Life during the Indian Wars Time Period was hard and often just boring. The earliest settlements of westward expansion were the forts. They were centers of trade and commerce and brought growth, stability, and trade. The soldiers helped to build roads and later string telegraph lines.
The Indian Wars of the 1870's-1890's saw the Army involved in a long series of smaller engagements. These wars often consisted of numerous scattered skirmishes over wide areas, without any substantial battle being fought to determine the war's end. This type of warfare led to the further enhancement of the Non-commissioned Officer's [NCO's] role as small unit leader. Often fighting in small detachments, troops relied heavily on the knowledge and abilities of NCOs.
The Army during the Indian wars was habitually unable to balance resources with requirements, both because of limited manpower and because of the continental size of the theater of operations. As Lt. Gen. William T. Sherman, commanding the Division of the Missouri, put it, "Were I or the department commanders to send guards to every point where they are clamored for, we would need alone on the plains a hundred thousand men, mostly of cavalry. Each spot of every road, and each little settlement along five thousand miles of frontier, wants its regiment of cavalry or infantry to protect it against the combined power of all the Indians, because of the bare possibility of their being attacked by the combined force of all the Indians."
A soldier's life was not glamorous, perhaps a fact learned too late after men enlisted. Some men romanticized the life while others wished to escape from a lackluster career or an unhappy home life. Other soldiers came to the West from the Civil War battlefields. Many were recent European immigrants,and after the Civil War, former slaves. A soldier's life would entail wearing wool uniforms and living in crowded, unsanitary barracks. Often the men had only beef, beans, stew, or bacon to eat. They averaged around $13.00 per month in wages.
During the Indian Wars period, enlisted men lived in Spartan barracks, with corporals and privates in one large room. Sergeants were separated from their men, in small cubicles of their own adjacent to the men's sleeping quarters. This gave enlisted men a sense of comradeship, but allowed little privacy.
The soldier of this period spent much of his time engaged in manual labor. Soldiers in the west were called upon to build or repair housing and fortifications, repair roads and bridges, serve as blacksmiths or bakers, perform guard duty, and other tasks. It was a hard life, pay was poor, and desertion was common. NCO's were fully tested in their abilities to maintain effective fighting units.
The Buffalo Soldiers
Black soldiers of this period were often referred to as Buffalo Soldiers. The units they served in were the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 24th and 25th Infantry. These troops provided 20 years of continuous frontier service. They campaigned in the Southern Plains, in West Texas, in the Apache lands, and against the Sioux.
Marriage and the Soldier
During the 1870's the Army discouraged enlisted men from marrying. Regulations limited the number of married enlisted men in the Army and required special permission to be obtained if a man in the Army wished to marry. Those men who did marry without permission could be charged with insubordination. They could not live in post housing or receive other entitlements. Still, nature proved stronger than Army desires or regulations. Marriages occurred and posts were transformed into communities.
Married NCO wives had a hard life, often working as laundresses or maids. Their meals consisted of beans, bacon, beef and hardtack, with eggs, sugar and other staples being too high-priced for their budgets. Many lived in dugouts, sod huts or adobe buildings. The luckier wives lived in wooden structures or stone buildings.
The Fort Buford 6th Infantry was created in 1962 by a group that was interested in primarily helping and interpreting the Fort Buford State Historic Site and the entire Missouri-Yellowstone Confluence area history.
The 20th Infantry consists of a group of individuals who are dedicated to preserving the heritage of the military presence on the upper plains during the 1870's. More specifically, the group portrays the Infantry lifestyle of the soldiers who were garrisoned at Fort Seward, located near the confluence of the Pipestem and James Rivers, where the city of Jamestown, North Dakota, now stands. Soldiers were stationed at Fort Seward between 1871 and 1877 for the purpose of protecting the railroad construction crews and homesteaders from hostile Sioux Indians as well as to enforce territorial law under the direction of federal marshals. (North Dakota did not gain statehood until 1889.) Fort Seward was abandoned in 1877 when the threat from hostile attacks had subsided and military presence in the Jamestown area became nothing more than records in history books. Real people lived and served here; Captain John H. Pattcrsoti, Second Lieutenant Palmer Tilton, First Sargent James Criffen. Privates William Brannon, John Cronin, Cain Mahoncy, Edward Taque and hospital matron Mrs. Ida Sadler, were all stationed at Fort Scward. The memories and lifestyles of these individuals from North Dakota's history live on portrayed by members of Fort Seward's 20th Regimental Infantry.
20th Infantry members share a keen interest in local history and arc dedicated to preserving the heritage of the soldiers and support personnel who lived at Fort Seward. Each member of the 20th Infantry strive to present an accurate re-enactment of personalities of the 1870's military personnel or civilian employees in actions, uniform and accouterments. The arms used by the group arc authentic, .45/70 trapdoor rifles and the clothing and equipment is cither authentic or historically accurate reproductions. The group has three reproduction 12 pound mountain howitzer cannons which are used to demonstrate how the Infantry utilized artillary while on campaign. The 20th has a considerable amount of additional equipment from an escort wagon and an ambulance wagon, to officer tents, which allows the grout) to establish a large campaign camp to fully demonstrate how the military lived while on a campaign on the northern plains A semi-tractor-trailer rig is owned by the group to transport the equipment to its various functions throughout the state. Recently, to help celebrate North Dakota's Centennial, the group has been designated the Governor's Battery, which gives the 20th Infantry unique opportunities to participate in numerous official centennial celebrations by marching in parades, firing cannon salutes and providing living history demonstrations by pitching an 1870's period campaign camp. Maximum participation in centennial celebrations throughout the upper midwest is the 20th Infantry's goal.
This outfit is dedicated to presenting the 1870's period of the Frontier Army of the United States, through Living History demonstrations, reenactments, parade appearances and memorial presentations. New recruits are always welcome and no previous historical or reenactment experience is necessary- nor do you need to own a horse! Only an interest in the frontier period and the desire to help others understand it as well.
Blue Ridge Rifles, Inc.,is an NMLRA charter club, founded in 1976. We are located on 22 acres of the Blue Mountains, approximately one mile from the Appalachian trail just off Rt. 183 in Summit Station, PA. We are a strictly muzzle loading club. We, the members and officers of Blue Ridge Rifles, Inc., are dedicated to the preservation and advancement of the lifestyle, ideals, patriotism, and freedoms of the early American pioneer of the period 1750 to 1850, and as citizens of the United States to protect and defend the rights granted us by the constitution.
5th US Cavalry, Company A The 5th U.S. Cavalry (Reorganized), Company 'A' and Camp Follower groups portray the soldiers, families and other Army post occupants during the Indian Wars Period in America (1868-1880 primarily).
7th US Cavalry, Company A This outfit is dedicated to presenting the 1870's period of the Frontier Army of the United States, through Living History demonstrations, reenactments, parade appearances and memorial presentations
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