Artifact: Sutler’s Ledger, Ft. Union (1864)
A ledger’s single sheet covering a four-month span—
an itemized list. Most of Lt. Moore’s purchases
aren’t a surprise: a bridle, spurs, shirts, a new pair of boots.
But then, cans of oysters. I imagine them as stepping stones
across bleak months, a break from hardtack and hash,
from coffee without cream. While at Fort Union,
Moore would have been billeted in quarters separate
from his men, though his purchase of whiskey
and six tumblers imply a certain measure of camaraderie.
Plugs of tobacco and a meerschaum pipe. The luxury
of tamping tobacco into that bowl? One anomaly
in June: six dollars for two bottles of champagne,
easily explained--celebration of the Navajo campaign.
Yet every artifact implies more than one story—
a personal rendition often more subtle:
in May, yards of calico; in July, twelve cents for lace.