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U. S. Dragoon

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U. S. Dragoon
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Author(s): Samuel E. Chamberlain
Date Published: 2008/04
Page Count: 264
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-429-4
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-430-0

From soldier to wagon master to scalp hunter

Chamberlain left Boston as a mere youth and joined the United States Army. He became a soldier in the 1st US Dragoons and determined to become the very ideal of the daring cavalryman both on and off the battlefields of the American-Mexican War. His is a tale—not a little tall—that includes accounts of passionate love affairs, duels to the death, pitched battles and exploits of daring in which Chamberlain himself features as the central heroic figure. Certainly he was a larger than life character, as his accounts of constant troubles with his superiors for brawling, drunkenness and insubordination appear with a detail and frequency which suggest authenticity. At the end of the war Chamberlain became a wagon master—possibly after deserting the army—and then threw himself into a series of adventures with a notorious band of scalp hunters led by the infamous John Glanton. A highly entertaining and informative account of the United States cavalry at war, in which many of the principal characters of the American Civil War—who appear within it's pages—learned their craft

We reached Cerralvo without incident, received our man, and started back. On the second day of our return march, June 4th, we passed through the little town of Marin at noon and were nearing the Agua Frio river when the two men on the advance fired on some horsemen in the road ahead and came back at a run. Lieutenant Campbell gave the order to “draw sabre and charge!” <BR>
We run on to a considerable column of guerillas, cut right and left as we rode through and over them, then drew rein and rallied at some three hundred yards. We had received no material damage. The road was full of dust that completely hid the ground but the tooting of horns from the chaparral showed that they were in force.
Campbell with much gallantry but poor judgement gave the order to charge back. Off we went at speed, passed a confused mass of struggling men and horses and had cleared the cloud of dust when fierce yells arose on all sides, and a scorching fire from escopets was poured into our column with fatal effect. Down we went, man and horse. Lucifer gave a mighty leap and fell headlong, dead. I sprang off in time to save myself from being crushed, and throwing myself on the ground behind my poor dead companion, I lay low to avoid the fire.<BR>
At first I thought I was alone, as the dust and smoke hid everything from sight, but as the cloud lifted I saw that the road was full of my comrades. Lieutenant Campbell was on the ground a short distance behind me holding his mare by the lariat; he sang out for us to get our horses together and take our carbines from the gun boots and secure our extra ammunition from the saddle pouches, form around him, and keep low. Some twelve of us had done so when the firing ceased, and the blowing of horns announced a charge. Campbell told us to keep cool, and only half of us to fire at a time and that at the word of command.<BR>
As we lay on the ground behind our live and dead horses, we could hear the orders given by the guerillas, the clash of weapons and the jingle of spurs as they formed up the road, then came a fierce shout, a rushing sound, and fifty yards in our front the bright lance points and the swarthy faces of the “greasers” shot out of the dust, coming down on us at speed. At the command six carbines poured in their fire, and then as they still came on, the other six and two Colt revolvers, told on them with such fatal precision that instead of riding us down as they easily could have done, they turned tail and went back faster than they came.<BR>
We now went to work to strengthen our position. Men crawled out and collected all of the arms—carbines, pistols, escopets, lances and ammunition; our wounded were collected, and lariats fastened to the dead horses which were hauled into position by the live ones. Our loss was appalling; five lay quite dead, twice that number wounded, and no less than fifteen of our horses were killed or wounded.