Top
Powered by Squarespace
Creative Commons License Use OpenDNS

Entries in U.S. Infantry (1)

Tuesday
Feb152011

Guarding the Frontier

Fort Fred Steele (Image taken from FortWiki.com)

This the second post about my great-great grandfather, Zachary Moyer, a veteran of the Civil War and the Western Frontier. Following the end of the Civil War, Zachary was discharged from the Army in the summer of 1865. Civilian life must not have suited Zach, since he re-enlisted in December of that same year. He served for exactly four years as part of the 30th Regiment of the U.S. Infantry, leaving the Army for the final time in 1869.

Fort Fred Steele

While the many of the details of Zachary's re-enlistment are unknown to me, my limited information indicates that most of Zachary's time was spent in the Western Territories, guarding American interests against Native American forces. At the time of his discharge, he was stationed at Fort Fred Steele, located in what is now the state of Wyoming. Fort Fred Steele, named after the Union General who subdued Arkansas, was established to protect the nearby Trans Continental Union Pacific Railroad. Given that the fort was established in 1868, it's very possible that Zachary Moyer was there from the beginning.

Life at Fort Fred Steele was probably not easy during the early years of the fort. Long before permanent buildings or a civilian population appeared, Fort Fred Steele was a collection of tents surrounded by a population of potentially hostile natives. I'm sure Zachary had his fair share of discomfort, boredom, fear, hard work, and action. Did he view his re-enlistment as a job to be endured or an adventure to be savored? Did he think he was wasting his time at some remote outpost, or did he feel he was playing a vital role protecting American interests? It's a shame that I'll probably never gain any insight into these questions, as both newspaper articles about Zachary Moyer in my possession offer no direct quotes or impressions from Zachary himself.

In a larger context, Fort Fred Steele appears to be a minor historical footnote, with a cursory Google search coming up mostly empty when looking for related events of importance. One item of interest is the Meeker Massacre of 1879, but that occurred almost a decade after Zachary departure. I would guess that the old Fort served its intended purpose, its legacy discerned by looking at a modern map: Interstate 80, starting in New Jersey, runs through the heart of Zachary's home state of Pennsylvania, and extends for 1,800 miles to come within a mile of the Fort Fred Steele State Historic Site before continuing on to San Francisco, California. Maybe some day I will travel that stretch of highway to see the old fort for myself.

Promotion to Sergeant

About a year before his discharge, Zachary Moyer received a promotion to the rank of Sergeant at Fort Fred Steele on January 30, 1869.

Zachary Moyer's Promotion Papers

The papers are signed by the Regiment Commander, John D. Stevenson. According to the Civil War Reference web site, he was a veteran of both the Mexican and Civil Wars, promoted to brevetted Brigadier General for "gallant and meritorious service at the battle of Champion's Hill". ( For those that don't know, a brevetted Brigadier General is someone who carries the rank and responsibility of a Brigadier General, but still gets paid like a Colonel.)

I have tried to transcribe the promotion paper to the best of my ability:

THE COMMANDING OFFICER OF THE Thirtieth REGIMENT OF U.S. Infantry

To all who shall see these presents greeting:

Know Ye, That reposing special trust and confidence in the patriotism, valor, fidelity and abilities of Zachary T. Moyer

I do hereby appoint him Sergeant in Company "D" of the Thirtieth Regiment of Infantry in the service of the UNITED STATES, to rank as such from the Fifteenth day of January one thousand eight hundred and Sixty nine He is therefore carefully and diligently to discharge the duty of Sergeant by doing and performing all manner of things thereunto belonging. And I do strictly charge and require all Non Commissioned Officers and Soldiers under his command to be obedient to his orders as Sergeant And he is to observe and follow such orders and directions from time to time as he shall receive from me or the future Commanding Officer of the Regiment or other Superior Officers and Non Commissioned Officers set over him according to the rules and discipline of War. This Warrant to continue in force during the pleasure of the Commanding Officer of the Regiment for the time being.

Given under my had at the Head Quarters of the Regiment at Ft. Fred Steele WT this Thirtieth day of January in the Year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty nine

By the Commanding Officer 
???????? John D Stevenson
? Lt. 30 Inftry Bvt ???? USACol. 30th Infty, Bvt. Brig General USA
?Adjutant of the RegimentCommanding the Regiment

A.G.O. No 103.


I was unable to read the signature of the Regiment's Adjutant. I'm sure I could figure it out by looking at some old Regimental records, but the process for accessing the National Archives is too daunting for me to attempt right now.

I will have more on Zachary Moyer in the future. If you're interested, here is my first post in this series.