March 30 This day during the American Indian War

March 30, 1854 – Battle of Cieneguilla was an engagement of the Jicarilla War involving a group of Jicarilla Apaches, their Ute allies, and the American 1st Cavalry Regiment on March 30, 1854  near what is now Pilar, New Mexico. The Santa Fe Weekly Gazette reported that the action “was one of the severest battles that ever took place between American troops and Red Indians.” It was one of the first significant battles between American and Apache forces and was also part of the Ute Wars, in which Ute warriors attempted to resist Westward expansion in the Four Corners region. A combined force of about 250  Apaches and Utes laid an ambush for the U.S. dragoons. In his report two days after the battle, Davidson stated that “[He] came upon the Apaches near Cieneguilla who at once sounded the war whoop.” According to Private James A. Bennett (aka James Bronson), a sergeant who survived the ambush, the battle lasted about four hours. It started around 8 a.m. and ended when the dragoon regiments retreated at 12 p.m. to Ranchos de Taos. The Apache warriors used flintlock rifles and arrows. Of the 60 dragoons present, the U.S. suffered twenty-two killed and a further thirty-six wounded, along with a loss of twenty-two horses and much of the troops’ supplies. Another version of the fight  presents the view that Davidson and his troops were not ambushed, but rather were taunted by the Apaches into attacking a superior force, one that also employed superior tactics. This modern version also has the duration of the fight being closer to two hours than the four that Davidson and Bennett claimed. 

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