Previously: Meanwhile, a rather colorful troop of US Cavalry—was also heading for Fort Savage…
Lt. Colonel Phineas Cooper, Major Osias Washington, Captain Timothy Jones, Captain Jeremiah Cooper (Phineas’ brother), Sergeant-Major Kuckunniwi (Little Wolf), and Head Scout Chatan (Hawk), rested on their journey to Fort Savage.
Not one of them looked down—so they didn’t see their respective names at their feet!
Season 9—Chapter 6—Loco Part III—Prologue…
Born in 1844, the third of twelve boys born to a hardscrabble dirt farmer and his schoolmarm wife in Westin’s Hollow. He was well-educated, all the boys attended school through the eighth grade—their mother insisted on it. In 1860, he was 16—and looked full-grown with a man’s beard and a mature demeanor.
He figured war would soon break out between the free and the slave states. He didn’t much like slavery; it just didn’t seem right to his way of thinking, after all, many of his neighbors were negroes and they were just as smart and hardworking as anybody.
So Phineas Cooper went to volunteer with the US Army, and in so doing—told his first (and only) lie as he assured his recruiter he was eighteen years old.
On June 9, 1863, at Brandy Station, then cavalry Sergeant Cooper was serving under Major General Alfred Pleasonton who led the union cavalry against famed Confederate General Jeb Stuart. This was the largest-ever cavalry battle fought on American soil.
After the battle, an embarrassing loss for General Stuart, Cooper’s battalion commander was so impressed by Cooper’s actions that he promoted Cooper to the rank of lieutenant.
May 11th, 1864, at a place called Yellow Tavern, and under the command of Major General Phillip Sheridan, by then Captain Cooper, was forced to take command of his regiment when Colonel Van Slyke was killed when the 1st Virginia Cavalry counter-charged.
By the end of the Civil War in 1865, Lt. Colonel Cooper found himself on General Ulysses Grant’s staff at the Battle of Appomattox Courthouse and General Robert E. Lee’s surrender.
After the war, Cooper headed west, joined by his younger brother Jeremiah, who had just completed his education at the United States Military Academy at West Point, and with the reduction-of-force of the post Civil War army, had no assignment.
They ended up at Fort Leavenworth Kansas where Phineas was reunited with Colonel Benjamin Grierson, an old friend who now commanded the 10th Cavalry Regiment (later known as the “Buffalo Soldiers”), and consisted of Negro troopers commanded by white officers.
Cooper had an idea. He wired his friend, now President Grant, and asked for a commission as US Cavalry Militia, to troubleshoot the frontier—with the provision he could hand-select all potential troopers. The President was delighted that Cooper was returning to serve—and agreed. Grant immediately prepared the commission orders and wired them.
Cooper presented the orders to Grierson, and asked to interview potential recruits.
He selected three members of the 10th Cavalry—and, of course, his brother.
Thus Cooper’s Militia was started as the five of them headed to the Dakotas.
To be Continued…