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Three excerpts from I Married a Soldier, by Lydia Spencer Lane, circa 1860


“A sergeant and 10 men–all that could be spared from the little command–were left behind to guard the post and our small family.

Those in the guardhouse were taken on the scout. I was left in command of Fort Fillmore; all public funds were turned over to me, and the sergeant reported to me every day. He slept in our house at night, heavily armed, which gave us a sense of security…

The public money in my hands gave me considerable uneasiness and I hid it away in what I considered to be a secure place… I was determined no one should have the money while I was alive to defend it…if I lost my life in protecting it, I would have done my whole duty.”



Speaking of the difficulty of procuring a coffin reminds me that at a frontier post, it was often impossible to get enough new lumber to make one when there was a death among officers or soldiers and old packing boxes had to be brought into requisition.


An officer died at a post in Texas and nothing could be found for a coffin, but some old commissary boxes ,which were hastily put together. The poor fellow was carried to his last resting place in a very rough one on which was marked in great, black letters “200 lbs bacon”!



We kept a keen lookout for danger ahead and enjoyed the quiet around us…suddenly we were aroused by the noise of galloping horses coming from behind us, and in a few moments, several men rode up and asked for a Lieutenant Lane. The ambulance was stopped at once and one of the strangers hurriedly told the story. He came to warn us that 250 Texans were ready with horses saddled to leave the lower country overtake us that night and capture our train!


I felt as if turned to stone and did not speak for sometime, then I asked what are we to do?


“Fight,” answered the lieutenant, “We will corral the wagons, use the sacks of flour and bacon for a fortification, put you , the children and servants inside and do the best to defend ourselves.”


Imagine my feelings! The whole number of soldiers and teamsters would not be more than 60 men all told. The prospect of victory for our side was small. I said nothing and tried to feel brave but I did not –very.




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