MAY 26-28, 2012

by  Redhorse

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       Harold McCutchen from Bronte, Texas, has been a member of the 4th U. S. Cavalry, Company G stationed at Fort Chadbourne from shortly after its inception in October 1999. In the winter of 2011, he expressed his desire to organize a benefit trailride for the Cavalry.   The inaugural Fort Chadbourne Cavalry Benefit Trailride was held Memorial Day 2012 weekend at Fort Chadbourne, near Bronte, Texas.  Thanks to the owners of Fort Chadbourne, Garland & Lana Richards; and members of the 4th U. S. Cavalry, Company G, for providing and preparing the established deer hunting camp for this trailride. 

         Limited facilities require this to be an invitational event, with no wagons. There were approximately twenty-four (24) participants registered. Meals were prepared by Bob & Annie Gill and organized by Gina McCutchen. Saturday morning greeted riders with breakfast burritos & juices; supper was hamburgers with all the trimmings.  Tea and ice was on hand throughout the days.  Sunday breakfast consisted of burritos and juices with muffins and banana bread. Supper on Sunday was brisket, salad and beans with peach, black berry and cherry cobblers.  Trail lunches were individual choices with a juicy cold seedless watermelon provided by this writer on Sunday. Daily morning coffee was partially provided by Juanita Brooks, as usual. Homemade cookies were generously provided by Gina McCutchen; my favorite out of a half-dozen kinds was the chocolate malt-ball ones!

       The impromptu entertainment, following supper on Saturday night, was when riders circled their chairs around Betty Straten’s white plastic camping table, turned upside down. This table represented the missing campfire (heat wasn’t needed!). One of the deer lease hunters was in camp and participated in the Mature Beverage Game, “I”, with Carl Atkins and Cody Golden. Entertainment Sunday was “Mexican Train” dominos after the ride. That night it was guitar music and old campfire songs provided by Richard Champbliss and more dominos. Doodle Brewster was the big winner at dominos!

         The trails on the Fort Chadbourne Ranch are mostly cattle and deer trails (even the ant beds, that support horned toads, provided their own mini-interstates)!  Rains in the Spring have created lush grasses and a great wide color variety of wild flowers. 

          Saturday greeted riders with wonderful overcast skies and moderate breezes. The planned ride was shortened to accommodate riders as unusually high humidity with typical high temperatures was expected later in the afternoon.  The ride was over ten miles while exploring the workings of an abandoned mill and scales, along with riding up a cedar covered hillside that offered a lovely panoramic view of the area. Riding adjacent to the historical Fort Chadbourne Cemetery was also part of the ride.  Wildlife along the trail included jackrabbits, horned toads, whitetail deer, buffalo and a few rattlesnakes.

          Following the ride on Saturday, riders loaded up in vehicles and headed up the hill to the new Fort Visitors Center & Museum. The Grand Opening was held a mere two weeks earlier and the tour was led by ranch and museum owner Garland Richards himself. His wife Lana was graciously on hand despite having received word the day before of shrapnel injuries to her son, Cody, in Afghanistan.  Fortunately, the injuries weren't life threatening and while still at the ranch we learned Cody was already in physical therapy.  Author Ann Pate was present in the Gift Shop. She wrote, "Fort Chadbourne, A Military Post, A Family Heritage", a wonderful book this writer could not put down! 

        Sunday started with semi-overcast skies at breakfast. The Cowboy Sunday Service offered by Roy Robb was on the “Cowboy Code”.  He expanded on these concepts: Live each day with courage; Take pride in your work; Always finish what you start; Do what has to be done; Be tough, but fair; Keep promises; Ride for the Brand; Talk less and say more; Remember that some things aren’t for sale and Know where to draw the line. Heads nodded in agreement with the points made. As we rode out, the weather took a marvelous turn for the better with full overcast skies and cooler breezes. The ride was led by Richard Chambliss along trails that explored the western part of the ranch. This took riders along cliffs that protect a cave with pictographs in the ceiling and a rock quarry; the source for the rocks used in construction of the Fort. The ride finished with riding among the Officers Quarters, Fort Hospital ruins and Parade Grounds.

         On Monday, riders loaded up for their trip home via some moving Memorial Day ceremonies at the Blackwell, Texas Cemetery.  The traditional ceremony has a long history from the Civil War years when Confederate and Union fallen soldiers were buried at the cemetery. The Townsfolk honored all Civil War fallen each year and do to this day. The trailride benefactors, the mounted 4th U. S. Cavalry, Company G, posted colors with a precision drill which they do annually for this event. An audience of relatives and friends of the fallen Military and the podium area were decorated in Patriotic Colors.  The names of Military fallen at the Cemetery were read during the program and beautiful songs were sung solo by Elizibeth Shults, 1st Sgt. Chambliss’s Granddaughter.  (Richard admitted his musical talent belongs around the campfire and Elizibeth's  belongs on CD’s!)

         Thanks to all who accepted invitations to the event and generously donated to benefit the Cavalry. The proceeds of $1,000 will go towards their expenses while representing their Unit.



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