Good morning readers. Thanks for coming by for a read this morning. I promised a few days ago I wouldn’t tell you any Texas history anecdotes, but I’ve already got Old Sol’s sober promise to come up on schedule, the cats are fed, and I probably ought to write about something just to prove I can.
I mentioned Texas invaded New Mexico twice, once in 1841, then again during the early stages of the US War of Secession. Both of those episodes were characterized by more human folly on both sides than anyone has a right to be part of, but one man, JS Sutton, was right up front for both of them. First name on the monument.
Captain in the 1841 Expedition, Lt. Colonel in the second. Never got another shot at a third try because he was offed at Valverde. But he must have been considered an expert on the second because the 1841 group surrendered without firing a shot and got frog-marched barefooted southward across the same route Sutton followed north to his death two decades later.
Sutton was a courageous, interesting man, lived a life I’d call worth living, but couldn’t seem to keep his eye on the dirt where he was standing, and it eventually got him killed. As far as I’ve ever been able to establish, he was the only man involved in both expeditions.
However, there was a Lockridge [second name on the monument] involved in the 1841 debacle, shot himself while they were camped at Bird’s Battleground near Three Rivers. Maybe this later Lockridge killed at Valverde was a brother, son, cousin. Almost certainly kinfolk, in any case.
Some other similarities between the two expeditions involved both commanders spending a lot of their time drunk, generally being logistically ill prepared for the task, and plenty of poor command decisions to help it along.
That second expedition, however, came inches from being a success in the sense of achieving the main objective. Driving the US Army out of Fort Union. The secondary objective, Sherrod Hunter driving west, taking and holding Tucson, probably was doomed from the first. Nobody could have anticipated the California Volunteers marching east with the equipment and numbers they managed.
Hunter’s force of 500 retreated from Tucson early in May, headed back to the Rio Grande with plenty of difficulties with Apache and desertion. Only twelve of the force, including Hunter, arrived in Mesilla finally in August.
Which left them with one hell-of-a-long trek back to Texas and a long war to fight and lose when they got there.