Gallinas Mountains

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

2 September 1861; Corona, New Mexico: When Union troops abandoned Fort Stanton to consolidate their forces in the face of the Confederate invasion, Confederate Lt. Col. John R. Baylor sent a detachment of Company D, 2nd Texas Mounted Rifles, to occupy the place, with Lt. John R. Pulliam in command. Pulliam sent a squad of four men- T.G. Pemberton, Joseph V. Mosse, Joseph Emmahacker, and Floyd A. Sanders-to the Gallinas Mountains, 75 miles northwest of the fort, to watch for Union forces.

Pulliam had instructed the four soldiers to reach a certain spring on the morning of the second day, water the horses, fill up their canteens, and move on, because the spring was a popular watering hole for Indians. Convinced they were in no danger, however, the squad made a camp about 100 yards from the spring, in a pine grove easily visible from the trail.

While the soldiers cooked breakfast, they saw three Indians running over an adjoining hill. They immediately saddled up their horses, but a shower of arrows stopped their departure. Soon they were surrounded by an overwhelming force of Mescalero Apaches. Each soldier took up a position behind a tree and fired his revolver. Within two hours, three of the four-Emmahacker, Pemberton, and Mosse-were dead. The survivor, Sanders, jumped on his horse and galloped down an almost vertical mountain amid flying arrows. His attackers followed him for ten miles before he finally eluded them, and he safely reached Fort Stanton.

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