Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 9, Number 2, May, 1999 Page: 104
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
gloom of night, we noticed the Federal army
on the other side, timing their movements by
ours, and a novel sight was here presented of
two hostile armies marching down a river val-
ley in plain view of each other, with only a
narrow river between them. Marching together,
halting together, one imitating every move of
the other, neither seeming anxious to bring on
a battle, yet neither trying to avoid it. What did
they mean? Their movements puzzled us
greatly. So to settle the matter, Joe Bowers
(whose mournful refrain about the fickleness
of his girl, Sally Black, was always floating in
our ears) posted off to the river bank and ad-
dressed them "thusly:" "Say, I want to know
whether you fellows have gone crazy, or
whether you are a set of d-d fools, naturally."
Whereupon they sent a peice or two of lead
over in his direction. I don't think they tried to
hit him, but merely intended to admonish him
to stay with his own crowd. At any rate Joe
took the advice kindly and lovingly adminis-
tered, and got back to our lines in a hurry.
In order to find out their strength, Capt.
Coopwood went on ahead, got a bend of the
river, lay down behind a rock and counted them
as they passed. They had eighty companies,
eighteen pieces of artillery, which we estimated
at five thousand six hundred men. We had thir-
teen hundred and two men, many of them sick
and wounded. For when we left Santa Fe and
Albuquerque, many of our sick and wounded
left the hospital and came with us, prefering
their chance with us than staying there and be-
Arriving at the Rio Purco we went into
camp about 1 o'clock p. m., the enemy, who
had now become our very shadow, they stuck
to us like a lovesick swain following the foot-
steps of his sweetheart, went into camp too.
The intention of the enemy was now very
plain. With six thousand men on our flank, two
thousand in our rear and the army at Fort Craig
in front, they intended to close upon us in the
"narrow" at Pulvedeer, occupy the heights, and
crush or compel us to surrender. We did not
have over a thousand men fit for duty. We had
twenty rounds of ammunition to the cannon,
nine cannons, and forty rounds of ammunition
to the man. The alternative was now presented
to us of continuing down the river to the "nar-
rows," make battle at Pulvedeer with the
enemy's cannon sweeping every inch of ground,
exhaust our ammunition in a futile attempt to
go through their lines, make an honorable sur-
render, and pine away in a northern prison or
take up the Purco into the mountains, and starve
in these mountains, our poor lifeless bodies to
become the food of vultures and the prey of
beasts, for none but Capt. Coopwood believed
that an army could go through those mountains,
and swore by all that was holy that he could
take us through.
In this very interesting state of affairs a
council of war was called. All saw the impend-
ing danger; all knew the emergency, yet some
wanted to go on to Pulvedeer, make a glorious
battle and an honorable surrender. Col. Green,
who at first proposed to accept the mountain
pass to heaven, in the council became sullen
and would not express himself in favor of ei-
ther side, but seemed to think our course was
death in a northern prison; the other death in
the mountains. Major Roberds thought that Gen.
Sibley ought not to hesitate to accept the moun-
tain route. If it failed it would go down in his-
tory as Coopwood's failure; while on the other
hand, if it was successful Gen. Sibley would
receive the credit of having brought his bri-
gade out of the most perilous position in which
an army was ever placed. This is the way the
world rewards, however. Coopwood's failure,
but if successful, Sibley's triumph, while poor
old Coopwood, who worked and toiled and slept
not, in extricating us from our perilous posi-
tion, is to go down to his grave unhonored and
unsung. I'll be hanged if he does, if my relat-
ing the simple truth will prevent it. The discus-
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 9, Number 2, May, 1999, periodical, May 1999; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151406/m1/56/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed October 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.