Wed, May 22

Verde Heritage -- 1865: First Lieutenant Antonio Abeytia, Part 1.


"By Florence Dickinson, Camp Verde Editor."

"'The Commanding Officer of Fort Whipple will ... detail 1 non-commissioned officer and 24 men (dismounted) of Company 'K' 1st Cavalry, N. M. Vols. to proceed to the settlements on the Clear Fork of the 'Verde' for their protection. This Detachment will be furnished with 30 days rations. ... By Order of Brig. Gen. John S. Mason, Jno. Green, Capt. & A. A. Genl.'"

"This short Special Order, No. 21, dated at Prescott, Aug. 7, 1865, set in motion the chain of events that over the century have culminated in the establishment of Arizona's Fort Verde State Historical Park."

"Lt. Antonio Abeytia holds a unique place in this chain of events. He was the commanding officer of the detachment from Company 'K' which staggered into the camp on the Clear Fork of the Verde River about 5 p.m. on August 27, 1865."

"Little is known of Lt. Abeytia personally. On Aug. 8, 1865, he wrote 2 letters, one to Col. H. M. Enos, chief quartermaster of the department of New Mexico, requesting that 2 of his horses be kept in the quartermaster corral, and stating that he would account monthly for forage. The second letter was to Lt. Col. Julius C. Shaw, Commander at Fort Wingate, New Mexico, requesting that upon the arrival of his family at Fort Wingate, they be furnished with transportation to Santa Fe."

"Antonio Abeytia first appears in military records as a 2nd Lieutenant in the company muster-in roll of Company G, 1st Regt., New Mexico Infantry, dated July 30, 1861. He joined for duty and was enrolled at Santa Fe July 24, 1861, for a period of 3 years. His age was given as 24."

"On Aug. 4, 1862, Abeytia wrote to Brig. Gen. E. R. S. Canby, applying for a commission as 2nd Lieutenant, explaining that he had held a commission in Company 'G' of the 1st New Mexico Volunteers until he was mustered out due to a department order for the reorganization of the regiment. In this letter he states that he speaks and understands the English language 'sufficiently to enable me to transact such official business as my rank and position in the regiment may require.'"

"On Aug. 12, 1862, we find a letter written to Abeytia by order of Col. C. Carson (the famous Kit Carson who was in command of the 1st New Mexico Volunteers) stating that his application for a commission could not be entertained at that time because sufficient applications by others had already been received."

"Abeytia reappears on the muster-in roll of Company 'B,' 1st Regt., New Mexico Cavalry, dated Feb. 25, 1863, at Santa Fe, as a 2nd Lieutenant. So he managed to get his commission after all."

"A curious affidavit appears in the records concerning Lt. Abeytia, dated Nov. 11, 1863, as follows: 'Personally appeared before me Captain A. B. Carey, 13th Infy., U.S.A., Judge Advocate of a General Court Martial, on this 11th day of November 1863, Col. C. Carson of the 1st Regt. of Cavalry, N. M. Vols., who being duly sworn according to law deposes as follows: That 1st Lieut. A. Abeytia, 1st Cav., N. M. Vols., had no opportunity of being regularly mustered into the Service of the United States, in the grade of 1st Lieut. until the 11th day of November 1863, and that he has been performing the duties of a 1st Lieut. in my Regiment since the 27th of October. Signed, C. Carson, Col., 1st Cav., N. M. Vols., Commanding Navajo Expedition.' This was sworn and subscribed to before Captain A. B. Carey of the 13th Inf. at Fort Canby, N. M."

"This document is in the handwriting of Lt. Abeytia except for the signatures of Kit Carson and Capt. Carey, according to research work done by Dr. B. Sacks of the Arizona Historical Foundation."

"There is an order, S. O. 27, dated at Ft. Whipple, April 26, 1865, which includes the information that Lt. Abeytia was mustered into the service at Fort Canby, N. M. on Oct. 27, 1863, as a 1st Lieutenant."

"Antonio Abeytia next appears at Fort Whipple as the commanding officer of Company 'K' of the 1st Cavalry, New Mexico Volunteers. Special Order No. 22, dated Aug. 8, 1865, ordered him to the Clear Fork on the Verde River."

"Antonio Abeytia has left an historic account of his march to the Clear Creek camp with the detachment from 'K' Company. It was written Aug. 29, 1865, and headed 'Rio Verde, Arizona.'"

"'Captain: I have the honor to transmit the following report for the information of the General Commanding the District, in compliance with District Special Orders. I left Fort Whipple on the 23rd instant with Dr. Palmer and 18 enlisted men of my company K 1st Cavalry, N. M. Vols., destined for the Clear Fork of the Rio Verde. I received at the post 30 days rations, Dr. Palmer's wagon and 4 broken down mules as means of transportation from the A.A.Q.M. and marched 7 miles to camp on Granite Creek. On the 24, left camp before sunrise and marched 18 miles to camp at Woolsey's Ranch, during the night there was quite a heavy fall of rain rendering it very difficult to travel across the bottoms the next morning.'"

"'On the 25th, left camp quite early and marched 22 miles to camp at Cienega. Weather very warm, road bad and the mules broken down. About 8 o'clock that night 2 citizens from the Verde came into camp and remained all night. Those men were enroute to Prescott to see the Genl. Comd'g. whereas, all the citizens of the Valley had despaired that any troops were going to be sent for their protection whilst getting in their crops. They seemed well pleased when I informed them that I was ordered to that duty, and was then enroute for their settlement with the men under my command.'"

"'On the 26th laid over 3 hours, struck camp at 9 o'clock and marched 3 1/2 miles to the top of the mountain which I had to descend to the Valley of the Rio Verde. The mountain is almost perpendicular and is nearly 3 miles from the top to the bottom. I had not descended 100 yards before my wagon upset breaking the crupin pole and 2 of the wheels. I then had to have the rations packed and carried to the foot of the mountain and in the meantime I sent 4 men with the 2 citizens, who returned with me, to the Ranches after a wagon, distance some 14 miles. I had detailed another party to take charge of the animals and rations at the foot of the mountain until after sunset when I left to descend to the valley leaving Sgt. Mullin and 2 privates to take charge of the 5 animals, my company desk containing all my company books and papers and some other articles of not much value, until I would send some more men to assist them in getting down the mountain.'"

"'But I had scarcely reached the foot of the mountain when the Indians made their appearance on top immediately above where I left Sgt. Mullin and the other 2 men. By this time it was quite dark and the men could not see the Indians until they were within 10 steps of them, but could hear them all around them. Not having a moment to think, Sgt. Mullin and the 2 privates got the animals loose and started with them down the mountain, leaving the desk, which they could do nothing with, behind them. The party reached the camp about 1/2 past 8 o'clock in the night having with them the 5 animals. The party which I sent after the wagon arriving at about the same time. My men being very tired being all day without water or food, I concluded it was best to keep all together that night and send for the desk in the morning. The Indians could be heard distinctly on the mountains during the night.'"

(The Verde Independent; Thursday, February 15, 1973; page 27.)