Pack mules would be marked as you say, Quartermaster Dept., and some mules were used for working the rugged mountainsides of the Huachucas and Dragoons. Fort Kearny was just Camp Kearny at the time, not very big.
But I fail to see how the cowboys would have come into possession of both brands, stamp brands government issue. They would not be in abundance nor lying around carelessly. They would be in the Smithy shop, probably centrally located.
You suggest the illicit D8 stamp would alter the US brand? I cannot imagine how that would work. AS I said before stamping a brand over another just makes a mess. Perhaps that was their best option.
On the other hand, if they used a running Iron, which is more likely, turning the D into an 8 on the QD would take some talent; but they might have been able.
The point everyone seems to be missing here is that Wyatt lied! They did not see the mules there and he sure enough did not see the government issue stamp iron for either brand. If the mules had been right there the marshal (Virgil) had the authority and the men to confiscate them. He didn't. He allowed himse4lf to be turned back without them, which leaves us asking questions.
As the animals Hurst was looking for were mules, if they were pack mules they would have been assigned to the Quartermaster Department, not any specific regiment. If there was a second brand besides the... more
Wayne/ oddly enough? — Joyce A. Aros,Tue Aug 23 9:14