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



Researched and written by the interpretive staff of Fort Davis National Historic Site, Fort Davis, Texas

As with the Ninth Cavatry and Twenty-fourth Infantry, the Twenty-fifth Infantry evolved from the units originally authorized by the 1866 Act of Congress. Formed during the Army's reduction-in-force of 1869, the 25th was composed of personnel from the 39th and 40th Infantry Regiments. Enlisted men of the two parent units had been drawn from northern Virginia and southern Louisiana. Many had seen limited service as Union volunteers during the War between the States.

Several distinguished officers were selected to command the new regiment, including Colonel Joseph A. Mower, Lieutenant Colonel Edward Hinks and Major Zenas R. Bliss, All were seasoned veterans of the Civil War. The first-headquarters of the 25th Infantry was established at Jackson Barracks Louisiana in April, 1869. The regiment did not enjoy this peaceful home for long, however, as it was soon moved to the Texas Frontier.

Proceeding by official order to San Antonio in May and June of 1870, the ten companies of the 25th fnfantry went into bivouac as an entire regiment for the last time for many years to come. They were soon to be scattered far and wide to posts in West Texas--- Forts Davis, Clark, Bliss and Stockton.

In the course of the June 20, 1870 regimental inspection conducted by Department of Texas Commander James H. Carleton, the troops of the 25th were found to be well trained and disciplined. A drill demonstration scheduled for the same review was cancelled due the extreme heat of the afternoon. The first sergeant of Company A collapsed on the San Antonio parade ground that day from the effects of heat exhaustion. This experience was just a taste of what he and the men of his company were to endure as part of their upcoming duty at Fort Davis.

On July 31, 1870, after a march of about 350 miles through the summer heat of Texas, Companies A and G arrived at Fort Davis. These miles were the forerunners of thousands more to be covered by the foot soldiers of the regiment as they performed a variety of duties in and around Fort Davis. The duty would take the men of the 25th to the border country along the Rio Grande, to the Mescalero Apache Reservation in southern New Mexico, and to numerous mail stations and Army camps on the trails criss-crossing West Texas.

Life at Fort Davis for the soldiers of Companies A and G began with inglorious but essential assignments. Company A was split into smaller detachments which were detailed to guard nearby stage stations from Indians attacks. Company G was ordered to a forested area 16 miles west of the fort to establish and operate a lumber camp and sawmill, one of several known over the years as the "Pineries." In the succeeding months and years, from the fall of 1870 to the spring of 1880, various other companies of the 25th served at Fort Davis.

A new and highly respected commander was assigned to the 25th in June, 1871. Colonel George L. Andrews was transferred with his new command to Fort Davis early in 1872. Colonel Andrews, a man who believed in an aggressive approach to the Indian problems of West Texas, utilized the skills and abilities of his infantrymen wisely. The men of the 25th were not often dispatched in pursuit of fast-moving Indian war parties, but they were well suited to perform countless other military duties on the frontier.

Besides the management of food and supplies, and construction and maintenance of buildings, the enlisted men and officers of the 25th participated in many off-post projects. The construction of new roads through Wild Rose Pass and Musquiz Canyon was accomplished by Company E, under the command of Captain David Schooley. When government trains were detailed to Tularosa, New Mexico to pick up lumber for the fort, a detachment from the 25th Infantry often served as the protective escort. In December, 1876 a large contingent from the regiment was ordered to "Presidio del Norte, Texas for the purpose of protecting American citizens from aggression by Mexican marauders and bandits." Part of the contingent remained in Presidio for more than two months before peace was finally restored to the settlement.

Perhaps the most important field labor detail for the 25th Infantry was that completed by 2nd Lieutenant George Andrews and the men of Company I on February 1, 1879. They constructed 914 miles of telegraph line west from Fort Davis to Eagle Springs, connecting with a recently finished section from Fort Bliss. This telegraph line, in conjunction with another from Fort Concho to Fort Davis, was the vital communications link used by Colonel B. H. Grierson and his command during a subsequent campaign against renegade Apaches in West Texas.

While Colonel Grierson was making final plans for the completion of the Victorio Campaign, Colonel George L. Andrews received orders for the transfer of his regiment to what was in 1880 known as the Dakota Territory. By the end of the summer of 1880, the entire command had been relocated on the Northern Plains. Duties for the companies of the 25th at their new stations were very similar to those performed in Texas.

During the remainder of the nineteenth century the regiment was assigned to forts in the Dakota Territory, Minnesota and Montana. Units of the 25th took part in the Pine Ridge Campaign of 1890-91, the last major conflict of the Indian Wars period. A battalion from the regiment also assisted local authorities dealing with labor unrest in Idaho and Montana.

As part of the Army's general mobilization for the Spanish- American War in 1898, the 25th Infantry was moved to Florida and thence to Cuba. The men of the regiment fought gallantly as an element of the 5th Army Corps, assaulting San Juan Hill and Santiago in July, 1898.

For a brief period after the war the 25th was stationed in Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. By the end of 1899, the regiment was enroute to another overseas assignment, this time to the Philippines to assist in suppressing the Philippine Insurrection. The regiment returned to the United States mainland in 1902, having enhanced an already impressive fighting record. From 1902 to 1942, the men of the regiment experienced a variety of assignments in Nebraska, Oklahoma, Hawaii and Arizona.

In World War II as part of the 93rd Division, the 25th Infantry was assigned to the Pacific Theater. Following action in New Guinea, the Northern Solomons and the Bismarck Archipelago, the 93rd was deactivated and the 25th returned to peacetime duty in Georgia early in 1946. The regiment served briefly in the Korean War and was officially deactivated in the course of the Army's transition to integrated units in the middle 1950's.

Over its eighty-five year existence in service to the United States, the 25th Infantry compiled an impressive history. Surmounting the obstacles of harsh living conditions, difficult duty, low pay and a racial prejudice of many of their peers, the men of the regiment gained a reputation for dedication and bravery. The words of Colonel Benjamin H. Grierson, in a General Order issued by him in 1881, may best reflect this reputation: "It is a pleasant duty for me to thank the officers and enlisted men for the zeal and alacrity with which they responded to every demand....for the fortitude with which they braved dangers, and the intelligent activity and efficiency manifested in the discharge of the duties assigned them."


Trotwood, Ohio



Category: World War II | Subcategory: Pacific Theater | Tags: World War II , Virginia , Georgia , Florida , Louisiana , Oklahoma , Texas , New Mexico , Arizona , Idaho , Montana , Nebraska , Minnesota , 1870 , 3RD DIVISION , 1869 , 1871 , 1872
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