Lt. Charles Gatewood and His Apache Wars Memoir

Lt. Charles Gatewood and His Apache Wars Memoir

Lt. Charles Gatewood and His Apache Wars Memoir

Lt. Charles Gatewood and His Apache Wars Memoir

Synopsis

Lt. Charles B. Gatewood (1853–1896), an educated Virginian, served in the Sixth U.S. Cavalry as the commander of Indian scouts. Gatewood was largely accepted by the Native peoples with whom he worked because of his efforts to understand their cultures. It was this connection that Gatewood formed with the Indians, and with Geronimo and Naiche in particular, that led to his involvement in the last Apache war and his work for Indian rights. nbsp; Realizing that he had more experience dealing with Native peoples than other lieutenants serving on the frontier, Gatewood decided to record his experiences. Although he died before he completed his project, the work he left behind remains an important firsthand account of his life as a commander of Apache scouts and as a military commandant of the White Mountain Indian Reservation. Louis Kraft presents Gatewood's previously unpublished account, punctuating it with an introduction, additional text that fills in the gaps in Gatewood's narrative, detailed notes, and an epilogue. Kraft's work offers new background information on Gatewood and discusses the manuscript as a fresh account of how Gatewood viewed the events in which he took part.

Excerpt

Charles Bare Gatewood was born in Woodstock, Virginia, on April 6, 1853. His father, John Gatewood of Shenandoah County, Virginia, married Emily A. Bare, also of Shenandoah, on March 22, 1841. Over the next three decades his parents would raise six children. Charles’s sisters (Mary Frances, Julia McKay, and Cornelia Susan) were born during the 1840s, and his brothers (Samuel Deyerle and DeWitt Clinton) were born in the late 1850s. His father earned his living first as a printer for the Shenandoah Herald in 1845 and later as editor of the Zenith Legins. By 1860 he owned fifteen hundred dollars of real estate.

As a boy Gatewood saw his father march off to fight for the South when war erupted in 1861, and then lived through the horror of the Civil War and its aftermath. Whatever prejudices were inbred in him during his early years only increased as the nightmare of Reconstruction intensified hatreds in a time of extreme racial conflict. In 1868 he moved with his family to Harrisonburg, Virginia. Gatewood’s father opened a printing shop and edited the Commonwealth. Gatewood finished his education in Harrisonburg and then briefly taught school. During this time he applied for admission to West Point. Receiving his appointment to the military academy in 1873 through the Honorable John T. Harris, M.C., of Harrisonburg, he never dreamed what awaited him when he graduated twenty-third in a class of seventy-six in 1877.

Shortly after graduation, the five-foot-eleven-inch Virginian was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Sixth U.S. Cavalry. Although he accepted the assignment in June 1877, he remained on graduating leave until January 1, 1878. The young lieutenant arrived at Fort Wingate, New Mexico, on the first day of 1878 and served there until January 29, when he left to report for duty with his regiment at Camp Apache, Arizona Territory, on February 5. Camp Apache did not become Fort Apache until 1879. A year after his introduction to the Southwest, he became commander of Apache scouts. From March 31, 1879, until June 30, 1880, and then from November 12, 1881, until October 1885, he commanded Indian scouts. This assignment placed him in intimate contact with a people totally foreign to his upbringing. While at West Point, he prob-

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