Page:Life among the Apaches.djvu/153

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LIFE AMONG THE APACHES.

would procure such an order, I would obey it to the letter, but under any other circumstances refused to take action in the premises. This was enough. Hastily bundling up their metates they decamped with the utmost celerity and left us undisturbed during the remainder of our stay at Antelope Peak.

Sometime afterward we reached the first Maricopa village, where I was ordered to establish my camp and keep up communications between the column and California. Lieut.-Col. Theodore Coult, of the infantry, was in command at the central village, twelve miles beyond my post, and successive orders of his reduced my force to the Orderly Sergeant, E. B. Loring, (subequently Captain of Co. A, Second Cavalry, Cal. Vols.) one man with a broken arm, and myself. My chief bugler and Quartermaster-Sergeant, George Shearer, had been dispatched across the Grila Bend, sixty-five miles, with the mails, and orders to bring forward the return mails from California. Our camp was located on an extensive, clear plain, covered with short, green alkaline grass, wholly unfit for our animals, of which we had twenty-seven, including horses and mules. There was also about fifty thousand dollars worth of Government property to be guarded, and for which I was responsible. By digging a foot or two, water was obtainable in abundance, but it was so deeply impregnated with alkali as to be almost undrinkable. However, there was nothing else for it, and we were compelled to use it or die of thirst. The camp ground was nearly two miles west from the nearest Maricopa village, and had frequently been invaded by the Apaches. As our animals were sickened by the grass about us, it became indispensable to graze them in a more favorable locality which existed about three miles further westward, and exactly where the Apaches were