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Memoirs of Three Civil War Generals, Complete by U. S. Grant, W. T. Sherman, P. H. Sheridan

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officer to a soldier. Colonel Audenried was one of the most
polished gentlemen in the army, noted for his personal bearing and
deportment, and I had some trouble to impress on him the patience
necessary for the occasion, but I promised on future occasions to
send some other or go myself. Things went on from bad to worse,
till in 1870 I received from Mr. Hugh Campbell, of St. Louis, a
personal friend and an honorable gentleman, a telegraphic message
complaining that I had removed from his position Mr. Ward, post
trader at Fort Laramie, with only a month in which to dispose of
his large stock of goods, to make room for his successor.

It so happened that we of the Indian Peace Commission had been much
indebted to this same trader, Ward, for advances of flour, sugar,
and coffee, to provide for the Crow Indians, who had come down from
their reservation on the Yellowstone to meet us in 1868, before our
own supplies had been received. For a time I could not-comprehend
the nature of Mr. Campbell's complaint, so I telegraphed to the
department commander, General C. C. Augur, at Omaha, to know if any
such occurrence had happened, and the reasons therefor. I received
a prompt answer that it was substantially true, and had been
ordered by The Secretary of War. It so happened that during
General Grant's command of the army Congress had given to the
general of the army the appointment of "post-traders." He had
naturally devolved it on the subordinate division and department
commanders, but the legal power remained with the general of the
army. I went up to the Secretary of War, showed him the
telegraphic correspondence, and pointed out the existing law in the
Revised Statutes. General Belknap was visibly taken aback, and
explained that he had supposed the right of appointment rested with
him, that Ward was an old rebel Democrat, etc.; whereas Ward had
been in fact the sutler of Fort Laramie, a United States military
post, throughout the civil war. I told him that I should revoke
his orders, and leave the matter where it belonged, to the local
council of administration and commanding officers. Ward was
unanimously reelected and reinstated. He remained the trader of
the post until Congress repealed the law, and gave back the power
of appointment to the Secretary of War, when of course he had to
go. But meantime he was able to make the necessary business
arrangements which saved him and his partners the sacrifice which
would have been necessary in the first instance. I never had any
knowledge whatever of General Belknap's transactions with the
traders at Fort Sill and Fort Lincoln which resulted in his
downfall. I have never sought to ascertain his motives for
breaking with me, because he knew I had always befriended him while
under my military command, and in securing him his office of
Secretary of War. I spoke frequently to President Grant of the
growing tendency of his Secretary of War to usurp all the powers of
the commanding general, which would surely result in driving me
away. He as frequently promised to bring us together to agree upon
a just line of separation of our respective offices, but never did.

Determined to bring the matter to an issue, I wrote the following

WASHINGTON, D. C., August 17, 1870.

General W. W. BELKNAP, Secretary of War.

GENERAL: I must urgently and respectfully invite your attention
when at leisure to a matter of deep interest to future commanding
generals of the army more than to myself, of the imperative
necessity of fixing and clearly defining the limits of the powers
and duties of the general of the army or of whomsoever may succeed
to the place of commander-in-chief.

The case is well stated by General Grant in his letter of January
29, 1866, to the Secretary of War, Mr. Stanton, hereto appended,
and though I find no official answer recorded, I remember that
General Grant told me that the Secretary of War had promptly
assured him in conversation that he fully approved of his views as
expressed in this letter.

At that time the subject was much discussed, and soon after
Congress enacted the bill reviving the grade of general, which bill
was approved July 25, 1866, and provided that the general, when
commissioned, may be authorized under the direction and during the
pleasure of the President to command the armies of the United
States; and a few days after, viz., July 28, 1866, was enacted the
law which defined the military peace establishment. The enacting
clause reads: "That the military peace establishment of the United
States shall hereafter consist of five regiments of artillery, ten
regiments of cavalry, forty-five regiments of infantry, the
professors and Corps of Cadets of the United States Military
Academy, and such other forces as shall be provided for by this
act, to be known as the army of the United States."

The act then recites in great detail all the parts of the army,
making no distinction between the line and staff, but clearly makes
each and every part an element of the whole.

Section 37 provides for a board to revise the army regulations and
report; and declares that the regulations then in force, viz.,
those of 1863, should remain until Congress "shall act on said
report;" and section 38 and last enacts that all laws and parts of
laws inconsistent with the provisions of this act be and the same
are hereby repealed.

Under the provisions of this law my predecessor, General Grant, did
not hesitate to command and make orders to all parts of the army,
the Military Academy, and staff, and it was under his advice that
the new regulations were compiled in 1868 that drew the line more
clearly between the high and responsible duties of the Secretary of
War and the general of the army. He assured me many a time before
I was called here to succeed him that he wanted me to perfect the
distinction, and it was by his express orders that on assuming the
command of the army I specifically placed the heads of the staff
corps here in Washington in the exact relation to the army which
they would bear to an army in the field.

I am aware that subsequently, in his orders of March 26th, he
modified his former orders of March 5th, but only as to the heads
of bureaus in Washington, who have, he told me, certain functions
of office imposed on them by special laws of Congress, which laws,
of course, override all orders and regulations, but I did not
either understand from him in person, or from General Rawlins, at
whose instance this order was made, that it was designed in any way
to modify, alter, or change his purposes that division and
department commanders, as well as the general of the army, should
exercise the same command of the staff as they did of the line of
the army.

I need not remind the Secretary that orders and reports are made to
and from the Military Academy which the general does not even see,
though the Military Academy is specifically named as a part of that
army which he is required to command. Leaves of absence are
granted, the stations of officers are changed, and other orders are
now made directly to the army, not through the general, but direct
through other officials and the adjutant-general.

So long as this is the case I surely do not command the army of the
United States, and am not responsible for it.

I am aware that the confusion results from the fact that the
thirty-seventh section of the act of July 28, 1866, clothes the
army regulations of 1863 with the sanction of law, but the next
section repeals all laws and parts of laws inconsistent with the
provisions of this act. The regulations of 1863 are but a
compilation of orders made prior to the war, when such men as Davis
and Floyd took pleasure in stripping General Scott of even the
semblance of power, and purposely reduced him to a cipher in the
command of the army.

Not one word can be found in those regulations speaking of the
duties of the lieutenant-general commanding the army, or defining a
single act of authority rightfully devolving on him. Not a single
mention is made of the rights and duties of a commander-in-chief of
the army. He is ignored, and purposely, too, as a part of the
programme resulting in the rebellion, that the army without a
legitimate head should pass into the anarchy which these men were
shaping for the whole country.

I invite your attention to the army regulations of 1847, when our
best soldiers lived, among whom was your own father, and see
paragraphs 48 and 49, page 8, and they are so important that I
quote them entire:

"48. The military establishment is placed under the orders of the
major-general commanding in chief in all that regards its
discipline and military control. Its fiscal arrangements properly
belong to the administrative departments of the staff and to the
Treasury Department under the direction of the Secretary of War.

"49. The general of the army will watch over the economy of the
service in all that relates to the expenditure of money, supply of
arms, ordnance and ordnance stores, clothing, equipments,
camp-equipage, medical and hospital stores, barracks, quarters,
transportation, Military Academy, pay, and subsistence: in short,
everything which enters into the expenses of the military
establishment, whether personal or material. He will also see that
the estimates for the military service are based on proper data,
and made for the objects contemplated by law, and necessary to the
due support and useful employment of the army. In carrying into
effect these important duties, he will call to his counsel and
assistance the staff, and those officers proper, in his opinion, to
be employed in verifying and inspecting all the objects which may
require attention. The rules and regulations established for the
government of the army, and the laws relating to the military
establishment, are the guides to the commanding general in the
performance of his duties."

Why was this, or why was all mention of any field of duty for the
head of the army left out of the army regulations? Simply because
Jefferson Davis had a purpose, and absorbed to himself, as
Secretary of War, as General Grant well says, all the powers of
commander-in-chief. Floyd succeeded him, and the last regulations
of 1863 were but a new compilation of their orders, hastily
collected and published to supply a vast army with a new edition.

I contend that all parts of these regulations inconsistent with the
law of July 28, 1866, are repealed.

I surely do not ask for any power myself, but I hope and trust, now
when we have a military President and a military Secretary of War,
that in the new regulations to be laid before Congress next session
the functions and duties of the commander-in-chief will be so
clearly marked out and defined that they may be understood by
himself and the army at large.

I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN, General.


WASHINGTON, January 29, 1866.

Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:

From the period of the difficulties between Major-General (now
Lieutenant-General) Scott with Secretary Marcy, during the
administration of President Polk, the command of the army virtually
passed into the hands of the Secretary of War.

From that day to the breaking out of the rebellion the general-
in-chief never kept his headquarters in Washington, and could not,
consequently, with propriety resume his proper functions. To
administer the affairs of the army properly, headquarters and the
adjutant-general's office must be in the same place.

During the war, while in the field, my functions as commander of
all the armies was never impaired, but were facilitated in all
essential matters by the Administration and by the War Department.
Now, however, that the war is over, and I have brought my head-
quarters to the city, I find my present position embarrassing and,
I think, out of place. I have been intending, or did intend, to
make the beginning of the New Year the time to bring this matter
before you, with the view of asking to have the old condition of
affairs restored, but from diffidence about mentioning the matter
have delayed. In a few words I will state what I conceive to be my
duties and my place, and ask respectfully to be restored to them
and it.

The entire adjutant-general's office should be under the entire
control of the general-in-chief of the army. No orders should go
to the army, or the adjutant-general, except through the general-
in-chief. Such as require the action of the President would be
laid before the Secretary of War, whose actions would be regarded
as those of the President. In short, in my opinion, the general-
in-chief stands between the President and the army in all official
matters, and the Secretary of War is between the army (through the
general-in-chief) and the President.

I can very well conceive that a rule so long disregarded could not,
or would not, be restored without the subject being presented, and
I now do so respectfully for your consideration.

U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.

General Belknap never answered that letter.

In August, 1870, was held at Des Moines, Iowa, an encampment of old
soldiers which I attended, en route to the Pacific, and at Omaha
received this letter:

LONG BRANCH, New Jersey, August 18,1870.

General W. T. SHERMAN.

DEAR GENERAL: Your letter of the 7th inst. did not reach Long
Branch until after I had left for St. Louis, and consequently is
just before me for the first time. I do not know what changes
recent laws, particularly the last army bill passed, make in the
relations between the general of the army and the Secretary of War.

Not having this law or other statutes here, I cannot examine the
subject now, nor would I want to without consultation with the
Secretary of War. On our return to Washington I have no doubt but
that the relations between the Secretary and yourself can be made
pleasant, and the duties of each be so clearly defined as to leave
no doubt where the authority of one leaves off and the other

My own views, when commanding the army, were that orders to the
army should go through the general. No changes should be made,
however, either of the location of troops or officers, without the
knowledge of the Secretary of War.

In peace, the general commanded them without reporting to the
Secretary farther than he chose the specific orders he gave from
time to time, but subjected himself to orders from the Secretary,
the latter deriving his authority to give orders from the
President. As Congress has the right, however, to make rules and
regulations for the government of the army, rules made by them
whether they are as they should be or not, will have to govern. As
before stated, I have not examined the recent law.

Yours truly,


To which I replied:

OMAHA, NEBRASKA, September 2,1870.

General U. S. GRANT, Washington, D. C.

DEAR GENERAL: I have received your most acceptable letter of August
18th, and assure you that I am perfectly willing to abide by any
decision you may make. We had a most enthusiastic meeting at Des
Moines, and General Bellknap gave us a fine, finished address. I
have concluded to go over to San Francisco to attend the annual
celebration of the Pioneers, to be held on the 9th instant; from
there I will make a short tour, aiming to get back to St. Louis by
the 1st of October, and so on to Washington without unnecessary

Conscious of the heavy burdens already on you, I should refrain
from adding one ounce to your load of care, but it seems to me now
is the time to fix clearly and plainly the field of duty for the
Secretary of War and the commanding general of the army, so that we
may escape the unpleasant controversy that gave so much scandal in
General Scott's time, and leave to our successors a clear field.

No matter what the result, I promise to submit to whatever decision
you may make. I also feel certain that General Belknap thinks he
is simply executing the law as it now stands, but I am equally
certain that he does not interpret the law reviving the grade of
general, and that fixing the "peace establishment" of 1868, as I
construe them.

For instance, I am supposed to control the discipline of the
Military Academy as a part of the army, whereas General Belknap
ordered a court of inquiry in the case of the colored cadet, made
the detail, reviewed the proceedings, and made his order, without
my knowing a word of it, except through the newspapers; and more
recently, when I went to Chicago to attend to some division
business, I found the inspector-general (Hardie) under orders from
the Secretary of War to go to Montana on some claim business.

All I ask is that such orders should go through me. If all the
staff-officers are subject to receive orders direct from the
Secretary of War it will surely clash with the orders they may be
in the act of executing from me, or from their immediate

I ask that General Belknap draw up some clear, well-defined rules
for my action, that he show them to me before publication, that I
make on them my remarks, and then that you make a final decision.
I promise faithfully to abide by it, or give up my commission.

Please show this to General Belknap, and I will be back early in
October. With great respect, your friend,


I did return about October 15th, saw President Grant, who said
nothing had been done in the premises, but that he would bring
General Belknap and me together and settle this matter. Matters
went along pretty much as usual till the month of August, 1871,
when I dined at the Arlington with Admiral Alder and General
Belknap. The former said he had been promoted to rear-admiral and
appointed to command the European squadron, then at Villa Franca,
near Nice, and that he was going out in the frigate Wabash,
inviting me to go along. I had never been to Europe, and the
opportunity was too tempting to refuse. After some preliminaries I
agreed to go along, taking with me as aides-de-camp Colonel
Audenried and Lieutenant Fred Grant. The Wabash was being
overhauled at the Navy-Yard at Boston, and was not ready to sail
till November, when she came to New-York, where we all embarked
Saturday, November 11th.

I have very full notes of the whole trip, and here need only state
that we went out to the Island of Madeira, and thence to Cadiz and
Gibraltar. Here my party landed, and the Wabash went on to Villa
Franca. From Gibraltar we made the general tour of Spain to
Bordeaux, through the south of France to Marseilles, Toulon, etc.,
to Nice, from which place we rejoined the Wabash and brought ashore
our baggage.

From Nice we went to Genoa, Turin, the Mont Cenis Tunnel, Milan,
Venice, etc., to Rome. Thence to Naples, Messina, and Syracuse,
where we took a steamer to Malta. From Malta to Egypt and
Constantinople, to Sebastopol, Poti, and Tiflis. At Constantinople
and Sebastopol my party was increased by Governor Curtin, his son,
and Mr. McGahan.

It was my purpose to have reached the Caspian, and taken boats to
the Volga, and up that river as far as navigation would permit, but
we were dissuaded by the Grand-Duke Michael, Governor-General of
the Caucasas, and took carriages six hundred miles to Taganrog, on
the Sea of Azof, to which point the railroad system of Russia was
completed. From Taganrog we took cars to Moscow and St.
Petersburg. Here Mr. Curtin and party remained, he being our
Minister at that court; also Fred Grant left us to visit his aunt
at Copenhagen. Colonel Audenried and I then completed the tour of
interior Europe, taking in Warsaw, Berlin, Vienna, Switzerland,
France, England, Scotland, and Ireland, embarking for home in the
good steamer Baltic, Saturday, September 7, 1872, reaching
Washington, D. C., September 22d. I refrain from dwelling on this
trip, because it would swell this chapter beyond my purpose.

When I regained my office I found matters unchanged since my
departure, the Secretary of War exercising all the functions of
commander-in-chief, and I determined to allow things to run to their
necessary conclusion. In 1873 my daughter Minnie also made a trip
to Europe, and I resolved as soon as she returned that I would
simply move back to St. Louis to execute my office there as best I
could. But I was embarrassed by being the possessor of a large
piece of property in Washington on I Street, near the corner of
Third, which I could at the time neither sell nor give away. It
came into my possession as a gift from friends in New York and
Boston, who had purchased it of General Grant and transferred to me
at the price of $65,000.

The house was very large, costly to light, heat, and maintain, and
Congress had reduced my pay four or five thousand dollars a year,
so that I was gradually being impoverished. Taxes, too, grew
annually, from about four hundred dollars a year to fifteen
hundred, besides all sorts of special taxes.

Finding myself caught in a dilemma, I added a new hall, and made
out of it two houses, one of which I occupied, and the other I
rented, and thus matters stood in 1873-'74. By the agency of Mr.
Hall, a neighbor and broker, I effected a sale of the property to
the present owner, Mr. Emory, at a fair price, accepting about half
payment in notes, and the other half in a piece of property on E
Street, which I afterward exchanged for a place in Cite Brilliante,
a suburb of St. Louis, which I still own. Being thus foot-loose,
and having repeatedly notified President Grant of my purpose, I
wrote the Secretary of War on the 8th day of May, 1874, asking the
authority of the President and the War Department to remove my
headquarters to St. Louis.

On the 11th day of May General Belknap replied that I had the
assent of the President and himself, inclosing the rough draft of
an order to accomplish this result, which I answered on the 15th,
expressing my entire satisfaction, only requesting delay in the
publication of the orders till August or September, as I preferred
to make the changes in the month of October.

On the 3d of September these orders were made:


General Orders No. 108.

With the assent of the President, and at the request of the
General, the headquarters of the armies of the United States will
be established at St. Louis, Missouri, in the month of October

The regulations and orders now governing the functions of the
General of the Army, and those in relation to transactions of
business with the War Department and its bureaus, will continue in

By order of the Secretary of War:

E. D. TOWNSEND, Adjutant-General.

Our daughter Minnie was married October 1, 1874, to Thomas W.
Fitch, United States Navy, and we all forthwith packed up and
regained our own house at St. Louis, taking an office on the corner
of Tenth and Locust Streets. The only staff I brought with me were
the aides allowed by law, and, though we went through the forms of
"command," I realized that it was a farce, and it did not need a
prophet to foretell it would end in a tragedy. We made ourselves
very comfortable, made many pleasant excursions into the interior,
had a large correspondence, and escaped the mortification of being
slighted by men in Washington who were using their temporary power
for selfish ends.

Early in March, 1676, appeared in all the newspapers of the day the
sensational report from Washington that Secretary of War Belknap
had been detected in selling sutlerships in the army; that he had
confessed it to Representative Blackburn, of Kentucky; that he had
tendered his resignation, which had been accepted by the President;
and that he was still subject to impeachment,--would be impeached
and tried by the Senate. I was surprised to learn that General
Belknap was dishonest in money matters, for I believed him a brave
soldier, and I sorely thought him honest; but the truth was soon
revealed from Washington, and very soon after I received from Judge
Alphonso Taft, of Cincinnati, a letter informing me that he had
been appointed Secretary of War, and should insist on my immediate
return to Washington. I answered that I was ready to go to
Washington, or anywhere, if assured of decent treatment.

I proceeded to Washington, when, on the 6th of April, were
published these orders:

General Orders No. 28.

The following orders of the President of the United States are
hereby promulgated for the information and guidance of all

The headquarters of the army are hereby reestablished at Washington
City, and all orders and instructions relative to military
operations or affecting the military control and discipline of the
army issued by the President through the Secretary of War, shall be
promulgated through the General of the Army, and the departments of
the Adjutant-General and the Inspector-General shall report to him,
and be under his control in all matters relating thereto.

By order of the Secretary of War:

E. D. TOWNSEND, Adjutant-General.

This was all I had ever asked; accordingly my personal staff were
brought back to Washington, where we resumed our old places; only I
did not, for some time, bring back the family, and then only to a
rented house on Fifteenth Street, which we occupied till we left
Washington for good. During the period from 1876 to 1884 we had as
Secretaries of War in succession, the Hon's. Alphonso Taft, J. D.
Cameron, George W. McCrary, Alexander Ramsey, and R. T. Lincoln,
with each and all of whom I was on terms of the most intimate and
friendly relations.

And here I will record of Washington that I saw it, under the magic
hand of Alexander R. Shepherd, grow from a straggling, ill-paved
city, to one of the cleanest, most beautiful, and attractive cities
of the whole world. Its climate is salubrious, with as much
sunshine as any city of America. The country immediately about it
is naturally beautiful and romantic, especially up the Potomac, in
the region of the Great Falls; and, though the soil be poor as
compared with that of my present home, it is susceptible of easy
improvement and embellishment. The social advantages cannot be
surpassed even in London, Paris, or Vienna; and among the resident
population, the members of the Supreme Court, Senate, House of
Representatives, army, navy, and the several executive departments,
may be found an intellectual class one cannot encounter in our
commercial and manufacturing cities. The student may, without tax
and without price, have access, in the libraries of Congress and of
the several departments, to books of every nature and kind; and the
museums of natural history are rapidly approaching a standard of
comparison with the best of the world. Yet it is the usual and
proper center of political intrigue, from which the army especially
should keep aloof, because the army must be true and faithful to
the powers that be, and not be subjected to a temptation to favor
one or other of the great parties into which our people have
divided, and will continue to divide, it may be, with advantage to
the whole.

It would be a labor of love for me, in this connection, to pay a
tribute of respect, by name, to the many able and most patriotic
officers with whom I was so long associated as the commanding
generals of military divisions and departments, as well as
staff-officers; but I must forego the temptation, because of the
magnitude of the subject, certain that each and all of them will
find biographers better posted and more capable than myself; and I
would also like to make recognition of the hundreds of acts of most
graceful hospitality on the part of the officers and families at
our remote military posts in the days, of the "adobe," the "jacal,"
and "dug-out," when a board floor and a shingle roof were luxuries
expected by none except the commanding officer. I can see, in
memory, a beautiful young city-bred lady, who had married a poor
second-lieutenant, and followed him to his post on the plains,
whose quarters were in a "dug-out" ten feet by about fifteen, seven
feet high, with a dirt roof; four feet of the walls were the
natural earth, the other three of sod, with holes for windows and
corn-sacks for curtains. This little lady had her Saratoga trunk,
which was the chief article of furniture; yet, by means of a rug on
the ground-floor, a few candle-boxes covered with red cotton calico
for seats, a table improvised out of a barrel-head, and a fireplace
and chimney excavated in the back wall or bank, she had transformed
her "hole in the ground" into a most attractive home for her young
warrior husband; and she entertained me with a supper consisting of
the best of coffee, fried ham, cakes, and jellies from the
commissary, which made on my mind an impression more lasting than
have any one of the hundreds of magnificent banquets I have since
attended in the palaces and mansions of our own and foreign lands.

Still more would I like to go over again the many magnificent trips
made across the interior plains, mountains, and deserts before the
days of the completed Pacific Railroad, with regular "Doughertys"
drawn by four smart mules, one soldier with carbine or loaded
musket in hand seated alongside the driver; two in the back seat
with loaded rifles swung in the loops made for them; the lightest
kind of baggage, and generally a bag of oats to supplement the
grass, and to attach the mules to their camp. With an outfit of
two, three, or four of such, I have made journeys of as much as
eighteen hundred miles in a single season, usually from post to
post, averaging in distance about two hundred miles a week, with as
much regularity as is done today by the steam-car its five hundred
miles a day; but those days are gone, and, though I recognize the
great national advantages of the more rapid locomotion, I cannot
help occasionally regretting the change. One instance in 1866
rises in my memory, which I must record: Returning eastward from
Fort Garland, we ascended the Rocky Mountains to the Sangre-de-
Cristo Pass. The road descending the mountain was very rough and
sidling. I got out with my rifle, and walked ahead about four
miles, where I awaited my "Dougherty." After an hour or so I saw,
coming down the road, a wagon; and did not recognize it as my own
till quite near. It had been upset, the top all mashed in, and no
means at hand for repairs. I consequently turned aside from the
main road to a camp of cavalry near the Spanish Peaks, where we
were most hospitably received by Major A---- and his accomplished
wife. They occupied a large hospital-tent, which about a dozen
beautiful greyhounds were free to enter at will. The ambulance was
repaired, and the next morning we renewed our journey, escorted by
the major and his wife on their fine saddle-horses.

They accompanied us about ten miles of the way; and, though age has
since begun to tell on them, I shall ever remember them in their
pride and strength as they galloped alongside our wagons down the
long slopes of the Spanish Peaks in a driving snow-storm.

And yet again would it be a pleasant task to recall the many
banquets and feasts of the various associations of officers and
soldiers, who had fought the good battles of the civil war, in
which I shared as a guest or host, when we could indulge in a
reasonable amount of glorification at deeds done and recorded, with
wit, humor, and song; these when memory was fresh, and when the old
soldiers were made welcome to the best of cheer and applause in
every city and town of the land. But no! I must hurry to my
conclusion, for this journey has already been sufficiently

I had always intended to divide time with my natural successor,
General P. H. Sheridan, and early, notified him that I should about
the year 1884 retire from the command of the army, leaving him
about an equal period of time for the highest office in the army.
It so happened that Congress had meantime by successive "enactments"
cut down the army to twenty-five thousand men, the usual strength
of a corps d'armee, the legitimate command of a lieutenant-general.
Up to 1882 officers not disabled by wounds or sickness could only
avail themselves of the privileges of retirement on application,
after thirty years of service, at sixty-two years of age; but on
the 30th of June, 1882, a bill was passed which, by operation of
the law itself, compulsorily retired all army officers, regardless
of rank, at the age of sixty-four years. At the time this law was
debated in Congress, I was consulted by Senators and others in the
most friendly manner, representing that, if I wanted it, an
exception could justly and easily be made in favor of the general
and lieutenant-general, whose commissions expired with their lives;
but I invariably replied that I did not ask or expect an exception
in my case, because no one could know or realize when his own
mental and physical powers began to decline. I remembered well the
experience of Gil Blas with the Bishop of Granada, and favored the
passage of the law fixing a positive period for retirement, to
obviate in the future special cases of injustice such as I had seen
in the recent past. The law was passed, and every officer then knew
the very day on which he must retire, and could make his
preparations accordingly. In my own case the law was liberal in
the extreme, being "without reduction in his current pay and

I would be sixty-four years old on the 8th of February, 1884, a
date inconvenient to move, and not suited to other incidents; so I
resolved to retire on the 1st day of November, 1883, to resume my
former home at St. Louis, and give my successor ample time to meet
the incoming Congress, But, preliminary thereto, I concluded to
make one more tour of the continent, going out to the Pacific by
the Northern route, and returning by that of the thirty-fifth
parallel. This we accomplished, beginning at Buffalo, June 21st,
and ending at St. Louis, Missouri, September 30, 1883, a full and
most excellent account of which can be found in Colonel Tidball's
"Diary," which forms part of the report of the General of the Army
for the year 1883.

Before retiring also, as was my duty, I desired that my aides-
de-camp who had been so faithful and true to me should not suffer
by my act. All were to retain the rank of colonels of cavalry till
the last day, February 8, 1884; but meantime each secured places,
as follows:

Colonel O. M. Poe was lieutenant-colonel of the Engineer Corps
United States Army, and was by his own choice assigned to Detroit
in charge of the engineering works on the Upper Lakes, which duty
was most congenial to him.

Colonel J. C. Tidball was assigned to command the Artillery School
at Fort Monroe, by virtue of his commission as lieutenant-colonel,
Third Artillery, a station for which he was specially qualified.

Colonel John E. Tourtelotte was then entitled to promotion to
major of the Seventh Cavalry, a rank in which he could be certain
of an honorable command.

The only remaining aide-de-camp was Colonel John M. Bacon, who
utterly ignored self in his personal attachment to me. He was then
a captain of the Ninth Cavalry, but with almost a certainty of
promotion to be major of the Seventh before the date of my official
retirement, which actually resulted. The last two accompanied me
to St. Louis, and remained with me to the end. Having previously
accomplished the removal of my family to St. Louis, and having
completed my last journey to the Pacific, I wrote the following

WASHINGTON, D. C., October 8, 1883.

Hon. R. T. LINCOLN, Secretary of War.

SIR: By the act of Congress, approved June 30, 1882, all
army-officers are retired on reaching the age of sixty-four years.
If living, I will attain that age on the 8th day of February, 1884;
but as that period of the year is not suited for the changes
necessary on my retirement, I have contemplated anticipating the
event by several months, to enable the President to meet these
changes at a more convenient season of the year, and also to enable
my successor to be in office before the assembling of the next

I therefore request authority to turn over the command of the army
to Lieutenant-General Sheridan on the 1st day of November, 1883,
and that I be ordered to my home at St. Louis, Missouri, there to
await the date of my legal retirement; and inasmuch as for a long
time I must have much correspondence about war and official
matters, I also ask the favor to have with me for a time my two
present aides-de-camp, Colonels J. E. Tourtelotte and J. M. Bacon.

The others of my personal staff, viz., Colonels O. M. Poe and J.
C. Tidball, have already been assigned to appropriate duties in
their own branches of the military service, the engineers and
artillery. All should retain the rank and pay as aides-de-camp
until February 8,1884. By or before the 1st day of November I can
complete all official reports, and believe I can surrender the army
to my successor in good shape and condition, well provided in all
respects, and distributed for the best interests of the country.

I am grateful that my physical and mental-strength remain
unimpaired by years, and am thankful for the liberal provision made
by Congress for my remaining years, which will enable me to respond
promptly to any call the President may make for my military service
or judgment as long as I live. I have the honor to be your
obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN, General.

The answer was:

WASHINGTON CITY, October 10, 1888.

General W. T. SHERMAN, Washington, D. C.

GENERAL: I have submitted to the President your letter of the 8th
instant, requesting that you be relieved of the command of the army
on the 1st of November next, as a more convenient time for making
the changes in military commands which must follow your retirement
from active service, than would be the date of your retirement
under the law.

In signifying his approval of your request, the President directs
me to express to you his earnest hope that there may be given you
many years of health and happiness in which to enjoy the gratitude
of your fellow-citizens, well earned by your most distinguished
public services.

It will give me pleasure to comply with your wishes respecting your
aides-de-camp, and the necessary orders will be duly issued.

I have the honor to be, General, your obedient servant,

ROBERT T. LINCOLN, Secretary of War.

On the 27th day of October I submitted to the Secretary of
War, the Hon. R. T. Lincoln, my last annual report, embracing among
other valuable matters the most interesting and condensed report of
Colonel O. M. Poe, A. D. C., of the "original conception, progress,
and completion" of the four great transcontinental railways, which
have in my judgment done more for the subjugation and civilization
of the Indians than all other causes combined, and have made
possible the utilization of the vast area of pasture lands and
mineral regions which before were almost inaccessible, for my
agency in which I feel as much pride as for my share in any of the
battles in which I took part.

Promptly on the 1st of November were made the following general
orders, and the command of the Army of the United States passed
from me to Lieutenant-General P. H. Sheridan, with as little
ceremony as would attend the succession of the lieutenant-colonel
of a regiment to his colonel about to take a leave of absence:

WASHINGTON, November 1, 1885.

General Orders No. 77:

By and with the consent of the President, as contained in General
Orders No. 71, of October 13, 1883, the undersigned relinquishes
command of the Army of the United States.

In thus severing relations which have hitherto existed between us,
he thanks all officers and men for their fidelity to the high trust
imposed on them during his official life, and will, in his
retirement, watch with parental solicitude their progress upward in
the noble profession to which they have devoted their lives.

W. T. SHERMAN, General.

Official: R. C. DRUM, Adjutant-General.

WASHINGTON, November 1, 1885.

General Orders No. 78:

In obedience to orders of the President, promulgated in General
Orders No. 71, October 13, 1883, from these headquarters, the
undersigned hereby assumes command of the Army of the United

P. H. SHERIDAN, Lieutenant-General.

Official: R. C. DRUM, adjutant-General.

After a few days in which to complete my social visits, and after a
short visit to my daughter, Mrs. A. M. Thackara, at Philadelphia, I
quietly departed for St. Louis; and, as I hope, for "good and all,"
the family was again reunited in the same place from which we were
driven by a cruel, unnecessary civil war initiated in Charleston
Harbor in April, 1861.

On the 8th day of February, 1884; I was sixty-four years of age,
and therefore retired by the operation of the act of Congress,
approved June 30, 1882; but the fact was gracefully noticed by
President Arthur in the following general orders:

WASHINGTON, February 8, 1984.

The following order of the President is published to the army:

EXECUTIVE MANSION, February 8, 1884.

General William T. Sherman, General of the Army, having this day
reached the age of sixty-four years, is, in accordance with the
law, placed upon the retired list of the army, without reduction in
his current pay and allowances.

The announcement of the severance from the command of the army of
one who has been for so many years its distinguished chief, can but
awaken in the minds, not only of the army, but of the people of the
United States, mingled emotions of regret and gratitude--regret at
the withdrawal from active military service of an officer whose
lofty sense of duty has been a model for all soldiers since he
first entered the army in July, 1840; and gratitude, freshly
awakened, for the services of incalculable value rendered by him in
the war for the Union, which his great military genius and daring
did so much to end.

The President deems this a fitting occasion to give expression, in
this manner, to the gratitude felt toward General Sherman by his
fellow-citizens, and to the hope that Providence may grant him many
years of health and happiness in the relief from the active duties
of his profession.

By order of the Secretary of War:


R. C. DRUM, Adjutant-General.

To which I replied:

St. Louis, February 9, 1884.

His Excellency CHESTER A. ARTHUR,
President of the United States.

DEAR SIR: Permit me with a soldier's frankness to thank you
personally for the handsome compliment bestowed in general orders
of yesterday, which are reported in the journals of the day. To me
it was a surprise and a most agreeable one. I had supposed the
actual date of my retirement would form a short paragraph in the
common series of special orders of the War Department; but as the
honored Executive of our country has made it the occasion for his
own hand to pen a tribute of respect and affection to an officer
passing from the active stage of life to one of ease and rest, I
can only say I feel highly honored, and congratulate myself in thus
rounding out my record of service in a manner most gratifying to my
family and friends. Not only this, but I feel sure, when the
orders of yesterday are read on parade to the regiments and
garrisons of the United States, many a young hero will tighten his
belt, and resolve anew to be brave and true to the starry flag,
which we of our day have carried safely through one epoch of
danger, but which may yet be subjected to other trials, which may
demand similar sacrifices, equal fidelity and courage, and a larger
measure of intelligence. Again thanking you for so marked a
compliment, and reciprocating the kind wishes for the future,

I am, with profound respect, your friend and servant,

W. T. SHERMAN, General.

This I construe as the end of my military career. In looking back
upon the past I can only say, with millions of others, that I have
done many things I should not have done, and have left undone still
more which ought to have been done; that I can see where hundreds
of opportunities have been neglected, but on the whole am content;
and feel sure that I can travel this broad country of ours, and be
each night the welcome guest in palace or cabin; and, as

"all the world's stage,
And all the men and women merely players,"

I claim the privilege to ring down the curtain.

W. T. SHERMAN, General.


By Philip Henry Sheridan


When, yielding to the solicitations of my friends, I finally decided
to write these Memoirs, the greatest difficulty which confronted me
was that of recounting my share in the many notable events of the
last three decades, in which I played a part, without entering too
fully into the history of these years, and at the same time without
giving to my own acts an unmerited prominence. To what extent I have
overcome this difficulty I must leave the reader to judge.

In offering this record, penned by my own hand, of the events of my
life, and of my participation in our great struggle for national
existence, human liberty, and political equality, I make no
pretension to literary merit; the importance of the subject-matter of
my narrative is my only claim on the reader's attention.

Respectfully dedicating this work to my comrades in arms during the
War of the Rebellion, I leave it as a heritage to my children, and as
a source of information for the future historian.


Nonguitt, Mass., August 2, 1888






My parents, John and Mary Sheridan, came to America in 1830, having
been induced by the representations of my father's uncle, Thomas
Gainor, then living in Albany, N. Y., to try their fortunes in the
New World: They were born and reared in the County Cavan, Ireland,
where from early manhood my father had tilled a leasehold on the
estate of Cherrymoult; and the sale of this leasehold provided him
with means to seek a new home across the sea. My parents were
blood relations--cousins in the second degree--my mother, whose
maiden name was Minor, having descended from a collateral branch of
my father's family. Before leaving Ireland they had two children,
and on the 6th of March, 1831, the year after their arrival in this
country, I was born, in Albany, N. Y., the third child in a family
which eventually increased to six--four boys and two girls.

The prospects for gaining a livelihood in Albany did not meet the
expectations which my parents had been led to entertain, so in 1832
they removed to the West, to establish themselves in the village of
Somerset, in Perry County, Ohio, which section, in the earliest days
of the State; had been colonized from Pennsylvania and Maryland. At
this period the great public works of the Northwest--the canals and
macadamized roads, a result of clamor for internal improvements--were
in course of construction, and my father turned his attention to
them, believing that they offered opportunities for a successful
occupation. Encouraged by a civil engineer named Bassett, who had
taken a fancy to him, he put in bids for a small contract on the
Cumberland Road, known as the "National Road," which was then being
extended west from the Ohio River. A little success in this first
enterprise led him to take up contracting as a business, which he
followed on various canals and macadamized roads then building in
different parts of the State of Ohio, with some good fortune for
awhile, but in 1853 what little means he had saved were swallowed up
--in bankruptcy, caused by the failure of the Sciota and Hocking
Valley Railroad Company, for which he was fulfilling a contract at
the time, and this disaster left him finally only a small farm, just
outside the village of Somerset, where he dwelt until his death in

My father's occupation kept him away from home much of the time
during my boyhood, and as a consequence I grew up under the sole
guidance and training of my mother, whose excellent common sense and
clear discernment in every way fitted her for such maternal duties.
When old enough I was sent to the village school, which was taught by
an old-time Irish "master"--one of those itinerant dominies of the
early frontier--who, holding that to spare the rod was to spoil the
child, if unable to detect the real culprit when any offense had been
committed, would consistently apply the switch to the whole school
without discrimination. It must be conceded that by this means he
never failed to catch the guilty mischief-maker. The school-year was
divided into terms of three months, the teacher being paid in each
term a certain sum--three dollars, I think, for each pupil-and having
an additional perquisite in the privilege of boarding around at his
option in the different families to which his scholars belonged.
This feature was more than acceptable to the parents at times, for
how else could they so thoroughly learn all the neighborhood gossip?
But the pupils were in almost unanimous opposition, because Mr.
McNanly's unheralded advent at any one's house resulted frequently in
the discovery that some favorite child had been playing "hookey,"
which means (I will say to the uninitiated, if any such there be)
absenting one's self from school without permission, to go on a
fishing or a swimming frolic. Such at least was my experience more
than once, for Mr. McNanly particularly favored my mother's house,
because of a former acquaintanceship in Ireland, and many a time a
comparison of notes proved that I had been in the woods with two
playfellows, named Binckly and Greiner, when the master thought I was
home, ill, and my mother, that I was at school, deeply immersed in
study. However, with these and other delinquencies not uncommon
among boys, I learned at McNanly's school, and a little later, under
a pedagogue named Thorn, a smattering of geography and history, and
explored the mysteries of Pike's Arithmetic and Bullions' English
Grammar, about as far as I could be carried up to the age of
fourteen. This was all the education then bestowed upon me, and
this--with the exception of progressing in some of these branches by
voluntary study, and by practical application in others, supplemented
by a few months of preparation after receiving my appointment as a
cadet--was the extent of my learning on entering the Military

When about fourteen years old I began to do something for myself; Mr.
John Talbot, who kept a country store in the village, employing me to
deal out sugar, coffee, and calico to his customers at the munificent
salary of twenty-four dollars a year. After I had gained a
twelve-months' experience with Mr. Talbot my services began to be
sought by, others, and a Mr. David Whitehead secured them by the offer
of sixty dollars a year--Talbot refusing to increase my pay, but not
objecting to my advancement. A few months later, before my year was
up, another chance to increase my salary came about; Mr. Henry Dittoe,
the enterprising man of the village, offering me one hundred and
twenty dollars a year to take a position in the dry-goods store of
Fink & Dittoe. I laid the matter before Mr. Whitehead, and he frankly
advised me to accept, though he cautioned me that I might regret it,
adding that he was afraid Henry (referring to Mr. Dittoe) "had too
many irons in the fire." His warning in regard to the enterprising
merchant proved a prophecy, for "too many irons in the fire" brought
about Mr. Dittoe's bankruptcy, although this misfortune did not befall
him till long after I had left his service. I am glad to say,
however, that his failure was an exceptionally honest one, and due
more to the fact that he was in advance of his surroundings than to
any other cause.

I remained with Fink & Dittoe until I entered the Military Academy,
principally in charge of the book-keeping, which was no small work
for one of my years, considering that in those days the entire
business of country stores in the West was conducted on the credit
system; the customers, being mostly farmers, never expecting to pay
till the product of their farms could be brought to market; and even
then usually squared the book-accounts by notes of hand, that were
often slow of collection.

From the time I ceased to attend school my employment had
necessitated, to a certain degree, the application of what I had
learned there, and this practical instruction I reinforced somewhat
by doing considerable reading in a general way, until ultimately I
became quite a local authority in history, being frequently chosen as
arbiter in discussions and disputes that arose in the store. The
Mexican War, then going on, furnished, of course, a never-ending
theme for controversy, and although I was too young to enter the
military service when volunteers were mustering in our section, yet
the stirring events of the times so much impressed and absorbed me
that my sole wish was to become a soldier, and my highest aspiration
to go to West Point as a Cadet from my Congressional district. My
chances for this seemed very remote, however, till one day an
opportunity was thrown in my way by the boy who then held the place
failing to pass his examination. When I learned that by this
occurrence a vacancy existed, I wrote to our representative in
Congress, the Hon. Thomas Ritchey, and asked him for the appointment,
reminding him that we had often met in Fink & Dittoe's store, and
that therefore he must know something of my qualifications. He
responded promptly by enclosing my warrant for the class of 1848; so,
notwithstanding the many romances that have been published about the
matter, to Mr. Ritchey, and to him alone, is due all the credit--if
my career justifies that term--of putting me in the United States

At once I set about preparing for the examination which precedes
admission to the Military Academy, studying zealously under the
direction of Mr. William Clark; my old teachers, McNanly and Thorn,
having disappeared from Somerset and sought new fields of usefulness.
The intervening months passed rapidly away, and I fear that I did not
make much progress, yet I thought I should be able to pass the
preliminary examination. That which was to follow worried me more
and gave me many sleepless nights; but these would have been less in
number, I fully believe, had it not been for one specification of my,
outfit which the circular that accompanied my appointment demanded.
This requirement was a pair of "Monroe shoes." Now, out in Ohio,
what "Monroe shoes" were was a mystery--not a shoemaker in my section
having so much as an inkling of the construction of the perplexing
things, until finally my eldest brother brought an idea of them from
Baltimore, when it was found that they were a familiar pattern under
another name.

At length the time for my departure came, and I set out for West
Point, going by way of Cleveland and across Lake Erie to Buffalo. On
the steamer I fell in with another appointee en route to the academy,
David S. Stanley, also from Ohio; and when our acquaintanceship had
ripened somewhat, and we had begun to repose confidence in each
other, I found out that he had no "Monroe shoes," so I deemed myself
just that much ahead of my companion, although my shoes might not
conform exactly to the regulations in Eastern style and finish. At
Buffalo, Stanley and I separated, he going by the Erie Canal and I by
the railroad, since I wanted to gain time on account of commands to
stop in Albany to see my father's uncle. Here I spent a few days,
till Stanley reached Albany, when we journeyed together down the
river to West Point. The examination began a few days after our
arrival, and I soon found myself admitted to the Corps of Cadets, to
date from July 1, 1848, in a class composed of sixty-three members,
many of whom--for example, Stanley, Slocum, Woods, Kautz, and Crook
--became prominent generals in later years, and commanded divisions,
corps, and armies in the war of the rebellion.

Quickly following my admission I was broken in by a course of hazing,
with many of the approved methods that the Cadets had handed down
from year to year since the Academy was founded; still, I escaped
excessive persecution, although there were in my day many occurrences
so extreme as to call forth condemnation and an endeavor to suppress
the senseless custom, which an improved civilization has now about
eradicated, not only at West Point, but at other colleges.

Although I had met the Academic board and come off with fair success,
yet I knew so little of Algebra or any of the higher branches of
mathematics that during my first six months at the Academy I was
discouraged by many misgivings as to the future, for I speedily
learned that at the January examination the class would have to stand
a test much severer than that which had been applied to it on
entering. I resolved to try hard, however, and, besides, good
fortune gave me for a room-mate a Cadet whose education was more
advanced than mine, and whose studious habits and willingness to aid
others benefited me immensely. This room-mate was Henry W. Slocum,
since so signally distinguished in both military and civil capacities
as to win for his name a proud place in the annals of his country.
After taps--that is, when by the regulations of the Academy all the
lights were supposed to be extinguished, and everybody in bed--Slocum
and I would hang a blanket over the one window of our room and
continue our studies--he guiding me around scores of stumbling-blocks
in Algebra and elucidating many knotty points in other branches of
the course with which I was unfamiliar. On account of this
association I went up before the Board in January with less
uneasiness than otherwise would have been the case, and passed the
examination fairly well. When it was over, a self-confidence in my
capacity was established that had not existed hitherto, and at each
succeeding examination I gained a little in order of merit till my
furlough summer came round--that is, when I was half through the
four-year course.

My furlough in July and August, 1850, was spent at my home in Ohio,
with the exception of a visit or two to other Cadets on furlough in
the State, and at the close of my leave I returned to the Academy in
the full expectation of graduating with my class in 1852.

A quarrel of a belligerent character in September, ,1851, with Cadet
William R. Terrill, put an end to this anticipation, however, and
threw me back into the class which graduated in 1853. Terrill was a
Cadet Sergeant, and, while my company was forming for parade, having,
given me an order, in what I considered an improper tone, to "dress"
in a certain direction, when I believed I was accurately dressed, I
fancied I had a grievance, and made toward him with a lowered
bayonet, but my better judgment recalled me before actual contact
could take place. Of course Terrill reported me for this, and my ire
was so inflamed by his action that when we next met I attacked him,
and a fisticuff engagement in front of barracks followed, which was
stopped by an officer appearing on the scene. Each of us handed in
an explanation, but mine was unsatisfactory to the authorities, for I
had to admit that I was the assaulting party, and the result was that
I was suspended by the Secretary of War, Mr. Conrad, till August 28,
1852--the Superintendent of the Academy, Captain Brewerton, being
induced to recommend this milder course, he said, by my previous good
conduct. At the time I thought, of course, my suspension a very
unfair punishment, that my conduct was justifiable and the
authorities of the Academy all wrong, but riper experience has led me
to a different conclusion, and as I look back, though the
mortification I then endured was deep and trying, I am convinced that
it was hardly as much as I deserved for such an outrageous breach of

There was no question as to Terrill's irritating tone, but in giving
me the order he was prompted by the duty of his position as a file
closer, and I was not the one to remedy the wrong which I conceived
had been done me, and clearly not justifiable in assuming to correct
him with my own hands. In 1862, when General Buell's army was
assembling at Louisville, Terrill was with it as a brigadier-general
(for, although a Virginian, he had remained loyal), and I then took
the initiative toward a renewal of our acquaintance. Our renewed
friendship was not destined to be of long duration, I am sorry to
say, for a few days later, in the battle of Perryville, while
gallantly fighting for his country, poor Terrill was killed.

My suspension necessitated my leaving the Academy, and I returned
home in the fall of 1851, much crestfallen. Fortunately, my good
friend Henry Dittoe again gave me employment in keeping the books of
his establishment, and this occupation of my time made the nine
months which were to elapse before I could go back to West Point pass
much more agreeably than they would have done had I been idle. In
August, 1852, I joined the first class at the Academy in accordance
with the order of the War Department, taking my place at the foot of
the class and graduating with it the succeeding June, number
thirty-four in a membership of fifty-two. At the head of this class
graduated James B. McPherson, who was killed in the Atlanta campaign
while commanding the Army of the Tennessee. It also contained such
men as John M. Schofield, who commanded the Army of the Ohio; Joshua
W. Sill, killed as a brigadier in the battle of Stone River; and many
others who, in the war of the rebellion, on one side or the other,
rose to prominence, General John B. Hood being the most distinguished
member of the class among the Confederates.

At the close of the final examination I made no formal application
for assignment to any particular arm of the service, for I knew that
my standing would not entitle me to one of the existing vacancies,
and that I should be obliged to take a place among the brevet second
lieutenants. When the appointments were made I therefore found
myself attached to the First Infantry, well pleased that I had
surmounted all the difficulties that confront the student at our
national school, and looking forward with pleasant anticipation to
the life before me.



On the 1st day of July, 1853, I was commissioned a brevet second
lieutenant in the First Regiment of United States Infantry, then
stationed in Texas. The company to which I was attached was
quartered at Fort Duncan, a military post on the Rio Grande opposite
the little town of Piedras Negras, on the boundary line between the
United States and the Republic of Mexico.

After the usual leave of three months following graduation from the
Military Academy I was assigned to temporary duty at Newport
Barracks, a recruiting station and rendezvous for the assignment of
young officers preparatory to joining their regiments. Here I
remained from September, 1853, to March, 1854, when I was ordered to
join my company at Fort Duncan. To comply with this order I
proceeded by steamboat down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to New
Orleans, thence by steamer across the Gulf of Mexico to Indianola,
Tex., and after landing at that place, continued in a small schooner
through what is called the inside channel on the Gulf coast to Corpus
Christi, the headquarters of Brigadier-General Persifer F. Smith, who
was commanding the Department of Texas. Here I met some of my old
friends from the Military Academy, among them Lieutenant Alfred
Gibbs, who in the last year of the rebellion commanded under me a
brigade of cavalry, and Lieutenant Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte, of the
Mounted Rifles, who resigned in 1854 to accept service in the French
Imperial army, but to most of those about headquarters I was an
entire stranger. Among the latter was Captain Stewart Van Vliet, of
the Quartermaster's Department, now on the retired list. With him I
soon came in frequent contact, and, by reason of his connection with
the Quartermaster's Department, the kindly interest he took in
forwarding my business inaugurated between us--a lasting friendship.

A day or two after my arrival at Corpus Christi a train of Government
wagons, loaded with subsistence stores and quartermaster's supplies,
started for Laredo, a small town on the Rio Grande below Fort Duncan.
There being no other means of reaching my station I put my small
personal possessions, consisting of a trunk, mattress, two blankets,
and a pillow into one of the heavily loaded wagons and proceeded to
join it, sitting on the boxes or bags of coffee and sugar, as I might
choose. The movement of the train was very slow, as the soil was
soft on the newly made and sandy roads. We progressed but a few
miles on our first day's journey, and in the evening parked our train
at a point where there was no wood, a scant supply of water--and that
of bad quality--but an abundance of grass. There being no
comfortable place to sleep in any of the wagons, filled as they were
to the bows with army supplies, I spread my blankets on the ground
between the wheels of one of them, and awoke in the morning feeling
as fresh and bright as would have been possible if all the comforts
of civilization had been at my command.

It took our lumbering train many days to reach Laredo, a distance of
about one hundred and sixty miles from Corpus Christi. Each march
was but a repetition of the first day's journey, its monotony
occasionally relieved, though, by the passage of immense flocks of
ducks and geese, and the appearance at intervals of herds of deer,
and sometimes droves of wild cattle, wild horses and mules. The
bands of wild horses I noticed were sometimes led by mules, but
generally by stallions with long wavy manes, and flowing tails which
almost touched the ground.

We arrived at Laredo during one of those severe storms incident to
that section, which are termed "Northers" from the fact that the
north winds culminate occasionally in cold windstorms, frequently
preceded by heavy rains. Generally the blow lasts for three days,
and the cold becomes intense and piercing. While the sudden
depression of the temperature is most disagreeable, and often causes
great suffering, it is claimed that these "Northers" make the climate
more healthy and endurable. They occur from October to May, and in
addition to the destruction which, through the sudden depression of
the temperature, they bring on the herds in the interior, they are
often of sufficient violence to greatly injure the harbors on the

The post near Laredo was called Fort McIntosh, and at this period the
troops stationed there consisted of eight companies of the Fifth
Infantry and two of the First, one of the First Artillery, and three
of the Mounted Rifles. Just before the "Norther" began these troops
had completed a redoubt for the defense of the post, with the
exception of the ditches, but as the parapet was built of sand--the
only material about Laredo which could be obtained for its
construction--the severity of the winds was too much for such a
shifting substance, and the work was entirely blown away early in the

I was pleasantly and hospitably welcomed by the officers at the post,
all of whom were living in tents, with no furniture except a cot and
trunk, and an improvised bed for a stranger, when one happened to
come along. After I had been kindly taken in by one of the younger
officers, I reported to the commanding officer, and was informed by
him that he would direct the quartermaster to furnish me, as soon as
convenient, with transportation to Fort Duncan, the station of my

In the course of a day or two, the quartermaster notified me that a
Government six-mule wagon would be placed at my disposal to proceed
to my destination. No better means offering, I concluded to set out
in this conveyance, and, since it was also to carry a quantity of
quartermaster's property for Fort Duncan, I managed to obtain room
enough for my bed in the limited space between the bows and load,
where I could rest tolerably well, and under cover at night, instead
of sleeping on the ground under the wagon, as I had done on the road
from Corpus Christi to Laredo.

I reached Fort Duncan in March, 1854., and was kindly received by the
commanding officer of the, regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel Thompson
Morris, and by the captain of my company ("D"), Eugene E. McLean, and
his charming wife the only daughter of General E. V. Sumner, who was
already distinguished in our service, but much better known in after
years in the operations of the Army of the Potomac, during its early
campaigns in Virginia. Shortly after joining company "D" I was sent
out on scouting duty with another company of the regiment to Camp La
Pena, about sixty or seventy miles east of Fort Duncan, in a section
of country that had for some time past been subjected to raids by the
Lipan and Comanche Indians. Our outpost at La Pena was intended as a
protection against the predatory incursions of these savages, so
almost constant scouting became a daily occupation. This enabled me
soon to become familiar with and make maps of the surrounding
country, and, through constant association with our Mexican guide, to
pick up in a short time quite a smattering of the Spanish language,
which was very useful to one serving on that frontier.

At that early day western Texas was literally filled with game, and
the region in the immediate vicinity of La Pena contained its full
proportion of deer, antelope, and wild turkeys. The temptation to
hunt was therefore constantly before me, and a desire to indulge in
this pastime, whenever free from the legitimate duty of the camp,
soon took complete possession of me, so expeditions in pursuit of
game were of frequent occurrence. In these expeditions I was always
accompanied by a soldier named Frankman, belonging to "D" company,
who was a fine sportsman, and a butcher by trade. In a short period
I learned from Frankman how to approach and secure the different
species of game, and also how to dress and care for it when killed.
Almost every expedition we made was rewarded with a good supply of
deer, antelope, and wild turkeys, and we furnished the command in
camp with such abundance that it was relieved from the necessity of
drawing its beef ration, much to the discomfiture of the disgruntled
beef contractor.

The camp at La Pena was on sandy ground, unpleasant for men and
animals, and by my advice it was moved to La Pendencia, not far from
Lake Espantosa. Before removal from our old location, however, early
one bright morning Frankman and I started on one of our customary
expeditions, going down La Pena Creek to a small creek, at the head
of which we had established a hunting rendezvous. After proceeding
along the stream for three or four miles we saw a column of smoke on
the prairie, and supposing it arose from a camp of Mexican rancheros
catching wild horses or wild cattle, and even wild mules, which were
very numerous in that section of country along the Nueces River, we
thought we would join the party and see how much success they were
having, and observe the methods employed in this laborious and
sometimes dangerous vocation. With this object in view, we continued
on until we found it necessary to cross to the other side of the
creek to reach the point indicated by the smoke. Just before
reaching the crossing I discovered moccasin tracks near the water's
edge, and realizing in an instant that the camp we were approaching
might possibly be one of hostile Indians--all Indians in that country
at that time were hostile--Frankman and I backed out silently, and
made eager strides for La Pena, where we had scarcely arrived when
Captain M. E. Van Buren, of the Mounted Rifle regiment, came in with
a small command, and reported that he was out in pursuit of a band of
Comanche Indians, which had been committing depredations up about
Fort Clark, but that he had lost the trail. I immediately informed
him of what had occurred to me during the morning, and that I could
put him on the trail of the Indians he was desirous of punishing.

We hurriedly supplied with rations his small command of thirteen,
men, and I then conducted him to the point where I had seen the
smoke, and there we found signs indicating it to be the recently
abandoned camp of the Indians he was pursuing, and we also noticed
that prairie rats had formed the principal article of diet at the
meal they had just completed. As they had gone, I could do no more
than put him on the trail made in their departure, which was well
marked; for Indians, when in small parties, and unless pressed,
usually follow each other in single file. Captain Van Buren followed
the trail by Fort Ewell, and well down toward Corpus Christi, day and
night, until the Indians, exhausted and used up, halted, on an open
plain, unsaddled their horses, mounted bareback, and offered battle.
Their number was double that of Van Buren's detachment, but he
attacked them fearlessly, and in the fight was mortally wounded by an
arrow which entered his body in front, just above the sword belt, and
came through the belt behind. The principal chief of the Indians was
killed, and the rest fled. Captain Van Buren's men carried him to
Corpus Christi, where in a few days he died.

After our removal to La Pendencia a similar pursuit of savages
occurred, but with more fortunate results. Colonel John H. King, now
on the retired list, then a captain in the First Infantry, came to
our camp in pursuit of a marauding band of hostile Indians, and I was
enabled to put him also on the trail. He soon overtook them, and
killing two without loss to himself, the band dispersed like a flock
of quail and left him nothing to follow. He returned to our camp
shortly after, and the few friendly Indian scouts he had with him
held a grand pow-wow and dance over the scalps of the fallen braves.

Around La Pendencia, as at La Pena, the country abounded in deer,
antelope, wild turkeys, and quail, and we killed enough to supply
abundantly the whole command with the meat portion of the ration.
Some mornings Frankman and I would bring in as many as seven deer,
and our hunting expeditions made me so familiar with the region
between our camp and Fort Duncan, the headquarters of the regiment,
that I was soon enabled to suggest a more direct route of
communication than the circuitous one then traversed, and in
a short time it was established.

Up to this time I had been on detached duty, but soon my own company
was ordered into the field to occupy a position on Turkey Creek,
about ten or twelve miles west of the Nueces River, on the road from
San Antonio to Fort Duncan, and I was required to join the company.
Here constant work and scouting were necessary, as our camp was
specially located with reference to protecting from Indian raids the
road running from San Antonio to Fort Duncan, and on to the interior
of Mexico. In those days this road was the great line of travel, and
Mexican caravans were frequently passing over it, to and fro, in such
a disorganized condition as often to invite attack from marauding
Comanches and Lipans. Our time, therefore, was incessantly occupied
in scouting, but our labors were much lightened because they were
directed with intelligence and justice by Captain McLean, whose
agreeable manners and upright methods are still so impressed on my
memory that to this day I look back upon my service with "D" Company
of the First Infantry as among those events which I remember with
most pleasure.

In this manner my first summer of active field duty passed rapidly
away, and in the fall my company returned to Fort Duncan to go into
winter quarters. These quarters, when constructed, consisted of "A"
tents pitched under a shed improvised by the company. With only
these accommodations I at first lived around as best I could until
the command was quartered, and then, requesting a detail of wagons
from the quartermaster, I went out some thirty miles to get poles to
build a more comfortable habitation for myself. In a few days enough
poles for the construction of a modest residence were secured and
brought in, and then the building of my house began. First, the
poles were cut the proper length, planted in a trench around four
sides of a square of very small proportions, and secured at the top
by string-pieces stretched from one angle to another, in which
half-notches hack been made at proper intervals to receive the
uprights. The poles were then made rigid by strips nailed on
half-way to the ground, giving the sides of the structure firmness,
but the interstices were large and frequent; still, with the aid of
some old condemned paulins obtained from the quartermaster, the walls
were covered and the necessity for chinking obviated. This method of
covering the holes in the side walls also possessed the advantage of
permitting some little light to penetrate to the interior of the
house, and avoided the necessity of constructing a window, for which,
by the way, no glass could have been obtained. Next a good large
fire-place and chimney were built in one corner by means of stones
and mud, and then the roof was put on--a thatched one of prairie
grass. The floor was dirt compactly tamped.

My furniture was very primitive: a chair or two, with about the same
number of camp stools, a cot, and a rickety old bureau that I
obtained in some way not now remembered. My washstand consisted of a
board about three feet long, resting on legs formed by driving sticks
into the ground until they held it at about the proper height from
the floor. This washstand was the most expensive piece of furniture
I owned, the board having cost me three dollars, and even then I
obtained it as a favor, for lumber on the Rio Grande was so scarce in
those days that to possess even the smallest quantity was to indulge
in great luxury. Indeed, about all that reached the post was what
came in the shape of bacon boxes, and the boards from these were
reserved for coffins in which to bury our dead.

In this rude habitation I spent a happy winter, and was more
comfortably off than many of the officers, who had built none, but
lived in tents and took the chances of "Northers." During this period
our food was principally the soldier's ration: flour, pickled pork,
nasty bacon--cured in the dust of ground charcoal--and fresh beef, of
which we had a plentiful supply, supplemented with game of various
kinds. The sugar, coffee, and smaller parts of the ration were good,
but we had no vegetables, and the few jars of preserves and some few
vegetables kept by the sutler were too expensive to be indulged in.
So during all the period I lived at Fort Duncan and its sub-camps,
nearly sixteen months, fresh vegetables were practically
unobtainable. To prevent scurvy we used the juice of the maguey
plant, called pulque, and to obtain a supply of this anti-scorbutic I
was often detailed to march the company out about forty miles, cut
the plant, load up two or three wagons with the stalks, and carry
them to camp. Here the juice was extracted by a rude press, and put
in bottles until it fermented and became worse in odor than
sulphureted hydrogen. At reveille roll-call every morning this
fermented liquor was dealt out to the company, and as it was my duty,
in my capacity of subaltern, to attend these roll-calls and see that
the men took their ration of pulque, I always began the duty by
drinking a cup of the repulsive stuff myself. Though hard to
swallow, its well-known specific qualities in the prevention and cure
of scurvy were familiar to all, so every man in the command gulped
down his share notwithstanding its vile taste and odor.

Considering our isolation, the winter passed very pleasantly to us
all. The post was a large one, its officers congenial, and we had
many enjoyable occasions. Dances, races, and horseback riding filled
in much of the time, and occasional raids from Indians furnished more
serious occupation in the way of a scout now and then. The proximity
of the Indians at times rendered the surrounding country somewhat
dangerous for individuals or small parties at a distance from the
fort; but few thought the savages would come near, so many risks were
doubtless run by various officers, who carried the familiar
six-shooter as their only weapon while out horseback riding, until
suddenly we were awakened to the dangers we had been incurring.

About mid-winter a party of hostile Lipans made a swoop around and
skirting the garrison, killing a herder--a discharged drummer-boy--in
sight of the flag-staff. Of course great excitement followed.
Captain J. G. Walker, of the Mounted Rifles, immediately started with
his company in pursuit of the Indians, and I was directed to
accompany the command. Not far away we found the body of the boy
filled with arrows, and near him the body of a fine looking young
Indian, whom the lad had undoubtedly killed before he was himself
overpowered. We were not a great distance behind the Indians when
the boy's body was discovered, and having good trailers we gained on
them rapidly, with the prospect of overhauling them, but as soon as
they found we were getting near they headed for the Rio Grande, made
the crossing to the opposite bank, and were in Mexico before we could
overtake them. When on the other side of the boundary they grew very
brave, daring us to come over to fight them, well aware all the time
that the international line prevented us from continuing the pursuit.
So we had to return to the post without reward for our exertion
except the consciousness of having made the best effort we could to
catch the murderers. That night, in company with Lieutenant Thomas
G. Williams, I crossed over the river to the Mexican village of
Piedras Negras, and on going to a house where a large baille, or
dance, was going on we found among those present two of the Indians
we had been chasing. As soon as they saw us they strung their bows
for a fight, and we drew our six-shooters, but the Mexicans quickly
closed in around the Indians and forced them out of the house--or
rude jackal--where the "ball" was being held, and they escaped. We
learned later something about the nature of the fight the drummer had
made, and that his death had cost them dear, for, in addition to the
Indian killed and lying by his side, he had mortally wounded another
and seriously wounded a third, with the three shots that he had

At this period I took up the notion of making a study of ornithology,
incited to it possibly by the great number of bright-colored birds
that made their winter homes along the Rio Grande, and I spent many a
leisure hour in catching specimens by means of stick traps, with
which I found little difficulty in securing almost every variety of
the feathered tribes. I made my traps by placing four sticks of a
length suited to the size desired so as to form a square, and
building up on them in log-cabin fashion until the structure came
almost to a point by contraction of the corners. Then the sticks
were made secure, the trap placed at some secluded spot, and from the
centre to the outside a trench was dug in the ground, and thinly
covered when a depth had been obtained that would leave an aperture
sufficiently large to admit the class of birds desired. Along this
trench seeds and other food were scattered, which the birds soon
discovered, and of course began to eat, unsuspectingly following the
tempting bait through the gallery till they emerged from its farther
end in the centre of the trap, where they contentedly fed till the
food was all gone. Then the fact of imprisonment first presented
itself, and they vainly endeavored to escape through the interstices
of the cage, never once guided by their instinct to return to liberty
through the route by which they had entered.

Among the different kinds of birds captured in this way,
mocking-birds, blue-birds, robins, meadow larks, quail, and plover
were the most numerous. They seemed to have more voracious appetites
than other varieties, or else they were more unwary, and consequently
more easily caught. A change of station, however, put an end to my
ornithological plans, and activities of other kinds prevented me from
resuming them in after life.

There were quite a number of young officers at the post during the
winter, and as our relations with the Mexican commandant at Piedras
Negras were most amicable, we were often invited to dances at his
house. He and his hospitable wife and daughter drummed up the female
portion of the elite of Piedras Negras and provided the house, which
was the official as well as the personal residence of the commandant,
while we--the young officers--furnished the music and such
sweetmeats, candies, &c., for the baille as the country would afford.

We generally danced in a long hall on a hard dirt floor. The girls
sat on one side of the hall, chaperoned by their mothers or some old
duennas, and the men on the other. When the music struck up each man
asked the lady whom his eyes had already selected to dance with him,
and it was not etiquette for her to refuse--no engagements being
allowed before the music began. When the dance, which was generally
a long waltz, was over, he seated his partner, and then went to a
little counter at the end of the room and bought his dulcinea a plate
of the candies and sweetmeats provided. Sometimes she accepted them,
but most generally pointed to her duenna or chaperon behind, who held
up her apron and caught the refreshments as they were slid into it
from the plate. The greatest decorum was maintained at these dances,
primitively as they were conducted; and in a region so completely cut
off from the world, their influence was undoubtedly beneficial to a
considerable degree in softening the rough edges in a half-breed

The inhabitants of this frontier of Mexico were strongly marked with
Indian characteristics, particularly with those of the Comanche type,
and as the wild Indian blood predominated, few of the physical traits
of the Spaniard remained among them, and outlawry was common. The
Spanish conquerors had left on the northern border only their
graceful manners and their humility before the cross. The sign of
Christianity was prominently placed at all important points on roads
or trails, and especially where any one had been killed; and as the
Comanche Indians, strong and warlike, had devastated northeastern
Mexico in past years, all along the border, on both sides of the Rio
Grande, the murderous effects of their raids were evidenced by
numberless crosses. For more than a century forays had been made on
the settlements and towns by these bloodthirsty savages, and, the
Mexican Government being too weak to afford protection, property was
destroyed, the women and children carried off or ravished, and the
men compelled to look on in an agony of helplessness till relieved by
death. During all this time, however, the forms and ceremonials of
religion, and the polite manners received from the Spaniards, were
retained, and reverence for the emblems of Christianity was always
uppermost in the mind of even the most ignorant.



In November, 1854, I received my promotion to a second lieutenancy in
the Fourth Infantry, which was stationed in California and Oregon. In
order to join my company at Fort Reading, California, I had to go to
New York as a starting point, and on arrival there, was placed on
duty, in May, 1855, in command of a detachment of recruits at
Bedloe's Island, intended for assignment to the regiments on the
Pacific coast. I think there were on the island (now occupied by the
statue of Liberty Enlightening the World) about three hundred
recruits. For a time I was the only officer with them, but shortly
before we started for California, Lieutenant Francis H. Bates, of the
Fourth Infantry, was placed in command. We embarked for the Pacific
coast in July, 1855, and made the journey without incident via the
Isthmus of Panama, in due time landing our men at Benecia Barracks,
above San Francisco.

From this point I proceeded to join my company at Fort Reading, and
on reaching that post, found orders directing me to relieve
Lieutenant John B. Hood--afterward well known as a distinguished
general in the Confederate service. Lieutenant Hood was in command
of the personal mounted escort of Lieutenant R. S. Williamson, who
was charged with the duty of making such explorations and surveys as
would determine the practicability of connecting, by railroad, the
Sacramento Valley in California with the Columbia River in Oregon
Territory, either through the Willamette Valley, or (if this route
should prove to be impracticable) by the valley of the Des Chutes
River near the foot-slopes of the Cascade chain. The survey was
being made in accordance with an act of Congress, which provided both
for ascertaining the must practicable and economical route for a
railroad between the Mississippi River and the Pacific Ocean, and for
military and geographical surveys west of the Mississippi River.

Fort Reading was the starting-point for this exploring expedition,
and there I arrived some four or five days after the party under
Lieutenant Williamson had begun its march. His personal escort
numbered about sixty mounted men, made up of detachments from
companies of the First Dragoons, under command of Lieutenant Hood,
together with about one hundred men belonging to the Fourth Infantry
and Third Artillery, commanded by Lieutenant Horatio Gates Gibson,
the present colonel of the Third United States Artillery. Lieutenant
George Crook--now major-general--was the quartermaster and commissary
of subsistence of the expedition.

The commanding officer at Fort Reading seemed reluctant to let me go
on to relieve Lieutenant Hood, as the country to be passed over was
infested by the Pit River Indians, known to be hostile to white
people and especially to small parties. I was very anxious to
proceed, however, and willing to take the chances; so, consent being
finally obtained, I started with a corporal and two mounted men,
through a wild and uninhabited region, to overtake if possible
Lieutenant Williamson. Being on horseback, and unencumbered by
luggage of any kind except blankets and a little hard bread, coffee
and smoking-tobacco, which were all carried on our riding animals, we
were sanguine of succeeding, for we traversed in one day fully the
distance made in three by Lieutenant Williamson's party on foot.

The first day we reached the base of Lassan's Butte, where I
determined to spend the night near an isolated cabin, or dugout, that
had been recently constructed by a hardy pioneer. The wind was
blowing a disagreeable gale, which had begun early in the day. This
made it desirable to locate our camp under the best cover we could
find, and I spent some little time in looking about for a
satisfactory place, but nothing better offered than a large fallen
tree, which lay in such a direction that by encamping on its lee side
we would be protected from the fury of the storm. This spot was
therefore fixed upon, and preparation made for spending the night as
comfortably as the circumstances would permit.

After we had unsaddled I visited the cabin to inquire in regard to
the country ahead, and there found at first only a soldier of
Williamson's party; later the proprietor of the ranch appeared. The
soldier had been left behind by the surveying party on account of
illness, with instructions to make his way back to Fort Reading as
best he could when he recovered. His condition having greatly
improved, however, since he had been left, he now begged me in
beseeching terms to take him along with my party, which I finally
consented to do, provided that if he became unable to keep up with
me, and I should be obliged to abandon him, the responsibility would
be his, not mine. This increased my number to five, and was quite a
reinforcement should we run across any hostile Indians; but it was
also certain to prove an embarrassment should the man again fall ill.

During the night, notwithstanding the continuance of the storm, I had
a very sound and refreshing sleep behind the protecting log where we
made our camp, and at daylight next morning we resumed our journey,
fortified by a breakfast of coffee and hard bread. I skirted around
the base of Lassan's Butte, thence down Hat Creek, all the time
following the trail made by Lieutenant Williamson's party. About
noon the soldier I had picked up at my first camp gave out, and could
go no farther. As stipulated when I consented to take him along, I
had the right to abandon him, but when it came to the test I could
not make up my mind to do it. Finding a good place not far off the
trail, one of my men volunteered to remain with him until he died;
and we left them there, with a liberal supply of hard bread and
coffee, believing that we would never again see the invalid. My
reinforcement was already gone, and another man with it.

With my diminished party I resumed the trail and followed it until
about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, when we heard the sound of voices,
and the corporal, thinking we were approaching Lieutenant
Williamson's party, was so overjoyed in anticipation of the junction,
that he wanted to fire his musket as an expression of his delight.
This I prevented his doing, however, and we continued cautiously and
slowly on to develop the source of the sounds in front. We had not
gone far before I discovered that the noise came from a band of Pit
River Indians, who had struck the trail of the surveying expedition,
and were following it up, doubtless with evil intent. Dismounting
from my horse I counted the moccasin tracks to ascertain the number
of Indians, discovered it to be about thirty, and then followed on
behind them cautiously, but with little difficulty, as appearances of
speed on their part indicated that they wished to overtake Lieutenant
Williamson's party, which made them less on the lookout than usual
for any possible pursuers. After following the trail until nearly
sundown, I considered it prudent to stop for the night, and drew off
some little distance, where, concealed in a dense growth of timber,
we made our camp.

As I had with me now only two men, I felt somewhat nervous, so I
allowed no fires to be built, and in consequence our supper consisted
of hard bread only. I passed an anxious night, but beyond our own
solicitude there was nothing to disturb us, the Indians being too
much interested in overtaking the party in front to seek for victims
in the rear, After a hard-bread breakfast we started again on the
trail, and had proceeded but a short distance when, hearing the
voices of the Indians, we at once slackened our speed so as not to
overtake them.

Most of the trail on which we traveled during the morning ran over an
exceedingly rough lava formation--a spur of the lava beds often
described during the Modoc war of 1873 so hard and flinty that
Williamson's large command made little impression on its surface,
leaving in fact, only indistinct traces of its line of march. By
care and frequent examinations we managed to follow his route through
without much delay, or discovery by the Indians, and about noon,
owing to the termination of the lava formation, we descended into the
valley of Hat Greek, a little below where it emerges from the second
canon and above its confluence with Pit River. As soon as we reached
the fertile soil of the valley, we found Williamson's trail well
defined, deeply impressed in the soft loam, and coursing through
wild-flowers and luxuriant grass which carpeted the ground on every

When we struck this delightful locality we traveled with considerable
speed, and after passing over hill and vale for some distance, the
trail becoming more and more distinct all the time, I suddenly saw in
front of me the Pit River Indians.

This caused a halt, and having hurriedly re-capped our guns and
six-shooters, thus preparing for the worst, I took a look at the band
through my field-glass. They were a half-mile or more in our front
and numbered about thirty individuals, armed with bows and arrows
only. Observing us they made friendly demonstrations, but I had not
implicit faith in a Pit River Indian at that period of the settlement
of our country, and especially in that wild locality, so after a
"council of war" with the corporal and man, I concluded to advance to
a point about two hundred yards distant from the party, when, relying
on the speed of our horses rather than on the peaceable intentions of
the savages, I hoped to succeed in cutting around them and take the
trail beyond. Being on foot they could not readily catch us, and
inasmuch as their arrows were good for a range of only about sixty
yards, I had no fear of any material damage on that score.

On reaching the place selected for our flank movement we made a dash
to the left of the trail, through the widest part of the valley, and
ran our horses swiftly by, but I noticed that the Indians did not
seem to be disturbed by the manoeuvre and soon realized that this
indifference was occasioned by the knowledge that we could not cross
Hat Creek, a deep stream with vertical banks, too broad to be leaped
by our horses. We were obliged, therefore, to halt, and the Indians
again made demonstrations of friendship, some of them even getting
into the stream to show that they were at the ford. Thus reassured,
we regained our confidence and boldly crossed the river in the midst
of them. After we had gained the bluff on the other side of the
creek, I looked down into the valley of Pit River, and could plainly
see the camp of the surveying party. Its proximity was the influence
which had doubtless caused the peaceable conduct of the Indians.
Probably the only thing that saved us was their ignorance of our
being in their rear, until we stumbled on them almost within sight of
the large party under Williamson.

The Pit River Indians were very hostile at that time, and for many
succeeding years their treachery and cruelty brought misfortune and
misery to the white settlers who ventured their lives in search of
home and fortune in the wild and isolated section over which these
savages roamed. Not long after Williamson's party passed through
their country, the Government was compelled to send into it a
considerable force for the purpose of keeping them under control.
The outcome of this was a severe fight--resulting in the loss of a
good many lives--between the hostiles and a party of our troops under
Lieutenant George Crook. It finally ended in the establishment of a
military post in the vicinity of the battle-ground, for the permanent
occupation of the country.

A great load was lifted from my heart when I found myself so near
Williamson's camp, which I joined August 4, 1855, receiving a warm
welcome from the officers. During the afternoon I relieved
Lieutenant Hood of the command of the personal escort, and he was
ordered to return, with twelve of the mounted men, over the trail I
had followed. I pointed out to him on the map the spot where he
would find the two men left on the roadside, and he was directed to
take them into Fort Reading. They were found without difficulty, and
carried in to the post. The sick man--Duryea--whom I had expected
never to see again, afterward became the hospital steward at Fort
Yamhill, Oregon, when I was stationed there.

The Indians that I had passed at the ford came to the bluff above the
camp, and arranging themselves in a squatting posture, looked down
upon Williamson's party with longing eyes, in expectation of a feast.
They were a pitiable lot, almost naked, hungry and cadaverous.
Indians are always hungry, but these poor creatures were particularly
so, as their usual supply of food had grown very scarce from one
cause and another.

In prosperity they mainly subsisted on fish, or game killed with the
bow and arrow. When these sources failed they lived on grasshoppers,
and at this season the grasshopper was their principal food. In
former years salmon were very abundant in the streams of the
Sacramento Valley, and every fall they took great quantities of these
fish and dried them for winter use, but alluvial mining had of late
years defiled the water of the different streams and driven the fish
out. On this account the usual supply of salmon was very limited.
They got some trout high up on the rivers, above the sluices and
rockers of the miners, but this was a precarious source from which to
derive food, as their means of taking the trout were very primitive.
They had neither hooks nor lines, but depended entirely on a
contrivance made from long, slender branches of willow, which grew on
the banks of most of the streams. One of these branches would be
cut, and after sharpening the butt-end to a point, split a certain
distance, and by a wedge the prongs divided sufficiently to admit a
fish between. The Indian fisherman would then slyly put the forked
end in the water over his intended victim, and with a quick dart
firmly wedge him between the prongs. When secured there, the work of
landing him took but a moment. When trout were plentiful this
primitive mode of taking them was quite successful, and I have often
known hundreds of pounds to be caught in this way, but when they were
scarce and suspicious the rude method was not rewarded with good

The band looking down on us evidently had not had much fish or game
to eat for some time, so when they had made Williamson understand
that they were suffering for food he permitted them to come into
camp, and furnished them with a supply, which they greedily swallowed
as fast as it was placed at their service, regardless of possible
indigestion. When they had eaten all they could hold, their
enjoyment was made complete by the soldiers, who gave them a quantity
of strong plug tobacco. This they smoked incessantly, inhaling all
the smoke, so that none of the effect should be lost. When we
abandoned this camp the next day, the miserable wretches remained in
it and collected the offal about the cooks' fires to feast still
more, piecing out the meal, no doubt, with their staple article of

On the morning of August 5 Lieutenant Hood started back to Fort
Reading, and Lieutenant Williamson resumed his march for the Columbia
River. Our course was up Pit River, by the lower and upper canons,
then across to the Klamath Lakes, then east, along their edge to the
upper lake. At the middle Klamath Lake, just after crossing Lost
River and the Natural Bridge, we met a small party of citizens from
Jacksonville, Oregon, looking for hostile Indians who had committed
some depredations in their neighborhood. From them we learned that
the Rogue River Indians in southern Oregon were on the war-path, and
that as the "regular troops up there were of no account, the citizens
had taken matters in hand, and intended cleaning up the hostiles."
They swaggered about our camp, bragged a good deal, cursed the
Indians loudly, and soundly abused the Government for not giving them
better protection. It struck me, however, that they had not worked
very hard to find the hostiles; indeed, it could plainly be seen that
their expedition was a town-meeting sort of affair, and that anxiety
to get safe home was uppermost in their thoughts. The enthusiasm
with which they started had all oozed out, and that night they
marched back to Jacksonville. The next day, at the head of the lake,
we came across an Indian village, and I have often wondered since
what would have been the course pursued by these valiant warriors
from Jacksonville had they gone far enough to get into its vicinity.

When we reached the village the tepees--made of grass--were all
standing, the fires burning and pots boiling--the pots filled with
camas and tula roots--but not an Indian was to be seen. Williamson
directed that nothing in the village should be disturbed; so guards
were placed over it to carry out his instructions and we went into
camp just a little beyond. We had scarcely established ourselves
when a very old Indian rose up from the high grass some distance off,
and with peaceable signs approached our camp, evidently for the
purpose of learning whether or not our intentions were hostile.
Williamson told him we were friendly; that we had passed through his
village without molesting it, that we had put a guard there to secure
the property his people had abandoned in their fright, and that they
might come back in safety. The old man searchingly eyed everything
around for some little time, and gaining confidence from the
peaceable appearance of the men, who were engaged in putting up the
tents and preparing their evening meal, he concluded to accept our
professions of friendship, and bring his people in. Going out about
half a mile from the village he gave a peculiar yell, at which
between three and four hundred Indians arose simultaneously from the
ground, and in answer to his signal came out of the tall grass like a
swarm of locusts and soon overran our camp in search of food, for
like all Indians they were hungry. They too, proved to be Pit
Rivers, and were not less repulsive than those of their tribe we had
met before. They were aware of the hostilities going on between the
Rogue Rivers and the whites, but claimed that they had not taken any
part in them. I question if they had, but had our party been small,
I fear we should have been received at their village in a very
different manner.

From the upper Klamath Lake we marched over the divide and down the
valley of the Des Chutes River to a point opposite the mountains
called the Three Sisters. Here, on September 23, the party divided,
Williamson and I crossing through the crater of the Three Sisters and
along the western slope of the Cascade Range, until we struck the
trail on McKenzie River, which led us into the Willamette Valley not
far from Eugene City. We then marched down the Willamette Valley to
Portland, Oregon, where we arrived October 9, 1855

The infantry portion of the command, escorting Lieutenant Henry L.
Abbot, followed farther down the Des Chutes River, to a point
opposite Mount Hood, from which it came into the Willamette Valley
and then marched to Portland. At Portland we all united, and moving
across the point between the Willamette and Columbia rivers, encamped
opposite Fort Vancouver, on the south bank of the latter stream, on
the farm of an old settler named Switzler, who had located there many
years before.



Our camp on the Columbia, near Fort Vancouver, was beautifully
situated on a grassy sward close to the great river; and--as little

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