Monday, December 12, 2011

Army Scout - Frank North

Frank Joshua North, born in New York 1840, was better known as William (Buffalo Bill) Cody's partner in a cattle ranch in Nebraska and as a show manager with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show than he is an Army Scout. But Frank North has a relatively distinguished 10+ year career as an Army Scout and, in particular, Chief of Pawnee Scouts during some of the Plains Indian Wars, known for his mastery of the Pawnee language.

North began his service in 1860 as a clerk at the Pawnee Agency in Nebraska where he learned the Pawnee's language and provided services as an interpreter. Prior to 1860, North was reported to have ben a teamster for a number of years, transported goods between Army forts and towns.

In 1864 Frank North served as a guide for the Army and so impressed the Army with his knowledge of the Pawnees and their language that he was asked to raise a unit of Pawnee Scouts. So North entered military service as a Lieutenant of Scouts.

The next year, North was promoted to Captain and again asked to raise a unit of Pawnee Scouts. Most Indian Scouts in the day were mustered in and out based on campaigns and not under contract for a number of years like regular Army soldiers. North's Pawnees Scouts were involved with several successful battles mainly against Sioux and Cheyenne, and sometimes hostile Arapaho.

In 1867 North was commissioned a Major of Scout under General Auger and directed to guard the Union Pacific Railroad and it's workers, reportedly engaging in at least one major battle with the Cheyenne.

Major North and his Pawnee Scouts played an important role in the victory over Tall Bull and his warriors at Summit Springs, Colorado, in July, 1869. North is sometimes accredited with Tall Bull's death. Throughout the next couple of years North and his men were stationed at Fort Russell, Wyoming with the 3rd Cavalry.

During 1871 to 1872, North served a term in the Nebraska Legislature.

Frank North and his Scouts again served the Army, this time under General George Crook in the wars against the Sioux. Based out of Fort Laramie, Wyoming the North led Pawnee Scouts combined with the men led by General Mackenzie to defeat the Cheyenne at Powder River on 25th November, 1876, fives months after Custer's massacre.

The Pawnee Scouts were finally disbanded for good in May, 1877. North also left the army and joined up with William (Buffalo Bill) Cody and Frank's younger brother Luther North to buy a ranch on the Dismal River in Nebraska.

In 1883 Buffalo Bill persuaded North to join his Wild West Show. The following year he was badly hurt when he was thrown from and trampled by his horse during a show in Hartford, Connecticut. North subsequently dies in 1885, supposedly from conditions brought about by his horseback injuries.

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