Tuesday, April 8th, 2008
Working at night and in secret so as not to alert looters, federal archaeologists have exhumed 67 men, women and children buried around Fort Craig. They were acting on a tip that a respected (and long-deceased) amateur historian had looted the graves and actually kept a mummy of a black Civil War-era soldier in his living room.
Most of the men are believed to have been soldiers — Fort Craig protected settlers in the West from American Indian raids and played a role in the Civil War. Union troops stationed there fought the Confederacy as it moved into New Mexico from Texas in 1862.
The children buried there may have been local residents treated by doctors at the former frontier outpost, officials said.
Federal officials learned of the looting in November 2004, when Don Alberts, a retired historian for Kirtland Air Force Base, tipped them off about a macabre possession he’d seen at Brecheisen’s home about 30 years earlier.
Alberts described seeing the mummified remains of a black soldier with patches of brown flesh clinging to facial bones and curly hair on top of its skull. Alberts said the body had come from Fort Craig.
Why this crazy sumbitch Brecheisen might have done this we don’t know, although there is some vague notion floating about that he had a bone to pick (sorreh) with the Bureau of Land Management. Fort Craig was only one of his targets. He grave-robbed other forts and Indian burial grounds as well.
Whatever his reasons, the remains of that soldier along with the rest of Brecheisen’s collection scattered after his death. His family sold the stuff. I hope either the family or the people who ran the estate sale had the decency not to include the mummy.
The bodies exhumed by the feds are being studied now to see if their identities can be determined. They will eventually be reburied.