Notes and Documents
horses were down there quenching their thirst on brackish water, we
saw all at once a great smoke in camp and heard guns fired. We did
not know what to make of it, but with all possible speed hastened
to camp to find the high stubble grass burning and one of our
wagons, that contained a great many guns, on fire, which accounted
for the firing. All went to work to put out the fire with our blankets
and after half an hour we succeeded to save our wagons.
All our musical instruments burned up, and from that time our
march was dreary, no more revellie or tatoo, or music at parade.
We would have been in a dangerous situation had we lost our
wagons and ammunition hundreds of miles away from any settle-
ment. The fire from camp reached a cedar brake in those deep
ravines and we saw the smoke for days afterwards.
The next day as soon as we got things in order, for they were
confused in the effort to stop the fire, throwing many things out
where we first stopped the fire to the nearest wagon, and the country
seemed to open again, we passed on but there was still the same
scarcity of water and very brackish, the horses and cattle liked it,
but it was almost unfit to drink.
Our Mexican guide who himself became convinced that he mistook
the country and that it was not the section where he formerly hunted
buffaloes, became alarmed for fear the Americans might take ven-
geance on him, but there was no danger. He and an Italian15 left to
return no more to us. We saw them afterwards in New Mexico.
They said after incredible suffering for water and provisions they
at last met some Mexican hunters.
Suffering for a sufficient amount of food for weeks is hard enough,
but doing without water for 24 or 3o hours in a hot climate is dis-
tressing and terrible.
I remember that on one occasion after being without water for
many hours, we reached a clear water hole; our commander ordered
many men around it with fixed bayonets to keep off our oxen, till
the men had filled their canteens, but it was no use. The cattle,
wild and frantic, jumped off a bluff about ten feet high, right over
the guards stationed below, and made the water so muddy, that we
had to strain it, to be fit for use.
There is a peculiar wild stare and desponding look in the eyes
of man or beast, suffering for water.
On our whole trip we had only one heavy rain. We were then en-
camped in a valley near a brook. On the hill sentinels were placed
to guard horses and cattle, and in the morning we had an Indian
15Francisco Brignoli was a member of the artillery company.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101196/. Accessed May 19, 2013.