against their solicitations.
His forces, however, were so demoralized that, soon afterward,1
when he led 480 of them, out of 700, to the village of Mesilla
, some twenty miles distant, he fell into an ambuscade of 200 badly armed Texans, and, after a skirmish, wherein his conduct can only be vindicated from the imputation of cowardice by the presumption of treason, he ordered a retreat to the fort, which his men were next day engaged in fortifying, when surprised, at 10 1/2 A. M., by an order to evacuate that night.
The commissary was ordered to roll out the whisky, from which the men were allowed to fill their canteens, and drink at discretion.
No water was furnished for the weary march before them, over a hot and thirsty desert.
They started as ordered; but, before they had advanced ten miles, men were dropping out of the ranks, and falling to the earth exhausted or dead drunk.
At 2 A. M., a Texan force was seen advancing on their flank, whereupon Lynde
's Adjutant remarked, “They have nothing to fear from us.”
Our men were halted, so many of them, at least, as had not already halted of their own accord; and the officers held a long council of war.
Many privates of the command likewise took counsel, and decided to fight.
Just then, Capt. Gibbs
appeared from the officers' council, and ordered a retreat upon the camp, saying, “We will fight them there.”
Arrived at the camp, our soldiers were ordered to lay down their arms, and informed, “You are turned over as prisoners of war.”
The subordinate officers disclaimed any responsibility for this disgraceful surrender, laying the blame wholly upon Lynde
Our men were paroled, and permitted, as prisoners, to pursue their course northward, after listening to a speech from Col. Baylor
, of their captors, intended to win their good-will.
Their sufferings, on that forlorn march to Albuquerque
and Fort Wise, wee protracted and terrible; some becoming deranged from the agony of their thirst; some seeking to quench it by opening their veins, and drinking their own blood.
, instead of being court-martialed and shot, was simply dropped from the rolls of the army, his dismissal to date from his surrender;2
and Capt. A. H. Plummer
, his commissary, who held $17,000 in drafts, which he might at any moment have destroyed, but which were handed over to and used by the Rebels
, was sentenced by court-martial to be reprimanded in general orders, and suspended from duty for six months!
, thus shamefully bereft, at a blow, of half her defenders, was now reckoned an easy prey to the gathering forces of the Rebellion
population, ignorant, timid, and superstitious, had been attached to the Union
by conquest, scarcely fifteen years before, and had, meantime, been mainly under the training of Democratic officials of strong pro-Slavery sympathies, who had induced her Territorial Legislature, some two years before, to pass an act recognizing Slavery as legally existing among them, and providing stringent safeguards for its protection and security — an act which was still unrepealed.
Her Democratic officials had not yet been