The Forty-Day Scout

A trooper’s firsthand account of an adventure with the
Indian-fighting army in the American Southwest

In the early summer of 1872, Kiowa or Comanche Indians killed and scalped two white ranchers to steal their sixteen-shot Henry rifles. The Indians spared one man’s Mexican wife and a servant boy, and the survivors reported the murders to the authorities at Fort Bascom, New Mexico. The U.S. Army, including the 8th Cavalry, Colonel John Irvin Gregg commanding, was bugled off on a punitive expedition into the Staked Plains of West Texas, the homeland of the warlike tribesmen. Read more »

Rendering The Alamo

On the morning of March 6,1836, a band of 187 Texas revolutionaries died at the hands of some three thousand Mexican troops within the crumbling pile of stones called the Alamo. The romance that still hovers about the place already was flourishing a decade after the massacre, a fact that led a young Mexican War volunteer to make the earliest known paintings of the Alamo—published here for the first time—and to participate in what was almost certainly the first (albeit minor) historical preservation project in the history of the United States Army. Read more »

Westpoint: 1978

What’s Happened to the Long Gray Line

No monument or institution has more power to stir the patriotic emotions of Americans, or evokes more poignintly the martial virtues of self-sacrifice and discipline, than the United States Military Academy at West Point. In the view of General George S. Patton, Jr., of the class of 1909, whose statue now belligerently confronts the academy library, West Point was “a holy place and I can never think of it without reverence and affection.” A general less given to extravagant speech or gestures, Lucius D.Read more »

The Jump Into Sicily

“For This Challenge, I Had Come Three Thousand Miles and Thirty-six Years of My Life”

The future General James M. Gavin of the celebrated 82nd Airborne Division was a thirty-six-year-old colonel in July 0f 1943, facing his first combat assignment. The target was Sicily, and he was to lead a regiment of the 82nd in the first large-scale, organized invasion of Europe by airborne troops. Gavin had trained the men believed in them, was eager to prove their value in battle.

 
 

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The Lost Battalion

The doughboys numbered only 550 men -- the remnants of four battalions -- and were surrounded by Germans. Then they were given the order to attack.

In the early fall of 1918 five hundred American infantrymen were cut off from their regiment and surrounded by Germans during five days of fighting in the Argonne Forest. Though they would be forever remembered as the Lost Battalion, they were not really a battalion and they were never lost. “We knew exactly where we were,” one of them said later.Read more »

Under Fire In Cuba

A Volunteer’s Eyewitness Account of the War With Spain

From the Revolution at least through World War II, American boys hurrying off to war calmed their fear s by believing that their country’s cause wan just and right and would surely prevail.

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The Sweet Grass Lives On

A decade ago a serious recognition of American Indian painters was rare indeed, for the simple reason that few art critics considered that there was anything about Indian painting worth knowing. Read more »

The Reluctant Conquerors

How the Generals Viewed the Indians

The white man’s peace at Appomattox in 1865 meant war for the Plains Indians. In the next quarter century six and a half million settlers moved west of the Missouri River, upsetting a precarious balance that had existed between two million earlier pioneers and their hundred thousand “hostile” red neighbors. The industrial energy that had flowed into the Civil War now pushed rail lines across traditional hunting grounds.Read more »

The Ordeal Of Plenty Horses

CAUGHT BETWEEN TWO CULTURES, A YOUNG SIOUX SOUGHT TO MAKE HIMSELF A HERO—BY KILLING AN ARMY OFFICER

On January 8, 1891, newspapers throughout the United States headlined a tragic event in the Indian troubles rocking the Sioux reservations of South Dakota. A talented and popular army officer attempting to enter a hostile encampment to talk peace had been treacherously slain by a young Sioux warrior. The death of Lieutenant Edward W. Casey shocked and saddened his legions of friends and admirers.Read more »

At War With The Stars And Stripes

Army newspapers in World War were unofficial, informal, and more than the top brass could handle

In the summer of the year 1944, in a time of world war that is already history to my children’s generation but remains vividly personal to mine as a moment of (in retrospect) astonishing simplicity and idealism, I found myself pointing a jeep in the direction of Pisa and Florence. On the so-called forgotten front in Italy, the Wehrmacht held the northern side of these cities; the line dividing their riflemen and ours was the river Arno. Read more »