My new frontier historical novel, Bozeman Paymaster: A Tale of the Fetterman Massacre, will be issued by Five Star Publishing in June 2022. I will post a prelude each month before that date to provide historical facts that occur before the story in the book begins. This is the fifth prelude.
During the early months of 1866, Colonel Henry B. Carrington worked to assemble the men and materials of the 18th United States Infantry at Fort Kearny, Nebraska Territory, in preparation for his assignment to defend the Bozeman Trail in Dakota Territory. Carrington’s soldiers, most of them raw recruits, were armed with the obsolete, muzzle-loading, single-shot Springfield rifle musket that had been the standard infantry weapon for the Union during the recently ended Civil War. Carrington pleaded frequently that his regiment be equipped with newer weapons, but he was only successful in obtaining Spencer seven-shot carbines for his 25-member military band.
Springfield Rifle Musket: 56 Inches Long. Fired 2 to 3 Rounds Per Minute.
The 7th Iowa Cavalry passed by Fort Kearny, NT, in April 1866 on their way east to be mustered out following their Civil War service at Camp Rankin (later named Fort Sedgwick) in Colorado. Carrington commandeered their 200 horses and created a small unit of mounted infantry for the 2nd Battalion of the 18th US Infantry. The long-barreled Springfield rifle proved almost impossible to handle in the saddle. It was hard enough for soldiers not trained as cavalrymen to stay on a horse much less handle an unwieldy firearm while trying to do so.
Spencer Carbine: 47 Inches Long. Fired 20 Rounds Per Minute.
My new frontier historical novel, Bozeman Paymaster: A Tale of the Fetterman Massacre, will be issued by Five Star Publishing in June 2022. I will post a prelude each month before that date to provide historical facts that occur before the story in the book begins. This is the fourth prelude.
William T. Sherman
On May 16, 1866, Colonel Henry B. Carrington, commanding officer of the Eighteenth U.S. Infantry, received an important visitor at Fort Kearny, Nebraska Territory, where he was preparing to implement his orders to fortify the Bozeman Trail. Lieutenant General William Tecumseh Sherman, commanding officer of the Division of the Missouri, arrived from his St. Louis headquarters to inspect the regiment. Sherman was convinced that Carrington’s mission would be peaceful because of treaty negotiations taking place at Fort Laramie, Dakota Territory. Because of this, Sherman authorized the deployment of wives and family members of the regiment. While at Fort Kearny, the general encouraged the wives to keep journals or diaries.
Henry Carrington’s wife, Margaret Irvin McDowell Sullivant Carrington, aged 35, would follow Sherman’s advice. Margaret was a cousin to Brigadier General Irvin McDowell, an early commander of the Army of the Potomac during the recently ended Civil War. Her father, Joseph Sullivant, founded Ohio State University. Margaret married Henry Carrington in 1851. She had lost four children in childbirth, but now she and her two young sons, aged 6 and 9, were among the families who would travel up the Bozeman Trail to establish Fort Phil Kearny, Dakota Territory. Margaret’s journal was published in 1868 as Absaraka: Home of the Crows. Her first-hand account provides valuable insight into the lives of those impacted by Red Cloud’s War and the Fetterman Massacre.
In May 1866, two other officers’ wives were at Fort Kearny, Nebraska Territory, preparing to accompany their husbands into Sioux country. Sallie Horton was the young wife of the regiment’s chief surgeon, Major Samuel Miller Horton, who was only 29 himself. Lucy Bisbee was the 24-year-old wife of Lieutenant William Henry Bisbee. The Bisbee’s 2-year-old son accompanied them. If either of these wives kept diaries, they were not published.
Other wives and families would join their husbands over the forthcoming months of 1866. One of these would write a memoir of her experiences at Fort Phil Kearny. Newly married Frances Courtney Grummond was only 21 when she arrived at the fort on September 17, 1866, with her husband, Lieutenant George Washington Grummond. He would be one of the victims of the Fetterman Massacre. She would later marry Henry Carrington after his first wife, Margaret, died in 1870. Frances would publish her book, My Army Life and the Fort Phil Kearney Massacre, in 1908. For some reason, the fort’s name in the book’s title contains an extra “e.” Henry probably influenced the writing of the book. The final portion is devoted to reestablishing his reputation following the Fetterman fiasco.
Eagle Talons, The Iron Horse Chronicles-Book One is now “out of print” in a hardcover edition from Five Star Publishing. Eagle Talons continues to be available in paperback and Kindle versions at Amazon. Bear Claws, The Iron Horse Chronicles-Book Two and Golden Spike, The Iron Horse Chronicles-Book Three, are available in hardcover editions from Five Star Publishing. Bear Claws and Golden Spike are available in paperback and Kindle versions at Amazon.
I have a limited number of Eagle Talons in hardcover for sale. If you would like an autographed hardcover book, please send me a request using the Contact Form on this website, and we’ll make a deal.
Remember to watch for the release of Bozeman Paymaster-A Tale of the Fetterman Massacre to be released in hardcover edition by Five Star Publishing on June 22, 2022.
My new frontier historical novel, Bozeman Paymaster: A Tale of the Fetterman Massacre, will be issued by Five Star Publishing in June 2022. I will post a prelude each month before that date to provide historical facts that occur before the story in the book begins. This is the third prelude.
Henry B. Carrington
Colonel Henry B. Carrington received orders on March 10, 1866, to move west with the Eighteenth U.S. Infantry from Fort Kearny, Nebraska Territory, and fortify the Bozeman Trail with the regiment’s second battalion. Carrington’s orders came from his immediate superior, Brigadier General Philip St. George Cooke, commander of the U.S. Army’s Department of the Platte. This new department had been created on March 5, 1866, with headquarters in Omaha. The department covered the States of Minnesota and Iowa, the Territories of Nebraska and Montana, and portions of Dakota Territory. Later, Dakota Territory became North and South Dakota and Wyoming.
The Department of the Platte was one of three departments in the Division of the Missouri, under the command of Lieutenant General William Tecumseh Sherman, headquartered in St. Louis. Sherman reported directly to General Ulysses S. Grant, commander in chief of the U.S. Army with his headquarters in Washington, District of Columbia. The chain of command above Carrington was short.
Philip St. George Cooke
Cooke graduated from West Point in 1827 and served with distinction in numerous capacities during the early years of his career, principally in the West. As a Brevet Lieutenant Colonel in 1846, he commanded the Mormon Battalion, part of General Stephen Watts Kearny’s Army of the West which was on a mission to take New Mexico and California away from Mexico. The Mormon Battalion consisted of “soldiers” contracted from Brigham Young who needed cash to finance the movement of the Mormons from Nauvoo to the Great Salt Lake. The soldiers donated most of their pay and allowances to a church charity. Cooke’s Mormon Battalion surveyed a wagon road from Santa Fe south into Mexico and west to the Pacific coast. It was the longest infantry march in U.S. Army history. The route Cooke pioneered resulted in the Gadsden Purchase in 1853. James Gadsden, U. S. Ambassador to Mexico, bought this strip of land between the Gila River (the U.S. southern border at the time) and Mexico for $10 million (equivalent to $230 million today). This land strip would be needed later by the Southern Pacific to build its railroad.
During the Civil War, Brigadier General Cooke served as cavalry division commander for Major General George B. McClellan. During the Seven Days Campaign in Virginia in 1862, Cooke’s son-in-law, Confederate Brigadier General J.E.B Stuart, rode completely around the Army of the Potomac, evading Cooke’s pursuit. This embarrassment ended Cooke’s field command responsibilities, and he served the remainder of the war on court-martial and recruiting duties.
Like Carrington’s assignment to command the Eighteenth US Infantry without having any combat experience, Cooke’s assignment as a department commander, without combat action in the latter part of the war, is somewhat of a mystery.
My frontier historical novel, Bozeman Paymaster: A Tale of the Fetterman Massacre, will be issued by Five Star Publishing in June 2022. I will post a prelude each month before that date to provide historical facts that occur before the story in the book begins. This is the second prelude.
Henry B. Carrington
Colonel Henry B. Carrington, a Yale Law School graduate, received his commission as commanding officer of the 18th US Infantry in 1861. When the Civil War broke out, he was the adjutant general of Ohio under Governor Salmon P. Chase. It did not hurt Carrington’s career that he had a passing friendship with President Abraham Lincoln, who appointed Chase to be Secretary of the Treasury. For most of the war years, Carrington, who was promoted to Brevet Brigadier General in 1862, helped the governor of Indiana raise that state’s regiments for the Union’s war effort. During his earlier years, Carrington had been secretary to well-known author Washington Irving. Carrington clearly had influential friends in high places. Though he served throughout the duration of the war, Colonel Carrington did not fight in a single battle. The 18th US Infantry’s field commander was Lieutenant Colonel William Judd Fetterman.
Photo of Fort Kearny by Samuel C. Mills Library of Congress, Public Domain
In March 1866, Colonel Carrington began assembling elements of the 18th US Infantry Regiment at Fort Kearny, Nebraska Territory. The fort was named for General Stephen Watts Kearny, famous for the conquest of New Mexico and California during the Mexican-American War. The fort, located along the Oregon Trail in south-central Nebraska near the Platte River, served as a major assembly point for westward bound travelers.
The 18th US Infantry contained three battalions, but Carrington would man the new Bozeman Trail forts with only the Second Battalion (the 2/18). The First Battalion would be assigned to defend the Oregon Trail leading from Fort Laramie to Salt Lake City. The Third Battalion would man forts in Colorado Territory. Each battalion should contain 700 men. The 2/18 mustered a strength of only 220, many of whom were new recruits, all armed with obsolete, muzzle-loading, Springfield rifles. Carrington pleaded frequently that the 2/18 be equipped with newer weapons, but he was only successful in obtaining Spencer seven-shot carbines for his 25-member military band.
The readers of this website know I write historical fiction. Continuing with that tradition, here is some personal history from over a half century ago. Truly, “once upon a time.”
We were the senior class officers for Hobbs High School in Hobbs, New Mexico, in 1956. Bill Caudle shared this photo with me as part of his Christmas greetings. He and I recently reestablished communication, but I have lost track of Shirley Maness and James Watts.
How does one know this is historical? First, it’s a black and white photo. Second, we are not wearing masks. Third the hairstyles and clothing provide a great clue.
I grew up in Hobbs and attended all twelve grades in our great public school system. I’m happy to brag that the class of 1956 graduated well-educated students sixty–five years ago.
My wife, Barbara, and I have survived this terrible Corona virus pandemic successfully and look forward to a better year in 2022 for everyone. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
The December 2021 issue of Western Writers of America’s Roundup Magazine contains a book review I wrote about Bound by Steel & Stone: The Colorado-Kansas Railway and the Frontier of Enterprise in Colorado, 1890-1960, by J. Bradford Bowers. The author teaches history at Pueblo Community College in Pueblo, Colorado.
For those of you who not subscribe to Roundup Magazine I reprint my book review here:
“The Colorado-Kansas Railway’s founders conceived the grandiose scheme of running trains and electricity lines from Pueblo, Colorado, eastward down the Arkansas River and into western Kansas. Instead, the shortline ran 23 miles northwest to local quarries in the foothills of the Rockies and survived by hauling sandstone construction blocks and firebrick clay to its interface in Pueblo with the Santa Fe and other mainline railroads. The little outfit struggled along with one secondhand coal-fired locomotive, one passenger car, and 15 assorted freight cars. The Colorado-Kansas stayed in business as long as it did due to the management skills of Irma MacDaniel. She began as secretary for the lawyer who represented the railroad at its founding and ended as the president of the line overseeing its dissolution. Bower’s comprehensive research, well written and supported by pertinent maps and illustrations, makes Bound by Steel & Stone an important addition to the history of America’s railroads.”
Bound by Steel & Stone is a Timberline Book published by the University Press of Colorado in hardcover for $45.00 and is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and independent bookstores.
A subscription to Roundup Magazine may be obtained for $45 per year, payable by personal check or money order made out to Western Writers of America. The payment with your address information should be sent to: Candy Moulton, Executive Director Western Writers of America, 271 CR 219, Encampment, WY 82325.
My new frontier historical novel, Bozeman Paymaster: A Tale of the Fetterman Massacre, will be issued by Five Star Publishing in June 2022. Between now and then, I will post a series of preludes providing historical facts that occur before the story in the book begins.
Following the Civil War, increasing pressure from miners and settlers rushing to the new goldfields in Montana Territory put a demand on the Army that ultimately led to the Fetterman disaster. The safest ways to get from the States to the goldfields were by boat up the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers or by wagon over the Oregon Trail into Utah, then swinging north into western Montana. Both routes were long, and prospectors were anxious to get a claim staked fast. The demand for a short route between the Oregon Trail and Montana led to the development of two paths across central Wyoming (at that time still part of the Dakota Territory). Famed frontiersman Jim Bridger advocated travel up the west side of the Bighorn Mountains because it was safer from Indian attacks, but the scarcity of water made this way undesirable. John Bozeman and his partner, John Jacobs, pioneered a route up the east side of the Bighorn Mountains. Water and timber for firewood were more readily available. The Bozeman Trail became the preferred route. Unfortunately, it passed through the heart of the Plains Indians’ favorite hunting grounds.
Vast herds of buffalo roamed the prairie land east of the Bighorn Mountains. Coupled with other game, fowl, and fish, this Absaroka area provided the perfect subsistence environment for the bands of Indians who fought among themselves to control access. Originally home to the Crows, the lure of plentiful buffalo proved too tempting for the Sioux who had been forced out of their traditional lands by the expansion of the white man. The newcomers pushed the Crows north into Montana, and the Powder River country became home to the Lakota Sioux, Northern Cheyennes, and Arapahos. When the white man traversed their new homeland more frequently as he rolled up the Bozeman Trail with his wagon trains, these tribes resisted.
The resulting conflicts led to demands by white travelers for Army protection along the route and pressure for additional treaty activity on the part of the Indian Bureau to keep the tribes from blocking the way. The Army responded by directing the 18th Infantry Regiment to move west and construct a series of forts along the Bozeman Trail. The 18th had earned a fine reputation during the recent war serving with General William Tecumseh Sherman, including participating in his march through Georgia. Strangely, the fighting during the war done by the 18th was not under the command of its colonel.
My novel Bozeman Paymaster: A Tale of the Fetterman Massacre, will be released in a hardcover edition by Five Star Publishing in June 2022. The editing is complete, and the front cover design is finished.Bozeman Paymaster is the story of how in the drive to advance Manifest Destiny the nation blundered into one of its most distressing reverses. Fighting to defend their favorite buffalo hunting grounds, Lakota Chief Red Cloud’s coalition of Sioux, Northern Cheyennes, and Arapahos drove the Army out of the Powder River country of modern-day Wyoming. On a bone-chilling day in December 1866, Captain William Fetterman led eighty men into the army’s worst defeat at the hands of the Indians until Custer’s Last Stand a decade later. Despite the turmoil of virtually ceaseless Indian attacks on Dakota Territory’s Fort Phil Kearny, a youthful paymaster clerk and a beautiful young schoolteacher fall in love. Their future is torn asunder when in the aftermath of the Fetterman Massacre the United States abandons the forts protecting the Bozeman Trail and closes the shortest route used by immigrants to reach Montana’s goldfields. Red Cloud’s War was the only war the American Indians won fighting the United States.
As part of my celebration in preparation for the book’s release, I have redesigned this website to more accurately convey the type of frontier historical fiction that I write.
On Saturday, October 9, 2021, I participated in a book signing at the Sun City Anthem Arts & Crafts Fair in Henderson, Nevada. This is typically an annual event, but because of the pandemic, the event was cancelled last year. Participating in the fair as a member of Anthem Authors, it was great to be able to once again offer autographed copies of The Iron Horse Chronicles. This was the first event at which I had both hardcopy and paperback versions of the trilogy available for sale. The book signing was a great success, and except for the photo posing, I wore my mask throughout the event.