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Bill Thayer

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[image ALT: A head‑and-shoulders photograph of a middle-aged man with a with a handlebar moustache. He wears a military uniform with an officer's cap with oak leaves on the visor, a high-collared jacket with gold braid epaulets, and the Medal of Honor on a ribbon around his neck. He is Frank West, a West Point graduate, whose career is detailed on this webpage.]

Major Frank West

The preceding image, and the text that follows, are reproduced from (the report of the) Fifty-Fifth Annual Reunion of the Association of the Graduates of the United States Military Academy, June 11, 1924.

 p88  Frank West
No. 2428. Class of 1872.
Died, August 26, 1923, at Mohawk, New York, aged 72 years.

Colonel Frank West, U. S. Army, was born at Mohawk, New York, September 26, 1850; the son of Harley West and Mary A. (Loveridge) West. His father was descended maternally from Roger Williams, and paternally from William West, who was governor of Rhode Island and a Major General of the forces of that state during the Revolutionary War. His mother's ancestors, of English and Scotch descent, were among the first settlers of Connecticut. His elder brother, who had enlisted in the 121st New York Volunteers, was at the age of 15 years killed in battle during the Rebellion.

West attended public schools in Mohawk, New York, until the age of fifteen, when he went to work in the office of the Mohawk Republican, a weekly newspaper, continuing there until he entered the Military Academy in June, 1868. During three years of his West Point life he roomed with his classmate, Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.William Abbot, who was nearly six years his senior, and who had served in the army during the Civil War. This influence and his own studious habits enabled him to improve his class standing of sixty-one at the first January examination by advances each year until he finally graduated number 18 in a class of 57 members.

He was first commissioned June 14, 1872, Second Lieutenant, 6th Cavalry, and joining his troop at Oxford, Miss., accompanied it the following winter, first to Fort Harker, Kansas, and then to Camp Supply, Indian Territory. Upon reaching Supply he was sent in charge of the escort to a wagon train through the western line of frontier posts in Texas nearly to Fort Clark on the Rio Grande and return, a journey of about 1400 miles, which lasted four months. For the topographical map of the route which he prepared he received a complimentary letter from General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Pope, his Department Commander.

From the summer of 1874 until the following spring, and during a severe winter in camp and on the march, he was engaged in the campaign under General Miles against the Cheyenne Indians. While he was so occupied in September, 1874, and in command of a detachment of his troop which formed part of an escort to a large wagon train, a fresh band of about three hundred Kiowa and Comanche Indians under the famous chiefs, Santatna and Big Tree, attacked and surrounded the train, the command during a fight which lasted three days being without water. For his conduct on this occasion he received the brevet of First Lieutenant for "gallant services in action against Indians on the Washita River, Texas, September 9, 10 and 11, 1874."

 p89  In the autumn of 1875 he took station at Fort Verde, his regiment having been transferred to Arizona. He was also stationed at Camp Grant, Camp McDowell, and Camp Bowie at different periods, but for about nine years was in the field most of the time, constantly engaged in warfare against the Apaches.

He was promoted First Lieutenant, 6th Cavalry, May 17, 1876, and in July, 1882, in command of troop I of that regiment and a detachment of Indian Scouts, was engaged with a band of White Mountain Apaches, and a band of Indian Scouts that a year previously had mutinied and killed an officer and some men of the 6th Cavalry. The Indians occupied a strong position across a deep canon which was covered with a growth of heavy timber. Lieutenant West led his men in the advance against this strong position and continued the fight until sixteen Indians were killed, many wounded, and sixty horses and mules and much camp property captured, the balance of the Indians escaping in disorder. For his service on this occasion Lieutenant West received the Medal of Honor for "distinguished conduct in action against hostile Apache Indians at the Big Dry Wash, Arizona, July 17, 1882, in rallying his command and leading it to the advance against the fortified position of the enemy".

In 1883 he was on an expedition to the Sierra Madre, Mexico; was later at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, and Forts Craig and Wingate, Niew Mexico, and in 1885 and 1886 was engaged in the Geronimo Campaign in Arizona and Mexico and until the Indians surrendered and were sent to Florida.

From October, 1886, to January, 1890, he was in Washington, D. C., a member of the Board of State War Claims, and then took command of his troop at Fort Union, New Mexico, having been promoted to Captain, 6th Cavalry, October 17, 1889.

During the winter of 1890‑91 he was engaged in the Pine Ridge Campaign against the Sioux, and at its conclusion took, station at Fort Niobrara, Nebraska. He was in the field during the trouble with cattlemen in Wyoming during the summer of 1892, then took part in the dedication ceremonies at the World's Fair in Chicago in October, 1892, and was again in that city during the strike riots of 1894 and until his troop was transferred in October of that year to Fort Myer, Virginia, where he remained until the breaking out of the Spanish War.

Captain West with his troop was engaged in the Santiago Campaign and at San Juan while serving under Major Henry W. Wessells was ordered, after Major Wessells was wounded, to take the command forward and capture a hill which commanded the position of the enemy as well as the line occupied by the cavalry division. In this effort he was successful, and was later recommended for "Brevet  p90 Major U. S. A. for gallantry at battle of San Juan, Cuba, July 1, 1898."

After the Santiago Campaign he was in camp at Montauk, New York, until the end of 1898; then at Fort Riley, Kansas, until August, 1899; at the Presidio of San Francisco until May, 1900, and then served for nearly a year as Acting Superintendent of Sequoia National Park, California. He was promoted to Major, 6th Cavalry, February 2, 1901.

In the spring of 1901 he accompanied his regiment to the Philippines, and in October in command of a squadron of the 6th Cavalry was engaged with insurgents at Mount Durungoa, Batangas. He continued service in the Philippines for two years, most of the time as Assistant to the Inspector General of the division until, having been promoted Lieutenant Colonel, 5th Cavalry, March 2, 1903, he was in May of that year regularly detailed as an Inspector General and transferred to Denver, Colorado, following with similar service for the Southwestern Division and the Northern Division, with headquarters respectively at Oklahoma City and at St. Louis.

In March, 1906, he was transferred to the 7th Cavalry, joining it in the Philippines, where he remained during the year, but having been promoted Colonel, 2nd Cavalry, October 1, 1906, he assumed command of that regiment at Fort Assinniboine, Montana, early in 1907, serving there and at Fort Des Moines, Iowa, until late in 1909, when for the third time he again was ordered to the Philippines.

On this last tour his service was mostly at Jolo and at Camp Overton, Mindanao, commanding also the Jolo field forces in operation against Moros and on several occasions commanding the Department of Mindanao, until the spring of 1912, when with his regiment he returned to the United States, where for eighteen months he commanded his regiment and the 1st Cavalry Brigade at Fort Bliss, Texas. His last year of active service was passed at Fort Slocum, New York, in command of the Recruit Depot, until September 26, 1914, when, having reached the age of 64 years, he was retired by operation of law.

Colonel West then settled in his old home, Mohawk, New York, and became interested in civic affairs. In 1918 he was appointed a member of the General Herkimer Home Commission, and later became its president. At a meeting of the commission after his death resolutions in part as follows were adopted: "The Herkimer Home Commission having lost its beloved president, desires to place upon its minutes the deep bereavement and earnest appreciation of his worth. Colonel Frank West has been, since the organization of the commission, its foremost member. He has given largely of his time and means in valuable service to the Herkimer Homestead. He was  p91 highly respected and esteemed by all and his loss will be deeply felt, not only by his associates on the board but by the entire community. He died like the true soldier he was, in the service of his country." He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Colonel West was a member of the Society of Santiago de Cuba, of the Order of Indian Wars, of the National Historical Society, and of the New York State Historical Society.

Colonel West was married November 4, 1880, to Miss Reba G. Kenyon of Middleville, New York. She died December 12, 1912. He married second in October, 1914, Mrs. Fannie Elwood of Mohawk, New York, who survives him. He had one son, Arthur West, born February 6, 1889, who served as a Lieutenant in the World War, and is now engaged with the General Electric Company at Schenectady, New York, as an electrical engineer.

Colonel West in his earlier army life had an unusual amount of active field duty against Indians, in which he greatly distinguished himself, as witnessed by the brevet commission for one action and the Medal of Honor for another, which were awarded to him, both honors which at that period were not easily won. His later service in the Santiago Campaign again merited recognition, and throughout his entire army career he had the reputation of a brave and gallant man, an able and energetic officer, and a thoughtful and considerate commander of his men.

Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Stanhope E. Blunt

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