A-M #17 2021-06-10T21:30:36+00:00

The Man Who Won The West Mexican War 1846 – 1848

The Man Who Won The West Mexican War By Page #


by PRIVATE M. I. BAKER on JULY 6, 1847


Arkansas River one days march from Pawnee Forks June 27th 1847

Arkansas River one days march from Pawnee Forks June 27th 1847

My dear Nephew

When I last wrote you I was at Council Grove on my way to Santa Fe.  After leaving there we proceeded on our journey and nothing of note happened until we reached Pawnee Fork, where we arrived just one day to late to have had an encounter with a party of Comanches & Pawnees, who attacked a homeward bound train of wagons and drove off over one hundred oxen and wounding some of the men.

We found here two trains of thirty wagons each, which started the next day with us.  Two other trains of thirty wagons each had started home too on three days ahead. Well we traveled on 16 to 18 miles and encamped on the Arkansas.

Figure 32 July 6, 1847 Fort Leavenworth, Missouri

Figure 32  July 6, 1847  Fort Leavenworth, Missouri

To  M. L. Baker Martin  No. 1 Hudson Street, New York


At Reveille or light the next morning we discovered that the Indians had made a charge on Hayden’s train and were driving off their oxen.  The order to saddle and mount our horses was given and in a few moments all were in the saddle.  I was among the first in the ranks, but was ordered to remain behind to help guard the camp.  About twenty one men (only) started off in pursuit of the Indians.

Opposite to us on the other side of the river, was a large crowd of Indians, ready to drop and fall on our camp if we sent away all our men.  Our men (21) headed by a Sergeant made a gallant charge on the Indians and they all commenced to run off. – At this the Indians on the other side run their horses up the river a few hundred yards, crossed and charged in rear after our men

The Indians in front seeing this, turned around and there were our poor fellows with enemies in front and rear and ten to one at the least – then the Indians commenced crossing the river.  I foresaw the result and wanted only twenty to attack them and keep them from attacking our men in the rear but our commanding officer Lieut Low would not send the men and so the result was horrid to relate.  I made no comment, but have facts to speak for themselves.  There was at least two hundred warriors mounted with lances, bows & arrows & a few guns and all of them on trained horses and themselves the best horsemen in the world.

This could not last only for a few moments, when our men made a retreat for camp at the top of their horses speed. They got by this time all the cattle, some 70 or 80 yoke of oxen across the river and had about one hundred and fifty men on foot doing that part.  The first man that came in was Sergt. Bishop, wounded with a bullet just above the kidneys.  This is not as yet thought to dangerous, although it is rather doubtful.  The next was a yoeman by the name of Lancaster, son of a German Baron, who fell from loss of blood off his horse some 200 yards from Camp.  Besides being lanced, he had an arrow still in him, which entered under the right arm and the steel front was sticking out clear through him just above his heart. He still is living but his case is thought hopeless.

The next one the Farrier of the Company.  Seeing he was fainting I run out, several hundred yards from camp and held him on his horse until he got in.  He held on to his saber until I told him to let go his grasp. His case is doubtful.  Another came in lanced in the back and is very bad today, but not dangerous.  Two belonging to my outfit were slightly wounded with lances.  The roll was called and we found five men missing.  A part of us mounted and went over the field of battle and the first one we found was the dead body of a fine young man of my mess, named Arledge.  He was stripped of this clothing but his scalp was not taken.  Then on looking around we found the dead bodies of three more, Blake, Short & Dickhart.

All of them were horribly butchered.  Short beside being lanced in a dozen places had his throat cut from ear to ear.  Dickhart had his ears cut off and mouth mutilated.  All of these three had their scalps taken.  We buried them all in one grave with the honours of war.  The fifth man Gaskin – we did not find until this morning.  He was dreadfully mutilated, his scalp was not taken, but about half of his hair was pulled out. I suppose the one that killed him had no knife about him.  So you see have had five brave fellows taken suddenly from us and six wounded – four of them badly.

We do not know for certainty how many of the Indians were killed as they always take the dead away with them, but it cannot fall short of thirty for almost all of our men killed one and those of our men that got killed, each killed from two to four & five.  The Indians have not as yet made another attack, but we expect nothing else every moment.  We are now well prepared for them.  The two ox trains stay close along side of us and we shall remain here until we can get cattle & take along the wagons.  There are some days behind us several hundred head of cattle going to Santa Fe, which when they come up will I suppose be put in the wagons.  We have just learned those Indians have taken and destroyed the new fort lately built at Jackson Grove near the crossing of the Arkansaw.  They killed three men the rest escaped with a six pounder and have gone on to Santa Fe with Smith train as guards.

They are somewhat fearful they will in a few days bring a still larger number and give us battle.  I do not think they can harm us, as long as we remain encamped as we now are – and very soon will have a reinforcement as several companies of volunteers are on the road.  Almost all of the men remain under arms day & night. – I have given you a hasty and but impartial account of the tragic event and one must be on the spot & participate in the sense to have any idea.  It may be my fate never more to return if such should be the case it is my wish that whatever be due me by government as well as my other property shall become your own.  I will write again when I arrive at Santa Fe.

Give my love to Ma – Pa – and all my relatives and friends – Good bye. God help you – and sometimes if you see me no more, share a moment to think of your Uncle.

M. I. Baker

P. I am to express this at dark for Fort Leavenworth by which I send you this letter.

I hope it may get through safe.



Albuquerque, N. M. July 13th 1847.

Albuquerque, N. M. July 13th 1847.

Figure No. 33 Saint Louis ~ Red STEAM - 10 Crossed out Free On Public Service

Figure No.  33  Saint Louis  ~  Red STEAM – 10 Crossed out Free  On Public Service

To  Brig Genl. R. Jones   Adjt. Genl. U. S. Army  Washington, D. C.

From Captain William N. Grier Albuquerque, New Mexico

July 13th 1847 Albuquerque, N. M.

Sir:  Its becomes my melancholy duty to report to you the death of 2nd Lieut Joseph McElvain 1st Dragoon who died at this place at 12-1/2 o’clock P. M. yesterday (July 12th) from the effects of a gun shot wound in the arm near the shoulder joint.

On the morning of the 4th Inst. Lieut. M and two other officers of my Command with a detachment of twenty dragoons went in pursuit of a party of Marauding Indians (Navajoes)  About two miles from this place Lieut. M. was wounded as described by the accidental discharge of a Carbine which he held in his right hand

– – –                Very Respectfully

Your Obent Servr Wm. N. Grier

Capt 1st Dragoons

Carried by military courier up the Santa Fe Trail to Fort Leavenworth.  Delivered to a Missouri River steamboat traveling to St. Louis.  Entered the mails with post office strike of STEAM 10.  The 10 cent rate crossed out as the Adjutant General had Free franking privilege.  Letter travel time 73 days.



Fort Leavenworth July the 9th, 1847

Fort Leavenworth July the 9th, 1847

Dear Mother

     I now take my pen in hand to inform you that I am well at this time & sincerely hoping these few lines may find you enjoying the same blessing.  We left Alton the 22 of June & landed at this place the 28 the boys are all well that you are acquainted with, with the exception of Woodson Meredith who has just got over the measles two or three of the Companies belonging to this regiment left for Santa Fee a few days ago, but it is not known when we will leave however it will not belong

Figure No. 34 July 10, 1847 Fort Leavenworth, Missouri

Figure No. 34  July 10, 1847   Fort Leavenworth, Missouri

To Mrs. Nancy Thomas   Florence, Pike County, Illinois,  with 10 cent rate


I want you to write to me as soon and as often as you can direct your letters to Company R. first regiment Illinois volunteers on the rout to Santa Fee.  Preston Finley is a volunteer in the Clinton Company in this regiment.  Fort Leavenworth is pleasantly & handsomely situated on the west bank of the Missouri river nearly 500 miles from its mouth on the other side you will see a plot of the Fort town & encampment.

I have seen many Indian in this place the Squaws ride exactly like the men give my best respects to all enquiring friends especially to the girls not that I care.

So no more at present but remain your affectionate Son until death.

 Mercah Thomas

The Man Who Won The West Mexican War By Page #