Over the past year or so, we have had “history evenings” at the ranch, and I generally begin with the reason why our Dragoon Mountains are so called. They were named after the dragoon soldiers, who were mounted infantry. The dragoons rode their horses to the enemy, and then dismounted for the battle. The command of “Horses to the rear!” was given, whereupon one trooper held six horses, whose owners then forged ahead on foot to fight. I like that – I have never liked the idea of horses having to give up their lives for humans’ stupid disputes, such as in the cavalry charges – why should they die for arguments not of their making?? So the idea of the dragoons pleases me. There is a definition of dragoons by Ambrose Bierce, a most irreverent humorist of the late 1800’s, who, in his Devil’s Dictionary, defined the dragoon as: “A soldier who advances on foot and retreats on horseback”. Not kind – and I am sure, not true!!
The dragoons have my admiration for another reason. Imagine, they lived, rode – generally 40 miles per day on marches – and fought, in the woolen uniforms issued them during the Civil War – long sleeves, gauntlets almost to the elbow, high boots, shirts and jackets and high collars. They fought the Apaches, who were clad in loincloths and who could melt into the background like ghosts.
And so that’s the history bit for the day – tune in again for the truly fascinating story of this part of our south-west!