1215 Alameda Blvd.,
April 14, 1925.
Dear Captain Nankivell,
Your kind letter of March 26th is before me, I have read it a number of times as it calls up pleasant recollections of my service with the 25th Infantry.
I was with the detachment of the regiment sent to the Coeur d’Alene Mines, Idaho, to quiet the miners’ strike. We started over the Coeur d’Alene branch of the Northern Pacific R. R., but on being informed that the road had been blown up (or would be if we continued on it) we were diverted, I believe, to the main line, and detrained at Coeut d’ Alene Lake (the post there garrisoned by the 14th Infantry may have been called Fort Sherman, or Coeur d’Alene) where we boarded a steamer which landed us I believe at Wardner; at any rate we camped near this town or hamlet; probably the Bunker Hill and Sullivan plants were near by, the ore brought from the mines by buckets traveling on wire cables. The President’s (Cleveland) proclamation printed on cloth was pasted on trees, houses, etc.; the miners were surly, disregarded entirely the proclamation and threatened dire things. We found Colonel Carlin, 14th Infantry (possibly commanding the Depart’ ment of the Columbia) in command of the forces of which a detachment of his regiment formed a part and were camped near us. An empty warehouse was set apart as a prison (called “the pen”); deputy sheriffs called for aid and backed by the troops, arrested a hundred or so by dark. Captain C. L. Hodges in charge of the pen told the prisoners that their friends would be allowed to bring bedding and food and they could divide into groups and cook their supper at fires they might make under the eyes of the guard. They scoffed and jeered but before morning they were cold and hungry, and soon dropped their defiant manners, became almost polite—in fact for the first time in their lives realized the President was a power in the land. I believe the cavalry also marched into the district and occupied other places; the district may have been placed under martial law, for Captain Ballance was left there to conduct prosecution of the leaders when the troops, or most of them, departed. The troops did not fire a shot or touch a prisoner; all the deputy sheriff had to do was to say, “I want you, come here.” A glance at the soldier escort was compelting, there was no argument.
The strike of the Northern Pacific R. R. employees may have been for higher wages. When ordered to cooperate with the courts we were directed to confer with the U. S. Judge (Knowles) of Missoula; the town was so orderly and quiet a place, that we (the C. O. and Co. commanders in conference with him) were surprised when he told us Missoula was the most dangerous place on the line of the railroad—the locomotive of a train was dynamited soon after, nearby. I was hurried out with my company for O’Keefe’s Canyon to guard the Maren.t Trestle spanning the canyon (a most important steel structure and which could not be replaced for a long time if destroyed, and there were threats to do so). Nothing happened there, nor in Missoula where a larger detachment was stationed until the trouble was over. I believe the 10th Cavalry occupied Butte, Montana, for sometime on account of the strike.
I regret I can give you no better account of these affairs.
Mr. John Hays Hammond has interesting articles in Scribner’s March to May, which you may be interested to read regarding the Coeur d’Alene strikes, etc.
Am glad you can make some use of what I have sent previously.
Yours very truly,