Indian Wars

George Jordan

George Jordan tombstone on FindAGrave.com
Image of George Jordan tombstone posted on Findagrave.com by Doyle Brewer.

George Jordan (c1848-1904) was born enslaved in Williamson County, Tennessee. Just after the Civil War, the nineteen-year-old free man enlisted in the U.S. Army in Nashville. His career spanned thirty years, most of it spent posted in the southwestern Indian Territories in the 9th Cavalry K Troop, one of the segregated troops of African Americans known as Buffalo Soldiers who fought the Native Americans. Early on during his service, Jordan learned to read and write, and proved himself to be a dedicated and effective soldier, rising in rank.

In 1890 Sergeant George Jordan was awarded the Medal of Honor. The Medal of Honor citation posted on NPS.gov reads:

While commanding a detachment of 25 men at Fort Tularosa, N. Mex., repulsed a force of more than 100 Indians. At Carrizo Canyon, N. Mex., while commanding the right of a detachment of 19 men, on 12 August 1881, he stubbornly held his ground in an extremely exposed position and gallantly forced back a much superior number of the enemy, preventing them from surrounding the command.

Jordan retired from the Army in 1896 while at Fort Robinson, Nebraska. He settled in Crawford, Nebraska, along with other former Buffalo Soldiers. There he thrived as a landowner. Then in 1904 Jordan’s kidneys failed. When he attempted to get medical attention at the Fort Robinson military hospital, he was refused treatment because he was African American. He died soon after.

George Jordan was interred in the Fort Robinson cemetery with full military honors.

 

Tot-tour-Hargo

Tot Tour Hargo militia record. Natl. Archives via Ancestry.com
Tot Tour Hargo militia record. National Archives at Ancestry.com. U.S. Army Indian Campaign Service Records Index, 1815-1858 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2017.
Tot-tour-Hargo was one of hundreds of Creek and Choctaw soldiers who served in exclusively Native American units led by American military officers during the First Seminole War (1817-1818) and the Second Florida War (1836-1842). The first war began when the American military sought to capture runaway slaves living with the Seminoles. The second was the result of Seminole refusal to move from central Florida to Creek land west of the Mississippi. The U. S. government fully expected them to be absorbed into the the Creek tribe, but most Seminoles refused to leave their Florida home.

In 1838 Tot-tour-Hargo, also known as Capt. Billey, was listed as a member of Capt. Stephen Richard’s Company of Friendly Indians, one of the units making up the Florida Mounted Volunteers. Though Native American veterans qualified for military pensions and land grants, Tot-tour-Hargo does not appear to applied for any such benefits.

 

William Ferguson

Kitchen items from will of Wm Ferguson
List of kitchen items in the will of William Ferguson, from Pennsylvania, Wills and Probate Records, 1683-1993, Ancestry.com.

William Ferguson (c. 1755-1791) of Pennsylvania began his Army career during the Revolutionary War. He was a member of the American Philosophical Society, along with his contemporaries Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin.

In March 1791 he was promoted to Major Commandant Artillery Battalion and stationed in the Northwest Territory where the newly formed United States was actively selling land that was home to Native Americans. That November, Chief Little Turtle of the Miami tribe, Blue Jacket of the Shawnee, and a British officer led an attack against the American Army near Fort Recovery, Ohio.

Ferguson’s final battle and the aftermath of St. Clair’s Defeat at the Wabash River are described in Major William Ferguson: Member of the American Philosophical Society by Charles Beatty Alexander, Trow Press, New York, 1908:

A few weeks after the battle, search was made for the lost cannon, but without success. In 1830, a brass fieldpiece was found buried which doubtless belonged to Major Ferguson’s battery. For this was the spot from which the Indians were three times driven at the point of the bayonet to the high ground in the rear; and it was probably at this spot that Ferguson met his death while gallantly serving his guns. Some years after the battle, Ferguson’s watch, silver cup and pocket Bible were found in the possession of a British officer of Detroit, who had received them from an Indian. When applied to by the family for the return of these mementoes, the officer surrendered the cup and Bible, but it is reported that he said he had use for the watch. The Bible and cup are in possession of the writer.

 

Napoleon Henri Daniels

An emigrant train attacked by hostile Indians on the prairie, illustration by Henry Nichols, 1857, Library of Congress.
“An emigrant train attacked by hostile Indians on the prairie”, illustration by Henry Nichols, 1857, Library of Congress.

Napoleon Henri Daniels (1842-1866) was born in in Louisiana, lived in Indiana, and died in the Dakota Territory, yet his name lives on in Maine.

He served in the U.S. Army, 18th Infantry Regiment, during the Civil War, rising from sergeant to major at war’s end. He remained in the Army, serving on the Northwestern Territory where the Army was charged to guard frontier settlements from indigenous people already living there.

On July 20, 1866, on the Bozeman Trail near Fort Phil Kearny in Wyoming, Lieut. Daniels and another soldier rode ahead of the military escort of a small wagon train to find a campsite at Crazy Woman Creek. There the two soldiers were surprised by between 50 and 60 Native warriors. Lieut. Daniels was killed by an arrow through his back. The other lieutenant escaped back to the wagon train, where the battle continued for several hours until a cavalry patrol arrived to end it.

Maine’s Battery Daniels at Fort Leavett, off the coast of Portland, was named in honor of Lieut. Napoleon Daniels.

 

Frederick Henry Beecher

Frederick Henry Beecher from Ancestry.com, posted by IvyOlah39, 2010.

Frederick Henry Beecher (1841-1868), Fred Beecher was the son, grandson, and nephew of ministers, born in New Orleans, but raised in Georgetown, Massachusetts. He went to his father’s alma mater, Bowdoin College, where he was taught by abolitionist William Smyth and future Civil War general, Joshua Chamberlain. When he graduated in 1862, he and a friend enlisted in the 16th Maine.

Beecher was wounded twice at Fredericksburg. Though his father took him home to recuperate, he returned to the front while still on crutches. He was wounded a third time at Gettysburg. This time he came to Brunswick to recuperate, at the home of his uncle, Prof. William Smyth.

Though his family pleaded with him not to, he went back to active duty as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Veteran Reserve Corps, working in the Freedmen’s Bureau in North Carolina.

Then he accepted a 2nd Lieutenancy in the US Army 3rd Infantry and was sent to Indian Territory in Kansas. In the spring of 1868 he canceled a planned visit home when he received orders for a “serious campaign” out of Fort Hays. That fall he was second in command of a detachment of 50 men pursued by of a large band of Cheyenne warriors. The Native Americans stranded the detachment on a sandbar on the Arikara River, on the Kansas-Colorado border.

Lt. Frederick Beecher and 21 of his men were killed on that sandbar, which was renamed Beecher Island in honor of Lt. Frederick Beecher, the nephew of Harriet Beecher Stowe.

For a map of Indigenous People territories in the mid-1800s go to:  Map