Buffalo Soldiers at Huachuca:
The 10th Takes Up Station


After returning to the U.S. from the Philippines, the Buffalo soldiers of the 10th Cavalry were stationed at Fort Ethan Allen, Vermont, also known familiarly as "40th and Allen". This was the first time since its organization that the regiment was stationed east of the Mississippi. Late in 1913 the regiment received orders sending it west, to the border station of Fort Huachuca. Second Lieutenant John B. Brooks had just graduated from West Point and was assigned to D Troop. In a 1961 interview, he described the exchange of stations involving three regiments.

...The summer of 1913 we had spent at Winchester, Virginia, testing the new Cavalry drill regulations, and we had hardly arrived back at Ethan Allen in October when we learned of this movement which was to take place in December. Hardly any one knew how to pronounce Fort Huachuca and nobody knew where it was. So there was a great scurrying around, especially among the junior officers to get atlases and find out where Fort Huachuca was and see if we could get the correct pronunciation, which we eventually did. As the Army was very short of funds in those days, it was decided to make this switch a three-way affair, and the horses, Government mounts, were to remain in place in all three stations involved. The only horses which accompanied us were the private mounts of the officers. The Second Cavalry, then at Fort Bliss, Texas, was designated to relieve us, but there was to be a period of approximately three weeks when there would be no Cavalry in the Fort. Prior to our departure, ...a battalion of the Fifth Infantry, then stationed across Lake Champlain at Plattsburg Barracks, was sent over to be instructed how to water, feed and groom our horses because they had to be cared for until the Second arrived. This was done and the Infantrymen really enjoyed this to the extent that on the cut off day, when we turned everything over to them, they insisted on going out for horse exercise. It was early in December and the horses were feeling good because they hadn't been out of the corrals for a few days and it was cold and nippy and it was very amusing to see these infantrymen returning to the post anywhere from 12 o'clock noon to 5 o'clock in the afternoon. Some were carrying their saddles and leading their horses; others were leading their horses with the saddles completed turned around and hanging underneath them. As far as I know they never tried horses exercise a second time.

Fort Huachuca looking northeast in 1915. Note the two new barracks (left center) completed in 1914. The lavatory in the rear was completed in May 1914. Not yet under construction are five more barracks, completed in January 1916, two-story administration building completed in June 1917, nor the radio station completed in July 1917. Most distant building in the center is the Fort Huachuca railway station. Photo courtesy Col. H.B. Wharfield, a lieutenant with the 10th Cavalry in 1917-18.

...We traveled by squadron. Each squadron had a freight train that carried all of the officers' household effects, all the permanent property of the troops, such as pool tables and things of that sort, and then we had a passenger train for each squadron for the personnel. The officers' and enlisted wives accompanied their husbands on this train. We left Fort Ethan Allen on the 8th day of December 1913 and we went directly to Weehawken, New Jersey, where we went aboard the old transport Kilpatrick, which dated from the Spanish-American War. We had about sixty private mounts and they had built stalls aft on one of the decks, an open deck for the horses. The men had to unload the freight trains and do practically all the stevedoring to put the cargo aboard the ship. We had a pretty rough trip down to Galveston, Texas, and I felt very sorry for the horses because it was very cold, windy and rough. But we got there and then the ship had to be unloaded by the soldiers. The freight put in the same system of trains and we were all together, as I recall it, three days in Galveston. Then we came directly to Fort Huachuca on the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad, where we arrived on the 19th day of December 1913.

...the whole regiment came here except L Troop, which went to Fort Apache and they made the entire move by train...

Unidentified officers and lady at Huachuca in 1915. Photo courtesy Charles H. Grierson collection.

...The Second Cavalry came to Fort Ethan Allen. They took over our mounts that we had left there. Then there was...the Fifth Cavalry that was in Huachuca. They went out to Honolulu. We took their horses and the Fourth Cavalry, which was in Honolulu, came to Fort Bliss and they took the Second Cavalry's horses and left their horses at Schofield Barracks.

There were no troops here with the exception of the pack train. You will recall that up to 1912...the packers were all civilians. In 1912 the Quartermaster decided that this was too expensive and that they could enlist Quartermaster soldiers who could do all the packing, but they had to have experienced men and so the Packmaster and the one or two cargadors were old civilians, but the rest of the men were all soldiers and there was one pack company here which was left here and there was a nucleus of a post non-commissioned staff, such as the Post Ordnance Sergeant, Post Commissary Sergeant; they were here. Other than that there was nobody here.

As I recall it, the train came over the El Paso Southwestern from El Paso to Douglas to Lewis Springs and at Lewis Springs there was a spur that ran from there to the post...(12)

On 13 January 1914, a second contingent of the 10th Cavalry arrived by train at Huachuca siding seven miles north of the post. Among them was Captain George Brydges Rodney, a troop commander who would later in his life command the regiment and Fort Huachuca. In his published reminiscences, aptly titled As a Cavalryman Remembers, he described the extreme weather that greeted them.

George B. Rodney, in his memoirs As a Cavalryman Remembers, left us with a vivid, and often humorous, picture of life along the border with the 10th Cavalry.

We reached Huachuca on January 13, in a driving snowstorm. The troops, detraining at a little siding, marched seven miles over a rocky trail to the Post and the ladies and children drove that seven miles through a howling blizzard and a driving snowstorm. On arrival at Huachuca we found one troop of the Ninth (colored) Cavalry that was caring for the horses of the Fourth (that we were relieving). Fires had been started in the empty houses but no other preparations for us had been made. That night we slept on bedsprings laid flat on the floor and ate such food as an impromptu Chinese mess could provide. As a result one of my children got pneumonia and several grown people were laid up.

The next logistics problem that had to be sorted out was the assignment of officers' quarters, never an easy task in the face of an Army tradition that allowed seniors to "rank" or bump juniors from their housing, producing a chaotic ripple effect that frazzled the tempers of all of the wives.(13) Rodney explained the procedure:

To add to the confusion while the captains were caring for their men, a number of junior officers examined different houses and tentatively selected them as their quarters, and later when the captains (I was one) exercised their prerogatives and incontinently ousted the lieutenants from the chosen houses, some ill-feeling developed. In fact, I distinctly remember being told by one lady (?) details of my private life that I tried vainly to assure her were purely imaginary. However "All's well that ends well." Three days found us all again on speaking terms.

It was then that for the first time I realized the depth of feelings that cannot be plumbed when the wife of a junior officer is "ranked out of quarters" by a wife of a senior. That is an old Army custom and a junior has no more right to expect him to give up a part of his pay. It is a prerogative that he has earned by years of service during which he has had the same thing happen to him a score of times.(14)

Maj. Gen. John B. Brooks, USAF Retired, poses
in front of the Fort Huachuca Museum in 1961

With the officers and their families banking the fires in the parlors of their new quarters, although the houses were not always their first choice; the enlisted men bunked across the way, their pool tables unloaded and leveled; with the old 4th Cavalry horses spirited and well cared for by the 9th Cavalry comrades detailed to Huachuca for that purpose; and the snow melting off the branches of the Mexicans oaks of Huachuca Canyon, the regiment comfortably settled in to a 17-year tour of duty that would include border firefights, a full-scale combat maneuver into the mountains of Mexico, and the coming of age of the American Army.


12. Brooks, Maj. Gen. John B., USAF, interview. Typescript in Fort Huachuca Museum files. He served as a 2d lieutenant with D Troop, 10th Cavalry, arriving with the regiment on 19 December 1913. He left in December 1915 to enter the Air Service of the U.S. Army Signal Corps.

13. Paragraph 1026 of 1913 U.S. Army regulations provided that: "officers may make selection of quarters in accordance with their rank. An officer may select quarters occupied by a junior, but will not displace a junior if there be quarters suitable to the rank of the senior available, with equal conveniences and accommodations. When an officer has made his choice he must abide by it, and shall not again displace a junior unless he himself is displaced by a senior."

14. Rodney, George B., As a Cavalryman Remembers, Caxton Printers, Caldwell, Idaho, 1944, 236-7.

3. Uniforms: 1910-1939

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