The Trail of Private Losey

 

 

A Biographical Sketch of Anson E. Losey’s Military Service 1881-84

by Dr. Timothy C. Losey



 

The Trail of Private Losey

 

A Biographical Sketch of Anson E. Losey’s Military Service 1881-84

 

 

 

Written and Compiled

By

Timothy Campbell Losey

 

 

 

 

 

With Assistance From:

 

 

Cheryl Ann Kerpan

(Editor - Typist)

Rhett Brian Losey

(Layout - Printing)

Diamond Cole Losey

(Copy Editor)

 

 

August 2004 Tomahawk, Alta

 

 

 

Cover

“Cavalry Charge on the Southern Plains”

  by Frederic Remington,  1907



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Indian Campaign Medal commemorates participation in the various campaigns and skirmishes against the Western Tribes from 1865 to 1898.  The reverse depicts an eagle on a trophy of arms and flags, above the words “for Service” with “United States Army” around the upper perime

- ter. Authorized by Congress in 1905 and established by a War Department General Order in 1907, it was the only medal ever awarded to veterans of the Indian Wars. Unfortunately by this time most of those who deserved recognition were long dead. This work is therefore dedicated to those men whose stories were never told.


FORWARD                                 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                  1

 

THE TRAIL OF PRIVATE LOSEY

  INTRODUCTION                                                                      3                        . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  FORT ASSINIBOINE                                                                                          5         . . . . . . . . . .

  WEST BY RAIL                                                                        7                       . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  END OF THE LINE                                                                                       9    . . . . . . . . . . . .

  RIDING THE ‘FIRE-CANOE’                                                                              11

  SIGNING UP    17                                                                                            . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  THE MONTANA BATTALION     19                                                                    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  PERSONAL EQUIPMENT                                                                                 24             . . . . . . .

  WEAPONS OF WAR   29                                                                                 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  MOUNTED EQUIPMENT                                                                                  31      . . . . . . . . .

  ARMY LIFE                                                         34                                        . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  HOME SWEET HOME   38                                                                               . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  HORSES FOR THE TAKING                                                                             41                                 . .

  CAVALRY ON THE MOVE                                                                               45                   . . . . . .

  ‘L’ TROOP ON PATROL                                                                                   48                   . . . . . .

  FINAL DAYS AT FORT CUSTER 54                                                                  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

AFTERWORD                                          . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .           57

POSTSCRIPT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

60


T           he  life  history  of  Anson  Elroy  Losey,  my  paternal  great

grandfather, was an enigma until details began to emerge as a result of our family history project begun in 1998.  Prior to that, I knew few things regard

-

ing his existence.  These were the result of casual remarks by my father, Charles R. Losey, while I was growing up, often during hunting or fishing excursions in Michigan.  I knew his name, and that of my great grandmother Alice (Sadler) Losey, whom he married in 1875.  I also knew he once lived in Duluth, Minnesota, working on the great iron ore shipping docks.  And finally that during his tenure in the vast forests of that region as a lumberjack, he saw men eat frozen ants found in some of the felled timber.  These were the only references to him I can recall.  A man, it seemed, all but forgotten.

Later we learned that Grampa Anson had married a second time to a Crookston, Minnesota girl in 1879.  What became of him after that no one seemed to know, or if they did, took little interest.  Still later, when the obituary of his father Marvin. P. Losey was found, it was learned that Grampa Anson attended his funeral in 1909 and was then living in Tacoma, Washington, a long way from his birthplace of Camden, Michigan.  This fact only made him all the more mysterious.

In 1999, a key piece of information was forwarded to me by another Losey family researcher, Barbara Martin, that would ‘break the story’ as journalists say.  It was the discovery of one Anson E. Losey listed in an index to  Veterans Schedules for Selected States - 1890  recorded in Superior, Douglas Co., Wisconsin.  A stint in the military as part of Anson’s life came as a complete surprise.  A quick calculation based on his birth year of 1855 ruled out both the Civil War and the Spanish-American War as the events in which he might have participated; being either too young or too old in either case.  This left only the Indian Wars period (c. 1865-98) as a possible time frame for service.  But at least we now had a location for some detailed enquiry and Superior, Wisconsin fit with the story of his tenure on the docks at Duluth.

Assistance from the Douglas County Historical Society and help from member Robert LaBounty provided the key to unlocking an outline of Anson’s subsequent life spanning nearly 50 years until his death.  One of the records found showed that Anson had indeed been a private in Troop ‘L’, 2nd Regiment of United States Cavalry!  There was now enough detail to order a military records file from the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington D.C.  During the long wait for these records, the obituary of Grampa Anson was found in the newspaper

Aberdeen Daily World

that he had been a member of General  Alfred E. Terry’s command “... sent to rescue Custer but failed to arrive before the massacre ...”   The notice, which appeared June 27, 1929 was entitled “Prairie Battles Veteran Called”  and gave proof that his service was indeed during the Indian Wars Period.  I received this news on my 62nd birthday, 21 May, 2002.  A fine gift!

When the records from Washington finally arrived later that year, everything regarding the life of Anson E. Losey, including his actual middle name “Elroy”, between the 1879 marriage in Crookston to his death in 1929 fell into place.  His service record showed his military career spanned the years 1881 to 1884 and included details of activities during posting at two different U.S. Army posts in Montana Territory.  His pension records included the medical report which ultimately led to his discharge after only three of this five-year hitch.  The file included letters in his own hand requesting additional pension benefits.  It also indicated that he had married again for a third time as well as listing all of his places of residence during the intervening years.


Breeze                                 (2003) for the interested reader.  His military career, which

detail, is treated superficially in that study since a decision to produce a more thorough biographical study of Anson’s military service was deemed necessary.  In the pages to follow we will attempt to reconstruct 2

1/2 years of Anson’s life beginning with the long journey by train and steamboat to Fort Assiniboine, Montana Territory in the fall of and ending with his medical discharge at Fort Custer, Montana Territory in the spring 1884.  The salient events of his life as a soldier in the United States Cavalry, actions with ‘hostile’ indians will be detailed;  the pattern of day-to-day life in the explored; and finally a review of his pleas for aid from the U.S. Army on medical will be examined.  So saddle up now and ride with me as we wind our way back time to find “The Trail of Private Losey “.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(L - R)  A.E. Losey’s “Oath of Enlistment”; Cavalry  hat  insignia; Indian Wars Campaign Medal;  M1881 Dress Helmet, hat cords and plume; Appleton’s Cavalry Tactics  (1887); brass cavalry  spur; and 1881 United States Army Regulations.


I N T R O D U C T I O N

 

S          itting before me on my writing desk is a large blue hardcover book four inches in thickness and nearly 1400 pages in length. 

The pages have become brittle with age and some have separated from the binding.  An old punched property stamp on page 101 indicates that it once belonged to the University of Southern California Library.  On the cloth covers as well as the spine is embossed the Arms of the United States over which, emblazoned in gold, are the words

United States Army Regulations 1881.  Notations in red ink along the page margins throughout the text indicate that it was once the property of an Army Officer who took his job seriously.

The book of U.S. Army regulations is the working manual of all commanding officers.   It describes in suffocating detail all of the procedures to be followed in the day-to-day life of the military, from the requirements of medical examination on the day of enlistment to the final deductions from a soldier’s pay on the day he is mustered out after five years of service.  It sets out a soldier’s entire universe of conduct and duty in the most minute detail with very little left to discretion.  Had Anson E. Losey any notion whatever of how ‘regulated’ he was about to become, his search for freedom and adventure might have taken him in another direction!

How I happened to come into possession of this ancient tome may be of some interest since, at the time, I wasn’t quite sure why I decided to spend the $100 it took to make it mine.  It was at an antique arms show in Kalispell, Montana in the mid-1980’s that I came across the impressive book and since I was intensely interested in the Indian Wars period of the western United States at the time, I decided it would eventually prove valuable.   Little did I know then how true that notion was to become.  The book sat idly on a shelf for over 15 years until May of 2002 when the military service connection of Anson E.  Losey began to emerge and the significance of the year 1881 became apparent.  As was later discovered, this was the actual year that he enlisted in Troop ‘L’, 2nd Regiment of Cavalry, United States Army at Fort Assiniboine, Montana Territory.  Some might suggest that some other force was at work the day that big book came home with me.

The year 1881 is significant in the broader context of history as well since it is the year the great Sioux leader Sitting Bull finally agreed to return to the United States following four years of self-exile in Canada.  During that period he had unsuccessfully tried to per

- suade the Canadian government to create a sanctuary for several hundred of his followers arguing that the Sioux nation had always been loyal to the crown of the “Queen Mother” during periods of conflict between America and Britain.  He produced medals given to his people by the British that promised perpetual friendship and support.  This was also the period when the great herds of wild plains bison were all but exterminated, leaving the plains Indian without his traditional means of subsistence. By the time Sitting Bull gave up negotiations with the Canadian government, he and his people were destitute and subsisting on camas roots and prairie dogs.  They had traded away most of the spoils of war including horses, firearms and other U.S. Army equipment.  Their victory at the Little Big Horn in June of 1876 had been a glorious one for the Sioux and other tribes, but it had all been downhill from there.


At the time Grampa Anson decided to enlist in the Army, much of the major

conflict with the Western Plains Indian due to the increasing flow of white settlers farmers, had ended.  Yet the stories of adventure awaiting those with the courage to the comfort of eastern settlements must have enticed many a young man to seek fortune in the wild west.  Anson E. Losey was among them.

Born on July 27, 1855 in Camden, Michigan, Anson was the second of eight raised by Marvin P. and Cornelia (Storrer) Losey.  Marvin apparently operated a general mercantile business there before moving north.  By 1870 the Losey family had settled St. Johns, Clinton Co., Michigan  joining Marvin’s brother Silas and their mother Mary (Houghton) Losey-Miller who had moved from the family home in Arcadia, Wayne Co., New York in 1864 following the deaths of her first husband (their father) Martin, about 1852, and her second husband John Miller.

Marvin owned and operated a brickyard in the town of St. Johns and supplemented the family income by land speculation activities in Bengal Township.  Anson is listed the U.S. Federal Census for 1870 as employed by his father as a farm worker.  He have been age 14.  Five years later, Anson met  Alice May Sadler of Byron, Kent Michigan and on September 2, 1875   their marriage announcement appeared in a Johns newspaper,The Clinton Independent.  Alice was born 1854 in Dover, Ohio the second of three children of Henry M. and Julia Ann (Root) Sadler.  The Sadlers operated an 80 acre farm in Byron Township which they settled sometime prior to 1860.   was 20 and Alice 21 years of age.

The next few years of Anson’s life are sketchy.  We know that in 1879

wife Cornelia and their dependent children pulled up stakes in St. Johns and moved Crookston, Polk Co., Minnesota where the family opened a shoestore on Main Street. Anson and Alice had apparently decided to settle in Kent Co. Michigan where on June 1877 their first and only child, Ernest Sadler Losey was born.  Some time later however, Anson decided to take leave of his young family and travelled to Crookston, perhaps visit his parents.  Whatever his motives may have been, a marriage record dated October 29, 1879 at Crookston, Minnesota shows that Anson had found a new wife by the of Sophia E. Cunningham.

Sophia, age 24, was the eldest of four daughters in a family of seven children

W. and Margaret Cunningham who occupied a farm in Crookston, Polk Co., Minnesota. The Cunninghams had emmigrated from England.  The 1880 U.S. Census shows Sophia, age 25 “married” and living with her parents and no sign of Anson.  Evidence suggests was still married to Alice at this time.  Married life it appears, had only temporary to Grampa Anson and so it is that we find him one year later in Choteau Co., Territory, more than 1200 miles from his birthplace, where we may imagine he hoped be beyond the reach of troubles left behind.  He would spend the next three years life in the  wild west.  And here is where we begin to follow the trail of Private


A           nson Elroy Losey enlisted in the United States Army on

September 1st, 1881 at Fort Assiniboine, Montana Territory.   This post was the second so named, the first being merely winter quarters for the steamer Assiniboine

which plied the Missouri River upstream as far as Fort just above Fort Union, near present Snowden, Montana.  This Fort was closed in April 1835 after only one year of operation.

1  The second more permanent Fort Assiniboine was a United States Army Post built from a congressional appropriation, under President James A. Garfield, of $700,000 in 1878.  It was located

on a site near present-day Havre, Montana  selected by Lt. Col. John R. Brook.  Situated on a large flat expanse of prairie at the confluence of Beaver Creek and Milk River, it was garrisoned by ten companies of soldiers who began construction on May 9, 1879, while two companies were left sta

- tioned on the Missouri to guard incoming supplies.  All were troopers of the 18th Infantry commanded by Col. T.H. Ruger.                                     2

The location of Fort Assiniboine was strategic.  The military force to occupy it was meant to insure peaceful settlement alongside the large number of recently ‘hostile’ Sioux located on the nearby Fort Peck Reservation.  Secondly, it would be in readiness for the expected return of Sitting Bull and his people from Canada, peaceful or otherwise.            3

But things do not always proceed as planned in the U.S. military for by the time the post was completed, the total cost was overbudget by $300,000!  Still it was considered one of the finest military establishments in the western region.  Eventually it became a key training center and Headquarters Post for the District of Montana.

4  Primarily of brick construction, the post was comprised of 12 sets of enlisted men’s barracks, 35 sets of officer’s quarters, a bowling alley, gymnasium, theatre, church, officer’s club, hospital, chapel and schools for both children and enlisted men should they desire to upgrade their educational status.  The structures formed a huge quadrangle surrounding a large parade ground.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fort Assiniboine, M.T.  c.1890.  Inspection of the guard mount before the men’s barracks shows a 1st Sergeant (foreground) and a Captain (left) in the plumed helmet. Notice mattresses airing on the upper level.


the Missouri about 20 miles below the confluence with the Marias River.  This landing

point, which received both men and goods arriving by river steamer, was comprised of wooden buildings including officer’s quarters, telegraph office and mess hall.  Later, in 1886, a stable and warehouse were added.  It was sometimes referred to as the ‘summer camp’ due no doubt to the relatively easy duty experienced there.                                                                   5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a)

 

 

 

 

 

 

b)

c)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fort Assiniboine, M.T.  Est.1879.  a) Officers and ladies enjoy the Montana sun, c. 1890,  b) the very  two-story brick Headquarters building,  and  c) spacious post hospital with covered veranda where Pvt. Losey  became a frequent inmate.


T           ravel  from  Crookston,  Minnesota  to  Fort Assiniboine  for  Anson  Losey  would  have

been interesting to say the least.  The Northern Pacific Railroad in 1881 was completed only as far as Glendive on the Yellowstone in Eastern Montana.  Fort Assiniboine was another 270 miles northwest as the crow flies, much farther by river.  Furthermore, the Northern Pacific did not pass through Crookston but rather originated from Duluth where construction began in July of 1870.  By 1873 it had only reached Bismarck, Dakota Territory, connecting through todays’ border towns of Moorhead and  Fargo, North Dakota.

The road from Crookston south to Fargo is a straightline distance of just over 60 miles or about five days by horseback.  Here Anson might have boarded the N.P.R. for the 400- mile trip to Glendive and the wild west.                            6

Hanging in the Crookston post office Anson might have seen colorful broadsides advertising travel by the Northern Pacific Railroad as “The Pioneer Route to Fargo, Moorhead, Jamestown and Bismarck” and the “Famous Valley of the Yellowstone” at rails’ end across the river from Glendive Butte.  Travel by rail was a significant improvement over horse drawn coach or wagon.  The popular                                                        Frank Leslie’s Illustrated

Newspaper                                               summarized the advantages in this way:

A Northern Pacific Railroad broadside advertising connections to the western

“A journey over the plains was a formidable undertaking, that required great patience and endurance.  Now all has changed.  The shriek of the locomotive wakes the echoes of the slopes along the Sierras, through the cañons of the Wasatch and the Black Hills ...  The prairie schooner has passed away, and is replaced by the railway coach with all                                                                                                                frontier via Fargo, Bismarck and Yellowstone valley  c.1881.

its modern comforts.” 7

But these ‘modern comforts’ were only available to those who could afford them.  First- class passenger service meant seating in one of George M. Pullman’s recently invented luxury-appointed ‘parlor cars’.  They were resplendent in plush upholstery, rich hangings and handcarved inlaid panelling.  For an extra fee, a fold-down sleeping berth could be had by those who chose not to sleep sitting up. There were also Pullman dining cars (the first of which was named

                                     Delmonicoafter the famous New York restaurant) class passengers could order extravagant meals prepared by Pullman chefs and served by Pullman waiters.  Second-class passengers either carried food or took meals at stations along the way.  These were adequate but plain and repetitive.  Some waterstation busi

- ness operators who sold refreshments during the 10-minute service stops bribed conduc

- tors to cut short the breaks so that customers who had already paid for snacks would be forced to leave them behind to be sold again when the next train arrived.  Seating in the second-class cars was on plain, thinly-padded benches arranged in pairs along the sides so that passengers faced one another.  Frank Leslie had this to say about second-class travel.

“ And what about the ordinary passenger car, wherein the working-men and working-women... congregate, all packed like sardines in a box?  It is pathetic to see the vain attempts to improvise out of their two or three foot space a


person. Every seat has its occupant, by day as well as night, a

congregation of aching spines.”         8

  A young Robert Louis Stevenson, later famous for such works as         Treasure Island

, rode the rails west just two years prior to Anson’s journey on the Northern Pacific.  He minces no words in describing the limitations of the western American passenger rail car.Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde

“... that long narrow wooden box, like a flat Noah’s Ark.  Where there is scarce elbow room for two to sit, there will not be space enough for one to lie.  The benches are too short for anything but a child.”     9

Much could be written of the mosaic of humanity found travelling by rail in the and 80’s.  They represented a wide range of occupations and types reflected by a of costumes no longer seen today.  A Polish novelist touring the West in the mid- described them as confident and fearless.

“ They are not elegant, carefully dressed -

men, but bearded and mustached individuals dressed in ragged garments carrying dirty bundles and with revolvers

stuck in their belts.  Their talk is loud and stormy and filled with profanity.  Clouds of tobacco smoke rise to the ceiling of the coaches.  Doors slam as they are opened and closed by strong hands.  References to Sioux and Pawnees, ... are fre      -

quently heard in the conversation.     10

We can imagine 25 year old Anson thrust among this boisterous throng and how thick smoke and noise must have assaulted the senses of a country-raised midwest farm

- hand and sometime brickmaker.    The talk of indians must have been of particular as he made his way toward the military adventure awaiting him, one which might find face to face with these cavaliers of the plains.  And although he spent many hours, gaze fixed on the horizon of the vast open landscape where tens of thousands of buffalo were said to roam, their winter wool still clinging to the brush in some he would see none.  He may have wondered if he would even get to see the their natural setting.  Had he missed all that made the west wild?  Perhaps, he instead of trying to learn his father’s shoe trade in that dreary Minnesota town, he have departed sooner before everything had changed.

From the end-of-the-line at Glendive, Montana Territory, Anson would have at two options in reaching Fort Assiniboine.  The first and easiest, but also the most

- sive, would be to continue by steamboat via the Yellowstone and Missouri River routes Possibly he could then gain passage on one of the U.S. Army supply caravans from Coal Banks (Camp Otis) supply base to Fort Assiniboine.  A second and shorter route, had he been able to obtain a saddle horse, would be to ride straight west to the

- waters of Dry Creek and then follow it northward to the confluence with the Missouri at Fort Buford, crossing the formidably arid high plains of Eastern Montana.  There no established roads through this country and only a seasoned frontiersman could have made such a trip in safety.  Had he done so, Anson could then have reached Assiniboine by simply following the Milk River upstream to his destination.  Given his settled farm and small town upbringing, Anson is likely to have chosen the more civilized mode of travel via rail and/or river steamer.  How much money he had in his would also have been a factor.


T           he halfway point along the rail con         - nection  between  Crookston  and

Glendive was the thriving town of Bismarck.  Situated on the east bank of the Missouri, Bismarck lay just over 1600 miles upstream of St. Louis where the river joins the Mississippi.   Continuing upstream, the Missouri connected a total of 35 freight and passenger landings between Bismarck and the head of navigation at Fort Benton (mile 2663).  These include Fort Buford on the Yellowstone and Missouri (mile 1995), Milk River (mile 2202), the mouth of the Musselshell River (mile 2387), Cow Island (mile 2508) and Coal Banks-Camp Otis (mile 2613);   Camp Otis being the landing where supplies destined for Fort Assiniboine were dropped.  It was also the trailhead for the overland freight route to the Army post.  This route provided yet another option for Anson to consider as a means of getting to his destination.

as it was formerly known, along with Sioux city and Yankton, each hoped to become the capital of Dakota Territory.  When the Northern Pacific chose Bismarck as the western terminus in 1872 (along with some dubious political interference involving the local sherrif), that  town claimed the prize.11  After completion of the line to Bismarck in 1873, construction westward from the town of Mandan across the river began immediately.  Freight and passenger service was extended as the rails crept relentlessly west.  Yet inspite of continued expansion, no bridge was constructed to carry trains across the Missouri until 1882!  Prior to that time river steamers with decks specially equipped with rails ferried freight cars and passengers between the railheads at Bismarck and Mandan.         Bismarck or       The Crossing

A string of sternwheelers belonging to the Coulson Packet Line await boarding passengers on the

Bismarck levee. The “Far West” of Custer fame be seen at far left. c.1877.

 

 

 

 

12  As might be expected, this added both delay and confusion to the already tedious experience of rail travel.

Passengers, including Anson, so delayed might have taken advantage of the break to stretch their weary bodies and take in some of the social life the busy port of Bismarck had to offer.  According to Dr. D. McEachran, a Canadian who passed through in the same year as Anson, bars, brothels and dance halls flourished on every levee, most noisily in Bismarck.13  He went on to describe the town thus:

“Bismarck was started by the opening of a whiskey shop and though it now contains a population of 2000, the example set by the pioneer has been faithfully followed, since at least three-fourths of the buildings are grog shops, gambling houses or places of amusement.

Our first visit was to a ‘keno’ house where we stayed but a short time for the disgusting sight of gambling in its worst form, and the foul air and still fouler language drove us away.  We next visited a faro bank where similar scenes presented them -

selves.

Our next place ... was to the opera house, a wooden struc -


his way to where a pit with sawdust-covered floor could be viewed.  Rough-sawed boards

provided seating for 40 to 50  frontiersmen who, sporting wide-brim hats, sat either smoking or chewing tobacco.            15

“Ascending the narrow stairway we reached the gallery which was partitioned into curtained boxes - which are connected to the stage in which actresses spend their time between acts being regaled by beer or champagne ... (while) ... half dozen women acted as waiters and their dresses and manners indicated the life of immorality which they lead.” 16

- tors to Bismarck.  There were many pitfalls for the luckless traveller to be relieved of hard-earned cash.  Among the uninitiated greenhorns, cardsharks or faro banks and keno hall operators all found a cash crop, not to mention the bevy of ‘soiled doves’, willing to provide solace for the lonely. This is the spectre that Anson Losey would have witnessed had he chosen to wile away a few hours while the railroad freightcars were ferried across the Missouri. This would be the background against which he might have considered how to proceed with his ‘adventure’.  Bismarck with its steady flow of sol            This description reveals an endless array of expensive distractions encountered by

- diers from nearby Fort Abraham Lincoln, that Army fortress from which George Armstrong Custer and the 7th Cavalry proudly rode into history just five years earlier, may have given him the notion of an army hitch in the first place.  Many of Sitting Bull’s Dakota Sioux were at that very moment being transported to the U.S. Goverment Indian Reservation at Standing Rock just below Bismarck.  He might even have seen the bedraggled remnants of the victors of the Little Big Horn as they drifted by the levee where the massive paddlewheelers arrived and departed.

 

 

Reflecting on the trip by rail from Fargo to Bismarck, Anson may not have been excited about travelling another 200 miles on to Glendive and the Yellowstone.  At an average of 25 to 30 mph, that trip would take at least another eight hours plus all the stops at water towns, station delays to gather way passengers, and meal stops, which could double and even triple travel time. Watching the big puffing river steamers plying upriver may have looked appealing in comparison. River travel by steamboat was relatively advanced, owing in part to their long tenure as a means of conveyance.  The indian troubles of the 1870’s had made reliable transport of military supplies into the far west an imperative. The Army Corps of Engineers labored to clear the streambed of trees and obstruc                                                                                   -

tions as well as to alter sections of the channel itself.

17Travel by river in

the eyes of a novice might also appear comfortable and luxurious com -

pared to the jostle and clatter of the crowded rail coach.  Furthermore   fierce competition between steamboat companies such as the Coulson, the Peck, the Kountz and the Power Lines made it affordable.  Anson could ride any one of these lines to virtually anywhere on the Missouri, including the Army supply depot, Camp Otis, located within 40 miles of Fort Assiniboine.


T            ravel up the Missouri would have been spectacular.  Aside from the Indian Agencies and scattered army posts, settle

- ment above Bismarck was insignificant.  Here the high plains could be viewed in the last vestiges of thier unspoiled grandeur.  Surveyed by the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804, the Missouri River became the principle route into the vast upper drainage region and the yet untapped wealth in fur resources.  Beginning with Manuel Lisa, who left St.  Louis more than 1,000 miles below Bismarck in 1807, the river had carried the likes of fur trade entrepreneurs such as William Ashley, Andrew Henry, and Billy Sublette during the boom days of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company.  All of the famous mountain men of the 1830’s and 40’s including such notables as Jim Bridger, Hugh Glass,  Jim Baker,  Joe Meek, and Albert Boone (grandson of Daniel)  followed, floated or swam the Missouri at some point in their careers. Many famous western artists also travelled the wide Missouri

and have left us with stunning images of the muted, pastel colors which grace

the buttes, bluffs, and buttresses of this beautiful river valley.  These include

of course Charles Wimar, Alfred Jacob Miller,  Karl Bodmer, Rudolf Kurz and

George Catlin among them.

We could visualize Anson drifting up this beautiful and serene waterway aboard one of the sturdy little Mountain

Boats  (the  indians  called  them  ‘fire canoes’) . While our romantic vision

of travel on these colorful and historic craft might create a picture along the

lines of a leisurely holiday excursion as compared to the hardships of early

travel by rail, nothing would be further from the truth.  For even though these

steam-driven sternwheelers had been plying the upper Missouri since 1819,

conditions for passengers were still sec -

ondary to the valuable freight being transported.

Like rail travel, there were two classes of passage; first-class cabin passengers and second-class deck passengers.  The

first-class passengers were given small private rooms with berths that opened

into a large common room where meals were served, after which they could

lounge, gamble or drink according to their inclination.  Deck passengers paid

Sioux  Indians line the upper decks of the “Helena” enroute to the new government reservation at Standing Rock below                                                                                             less and certainly got less than cabin passengers.  Their berths consisted of

Bismarck, D.T. c.1880. Such might have been Anson’s first glimpse of these fabled western warriors.         any space they might occupy between the  array  of  crates,  kegs  and  bales


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watercolor sketches by Karl Bodmer of the wondrous scenes that travellers of the Missouri would encounter.  Many other artists such as Wimar, Miller, Kurz and Catlin also left a record of its natural beauty.


rat population.  There was some measure of shelter from rain and searing summer heat

provided by the upper deck and they also had to provide their own food.

But there was one feature of river travel by steamboat which no one could escape; the incessant pounding and vibration of the engine along with the stench of smoke and engine oil. Coupled with this, the older vessels with high-pressure single cylinder engines, exhausted steam with a slow cannonading sound that could be heard for miles.  When more power was required, engineers sometimes tied down the steam pressure safety valves which not only intensified the noise but could (and did) result in deadly boiler explosions. 18  In addition to this passengers, which sometimes exceeded 200, were plagued with epidemics which included typhoid, cholera, and even smallpox.  The only respite offered during passage was the wood stops which occurred twice daily and during which passengers were allowed ashore.

Deck passengers were sometimes provided with barrels of river water for washing and drinking and prickly pears were added to settle the mud. Some operators only provided a bucket on the end of a rope which, when cast into the river while underway, sometimes pulled passengers overboard. Mark Twain, who once travelled Big Muddy by steamer in first-class, remarked that cabin passengers were treated to corn husk mattresses and towels whose absorbency was akin to mosquito netting.                                            19

Upstream travel on the Upper Missouri was often a struggle depending on time of year and stream flow. Channels shifted constantly and it was said that a competent river pilot had to re-learn its course on every passage. Although the boats were ingeniously constructed for shallow draft (by 1860 they could carry 350 tons while drawing only 31 inches) there were many hazards to delay travel. Submerged trees or snags were among the most dangerous and if struck could damage a wooden hull and even sink the vessel.  Less dangerous but still an impediment were the shoals and sandbars which could ground them. There were several methods used to free a vessel. If possible freight was taken ashore to lighten and re-float the vessel, or cables could be attached to the banks and the vessel winched into deeper water. Most however, were equipped with a pair of spars at the bow which when powered by a steam capstan, could be used crutch-like to drag the vessel forward through shoals. This operation was called ‘grasshoppering’. Darkness, wind and thunderstorms each conspired to conceal hidden dangers from the river pilot whose ability to ‘read the water’ was the only guarantee of progress.

If Anson had opted for passage by river through to Camp Otis just 200 miles short of the head of navigation at Fort Benton, he would have passed through some of the most scenic and historic regions of the western United States.  And inspite of the many potential dis

- comforts described above, the novelty of mechanized conveyance was such that most travellers were still delighted by the vistas encountered.  Milling about on the lower deck, Anson would have encountered a broad cross-section of characters, from the greenhorn like himself, to seasoned frontiersmen, old indian fighters and Civil War veterans and traders.  Each would have his story to recount as the paddle-wheeler churned past the site of some incident in which they took part or had knowledge.

One such story might have been told as they approached the landing across from Yellowstone at Fort Buford. Situated just west of old Fort Union which had originated as a fur trade depot of the American Fur Trade company in 1828, Buford replaced what had been a whiskey post of notoriety and the first site of extensive contact with the Plains Indians.20  When construction began in 1864, the Army moved in to “... protect the indians from booze, protect the traders from the indians, and to look after public prop

- erty ...’ (i.e. the materials stored there for construction of the new Army post.


the winter of 1867, Uncpapa  warrior Sitting Bull had

bottled up the entire garrison. While the soldiers shivered inside for months, his warriors banged con

- tinuously on a circular saw captured from the post sawmill outside the stockade.

22  This early form of psychological warfare may have been the model for Hollywood’s version of besieged settlers haunted by

the incessant beating of indian drums preparatory to the inevitable deadly dawn attack!

Further upstream as the vessel approached the landing at Milk River, a buckskin-clad mountain man may have recounted the time he found passage on the

Luella                                                                  among a group of goldminers heading -

stream for St. Louis with $1,250,000 in gold dust.  The Luella

was the last boat to leave Fort September of 1866 carrying miners who wished to remain at their diggings as long as possible. As she

passed the mouth of Milk River, she became stranded on a sandbar whereupon a group of indians began

firing down from the top of a nearby bluff, a favorite game whenever the opportunity for protest presented

Here again is the Benton Transportation’s packet, “Helena” loaded with passengers and a fresh supply of cord wood at        itself. They were no match however for the 230 well- armed passengers who were called on deck to meet

Milk River Landing, M.T. 1880. Anson is likely to have taken passage on this same vessel!           the threat. The indians wisely retired after the first volley and the boat continued on to St. Louis without

further incident.23

Talk of the defeat of Custer’s 7th Regiment of U.S. Cavalry only five years earlier must still have been on the lips of many travellers. River lore as related to this event, would necessarily include the spectacular

rescue of the survivors of the Little Bighorn massacre under Major Frederick Benteen whose little band of

cavalrymen had survived by digging in atop a bluff above the river for three days. Master Captain Grant

Marsh, the same man who piloted  the  Luella, had navigated up the Yellowstone to the very mouth of the Little Bighorn river only 11 miles from the battle

site on the day after the conflict. The vessel was the Far West

especially selected by Marsh Coulson Lines fleet as being the best boat for the job.  His would be the farthest any steamboat had ever

travelled into that region.

began to receive the the 28th of June under the care of Colonel Gibbons’ infantry  who  had  found  them  huddled  on  their       TheFar West

Captain Grant Marsh’s “Far West” which not only supplied the Big Horn River campaign but provided salvation for   hilltop. After the dead were hurriedly buried, the 59 wounded men were loaded onto litters and carried to

the tattered remnants of Custer’s 7th Cavalry following the famous battle.          the waiting steamboat. The lower deck was converted into a communal mattress with a covering of canvas


of 52 men who had survived the transfer.           24

Once aboard Captain Marsh, with no small measure of trepidation, turned the

Far Westdownstream to careen its way through narrow, rocky channels of white-water down the Bighorn and Yellowstone rivers to the Missouri. The vessel covered 53 miles before dinner time and after a two day respite, set off for Fort Abraham Lincoln and Bismarck where news of the great battle would reach the world. At 5:00 p.m., June 30thFar West

embarked, its Captain and crew determined to run Fort Lincoln. In the end they shattered every record for riverboat travel, running a total of 700 miles in just 54 hours. Including layovers, woodstops and delays, she had averaged 131/2 mph, the fastest speed ever recorded. Captain Grant Marsh became the ‘Master of the Missouri’.25

Then as Anson’s steamer approached the Musselshell River landing, talk may have turned to the infamous career of notorious mountain man John “liver-eating” Johnson.  As early as 1846, Johnson had established a wood yard at this place where, during the summers, he cut and piled firewood for the passing steamboats. After crews of roust

- abouts ‘wooded up’, payment for the fuel was deposited in Johnson’s bank; a knothole in a nearby cottonwood tree!

There were many stories of Johnson’s exploits to be retold here. The Musselshell river drainage was  his domain for years. It was here that he discov            26

- ered the delirious Mrs. Morgan whose husband had foolishly left the safety of a wagon train and with his family of three children had stopped to rest and repair his outfit. Here they were discovered by a party of Blackfoot Indians who captured and scalped John Morgan and killed his children before Mrs. Morgan drove them off with an axe, killing four of them in the process.

. After burying the children and placing the heads of the four luckless Blackfoot raiders on stakes around the graves, Johnson built Mrs. Morgan a cabin. She became known as ‘Crazy Woman’ and, with the periodic aid of Johnson and his associates, lived for 20 years beside the graves of her children, starving when blind   27          -

ness prevented her from gathering food.

Liver-eating Johnson stayed close to territory occupied by the Crow Indians who had killed his own Flathead Indian wife and unborn child in the winter of 1847. This was a grievous mistake on the part of the indians as Johnson spent the next 22 years of his life avenging their deaths, killing, some say, as many as 300 Crows. In an effort to avenge these murders, the tribe sent 20 Crow hit-men to individually track and kill the six foot, red-haired mountain man. None succeeded. Each in their turn were foiled by Johnson’s cunning ability to detect danger. His habit of always facing them in hand-to-hand combat meant  that they knew their slayer and that they would soon be disemboweled as part of Johnson’s trademark ritual which gave him his name.

As the steamer then departed for the next upriver wood yard, one more tale of the earlier dangers of this region would be that of 1869 when a party of 32 Sioux braves attacked two women who were attached to a nearby army supply depot and trading post known as Fort Hawley. The women were berrypicking along the river bank. When the indians fell upon them, their screams were heard by John Johnson and his partner X-Biedler who were just then fishing nearby. In fact two more of Johnson’s cronies, including ‘Bear Claw’ Chris Lapp and Jim Deer happened to be on the scene. When the Sioux realized that trouble was coming their way, they foolishly retreated to a coulee with little cover and no exit. There all 32 were slain by the four mountain men and their heads impaled on stakes along the riverbank where, on that very day, a passenger on the steamboat 

Huntsville described the scene.28  This would not be the last time Anson Losey would hear the name of ‘Liver-eating Johnson’.


steamboat landing. In the autumn this became the head of navigation as water levels

began to recede. Boats that delayed departure from Fort Benton this time of year ran risk of being stranded over winter. The channel of the Missouri at Cow Island changed from the soft normal mud-silt bottom which formed shoals and bars, to one of sand rock that could tear boat hulls to pieces. Landing names such as

Bud’s Rapids,Daupin’s RapidsandDrowned Man’s Rapidspoint clearly to the shift in the mood of the river. This was a stretch of the Missouri that required skill and timing to ensure safe passage.

As Anson’s sturdy little mountain boat approached this place, another tale of adventure and desperation would unfold, punctuated by names such as Colonel Nelson E. Miles, General Oliver O. Howard, Looking Glass, White Bird and Joseph, Chief of Nez Perces. For it was here, just four years earlier in September 1877 that a band of 800 Nez Perces Indians arrived, having fought a continuous running battle with the U.S Army for three months. Now in open country, military forces from several directions were closing in. For their part the indians were determined to reach sanctuary in Canada as had Sitting Bull and his Sioux followers a few months earlier.

Cow Island at this time was actually two islands covered with a heavy growth -

tonwoods. The river here was 2,200 feet across with a navigable channel of only

feet in width. The landing was situated on the north bank, where steamboat cargoes were unloaded for transport to Fort Benton by freight wagons. There were no permanent buildings at this time; only the tents of 12 men of the 7th Infantry stationed at Fort to guard commissary supplies. Some 50 tons of government and commercial freight lay under tarpaulins awaiting overland shipment.                                                   29

On the afternoon of September 23, several hundred Nez Perces appeared on the bank. At 2:00 p.m. the indians divided, crossing both above and directly across from landing, then retiring to make camp some two miles away. Later two Nez Perces

- riors approached the landing to request provisions which C.O. Sgt. William Molchert gave them. Still later as the soldiers sat taking supper, a lone warrior stripped to the approached them upon which the surrounding hills came alive with gunfire as the Nez Perces poured volleys into them. Unscathed, the soldiers sought cover as the setting sun brought darkness to the scene.                                              30

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cow Island Landing where in 1877 Chief Joseph’s Nez Perces set fire and laid siege to the small detachment of U.S. 7th Infantry soldiers charged with protecting freight destined for points inland.  Their tents are clearly visible as smoke rises from a cook’s fire.


tents, the soldiers and a handful of civilian freight handlers endured three separate attacks

during the night. During this time a store of 500 sacks of bacon were set afire to create

a diversion while the indians took what they wanted from the landing. During the night, freight agent Michael Foley of the Josephine Line wrote this desperately comical dispatch to his employer;

“ Chief Joseph is here, and says he will surrender for two hundred bags of sugar. I told him to surrender without the sugar. He took the sugar and will not surrender.

What shall I do?

Rifle Pit at Cow Island

Sept. 23, 1877 10:00 (P.M.).”            31

  The following morning as the tons of supplies continued burning, the Nez Perces broke camp and continued their march northward, believing their military pursuers to be far behind. Further depredations on freight trains and civilians occurred until the little band of hopeful fugitives were finally beseiged and captured on October 6, 1877 at Eagle Creek, Montana just 40 miles from the Canada-U.S. Boundary.             32

 

 

 

S I G N I N G   U P

 

T           he details of exactly how Anson reached the U.S. Army post at Fort Assiniboine will likely remain a mystery. All we have for

hard evidence that he did arrive there intact is the copy of his enlistment contract dated September 1, 1881. It is signed in his own hand along with the signatures of the enlisting officer  A.M. Fuller, 2nd Lt., ‘L’ Troop, 2nd U.S. Cavalry and examining officer Assistant Surgeon, Robert B. Beenham (?) U.S.A. The document describes him as having blue eyes, light hair, fair complexion and “5 feet 4 inches high(!)” His occupation is listed as

“brickmaker”. The record also contains a document entitled “Declaration of Recruit” which includes the following statements:

“I Anson E. Losey desiring to enlist in the Army of the United States for the term of FIVE YEARS, DO DECLARE, that I have neither wife nor child; that I have never been discharged from the United States Service on account of disability, for mis

- conduct, by sentence of a court-martial or by order:

and that I am of the legal age (21) to enlist of my own accord, and believe myself to be physically qualified to perform the duties of an able-bodied soldier.”         .....

33

           With this oath, witnessed by Sergeant Frederick Roeckey, Anson was officially admit- ted to ‘L’ Troop, 2nd Regiment of United States Cavalry. His statement is interesting in that he says, under oath, that he has “neither wife nor child” for it implies that his enlist

- ment has taken place without the knowledge or blessing of his wife of two years, Sophia (Cunningham) Losey of Crookston. There is more than one explanation for this. It is tempt

-

ing to conclude that Anson simply abandoned Sophia just as he had his first wife, Alice (Sadler) Losey after only four years. However, in fairness, it is also possible that his second wife may have died, perhaps in childbirth, as was then common. Until more evidence is found, this should remain an open question. As regards that part which claims he is child


Sadler Losey) in 1877 is a matter of record and so his failure to mention this fact      -

erate. What Anson’s motives were for doing so however are presently unknown. There does not appear to be any monetary benefit for his omission. If divorce was obtained the time of his enlistment, no record of it has yet been found.

Another interesting fact regarding Anson’s enlistment is derived from review of recruiting requirements set out in ‘United States Army Regulations’ (hereafter ‘Army Regs’), U.S. Secretary of War 1881. Here we find the following statement:

“Wanted for the United States Army, able-bodied men between the ages of 21 and 35 years, for infantry and artillery, not less than five feet four inches high, ... for cavalry not less than five feet five inches nor more than five feet ten inches high”.34

 

a)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

b)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a) Oath of Enlistment in the U.S. Army signed by Anson E.  September 1st, 1881 which describes him as 28 years old, 5 ft. 4 in. tall with blue eyes, light hair and fair complexion, and b) a U.S.  Army Cavalry recruit of 1880 provides a detailed image of how  Pvt. Anson  E. Losey would have appeared. He is holding a Model  1860 Light Cavalry sabre attached with slings to his waist belt.


inch shy of the standard height for cavalry recruits. Military regulations being as they

are (strict and non-negotiable) there must have been a very good reason for the Army to have admitted him. Perhaps a shortage of manpower on the far western posts which were characterized by loneliness, deprivation, and boredom allowed certain ‘discretion’ in obtaining fresh recruits.

‘Army Regs’ also states that within six days after his enlistment a recruit was required to take the Oath of True Faith and Allegiance to the United States. This document also included a statement of birthplace, age and occupation as well as a promise to obey the orders of the officers according to the Rules and Articles of War.    35

Following this, ‘Army Regs’ sets out the details of the medical inspection.   Recruiting officers could not employ private physicians without authority from the Adjutant General’s office and it was the duty of the recruiting officer to be present at the examination. A brief review will prove useful when we later analyze Anson’s application for disability benefits many years after having left the service.     

Art.785  In passing a recruit the Medical officer is ... to see that he has free use of all his limbs; that his chest is ample; that his hearing, vision and speech are perfect; that he has no tumors or ulcerated or extensively cicatrized legs; no rupture or chronic cutaneous affection; that he has not received any con

- tusion or wound to the head, that may impair his faculties; that he is not a drunkard;

is not subject to convulsions; and has no infectious disorder/nor any other that may unfit him for military service.36 (emphasis mine).

For the examination of recruits, Tripler’s Manual was the standard for use by the medical officer charged with passing the recruits for service.‘Army Regs’                                                     contains some inter

- esting insights into the quality of humanity that was liable to show up for enlistment. To begin with, a large well-lit room was required so that physical movement and locomotion could be adequately observed. It recommends that the recruit be “washed clean” before he is presented to the surgeon since it was deemed impossible to detect the existence of certain defects when concealed “as they effectually may be, and sometimes are, by incrustations of filth a month old(!)” The appropriate medical form (Form 26) was to be employed to guide the subsequent examination which included evidence of disease or injury and especially the presence of scars as an aid in identification. The latter were to be noted on the enlistment sheet as well. If a language interpreter was necessary, this fact was to be noted as a precaution against men who spoke English fluently when first examined but “... from after considerations, are entirely ignorant of the language when re-examined, and sometimes succeed in obtaining a discharge in this way.”          37          38

 

 

 

T H E   M O N T A N A   B A T T A L I O N

 

P          rivate Anson E. Losey, having evidently passed the army medical examination,  joined the ranks of Troop ‘L’, Second Cavalry

Regiment, U.S. Army, the famed Montana Battalion as it was then known. Organized on May 23, 1836 as the Second Regiment of Dragoons, the force first saw action in Florida during the Seminole Wars (1836-41) where ten times as many men died of disease as in combat. Prior to 1833, the United States Army was without a mounted force of any kind


sary.38  In 1843 the regiment was dismounted and redesignated the Second Regiment

of Riflemen. Then, with the prospect of war with Mexico looming, they were again remounted April 4, 1844 and redesignated the Second Regiment of Dragoons.  During the ensuing years the regiment saw action in the Mexican War (1846-47) under Col. William S. Harney, playing a key role in winning the conflict.

This resulted in a new coat of arms for the Second depicting a sabre-wielding dragoon charging a Mexican cannoneer.     40

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regimental flag of the U.S. Army Second Cavalry carried throughout the Indian Wars. It was five feet square and made of finely embroidered silk.

 

F      ollowing the war the dragoons were used to keep the Santa Fe Trail trade route the Southwest free of Commanche raiders and in keeping pro- and anti-slavery fac

- tions in Kansas and Missouri from initiating a civil war; a conflict which proved inevi      -

table only five years later.

41  Although there were numerous guerilla-style conflicts with

western tribes that caused casualties, no all-out indian offensives were experienced prior to the American Civil War (1861-65).

With the opening of the Civil War both the First and Second Regiments of

were redesignated and on August 3, 1861 they became the first to be called ‘Cavalry’.  new regiment was present at nearly every major engagement from Bull Run to Appomatox during the war but by fall of 1864, the Second was much reduced having less than men and no officers. This was the result of much hard fighting which culminated with Battle of Cedar Creek, Virginia. Here Confederate General Jubal Early engaged General Philip H. Sheridan and inflicted severe reverses until finally defeated in February 1865.

42   Sheridan then turned his attention to the inhabitants of the Shenandoah Valley who had supported the irregular guerilla force known as Mosby’s Raiders. His orders to the Second U.S. and Second Massachuchetts Cavalry were  “... to consume and destroy all forage subsistence, burn all barns and mills and their contents and drive off all stock.” In out these orders nearly $500,000 worth of Confederate property including one distillery was destroyed in a region known as the ‘Granary of the Confederacy’. Thus the Second earned its nickname Barn Burners.


many of them were manned by a single Company. When the flow of white settlers

resumed followed by construction surveys for the Union Pacific Railroad into the heart -

land of the Plains Indians, conflict became increasingly frequent. As a result, these small commands were strengthened while stations were fortified and enlarged. A few of these became sites of major engagements with Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians as they attempted to turn the tide of white encroachment. Perhaps the most tragic of these was the Phil Kearny or “Fetterman Massacre” which took place just outside the walls of Fort Phil Kearny, Dakota Territory, in December 1866. Here Captain W.J. Fetterman and a column of infantry and Second Cavalry totalling 76 men and 3 officers were ambushed and killed.  44  The indians were rewarded with an equal number of newly-issued Springfield 50-70 Cal. rifles! Forts Kearny and C.F. Smith were both in a state of siege for two years until  the 1868 Treaty of Laramie was signed and these posts abandoned, whereupon the indians burned them to the ground.

Skirmishes and ambuscades were an ongoing occurrence at Forts Laramie, McPherson, Kearny, Casper, Sand and Sedgwick located in Dakota Territory where men of the Second were posted. In the spring of 1869 Troops ‘F’,’G’,’H’ and ‘L’ under Lt.Col. Brackett were transferred to Montana Territory where they remained until 1884 and became known as the Montana Battalion.45  Here the Battalion was charged with protecting surveyors of the Northern Pacific Railway working in the Yellowstone Valley in 1871. Based in Fort Ellis, Montana Territory (M.T.) the Second soon learned that a Montana blizzard could be just as dangerous as the Plains Indians when 53 men nearly froze to death in a November storm.

It soon became clear that the indian troubles along the Yellowstone were but a prelude to an all out offensive. Settlers and fortune seekers pouring into the region frequently found themselves under attack. One party besieged in a makeshift stockade on the mouth of the Bighorn River in February 1876, were spared only when the Montana Battalion appeared and drove off the attackers. Several weeks later the Powder River Campaign under Col. J.J. Reynolds was launched involving five troops of the Second Cavalry during which the Army’s offensive operation was carried to the Sioux village of Crazy Horse on the Little Powder River. Although the battle proved indecisive, it marked the beginning of a determined effort to subdue ‘hostile’ elements that inhabited the lower Yellowstone and its tributaries.            46

The year 1876 was to provide two of the largest pitched battles of the Indian Wars period. The U.S. Army was given the task of subduing the hostile tribes of Dakota Territory who refused to take up residence at established Indian Agencies (Reservations).  When a mid-winter deadline came and went without much notice among the tribes, the United States declared the wild indians ‘hostile’. Thus the great Bighorn River Campaign was initiated with the view of bringing in, forcibly if necessary, all those refusing to report to the agencies.

It was a huge undertaking and although the Army would win no great victories, the efforts would succeed in breaking indian resistance in the north. The campaign involved troops from the Department of the Platte under Gen. George Crook; Department of the Dakota under Gen. Alfred Terry, which included Custer’s Column of the 7th Cavalry; and the Montana Battalion commanded by Gen. John Gibbon whose column also included six companies of the 7th infantry.

47  It was June, 1876 and Custer was offered the use of the Montana Battalion but declined. Later the men of the Second must have thanked the ‘gods of battle’ for their exclusion!


mouth of the Bighorn and sent two troops of the Second to reconnoiter up the valleys

that river and the Little Bighorn. And although no indians were discovered, one of camps was on the very spot where Custer would fight his last battle a few weeks

           On June 21st, just as Custer’s column approached, the steamerFar Westwith Gen.  Terry and staff aboard,  hove up and tied to the banks of the Yellowstone. The planned three-pronged attack of Crook’s, Custer’s and Gibbon’s commands was now ready. Unknown to Terry at this time however, Crook had already engaged the enemy Rosebud Creek on the 17th where his force of 1,000 troops and 300 indian allies kept busy in a day-long running fight by upwards of 1,500 Sioux and Cheyenne warriors Crook who suffered undetermined losses, had retreated from the planned assault thus reducing considerably the overall strength of the campaign.

Army scouts had determined that the indian trail led from the Rosebud up the Bighorn River. Custer was ordered to follow it and to gain a position above the while Gibbon was to return up the Yellowstone and cross overland to find a position the river below the enemy. The Montana Battalion, accompanied by Gen. Terry, was ferried across the Yellowstone on the 24th, aboard the

Far West. The Second, along with troops of the 7th Infantry, marched up Tullock’s Fork toward the Bighorn River where encamped. On the morning of June 26th they were met by two of Custer’s Crow scouts and were informed of his defeat. Custer, having underestimated the strength of the enemy, had attacked the indians without waiting for Terry and Gibbon who were due the 27th. Custer’s immediate command of some 225 men were wiped out by a combined force of perhaps ten times his own. Seven other troops under Major Marcus Reno managed a costly retreat and were dug in on a hilltop fighting desperately for their The timely arrival of Gibbon’s Montana Battalion caused the indians to disperse, thus saving the remainder of the 7th Cavalry Regiment.

48  All that remained for the Second was to remove the wounded and bury Custer’s dead. For the indians’ part, the spoils victory included some 300 new pattern Springfield car

- bines and 355 Colt revolvers and ammunition. 49

As the winter of 1876 approached the many indian bands  that  fought  on  the  Little  Bighorn  dispersed, making them vulnerable to continued military pressure.  This period witnessed the introduction of buffalo coats, fur caps and mittens as part of army clothing issue.  The winter campaigns devised by Colonel Nelson A. Miles were largely responsible for the ultimate surrender of all ‘hostile’ elements and by May of 1877 nearly 5,000 Sioux and Cheyenne had surrendered.

50  However, an equally large number of Lakota Sioux under Sitting Bull had crossed the international boundary to Canadian ter

- ritory seeking refuge from constant military harassment but were still considered a potential threat to stability in the region. Minor skirmishes continued with small bands of indians involving most of the cavalry regiments of the U.S. Army.

Trouble then erupted among the Nez Perce Indians in the Wallowa Valley, Oregon when they refused re-loca         A winter scene at Fort Keogh, M.T. shows cavalry troopers in fur caps and coats issued

- tion to the reservation at Lapwai, Idaho. In June of 1877 General Oliver O. Howard was charged with keeping tabs on the Nez Perce under Chiefs Joseph and White                              a result of hardships suffered during the campaigns following the Little Big Horn fight                                                                         Several McClellan saddles are seen with full equipment and ready for duty.


Inevitably, armed conflict ensued when forces clashed in Idaho at White Bird Canyon

(June 17), Clearwater River (July 11-12) and Camas Meadows (August 20); and in Montana at Big Hole Basin (August 9-10), Canon Creek (September 13), Cow Island (September 23) and Cow Creek Canyon (September 25). The final showdown and surrender of Chief Joseph’s 418 followers occurred October 5th in the Bear Paw Mountains within 40 miles of the Canadian border. The Nez Perce campaign as it became known (June 15-October 5, 1877), involved the Montana Battalion both at Camas Meadows and at the final sur

- render near Eagle Creek, Montana. Troop ‘L’, which would later be joined by Anson E.  Losey, was commanded by Captain Randolf Norwood. At Camas Meadows the indians turned on their pursuers, capturing General Howard’s pack train. Norwood’s troop of Second Cavalry, along with two troops of First Cavalry, were dispatched to recover these supplies without which the army was lost.  An eight mile chase resulted in Norwood overtaking the indians and the fight that ensued resulted in four Medals of Honor being awarded to men of Norwood’s Troop ‘L’. At the final engagement near Eagle Creek, Troop ‘G’ under Lt. E.J. McClernand, successfully headed off an attempt by Chief White Bird to escape with a herd of ponies across the border, capturing the entire aggregate. He was also awarded a Medal of Honor.         51

- mander of the Bighorn River Campaign of 1876, was dispatched from St. Paul, Minnesota to meet with Sitting Bull and other Sioux dignitaries in hopes of convincing them to leave their refuge in Canada and return to the United States. The delegation included members of the Indian Commission, aides, and reporters from several American newspapers.  Among the latter was a reporter of the New York World whose interview with Sitting Bull was conducted entirely in French! (a language learned through Christian missionary contact).52 At Fort Ellis, Terry was joined by an escort of infantry and three companies of the Second Cavalry who had spent most of the past summer fighting Chief Joseph’s Nez     In the fall of 1877 a Peace Commission headed by General Alfred E. Terry, former com

Perce.53  The latter he left at the border encamped

within sight of Montana’s Sweet Grass Hills so as not

to unduly excite the 800- 900 Sioux warriors living

near  their  destination, the  Northwest  Mounted

Police Post of Fort Walsh.  The  meeting,  held  on

October 17th, was used by Sioux orators to scold

and berate the Americans for their treatment of the

indians. The mission, not surprisingly, was a com                            -

plete failure.

  In April 1878, Sioux Chief Crazy Horse surrendered.

In the fall, elements of the Second were attached to

the  new  posts  of  Forts Custer and Keogh, antici

- pating the return of Sitting


Troops ‘E’ and ‘I’ of the Second at Box Elder Creek, Montana. Then on April 1,

large band of Sioux buffalo hunters crossed the border into Montana. Second Cavalry Troop ‘C’ from Camp Stanbaugh, and ‘E’ from Fort Sanders, Wyoming were dispatched to Montana to intercept them. A pursuit of 150 miles by the soldiers led to a surprise on the Sioux camp at O’fallon’s Creek resulting in the capture of 46 horses, one man killed and five indians captured.

54  This action resulted in the award of yet another Medal of Honor to the Second. The year 1880 closed with the killing of one indian mouth of the Musselshell River, Montana by a detachment of ‘M’ Troop, Second Cavalry A total of 15 Medals of Honor for actions against indians had been awarded troops of Regiment by this time.

Beginning in January 1881, small starving bands of Sioux began trickling across border into Montana to surrender to U.S. Army authorities at both Poplar Creek and Fort Buford. The last of Sitting Bull’s disillusioned people gave up at Buford on May 1881. The summer was relatively quiet as Anson Losey began making his way to Assiniboine, M.T. The next action of any consequence was to take place October 8th,

five weeks following his enlistment in Captain Norwood’s Troop ‘L’ of the Montana Battalion. There was still plenty of adventure awaiting him.

This brief chronology of military actions involving the Second Regiment of U.S.  brings us to the summer of 1881 at which time Anson E. Losey was making his way Having finally arrived at Fort Assiniboine by the means previously described, we find Anson signing his enlistment papers on September 1, 1881.

 

 

 

 

 

P E R S O N A L   E Q U I P M E N T   

 

F           ollowing his medical exam and swearing-in procedure, Private Losey would have been assigned quarters in one of the dozen

large barracks arranged along the sides of a huge quadrangle enclosed by building struc -

tures. Here, Anson would encounter the first of many army traditions he would eventually become familiar with, namely the choosing of a ‘bunky’. The rigors and harsh discipline of army life created strong bonds of friendship between the men and new recruits usually paired up and, prior to the mid-1870’s, often shared the same bunk, hence the bunky.55  In the field of operations bunkies shared food, blankets and fought side by even making suicide pacts to avoid capture by the indians. Some veterans took pleasure in terrifying recruits with tales of torture and death. Ultimately these pairs of men would become confidants and for the five years of their enlistment, would share their lives, plans and pay.

A soldier’s Company or troop was his family with which he usually served his enlistment. In Anson’s case this family consisted of 82 men of the Second Cavalry.  troop operated as a single unit in all things, both on and off duty. They often had own cobbler, barber, blacksmith and tailor. Frequently they formed teams, competing against other troops in sports such as boxing, horseshoes, baseball and horse racing. The men were also allowed to sell part of their collective rations in order to purchase foodstuffs not available through the post commissary. Abundant vegetable crops grown at Fort Assiniboine were in sharp contrast to the meagre variety of food available at hospitable locations such as in the arid desert regions of the southwest, where lack


inmates. Gardeners at Assiniboine were

released from fatigue duties in order to tend post gardens, fresh food being con            -

sidered a valuable asset.           56

The next item on the agenda of a recruit would be the issue of clothing and equipment. The 1881 ‘Army Regs’

describes clothing issues as follows: A single-breasted coat of dark blue basque

(wool) with a square-cut collar faced with yellow cloth, four inches back on

both sides made to hook up close in front with the number of the regiment or

corps badge in the middle of the facing.  The skirt of the coat, which was shorter

for the cavalry, was also trimmed behind with yellow cloth and ornamented with

two straps of dark blue piped to match the facings to support the waist belt.

Shoulder straps of yellow extended from the collar to button over the shoulder.

Four  buttons  of  yellow  metal  (brass) closed the coat, matching those of the

shoulder straps. This was issued with a dark blue blouse of navy flannel for

general wear and fatique duty, which was lined for winter.                     57

Trousers for the enlisted men of all arms were of a “... sky-blue mixture; waistband three and a half inches wide, to button U.S. Cavalry personal equipment; (top to bottom) late1880’s style

hat with crossed sabres insignia, 1876 pattern coat, U.S. Regulation of 1892, U.S. 1885 pattern haversack with leather strap, leather gauntlet riding gloves and mess kit.

with two buttons in front; pockets in front opening at top.”

58  The trousers for cavalry were “reinforced”. No trim was present except for officers. The standard forage cap which was very similar to the kepi of the Civil War era, was of plain blue cloth with the corps badge (crossed sabres for cavalry) or letter of company worn on the front. A broad-brim of black felt called a ‘fatigue hat’ was also issued to be worn in garrison only on fatigue duty, and on marches or campaign.

In contrast, a highly ornamented dress helmet of stiff black felt “... with leather chin strap, large crossed  ... sabres, letter of company and number of regiment, plain side buttons, top piece and plume-socket, all of brass; horse-hair plumes and cords, (yellow) and band with rings the color of arm of service.”

(Cavalry-yellow, Infantry-blue, Ordnance-scarlet).  The helmet cords were attached to the left side of the helmet, falling to the left shoulder, then split to pass around the neck to join again by means of a slide under the right arm, then looped up and suspended from the top button of the coat or tunic. White gloves of ‘berlin’ wool, spurs of brass, and boots or shoes of no particular pattern manufactured for the Quartermaster’s Department at Leavenworth Military Prison, and a double-breasted overcoat with cape trimmed with linings and facings to match the uniform trimmings, completed the uniform clothing.                                        59

60  Other articles of issue clothing included a flannel shirt, drawers, stockings, a stable-frock and a set of overalls, both of white cotton, to be worn when on stable duty.


the newly equipped Cavalry of the Indian Wars period;

“The troopers, when mounted, were curiosities and a decided disappointment to me. The horse, when prepared for the march, barely showed head and tail. My ideas of the dashing trooper going out to war, clad in gay uniform and curbing a curvetting steed, faded into nothingness before the reality. Though the wrapping of the blanket, overcoat and shelter tent is made a study of the tactics, it could not be reduced to anything but a good sized roll at the back of the saddle. The carbine rattled on one side of the soldier, slung from the broad strap over his shoulder, while a frying pan, a tin cup, a canteen, and a haversack of hardtack clattered and bobbed about on his other side.

There was possibly 100 rounds of ammunition in his car -

tridge belt, which took away all of the symmetry that his waist might otherwise have had. If the company commander was not too strict, a short butcher knife, thrust into a home made leather case, kept company with the pistol

... The tin utensils, the carbine and the saber, kept up a continual din, as the horse seemingly crept over the trail at the rate of three to four miles an hour. In addition to the cumber

- some load, there were sometimes lariats and iron picket pins slung on one side of the saddle. There was nothing picturesque about this lumbering cavalryman, and, besides, our men did not then sit their horses with the serenity that they eventually attained”.  

(From Tenting on The Plains  1887, in Shockley) 61 

Although the new recruit was undoubtedly excited about the donning of a crisp uniform, the issue of weapons was perhaps the most awaited moment of the mustering process. Weapons equipment for the cavalry included a Model 1860 light sabre, a .45 cal. six shot Model 1873 Colt Single Action revolver, and a .45 cal. Springfield single shot breech-loading carbine. Each item was issued with accessories including carrying devices, all of which were unique to mounted troops.

The ‘Model 1860 Light Cavalry Sabre’ was adopted as a replacement for the much heavier ‘Model 1840 Dragoon Sabre’ which was often referred to as the “Old Wristbreaker”. The new model had the longest history of use (1858-1913) of any cavalry sabre in the mounted arm of service, having served the army from the Civil War to Pershing’s Mexican Campaign against Pancho Villa. The 35 inch long blade is gently curving with a rounded back and two fullers that extend from the ricasso to within inches of the tip. The plain brass half-basket style guard has a knuckle bow and curving branches while the grip is leather-wrapped and decorated with a double strand of twisted brass wire. The scabbard is entirely of polished steel with two carrying and a drag. The complete weapon weighs 3

3/4 lbs and is 41 inches overall. The carrying device for the sabre, known as the “Model 1881/1885 Sabre Attachment” was a new being a simplified version of a former style. It consisted of   4

3/16” x 23/8 flat brass hook which slipped over the waistbelt to which were attached two


1873 revolver was actually first issued

in  1874  and  replaced  the  Colt  1860 ‘Old Model Army’ .44 cal. percussion

revolver. The Model 1873 was the first cartridge sidearm to be carried by the

U.S. Cavalry. A total of 37,075 Single Actions  produced  between  1873  and

1891 were purchased by the U.S. gov -

ernment for issue to cavalry, mounted artillery and indian police.                              63  The Colt

weighed in at 2

1/3 lbs and chambered

six .45 cal. centerfire cartridges loaded with 28 grains of black powder behind

a bullet of 230 grains weight. Overall length of the pistol is 12                                1/2 inches having

a barrel of 7

1/2 inches.64  It is classified

as ‘Single Action’ owing to the need to cock the action by pulling back the

hammer in order to bring each chamber into battery before it can be discharged

by pressing the trigger. Both loaded and spent cartridges had to be passed one at

a time through a hinged loading gate on the right-hand side of the breech.  Cost to

the army was $13.00 each!

Sighted in at 50 yards distance, per -

formance tests showed accuracy (group) at 53/8 inches and penetration in white

pine of 33/4 inches where “...penetration of one inch corresponds to a dangerouswound”.  In the hands of an experienced soldier  the  Colt  Single  Action  could       U.S. Cavalry firearms equipment including (left to right) Model 1873 Springfield .45 cal. carbine with sling and swivel hook, 1876 pattern leather cartridge belt (note original copper Benet primed cartridges), Model 1873 Colt SAA.45 cal. revolver and original cartridge packet, 1881 pattern holster with  U.S. 1874 waist belt.

provide a rate of fire equivalent to 18 rounds in under two minutes, beginning and ending with chambers empty.65  With the 230 grain lead bullet, a mean muzzle velocity of 730 feet per second (fps) could be achieved. This cartridge was effective well beyond 300 yards but accuracy using the fixed sights of the Colt rendered long-range use impracti -

cal.

A lesser number (about 5285)  of secondary type firearm known as the Smith & Wesson Schofield Single Action revolver was also purchased by the U.S. Army beginning in 1875.  Also of .45 cal. centerfire, this revolver was a break-action type which allowed all spent cartridges to be ejected simultaneously.

66  This seems to have been its only advantage as the arm was more complex and prone to breakage and malfunction as well as being slightly heavier at 2

                             1/2 lbs. This revolver cost the U.S. Army $13.50.67  The army-issued revolvers have frames marked with “U.S.” while other parts are stamped with the initials of arsenal inspectors at Springfield Armory applied after being gauged, tested and passed as “serviceable”.

In 1881 at the time of Anson Losey’s enlistment, holster and cartridge belt designs were undergoing a period evolution too complex to cover here. By this time however, a black leather holster with “U.S.” in an oval cartouche on the body fitted with a half-flap


the Colt or Smith & Wesson revolvers.

68  Cartridge belts did not come into use until after the Little Bighorn fight prior to

which all ammunition was carried loose in a leather belt pouch. Designed initially

for the infantry, it was quickly adopted by mounted regiments and for a time, it

was necessary to wear two belts since the holster belt loop was too small to accom

- modate the wide leather and canvas car

- tridge belt. Beginning in 1880, cartridge belts woven entirely of canvas called the

“Mills Patent” were adopted and fitted with a two-piece brass ‘H’ shaped buckle

having a raised “U.S.” in an oval on the face. 69  The 1881 pattern army holster

was altered by widening the belt loop so the two could be worn together. Still later

(1883) the belt was altered to accom

-

modate the sabre hanger as well and the buckle replaced with a rectangular

center-bar frame type with a dark leather chape and tongue.

Slightly later the Army  Ordnance  Department  designed a 131/2 inch belt knife which carried          70

                                 a spearpoint blade 8

1/2 inches by 3            1/4  inches and intended as an all-purpose tool (defense, entrenching, etc.), fitted in

a black leather scabbard with a brass belt hook. Over 10,000 were made between

Army issue 1876 campaign hat with 1860 Pattern Light Cavalry   sabre and carrying equipment. Although still carried by U.S. Cavalry troops, its use as a tactical weapon became obsolete following the   advent of cartridge revolvers.  1883-1885 even though it was designated the “1880 Hunting Knife.”

71  It is unlikely that Pvt. Losey ever saw one.

The Model 1873 Springfield cavalry carbine has a developmental history that begins with the Model 1863 Springfield rifled infantry musket of the Civil War. At the close the war, there were some 65 types of long arms in use by the different branches Union Army representing a variety of calibers. The Union Cavalry had been equipped with various breech-loading carbines while the infantry had been issued large quantities of percussion muzzle-loading .58 cal. Springfield rifles. In an effort to standardize the small arms of the U.S. Army, the Chief of Army Ordnance directed the National Armory at Springfield to research and develop a breech-loading system that could be used to convert the Springfield musket to a cartridge weapon.                                                   72

On September 19, 1865 a design known as the “Allin Breechloading System” patented and used to convert a few hundred surplus weapons to fire a .50 cal. centerfire cartridge. In 1868 the production of a new model of the Springfield rifle and carbine commenced which employed newly manufactured steel barrels even though thousands of surplus Springfields still existed. The Allin System (so named after Erskine S. Allin, Master Armorer at Springfield) consisted of a hinged block which opened forward by lifting upward to expose the breech into which a single cartridge could be inserted. When


center of the cartridge. 73  The arm was then cocked by pulling back a large sidelock

hammer very much like that of the old muzzle-loader before it could be fired. The swing -

ing breech-action weapon became known as the “Trapdoor”.  In 1870 an Army Board of Officers met to test several other types of breech-loading arms and although opinions varied widely, the Springfield Trapdoor was retained in spite of several obvious deficien

- cies as compared to other entries. This was not the last time such trials were held but  the Trapdoor always won out, leading some researchers to conclude that political influence was a major factor.             74

With the introduction of the Model 1873 Springfield carbine came a further reduction in caliber to .450”. The arm was 41

1/2 inches long with a 22 inch barrel having a 1:22 rifled twist. At first, the cartridge was a non-reloadable centerfire made of copper and containing a 55 grain load of blackpowder behind a 405 grain lead bullet.

75  The overall  appearance was the same as earlier models but lighter at 7.9 lbs. Between 1873 and 1889, nearly 60,000 were produced.

76  The cost to the U.S. Government was $15.50 per weapon falling to $14.18 in 1877, owing to the use of some older  surplus parts.                                                                                     77

The performance of the new .45-55 (later .45-70) cartridge was impressive. Department of Ordnance tests indicate a muzzle velocity of 1150 fps. At 300 yards distance, impact was rated at  616 foot pounds; velocity 827 fps; accuracy (group) 6                                                                                     -                          1/2 inches; and pen

etration of white pine at 9

1/3 inches. The weapon had a trigger pull of 6 to 8 lbs. and a

rate of fire averaging 12 to 13 rounds per minute in the hands of a capable trooper. These tests indicate that it had a lethal range of over 2,500 yards!

                                                                                      78  Carrying equipment con- sisted of a shoulder sling fitted with a “Carbine hook” that was attached to the carbine ring. This allowed the weapon to ride at the soldier’s side while the muzzle was held in place by a leather thimble attached to the saddle rigging. This system was also utilized during the Civil War.

 

 

 

W E A P O N S   O F   W A R

 

T           he three weapons possessed by the American Cavalry soldier of the last quarter of the nineteenth century would seem, at

first glance, a formidable array of personal armament. A sabre in the hands of a mounted soldier virtually defines the arm of service known as Cavalry. The new Colt Single Action cartridge revolver revolutionized the potential firepower of the soldier’s sidearm while the long-range accuracy of the .45-70 Springfield carbine made him lethal at distances previously unheard of except for specially trained sharpshooters. But there are many other factors to consider. The sabre, in use throughout the Indian Wars, was the same ‘Model 1860’ that was issued to Union Cavalry soldiers during the Civil War. Although there were numerous “sabre charges” by cavalry during that conflict, it was later seldom employed except for parades and formal occasions.

79  Many Civil War officers were prejudiced against its use and some put it aside in favor of the pistol, insisting that its killing power was preferable to the sabre which only wounds. While this might seem an odd situation it is explained by a lack of confidence in the weapon due to absence of training.

80  Not  only was the system of sabre exercise proscribed by current tactics defective, but neither were there any qualified officers to instruct enlisted men in fencing and swordsmanship.  Competence with the sabre required constant practice and without it, the arm became a useless, noisy encumbrance. A further defect that can be said to have affected confidence


be sharpened!  Had they been sharpened before the hardening process, they could have

been kept sharp and the effectiveness of the sabre charge would have been terrible behold and perfectly adapted to the type of hit-and-run tactics so often encountered in Plains Indian warfare.

The revolver on the other hand, was only effective while it was loaded after

was only useful as a club. Once emptied the Colt Single Action, with its tedious cartridge ejection system, was very difficult to reload while mounted.  The Smith and Wesson however, could be readily emptied of spent cartridges and tests conducted comparing the two while at a full gallop confirmed its effectiveness. No other advantages were noted In a running fight, the enemy was almost always out of range and these range limitations were shared by both revolver types.

                                                     81  Still, a brief pause in action would allow reload- ing in far less time than the ‘Old Model Army’ percussion revolvers of the Civil War Nevertheless, many veteran soldiers were reluctant to relinquish their old weapons in exchange for the unproven cartridge revolver.             82

The ballistic performance trials of the Model 1873 Springfield carbine left little to desired but here too, there are several other factors to consider in assessing its effec

- tiveness. Much has been written concerning difficulty with shell extraction which was a problem while the early copper shell cases were in use. Cartridge cases frequently became stuck in the chamber causing the extractor to tear through the rim and in instances, separation of the entire cartridge head resulted, rendering the firearm all but useless.83  Unlike the Springfield infantry rifle, the carbine was not equipped with a ramrod. In lieu of this the Army Ordnance Department suggested that a “damaged case can often be pried out with a knife!”

84  And indeed damaged cases and broken knives were recovered in quantity at both the Rosebud Creek and Little Bighorn battle sites.

Another major problem with the Springfield Trapdoor models was the breech design itself. It was not only slow and clumsy to load but often the hinged breech block close itself if the arm was inclined. This situation was only made worse when the was mounted and in motion, even after the shell extraction was remedied by the adop

- tion of solid head cartridge cases and the addition of a segmented ramrod stored in buttstock in 1877.85  The arm could best be loaded only with the muzzle down which was impossible if shooting uphill and often the weapon could unload itself when the breech opened while galloping into action.

86  It is perhaps telling that no other major army was ever equipped with small arms of the Allin Trapdoor type but several did                                                                                                                             -

chase other types of American arms due to their superior attributes.        87

Finally as with the sabre, little formal training in marksmanship was made available to enlisted men and tight budget restraints which characterized the post Civil War era, created a reluctance on the part of commanders to expend ammunition for any activities other than actual battle.

88  Most officers had visions of ‘volley firing’ and grand ‘sabre charges’ which pre-empted the need for individual marksmanship.

89  An analysis of the action at Rosebud Creek on June 16, 1876 illustrates this marksmanship deficiency. In his official report, General George Crook stated that 25,000 rounds of ammunition had been “expended”, some of which was surely lost but not fired.  Shockley estimates approximately 700 rounds were fired for each of the 36 Sioux Indians killed in battle!    90

Those that did fall were victims of the sheer volume of fire, not the result of marksmanship. Formal marksmanship training in the U.S. Army did not emerge until the late 1880’s. Although several minor improvements were made at intervals until the Trapdoor was finally abandoned, none of them affected its basic design faults.


T           hus far we have only examined the clothing and equipment needed to transform a man into a soldier, ignoring what is

required to make him a cavalryman. What distinguishes the cavalryman from all other arms of service is that he is a fighting man on horseback. A very large part of his training therefore, concerns his ability to control his mount under all conditions, learn to care for it, and keep it fit for action at all times. The health and fitness of a soldier’s horse on a march would determine whether he stayed in the ranks of his company or became a foot

- sore straggler leading a lame mount. At times, the failure of his horse could bring death.  The care, training and equipment lavished on the horses of the cavalry easily rivalled and sometimes exceeded that of the men who rode them.

To begin with, all of the horses used by the United States Cavalry were purchased directly by the U.S. Government by means of a Board of Officers who made selections from the herds of stockraisers in their assigned districts.       91  The criteria used for the selec

- tion of mounts was rigid and included such conformation items as height (14 to 16 hands), weight (750 to 1100 lbs.), age (5 to 8 years), small head and ears, broad forehead, eyes large and prominent, shoulders long and sloping, forelegs straight and well under, chest broad and deep, barrel large and increasing from girth to flank, withers elevated, back short and straight, and so on.

92  One horse that best represented these criteria was more often kept as a model during subsequent purchase inspections. Following this, the horses were gathered at the district depot and branded with the letters “U.S.” on the left shoul

- der on the day received. A complete description of each animal prepared at the time of purchase accompanied it ever after.                                            93

The Cavalry Bureau in Washington required that monthly inspection reports of all horses in the service be made. These allowed the Bureau to determine the overall state of readiness of the entire U.S. Cavalry. These reports classified the condition of a horse as  1) “serviceable”, 2) “now unfit” (deemed serviceable following care or treatment), 3) “unfit” (useful as team, draught or herding only) and 4) “condemned” (unfit for any service).

94   Condemned horses were ordered to be advertised for sale and if not disposed of within ten days, were to be shot. All such animals were to be branded “I.C.” (inspected and con

- demned). Officers were required to provide their own mounts or could make individual selections from the government depots in which case they reimbursed its cost to the army. Loss of these privately-owned mounts were covered only if killed in action.                                                                        95

Once the mounts were assigned and moved to their duty stations, they were further branded with the number and letter of regiment and company to which they were assigned, after which they began training. An effort was made to pair experienced gentler horses to new recruits so that training in horsemanship could proceed with minimal chaos and danger. Sometimes however, the horse and soldier had to learn their drill together, moving by degree from bronc and rider to the polished, integrated unit of mount and cav

- alryman. Once assigned, horse and soldier usually remained together for the duration of the soldiers’ service thus enhancing the devotion of man and horse to one another. In fact according to ‘Army Regs’, once an animal had been assigned, it could not be exchanged for use by of another person without written permission of the officer responsible.                                                                                                                       96

The 1887 handbook of U.S. Army Cavalry Tactics contains detailed instructions regard -

ing the training, maintenance and care of the horse. Included are remedies and methods for altering bad behavior such as “rearing, kicking and shying”.

Training subjects included teaching horses to swim, jump and to remain calm and controllable under fire.  The latter was accomplished by first exposing them to the sound of firing as they were led       97


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

U.S. Cavalry trooper at Fort Grant, Arizona practices advanced small arms training by teaching his mount to assume the function of a shooting bench!

to stable, then during riding exercises and finally while mounted, firing from the horse’s back.98  Advanced training included teaching the animal to lie down while the soldier fired over him using the saddle as a rest. All horses were taught three gaits described the walk (33/4 mph), the trot (7-8 mph) and the gallop (9-11 mph). The gallop, the manual cautions, “... very soon breaks down horses and is the exceptional gait at drill and campaign; on all other occasions it is strictly prohibited”.       99

By far the largest body of instruction in the manual is the “School of the Soldier Mounted”. It details every aspect of the inter

- action  between  man  and  horse  from  the folding of the saddle blanket to the proper gait

and motion to be employed in both parade and battle formation. The fact that there are

more than sixty headings in the School under which these maneouvers are detailed, pro

- vides a clue to the complexity of this area of training. According to the “Manual of Arms”

practice began with the sabre, since the horse only had to become accustomed to the sight

of it by proceeded to the pistol and carbine to condition the horse to their use, sound, smell

and appearance.           100

- lished Ordnance Memoranda No.18 which updated the equipment requirements of the         In 1874 the U.S. Ordnance Department pub

U.S. Cavalry to take advantage of  improve -

ments as well as tactical lessons incurred during  the  years  following  the  Civil  War.

Under orders, a Board of Officers met to present, discuss and vote on all issues per

Model 1874 McClellan saddle in full equipment including saddlebags, canteen and cup. Springfield carbine in its boot,        - taining to matters of equipment. “Resolution No.17” reads as follows:


“The Board is of the opinion that the regular equipments necessary for a cavalry trooper are as follows, namely:

- 1 saddle complete                                    - 1 side-line

- 1 saddle-tree, leather covered                   - 1 nose-bag

- 2 stirrup-straps                                         - 1 lariat

- 2 stirrups                                                 - 1 picket-pin

- 6 coat-straps                                            - 1 horse-brush

- 1 carbine-socket and strap                        - 1 curry-comb

- 1 girth                                                      - 1 pair spurs

- 1 curb-bridle                                             - 1 pair spur-straps

- 1 head-stall                                              - 1 saber-belt

- 1 pair of reins                                           - 2 saber-slings

- 1 bit                                                         - 2 saber-sling slides                        

- 1 curb-strap                                             - 1 belt and plate

- 1 halter                                                    - 1 pouch for carbine-cartridges

- 1 head-stall                                              - 1 pouch for pistol-cartridges

- 1 hitching-strap                                        - 2 cartridge-loops for carbine-cartridges

- 1 watering-bridle                                       - 1 pistol-holster

- 1 pair saddle-bags with two ration-bags     - 1 saber-knot

- 1 blanket                                                  - 1 carbine-sling

- 1 surcingle                                               - 1 carbine-sling swivel

- 1 link                                                        - 1 canteen

 

Further, the Board is of the opinion that the following articles for the cavalry service should be furnished only when especially called for on requisition, namely:

- 1 Saddle-cloth, felt

- 1 Halter-chain

- 1 set sweat-leathers

- 1 pair stirrups with socket for standard or guidon

- 1 forage-sack

- 1 haversack for dismounted service        101

A great deal of detail would be required to describe each of the items of ‘Horse Equipments’.  A few remarks accompanied by the accompanying images may serve just as well.  Central to the whole line of horsegear is the saddle. The one in service throughout the Indian Wars period is known as the McClellan saddle. Its’ adoption in 1859 was the result of trials held by a Board of Officers under the auspices of the U.S. War Department to select a singular style from the variety of types then in use. Among them were the Grimsley, Hope, Campbell and Jennifer saddles. The McClellan saddle was designed and


the equipment of European armies while on a tour of duty during the Crimean War

56).102  The trials, involving the reports of Officers of the 1st and 2nd Cavalry marches of up to 2000 miles, recommended the McClellan for adoption.

103  Now that a regulation saddle was mandated for service in the mounted regiments, all other equip        -

ment could likewise be standardized.

With the appearance of the M1859 McClellan saddle just prior to the opening Civil War, the stage was set for the severest of tests regarding its overall value to the The fact that this saddle type, with the addition of only minor changes in fixtures rigging systems, continued in use for the next 84 years is testimony to the high regard which it was held. Perhaps the most obvious change to the casual observer would be absence of skirts and the addition of the leather covering of the saddle tree on the model of 1874. Previous to this time, the rider sat directly on a rawhide covered The saddle was offered in three sizes, designated with a number and corresponding seat size; No.1, 11 inches; No.2, 11

1/2 inches; and No.3, 12 inches. All of the leather used on the saddle as well as on saddle bags, bridles, reins and rigging was finished black conform to the appearance of the leather worn by the soldier.

104  A full complement of horse equipment packed for a march of five days duration including saddlebags filled with 10 lbs of rations with meat in the can, 1 pair each of socks and drawers, 2 40 rounds of ammunition, plus 15 lbs of oats, 2 spare horse shoes and an additional and 24 rounds of boxed pistol and carbine ammunition, weighed in at just over 100 105  Add to this the weight of a man who then averaged 140 lbs and the load than 250 lbs.

 

 

 

 

 

A R M Y   L I F E

 

A                                                                                       fter taking a fairly thorough look at the arms and equipment                                                                of the frontier army, we can now consider how all these ele -

ments fit neatly into the life of a soldier of the 1880’s. The practice of partnering recruits, creating loyal bunkies in the army has been mentioned, and Pvt. Anson Losey was probably no exception. Who his barracks buddy might have been is unknown but the military record of a recruit which closely parallels his own is worth noting. He Julius Johann Jacob Klotz. He had sailed from Germany to New York to avoid military conscription, arriving in the spring of 1881. He enlisted for 5 years volunteer service the U.S. Army on May 3, 1881 giving his age as 21 (he was actually not quite 19) name as Julius ‘Lutz’.  According to his records, he was born in Stuttgart and a trade. Then on Sept. 25, 1881 Julius Lutz was mustered in at Fort Assiniboine, M.T. in Montana Batallion, Company ‘L’, 2nd Regiment of Cavalry, the very same outfit Anson was assigned to just 23 days before! These two men certainly became acquainted for they served together until spring of 1884 when Company ‘L’ was reassigned; Julius to Coeur l’Alene, Idaho Territory and Anson to Fort Custer, M.T.      106

Julius Lutz, like many recent immigrants, could not speak English well so while training  he was also struggling with a language barrier. Who better to assist him than Losey whose Dutch background would no doubt have allowed them to communicate at some level? And what better catalyst for them to become bunkies? We may never know the truth of this coincidence but it is certainly worth consideration.


discipline being the force employed to impress upon the mind the necessity of obeying all

military rules and regulations.  Failure to do so was certain to result in harsh punishment even for minor offenses. Many officers believed every offense warranted some inflic

- tion of bodily pain. Hardcore veteran officers believed brutality created fear among the enlisted ranks and through it they could be controlled. In many cases, it only increased desertion rates. 107  Gambling, drunkeness, late for roll call, unauthorized absence, sleep

- ing on guard duty and unruly after taps were all considered acts for serious discipline.  108  Selling or destroying government property and insubordination were punishable by being ‘bucked and gagged’ from four to six hours. Another punishment was called ‘on the chimes’ which condemned a man to stand on the edge of a barrel for half a day. Or an offender might be tied spread-eagle to a wagon wheel.

Due to the severity of army life in the 1870’s, desertion rates were high. Deserters found guilty by court martial were punished by forfeiture of all pay and allowances, had their heads shaved, were branded with a hot iron bearing the letter ‘D’ (later an indelible ink was substituted), and dishonorably discharged.

109  In 1881 a standard reward of $30 was still offered for turning in a deserter. Anyone who encouraged or harbored a deserter was liable to imprisonment for between six months to two years.

110  Violent discipline as sometimes practiced on the frontier, could result in violent responses within the ranks. As a consequence, the bodies of sergeants were occasionally found, having been killed by their own men.111  With time and improved living conditions, disciplinary action became less frequent and as a result, soldiers were more likely to serve out their full tenure and even re-enlist.

Anson’s Troop ‘L’ was comprised of 82 men under the command of Captain Randolph Norwood.112  Once assigned, officers frequently stayed with their units, which gave rise to the practice of companies being known by their Captain’s name instead of the regula

- tion letter designation.113  Thus Company ‘L’ was known as ‘Norwood’s Company’. Every company in a regiment functioned as an integrated unit through a hierarchy known as the ‘chain of command’. Officers gave orders, the enlisted men carried them out, but it was the First Sergeant that turned them into action. A First Sergeant was virtually in command of the company. An enlisted man could not even speak to an officer without his permis

- sion. A worthy Sergeant could earn the respect of both officers and men, and as a privi

- lege of rank, had his own quarters, mess and had his horse cared for by the men.         114

By the 1880’s health and nutrition within the ranks of enlisted men was much improved over what was experienced in the early post-Civil War years. Food preservation had always been a problem during long periods of transport prior to completion of the rail lines. Some of the rations issued to the frontier army such as hardtack, were actually surplus from the late war that the government was using to reduce costs. Over time, rations became more varied and abundant and the army began to train cooks to prepare meals according to strict guidelines. Previous to this, cooking duty was rotated among enlisted men to encourage them in learning to prepare their own meals when in the field.

Army rations could be supplemented in two ways. In some cases, post gardens were a possible source of fresh produce in season, but in some parts of the country poor soil or lack of rainfall precluded this. Rations could also be improved through purchase of foodstuffs from post sutlers using the company fund, a petty cash account maintained by the men for special purchases. 115        116

Purchase, inventory and issue of army rations was a highly structured function controlled by the Army Subsistence Department. It was charged with requisitions, storage, transfer, issues (to men, hospitals, indians, civilians), sales, commutations and record keeping.

117   The standard daily ration for enlisted men of the army in 1881 was as follows:


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cavalry troopers on campaign in Montana enjoy (?) mess on Mother Earth’s table cloth. Bottles in front of stew pail contain their only condiments, vinegar and ketchup. Saddles, bridles and sabres are all clearly visible behind.

DAILYSTANDARD RATIONS                                DAILYSUBSTITUTE RATIONS

Bacon or Pork 12 oz. (per man) Fresh Beef                                            20 oz. (or)

Salt Beef                   22 oz.

Bread or Flour 18 oz. (per man) Hard Bread                                            16 oz. (or)

Cornmeal                20 oz.

Beans or Peas 15 lb. (per 100) Rice                                                  10 lb (or)

Hominy                   10 lb.

Coffee (Green 10 lb. (per 100)                               Coffee (Roasted)  8 lb. (or)

Tea                      2 lb.

Sugar                15 lb. (per 100)

Vinegar                  4 qts. (per 100)

Salt                   4 lbs. (per 100)

Pepper                   4 oz. (per 100)

Yeast                4 lb. (per 100 rations of flour)

 

In addition to this, other substitutes were sometimes available which would welcome variation. Fresh mutton could be issued instead of beef if the cost was greater. Dried, pickled or fresh fish of specified weight could be issued in lieu of the

- dard meat ration and molasses or syrup could replace sugar at the rate of 2 gallons 15 pounds of sugar. There was also on occasion canned meat or beans and even in specified quantities, though normally these were reserved only for field use, travelling, or where cooking was impractical.

  Hospital rations were notably superior to that of the soldier on duty. In addition foodstuffs already mentioned, there was stewed fruit, rice pudding, savory bread, pickled beets, fresh cabbage and potatoes on the daily menu.


the frugal nature of the Subsistence Department is evident where the

recipe for baking pork and beans includes a directive; “Any beans left over from dinner will be mixed with the hominy on Thursday’s breakfast”.120  The inmates of Fort Assiniboine were among a lucky few able to grow fresh vegetables and bring variety to an otherwise dreary and monotonous daily menu.

If U.S. Army rations seem to lack imagination and creativity the same cannot be said for the language of the soldier. That they were a profane lot cannot be denied but as the frontier posts became better supplied and with more amenities, some officers arranged for their wives and families to join them. The presence of women in the popu

- lation had a ‘quieting’ effect on the otherwise unbridled individualism of the men. Still, army slang was unique and colorful and in many ways reflected the life and passions of each branch of service. Here is a sampling of words and phrases Pvt. Anson Losey would have heard and learned as he made the transition from civilian to cavalryman.           Bounty of the vegetable  gardens at Assiniboine, M.T.  Produce like this was

grown wherever  conditions permitted to augment the dreary army diet.

Alcoholics . . . . . . . .    ‘Old Bummers’

‘Pumpkin Roller” or “Mule Killer’ Ball and Chain . . . .Army Carbine           . . . . . .

‘Uncle Sam’s Watch and Chain’ Broth . . . . . . . . . . . .

‘Goose Wine’ Bugler . . . . . . . . . . .

‘Wind  Jammer’ Career Officer . . . . .     ‘Old File’

Cavalry‘Cavy’ Cartridge Box  . . . . .       . . . . . . . . . . .

‘Knitting Bag’ Colt Revolver  . . . . .

‘Peacemaker’, ‘Six Shooter’ or ‘Skull Buster’ Cook . . . . . . . . . . . .          ‘Slum Burner’

Desertion‘Grand Bounce’ or ‘French Leave’ Fugitive . . . . . . . . . .            . . . . . . . . .

‘Walking Draft’ Hardtack . . . . . . . . .

‘Uncle Sam’s Seed Cake’ Horses . . . . . . . . . . .

‘Windsuckers’ Hot Fight . . . . . . . . .

‘Wrangle’ Hot Coffee . . . . . . . .                               ‘Skall Jaw’

Indian‘Mr. Lo’ New Lieutenant . . . .        ‘Shavetail’         . . . . . . . . . . . .

‘Dog Robber’ Poor Rider . . . . . . . .Officer’s Orderly                                        . . . .

‘Heavy’

Spring Deserter        ‘Snow Bird’ Saloon . . . . . . . . . . .                      ‘Guilded Slaughterhouse’        . . . . .

Thunderstorm        ‘Dron Out’

Whiskey ‘Coffin Varnish’ or ‘Little drop of the Creature’     . . . . . .

Not surprisingly, ‘Stable duty’ or care of a trooper’s mount, consumed a large part of the daily routine. To begin with, horses were to be groomed at least 1                                                    1/2 to 2 hours


when heated. 121  The animals’ feet were inspected daily and reshod monthly. Feed was

prepared with great care and fed frequently, in small quantities. Bran-mush and salt were given once a week. Stables were kept thoroughly ‘policed’, “free from smells and well whitewashed” while feed-boxes were to be washed with vinegar and water weekly. A sharp eye was to be kept for any signs of disease or infections.

122  The cavalry horse was groomed twice a day. He was led to a picket line where each morning and a commissioned officer would oversee the important function. Horse grooming was a highly structured procedure. The implements involved were the curry-comb, brush, wisp, sponge and linen rubber or grainsack towel.

123  The brushing was done working from head to tail, first on the off side (right) then the near side. Following this, a wisp hay was used to finish. If the horse was in winter coat, the curry-comb was used of the brush. In either case the coat was then given a finishing with the rubber cloth while a damp sponge was used to cleanse eyes, nostrils and anus.

124  As part of foot care, the horse’s feet were stuffed with wet clay or cow manure once a week to them from becoming brittle.                                         125 

Stable duty was considered to be one of the most important functions in the Officers had to ensure that horses were properly cared for and maintained, otherwise enlisted men not familiar with animal husbandry practices would neglect them and the effectiveness of the force reduced accordingly. The importance of cleanliness and sanita

- tion in this aspect of duty was emphasized by the use of white stable apparel worn the men.

 

 

 

 

 

H O M E   S W E E T   H O M E

 

A          lthough better built, barracks of the 1880’s were still spartan in

function and appearance. The main features of enlisted men’s quarters were bunk, mattress, foot locker, wood heater, arms storage racks, and oil lamps The barracks at Fort Assiniboine and elsewhere were spacious and well heated. Additional items could include wall-mounted storage shelves, a few chairs, with perhaps a games area where dart board, billiard table and a few books provided off-duty relaxation.

Article 79 of ‘Army Regs’ details the responsibility of the Quartermaster’s (Q. Department with respect to “barracks, quarters, and furniture”.

126  Furniture was apt to be sparse in outlying army establishments and the post Q.M. was given discretion in providing a few essentials. Where transport to an army post was by means of government wagons alone, the Q.M. was, on approval of the commanding officer, able to “cause plain wooden furniture such as bedsteads, tables, desks, benches, wardrobes, etc. to be made...” from spare lumber and freight boxes not needed for other purposes.   lockers, for storage of the dress uniform and extra clothing and measuring 10 by 12 by inches, were a mandatory, permanent fixture provided by the quartermaster. Also to be supplied were “plain substantial wooden chairs” at the rate of one for each non-commis

- sioned officer above the rank of Corporal and six for every 12 enlisted men.     127

Time available for relaxation in barracks to enlisted men was not abundant.  soldier’s day began at first light with the sound of ‘reveille’. From that moment ‘taps’ was sounded ordering lights out, all activities were announced through the sound of bugle calls. There are no less than 75 separate ‘Trumpet Signals’ given in Appleton’s


bugle. More than a dozen bugle calls were heard on a daily basis.   A morning gun

(cannon) was usually fired on the first note of ‘reveille’ and an evening gun on the last note of ‘retreat’.128  An officer’s wife once observed the fact that “...We lived, ate and slept by bugle calls”. Typically the day began at 5:30 a.m. to the sound of ‘Reveille’ followed by Drill or Stables at 6:15, Fatigue Duty at 7:30, Guard Mount at 8:30, afternoon Fatigue Duty at 1:00, Drill or Stables again at 4:30, and Taps at 8:15 p.m..

129  Reporting late for any of these functions would surely warrant a term in the guard house or worse. Mess was taken three times a day following morning stables, at noon, and after drill or fatigue duty. Evening Stables would be the final task of the day for cavalrymen.

Fatigue duty consumed the greater part of the day as men were assigned a variety of labors on and off post. These might include road and bridge building, telegraph line repair, woodcutting, escort duty, hauling water, cutting ice, policing stables and other buildings as well as weeding gardens and parade ground, and garbage disposal. Many enlisted men complained of the hard work and long hours saying they felt little more than slaves. Proof of their opinion lies in the fact that some of these fatigue duties such as woodcutting were also assigned as punishment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Troopers convicted of minor offenses spent nights in the guard house and performed fatigue duty under guard. Wood cutting was both a regular duty and a punishment in the frontier army, making discipline difficult.

Leisure time activity on frontier posts was also somewhat improved over what it was earlier. For the most part, diversions were simple, being comprised of cards or other games played in barracks quarters. Post commanders however, encouraged recreation in the form of hunting and fishing to supplement army diet as well as to improve morale.  Parties and ‘theatrics’ were occasionally held but officers and men kept separate func

- tions. Always in short supply, women made dances memorable and none ever lacked a dance partner. Single women were especially popular and many officers complained that it was impossible to keep servant girls since they were soon swept away and married by the men. In an effort to solve this problem, officers’ wives of Fort Abraham Lincoln requested Eastern employment agencies send out the homeliest girls they could find.  They did and all were married within two months proving that beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder!


post sutler’s store where small taverns were usually found. There the social skills of

men could be nurtured with small amounts of ‘lubrication’. However in 1881, the year of Anson’s enlistment, the army adopted a policy which prohibited the sale of spirits within post limits. This in turn, gave rise to the establishment of thriving off-post taverns and brothels known as ‘hog ranches’. If drinking was a problem before, it now became epidemic. Not only did outside competition result in cheaper booze, men were soon drinking more than ever and rates of venereal disease increased in the 1880’s to some eight percent among all soldiers.            131

It is perhaps surprising that the U.S. soldier of the late 1800’s could afford any The pay scale for a private such as Anson Losey, was $13 per month down from month in 1871. This amounted to $780 per year. As employees of the U.S. government, soldiers were paid in paper currency which, on the frontier, might be discounted between 15 and 40 percent because it first had to be converted to gold or silver to be                                                                  132

A pay increase upon re-enlistment of $1 per month after 3 years, $2 per month after years and $3 per month after 5 years service could hardly be viewed as incentive.  enlistment occurred within 30 days however, a soldier was entitled to ‘longevity pay’ the rate of $2 per month for 5 years, $3 per month for 10 years and $4 per month years of service. In addition a further $1 per month was paid for each successive

- ment.133  A further increase of $2 per month was paid if a soldier had received the of a ‘Certificate of Merit’.

On the other side of the ledger were expenses that would invariably include services company laundress, clothing replacement in excess of regulation issue, tobacco, purchase of sundries from the post trader or quartermaster’s department, fines and any damage to arms or other ‘public property’. Uniform alterations by company tailors was another payment obligation by the soldier, payable at least once every three months. Alteration charges included $6 for coats, $1 for blouses and $3 for pants.                                                                                                 134  And finally, the

121/2 ¢ per month deduction for support of the ‘Old Soldier’s Home’ in Washington, D

135  Available upon discharge was a travel allowance given to assist a soldier in returning his home from the frontier. This perk however, was only active if the discharge occurred prior to the end of the enlistment term. A soldier could forfeit this allowance for use credit against his accumulated debt. This allowance was comprised of one day’s pay plus subsistance (unspecified) for every 20 miles distance between the place of discharge and that of enlistment. If Anson enlisted at Fort Assiniboine itself he would have had no allowance, whereas if he was recruited in Crookston or somewhere in between, he would have been able to return at U.S. government expense.

As meagre as the Army pay scale might appear, it was a form of relief for

men, especially during periods of personal or national economic hardship. Some transient individuals used the Army as a wintering ground where they drew pay and rations during the cold months only to desert in the spring, usually taking with them government prop

- erty. The arms, horse and equipment thus acquired could bring between $150 to $300 on the frontier.

(I have in my personal collection, a Colt Single Action Army Revolver issued a soldier in the 3rd U.S. Cavalry who subsequently deserted even after receiving

‘Letter of Commendation’ for his actions at the Battle of Rosebud Creek on June

1876. The “U.S.” property marks have been deliberately filed off, apparently to avoid detection and possible prosecution, providing a grim reminder of those tumultuous years of the Indian Wars.)


A          s noted earlier, Fort Assiniboine was established expressly to

maintain a military presence in the event that Sioux Indians, recently settled on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, became a threat to peaceful settle

- ment and secondly, to await the expected return of Sitting Bull and his people to the United States. There were also other problems. There were a number of tribes over which the U.S. had little or no jurisdiction, which ranged over the country straddling

the U.S./Canadian border. These were Assiniboine, Gros Ventre, Plains Cree, Piegan, Sarcee, Blood, Blackfoot and Metis; the latter being mentioned specifically in Pvt. Losey’s military pension records file.

136  Many of these groups engaged in petty hostilities against one another as the well as plundering of settlers, stock stealing and the illicit trade in arms and whiskey.

Horse stealing among the Plains Indian was a longstanding cultural activity. Akin to war games of  today, it was a practice which developed stealth, endurance, cunning and camaraderie within the warrior society. Horses stolen in Canada could be sold or traded to the Americans and vice-versa. The international boundary in many cases provided immunity to apprehension and prosecution. The Blackfeet in particular were still largely free agents in the performance of this activity. Curbing the theft of stock was one of the main objectives of patrols conducted by the Montana Battalion at Fort Assiniboine.

The Horse in Blackfoot Culture, details the complex structure of a Blackfoot horse-raiding party and will serve to provide an interesting background against which the Montana Battalion patrols were conducted.   John Ewers’ classic study

137  To begin, membership in the raiding parties was voluntary. Not all young men were the adventurous type. Some were lazy while others might be discouraged by their families from participating in this dangerous pastime. Men of poor familes were offered an opportunity to improve both social and economic status by means of a successful raid. Most participants therefore were poor and ranged in age from their late teens to early twenties. In rare instances an older man might lead the party ranging from 4 to 12 men. However a raiding party could consist of a individual or as many as 50 men.

The leader was the key figure in these expeditions and was usually experienced in all aspects of the activity.  A leader could form a raiding party by selecting certain friends to join him and vice-versa. A drum ceremony held the night before setting out announced their intentions and might draw additional members. Appropriate war songs were sung as the group moved about camp receiving gifts of food and moccasins for the endeavor.  One song included the lyrics “Girl I love, don’t worry about me. I’ll be eating berries coming home”, meaning perhaps that the raid would be so successful as to allow a lei    -

surely return without concern for their enemies’ pursuit.

Horse raiders carried no shields, lances or war clubs. Their weapons were bows and arrows, guns and knives. Each carried a pack containing extra moccasins, a sewing kit, rawhide rope, pipe and tobacco and his personal war medicine. This in turn was rolled up in a blanket, rawhide or canvas sheet and carried on the back. Food was contained in a rectangular rawhide bag with a shoulder strap not unlike the cavalryman’s haversack.

Traditionally, horse-raiding parties travelled both on foot and by horseback but the former was preferred. Foot travel made it easier for men to conceal themselves, especially raiding into enemy territory. In later years when raiders had to evade white authorities, they travelled mounted. This practice would ordinarily reduce travel time by one half.  While a foot party could average 25 miles per day in good weather, mounted riders could average 50 miles.


Then they became more cautious, moving only at night. When they were within striking

distance, a ‘war lodge’ was constructed in a concealed, wooded area. Logs were cut and used to build a framework which was covered with brush to conceal their presence, provide protection in case of attack, and to serve as base camp for use in scouting other preparations. Scouting was conducted by a small number of picked men in order locate their target. To avoid discovery by enemy hunting or war parties, the scouts wolf skins to help conceal them from sight. Moving cautiously, they examined the ground for evidence of recent tracks which would lead them to their prey.

Once the enemy camp was located, the scouts studied it to determine its size number of horses and men. Then returning quickly to base camp, plans for the attack were finalized and the party made ready. During the scout, men remaining in camp hunted and prepared food for the return trip. The whole party then advanced to a

- tion from which the enemy camp could be observed. The leader then dictated the plan of attack.

Shortly before the daybreak attack, each man retrieved his war medicine and his sacred song before painting his body and donning personal charms and amulets. No weapons were carried except knives with which to cut the horses free from picket lines Only the most experienced of the party were taken directly into the camp. These rubbed their bodies with fresh poplar bark which is said to have calmed the animals disguising their scent. The balance of the raiders remained nearby to lead the horses to the base camp. As each man cut the picket lines and led away as many animals was able, each was careful to stay close to the one he thought to be the fastest in discovery and the need for a quick getaway.

Once all the horses, usually 40 to 60 head, were in hand the raiders rapidly

for home in order to achieve as much distance as possible before being discovered.  the first stretch of their retreat, the men rode without breechclouts to prevent blistering of their skin as they rode two to three days nonstop, changing mounts constantly as horses tired. If a very good horse tired and could not keep up, it was sometimes prevent it from being recovered. The horses were distributed at the first safe resting place If equal shares had been agreed upon in advance, the leader made his selection first,

- lowed by the others according to the amount of risk each faced during the raid.

If a raid was successful and the men returned safely, they would stop near home dress and decorate themselves and their horses before making a grand entry. The horses thus acquired were further distributed to home village members depending on their needs, but most often to relatives. People who received horses were expected to help equip the next raid. Men who gave away all their captured horses achieved enhanced social status which could move them toward future leadership roles in the tribe.

The act of indians stealing horses from other indians had not posed any problem for the authorities of the United States prior to white settlement and the place

- ment of tribes on government-controlled reservations. Theft from indians settled on reserves as well as from an increasing white population, gave cause for grievances which had to be investigated. Few areas on the frontier of the 1880’s had any established form law and order. Where justice was dispensed by angry citizens, it was often misguided sometimes victimized the innocent. Thus it became the duty of the frontier army to act a kind of mobile police force in order to keep the peace and prevent acts of and violence. This was not a simple undertaking as there were no clearcut boundaries between victims and offenders. Many thefts were conducted in revenge for prior losses.


This night scene by C.M. Russell (1901) entitled “The Horse Thieves” depicts renowned Piegan horse

raider White Quiver returning by moonlight to the Teton River country with ponies taken from the Crows. One horse stolen by White Quiver from Crow Chief Plenty Coups, was later acquired by Russell and ridden by him for nearly 25 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If an indian stole a horse, he could expect to have his stolen in return. With the arrival

of white farmers and ranchers, there appeared a new player in this age-old contest but the rules had changed. If an indian got caught with horses stolen from a white man, he had to give them back! Worse yet, if he took stock from a particular rancher, the injured party retaliated by taking horses from any indian he encountered. The murder of innocent indians was often justified by this same logic.

A single example from this area of conflict will illustrate the ethical turmoil experienced by all sides during this period. Following the signing of the Blackfoot Treaty of 1877, bands of the tribes allied to the Blackfoot Confederacy (Blackfoot, Blood, Piegan and Sarcee) began the process of selecting and settling on reserve land in Canada. Some factions, notably younger men who had not been given the opporturnity to prove themselves in the ‘arts of manhood’, chose to pursue a course involving war and horse raids. Horse stealing among the Blackfoot in the late 19th century was aimed chiefly at the Crow tribes of western Montana. 


are returning to Canada after visiting friends and relatives in Montana. The Bloods who

had also wintered there were not in a hurry. They lingered along the way, visiting

and even drawing rations from the American government before continuing on to hunt in the foothills. Further south, a number of young warriors stayed behind to revenge the of horses run off by white men during the winter. Late in May as the snow lingered in the deepest shaded coulees, the party of Bloods scouted ranches along the Musselshell for horses. Finding a suitable target operated by a white rancher who had allegedly stealing horses from the indians, they made a night raid.     138

By the time the rancher, whose name has not been recorded, discovered

loss, the raiders were well on their way to the international boundary into Canada Accompanied by two men described as ‘indian fighters’ the owner soon discovered the raider’s trail and the fact that they were headed for the Blood Reserve on the River near Fort Macleod, a Northwest Mounted Police post. The party thus made directly for the post to file a complaint. There the commander assigned none other than Inspector Francis Dickens, son of the famed author, Charles Dickens, to investigate the reported theft.

Dickens, who was not renowned for his ability as a policeman (he was later to resign) made no effort to verify the claim of the rancher. Selecting a sergeant spoke Blackfoot and a constable to accompany him, Dickens and his party rode the distance to the camp of Chief Red Crow of the Blood tribe and demanded return of stolen horses. Whether or not Red Crow even knew of the raid is unclear but he was about the fact that many Blood horses had been stolen by whites during the winter nothing was being done to recover them! He therefore refused to cooperate.

Left to their own devices, Dickens, the interpreter Sgt. Spicer, the constable and the Montanans began a search of the camps strung out along the river, recovering 14 of ‘stolen’ animals. While waiting for still other horses to be returned, a warrior named Many Spotted Horses began to harangue the young warriors not to return any more animals This stirred the camp and when another man named Flying Chief claimed that one the rancher’s party had actually stolen horses from a Blood Indian named Bull Back during the winter, it looked as though violence would erupt at any moment. White a minor chief, then stepped forward and ordered his followers to seize the trespassers! Dickens immediately ordered his party to mount and prepare to leave in order to diffuse a deadly escalation. Sgt. Spicer remained behind and speaking in Blackfoot, tried to warn the indians of the possible consequences if they resorted to violence. Dickens, seeing this as an opportunity, used the momentary diversion to gather his party and the stolen horses and made a rapid retreat to Fort Macleod.

This episode did little to alleviate the tension between indians and whites with to the horse issue. If anything, the Bloods were emboldened by the events of that for in August of the same year, Blood Indian One Spot announced ... “We are going the Buffalo. The whites must be stronger than we are to turn us back, and if that then we will camp along the boundary line and steal every horse and drive off head of stock that crosses until the whites allow us in the country which belongs to 139  One month later, Pvt. Anson Losey took his Oath of Allegiance on the very of this continuing menace.


N othing reflects the regimented efficiency of the army as does the morning routine of the cavalry under marching orders;

breaking camp, saddled, fed and on the trail in exactly 1

1/4 hours everyday for weeks or

even months. An 8th Cavalry trooper recorded this hectic but precise schedule during a four-month march in 1888.                                         140

 

 

TIME: BUGLE CALL: DUTY:

4:45 AM ‘Assembly’                           The men rolled out of their blankets and got moving;

4:55 AM ‘Reveille’                                Troops came to order, saddled horses

and ‘Stables’ and harnessed mules;

5:00 AM ‘Mess’                          The men had a half hour to prepare a meal, perhaps

the most relaxed spell in their morning’s routine;

5:30 AM ‘The General’ The busiest time of all, when the troops struck tents

(Strike Camp)               and stored equipment;

5:45 AM ‘Boots & Saddles’  Cavalrymen mounted their horses;

5:55 AM ‘Assembly’                           The entire column assembled in the line of march;

6:00 AM   ‘Forward’                            The column moved forward in march formation.

 

 

Rarely was ‘reveille’ sounded before daylight as it was believed that the horses rested best from midnight until dawn. The average march was from 15 to 20 miles per day although under ‘forced march’ this distance might be doubled. Generally, marching dis

- tances were much shorter during the first few days in order to condition horses new to the service. The well-being of the horses was always paramount and commanders were admonished to bear in mind that “... the efficiency of the cavalry depends almost entirely upon the condition of the horses ... (and) ... must, therefore be nursed with great care, in order that they may endure the utmost fatigue when emergencies demand it.”       141

Preceding a marching column were work parties called ‘pioneers’ who located the best passage, removing obstacles and building sections of road if necessary. The column was usually led by cavalry followed by infantry, with wheeled vehicles last. Senior officers rode in front and no one could advance ahead of them without orders.  March was by column of fours wherever possible but this formation could be expanded or contracted, depending upon terrain. Among the vehicles, artillery led, followed by the supply train with ambulance wagons last.

                                           142  During the march precautions were taken against sur- prise by the enemy by establishing an advance guard and throwing out flankers to warn the column of danger.  In small commands or patrols not in campaign, companies could be spaced at forty to fifty yards apart. After the first hour of march, a halt of five to ten minutes was made to check equipment and tighten girths. Companies were always dis

- mounted in column by their captains. If good grazing was available, captains first led their companies at an angle from the road before dismounting. Horses were always encour

- aged to graze as often as possible enroute as well as during the twenty to forty-five minute noon break.             143


their horses for 20 to 40 minutes every two or three hours. The animals were always

over steep ground and downhill to save their backs. When the sound of ‘water call’ heard, the troops dismounted and unbitted their horses while officers supervised their watering. No horse was permitted to water unless all horses were watered. Resuming the march, company platoon leaders were responsible for keeping the men from ‘lounging’ in their saddles so as not to chafe their horses’ backs. This was a problem particularly in rear of the column away from the eyes of command. Men who failed to sit up on their horses were required to dismount and lead them. No man was allowed to the ranks for any purpose while mounted.                                       144

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For years army troopers suffered from physical and medical hardships resulting largely from ignorance until an army surgeon published “The Soldier’s Handbook” as a means of avoiding the common “campaign miseries”.

As the end of the day’s march approached, a staff officer or his appointee was forward to select a site for the evening camp. In enemy territory, he was accompanied an escort. When the animals were to be fed by grazing, camp was made early. If was grass but no water, the horses had to be watered within one hour of the last water was carried forward for the men.

Camping while on march was no less regimented than any other sphere of life the army. Camp layout was to conform to strict guidelines and in dangerous country, precautions were taken to secure the safety of the camp and to prevent surprise attack Usually the battalion was drawn up in a line before dismounting. After unsaddling, the


saddle blanket over the equipment to dry. A picket line was then stretched between posts

or along the ground and the horses tethered in halter one yard apart. If the picket line was on the ground, they were tethered with a 30 inch strap fastened to the left forefoot.                                      145 

The tents of the men were pitched 15 yards in front of the picket line leaving unobstructed intervals between companies. The tent of the First Sergeant was on the right, kitchens in a line in front of the tents and sinks in front of the kitchens. Arms and equipment were kept in the tents of the men. Beginning 30 yards to the rear of the enlisted men were the tents of commissioned and non-commissioned officers, staff and field officers and brigade commander in order of ascending rank. The arrangement of all other elements was exactly the same as for the men.            146

    Cavalry Tacticsalso details the manner in which a how a regiment camps when arranged by battalion. As always, the camp was to be situ

- ated near fuel, water and the road of march, with good drainage and ample grass. Tents were to be ditched if possible and dried grass or leaves gathered to raise the beds of the men above ground. Regulations were very clear regarding the need for cleanliness and proper food preparation in the prevention of ‘camp diseases’.

147  Camp was never to be made within musket shot of brush or other cover for the enemy. In case of a night alarm, men designated from each company were ordered to see to the horses. Grazing of horses in enemy territory required the presence of an officer. In case of a stampede, men were advised to take chase with the fastest horses available but that old veteran horses could sometimes be stopped by the bugler sounding Stable-call!       148

It is important to understand the differences between a camp, and a bivouac. When a regiment of cavalry bivouacs, it does so in battle order in rear of ground to be occupied.  The deployment is by platoon instead of company and no tents are pitched, although shelters for the men may be constructed. The horses of each platoon are fastened in a row, the same as for camps but in enemy territory they remain saddled all night with girths slackened. Arms are stacked in the rear of each row of horses while sabres with bridles hung on them are leaned against the stacks. Each platoon is allowed a fire, 20 yards to the left of the row of horses. The primary function of the bivouac is to maintain a condition of readiness so that  “... platoons can take up a line of battle freely to the front or rear”149

Whether choosing a camp location, finding and securing a line of march, or scouting for the enemy, the key to success was experienced and reliable reconnaissance. Properly executed, reconnaissance is the best means to ensure the comfort, safety and success of an army on the move. Officers, civilians and even indian scouts were often required to reconnoiter in areas unfamiliar to a command operating in the field. It is undoubtedly most important when the objective is to locate and engage an enemy. Normally recon

- naissances are comprised of small parties under the direct orders of the commander. They can involve either cavalry or infantry but on the plains usually the former. Reconnaissance in this context is a daily activity but which never takes place “... at the same hour or by the same route”.150  In a word, its duties were “...to march with caution; to avoid fight

- ing; and see, if possible, without being seen ...” .  This was accomplished by sending out well-mounted men ahead of an advanced guard and on the party flanks.

Before dawn, the scouts and advanced guard moved out close together, becoming further separated as daylight improved. The party would proceed silently at a walk, stop

- ping frequently to listen. No two men were ever to enter a defile (cañon) or mount a hill together, to ensure that if one were killed the other could return to report. As a precau

- tion horses that neighed were kept in the rear, and parties were warned never to enter a woods, canyon, village or enclosure until scouts had fully investigated. A variation of


to real action. The objective was to ascertain with absolute certainty the details of enemy

strength and position. Reconnaissance of this kind was to be supported by field sketches along with the report. In the context of our indian wars, a forced reconnaissance could provide additional benefits by driving in enemy scouts and advanced war parties thus cre                                                                                                                 -

ating a short-term offensive advantage. 

151  Of course none of this occurred in a vacuum,

for in indian country the enemy was also watching!

 

 

 

 

 

‘ L’   T R O O P   O N   P A T R O L 

 

A          nson Losey had been a private in the 2nd Regiment of U.S.

Cavalry for only five weeks when Troop ‘L’, Norwood’s Company, was ordered into the field to conduct reconnaissance along the U.S.-Canada border north of Fort Assiniboine. Canadian Cree and Blackfeet Indians were becoming increasingly bold in their horse-raiding activities south of the international line. These indians were frequent visitors to the Cypress Hills area, good cover for horse thieves returning from raids, often stopping near the Mounted Police post of Fort Walsh. Nearby to the east was Wood Mountain and to the south the Sweet Grass Hills, sometimes referred to as Three Butes or Beaver Creek. Together these three geographical features represented the only real topographic relief in this otherwise featureless plains region. The immediate mandate of the Montana Battalion was to put an end to the raids, which served to perpetuate the old patterns of rivalry between native groups, and to anger white farmers and ranchers caught in the middle.

While Anson might have been somewhat apprehensive about going out on patrol soon, his excitement at the prospect of seeing and perhaps even fighting these as yet tamed Plains Indians must have challenged any sense of caution. We can assume, given his farm upbringing, that being on the back of a horse for days and posssibly weeks time would not be a hardship. That fact that he was in the company of battle-hardened indian fighters who had campaigned throughout the 1870’s against very capable Sioux, Cheyenne and Nez Perce warriors, would have alleviated any real fear that harm might come to him. What might well have caused him concern, however, was the fact that had been given very little opportunity to acquire any confidence with the firearms issued as part of equipment received upon enlistment. For in 1881, the still frugal U.S.  Department had decreed that only 20 rounds per month, divided between carbine and revolver, would be allowed for target practice.

152  The idea that regular target practice could improve the combat efficiency of the force would not be put into effect until late 1880’s when a U.S. Army Marksmanship Program was initiated. By then almost all the conflict in the western theatre had ended.

At full strength Company ‘L’ numbered about 20 men including Captain Norwood his First Sergeant. Riding north toward the Canadian border, these men would be thank

- ful that the extreme heat of late summer, where the mean temperature averages nearly

70º F (20º C) and daytime highs can exceed 100º F (38º C), had passed. The

blast of daytime winds could cause dehydration of both man and beast unless water was carefully managed or rationed. The silent vastness of the northwestern plains could not have failed to impress our young recruit who was used to the pleasantly wooded, well-watered mid-west.  Anson was probably also conscious that he might be among the last white men who could say they saw the high plains before it was tamed. The


MAP AREA          MONTANA       SKIRMISHES


between Fort Assiniboine and the border, a distance of less than 40 miles.

Norwood’s Company had in tow, a detachment of 18th Infantry, soldiers the referred to as the “walks-a-heap” men. Their progress would have been necessarily slow, horses held at a walk so that the foot soldiers could keep up. They had a hard there was apparently no big hurry to reach it. Bands  of Metis had established winter in the vicinity of Beaver Creek where a total of 30 log cabins had been constructed.  these camps men would hunt, trap and trade with passing bands of indians.

153  Unlike the native indians who inhabited the Montana border region, the Metis and their families were not considered ‘indigenous’ so were denied the free access to traditional hunting grounds on the American side. This was the group the soldiers were looking for.

The fact that these camps were comprised of log shelters tells us that they were in areas where such materials were naturally available. This would most likely be the Beaver Creek/Sweetgrass Hills region where timbered coulees could be relied on as a supply of firewood and building logs. With a mean January temperature of only 0º

(-18º C) and extremes of -40 to -50º F (-40 to -46º C), fuel for heat was always consideration.

One by one forward reconnaissance parties of ‘L’ Company located these camps.  does not appear to have been any direct conflict and army reports say only that camps of Crees and ‘half-breeds’ were pushed northward across the border and that all 30 log cabins were put to the torch. This was one supply source of weapons, powder ammunition available to the indians through trade that would no longer be of concern U.S. authorities. Trading of these commodities had been outright prohibited following the Little Bighorn disaster, a rule Canadian traders were not obliged to obey. A total of 18 had been consumed in the course of this action during which the little force covered total of 237 miles.

154  All were back at Fort Assiniboine by October 26th, having averaged 13 miles per day. The excitement experienced by Anson during this initiation would have to suffice for the next few weeks as winter settled in and the monotony of garrison became the daily routine.

In early December, Norwood’s Company was again made ready for march. This the mission would be less dangerous but a welcome break for the men nonetheless.  destination was Fort Maginnis, which lay beyond the Missouri River, some 175 miles to the south/southeast of ‘L’ Company headquarters. Their mission would be to trail herd 50


ers and breeders in the Judith Basin. Fort Maginnis was a brand new post and the last

to be built in Montana. Situated on the eastern slopes of the Judith Mountains, its major purpose was to protect and encourage settlement in the region and to patrol the Caroll Road, a supply route between Caroll and Helena. The post was closed in 1890 after only ten years of operation.      155 

Army records indicate that the excursion to and from Fort Maginnis covered 350 miles which suggests that Anson’s troop did not travel directly cross-country to reach its desti

- nation. Their route more than likely followed established military supply routes; first to Big Sandy where it joined the Judith Trail angling off to the southeast, crossing the Missouri and continuing toward the Judith Mountains where, turning south, they rode along the foothills to a low pass near present Maiden, MT.  Here the trail turned east passing through the Judiths a short distance to Fort Maginnis. Later the route may have been altered after Rocky Point Cantonment was established (1881) some ten miles upstream from Caroll and garrisoned by a detachment of 18th Infantry to protect a post office and the property of a Helena merchant. 156   The horses all with fresh “U.S.” brands on their shoulders, were apparently returned to headquarters base at Fort Assiniboine without incident. Barring any significant delays enroute, the trip would have taken between 10 and 14 days, although winter camping conditions might have made it seem a lot longer!

Back at Fort Assiniboine, life resumed its predictable nature for the garrisoned men until March, 1882 when Troop ‘L’ received word from their commander that they should prepare for field duty. Once again members of the 18th Infantry under Captain Jacob Kline would accompany Anson’s 20 man troop.

157  Reports of Canadian Cree Indians having again crossed the “Medicine Line” had reached the garrison and their orders were to locate and push them back across the border. Although potentially milder weather might have made this patrol less rigorous than the one back in December, there could still be plenty of snowcover and always the potential of a severe Montana blizzard. There is little doubt that these men had also packed their buffalo coats in case the weather became their enemy. Moving north, the force covered a total of about 300 miles, consuming perhaps three weeks without finding any trace of indians. No further reports regarding the movement of Crees were received, spring and early summer passing without incident.

In late June, orders were received for Troop ‘L’ to ready their equipment for an extended march, this time far to the east of their usual patrols. The cavalrymen in Troops ‘F’, ‘G’ and ‘H’ must have been envious as they watched Norwood’s Company ride through the gates, leaving them behind to tend gardens, stables and other mundane duties. Anson now had nine months of service under his belt. He could call by name, all of the men in his company and was by now well acquainted with his mount, having personally fed and groomed him for upwards of 180 days. We might wonder what he had chosen to name his horse if he’d had the privilege. He was no longer a ‘green horn’ and his lofty vantage point from atop his mount may have seemed like his natural place in the world. If he got sore from hours in the McClellan saddle a few months earlier, he was now thoroughly conditioned to the motion. And whereas his 5 foot, 4 inch stature had previously caused him to look up at men, he could now look down on them. He was part of something larger than he’d ever known and except for unforeseen circumstances, he might have spent the rest of his active life in the army. The career of ‘Cavalryman’ would have been well suited to someone as hard bitten by the wanderlust as Anson. There have always been men who found being married to the Army was preferable to that other domestic arrangement. Comfortable and confident, he may have wiled away the hours in marching order, reciting one of the many rhyming rules of horsemanship men learned to help them


‘Army Regs’:

The Golden Rule

Up the hill gallop me not

Down the hill trot me not

158    On the plain spare me not In the stable forget me not. 

 

Troop ‘L’ would have travelled along the supply route known as the “Minnesota Road” which paralleled the Milk River, toward the eastern destination of Medicine Lodge. Possibly no more than a landmark, this place no longer exists on any modern map

A chart of 1876 shows it just west of present day Saco, Montana on the south bank river. The distance between Medicine Lodge and headquarters was about 120 miles or roughly 5 to 7 days march. On July 9th, just a few days out, the advance guard band of Cree Indians. The pursuit that followed resulted in the capture of nine ponies 20 rifles        although apparently no indians were killed or captured.

160  It seems likely that the horses were  pack animals used to carry the captured arms.     159

From Medicine Lodge, Troop ‘L’ turned westward, retracing their route along the and then north toward the site of the raid on Metis camps in December, 1881.  Sweetgrass Hills, rising sharply from the surrounding plain, were a guidepost useful to all prairie travellers and particularly to those who might be driving stolen horses north across the boundary line. It also provided a good vantage point from which a raiding party determine whether or not they were being pursued!

The march from Medicine Lodge west to the Sweetgrass Hills is approximately miles, somewhat greater if the same route along Milk River was taken. How much recon

- naissance time might have been devoted to checking the hills is not known but this represents a sizeable piece of real estate covering at least half of Liberty County, which itself is 1,500 square miles. Finding nothing worth reporting, Troop ‘L’ again turned east on a cross-country route parallel to the international boundary. Approaching the region directly south of the Canadian Cypress Hills, the level plains begin to give to country broken by a series of northwest to southeast trending streams and coulees Rising in these hills and adjacent Wood Mountain where Sitting Bull and his band found refuge, these valleys provided routes through which a war or raiding party could pass without being seen. This would require careful reconnaissance to be sure the Crees weren’t lurking nearby. The first of these watercourses was called Woody Island Creek near present day Turner, Montana, followed by Cottonwood Creek near Loring, then Rock Creek now called White Water Creek, and finally Frenchman’s Creek which joins the Milk River opposite Medicine Lodge. When the patrol finally reached Milk River, having spent July through September combing the region and establishing a military presence, the men encamped until early October. No further action was reported.

The fall and winter of 1882-83 passed without incident but by early spring the Indians were back on the trail, raiding settlers along the Teton River west of Fort Military strength at that post had never been adequate to handle all of the complaints plagued the region, not the least of which was the illicit whiskey trade that emanated that infamous river settlement.

161  On April 14th, Troop ‘H’ of the 2nd Cavalry departed Fort Assiniboine under the command of Captain M.E. O’Brien, with the view of intercept

-

ing the Crees along their usual route through the Sweetgrass Hills. There they successfully captured 69 indians, 18 ponies, 3 (Red River) carts, 61 guns and 20 buffalo robes.


larger band of Crees also heading north toward the border. The following day, indian

scouts, most likely Crow, tracked the band across the border to the east end of Wild Horse Lake where they were fired upon. Norwood’s Company immediately attacked, stamped

-

ing the Cree’s ponies and scattering the indians. When the skirmish ended, two Crees and two horses lay dead, giving further proof that the men of Troop ‘L’ could use more target practice! What if any reaction the skirmish on the Canadian side of the border might have caused is unknown. The action at Wild Horse Lake has the distinction of being the last battle of the Indian Wars in Montana.

Following the skirmish at Wild Horse Lake, ‘L’ Troop was assigned detached duty at Camp Morris, Montana Territory where Anson remained from April 25th through July 3rd, 1883.163 Camp Morris was strategically placed on the very doorstep of the route habitu

-

ally utilized by the Cree in their movements across the border. Located at the head of Sage Creek near present day Whitlash, Montana, soldiers at Morris could control border traffic along the active northern flanks of the Sweet Grass Hills. The camp was easily supplied from stores at Fort Assiniboine, 75 miles to the southeast and was therefore not without all possible amenities. The strategy must have been successful since no action with the Indians was reported during this period.

Because the army’s Crow Indian scouts shared a wider range of contact than any one soldier could ever hope to achieve, there was much that could be learned by knowing them and listening to what they had to say. For example, the fact that their old enemy John ‘Crow Killer’ Johnson had recently wintered on the Milk River just north of their present location of Camp Morris would have been known to them. Even though Johnson had finally called an end to the blood feud with the Crows, no brave worth his war honors would have been so careless as to ignore his every move. The following story of Johnson’s only exploit in Canada might well have been heard by the men of the Second Cavalry as they sat around their fires at Morris.

In the fall of 1881 or ‘82, one of Johnson’s old trapping cronies by the name of Arkansas Pete had decided to build a large cabin on Milk River north of the line in what would eventually become the Province of Alberta. What he constructed could almost be termed a lodge for it comprised a large central room with four bunks arranged on either side of a very large fireplace with smaller adjoining rooms for storage of equipment and furs. It was perched on a low bluff back from the river with a wide view of the adjacent country.  Shortly after its completion Arkansas, they say, was bushwacked by a lone Assiniboine warrior as he read his Mormon bible from the ‘pew’ atop his horse as he did every Sunday. Pete was scalped and robbed of his stock and weapons, his remains left to the wolves.164  

John Johnson, following the advice of his longtime acquaintance Del Gue, had decided to join Pete in his new venture. He was a day too late. He quickly put together the events of the previous day and after burying what was left of Arkansas Pete, stayed one night before setting off to revenge his friend’s murder. The Assiniboine was now trailing five stolen horses which made a wide trail even a greenhorn could follow. On the second day out, Johnson caught up to the indian, catching him unaware as he cooked a supper of bannock over an open fire. The wiley old Crow Killer crept within a few feet of his quarry before saying “Kin I git invited for supper?”

165  The Assiniboine drew his knife whereupon Johnson, in his own true style, broke his arm, smashed him with a blow to the back of the neck, then launched him into the air with a powerful kick, blinded him with a firebrand, then broke his neck with a blow to the jaw. After pausing to catch his breath, Johnson then scalped the Assiniboine, ate his dinner and took his wolfskin coat. Having thus recovered all of Pete’s belongings including his scalp, the Crow Killer retraced his


In the spring the two men reburied the bones with the scalp of their friend on the

where he was killed, overlooking Milk River.        166

The fall of 1883 marks the last patrol of the northern Montana Plains for Pvt Losey. His service record shows that from July 3rd to August 14th, he was back with Fort garrison.

On that day in mid-August 1883, he rode through the fort gates across the familiar landscape for the last time, having been transferred to Fort Custer, Montana Territory for the remainder of his service.                     167

 

 

 

 

 

F I N A L   D A Y S   A T   F O R T   C U S T E R

 

F          ort Custer, named in memory of the famous ‘boy general’ George Armstrong Custer, was opened July 4th, 1877 under the

command of Lt. Col. George P. Buell of the 11th Infantry with four companies of the Cavalry.168  It was located on a bluff at the confluence of the Bighorn and Little Rivers, approximately 15 miles from the Custer battle site. Contemporary military opinion held that it was the finest cavalry post in the world. On December 8th, 1886 it was a U.S. Military Reserve.            169

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fort Custer, established July 4th, 1877, was the final posting for Pvt. Losey. Eventually  all of Company ‘L’ was transferred from Fort Assiniboine for duty at other military posts.

Crow Indians who had served as scouts for the army during the Sioux Wars 1870’s, were regular occupants of the fort. In 1890 an entire Company of Crow Indians was formed and designated Troop ‘L’ of the 1st U.S. Cavalry. Dressed and equipped the same as all other troops, these indian soldiers were frequently called upon to horse raids between Crow Indians and their old Blackfoot enemies. Not to be deterred, Blackfoot raiders once took the Crows’ horses while the troop was occupied role-playing as members of Pocahontas’ tribe in the play “Captain John Smith” inside the fort! 170


is it clear whether he was the only member of Troop ‘L’ to be transferred there. It is clear

however, that the Montana Battalion had outlived its usefulness at Fort Assiniboine, for in June of 1884, the balance of Anson’s Company was transferred to duty at Fort Coeur d’Alene, Idaho Territory.171  This included old friend and camp fellow Julius Lutz who, judging from his long army career (1884-1892), must have mastered both spoken and written English.172   In May of 1884 Julius and ‘L’ Troop, still under the command of Captain Randolph Norwood, escorted 150 Nez Perces Indians from Spokane Falls to Fort Spokane, Washington and were later charged with patrolling the Colville and Moses Indian Reservations where the very people he had engaged in battle back in the summer of 1877 now lived.

Ten days before Christmas 1883, Anson Losey suffered what Pvt. Harris H. Taylor of Troop ‘L’, 2nd U.S. Cavalry described as “epileptic convulsions”.

173  Records do not show what if any treatment he may have received as a result. A later record included in Anson’s army pension files indicates that on January 1st, 1884 he also suffered a “rupture and abscess” which was treated at quarters while at Fort Custer.

Only four months later in April, Anson suffered a second episode of epileptic convulsions which was witnessed by Pvt. Edourd M. Carter also of Troop ‘L’. Obviously Privates Losey, Harris and Carter were closely associated for them to be able to bear official witness to these attacks as they both did on  May 5th, 1884. Their statement was sworn before 1st Lt. Thorne Hank,                                                                    174

17th Infantry, Judge Advocate General, as evidence for a recommended medical dis -

charge.175

The Army Surgeon’s recommendation for a medical discharge on behalf of Anson reached Headquarters Department of Dakota at Fort Snelling, Minnesota on May 16, 1884 where it received a third endorsement by Surgeon G. Perrin, U.S.A. Medical Director.  The medical discharge itself only became official with the fourth and final endorsement signed by Brigadier General Alfred E. Terry’s Assistant Adjutant General on the same day. A copy was then forwarded to the Army Adjutant General’s Office as well as the Pension Office where it was received on May 31, 1884.    176

Having succeeded in obtaining approval for medical discharge, Anson’s commander at Fort Custer was obliged to issue a “Certificate of Disability For Discharge”. That document is included in Anson’s military service record file and provides further detail regarding his illness in a summary medical statement and bearing the actual signature of his Company Commander, Capt. Randolph Norwood.

 

“ =Disease= Epileptic Convulsions.I do not know if contracted in line of duty. Since joining Troop this man has been reported sick 33 days from the effects of Convulsions from June 1st to June 9th, 1882, sick with Intermittent Fever.

Total days sick 42 days.

Fort Custer, M.T.          177                         May 3rd, 1884 “ 

 

In a further statement, Assistant Surgeon C.E. Price declared Anson “...incapable of performing the duties of a soldier because of ...epileptic convulsions which render him unreliable as a soldier. It is not known that he was subject to them before entering the service. Degree of disability - one fourth (

1/4)”.  With this, the Certificate was signed by Colonel Edward Hatch, Commander, 2nd Regiment U.S. Cavalry becoming effective May 22, 1884.          178         Anson gave Bismarck, Dakota Territory as his forwarding postal address.


afflictions. Obviously sick, private citizen Anson Losey did not go very far from his former

home of Fort Custer. A summary of his activities following discharge in later pension records indicate that he spent the summer at ‘New Crow Agency’ from May through November 1884. 179  This was the U.S. Government Indian Agency established for the benefit and administration of the Crow Indian people who had been loyal allies to army during the Sioux conflicts. It is located near Hardin, Montana, just three miles north of the Custer Battlefield National Monument where it continues in operation to this day There was undoubtedly plenty of work available in its construction and Anson may have taken adventage of any temporary employment offered. Two and one half years in the army would probably have broadened his skills. The Agency was not without its own local color. Interestingly John ‘Crow Killer’ Johnson, having finally made peace with the Crow nation, had become a frequent visitor at Crow Agency where he enjoyed reminisc

- ing with his former enemies about the good old days of buffalo, scalps and murder! Anson ever had a chance meeting with the most infamous of Mountain Men, it would have been here.

For Anson’s part, his life on the Montana Plains came to an end sometime in 1884 when he decided to return to Minnesota. Because he was discharged prior to expiry of his five-year enlistment, he may have received a travel allowance from the army. The medical summary cited above, indicates that from New Crow Agency he went directly to St. Paul, Minnesota where he spent the next two years, perhaps stopping at Bismarck to collect mail that may have been forwarded from Fort Custer.

(Left) Certificate of Disability for Discharge for Pvt. Anson E. Losey

dated May 22, 1884 and signed by the Captain of ‘L’ Troop, Randolph

Norwood!* It cites “epileptic convulsions” as the principal cause

for discharge and shows Bismarck, D.T. as his forwarding address.

 

 

 

 

 

*

 

(Below)   Post hospital at Fort Custer where Pvt. Losey was treated  for

various afflictions including fever and convulstions. He was apparently still in

hospital at the time of discharge. The size of this facility is an indication of

the scale of sickness and injury among soldiers of the period.


A          very brief summary of Anson Losey’s later life after receiving a

medical discharge from the U.S. Army in 1884 is of interest in understanding the impact that 2

1/2 years of military service may have had on his health in old age. That Anson continued to live as a vital and productive man is evident in part by the fact that he eventually did marry, settle down and raise a family. Although his third marriage did finally end in divorce, his ability as a family man had seen a definite improvement.

Anson probably met his third wife Annie Forsberg during the first year after returning to Minnesota. She had immigrated with her parents Fredrik and Maria Forsberg from Sweden to settle in Minnesota in 1868. Their home at the time of the 1880 U.S. Federal Census was in Mamre Twp., Kandiyohi County, which is located approximately 85 miles due east of St. Paul. It is possible that Anson and Anna met in St. Paul where she may have moved to find work. In any event they were married on October 25th, 1885 just eleven months after Anson’s return to that state. She was 23 years old. Anson would have been interested to learn that his former commander, Capt. Randolph Norwood received a medical dis

- charge this same year. By 1887 Anson and Anna were residing in Superior, Douglas Co., Wisconsin where he is listed in the Superior City directory as a ‘carpenter’. In 1890 he appears in the Veterans Schedules for Selected States, still living in Superior. The family now included their first two daughters; Cornelia, born August 13, 1886 and Mabel, born March 11, 1889. Eva, their third daughter, was born January 8, 1892 in Washington, indi

- cating that sometime before this, the family left Superior and headed west.

We can imagine that Anson, having seen the wide openness of the western U.S. during his hitch in the army, had developed a yearning to share a part of that experience with his young family. Eight years later the family was settled as evidenced by the 1900 U.S.  census which lists Anson and Anna farming in Lake Bay, Pierce Co., Washington with two additional children; Anna, born September 6, 1893 and Blanche, born February 4, 1896.  It would appear that in all domestic matters, Anson would likely be out-voted six to one! The growing family was still intact ten years later as evidenced by the 1910 U.S. Census for Lake Bay, Pierce Co., Washington. Unfortunately however, records found in his army pension file show that he and Anna were divorced July 29th, 1910, only one month after this census was taken.

Turning to the U.S. Army Pension records for Anson E. Losey, we can refer to a docu -

ment entitled “Declaration for Original Invalid Pension” dated February 25, 1927. In this notarized sworn statement of his medical history while in the army, Anson reveals his subsequent whereabouts.  It reads as follows ...

“New Crow Agency from May to Nov. 1884. Then 2 yrs at St. Paul, one yr at Duluth,

7 yrs at Seattle and Tacoma, 7 yrs at Grays Harbor, Wash. and the remainder

of the time in California and Oregon.”  180

While the time frame presented here does not coincide precisely with that obtained from other sources, it does identify locations for further research. His occupation is listed variously as brickwork supervisor, coachman, light carpentry and cabinet maker, caretaker and ‘canvassing’.

Oddly, he did not mention farming. This document is also important in that it forwards his claim cited earlier that on January 1st, 1884 he “...  sustained a rupture and abscess from which he has suffered ever since.”  This injury does          181


sheds some doubt as to its validity. Nevertheless, beginning on that date in 1927, Anson

began to pursue the U.S. Pension Office for financial benefits. Since his struggle to so occupied a large part of the final months of his life, the contents of his U.S.  Pensions file will be examined in some detail.           182

Service pensions for U.S. soldiers who served in the numerous Indian Wars during course of American history did not exist until long after those conflicts had ended. U Army General Law allowed for disability pensions for all servicemen but the onus of proof that their claim originated from injury sustained during active duty lay with the claimant That all changed when Congress passed the Indian Wars Act of March 3rd, 1927 which recognized, for the first time, the sacrifices that were made by veterans of Indian from 1817 to 1898 inclusive. Upon application any veteran who had served for more than 30 days during a period of indian hostilities could receive between $20 and $50 month for the remainder of his natural life. This was not a particularly laudible act on part of the U.S. Government because by 1927 most of these veterans were deceased had very few years left.

According to U.S. military and pension files, Anson celebrated his 74th birthday on 27th, 1927. As will be shown, he was not in good health. His later correspondence the U.S. Bureau of Pensions indicates that one or more of his daughters were caring him. His care was likely attended by some financial hardship for on January 5th, 1927, Anson wrote to Mr. Winfield Scott (not the U.S. Army General), Commissioner of the Bureau, requesting forms and instruction for application of pension benefits available to service veterans. The Bureau responded on February 19th, 1927 and forwarded the nec

- essary forms which Anson duly filled out and returned. The claim was filed by the Division, Bureau of Pensions on March 2nd and on the 16th of April, the Commissioner wrote to Anson informing him that he would most likely qualifiy for pension benefits under the Indian Wars Act which did not require that disability be shown to be of origin. His enquiry regarding a disability pension stemming from service related injury under General Law would require additional documentation and those were explained in detail.

Other documents in Anson’s pension file show that his claim for benefits under General Law had been forwarded by the Bureau of Pensions to the U.S. War Department, Adjutant General’s Office for verification. The Bureau wanted information from medical records in the War Dept. that would show that he had indeed sustained a “rupture abscess on Jan. 1, 1884” which was treated at Fort Custer as alleged. A response to Bureau’s request of March 28th was received on April 2nd. The medical text contained therein is as follows:

  “Medical records show him treated from Dec. 17 to 26, 1881, interim fever (quot.); 

June 1 to 9, 1882, quot. int. fever; Aug. 2 to 25, 1882, abscess ischio rectal;

Oct. 22 to 25, 1882, contusion R. hand; Jan. 6 to 10, 1884, quotidian [daily] intermittent fever; from April 4 to 20, 1884, epileptic convulsion;

May 17 to 22, 1884, epileptic convulsions. Discharged May 22, 1884   ..........  183        

This report clearly shows that Anson was very ill and that whatever his disorder was comprised of a range of symptoms which began to manifest themselves within four


abscess reported both in his claim and in the medical report. Was this error simply the

failure of a 73 year old mind or was it an omission on the part of the post surgeon. We may never know but the discrepancy did not deter Anson in pursuit of his claim for dis                                                    -

ability benefits.

On April 23rd, 1927 Notary Public James K. Ross of Portland, Oregon signed Anson’s “Declaration for Survivor’s Pension - Indian Wars” which described his present physical disability as “Double rupture and stroke of paralysis.” This was forwarded to the U.S.  Bureau of Pensions for further assessment of his claim. Five days later on April 28th, his application for benefits under the Indian Wars Act was approved and a maximum payment of $50 per month awarded. Things were definitely looking up in the personal finance department but Anson’s health continued to decline at an increasing rate. Fall found Anson in the Multnomah Hospital where he had undergone surgery to correct a double ingroinal hernia. On October 30th, Anson once again wrote to the Bureau of Pensions telling of his recent surgery and renewed his plea for additional benefits saying, in part, “... I think they will tell you that at my age I am not able to take care of myself all well. Mr. Scott, I did not know but you could help me out soon. Hoping you may. I am as ever your pensioner. Anson E. Losey”.

At the end of January, the 26th to be exact, Anson underwent yet another medical assessment for submission to the Bureau in his quest for increased pension payments. The examining surgeon made these remarks which paint a sad picture of our once dashing cavalryman nearing the end of the trail; “... only 5 teeth remaining. Operated upon Sept.  1927 for ulcer of stomach. Applicant very pale. must have either malignancy of stomach or bleeding ulcer. No masses felt but abd.(omen) tender”.  The results of this examina

- tion were forwarded to the Bureau who sent them on to their Medical Division for “an opinion whether a ratable disability is shown under general law”. The medical reviewer in a statement dated Feb. 13, 1928 allowed that a “... ratable disability is shown but not from alleged abscesses.”

Invalid Dept. Commissioner Winfield Scott finally got around to answering Anson’s personal letter of October 30th on March 8, 1928. In it he reveals what should have been related a year earlier when Anson made his initial claim under the general law. To wit ...

“ It is proper to add that in case evidence is furnished which would warrant the allowance of the claim the rate therefor [sic] would not equal the rate allowed under the act of Mar. 3, 1927 ...[!]  (emphasis mine). (and furthermore) Two pensions cannot be paid to the same person covering the same period of time.”

Ten days later on March 13, Anson wisely withdrew his claim, saying simply that no further evidence was available. At this point it must surely have been evident that no further financial assistance would be forthcoming from the U.S. Government. The $50 per month allowable under the 1927 Indian Wars Act was the maximum rate anyone could receive. In the end, it probably didn’t matter very much for on June 27, 1929 Anson died at his home in Montesano, Washington. By then he had collected $700 over a period of 14 months. He had served in the 2nd Cavalry Regiment  U.S. Army for a total of 32 months, having received $13 per month for a total of $416 less expenses (undetermined).  This results in a gross total payment of $1,116 for his trouble. In light of this, we can only hope that the experience of his participation in taming the western wilderness left him, in the final days of life, with a positive memory of officers and men he came to know.


I  n the event that the readers’ eyes have fallen on this page, he may well be wondering why such a broad meandering tale was

necessary to frame a relatively short biographical sketch of only 3 1/2 years length.  explanation lies in the strange coincidence in which my many years of interest in western history in general and the Indian Wars era in particular, suddenly came to life with discovery of my great grandfather,  Anson  and his direct experience in the events   period. This compass course may have been set as early as 1941 when I took my steps at age 1 1/2 years in Monroe, Michigan in front of the bronze heroic-scale monument. Having been “born and bred” in the State of Michigan meant that George A. Custer and his military exploits were as much a staple item as pheasant hunting summers at the beach. The great cavalry  films of John Ford starring John Wayne others, left most men of my generation  with a combined sense of reverence , and excitement  at the sound of names like Crazy Horse, Red Cloud, Sitting bull, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Blackfoot and of course Custer, all of whom fought for their very lives every  other Saturday afternoon at the Matinee!

When I moved out west in 1968 I began to experience  that  environment and found myself face-to-face with descendants  of the Native  Indian people;  both which  formed the backdrop of many a childhood fantasy adventure.I began to

- nize artifacts and weapons  of the period and started to collect them. With that came further study and the genesis of a personal library on Western American history; a library so complete that I did not have to borrow a single volume for the research                                                                                                                 -

sented above.

The broad brushstrokes therefore, are the product of a need to express my intense -

est in the historic period where ironically, I found my great grandfather looking back me.  The discovery of his tour of duty in the U.S. Cavalry along the U.S.-Canada begged that the story of this enigmatic man be told. It offered a chance to chronicle brief moment in time when a direct ancestor lived a life I had only dreamed about sometimes feel as though I knew him through the chance  crossing of our paths a apart.

So long, grandpa.  May all your trails lead to fresh water!

 

 

TCL


FORT ASSINIBOINE

1   Don C. Miller and Stan B. Cohen, Military & Trading Posts of Montana. Including

Sites in North Dakota, Wyoming, Alberta & British Columbia. (Missoula, Montana: Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, 1978), 3.

2   Ibid.

3   Ibid., 5. 4   Ibid.

5   Ibid., 102.

 

WEST BY RAIL

  6  Peter Newark, Illustrated Encyclopedia of the OLD WEST. (New York: Gallery Books,

W.H. Smith Publishers Inc., 1980), 181.

  7  Keith Wheeler, The Old West: The Railroaders. “The Ride to California”. (New York:

Time-Life Books, 1973), 135.   8  Ibid., 142.   9  Ibid., 148.

10 Ibid., 138.

 

END OF THE LINE 11  Ibid., 218-219.

12  Paul O’Neil, The Old West: The Rivermen. “In Service to the Army”. (New York: Time-Life Books, 1973), 229.

13  Ibid., “Good Times, Bad Times”, 186. 14  Ibid., 188.

15  Ibid., 189. 16  Ibid.

17  Ibid., “ In Service to the Army”, 216.

 

RIDING THE ‘FIRE-CANOE’

18  O’Neil, The Old West: The Rivermen, 38. 19  Ibid., 24.

20  Miller and Cohen, Military & Trading Posts of Montana, 88. 21  Ibid.

22  O’Neil, The Old West: The Rivermen, 140. 23  Ibid., 137.

24  Ibid., 214-215. 25  Ibid., 224-225.

26  Raymond W. Thorp and Robert Bunker, Crow Killer: The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson. (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1958; First Midland Book Edition, 1983), 37.

27  Ibid.

28  Ibid., 105-109.


Canyon”. (Missoula, Montana: Montana Historical Society Press, 2000; Online @

www.nps.gov/nepe/greene ).  30  Ibid. 31  Ibid.

32  Theophilus E. Rodenbough and William L. Haskin (Eds.), The Army of the United States: Historical Sketches of Staff and Line with Portraits of Generals-In-Chief,   “Second Regiment of Cavalry. Captain Edward J. McClernand. Pt. II. (1866-’91)”,    (New York: Maynard, Merrill & Company, 1896; Online @ www.army.mil/cmh-pg/ books/R&H/R&H-2cv.htm ), 189.

SIGNING UP

33  National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Military Service File -

Vol.80, Entry 221, Pg.291, 1881. - A.E. Losey. (Washington, D.C.: Old Military and Civil Records (NWCTB-Military) Textual Archives Service Division).

34  U.S. War Department, Washington, United States Army Regulations 1881.  Regulations of the ARMY OF THE UNITED STATES and General Orders In Force On The of February, 1881. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1881), 419.

35  Ibid., 74. 36  Ibid., 75

37  Ibid., 418. 38  Ibid.

 

THE MONTANA BATALLION

39  Gregory J.W. Urwin, The United States Cavalry. An Illustrated History. (Poole, Dorset

(U.K.): Blandford Press, 1983), 51.

40  Swafford Johnson, History of the U.S. Cavalry. (London: Bison Books Ltd., 1985),

36-37. 41  Ibid., 44.

42  Ibid., 115-116.

43  2nd U.S. Cavalry, More Notes From The Second Cavalry Association. “The Indian

Campaigns”. (Online @ Groups.msn.com/2ndUSCAV/dragoonhistory7.msnw ).

44  Rodenbough and Haskin, The Army of the United States: Historical Sketches of Staff

and Line with Portraits of Generals-In-Chief, 179. 45  Ibid., 180. 46  Ibid., 184.

47  Ibid.

48  Ibid., 185.

49  Dr. Timothy C. Losey, “Missing Guns of the 7th Cavalry: A View from the Canadian Prairies,” Man At Arms, Vol.17, No.4. (Lincoln, Rhode Island: Andrew Mowbray Inc., August 1995), 12.

50  U.S. Adjutant General’s Office, Chronological List of Actions &c., With Indians

from January 15, 1837 To January, 1891. Introduction by Dale E. Floyd. (Fort Collins, Colorado: The Old Army Press, 1979), 62-63.

51  2nd U.S. Cavalry, More Notes From The Second Cavalry Association.

52  Ernest L. Reedstrom, Bugles, Banners & War Bonnets. From Fort Riley to the


Publishers, 1973), 125.

54  Ibid. U.S. Adjutant General’s Office, Chronological List of Actions &c., With Indians from January 15, 1837 To January, 1891, 72.

 

PERSONAL EQUIPMENT

55  David Nevin, The Old West: The Soldiers. “A Mixed Bag of Western Forts”. (New

York: Time-Life Books, 1973), 63,65. 56  Ibid., 59.

57  U.S. War Department, Washington, United States Army Regulations 1881, 280.    58  Ibid., 281.

59  Ibid., 282. 60  Ibid., 283.

61  Col. Philip M. Shockley, The Trap-Door Springfield In The Service. (Aledo, Illinois: World-Wide Gun Report, Inc., 1958), 16.

62  R. Stephen Dorsey, American Military Belts And Related Equipments. (Union City, Tennessee: Pioneer Press, 1984), 46-49.

63  John A. Kopec, The U.S. Martial Colt’s Single Action Army Revolver 1873-1903: A Collector’s Guide. Pamphlet, Copyright J.A. Kopec. (La Puente, California: Privately Published by J.A. Kopec, 1970).

64  U.S. Ordnance Office, War Department, Washington, May 13, 1874, Description and Rules for the Management Of The Springfield Rifle Carbine, And Army Revolvers.  Calibre.45. (Springfield, Mass.: National Armory, 1874), (Facsimile Reprint, n.d.), 39,50.

65  U.S. Ordnance Office, War Department, Washington, Description and Rules For The Management Of The Springfield Rifle, Carbine, And Army Revolvers. Calibre .45 . (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1898), (Facsimile Reprint also published by; Big Timber, Montana: Buckskin Press, n.d.), 67-68.

66  Norm Flayderman, Flayderman’s Guide to Antique American Firearms... and Their Values. 5th Edition. (Northbrook, Illinois: DBI Books, 1990), 206.

67  U.S. Ordnance Office, War Department, Washington, D.C., Description and Rules For The Management Of The Springfield Rifle, Carbine, And Army Revolvers.  Calibre .45, 43-45.

68  William G. Phillips and John P. Vervloet, U.S. Single Action Cartridge Handgun Holsters 1870-1910. Historical Arms Series No.22. (Bloomfield, Ontario: Museum Resotration Service, 1987), 31-32.

69  Dorsey, American Military Belts And Related Equipments, 77. 70  Ibid., 80.

71  Ibid., 124.

72  Kenneth M. Hammer, The Springfield Carbine on the Western Frontier. (Ft. Collins,

Colorado: The Old Army Press, n.d.), 1. 73  Ibid., 3.

74  Shockley, The Trap-Door Springfield In The Service, 5-6.

75  U.S. Ordnance Office, War Department, Washington, May 13, 1874, Description and

Rules for the Management Of The Springfield Rifle, Carbine, And Army Revolvers.  Calibre.45, 30.


Springfield Single-Shot Rifle -- 1865-1893. (Highland Park, New Jersey: The Gun

Room Press, 1980), 206-207.  

77  Hammer, The Springfield Carbine on the Western Frontier, 4.

78  U.S. Ordnance Office, War Department, Washington, May 13, 1874, Description and Rules for the Management Of The Springfield Rifle, Carbine, And Army Revolvers.  Calibre.45, 29-31.

 

WEAPONS OF WAR

79  Reedstrom, Bugles, Banners & War Bonnets, 258. 80  Ibid., 259.

81  Ibid., 263. 82  Ibid., 262.

83  Shockley, The Trap-Door Springfield In The Service, 12. 84  Ibid., 3.

85  Waite and Ernst, Trapdoor Springfield, 162-163.

86  Reedstrom, Bugles, Banners & War Bonnets, 252 Passim. 87  Shockley, The Trap-Door Springfield In The Service, 13. 88  Ibid., 15.

89  Ibid., 17. 90  Ibid., 18-19.

 

MOUNTED EQUIPMENT

91  Reedstrom, Bugles, Banners & War Bonnets, 210-211.

92  U.S. War Department, Washington, United States Army Regulations 1881, 458. 93  Ibid., 459.

94  Reedstrom, Bugles, Banners & War Bonnets, 212. 95  Ibid., 213.

96  U.S. War Department, Washington, United States Army Regulations 1881, 34. 97  U.S. War Department, Washington, July 17, 1873, Cavalry Tactics United States

Army. (By Authority, New York: D. Appleton And Company, 1887), 463-464. 97  Ibid., 464. 99  Ibid., 465.

100 Reedstrom, Bugles, Banners & War Bonnets, 226-227. 101 Ibid., 59.

102 U.S. Ordnance Department, Ordnance Memoranda No.18: Cavalry Equipment 1874. Proceedings of The Board Of Officers. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1874), (Reprint n.d.), 65-67.

103 Randy Steffen, The Horse Soldier 1776-1943, Volume II. The Frontier, the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Indian Wars 1851-1880. (Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1978), 53.

104 Ibid., 61. 105 Ibid., 65.


106 Robert D. Martin, Jr., Julius Johann Jacob Lutz (ne Klotz)(1863-1922). (An article written October 1994; Online @  www.alaska.net/~rdmartin/jjjk_story_gen.html ).

107 Reedstrom, Bugles, Banners & War Bonnets, 173. 108 Ibid., 175.

109 Ibid.

110 U.S. War Department, Washington, United States Army Regulations 1881, 28-29. 111  Nevin, The Old West: The Soldiers, 64. 112 Martin, Jr., Julius Johann Jacob Lutz (ne Klotz)(1863-1922). 113 Nevin, The Old West: The Soldiers, 64. 114 Ibid.

115  Ibid. 116 Ibid., 68.

117  U.S. War Department, Washington, United States Army Regulations 1881, 230- 243.

118 Ibid., 235.

119 Ibid., 1078-1079. 120 Ibid.

121 Ibid., 35. 122 Ibid.

123 Reedstrom, Bugles, Banners & War Bonnets, 215. 124 Ibid.

125 U.S. War Department, Washington, United States Army Regulations 1881, 36.

 

HOME SWEET HOME

126 U.S. War Department, Washington, United States Army Regulations 1881, 203

Passim. 127 Ibid.

128 U.S. War Department, Washington, Cavalry Tactics United States Army, 484-485. 129 Nevin, The Old West: The Soldiers, 58. 130 Ibid., 78.

131 Ibid., 75. 132 Ibid., 68.

133 U.S. War Department, Washington, United States Army Regulations 1881, 419-421. 134 Reedstrom, Bugles, Banners & War Bonnets, 157. 135 U.S. War Department, Washington, United States Army Regulations 1881, Op.cit.

 

HORSES FOR THE TAKING

136 National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Full Pension Application

File: LOSEY, Anson E. C.2304.634. (Washington, D.C.: General Reference Branch (NNRG-P) 50 pp, n.d.).  Photocopy obtained 12 July, 2002.

137 John C. Ewers, The Horse In Blackfoot Indian Culture. With Comparative Material From Other Western Tribes. (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of American Ethnology,


States Government Printing Office, 1955), 177 Passim.

138 Hugh A. Dempsey, Red Crow, Warrior Chief. (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: Western Producer Prairie Books, 1980), 118-121.

139 Ibid., 122.

 

CAVALRY ON THE MOVE

140 Nevin, The Old West: The Soldiers, 103.

141 U.S. War Department, Washington, Cavalry Tactics United States Army, 474-477. 142 Nevin, The Old West: The Soldiers, 102. 143 U.S. War Department, Washington, Cavalry Tactics United States Army, 474-477. 144 Ibid., 478.

145 Ibid., 479. 146 Ibid., 479-480. 147 Ibid.

148 Ibid., 481.

149 U.S. War Department, Washington, United States Army Regulations 1881, 101. 150 Ibid., 112.

151 Ibid., 113. 152 Ibid., 51.

153 Mary Weekes, The Last Buffalo Hunter. (Calgary, Alberta: Fifth House Publishers, 1994).

154 Martin, Jr., Julius Johann Jacob Lutz (ne Klotz)(1863-1922). 155 Miller and Cohen, Military & Trading Posts of Montana, 56. 156 Ibid., 74-75.

157 Martin, Jr., Julius Johann Jacob Lutz (ne Klotz)(1863-1922). 158 Reedstrom, Bugles, Banners & War Bonnets, 209. 159 Martin, Jr., Julius Johann Jacob Lutz (ne Klotz)(1863-1922).

160 U.S. Adjutant General’s Office, Chronological List of Actions &c., With Indians from January 15, 1837 to January, 1891, 76.

161 Miller and Cohen, Military & Trading Posts of Montana, 12-13. 162 Martin, Jr., Julius Johann Jacob Lutz (ne Klotz)(1863-1922).  163 NARA, Military Service File - A.E. Losey.

164 Thorpe and Bunker, Crow Killer: The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson, 181-182. 165 Ibid., 183.

166 Ibid., 183-184.

167 NARA, Military Service File - A.E. Losey.

 

FINAL DAYS AT FORT CUSTER

168 Miller and Cohen, Military & Trading Posts of Montana, 26. 169 Ibid.

170 Ibid.

171 Martin, Jr, Julius Johann Jacob Lutz (ne Klotz)(1863-1922).


173 NARA, Military Service File - A.E. Losey.

174  NARA, Full Pension Application File: LOSEY, Anson E. C.2304.634. 175 NARA, Military Service File - A.E. Losey.

176 Ibid. 177 Ibid.

178 Ibid.

179 NARA, Full Pension Application File: LOSEY, Anson E. C.2304.634.

 

AFTERWORD

180 NARA, Full Pension Application File: LOSEY, Anson E. C.2304.634. 181 Ibid.

182 Ibid.      183 Ibid.

 

PICTURE CREDITS

Cover: Cavalry Charge On The Southern Plains, by Frederic Remington, The Metropolitan

Museum of Art, New York.   2: Author’s Collection.   5, 6: From Military & Trading Posts of Montana  by D. Miller & S. Cohen ” Pictorial Histories Publishing Co., 1978.   7: From The Old West  “The Railroaders”  by Keith Wheeler ” Time-Life Books  Inc., 1973.   9,10,11: From The Old West  “The Rivermen”  by Paul O’Neil ” Time-Life Books Inc., 1973.   12: From The Old West  “The Trailblazers”  by Bil Gilbert ” Time-Life Books, Inc., 1973.   14: From The Old West  “The Rivermen”  by Paul O’Neil ” Time-Life Books Inc., 1973.   16: From The Old West  “The Rivermen”  by Paul O’Neil ” Time-Life Books Inc., 1973.   18: National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C. from  Military Service Files, 1881  -   From Bugles, Banners & War Bonnets by Ernest L. Reedstrom ” The Caxton Printers, Ltd., 1977.   20: From The Old West  “The Soldiers”  by David Nevin ” Time-Life Books Inc., 1973.   22,23: From The American Heritage History of  “The Indian Wars”   by Robert M. Utley & Wilcomb E. Washburn ” American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc./ Bonanza Books, 1982.   25,27,28: Author’s Collection.    32: From The American Heritage History of  “The Indian Wars”  by Robert M. Utley & Wilcomb E. Washburn ” American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc./Bonanza Books, 1982.   36,37: From The Old West  “The Soldiers”  by David Nevin ” Time-Life Books Inc., 1973.   39: From The Old West  “The Soldiers”  by David Nevin ” Time-Life Books Inc., 1973.   43: From Charles M. Russell by Frederic G. Renner ” Harry N. Abrams, Inc. and the Amon Carter Museum of Western Art, 1974.   46: From The Old West  “The Soldiers”  by David Nevin ” Time-Life Books Inc., 1973.   49: From The Northwest Mounted Police 1873-1893, Vol.I  by John Peter Turner ” King’s Printer and Controller, 1950.   50,54: From Military & Trading Posts of Montana  by D. Miller & S. Cohen ” Pictorial Histories Publishing Co., 1978.   56: National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C. from  Military Service Files, 1881   -  From Military & Trading Posts of Montana  by D. Miller & S. Cohen ” Pictorial Histories Publishing Co., 1978.

 

NOTICE

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