The Fort Douglas Browns – History of the Men of the 24th Infantry Regiment – Part 4

 

 

The early months of 1899 would bring many changes to the men of the 24th Infantry Regiment. The yellow fever which took hold of them in ’98 dealt a definitive blow to their heath and their standing as “Regulars’ in the United States Army. Between the months of January and March, a force reductions of the 24th Infantry Regiment would follow, relocations of certain companies would take place, and the incursion into the Philippines were part of changes that would remove the 24th Infantry Regiment from their ‘good station’ in Salt Lake, Utah.

 

It is Stated that the Regiment is to be Taken to the Presidio, and Later to the Philippines.

Another rumor as to the probable movement of the Twenty-fourth infantry has reached Fort Douglas. It is now said that preparations are being made at the Presidio of San Francisco for the reception of eight regiments of soldiers. These troops are to be stationed at the Presidio awaiting orders to sail for Manila. The rumor has it that the Twenty-fourth infantry will be one of the eight regiments to go to the Presidio and from there to Manila.

It is not a very bright outlook for the regiment, but such is life in the army. The officers are living in a half-settled state, as they do not care to go to the trouble or expense of fixing up their quarters for short time and then have to tear them all up and go to the Philippines or elsewhere. At present nothing definite is known, but most of the officers feel certain that it is only a question of time before they leave for San Francisco, en route to Manila.” — Salt Lake Tribune, January 13, 1899

 

Recruits of the Regiment to be Discharged.

Within the next ten days between 500 and 600 men of the Twenty-fourth infantry are to be discharged from the service. This will reduce for a while the garrison at Fort Douglas to 300 men, at that at Fort Russell, Wyo., to about 180 men, while the cantonment at Camp Pilot Butte, Wyo., where company K is at present stationed, will be left with a garrison of about sixty men.

RATE OF DISCHARGE

The men will be discharged at the rate of about ten a day from each company until all are out. Maj. Birmingham and his assistants at the hospital will examine every man closely as to his physical condition.

Maj. Thompson said last night said that the regiment will be re-recruited up to its full strength at once. The order now standing is to keep its strength up, and recruit will be brought on speedily.

The order that came Tuesday night also relates to the Ninth cavalry, the colored regiment, part of which was formerly stationed at Fort Duchesne.” — Salt Lake Tribune, January, 26, 1899

 

By the next day, one hundred and fifty of the three hundred recruits that had been ordered discharged from the 24th Infantry Regiment, and were mustered out of service, on placed on trains heading East. [32]

 

With $45,000 being allotted by the War Department, each solider discharged from the 24th received $75 a piece for traveling expenses. The amount spent on that single day was half of the total amount allotted. This allotment, pursuant to paragraph two of General Order no. 40, only applied to recruits who had enlisted in the regiment between April 22 and October 26, of 1896. The men of the Fort Douglas Browns were not subject to the General Order no. 40, but based on their physical condition after volunteering for the yellow fever hospital at Siboney and contracting the deadly contagion, they were more than likely subject to discharged for health reasons.

 

In February, land and naval forces would be increased in the Philippines, and the men of the 24th Infantry Regiments, stationed at Fort Douglas, Utah and  Fort Russell, Wyoming would be part of the “Regular’ troops undertaking the assignment.[33]

 

In early March, the transfer orders for the 24th had finally arrived at Fort Douglas, which called for a further dividing of regimental strength. Moving four companies, one from Fort Douglas and three from Fort Russell, immediately to Honolulu, as reinforcements in route to Manila. These orders were immediately cancelled, and only three companies were relocated to other areas of the United States. Company B, under the command of Captain Henry Wygant, would be relocated to the Vancouver barracks, in the state of Washington. Company D, under the command of Capt. Arthur D. Ducat, would be headed to Fort Harrison, in Montana. Company K, would be slotted for relocation to Fort Assinniboine, in Wyoming. Company M, a junior company in absence of a captain, were to relocate to Fort Spokane. The under lying message in all of this, would be that Fort Douglas would no longer be the home of the 24th infantry Regiment.

 

Sgt. Mack Stanfield, of Company B, former manager of the Browns, would be one of the men relocating to the Vancouver barracks in Washington. In the mean time, while still on post at Fort Douglas, Sgt. Stanfield was organizing a baseball team that he would name, the “Santiagos”. He felt that as soon as the ground had dried sufficiently, that the men of Fort Douglas should again try their hands at the game of baseball, to keep them active, and use their recreational time doing something productive. [34]

 

In late March, the local citizens of Salt Lake began to promote the upcoming baseball season, mixing politics and religion with the sport of baseball once again. It was noted, that Sunday baseball games were no longer acceptable, and only games played on Saturday afternoon would be allowed. The Y.M.C.A.’s, the Oregon Short Line, the R.G.W.’s (Rio Grande Westerns), and the Salt Lakes were teams that put in their bids for the scheduled season. [35]

 

Local Admirers of the National Game Making Ready.

The Elks of last year’s fame have given no signs of activity as yet. It is quite likely that the team will again be in the field this season. Whether the Browns at Fort Douglas will be able to support a team, weakened and split up as their strong aggregation of two years ago has been by war and division of the regiment, is uncertain. Several companies of the regiment are certain to remain here, but it is not likely that they can get any team which will be so successful as that of ’97.” — Salt Lake Herald, March 21, 1899

 

Simon Bamberger, manager of the Oregon Short Line railroad company would also be the manager of the Oregon Short Line baseball nine, and his nephew Joseph Bamberger would manage the Salt Lakes; together they would also invest a huge sum on money building a resort called the “Lagoon”, which would included a new baseball diamond. By all accounts, this would be the beginning of baseball no longer being played of the Fort Douglas grounds, by the civilian population or soldiers. Simon Bamberger’s financial motivations in trying to create a baseball monopoly that would only stage games at his resort, would do a tremendous detriment to the baseball season in the city of Salt Lake, and other surrounding cities, in the year of 1899. His plan was to get Fort Douglas shut down, as far as baseball was concerned, forcing people to travel to see baseball games at the Lagoon. The men of the 24th Infantry Regiment had larger concerns.

 

GOING TO SAN FRANCISCO AND ALCATRAZ

Headquarters and Three Companies to be at the Presidio–No New Smallpox Cases

An order was received at Fort Douglas yesterday giving the destination of the companies assigned to the Department of California. Headquarters and three companies will go ti the Presidio, and one company will be stationed at Alcatraz barracks. this was pleasant news for the officers and men connected with the regimental headquarters, for the Presidio is considered one of the most delightful stations. San Francisco is to be congratulated upon the acquisition of the band of the Twenty-fourth, the loss of which will be keenly felt here.” — Salt Lake Tribune, March 21, 1899

 

The summer season of baseball in Utah was affected by the reactivation of a ‘Blue Law’ during the Spring of 1899, that was written and adopted in 1881. It was a law that had been dragged out of moth balls to enforce the ruling of certain city councils in the Salt Lake area, that baseball should not be played within the city limits, as it was an immoral institution. Baseball players feared being arrested for playing within the city limits which they had done for many years, and contracts signed by traveling teams from out of state which were legal and ironclad, were subject to large cash forfeitures should the games not take place on the contractual dates, which included Sunday baseball games. In April, four more companies of the 24th infantry Regiment would head for the train depot late at night, loading up their gear and make their way to San Francisco, en route for their final destination, Manila in the Philippine Islands. [36]

 

NO MORE SUNDAY BASEBALL

The provision under which the police department will act is section 25 of title X, entitled crimes and punishments as follows:

“Any person who shall be convicted of skating, ball playing, hunting, fishing or any other kind of sporting, or who shall keep open bar, shop, store, or any other business or amusement or unnecessary business or labor, or who shall barter, sell or give away any spirituous, vinous, or fermented liquors, except for medicinal purposes, within city limits, on the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday, shall be liable to a fine in any sum not exceeding one hundred dollars.”

This ordinance became law June 27, 1881, over a decade an a half ago, when Ogden was a village and hardly seemed applicable to the city as Ogden city is today.” — Ogden Standard, May 18, 1899

 

Jackson, former catcher for the Fort Douglas Browns, played one final game at Fort Douglas, with a squad of nine who were not any good at playing the game of baseball at all. They were so awful, they were taken to task by a high school squad in their final game. It was probably based on their lack interest, as the regiment was in the final stages of being removed from the base. [37]

 

Armstrong had signed on to play with Henderson’s Whirlwinds, as he was an employee of the company, and that was the main requirements to be a part of the team. Jackson would play for the Y.M.C.A.’s that year, even though most of their games would be scheduled on Wednesdays and Saturdays, because of Sunday baseball coming under heavy scrutiny across the nation by members of Christian communities.

 

Fort Douglas was the only place near Salt Lake that had yet to enforce the Blue Law Sunday ban against playing baseball close to city limits, and because it was a military installation and did not fall under city ordinances purview. That would eventually change. A letter written by Simon Bamberger to General Merriman in Colorado, would ensure that baseball would never take place again on the Fort Douglas grounds. Bamberger’s three-pronged attack on preventing baseball from taking place at Fort Douglas included: using a group of four men who jumped from team to team; starting fights and encourage gambling and drinking at games in the cities that applied the letter of the Blue Law, including games on the Fort Douglas grounds; aligning himself with the sabbath movement of the Salt Lake area to prevent Sunday baseball from taking place in city limits, trying his best to force high attendance games to be played only at the Lagoon.

 

On June 13, 1899, the final orders for remainder of those stationed at Fort Douglas, the last 126 men of the 24th Infantry Regiment, to make final preparations to leave for San Francisco. They would be relieved by the Ninth Cavalry from Fort Duschesne. [38]

 

After the departure of the 24th Infantry Regiment from Fort Douglas, Simon Bamberger made certain that the Fort Douglas Brown’s legacy of playing baseball, drawing an average of over 1,000 spectators for every game the played during the season of 1897, would become nothing more than a faint memory in the hearts and minds of the people who had the opportunity to witness their prowess on the Fort Douglas diamond. After getting the U.S. government to shut the Fort Douglas field to civilian ball games, he made a deal with the government to buy the grand stand and fencing, having all of it dismantled, then had it shipped out to the Lagoon so it could be made into car sheds. [39]

 

Simon Bamberger Puts a Stop to It.

HIS PROTEST TO MERRIMAN

Simon Bamberger, proprietor of the Lagoon, does not favor the occupation of Government property by civilians. He also loos with especial disfavor upon the use of Government realty for the purpose of Sunday ball games. In fact, Mr. Bambergeer is opposed to Sunday ball–in Salt Lake county.

Ball is, of course, is played on Sunday at the Lagoon, but the Lagoon is in Davis county, and Davis county–well, that is different, that is all.

Whenever there has been a ball game at the Fort Douglas grounds, Mr. Bamberger hs groaned in spirit; first because a military reservation was being trodden under the foot of civilian baseball fiends, and second because the Sabbath was being violated by the players.

Finally, Mr. Bamberger hit upon a shrewd scheme by which to put a stop to the Sabbath desecration at the Fort grounds. He wrote a letter to Gen. Merriman at Dever protesting against the use of Government property by civilians for ball playing.

WORKED LIKE A CHARM

Gen. Merriman thought so too, and at once directed a communication to the commander at Fort Douglas, in which he ordered that no ball games be played upon the Fort Douglas grounds, except between soldiers and civilians,. He also ordered that no admission fee be charged. These orders brought Sunday games at the Fort to an abrupt termination.

Mr. Bamberger then magnanimously offered to purchase the lumber which has been used in fencing the grounds and constructing the stands. His offer was accepted and the grounds were dismantled.

SAVED SOLDIERS FROM LOSS

Had it not been for Mr. Bamberger’s generous offer the soldiers who assisted in purchasing lumber for the grounds would have lost money.

This in brief is the history of the rise and fall of Sunday ball playing at the Fort.” — Salt Lake Tribune, June 28, 1899

 

The act of closing the Fort Douglas field to civilian teams, had an overreaching effect that Bramberger didn’t count on. It effectively killed the 1899 baseball season, not only in the Salt Lake area, but also at the Lagoon, and other areas far outside of the city limits of Salt Lake. With no field to play on, the expense of traveling to the Lagoon to play ball or see games played, was out of the financial reach of most of the citizenry.  Bamberger’s baseball teams, one after another, were disbanded, simply for the fact that he could not maintain their salary compensation, based on the lack of drawing crowds to the Lagoon. Another factor, in the demise of baseball at the Lagoon was the reputation of fights that took place on the field when teams played at the Lagoon. Citizens did not want to squander the hard earned money to watch a game stopped because of a fight, or a fight that took precedence over a scheduled game of baseball.

 

Early Demise Of What Seemed A Successful Season.

The baseball season has seemed to have come to an untimely end in Salt Lake, and the faithful fans will have to hie to Ogden or some of the other surrounding towns if they wish to see any more ball games this summer.

It is rather unfortunate that this should be the case right in the middle of the summer, with three months and more of good baseball weather still coming. But for weeks past the baseball fever has been on the wane. During the period when the city was minus a ball field interest in the national game took a decided drop. The fans found it too much trouble to got out to the Lagoon for every game, and so they stayed home. —  Salt Lake Herald, July 30, 1899

 

 

The Fort Douglas Brows were not spoken of for many years after 1899. Baseball made a comeback in 1900, with the Inter-mountain being hosted at the Lagoon in 1901. There were other African American teams that played in Utah in 1897. The Salt Lake Monarchs was one of them. But the men of the 24th Infantry Regiment, the men of the Fort Douglas Browns would always be fondly remembered by those who had the opportunity to see them play the game of baseball. They had integrated baseball in Utah for a short, but meaningful period in 1897.

 

When Col. Abner Doubleday, one of the commanding officer’s of Fort McKavett, Texas, made a requested to General E.D. Townsend, Adjutant General of the U.S. Army for, “permission to purchase…baseball implements for the amusement of the men and a Magic Lantern for the same purpose.“, in June of 1871, one can only speculate what his intentions were when it came to teaching the game of baseball to the men of the 24th Infantry Regiment. The Fort Douglas Browns took the skills they had learned about the game of baseball, practiced them for close to a thirty year period and played against civilian teams far and wide, and applied their skills with diligence and sportsman like effort in 1897.

 

Of those that lived through the charge up San Juan hill, their recorded histories are scattered, and almost nonexistent. Those who survived moved on with their lives, only looking forward.

 

Sgt. Thomas W. “Capt” Countee left Fort Douglas and was transferred to the Presidio, where he is buried, along with other Buffalo Soldiers from that period. He drowned on August 21, 1899, during a reconnaissance mission while crossing the San Mateo river in the Philippines, along with eight other men from company G of the 24th Infantry Regiment.

 

Sgt. Mack Stanfiled was transferred to the Vancouver barrack, in Washington state, along with company B of the 24th Infantry Regiment. There are no details of him ever getting together a team called the ‘Santiagos’, but rumor has it that he did front for a team called the “Hard Hitters”, who sometimes went by the name “Brownies”, that played in 1899 and 1900. Sgt. Stanfiled retired and mover to Portland, Oregon, having survived the Battle of San Juan hill.

 

Walter H. Loving, known as “the Professor”, rose through the ranks from a Corporal to become of the the U.S. military’s first commissioned officers. Loving never made the climb up San Juan hill. He was discharged in Tampa, in June of 1898, but reenlisted in the 48th U.S.V.I. and continued his military career. After many long years, he achieved the rank of Major and was finally assigned to Military Intelligence during World War I, where he published many articles on the African American soldier, and the influences the military had on them when it came to racism on the battlefield and their treatment in America after returning home from war to face Jim Crow. He was also noted as chief musician and the first musical director who developed the Philippine Constabulary Band. He was killed in the Philippines during the Battle of Manila in 1945, under unknown circumstance.

 

 

Sgt. Thomas Countee headstone

 

End: Part IV

Part I    Part II    Part III

 

[32] Salt Lake Herald, January 27, 1899

[33] Salt Lake Herald, February 7, 1899

[34] Salt Lake Tribune, March 9, 1899

[35] Salt Lake Herald, March 21, 1899

[36] Ogden Standard, April 5, 1899

[37] Salt Lake Herald, May 22, 1899

[38] Salt Lake Tribune, June 14, 1899

[39] Salt Lake Herald, June 28, 1899

 

 

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The Fort Douglas Browns – History of the Men of the 24th Infantry Regiment – Part 1

 

 

Abner Doubleday, Fort McKavett, Texas, Fort Bayard, New Mexico, Fort Huachuca, Arizona and Fort Douglas, Utah all bear a common thread in the study of African American baseball history:

 

The 24th Infantry Regiment.

 

The study of African American 19th Century baseball, and those who participated in the sport is nominal. In some instances, it is almost nonexistent. The rationales for these occurrences are many, and within reason. Some of it can be related to the type of media used at that time, and the record keeping retention process. The written word was only accessible to those who had an interest in reading, and record keeping was limited based upon its value of importance. Photography was expensive and time consuming in the 19th Century, and many of the players were seldom photographed, unless they paid for them from their own pockets. More than often, illustrations, or cartoons were used as a substitute for photographs to depict players of color. The highly documented reporting of the men of the 24th Infantry Regiment during the years of 1897 and 1898 displayed very detailed accounts in the press of their participation of the national pastime, both off and on military installations.

 

The 24th Infantry Regiment was originally formed in 1869 by consolidating the 38th and 41st Infantry Regiments, which took up residence at Fort McKavett, Texas, and formed the main body of the 24th Infantry Regiment. [1]  Most of these men were former volunteers United States Colored Troops (U.S.C.T.) during the Civil War, who would eventually become Army ‘Regulars’. Their main duties would include defending frontier outpost, maintaining peace and order throughout Southwestern U.S. territories, escorting supply trains, repairing telegraph lines, and supplying security for the railroads and wagon construction teams, in addition to protecting Army payrolls while escorting Army paymasters. There were also certain companies within the 24th Infantry Regiment that deployed along a 220 mile stretch of territory, who were also stationed at Fort Stockton, Fort Davis, and Fort Concho.

 

Spending their lives on the Texas frontier was harsh and labor intensive duty for everyone involved in the regiment. There were constant skirmishes with hostile Native Americans, pursuits into Mexico, while at the same time guarding supply lines and and watering holes. The 24th Infantry Regiment lived a life of isolation, far removed from the creature comforts of civilization of  the larger cities, learning to the most of their time spent in service to the Union Army. Their involvement in the pacification of ‘Indians’ across the plains and deserts of America, and protection for the ever expanding civilian populations from the East who were intent on moving westward under the doctrine of Manifest Destiny, were inclusive as part of their main duty assignment in these very desolate environments. Within the fort setting though, they still found time for baseball.  As small towns sprung up across the plains, the 24th Infantry Regiment would engage civilian opponents in the national pastime.

 

After 11 years of duty on the Llano Estacado, the Staked Plains, units of the 24th Regiment were transferred to the Oklahoma territory, being stationed among Fort Sill, Fort Supply, and Fort Reno, continuing to stand guard duty, while also patrolling nearby Native American reservations. In the late 1880’s, the 24th Infantry Regiment was once again transferred; this time to the Far West and New Mexico-Arizona territory, operating under the same principles that had been set for them in the past, operating out of Fort Bayard, Fort Huachuca, Fort Apache, and Fort Grant. The overall political influence that small western towns possessed with Washington D.C., at this time in history, had little effect on the stationing of African American troops being stationed in these far away ‘burgeoning cities’. Also, these smaller communities provided less exposure to racial conflict, but by no means eliminated the pervasive racial attitudes which continued to persist among the larger American populous that existed before and after the Civil War.

 

For 27 years, between 1869 and 1896, companies of the 24th Infantry Regiment had been stationed all over Texas, the Oklahoma Territory, and the Arizona-New Mexico Territory of Southwest, until they finally reached their new assignment destination at Fort Douglas, Utah. It would be the first time in history, since the of their creation, that the men of the 24th Infantry Regiment, and every company of the 24th would be stationed at the same location. Fort Douglas and Salt Lake City, Utah would be their new home, and deservedly so.

 

“The year 1896 brought and end the 24th Infantry Regiment’s peaceful days at Fort Huachuca. Sergeant Benjamin Brown and Company C found themselves forming once again along the railroad siding at Huachuca station in Arizona. This time they were mounting the trains to leave Fort Huachuca and Arizona territory forever. This all-black regiment was ordered to Fort Douglas, Utah near Salt Lake City. The move involved two first for the entire unit. It would be the first time that all the companies of the 24th Infantry Regiment were stationed together, serving as a complete fighting force. It would also be the first time they were all posted to a fort near a reasonable-sized city.” [2]

 

Salt Lake Tribune-04-25-1908

Salt Lake Tribune – April 25, 1908

 

For many years, long after their arrival to Salt Lake City, the ‘Browns of Fort Douglas’ would be very well respected and would also be remembered for their baseball skills, along with their gentlemanly manners and as military heroes of the state of Utah. The Fort Douglas Browns were the Men of the 24th Infantry Regiment, who took up residence and were stationed at Fort Douglas, Utah in Oct. of 1896, replacing the 16th Infantry Regiment, which had been stationed at that location for eight years, protecting a main hub of the Transcontinental Railroad.[3]  These men of the 24th Infantry Regiment paved the pathway of diversity and acceptance of African Americans, and set the outstanding examples of how men of color should behave in a predominately white environment, both on and off the field. Expectations for the Occidentals of Salt Lake were set at a very high bar, because the men of the 24th Infantry Regiment were not initially welcomed by the predominately white community of Salt Lake.

 

Utah officially became the forty-fifth state of the Union in January of 1896, and the people of Salt Lake may have possessed certain fears of these new ‘colored’ troops for any number of reasons. One reason may have been the controversy behind Utah being known as a heavily populated Mormon enclave since its inception as a territory,  and the men of the 24th Infantry Regiment could have been religiously associated with having heavy contact the ‘Lamanite’ cultures of the United States. Mormon culture at that time had its own restrictions on race mixing, which included most social practices that consisted of basic day-to-day living. Another reason could be that the 24th was being brought here by the U.S. government shortly after the Utah War, where ill feelings towards the government continued to exist, roiling under the surface of a proposal of national unity. Even though the Mormon religion considered slavery wrong and they were staunch abolitionist, the intermingling of white officers and black troops living together in an encampment, clashed against all precepts that were laid out in the The Book of Mormon.

 

Through the diligent efforts of John Mercer Langston, Chaplin Allen Allensworth, and Lt. General Nelson A. Miles, Fort Douglas was considered a “good station”, and long overdue for men who had served the in national interest for decades. This would be one of the last great acts John Mercer Langston, shortly before his his death from malarial indigestion in 1897, having formerly served as U.S. Minster to Haiti, and a chargé d’affaires in the Dominican Republic in the lat 1870’s.

 

In the article titled, “An Unfortunate Change“, the Salt Lake Tribune created tall tales and falsehoods about the 24th Infantry Regiment, trying to entreat their readership to react to the negative impact these colored soldiers would have on their community. [4]

 

“Readers of this mornings paper saw with sorrow that the Sixteenth Infantry is to be sent away from here and is to be succeeded by the Twenty-fourth. The first was losing the Sixteenth. The regiment has been here for several years; the closet social ties have been formed between the regiment and our own people, and their going away will sever many and many warm friends.

There’s another reason. They are to substituted by a colored regiment, and while the colored man is just as good as the white man; while he ought to have every privilege that the white man has, there is no occasion on earth to try and force a change in conditions which will involve a strong revulsion in the minds of the best people in the city. The residence portion of Salt Lake is on the way between the main business part of the city and Fort Douglas. When our theaters are running the best people of the city, in crowds, have to take the street-cars to go home at night. They do not want to be brought in direct contact with a drunken colored soldiers on the way from the city to Fort Douglas By that we do not mean to say that colored men drink more than the white men do, but a drunken white soldier naturally shrinks from getting into the car with ladies and gentlemen, whereas the colored soldier, under the same conditions, will be sure to want to assert himself. We mention that merely as a sample, and our judgment is that if the facts were laid before the Secretary of War, he might still be induced to make the change and send the colored men to some other station where they would be just as comfortable, where they would have just as many privileges, and where they would not be a source of apprehension and discomfort to the people of a large city like this.” — Salt Lake Tribune, Sept. 20, 1896.

 

From the outset, even newly elected Senator Frank J. Cannon of Utah, traveled to Washington D.C. with a delegation of concerned citizens to make his plea before the Secretary of War, Daniel S. Lamont, to change the marching orders of these colored troops. The exchange of the 24th Infantry Regiment for the 16th Infantry Regiment at Fort Douglas was set in stone. They had served with distinction for close to thirty years since their creation, and had the lowest desertion rate and lowest alcoholism rate of any other regiment in the U.S. Army at that time.

 

The 24th Infantry Regiment were one the of the Buffalo ‘foot soldier’ components of the 9th and 10th Cavalry, and the Fort Douglas Browns baseball team was often mistaken for “Troop B” or the “Duchesne Giants”, which was the 9th Cavalry’s baseball team stationed at Fort Duchesne. [5]   The 24th Infantry Regiment’s scattered history began shortly after the end of the Civil War, with the Reorganization Act of 1866, which extended in further reductions of all fighting regiments of the Regular Army through to 1869.

 

“On the afternoon of Oct. 22, the first section of the 24th Infantry arrived. They marched from the depot of Fort Douglas, a distance of four miles, and a great many people assembled along the street to see the soldiers pass. Very few of the people of Salt Lake City have ever seen a colored soldier before so it was quite a novelty item for them. The last of the regiment did not arrive until 2 o’clock the next morning. The 24th are very busy getting settled in their new stations.”– Army and Navy Journal, Nov. 7, 1896, pg. 157, reporting date Oct. 24, 1896 “Fort Douglas, Utah“.

 

“The Browns, the crack baseball team of the regiment, are making preparations for the coming season. They are fencing in a tract of ground south of the lower parade ground which will be smoothed and rolled and put in good shape for the games. The membership was confined to four companies while at Fort Bayard, while now there are eight to chose from. The nine has met some of the best teams in the Southwest, and has a large chain of victories to its credit.”… — Salt Lake Tribune,  April 11, 1897.

 

“The soldiers are making active preparations for the coming baseball season Several nines are being organized, and it is their intentions to have one of the finest teams in the State.”… — Army and Navy Journal, April 17, 1897, reporting date April 10, 1897 “Fort Douglas, Utah“.

 

The Browns 1897 season would include playing against teams from the Oregon Short Line club, the Park City Miners, the Duchensne Giants (9th Cavalry), the Jubilees, the Ogden Y.M.C.A.’s, the Evanstons (from Wyoming) the Provo nine, the Salt Lake Athletics, and the Leadville Blues (of Colorado).

 

“Tu-re-lei!      U-S-A!”   “The Oregon Short Line boys — will show you how to play!”… — Salt Lake Herald, May 10, 1897.

 

In the Browns season opener, which took place on the Fort Douglas diamond, they played the Oregon Short Line, defeating the O.S.L. by a score of 16 to 14. Two-thousand fans filled the seats at Fort Douglas that day.

 

“Such was the cry of the grand stand rooters, but 2,000 people can today testify the the situation is exactly the reverse.

The Twenty-fourth regiment nine can give the Oregon Short Line boys cards and spades when it comes to playing baseball. This fact was demonstrated in the contest between the two teams at Fort Douglas yesterday afternoon. The colored lads showed their superiority in every way. They played a good, steady game, they conducted themselves more gentlemanly than their white antagonist, a fact appreciated time and again by the cheers that greeted the colored boys, when time and again they surrendered points rather than become involved in a dispute.

It was the first game of any consequence of the season. If the popularity of baseball during the coming summer is to be measured by the attendance yesterday there is to be a genuine revival of interest in the national game.

A careful estimate could not place the number of people who passed through the gate at less than 2,000. There were many out and the modest grand stand was a perfect maze of brilliant feminine headgear. The car companies did an excellent business and everybody went to see the game. Those that had left their change in the pockets of the week-day suits made use of the numerous cracks in the board enclosure, while other scaled the fence, a feat attempted by several enthusiastic ladies. Had it not been for the prompt action of  First Sergeant Richardson of Company B, who was a sort of master of ceremonies, the bunch of pretty girls who were on the point of venturing this daring feat might have cheated the gatekeeper out of  several quarters. But the sergeant’s eagle eye was everywhere and just as half a dozen heads and parasols peeked over the fence he commanded Private Norton: ” See that those ladies don’t get over the fence” “…— Salt Lake Herald, May 10, 1897.

 

‘Two bits’ was a lot of money in that era. The gate earned over $500 dollars that day, and with the grand stands becoming filled, women of Utah who loved the game of baseball were trying to sneak in to see these ‘colored troops’ play a worthy game being staged, between these two opposing forces. Few were disappointed and many were more in awe of the spectacle they had just witnessed. The next game scheduled would be played against the well known Park City Miners, led by Rhea Byron “Old Hoss” Harkness, who’s team had dominated the region for the last two years. After hearing about the defeat of the Oregon Short Line nine by the Fort Douglas Browns, “Old Hoss” took extreme measures to ensure a decisive win against the 24th Infantry Regiment team at all cost.

 

“The Park City baseball club left here on the Utah Central special at 10:45 this morning, accompanied by over seventy of Park City’s strong-lunged rooters. Each member of the ball team sported a “right hind foot of a rabbit which had been killed in a cemetery in the dark of the moon at midnight by a red-headed, cross-eyed coon,” the gift of L. E. Hubbard.” — Salt Lake Tribune, May 17, 1897, reported by Correspondence Tribune, May 16, 1897.

 

As reported by the Army and Navy Journal and Salt Lake Tribune, the Park City Miners went down in defeat, by a score of 9 to 8. [6][7]

 

“The hitherto invincible Park City baseball team met defeat yesterday at the hand of the Browns of Fort Douglas. The overthrow occurred at the new baseball field on the reservation, by a score of 9 to 8. For two years the Miners have had their own way on the diamond. Last year they went through an entire season without defeat and their name was a veritable terror to the ball tossers all over Utah. But the colored soldiers, with their years of practice under the sultry skies of New Mexico and Arizona proved too much for the men of the hills and the grey and purple of Park City was trailed in the dust. And there was a good deal of dust too.

It was a good game, replete with incidents, to delight baseball enthusiasts, and twenty-one hundred people who paid for admissions to the grounds felt that they had received their full 15 cents worth. The grounds were filled.” — Salt Lake Tribune, May 17, 1897

 

The Fort Duchesne Giants, Company B of the 9th Cavalry, would be next on the Browns agenda for a series of games played at Fort Douglas between May 20th and 24th, 1897. The Browns would take two of the three game series, and Company B returned from leave to the Unitah reservation after being defeated in the final game. At this point, the Fort Douglas Browns had won four of the five games they played since their season began.

 

“Events at Fort Douglas for the past week have been rather quiet in everything but athletics. Baseball has been an all-absorbing topic, and all else has been forgotten, especially by the enlisted men. However, drills and parades are still in progress, and the other duties of the garrison are still being done in a regular routine.” — Salt Lake Herald, May 25, 1897

 

On May 30, 1897, the Browns lost their second scheduled game to the Park City Miners, by a score of 5 to 0.

 

“When the home team lost the game on May 16th they felt quite certain the tables would be turned in the next game. when the game was called last Sunday there was at least 2000 anxious people on the ground eager to view the contest among that number being Salt Lake and Fort Douglas admirers of the visiting team. It was an enthusiastic gathering and it was evident right from the start that the game was going to be for “blood”. While the game was not errorless, it was a fine exhibition of scientific baseball from beginning to end — a game that had a tendency to cause the spectators to hold their breath in anticipation of what would happen next.”…

The Salt Lake papers where not inclined to give the Park boys full credit for their magnificent game they put up but then it wasn’t expected.”– Park Record, June 5, 1897

 

“The day was perfect, the sun being obscured by clouds during the entire game, which was excellent throughout, notwithstanding the fact that at the end the the score stood at 5 to 0 in favor of the Park City nine.

In fielding and catching the two clubs were about equal, but the Browns could not find the ball when Harkness was in the box, in consequence of which they fanned out more zeros than the score card could well accommodate without putting on substantial additions.

Still, though defeated, the Fort Douglas lads took their whitewash with the utmost good nature, and now they want to play the rubber.” —  Salt Lake Herald, May 31, 1897

 

The Semi-Centennial ‘Pioneer Jubilee’ of 1897, celebrating fifty years of Mormon culture since the arrival of Brigham Young and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints immigrants in Salt Lake Valley. It was a huge event scheduled in the month of July; and in preparation for the event, a new baseball club called the ‘Jubilees’ was formed to take on the Fort Douglas Browns. The Browns would help the Salt Lake community earn money for the Pioneer Jubilee event by playing baseball to help “swell the Jubilee funds”.

 

Next Sunday at 1:30 PM the Jubilee baseball team will play the Browns of the garrison at the Fort Douglas grounds. A percentage of the receipts of this and future games will go to swell the Jubilee funds. The Pioneer Jubilee colors predominate in the uniforms of the Jubilee team, and its players are men who have made records on the diamond. Fred Knickerbocker, first baseman, and Harry Miller, short stop and captain, were members of the Omaha Originals at the time that aggregation was the championship club of Nebraska.” — Salt Lake Tribune, June 11, 1897

 

The Pioneer Jubilee would be a coming out party for the Mormon community of Salt Lake; and the colors red, yellow, and sage green, representing the Mormon enclave, were intermingled in a dazzling array along with the Red, White, and Blue. Banners were displayed in abundance all over the city, as far as the eye could see. [8]

The Pioneer Jubilee signaled a new era in Mormon patriotism, by finalizing the chapter in Mormon history which had been filled with bloodshed and religious bigotry, as this ‘new’ Mormon culture expanded beyond their own boundaries, embracing an uncertain world beyond Utah’s borders. Although this grand affair had yet to take place, the preparations for this epic event began almost six weeks prior to all the scheduled activities the Pioneer Jubilee would provide in July.

Beyond baseball, among the Pioneer Jubilee events, one of them included a grand performance by the 24th Infantry Regimental Band, which included member Walter H. Loving, who at that time, had firmly secured his position at first base for the Fort Douglas Browns. [9]

The Browns lost to the Jubilees on June 13, 1897, by a score of 20 to 8, but were scheduled to play four of the seven games which would run during the Pioneer Jubilee Day celebration.

Pioneer Jubilee Baseball Schedule:

Sunday-July 18, 1897- Fort Douglas Browns vs. Jubilees

Tuesday-July 20, 1897- Jubilees vs. Park City Miners

Wednesday-July 21, 1987- Fort Douglas Browns vs. Park City Miners

Thursday-July 22, 1897- Park City  Miners vs. Ogden Y.M.C.A.’s

Friday-July 23, 1897- Ogden Y.M.C.A.’s vs. Jubilees

Saturday-July 24, 1897- Fort Douglas Browns vs. Ogden Y.M.C.A.’s

Sunday-July 25, 1897- Fort Douglas Browns vs. Jubilees

 

With this scheduled series of games being well over a month off, the Browns once again took on the Park City Miners on the Fort Douglas grounds, on June 20, 1897. This ‘rubber game’  would determine which team was better between the Browns and Miners, and the battle between these two giants of the Salt Lake area was heavily advertised in all the newspapers. Harkness and the Park City Miners felt that the Fort Douglas Browns were not only their greatest foe on the diamond, but that the Browns also posed a danger to their reputation as champions of the state of Utah, as well as their political standing in the newly formed state. The Browns became their main nemesis and had to be defeated at all cost. There was really bad blood between these two teams, and some of it stemmed from the support the Browns received from the people of Salt Lake, who were trying to move past the reputation the U.S. government had placed on them and government resistance to the Mormon culture. The Browns represented not only a direct threat to the Park City Miners as a ball club, but they also challenged the order of things as they had been done for years; formerly as a territory, and now as a state of Utah, since the Great Mormon Exodus in 1846.

 

The Browns lost the ‘rubber’ to the Miners. It was a blow out in favor of Park City, by a score of 10 to 1, with only one ejection from the game. Cropper, the Browns steadfast umpire, who was also a soldier at Fort Douglas, was removed from the game by Loving for making a bad call on “Capt.” Countee. Countee was the primary shortstop for the Fort Douglas Browns. “Capt.” Countee was actually a Corporal, but the moniker “Capt.” was placed on him because he was normally team captain of the Browns. Umpire Byrnes, a Park City fixture, would enforce the rules, handle disciplinary action, and judge the remainder of this final contest of a three-game series from behind the plate.

 

“The Browns in their half had an excellent chance to score, and for a moment it appeared as though they might repeat the work done by their adversaries a few minutes before. After Hughes had flown out to Higson, Countee and Richards had sent a brace of nice singles. Umpire Cropper thought the ball reached there first and called him out, despite the fact that Moran failed to touch the base runner until he was lying in the bag. The decision was so unpopular that Capt. Loving requested Cropper withdraw, and thereafter Byrnes umpired in the field as well as behind the bat. Loving made a little hit, sending Richards to third, but Armstrong could only send a weak grounder to Kimbrough, and the side went out.

UMPIRE TALKS BACK

After that the game went along without incident until the fifth, when a clever double play by Hughes, Reid and Loving evoked considerable enthusiasm.

In the latter part of the sixth, Brynes made of couple of close decisions against the Browns and the crowd grew somewhat obstreperous. Thereupon Byrnes stepped out into the middle of the field and quietly addressed the spectators. “If you’re going to do any dirty work of this kind”, he said, “you will have to secure another umpire”. — Salt Lake Tribune, June 21, 1897

 

With this victory out of the way, the Park City Miners wasted no time in claiming that they were the state champions of of Utah, and the entire inter-mountain region.

 

“Colonel Horace Baker of the Ontario mine and Secretary of the Fourth of July committee was notified yesterday by Utah’s silver-tongue orator, Hon. O.W. Powers, that he would deliver the Independence day oration at Park City July 5th, for inasmuch as the 4th occurs on Sunday the celebration will take place on the day following. On that day the Fort Douglas Browns will cross bats with the Park City ball tossers, now the acknowledged champions of Utah, probably of the inter-mountain states. The boys assure me that they are very grateful to the Fort Douglas boys for their hospitable reception. The Fort boys were bred in the south, a section of our great country famous the world over for hospitality. That accounts for it in a great measure.” — Salt Lake Herald, June 23, 1897

 

June 27, 1897, brought a return match-up between the Browns and the Jubilees. This game was filled with errors from both teams, and the final score was noted at 17 to 16 in favor of the Browns. The Browns had seven errors, while the Jubilees accumulated fourteen.

 

“The Browns proved yesterday by defeating the Jubilee team at Beck’s Hot Springs that they are not entirely out of for the championship of Utah. The score was 17 to 16 at the end of the ninth inning, but had it not been for poor battery work in the closing inning the score would have been much more decisive in favor of the Browns.”…

FEW ERRORLESS SCORES

Individually the work of both teams was ragged. But six men out of the eighteen who were mixed up in the fray escaped without errors. Some of these were inexcusable, as during part of the game the blinding sun made it very difficult for the fielders to see the ball, but the greater number were due to carelessness.

Among the Jubilees, McGinnis’s work was particularly poor. Six errors were charged against and almost with out exception they were on easy balls which the veriest novice could have handled. Any one of the dozens of small boys who jeered him from the side lines could doubtless have played his position at second better than he did. In the eight he was sent to right field and Jones took his place at second base, but even in the field he fell over and mishandled everything that came his way.

GAVE HIM A BACKSTOP

After one particularly poor play by McGinnis in right field, two small boys created much merriment by carrying a large door out into his garden and depositing it triumphantly behind him to prevent any other balls that might be sent in that direction from the rolling quite to the mountains in the rear.” — Salt Lake Tribune, June 28, 1897

 

Shortly before the Pioneer Jubilee, in their the last game of June, the Browns would play the Ogden Y.M.C.A.’s. During this game, the field rules would be strictly enforced. No children would be allowed in the grand stand, and no one but the press and the players would be allowed inside the track fence. It was called, “The Greatest Game Of The Season”. It was noted that the Browns played a completely “errorless game” on that day. The Y.M.C.A.’s defeated the Browns by a score of 14 to 13. [10]

 

Heading into July, the Browns never played their scheduled rematch against the Park City Miners. The Browns would take on the Evanston nine from Wyoming, and the Miners would accept a match from the Jubilees. The slotted date for the Miners rematch against the Browns, July 5th, was taken by Evanston, and they were no match for the men of the 24th infantry Regiment. It was slaughter. The game ended in the Browns favor by a score of 19 to 2.

 

“The Fort Douglas Browns played a nine which came down from Evanston, Wyo. the visitors weren’t in it at all, and the dusky fellows from the fort wiped up all the earth that was left on the diamond with them. There is nothing small about the Browns when it comes to playing ball, especially if they get a chance at an easy thing like the Evanston team was for them. The manager of the visiting team changed the position of his men several times. The way the Browns caught hold of the ball was something astonishing and was thought Sworz was too easy with them, so in the third inning he exchanged places with McCoy. The exchange didn’t seem to help the condition of things any and in the sixth the men changed back to their original positions. Williams exchanged places with Cole in the fifth, and in the seventh, McCoy was put in as pitcher again.” — Salt Lake Herald, July 6, 1897

 

As one of the warm up games to the Pioneer Jubilee schedules series, on July 11, 1897, the Browns took on the Provo nine at Beck’s Hot Springs in an away game. This particular game was a blowout. The Provo nine went scoreless, with the Brown leaving the field, accumulating seventeen unanswered runs in their favor.

 

“Provo may be a good city for the keeping of insane people; it may be all right as a shipping point for a shipping point for black bass; the goods manufactured at its woolen mills may be superior to anything of the kind made in the east and shipped here; but when it comes to playing base ball with the Fort Douglas Browns, the team from the south counts for naught.

To sit down and relate all the details connected with the contest at Beck’s yesterday would be a never-ending task. Life is by far too short to attempt to relate all the plays, for there were so many. Take the first inning for instance, or rather the last half hour of it, when the Browns had eleven men at the plate and made eight runs. Some people may look at their score cards and say there were twelve, but the first man got his base on balls, and that doesn’t count at time at bat.” — Salt Lake Herald, July 12, 1897

 

With the Pioneer Jubilee baseball schedule being finalized, in what was deemed as a “carnival week of baseball”, certain political messages were being sent on both sides of the table to the Salt Lake community.  This was silver country. It was Mormon country. It was the land of the common man. The colors chosen for the Jubilee baseball team were by no means a mistake. It was purely an intentional statement, and it was fully directed at the U.S. government. The U.S. government of course, responded in kind with their own political message as a show of force.

 

“B.W. Brown, who has been on duty as clerk in the Adjutant’s office, succeeds Sergt. Abott as Sergeant-Major. Sergt. Brown has served with the regiment eighteen years, having been on duty at various point in the Southwest; his last post before coming here was Fort Huachuca. The Sergeant is one of the most skilled marksmen in the regiment having received a medal awarded to distinguished marksmen. He also wears a medal of honor awarded for bravery displayed in the engagement between Paymaster Wham and the outlaws, in 1889, at which time he was three-times wounded.” — Salt Lake Tribune, July 18, 1897

 

The Ambush At Bloody Run, where Sgt. Benjamin W. Brown, won his Congressional Medal Of Honor, was one of those bloody chapters in Mormon history. The Wham Paymaster Robbery, planned and encouraged by Gilbert Webb, and staged by a gang of fifteen Mormon outlaws, was executed on members of the 24th Infantry Regiment in the Arizona territory. The U.S. government sent out this information on the promotion of Sgt. Benjamin Brown as a small reminder to the Mormon community of Salt Lake, that the theft of $28,000 in gold had not been forgotten. The boys in blue of the 24th Infantry Regiment, along with the U.S. government were prepared for whatever events might take place at the Pioneer Jubilee.

 

End: Part I

Part II     Part III     Part IV

 

[1] Kenneth Jones Jr., “The Last Black Regulars”, Defense Leadership & Management Program, Strategy Research Project, Unclassified, U.S. Army War College, April 2000, pg. 2

[2] Steven D. Smith, “The African American Soldier At Fort Huachuca, Arizona, 1892-1946”, University of Sought Carolina – Scholar Commons, Dept. of Anthropology – Faculty Publication, Feb. 1, 2001, pg. 17

[3] Army and Navy Journal, Nov. 7, 1896, pg. 157

[4] Charles Alexander, “Battles And Victories Of Allen Allensworth”, Sherman French & Company, Boston, 1914, pg. 291-292.

[5] Dorothy Seymour Mills, Harold Seymour, “Baseball: The People’s Game”, Oxford University Press, 1990, pg. 567.

[6] Army and Navy Journal, May 29, 1897, pg. 723

[7] Salt Lake Tribune, May 17, 1897

[8] Salt Lake Tribune, July 21, 1897

[9] Roger D. Cunningham, “The Loving Touch: Walter H. Loving’s Five Decades Of Military Music”, Army History; The Professional Bulletin Of Army History, PB 20-07 (No. 64), Washington D.C. , Summer 2007, pg. 6

[10] Ogden Standard Examiner, June 30, 1897