The story of our family...for my sons

Friday, June 14, 2013

James Ira Stewart...Apache fighter...

My great grandfather, James Ira Stewart served in the 5th Infantry, Co. A, of the California volunteers from 1861 to 1865, and spent the Civil War in the territory of New Mexico "fighting hostiles". The regiment was ordered to concentrate at Albuquerque in the spring of 1861 for a move east, but the department commander persuaded Washington to leave the 5th on the frontier. In early 1862 a Confederate force from Texas invaded New Mexico. Four companies of the 5th formed the Union rear guard in the Confederate victory at Valverde on 21 February, after which the Confederates occupied Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

Two other companies of the 5th captured a field piece at the Battle of Glorieta Pass on 28 March, the beginning of the end for the Confederate forces. The 5th also fought in the action at Peralta on 15 April where the enemy lost a large part of their supply train. The Confederates ultimately withdrew to San Antonio, and the 5th spent the rest of the war on frontier duty, watching for another Confederate incursion, which never came. On 1 June 1863 John F. Reynolds officially became colonel of the 5th; however, he was on detached service as a Major General of Volunteers, commanding a corps of the Army of the Potomac. He was killed a month later on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg. His replacement as commander of the 5th was another volunteer general, Daniel Butterfield, the composer of the bugle call "Taps". Butterfield, also wounded at Gettysburg, did not join the regiment during the war.

5th Regiment Infantry Engagements

Organized in California at large September to November. 1861. Attached to Depts. of the Pacific and New Mexico.
Ordered to Camp Latham, Southern California, February 1, 1862. Carlton's Expedition from Southern California through Arizona to Northwest Texas and New Mexico April 13-September 20 (Cos. "B" and "G"). Regiment garrison posts in Southern California and Arizona. Company "D" at San Diego. Companies "C," "F," "H," "I" and "K" at Camp Wright and Fort Bowie. Companies "A" and "E" at Fort Barrett. Companies "B" and "G" at Tucson until December, 1862. Company -- march to Tucson July 6, 1862. March from Tucson to the Rio Grande July 25-August 15, 1862 (Cos. "A," "B" and "G"). December, 1862, stationed at Tucson, Company "F"; at Fort Bowie, Companies "E" and "G"; at Fort Yuma, Companies "C" and "H"; at Camp Drum, Companies "D," "I" and "K." Engagement at Pinos Altos Mines January 29, 1863 (Co. "A"). To Tucson and Messilla February, 1863 (Cos. "C" and "H"). Engagement at Cajou de Arivaypo, Apache Pass, April 25, 1863 (Co. "K"). Stationed May, 1863, at Fort Stanton (Co. "A"), Fort Bowie (Co. "E"), Tucson (Cos. "C," "F" and "H"), Fort Craig (Cos. "B," "D," "G," "I" and "K"). Skirmish, Cajou de Arivaypa, May 7, 1863. At Fort Stanton June, 1863. Crook's Canon, N. Mex., July 24, 1863 (Co. "E"). Skirmishes, Chirlcahua Mountains, September 8-9, 1863. Skirmish, Gila River, November 5, 1863. Skirmish, San Andreas Mountains, January 26, 1864 (Detachment). Operations in New Mexico and Arizona February 1-March 7, 1864. Expedition from Camp Mimbres February 24-29, 1864 (Detachment). Pines Altos, Ariz., February 27, 1864. Skirmish at foot of Sierra Bonita April 7, 1864 (Companies "F" and "I"). Doubtful Canon, N. Mex., May 4, 1864 (Company "I"). Gila River Expedition, Arizona, May 25-July 13, 1864 (Companies "E," "I" and "K"). Expedition from Fort Craig, N. Mex., to Fort Goodwin, Ariz., May 16-August 2, 1864 (Companies "A," "C" and "E"). At Fort Goodwin until October (Cos. "A," "C" and "E"). June, 1864, stationed at Camp Mimbres, Ariz. (Cos. "A" and "F"), at Fort Bowie (Co. "K"), at Franklin, Texas (Cos. "G" and "H"), at Tucson (Co. "D"), at Fort Cummings (Co. "I"). Scout in Southeastern Arizona July 16-24, 1864 (Co. "A"). Expedition to Pinal Mountains July 18-August 7, 1864 (Co. "E"). Expedition to Southwest New Mexico July 23-October 10, 1864 (Cos. "B" and "F"). Ordered to Las Cruces October 8, 1864 (Cos. "A," "C," "D," "E," "I" and "K"). Company "F" to Fort Cummings October, 1864. Mustered out November 27 to December 14, 1864

The Battle of Mount Gray

The Battle of Mount Gray was a little known engagement of the Apache Wars fought at the foothills of Gray Mountain, then known as Mount Gray on April 7, 1864. A troop of the United States Army's California Column attacked a superior force of Chiricahua Apaches at their camp and routed them from the field.


When the American Civil War began in 1861, Confederate Arizona was established so the Union raised a volunteer force of Californians to march through Arizona to capture the territory and to reinforce the Union army in New Mexico. During the 900 mile journey in 1862 and 1863, the California Column constructed or occupied several camps and forts and when the column moved on, men were left behind to garrison them. One of these posts was Camp Mimbres. On March 15, 1864, Apaches raided a herd of livestock at Cow Springs. By March 27, the garrison of Camp Mimbres was informed of the attack so Captain James H. Whitlock organized an expedition to retrieve the stolen livestock. The expedition was made up of forty-six men from the 5th California Infantry along with ten men from the 1st California Cavalry. A few militia scouts also went along to be used as trackers. They headed towards Stein's Peak in the Sierra Bonita Mountains and when they arrived, an Apache trail was spotted and led north into the San Simon Valley. After a few more days of marching the Apache trail turned west and it was followed to the base of Mount Gray within present day Hidalgo County, New Mexico.


At about 4:00 am on April 7, while marching through the foothills, Captain Whitlock noticed campfires in the distance and he immediately assumed it to be an Apache camp. Quickly Whitlock advanced his troop to the camp where around 250 Apaches warriors were resting with the herd of livestock. Whitlock decided to separate his command into a few groups to surround the camp, they would then attack at first light. So when the sun rose above the horizon, the American soldiers began their assault. The captain led the charge into the Apache camp which was defended by the Chiricahua for over an hour before they retreated up the mountain. When the Americans were finally in control, they set fire to the wickiups and destroyed about 300 pounds of dried mescal, an Apache food source. While burning the mescal, thirty of the retreating Apaches turned around and attacked the soldiers to try to stop the destruction of their food but they were driven off by effective volleys of rifle fire. Twenty-one Apaches were killed and left on the field, others were wounded but escaped and forty-five horses and mules were captured. There were no American casualties. The battle at Mount Gray was one of the more significant engagements fought between the California Column and the Apache. Similar to the earlier Battle of Apache Pass, the Californians were outnumbered but managed to defeat a larger force of hardened warriors. Whitlock Valley and the Whitlock Mountains were later named after Captain Whitlock.

When the Civil War ended, the bulk of the Regular Army returned from war service in the east to frontier duty in the west. The 5th Infantry moved slightly in the other direction, transferring from New Mexico to Kansas. By October 1868 it was strung out across seven different posts in western Kansas, with headquarters at Fort Riley. That's where James Ira Stewart mustered out...and the life of a farmer in Kansas...thanks Gramps.

The 5th went on to fight at Little Big Horn

In the spring of 1876 the largest Indian confederation of the post-Civil War period formed in the northern plains, led by Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse of the Lakota Indians. The Army organized a three-pronged expedition to round up this force, but the Indians scored major victories against two of the three, stopping George Crook's southern pincer at the Battle of the Rosebud on 17 June and destroying half of the 7th Cavalry, vanguard of Alfred Terry's eastern column, at the Battle of the Little Bighorn on 25–26 June. Reinforcements were rushed in, including the 5th Infantry, which built Fort Keogh at the mouth of the Tongue River in Montana, and began operating from there. Miles and the 5th caught up to Sitting Bull at Cedar Creek in late October and, failing to negotiate his surrender, defeated his band in battle, forcing them to abandon most of their food and equipment. 2000 Lakota of this group surrendered on 27 October, although Sitting Bull himself escaped. 3 companies of the 5th pursued Sitting Bull along the Missouri River, capturing his camp and scattering his followers on 18 December.

Miles returned to the Tongue River with a force from the 5th and 22nd Infantry to pursue Crazy Horse. They captured several important prisoners in the valley below the Wolf Mountains on 7 January 1877, leading to a confrontation with the main body the following day. The 5th, attacking superior numbers in near-blizzard conditions, drove the Lakota and Cheyenne force off the high ground, forcing them to retreat. The 5th continued to pursue and round up bands from the broken confederacy into the summer of 1877.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Picture: Hervor was a shieldmaiden in the cycle of the magic sword Tyrfing, presented in Hervarar saga and of which parts are found in the Poetic Edda.
She was a renowned shieldmaiden who dressed like a man, fought, killed and pillaged under her male surname Hjörvard

A shieldmaiden was a woman who had chosen to fight as a warrior in Scandinavian folklore and mythology. They are often mentioned in sagas such as Hervarar saga and in Gesta Danorum. Shieldmaidens also appear in stories of other Germanic nations: Goths, Cimbri, and Marcomanni. The mythical Valkyries may have been based on the shieldmaidens.

Historical accounts

There are few historical attestations that Viking Age women took part in warfare, but the Byzantine historian Johannes Skylitzes records that women fought in battle when Sviatoslav I of Kiev attacked the Byzantines in Bulgaria in 971.[2] When the Varangians had suffered a devastating defeat, the victors were stunned at discovering armed women among the fallen warriors.

When Leif Ericson's pregnant half-sister Freydís Eiríksdóttir was in Vinland, she is reported to have taken up a sword, and, bare-breasted, scared away the attacking Native Americans. The fight is recounted in the Greenland saga, though Freydís is not explicitly referred to as a shieldmaiden in the text.
Legendary accounts

Examples of shieldmaidens mentioned by name in the Norse sagas include Brynhild in the Volsunga saga, Hervor in Hervarar saga, the Brynhild of the Bósa saga ok Herrauds, the Swedish princess Thornbjörg in Hrólfs saga Gautrekssonar and Hed, Visna and Veborg in Gesta Danorum.

According to Saxo Grammaticus, 300 shieldmaidens fought on the Danish side at the Battle of Bråvalla, in the year 750. Saxo also records an account of Lathgertha who fought in battle for Ragnar Lodbrok and saved him from defeat through personally leading a flanking attack.

Two shieldmaidens appear in certain translations of the "Hervarar saga." The first of these Hervor's was known to have taken up typically masculine roles early in her childhood, and often raided travelers in the woods dressed as a man. Later in her life she claimed the cursed sword Tyrfing from her father's burial site and became a seafaring raider. She eventually settled and married. Her granddaughter was also named Hervor and commanded forces against attacking Huns. Although the saga remarks on her bravery she is mortally wounded by enemy forces and dies on the battlefield. Scholars Judith Jesch and Jenny Jochens theorize that shieldmaiden's often grim fates or their sudden return to typically female roles is a testament to their role as figures of both male and female fantasy as well as emblematic of the danger of abandoning gender roles.

Brynhildr of the Volsunga saga, along with her rival in love, Gudrun, provides an example of how a shieldmaiden compares to more conventional aristocratic womanhood in the sagas. Brynhildr is chiefly concerned with honor, much like a male warrior. When she ends up married to Gudrun's brother Gunnar instead of Sigurd, the man she intended to marry, Brynhildr speaks a verse comparing the courage of the two men:

"Sigurd fought the dragon
And that afterward will be
Forgotten by no one
While men still live.
Yet your brother
Neither dared
To ride into the fire
Nor to leap across it."

Brynhildr is married to Gunnar and not Sigurd because of deceit and trickery, including a potion of forgetfulness given to Sigurd so he forgets his previous relationship with her.[5] Brynhildr is upset not only for the loss of Sigurd but also for the dishonesty involved. Similarly to her male counterparts, the shieldmaiden prefers to do things straightforwardly, without the deception considered stereotypically feminine in much of medieval literature. She enacts her vengeance directly, resulting in the deaths of herself, Sigurd, and Sigurd's son by Gudrun. By killing the child, she demonstrates an understanding of feud and filial responsibility; if he lived, the boy would grow up to take vengeance on Brynhildr's family.

Gudrun has a similar concern with family ties, but at first does not usually act directly. She is more inclined to incite her male relatives to action than take up arms herself. Gudrun is no shieldmaiden, and Brynhildr mocks her for this, saying, "Only ask what is best for you to know. That is suitable for noble women. And it is easy to be satisfied while everything happens according to your desires.” In her later marriages, however, she is willing to kill her children, burn down a hall, and send her other sons to avenge the murder of her daughter, Svanhild. In the world of the sagas, women can be both honorable and remorseless, much like the male heroes. While a shieldmaiden does not fill a woman's typical role, her strength of character is found in even the more domestic women in these stories.