January 2016 ~~~~ Editor:  Cliff Hanger ~~~~
US Army Indian Scouts - Wikipedia 
Native Americans have made up an integral part of U.S. military conflicts since America's beginning. Colonists recruited Indian allies during such instances as the Pequot War from 1634–1638, the Revolutionary War, as well as in War of 1812. Native Americans also fought on both sides during the American Civil War, as well as military missions abroad including the most notable, the Codetalkers who served in World War II. The Scouts were active in the American West in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Including those who accompanied General John J. Pershing in 1916 on his expedition to Mexico in pursuit of Pancho Villa. Indian Scouts were officially deactivated in 1947 when their last member retired from the Army at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. For many Indians it was an important form of interaction with white American culture and their first major encounter with the whites’ way of thinking and doing things.
Soldiers and Indian scouts take observations
before the Battle of Big Dry Wash

Recruitment and enlistment

Recruitment of Indian scouts was first authorized on 28 July 1866 by an act of Congress.

"The President is authorized to enlist and employ in the Territories and Indian country a force of Indians not to exceed one thousand to act as scouts, who shall receive the pay and allowances of cavalry soldiers, and be discharged whenever the necessity for further employment is abated, at the discretion of the department commander."

There were different types of scouts, some enlisted as Indian Scouts for brief terms and there were others who were hired as scouts by the U.S. Army. Some individual may have served at different times as a hired scout and an enlisted scout. Prior to the act in 1866 these scouts were considered employees rather than soldiers. Enlistment records and muster rolls, from 1866 to 1912 were in many instances filed by state, some records were broken down by company or military post providing information such as when, where, and by whom the scout was enlisted; period of enlistment; place of birth; age at time of enlistment; physical description; and possibly additional remarks such as discharge information, including date and place of discharge, rank at the time, and if the scout died in service. Indian scouts who were officially enlisted in the army after 1866 were issued old pattern uniforms from surplus stock legally exempt from sale. Their uniforms were worn with less regulation, sometimes mixed with their native dress. In  1870, Captain Bourke

A group of Warm Spring Apache
of the 3rd cavalry described Apache scouts in Arizona as “almost naked, their only clothing being a muslin loin-cloth, a pair of point toed moccasins and a hat of hawk feather”. In 1876 a description of Crow Scouts reads that they wore, “an old black army hat with top cut out and sides bound round with feathers, fur and scarlet cloth”. With the availability of army clothing some Native scouts took advantage of the availability of the clothing. In 1902 when new regulations were introduced in March the U.S. Scouts received a new more regulated uniform.

In the Indian wars following the U.S. Civil War, the Indian scouts were a fast-moving, aggressive, and knowledgeable asset to the U.S. army. They often proved to be immune to army notions of discipline and demeanor, but they proved expert in traversing the vast distances of the American West and providing intelligence -- and often a shock force -- to the soldiers who sought hostile Indians. Pawnee Scout leader Luther H. North commented, "Neither the Wild Tribes, nor the Government Indian Scouts ever adopted any of the white soldier's tactics. They thought their own much better." Another chief of scouts, Stanton G. Fisher, emphasized the importance of Indian Scouts by saying of the soldiers, “Uncle Sam's boys are too slow for this business."


There existed doubts as to whether Indian Scouts would remain faithful or whether they would betray the white soldiers and turn against them in conflict. The Cibicue Apaches were among the first regular Army Scouts. They are also the only recorded 19th-century incident in which Indian scouts turned against the U.S. Army at Cibicue Creek in Arizona Territory. These Apache scouts were asked to campaign against their own kin, resulting in a mutiny against the army soldiers. Three of the scouts were court-martialed and executed.

Reduction of Forces/Pensions

The end of hostilities on the frontier meant a reduction in the number of the Indian scouts needed. Army General Order No. 28 issued on March 9, 1891 reduced the number of scouts to 150, distributed among the different departments. This brought the numbers down to; Department of Arizona, 50, Departments of the Dakota, Platte and Missouri, 25 each; Department of Texas, 15, and Departments of the Columbia, 10. Pension files provide information not only on Indian Scouts but also about his family and others with whom he may have served or who knew him or his wife. Indian Scouts and their widows became eligible for pensions with the passage of an act on March 4, 1917, relating to Indian wars from 1859 to 1891.

Notable Figures/Recognition

Frontier Scouts included; black, native and mixed blood individuals. Native involvement in military service come from different tribes and regions across the United States including Narragansett, Mohegan, Apache, Navajo and Alaska Natives (who would become involved in the 1940s).

One of the most notable U.S. Army Indian Scouts is Curley, a member of the Crow tribe who became a scout in April 1876 under Colonel John Gibbon. He then joined General Custer. Curley is most often identified as the lone survivor of “Custer's Last Stand”. He denied witnessing the battle. The Chicago Tribune published an article claiming that Curly had made statements to them about the battle. John F. Finerty claimed that "Curley said that Custer remained alive throughout the greater part of the engagement, animating his men to determined resistance, but about an hour before the close of the fight received a mortal wound."

The official website of the Navy lists the American Indian Medal of Honor recipients, including twelve from the 19th century. In the 20th century, five American Indians have been among those soldiers to be distinguished by receiving the United States' highest military honor: This honor is given for military heroism "above and beyond the call of duty”, exhibiting extraordinary bravery, and for some, making the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

The role of Native American women in the U.S. Army is being slowly filled by the efforts of such groups as The Women In Military Service For America Memorial Foundation. It is known of individuals such as Tyonajanegen, an Oneida woman, Sacajawea, a Shoshone, and various female nurses have aided the military as far back as the American Revolution. Little information is currently listed on women's roles as scouts during the 19th century.


In 1890 the Scouts were authorized to wear the branch of service insignia of crossed arrows. In 1942 the insignia was authorized to be worn by the 1st Special Service Force. As their traditions passed into the U.S. Army Special Forces, the crossed arrows became part of their insignia being authorized as branch of service insignia in 1984.

Battle of Big Dry Wash - Wikipedia

The Battle of Big Dry Wash was fought on July 17, 1882, between troops of the United States Army's 3rd Cavalry Regiment and 6th Cavalry Regiment and members of the White Mountain Apache tribe. The location of the battle was called "Big Dry Wash" in Major Evans' official report, but later maps called the location "Big Dry Fork", which is how it is cited in the four Medal of Honor citations that resulted from the battle.


In the spring of 1882, a party of about 60 White Mountain Apache warriors, coalesced under the leadership of a warrior called Na-tio-tish. In early July some of the warriors ambushed and killed four San Carlos policemen, including the police chief. After the ambush, Na-tio-tish led his band of warriors northwest through the Tonto Basin. Local Arizona settlers were greatly alarmed and demanded protection from the army which immediately sent out fourteen companies of cavalry from forts in the region.

In the middle of July, Na-tio-tish led his band up Cherry Creek to the Mogollon Rim, intending to reach General Springs, a well known water hole on the Crook Trail. The Apaches noticed that they were trailed by a single troop of cavalry and decided to lay an ambush seven miles north of General Springs where a fork of East Clear Creek cuts a gorge into the Mogollon Rim. The Apaches hid on the far side and waited.

The cavalry company was led by Captain Adna R. Chaffee. However, Chaffee's chief scout, Al Sieber, discovered the Apaches' trap and warned the troops. During the night, Chaffee's lone company was reinforced by four more from Fort Apache under the command of Major Andrew W. Evans.


Early in the morning of July 17, one company of cavalry opened fire from the rim facing the Apaches. Meanwhile, Chaffee sent two companies upstream and two downstream to sneak across the canyon and attack the Apaches. Na-tio-tish failed to post lookouts and the troops crossed over undetected. From sixteen to twenty-seven warriors were killed, including Na-tio-tish. On the ridge overlooking the wash, Lieutenant George H. Morgan commanded the first major engagement of the battle. As he exposed himself to enemy fire, a bullet ripped through his arm and into his body.

Observation before the battle.

About two hours into the battle, Lieutenant Thomas Cruse spotted an encampment site of the Apaches which appeared to be deserted. He took command of four men and dashed across the ravine to capture the camp. Upon reaching the site, several hidden warriors fired upon Cruse and his men, mortally wounding the soldier to Cruse's immediate right, Private Joseph McLernan. Cruse dragged Pvt. McLernan to back to the safety of their previous position. As the battle pitched in intensity, Lieutenant Frank West took command of Chaffee's cavalry troop while Chaffee was engaged with commanding the battle. The first shots were fired around 3:00pm and the battle lasted until nightfall, when a heavy thunderstorm struck, bringing rain and hail. Sieber, together with fellow scout Tom Horn and soldier Lt. George H. Morgan, slipped to the banks opposite of the Apache line, and provided rifle fire for the cavalry.

Pressured and outgunned, the remaining Apache warriors, under the cover of darkness and the storm, slipped away on foot and retreated to a nearby Apache reservation, about 20 miles away. The site of the battle is now a historical park, in Coconino County, Arizona.


Four men received the Medal of Honor for actions at this battle: Thomas Cruse, George H. Morgan, Charles Taylor, and Frank West. Cruse, Morgan, and West were all Lieutenants and West Point graduates. Taylor was a career soldier and troop First Sergeant at the time of the battle. This engagement was the last major battle between the United States Army and Apache warriors, the wars were not over yet however. The U.S. army would soon begin the Geronimo Campaign which ended with Geronimo's capture in 1886. Even then Apache attacks on white settlers in Arizona continued as late as the year 1900.

Canyon Diablo, Arizona - from Wikipedia

Canyon Diablo (Navajo: Kin ?igaaí) is a ghost town on the Navajo Reservation in Coconino County, Arizona, United States on the edge of the arroyo Canyon Diablo.

The town, which is about 12 miles northwest of Meteor Crater, was the closest community to the crater when portions of the meteorite were removed. Consequently, the meteorite that struck the crater is officially called the "Canyon Diablo Meteorite."

(33 miles east of Flagstaff on Hwy 40)


The town originated about 1882, due to construction delays attributed to the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad ordering the wrong span length railroad bridge across the canyon. The bridge story is that the original bridge when ordered was not long enough to span Canyon Diablo, and this was only discovered when the bridge arrived on site from the manufacturer. Consequently, for six months the transcontinental railroad ended at the lip of Canyon Diablo while another bridge was manufactured and shipped to the work site.

The original pillars the bridge was mounted on were excavated from the surrounding Kaibab Limestone and shaped on site by Italian stonemasons. The ruins of the lodgings of the railroad workmen are on the west end of the bridge site. Although the railroad ended at the edge of the canyon, work on the railroad route still progressed. Crews were sent ahead to survey the route, prepare the grade and bed, cut and prestage railroad ties and other supplies in advance of the iron rails that would accompany the trains once the canyon was spanned when the new bridge arrived. Work quickly progressed until the A&P crew linked up with the Southern Pacific Railroad crews at Needles, California on August 9, 1883.

Originally a small mobile business community catering to the needs of railroad men, once the railroad stopped at the edge of the canyon this community quickly produced numerous saloons, brothels, dance halls, and gambling houses, all of which remained open 24 hours a day. No lawmen were employed by the community initially, so it quickly became a very dangerous place. Its population was mostly railroad workers, along with passing outlaws, gamblers, and prostitutes. The town was designed with two lines of buildings facing one another across the rock bed main street. The center street, however, was not named Main Street, but "Hell Street". It consisted of fourteen saloons, ten gambling houses, four brothels and two dance halls. Also on this street were two eating counters, one grocery store, and one dry goods store. Scattered about in the vicinity of downtown were large numbers of tents, shotgun houses, and hastily thrown up shacks that served as local residences.

Within a short time the town had 2,000 residents. A regular stagecoach route from Flagstaff to Canyon Diablo began running and was often the victim of robberies. Within its first year, the town received its first marshal. He was sworn in at 3:00pm, and was being buried at 8:00pm that same night. Five more town marshals would follow, the longest lasting one month, and all were killed in the line of duty. A "Boot Hill" cemetery sprouted up at the end of town, which in less than a decade had 35 graves, all of whom had been killed by way of violent death. The 36th grave was that of former trading post owner Herman Wolfe, who died in 1899, the only one to have died a nonviolent death.

Herman Wolfe's trading post was at "Wolfe's Crossing" on the Little Colorado River about 12 miles north of Leupp, Arizona and near a place called Tolchaco. Herman Wolfe died there and his body was transported to Canyon Diablo for burial. Currently Wolfe's grave is heavily monumented and the story is that after World War II a relative from Germany found his grave and installed the headstone and other improvements on the grave site.

When the railroad bridge was completed, the town quickly died. By 1903, the only thing remaining in the town was a Navajo trading post. Later in the 20th century, when Route 66 passed within several miles of the town, a gas station and roadhouse called Two Guns sprang up, but it too was short-lived. What remains today at Canyon Diablo are a few building foundations, the grave marker and grave of Herman Wolfe, and the ruins of the trading post.

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