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Bill Thayer

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 [decorative delimiter] Class of 1875

Vol. III

(Born Ind.)

Samuel A. Cherry

(Ap'd Ind.)


Samuel Austin Cherry: Born April, 1850.​a

Military History. — Cadet at the Military Academy, July 1, 1870, to June 16, 1875, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to

Second Lieut., 23d Infantry, June 16, 1875.

Served: on frontier duty at Ft. D. A. Russell, Wy., Sep. 30, 1875, to

(Transferred to 5th Cavalry, July 22, 1876)

Aug. 25, 1877, — Camp Brown, Wy., to Nov. 24, 1877, — Ft. D. A. Russell, Wy., Nov. 24 to Dec. 17, 1877 (absent sick, Dec. 17, 1877, to Feb. 20, 1878), — Ft. Fred Steele, to May 15, 1878, — Ft. D. A. Russell, Wy., to June 3, 1878, — Scouting, to Dec. 11, 1878, — and Ft. D. A. Russell, Wy., and Scouting, to Dec. 27, 1879; on leave of absence, to May 1, 1880; as member of Board at Washington, D. C., to June, 1880; and on frontier duty at Ft. Niobrara, Neb., to May 11, 1881.

Killed by a Soldier, May 11, 1881, near Ft. Niobrara, Neb.: Aged 31.​b

Obituary notice in Annual Report, Association of Graduates, for 1881.º

Buried, Greenwood Cemetery, Lagrange, IN.

Thayer's Notes:

a Lt. Cherry's full name and month of birth are from his AOG obituary.

I've been unable to find his precise birthdate: various webpages do give it as April 14, but without source; and the same pages also contain several demonstrable errors.

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b The following account of Lieut. Cherry's death is from The New York Times, May 17, 1881:

Lieut. Cherry Murdered.

Killed by a soldier under his command
while pursuing desperadoes.

Chicago, May 16. — A dispatch from Fort Niobrara, Nebraska, May 13, by way of Neligh, Neb., says: On May 10, Lieut. Cherry, of the Fifth Cavalry, with eight men and five Indians, was ordered by Major Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Upham to pursue and capture a party of four robbers, headed by Charles Johnson, a deserter from the Fifth Cavalry, who had attacked a party in a dance hall and killed a half-breed named John Bodeaux and severely wounded a white man. Lieut. Cherry rode in pursuit the entire day, and, losing the trail, camped at Sharp's ranch, 25 miles north-west of the post. The next morning he divided his command and started east, to reach the rations sent to meet him from the post. About 10 o'clock, while riding along, with Sergt. Harrington on his right hand and Thomas Locke and James Conroy in the rear, a shot was fired from behind, and Lieut. Cherry, turning around, saw Locke with a pistol in his hand, which he pretended had gone off accidentally. When asked what it meant, Locke immediately leveled his pistol and shot Lieut. Cherry through the heart, killing him almost instantly. Locke then turned and fired at Conroy, at whom he had directed the first shot, wounding him and knocking him from his saddle. Sergt. Harrington, according to his own statement, seeing his officer shot down and a body of men rapidly approaching whom he believed to be desperadoes, but who were in fact a party under the leader­ship of Bodeaux's brother, fled and, after riding down his own horse and Lieut. Cherry's, which had followed him, reached the post at 9:30 o'clock. Locke put spurs to his horse and escaped.

When the news reached the post Capt. Montgomery, with his company of the Fifth Cavalry, proceeded at once to the scene of the tragedy and sent Lieut. Cherry's body in. Lieut. Cherry was a graduate of West Point, not more than 30 years old, and had already achieved a brilliant reputation as a soldier and frontier fighter and in the engagement at Milk River, Col., Sept. 29, 1879, between the Ute Indians and three companies of cavalry, under command of Major Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Thornburgh. After the death of Capt. Payneα he displayed great courage and high soldierly qualities. He and Capt. Lawson saved the command from annihilation. He was a man of fine stature, 6 feet in height and well built, and was engaged to be married to a young lady of a distinguished Pennsylvania family. The motive of the man Locke is not known, and the whole affair has a look of mystery. The conduct of Spotted Tail, who remained at the post, and of the Indians he sent with the troops has been admirable.

My Note:

α A mistake in the newspaper article. Of all the officers named Payne listed in Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army from its Organization, September 29, 1789, to March 2, 1903, the only one serving in the Army with the rank of Captain in 1881 was West Pointer Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.John Scott Payne. Capt. Payne did fight at Milk River, but was not killed: according to his AOG obituary, he was twice wounded. The Register doesn't even record a medical leave from Fort Niobrara after the engagement.

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