Medium 9781574411614

The Diaries of John Gregory Bourke Volume 1

Views: 2217
Ratings: (0)

John Gregory Bourke kept a monumental set of diaries beginning as a young cavalry lieutenant in Arizona in 1872, and ending the evening before his death in 1896. As aide-de-camp to Brigadier General George Crook, he had an insider's view of the early Apache campaigns, the Great Sioux War, the Cheyenne Outbreak, and the Geronimo War. Bourke's writings reveal much about military life on the western frontier, but he also was a noted ethnologist, writing extensive descriptions of American Indian civilization and illustrating his diaries with sketches and photographs. Previously, researchers could consult only a small part of Bourke's diary material in various publications, or else take a research trip to the archive and microfilm housed at West Point. Now, for the first time, the 124 manuscript volumes of the Bourke diaries are being compiled, edited, and annotated by Charles M. Robinson III to be easily accessible to the modern researcher. Volume 1 begins with Bourke's years as aide-de-camp to General Crook during the Apache campaigns and in dealings with Cochise. Bourke's ethnographic notes on the Apaches continued with further observations on the Hopis in 1874. The next year he turned his pen on the Sioux and Cheyenne during the 1875 Black Hills Expedition, writing some of his most jingoistic comments in favor of Manifest Destiny. This volume culminates with the momentous events of the Great Sioux War and vivid descriptions of the Powder River fight and the Battle of the Rosebud. Extensively annotated and with a biographical appendix on Indians, civilians, and military personnel named in the diaries, this book will appeal to western and military historians, students of American Indian life and culture, and to anyone interested in the development of the American West.

List price: $49.95

Your Price: $39.96

You Save: 20%


20 Chapters

Format Buy Remix

Introduction: John Gregory Bourke: The Man and His Work



John Gregory Bourke:

The Man and His Work


ohn Gregory Bourke was one of the most prolific and influential authors to write about the nineteenth century

American West. An officer of the 3rd Cavalry, he is most famous as Brig. Gen. George Crook’s aide-de-camp for fourteen years, serving in every major campaign in Arizona and on the Northern

Plains. His memoir, On the Border With Crook, written over a century ago and often reprinted, is one of the great military classics of the Indian Wars, and established Bourke’s reputation as “Crook’s


Yet Bourke was more than simply a writer of military memoirs.

His long service on the frontier led to an interest in Indian life, and he became a devoted scholar of their beliefs, customs, and traditions.

His interest and his constant note-taking prompted the Apaches to call him naltsus-bichidin, or “Paper Medicine Man.”2 Ultimately, he became a respected ethnologist, and it is a tribute to his work that some of his Indian studies, such as Apache Medicine-Men, remain standard works. Even On the Border With Crook, and An


Part 1 Arizona 1872–1875




pachería is the vast area encompassing what is now Arizona, most of New Mexico, and portions of the Mexican states of

Sonora and Chihuahua. It is so called because it is the traditional land of the Western Apaches. For centuries, the Apaches had fought the people of the south, first the Spaniards, and then the

Mexicans. Their initial contact with U.S. soldiers in 1846, however, was cordial. The United States was then at war with Mexico, and because of their own hatred for the Mexicans, the Apaches assumed the Americans must have some good qualities. In fact, when a U.S. expeditionary force crossed Apachería en route to Mexican-held

California, the great Apache chief Mangas Coloradas suggested to the American commander, Brig. Gen. Stephen Watts Kearny,1 that they should combine forces, and invade Sonora and Chihuahua.

Kearny declined, and continued on his march.

Trouble appears to have begun with the discovery of gold in

California. Apaches were disturbed by the large number of

1. Stephen Watts Kearny (1794-1848), army officer, explorer, and Mexican War hero, gave his name to Fort Kearny, Nebraska. The Fort Kearny, Wyoming, so frequently mentioned by Bourke in this volume, refers to Fort Phil Kearny named for Bvt. Maj. Gen. Philip Kearny, killed at Chantilly, Virginia, in 1862. Bourke and others have tended to erroneously render the name as “Kearney.” There is no second “e.” Heitman, Historical Register, 1:586, 2:514,


Part 2 Department of the Platte 1875–1876




n March 1875, General Crook was ordered to relieve Brig. Gen.

E.O.C. Ord as commander of the Department of the Platte.1

The department was headquartered at Omaha Barracks, Nebraska, and included that state, Iowa, Wyoming, Utah, and southern Idaho, and was one of four departments within the Military

Division of the Missouri, a vast jurisdiction composed more or less of the central two-thirds of the United States. The division was commanded by Lt. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan, whose headquarters was in

Chicago. In addition to the Platte, the departments included Texas, commanded by Brig. Gen. Christopher C. Augur in San Antonio; the Missouri, under Brig. Gen. John Pope, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; and Dakota, under Brig. Gen. Alfred H. Terry in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Bourke’s description of the trip from Arizona to Omaha, via San

Francisco, is an excellent account of Southern California in its early days of development, and of Utah as it was undergoing the painful transition from Mormon theocracy to integral part of the United


Part 3 The Great Sioux War 1876–1877




he remaining Bourke manuscripts in this volume deal with the Great Sioux War of 1876-77, a brutal conflict most famous for the destruction of Lt. Col. George Armstrong

Custer and five companies of the 7th Cavalry at the Little Bighorn on June 25, 1876. The war was an outgrowth of many factors. The

Indians were increasingly disillusioned with reservation life, and those who had never gone on the reservations were contemptuous of those who had. As more abandoned the reservation for the free, nomadic life, the center of resistance shifted from Red Cloud, who had more or less come to terms with the government, to the

Hunkpapa Sioux chief Sitting Bull, who advocated breaking all connections with the whites, including the acceptance of government rations.1

The great sore point was, of course, the Black Hills, which, regardless of what the Indians might have thought of them as a geographical feature, were increasingly becoming a point of honor. Although Red Cloud, Spotted Tail, and other agency chiefs indicated a possible cession of the Black Hills to the government, leaders of the northern, non-agency bands of Lakotas and Cheyennes an1. Robinson, Good Year to Die, 29-31.


Appendix 1 • Persons Mentioned in the Diary


Appendix 1

Persons Mentioned in the Diary

Due to the large number of sources for the biographical sketches in this section, footnotes or endnotes would have been impractical. Consequently, I have placed the sources in parentheses at the end of each entry. In cases where the author has only one publication in the bibliography, I have used only the author’s last name.

In case of multiple publications by the same author, I have placed the date of publication of the edition cited.


When discussing the careers of cavalrymen, the designation of units overlapping the Civil War tends to be confusing. In mid1861, the Regular Army had six mounted regiments, viz. First and

Second Dragoons, Mounted Riflemen, and First, Second and Third

Cavalry. On August 3, 1861, congress reorganized these regiments, designating them all “cavalry,” and renumbering them as follows:

First Dragoons to First Cavalry

Second Dragoons to Second Cavalry

Mounted Riflemen to Third Cavalry

First Cavalry to Fourth Cavalry

Second Cavalry to Fifth Cavalry


Appendix 2 • Orders of particular importance to Bourke's narrative—Arizona








their desire and the desire of their people to conclude a permanent peace.

These propositions are made in the midst of a campaign in which they have been severely punished, and the Department Commander, believing in their sincerity, announces and hereby declares peace with the tribes referred to.

The basis of this peace is simply that these Indians shall cease plundering and murdering, remain upon their several reservations, and comply with the regulations made by the Government, through authorized agents, for them.

So long, therefore, as they remain true to their agreement, they will be protected by the Military of this Department in the enjoyment of all their rights under the law.

After sufficient time shall have elapsed to enable the friends of any renegades still at large to bring them in upon their proper reservations, post commanders will use the troops at their command to pursue and force them in, and in case any such straggling bands continue to remain absent without proper authority, they will be forced to surrender or be destroyed.


Appendix 3 • Names of Indian tribes in Arizona Department



Appendix 4 • Names of Indian agents and agencies in Arizona



Appendix 5 • Posts in the Department of Arizona



Appendix 6 • Table of distances between Prescott and the following points



Appendix 7 • Command of Maj. Brown which left Mt. Graham, February 15, 1873



Appendix 8 • Tables of distances between Fort Yuma and Various Points



Appendix 9 • Table of routes to posts in southern Arizona



Appendix 10 • Names of chiefs who assisted Crook in the Apache Campaign



Appendix 11 • Names of hostile chiefs in the Apache Campaign



Appendix 12 • Interview between Major W. H. Brown and Cochise


Appendix 12

[Volume 1, Pages, 177, 179, 181, 183]

Interview between

Major W. H. Brown and Cochise

Account of the interview between Maj. W. H. Brown, 5th Cav and the Indian chief Cocheis or Cheis. February 3d 1873.1

Major Brown. I have come from General Crook to this part of the country to see Cocheis: the General hears that Cocheis is at peace and he knows by (Cocheis’) actions that he has kept it. The General is anxious also to keep this peace in all its integrity according to the terms of the treaty; but, in order to be able to do this, he wants to know what the terms of the treaty are. He has never been furnished with a copy of the treaty, and altho’ he will receive a copy, in time, yet it is a long way to Washington and the easiest way to get these terms [is that] he has sent me to Cocheis to find out what he understands these terms to be, and, especially with reference to the movements of troops within the reservation of Cocheis— and particularly, whether troops are to be permitted to come upon the Reservation or not—and also what has been the understanding about Mexico, whether the peace applies to the people of that country or not.


Appendix 13 • Letter from Bourke regarding Lieutenant Jacob Almy's Death


Appendix 13

Letter from Bourke regarding

Lieutenant Jacob Almy's Death

Undated Clipping from the Arizona Miner

Volume 1, Page 187

[Handwritten comment by Bourke] Murdered May 27th 1873

[Clipping from newspaper]

“Readers of the MINER will be pained to learn of the murder, at the San Carlos Indian agency, on the 27th ultimo, of lst Lieut. Jacob

Almy, 5th Cavalry, a young officer of prominence during the recent campaign.

From the meagre details thus far furnished, I can only state that

Lieut. Almy’s death occurred while endeavoring to quell a disturbance among the Indians of the San Carlos Reservation. These disturbances, growing out of rivalry and antagonism between the former and the present agent, to which the Indians became involved. The particulars of this hostility have been known to the Indian Department in this Territory for some time.

Lieut. Almy was, I believe, a native of Massachusetts and a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, in the class of 1867.

His first services were seen in the campaign of 1867-68, against the hostile Cheyennes and Arapahoes, in which he displayed the same high qualities which afterwards made him so conspicuous in General Crook’s operations against the Apaches. He was present for duty during that campaign, from its first inception to its close, and such were his gallantry, coolness, sound judgment and enthusiastic


Appendix 14 • Extraneous notes of Hopi life


Appendix 14

[Volume 2, Pages 116, 118, 120]

Extraneous notes of Hopi life

At the Moqui villages, a very noticeable feature is the agility and perfect fearlessness with which little baby children run up and down the steep narrow stone steps leading to the roofs of the four story houses. These stairways are unprotected by ballustrade or railings of any kind, have a “raise” of eight inches and a “tread” of only four to six. It was with extreme caution our heavily booted soldiers climbed up the same stairways and ladders.

The rafters, beams and ladders used by the Moquis are constructed of cottonwood; a tree to which we should hereafter assign, under favorable treatment, a greater degree of durability than is at present conceded. No timber of this species can now be found in quantities, within less than 50 miles of Oraybe, and if much were needed search might have to be made for 100 miles.

Secured some seeds of peaches, corn and other vegetables to take to Prescott.

The Moquis have no doors, no window-shutters and no window panes. In very cold weather warmth is afforded by closing doorways with fur coverlids.


Load more


Print Book

Format name
File size
2.42 MB
Read aloud
Format name
Read aloud
In metadata
In metadata
File size
In metadata