Marc Simmons: Military governor prolonged war with Navajos

"On Oct. 10, 1848, Col. John M. Washington marched into Santa Fe leading four dragoon companies intended to bolster New Mexico's scant military defenses against hostile Indians.

The colonel had been born in Virginia, a distant cousin of President George Washington, and was a graduate of West Point. He fought against Seminole and Creek Indians in Florida and gave distinguished service in the Mexican War.

As New Mexican governor, Washington showed little interest in politics. Not surprisingly, he directed the bulk of his attention to dealing with a longstanding war between local citizens and the Navajos.

Shortly after his arrival, Washington put together an expedition of Army regulars and volunteer militia to chastise the Indians. His powerful force moved into western New Mexico where Navajo emissaries approached and said their headmen were willing to make peace."

Get the Story:
Marc Simmons: Trail Dust: Colonel left little mark as governor (The Santa Fe New Mexican 11/26)

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