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Old November 29th, 2012, 06:53 AM   #11

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Originally Posted by Baltis View Post
All about the Benjamins. Always looking to save a dollar or two, the 19th century US government recruited men right off the docks so they could get away with paying them about 50% of the going wage. Checking the rosters for soldiers in that era is quite interesting. Truly an international bunch.

The frontier was manned by several regiments of buffalo soldiers as well. Very strong contingents of Germans and Irish. Not really Am-Irish of which there were many but, fresh Irishmen right from the boat.
To be sure. Many immigrants arrived in the US during the Panic of 1873 finding little or no work in the cities. The army took full advantage of their situation. Some had previous military experience in their home countries. For them, military service was not so daunting as a way to make a living. One of the more famous immigrant soldiers of that time, Giovanni Martini- better known to Americans as Trumpeter John Martin of Custer's 7th, grew up in Italy enthralled with the exploits of Garibaldi and saw the US army as his ticket to adventure and a living after encountering the poor prospects of the city.
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Old November 29th, 2012, 06:23 PM   #12

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To be sure. Many immigrants arrived in the US during the Panic of 1873 finding little or no work in the cities. The army took full advantage of their situation. Some had previous military experience in their home countries. For them, military service was not so daunting as a way to make a living. One of the more famous immigrant soldiers of that time, Giovanni Martini- better known to Americans as Trumpeter John Martin of Custer's 7th, grew up in Italy enthralled with the exploits of Garibaldi and saw the US army as his ticket to adventure and a living after encountering the poor prospects of the city.
My own great-great-grandfather followed that story arc. Fresh off the boat from Sweden, he was funneled by immigration people out to Minnesota (the stereotypic home of Swedes), where he ended up joining the army. I have a a couple glossy photos of him in uniform looking very dapper, holding a sword I still have. I actually had several swords that were his but for years didn't know who they belonged to or, for that matter who he was, until a family member turned up an 1882 photo of him holding a "Model 1860 Ames" sword and when I found out his name, I looked at the hand-scratched initials on the underside of the hilt and they were his. It's a great connection to a long-lost chapter in history. Apparently the army of that day was a mixed bunch of misfit Americans citizens and immigrants. Considering how long my GGGF had been here, they must have had translators too.
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Old November 30th, 2012, 02:43 AM   #13

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Joel A. Fowler - 'The Human Exterminator'


Many of the outlaws of the Old West were really quite colorful and we frequently read about their exploits. However, those wonderful Billy the Kid types aren't the only game in town. In Socorro county, NM lived a rancher named Joel Fowler. Now Joel was a known killer and a very unpleasant man. Known to have killed at least 23 men, after his own death, neighbors found some 16 human skeletons buried in the corral over at his ranch.

In the 1870s, Fowler ran a series of dance halls in Las Vegas and Santa Fe. He made enough money to marry one of his girls and buy the Socorro County ranch. Fowler was a small man with eyes set close together. Extremely jealous, he would make his wife follow around behind him and often abused her with accusations of cheating with the ranch foreman. Fowler's favorite method of murder was to ask the victim for some chewing tobacco and then claim self-defense when the man reached his hand into his pocket. Fowler was so scary that none dared to argue.

In early November 1883, Joel Fowler sold his ranch and herd for the very tidy sum of $50,000. He took the wife into town for a celebration. After parking his money at the bank and his wife in a hotel room, Fowler went to saloon after saloon drinking and raising hell. Another of his favored activities was to make men 'dance' by shooting at the feet with his pistol. He had just completed such a spectacle when he met a traveling salesman at the bar.

Mr. J.E. Cale of Vermont invited Fowler for a drink. As Fowler placed his six-shooters on the bar and picked up his whiskey, the bartender removed the guns and placed them behind the bar. Fowler immediately demanded the pistols be returned but the bartender refused explaining he was too drunk and please come by and pick them up in the morning. Fowler pulled a small knife and turned to Cale, "It was you who told him to take my six-shooters, now take this." Joel stabbed Cale in the heart. He was dead before morning.

Two months later, a jury found him guilty and sentenced to be hanged. While he awaited execution, Fowler's wife visited the jail. Likely with a sly smile, she informed him that his suspicions were correct. She was sleeping with the Foreman and now intended to collect her $50,000 and enjoy life post-Fowler. He went ballistic. Banging his head against the walls and screaming insanely.

Later that night, Fowler made a desperate attempt at escape. Didn't go to well as the townsfolk made a quick decision to prevent a second attempt by stringing him up on the spot. They took him to a tree and strung old Joel up. Unfortunately, the rope was too long and Fowler's feet dragged the ground preventing his death. Three men grabbed the other end of the rope and pulled on it until Joel Fowler strangled to death.

Laid out on a large table for viewing, Fowler's body wore a new suit and a new pair of boots way too large for the small man's feet. On the bottom in prominent lettering was the price. $10. After everyone had a good look and better laugh, the body was shipped to Fort Worth for burial. The wife withdrew the money and left town. Parts unknown.

Click the image to open in full size.

This tale also from Montague Stevens. He witnessed the final killing of Cale and helped subdue the drunken Fowler.

Last edited by Baltis; November 30th, 2012 at 04:15 AM.
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Old December 1st, 2012, 10:01 PM   #14

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Well, without putting a whole lot of thought into it, there were post Indians/fortIndians and there were the losers (traditionalist Indians). Human nature always favors the opportunists.
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Old December 6th, 2012, 05:49 PM   #15

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Buffalo Soldiers


In 1866 the army shrank its ranks by about 90 percent. The law authorized a total of six regiments for black enlisted men. They would include the 9th and the 10th Cavalry and the 38, 39, 40, and 41st Infantry Regiments. All in all, about 15% of the men who served on the western frontier were Buffalo Soldiers. Active against the Comanche, Kiowa, and Apache, most of the engagements they participated in took place on the southern plains or the desert southwest. Seventeen of them won the Medal of Honor for their service.



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9th Cavalry



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Started reading a book this evening by a fellow named Frank Schubert. Interesting stuff so far. It is a collection of primary source materials. I hope to add a few more 'tidbits' from this text over the next few days.

Amazon.com: Voices of the Buffalo Soldier: Records, Reports, and Recollections of Military Life and Service in the West (9780826323101): Frank N. Schubert: Books
Amazon.com: Voices of the Buffalo Soldier: Records, Reports, and Recollections of Military Life and Service in the West (9780826323101): Frank N. Schubert: Books

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Old December 7th, 2012, 03:47 AM   #16

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Buffalo Soldiers - First Action


Men from the 10 Cavalry operating out of New Fort Hays, Kansas were the first Buffalo Soldiers engaged with Indians on the frontier. Captain Armes commanded a column of 34 soldiers on August 3, 1867. They had ridden in relief of Cambell and his men who had been attacked while on patrol along the railroad. Armes found the bodies of 7 troopers and then continued another 12 miles on a scout to locate the Indians and attempt to recover stolen cattle. About 8 AM they were attacked by some 75 Indians (seem to be a mix of Cheyenne and Kiowa).

While in the act of organizing a defense, several warriors came riding through the formations. Sergeant William Christy was shot in the head while forming his men. He was the 10th Cavalry's first casualty in the Indian Wars.

Once defense was formed, the Indians started firing away from a great distance and had little effect. Armes reported they "seemed to be armed with the improved Spencer carbine" and had not become accustomed to its use. Even with their poor marksmanship, Captain Armes was wounded in the hip by a rifle ball. His inexperienced men begin to panic and fire their ammunition "away at random." Armes responded by having himself "put on my horse" to steady the men. He ordered those without ammo to the rear and flanks but to remain in position. His bluff worked and "By sending them back without ammunition as fast as they came in; others took warning and did not waste their supply, and finally became cool."

In the end, only Christy and a few horses were killed while the Indians had at least six warriors shot down trying to ride through the ranks. The retreat back to Fort Hays covered 15 miles through gullies, canyons, and hills. "It is the greatest wonder in the world that my command and myself escaped being massacred." He estimated there were several hundred Indians by the time he finally returned.

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Fort Hays was est. 1865

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The blockhouse at Old Fort Hays

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Prairie just outside Fort Hays
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Old December 7th, 2012, 07:12 AM   #17

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Keep these coming Balt, best running thread to read in the American History section.
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Old December 7th, 2012, 07:17 AM   #18

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Very high praise TJ. Thank you much kind sir.
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Old December 7th, 2012, 07:18 AM   #19

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This is a reconstruction of a privately owned fort in Colorado on the Sante Fe Trail. It was built by the brothers William & Charles Bent and Ceran St Vrain as a trading post;

Click the image to open in full size.

Visit La Junta: Bents Old Fort

The fort features in the novel Flashman and the Redskins, the Jornada del Muerte also appears in this book.

jornada1
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Old December 7th, 2012, 09:26 AM   #20

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This is a reconstruction of a privately owned fort in Colorado on the Sante Fe Trail. It was built by the brothers William & Charles Bent and Ceran St Vrain as a trading post;
Great reference Triceratops. As a matter of fact, Charlie Bent was among the warriors in the 10th Cavalry's first battle discussed in my post directly above. He was half-Cheyenne son of William Bent whom you mention as having built the trading post in Colorado. Roman Nose, Satanta, and Charlie Bent all took part in the fighting outside Fort Hays.

there is also a George Bent who is source of Indian casualty counts at Washita that we have been currently looking at in another thread.

As if that weren't enough, I have been looking at the various Indian Wars involving Texas and the Southern Plains Indians lately. We know there were two battles at Adobe Walls. The original partial walls were thought to be left by your William Bent as he tried to operate a trading post there in earlier years.

That Bent family got around!
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