Excerpts from Union Sergeant George Hand's Diary of Military Service in the Southwest, 1861 - 1864.

As found in The Civil War in Apacheland, edited by Neil Carmony

Note: The lower Gila River is no longer a perennial stream, due to the construction of upstream surface water reservoirs and excessive groundwater pumping. However, even though cattle didn't kill the Gila, Mr. Hand's diary reveals the abundance of wildlife this desert riparian area used to support. Most of the streams in the Southwest have been degraded by livestock, but like the Gila, they used to support a wealth of wildlife.

July 23, 1862 - Left at 4 in the morning. Traveled slow. Killed one very large rattlesnake. Game is plenty - mourning doves, quail, cottontail and other rabbits very thick. Ferguson killed a very large buck yesterday. We have a shotgun but unfortunately no ammunition. We arrived here at Antelope Peak half past 6, before breakfast - very nice. The road is between this and the river, all near together. We go into the water, then stay out till our clothes get dry and jump in again. Lots of the boys are at work with a seine catching fish. They are very poor biters and never try to get away when caught - no game at all. Very bony and soft. The natives call them hardtails. Another kind humpbacks and flatheads. We stayed in the water nearly all the time. Had roast venison for supper at half past 3. Started at 5 for Mohawk Station. Passed several sloughs but bad water. We arrived at Mohawk. The house has been washed away by water.

July 24, 1862 - Awoke at 5 in the morning. Had a fine bath, built a shade for the day. Had breakfast - broiled venison, coffee and bread. Some of the boys have already started on to hunt. While writing these lines I could have killed a dozen brace of quails and as many more doves if I had a shotgun. It is very warm. We fixed up shades of bushes and lay under them until we get warm, then go in the river and cool off. The water is warm. Started at 2 P.M. It being very hot, we walked slow. Took a cutoff, killed one deer - large buck. Packed him 1 and a half miles through brier and mesquite to the road, put it in one of wagons and went on. Took a cutoff over rolling hills - hard walking, coarse ground, plenty of large cactus all through here. Had several runs after rabbits. Struck the road at sundown - made nothing by that cutoff. At 9 in the evening we struck a lagoon. I stayed here all night.

July 25, 1862 - We traveled on, every few steps quail, doves or rabbits, the former in large coveys, the latter by the dozens. How I wish for a shotgun. We arrived in camp at half past 6 A.M. I had a fine swim. The Gila is a splendid river to bathe in, clear and very good to drink, little alkali. Lts. Crandall and Smith, and Bradley, Ferg and myself were sitting on our blankets discussing the little incidents of the march when a little hummingbird lit on a bush beside a colored bandanna handkerchief. It was quite amusing to see him trying the different flowers on it to get honey, then light on another twig and look at it, seemingly with disgust at such pretty flowers and no honey.

July 27, 1862 - Arrived at Burke's Station at 10 minutes after 6 A.M. The soil about here is good. Tall, very rank grass and weeds abundant. There is plenty of mesquite beans here. The boys are nearly all in the river, swimming and fishing, having a good time generally. This route so far has very little timber except cottonwood poplar, willow and mesquite.

July 28, 1862 - We were aroused by the breakfast call - coffee and bread again. Ten minutes past 2 A.M. we had everything ready and started through dust and bad road. Shortly after daylight I saw a large drove of bighorn sheep. Some of the boys shot at them. They were too far off. We camped where the Oatman Flat station formerly was. Arrived here about 7 A.M. Lt. Crandall came in shortly after the teams. He saw a drove of about 40 antelope, shot one. Game here is very, very plenty.

July 30, 1862 - Left Kinyon's at 25 minutes of 2 A.M. After 5 miles we struck the river, had a good drink and filled our canteens again. From here to camp the quail astonished me. Millions. They rose in flocks. The air was black with them and their whirr like a rolling thunder. Oh! How I wished for a shotgun.