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Chapter 69: transferred to New York city

We united with the First Congregational Church of San Francisco, whose pastor was Rev. C. D. Barrows. He was very enterprising, and with him I entered into church work with earnestness. He set apart his pastor's study on Sundays for my Bible class, and the class was very successful. The room was usually full. We all profited by the choice fellowship of this church. The Young Men's Christian Association of San Francisco was thriving under the superb leadership of H. J. McCoy, the general secretary. He soon called upon me to assist him in his operations, not only for the city but for the coast. My association with the Loyal Legion and Grand Army posts was exceedingly pleasant.

During this tour of duty there was restlessness again among the Apaches of Arizona. General Nelson A. Miles commanded that department, which formed a part of my military division. The Chiricahua Apaches had been surrounded by a cavalry force, taken in a body a hundred miles northward to San Carlos, and put on a reservation with Indians who were hostile to them. This was done ostensibly because some Apaches had become intoxicated — and committed grievous offenses. As soon as I knew of this enforced removal, I said: “The Chiricahuas will break out.” The [548] next mail brought me news that Geronimo was leading in a raid against the people of Arizona southward. The campaign of General Miles ensued; the Indians after capture or surrender were taken first to Florida and afterwards to Mount Vernon, Ala. With them went a small portion of the Aravipa Apaches under Eskiminzin. There seems to have been no reason whatever for taking Eskiminzin and his people, as they were not engaged in the raid.

At one time I had word from the Apaches begging me to come down and see them and stating that they would give themselves into my hands; but I answered that I was unwilling to interfere because they had broken their treaty with me.

General Shafter was then colonel of the First Infantry and commanding his regiment in my department at Angel Island. I saw much of him, especially in our summer encampments, and always found him a diligent officer in the performance of duty. I did not see him after I left California till I met him in Florida during the Spanish War, when he was in command of the active column at Tampa.

I renewed an exceedingly pleasant acquaintance with General Alexander Piper 1 whom I knew when a cadet. He was now colonel of the Fifth Artillery and commanded at the Presidio.

I kept up my studies, wrote many articles for publication, and prepared lectures, such as “Grant and his Generals,” “The life of General George H. Thomas,” “Sherman and his March to the sea.” These and “Gettysburg” were my secular lectures, but for Christian efforts in public I delivered on Sundays or before

I He met with a sad death at the burning of the Park Hotel, in 1902, losing his life in the conflagration. [549] religious bodies, among others, “The power of small things,” “Father love, patriotic and Christian.” I could always please an audience better when I spoke without a manuscript. The manuscript usually had the effect either to repress my attempts at humor or the audience's appreciation of it.

In official work I had for my adjutant general first my classmate General O. D. Green, and later General Chauncey McKeever. My aids were Lieutenant Edwin St. J. Greble, son of my favorite classmate, and Lieutenant George N. Chase. General Sherman had greatly desired for the sake of economy to have division and department headquarters established at the army posts nearest to the towns or cities, and it was so arranged until an Act of Congress directed that they be returned to the cities. By the President's order sent through General Sherman our Military Division and Department of California went back from the Presidio to the Phelan Building in San Francisco.

Sherman having retired, Sheridan was in command of the army till his death at Nonquitt, Mass., August 5, 1888. During his last illness he had been promoted to full generalship. This rank he held for about two months. As soon as his death was announced General Schofield was placed in command of the Army of the United States.

About November 1, 1888, my adjutant general was temporarily absent and my presence at the headquarters of my division had never been more necessary, but by every mail I was receiving word of the extreme illness of my good mother, then living with my brother General C. H. Howard, at Glencoe, Ill. My brother wrote about that time: “If you expect to see mother alive you must come quickly.” This distressed me [550] greatly, but I saw no way to leave my post, when unexpectedly a vacancy occurred in the command of the Military Division of the East, headquarters at Governor's Island.

Just as soon as I could get ready I set out for Glencoe and arrived in time to spend a little over a week with my mother. I went from her sickroom to Governor's Island in time to assume command on December 12th. My mother's death took place two days later. I had left her so cheerful and ready to depart and be with her Saviour that I did not attempt to go back to see her again.

My aids, Lieutenants Greble and Chase, came with me to the new field. The great care of packing up our household goods in San Francisco was left to Mrs. Howard, and with the children she came across the continent by the Canadian Pacific. We were soon all together again at Governor's Island.

As I had care of both the Military Division and the Department of the East, there was an abundance of official work. Shortly after this, very sensibly, the military divisions were abolished and thereafter, with the loss of a few grains of official dignity, I commanded only the department, but it took a sweep of country big enough for ordinary ambition. It extended from the Lakes to the foot of Louisiana. Not a very active command with only twenty-odd army posts to look out for, but one's eyes had to be kept open during strikes, labor troubles, and riots, or disturbance beyond the control of the States and cities within that domain. In peace, contingencies must be meditated upon, and the army commander be always ready for prompt action.

During 1889, when making my inspections, I visited [551] Mount Vernon, Ala., and met the Indians, with Geronimo and Eskiminzin. It is impossible to describe the meeting. The men ran to me and embraced me with what I call the “double embrace,” and the women brought their children for me to put my hands on them and bless them. Geronimo declared that he was going to do his best to have the children educated, and Eskiminzin begged hard to return to his own farm in Arizona. They all declared they would do anything I told them to do. We had formed two Indian companies from the Indian prisoners, one stationed at Mount Vernon and the other at Fort Pickens. From both companies I had nothing but excellent reports, and as soon as it was at all practicable we had the rest sent to the Indian Territory, where they have been ever since. One trouble with having regular Indian military companies was that white soldiers would not serve under Indian noncommissioned officers, and another difficulty was the impossibility of having an Indian's family with him. They, however, made the best of irregular troops and scouts. It was not long before all the young Indians were mustered out and joined their people.

In the same year in New York City we had the Washington Centennial Parade in honor of the inauguration of George Washington. It lasted three days. On the last day of the month of April was the military participation. All the troops I could gather were brought together and led in column. Major General Fitzgerald, being a major general commanding the New York National Guard, objected to the regulars preceding his troops, because commanded by only a lieutenant colonel of engineers. I had been requested to join the President and others at the reviewing [552] stand, but as soon as the difficulty was reported to me, and knowing that I was senior in rank to Fitzgerald, I entered the column myself in command of the small contingent of regulars. This arrangement made everything go off without any further friction.

As a family we changed our church relationship from San Francisco to the New York Broadway Tabernacle, and it was our great pleasure and profit to sit under the preaching of Dr. William Taylor. On our return from church one day my youngest son, Harry, suggested that we might find some missionary work nearer home for Sunday afternoons. A little later we found over an old stable on Elizabeth Street a Sunday school which was a part of “Camp Memorial Church.” It was near Grand Street, New York, and had a faithful young man, Mr. Meyerholtz, for superintendent. As there was a dearth of teachers, my son and I took classes and continued with the school until my retirement. The accommodations in the old hall were so poor and the atmosphere so bad that we began to seek for new quarters. We finally bought a very suitable old church edifice on Chrystie Street. To pay for this church and make necessary repairs I was made collector of funds. Just as I had gathered together between three and four thousand dollars for the last payment, and a couple of days before I was to hand over the money, the bank where I made my deposit failed. The next day I borrowed the money and completed the payment on the church. In a short time friends kindly assisted me in raising the debt. This “Camp Memorial Church” was later aided by the Congregational Missionary Society, and it has had over twenty years of very successful missionary effort.

Now living so near New York, I frequently met [553] Sherman, my old and beloved commander, at his home on Seventy-second Street, and also at public entertainments. He was very fond of having Slocum and myself (left and right wing commanders) with him, and when he could he secured us seats, the one on his right and the other on his left. He then seemed to be very hearty and strong, but during the winter of 1890 and 1891 he had a severe attack of erysipelas. Just before his death, which resulted from this illness, February 14, 1891, he expressed a strong desire that his two wing commanders, Howard and Slocum, should conduct his funeral services. Accordingly his brother, Hon. John Sherman, wrote and asked us to do so. We selected one of his division commanders, General Daniel Butterfield, for the immediate control and direction of the New York processions, which were very extensive. I myself went to St. Louis and was present at the final obsequies, participating in the work of the escort and all ceremonies, and attending his remains to their last resting place beside those of his wife, on the banks of the Mississippi. His son, Father Sherman, a Jesuit priest, admirably conducted all the religious exercises for his father in St. Louis. I asked the young man how he had the strength to do it. He smiled and replied by a question to this effect, “General, do you know what it is to obey orders?” Though General Sherman was not a Catholic, all the services were under the direction of the Catholic church. His brother said to me that this was a comfort to his children. As the casket containing his remains had been brought out and was waiting a few minutes on the upper step of his house, the pallbearers stood on the right and left with uncovered heads. The weather was exceedingly cold. Some one said to General [554] Joseph E. Johnston, one of the bearers: “eneral, put on your hat, you will take cold.” Johnston answered: “If I were in his place and he standing here in mine he would not put on his hat.” Thus delicately he signified his deep regard for Sherman. In fact, these two, after their campaign was over, behaved always toward each other as brothers. General Johnston did take cold at that funeral, and his own sickness and death in Washington City followed soon after. I was present at his funeral. He had a military escort of Confederate friends but without arms. I noticed them as they swung from line to column, obeying their orders with promptitude like the veteran soldiers that they were.

It was about this time that I took my family to Florida. We enjoyed the hospitality of the Hon. H. M. Flagler. What he has done for the eastern portion of Florida is enormous in its inception and results. Our stay later at Key West was made very pleasant. Here I met three colored young men, who were graduates of Howard University. One of the young men was superintendent of colored schools. He presented us with a very beautiful basket of shells. The editor of the Key West Journal told me that he did not know what Key West would have done if it had not been for these three young men. The school superintendent was a druggist and a graduate pharmacist. I spent one day in visiting his excellent schools. Nothing gratified me more than to find the alumni of my favorite institution useful and appreciated.

We made a very pleasant trip at this time across the narrow gulf to Havana. Patriotic Cubans then came to me and opened their hearts. They were hoping [555] that Cuba, throwing off the yoke of Spain, might sometime gain her freedom. While standing beside the statue of Columbus I spoke to a Cuban with reference to Isabella and the projected Columbian Exposition in Chicago. He was glad, he said, that so much was to be made of Columbus. A little later I had an interview with the captain general, who was a Spaniard. I remarked that we Americans recognized the fact that Isabella was the patroness who rendered Columbus's voyage possible.

“Yes,” he answered, “but why is it that in all America there is not a monument raised to her memory!” This question was the cause of my writing the life of Isabella of Castile; not as a monument, but with a view to quicken the interest, as far as I might be able to do, in a character which certainly deserves a very tender recognition from all who have been benefited and blessed by the discoveries of Christopher Columbus.

Our daughter Bessie had finished her studies at Farmington, Conn., and returned home. Harry had passed through a severe attack of typhoid fever, and Mrs. Howard and I thought that it would be a good plan for them to go abroad together and perfect their French at the house of our good friend, M. Adolph Chauvet, in Evreux, France. This was done and the following January Mrs. Howard left New York on the Friesland, and after a pleasant voyage joined the children, and they traveled together.

My brother, Rev. Rowland B. Howard, had gone to a Peace Convention held in Rome. He was ill before starting and was made much worse by his journey from London to Rome. In the convention as secretary of the American Peace Society he took a most active [556] part in the speeches and in the proceedings, especially pleading for a positive recognition of Christ in the deliberation of the Peace Convention. His last speech, eloquent and strong, increased his illness, and he was placed in a private hospital, St. Paul's Home. Here he was attended by Dr. Robert Prochet, Dr. Young, and a competent American nurse, Miss Daniels, of Brattleboro, Vt., and though he had every possible attention and care, he died January 25, 1892. My son Harry, then in France, went immediately to Rome, settled up his affairs, and sent his remains to Leeds, Me., for burial.

During the year 1892 I was asked by D. Appleton & Co. to write a book for their Great Commanders series on the life of General Zachary Taylor. In the prosecution of this work I was wonderfully helped by my honored friend, Francis W. Upham, Ll.D., of New York; in fact, Mr. Upham's reminiscences were invaluable. For years the hospitality of himself and, since his decease, of Mrs. Upham, who contributed liberally to my educational efforts in Tennessee, is full of bright sunshine in retrospect..

I enjoyed making a thorough study of Taylor's career, going to every place where history said he had been, and taking a trip to Old Mexico to see his battlefields. On this agreeable visit I was accompanied by CaptainHoward and Mrs. Guy Howard, CaptainBarnett and Mrs. Charles R. Barnett, Mrs. Shoemaker and daughter, of Baltimore, and Mrs. Barnett's mother and sister. Before starting, the Mexican Minister Romero, who so generously befriended General Grant in New York, gave me letters to the President of the Mexican Republic and to others. Their kindness met me as soon as I crossed the border. At Camargo the commandant [557] had his battalion under arms to do me honor at ten o'clock at night. The same thing occurred later, on our arrival at Matamoras. As soon as I reached the City of Mexico, an officer of rank, designated by President Diaz, met us at the station and showed our party every attention during our stay at the capital. I enjoyed more than anything else the kind reception President Diaz gave me. He showed at once his intense interest in the education of his people, and desired me to visit the schools and particularly the Industrial and Reform School which he had established for delinquent youth.

By the courtesy of General Frisbee, of whom I had heard before my visit, I was able to see all the forts that became historic during our war with Mexico, and from his lips I obtained brief and interesting sketches of each notable conflict.

At the President's suggestion we took a trip to the vicinity of Vera Cruz, where General Scott began his operations in 1847, but we were vastly more interested in the coffee plantations which we found on our route.

President Diaz appeared to me to be a man of decided ability, who combined marked courtesy with prompt decision. After seeing him, I have understood why he has continued so long at the head of affairs, and aided so materially in the development and progress of Mexico. It comes from the strong character of the man.

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