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Born Sep. 8, 1828,a1 Dayton, OH.
Military History. — Cadet at the Military Academy, July 1, 1848, to July 1, 1852, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to
Bvt. Second Lieut., 4th Infantry, July 1, 1852.
(Second Lieut., 4th Infantry, July 7, 1853)
1853‑55, — Escorting Topographical party, 1855, — Ft. Jones, Cal., 1855‑56, — Rogue River Expedition, 1856, — Ft. Jones, Cal., 1856‑57, —
(First Lieut., 4th Infantry, Mar. 11, 1856)
in command of Pitt River Expedition, 1857, being engaged in a Skirmish, June 10, 1857, where he was wounded with an arrow, and in Actions, July 2 and 26, 1857, — Ft. Ter‑waw, Cal., 1857‑58, — March to Vancouver, Wash., 1858, — Yakima Expedition, 1858, — Ft. Ter‑waw, Cal., 1858‑60, 1860‑61.
Served during the Rebellion of the Seceding States, 1861‑66: in West
(Captain, 4th Infantry, May 14, 1861)
Virginia Operations, Sep., 1861, to Aug., 1862, at Summerville, Sep. 17,
(Colonel, 36th Ohio Volunteers, Sep. 12, 1861)
1861, to May 1, 1862, — and in command of 3d Provisional Brigade, May 1 to Aug. 15, 1862, participating in the Action of Lewisburg, May 23, 1862, where he was wounded; in the Northern Virginia Campaign,
(Bvt. Major, U. S. Army, May 23, 1862,
Aug.‑Sep., 1862; in the Maryland Campaign (Army of the
(Brig.‑General, U. S. Volunteers, Sep. 7, 1862)
Potomac), Sep.‑Oct., 1862, being engaged in the Battle of South Mountain, Sep. 14, 1862, — and Battle of Antietam, Sep. 17, 1862; in Operations
(Bvt. Lieut.‑Col., U. S. Army, Sep. 17, 1862,
in West Virginia, Oct., 1862, to Feb., 1863; in command of Independent Division at Carthage, Ten., Mar. to June, 1863; in the Tennessee Campaign (Army of the Cumberland), June to Nov., 1863, being engaged in the Advance on Tullahoma, June 24 to July 4, 1863, — in command of 2d Cavalry Division, July 1, 1863, — Action at Hoover's Gap, June 26, 1863, — Battle of Chickamauga, Sep. 19‑20, 1863, — Pursuit of General Wheeler, Oct. 1‑10, 1863, participating in the Actions at the foot of Cumberland Mountains, Oct. 3, of McMinnville, Oct. 4, and Farmington, Oct. 7, 1863, and almost daily Skirmishing, — and Operations
(Bvt. Colonel, U. S. Army, Oct. 7, 1863,
against Guerrillas, from Shelbyville, Ten., to Rome, Ga., Oct.‑Nov., 1863; in command of Kanawha District, W. Va., Feb. to June, 1864, being engaged on Raid on the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, May, 1864, participating in the Action of Cloyd's Mountain, May 9, and New River Bridge, May 10, 1864, — and several Skirmishes, — and on the Lynchburg Raid, June, 1864, with continuous Skirmishing from Lewisburg, via Staunton to Lynchburg, and thence to New Castle, including the Combat of Lynchburg, June 17‑18, 1864; in command of the troops of the Department of West Virginia, July‑Aug., 1864, being
(Bvt. Maj.‑General, U. S. Volunteers, July 18, 1864,
engaged in the Actions of Snicker's Ferry, July 19, and of Kernstown, July 24, 1864, — and several Skirmishes at Hall Town, Aug., 1864; in command of the Department of West Virginia, Aug. 31, 1864, to Feb. 21, 1865, when he was captured at Cumberland, Md.; in General Sheridan's Shenandoah Campaign, Aug. to Dec., 1864, being engaged in the Action of Berryville, Sep. 3, 1864, — Battle of Opequan, Sep. 19, 1864, — Battle of Fisher's Hill, Sep. 22, 1864, — Action near Strasburg, Oct. 14, 1864, — and Battle of Cedar Creek, Oct. 19, 1864; in command of the
(Major-General, U. S. Volunteers, Oct. 21, 1864)
Cavalry of the Army of the Potomac, Mar. 26 to Apr. 9, 1865, being engaged
(Bvt. Brig.‑General, U. S. Army, Mar. 13, 1865,
(Bvt. Maj.‑General, U. S. Army, Mar. 13, 1865,
in the Battle of Dinwiddie C. H., Mar. 31, 1865, — Pursuit of the Rebel Army, Apr. 3‑9, 1865, — Action of Jetersville, Apr. 5, 1865, — Battle of Sailor's Creek, Apr. 6, 1865, — Combat of Farmville, Apr. 7, 1865, — and Capitulation of Appomattox C. H., Apr. 9, 1865; in command of the District of Wilmington, N. C., Sep. 1, 1865, to Jan. 15, 1866; and on leave of absence, Jan. 15 to Mar. 6, 1866.
Mustered out of Volunteer Service, Jan. 15, 1866.
Served: on Board at Washington, D. C., to Examine Rifle Tactics, Mar. 6 to Apr. 18, 1866; awaiting orders, Apr. 18 to Nov. 26, 1866; in
(Major, 3d Infantry, July 18, 1866)
(Lieut.‑Colonel, 23d Infantry, July 28, 1866)
command of District of Boisé, Ida., Nov. 26, 1866, to Jan. 29, 1867, being on expedition against Snake Indians, and engaged in Skirmishes, Dec. 26, 1866, and Jan. 28, 1867; in command of the District of Owyhee, Idaho, Jan. 27 to Aug. 16, 1867, being engaged against Piutes and Pitt Indians at the Infernal Caverns, Sep. 26, 1867, and in the field, 1867‑68, — of the District of the Lakes, to Apr., 1868, — and of the Department of Columbia,2a May 23, 1868, to Aug. 8, 1870; as Member of Retiring Board, at San Francisco, Cal., Sep., 1870, to June 1, 1871; in command of the Department of Arizona, June 4, 1871, to Mar. 22, 1875, being in the field, Oct., 1872, to Apr., 1873, and highly commended for
(Brigadier-General, U. S. Army, Oct. 29, 1873)
his Campaign in general orders from headquarters of the Division of the Pacific, — of the Department of the Platte, Apr. 27, 1875, to Aug. 30, 1882, being in the field in command of the Big Horn Expedition, Feb. 17 to Apr. 2, 1876, and May 9, 1876, to June 13, 1877, resulting in several actions with and capture of many hostile Indians, — of the Department of Arizona,2b to Apr. 11, 1886, being in the field against hostile Indians, Apr. 2 to June 23, 1883, Apr. to Aug., 1884, and May 28, 1885, to Mar., 1886, — of the Department of the Platte, Apr. 28, 1866, to May 5, 1888,
(Major-General, U. S. Army, Apr. 6, 1888)
— and of the Division of the Missouri, and Member of the Military Prison Board, May 5, 1888, to Mar. 21, 1890.
Died, Mar. 21, 1890, at Chicago, Ill.: Aged 61.
Buried, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA.
p510 Biographical Sketch.
Major-General George Crook was born, Sep. 23, 1829,a2 near Dayton, Ohio, and died, Mar. 21, 1890, at Chicago, Ill., the headquarters of the Military Division of the Missouri, the command of which he held at the date of his death.
Upon his graduation, in 1852, from the Military Academy, he was promoted to be a Bvt. Second Lieutenant in the Fourth Infantry, from which lowest grade he rose to the highest in the Regular Army in the brief period of less than thirty-six years, through faithful service and by acknowledged merit.
"Our Alma Mater, it seems to me, may well be called another Niobe, whom envious gods have bereft of her brightest children to place them in the most exalted niches of Fame's Pantheon. Grant, McClellan, Thomas, Sheridan, Hancock, Sykes, Warren, — the roll is lengthening, as one by one, the prominent figures and directing minds of our Civil War are answering to their last muster.
"And now we have finished the sad duty of lowering into the grave the mortal remains of George Crook, who in record of service, in faithful performance of duty, in valor, in intelligent knowledge of his profession, in modest worth, in gentle consideration for friend and foe, in all that makes men manly and places the profession of arms on an exalted plane, was the equal, as he was the friend and companion, of those great names.
"Perhaps it is just as well that our country has no Bossuet to voice the panegyric of its dead heroes: the work they have wrought in perpetuating and solidifying this wonderful nation has been so stupendous that the task of adequately and appropriately describing it for future generations can be confided to no human pen, assumed by no human tongue.
"Not one additional leaflet would be added to their laurel crowns — not one ray of glory — from the subsidized sycophancy of a court chaplain, but each, in dressing up on the alignment on the day of Final Inspection, responds bravely and proudly to the mandate, 'By their works shall ye know them.'
"And after all, what more perfect obituary can be presented of any man than a complete and satisfactory response to the query, 'What has been the lesson of this man's life?'
"This is the question that you and I and all men must answer. The world is becoming too wise to believe that, ordinarily, success is the criterion of ability. Rather, it perceives, dimly perhaps as yet, but still with sufficient clearness to accept as a beacon, that not alone the position to which a man attains, but the obstacles conquered on the way, the adequacy or insufficiency of the means allowed him, the nobleness or the ignominy of his aspirations, are all to be cast in the scales before judgment can be passed upon his character.
"No man that ever wore a shoulder-strap could face this ordeal with more equanimity than could General George Crook.
"Gentle, modest, retiring, — shy almost as a girl, — he rose through every grade of rank, lineal and brevet, from Second Lieutenant to Major-General, — each advancement marking a battle or campaign, — until the Army of West Virginia hailed and respected him as its commander.
"And then, when the colossal struggle was ended, and the thousands p511and millions who had lately joined in bloody fratricidal strife were going back each to his place in the body politic, Crook quietly resumed his duties as an Infantry Captain; but, in the reorganization of the Army which promptly followed, he was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel of the 23d Infantry, and assigned to the command of all the troops in the field against the hostile Indians of Idaho and Nevada.
"It is not my intention to recapitulate his important services at all times and in all places during the more than forty-two years of his connection with the military establishment. All soldiers know them, — all frontiersmen remember them: so long as valor forms the theme of poet's song, they will be honored and renowned in our country's history.
"It is not going one inch beyond the official records to say that General Crook's experience with Indians, either in peace or in war, has never been equaled by that of any other officer. So well understood is this fact that his brilliant services in the most trying hours of the war are almost forgotten, and he stands, and will always stands in the eyes of our people, red or white, as the soldier who in the hour of battle was
but, when smiling Peace had spread her wings over the field of conflict, was the tender, commiserate, intelligent, earnest friend of the conquered.
"Rogue River, Klamath, Shasta, Modoc, Pit River, Pi‑Ute, Bannock, Nez Percé, Apache, Hualpai, Navajo, Sioux, Shoshonee, Ute, Cheyenne, Arapahoe, Crow, and Pawnee have known, have feared, and have loved him.
"When he assumed command in Arizona, in 1871, that territory was a veritable hell. He whipped thousands of Apaches into submission, and for the first time since the days of Cortez made all that fierce tribe respect and obey the law. He set them to work upon farms on the Rio Verde and elsewhere, and soon had them in a most prosperous and hopeful condition. The story of his administration of Indian affairs, in that as in every other department in which he had control, is the brightest and most honorable chapter in the history of our relations with the American aborigines. The secret of his success was his integrity, — George Crook never lied to mortal man. The Indians soon learned this trait, and believed in his word as they believed in the stars.
"His instructions to his officers were always, 'Make them no promises you cannot fulfill,' and his endeavor was to secure 'an exact and even-handed justice to red men and to white alike.'
"The Indian was compelled to work, but not to work without remuneration; a prompt cash market was found for all he could produce, and every encouragement was extended to keep him in the path of well-doing.
"Another striking peculiarity of Crook's character was his aversion to issuing orders. To quote his own words, 'Example was the best general order;' and to the men and officers who followed him through the burning deserts and across the rugged mountain ranges of Arizona, — faced the chill blizzards of Montana and Nebraska, or trudged along the weary miles of rain-soaked 'Bad Lands' in Dakota, exposed to heat, cold, snow, rain, and disease no less deadly than the ambuscade or the sudden stampede, — there was no more inspiring shibboleth than the magical word 'Crook!' — which meant the commander who shared their fatigues, their troubles, and their perils, by day and by night.
"No soldiers loved him so deeply as those who had been with him longest, — no man ever had friends more devoted or loyal; he bound them to him with hooks of steel. Well might they be proud of his friendship: p512to have shared his campaigns was glory enough, and to have been honored with his appreciation grand distinction.
"The frontier has gone. The exigencies which called General Crook into existence have passed away, and we shall never see his like again; yet the lesson of his life remains to animate us to all that is noble, honorable, and manly, — to such a course of conduct that when our last summons comes, kind friends may say of us, as I here say of him: Peace to his ashes."
The U. S. Senate Committee on Invalid Pensions, in its report on the bill for a pension to the widow of General Crook, says:—
"General Crook was, perhaps, unique among the surviving generals of the Civil War. His first honors were won as the protector of the lives and homes of Western frontiersmen against the merciless savages. His last guerdons were gained as the friend of the Indians whom he had conquered, and as the advocate of honesty and justice towards the nation's wards. From his graduation at the Military Academy until his death, his life was filled with action. His military duty led him into every section of the country, and never without signal distinction to himself. On the Pacific coast, the plains of the middle West, in the arid regions of Arizona and New Mexico, and the rocky cañons of the Sierra Madre, no less than on the battlefields of the South, he served his country with unsurpassed gallantry and matchless devotion to duty. His bravery and soldierly abilities were honored by five brevets during the Civil War for gallantry and meritorious service. His wisdom, daring, and supreme capacity in command of troops for the subjugation of hostile Indians made him the recipient of repeated resolutions of thanks from legislatures of States and Territories to which he brought peace.
From the close of the war until his death, he made his name and the record of his deeds a part of the imperishable history of American valor, a lasting tradition among every tribe of Indians of the West, and a never-to‑be-forgotten recollection among the pioneers and frontiersmen. His services rendered possible the rapid settlement of vast areas of territory, and the development of mine and valley, inaccessible before opened by his victorious campaigns.
"Great as were his services in preserving the Union, they were matched by his successful efforts as subjugator and pacificator in the West. For nearly a quarter of a century he was by common consent the ablest of those called to deal with the Indian problem, in ambuscade and council, in battle and treaty. His last distinguished service rendered possible the opening of the great Sioux reservation through the personal influence which he exercised in council over those whom he had defeated in war.
"Gallant as he was in battle, General Crook's magnanimity and tenderness toward his foes will never be forgotten in those parts of the South where he served. Long years after the struggle ended, large portions of his pay went towards alleviating poverty and distress among enemies whom he had overcome in battle. They, of all others, will bear most cheerful witness to the chivalrous nature and warm heart of General Crook, while hundreds of his sick and suffering comrades, their widows and orphans, will join in the testimony."
1 Named George W. Crook when he was graduated.
2a 2b Received the Thanks of the Legislatures of Oregon and Arizona, and the high Commendations of that of Nebraska, for his distinguished services as Subjugator and Pacificator of many wild Indian Tribes.
a1 a2 His tombstone (q.v.) reads Sept. 8, 1830. General Charles D. Roberts, in "An Indian Reservation under General George Crook" (Military Affairs 12:91), has 1828. What the sources of the print dates might be, I don't know.
b Another long selection, neatly complementary, of excerpts from Bourke on Gen. Crook's character and methods is given in Ganoe, The History of the United States Army, pp327‑330. Gen. Roberts' introduction to "An Indian Reservation under General George Crook" (Military Affairs 12:91) is also informative.
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