VETERANS OF INDIAN WARS
by Anton Mazzanovich. Author of "Trailing Geronimo"
Do the people of this country know of a braver, more patriotic, unselfish or reliable call of men--men who never shirked hardship or duty--who have been so discriminated against as the men of the regular army, who served on the frontier from the ending of the Civil war up to 1892?
For many years the national Indian war Veterans have worked hard to obtain a pension rating on an equalization with veterans of other wars. During that time I have received many letters from congressmen and senators assuring me that they would support and vote for any measure that came up before the House and Senate allowing the Indian War veterans just compensation for services rendered while serving Uncle Sam on the frontier when a soldiers's pay was $13.00 pr month.
As Senator McNary said:
"These veterans should be recognized for opening this vast empire of the west to settlement, and keeping law and order in what at the time was the 'wild and wooly' west."
I have many letters from old comrades from different parts of the country that would make your heart ache, were you to read them. I know of no other soldier in the world, who received orders to save the last cartridge to used on himself, so that he would not be captured and tortured by the enemy, The old Indian fighters of bygone days were mostly adventurous young men, who never looked for or though of remuneration for their services, and now that they are old it is about time that a generous country should treat them as well as veterans of other wars regarding pensions. There is a charm about the old "West" that is hard to describe. Kit Carson stands out, in my estimation, above others, as a typical frontiersman, as well as others of his type. But after 1870 a new type of frontiersman, appeared. The old-time trappers, guides and hunters has almost passed on. One of the contributing causes of the new type was the coming of the repeating rifle and six-shooters. In the old days the Indians were armed with bows and arrows, or rather inferior guns, but after the close of our Civil war, the Indian's arms were up to the minute.
When the Indians took the warpath in the 70's, 80's and 90's they were a foe not to be trifled with. I'll admit that the old-timers had a pretty hard proposition to stack up against, when they met Indians with their poisoned arrows. But the braves of later date had modern rifles, and they knew how to use them. The Veterans living today are aware of that fact. There are not many left. The remaining few are rapidly going the way of the antelope and buffalo.
No soldier of other wars ever had the experience, or ever will have that they, who fought the Indians had. Personally I have attended many memorial exercised in different parts of the country, and listened to the orators of the day and wondered why they could not have paid some tribute to the men who gave up their lives on the frontier, fighting the Indians--our soldiers of the regular army. They never mention a word about them. They told their hearers that, from 1865 to 1898 our country had enjoyed profound peace. Believe me, it might have been profound peace for the swivel-chair writers, who are doing all they can to belittle the service rendered. But no so for our frontier soldiers. The speakers seemed to forget that during the "peaceful" period, our regular army and its volunteer helpers were engaged in some of the bloodiest wars of our history, some of our companies losing fifty per cent of their men, to say nothing of other companies that were completely wiped out of existence such as the troopers of the Seventh cavalry, commanded by General Custer. What about the Modoc War, The apache Wars of Arizona. New Mexico and Sonora, Mexico. The Cibicu Creek mutiny on the White Mountain apache Reservation in 1881 when General Carn's command was fired on by a company of government Indian scouts as well as hostiles. Captain Hentig and six troopers fell at the first volley. One year after a troop of the Sixth Cavalry in command of Captain William Baird gathered up the bones of those troopers and brought them in to Camp Apache. And what about the Nez Perce War, the Bannock War and the wars with the Sioux Indians? The orators of the day had much to say of the bravery of the men of the Civil war, and I as well as all of my comrades of Indian wars go on record to state that every word they said in praise of our comrades of other wars was justified. But they had no tears to shed nor words of praise for the soldiers who were killed in action against the redmen of our frontier country, the rough riding troopers who cross the dim long trail with gallant Custer. Not one word for the victims of The Fetterman fight, nor for Major Bigelow and his handful of troopers who were laid low at the batt of Wichita; not a word for General Canby, that brave capable and lovable man murdered by Captain Jack the Modoc chief. And Captain March and his forty-eight men who went out against five thousand Souix, Chippewas, Yanktons and Manktonais, during the Minnesota massacre in 1862; nine survived. The greatest fete of arms in the world when Major Powell with thirty-eight men resisted Red Cloud with three thousand warriors in six desperate charges on August 2, 1867. And those who fought at Sand Creek, Kansas-- General George A. Forsyth and his fifty men in a seven day battle with Roman nose and one thousand warriors. And those who fought with General Crook at the Battle of the Rosebud in 1876 with Generals Carr, Miles, Terry, Canby, Howard, Reno, Gregg and many other officers of as great worth as any of our nation's noted defenders.
I could continue for several pages but what is the use? This much I will say--that the brave officers of our regular army, and the cavalrymen and doughboys under their command gave a good account of themselves while in the service of Uncle Sam from 1863 to 1892.
Figures show that 823 battles were fought between the years of 1865 and 1892. This does not include data of Indian wars fought before the year 1865, nor wars or battles fought by the state or territorial troops after the year 1865, due to inability to secure compete records of them. A wonderful record, and yet what is left of those gallant sentinels of the frontier? Ex-soldiers of the wars of civilization are almost forgotten. Not monument was ever erected to their memory. The people of this country seemed to forget that the soldiers on the frontier were always on the job. They overlooked the fact that many of these soldiers marched nearly 2,000 miles in pursuit of the Nez Perce hostiles. If they slept in a bet of roses. I can testify to the fact that there were a thousand thorns in their bed to nothing of their frequently sleeping on snow banks and marching through blizzards as well as the vast deserts of Arizona and New Mexico.
Many unknown graves mark the trails of the soldiers, who rode through desert heat or blinding blizzard in winding their way through Texas and on to New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada. Also as far as the British Columbia line. These were the men who helped to win the west, who added many pages to our American history. The men who are sadly neglected by this great government and who are hardly ever mentioned for services rendered in the long ago.
However, those that are dead as well as the living, were and are proud of the fact that they served Uncle Sam and followed the stars and stripes to wherever it led in the unknown country west of the Mississippi River. And those who are waiting for the last call of boots and saddles are proud to march side by side with veterans of other wars on Decoration Day.
A veteran of the Modoc and Apache Indian Wars.
Served with the 21st U.S. Infantry and 6th U. S. Cavalry.