December 7 (November 27, o.s.)

New Mexico: Governor Vargas is unable to sleep all night, due to both a harsh storm with its cold winds and his concern over the fact that his expedition’s animals haven’t had any water in two days.  Well before dawn Captain Roque Madrid tells him that he heard from a Piro Indian accompanying the party that there is a brackish water hole in the direction of El Alamillo on the Rio Grande.  Vargas, upset at the fact that the shortcut the group is currently on is much drier and harder on the horses than his Zuni guide, Agustín, led him to believe, thinks over this proposed alternative.  He attends a mass at 5:00 am, then assembles his officers at the entrance to his tent and informs them of the alternative route.  He says, however, that following it would take the expedition too far out of its way to make it worth the time and effort, especially given the poor quality of the water at the reported waterhole.  He proposes instead that they head toward the Magdalena Mountains, which have now become visible off in the distance, following a route reconnoitered by Agustín, who has said that he surely couldn’t be so unlucky as to have there be no water at all along that route.  Despite the fact that Agustín’s luck hasn’t seemed very impressive so far, Vargas decides to trust him this time.  He orders that if a water hole is found, the camp should stop at it, and if it turns out to be too shallow for all the animals, the camp should stay for the night and the animals should continue to the Rio Grande, even if it takes them all night to get there.

Having received their orders, the men are already on the march at sunrise.  After a short distance, they find a small spring with a curbstone around it.  Agustín points it out and continues on his way past it, and most of the men follow him, with only a few stopping to water their horses at the spring.

The group goes up and down hills for a considerable distance until they find another small spring, where some more of the horses drink.  There is also some snow nearby, which is hard-packed but about to melt, and some of the horses manage to bite some off.

After continuing through a flatter plain for a while, the expedition sees the Magdalena and Gila Mountains in the distance.  Agustín leads the group along the crest of the nearby mountains, figuring that the Rio Grande is in that direction.  Atop a ridge at the foot of the mountains, Vargas finds a very old abandoned pueblo made of masonry, with two kivas.  A short distance to the south of it, toward the Gila Mountains, there is a water hole surrounded by tall reeds, apparently the source used by the people who built the pueblo.  Vargas immediately orders half of the expedition to camp there for the night and water their animals.

Having made some progress in watering the animals, Vargas presses Agustín about the location of a larger water hole nearby where the rest could get water.  Agustín points in the direction he believes it to be, but says it is pretty far and he is too tired to go there.  Vargas, frustrated with Agustín’s misleading description of the shortcut and general unhelpfulness, gets very angry at this and orders his officers to take Agustín and have him show them the water hole whether he wants to or not.  They leave around 4:00 pm.

A short time later Vargas orders four squads of soldiers to prepare to take the horses to be watered.  He orders them to go all the way to the Rio Grande if they don’t find a waterhole closer, and they take a Piro guide to show them the way at night.  If they do find a closer waterhole, they are to camp their overnight and Vargas and the rest of the camp will follow their trail in the morning and meet up with them.  They leave immediately.

Not long after, the officers and Agustín return.  They report that they found the water hole.  Vargas orders one of the officers to assemble a small group of soldiers and to take the remaining animals there to be watered, but to be sure to leave and return to the main camp at midnight, since the camp would have no horses in this dangerous land until they returned.  They do so and return with the refreshed animals late at night.

Published in: on December 7, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments (1)  

One Comment

  1. […] del Socorro they cross it, following the tracks of the men and animals from the expedition who left the previous night to find water.  They find them waiting in a broad arroyo at the foot of the mountains.  Since it […]

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