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Indian Wars



Indian Wars Remembrances

In November 1889
Reginald A. Bradley was an out-of-work cowboy drifting along the rail-road tracks from Deming, New Mexico, westward. Along his way, he ran across a heliograph station where a Sergeant Griffin, a signalman, told him about Army life in the Southwest, an adventure that consisted of “chasing Apaches.” He decided to join the Army and continued his journey along the railroad." “After only a few days of training, I began regular duty in the troop.” Bradley found himself working in the barracks orderly room checking the payrolls for Major Noyes. He had the advantage of an English education. The office was a tiny cubicle, about 10 x 10 feet, and housed the first sergeant's bunk and the troop library. Bradley became the troop clerk working for 1st Sgt. Kerr, a Tennessean who was well liked and “had everything to do with running the troop—officers didn't do much like that."There was little to do in the way of entertainment. Bradley stayed at the post most of the time. Some of his friends would go on pass to Willcox, “the closest real town.” Bradley recalled that the “soldiers spent their money there and were quite welcome. Bowie Station was nothing, just a way station; a depot.” He said, however, that there were “a bunch of prostitutes camped outside the post.” Bradley would go into Dos Cabezas, the nearest settlement to Bowie. He called it an old Mexican town” were “there were all kinds of things going on...prostitutes and everything like that.The commanding officer didn't trouble himself about it.”

One of the favorite pastimes in the Army has always been gambling. It was no different during Bradley’s enlistments. He elaborated: There's always gambling after pay day. I don't remember any professional [civilian]gamblers allowed at Fort Bowie. I think the commanding officer kept them out, but [the soldiers] used to gamble among themselves. There were men in the fort, who I think were professional gamblers; who would actually enlist just for the opportunity to gamble. They'd put the money in a bank; then they'd serve their time or desert. There were enlisted men who used to gamble until all the money got in to the hand of one or two—then they'd quit. I think those one or two were, in this sense, professional gamblers. Gambling was done openly, in the quarters on the bunks—no attempt was made to stop it."All Bradley could relate about his living quarters was that the quarters had “a row of bunks on each side, with a big pot-bellied stove that kept the quarters warm.” They were adobe buildings with a “thin plaster outside that keeps the rain from digging in and destroying the wall.” He speculated that the adobe buildings would “last hundreds of years.” Some adobe foundations at Fort Huachuca, where they were constantly cared for, have lasted over 100 years. But at Fort Bowie,which would be abandoned in October 1894, they deteriorated rapidly.When the garrison was alerted to take to the field, it could pack its supplies on mules and be ready for the trail in three hours. There was no need to issue ammunition for each soldier “kept his own belt of ammunition with him all the time in the barracks.” Rounds for his sidearm, he kept in his pockets. In what he termed a “hard chase after Apaches,” Bradley said the troop would “ride to the scene of trouble as fast as possible—with arms, supplies on pack animals, and two canteens each of precious water.” The water was a precious commodity in Arizona. The cavalryman exclaimed,“I should say water was scarce away from the post! I donut believe we took a drink or stopped between Fort Bowie and Rucker Canyon that night [on patrol] - 40 miles. You know, all this talk about 100-mile rides. I read about ‘em, but I don't believe half of ‘em. They might of took the 100 mile ride all right but they took ‘em in two days. Soldiering was a hard, dry business in southern Arizona 78 years ago." He was able to save some of his clothing allowance by not drawing blankets or new uniforms-forms. He would buy blankets at a dollar each from potential deserters or men about to be dis-charged. This was a savings of three or four dollars over the cost of having one issued and deducted from his clothing account. And he bought a full dress tunic second hand, “wore it for five years and then sold it.” The dress uniform was worn by the troopers only on Sunday morning parade and, Bradley said, “then they'd only have it on for an hour or two."And there was the matter of style. According to Bradley, “when a person joined he was issued a suit of clothes; later he threw it to one side and purchased non-commissioned officers cloth,which was better, and had the troop tailor make a suit of clothes. Nearly all the men had this kind of suit of clothes, except for someone who just joined. The issue clothes were pretty tough looking.” Remembering the first Army clothes he was issued, Bradley complained “they had two or three sizes and just threw you out a suit of clothes.

"Private Bradley explained about his weapons: “you had to sign up for sabers and guns and cartridge belts.” The young trooper had qualified as a marksman and sharpshooter. He said, “I had the same carbine all the time—one did, except if the bore is not right. When you got a gun you knew, you wanted to keep it, because you could shoot better with that one than any other.” The NCO in charge of the barracks would padlock the carbines in a round rack each evening and “it was his duty to see that all the guns were in there, or accounted for."He considered the horses at Fort Bowie as good. "They're always inspected by the officers,and tested out. I had a pretty good horse, but he wasn't half broke. I had a lot of breaking to do."In one month [October] at Huachuca the 2d Cavalry reported turning into the Quartermaster ten unserviceable horses.Bradley gave this picture of the daily life at Fort Bowie, Arizona, in 1890, a routine in which he said “day followed day, with little break."The first call was at 0615 hours, although he added that the time changed “all the time.” Reveille was at 0625 when you actually jumped out of bed. By 0630 “you fall in for roll call by 1st complete uniform—with your tunic buttoned up.” Before breakfast cavalrymen could expect to put in an hour of stable duty. “Each morning we went to care for our horses for an hour, then ate our breakfast of black coffee and baked hash."Fatigue call was at 0715. “Outside the 1st Sgt’s office is a bulletin board, where you can find out what you're supposed to do the next day. I was lucky,” he said, “[I] usually had fatigue walking around behind the c.o.” Although Bradley found that “there was lots of work around a post like that,” he didn't think the garrison was overworked. “There was always old guard fatigue. When they came off guard they didn't do anything but groom horses for an hour. The next day, with a sergeant or a corporal, they'd go out and saw wood or do something up at the officers’ quarters."There was a sick call at 0730 when the sick men were “marched up to the doctor at the hospital on the hill.” If “you had some business at the adjutant's office, then you went up to take care of it” at orderly call. According to Bradley, they didn't have drill call every day but “just layed up on our bunks in the quarters.” Bradley did not remember ever being on the rifle range while with his troop at Fort Bowie. When they did have mounted drill, it was "on the flats of San Simeon Valley—a dry place of cactus and spikes."During mounted drill, they were in charge of the first sergeant because they only had one officer. “The troop was always divided into two platoons, and the 1st Sgt. was always in command of the first platoon and the 1st duty Sgt. of the second platoon.” The desert scrub and cacti of the Arizona desert made its demands upon horsemanship. During mounted drill Bradley remembered galloping across the desert on a fine horse when his saber "caught on a mesquite bush and dragged me right off the horse.... It didn't seem to hurt me, I caught my horse and got on again."After drill they would have afternoon stables with the NCOs grooming their own mounts and the enlisted men would groom the remainder, taking turns with the animals at the command of “change horses.” Retreat was at 1700 and the men were assembled outside the barracks. “The 1st Sgt. called the names, then the adjutant comes out and hears ‘Troop C, 4th Cavalry present or accounted for. "This was followed by Mess Call at 1715. The fare was repetitious. “When in post," Bradley reported, “we just had meat and potatoes.” Tattoo, First Call, followed. Another roll call was taken at 2100 when the “non-commissioned officers in charge would just walk around and see that the fellows were there.” Taps was at 2300 and the NCOs “checked men in bunks; they were always looking to see if anyone had run off." Some men were detailed to sleep in the stables to act as a guard. The stable guard was a fulltime assignment, Bradley related “There was a man detailed who stayed down there all the time—even slept there—did nothing else but show up once in a while for inspection.”
[Bradley, Reginald A., C Troop, 4th Cavalry, interview by Rickey, Don, Jr., at Grass Valley, Calif., 1968, typescript in Arizona Historical Society, Tucson.]

The army was different in 1894. The Indians were peaceful and soldiers were discharged with time off for good behavior. That's how
Fredrick W. Fraske, 93, of 3746 N. Spaulding av., remembered it yesterday when the Veterans Administration identified him as one of six surviving veterans of the American Indian wars.
But Fraske never fought any Indians' they never attacked him, he said. "We were all prepared for it. That's the whole thing in a nutshell, being prepared for it.," he said. He added that if he had shot an Indian at that time, "they would have tried me for murder."
"The Indians weren't bad eggs, not more than anyone else, but they've been abused. They were very find people," Said Fraske. "We had no serious trouble with them."
Fraske said he joined the army on Feb 22, 1894, in a recruiting station on Madison street in Chicago because he needed a job to help his mother support a family of seven. He was 22 years old. Later, he was assigned to Fort D.A. Russell, near Cheyenne, Wyo., as a first aid man and a litter bearer with company F of the 17th infantry.
"Cheyenne was quite a wild town," Fraske recalled. "They'd shoot the lights out. It was a wild place and the unloading station for cattle."

Soldiers were paid $9 a month, with a $1 raise each year, he said. Altho enlistments were for five years, Fraske said, the law stipulated that a soldier "with excellent character" could ask for discharge after three years and three months of service.

Fraske returned to Chicago after his discharge for good behavior on the minimum service. He worked as a painter and decorator in Chicago until he was 65, when union rules prohibited him from climbing scaffolds. Then he worked as a plant guard for the Salerno-Megowan Biscuit company until he retired at 88.
The VA noted that the Indian fighters are the smallest band of veterans in the nation and the oldest.
The other survivors are Reginald A. Bradley, 99, of Oakland, Cal; Harry E. Brockman, 92, of Taneyville, Mo.' Charles C. Jones, 93 of Cedar Rapids, Ia; William Sutphin 98 of South Boston, Va.;and Griffith C. Williams, 89 of Coon Rapids Minn.

Today is the 90th anniversary of the massacre of Gen. George Custer of the 7th cavalry and his men at the Little Big Horn river in Montana. The years from 1860 through 1898 constitute the period officially designated as the Indian Wars.
[Chicago Tribune, June 25, 1966, transcribed by K. Torp]


[John Daw]
b. c. 1867 - d. 1965

John Daw

Hasteen-tsoh was from Tonalea (Red Lake) on the Navajo Reservation and was the last of the U.S. Army Navajo scouts. At age 18, he enlisted in the Army and served in the 2nd Cavalry from May 7, 1891, to December 5, 1894 out of Fort Wingate New Mexico Territory. He was entered in Army records as "John Daw" when he enlisted.
[Dallas Morning News, Nov. 22, 1964]

"...was given an uniform and taken in as a soldier. We went to a lot of training, target practices, and we were issued guns and ammunition and horses and took very extensive military training until we were very highly trained as soldiers..."
[Transcript - Hearings [Indian Claims Commission], Jan. 16-17, 1951, Window Rock, Arizona, Docket II, 69 & 229, Navajo Tribe of Indians of United States.]

In 1964, he was mentioned in a newspaper article in the Dallas Morning News:

"This 95 year old veteran now lives with his wife in a hogan at the Red Lake Trading Post, near Tonalea, Ariz. Although his eyesight has failed, Daw maintains his own herd of sheep and drives his wagon. He claims he can hear an approaching automobile 10 miles away. He wife sees well but is becoming deaf."

Buried in Coconino County, Arizona

On Nov 22, 1964, the Dallas Morning News ran an article entitled "Indian War Survivors See TV Version, Shake Heads" where they interviewed some of the remaining 16 survivors from that war. Here are some excerpts from that article:

Editor's Note - Sixteen men of the Indian wars are still alive, the nation's oldest veterans, and they say it wasn't much like television shows of today. "Forts" were mostly tents, and the single-shot rifle wasn't anything like the M14. And the pay was #13 a month.

By W. Joynes MacFarlan - Washington (AP) ---- The last Civil War veteran died five years ago, but there are still 16 survivors of the Indian wars that raged in the West for nearly 40 years.
They are all that are left, says the Veterans Administration, of the 106,000 men who lived beyond the last battle in 1898. The youngest is 83, the oldest nearly 103.
Soon after the Civil War broke out, the Army began withdrawing its regulars from the West for duty in the War Between the States. The Indians, interpreting the withdrawal as weakness, went on the warpath. By the end of the Civil War in 1865 they were roaming over half the present area of the United States.
The Army then turned to the task of quelling the red men, arming its soldiers with single-shot Springfield rifles and paying privates #13 a month and three meals a day. To at least one survivor, that pay was not bad.
Hugh McGinnis, now 96, was twice wounded on Dec. 29, 1890, at the Battle of Wounded Knee in South Dakota. He was a private in Troop E, 7th U.S. Cavalry, and he actually saw only $8 of his monthly pay. The rest went for uniform allowances.
"But our existence was simple," McGinnis said with a smile when interviewed at his home in Crandon, Wis., where he lives alone. "Our needs were not too great."
The Indian war veterans generally agree, the Veterans Administration said, that the movies and television shows depicting Indian fighting leave something to be desired in the way of realism.
"They have all different ways of showing the West these days," said Howard Fielding, 92, who lives in a trailer court in Miami, Fla. "I watch the semi-comical TV shows now, something you know isn't true, but at least you can enjoy it."
FIELD enjoys the good life, the VA said. He parcels out 10 cigars each morning, smokes four in the morning, four in the afternoon and two in the evening. He has a martini for a night cap.
Walter C. Harrington, 96 of Gulfport, Fla., agrees with Fielding about the way the West is depicted, and in his opinion the term "fort" was largely a misnomer.
"It was nothing but tents," Harrington recalls. "Not like in the movies. Everything was outdoors. The cook strung a bunch of brass kettles on a pole resting on forked sticks and cooked over a bank of coals."
That is Harrington's description of Fort Niobrara, on the edge of the Sioux territory. He was stationed there before his outfit, the 21st U.S. Infantry, went into the South Dakota wilds, where the Sioux Indians were on a rampage.
HARRINGTON, too recalls the Battle of Wounded Knee. But his only mark from the Indian wars is a red nose. It was frozen while he was walking his guard post one night in the winter of 1890 when the temperature was 30 degrees below zero.
The last remaining Indian scout had the Navajo name of Hasteen-tsoh, but he went into the Army records as John Daw when he enlisted in the 2d Cavalry at Fort Wingate, Ariz., May 7, 1891. This 95 year old veteran now lives with his wife in a hogan at the Red Lake Trading Post, near Tonalea, Ariz. Although his eyesight has failed, Daw maintains his own herd of sheep and drives his wagon. He claims he can hear an approaching automobile 10 miles away. He wife sees well but is becoming deaf.
Reginald Bradley, 97, is still a rugged and healthy individualist at Oakland, Calif. He refers to himself as "an incurable romantic adventurer." He has been an artist, student, buckaroo, cattleman, soldier, cavalryman, Indian fighter, builder of log cabins, sheepman, homesteader, ranger, forest supervisor, author, real estate speculator and investor.
With his wife, Beatrice, he lives in an apartment surrounded by his water colors of California mountains and parks. He has sold a number of his works.
Bradley was born in Hampton, England on the River Thames, and came to this country and attending Hampton College and Twickenham Commercial College. His first job after he had moved to New Mexico in search of adventure was riding herd on cattle at $15 a month. He recalls that the cattle sold for $13 a head in those days.
The oldest veteran is Simpson Mann, who will be 103 next Christmas Day. He is a patient in the Veterans Administration hospital at Wadsworth, Kan. He saw service against the Sioux Indians in the badlands of the Dakotas as a private in Troop F of the 9th U.S. Cavalry.
[Nov. 22, 1964, Dallas Morning News, transcribed by K. Torp]


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