When Yankee Cavalry Ran Out of Tobacco in 1865 in Western Service

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Briar Lee

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Sep 4, 2021
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After the fall of the South in April 1865 and capture of Jefferson Davis, most Union regiments were mustered out of service in the summer of 1865.

Some few cavalry units were sent West to guard wagon trains or like my great grandfather’s unit, the 12th Missouri United States Volunteer Cavalry, participated in the ill fated Powder River Campaign of 1865. I’m lucky to have been hatched, because the 12th Missouri cavalry would have met the same fate Custer did 11 years later in very close to the same part of Montana if they’d not been crack, experienced veterans armed with repeating Spencer rifles and supported by artillery.

I have a copy of the diary of Charles Springer:

—-
September 8, 1865 near present day Broadus Montana


At the time, Cole was about two miles behind Walker, overseeing the crossing of his wagon train over the Powder River. In his words, Cole ordered the train, "out of the timber and corralled", and the 12th Missouri Volunteer Cavalry "to skirmish through the woods along the river bank to drive out a body of Indians who were posted in the woods". A German immigrant, First Lieutenant Charles H. Springer, of Company B, 12th Missouri Cavalry, said that this took place at about 1:00 p.m. Springer, who was with the 12th Missouri clearing out the woods, described the seen in front of the command: "The whole bottom and hills in advance were covered full of Indians, or to use a soldiers expression, they were thicker than fiddlers in hell". The 12th Missouri, 15th Kansas, 16th Kansas, and one battalion of the 2nd Missouri Light Artillery along with both artillery sections advanced simultaneously toward the warriors. The cannon were unlimbered and began firing at Indians gathered in some woods located in a bend of the Powder River.
—-

I’ve also got a copy of the remanences of George H Holliday of the 6th West Virginia Cavalry, also sent West during 1865.



Both books, and those of others I’ve read mention the same thing about tobacco and Western cavalry service:

1. Native Americans loved the white soldier’s tobacco. But when they got some, they smoked it all up immediately and with great relish.

2. Virtually every United States trooper smoked or chewed tobacco. When available it had to be cheap because the cost of tobacco isn’t mentioned, but the high price of whiskey on the plains is.

3. When soldiers ran out of tobacco they’d smoke tea, coffee, sage brush, and the spent and dried chaws of tobacco chewers. Resupply of tobacco brought great relief.

The pipes most mentioned are cobs. Springer kept a “sweet briar root” he intended to have carved into a pipe. Officers had meerschaums, much envied. Men kept smoking tobacco in pouches, not otherwise well described, and chewers had plug tobacco.

The soldiers wrote how tobacco ( or it’s substitutes) eased hardship, privation, and warded off concerns and lonesomeness.

Interestingly in 1865, there wasn’t one mention of a hand rolled cigarette.
 

WVOldFart

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Cigarettes came into fashion with the onset of motion pictures. Of course there were cigarettes before that but seeing movie stars lighting up made it very fashionable. All you have to do is watch the older movies and notice how many are smoking cigarettes. It is also amusing to notice how much alcohol is consumed in the movies.
 
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If memory serves, Thomas Jefferson brought many brewers to the states in an attempt to get the soldiers drinking beers instead of booze.
Definitely an on point contribution to this thread😉.
 

jpmcwjr

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Cigarettes came into fashion with the onset of motion pictures. Of course there were cigarettes before that but seeing movie stars lighting up made it very fashionable. All you have to do is watch the older movies and notice how many are smoking cigarettes. It is also amusing to notice how much alcohol is consumed in the movies.
Pretty sure cigarette smoking was wide spread before the talkies featured smoking, (frequently in situations that implied sexual activity- before or after, never during!)

Do you have a cite that films boosted ciggie use?
 
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cosmicfolklore

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Pretty sure cigarette smoking was wide spread before the talkies featured smoking, (frequently in situations that implied sexual activity- before or after, never during!)

Do you have a cite that films boosted ciggie use?
Of course cigarettes were around since French papers became a thing, but It’s pretty well documented that the cigarette industry produced many movies from the 40-60’s. They’re blatantly in the credits. High Society 1956 is an excellent example of one long tobacco ad, with every character lighting up in almost every scene…. and notice that they never actually show people smoking. But, constantly lighting up a cigarette or pipe and then switching scenes. It become amusing if you are aware of what’s happening.
But, it’s boom in popularity was most likely also linked to modern work schedules and lack of leisure time. Not enough time for a pipe, but a quick cig break….
 

gamzultovah

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But, it’s boom in popularity was most likely also linked to modern work schedules and lack of leisure time. Not enough time for a pipe, but a quick cig break….
A commentary about Walt Disney from Mouse Planet, seems to confirm you admonition: “Walt began to smoke a pipe by the time he was 20 years old and it can be seen dangling from his lips in an old movie clip of him sitting doing animation but he quickly gave it up. Later in life when he tried taking it up again, after a pipe burned a hole in a pocket, he told Disney Legend Joe Grant that pipe smokers were "too slow" and "too laid back" and abandoned the practice.”
 

WVOldFart

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Sep 1, 2021
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Pretty sure cigarette smoking was wide spread before the talkies featured smoking, (frequently in situations that implied sexual activity- before or after, never during!)

Do you have a cite that films boosted ciggie use?


Movies Promoting Tobacco Use​

The tobacco industry has a long history of promoting smoking and tobacco use on TV and movie screens. From the 1920s to 1950s, tobacco companies collaborated with film studios to place their products on screen, and they even paid movie stars to appear in cigarette advertising campaigns. In fact, for nearly a decade, two out of three top movie stars advertised cigarettes while also smoking on screen.
On-screen cigarette advertising was also seen in the late 1950s and early 1960s when tobacco companies bought and sponsored their own TV programs. But tobacco industry marketing shifted back to the big screen when cigarette advertising was banned from TV and radio in 1970.

From 2002 - 2013, 61% of PG-13 movies showed smoking or other tobacco use.
 

cosmicfolklore

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A commentary about Walt Disney from Mouse Planet, seems to confirm you admonition: “Walt began to smoke a pipe by the time he was 20 years old and it can be seen dangling from his lips in an old movie clip of him sitting doing animation but he quickly gave it up. Later in life when he tried taking it up again, after a pipe burned a hole in a pocket, he told Disney Legend Joe Grant that pipe smokers were "too slow" and "too laid back" and abandoned the practice.”
He was probably just referring to lazy children. puffy
 
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Briar Lee

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I have several photographs of my great grandfather and to my delight several more have recently surfaced, from a trove kept by the Humansville Christian Church, and reproduced by local historians.

He was 6’4” and even in his seventies looked lean. alert, and dangerous. He’s riveting his gaze at the lens of every photo, wearing a “campaign hat” and his wife and family, and him, well dressed and prosperous.

He was in the 13th troop of the 12th Missouri Cavalry, the hind guard, mounted on a black horse, at Broadus.

Springer’s diary and a renegade named George Brent, tells the rest of what happened on September 8, 1865:

A German immigrant, First Lieutenant Charles H. Springer, of Company B, 12th Missouri Cavalry, said that this took place at about 1:00 p.m. Springer, who was with the 12th Missouri clearing out the woods, described the seen in front of the command: "The whole bottom and hills in advance were covered full of Indians, or to use a soldiers expression, they were thicker than fiddlers in hell". The 12th Missouri, 15th Kansas, 16th Kansas, and one battalion of the 2nd Missouri Light Artillery along with both artillery sections advanced simultaneously toward the warriors. The cannon were unlimbered and began firing at Indians gathered in some woods located in a bend of the Powder River. George Bent, a Cheyenne participant, said that the soldiers formed in a square around their wagons, and that Roman Nose performed several bravery rides along the front of the soldiers' skirmish line before his white pony was shot and killed, throwing him to the ground. Lieutenant Springer of the 12th Missouri mentioned the same incident in his diary, stating that an Indian had been making gestures in front of his line before a volley brought down his horse and made him "bite the dust". Bent said that Black Whetstone, an elderly Cheyenne man, was killed by one of the soldier's artillery shells during the battle, while smoking a pipe behind a hill.[4] As Cole committed more men to the battle, gradually the Sioux and Cheyenne pulled off from the engagement. The last action of the battle took place on bluffs overlooking the east side of the Powder River, just south of the confluence of what is now called Pilgrim Creek and the river, when Major Lyman G. Bennett led a handful of soldiers up a steep hill that was being held by a few warriors. The men charged up the hill, driving away the remaining warriors. In the charge, a soldier of the 16th Kansas was wounded in the foot. The action on September 8 was called Roman Nose's Fight by the Cheyenne's.[1] One soldier was killed and two were wounded. At least one Native American was killed and another wounded. The soldiers lost at least 36 horses captured during the engagement, while at least three native horses were killed or wounded. The battlefield is located on private land near the confluence of Pilgrim Creek, Little Pilgrim Creek, and the Powder River, in Powder River County, Montana, about 5 miles (8.0 km) northeast of present-day Broadus, Montana. It has not changed very much from its 1865 appearance, and is accessible from Powderville West Road on the east side of the river, but there are no signs marking the site.[2]
—-

I’m going to Broadus, someday.

I want to see for myself where he advanced into “Indians thicker than fiddlers in hell” and lived another 55 years, to die of the lingering effects of Spanish influenza in November 1920, that had killed my great grandmother in November 1918.

The Confederate cavalry is celebrated in legends and rightfully so.

But my great grandfather’s unit whipped Nathaniel Bedford Forrest at the Battle of Nashville, then were sent West to pacify Roman Nose, before they had their homecoming in 1866.

I can’t imagine, just how brave he was to volunteer for all that.

He was a pacifist Campbellite but then again so was Sgt. Alvin York.
 
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mso489

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My great uncle by marriage, James Williard Schultz, was an obstreperous teenager in the Adirondacks who was sent to Montana territory to assist a family friend who had a trading post. He bonded strongly with the Blackfoot, became fluent in their language, eventually married a Blackfoot woman and had a son, and wrote a number of books about the frontier and Blackfoot life. After he lost his wife to illness, he married my great aunt, and after twenty years, left her for the proverbial younger woman who was not Blackfoot but was a scholar of their culture. To get to the point, he reported in his earliest days with the Blackfoot a lot of recreational tobacco smoking, a standard part of relaxing on buffalo robes after days of hunting. It was not ceremonial, it was recreational and a way to unwind. For most of the rest of his life, Scultz would disappear for months to go hunting with his Blackfoot in-laws and friends. He became an advocate for Native American voting rights and supported his son's career as an artist. As a teenager, one of Schulz's first endeavors with a Blackfoot buddy was to go to a neighboring tribe and kidnap the friend's girlfriend so they could elope. Later in life, he named a number of the mountains in Glacier National Park where he was a guide and well-known.
 

kcghost

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Every Southerner whose reads your account of the Battle of Nashville wants to fight you right about now. The Battle of Nashville was so one sided as if to be just a turkey shoot. Shelby Foote called Forrest one of the true geniuses produced during the Civil War.
 
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gamzultovah

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My great uncle by marriage, James Williard Schultz, was an obstreperous teenager in the Adirondacks who was sent to Montana territory to assist a family friend who had a trading post. He bonded strongly with the Blackfoot, became fluent in their language, eventually married a Blackfoot woman and had a son, and wrote a number of books about the frontier and Blackfoot life. After he lost his wife to illness, he married my great aunt, and after twenty years, left her for the proverbial younger woman who was not Blackfoot but was a scholar of their culture. To get to the point, he reported in his earliest days with the Blackfoot a lot of recreational tobacco smoking, a standard part of relaxing on buffalo robes after days of hunting. It was not ceremonial, it was recreational and a way to unwind. For most of the rest of his life, Scultz would disappear for months to go hunting with his Blackfoot in-laws and friends. He became an advocate for Native American voting rights and supported his son's career as an artist. As a teenager, one of Schulz's first endeavors with a Blackfoot buddy was to go to a neighboring tribe and kidnap the friend's girlfriend so they could elope. Later in life, he named a number of the mountains in Glacier National Park where he was a guide and well-known.
Is this him: James Willard Schultz - Wikipedia - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Willard_Schultz

A very interesting man.
 
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jpmcwjr

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The other part of this thread: I questioned whether smoking portrayed in movies was a big influence on the growth in smoking in the 50's and 60's. It was already popular. WWII did far more to increase cigarette smokers.

No question that "the biz" used product placement and "celebs" smoking and that didn't hurt sales- but that was more a reflection of the times, rather than a key factor in popularizing smoking.
 
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WVOldFart

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The other part of this thread: I questioned whether smoking portrayed in movies was a big influence on the growth in smoking in the 50's and 60's. It was already popular. WWII did far more to increase cigarette smokers.

No question that "the biz" used product placement and "celebs" smoking and that didn't hurt sales- but that was more a reflection of the times, rather than a key factor in popularizing smoking.
No question about it. I ran a Veterans Cemetery for 23 years so I have talked to many World War II vets in my time. Most of them started smoking in the service. It was part of their rations. Also when there was a cigarette break, you either smoked or you kept working. So you smoked.
 

Briar Lee

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Sep 4, 2021
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Humansville Missouri
Every Southerner whose reads your account of the Battle of Nashville wants to fight you right about now. The Battle of Nashville was so one sided as if to be just a turkey shoot. Shelby Foote called Forrest one of the true geniuses produced during the Civil War.
From a report by
  • William T. Shaver
    Adjutant 12th Missouri Cavalry, Volunteers.

—-

  • In the first day's fight before Nashville, December 15, the regiment lost fifteen killed and forty wounded, (among the former Lieutenant W. Stanly, Co.G.) and was one of the first regiments to reach the rebel works, capturing seven pieces of artillery, a number of small arms and about two hundred and fifty prisoners. The rebel general commenced his retreat toward the Tennessee River the night of the 15th, and then they followed daily skirmishing with his rear guard until he made his escape across the Tennessee.

  • Early in the war the Confederate cavalry, especially units commanded by Nathaniel Bedford Forrest, was vastly superior to the Yankee draftees, riding government horses. By 1864 when western volunteer units like the 12th Missouri Volunteers were organized the Union cavalry was vastly improved, and much better armed.

    On September 8, 1865, Red Cloud had a vast superiority of numbers over the soldiers he faced. Getting his horse shot from under him, and a charge of the veteran 12th Missouri supported by artillery convinced him to live to die another day. His reckless bravery finally caught up with him in 1868.

 
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