April 26, 2020

Buffalo Soldiers March Into Whipple

When the newspaper announced in March 1885 that “it has been definitely settled that the headquarters of the 10th Cavalry (of Buffalo Soldiers) will be on their arrival in this Territory at Whipple and that a company of the colored troops will also be stationed at that post,” the citizenry was apprehensive. They had read about “the inevitable (poor) reputation given the 10th Cavalry by certain journals in southern New Mexico and Arizona.”

However, the proud 10th Cavalry would quickly allay such fears and the people of Prescott would become completely impressed by them. “Since their arrival in Prescott,” the paper later wrote, “the members of the 10th…are as well behaved and as soldierly looking a set of men that have ever been stationed at Whipple.”

Rare c.1886 pic of a 10th Calvary
kitchen camp at Fern Spring, near
Baker's Butte, Mogollon Mtns., AZ
It was May 1, 1885 when “Several of the officers of the 10th Cavalry…arrived at Whipple,” and the entire regiment was expected in six weeks. Since Whipple would be their headquarters, the Buffalo Soldier’s band would also be a part.

Yet just before the entire 10th Cavalry was due to arrive, word was received of “the departure of Geronimo and some 70 Chiricahua warriors of his noted band from the reservation at San Carlos,” the paper disclosed. They were “supposed to be headed for old Mexico, and from Geronimo's record in the past, serious trouble is expected from the outbreak.” Several troops from the 10th Calvary were quickly routed to the scene before they laid eyes on Whipple or Prescott. As a result, it was only Troop B, and the regimental band who marched into Whipple Barracks, 3 weeks early, on May 22nd. Col. Grierson, commandant of the 10th and now Whipple, arrived the day before. In early June, Troop D also arrived at Whipple. 

10th Calvary Insignia
After hearing that the band had been posted at Whipple, Martin Maier, an “enterprising” owner of a beer garden, successfully booked them to play at his establishment the following evening. The band also provided “excellent skating music at the rink,” according to the paper.

Indeed, before arriving in Prescott, they spent a short time in Phoenix where they “gave the citizens of that town the benefit of a serenade, which was highly praised by the papers of that burg,” it was reported. 

Buffalo Soldiers band in 1902
The band became widely popular and the paper reported that people expected them to be playing somewhere in town every night. However, this would come to an end when, after performing on the Plaza, the wagon carrying them back to the Post lost a wheel. Several band members were injured; one severely. 

After several weeks, the band was back in action. On the day of the funeral obsequies for President Grant, the town’s observance was delayed so the band could finish its program at Whipple first.

As fond as Prescott was of the band, they were even more impressed by the soldiers themselves. “Many ladies and gentlemen...visited Whipple for the purpose of witnessing the dress parade by the troops stationed there,” the paper observed. “The drilling of B Troop, 10th Cavalry, surpassed in snap and execution any exhibition of tactics ever given at the post by any body of troops.”

10th Cavalry in the saddle
In August a number of troops from the 10th were transferred to the field under the command of Captain Roberts, who came up from Ft. Bowie.

Like any other regiment, the Buffalo Soldiers had a few personnel problems. One soldier who had a bit too much liquor, unwittingly sliced open his own artery while “showing some of his comrades how he was going to carve up an enemy,” the paper reported. Unfortunately, the wound was so severe that doctors were unable to keep the man alive. 

Another soldier named Eugene Volcame sent money for his girlfriend to meet him in Prescott. However, when she arrived, “she formed the acquaintance of another member of the regiment who possessed greater charms for her than ‘Gene.’" Volcame was so distraught that he tried to take his own life by shooting himself in the head with a carbine. However, he must have tilted his head back just before pulling the trigger because he succeeded only in losing his nose. 

Throughout their entire stay, the only quibble that Prescott could cite came from the saloon keepers: “The 10th Cavalry spend less money for ardent spirits than any other troops ever stationed at Whipple,” they complained.

Camp Date Creek ruins
A comprehensive primer of military posts in Yavapai County, AZ during the Indian Wars. Included are dates, locations and the reason behind each post's name. 

The 10th Cavalry’s stay at Whipple would be brief—just under a year. These proud veteran fighting men were needed too badly in the field to let them sit in such a quiet zone as Prescott. By May of 1886, they were gone; never to return.


Drew's book is now available!

Available in paperback and Kindle!


Paperback: $21.99

Kindle ebook $12.99 

CLICK HERE for Amazon (PB or Kindle)


Also available at:

Western Heritage Center, 156.5 Montezuma (Whiskey Row)


And everywhere Prescott history books are sold!


CLICK HERE for a listing of all the INDIAN CONFLICT stories on Prescott AZ History

Want more Prescott history? Join the "Celebrating Historic Prescott" group.
(Daily pics and featured articles.)
Drew Desmond is on Facebook (For the latest article.)

Follow the Prescott AZ History Blog on Twitter @PrescottAZHist
(Daily pic featured at 7 am & 7 pm and featured articles.)

Prescott AZ History is on Pinterest
(For the latest article.)

Follow PrescottAZHistory on Instagram

Weekly Arizona Miner, 3/13/1885; Pg. 3, Col. 2.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 5/22/1885; Pg. 3, Col. 3.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 5/1/1885; Pg. 4, Col. 1.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 5/15/1885; Pg. 4, Col. 2.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 5/22/1885; Pg. 2, Col. 4.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 5/22/1885; Pg. 3, Col. 1.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 5/22/1885; Pg. 3, Col. 4.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 5/22/1885; Pg. 4, Col. 1.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 6/5/1885; Pg. 3, Col. 1.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 6/5/1885; Pg. 4, Col. 1.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 7/24/1885; Pg. 4, Col. 2.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 8/7/1885; Pg. 3, Col. 4.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 8/7/1885; Pg. 3, Col. 2.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 8/7/1885 ; Pg. 4, Col. 2.
Weekly Journal-Miner, 3/10/1886; Pg. 3, Col. 5.
Weekly Journal-Miner, 3/10/1886; Pg. 3, Col. 3.
Weekly Journal-Miner, 5/12/1886; Pg. 3, Col. 1.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 6/5/1885; Pg. 3, Col. 2.

1 comment: