Huachuca Illustrated, vol 1, 1993:

chuca Illustrat

chuca Illustrat

U.S. Army Lifestyles at Huchuca in the 1920s:

chuca Illustrat


In the summer of 1921 a trooper at Fort Huachuca could see Douglas Fairbanks in The Mark of Zorro, play tennis at the courts in back of the gym, attend the literary society, participate in the reghnental variety show, go to church or bible study, gamble at Tommy's restaurant after 9:30 p.m., and play on any number of organized sports teams representing his troop.

According to one commander of the 10th, Col. Louis C. Scherer,

The Buffalo Regiment and its home, Fort Huachuca, is considered by many Cavalry officers, particularly those who have been fortunate enough to serve with the 10th, as being the pick of all Cavalry assignments.

Due to the isolation of the post, the regiment must furnish its own recreation and amusement, which tends toward the creation of an ideal post life. A great deal of interest is shown in athletics, particularly mounted sports, hunting, shooting competitions, etc. Each troop maintains a camp in the mountains where men go for hunting and individual field training. This feature, together with numerous squad, platoon and troop practice marches furnished welcome diversions from routine schedules.(59)

Louis Charles Scherer. Commanded Fort Huachuca from 1926-28.

First Sergeant Vance Marchbanks served with his family at Huachuca. for many years and remembered the recreational opportunities available in the 1920s.

For amusement in the early days they had baseball games, football games, hand ball, basketball, tennis, bowling, athletic meets staged two or three times a year, and we had moving picture shows and horse shows. We also had drills, maneuvers, target practice with the pistol, rifle and machine gun, which kept the soldiers in trim. ...We enjoyed devotional service on Sunday, and we had a hospital, theatre, dance hall, department store, butcher shop, barber shop, beer garden and burial ground. No city could boast of the things we did not have, except in the early days we did not have a free school. Our children attended a private school however, and the parents paid the teacher $5.00 per month for each child.

... just outside the post, like nearly all army posts where I have been, we had stores, saloons, houses of prostitution, gambling shacks, and, during the dry period, bootlegging joints. With all of its faults, disadvantages and handicaps, we rather enjoyed our stay.(60)

The lack of recreational choices at the Huachuca cutback had an effect on the displine of the soldiers who were driven to the enclave of vice called White City just off the reservation where the main gate is today. In 1923 the cluster of houses outside Fort Huachuca's gate that featured women and bootleg booze, was raided by the sheriff and closed down. A Tucson newspaper called the place "a notorious outlaw settlement." The provost marshal in 1921 and 1922 was Captain Clarence Richmond. He described the conditions.

... We had quite a social problem. We figured it was sixty-three miles to Nogales through Patagonia, out this West Gate over the unimproved road. It was sixty-one miles to Douglas; twenty-eight miles to Tombstone, then with a population of eight hundred. We had no taxi service. Right straight out of the Main Gate there was a lot of discharged soldiers, squatters out there who built up adobe shacks and shacks out of tin cans, mesquite and anything they could get. We had quite a mescal problem. We had old Jetmare, the Post Carpenter, who was the Justice of the Peace.... As Provost Marshal of course I went into conference with the Sheriff of Cochise County and he said that's your neck of the woods; that's your bailiwick. You take care of the prairie, as we called it, or White City. It was spread all through the mesquite. Of course, in any case of rape or murder, we would confine them in our own guardhouse and then take them on up to Tucson to be tried by Federal Court. Having been assigned this neck of the woods, it was up to me to police White City. We had what we called the permanent party and we didn't bother them or their women....

The 10th Cavalry Band performing at an equestrian event at Fort Bliss in 1931.
Warrant Officer Wade H. Hampond was the bandleader. Photo courtesy Sgt. Eugene Horton.

A trooper of the 10th Cavalry in an equestrian competition. -------The first known Fort Huachuca 8th grade graduating class.
From the Markel Collection.
---------------------------------------Left to right: Alfred Orr, Hazel Jetmare, William Orr,
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------Mrs. Fritz, teacher, and Art Jetmare. Mr. Jetmare was the
-----------------------------------------------------------------------post carpenter. Photo courtesy Alfred L. Orr, son of
---------------------------------------------------------Andrew D. Orr, blacksmith at Huachuca.

10th Cavalry football team at Huachuca in 1929.

"The Bridal Chamber. Jack's Place - The Rhode Island Jew."------------The Arizona District Track and Field Meet, 26 and 27 July, 1919.
Photo courtesy F.H.L. Ryder Collection.
-------------------------The scoreboard shows the 10th Cavalry with a big lead
-------------------------------------------------------and the 25th Infantry in a solid second.
--------------------------------------------------------Photo courtesy F.H.L. Ryder Collection.

Army Service Club at Fort Huachuca in 1920. Photo courtesy F.H.L. Ryder Collection.

There used to be a place down here close to Hereford, on a corner that went around the road, called Jack's Place. It had big signs all over there. "Jack's Place. We have a marriage bureau here." ...We used to have dances down there and barbecues. There were quite a few cowboys around. They would come in for dances down there.

Whenever they had a lot of professional gamblers or anything like that come in , we would go down and make the raid or the Provost Marshal would take the men over and turn them over to the Sheriff of Cochise County. We wouldn't permit any transients or professional gamblers to come in. If they did we would run them out. If I found anything of a civilian nature, why I would handle it. I might unofficially make the arrest and take them over and turn them into the jail at Tombstone, or turn them over to the Sheriff. The County seat was at Tombstone at that time.(61)

Captain Richmond explained a unique system they had devised to spread the limited number of women over both regiments in the area.

We used to arrange payment of the 10th Cavalry on the first and the 25th Infantry on the fifteenth. Then we would transport the 25 or 30 women that they had down there in Nogales back and forth so as they wouldn't have the two paydays on the same date. Why we wouldn't have enough to take care of them. And we might reverse paydays, the 25th on the first and the 10th on the fifteenth.(#62)

"Jacks Place - The Rhode Island Jew" ---"Officers' Club-------------------- 10th Cavalry, Fort Huachuca, Arizona."
Photo courtesy F.H.L. Ryder Collection.
----------------------------------------Photo courtesy F.H.L. Ryder Collection.

"Troop I, 10th Cavalry Baseball Team, Regimental Champions, 1921." Poster being held up in the background shows that the "Buffalo Cubs" had a record of 24 wins and 1 loss. The "Officials" are listed as Col. E. B. Winans, commanding the 10th, Capt. F. H. L. Ryder, 1 st Lt. D.H. Nelson, and another that cannot be made out. The "Players" are listed as: "Finley - Mgr.; Robinson, C.; Towner, CF; Gordon - 3rd B.; Ahen - S.S &P; Sharp - L. F.; Moore - L. F.; Hudson - C.; Cooke - P.; Crutcher - P.; Franklin - P." Photo courtesy F.H.L. Ryder Collection.

In 1927 Captain Paul J. Matte was assigned to the 10th Cavalry at Fort Huachuca. He drove his Essex up to the gates of the fort and remembers the scene.

Outside the gate was a small Mexican village which consisted, in those days, of about twelve buildings, one of which was the building that made adobe bricks for other huts. Another one was a saloon which was closed on account of prohibition but was used for a dance hall and, probably, illegal dispensation of liquor. Then there was a grocery store and then a congeries of a few residences for the people who operated these buildings.

Matte echoed the remarks of Colonel Scherer about the recreation at the post.

... Now the post, itself, was so isolated that we had to make our own entertainment. This consisted, generally, of something connected with horses. Horseshows, for instance. Our squadron commander had conceived the-idea of leveling off a portion of the ground in front of Headquarters so as to make it available as a horseshow ring. Well, this took many weeks to accomplish. But it was finally accomplished and we were to hold horseshows there at least once a month for the enlisted men and officers. Then again, there was polo. As I said before, Colonel Brown was an old, well-known polo player of the old Army team. He insisted that all officers turn out for polo no matter whether they had polo mounts or not. Which we did. We didn't all become good polo players, but, at least, we knew what the score was.

"Champions, Fort Huachuca, Arizona, 1922, Won 6, Lost 0," Photo courtesy F.H.L. Ryder Collection.

Another favorite pastime was hunting. The game was plentiful along Huachuca. You could find quail and rabbits right down at the bottom of the mountains right outside the post. And up in the mountains you could find deer and some even hunted for bear. I never heard of anybody that caught them. My supply sergeant and I used to go hunting on horses. We'd ride around until we'd spot the game and them we'd dismount and go ahead and try to shoot 'em. We never shot off the horse, though I think it would have been possible as these horses were very well-trained and would stand still when you jumped off.

A great deal of enthusiasm developed when the Infantry battalion and the 10th Cavalry each developed a football team. Our team was coached by one of my lieutenants who was a licensed football referee who used to go off on weekends and referee college football games.... Everybody turned out for the big game and it was a good game. And it was better yet because our team won----to show who was still boss at Fort Huachuca.(63)

Because of the constant concern of the leadership at Huachuca about the lack of recreational activities at their island-like garrison, more activities were organized and more interests catered to than could be found in most rural communities. The soldier had plenty of choices of what to do with his leisure time.


59. The Rasp: The Cavalry Service Annual, The Cavalry School, Fort Riley, Kansas, 1927, 194-6.

60. Marchbanks mss.

61. Richmond interview.

62 .Richmond interview.

63. Matte mss.

24. U.S. Army Lifestyles at Huachuca in the 1920s: Reading

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