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Long supply line for Fort Lewis

We’ve been writing about the difficulties of constructing and supplying Fort Lewis in Pagosa Springs during the winter of 1878.

Most of Fort Lewis’s supplies came from Fort Garland in the San Luis Valley. Between Fort Garland and Camp Lewis were the South San Juan Mountains, a formidable, snow-packed challenge for horse and wagon during winter months.

Last week we began reprinting a letter from Fort Garland to Camp Lewis detailing the contents of two wagon loads of supplies destined for Camp Lewis. The letter is dated Dec. 31, 1878.

“The Ordinance Stores of “D Co. 9th Cav. have been unavoidably left with other stores for future shipment.

“We are informed by Lieut. Ruffner that you have been compelled to send the public animals to your forage at Animas City, this should not be necessary, and to correct this you please use Whitney’s train for at least one trip to Animas City for corn.

“It is suggested that with the facilities you now have, cheap strong sleds might be quickly made upon which your hay could be hauled to the garrison if necessary. You will please continue Whitney’s train intact as now, and when no longer needed for the uses mentioned return it without further delay to this post.”

We read on the same subject, an order dated Jan. 26, 1879, and directed to Lieut. J. F. Guilfoyle of the 9th Cavalry in Animas City.

“Sir: The commanding officer directs me to inform you that you will probably be ordered in a few days to conduct the horses of “D Co. 9” Cav. to Fort Garland, Colo. Whitney’s train upon its arrival at this post will be ordered to return to Animas City and will furnish you the necessary transportation for the movement. As there is no hay here, your stay on this Post en-route to Fort Garland cannot be prolonged over one night, and it is therefore necessary that you have the proper invoices, etc., made out to enable you to transfer the company property for which you are accountable with the least practicable delay.”

Another order directed to 2nd Lieut. John Guilfoyle at Animas City and dated Feb. 1, 1879, gives us a clue as to the route Guilfoyle will follow on his way from Animas City to Fort Garland.

“I am instructed by the commanding officer to inform you that Whitney’s train of 9 wagons has been ordered to report to you for transportation en-route to Fort Garland, Colo. You are advised after returning a sufficient number of wagons to haul your personal baggage, and that pertaining to your men, to load the remaining wagons of the train with hay, to be used at Conejos on the road where there are no forage agencies. It is desirable that you take all the hay you can haul. Grain forage can be furnished you at this Post.

“Turn over to Mr. Treu, for storage, the corn for which the post Q.M. is responsible, taking hiss memorandum receipt for same.”