Alonzo Bowman, Medal of Honor
Last week’s Washington Historical Society meeting hosted Jesse Casas and Don Grinnell for their PowerPoint discussion on Native American son and Civil War soldier Alonzo Bowman. Alonzo Bowman was a grandson of John Bowman, one of the early settlers of Collomore Ridge, the neighborhood we know as West Washington. The early John Bowman was one of the men who petitioned the state of Massachusetts in 1811 to incorporate the town of Putnam (the name was later changed to Washington). Alonzo Bowman was born on June 15, 1848 to (a second) John Bowman and Eliza Vanner. On April 9, 1864, at the age of 16, he lied about his age and enlisted in the 8th Maine Infantry for Civil War service. After Alonzo’s enlistment, the 8th Maine saw action in Virginia at Drewey’s Bluff and Cold Harbor, among others. He was among the troops at Appomattox Courthouse when Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses Grant.
The 8th Maine was raised on January 6, 1866, and Alonzo promptly enlisted with the 8th Infantry Regiment. He saw service in the South during the early Reconstruction period and eventually in the Indian Wars in the West, where he joined the US 6th Cavalry. In 1881, while stationed at Fort Apache, Arizona Territory, he was involved in the Battle of Cibecue Creek when cavalry soldiers were ambushed by Apache warriors and mutinous cavalry scouts who charged the soldiers. Alonzo helped drive “the enemies” out of the area and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1882 for “conspicuous and exceptional bravery in attacking mutinous scouts.” According to official military records, Sgt. Bowman was shot on October 3, 1884 “without provocation by a desperate character.” He died the next day at the age of 36, having lived far from home as a soldier for more than half his life. He is buried in Fort Bayard, New Mexico.
Native American heritage
November 26, the day after Thanksgiving, is observed as Native American Heritage Day, which is part of the overall month of special recognition of our country’s Native Americans. They are people who lived on this property thousands of years before white-skinned explorers came to the continent. There are hundreds of groups with different lifestyles, languages, customs and appearances. According to the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), a global human rights group based in Denmark, there were probably more than 60 million Indigenous peoples in the Americas before they had contact with whites. There are about 3.1 million in the US today. Causes of decline include disease, violence, torture, forced displacement, warfare and an attitude of fear and hatred towards them.
Alonzo and the natives
Interestingly, the Battle of Cibecue Creek, where Alonzo Bowman’s actions earned him the Medal of Honor, was a defining event for Native Americans. (You can search by name – Cibecue – and the big picture. Much is left out to tell this extremely abridged version.) During the westward expansion there were a number of Native Americans who were hired by the US military to serve as to act as a scout. The scouts and tribesmen were wary of the cavalry and other whites because trust was so often superficial. Indigenous people complained about the poor conditions and disrespectful treatment on the reserve.
Nochaydelklinne (Nock), a learned Cibecue Apache medicine man, allowed some aborigines to gather and discuss their treatment. Nock was accused by the army of inciting riots. Troops and scouts were sent to bring Nock into the fortress to “talk”. The natives feared that their medicine man would be harmed. And indeed, the soldiers were ordered to kill Nock if anything deviated from the plan. As the soldiers and Nock approached the fort, Apaches appeared from all directions. The local scouts turned on the soldiers and a full-fledged fight ensued. Nock, his wife and son were shot immediately. Several soldiers and Apaches died or were wounded. Trying to get away from their vulnerable spot, the troops quietly snuck away at night. The Battle of Cibecue led to a regional Apache rebellion that lasted two years and eventually ended in the United States’ defeat of the Apaches.
Pumpkin Vine Farm Winter Market
Pumpkin Vine vendors’ products can be ordered every other week through mid-March. First, email [email protected] and ask for the order forms. Customers can place an order on Saturdays, which can be picked up at the farm by the barn the following Tuesday between 4:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. The next two pickups will be on December 6th and 20th, with orders due by the Saturday before. So request your order forms and follow the instructions. Vendors include Andrews Farm, B&T Baked Goods, Hawthorne & Thistle, Pumpkin Vine Farm, Wild Fruitings and Woodhaus.