assault on the nearest houses by Aubrey's
           battalion.  Meanwhile an attempt by a Mexican detachment
           to cut off the American baggage-wagons, which had not yet
           come up, was frustrated by the activity of St. Vrain's
           volunteers.  A charge all along the line was then ordered
           and handsomely executed; the houses, which, being of adobe,
           had been practically so many ready-made forts, were
           successively carried, and St. Vrain started in advance to
           gain the Mexican rear.  Seeing this manoeuvre, and fearing
           its effects, the Mexicans retreated, leaving thirty-six
           dead on the field.  Among those killed was General Tafoya,
           who bravely remained on the field after the remainder had
           abandoned it, and was shot.
           Colonel Price pressed on up the river as fast as possible,
           passing San Juan, and at Los Luceros, on the 28th, his
           little army was rejoiced at the arrival of reinforcements,
           consisting of a mounted company of cavalry, Captain Burgwin's
           company, which had been pushed up by forced marches on foot
           from Albuquerque, and a six-pounder brought by Lieutenant
           Wilson.  Thus enlarged, the American force consisted of
           four hundred and eighty men, and continued its advance up
           the valley to La Joya, which was as far as the river road at
           that time extended.  Meanwhile the Mexicans had established
           themselves in a narrow pass near Embudo, where the forest
           was dense, and the road impracticable for wagons or cannon,
           the troops occupying the sides of the mountains on both
           sides of the canyon.  Burgwin was sent with three companies
           to dislodge them and open a passage--no easy task.
           But St. Vrain's company took the west slope, and another
           the right, while Burgwin himself marched through the gorge
           between.  The sharp-shooting of these troops did such
           terrible execution that the pass was soon cleared, though
           not without the display of great heroism, and some loss;
           and the Americans entered Embudo without further opposition.
           The difficulties of this campaign were greatly increased by
           the severity of the weather, the mountains being thickly
           covered with snow, and the cold so intense that a number
           of men were frost-bitten and disabled.  The next day Burgwin
           reached Las Trampas, where Price arrived with the remainder
           of the American army on the last day of January, and all
           together they marched into Chamisal.
           Notwithstanding the cold and snow they pressed on over the
           mountain, and on the 3d of February reached the town of
           Fernandez de Taos, only to find that the Mexican and Pueblo
           force had fortified itself in the celebrated Pueblo of Taos,
           about three miles distant.  That force had diminished
           considerably during the retreat from La Canada, many of the
           Mexicans returning to their homes, and its greater part
           now consisting of Pueblo Indians.  The American troops were
           worn out with fatigue and exposure, and in most urgent need
           of rest; but their intrepid commander, desiring to give his
           opponents no more time to strengthen their works, and full
           of zeal and energy, if not of prudence, determined to
           commence an immediate attack.
           The two great buildings at this Pueblo, certainly the most
           interesting and extraordinary inhabited structures in
           America, are well known from descriptions and engravings.
           They are five stories high and irregularly pyramidal in
           shape, each story being smaller than the one below, in order
           to allow ingress to the outer rooms of each tier from the
           roofs.  Before the advent of artillery these buildings were
           practically impregnable, as, when the exterior ladders were
           drawn up, there were no means of ingress, the side walls
           being solid without openings, and of immense thickness.
           Between these great buildings, each of which can accommodate
           a multitude of men, runs the clear water of the Taos Creek;
           and to the west of the northerly building stood the old
           church, with walls of adobe from three to seven and a half
           feet in thickness.  Outside of all, and having its northwest
           corner just beyond the church, ran an adobe wall, built for
           protection against hostile Indians and which now answered
           for an outer earthwork.  The church was turned into a
           fortification, and was the point where the insurgents
           concentrated their strength; and against this Colonel Price
           directed his principal attack.  The six-pounder and the
           howitzer were brought into position without delay, under
           the command of Lieutenant Dyer, then a young graduate of
           West Point, and since then chief of ordnance of the
           United States army, and opened a fire on the thick adobe
           walls.  But cannon-balls made little impression on the
           massive banks of earth, in which they embedded themselves
           without doing damage; and after a fire of two hours,
           the battery was withdrawn, and the troops allowed to return
           to the town of Taos for their much-needed rest.
           Early the next morning, the troops, now refreshed and ready
           for the combat, advanced again to the Pueblo, but found
           those within equally prepared.  The story of the attack and
           capture of this place is so interesting, both on account
           of the meeting here of old and new systems of warfare--of
           modern artillery with an aboriginal stronghold--and because
           the precise localities can be distinguished by the modern
           tourist from the description, that it seems best to insert
           the official report as presented by Colonel Price.
           Nothing could show more plainly how superior strong
           earthworks are to many more ambitious structures of defence,
           or more forcibly display the courage and heroism of those
           who took part in the battle, or the signal bravery of the
           accomplished Captain Burgwin which led to his untimely death.
           Colonel Price writes:
           "Posting the dragoons under Captain Burgwin about two
           hundred and sixty yards from the western flank of the church,
           I ordered the mounted men under Captains St. Vrain and Slack
           to a position on the opposite side of the town, whence they
           could discover and intercept any fugitives who might attempt
           to escape toward the mountains, or in the direction of
           San Fernando.  The residue of the troops took ground about
           three hundred yards from the north wall.  Here, too,
           Lieutenant Dyer established himself with the six-pounder
           and two howitzers, while Lieutenant Hassendaubel, of Major
           Clark's battalion, light artillery, remained with Captain
           Burgwin, in command of two howitzers.  By this arrangement
           a cross-fire was obtained, sweeping the front and eastern
           flank of the church.  All these arrangements being made,
           the batteries opened upon the town at nine o'clock A.M.
           At eleven o'clock, finding it impossible to breach the
           walls of the church with the six-pounder and howitzers,
           I determined to storm the building.  At a signal, Captain
           Burgwin, at the head of his own company and that of Captain
           McMillin, charged the western flank of the church, while
           Captain Aubrey, infantry battalion, and Captain Barber and
           Lieutenant Boon, Second Missouri Mounted Volunteers, charged
           the northern wall.  As soon as the troops above mentioned
           had established themselves under the western wall of the
           church, axes were used in the attempt to breach it, and a
           temporary ladder having been made, the roof was fired.
           About this time, Captain Burgwin, at the head of a small
           party, left the cover afforded by the flank of the church,
           and penetrating into the corral in front of that building,
           endeavoured to force the door.  In this exposed situation,
           Captain Burgwin received a severe wound, which deprived me
           of his valuable services, and of which he died on the
           7th instant.  Lieutenants McIlvaine, First United States
           Dragoons, and Royall and Lackland, Second Regiment
           Volunteers, accompanied Captain Burgwin into the corral,
           but the attempt on the church door proved fruitless, and
           they were compelled to retire behind the wall.  In the
           meantime, small holes had been cut in the western wall, and
           shells were thrown in by hand, doing good execution.
           The six-pounder was now brought around by Lieutenant Wilson,
           who, at the distance of two hundred yards, poured a heavy
           fire of grape into the town.  The enemy, during all of
           this time, kept up a destructive fire upon our troops.
           About half-past three o'clock, the six-pounder was run up
           within sixty yards of the church, and after ten rounds,
           one of the holes which had been cut with the axes was
           widened into a practicable breach.  The storming party,
           among whom were Lieutenant Dyer, of the ordnance, and
           Lieutenant Wilson and Taylor, First Dragoons, entered and
           took possession of the church without opposition.
           The interior was filled with dense smoke, but for which
           circumstance our storming party would have suffered great
           loss.  A few of the enemy were seen in the gallery,
           where an open door admitted the air, but they retired
           without firing a gun.  The troops left to support the
           battery on the north side were now ordered to charge on
           that side.
           "The enemy then abandoned the western part of the town.
           Many took refuge in the large houses on the east, while
           others endeavoured to escape toward the mountains.
           These latter were pursued by the mounted men under Captains
           Slack and St. Vrain, who killed fifty-one of them, only two
           or three men escaping.  It was now night, and our troops
           were quietly quartered in the house which the enemy had
           abandoned.  On the next morning the enemy sued for peace,
           and thinking the severe loss they had sustained would prove
           a salutary lesson, I granted their supplication, on the
           condition that they should deliver up to me Tomas, one of
           their principal men, who had instigated and been actively
           engaged in the murder of Governor Bent and others.
           The number of the enemy at the battle of Pueblo de Taos
           was between six and seven hundred, and of these one hundred
           and fifty were killed, wounded not known.  Our own loss was
           seven killed and forty-five wounded; many of the wounded
           have since died."
           The capture of the Taos Pueblo practically ended the main
           attempt to expel the Americans from the Territory.
           Governor Montoya, who was a very influential man in the
           conspiracy and styled himself the "Santa Ana of the North,"
           was tried by court-martial, convicted, and executed on
           February 7th, in the presence of the army.  Fourteen others
           were tried for participating in the murder of Governor Bent
           and the others who were killed on the 19th of January, and
           were convicted and executed.  Thus, fifteen in all were
           hung, being an equal number to those murdered at Taos, the
           Arroyo Hondo, and Rio Colorado.  Of these, eight were
           Mexicans and seven were Pueblo Indians.  Several more were
           sentenced to be hung for treason, but the President very
           properly pardoned them, on the ground that treason against
           the United States was not a crime of which a Mexican
           citizen could be found guilty, while his country was
           actually at war with the United States.
 There are several thrilling, as well as laughable, incidents connected
 with the Taos massacre, and the succeeding trial of the insurrectionists;
 in regard to which I shall quote freely from _Wah-to-yah_, whose
 author, Mr. Lewis H. Garrard, accompanied Colonel St. Vrain across
 the plains in 1846, and was present at the trial and execution of
 the convicted participants.
 One Fitzgerald, who was a private in Captain Burgwin's company of
 Dragoons, in the fight at the Pueblo de Taos, killed three Mexicans
 with his own hand, and performed heroic work with the bombs that were
 thrown into that strong Indian fortress.  He was a man of good feeling,
 but his brother having been killed, or rather murdered by Salazar,
 while a prisoner in the Texan expedition against Santa Fe, he swore
 vengeance, and entered the service with the hope of accomplishing it.
 The day following the fight at the Pueblo, he walked up to the
 alcalde, and deliberately shot him down.  For this act he was confined
 to await a trial for murder.
 One raw night, complaining of cold to his guard, wood was brought,
 which he piled up in the middle of the room.  Then mounting that,
 and succeeding in breaking through the roof, he noiselessly crept
 to the eaves, below which a sentinel, wrapped in a heavy cloak, paced
 to and fro, to prevent his escape.  He watched until the guard's back
 was turned, then swung himself from the wall, and with as much ease
 as possible, walked to a mess-fire, where his friends in waiting
 supplied him with a pistol and clothing.  When day broke, the town
 of Fernandez lay far beneath him in the valley, and two days after
 he was safe in our camp.
 Many a hand-to-hand encounter ensued during the fight at Taos,
 one of which was by Colonel Ceran St. Vrain, whom I knew intimately;
 a grand old gentleman, now sleeping peacefully in the quaint little
 graveyard at Mora, New Mexico, where he resided for many years.
 The gallant colonel, while riding along, noticed an Indian with whom
 he was well acquainted lying stretched out on the ground as if dead.
 Confident that this particular red devil had been especially prominent
 in the hellish acts of the massacre, the colonel dismounted from
 his pony to satisfy himself whether the savage was really dead or
 only shamming.  He was far from being a corpse, for the colonel had
 scarcely reached the spot, when the Indian jumped to his feet and
 attempted to run a long, steel-pointed lance through the officer's
 shoulder.  Colonel St. Vrain was a large, powerfully built man;
 so was the Indian, I have been told.  As each of the struggling
 combatants endeavoured to get the better of the other, with the
 savage having a little the advantage, perhaps, it appears that
 "Uncle Dick" Wooton, who was in the chase after the rebels, happened
 to arrive on the scene, and hitting the Indian a terrific blow on
 the head with his axe, settled the question as to his being a corpse.
 Court for the trial of the insurrectionists assembled at nine o'clock.
 On entering the room, Judges Beaubien and Houghton were occupying
 their official positions.  After many dry preliminaries, six prisoners
 were brought in--ill-favoured, half-scared, sullen fellows; and the
 jury of Mexicans and Americans having been empanelled, the trial
 commenced.  It certainly did appear to be a great assumption on the
 part of the Americans to conquer a country, and then arraign the
 revolting inhabitants for treason.  American judges sat on the bench.
 New Mexicans and Americans filled the jury-box, and American soldiery
 guarded the halls.  It was a strange mixture of violence and justice--
 a middle ground between the martial and common law.
 After an absence of a few minutes, the jury returned with a verdict
 of "guilty in the first degree"--five for murder, one for treason.
 Treason, indeed!  What did the poor devil know about his new
 allegiance?  But so it was; and as the jail was overstocked with
 others awaiting trial, it was deemed expedient to hasten the execution,
 and the culprits were sentenced to be hung on the following Friday--
 hangman's day.
 Court was daily in session; five more Indians and four Mexicans
 were sentenced to be hung on the 30th of April.  In the court room,
 on the occasion of the trial of these nine prisoners, were Senora Bent
 the late governor's wife, and Senora Boggs, giving their evidence in
 regard to the massacre, of which they were eye-witnesses.  Mrs. Bent
 was quite handsome; a few years previously she must have been a
 beautiful woman.  The wife of the renowned Kit Carson also was in
 attendance.  Her style of beauty was of the haughty, heart-breaking
 kind--such as would lead a man, with a glance of the eye, to risk
 his life for one smile.
 The court room was a small, oblong apartment, dimly lighted by two
 narrow windows; a thin railing keeping the bystanders from contact
 with the functionaries.  The prisoners faced the judges, and the
 three witnesses--Senoras Bent, Boggs, and Carson--were close to them
 on a bench by the wall.  When Mrs. Bent gave her testimony, the eyes
 of the culprits were fixed sternly upon her; when she pointed out
 the Indian who had killed the governor, not a muscle of the chief's
 face twitched or betrayed agitation, though he was aware her evidence
 settled his death warrant; he sat with lips gently closed, eyes
 earnestly fixed on her, without a show of malice or hatred--a spectacle
 of Indian fortitude, and of the severe mastery to which the emotions
 can be subjected.
 Among the jurors was a trapper named Baptiste Brown, a Frenchman,
 as were the majority of the trappers in the early days of the border.
 He was an exceptionally kind-hearted man when he first came to the
 mountains, and seriously inclined to regard the Indians with that
 mistaken sentimentality characterizing the average New England
 philanthropist, who has never seen the untutored savage on his native
 heath.  His ideas, however, underwent a marked change as the years
 rolled on and he became more familiar with the attributes of the
 noble red man.  He was with Kit Carson in the Blackfeet country
 many years before the Taos massacre, when his convictions were thus
 modified, and it was from the famous frontiersman himself I learned
 the story of Baptiste's conversion.
 It was late one night in their camp on one of the many creeks in the
 Blackfoot region, where they had been established for several weeks,
 and Baptiste was on duty, guarding their meat and furs from the
 incursions of a too inquisitive grizzly that had been prowling around,
 and the impertinent investigations of the wolves.  His attention was
 attracted to something high up in a neighbouring tree, that seemed
 restless, changing its position constantly like an animal of prey.
 The Frenchman drew a bead upon it, and there came tumbling down at his
 feet a dead savage, with his war-paint and other Indian paraphernalia
 adorning his body.  Baptiste was terribly hurt over the circumstance
 of having killed an Indian, and it grieved him for a long time.
 One day, a month after the incident, he was riding alone far away
 from our party, and out of sound of their rifles as well, when a band
 of Blackfeet discovered him and started for his scalp.  He had no
 possible chance for escape except by the endurance of his horse;
 so a race for life began.  He experienced no trouble in keeping out
 of the way of their arrows--the Indians had no guns then--and hoped
 to make camp before they could possibly wear out his horse.  Just as
 he was congratulating himself on his luck, right in front of him
 there suddenly appeared a great gorge, and not daring to stop or to
 turn to the right or left, the only thing to do was to make his animal
 jump it.  It was his only chance; it was death if he missed it, and
 death by the most horrible torture if the Indians captured him.
 So he drove his heels into his horse's sides, and essayed the
 awful leap.  His willing animal made a desperate effort to carry out
 the desire of his daring rider, but the dizzy chasm was too wide,
 and the pursuing savages saw both horse and the coveted white man
 dash to the bottom of the frightful canyon together.  Believing that
 their hated enemy had eluded them forever, they rode back on their
 trail, disgusted and chagrined, without even taking the trouble of
 looking over the precipice to learn the fate of Baptiste.
 The horse was instantly killed, and the Frenchman had both of his legs
 badly broken.  Far from camp, with the Indians in close proximity,
 he did not dare discharge his rifle--the usual signal when a trapper
 is lost or in danger--or to make any demonstration, so he was
 compelled to lie there and suffer, hoping that his comrades,
 missing him, would start out to search for him.  They did so,
 but more than twenty-four hours had elapsed before they found him,
 as the bottom of the canyon was the last place they thought of.
 Doctors, in the wild region where their camp was located, were as
 impossible as angels; so his companions set his broken bones as well
 as they could, while Baptiste suffered excruciating torture.
 When they had completed their crude surgery, they improvised a litter
 of poles, and rigged it on a couple of pack-mules, and thus carried
 him around with them from camp to camp until he recovered--a period
 extending over three months.
 This affair completely cured Baptiste of his original sentimentality
 in relation to the Indian, and he became one of their worst haters.
 When acting as a juror in the trials of rebel Mexicans and Indians,
 he was asleep half the time, and never heard much of the evidence,
 and that portion which he did was so much Greek to him.  In the last
 nine cases, in which the Indian who had murdered Governor Bent
 was tried, Baptiste, as soon as the jury room was closed, sang out:
 "Hang 'em, hang 'em, sacre enfans des garces, dey dam gran rascale!"
 "But wait," suggested one of the cooler members; "let's look at the
 evidence and find out whether they are really guilty."  Upon this
 wise caution, Baptiste got greatly excited, paced the floor, and
 cried out: "Hang de Indian anyhow; he may not be guilty now--mais he
 vare soon will be.  Hang 'em all, parceque dey kill Monsieur Charles;
 dey take son topknot, vot you call im--scalp.  Hang 'em, hang 'em--
 On Friday the 9th, the day for the execution, the sky was unspotted,
 save by hastily fleeting clouds; and as the rising sun loomed over
 the Taos Mountain, the bright rays, shining on the yellow and white
 mud-houses, reflected cheerful hues, while the shades of the toppling
 peaks, receding from the plain beneath, drew within themselves.
 The humble valley wore an air of calm repose.  The Plaza was deserted;
 woe-begone burros drawled forth sacrilegious brays, as the warm
 sunbeams roused them from hard, grassless ground, to scent their
 breakfast among straw and bones.
 Poor Mexicans hurried to and fro, casting suspicious glances around;
 los Yankees at El casa Americano drank their juleps, and puffed their
 cigarettes in silence.
 The sheriff, Metcalf, formerly a mountaineer, was in want of the
 wherewithal to hang the condemned criminals, so he borrowed some
 rawhide lariats and picket-ropes of a teamster.
 "Hello, Met," said one of the party present, "these reatas are mighty
 stiff--won't fit; eh, old feller?"
 "I've got something to make 'em fit--good 'intment--don't emit very
 sweet perfume; but good enough for Greasers," said the sheriff,
 producing a dollar's worth of Mexican soft soap.  "This'll make 'em
 slip easy--a long ways too easy for them, I 'spect."
 The prison apartment was a long chilly room, badly ventilated by
 one small window and the open door, through which the sun lit up the
 earth floor, and through which the poor prisoners wistfully gazed.
 Two muscular Mexicans basked in its genial warmth, a tattered serape
 interposing between them and the ground.  The ends, once fringed but
 now clear of pristine ornament, were partly drawn over their breasts,
 disclosing in the openings of their fancifully colored shirts
 --now glazed with filth and faded with perspiration--the bare skin,
 covered with straight black hair.  With hands under their heads,
 in the mass of stringy locks rusty-brown from neglect, they returned
 the looks of their executioners with an unmeaning stare, and
 unheedingly received the salutation of--"Como le va!"
 Along the sides of the room, leaning against the walls, were crowded
 the poor wretches, miserable in dress, miserable in features,
 miserable in feelings--a more disgusting collection of ragged, greasy,
 unwashed prisoners were, probably, never before congregated within
 so small a space as the jail of Taos.
 About nine o'clock, active preparations were made for the execution,
 and the soldiery mustered.  Reverend padres in long black gowns,
 with meek countenances, passed the sentinels, intent on spiritual
 consolation, or the administration of the Blessed Sacrament.
 Lieutenant-Colonel Willock, commanding the military, ordered every
 American under arms.  The prison was at the edge of the town;
 no houses intervened between it and the fields to the north.
 One hundred and fifty yards distant, a gallows was erected.
 The word was passed, at last, that the criminals were coming.
 Eighteen soldiers received them at the gate, with their muskets at
 "port arms"; the six abreast, with the sheriff on the right--
 nine soldiers on each side.
 The poor prisoners marched slowly, with downcast eyes, arms tied
 behind, and bare heads, with the exception of white cotton caps
 stuck on the back, to be pulled over the face as the last ceremony.
 The roofs of the houses in the vicinity were covered with women and
 children, to witness the first execution by hanging in the valley
 of Taos, save that of Montojo, the insurgent leader.  No men were
 near; a few stood afar off, moodily looking on.
 On the flat jail roof was placed a mountain howitzer, loaded and
 ranging the gallows.  Near was the complement of men to serve it,
 one holding in his hand a lighted match.  The two hundred and thirty
 soldiers, less the eighteen forming the guard, were paraded in front
 of the jail, and in sight of the gibbet, so as to secure the prisoners
 awaiting trial.  Lieutenant-Colonel Willock, on a handsome charger,
 commanded a view of the whole.
 When within fifteen paces of the gallows, the side-guard, filing off
 to the right, formed, at regular distances from each other, three
 sides of a hollow square; the mountaineers composed the fourth and
 front side, in full view of the trembling prisoners, who marched up to
 the tree under which was a government wagon, with two mules attached.
 The driver and sheriff assisted them in, ranging them on a board,
 placed across the hinder end, which maintained its balance, as they
 were six--an even number--two on each extremity, and two in the middle.
 The gallows was so narrow that they touched.  The ropes, by reason
 of their size and stiffness, despite the soaping given them, were
 adjusted with difficulty; but through the indefatigable efforts
 of the sheriff and a lieutenant who had accompanied him, all
 preliminaries were arranged, although the blue uniform looked sadly
 out of place on a hangman.
 With rifles at a "shoulder," the military awaited the consummation
 of the tragedy.  There was no crowd around to disturb; a death-like
 stillness prevailed.  The spectators on the roofs seemed scarcely
 to move--their eyes were directed to the doomed wretches, with harsh
 halters now encircling their necks.
 The sheriff and his assistant sat down; after a few moments of
 intense expectation, the heart-wrung victims said a few words to
 their people.  Only one of them admitted he had committed murder
 and deserved death.  In their brief but earnest appeals, the words
 "mi padre, mi madre"--"my father, my mother"--were prominent.
 The one sentenced for treason showed a spirit of patriotism worthy
 of the cause for which he died--the liberty of his country; and
 instead of the cringing recantation of the others, his speech was
 a firm asseveration of his own innocence, the unjustness of his trial,
 and the arbitrary conduct of his murderers.  As the cap was pulled
 over his face, the last words he uttered between his teeth with
 a scowl were "Carajo, los Americanos!"
 At a word from the sheriff, the mules were started, and the wagon
 drawn from under the tree.  No fall was given, and their feet remained
 on the board till the ropes drew tight.  The bodies swayed back and
 forth, and while thus swinging, the hands of two came together with
 a firm grasp till the muscles loosened in death.
 After forty minutes' suspension, Colonel Willock ordered his command
 to quarters, and the howitzer to be taken from its place on the roof
 of the jail.  The soldiers were called away; the women and population
 in general collecting around the rear guard which the sheriff had
 retained for protection while delivering the dead to their weeping
 While cutting a rope from one man's neck--for it was in a hard knot--
 the owner, a government teamster standing by waiting, shouted angrily,
 at the same time stepping forward:
 "Hello there! don't cut that rope; I won't have anything to tie
 my mules with."
 "Oh! you darned fool," interposed a mountaineer, "the dead men's
 ghosts will be after you if you use them lariats--wagh!  They'll make
 meat of you sartain."
 "Well, I don't care if they do.  I'm in government service; and if
 them picket-halters was gone, slap down goes a dollar apiece.
 Money's scarce in these diggin's, and I'm going to save all I kin
 to take home to the old woman and boys."