U.S. Marshal—and U.S. Army Major—Joseph Cummings is found shot dead 150 years ago today in an arroyo during Kit Carson’s roundup of the Navajos. There were $700,000 to $1,000,000 of today’s dollars in his saddlebags. Carson reports, unconvincingly, that his “brave and lamented” Major was shot by a concealed Indian, one of roughly 9,000 Navajo that Carson’s Army couldn’t seem to find. What did happen to Cummings? And where is Cummings’ associate, General Canby’s aide de camp, and the millions of dollars he embezzled from the Army, the Territory, and the Church? You have to dig deep into the activities of a group of con artists in the midst of the Civil War, the Apache Wars, and the Navajo Wars in the New Mexico and Arizona Territories to discover the answers. But they’re there. Deep in the desert and exactly 150 years in the past.
August 18, 1863