Page:Life among the Apaches.djvu/175

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169
LIFE AMONG THE APACHES.

us such a strong and determined fight when we mustered one hundred and twenty-nine men and two mountain howitzers, what great chance would I have of safely conducting a train of twenty-six wagons with only twenty-one men, and without artillery, through such a terrific stronghold? In the third place, nature provided a passage nearly as short, much less laborious for men and animals, well supplied with water, wood and grass, and by its open character, affording the very best field for the operations of cavalry, and the widest range for our splendid breech-loading weapons of long reach. It was not a question whether we should again fight the Indians, but whether we could forward the main object of the expedition. Indeed, strict orders had been given to refrain from Indian broils as much as possible, to suffer some wrong rather than divert our time and attention from the great purpose contemplated, which was to liberate Arizona from Confederate rule and effect a junction with Gen. Canby as soon as possible. Had we been exclusively on an Indian campaign, other means would have been adopted.

Having taken a final survey, I started in the evening just after sundown, to prevent the Apaches from seeing the dust raised by the column, and directed our course over the open plain, north of the Chiricahui range, and between it and the mountains from which it is divided some four miles by an open and elevated piece of clear land, without trees or rocks, and thickly covered with the finest grama grass. We traveled all night with the cavalry covering the front and rear, and the seven infantrymen sleeping in the empty wagons, with their weapons loaded and ready at a moment's warning. Every little while the cavalry were required to patrol the length of the column, to ward off any sudden and unforeseen