If the civilization of the bulk of our country were a commodity, it should belong to the army. The thin cordon of hardy soldiers that pushed the foes of peace persistently back across prairie and through jungle, made safe the trader, trapper, and settler inside the circle. It was the troops that cut the trails, built the roads, dug the wells, surveyed the land, braved the savage, suffered in silence and opened the chest of southern and western riches.
With the stigma of Revolutionary days and 1812 still following the military man, it was easy for the civilian to brand the whole army as contemptible, especially when some coxcomb among the officers made a spectacle of himself. Cast adrift from the life of town and farm, the soldier just over the horizon was easily forgotten and seldom considered. That he was hewing the way for delicate feet to follow, pushing through showers of sleet and arrows and possessed of the same passions, hopes, and capacity for pain as the man behind the counter or plow, were thoughts remote from the minds of Boston and Baltimore. Either pacifying or suppressing the Indian, was no more, it is true, than the labor of his profession, no more than the job he had undertaken. But really he was risking his life that the nation might be happier and greater.
1821 Congress, echoing the appreciation of the people, reduced the army. One major general, 2 brigadiers, 44 ordnance officers and 3 regiments of infantry, artillery and riflemen were cast out of the service without any provision for their welfare. The Ordnance Department was abolished after having been built up through years of technical study and research. To p159replace it an extra captain and 56 enlisted men were allowed the artillery for ordnance work.1 The office of Judge Advocate was also discontinued.
1821 Another general demoralization of regiments took place when by the effect of this law the Sixth Infantry was consolidated with the rifle regiment and boiled down to the strength of one regiment after wholesale discharges. June 1
1821 The Eighth Infantry was disbanded entirely. The Light Artillery Regiment, Ordnance Department and Corps of Artillery were shrunk down into 4 regiments of artillery,2 known as the First, Second, Third and Fourth.
Most of the artillery naturally occupied the coast line, the Third being stretched from Annapolis, Md., to Charleston, S. C. The Infantry was mainly on the frontier of the south and west.
The Sixth Infantry, for example, having constructed Fort Atkinson at Council Bluffs, started the first settlement in Nebraska and the first stronghold west of the Missouri River. The troops built a sawmill and gristmill and had •506 acres of land under cultivation. Though the walls of barracks and quarters were made of logs, the roofs were shingled and the floors planked. If the quarters for the men had eighty-eight rooms and those of the officers were more commodious than formerly, it was because the brains and energies of those soldiers converted stark forests into habitations.
The reduction of the army stagnated promotion to an extraordinary degree. Although every officer of worth who could be retained was absorbed in the reorganization, many had to be discharged. Those who remained found themselves members of a minority whose vacancies were filled to the choking point. In the artillery, especially, during these days of regimental promotion, it was hard to rise when four lieutenants in a company had to wait for a captain. Each soldier of this reduced army found more guns and more miles of front on the borders p160to be cared for than formerly. On the one hand, personal advancement was blocked, and, on the other, more work was required. All these blights on human endeavor were hardly conducive to meeting with a good will the hazards of a soldier. Yet the remaining handful attacked the wilderness with a will.
1821 Neither was the precision of the little army tarnished by the blows it had received. The uniform order is an instance. For many pages it goes into great detail as to the quality and make of clothing, and as to how it should be worn. Blue was for the first time prescribed as the national color for cloth. The de bras was worn without plume or feather by all officers except those of the company. The rank and file and company officers wore the stiff high hat of the "tar‑bucket" (much like the cadet full-dress hat now). Pompons of different colors adorned this head piece: artillery wore yellow; light artillery, red and white; infantry, white; and rifle companies, green. Gold and silver tassels for company officers and worsted ones for enlisted men hung down on the right side of the cap.
The shoulder strap as an insignia of rank of officers seems to have been discontinued, though the epaulets worn as before were retained. Instead of the straps, captains wore one‑stripe chevrons of gold or silver lace on each arm above the elbow and subalterns one on each arm below the elbow. Sergeant majors and quartermaster sergeants wore a worsted chevron on each arm above the elbow, sergeant and senior musicians one on each arm below the elbow, and corporals one on the right arm above the elbow. Wings, or little rolls on the shoulder, were worn both by company officers and enlisted men. Pantaloons were buff, white or blue, blue and buff for wear off duty and white for parade. Gray woolen ones were allowed for winter wear of enlisted men of the artillery and infantry. The coat was about the same as before, the cadet continuing the gray coatee and the rifleman the green jacket. Red silk sashes for all officers on duty came into general use.
The laced bootee or modern type shoe was provided for all enlisted men. A higher boot was required to be worn by company officers; one to reach to the calf of the leg, by engineers; and "high military boots," by mounted officers with troops.
p161 In contrast to this ornate clothing, weapons of greater accuracy and range than heretofore carried were issued to the soldier. The government had on hand something less than 10,000 rifles at the arsenals of Harper's Ferry and Springfield. The smooth-bore was beginning to disappear in the service. Three contractors in Middletown, Connecticut, and Mr. Deringer in Philadelphia, manufactured for the army several thousand rifles in this decade each one costing about $14.50 or an equivalent of about $75 now. Although the breech-loader had been experimented with by the Ordnance Department, the invention of Mr. Hall of Yarmouth, Maine, had not succeeded further than an output of 200. The great defects were the powder leaks and the lack of interchangeability of parts. The small-bore "squirrel rifle," firing balls between 90 to 200 to the pound, were used greatly by militia in its customarily sudden calls into the service.
1821 A private publication called the Artillerist appeared this year, apparently for the militia. It detailed extensively everything from the manual of the sword to six "divisions of movements" for the battery. Cuts, guards, St. Georges, mullinets, and parries for fencing were carefully set forth, as well as drill movements, such as how the "pieces being in battery" should "march in retreat or in advance toward the enemy."
There now being no cavalry in the service, its maneuvers had to be kept alive solely by regulations for the volunteers. 1822 Lieutenant Colonel Pierce Darrow accordingly adapted such a work to Scott's regulations, calling it Cavalry Tactics. He confessed at the beginning that the organization of a cavalry regiment was so radically different in most of the states that it was quite impossible to give a standard type. He compromised, however, by laying down "the order of formation" for two regiments of different size. He conformed to the law of 1820 in prescribing that regiments should be called battalions, and that companies should be posted in line according to the dates of the captains' commissions.3
1822 While the army was trying to better its efficiency, it was in reality low in spirit. The injustice upon the officers who had been "deranged," "razed," or transferred was so apparent that the matter was taken up by many citizens who forced an investigation by a Committee of Congress. The members came to this remarkable conclusion: "While the committee pay just respect to officers retained in the service, they wish not to detract from merits of the many valuable officers who have been left out of the army or reduced in rank." This magnificent tribute was the sole consequence of the fatiguing labor of the lawmakers. No material provision was made for those "valuable" men suddenly cut off without a farthing.
The army had to continue to perform its own tasks and those of the men taken away by the legislators. Its dispersion had to be so thin that as a defensive force it was ridiculous. The Second Infantry for instance, in trying to keep in advance of its part of the receding frontier, made long journeys which disclose what was taking place throughout the service. In January the regiment had been moved from Plattsburg to Sackett's Harbor, N. Y.
1822 A few months later five of its companies and headquarters sailed to Sault Sainte Marie where they built Fort Brady. Less than 800 men tried to cover •almost 8,000 miles of front, open to Indian raids and lesser encroachments.
1822 The 4 puny regiments of artillery scattered their harbor forts through Eastport and Portland, Me.; Portsmouth, N. H.; Marblehead and Boston, Mass.; Newport, R. I.; New London, Conn.; New York City, West Point, Sackett's Harbor, Fort Niagara and Plattsburg, N. Y.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Baltimore, Annapolis and Fort Washington, Md.; Norfolk, Va.; Smithville, N. C.; Charleston, S. C.; Savannah, Ga.; Amelia Island, Fort Gadsden, Fla.; Fort Bowyer and Mobile Bay, Ala.; Fort p163Petite Coquille, La.; Fort Saint Philips, Council Bluffs, Saint Peters, Miss.; Mackinaw, and Fort Shelby, Mich. The armaments totaled 28 forty‑two pounders, 226 thirty‑two pounders, 413 twenty-four pounders, 228 eighteen-powders, 3 ten‑inch seacoast mortars, 32 ten‑inch siege mortars, 5 eighteen-inch mortars, 10 eight-inch howitzers and 46 twenty-four-pounders howitzers. Neither could the fortresses be well manned nor the guns be all cared for or operated under such limitations of man power.
The provision for so many large weapons, with their requisite balls and ammunition, illustrates the attitude of the country toward materials for war. Somehow, our citizens have always been ready to spend money for the making and storing of arms to the disregard of the construction of a soldier and the soldierly character. It has been difficult for them to see that it takes longer to make the operator and superintendent than the missile and gun.
1823 While satisfied with its meager army, Congress at this time provided $5,000 for a national armory on "the western waters" to be selected by a "skillful engineer" or ordnance officer. Galena, Ill., seems to have been the choice because of the mines there and the fact that the War Department was still charged with the management of geological activities later given over to the Interior Department.
As the little army tried to stretch itself over many different activities and along thousands of miles of wild territory, it had its share of combats with the savage, which went along incessantly. These "small affairs" were scarcely noted by the newspaper and too often forgotten by the people. A few soldiers were cut down here, an officer lost his life there and the story of their deeds sank almost at once into oblivion.
1823 Even as large an action as that of the Sixth Infantry, when Lieutenant Colonel Leavenworth drove back the Arikara Indians who had put General Ashley's party in jeopardy, has gone unrecounted in our general histories.
While the few trained forces on our frontiers were repelling the Indian by superior knowledge and training, Colonel Thayer back at the Military Academy was raising the standard of military and educational work. In addition to the advancement which he had already brought, he used senior cadets of
p164excellent qualifications as assistant professors in order to give larger individual instruction.
1823 He succeeded in getting Congress to provide for these men, selected wholly on their merit, $10 a month as extra pay for the "honorable distinction." He then ordered extra buttons to be worn on their dress coats, so as to make the remainder of the Corps of Cadets see the stamp of authority placed upon the new position. By such methods, he was able partially to overcome the shortage of commissioned instructors in a microscopic army, to make scholastic competition among cadets higher and to improve the thoroughness of West Point courses.
It was the scientific instruction at the Military Academy that made possible an engineer corps which constructed many of our public works.
1824 In this year Congress appropriated $30,000 for surveys of roads and canals of national importance and allowed the use of the corps of engineers and two other "skillful engineers" to carry on the labor. Most of the highways and explorations of this period were made by army officers — then the only home-grown scientific men of our country.
1824 Another event in scientific instruction was the establishment of the "artillery school of instruction" at Fortress Monroe, Virginia, for the purpose of familiarizing the artillerist with his duties. Although its curriculum and plant were quite unformed, the foundation was laid for the service school that was to have a beneficial influence later on the development of our larger weapons and mines.
The scientific knowledge of army officers spurred others to try their skill in making improvements. 1824‑1825 A curious invention came into use at this time in the militia. Simeon North of Middletown, Conn., who had been making rifles for the army, invented a few 4 and 5 shot repeaters. He put a small extra barrel in rear of the regular flintlock bore so as to have the ammunition slide into place in front of the chamber. The magazine did not revolve, was impractical and soon came into disuse. But the device illustrates the attempt at this time to produce a greater volume of fire and more rapid loading.
1825 The drill regulations or "Infantry Tactics," as they were then known, went into great detail in this period. The oblique step required the feet to be planted at 18, 25 and 44 inch distances p165at various times in the execution of the movement. Eight plates showed how a company should march precisely through different parts and kinds of defiles. The utmost nicety was required of a "battalion of the first line passing through a battalion of the second line," a "column of attack forming square against cavalry," "the deployment of the column for attack," and a line of eight battalions oblique to the enemy in forming parallel to him by "echelons of brigades." The first company on the march, being detached as an advance guard, had its own supports and reserves.
[Soldiers with Arms]
Along with the changes in drill went those of the uniform. 1825 A cloth "foraging cap or chakos" trimmed with lace was now permitted company officers and enlisted men "when on duty, absent from their companies." The new headpiece was light and in some respects like the modern cap. It was evident that the bell-crown "tar‑bucket" was quite too much for those who were not allowed to wear the light chapeaux de bras. A frock coat with a skirt to come to the knee was required of all officers whenever full dress was not otherwise prescribed. The insignia of rank was worn upon the collar.
Some changes of station again mark the progress of the frontier outward.
1826 Two of the companies of the Fourth Artillery were sent south from Fortress Monroe. The Third Infantry went west from Fort Howard, Sept.
1826 where it helped build Camp Miller, afterward known as Jefferson Barracks, Missouri.
1826 A "Cavalry Tactics" by a board, of which Major General Scott was president and several militia generals were members, appeared this year. It covered the training of young horses, care and equipment of mounts, nomenclature of pistol and sword, drill in 1 or 2 ranks, schools of the trooper and squadron and elaborate maneuvers corresponding to those of infantry tactics.
1826 A similarly complete regulation appeared for artillery. Everything from the "hound‑box" to "perch" was completely explained. The work gave exhaustive schools of the gunner, the piece and the battery, and included evolutions of batteries and a manual of the howitzer. A battery consisted of 6 pieces, p166which were numbered from right to left, each piece with its caisson being drawn by four horses. The battery was divided either into 3 sections or 2 half-batteries. Both the cavalry and artillery maneuvers were copied from Scott's infantry movements as, for example, the command, "Break from the right and march to the left."
1826 According to the Abridged Tactics for Infantry the soldier in the position of attention put his heels as near together "as the conformation of the man will permit." He executed "eyes right" as he does now. The company fell in and was sized in "two ranks, tallest men on the right," and was then divided into platoons and sections. Loading was done by 12 commands, and "P'sent," "Port" and "Pile" arms were a part of the manual. There was volley firing in addition to firing by file as before.
While the little army was trying to improve itself, legislation was moving like the hen that pecks at particles all day and occasionally lays an egg.
1827 Extra pay of $10 a month was given to the officer who actually was in command of a company. The purpose was to alleviate the distress of junior officers who had difficulty in living on their pay. But only the senior subalterns whose captains happened to be absent profited by the measure. Sometimes, naturally good captains were detached in order to give the increased pay to straitened lieutenants. In any case, only a few could receive the small benefit of the law. Instead of giving a substantial increase to every soldier, Congress thus resorted to a petty compromise which caused discrimination, did not raise the general morale and was on the whole wasteful.
Yet the army went on improving itself and boring into the wilderness.
1827 The frontier extending further west, Colonel Leavenworth with four companies of the Third Infantry selected the site of the fort in Kansas which still bears his name. There he established a cantonment. The Sixth, in the meantime, joined forces with the remainder of the Third at Jefferson Barracks, where was started an informal Infantry School of Practice. To this primitive place of instruction, as to the Artillery School of Practice at Fortress Monroe, all the "brevet second lieutenants" were sent upon joining.
p167 While the army was thus trying to advance technically so as to make itself more efficient, it had many besetting trials with which to contend.
Brevet rank, that great anomalous bugbear which was to have such a disturbing influence on the spirit of troops, was given a standing it had not heretofore had.
1827 The adjutant general issued an order which deemed officers holding brevet rank to be on duty and to have command according to their brevet commissions when they were actually commanding enough troops to warrant such higher grade. If a brevetted officer was really commanding double the number of men which ordinary regimental rank entitled him to control, the brevet rank became actual. A captain who was also a brevet major, for example, exercised command as a major when he was on duty over a detachment composed of not less than 2 companies. Naturally such an incongruity led to discontent. Those who had had no opportunity to be brevetted or those who, although brevetted, did not command the required number of men were through chance denied the higher grade. Men of long service and experience were often, then, commanded by their actual juniors.
Neither did disease help the morale of the army. The troops on duty in the south were so reduced by fever that Brigadier General Jacob Brown had to transfer large numbers over considerable distances. The Fourth Artillery alone had lost (mostly from yellow fever) during the six years of its stay, 16 officers and 220 enlisted men. Yet Congress inquired into the expense of changing the Fourth to the north coast, the Third to the New England coast and the First and Second to the south. It had not been borne in upon the minds of the lawmakers that soldiers in the wilds were dying fast. When General Brown showed that it was unfair to exterminate regiments in unhealthful places while others were in a land of comparative conveniences, his dispositions were approved.
Whereas the artillery had posts in civilization to which it could be moved, the infantry had to live constantly on the borders. It is hard to realize now the terrible scourges of plague and epidemic that riddled the commands of the frontier. Resistance was lessened by exposure. Flies, roaches, mosquitoes p168and rats were so abundant that they were almost ineffaceable. Scientific investigation had not yet shown the fatality lurking among these pests. The soldiers, in crowded buildings and unacquainted with the need of ventilation, disseminated small pox, yellow fever, malaria and typhoid without understanding their sources. Danger from disease for the military man was many times as great as for the citizen who had his own room and dined at home.
If an undeveloped, small medical department had its troubles, the task that fell upon the staff in general was just as great. 1827 The Ordnance Department had been taken away from the army by the false economy of costly reductions. Those who kept up a part of the ordnance duties now masqueraded as artillerymen. A lieutenant colonel and 4 captains of artillery, stationed in Washington, attempted to supervise the arms and equipment of the entire service. Such condition was typical of the big burden that fell upon the few who made up the army.
The movement of the troops over tremendous distances was but an evidence of the attempt to have soldiers in two places at once.
The First Infantry which had occupied Baton Rouge and vicinity was sent to Fort Crawford, Fort Snelling and Fort Winnebago at the other end of the Mississippi.
The headquarters of the Fourth Artillery were changed to Philadelphia. Four companies of the Sixth Infantry started as an escort to a party of traders bound from Fort Leavenworth to Santa Fe.
1829 The journey there and return was to require two years of fighting, thirst and exhaustion. The endurance and determination of these men broke a path for Kearny and Doniphan later, and blazed this trail for the first time.
While the small army was desperately trying to hold the borders, it was also bringing the drill regulations up to a more practical and efficient standard. Improvement in the quality of maneuver went on, even if the numbers of troops to execute the movements were few. 1829 The new U. S. Infantry Drill Regulations consisted of three main schools: the soldier, the company, and the battalion. It was the most thorough and progressive work of its kind since Steuben's manual and showed again the energy of Major General Winfield Scott. The book contained a special section for light infantry and riflemen. p169Loading while kneeling and lying down, forming single file, advancing by files, diminishing and increasing front, and firing in extended order, seem to point to the development of the service of security. The 2 rifle companies in each battalion were, therefore, posted on the right and left. Executing the manual "by the numbers" was provided for so that the recruit could be the more carefully instructed. Inspection arms was described much as it exists to‑day except that the ramrod was sprung in the barrel before the piece was taken by the inspector. Since the bores of the muzzle loaders could not be readily looked through, such precaution was necessary in order to make certain that piece was unloaded. Target practice made its first modern advance. An •eight-inch bull's‑eye with an exterior ring was placed in the middle of the upper half of the target and between the horizontal bands, evidently to simulate the vital part of a human being. A soldier was required to begin at 50 yards in order to gain confidence, and then gradually proceed back to 140 yards which was considered point-blank range. Because the sight was fixed, he had to aim below the bull's‑eye more and more as he advanced toward the target from 140 yards.
Under Dept of War,
1829 A System of Exercise and Instruction of Field Artillery showed that the proper service was with horses in action, and that the proper calibers for field were 6‑and-12‑pounder guns and 24‑pounder howitzers. This regulation includes the term field artillery, light and horse artillery. The book is complete and a counterpart of the Infantry Tactics.
As the army labored on improvement, Congress seemed to be more interested in destruction than construction of the armed forces. 1829 It tried now to do away with the office of major general or general in chief of the army. When the matter came to an issue, views of the committee on military affairs and of the Secretary of War were called for. Both Mr. Harrison and Mr. Peter B. Porter showed how the army had to have a head who was a soldier, just as much as a ship needed a captain who was a sailor. If the office were taken away, the work would be improperly done by a civilian secretary on the advice of junior staff officers by whom he was surrounded. The result was that Congress retained the office without recognizing its p170authority in purely military affairs, so that administration by the Secretary for a long time clogged the machinery and gave a precedent for much mismanagement in the Civil War.
Within the army military procedure was likewise shaken by the operation of the orders on brevet rank. Officers by this time had become so confused that in many cases they were at a loss as to who was actually in command.
1829 The consequence was that an order from Washington separated command from brevet rank. Although an officer sat on a court in accordance with brevetted grade, he was forbidden to exercise command corresponding to such grade unless especially assigned by the War Department for that purpose. So confusion was somewhat allayed but not overcome.
These interruptions could not stem the steady progress of the army in pushing our boundaries outward. The movement of the Third Infantry is an illustration of the advancement of the frontier.
1829 Two companies left Jefferson Barracks for Black Creek, Choctaw Nation. Dec. 14
1830 Four more companies left for the southeast corner of what is now Oklahoma on the Red River. These places represented the outlying sections of our western boundary. Wild regions infested by savages were reclaimed by forces, forts and the surveys made by this daring handful of soldiers.
Indian uprisings later becoming threatening along the Mississippi, the Sixth Infantry was concentrated at Jefferson Barracks, with the specific purpose of taking care of the Sac and Fox Indians commanded by Black Hawk.
1831 That part of the Fifth Infantry at Fort Winnebago was moved to Fort Armstrong (Rock Island, Ill.). The Third was sent to Cantonment Jesup, La.
In the meantime, administrative changes caused a bettering of conditions at Washington.
The topographical engineers were organized into a regular bureau of the War Department,
1832 and after eleven years' absence, an Ordnance Department again made its appearance. Congress established the latter as a branch separate from the artillery so that it could now function with some sort of benefit for the service and advancement along broader and more technical lines.4
p171 1832 Then General Scott entered upon the first of the duties which were to make his and the army's name so famous for pacification. In South Carolina the Nullification Proclamation had angered the people of that state to such an extent that they were on the point of secession and possibly civil war. President Jackson sent General Scott to Charleston to look after the difficulties. The General's great tact, forbearance, and humanity bridged over the gulf and kept the government out of war.
In the west the activities of Black Hawk were such that it was known a large force would be necessary to subdue him.
1832 General Atkinson, with the Sixth Infantry and 900 Illinois volunteers concentrated at Dixon's Ferry. The government acting with exemplary promptness, made provisions for raising 600 mounted rangers, June 15
1832 the first intimation of cavalry since 1821. It also prepared to send General Scott with troops from the east. To get to the scene of activities, a large part of the Fourth Artillery covered by rail, boat, and marches •1,800 miles in 18 days. Such dispatch at a time when transit was not modern is almost unparalleled. But the eastern troops were never destined to engage with Black Hawk for they lost more than 30 per cent of their number by Asiatic cholera en route. The Second Infantry at Detroit was similarly struck down by the disease. Though the concentration contemplated 1,300 regular troops from the Lakes and the Atlantic, the whole force was blocked by the plague. At Rock Island, Ill., General Scott, foreseeing the dire effects of drunkenness in connection with the disease, forestalled intoxication by a characteristic order:
"That every soldier or ranger who shall be found drunk or sensibly intoxicated, after the publication of this order, be compelled as soon as his strength will permit, to dig a grave at a suitable place, large enough for his own reception, as such graves cannot fail to be wanted for the drunken man himself or some drunken companion. This order is given as p172well to serve as a punishment for drunkenness, as to spare good and temperate men the labor of digging graves for their worthless companions."
Although Scott did not get to the fight the above will intimate that he had a well-disciplined force in hand.
1832 General Atkinson in the meantime had, with parts of the First and Second Infantry, come up with Black Hawk at the junction of the Bad Axe and the Mississippi. After a bloody battle of three hours, Atkinson signally defeated the savages. July 21
1832 In the meantime the Illinois volunteers had met the enemy at the Wisconsin River and driven him back. When they had joined General Atkinson the augmented force effectively put a quietus on Black Hawk.
Yet the army did not always treat the savage with the rifle. 1832 Captain Bonneville of the army took an indefinite leave of absence in order to study the Indian in his native haunts. Disguised as a fur trader, he made his way with 110 men to the heart of the Rockies, where he lived among the Nez Percés and Flatheads for five years. His daring labor was the wedge for peace with many tribes of Indians for years afterward.a
Shortly after Scott's experiences in getting his troops west, "ardent spirits" disappeared from the ration.
1832 Liquor was forbidden to be introduced into any fort, camp or garrison by any soldier or sutler, and sugar and coffee were issued in place of whisky. So it came about that the army was the first institution of our government to prescribe prohibition for its personnel.
1833 Along with such restrictions came changes of uniform which were intended to create a greater appeal to self-respect. Officers wore double-breasted coats coming to the knee, the different branches had the same colored facings on their coats as were prescribed during the Revolution, cocked hats returned, and all officers and noncommissioned officers had epaulets on both shoulders. Rank was distinguished by the materials and sizes of the straps of the epaulet, on which was placed the regimental number. The eagle for the colonel came into vogue for the first time as did the rows of buttons for generals in groups of fours, threes and twos.
It then became apparent to Congress that if the Indian was to be pursued, cavalry was necessary.
1833 After eleven years of absence a regiment of dragoons made its appearance. One colonel, 1 lieutenant colonel, 1 major, 10 companies, each with 1 captain, 1 first lieutenant and 1 second lieutenant made up this new mounted contingent of 600 privates.
At the same time, enlistments for the whole army were reduced to three years and the pay of a private increased to $6.5 Although he received only $5 of this amount for the first two years, he was given the remaining $24 at the expiration of that time, provided his conduct had been good. A reënlisted soldier received the full $6. All premiums were henceforth prohibited to recruiting officers and no man who had been convicted of a criminal offense could be enlisted.
How well this last provision was carried out seems to be disputable. Small pay, little recreation, hard duty and little opportunity for advancement were not appealing to well-bred young men. Since the Military Academy furnished all and more of the officer personnel, commissions from the ranks were rare. The down-and‑outer, the foreigner, and the adventurer made up to too great a degree the rank and file.
The consequence was that the personnel of a company had to be controlled with an iron hand. Ignorant men could be restrained from mutiny by fear alone. Beating, which had been prohibited many years before, was still prevalent in these isolated places. Desertion in one instance met the following fate:
"The court found him guilty as charged and sentenced him to be tied to a stack of arms and to receive ten lashes for five p174successive mornings with a cat‑o'‑nine-tails on his bare back in the presence of the command, to have his head and eyebrows shaved, to forfeit all pay and traveling expenses and to be drumd out of service."
The rawhide, however, was still used as in the days of the Revolution. One officer forgot himself so far as to be court-martialed and punished on the following charge:
"Conduct subversive of good order and Military Discipline." Specification: In this: That he, the said Lieutenant Colonel W––––– of the 6th Regiment U. S. Infantry, while commanding the regiment in question, did punish with stripes and lashes, private Thomas Powell of Company 'D,' of the regiment aforesaid — the punishment so administered being of such extreme severity as to have disabled the said Thomas Powell from the performance of his duty, for the period of nine days. This at Jefferson Barracks, in the state of Missouri, on or about the 12th of December, 1828."
For sleeping on post in hostile country a soldier was sometimes ordered to be shot. Sometimes, also, the firing squad was given secret directions to aim high over the head of the blindfolded victim kneeling on his coffin before his grave. After the volley, the prostrate convict was pardoned before his fellow soldiers because of previous good conduct.
Cruelty naturally sprang up in a wilderness where one's existence depended upon the obedience of men who could neither read, write nor understand the reasons for discipline. There were instances where officers privately flogged their men. Physical superiority throughout the country was playing a large part in the settlement of affairs, and so it was in the army.
The guardhouse was a log fortress usually outside the walls of the stockade. The ordinary type had two compartments, one for the guard and the other for the prisoners. The open room held those charged with moderate offenses, but cells at p175one side restrained the deserter, the rioter, and the more heinous criminal. These latter compartments •about 8 feet long, 3 feet wide and only 3 feet high made it impossible for the culprit to stand upright during his confinement.
The constant danger to the isolated fort is shown by the diligence with which those approaching it were challenged. The countersign was normally used with great care. The person approaching was called upon to "stand" by the sentry, and then to "advance with the countersign, and give it." If the word was correct, the sentry said "Right, pass"; if not, he called a noncommissioned officer of the guard.
The daily guard, fatigue, and routine of other duties were often interrupted by more exciting occurrences. The arrival of the "express rider" at an unusual hour of the night, the "orderly call," the parading of the garrison with knapsacks packed, the hustle and bustle of the "waiters," the discomfort of weighty accouterments and tight garments, the long, dreary, hungry march, the contact with the first painted warriors, the running fight, the unexpected whoop of a fresh band of savages, the final drive after hours of sweaty, muddy, bloody struggle, the search for the dead and wounded, the return to the fort, the gloomy burials with final volleys over the graves of good companions, were incidents in the monotony of the soldier's life. And the apothecary in Philadelphia went on undisturbed even by a headline of what the nth Infantry had done for the civilization of the nation's territory. The soldier had plenty of one thing — hazard. And this he accepted without complaint.
While the small bodies of troops were pounding away on the frontier, the army as a whole was being bettered.
1834 The organization of the First Regiment of Dragoons was soon completed. The service now had mounted troops to use against the Indian. The medical corps, too, was helped by legislation. June 30
1834 The quality of its officers was raised, when all new appointments of assistant surgeons had to be censored by an army medical board.
1834 Field artillery had its real birth during this year. The Ordnance Department tested out two different types of carriages, the "stock-trail" and the Gribeauval. It especially p176went into the merits of brass and iron weapons, with results favoring the former. As to sizes, 6‑ and 12‑pounder guns and 12‑ and 24‑pounder howitzers seemed to survive.
1834 An Abstract of a System of Exercise and Introduction of Field Artillery was written by J. L. Wilson for the South Carolina militia. Two gunners and 2 first, 2 second and 2 third mattrosses served the piece (16‑or 24‑pounder). Grape shot was loaded by means of bags holding lead bullets. Cartridges of powder were made into cases covered by flannel boiled in oil. Pieces were touched off by a torch, and the powder in the chamber ignited by the use of a quick match and a portfire. The former was a long homemade fuse like a round lamp wick and the latter was a small paper case of powder made more inflammable by the admixture of antimony.
Less than 4,000 regular soldiers now guarded •over 10,000 miles of seacoast and frontier for 15,000,000 of people. Five hundred infantrymen and artillerymen in Florida constituted the nation's only safeguard in a country of •52,000 square miles, infested by thousands of Seminole and Creek Indians.
1835 It was natural that the savage began to feel his power to such a degree that his confidence and cruelty led him to murder parts of the Second and Third Artillery and Fourth Infantry marching peacefully from Fort Brookeº to Fort King; 107 regular officers and men were killed. At the same time 2 other officers were murdered near Fort King. This affair, commonly known as Dade's massacre,b fired the country and especially the army.
1835 Almost immediately General Clinch with 6 companies of artillery and infantry regulars and about 400 volunteers met approximately 1,000 Indians at the Withlacoochee and drove them back. Of the trained soldiers 57 officers and men were killed. Why only 30 officers and men of the volunteers got into action has never been satisfactory explained. Had the whole force been used it is likely the Florida war would have ended at once. All the few trained soldiers could do was to repulse the Indians who went further away into their hiding places and became more wary.
It was during this war that the most trying duty that could fall to the lot of troops was performed by nearly all of the p177regular army constantly for four long years. Moving from swamp to swamp in search of an enemy that never appeared, dying by battalions with fever and exposure, never able to bring on a decisive engagement with the elusive natives, never daring to separate into small groups without being exterminated by savages who sprang from the soil, at night disturbed by decoys and alarms, always on the move fighting shadows, starved for supplies, burned or plundered by the Indian, hindered by thickets, marshes, tropical forests, morasses and jungles of unknown poisons and mysterious extent, balked by the enemy who was never to be trusted in council and resorted to any ulterior means to gain a scalp, the little army of less than 1,000 regulars tried to clean out a vast country occupied by over 3,000 Indians. In spite of the handicaps the soldier built 90 forts and stockades and •480 miles of road. This great wedge of development and safety the army accomplished at the price of misery, disease, and death.
1836 The First Artillery was the first one to reach Florida from the north in order to reënforce the command already there. Jan. 9
1836 General Scott, in charge of the Eastern Department, was also sent to the scene of the trouble by the War Department. And it was wise that the regular troops were appearing, for General Call had reported mutiny among his volunteer troops and Governor Eaton had shown that his had all gone home. Florida was left alone with its handful of trained soldiers, whose companies were now rendered so small by the lack of legislation that scarcely an average of 30 men could be mustered for duty.
General Gaines, in the meantime, in command of the Western Department, having no information from the War Department,
1836 hastened with about 1,100 men for Tampa to avenge Dade's massacre. Pushing on to Fort Drane where Scott had a reservoir of supplies for the right wing of his troops, he was there besieged. March 6
1836 When the siege was raised not only were Gaines' troops starving and subsisting on horse flesh, but the supplies for Scott's troops were all used up. Here we have the picture of two forces of United States troops acting utterly independently of each other and in opposition. Part of the reason for this mismanagement can be attributed to the absence of the telegraph and rapid transit.
p178 General Gaines then calmly went back to his command, leaving General Clinch to resuscitate the starving soldiers.
1836 In addition to these troubles the Creek Indians now began to show signs of hostility in southern Alabama and Georgia. Although the Second Infantry did some notable work in escorting emigrating tribes, there were so few soldiers, in proportion to the number of savages and settlers to be protected, that the task seemed hopeless.
General Scott was without an adequate force. Although the Sixth Infantry, some artillery and the volunteers were on their way, the situation in Florida was not then helped.
1836 Futile and tardy enactments by Congress gave authority for "10,000 men" and an additional regiment of dragoons, but such action was far from collecting, organizing, training and putting on the ground the numbers voted. Besides, the 10,000 were to be discharged at the end of "six or twelve months" and the extra regiment of dragoons was to be disbanded at the will of the President. Although the dragoons were to be accepted for three years, the volunteers were to go out either in a year or a half year as they chose. What raw troops would decide is not undecipherable after what had already transpired in our history. To add to this fruitlessness, the governors of Georgia and Alabama had ordered thousands of soldiers into the field who were useless because they had no arms.
1836 The Third and Fourth Artillery and Fourth and Sixth Infantry took part in a succession of small actions, such as Macinope, Fort Drane, Wahoo Swamp and Withlacoochee, wherever any Indians could be induced to appear. In the meantime the savage was carrying on raids of extermination on every white man, woman, and child who could be seized in Florida, southern Alabama and Georgia. A massacre would occur in one place while the troops were at another. Seldom was the meager force in that wide country able to catch up with a foe that was capable of rapid disappearance. History little records the deeds of heroism and discomfort of Scott's troops.
One commander wrote:
"There are here 11 companies of artillery; the whole presents a fighting force of 110 men; and while we are entitled to 55 officers, we have here only 6 for company duty."
p179 The country would not allow the officer or enlisted man to do the job right by making or having a sufficiently large trained force. So scarce were subalterns that President Jackson had to order them to the front from detached service. With companies that were squads, needing few officers, and having less, with useless pilgrimages that were able to cover but small fractions of the hostile territory and with the ever-present disease that was more deadly than the bullet, morale in the service was naturally low.
Promotion was so slow that a lieutenant had little hope of ever becoming a captain. 1836 For sixty-nine graduates of the Academy there were no actual vacancies so that they had to be attached as brevet second lieutenants to their companies. These young men with exceptional education under the régime of Colonel Thayer, seeing futures less lucrative and hopeful than those of uneducated mill hands of their own town, resigned in shoals. One hundred and seventeen officers went out in 1836. During this decade, the service lost and the civilian gained the benefit of such men as Horace Bliss, celebrated engineer; W. C. Young, President Panama Railroad and Hudson River Railroad; R. R. Parrott, inventor of the gun bearing his name; Alexander D. Bache, one of the most famous educators and scientists of his time; Albert Sidney Johnston; N. B. Buford; Leonidas Polk; Jefferson Davis; Joseph E. Johnston; George G. Meade; and Henry Du Pont, proprietor of the Du Pont Powder Mills.6
1836 Efforts within the service to produce good results were almost pathetic. Tactics and Regulations for the Militia gave to the volunteer a volume containing all that should be known by him of infantry, cavalry and artillery drill. One apparently novel thing emphasized was the deployment of the light infantry and rifle companies and battalions "as skirmishers," and "rallying and assembling."
The uniform showed marks of evolution toward later changes. Although the epaulets were retained for full dress of officers, shoulder straps of the type worn on the officers' blue dress coat before the World War came into vogue for generals p180and colonels in "undress." Majors and company officers wore slashed flaps, buttons and loops in their sleeves. The major wore a slash •6½ inches long, 4 loops and 4 buttons; and the subalterns, a slash •3½ inches long with 2 loops and 2 buttons. The cadet full-dress coat and overcoat were almost as they appear now, although a gray vest was included in the wardrobe. All staff officers wore on the undress coat. Chevrons for noncommissioned officers in dress uniform were replaced by the same sort of slashings on the sleeve as for captains and lieutenants, except that the material was worsted cloth instead of gold lace. For undress, the chevrons for sergeants and corporals were approximately of the same design as now, save that they were pointed downward. It was prescribed that the hair should be "cut short or what is generally termed cropped; the whiskers not to extend below the lower tip of the ear, and in a line thence with the curve of the mouth."
Promotion for company officers was within the regiment; for field officers, within the same branch of the service. Added to the inequalities of such procedure throughout the army, brevet rank continued to create much dispute and many unusual situations.
1836 During the year General Scott was recalled from the scene of hostilities in order that his conduct in not prosecuting the war more quickly might be inquired into. Between General Gaines, the raw troops, and Congress he had not had a chance. Supplies and transportation were wanting and his difficulties approached those of Schuyler and Washington at their worst. It had now grown to be a national habit to take the tools away from a commander and to inquire at the seat of government into his conduct when he failed. Of course, General Scott was fully acquitted, and the enemy was not harmed by his absence.
The army, in small detachments like lost souls in the desert, went about seeking the enemy. It might as well have hunted, like De Soto, for the fountain of youth. At the small councils the chiefs made peace and afterward broke faith. The actions though small caused marching and countermarching that keenly harassed and provoked the troops.
The Third and Fourth Artillery and the Third, Fourth and Sixth Infantry regiments bore the brunt of this unusual hunt in
p181the dark against treachery and disease.
1837 The First Infantry and some of the newly organized Second Dragoons were on their way south. But trouble was brewing in Canada to such a degree that most of the remaining regulars were needed in the north.
1837 In the south General Jesup was unable to report more than 30 Indians killed and 500 captured. Colonel Zachary Taylor, however, having taken a company of the Fourth Artillery, the First and Sixth Infantry, some Missouri volunteers, Morgan's spies, some pioneers and pontooneers, and some Delaware Indians — a force of 870 altogether — Dec. 19
1837 set out through the fastnesses of Florida with orders to defeat the Indians wherever found. After much search a body of savages, large enough to be attacked, was found hidden in a hummock of thick saw grass •five feet high. To approach the position the soldiers had to wade to their knees in mud and water. Although such a quagmire prevented the use of horses and made the advance of feet troops hazardous, Taylor attacked. When Colonel Gentry of the raw troops fell, most of the volunteers fled to their baggage and could not be persuaded to return. Colonel Zachary Taylor describes the remainder of the battle thus:
"The enemy, however, were promptly checked and driven back by the Fourth and Sixth Infantry, which, in truth, might be said to be a moving battery. The weight of the enemy's fire was principally concentrated on five companies of the Sixth Infantry, which not only stood firm, but continued to advance until their gallant commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Thompson, and his adjutant, Lieutenant Center,º were killed, and every officer, with one exception as well as most of the non‑commissioned officers, including the sergeant-major and four of the orderly sergeants, killed and wounded of those companies; when that portion of the regiment retired a short distance and were again formed, one of the companies having but four men left untouched.
"Lieutenant-Colonel Foster with six companies, amounting in all to 160 men, gained the hummock in good order, where he was joined by Captain Noel, with the two remaining companies of the Sixth Infantry, and Captain Gillam, of Gentry's volunteers, with a few additional men, and continued to drive the p182enemy a considerable time, and by a change of front separated his line, and continued to drive him until he reached the great Lake Okeechobee, which was in rear of the enemy's position, and on which their encampment extended for •more than a mile.
"The action was a severe one, and continued from half past twelve until 3:00 P.M., a part of the time very close and severe. We suffered much, having 26 killed and 112 wounded, among whom are some of our most valuable officers. The hostiles probably suffered, all things considered, equally with ourselves, they having left ten dead on the ground, besides doubtless carrying off many more, as is customary with them when practicable."
1837 Thus was fought the Battle of Okeechobee Swamp on Christmas Day.
After the battle one officer gave an account of the Florida country and situation not overly flattering to either:
1838 "We (Colonel Taylor's army) have just returned from the Everglades. These Everglades are, at the northwest, termed wet prairies. They are large wet prairies, or grassy lakes, and of which the Indians know but little, and where they cannot live a month without great suffering.
"We saw but few Indians, and they fled rapidly at our approach. We took about sixty horses and ascertained that their cattle were exhausted. Colonel Taylor has taken about 600 head. We found on our last excursion but few cattle tracks, and only two cows were taken. The Indians are suffering for food, in all their camps we find that they have subsisted on palmetto roots and the cabbage tree, which are never eaten by them except when hard run.
"One hundred and thirty Indians and negroes have come in since the Battle of Okeechobee, and they say many more will come in soon, and that they are tired of the war, and destitute of provisions.
"Florida is generally a poor, sandy country. The southern portion is nearly all prairie, wet and dry alternately. Not more than one‑tenth, at the utmost, of Florida is fit for cultivation, p183and I would not give one good township of land in Illinois or Michigan for every foot of land in East Florida."
That the army has been as much a peacemaker as a war wager, has not been a prevalent conception. Yet its recorded dealings with other nations and with the savages will prove that it has tried zealously to prevent conflicts. The year 1838 was particularly one of peacemaking by the army for the benefit of the country. General Scott had been sent north by the government for the purpose of preventing a third war with Great Britain. Sympathizers with Canadian rebels or patriots had led the border states to take up the quarrel of the Canadian revolutionists. Some citizens of the United States, those elements untrained, undisciplined and unorganized, had actually taken part in hostile enterprises. The acuteness of the situation was all the more aggravated by the necessary absence of our trained troops in Florida, along the coast and on the western frontier. Scott was without organized power to hold our violators of neutrality in check. By a combination of skillful addresses and personal conferences he averted the catastrophe and prevented a useless waste of lives.
1838 His exertions with our citizens and the British agents in Canada were the entire reasons for the prevention of rupture.
After our instability had been so obviously shown by this lucky outcome and by the slaughter and fruitlessness in Florida, the stingy size of our army at last became patent.
1838 Congress at least gave voice to an increase. It allowed to every artillery company 16 extra privates and to every infantry company 38. It add a company to each regiment of artillery and another regiment of infantry to the whole establishment. It proportionately increased the officers in the engineer corps, the topographical engineers, medical and other staff departments. It gave to each person in the service, except general officers, an extra ration for every five years in service. It raised the enlisted pay to a scale ranging from $17 for a sergeant major down to $8 for a private. It prescribed that $2 a month was to be withheld until the expiration of enlistment. It replaced the bounty by three months' reënlisted pay. It gave to any enlisted man, serving continuously for ten years, •160 acres of p184land. It allowed the council of administration at any post to hire a chaplain at $40 a month and the Military Academy to have a professor of chemistry, mineralogy, and geology. It authorized 1 regiment of infantry to be equipped as light infantry and 2 to be armed with rifles.
Such Scott had made the peace with Great Britain possible it was necessary to see that no fresh causes for war arose.
to 1840 Part of the newly organized Eighth Infantry was accordingly used in small bodies on the lake boats to enforce the neutrality and to arrest any suspicious American sympathizers.
While this small contingent of the army was keeping peace in the north, General Scott again was ordered on another delicate mission in which the slightest error of performance meant war and the loss of many lives. The Cherokees, who still inhabited parts of Georgia and North and South Carolina, their native home, had, under questionable inducements on the part of our civil agents, agreed to emigrate west. The real truth was that since gold had been discovered in this region, our people were covetous of that part of the Indian country. This tribe had always been friendly and had largely taken up the education and customs of the states. The whole Cherokee nation realized that it had virtually been robbed of its territory. In spite of this feeling, some had emigrated, but about 15,000 refused to leave their mountain homes.
General Scott was accordingly chosen to bear the brunt of the affair by having to direct the emigration. His masterful appeal to the Cherokees not to compel war, his instructions to his soldiers to be gentle and firm, his square dealing and his quick demonstration of force, by drawing a circle of troops about the Indians, brought the desired result. Parts of the 4 regiments of artillery, the Fourth Infantry, a portion of the Second Dragoons and some Georgia militia were the troops designated for this work. Scott's arrangements were so complete and his promises so fully carried out that the Indians even submitted at his suggestion to vaccination. Nothing for the ordinary comfort of these people had been forgotten by him. One authority states that $2,500,000 was saved the government by this peaceful emigration. How much loss of life was prevented is inestimable. In addition to keeping us out of war, p185Scott and his troops retrieved the opprobrious reputation of the government, and washed clean the dirty smudges of our enviousness.c
Further south in Florida matters had come to a standstill. Seeing the futility of protecting the inhabitants of that country or of rounding up the Indians with so few trained forces, General Jesup asked to be relieved.
1838 Colonel Zachary Taylor took his place. What the new commander did will be seen later.
Meanwhile it is scarcely fair to center the attention at this time upon the south and east. While the troops in Florida were fighting fever and hardship, the little stockades in the near west were protecting the settlers and having their brushes with the savage. Although none of these actions was large enough to record separately, they were none the less severe and difficult. The redskin was beaten off only to return later. Something had to be done in the way of permanency. Though surveys were constantly injected into the unknown middle west country by army engineers, aided by other troops, more extensive feelers had to lengthen themselves into the infested plains before the troops could progress gradually and intelligently outward. One of the big moves at this time, which did so much for our country later, with the expedition of a then unknown young man.
1838 John C. Fremont was commissioned a second lieutenant of topographical engineers and sent with Mr. , the distinguished astronomer, west of the Mississippi and north of the Missouri. This was the beginning of the magnificent explorations (to be described later) that were to make the "Pathfinder" so famous.
It may be interesting at this point to digress a moment in order to note certain advances in technique within the army. 1838 The Jenks breechloading rifle was tried out by the Ordnance Department. Although the weapon was thought unfit for infantry, a summer carbine was judged to be practicable for cavalry. The Board that pronounced upon the venture felt convinced that breechloading produced no advantage and was slower, especially because of the fouling of the piece. Since the muzzle-loader had to be rammed each time before firing, the bore would naturally, they thought, be kept cleaner than in a breechloader.
1838 The Second and Sixth regiments of Infantry were finally entirely concentrated in Florida. What happened to a part of the Second might be cited as typical of conditions under which all the troops then marched. March
1839 Captain Russell was taking the men of his company to Fort Dallas. With a part of them he was going by boat down the Miami River when the party was fired on by Indians from the shore. Immediately he ordered his men to row toward the savages and attack. Being the first to land, he had scarcely started the fight when he fell pierced by five bullets. His lieutenant continued the disadvantageous action and brought back in safety the body of the captain. But so overwhelming was the number of Indians that all the few soldiers could do was to make a break for safety.
1839 While such tragedies were taking place, General Scott was ordered on his fourth mission to save the peace of the United States. It seems that the state of Maine had got into altercation with the Canadian authorities over its boundaries. The governor had gone so far as to call out 8,000 militia. When General Scott arrived his diplomatic handling of the situation closed the issue. Here again we have the trained soldier using all proper means to avoid war. All through these pages we will find that he who understands hardships and the business of arms not only does not want strife but does everything he can do to prevent it. But when the struggle becomes inevitable he acts as the skilled surgeon who cuts deep in order to gain a quick recovery.
To be in better shape for the disturbances that were constantly threatening, the army chiefs sought to collect and drill the troops.
1839 A "Grand Camp of Instruction" was held at Trenton, New Jersey. All the regulars that could be scraped together in that part of the country went through some maneuvers. Among other things one battery of each artillery regiment took over horses from the dragoons and was formed into a light battery. This concentration was doubtless another forerunner of the modern summer camp.
The war in Florida being unusually prolonged, General Macomb, general in chief, visited the scene of activities.
1839 After consultation with the principal Indian chiefs with whom he made a treaty he announced to the army and the public that p187the war with the Seminoles was over. This was the third time in three years that peace with these savages had been announced to the fighting forces by some high authority. On the previous occasions the Indians had broken faith with the addition of many Christian graves to the soil of the south. General Macomb's prognosis proved to be no exception.
For scarcely a month passed before events made force again necessary. Colonel Harney was on a march with 40 men toward the Caloosahatchee River. His men had camped with the same feeling of security that Dade had had three years before. The Indians met on the way seemed to be most friendly.
1839 But just before dawn one morning the camp was attacked and 18 of Colonel Harney's men massacred, he and the others barely escaping. Hostilities naturally were renewed with all the discomforts, horrors, and fruitlessness of past years.
Inside the army, the work of improvement went steadily on notwithstanding the ebb and flow of peace. 1839 The field artillery took another stride forward when Captain Robert Anderson translated the French Regulations so as to cover both the "horse and foot" artillery in one manual. It dealt with the passage of difficult ground in detail, and covered the maneuver of the battery from the "passage of carriages" to the "countermarch." Every conceivable manner of going "into battery" was explained with great thoroughness. These regulations contributed highly to the efficient part field artillery was going to play in the Mexican War.
During the ensuing year the regular regiments were moved about the country in a wild endeavor to stamp out the terrors of the frontiers.
1840 The newly organized Eighth Infantry, having finished its duty in helping to keep the peace with Great Britain, was started from Sackett's Harbor for the Wisconsin Territory. The Winnebago Indians had left their reservation and were committing outrages. Going overland and by boat, May 28
1840 the regiment arrived at Camp McKeon whence it proceeded against this tribe.
During this period the Seventh Infantry was taking part in actions near Fort King and Fort Drane, Florida. The Sixth was doing similar work. The Fifth was holding the Indians in check in the northwest. The Fourth was helping the Sixth and p188Seventh in Florida. The Third was in the southwest, opening roads in the Sabine country in Texas, even to the extent of clearing the river of its undergrowth and jammed logs. The First and Second were scouring Florida. The field artillery was left to prevent further trouble in Maine. The Second and Third were in Florida and the Fourth on the lake frontier helping the Fifth Infantry. The First Dragoons were in the north and the Second in Florida.7
Evidently the means provided for solving the Seminole situation were few.
1840 General Taylor having found the task beyond him, asked, as his predecessor had done, to be relieved. General Armistead took his place. The new commander divided the territory into seven military districts for the purpose of making the tasks of the troops specific. His forces were augmented by the arrival of the Eighth Infantry which had just rounded up the Winnebago Indians and had traversed the entire frontier to go south. Oct.
1840 The Third came from Texas a little later.
While the army was contending with the Seminoles, the administration at the Military Academy was signally helped.
1840 Congress recognized the office of Commandant of Cadets which Colonel Thayer had provided previously. The commandant, under the superintendent, was made responsible for the military instruction of the corps. Becoming now the chief instructor of infantry, cavalry and artillery tactics as well as of practical military engineering, he was able to unify the teaching of these subjects so vital to young army officers.
In Florida, responsibility for suppressing the Seminoles again became too heavy.
1841 General Armistead at his own request was relieved from command and Colonel Worth took his place. Although the First Infantry left for Forts Snelling, Crawford and Anderson in the northwest and the remaining troops were weary of so much length without strength, the new incumbent hit upon a successful plan. Pursuing the original idea of General Scott, he did not hunt the enemy directly but rather his dwellings and standing crops. General Sprague gives an intimate glimpse into these activities:
p189 "Fever and dysentery were the prevailing diseases. Officers and soldiers were inevitably exposed to the vicissitudes of the climate. Day after day they were wet to the skin, then subjected to a burning sun, causing an atmosphere to arise from the heated sand almost unsupportable.
"The bands of Indians, which for years had lived from season to season, in the enjoyment of abundance, celebrating their corn dances and festivals, harassing the white man as suited their convenience or inclination, were now driven in small parties to remote and unhealthy hiding places. The foundation of the contest was reached, which inspired all with the hope of future success."
One of the curious incidents of this campaign is shown by Colonel R. H. Wilson, in his history of the Eighth Infantry:
"At the end of September, 1841, A, C, E, and G were at Punta Rassa where, owing to the fact that at certain periods during great storms the land was subject to overflow from the waters of the Gulf, platforms were erected sufficiently high it was supposed for protection, on which were pitched the tents of officers and men. On the night of October 10th a terrific storm arose which soon grew to a tornado, and at dawn of the next day all that could be seen of the cheerful, busy camp of the day before were the uprights and roofs of the hospital. In the branches of two large, moss-mantled live-oaks which stood in the center of what was once Camp Caloosahatchee, were clustered, close as spines upon the prickly pear, all the men of the command — some 200 — who, true to their teachings, had clung to their arms through all these trying hours, and not one had perished."
Speaking of arms, it is well to note that heretofore no large arms had been made by government arsenals. 1841 Only carriages and small arms had been manufactured by the army. However, at this time an advancement was made in having ordnance officers inspect the making of government cannon in private plants. The quality of the output was thus materially raised. The small arms then on hand included 672,542 muskets, p19025,154 rifles, 7,287 carbines and 22,047 pistols.8 The large guns in use consisted of the following kinds and sizes: 8‑inch Columbiad, 10‑inch mortars and howitzers and 42, 32, 24, 18 and 12‑pounder guns — smooth bores.
A real improvement in small arms took place when the model 1841 rifle made its appearance. It had a percussion lock and used a reduced powder-charge. Besides keeping the motions of loading a muzzle-loader to the minimum, it modified the kick. It proved to be the most accurate and dependable spherical bullet rifle ever made and marked the end of the production of flintlocks. Springfield and Harper's Ferry arsenals began to turn out several thousand of these every year and to remodel the flintlocks.
The place of the dragoon was materially helped by the appearance of the first extensive Cavalry Tactics issued "by order of the War Department." The manual provided for a drill of 2 ranks, the rear rank taking •two feet from head to croup. A regiment consisted of 5 squadrons and each squadron of 5 platoons, 2 platoons formed a division. A captain commanded the squadron with a junior captain second in command. The lieutenants each commanded a platoon. The term "troop" had not yet come into use.
While the army was improving its training and technic internally, it was also extending itself externally.
1841 The Big Cypress Expedition and the plundering campaigns of Colonel Worth were having their effect. Feb. 14
1842 That officer made an estimate that there remained only 300 Indians of both sexes abroad. The others in a starving condition, having lived on palmetto p191root and cabbage, had surrendered without bloodshed to the troops. May 10
1842 The President after some hesitancy approved Worth's suggestion that the war terminate. However, some of the regulars stayed in the south to make sure of peace Aug. 14
1842 and succeeded in capturing the last of the savage chiefs, even after peace was declared.
The First, Second, Fourth and Sixth Infantry regiments were sent north and northwest, the Second to Lakes Ontario and Erie, and the First, Fourth and Sixth to Jefferson Barracks, Missouri.
The regular troops had lost throughout the war by death 1,466 officers and men from a maximum strength of 4,1919 souls, or over 41 per cent.
Had there been a sufficiency of trained troops at the beginning when the Indians were willing to try conclusions and were assembled, this great mortality could have been reduced nine-tenths. Instead, volunteers were called out time and again at a cost of several million dollars which netted the United States nothing. The untrained men as usual could not fight because they did not know how. At the outset our miserly attitude with regard to the soldier had robbed us of a speedy peace and the lives of a great number of good men.
1842 Peace was no sooner announced than army was reduced from 12,539 to 8,613 for a population of 17,000,000. At the most, 1 man in every 2,000 persons kept alive the elements of discipline and training. The country thus laid itself open to more murder and bloodshed.
However, the shrinkage was made by simply reducing the number of men in a company. No commissioned officers were cast out of the service. Although the staff was cut down, army organization was not greatly disturbed. A piece of economy was inaugurated in the replacement by ordnance officers of civilian superintendents at Springfield and Harper's Ferry arsenals. But a setback was given the cavalry when a regiment of dragoons was transformed into one of riflemen.
Now that railroads had been extended and new roads had been built, especially in the east, communication between the
p192outlying army and the seat of government was quicker than before.
1842 Accordingly the eastern and western divisions of the army, commanded each by a general officer, were done away with and nine separate departments10 created. By such distribution each of these smaller commands could deal directly with the general in chief in Washington and avoid the delay of long and winding channels of correspondence.
In the following year the cadet body of the Military Academy was for the first time legally composed of young men from all parts of the United States.
1843 The students were required to be appointed according to congressional districts. Each representative was to have one appointment of a youth actually residing within the district. Ten cadets were to be appointed at large. Although such a custom had been in practice, never before had it had legislative sanction.
Shortly afterward a school for drill for the brigade was originated at Jefferson Barracks. Although the scope and kind of work was limited, the attempt showed an effort in the service to train large units. The Third and Fourth Infantry regiments which were then stationed in Missouri, constituted the personnel. p193 1843 These organizations by their application gained a reputation for smartness and precision, raised their esprit and prepared themselves well for the Mexican War in which they were to take part.
Already the rumblings of that war could be heard in Texas, where the struggle for independence was progressing. The infantry regiments of the brigade school were sent to Camp Wilkins, Camp Salubrity and Grand , Louisiana.
1844 The Second Dragoons were ordered to Fort Jesup. This force constituted the first installment of the army's "Army of Occupation." April 4
1844 On this account the act making the Second Dragoons into riflemen was repealed.
Some years before this Lieutenant John N. C. Fremont, it will be remembered, had started out with some troops in order to make explorations in the region of the Missouri River. Up to this time he had surveyed the Des Moines River, the Platte River, and a large part of the country between the Missouri River and the Rocky Mountains. He had also gone over the Rocky Mountains to the mouth of the Columbia River and had explored most of what is now Oregon and Northern California. He had traversed •over ten thousand miles of freezing mountain and sickly basin. Now a lieutenant colonel, he found himself in California ready to take up the conquest of that country.
The little army in its garrisons and camps, though interrupted by uprisings here and there, went on with its discipline and training day by day. The soldier at sunrise found himself in ranks. Hurrying into his room or tent he made his bed, swept his quarters and set his belongings in order so as to be ready for inspection twenty-five minutes after reveille. After he had eaten his breakfast, he cleaned his musket or his rifle, polished his breastplate, cartridge box and buttons, brushed his hat, pompon and clothing, and generally prepared himself for parade at nine o'clock. At that dress ceremony, he saw the national colors raised to the top of the flag pole, heard the "Star Spangled Banner" played, beheld his officers move to the front and doff their hats to the commanding officer and then he himself, while yet in ranks, marched with his company in review. After the ceremony was over he changed his dress uniform for the more comfortable one of fatigue, if he was not detailed for p194guard that day. If on guard, he prepared himself for more thoroughly in dress uniform for inspection, paying particular heed to his rifle and the cleanliness of his person. At guard mounting which took place immediately after parade the soldier awaited the results of inspection to see whether he would be selected as the neatest and most immaculate man in ranks. If he were so selected he was appointed orderly at headquarters and was not required with the others to walk post and guard prisoners at work. If he was not on the guard detail for the day, he attended drill shortly after guard mount. Throughout the remainder of the day he helped in his fatigue uniform to make the post cleanly and to repair and construct those parts of the garrison that were ever in need of such labor. Since the small fort or scandal was far away from civilian help, the soldier shod the horses, fixed the chimneys, mowed the grass, picked up and carted away the débris, repaired the boots, sawed and planed the wood, fitted and nailed the lumber into buildings and performed all manner of chores for the garrison. Dinner was usually at one o'clock; the roll call of retreat, when the national colors were lowered, was at sunset; and tattoo, another roll call, was at nine o'clock. The soldier was in bed at nine-thirty when taps was sounded by the drum.
Such was the routine of the army in the lonely and desert places of the nation. Too often these rounds of duty were interrupted by the call to arms or the order for a movement over weird distances. The long march, fraught with the same discipline and training as the post, took the soldier to an unknown region where he was confronted afresh with rounding out his small comfort by the work of his hands, or where his hardships and dangers were excruciating torture.
But these men seldom forgot their duty to the pioneer and those at home. Creeping boldly to the edges of the frontier, which they pushed further and further outward, these little bands of trained and disciplined Americans wove the capillaries of civilization as thickly as they could through the wilderness. They had come from the heart of the country, but in spite of the fact that the heart beat feebly at times for them, they pressed onward dutifully and loyally. They knew hardship and death. They were not itching for war. They wanted peace, p195but they knew that they could attain it quickly, after the strife was inevitable, only by having sufficient strength and skill.
Scott had saved the nation from great loss of life and serious embarrassment only by the narrowest of margins. By his indefatigable energy and uncommon tact he had persuaded mobs, convinced politicians and made diplomats see that the government was really at heart not anxious to take up arms. One minute he would calm rioters and the next judiciously placate foreign agents. An undisciplined and sometimes disloyal part of the civil population had placed the United States in a compromising position. His was a duty of honorable service to his flag. As an army officer his mission was to wrap his country with protection at any cost to himself. He had to be all things to all men, to the Canadian as well as the Cherokee, to the troublemaker as well as to the soldier.
Though Scott was a man of high merit in such tasks, other army officers tried whenever they could to rid themselves of strife wherever the savage could be mollified. Macomb, Clinch, Taylor and many junior officers treated with the Seminole as long as there was a hope of keeping him in check without bloodshed. But the Florida Indian was faithless. He understood force alone. Great pity was that there were too few of the trained army to end the affair quickly and thereby save the lives of many of its members and of the thousands of settlers, men, women and children, who were cut down by the tomahawk and scalping knife, during the long years of hopeless tracking.
Even with these handicaps, the fortresses and stockades arose as safe retreats for the pioneer settlers and the roads wound their rugged ways through sickly swamps and choking forest, in spite of the lurking bow and arrow. The soldier's jaw was set, his arm was flexed even as he toppled under a burning sun, with a hot fever or a fierce wound. Though his bones were laid in the dismal dust of nowhere, the work went on. When the automobile to‑day tours safely from New York to Palm Beach, from Chicago to Kansas City, the anguish and courage of these determined Americans is commonly overlooked. But each mile is none the less a silent witness to their constructiveness.
1 The army, after the law went into effect, consisted of 7 regiments of infantry, 4 regiments of artillery, the engineer corps, as before established, 1 major general, 2 brigadier generals, 1 adjutant, 2 inspectors general, 1 quartermaster-general, 1 commissary general and 1 paymaster-general.
2 Each regiment had a light battery, which, however, was so only in name.
3 The following extract will show how he solved two difficulties:
"A regiment of cavalry, in this, and many of the states, comprises but four companies, which are styled a squadron, of which I shall first give a detail of arrangement. The second method of formation embraces eight companies, and two squadrons, first and second; each squadron is divided into two grand divisions, and numbered from right to left, 1, 2, 3, 4; the whole are styled a battalion when in the field.
"The habitual habit of formation is in two ranks, but it is frequently practiced, where the companies are small, to parade the squadron in one rank. This may be allowed on particular occasions, and when there are but four companies to parade together, as it will greatly facilitate the exercise and movements; but this should by no means prevent their acquiring a perfect knowledge of their duty in two ranks."
4 It is interesting to note that in 1830 a change was attempted in the paper cartridge with which the soldier loaded. Instead of having to bite the end and discard the wad, the foot soldier could thrust the whole cartridge into the chamber. The paper envelope, having been made combustible by a preparation of niter was consumed at discharge. The improvement was of doubtful value, especially when the paper became wet, so that the cartridge did not come into general use.
1833 The allowance for clothing for three years consisted of:
|2||coats complete, for artillery and infantry|
|1||coat complete, for ordnance and dragoons|
|6||pairs woolen overalls|
|9||pairs cotton overalls|
|2||woolen jackets, for artillery and infantry|
|3||woolen jackets for ordnance and dragoons|
|3||pairs of drawers.|
6 All graduates of West Point.
7 The disposition of these regiments is correct only in a general way, because few of them at this time could be serving as a unit in any one place.
8 The arsenals and depots holding these included:
|Baton Rouge arsenal|
|Fort Monroe arsenal|
|Little Rock arsenal|
|Mount Vernon arsenal|
|North Carolina arsenal|
|St. Louis arsenal|
|New York depot|
|Rock Island depot|
|Tampa Bay depot|
|Harper's Ferry armory|
9 Those actually enlisted and commissioned.
10 "Department No. 1. West Florida, and the states of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee and Kentucky. Headquarters, from the 1st of November to the 30th of June, in each year, at New Orleans, and for the remainder of the year at the Bay of St. Louis, or Baton Rouge, as the commander may elect.
"Department No. 2. The country west of the Mississippi, north of Louisiana and Texas, and south of 37th degree of north latitude. Headquarters, Fort Smith.
"Department No. 3. The state of Missouri (above the 37th degree of north latitude); the state of Illinois; the Iowa territory; that part of the Wisconsin Territory west of the 13th degree longitude west from Washington; and the Indian country north and west of the lines indicated. Headquarters, Jefferson Barracks.
"Department No. 4. The states of Indiana, Ohio and Michigan; the part of the Wisconsin Territory, not included in Department No. 3, and the Indian Country north. Headquarters, Detroit.
"Department No. 5. The states of Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Headquarters, Troy, N. Y.
"Department No. 6. The states of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. Headquarters, Portland.
"Department No. 7. The states of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. Headquarters, Fort Monroe.
"Department No. 8. The states of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Headquarters, Sullivan's Island, Harbor of Charleston.
"Department No. 9. (Temporary) east and middle Florida. Headquarters in the field."
a A 50‑page biography of Benjamin Bonneville, naturally focusing on his famous exploration of the American West, forms the first chapter of W. H. Baumer's Not All Warriors, available onsite: "Benjamin Louis Eulalie de Bonneville", pp1‑51.
b The killing of 109 people at the time was, proportionally to the population of the United States, like that of 2000 people today: Dade's Massacre was the September 11 of its day. It is fully documented onsite, in several webpages, including primary and contemporaneous sources: the article "The Dade Massacre" (Florida Historical Quarterly, V.123‑138) can serve as an orientation page, with further links from there.
c This characterization of the forced relocation of the Cherokee is at great variance with our modern view of it. The Trail of Tears remains one of the most shameful episodes of American history, and it blackens not the honor of the United States government — the Supreme Court had forbidden it — but the name of Andrew Jackson who ordered it and had it executed in defiance of the court. You can — and should — gain a better understanding of this event from "A Brief History of the Trail of Tears" at the website of the Cherokee Nation; note the many detailed links in the menu on that page.
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