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 [decorative delimiter] Class of 1867

Vol. III

(Born Mas.)

Jacob Almy​1

(Ap'd Mas.)


Born Nov. 20, 1842, New Bedford, MA.​a

Military History. — Cadet at the Military Academy, July 1, 1863, to June 17, 1867, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to

Second Lieut., 5th Cavalry, June 17, 1867.

Served: in garrison at Aiken, S. C., Oct. 30, 1867, to Sep., 1868; and on frontier duty at Ft. Harker, Kan., Sep., 1868, — Scouting in Kansas, Colorado, and Indian Territory, to Feb., 1869, being engaged in the Action of Solomon River, Kan., Oct. 25‑26, 1868, — Ft. Lyon, Col., Feb. to May, 1869, — Ft. McPherson, Neb., May, 1869, — Expedition to

(First Lieut., 5th Cavalry, Apr. 15, 1869)

Republican River, June, 1869, — Ft. McPherson, Neb., July, 1869, to Dec., 1870, — awaiting orders, to Feb., 1871, — Sidney Barracks, Neb., Feb. to May, 1871, — Ft. Laramie, Wy., May to Nov., 1871, — Ft. D. A. Russell, Wy., Nov., 1871, — Scouting in Arizona, Dec., 1871, to Jan.,  p98 1873, being engaged in the Action near Salt River, Ara., Dec. 28, 1872, and on Gila River, Ara., Jan. 16, 1873, — and Camp Grant, Ara., Feb., 1873, to May, 1873.

Murdered by an Indian, May 27, 1873, at San Carlos Agency, Ara.: Aged 31.

The Author's Note:

1 Jacob Almy, before becoming a Cadet, served as Private and Corporal in the 33d Massachusetts Volunteers for about eight months.

Thayer's Note:

a Lt. Almy's birth data are from George Frederic Price, Across the Continent with the Fifth Cavalry (New York, Van Nostrand, 1883), who devotes the following pages to him in that book, under "Military Records of Officers", No. 81, pp519‑523:

81. Jacob Almy was born at New Bedford, Mass., November 20, 1842. He passed through, in regular succession, the graded schools of his native city and was graduated when eighteen years of age. He then entered the State Normal School at Bridgewater, Mass., where he remained about eighteen months and completed the course in the summer of 1861, about the time of the battle of Bull Run. He returned to his home firmly resolved to serve his country as a soldier. His parents, who were members of the Society of Friends, sought, in obedience to their religious convictions, to dissuade him from this purpose; but finding him so thoroughly in earnest, they finally yielded to his decision, and he enlisted as a private in the Thirty-third Massachusetts Volunteers on the 4th of August, 1862, and was mustered into service the next day. The course of instruction at the Bridgewater Normal School is provided by the State gratuitously to all students who declare an intention to become teachers in the public schools. Almy entered the school with this declaration of intention; but, when  p520 he volunteered for the war and afterwards entered the Military Academy without teaching, he decided to pay for his instruction, and, although under no legal obligation to do so, paid the account in full from his first savings after he had received his commission in the army. His regiment belonged to the Ninth Corps, then in Virginia, but before participating in any action he was discharged as a corporal February 5, 1863, having received an appointment to the Military Academy. He was graduated on the 17th of June, 1867, and assigned to the Fifth Cavalry as a second lieutenant, and was promoted a first lieutenant April 15, 1869.

He joined the regiment at Aiken, S. C., on the 30th of October, 1867, where he had station until September, 1868. He was then transferred to frontier service, and participated in an Indian campaign on the western border of Kansas during the fall of 1868, and was engaged in the affair on Prairie Dog Creek and in the combats on Shuter Creek and the north branch of the Solomon River. He also served with the Canadian River expedition and in camp near Fort Lyon, Col., during the winter and spring of 1868‑69, and was acting assistant adjutant-general of the expedition from the 14th of January to the 19th of February, 1869. He was adjutant of a battalion of the regiment during the march across the country to Fort McPherson, Neb., and was engaged en route, during the month of May, in combats with hostile Sioux and Cheyennes on Beaver and Spring creeks. He served as adjutant of the Republican River expedition from the 9th of June to the 19th of July, 1869, and was engaged in the affair at Rock Creek and in the brilliant action at Summit Springs. He was regimental commissary from July 20, 1869, to July 15, 1870 (when the grade was abolished by an act of Congress), and served during this period at Fort McPherson. He was then assigned to a company and had stations at Pine Bluff, Fort Sidney, and Fort Laramie until November, 1871, when he proceeded to Fort D. A. Russell, Wyo., and accompanied the second detachment of the regiment, by the way of San Francisco and the Gulf of California, to Arizona, and arrived at Camp Grant February 10, 1872, where he had station until the next December, when he participated in the Apache campaign of 1872‑73, and was engaged (commanding company) in the action at the Caves and the combat on Pinto Creek. He was twice nominated to the United States Senate to be a brevet captain,  p521 to date from December 28, 1872, for gallant conduct in the action at the Caves.

At the end of the campaign he was assigned to duty at the San Carlos Agency. The reservation Indians embraced several tribes under one management. They were never wholly at peace with each other, and the efforts of the agent to control them had been only partially success­ful. A few of the leaders continued to stir up dissensions, and outbreaks were attempted from time to time, until finally the agent was compelled to ask for military assistance. It was at this crisis of affairs that Lieutenant Almy was ordered to establish a camp near the agency and restore, so far as possible, the authority of the against, with whom he was instructed to co‑operate. A number of Indian scouts were enlisted from the warriors to assist in preserving order, and he was assigned to command them. His duties were of a delicate nature and involved the exercise of rare discretion and sound judgment. An injudicious display of force would have driven every Indian from the reservation to raid upon the settlements. Lieutenant Almy was equal to the emergency, and no better officer of his grade could have been selected for the position. He possessed a conscientious character and above all other considerations sought to be just; and, when once assured of his course, was firm and unyielding to the end. He was at the same time kind-hearted and easy to approach. His uniformly fair and just dealings soon won the confidence of the Indians, over whom he was thus enabled to exercise considerable control and influence.

On the morning of the 27th of May, 1873, when the Indians were assembled for the purpose of drawing rations, one of the warriors offered violence to the agent, and, at his request, a small guard was ordered from the military camp to arrest the offender, who could not be found, as he had skulked away and was seemingly lost in the crowd. Lieutenant Almy quietly followed the guard to the agency, and, learning that the offender had not been arrested, immediately resumed the search for him. The approach of the guard had been viewed with suspicion by the Indians, as many of them were avowed enemies of the agent and feared an arrest, and when the search was resumed the excitement became very great. The Indians began to examine their arms, and it was plainly to be seen that to continue the search would be a perilous undertaking.  p522 But Lieutenant Almy knew the offender was somewhere in the excited crowd, and that to hesitate in the presence of a people quick to detect any indication of wavering would be a surrender of all the control and influence he had acquired over them. He never faltered, but pursued the search with the utmost daring, and was seemingly unconscious of the peril of the hour. The Indians were meanwhile becoming more and more intolerant of the rigid security. Their excitement grew almost boundless, but he did not falter in his duty. Suddenly the sharp report of a rifle rang out with an almost paralyzing effect upon those who heard it, and Lieutenant Almy was seen staggering from the crowd with both hands pressed to his sides, and, reeling forward a few steps, with the exclamation, "My God! it has come at last," fell dead in that excited presence.

That scene can never be forgotten by those who witnessed it — the wild shrieks of the flying Indians, the vengeful shouts of the soldiers as they fired on them, the bleeding form of the murdered officer, and the sickening sense of helplessness which was born of the fear that the Indians would carry into execution their often-repeated threats to massacre every white man on the reservation, may be imagined but not described. Some means of defense were extemporized, a messenger dispatched ninety miles for assistance, and the handful of men were ready for what might happen. But the Indians did not remain to carry their threats into execution. They fled to the mountains for refuge from the vengeance which they felt would surely overtake them — as it did, one after another paying the penalty for their crime with their lives, taken by their own people, until finally, on the 30th of April, 1874, the murderer was killed by a party under the command of Captain Hamilton, of the regiment, on the south side of Salt River and south-east of the Big Cañon. Lieutenant Almy's grave was prepared near a mesquite-tree, and at sunset there was a funeral — not a grand, imposing spectacle, but an earnest, thoughtful demonstration of heartfelt sorrow, befitting men who had to confront the dangers of the next day. The burial service of the Episcopal Church was read, and then his remains were tenderly committed to their temporary resting-place.

Thus passed from the roster of the Fifth Cavalry a man "whose remembrance yet lives in men's eyes." His modesty, gentleness  p523 of manner, unassuming courage, and freedom from self assertion gained him the good-will of most men.

He was a devoted son, a stanch friend, a gallant soldier, and sincerely honest in all the relations of life. The manner of his death placed the stamp of truth upon his actions, and it is doubtful if the death-roll of the army for that year can show a better or a brighter name.

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Page updated: 15 Jun 14