The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 23, July 1919 - April, 1920 Page: 22
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The Southwestern Historical Quarterly
most impenetrable fastnesses of northwestern New Mexico.
Scarcely less daring were the Jicarilla Apaches who found valuable
prey in the travellers over the Santa Fe Trail.
In the early 50's when gold began to lure men to California,
wagon trains began to wind their way through the mountains of
New Mexico and Arizona to the golden land beyond. The almost
incredible estimate of sixty thousand has been made for these
weary travellers over the Santa Fe Trail and the southern trails
leading from Texas. Privation and suffering attended their path,
but worse than all else was the wily Apache who lurked behind
rock and bush, showing no trace of his presence until unhappily
the weary traveller was off guard or too weakened to successfully
defend himself. Then the men of the party were slain and the
women and children killed or carried into lives of slavery worse
than death. All stock were much esteemed booty, for horses and
mules were legal tender among the Apaches. Not only were they
valuable as riding animals but they provided food,-mule meat
being an exceedingly choice dainty,-and with them a man might
buy his wives.
In March 1849, after Congress had created a new department,
that of the Interior, and after it had placed the department of
Indian affairs under it, the Agency at Council Bluffs was trans-
ferred to Santa Fe that there might be a base from which the gov-
ernment might hope to deal with the Indian problem in the new
territory,-a problem which had by that time begun to assume
rather large proportions. But the law-makers of the Union were
too ignorant of the needs of the situation and even the local civil
and military officials were too newly on the ground to be able to
speak authoritatively. So the first decade of United States occu-
pancy dragged on, punctuated here and there by treaties with the
hostiles by scouts and the Military and by periodic punitive
expeditions which failed before they started, in the big thing they
sought to do because the number of the force was too inadequate
to inflict a lasting blow.
One thing of incalculable importance marks this decade: this
terra incognita became known. As the troops scoured the moun-
tains in quest of renegades, they grew familiar with the country;
they learned the contour of the land, the trails, the water
courses and the springs. They penetrated the mountain fastnesses
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 23, July 1919 - April, 1920, periodical, 1919; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101075/m1/28/: accessed April 30, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.