Apache Wars

Part 4

Tenth Cavalry During
Apache Wars 1889.
National Archives
Background Events: The Apache Wars began 1876-1889, when the U. S. government decided to move the Chiricahua Apache to an Indian reservation near San Carlos agency. Geronimo and 150 warriors refused the relocation and carried out raiding parties over the next ten years throughout Arizona, New Mexico and Mexico. When Geronimo became too worn out, he'd surrender, only to raid again when reservation life became too stressful. His final surrender was in 1887. At one point 5,000 U.S. soldiers (one-fifth of the U. S. army), thousands of` Mexican soldiers and 27 Indian scouts searched for his band of 17 warriors. In the end, he gave himself up.


with his son in matching
shirts front row right,
1896. National Archives
The Council between Geronimo and General Crooke 1881-ca. 1885, National Archives.

Background Event: The U.S. army runs a winter and then a summer campaign against the remaining free Plains Indians, who are labeled "hostiles."

October 19, 1875, near Laguna Sabinas (Clear Lake): Bullis and his Seminole-Negro Indian Scouts found a large Indian village. The few warriors guarding the camp fled, leaving twenty-five ponies, fifty sacks of beans, about four thousand pounds of buffalo meat, buffalo hides, lodge poles in addition to cooking utensils. All were destroyed.

November 1875: Lieutenant Gedde's Twenty-Fifth Infantry, with Companies G and L and the Seminole-Negro Indian Scouts, trailed Apaches to their lightly guarded camp near the Rio Grande. One warrior was killed and four women and a boy were captured.

November, Shafter's Expedition Ends: This marked the end of Shafter's 2,000 mile expedition across the Staked Plains. His men suffered, fighting killing heat, thirst and dust in addition to the Indians and Mexican revolutionaries. In one instance Captain Baldwin's troop marched 350 miles and went without water for thirty-eight hours. Shafter's report describes the desirability of the land but never mentioned the hardships his men endured except that of Captain Nolon's ill-fated troop. This report was the catalyst for the settlers to invade the last of the Plains Indian's land, the Southern Staked Plains.

January, 1876: The troops continue working on the United States Military Telegraph Line connecting Fort Concho with Fort Griffin. This was an ongoing assignment due to maintenance requirements and sabotage. This instant mode of communication and the ease with which the cavalry could move to engage their foes by train, were two of the components which ultimately lead to the demise of the Plains Indian Tribes.

April 10-29,1876: Troops B, E, and F, bordering Coahiilla, Mexico, scouted unknown territory without guides. They describe the country as the roughest and most desolate land they had ever
seen. It was without any value, in anyway.

After the Little Bighorn.
Soldier and non-human
remains. Soldiers'
bodies were stripped
and mutilated. National
Background Events: June 25, 1876; Chief Gall, combined war leader of the Sioux at the Little Bighorn, with Chiefs Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and their warriors, kill General Custer and his command at the Little Bighorn in Montana. Major Reno's Account. Sioux Drawing of the Battle of Little Bighorn. Sitting Bull; Chief Crazy Horse's Monument.

July 30,1876, near Saragossa, Mexico:
Troop B and the Seminole-Negro Indian Scouts attacked and fought had to hand combat with a band of Lipan and Kickapoo Indians. Ten hostiles were killed and four women captured together with 100 ponies. Their village and supplies were destroyed.

August 12th: Troops B, E, and K, in the Santa Rosa Mountains of Mexico, destroyed an Indian village and its' supplies. Sixty horses were captured in the raid.

November-December 1876 Company at Ft. Clark, Texas: Colonel Grierson put Companies
A, B, D, E, F, K, L on patrol in the Pecos River area and in the Guadalupe Mountains, scattering small bands of Indians.

January4, 1877: Troops B, D, and F struck the camp of Indian cattle thieves in the Santa Rosa Mountains, Mexico. The hostiles retreated, leaving a great amount of equipment, which was destroyed.

January 10th, Santa Rosa Mountains: Captain Keyes of the Tenth with Troops B and D and Lieutenant Bullis and his Seminole-Negro Indian Scouts, were on escort duty. After its completion, they marched from Fort Clark into Mexico in pursuit of the Lipan and Kickapoo Indians. They destroyed an abanoned Indian camp and returned to Fort Clark January, 23rd.  February 2nd,  the Company left Ft. Clark and arrived at Ft. Concho on February 11, 1877.

U. S. Infantry
Soldiers 1899,
American War,
Cuba. New
York Public
February-March, 1877, Santa Rosa Mountains: More incursions into these mountains results in destruction of more abandoned Indian camps by Troops B, D, and F of the Tenth. While on one of the expeditions, Sergeant Sandy Winchester of Troop F, was accidentally shot and killed.

March, Saint Angela, Texas: A number of cowboys and hunters cut the chevrons and stripes from the uniform of a sergeant in the Tenth, Troop D, inside a saloon. Later, members of troop D went to the saloon. There occurred a point blank shoot out. One hunter and two others are killed. Private John L. Brown was killed and another soldier wounded. Nine soldiers of Troop D were indicted for murder. One was sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted on appeal. None of the hunters and cowboys were arrested.

Henry Parker, my GGrandfather, was a sergeant in Troop D Tenth U.S. Cavalry. He was not the sergeant evolved in this incident.

April-May, 1877,West Texas:
At this point in time, the Tenth U.S. Cavalry was too undermanned to effectively patrol all of West Texas. The Lipan and the Kickapoo Indians had suffered serious loses, but, small bands still raided. They were soon joined by Mescaleros. Comanches. Encouraged by these events, the Comanches began to raid again.

Background Event: Henry Parker, my Great-grandfather, retires at Fort Concho, after ten years with the Tenth Company Troop D United States Cavalry, as a sergeant.(1867-1877) Upon his promotion to sergeant, Colonel Grierson wrote of his bravery and good conduct. His discharge papers listed his character as "Excellent". He was very lucky not to have been killed or seriously wounded. I could find no specific references to him while he was in the field, but I did find his medical records, regimental returns and a record of his troop movements and combat in the field. These show the days he was and was not present and fit for duty, when the Tenth U.S. Cavalry, Troop D was active.

Unfortunately, if you weren't an officer, the only way you were mentioned in the Regimental Returns was if you were killed or your act of courage was so incredible the commanding officer had to recognize your bravery . Individual photographs of the rank and file soldier were rarely taken. Soldiers either didn't have the money to pay for the service, didn't have time, no photographer was available or the photographer really had to husband his resources. I have no photos of my Great-grandfather, the Buffalo Soldier, but I did find one on the internet, of his son-in-law, Jacob Anderson, my Grandfather, who was a sergeant in the Civil War! What luck! They both settled in Bain City, Kansas as shown in the 1910 U. S. Census.

Background Event: June, 1877; Lieutenant Henry O. Flipper becomes the first Afro-American to graduate from West Point and the first Afro-American officer in the Tenth U.S. Cavalry.

June 10, 1877, Devil's River north side of The Rio Grande: Mexican Federal Troops attacked 50 Mexican Lerdistas revolutionaries. The troops chased the Lerdistas across the border into the United States. The Lerdistas were intercepted and arrested by Captain Kelly of the Tenth, with E Company and Seminole-Negro Indian Scouts. The Mexican troops had crossed the Rio Grande River back into Mexico before the arrests were made. Their incursion across the border into the U. S. was illegal.

Eighty-six Hours and 400 Miles Without Water


Renty ,
Grayson a
Negro Indian
Scout 1910.
New York
July 1877, Fort Concho, I.T.; Captain Nolan and thirty-nine recruits begin one of the most horrific epsoides of suffering in the history of the military. It began with their march from Fort Concho in search of raiding warriors. A supply camp was set up, leaving twenty men on guard. Those going on were joined by twenty-four buffalo hunters and an another guide. The men marched to a spot where water had been found two years previous. It was dry. They dug into the hard ground and were able to recover small amounts of water. Forty miles and two days later they found another dried up water hole. The troop expected to find a third source of water, forty-eight hours later, but it too had disappeared. Now with swollen tongues and dry throats, the men could not even swallow food. Their Mexican guide said there was water fifteen or twenty miles west. Captain Nolon gave the guide and eight other men all the canteens, telling them to go ahead, they would follow later. The half-crazed men staggered forward with the canteens as well as they could. When Capt. Nolon and his men arrived at the designated spot, no one was there and there was no water. All the while, men were feeling as if they were suffocating. Their speech and sight had began to fail. When a horse staggered and fell, a trooper was ordered to cut its throat. They all drank its blood. Later, they began drinking horse urine. Private Howard tried to cheer the men up with stories and reminders of their loved ones.

In a last desperate attempt to survive, the men discarded their food and unnecessary equipment. Some men went mad, while others raved as maniacs. As more horses staggered and fell, men cut their throats and fought over the blood. Prayers and curses punctuated their maniacal acts. Some even suspected rain of falling, far away in the distance, but that was not to be dwelled upon. With death licking at their boots they moved forward throughout the night. As dawn brought forth a new day, they came upon an old wagon trail. These footprints of the past, lead directly to a cool shallow lake. With great joy and the firing of guns, the half-dead rejoiced.

Not to share in this moment was Privates, John Bond, John Gordon, Isaac Derwin and John Isaacs, who died shortly before water was found. After meeting up with Companies of the Ninth and Tenth Regiments the soldiers received the necessary medical attention and rest. Eventually, the soldiers continued their search for Apache raiders. Four of the other men who went for water were charged with desertion and sentenced to one year in prison.

August 5, 1877: Major Schofield and the Tenth captured forty-four revolutionaries, fifty-three horses, guns with ammunition.

September 28: The Seminole-Negro Indian Scouts and a large contingent of Buffalo Soldiers crossed the Rio Grande into Mexico. They discovered an Indian village. The Indians fled, thereupon the village was burned.

October 28-December, 1877: Lieutenant Bullis with his Seminole-Negro Indian Scouts crossed the Rio Grande into the Santa Rosa Mountains. They ran across a band of warriors. After a skrimish, Bullis had to retreat. Two weeks later, Bullis, with Captain Young and Lieutenant Beck, took marched off to look for the hostiles. The terrain they went through was so rough that they lost eleven of their mules and all of their medical supplies. The cold froze the water in their canteens. Eventually, they over-took the Indians and fought until the warriors broke and ran. A large quantity of robes, dried meat, hides, ropes and saddles were destroyed with the capture of twenty-three horses. They were half frozen and half dead when they entered Fort Clark on December 3rd of the following month.

January-April, 1878; District of the Pacos: The huge task of effectively patrolling this district was impossible for Colonel Grierson and his Buffalo Soldiers. With three of his companies further south, he had only one man for every 120 square miles. During the first four months of the year, Indians killed fourteen settlers. The best efforts by the troopers could not bring them to justice.

Young, 10th
soon to be


Background Event: Charles Young was the third African American to graduate from West Point Military Academy. His first assignment was with the Ninth U.S. Cavalry.

Background Event
: 1878; Hampton Institute, Virginia ( now Hampton University) originally founded to educate African Americans, expands its educational curriculum to educate Native Americans. Booker T. Washington was the men's "Housefather". My father Don A.Davis, attended Hampton Institute 1929-1931.

Background Event: 1879; Captain Pratt founded the Carlisle Indian School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania as the first exclusively Indian boarding school. Pratt and my great-grandfather sergeant Henry Parker, served together in the Tenth Troop D. Great-grandfather Parker gave his Freedman's Bureau papers to Captain Pratt. I am interested in the disposition of these papers.

May, 1878-December,1879: Colonel Grierson changed his strategy in dealing with the Indians hit and run tactics. He decided to keep his men of the Tenth in the field from May, 1878 through all of 1879. Many camps and sub-posts were set up, so his men could quickly respond to Indians raids and catch the offenders. In 1878 alone, the companies of Captains Keyes, Carpenter, Norvell and Lieutenant Lobo and others patrolled and scouted over twenty-five thousand miles. They mapped streams, mountain passes, water holes and opened roads. Before the end of 1879, the Pecos district had been cleared of Indian raiders.


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Part 3

Part 4

Part 5


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