The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971 Page: 53
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Notes and Documents
diary the statement that wagons were a "great drawback to military
Wheelock's statement, however, was not completely correct. Wagon
transportation on some expeditions was necessary. On suitable terrain
and especially with large combined forces of infantry and cavalry,
wagon trains were a necessity. A six-mule "jerk-line" wagon weighing
1,950 pounds carried from 3,000 to 3,300 pounds of cargo. The ordi-
nary two- and four-mule "escort" wagons carried 1,200 to 2,400
pounds.' In contrast a packed mule carried a maximum of 250 pounds
net weight. An average train of 50 pack mules transported 12,500
pounds of supplies." Wagons transported a much larger amount of
supplies with fewer mules. Wagons could also be used to carry sick
and wounded soldiers more easily, and were much simpler to load
and unload than were the proverbially unruly pack mules.
Yet because of the western terrain and even more important, the very
nature of the Plains Indians, wagons were too slow, too limited in
mobility, and too difficult to conceal. They had to stay on fairly level
ground, but the Indians sought refuge in the most inaccessible coun-
try. For troops in pursuit of Indians the only practical method of
carrying necessary munitions and supplies was by packtrains. Most
of the time even packtrains were left behind-as they were before the
battle of the Little Bighorn.
The history of mule packing in the United States army in the West
can be traced back accurately to 1866 when General George Crook
employed civilian packers and packtrains in operations against the
Paiutes, Shoshones, and Bannocks in Nevada, Oregon, and Idaho. So
successful were the packers that Crook persuaded the War Department
to purchase three of the trains. When Crook was assigned to the De-
partment of Arizona these trains were transferred with him and used
in the Tonto Basin War from 1871 to 1875. To supplement the original
three, other trains were organized for use in Arizona. H. W. Daly,
chief packer of the army in 1917, and a civilian packer for thirty
3Wheelock's account of Colonel Dodge's expedition appears in "Annual Report of the
Secretary of War, Showing the Condition of that Department in 1834," 23rd Cong., 2nd
Sess., Doc. No. 585, in American State Papers, Military Affairs (7 vols.; Washington, 186o),
4John J. Boniface, The Cavalry Horse and His Pack (Kansas City, Mo., 1903), 429-43o.
5H. W. Daly, "Pack 'TIansportation for the Army: Speech Given May 22, 1917," Richard
F. Krueger Collection (East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971, periodical, 1971; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101200/m1/65/: accessed March 30, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.