May 6, 1846 9:00P.M.
With out knapsacks on our back, we climbed into the rowboat. The captain came to wish us well and send us off. I was positioned at aft, Richard at the fore, Albert and James were at each paddle. As we splashed into the sea, Richard and I untied the ropes and yelled that we were free. With this Albert and James began paddling toward the shore. We were about one and a quarter miles from land and the surf did most of the work for us. At several thousand feet out we began to see the dim lights from several of the saloons and taverns that were still open. Over the past few days we had further examined our orders and gathered what intelligence we could around the ship. Bagdad was somewhat of a “boomtown” springing to life only a few years before. The town was situated at the mouth of the Rio Grande and was a port for shipments coming into northern Mexico. This prosperous growth not only meant government buildings and an economic boom, but also saw rise to saloons, gambling houses, and brothels. The town attracted blockade-runners, desperadoes, the vile of both sexes, and adventurers. A place where the decencies of civilized life were forgotten, and vice in its worst form held high. One sailor on the ship said he saw Bagdad as a place where everyone was trying to grab what he could by using whatever scheme possible to make money out of crisis.
Since we had left the ship we all remained in silence. I assume we were all thinking about what lied ahead of us. Albert broke the silence, “I’ve never killed a person.” I suppose he said what we were all thinking. Although as a doctor I hadn’t received intensive training the others had, I had these same concerns. Richard replied, “I haven’t either, but it’s our life or theirs.” I nodded in agreement and added that my oath was to preserve life. James although listening to the conversation never looked our war or spoke up. We then continued in silence as we approached the mouth of the Rio Grande. To our left were the docks where several small vessels were moored. We kept close to the right bank, while passing past these boats. Although it was dark we didn’t see any signs of movement or activity. Once we were past those vessels we crossed back to the left to an empty section of dock. We were within about twenty feet of the dock when we noticed a soldier with his back to us, standing as if he was keeping watch. We were all frozen as we approached the dock, which was a good two or three climb out of our small rowboat. As we inched closer someone had to make a move, for if not we would run under the rock and bump our heads. Our rowboat was going to do just that, as Richard ducked to allow his hear to pass under the wood. With that James jumped up knocking his rifle over the side and into the depths of the river. He grabbed the soldier by the tails of his jacked and pulled him off the dock and into the water with a splash. Richard now stood up and steadied the rowboat against the dock. James used the side of the rowboat to pin the Mexican soldier under the water. Using the leverage that he had James was able to keep the soldier for surfacing, and after a short struggle he embraced death, his lungs filling with water. With this peace, James released his grip and the body floated down the river toward the ocean. James, now cursing the fact that unlike the rest of us didn’t put a sling on his rifle, pulled himself up onto the dock. The three of us remained in shock for what seemed like forever. Time seemed to slow down as James reached gown and grabbed Richard under the arms pulling him up. With this the rowboat started moving under the dock once again. Momentarily stopping when Albert hit his head against it. This snapped me out of my daze and I jumped up onto the dock assisted by James. Meanwhile Albert being knocked onto his back by the impact shuffled to the back of the rowboat and pulled out a special plug that had been installed. With this the vessel began to take on water and sink, thus evidence of our entrance would not be found. Albert then reached for the dock and both James and I helped him up. There on the dock three of us laid, while James squatted scouring for our next move. My heart was beating in my head and all four of us were breathing heavily. James stood up, and whispered to the rest of us, “no time to rest we are wide open.” With this I stood up and looked around, the dock stretched in a straight line like a sidewalk back to the ocean. Ships docked on the left and various crated and other items on the right. James moved toward this row of crates for cover, the rest of us followed. Once on the right side of the crates there were a group of buildings to our right, most looked like storage or warehouses. However looking east toward the ocean there was a break in the buildings, access from the docks to the town. We hugged the crates as we moved toward this opening. Upon reaching it we observed a sort of a square with buildings on the outside, and the road splitting around a large brick building. The building lacked a porch, but had a nice stone patio as an entrance. We exited the dock, and made our way across the sandy road to the patio and entrance of the building. Above the door in large metal letters was, “Autoridad personalizado de Bagdad.” Richard spoke up and said, “I don't know Spanish, but I do know french which is similar. Personnalisé is custom in french, des is of. I would say that this is a customs house.” Albert then replied, “move out of the way. I'm going through this door.” James quickly interrupted, and placed himself between Albert and the door. “What are you thinking, bust down this door and make all of that noise? If that doesn't alert someone then finding the door in shambles will.” I added that James was right, we must not alert anyone to our presence here. James kneeled down and began fiddling with the lock on the door. While he did that, Richard and Albert cautiously walked around the building trying to find another way to enter. I examined the door. It was a large door, made out of heavy wood, the lock mechanism looked like it was very sturdy also. James reached to his side and pulled his sword out of the sheath. He then inserted it into the space between the lock and door frame. He stood up and tried to pry the door open. As he was straining the latch opened and James flew back, landing on his back. Richard was standing in the door way his hand still in place, after unlocking the door. Albert ran back from around the side of the building and said, “There was a loading access on the back, and Richard was able to climb up into the grain chute.” James now standing had a disgusting look on his face as he dusted his back off and sheathed his sword. Albert handed Richard his rifle and we entered the building locking the door behind us.
Compared to the outside, the interior of the building was quite shabby. The floors and walls were of unfinished planks of wood. The coarse grain visible in the dim light. The room o which we had entered into was a lobby of sorts. Several chairs were to our left, and directly across from us was a desk. To the right of the desk was a counter that ran all the way into the wall to our right. This counter area was apparently for checking in goods, and ingoing and outgoing manifests. We proceeded to walk past the desk, into the corridor beyond. Richard, since he entered the building through this way, stayed behind and further examined the lobby area. Directly behind the desk to the left was a bricked in area, with a metal door. This was apparently a safe. to the right of it was another room, we continued past this area instead of entering it. The corridor opens up into a great expanse of a room. To the left was some sort of equipment, scales for weighing goods as we would later learn. To the right was a loading/unloading dock surrounded by empty crates ready to be packed. Directly in front of us was the chute in which Richard had entered from. James had doubled back and explored the room off of the corridor that we had passed by earlier. We could hear him shuffling and banging around, thus we walked back to see what he was doing. We were met by Richard who was holding a lantern that he had found. This lantern allowed us no longer to be led by the moonlight. Upon entering the room we saw another desk, and some cabinets. James was behind the desk pulling a longbow, and several arrows off of the wall. “Found something to replace my lost gun,” he stated. Indeed he did, the bow along with the arrows must have been some sort of accent piece for the room. We returned to the open lobby area to gather ourselves and figure out what our next move was. It was here after a few moments of reflecting in silence that we heard faint booms, and thuds. This faint sounds was coming from the west, we knew that Fort Texas was under siege from the Mexican army, but this cannon fire was much closer. Had the war formally begun? Was the U.S. Army pushed back? These questions rang loud in my head as in sure it did everyone else's. Richard spoke up stating that we must go through each room and every desk looking for information which may be of use. “four arrows,” James stated. “Just four arrows.” Albert who had a startled look on his face replied, “James you just took another mans life and all you can think about is the fact you only have four arrows? I just watched a man drown to his death and I can barely keep myself together.” Albert was right, I had the sick feeling in my gut too. Soon after we began to dear every room and desk in the building apart. Pulling out papers, stamps, and other miscellaneous items. The whole time James devoted himself to breaking in the safe.
May 7, 1846
We once again gathered in the lobby area, each of us throwing the papers that we deemed important into the floor. With none of us knowing Spanish we deemed their importance upon the seals stamped on them. We had also gathered two logbooks. Richard stowed all of these in his knapsacks. I looked up toward one of the windows in the room. It was a cheap pane of glass, you couldn’t see through it. Its only purpose was to let light in. I observed that the moonlight was being replaced by daybreak. “Whomever works here will be arriving soon, followed by merchants and sailors,” I stated. Everyone paused and looks up to the windows. Then looking around, as if trying to find a way out. James was the first to act. He pulled his sword and pried three planks up; shining the lantern below we saw a base of sand. “Dr. and Richard the two of you shall hide down here. Albert and I shall hide and ambush whoever walks through that door. After the first few men come in, one of us will lock the door. Hopefully everyone else will get the idea that customs are closed today.” “Okay,” Richard replied. With that the two of use dropped into the crawlspace as the planks were laid back down above us. “Albert, we shall take refuge in the room behind the desk, do not move or make a sound until you see my signal,” stated James. We all waited patiently for about an hour. When I head Albert whispering, “James, James, what are you doing?” I also head a chair creak. It was soon after that I heard a fumbling and clanging at the door. I rose to peer through one of the cracks in the planks to see what would happen. It was still very dark inside, but eventually the door swung open and I was temporarily blinded by the influx of bright light. The door was gently shut; immediately thereafter I heard a loud whoosh! Followed by a gasp and a loud thus hitting the floor. I burst through the planks to witness James seated at the desk with his bow in hand. Turning around I saw a middle aged gentleman lying on his back with an arrow in his neck. Blood poured out of the wound and onto the plank below. Richard also peering out from below said sternly, “What have you done!” James not answering stood up walked over to the man and pulled the arrow from his neck. He then grabbed a loose part of his clothing and wiped the blood from the arrow. Laying the bow and arrow on the desk he proceeded to drag the body down into the crawlspace between Richard and I. We were both in shock and ducked back down as James replaced the planks. “Albert bring the rug from that room and put it on the floor here to cover up this blood.” I heard Albert bumping around, and as he walked with the rug. I peered through the crack as threw the rug on the bloodstained floor. Just as he did this voices were heard just outside the door. Albert stepped nimbly toward the door. He stood with his back to the wall, holding his sword to his chest. The door would open to his left thus hiding himself behind it as it opened. I looked through the crack as the door did just that my eyes were better adjusted to the light and I saw two gentlemen in the doorway. The first one walked through looking straight ahead. James must have hidden himself from view under the desk, because the first man kept walking. The second man walked through and began to close the door when I heard the familiar whoosh. I witnessed the second man snap around to see where the sound came from. As he did that, Albert used his left hand to slam the door behind him. In one single motion he brought that left hand back over his left shoulder and placed it on the handle of the sword below his right hand. Swinging down and forward he caught the second gentleman where the neck and shoulder meet. The sword buried itself in his upper torso. Blood shoot across the room, landing on the floor. The gentleman fell forward, the sword sliding out of his body. He hit the ground softly unlike the first gentleman who again hit with a thud. Richard and I burst up through the floor to witness carnage above. James once again removed the arrow, this time from the center of the mans chest. Albert stood in shock, his blood stained sword at his side. James drew his sword and struck the lock mechanism on the door several times, damaging and warping it, thus ensuring that the door was locked for good. Albert, coming to his senses moved the body of the second man into the gap in the floor. James soon followed. “I think its best we spend the rest of the day in the office without windows,” stated Richard. That is where we spent the remainder of the day in silence. At some point they ate some bread and salted meat that we had brought from the ship. I couldn’t bring myself to eat anything due to the carnage that had taken place in the next room.