In 1870, the Seminole Negroes were about to enter one of
their most storied phases. Serving as advance scouts for the
army, armed with Sharps rifles and Spencer carbines that
replaced their traditional muzzle loaders, the maroons became a
feared fighting force. They were one of the pivotal
units—possibly the pivotal unit—in the U.S. counter-raids
that effectively ended Indian hostilities on the Texas
frontier. U.S. regular troops could rout the Indians, but
only when they could find them. The dangerous work of
locating hostiles fell to the Seminole Negroes.
For the U.S. Army, circumstances could not have created a
more suitable set of scouts at a time when they
were desperately needed. Many of the scouts had more
than 20 years of experience as Indian fighters in the
badlands of Texas and Mexico. They spoke Spanish, English,
and Indian languages. They had survived in the region’s barren
wilderness through extraordinary skills as trappers, hunters, and warriors.
In time, their service won the admiration of every officer they
Sources: Foster 47-48, Wallace 98-104, 109, 125, 177-79, Mulroy 115-117,
Carter “A Raid Into Mexico” 1-9.
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