Private Salazar’s Colors
Company G, 1 st N.M. Vols.
Camp near Fort Craig
February 25th 1862
Lieut. Eben Everett Adjt.
1st N.M. Vols, Fort Craig.
In the Battle of Valverde, a man of my Company “G” 1st N.M. Vols., took from the hand of a Texan, a flag of the Confederate States. Before leaving the Battle Field. this flag was obtained by Captain [James] Graydon from the man who took it, and was by Captain Graydon turned in to the Department Commander as having been captured by him or his Company. I have been to the Head Quarters with the man who took the flag and he has identified it as the one that Capt. Graydon took from him.
As an act of justice to the man who captured the flag (Domingo Salazar), to my Company and my Regiment, I respectfully ask the Colonel Comdg. the Regt. to forward this report to Dept. Head Quarters, so that credit may be given where it is due.
I am Sir Very Respy Yr. Obt. Servt.
Capt. Ist Rgt. N.M. Vols.
Comdg. Co. (G)
Domingo Salazar was a 35-year-old soldier who had mustered into the First New Mexico Volunteers at the end of July 1861. He is described in official records as being five-feet-seven-inches tall, with a dark complexion, black eyes and hair, and a laborer by occupation. He was a native of the New Mexico Territory. The dispute over his capture of the Texans’ colors may have played into his transfer just days later, on March 4, 1862, from the First New Mexico Volunteer Infantry to Company F of the First New Mexico Cavalry. Captain Graydon commanded a different company in that same cavalry unit. Once joining the cavalry, Salazar appears to have engaged in a lot of active campaigning in the West, as his service record shows numerous periods of detached service away from his regiment. In late 1863, for example, he was listed as being on detached service to Los Pinos, New Mexico, for the purpose of “recorting [recording? recruiting?] Ind. prisoners.” The following spring Salazar was detached again to participate in an expedition against the Apache. Salazar mustered out of the service at the end of his three-year enlistment at Albuquerque, New Mexico, on July 31, 1864.
In November 1862, at Fort Stanton, Captain Graydon got in an altercation with a prominent civilian, Dr. John M. Whitlock, in which Graydon was shot in the chest. According to a contemporary press account, Whitlock left the scene but was intercepted by soldiers of Graydon’s company, who were waiting to ambush Whitlock by Graydon’s prior arrangement. The soldiers riddled Dr. Whitlock with 28 rifle bullets and 98 buckshot. Graydon’s commanding officer, Colonel Christopher “Kit” Carson, was instructed to allow Graydon, “in consideration of his past services,” to resign his commission provided he turn himself over for trial by a civilian court, but Graydon died of his own injury before that order worked its way through the Army’s scattered chain of command.
I found this letter in a volume I recently acquired, John P. Wilson’s When the Texans Came: Missing Records from the Civil War in the Southwest, 1861-1862 (University of New Mexico, 2001). It was the title that caught my eye initially, but it turns out to have an interesting genesis. Wilson realized that the 128 volumes of the Official Records give very little attention to the Confederate campaigns in the West in the early part of the war, and the Union’s response. (In the latter case, because of the time and distances involved, Federal forces consisted almost entirely of a handful of regulars and locally-raised units from the western states and territories, like Salazar’s First New Mexico Volunteers.) Wilson set out to compile a sort of one-volume Official Records for that much-overlooked part of the war, and I think he did a commendable job. It will made a valuable addition to the library of any Civil War enthusiast interested in the war on the frontier.