Probably the most important engagement that the Dragoons from Cantonment Burgwin participated in occurred on March 30, 1854. The Santa Fe Weekly Gazette reported that this action “was one of the severest battles that ever took place between American troops and the Red Indians.” The Jicarilla Apaches had been raiding settlers in the area and in response, Lt. Davidson led approximately 60 Dragoons from Burgwin and engaged in an unauthorized attack on the Apache encampment near Pilar, then known as Cieneguilla. The Dragoons were soundly defeated with twenty-two killed and a further thirty-six wounded, along with a loss of twenty-two horses and much of the troops’ supplies.
Consulting resources from the Fort Burgwin Library, SMU-in-Taos Director Mike Adler and Biology Professor John Ubelaker along with some Taosenos who had studied the battle accounts struck out to find the battlesite in the Carson National Forest. The Fort Library has a collection of copies of Cantonment Burgwin postings and correspondance from the Arrott Collection of Fort Union.