Part of our in-depth series exploring the forts of Comancheria
16 January 1855; Albuquerque, New Mexico: On 13 January, a small raiding party of Mescalero Apaches attacked the Eaton ranch in the Galisteo Basin near Santa Fe. They raped the women, killed two herders, and drove off 75 horses and mules.
That night, Lt. Samuel D. Sturgis led 16 men of the 1st Dragoons and 8 civilians out of Santa Fe, hot on the trail of the culprits. They tracked the raiders south for three days, coming upon them on 16 January in the eastern foothills of the Manzano Mountains. A dozen Mescaleros met them, apparently professing peace. "Well, men," said Sturgis, "I do not understand one word they are saying; haul off and let them have it, and look out for yourselves."
The dragoons opened fire at 100 yards and closed in. The Apaches ran for cover in the timber. The bitter cold made it difficult for the soldiers to reload their weapons, so Sturgis tried to drive the Apaches out with a saber charge. A Cpl. Katon dueled with an Indian and "took off nearly one side of his head."
The soldiers killed three Apaches and wounded four. The Apaches wounded three dragoons, one fatally, and the rancher Eaton. Eaton recovered all his stock.
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