Congillon River

Michael has a BA in History & American Studies and an MSc in American History from the University of Edinburgh. He comes from a proud military family and has spent most of his career as an educator in the Middle East and Asia. His passion is travel, and he seizes any opportunity to share his experiences in the most immersive way possible, whether at sea or on the land.

Part of our in-depth series exploring the forts of Comancheria

5 March 1854; Conchas, New Mexico: When a band of Jicarilla Apaches ran off cattle from the Fort Union herd, Lt. Col. Philip St. George Cooke sent Lt. David Bell in pursuit. Leading 30 men of Company H of the 2nd Dragoons, Bell caught up to Lobo Blanco (White Wolf), the third chief of the Jicarillas, on Congillon Creek, about 70 miles southeast of the fort. Lobo Blanco had massacred members of the White wagon train on the Santa Fe Trail near Point of Rocks, New Mexico, in October 1849.

The adversaries were closely matched in number, but Bell's command was mounted while Lobo and his 22 warriors were on foot. Bell and Lobo had a long, tense parley. Then Lobo defiantly raised his rifle to shoot, and a sharp action ensued. The dragoons charged through the Apaches, who scattered, some escaping into a nearby arroyo. Bell and his men put several balls into Lobo, who refused to die until someone "got a great rock and mashed his head." More Jicarillas appeared, and Bell vacated the area with his wounded, sending a rider back to Fort Union for assistance.

Bell's losses were 2 killed and 4 wounded, while his men killed or wounded about 16 Indians and took 30 horses.

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