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MEXICO DECLARES WAR.
 
 
 
 Mexico declared war against the United States in April, 1846.  In the
 following May, Congress passed an act authorizing the President to
 call into the field fifty thousand volunteers, designed to operate
 against Mexico at three distinct points, and consisting of the
 Southern Wing, or the Army of Occupation, the Army of the Centre,
 and the Army of the West, the latter to direct its march upon the
 city of Santa Fe.  The original plan was, however, somewhat changed,
 and General Kearney, who commanded the Army of the West, divided his
 forces into three separate commands.  The first he led in person
 to the Pacific coast.  One thousand volunteers, under command of
 Colonel A. W. Doniphan, were to make a descent upon the State of
 Chihuahua, while the remainder and greater part of the forces, under
 Colonel Sterling Price, were to garrison Santa Fe after its capture.
 
 There is a pretty fiction told of the breaking out of the war
 between Mexico and the United States.  Early in the spring of 1846,
 before it was known or even conjectured that a state of war would be
 declared to exist between this government and Mexico, a caravan
 of twenty-nine traders, on their way from Independence to Santa Fe,
 beheld, just after a storm and a little before sunset, a perfectly
 distinct image of the Bird of Liberty, the American eagle, on the
 disc of the sun.  When they saw it they simultaneously and almost
 involuntarily exclaimed that in less than twelve months the Eagle
 of Liberty would spread his broad plumes over the plains of the West,
 and that the flag of our country would wave over the cities of
 New Mexico and Chihuahua.  The student of the classics will remember
 that just before the assassination of Julius Caesar, both Brutus
 and Cassius, while in their places in the Roman Senate, saw chariots
 of fire in the sky.  One story is as true, probably, as the other,
 though separated by centuries of time.
 
 The Army of the West, under General Stephen W. Kearney, consisted of
 two batteries of artillery, commanded by Major Clark; three squadrons
 of the First United States Dragoons, commanded by Major Sumner;
 the First Regiment of Missouri Cavalry, commanded by Colonel Doniphan,
 and two companies of infantry, commanded by Captain Aubrey.
 This force marched in detached columns from Fort Leavenworth, and
 on the 1st of August, 1846, concentrated in camp on the Santa Fe
 Trail, nine miles below Bent's Fort.
 
 Accompanying the expedition was a party of the United States
 topographical engineers, under command of Lieutenant W. H. Emory.[25]
 In writing of this expedition, so far as its march relates to the
 Old Santa Fe Trail, I shall quote freely from Emory's report and
 Doniphan's historian.[26]
 
 The practicability of marching a large army over the waste,
 uncultivated, uninhabited prairie regions of the West was universally
 regarded as problematical, but the expedition proved completely
 successful.  Provisions were conveyed in wagons, and beef-cattle
 driven along for the use of the men.  These animals subsisted
 entirely by grazing.  To secure them from straying off at night,
 they were driven into corrals formed of the wagons, or tethered to
 an iron picket-pin driven into the ground about fifteen inches.
 At the outset of the expedition many laughable scenes took place.
 Our horses were generally wild, fiery, and unused to military
 trappings and equipments.  Amidst the fluttering of banners,
 the sounding of bugles, the rattling of artillery, the clattering
 of sabres and also of cooking utensils, some of them took fright
 and scampered pell-mell over the wide prairie.  Rider, arms and
 accoutrements, saddles, saddle-bags, tin cups, and coffee-pots,
 were frequently left far behind in the chase.  No very serious or
 fatal accident, however, occurred from this cause, and all was
 right as soon as the affrighted animals were recovered.
 
 The Army of the West was, perhaps, composed of as fine material as
 any other body of troops then in the field.  The volunteer corps
 consisted almost entirely of young men of the country.
 
 On the 9th of July, a separate detachment of the troops arrived at
 the Little Arkansas, where the Santa Fe Trail crosses that stream--
 now in McPherson County, Kansas.  The mosquitoes, gnats, and black
 flies swarmed in that locality and nearly drove the men and animals
 frantic.  While resting there, a courier came from the commands
 of General Kearney and Colonel Doniphan, stating that their men
 were in a starving condition, and asking for such provisions as
 could be spared.  Lieutenant-Colonel Ruff of Doniphan's regiment,
 in command of the troops now camped on the Little Arkansas, was
 almost destitute himself.  He had sent couriers forward to Pawnee Fork
 to stop a train of provisions at that point and have it wait there
 until he came up with his force, and he now directed the courier from
 Kearney to proceed to the same place and halt as many wagons loaded
 with supplies, as would suffice to furnish the three detachments
 with rations.  One of the couriers, in attempting to ford the fork
 of the Pawnee, which was bank-full, was drowned.  His body was found
 and given a military funeral; he was the first man lost on the
 expedition after it had reached the great plains, one having been
 drowned in the Missouri, at Fort Leavenworth, before the troops left.
 
 The author of _Doniphan's Expedition_ says:
           In approaching the Arkansas, a landscape of the most
           imposing and picturesque nature makes its appearance.
           While the green, glossy undulations of the prairie to
           the right seem to spread out in infinite succession,
           like waves subsiding after a storm, and covered with
           herds of gambolling buffalo, on the left, towering to
           the height of seventy-five to a hundred feet, rise the
           sun-gilt summits of the sand hills, along the base of
           which winds the broad, majestic river, bespeckled with
           verdant islets, thickly beset with cottonwood timber,
           the sand hills resembling heaps of driven snow.
 I refer to this statement to show how wonderfully the settlement
 of the region has changed the physical aspect of that portion
 bordering the Arkansas River.  Now those sand hills are covered
 with verdure, and this metamorphosis has taken place within the
 last thirty years; for the author of this work well remembers how
 the great sand dunes used to shine in the sunlight, when he first
 saw them a third of a century ago.  In coming from Fort Leavenworth
 up the Smoky Hill route to the Santa Fe Trail, where the former
 joined the latter at Pawnee Rock, the contour of the Arkansas
 could be easily traced by the white sand hills referred to,
 long before it was reached.
 
 On the 15th of July the combined forces formed a junction at
 Pawnee Fork, now within the city limits of Larned, Kansas.  The river
 was impassable, but General Kearney, with the characteristic energy
 of his family, determined not to be delayed, and to that end caused
 great trees to be cut down and their trunks thrown across the stream,
 over which the army passed, carrying in their arms the sick, the
 baggage, tents, and other paraphernalia; the animals being forced
 to swim.  The empty bodies of the wagons, fastened to their running
 gear, were floated across by means of ropes, and hauled up the
 slippery bank by the troops.  This required two whole days; and on
 the morning of the 17th, not an accident having occurred, the entire
 column was en route again, the infantry, as is declared in the
 official reports, keeping pace with the cavalry right along.
 Their feet, however, became terribly blistered, and, like the
 Continentals at Valley Forge, their tracks were marked with blood.
 
 In a day or two after the command had left Pawnee Fork, while camping
 in a beautiful spot on the bank of the Arkansas, an officer, Major
 Howard, who had been sent forward to Santa Fe some time previously
 by the general to learn something of the feeling of the people
 in relation to submitting to the government of the United States,
 returned and reported
 
           that the common people, or plebeians, were inclined to
           favour the conditions of peace proposed by General Kearney;
           viz. that if they would lay down their arms and take the
           oath of allegiance to the government of the United States,
           they should, to all intents and purposes, become citizens
           of the same republic, receiving the protection and enjoying
           the liberties guaranteed to other American citizens; but
           that the patricians who held the offices and ruled the
           country were hostile, and were making warlike preparations.
           He added, further, that two thousand three hundred men
           were already armed for the defence of the capital, and
           that others were assembling at Taos.
 This intelligence created quite a sensation in camp, and it was
 believed, and earnestly hoped, that the entrance of the troops
 into Santa Fe would be desperately opposed; such is the pugnacious
 character of the average American the moment he dons the uniform
 of a soldier.
 
 The army arrived at the Cimarron crossing of the Arkansas on the 20th,
 and during the march of nearly thirty miles from their last camp,
 a herd of about four hundred buffalo suddenly emerged from the
 Arkansas, and broke through the long column.  In an instant the
 troops charged upon the surprised animals with guns, pistols, and
 even drawn sabres, and many of the huge beasts were slaughtered
 as they went dashing and thundering among the excited troopers and
 infantrymen.
 
 On the 29th an express from Bent's Fort brought news to General
 Kearney from Santa Fe that Governor Armijo had called the chief men
 together to deliberate on the best means of defending the city;
 that hostile preparations were rapidly going on in all parts of
 New Mexico; and that the American advance would be vigorously opposed.
 Some Mexican prisoners were taken near Bent's Fort, with blank letters
 on their persons addressed to the general; it was supposed this piece
 of ingenuity was resorted to to deceive the American residents at
 the fort.  These men were thought to be spies sent out from Santa Fe
 to get an idea of the strength of the army; so they were shown
 everything in and around camp, and then allowed to depart in peace
 for Santa Fe, to report what they had seen.
 
 On the same date, the Army of the West crossed the Arkansas and camped
 on Mexican soil about eight miles below Bent's Fort, and now the
 utmost vigilance was exercised; for the troops had not only to keep
 a sharp lookout for the Mexicans, but for the wily Comanches, in whose
 country their camp was located.  Strong picket and camp guards were
 posted, and the animals turned loose to graze, guarded by a large
 force.  Notwithstanding the care taken to confine them within certain
 limits, a pack of wolves rushed through the herd, and in an instant
 it was stampeded, and there ensued a scene of the wildest confusion.
 More than a thousand horses were dashing madly over the prairie,
 their rage and fright increased at every jump by the lariats and
 picket-pins which they had pulled up, and which lashed them like
 so many whips.  After desperate exertions by the troops, the majority
 were recovered from thirty to fifty miles distant; nearly a hundred,
 however, were absolutely lost and never seen again.
 
 At this camp the troops were visited by the war chief of the Arapahoes,
 who manifested great surprise at the big guns, and declared that
 the Mexicans would not stand a moment before such terrible instruments
 of death, but would escape to the mountains with the utmost despatch.
 
 On the 1st of August a new camp near Bent's Fort was established,
 from whence twenty men under Lieutenant de Courcy, with orders to
 proceed through the mountains to the valley of Taos, to learn
 something of the disposition and intentions of the people, and to
 rejoin General Kearney on the road to Santa Fe.  Lieutenant de Courcy,
 in his official itinerary, relates the following anecdote:
           We took three pack-mules laden with provisions, and as
           we did not expect to be long absent, the men took no extra
           clothing.  Three days after we left the column our mules
           fell down, and neither gentle means nor the points of our
           sabres had the least effect in inducing them to rise.
           Their term of service with Uncle Sam was out.  "What's to
           be done?" said the sergeant.  "Dismount!" said I.
           "Off with your shirts and drawers, men! tie up the sleeves
           and legs, and each man bag one-twentieth part of the flour!"
           Having done this, the bacon was distributed to the men also,
           and tied to the cruppers of their saddles.  Thus loaded,
           we pushed on, without the slightest fear of our provision
           train being cut off.
 
           The march upon Santa Fe was resumed on the 2d of August.
           As we passed Bent's Fort the American flag was raised,
           in compliment to our troops, and, like our own, streamed
           most animatingly in the gale that swept from the desert,
           while the tops of the houses were crowded with Mexican girls
           and Indian squaws, intently beholding the American army.
 
 On the 15th of the month, the army neared Las Vegas; when two spies
 who had been sent on in advance to see how matters stood returned
 and reported that two thousand Mexicans were camped at the pass
 a few miles beyond the village, where they intended to offer battle.
 
 Upon receipt of this news, the general immediately formed a line
 of battle.  The United States dragoons with the St. Louis mounted
 volunteers were stationed in front, Major Clark with the battalion
 of volunteer light artillery in the centre, and Colonel Doniphan's
 regiment in the rear.  The companies of volunteer infantry were
 deployed on each side of the line of march as flankers.  The supply
 trains were next in order, with Captain Walton's mounted company
 as rear guard.  There was also a strong advance guard.  The cartridges
 were hastily distributed; the cannon swabbed and rigged; the
 port-fires burning, and every rifle loaded.
 
 In passing through the streets of the curious-looking village of
 Las Vegas, the army was halted, and from the roof of a large house
 General Kearney administered to the chief officers of the place
 the oath of allegiance to the United States, using the sacred cross
 instead of the Bible.  This act completed, on marched the exultant
 troops toward the canyon where it had been promised them that they
 should meet the enemy.
 
 On the night of the 16th, while encamped on the Pecos River, near
 the village of San Jose, the pickets captured a son of the Mexican
 General Salezar, who was acting the rôle of a spy, and two other
 soldiers of the Mexican army.  Salezar was kept a close prisoner;
 but the two privates were by order of General Kearney escorted
 through the camp and shown the cannon, after which they were allowed
 to depart, so that they might tell what they had seen.  It was
 learned afterward that they represented the American army as composed
 of five thousand troops, and possessing so many cannons that they
 were not able to count them.
 
 When Armijo was certain that the Army of the West was really
 approaching Santa Fe, he assembled seven thousand troops, part of them
 well armed, and the remainder indifferently so.  The Mexican general
 had written a note to General Kearney the day before the capture
 of the spies, saying that he would meet him on the following day.
 
 General Kearney, at this, hastened on, arriving at the mouth of
 the Apache canyon at noon, with his whole force ready and anxious
 to try the mettle of the Mexicans in battle.  Emory in his
 _Reconnoissance_ says:
 
           The sun shone with dazzling brightness; the guidons and
           colours of each squadron, regiment, and battalion were
           for the first time unfurled.  The drooping horses seemed
           to take courage from the gay array.  The trumpeters
           sounded "to horse" with spirit, and the hills multiplied
           and re-echoed the call.  All wore the aspect of a gala day.
           About the middle of the day's march the two Pueblo Indians,
           previously sent to sound the chief men of that formidable
           tribe, were seen in the distance, at full speed, with arms
           and legs both thumping the sides of their mules at every
           stride.  Something was now surely in the wind.  The smaller
           and foremost of the two dashed up to the general, his face
           radiant with joy, and exclaimed:
 
           "They are in the canyon, my brave; pluck up your courage
           and push them out."  As soon as his extravagant delight at
           the prospect of a fight, and the pleasure of communicating
           the news, had subsided, he gave a pretty accurate idea
           of Armijo's force and position.
 
           Shortly afterwards a rumour reached the camp that the
           two thousand Mexicans assembled in the canyon to oppose us,
           have quarrelled among themselves; and that Armijo, taking
           advantage of the dissensions, has fled with his dragoons
           and artillery to the south.  It is well known that he has
           been averse to a battle, but some of his people threatened
           his life if he refused to fight.  He had been, for some
           days, more in fear of his own people than of the American
           army, having seen what they are blind to--the hopelessness
           of resistance.
 
           As we approached the ancient town of Pecos, a large fat
           fellow, mounted on a mule, came toward us at full speed,
           and, extending his hand to the general, congratulated him
           on the arrival of himself and army.  He said with a roar
           of laughter, "Armijo and his troops have gone to h---ll,
           and the canyon is all clear."
 
 On reaching the canyon, it was found to be true that the Mexican
 troops had dispersed and fled to the mountains, just as the old
 Arapahoe chief had said they would.  There, however, they commenced
 to fortify, by chopping away the timber so that their artillery
 could play to better advantage upon the American lines, and by
 throwing up temporary breastworks.  It was ascertained afterward,
 on undoubted authority, that Armijo had an army of nearly seven
 thousand Mexicans, with six pieces of artillery, and the advantage
 of ground, yet he allowed General Kearney, with a force of less than
 two thousand, to march through the almost impregnable gorge, and on
 to the capital of the Province, without any attempt to oppose him.
 
 Thus was New Mexico conquered with but little loss relatively.
 For the further details of the movements of the Army of the West,
 the reader is referred to general history, as this book, necessarily,
 treats only of that portion of its march and the incidents connected
 with it while travelling the Santa Fe Trail.