Lest We Forget - African American Military History by Researcher, 
					Author and Veteran Bennie McRae, Jr.

Seminoles

SOURCE: Kinney County 1852-1977. Published by the Members of the Kinney County Historical Commission (of 1976-1977)

According to Frost Woodhull in an article in "Frontier Times" of Bandera, Texas of some 50 years ago, all the Seminoles who were brought to Ft. Clark from Mexico had been followers of Chief Wildcat and runaways from Indian Territory of Oklahoma.

Seminole Indians

These Seminoles were part Indian and part Negro. They were descendants of Seminole Indians of the Everglades Region of Florida and Negro slaves who had run away from their white masters in Georgia and other states. These runaways went to Florida because Florida belonged to Spain (until bought by the U. S. in 1819) and U. S. law could not recapture them there.

During Andrew Jackson's presidency (1829-1847), Congress passed a ruling that all Indians must be moved west of the Mississippi River.

Chief Wildcat offered to move his tribe peacefully. There may have been others who did the same. They were taken by boat from Florida across part of the Gulf of Mexico, up the Mississippi River to the Arkansas, up the Arkansas River to a point north of Indian Territory, then marched to Indian Territory which is now part of Oklahoma.

Those Seminoles who refused to move were attacked by United States troops but after seven years of war and $7,000,000 expenditures the United States gave up. Seminoles still occupy the Everglades.

Chief Wildcat and his people were unhappy in Oklahoma with its cold winters and hot dry summers and ran away to Mexico where the United States law could not get them. They settled near Musquiz and Nacimiento not far from present Eagle Pass.

Other Seminoles from Florida may have joined them by way of Matamores.

During the Civil War the Indians (Comanches, Lipans and Kiowas) took over. They came across the Rio Grande from Mexico and raided the ranches for horses and cattle.

For that reason, after Ft. Clark was again garrisoned after the war, Col. McKenzie (commanding officer of Ft. Clark) on July 5, 1871 enlisted 150 Seminole scouts and their families from Mexico and gave them land along Las Moras Creek. There they built their wattle and brush houses with attached roofs along irrigation ditches that irrigated their patches of corn, pumpkins etc., much as they had done in Florida. Traces of the ditches still exist. The houses are all gone. From these families the scout were recruited.

One of the bravest of these was John Horse known to the Mexicans as Juan Caballo. Lt. Bullis headed these scouts. They knew Indian ways, and were, therefore, needed to scout out their campsites.

Of these scouts, four received Congressional Medals of Honor. The first recipient was Private Adam Paine. It was in 1874 that Private Adam Paine won his Medal of Honor in an engagement with Indians in Palo Duro Canyon. (Only 3,336 Medals of Honor have been awarded in the United States. Of these 78 were black recipients and of these 78, four are these Seminole scouts of Kinney County.)

In a battle on the Pecos River on April 15, 1875 three other Seminole Indian scouts earned the Medal of Honor. They were Sgt. John Ward, Trumpeter Isaac Payne, and Pvt. Pompey Factor. They were cited for "gallantry in action" against Indians on a scout with Lt. John L. Bullis, commander of the detachment.

(Another Brackettville citizen has received a medal of honor. He is Captain C. A. Windus whose family history appears elsewhere.)

Buried in the Seminole Indian Scout Cemetery on the old reservation now part of Ft. Clark Springs, are these four scouts and approximately 70 other scouts who played an important or major role in protecting Texas frontier from hostile Indians. Of these a few are listed below:

John Jefferson, John Bowlegs, Renty Grayson, Issac Payne, Sampson July, Billy July, Pompey, Perryman, Kelina Wilson, Elijah Daniels, Issac Wilson, Joseph Phillips, Billie Wilson and George Kibbitt.

In October 1967 the Seminole Indian Scout Association was chartered to provide for the restoration, care, and upkeep of the Cemetery which includes almost every member of Brackettville's black population, most of whom can trace their ancestry back to one of the courageous scouts, who had their day in shaping history of Kinney County.


Note From Katarina Wittich:

The article "SEMINOLES" contains a number of inaccuracies and simplifications, however, it is included here to give a local perspective on the Seminoles and the Seminole Negro Indian Scouts. A more complex and accurate view of their history can be found on this web site in William Gwaltney's article titled: "FOOTPRINTS ALONG THE BORDER"
Corrections:

Wildcat did not move peaceably to Oklahoma. He and John Horse were two of the Seminole leaders who were very active in fighting against the US troops. The both finally agreed to move when it became clear that it was impossible to resist any longer. Despite his agreement to come in on his own, Wildcat actually never brought his people in and was finally captured and shipped in chains to Oklahoma.

Wildcat and his people fled to Mexico from Oklahoma for a number of reasons - bad weather being only one of them. Primary among the reasons were the proximity of Creek and southern slavers who would steal the black members of the Seminoles and sell them into slavery. Even members of John Horse's own family were stolen. Frustration at his inability to protect his people, along with political battles with the other Seminoles and land battles with the Creeks led Wildcat to join with his battle comrade John Horse and his band of Black Seminoles in leading both their people to safety in Mexico.

It was Major Zenas R. Bliss, not Colonel Mackenzie, who first enlisted and created the Seminole Negro Indian Scouts at Fort Duncan. They later moved to Fort Clark. Mackenzie did make use of the Scouts frequently and was lavish in his praise of them.

An interesting side note to the Medal Of Honor information is that early on New Years Morning, 1877, at a New Years party in the scouts encampment, Medal of Honor winner Claron Windus shot and killed ex-scout and Medal Of Honor Winner Adam Paine. This is the only known case of one Medal of Honor Winner killing another. Windus was acting in his role as Deputy Sheriff, attempting to apprehend Paine, who was wanted for the murder of a soldier in Brownsville. However, Paine was shot with a shotgun at such close range that it is reported that his clothing was set on fire. Windus and his companions were also attempting to arrest cattle thief Frank Enoch, and scouts Isaac Payne and Dallas Griner. Enoch died of wounds which he received during the encounter. Isaac Payne and Dallas Griner escaped to Mexico and later were cleared of charges of horse theft and re-enlisted as scouts.

Category: Western Frontier | Subcategory: Black Seminoles | Tags: seminoles , fort clark , chief wildcat , oklahoma , indian territory , comanche , lipan , kiowa , Col. McKenzie , Las Moras Creek , John Jefferson , John Bowlegs , Renty Grayson , Issac Payne , Sampson July , Billy July , Pompey , Perryman , Kelina Wilson , Elijah Daniels , Issac Wilson , Joseph Phillips , Billie Wilson and George Kibbitt John L. Bullis , bracketville , John Horse , Juan Caballo ,
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