Part 4 out of 5
THE EIGHTH FOOT LEAVES ARIZONA
And now after the eight days of most distressing heat, and the
fatigue of all sorts and varieties of travelling, the nights
spent in a stage-coach or at a desert inn, or in the road agent's
buckboard, holding always my little son close to my side, came
six days more of journeying down the valley of the Gila.
We took supper in Phoenix, at a place known as "Devine's." I was
hearing a good deal about Phoenix; for even then, its gardens,
its orchards and its climate were becoming famous, but the season
of the year was unpropitious to form a favorable opinion of that
thriving place, even if my opinions of Arizona, with its
parched-up soil and insufferable heat, had not been formed
We crossed the Gila somewhere below there, and stopped at our old
camping places, but the entire valley was seething hot, and the
remembrance of the December journey seemed but an aggravating
We joined Captain Corliss and the company at Antelope Station,
and in two more days were at Yuma City. By this time, the
Southern Pacific Railroad had been built as far as Yuma, and a
bridge thrown across the Colorado at this point. It seemed an
incongruity. And how burning hot the cars looked, standing there
in the Arizona sun!
After four years in that Territory, and remembering the days,
weeks, and even months spent in travelling on the river, or
marching through the deserts, I could not make the Pullman cars
seem a reality.
We brushed the dust of the Gila Valley from our clothes, I
unearthed a hat from somewhere, and some wraps which had not seen
the light for nearly two years, and prepared to board the train.
I cried out in my mind, the prayer of the woman in one of
Fisher's Ehrenberg stories, to which I used to listen with
unmitigated delight, when I lived there. The story was this:
"Mrs. Blank used to live here in Ehrenberg; she hated the place
just as you do, but she was obliged to stay. Finally, after a
period of two years, she and her sister, who had lived with her,
were able to get away. I crossed over the river with them to
Lower California, on the old rope ferry-boat which they used to
have near Ehrenberg, and as soon as the boat touched the bank,
they jumped ashore, and down they both went upon their knees,
clasped their hands, raised their eyes to Heaven, and Mrs. Blank
said: 'I thank Thee, oh Lord! Thou hast at last delivered us from
the wilderness, and brought us back to God's country. Receive my
thanks, oh Lord!'"
And then Fisher used to add: "And the tears rolled down their
faces, and I knew they felt every word they spoke; and I guess
you'll feel about the same way when you get out of Arizona, even
if you don't quite drop on your knees," he said.
The soldiers did not look half so picturesque, climbing into the
cars, as they did when loading onto a barge; and when the train
went across the bridge, and we looked down upon the swirling red
waters of the Great Colorado from the windows of a luxurious
Pullman, I sighed; and, with the strange contradictoriness of the
human mind, I felt sorry that the old days had come to an end.
For, somehow, the hardships and deprivations which we have
endured, lose their bitterness when they have become only a
CALIFORNIA AND NEVADA
A portion of our regiment was ordered to Oregon, to join General
Howard, who was conducting the Bannock Campaign, so I remained
that summer in San Francisco, to await my husband's return.
I could not break away from my Arizona habits. I wore only white
dresses, partly because I had no others which were in fashion,
partly because I had become imbued with a profound indifference
"They'll think you're a Mexican," said my New England aunt (who
regarded all foreigners with contempt). "Let them think," said I;
"I almost wish I were; for, after all, they are the only people
who understand the philosophy of living. Look at the tired faces
of the women in your streets," I added, "one never sees that sort
of expression down below, and I have made up my mind not to be
caught by the whirlpool of advanced civilization again."
Added to the white dresses, I smoked cigarettes, and slept all
the afternoons. I was in the bondage of tropical customs, and I
had lapsed back into a state of what my aunt called
"Let me enjoy this heavenly cool climate, and do not worry me," I
begged. I shuddered when I heard people complain of the cold
winds of the San Francisco summer. How do they dare tempt Fate,
thought I, and I wished them all in Ehrenberg or MacDowell for
one summer. "I think they might then know something about
climate, and would have something to complain about!"
How I revelled in the flowers, and all the luxuries of that
The headquarters of the Eighth was located at Benicia, and
General Kautz, our Colonel, invited me to pay a visit to his
wife. A pleasant boat-trip up the Sacramento River brought us to
Benicia. Mrs. Kautz, a handsome and accomplished Austrian,
presided over her lovely army home in a manner to captivate my
fancy, and the luxury of their surroundings almost made me
"The other side of army life," thought I.
A visit to Angel Island, one of the harbor defences, strengthened
this impression. Four years of life in the southern posts of
Arizona had almost made me believe that army life was indeed but
"glittering misery," as the Germans had called it.
In the autumn, the troops returned from Oregon, and C company was
ordered to Camp MacDermit, a lonely spot up in the northern part
of Nevada (Nevada being included in the Department of
California). I was sure by that time that bad luck was pursuing
us. I did not know so much about the "ins and outs" of the army
then as I do now.
At my aunt's suggestion, I secured a Chinaman of good caste for a
servant, and by deceiving him (also my aunt's advice) with the
idea that we were going only as far as Sacramento, succeeded in
making him willing to accompany us.
We started east, and left the railroad at a station called
"Winnemucca." MacDermit lay ninety miles to the north. But at
Winnemucca the Chinaman balked. "You say: 'All'e same
Saclamento': lis place heap too far: me no likee!" I talked to
him, and, being a good sort, he saw that I meant well, and the
soldiers bundled him on top of the army wagon, gave him a lot of
good-natured guying, and a revolver to keep off Indians, and so
we secured Hoo Chack.
Captain Corliss had been obliged to go on ahead with his wife,
who was in the most delicate health. The post ambulance had met
them at this place.
Jack was to march over the ninety miles, with the company. I
watched them starting out, the men, glad of the release from the
railroad train, their guns on their shoulders, stepping off in
military style and in good form.
The wagons followed--the big blue army wagons, and Hoo Chack,
looking rather glum, sitting on top of a pile of baggage.
I took the Silver City stage, and except for my little boy I was
the only passenger for the most of the way. We did the ninety
miles without resting over, except for relays of horses.
I climbed up on the box and talked with the driver. I liked these
stage-drivers. They were "nervy," fearless men, and kind, too,
and had a great dash and go about them. They often had a quiet
and gentle bearing, but by that time I knew pretty well what sort
of stuff they were made of, and I liked to have them talk to me,
and I liked to look out upon the world through their eyes, and
judge of things from their standpoint.
It was an easy journey, and we passed a comfortable night in the
Camp MacDermit was a colorless, forbidding sort of a place. Only
one company was stationed there, and my husband was nearly always
scouting in the mountains north of us. The weather was severe,
and the winter there was joyless and lonesome. The extreme cold
and the loneliness affected my spirits, and I suffered from
I had no woman to talk to, for Mrs. Corliss, who was the only
other officer's wife at the post, was confined to the house by
the most delicate health, and her mind was wholly absorbed by the
care of her young infant. There were no nurses to be had in that
desolate corner of the earth.
One day, a dreadful looking man appeared at the door, a person
such as one never sees except on the outskirts of civilization,
and I wondered what business brought him. He wore a long, black,
greasy frock coat, a tall hat, and had the face of a sneak. He
wanted the Chinaman's poll-tax, he said.
"But," I suggested, "I never heard of collecting taxes in a
Government post; soldiers and officers do not pay taxes."
"That may be," he replied, "but your Chinaman is not a soldier,
and I am going to have his tax before I leave this house."
"So, ho," I thought; "a threat!" and the soldier's blood rose in
I was alone; Jack was miles away up North. Hoo Chack appeared in
the hall; he had evidently heard the man's last remark. "Now," I
said, "this Chinaman is in my employ, and he shall not pay any
tax, until I find out if he be exempt or not."
The evil-looking man approached the Chinaman. Hoo Chack grew a
shade paler. I fancied he had a knife under his white shirt; in
fact, he felt around for it. I said, "Hoo Chack, go away, I will
talk to this man."
I opened the front door. "Come with me" (to the tax-collector);
"we will ask the commanding officer about this matter." My heart
was really in my mouth, but I returned the man's steady and
dogged gaze, and he followed me to Captain Corliss' quarters. I
explained the matter to the Captain, and left the man to his
mercy. "Why didn't you call the Sergeant of the Guard, and have
the man slapped into the guard-house?" said Jack, when I told him
about it afterwards. "The man had no business around here; he was
trying to browbeat you into giving him a dollar, I suppose."
The country above us was full of desperadoes from Boise and
Silver City, and I was afraid to be left alone so much at night;
so I begged Captain Corliss to let me have a soldier to sleep in
my quarters. He sent me old Needham. So I installed old Needham
in my guest chamber with his loaded rifle. Now old Needham was
but a wisp of a man; long years of service had broken down his
health; he was all wizened up and feeble; but he was a soldier; I
felt safe, and could sleep once more. Just the sight of Needham
and his old blue uniform coming at night, after taps, was a
comfort to me.
Anxiety filled my soul, for Jack was scouting in the Stein
Mountains all winter in the snow, after Indians who were avowedly
hostile, and had threatened to kill on sight. He often went out
with a small pack-train, and some Indian scouts, five or six
soldiers, and I thought it quite wrong for him to be sent into
the mountains with so small a number.
Camp MacDermit was, as I have already mentioned, a "one-company
post." We all know what that may mean, on the frontier. Our
Second Lieutenant was absent, and all the hard work of winter
scouting fell upon Jack, keeping him away for weeks at a time.
The Piute Indians were supposed to be peaceful, and their old
chief, Winnemucca, once the warlike and dreaded foe of the white
man, was now quiet enough, and too old to fight. He lived, with
his family, at an Indian village near the post.
He came to see me occasionally. His dress was a curious mixture
of civilization and savagery. He wore the chapeau and dress-coat
of a General of the American Army, with a large epaulette on one
shoulder. He was very proud of the coat, because General Crook
had given it to him. His shirt, leggings and moccasins were of
buckskin, and the long braids of his coal-black hair, tied with
strips of red flannel, gave the last touch to this incongruous
But I must say that his demeanor was gentle and dignified, and,
after recovering from the superficial impressions which his
startling costume had at first made upon my mind, I could well
believe that he had once been the war-leader, as he was now the
political head of his once-powerful tribe.
Winnemucca did not disdain to accept some little sugar-cakes from
me, and would sit down on our veranda and munch them.
He always showed me the pasteboard medal which hung around his
neck, and which bore General Howard's signature; and he always
said: "General Howard tell me, me good Injun, me go
up--up--up"--pointing dramatically towards Heaven. On one
occasion, feeling desperate for amusement, I said to him:
"General Howard very good man, but he make a mistake; where you
go, is not up--up--up, but," pointing solemnly to the earth below
us, "down--down--down." He looked incredulous, but I assured him
it was a nice place down there.
Some of the scattered bands of the tribe, however, were restless
and unsubdued, and gave us much trouble, and it was these bands
that necessitated the scouts.
My little son, Harry, four years old, was my constant and only
companion, during that long, cold, and anxious winter.
My mother sent me an appealing invitation to come home for a
year. I accepted gladly, and one afternoon in May, Jack put us
aboard the Silver City stage, which passed daily through the
Our excellent Chinese servant promised to stay with the "Captain"
and take care of him, and as I said "Good-bye, Hoo Chack," I
noticed an expression of real regret on his usually stolid
Occupied with my thoughts, on entering the stage, I did not
notice the passengers or the man sitting next me on the back
seat. Darkness soon closed around us, and I suppose we fell
asleep. Between naps, I heard a queer clanking sound, but
supposed it was the chains of the harness or the stage-coach
gear. The next morning, as we got out at a relay station for
breakfast, I saw the handcuffs on the man next to whom I had sat
all the night long. The sheriff was on the box outside. He very
obligingly changed seats with me for the rest of the way, and
evening found us on the overland train speeding on our journey
East. Camp MacDermit with its dreary associations and
surroundings faded gradually from my mind, like a dream.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The year of 1879 brought us several changes. My little daughter
was born in mid-summer at our old home in Nantucket. As I lay
watching the curtains move gently to and fro in the soft
sea-breezes, and saw my mother and sister moving about the room,
and a good old nurse rocking my baby in her arms, I could but
think of those other days at Camp Apache, when I lay through the
long hours, with my new-born baby by my side, watching, listening
for some one to come in. There was no one, no woman to come,
except the poor hard-working laundress of the cavalry, who did
come once a day to care for the baby.
Ah! what a contrast! and I had to shut my eyes for fear I should
cry, at the mere thought of those other days.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * *
Jack took a year's leave of absence and joined me in the autumn
at Nantucket, and the winter was spent in New York, enjoying the
theatres and various amusements we had so long been deprived of.
Here we met again Captain Porter and Carrie Wilkins, who was now
Mrs. Porter. They were stationed at David's Island, one of the
harbor posts, and we went over to see them. "Yes," he said, "as
Jacob waited seven years for Rachel, so I waited for Carrie."
The following summer brought us the good news that Captain
Corliss' company was ordered to Angel Island, in the bay of San
Francisco. "Thank goodness," said Jack, "C company has got some
good luck, at last!"
Joyfully we started back on the overland trip to California,
which took about nine days at that time. Now, travelling with a
year-old baby and a five-year-old boy was quite troublesome, and
we were very glad when the train had crossed the bleak Sierras
and swept down into the lovely valley of the Sacramento.
Arriving in San Francisco, we went to the old Occidental Hotel,
and as we were going in to dinner, a card was handed to us. "Hoo
Chack" was the name on the card. "That Chinaman!" I cried to
Jack."How do you suppose he knew we were here?"
We soon made arrangements for him to accompany us to Angel
Island, and in a few days this "heathen Chinee" had unpacked all
our boxes and made our quarters very comfortable. He was rather a
high-caste man, and as true and loyal as a Christian. He never
broke his word, and he staid with us as long as we remained in
And now we began to live, to truly live; for we felt that the
years spent at those desert posts under the scorching suns of
Arizona had cheated us out of all but a bare existence upon
The flowers ran riot in our garden, fresh fruits and vegetables,
fresh fish, and all the luxuries of that marvellous climate, were
brought to our door.
A comfortable Government steamboat plied between San Francisco
and its harbor posts, and the distance was not great--only three
quarters of an hour. So we had a taste of the social life of that
fascinating city, and could enjoy the theatres also.
On the Island, we had music and dancing, as it was the
headquarters of the regiment. Mrs. Kautz, so brilliant and gay,
held grand court here--receptions, military functions, lawn
tennis, bright uniforms, were the order of the day. And that
incomparable climate! How I revelled in it! When the fog rolled
in from the Golden Gate, and enveloped the great city of Saint
Francis in its cold vapors, the Island of the Angels lay warm and
bright in the sunshine.
The old Spaniards named it well, and the old Nantucket whalers
who sailed around Cape Horn on their way to the Ar'tic, away back
in the eighteen twenties, used to put in near there for water,
and were well familiar with its bright shores, before it was
touched by man's handiwork.
Was there ever such an emerald green as adorned those hills which
sloped down to the bay? Could anything equal the fields of golden
escholzchia which lay there in the sunshine? Or the blue masses
of "baby-eye," which opened in the mornings and held up their
pretty cups to catch the dew?
Was this a real Paradise?
It surely seemed so to us; and, as if Nature had not done enough,
the Fates stepped in and sent all the agreeable young officers of
the regiment there, to help us enjoy the heavenly spot.
There was Terrett, the handsome and aristocratic young
Baltimorean, one of the finest men I ever saw in uniform; and
Richardson, the stalwart Texan, and many others, with whom we
danced and played tennis, and altogether there was so much to do
and to enjoy that Time rushed by and we knew only that we were
happy, and enchanted with Life.
Did any uniform ever equal that of the infantry in those days?
The dark blue, heavily braided "blouse," the white stripe on the
light blue trousers, the jaunty cap? And then, the straight backs
and the slim lines of those youthful figures! It seems to me any
woman who was not an Egyptian mummy would feel her heart thrill
and her blood tingle at the sight of them.
Indians and deserts and Ehrenberg did not exist for me any more.
My girlhood seemed to have returned, and I enjoyed everything
with the keenest zest.
My old friend Charley Bailey, who had married for his second wife
a most accomplished young San Francisco girl, lived next door to
General and Mrs. Kautz entertained so hospitably,and were so
beloved by all. Together Mrs. Kautz and I read the German
classics, and went to the German theatre; and by and by a very
celebrated player, Friedrich Haase, from the Royal Theatre of
Berlin, came to San Francisco. We never missed a performance, and
when his tour was over, Mrs. Kautz gave a lawn party at Angel
Island for him and a few of the members of his company. It was
charming. I well remember how the sun shone that day, and, as we
strolled up from the boat with them, Frau Haase stopped, looked
at the blue sky, the lovely clouds, the green slopes of the
Island and said: "Mein Gott! Frau Summerhayes, was ist das fur
ein Paradies! Warum haben Sie uns nicht gesagt, Sie wohnten im
So, with music and German speech, and strolls to the North and to
the South Batteries, that wonderful and never to-be-forgotten day
with the great Friedrich Haase came to an end.
The months flew by, and the second winter found us still there;
we heard rumors of Indian troubles in Arizona, and at last the
orders came. The officers packed away their evening clothes in
camphor and had their campaign clothes put out to air, and got
their mess-chests in order, and the post was alive with
preparations for the field. All the families were to stay behind.
The most famous Indian renegade was to be hunted down, and
serious fighting was looked for.
At last all was ready, and the day was fixed for the departure of
The winter rains had set in, and the skies were grey, as the
command marched down to the boat.
The officers and soldiers were in their campaign clothes; the
latter had their blanket-rolls and haversacks slung over their
shoulders, and their tin cups, which hung from the haversacks,
rattled and jingled as they marched down in even columns of four,
over the wet and grassy slopes of the parade ground, where so
short a time before all had been glitter and sunshine.
I realized then perhaps for the first time what the uniform
really stood for; that every man who wore it, was going out to
fight--that they held their lives as nothing. The glitter was all
gone; nothing but sad reality remained.
The officers' wives and the soldiers' wives followed the troops
to the dock. The soldiers marched single file over the gang-plank
of the boat, the officers said good-bye, the shrill whistle of
the "General McPherson" sounded--and they were off. We leaned
back against the coal-sheds, and soldiers' and officers' wives
alike all wept together.
And now a season of gloom came upon us. The skies were dull and
murky and the rain poured down.
Our old friend Bailey, who was left behind on account of illness,
grew worse and finally his case was pronounced hopeless. His
death added to the deep gloom and sadness which enveloped us all.
A few of the soldiers who had staid on the Island to take care of
the post, carried poor Bailey to the boat, his casket wrapped in
the flag and followed by a little procession of women. I thought
I had never seen anything so sad.
The campaign lengthened out into months, but the California
winters are never very long, and before the troops came back the
hills looked their brightest green again. The campaign had ended
with no very serious losses to our troops and all was joyous
again, until another order took us from the sea-coast to the
interior once more.
It was the custom to change the stations of the different
companies of a regiment about every two years. So the autumn of
'82 found us on the way to Fort Halleck, a post in Nevada, but
differing vastly from the desolate MacDermit station. Fort
Halleck was only thirteen miles south of the Overland Railroad,
and lay near a spur of the Humboldt range. There were miles of
sage-brush between the railroad and the post, but the mountains
which rose abruptly five thousand feet on the far side, made a
magnificent background for the officers' quarters, which lay
nestled at the bottom of the foot-hills.
"Oh! what a lovely post!" I cried, as we drove in.
Major Sanford of the First Cavalry, with Captain Carr and
Lieutenant Oscar Brown, received us. "Dear me," I thought, "if
the First Cavalry is made up of such gallant men as these, the
old Eighth Infantry will have to look out for its laurels."
Mrs. Sanford and Mrs. Carr gave us a great welcome and vied with
each other in providing for our comfort, and we were soon
It was so good to see the gay yellow of the cavalry again! Now I
rode, to my heart's content, and it was good to be alive; to see
the cavalry drill, and to ride through the canons, gorgeous in
their flaming autumn tints; then again to gallop through the
sage-brush, jumping where we could not turn, starting up rabbits
by the score.
That little old post, now long since abandoned, marked a pleasant
epoch in our life. From the ranches scattered around we could
procure butter and squabs and young vegetables, and the soldiers
cultivated great garden patches, and our small dinners and
breakfasts live in delightful memory.
At the end of two years spent so pleasantly with the people of
the First Cavalry, our company was again ordered to Angel Island.
But a second very active campaign in Arizona and Mexico, against
Geronimo, took our soldiers away from us, and we passed through a
period of considerable anxiety. June of '86 saw the entire
regiment ordered to take station in Arizona once more.
We travelled to Tucson in a Pullman car. It was hot and
uninteresting. I had been at Tucson nine years before, for a few
hours, but the place seemed unfamiliar. I looked for the old
tavern; I saw only the railroad restaurant. We went in to take
breakfast, before driving out to the post of Fort Lowell, seven
miles away. Everything seemed changed. Iced cantaloupe was served
by a spick-span alert waiter; then, quail on toast. "Ice in
Arizona?" It was like a dream, and I remarked to Jack, "This
isn't the same Arizona we knew in '74," and then, "I don't
believe I like it as well, either; all this luxury doesn't seem
to belong to the place."
After a drive behind some smart mules, over a flat stretch of
seven miles, we arrived at Fort Lowell, a rather attractive post,
with a long line of officers' quarters, before which ran a level
road shaded by beautiful great trees. We were assigned a half of
one of these sets of quarters, and as our half had no
conveniences for house-keeping, it was arranged that we should
join a mess with General and Mrs. Kautz and their family. We soon
got settled down to our life there, and we had various
recreations; among them, driving over to Tucson and riding on
horseback are those which I remember best. We made a few
acquaintances in Tucson, and they sometimes drove out in the
evenings, or more frequently rode out on horseback. Then we would
gather together on the Kautz piazza and everybody sang to the
accompaniment of Mrs. Kautz's guitar. It was very hot, of
course; we had all expected that, but the luxuries obtainable
through the coming of the railroad, such as ice, and various
summer drinks, and lemons, and butter, helped out to make the
summer there more comfortable.
We slept on the piazzas, which ran around the houses on a level
with the ground. At that time the fad for sleeping out of doors,
at least amongst civilized people, did not exist, and our
arrangements were entirely primitive.
Our quarters were surrounded by a small yard and a fence; the
latter was dilapidated, and the gate swung on one hinge. We were
seven miles from anywhere, and surrounded by a desolate country.
I did not experience the feeling of terror that I had had at Camp
Apache, for instance, nor the grewsome fear of the Ehrenberg
grave-yard, nor the appalling fright I had known in crossing the
Mogollon range or in driving through Sanford's Pass. But still
there was a haunting feeling of insecurity which hung around me
especially at night. I was awfully afraid of snakes, and no
sooner had we lain ourselves down on our cots to sleep, than I
would hear a rustling among the dry leaves that had blown in
under our beds. Then all would be still again; then a crackling
and a rustling--in a flash I would be sitting up in bed. "Jack,
do you hear that?" Of course I did not dare to move or jump out
of bed, so I would sit, rigid, scared. "Jack ! what is it?"
"Nonsense, Mattie, go to sleep; it's the toads jumping about in
the leaves. "But my sleep was fitful and disturbed, and I never
knew what a good night's rest was.
One night I was awakened by a tremendous snort right over my
face. I opened my eyes and looked into the wild eyes of a big
black bull. I think I must have screamed, for the bull ran
clattering off the piazza and out through the gate. By this time
Jack was up, and Harry and Katherine, who slept on the front
piazza, came running out, and I said: "Well, this is the limit of
all things, and if that gate isn't mended to-morrow, I will know
the reason why."
Now I heard a vague rumor that there was a creature of this sort
in or near the post, and that he had a habit of wandering around
at night, but as I had never seen him, it had made no great
impression on my mind. Jack had a great laugh at me, but I did
not think then, nor do I now, that it was anything to be laughed
We had heard much of the old Mission of San Xavier del Bac, away
the other side of Tucson. Mrs. Kautz decided to go over there and
go into camp and paint a picture of San Xavier. It was about
sixteen miles from Fort Lowell.
So all the camp paraphernalia was gotten ready and several of the
officers joined the party, and we all went over to San Xavier and
camped for a few days under the shadow of those beautiful old
walls. This Mission is almost unknown to the American traveler.
Exquisite in color, form and architecture, it stands there a
silent reminder of the Past.
The curious carvings and paintings inside the church, and the
precious old vestments which were shown us by an ancient
custodian, filled my mind with wonder. The building is partly in
ruins, and the little squirrels were running about the galleries,
but the great dome is intact, and many of the wonderful figures
which ornament it. Of course we know the Spanish built it about
the middle or last of the sixteenth century, and that they tried
to christianize the tribes of Indians who lived around in the
vicinity. But there is no sign of priest or communicant now,
nothing but a desolate plain around it for miles. No one can
possibly understand how the building of this large and beautiful
mission was accomplished, and I believe history furnishes very
little information. In its archives was found quite recently the
charter given by Ferdinand and Isabella, to establish the
"pueblo" of Tucson about the beginning of the 16th century.
After a few delightful days, we broke camp and returned to Fort
And now the summer was drawing to a close, and we were
anticipating the delights of the winter climate at Tucson, when,
without a note of warning, came the orders for Fort Niobrara. We
looked, appalled, in each other's faces, the evening the telegram
came, for we did not even know where Fort Niobrara was.
We all rushed into Major Wilhelm's quarters, for he always knew
everything. We (Mrs. Kautz and several of the other ladies of the
post, and myself) were in a state of tremendous excitement. We
pounded on Major Wilhelm's door and we heard a faint voice from
his bedroom (for it was after ten o'clock); then we waited a few
moments and he said,"Come in."
We opened the door, but there being no light in his quarters we
could not see him. A voice said: "What in the name of--" but we
did not wait for him to finish; we all shouted: "Where is Fort
Niobrara?" "The Devil!" he said. "Are we ordered there?" "Yes,
yes," we cried; "where is it?" "Why, girls," he said, relapsing
into his customary moderate tones, "It's a hell of a freezing
cold place, away up north in Nebraska."
We turned our backs and went over to our quarters to have a
consultation, and we all retired with sad hearts.
Now, just think of it! To come to Fort Lowell in July, only to
move in November! What could it mean? It was hard to leave the
sunny South, to spend the winter in those congealed regions in
the North. We were but just settled, and now came another
Our establishment now, with two children, several servants, two
saddle horses, and additional household furnishings, was not so
simple as in the beginning of our army life, when three chests
and a box or two contained our worldly goods. Each move we made
was more difficult than the last; our allowance of baggage did
not begin to cover what we had to take along, and this added
greatly to the expense of moving.
The enormous waste attending a move, and the heavy outlay
incurred in travelling and getting settled anew, kept us always
poor; these considerations increased our chagrin over this
unexpected change of station. There was nothing to be done,
however. Orders are relentless, even if they seem senseless,
which this one did, to the women, at least, of the Eighth
The journey itself, however, was not to be dreaded, although it
was so undesired. It was entirely by rail across New Mexico and
Kansas, to St. Joseph, then up the Missouri River and then across
the state to the westward. Finally, after four or five days, we
reached the small frontier town of Valentine, in the very
northwest corner of the bleak and desolate state of Nebraska. The
post of Niobrara was four miles away, on the Niobrara (swift
Some officers of the Ninth Cavalry met us at the station with the
post ambulances. There were six companies of our regiment, with
headquarters and band.
It was November, and the drive across the rolling prairie-land
gave us a fair glimpse of the country around. We crossed the old
bridge over the Niobrara River, and entered the post. The snow
lay already on the brown and barren hills, and the place struck a
chill to my heart.
The Ninth Cavalry took care of all the officers' families until
we could get established. Lieutenant Bingham, a handsome and
distinguished-looking young bachelor, took us with our two
children to his quarters, and made us delightfully at home. His
quarters were luxuriously furnished, and he was altogether
adorable. This, to be sure, helped to soften my first harsh
impressions of the place.
Quarters were not very plentiful, and we were compelled to take a
house occupied by a young officer of the Ninth. What base
ingratitude it seemed, after the kindness we had accepted from
his regiment! But there was no help for it. We secured a colored
cook, who proved a very treasure, and on inquiring how she came
to be in those wilds, I learned that she had accompanied a young
heiress who eloped with a cavalry lieutenant, from her home in
New York some years before.
What a contrast was here, and what a cruel contrast! With blood
thinned down by the enervating summer at Tucson, here we were,
thrust into the polar regions! Ice and snow and blizzards,
blizzards and snow and ice! The mercury disappeared at the bottom
of the thermometer, and we had nothing to mark any degrees lower
than 40 below zero. Human calculations had evidently stopped
there. Enormous box stoves were in every room and in the halls;
the old-fashioned sort that we used to see in school-rooms and
meeting-houses in New England. Into these, the soldiers stuffed
great logs of mountain mahogany,and the fires were kept roaring
day and night.
A board walk ran in front of the officers' quarters, and,
desperate for fresh air and exercise, some of the ladies would
bundle up and go to walk. But frozen chins, ears and elbows soon
made this undesirable, and we gave up trying the fresh air,
unless the mercury rose to 18 below, when a few of us would take
our daily promenade.
We could not complain of our fare, however, for our larder hung
full of all sorts of delicate and delicious things, brought in by
the grangers, and which we were glad to buy. Prairie-chickens,
young pigs, venison, and ducks, all hanging, to be used when
To frappe a bottle of wine, we stood it on the porch; in a few
minutes it would pour crystals. House-keeping was easy, but
keeping warm was difficult.
It was about this time that the law was passed abolishing the
post-trader's store, and forbidding the selling of whiskey to
soldiers on a Government reservation. The pleasant canteen, or
Post Exchange, the soldiers' club-room, was established, where
the men could go to relieve the monotony of their lives.
With the abolition of whiskey, the tone of the post improved
greatly; the men were contented with a glass of beer or light
wine, the canteen was well managed, so the profits went back into
the company messes in the shape of luxuries heretofore unknown;
billiards and reading-rooms were established; and from that time
on, the canteen came to be regarded in the army as a most
excellent institution. The men gained in self-respect; the
canteen provided them with a place where they could go and take a
bite of lunch, read, chat, smoke, or play games with their own
chosen friends, and escape the lonesomeness of the barracks.
But, alas! this condition of things was not destined to endure,
for the women of the various Temperance societies, in their
mistaken zeal and woeful ignorance of the soldiers' life,
succeeded in influencing legislation to such an extent that the
canteen, in its turn, was abolished; with what dire results, we
of the army all know.
Those estimable women of the W. C. T. U. thought to do good to
the army, no doubt, but through their pitiful ignorance of the
soldiers' needs they have done him an incalculable harm.
Let them stay by their lectures and their clubs, I say, and their
other amusements; let them exercise their good influences nearer
home, with a class of people whose conditions are understood by
them, where they can, no doubt, do worlds of good.
They cannot know the drear monotony of the barracks life on the
frontier in times of peace. I have lived close by it, and I know
it well. A ceaseless round of drill and work and lessons, and
work and lessons and drill--no recreation, no excitement,no
Far away from family and all home companionship, a man longs for
some pleasant place to go, after the day's work is done. Perhaps
these women think (if, in their blind enthusiasm, they think at
all) that a young soldier or an old soldier needs no recreation.
At all events, they have taken from him the only one he had, the
good old canteen, and given him nothing in return.
Now Fort Niobrara was a large post. There were ten companies,
cavalry and infantry, General August V. Kautz, the Colonel of the
Eighth Infantry, in command.
And here, amidst the sand-hills of Nebraska, we first began to
really know our Colonel. A man of strong convictions and abiding
honesty, a soldier who knew his profession thoroughly, having not
only achieved distinction in the Civil War, but having served
when little more than a boy, in the Mexican War of 1846. Genial
in his manners, brave and kind, he was beloved by all.
The three Kautz children, Frankie, Austin, and Navarra, were the
inseparable companions of our own children. There was a small
school for the children of the post, and a soldier by the name of
Delany was schoolmaster. He tried hard to make our children
learn, but they did not wish to study, and spent all their spare
time in planning tricks to be played upon poor Delany. It was a
difficult situation for the soldier. Finally, the two oldest
Kautz children were sent East to boarding-school, and we also
began to realize that something must be done.
Our surroundings during the early winter, it is true, had been
dreary enough, but as the weather softened a bit and the spring
approached, the post began to wake up.
In the meantime, Cupid had not been idle. It was observed that
Mr. Bingham, our gracious host of the Ninth Cavalry, had fallen
in love with Antoinette, the pretty and attractive daughter of
Captain Lynch of our own regiment, and the post began to be on
the qui vive to see how the affair would end, for nobody expects
to see the course of true love run smooth. In their case,
however, the Fates were kind and in due time the happy engagement
We had an excellent amusement hall, with a fine floor for
dancing. The chapel was at one end, and a fairly good stage was
at the other.
Being nearer civilization now, in the state of Nebraska, Uncle
Sam provided us with a chaplain, and a weekly service was held by
the Anglican clergyman--a tall, well-formed man, a scholar and,
as we say, a gentleman. He wore the uniform of the army chaplain,
and as far as looks went could hold his own with any of the
younger officers. And it was a great comfort to the church people
to have this weekly service.
During the rest of the time, the chapel was concealed by heavy
curtains, and the seats turned around facing the stage.
We had a good string orchestra of twenty or more pieces, and as
there were a number of active young bachelors at the post, a
series of weekly dances was inaugurated. Never did I enjoy
dancing more than at this time.
Then Mrs. Kautz, who was a thorough music lover and had a
cultivated taste as well as a trained and exquisite voice, gave
several musicales, for which much preparation was made, and which
were most delightful. These were given at the quarters of General
Kautz, a long, low, rambling one-story house, arranged with that
artistic taste for which Mrs. Kautz was distinguished.
Then came theatricals, all managed by Mrs. Kautz, whose talents
We charged admission, for we needed some more scenery, and the
neighboring frontier town of Valentine came riding and driving
over the prairie and across the old bridge of the Niobrara River,
to see our plays. We had a well-lighted stage. Our methods were
primitive, as there was no gas or electricity there in those
days, but the results were good, and the histrionic ability shown
by some of our young men and women seemed marvellous to us.
I remember especially Bob Emmet's acting, which moved me to
tears, in a most pathetic love scene. I thought, "What has the
stage lost, in this gifted man!"
But he is of a family whose talents are well known, and his
personality, no doubt, added much to his natural ability as an
Neither the army nor the stage can now claim this brilliant
cavalry officer, as he was induced, by urgent family reasons,
shortly after the period of which I am writing, to resign his
commission and retire to private life, at the very height of his
And now the summer came on apace. A tennis-court was made, and
added greatly to our amusement. We were in the saddle every day,
and the country around proved very attractive at this season,
both for riding and driving.
But all this gayety did not content me, for the serious question
of education for our children now presented itself; the question
which, sooner or later, presents itself to the minds of all the
parents of army children. It is settled differently by different
people. It had taken a year for us to decide.
I made up my mind that the first thing to be done was to take the
children East and then decide on schools afterwards. So our plans
were completed and the day of departure fixed upon. Jack was to
remain at the Post.
About an hour before I was to leave I saw the members of the
string orchestra filing across the parade ground, coming directly
towards our quarters. My heart began to beat faster, as I
realized that Mrs. Kautz had planned a serenade for me. I felt it
was a great break in my army life, but I did not know I was
leaving the old regiment forever, the regiment with which I had
been associated for so many years. And as I listened to the
beautiful strains of the music I loved so well, my eyes were wet
with tears, and after all the goodbye's were said, to the
officers and their wives, my friends who had shared all our joys
and our sorrows in so many places and under so many conditions, I
ran out to the stable and pressed my cheek against the soft warm
noses of our two saddle horses. I felt that life was over for me,
and nothing but work and care remained. I say I felt all this. It
must have been premonition, for I had no idea that I was leaving
the line of the army forever.
The ambulance was at the door, to take us to Valentine, where I
bade Jack good bye, and took the train for the East. His last
promise was to visit us once a year, or whenever he could get a
leave of absence.
My husband had now worn the single bar on his shoulder-strap for
eleven years or more; before that, the straps of the second
lieutenant had adorned his broad shoulders for a period quite as
long. Twenty-two years a lieutenant in the regular army, after
fighting, in a volunteer regiment of his own state, through the
four years of the Civil War! The "gallant and meritorious
service" for which he had received brevets, seemed, indeed, to
have been forgotten. He had grown grey in Indian campaigns, and
it looked as if the frontier might always be the home of the
senior lieutenant of the old Eighth. Promotion in that regiment
had been at a standstill for years.
Being in Washington for a short time towards mid-winter enjoying
the social side of military life at the Capital, an opportunity
came to me to meet President Cleveland, and although his
administration was nearing its close, and the stress of official
cares was very great, he seemed to have leisure and interest to
ask me about my life on the frontier; and as the conversation
became quite personal, the impulse seized me, to tell him just
how I felt about the education of our children, and then to tell
him what I thought and what others thought about the unjust way
in which the promotions and retirements in our regiment had been
He listened with the greatest interest and seemed pleased with my
frankness. He asked me what the soldiers and officers out there
thought of "So and So." "They hate him," I said.
Whereupon he laughed outright and I knew I had committed an
indiscretion, but life on the frontier does not teach one
diplomacy of speech, and by that time I was nerved up to say just
what I felt, regardless of results.
"Well," he said, smiling, "I am afraid I cannot interfere much
with those military matters;" then, pointing with his left hand
and thumb towards the War Department, "they fix them all up over
there in the Adjutant General's office," he added.
Then he asked me many more questions; if I had always stayed out
there with my husband, and why I did not live in the East, as so
many army women did; and all the time I could hear the dull thud
of the carpenters' hammers, for they were building even then the
board seats for the public who would witness the inaugural
ceremonies of his successor, and with each stroke of the hammer,
his face seemed to grow more sad.
I felt the greatness of the man; his desire to be just and good:
his marvellous personal power, his ability to understand and to
sympathize, and when I parted from him he said again laughingly,
"Well, I shall not forget your husband's regiment, and if
anything turns up for those fine men you have told me about, they
will hear from me." And I knew they were the words of a man, who
meant what he said.
In the course of our conversation he had asked, "Who are these
men? Do they ever come to Washington? I rarely have these things
explained to me and I have little time to interfere with the
decisions of the Adjutant General's office."
I replied: "No, Mr. President, they are not the men you see
around Washington. Our regiment stays on the frontier, and these
men are the ones who do the fighting, and you people here in
Washington are apt to forget all about them."
"What have they ever done? Were they in the Civil War?" he asked.
"Their records stand in black and white in the War Department," I
replied, "if you have the interest to learn more about them."
"Women's opinions are influenced by their feelings," he said.
"Mine are based upon what I know, and I am prepared to stand by
my convictions," I replied.
Soon after this interview, I returned to New York and I did not
give the matter very much further thought, but my impression of
the greatness of Mr. Cleveland and of his powerful personality
has remained with me to this day.
A vacancy occurred about this time in the Quartermaster's
Department, and the appointment was eagerly sought for by many
Lieutenants of the army. President Cleveland saw fit to give the
appointment to Lieutenant Summerhayes, making him a Captain and
Quartermaster, and then, another vacancy occurring shortly after,
he appointed Lieutenant John McEwen Hyde to be also a Captain and
Lieutenant Hyde stood next in rank to my husband and had grown
grey in the old Eighth Infantry. So the regiment came in for its
honor at last, and General Kautz, when the news of the second
appointment reached him, exclaimed, "Well! well! does the
President think my regiment a nursery for the Staff?"
The Eighth Foot and the Ninth Horse at Niobrara gave the new
Captain and Quartermaster a rousing farewell, for now my husband
was leaving his old regiment forever; and, while he appreciated
fully the honor of his new staff position, he felt a sadness at
breaking off the associations of so many years--a sadness which
can scarcely be understood by the young officers of the present
day, who are promoted from one regiment to another, and rarely
remain long enough with one organization to know even the men of
their own Company.
There were many champagne suppers, dinners and card-parties given
for him, to make the good-bye something to be remembered, and at
the end of a week's festivities, he departed by a night train
from Valentine, thus eluding the hospitality of those generous
but wild frontiersmen, who were waiting to give him what they
call out there a "send-off."
For Valentine was like all frontier towns; a row of stores and
saloons. The men who kept them were generous, if somewhat rough.
One of the officers of the post, having occasion to go to the
railroad station one day at Valentine, saw the body of a man
hanging to a telegraph pole a short distance up the track. He
said to the station man: "What does that mean?" (nodding his head
in the direction of the telegraph pole).
"Why, it means just this," said the station man, "the people who
hung that man last night had the nerve to put him right in front
of this place, by G--. What would the passengers think of this
town, sir, as they went by? Why, the reputation of Valentine
would be ruined! Yes, sir, we cut him down and moved him up a
pole or two. He was a hard case, though," he added.
I made haste to present Captain Summerhayes with the
shoulder-straps of his new rank, when he joined me in New York.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * *
The orders for Santa Fe reached us in mid-summer at Nantucket. I
knew about as much of Santa Fe as the average American knows, and
that was nothing; but I did know that the Staff appointment
solved the problem of education for us (for Staff officers are
usually stationed in cities), and I knew that our frontier life
was over. I welcomed the change, for our children were getting
older, and we were ourselves approaching the age when comfort
means more to one than it heretofore has.
Jack obeyed his sudden orders, and I followed him as soon as
Arriving at Santa Fe in the mellow sunlight of an October day, we
were met by my husband and an officer of the Tenth Infantry, and
as we drove into the town, its appearance of placid content, its
ancient buildings, its great trees, its clear air, its friendly,
indolent-looking inhabitants, gave me a delightful feeling of
home. A mysterious charm seemed to possess me. It was the spell
which that old town loves to throw over the strangers who venture
off the beaten track to come within her walls.
Lying only eighteen miles away, over a small branch road from
Llamy (a station on the Atchison and Topeka Railroad), few people
take the trouble to stop over to visit it. "Dead old town," says
the commercial traveller, "nothing doing there."
And it is true.
But no spot that I have visited in this country has thrown around
me the spell of enchantment which held me fast in that sleepy and
The Governor's Palace, the old plaza, the ancient churches, the
antiquated customs, the Sisters' Hospital, the old Convent of Our
Lady of Loretto, the soft music of the Spanish tongue, I loved
There were no factories; no noise was ever heard; the sun shone
peacefully on, through winter and summer alike. There was no
cold, no heat, but a delightful year-around climate. Why the
place was not crowded with health seekers, was a puzzle to me. I
had thought that the bay of San Francisco offered the most
agreeable climate in America, but, in the Territory of New Mexico,
Santa Fe was the perfection of all climates combined.
The old city lies in the broad valley of the Santa Fe Creek, but
the valley of the Santa Fe Creek lies seven thousand feet above
the sea level. I should never have known that we were living at a
great altitude, if I had not been told, for the equable climate
made us forget to inquire about height or depth or distance.
I listened to old Father de Fourri preach his short sermons in
English to the few Americans who sat on one side of the aisle, in
the church of Our Lady of Guadaloupe; then, turning with an easy
gesture towards his Mexican congregation, who sat or knelt near
the sanctuary, and saying, "Hermanos mios," he gave the same
discourse in good Spanish. I felt comfortable in the thought that
I was improving my Spanish as well as profiting by Father de
Fourri's sound logic. This good priest had grown old at Santa Fe
in the service of his church.
The Mexican women, with their black ribosos wound around their
heads and concealing their faces, knelt during the entire mass,
and made many long responses in Latin.
After years spent in a heathenish manner, as regards all church
observations, this devout and unique service, following the
customs of ancient Spain, was interesting to me in the extreme.
Sometimes on a Sunday afternoon I attended Vespers in the chapel
of the Sisters' Hospital (as it was called). A fine Sanitarium,
managed entirely by the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity.
Sister Victoria, who was at the head of the management, was not
only a very beautiful woman, but she had an agreeable voice and
always led in the singing.
It seemed like Heaven.
I wrote to my friends in the East to come to the Sisters'
Hospital if they wanted health, peace and happiness, for it was
surely to be found there. I visited the convent of Our Lady of
Loretto: I stood before a high wall in an embrasure of which
there was a low wooden gate; I pulled on a small knotted string
which hung out of a little hole, and a queer old bell rang. Then
one of the nuns came and let me in, across a beautiful garden to
the convent school. I placed my little daughter as a day pupil
there, as she was now eleven years old. The nuns spoke very
little English and the children none at all.
The entire city was ancient, Spanish, Catholic, steeped in a
religious atmosphere and in what the average American Protestant
would call the superstitions of the dark ages. There were endless
fiestas, and processions and religious services, I saw them all
and became much interested in reading the history of the Catholic
missions, established so early out through what was then a wild
and unexplored country. After that, I listened with renewed
interest to old Father de Fouri, who had tended and led his flock
of simple people so long and so lovingly.
There was a large painting of Our Lady of Guadaloupe over the
altar--these people firmly believed that she had appeared to
them, on the earth, and so strong was the influence around me
that I began almost to believe it too. I never missed the Sunday
morning mass, and I fell in easily with the religious
I read and studied about the old explorers, and I seemed to live
in the time of Cortez and his brave band. I became acquainted
with Adolf Bandelier, who had lived for years in that country,
engaged in research for the American Archaeological Society. I
visited the Indian pueblos, those marvellous structures of adobe,
where live entire tribes, and saw natives who have not changed
their manner of speech or dress since the days when the Spaniards
first penetrated to their curious dwellings, three hundred or
more years ago. I climbed the rickety ladders, by which one
enters these strange dwellings, and bought the great bowls which
these Indians shape in some manner without the assistance of a
potter's wheel, and then bake in their mud ovens.
The pueblo of Tesuque is only nine miles from Santa Fe, and a
pleasant drive, at that; it seemed strange to me that the road
was not lined with tourists. But no, they pass all these wonders
by, in their disinclination to go off the beaten track.
Visiting the pueblos gets to be a craze. Governor and Mrs. Prince
knew them all--the pueblo of Taos, of Santa Clara, San Juan, and
others; and the Governor's collection of great stone idols was a
marvel indeed. He kept them laid out on shelves, which resembled
the bunks on a great vessel, and in an apartment especially
reserved for them, in his residence at Santa Fe, and it was
always with considerable awe that I entered that apartment. The
Governor occupied at that time a low, rambling adobe house, on
Palace Avenue, and this, with its thick walls and low
window-seats, made a fit setting for the treasures they had
Later on, the Governor's family occupied the palace (as it is
always called) of the old Spanish Viceroy, a most ancient,
picturesque, yet dignified building, facing the plaza.
The various apartments in this old palace were used for
Government offices when we were stationed there in 1889, and in
one of these rooms, General Lew Wallace, a few years before, had
written his famous book, "Ben Hur."
On the walls were hanging old portraits painted by the Spaniards
in the sixteenth century. They were done on rawhide, and whether
these interesting and historic pictures have been preserved by
our Government I do not know.
The distinguished Anglican clergyman living there taught a small
class of boys, and the "Academy," an excellent school
established by the Presbyterian Board of Missions, afforded good
advantages for the young girls of the garrison. And as we had
found that the Convent of Loretto was not just adapted to the
education of an American child, we withdrew Katharine from that
school and placed her at the Presbyterian Academy.
To be sure, the young woman teacher gave a rousing lecture on
total abstinence once a week; going even so far as to say, that
to partake of apple sauce which had begun to ferment was yielding
to the temptations of Satan. The young woman's arguments made a
disastrous impression upon our children's minds; so much so, that
the rich German Jews whose daughters attended the school
complained greatly; for, as they told us, these girls would
hasten to snatch the decanters from the sideboard, at the
approach of visitors, and hide them, and they began to sit in
judgment upon their elders. Now these men were among the leading
citizens of the town; they were self-respecting and wealthy. They
could not stand these extreme doctrines, so opposed to their life
and their traditions. We informed Miss X. one day that she could
excuse our children from the total abstinence lecture, or we
should be compelled to withdraw them from the school. She said
she could not compel them to listen, but preach she must. She
remained obedient to her orders from the Board, and we could but
respect her for that. Our young daughters were, however, excused
from the lecture.
But our time was not entirely given up to the study of ancient
pottery, for the social life there was delightful. The garrison
was in the centre of the town, the houses were comfortable, and
the streets shaded by old trees. The Tenth Infantry had its
headquarters and two companies there. Every afternoon, the
military band played in the Plaza, where everybody went and sat
on benches in the shade of the old trees, or, if cool, in the
delightful sunshine. The pretty and well-dressed senoritas cast
shy glances at the young officers of the Tenth; but, alas! the
handsome and attractive Lieutenants Van Vliet and Seyburn, and
the more sedate Lieutenant Plummer, could not return these
bewitching glances, as they were all settled in life.
The two former officers had married in Detroit, and both Mrs. Van
Vliet and Mrs. Seyburn did honor to the beautiful city of
Michigan, for they were most agreeable and clever women, and
presided over their army homes with distinguished grace and
The Americans who lived there were all professional people;
mostly lawyers, and a few bankers. I could not understand why so
many Eastern lawyers lived there. I afterwards learned that the
old Spanish land grants had given rise to illimitable and
Every morning we rode across country. There were no fences, but
the wide irrigation ditches gave us a plenty of excitement, and
the riding was glorious. I had no occasion yet to realize that we
had left the line of the army.
A camping trip to the head-waters of the Pecos, where we caught
speckled trout in great abundance in the foaming riffles and
shallow pools of this rushing mountain stream, remaining in camp
a week under the spreading boughs of the mighty pines, added to
the variety and delights of our life there.
With such an existence as this, good health and diversion, the
time passed rapidly by.
It was against the law now for soldiers to marry; the old days of
"laundresses" had passed away. But the trombone player of the
Tenth Infantry band (a young Boston boy) had married a wife, and
now a baby had come to them. They could get no quarters, so we
took the family in, and, as the wife was an excellent cook, we
were able to give many small dinners. The walls of the house
being three feet thick, we were never troubled by the trombone
practice or the infant's cries. And many a delightful evening we
had around the board, with Father de Fourri, Rev. Mr. Meany (the
Anglican clergyman), the officers and ladies of the Tenth,
Governor and Mrs. Prince, and the brilliant lawyer folk of Santa
Such an ideal life cannot last long; this existence of ours does
not seem to be contrived on those lines. At the end of a year,
orders came for Texas, and perhaps it was well that orders came,
or we might be in Santa Fe to-day, wrapt in a dream of past ages;
for the city of the Holy Faith had bound us with invisible
With our departure from Santa Fe, all picturesqueness came to an
end in our army life. Ever after that, we had really good houses
to live in, which had all modern arrangements; we had beautiful,
well-kept lawns and gardens, the same sort of domestic service
that civilians have, and lived almost the same life.
Whenever I think of San Antonio and Fort Sam Houston, the perfume
of the wood violet which blossomed in mid-winter along the
borders of our lawn, and the delicate odor of the Cape jessamine,
seem to be wafted about me.
Fort Sam Houston is the Headquarters of the Department of Texas,
and all the Staff officers live there, in comfortable stone
houses, with broad lawns shaded by chinaberry trees. Then at the
top of the hill is a great quadrangle, with a clock tower and all
the department offices. On the other side of this quadrangle is
the post, where the line officers live.
General Stanley commanded the Department. A fine, dignified and
able man, with a great record as an Indian fighter. Jack knew him
well, as he had been with him in the first preliminary survey for
the northern Pacific Railroad, when he drove old Sitting Bull
back to the Powder River.
He was now about to reach the age of retirement; and as the day
approached, that day when a man has reached the limit of his
usefulness (in the opinion of an ever-wise Government), that day
which sounds the knell of active service, that day so dreaded and
yet so longed for, that day when an army officer is sixty-four
years old and Uncle Sam lays him upon the shelf, as that day
approached, the city of San Antonio, in fact the entire State of
Texas poured forth to bid him Godspeed; for if ever an army man
was beloved, it was General Stanley by the State of Texas.
Now on the other side of the great quadrangle lay the post, where
were the soldiers' barracks and quarters of the line officers.
This was commanded by Colonel Coppinger, a gallant officer, who
had fought in many wars in many countries.
He had his famous regiment, the Twenty-third Infantry, and many
were the pleasant dances and theatricals we had, with the music
furnished by their band; for, as it was a time of peace, the
troops were all in garrison.
Major Burbank was there also, with his well-drilled Light Battery
of the 3rd Artillery.
My husband, being a Captain and Quartermaster, served directly
under General George H. Weeks, who was Chief Quartermaster of the
Department, and I can never forget his kindness to us both. He
was one of the best men I ever knew, in the army or out of it,
and came to be one of my dearest friends. He possessed the sturdy
qualities of his Puritan ancestry, united with the charming
manners of an aristocrat.
We belonged, of course, now, with the Staff, and something, an
intangible something, seemed to have gone out of the life. The
officers were all older, and the Staff uniforms were more sombre.
I missed the white stripe of the infantry, and the yellow of the
cavalry. The shoulder-straps all had gold eagles or leaves on
them, instead of the Captains' or Lieutenants' bars. Many of the
Staff officers wore civilians' clothes, which distressed me much,
and I used to tell them that if I were Secretary of War they
would not be permitted to go about in black alpaca coats and
"What would you have us do?" said General Weeks.
"Wear white duck and brass buttons," I replied.
"Fol-de-rol!" said the fine-looking and erect Chief
Quartermaster; "you would have us be as vain as we were when we
"You can afford to be," I answered; for, even with his threescore
years, he had retained the lines of youth, and was, in my
opinion, the finest looking man in the Staff of the Army.
But all my reproaches and all my diplomacy were of no avail in
reforming the Staff. Evidently comfort and not looks was their
One day, I accidentally caught a side view of myself in a long
mirror (long mirrors had not been very plentiful on the
frontier), and was appalled by the fact that my own lines
corresponded but too well, alas! with those of the Staff. Ah, me!
were the days, then, of Lieutenants forever past and gone? The
days of suppleness and youth, the careless gay days, when there
was no thought for the future, no anxiety about education, when
the day began with a wild dash across country and ended with a
dinner and dance---were they over, then, for us all?
Major Burbank's battery of light artillery came over and
enlivened the quiet of our post occasionally with their brilliant
red color. At those times, we all went out and stood in the music
pavilion to watch the drill; and when his horses and guns and
caissons thundered down the hill and swept by us at a terrific
gallop, our hearts stood still. Even the dignified Staff
permitted themselves a thrill, and as for us women, our
excitement knew no bounds.
The brilliant red of the artillery brought color to the rather
grey aspect of the quiet Headquarters post, and the magnificent
drill supplied the martial element so dear to a woman's heart.
In San Antonio, the New has almost obliterated the Old, and
little remains except its pretty green river, its picturesque
bridges, and the historic Alamo, to mark it from other cities in
In the late afternoon, everybody drove to the Plaza, where all
the country people were selling their garden-stuff and poultry in
the open square. This was charming, and we all bought live fowl
and drove home again. One heard cackling and gobbling from the
smart traps and victorias, and it seemed to be a survival of an
old custom. The whole town took a drive after that, and supped at
The San Antonio people believe there is no climate to equal
theirs, and talk much about the cool breezes from the Gulf of
Mexico, which is some miles away. But I found seven months of the
twelve too hot for comfort, and I could never detect much
coolness in the summer breezes.
After I settled down to the sedateness which is supposed to
belong to the Staff, I began to enjoy life very much. There is
compensation for every loss, and I found, with the new friends,
many of whom had lived their lives, and had known sorrow and joy,
a true companionship which enriched my life, and filled the days
My son had completed the High School course in San Antonio, under
an able German master, and had been sent East to prepare for the
Stevens Institute of Technology, and in the following spring I
took my daughter Katharine and fled from the dreaded heat of a
Texas summer. Never can I forget the child's grief on parting
from her Texas pony. She extorted a solemn promise from her
father, who was obliged to stay in Texas, that he would never
part with him.
My brother, then unmarried, and my sister Harriet were living
together in New Rochelle and to them we went. Harry's vacation
enabled him to be with us, and we had a delightful summer. It was
good to be on the shores of Long Island Sound.
In the autumn, not knowing what next was in store for us, I
placed my dear little Katharine at the Convent of the Sacred
Heart at Kenwood on the Hudson, that she might be able to
complete her education in one place, and in the care of those
lovely, gentle and refined ladies of that order.
Shortly after that, Captain Jack was ordered to David's Island,
New York Harbor (now called Fort Slocum), where we spent four
happy and uninterrupted years, in the most constant intercourse
with my dear brother and sister.
Old friends were coming and going all the time, and it seemed so
good to us to be living in a place where this was possible.
Captain Summerhayes was constructing officer and had a busy life,
with all the various sorts of building to be done there.
David's Island was then an Artillery Post, and there were several
batteries stationed there. (Afterwards it became a recruiting
station.) The garrison was often entirely changed. At one time,
General Henry C. Cook was in command. He and his charming
Southern wife added so much to the enjoyment of the post. Then
came our old friends the Van Vliets of Santa Fe days; and Dr. and
Mrs. Valery Havard, who are so well known in the army, and then
Colonel Carl Woodruff and Mrs. Woodruff, whom we all liked so
much, and dear Doctor Julian Cabell, and others, who completed a
And we had a series of informal dances and invited the
distinguished members of the artist colony from New Rochelle, and
it was at one of these dances that I first met Frederic
Remington. I had long admired his work and had been most anxious
to meet him. As a rule, Frederic did not attend any social
functions, but he loved the army, and as Mrs. Remington was fond
of social life, they were both present at our first little
About the middle of the evening I noticed Mr. Remington sitting
alone and I crossed the hall and sat down beside him. I then told
him how much I had loved his work and how it appealed to all army
folks, and how glad I was to know him, and I suppose I said many
other things such as literary men and painters and players often
have to hear from enthusiastic women like myself. However,
Frederic seemed pleased, and made some modest little speech and
then fell into an abstracted silence, gazing on the great flag
which was stretched across the hall at one end, and from behind
which some few soldiers who were going to assist in serving the
supper were passing in and out. I fell in with his mood
immediately, as he was a person with whom formality was
impossible, and said: "What are you looking at, Mr. Remington?"
He replied, turning upon me his round boyish face and his blue
eyes gladdening, "I was just thinking I wished I was behind in
there where those blue jackets are--you know--behind that flag
with the soldiers--those are the men I like to study, you know, I
don't like all this fuss and feathers of society"--then, blushing
at his lack of gallantry, he added: "It's all right, of course,
pretty women and all that, and I suppose you think I'm dreadful
and--do you want me to dance with you--that's the proper thing
here isn't it?" Whereupon, he seized me in his great arms and
whirled me around at a pace I never dreamed of, and, once around,
he said, "that's enough of this thing, isn't it, let's sit down,
I believe I'm going to like you, though I'm not much for women."
I said "You must come over here often;" and he replied, "You've
got a lot of jolly good fellows over here and I will do it."
Afterwards, the Remingtons and ourselves became the closest
friends. Mrs. Remington's maiden name was Eva Caton, and after
the first few meetings, she became "little Eva" to me--and if
ever there was an embodiment of that gentle lovely name and what
it implies, it is this woman, the wife of the great artist, who
has stood by him through all the reverses of his early life and
been, in every sense, his guiding star.
And now began visits to the studio, a great room he had built on
to his house at New Rochelle. It had an enormous fire place where
great logs were burned, and the walls were hung with the most
rare and wonderful Indian curios. There he did all the painting
which has made him famous in the last twenty years, and all the
modelling which has already become so well known and would have
eventually made him a name as a great sculptor. He always worked
steadily until three o'clock and then there was a walk or game of
tennis or a ride. After dinner, delightful evenings in the
Frederic was a student and a deep thinker. He liked to solve all
questions for himself and did not accept readily other men's
theories. He thought much on religious subjects and the future
life, and liked to compare the Christian religion with the
religions of Eastern countries, weighing them one against the
other with fairness and clear logic.
And so we sat, many evenings into the night, Frederic and Jack
stretched in their big leather chairs puffing away at their
pipes, Eva with her needlework,and myself a rapt listener:
wondering at this man of genius, who could work with his creative
brush all day long and talk with the eloquence of a learned
Doctor of Divinity half the night.
During the time we were stationed at Davids Island, Mr. Remington
and Jack made a trip to the Southwest, where they shot the
peccary (wild hog) in Texas and afterwards blue quail and other
game in Mexico. Artist and soldier, they got on famously together
notwithstanding the difference in their ages.
And now he was going to try his hand at a novel, a real romance.
We talked a good deal about the little Indian boy, and I got to
love White Weasel long before he appeared in print as John
Ermine.The book came out after we had left New Rochelle--but I
received a copy from him, and wrote him my opinion of it, which
was one of unstinted praise. But it did not surprise me to learn
that he did not consider it a success from a financial point of
"You see," he said a year afterwards, "that sort of thing does
not interest the public. What they want,"--here he began to mimic
some funny old East Side person, and both hands
gesticulating--"is a back yard and a cabbage patch and a cook
stove and babies' clothes drying beside it, you see, Mattie," he
said. "They don't want to know anything about the Indian or the
half-breed, or what he thinks or believes." And then he went off
into one of his irresistible tirades combining ridicule and abuse
of the reading public, in language such as only Frederic
Remington could use before women and still retain his dignity.
"Well, Frederic," I said, "I will try to recollect that, when I
write my experiences of Army Life."
In writing him my opinion of his book the year before, I had
said, "In fact, I am in love with John Ermine." The following
Christmas he sent me the accompanying card.
Now the book was dramatized and produced, with Hackett as John
Ermine, at the Globe Theatre in September of 1902--the hottest
weather ever on record in Boston at that season. Of course seats
were reserved for us; we were living at Nantucket that year, and
we set sail at noon to see the great production. We snatched a
bite of supper at a near-by hotel in Boston and hurried to the
theatre, but being late, had some difficulty in getting our
The curtain was up and there sat Hackett, not with long yellow
hair (which was the salient point in the half-breed scout) but
rather well-groomed, looking more like a parlor Indian than a
real live half-breed, such as all we army people knew. I thought
"this will never do."
The house was full, Hackett did the part well, and the audience
murmured on going out: "a very artistic success." But the play
was too mystical, too sad. It would have suited the "New Theatre"
patrons better. I wrote him from Nantucket and criticized one or
two minor points, such as the 1850 riding habits of the women,
which were slouchy and unbecoming and made the army people look
like poor emigrants and I received this letter in reply:
NEW ROCHELLE, N. Y.
My dear Mrs. S.,
Much obliged for your talk--it is just what we want--proper
I fought for that long hair but the management said the audience
has got to, have some Hackett--why I could not see--but he is a
matinee idol and that long with the box office.
We'll dress Katherine up better.
The long rehearsals at night nearly killed me--I was completely
done up and came home on train Monday in that terrific heat and
now I am in the hands of a doctor. Imagine me a week without
Hope that fight took Jack back to his youth. For the stage I
don't think it was bad. We'll get grey shirts on their men later.
The old lady arrives to-day--she has been in Gloversville.
I think the play will go--but, we may have to save Ermine. The
public is a funny old cat and won't stand for the mustard.
Well, glad you had a good time and of course you can't charge me
up with the heat.
Remington made a trip to the Yellowstone Park and this is what he
wrote to Jack. His letters were never dated.
My dear Summerhayes:
Say if you could get a few puffs of this cold air out here you
would think you were full of champagne water. I feel like a d---
I thought I should never be young again--but here I am only 14
years old--my whiskers are falling out.
Capt. Brown of the 1st cay. wishes to be remembered to you both.
He is Park Superintendent. Says if you will come out here he will
take care of you and he would.
Am painting and doing some good work. Made a "govt. six" yesterday.
In the course of time, he bought an Island in the St. Lawrence
and they spent several summers there.
On the occasion of my husband accepting a detail in active
service in Washington at the Soldiers' Home, after his
retirement, he received the following letter.
INGLENEUK, CHIPPEWA BAY, N. Y.
My dear Jack--
So there you are--and I'm d--- glad you are so nicely fixed. It's
the least they could do for you and you ought to be able to enjoy
it for ten years before they find any spavins on you if you will
behave yourself, but I guess you will drift into that Army and
Navy Club and round up with a lot of those old alkalied
prairie-dogs whom neither Indians nor whiskey could kill and Mr.
Gout will take you over his route to Arlington.
I'm on the water wagon and I feel like a young mule. I am never
going to get down again to try the walking. If I lose my whip I
am going to drive right on and leave it.
We are having a fine summer and I may run over to Washington this
winter and throw my eye over you to see how you go. We made a
trip down to New Foundland but saw nothing worth while. I guess I
am getting to be an old swat--I can't see anything that didn't
happen twenty years ago,
At the close of the year just gone, this great soul passed from
the earth leaving a blank in our lives that nothing can ever
fill. Passed into the great Beyond whose mysteries were always
troubling his mind. Suddenly and swiftly the call came--the hand
was stilled and the restless spirit took its flight.
At Davids' Island the four happiest years of my army life glided
There was a small steam tug which made regular and frequent trips
over to New Rochelle and we enjoyed our intercourse with the
artists and players who lived there.
Zogbaum, whose well known pictures of sailors and warships and
soldiers had reached us even in the far West, and whose charming
family added so much to our pleasure.
Julian Hawthorne with his daughter Hildegarde, now so well known
as a literary critic; Henry Loomis Nelson, whose fair daughter
Margaret came to our little dances and promptly fell in love with
a young, slim, straight Artillery officer. A case of love at
first sight, followed by a short courtship and a beautiful little
country wedding at Miss Nelson's home on the old Pelham Road,
where Hildegarde Hawthorne was bridesmaid in a white dress and
scarlet flowers (the artillery colors) and many famous literary
people from everywhere were present.
Augustus Thomas, the brilliant playwright, whose home was near
the Remingtons on Lathers' Hill, and whose wife, so young, so
beautiful and so accomplished, made that home attractive and
Francis Wilson, known to the world at large, first as a singer in
comic opera, and now as an actor and author, also lived in New
Rochelle, and we came to have the honor of being numbered
amongst his friends. A devoted husband and kind father, a man of
letters and a book lover, such is the man as we knew him in his
home and with his family.
And now came the delicious warm summer days. We persuaded the
Quartermaster to prop up the little row of old bathing houses
which had toppled over with the heavy winter gales. There were
several bathing enthusiasts amongst us; we had a pretty fair
little stretch of beach which was set apart for the officers'
families, and now what bathing parties we had! Kemble, the
illustrator, joined our ranks--and on a warm summer morning the
little old Tug Hamilton was gay with the artists and their
families, the players and writers of plays, and soon you could
see the little garrison hastening to the beach and the swimmers
running down the long pier, down the run-way and off head first
into the clear waters of the Sound. What a company was that! The
younger and the older ones all together, children and their
fathers and mothers, all happy, all well, all so gay, and we of
the frontier so enamored of civilization and what it brought us!
There were no intruders and ah! those were happy days. Uncle Sam
seemed to be making up to us for what we had lost during all
those long years in the wild places.
Then Augustus Thomas wrote the play of "Arizona" and we went to
New York to see it put on, and we sat in Mr. Thomas' box and saw
our frontier life brought before us with startling reality.
And so one season followed another. Each bringing its pleasures,
and then came another lovely wedding, for my brother Harry gave
up his bachelor estate and married one of the nicest and
handsomest girls in Westchester County, and their home in New
Rochelle was most attractive. My son was at the Stevens Institute
and both he and Katharine were able to spend their vacations at
David's Island, and altogether, our life there was near to
We were doomed to have one more tour in the West, however, and
this time it was the Middle West.
For in the autumn of '96, Jack was ordered to Jefferson
Barracks, Missouri, on construction work.
Jefferson Barracks is an old and historic post on the Mississippi
River, some ten miles south of St. Louis. I could not seem to
take any interest in the post or in the life there. I could not
form new ties so quickly, after our life on the coast, and I did
not like the Mississippi Valley, and St. Louis was too far from
the post, and the trolley ride over there too disagreeable for
words. After seven months of just existing (on my part) at
Jefferson Barracks, Jack received an order for Fort Myer, the
end, the aim, the dream of all army people. Fort Myer is about
three miles from Washington, D. C.
We lost no time in getting there and were soon settled in our
pleasant quarters. There was some building to be done, but the
duty was comparatively light, and we entered with considerable
zest into the social life of the Capital. We expected to remain
there for two years, at the end of which time Captain Summerhayes
would be retired and Washington would be our permanent home.
But alas! our anticipation was never to be realized, for, as we
all know, in May of 1898, the Spanish War broke out, and my
husband was ordered to New York City to take charge of the Army
Transport Service, under Colonel Kimball.
No delay was permitted to him, so I was left behind, to pack up
the household goods and to dispose of our horses and carriages as
best I could.
The battle of Manila Bay had changed the current of our lives,
and we were once more adrift.
The young Cavalry officers came in to say good-bye to Captain
Jack: every one was busy packing up his belongings for an
indefinite period and preparing for the field. We all felt the
undercurrent of sadness and uncertainty, but "a good health" and
"happy return" was drunk all around, and Jack departed at
midnight for his new station and new duties.
The next morning at daybreak we were awakened by the tramp, tramp
of the Cavalry, marching out of the post, en route for Cuba.
We peered out of the windows and watched the troops we loved so
well, until every man and horse had vanished from our sight.
Fort Myer was deserted and our hearts were sad.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
My sister Harriet, who was visiting us at that time, returned
from her morning walk, and as she stepped upon the porch, she
said: "Well! of all lonesome places I ever saw, this is the worst
yet. I am going to pack my trunk and leave. I came to visit an
army post, but not an old women's home or an orphan asylum: that
is about all this place is now. I simply cannot stay!"
Whereupon, she proceeded immediately to carry out her resolution,
and I was left behind with my young daughter, to finish and close
up our life at Fort Myer.
To describe the year which followed, that strenuous year in New
York, is beyond my power.
That summer gave Jack his promotion to a Major, but the anxiety
and the terrible strain of official work broke down his health
entirely, and in the following winter the doctors sent him to
Florida, to recuperate.
After six weeks in St. Augustine, we returned to New York. The
stress of the war was over; the Major was ordered to Governor's
Island as Chief Quartermaster, Department of the East, and in the
following year he was retired, by operation of the law, at the
I was glad to rest from the incessant changing of stations; the
life had become irksome to me, in its perpetual unrest. I was
glad to find a place to lay my head, and to feel that we were not
under orders; to find and to keep a roof-tree, under which we
could abide forever.
In 1903, by an act of Congress, the veterans of the Civil War,
who had served continuously for thirty years or more were given
an extra grade, so now my hero wears with complacency the silver
leaf of the Lieutenant-Colonel, and is enjoying the quiet life of
But that fatal spirit of unrest from which I thought to escape,
and which ruled my life for so many years, sometimes asserts its
power, and at those times my thoughts turn back to the days when
we were all Lieutenants together, marching across the deserts and
mountains of Arizona; back to my friends of the Eighth Infantry,
that historic regiment, whose officers and men fought before the
walls of Chapultepec and Mexico, back to my friends of the Sixth
Cavalry, to the days at Camp MacDowell, where we slept under the
stars, and watched the sun rise from behind the Four Peaks of the
MacDowell Mountains: where we rode the big cavalry horses over
the sands of the Maricopa desert, swung in our hammocks under the
ramadas; swam in the red waters of the Verde River, ate canned
peaches, pink butter and commissary hams, listened for the
scratching of the centipedes as they scampered around the edges
of our canvas-covered floors, found scorpions in our slippers,
and rattlesnakes under our beds.
The old post is long since abandoned, but the Four Peaks still
stand, wrapped in their black shadows by night, and their purple
colors by day, waiting for the passing of the Apache and the
coming of the white man, who shall dig his canals in those arid
plains, and build his cities upon the ruins of the ancient Aztec
The Sixth Cavalry, as well as the Eighth Infantry, has seen many
vicissitudes since those days. Some of our gallant Captains and
Lieutenants have won their stars, others have been slain in
Dear, gentle Major Worth received wounds in the Cuban campaign,
which caused his death, but he wore his stars before he obeyed
the "last call."
The gay young officers of Angel Island days hold dignified
commands in the Philippines, Cuba, and Alaska.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * *
My early experiences were unusually rough. None of us seek such
experiences, but possibly they bring with them a sort of
recompense, in that simple comforts afterwards seem, by contrast,
to be the greatest luxuries.
I am glad to have known the army: the soldiers, the line, and the
Staff; it is good to think of honor and chivalry, obedience to
duty and the pride of arms; to have lived amongst men whose
motives were unselfish and whose aims were high; amongst men who
served an ideal; who stood ready, at the call of their country,
to give their lives for a Government which is, to them, the best
in the world.
Sometimes I hear the still voices of the Desert: they seem to be
calling me through the echoes of the Past. I hear, in fancy, the
wheels of the ambulance crunching the small broken stones of the
malapais, or grating swiftly over the gravel of the smooth white
roads of the river-bottoms. I hear the rattle of the ivory rings
on the harness of the six-mule team; I see the soldiers marching
on ahead; I see my white tent, so inviting after a long day's
But how vain these fancies! Railroad and automobile have
annihilated distance, the army life of those years is past and
gone, and Arizona, as we knew it, has vanished from the face of
NANTUCKET ISLAND, June 1910.
When, a few years ago, I determined to write my recollections of
life in the army, I was wholly unfamiliar with the methods of
publishers, and the firm to whom I applied to bring out my book,
did not urge upon me the advisability of having it electrotyped,
firstly, because, as they said afterwards, I myself had such a
very modest opinion of my book, and, secondly because they
thought a book of so decidedly personal a character would not
reach a sale of more than a few hundred copies at the farthest.
The matter of electrotyping was not even discussed between us.
The entire edition of one thousand copies was exhausted in about
a year, without having been carried on the lists of any
bookseller or advertised in any way except through some circulars
sent by myself to personal friends, and through several excellent
reviews in prominent newspapers.
As the demand for the book continued, I have thought it advisable
to re-issue it, adding a good deal that has come into my mind
since its publication.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * *
It was after the Colonel's retirement that we came to spend the
summers at Nantucket, and I began to enjoy the leisure that never
comes into the life of an army woman during the active service of
her husband. We were no longer expecting sudden orders, and I was
able to think quietly over the events of the past.
My old letters which had been returned to me really gave me the
inspiration to write the book and as I read them over, the people
and the events therein described were recalled vividly to my
mind--events which I had forgotten, people whom I had
forgotten--events and people all crowded out of my memory for
many years by the pressure of family cares, and the succession of
changes in our stations, by anxiety during Indian campaigns, and
the constant readjustment of my mind to new scenes and new
And so, in the delicious quiet of the Autumn days at Nantucket,
when the summer winds had ceased to blow and the frogs had ceased
their pipings in the salt meadows, and the sea was wondering
whether it should keep its summer blue or change into its winter
grey, I sat down at my desk and began to write my story.
Looking out over the quiet ocean in those wonderful November
days, when a peaceful calm brooded over all things, I gathered up
all the threads of my various experiences and wove them together.
But the people and the lands I wrote about did not really exist
for me; they were dream people and dream lands. I wrote of them
as they had appeared to me in those early years, and, strange as
it may seem, I did not once stop to think if the people and the
lands still existed.
For a quarter of a century I had lived in the day that began with
reveille and ended with "Taps."
Now on this enchanted island, there was no reveille to awaken us
in the morning, and in the evening the only sound we could hear
was the "ruck" of the waves on the far outer shores and the sad
tolling of the bell buoy when the heaving swell of the ocean came
rolling over the bar.