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Reading 2: Combatants' Accounts
Alfred B. Peticolas, a young lawyer, enlisted in the Fourth Texas Mounted Volunteers in Victoria, Texas in May 1861. Sergeant Peticolas recorded the call Colonel Scurry's troops answered to march to the support of Major Pyron at Apache Canyon the evening of Wednesday, March 26, 1862.
Laid over today and waited for the 3rd Regt. Towards evening it came in and two or three hours after, an express from Major Pyron came in informing us that he had been attacked by a large body of Pike's Peak men during the day; that he had gotten the best of the engagement and had fallen back to wood and water, which he would hold till we came up to him. The order was immediately given, and in an hour after we received the express, we were all under way. This, however, made it about 8 o'clock when we started, and we were told that the distance we had to go was 12 miles, but before it was walked we found it to be at least 15. Pyron had two men killed and 3 wounded.
Ovando J. Hollister was living in the mining district of South Clear Creek, Colorado, in the summer of 1861, and enlisted in Captain Sam H. Cook's company of mounted volunteers. He served with the First Colorado Volunteers from the time of its organization through its campaign in New Mexico and return to Denver. Hollister sustained injuries during the campaign that rendered him an invalid unfit for military duty in January 1863. He described the forced winter march by the Colorado Volunteers from Denver to Fort Union to meet the advancing Confederate forces.
The teams, relieved of their loads, took aboard a full complement of passengers, leaving, however, between three and four hundred to foot it. Away into the wee hours of morning did we tramp, tramp, tramp, --the gay song, the gibe, the story, the boisterous cheer, all died a natural death. Nothing broke the stillness of night but the steady tramp of the men and the rattle of the wagons. We were now to prove the sincerity of those patriotic oaths so often sworn, and right nobly was it done. At length the animals began to drop and die in harness, from overwork and underfeed, which forced us to stop. But for this, we would doubtless have made Union without a halt. Col. Slough rode in the coach. That never stops between Red River and Union. Why should we?
Questions for Reading 2
1. Who gives a better description of the land through which he marched, Hollister or Peticolas? Why?
2. How did their patriotic oaths, made when the volunteers enlisted, help Hollister's companions to continue their 30-mile night march towards Fort Union? Why did Colonel Slough's actions cause them to complain?
3. Peticolas' companions made a forced march of 15 miles. Why did they not complain?
4. In what ways were both soldiers' experiences similar? In what ways were they different?
¹ Don E. Alberts, ed., Rebels on the Rio Grande: The Civil War Journals of A. B. Peticolas (Albuquerque: Merit Press, 1993).