Buffalo Soldier Regiment: History of the Twenty-Fifth United States Infantry, 1869-1926

By John H. Nankivell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII AFFAIRS ALONG THE RIO GRANDE BORDER IN 1878—THE MACKENZIE
EXPEDITION, JUNE 11–21, 1878—EFFECTS OF THE MACKENZIE
EXPEDITION.

In his report to the Adjutant General of the Army, dated Chicago, Illinois, October 25, 1878, Lieutenant General P. H. Sheridan, commanding the Military Division of the Missouri, refers to affairs along the Rio Grande border during the year as follows:

“On the Rio Grande border, troubles until quite lately have continued about the same as they have been for years past, and are incident to the character of the population on that border. The Rio Grande is about 1600 miles in length from El Paso to its mouth and fordable at almost any place, and Mexicans and Indians committing depredations in Texas have every facility for escaping to the Mexican side. I think now that the Mexican Government is making more exertion to suppress lawlessness than heretofore. If it does not succeed, I would recommend that Congress pass an act that from and after a certain fixed time if depredations in Texas are not discontinued, a force of troops be sent across at certain points and kept there until depredations entirely cease. The moral effect of such Congressional action would, in my opinion, prevent all further trouble.”

That the evident desire on the part of the Mexican authorities to cooperate more fully with the United States troops in the suppression of lawlessness and depredations along the Rio Grande, as noted in the concluding paragraphs of General Sheridan’s report, was brought about by the expedition under Colonel Mackenzie into Mexico, noted in the record of events for June, 1878, in previous chapter, there can be no doubt, and the Secretary of War, in his report to the President for 1878, evidently had this expedition in mind when referring to affairs on the Mexican Border. He said in part:

“The increase of our force in the vicinity of the Rio Grande, and the vigorous policy which for some time has been pursued in dealing with marauders invading our soil from Mexico, have produced the result predicted in my report of one year ago. Although the people of Texas have not been exempt from these incursions during the year, and several of them have been attended by heart-rending atrocities, yet they have been fewer in number than during any year for a long period, and within the past four months almost perfect quiet has prevailed. A considerable Mexican force has Deen sent to the vicinity of the border to operate against the bands of Indians infesting that region, and the avowed purpose of the Mexican government is to put a stop to raids upon our people and territory.”

Colonel Mackenzie’s expedition crossed the Rio Grande into Mexico on June 12, 1878, and returned on June 21, 1878. Company B, 25th Infantry, under command of Captain Charles Bentzoni, was a part of the expedition, and Colonel Mackenzie’s report is quoted here in full, because of its historical interest to the regiment:

Headquarters District of the Nueces.
Fort Clark, Texas, June 25, 1878.

Assistant Adjutant General, Department of Texas, San Antonio, Texas.

Sir:

I have the honor to report that Captain Young’s command left their camp on Devils River on the 11th instant, and marched to a point on the Rio Grande about fifteen miles above the mouth of Devils River known as Winkers’ Crossing.

The condition of the Rio Grande was such that a crossing could not be made until the afternoon of the next day, June 12th.

The command then crossed without mishap and camped that night ten (10) miles southwest of the river, making a dry camp.

-31-

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