Buffalo Soldier Regiment: History of the Twenty-Fifth United States Infantry, 1869-1926

By John H. Nankivell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI
RETURN OF LIEUTENANT COLONEL VAN HORNE’S BATTALION TO
FORT MISSOULA—COMPANIES B, C AND E, CHANGE STATION TO
FORT BUFORD, N. D —RETIREMENT OF COLONEL ANDREWS—
COLONEL BURT ASSUMES COMMAND OF THE REGIMENT—THE
COUER D’ALENE LABOR RIOTS—THE SEARCH FOR THE CARLIN
HUNTING PARTY—G COMPANY AND COXEY’S “ARMY”—THE GREAT
RAILROAD STRIKE ON THE N. P. R. R., 1894—COMMENDATIONS.

The year 1891 was rather a quiet one for the regiment. Early in February the provisional battalion under command of Lieutenant Colonel J. J. Van Home that had been co-operating with the troops engaged in the Pine Ridge campaign returned to its stations at Fort Missoula (Companies F and H), and Fort Shaw (Companies C and E). Fort Shaw was abandoned in July, and Lieutenant Colonel J. N. Andrews with Companies B, C and E changed station to Fort Buford, N. D.

On April 22, 1892, Colonel George L. Andrews, who had commanded the regiment since June 19, 1871, having reached the age of 64 years was retired by operation of law. Colonel Andrews, during his long tenure of command of the regiment, almost twenty-one years, had endeared himself to both officers and men by his firm, courteous, and kindly exercise of authority, and by his almost paternal interest in all that concerned every member of the regiment. Under his command the regiment had reached a high state of discipline and efficiency, and had attained an enviable reputation for soldierly conduct both in the field and in garrison.

Colonel Edward G. Bush, promoted from Lieutenant Colonel, Eleventh Infantry, was assigned to the regiment to fill Colonel Andrews’ vacancy, but, due to illness, was unable to join, and on July 4, 1892, he died at Pittsfield, Illinois. Lieutenant Colonel J. N. Andrews, 25th Infantry, was in actual command of the regiment from the date of Colonel Andrews’ retirement until Colonel Andrew S. Burt, Colonel Bush’s successor, arrived at Fort Missoula, Montana, on August 21, 1892.

Early in 1892, trouble had developed between the mine owners and labor unions in the Couer D’Alene mining district of Idaho, and during the spring the unions declared open war on the mine owners. Scenes of disorder and anarchy followed, and on the Fourth of July, 1892, the American flag was riddled with bullets and spat and trampled upon by a mob of strikers and union sympathisers. By July 11th a condition of absolute anarchy prevailed, and several mines were blown up with much loss of life. The aid of the federal government was invoked, and on July 12th, United States troops were on their way to the scene of the disturbances. A provisional battalion of the 25th Infantry from Fort Missoula, Montana, under command of Captain W. T. Sanborn, was among the troops sent to the Couer D’Alene, and the following cryptic entries from the “Record of Events” for July, 1892, tell the story of the battalion’s activities during its stay in Idaho.

July: Companies F, G and H, 7 officers and 148 enlisted men left Fort Missoula, Mont., at 8:30 p. m., July 12, 1892, per telegraphic orders from Department Headquarters of same date to report to Colonel W. P. Carlin, 4th Infantry, commanding U. S. Troops in northern Idaho operating in the Couer D’Alene mining district. Arrived at Mullan, Idaho, at 6:30 a. m., July 13th and found the track of the N. P. R. R. blown up in two places; reported by telegraph to Colonel Carlin and received orders from him to return to Missoula, Mont., and join him at Wardner Junction, Idaho, via the Couer D’Alene City, Harrison, and U. P. R. R. Arrived at Wardner Junction at 6:30 p. m., July 14th, and made camp there. Assisted in guarding trains, furnishing escorts, scouting, and making arrests. Relieved from further duty in the Department of the Columbia and ordered to proper station in Department of Dakota per S. O. 8, Headquarters U. S. Troops in the Field, Wardner,

-50-

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