The First Arizona
Oodham Volunteer Infantry
By Roy Cook
Tribal Oodham were the first to defend this South west home land that
was to become the state of Arizona in the political cycle of change that
became the U. S. of A. Arizona territory. This year Arizona will recognize
the centennial of becoming a state of the union: 1912-2012.
This documented account of Military events acknowledge the USA Nations
debt of gratitude to the original Oodham people of Arizona and the continued
relationship of all of Arizona Tribal people in the dynamic changes of
history. Further, some Oodham warriors served in the United States Cavalry
as scouts and members of the tribe have continued to serve in the different
branches of the US military. In the last century, Ira Hayes, a Pima who
joined the U.S. Marines, was one of the men photographed raising the flag
on Mt. Surabachi in the WW II battle of Iwo Jima.
From earliest European contact the Oodham have always been described as
generous people. They sheltered the Pee Posh (or Maricopa Indians) who
fled attack by hostile tribes, and who also became part of the Gila River
community. Anyone who followed west along the Gila River, the main southern
route to the Pacific, encountered these peaceful and productive traders
who gave hospitality to travelers for hundreds of years. "Bread is
to eat, not to sell. Take what you want," they told Kit Carson in
One of the first accurate accounts of an Indian and American military
alliance is recounted in the Pima calendar sticks which relate that the
Pima and Maricopa joined with white soldiers in a campaign against the
Apaches under White Hat, in 1856 or 1857. As long as whites were just
passing through, the protection (Pima and Maricopa) provided for their
supply trains was sufficient. Pima and Maricopa fulfilled this need with
regular punitive raids against the Apaches several times a year, keeping
them away from Pima lands but stopping short of attacking their enemies'
mountain rancherias (village-camps). As the white population increased,
so did Apache raids. When gold was discovered in the Weaver and Walker
diggings near Prescott, miners flocking to the area found themselves much
closer to Apache homelands than was prudent for survival. The Oodham warriors
were there to defend the people when the US military left Arizona in 1861
to fight in the US civil war. The Oodham (Pima) were the only armed force
to defend the peaceful settlements from the Apache raids in the Arizona
In 1865 and 1866, Pima and Maricopa and Hispanic soldiers served in the
first USA Arizona Volunteer Infantry. Arizona Governor Goodwin appointed
Thomas Ewing, a teamster from the Pima Villages, to recruit Maricopa Indians,
and former sergeant John D. Walker to recruit the Pima. On October 2,
1865, First Lieutenant William Tompkins of the Third California Infantry
arrived at Maricopa Wells and commissioned First Lieutenant Ewing, Second
Lieutenant Charles Reidt, who was fluent in the Maricopa language, and
Captain Juan Chevereah, chief of the Maricopa. He also mustered in 94
Maricopa recruits, designated as Company B, Arizona Volunteer Infantry.
By May 16, 1866 there were 103 men in the company. John D. Walker was
commissioned as first lieutenant and William A. Hancock as second lieutenant
of Company C, made up of Pima Indians. Their chief, Antonio Azul, was
made a sergeant and 89 Pima were recruited to fill out the company. Five
more Pima were added later at Sacaton.
Indian soldiers received a blue blouse, trimmed in red for the Maricopa
and blue for the Pima, one pair of blue pants, and one pair of shoes and
one yard of flannel for a headdress. Most of them wore "teguas"
- shoes of un-tanned hide with broad soles turned up at the toes with
a hole to admit air and remove dirt. Scouts were often carried out on
foot with packs containing a canteen, a blanket, and some dried beef and
pinole, a food made of one part sugar to two parts roasted ground corn
or wheat mixed with water. The Indians were expected to provide their
own horses, but allowances were sometimes made for feed. Although these
were the intended provisions, circumstances did not always afford them
and the Indians often endured the cold without benefit of warm clothes,
bedding or shoes. The Pima and Maricopa were used to hardship, however;
they were familiar with the country. On March 27, 1866 Lieutenant Walker
led the largest expedition of Arizona Volunteers on record. An estimated
260 Papago and Pima and 40 Maricopa from Company B left the Pima villages.
Those without rifles or muskets fashioned war clubs while they established
a temporary supply depot on Tonto Creek.
From the message of the Acting Governor to the Second Legislature, which
will be mentioned hereafter, it appears that four companies were organized,
one being of Pima Indians, and another of Maricopa Indians, the other
two companies being largely made up of Mexicans. John D. Walker, who afterwards
became identified with many industrial interests in the Territory, was
captain of the Pima Indians company; Antonio Azul, a Pima Chief, was their
first lieutenant, and W. A. Hancock, who afterwards located in the Salt
River Valley and became identified with the early settlement of that portion
of the Territory, was made second lieutenant. H. S. Washburn was captain
of the First Company, which was recruited to its full strength, and Oscar
Hutton was second lieutenant of the Third Company. I have been unable
the names of the other officers. These companies were apparently mustered
in and mustered out by the Military Department of the Pacific. They were
hampered at the start by the want of supplies, arms and ammunition, although
it seems that until the latter part of the year 1865, General Mason, who
had succeeded General Carleton in the command of the Department of Arizona,
lent every assistance in his power.
For some reason or other this authority to raise a regiment of Volunteer
Infantry was not exercised until the following year, 1865, when an effort
was made, beginning in June of that year, to raise the regiment as required.
In the meantime the commissioners appointed under authority of a bill
passed by the First Legislature in 1864, authorizing the raising of a
militia for the defense of Arizona against the Apache Indians, and the
issuance of bonds therefore, reported that it was impossible to float
the bonds in San Francisco, in consequence of which this action was taken.
The records are very imperfect. There is an extensive journal account
of the movement and activities of the 1st. Arizona volunteer Infantry
listed on this online source. http://southwest.library.arizona.edu/hav4/body.1_div.5.html
"The company left this place on the 27th. accompanied by two hundred
and sixty volunteer Pima and forty enlisted men of Company B, 1st Inf.
They had a fight with the Apache on the morning of the 31st, killing twenty-five
Apaches, taking sixteen prisoners and eight horses. Three Pima were wounded,
one of whom died on the 1st. The company is armed with Mississippi rifles,
worn, and is at present well clothed, but during the first six months
service they were not. If the Territory could furnish two hundred carbines
and pistols for two companies of mounted Pima, it would be of great service
in ridding this country of Apaches."
In 1877, the regiment was designated as the First Arizona Infantry and
continued to provide security to citizens of the territory. Ten of the
regiment.s officers and 117 enlisted men volunteered in April of 1898
to join Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders. The Arizona Unit, known as the
1st Volunteer Cavalry, commanded by Col A. 0. Brodie consisted of two
companies commanded by Captains Buckeye O'Neill and James McLintock. The
colorful Captain 0'Neil was killed by a sniper during the Battle of Santiago.
Captain McClintock was seriously wounded and later served as Colonel commanding
the 1st Arizona Infantry Regiment. Col Brodie was appointed Governor of
the Arizona Territory in 1902.
The 158th Infantry regiment traces its origin to the First Regiment of
Arizona Volunteers organized in 1865. The unit, comprised of members of
the Pima and Maricopa Indian tribes and Mexican Americans, was equipped
with hand-me-down uniforms and weapons and generally poorly treated by
other military units. However, they proved effective in their several
campaigns. Unfortunately, neither the soldiers nor officers were paid
nor the unit was disbanded after some eighteen months in the field.
During WW II
General Douglas Macarthur commented, "No greater fighting combat
team has ever deployed for battle." By any measure, the 158th Regimental
Combat Team will be remembered and respected as one of the outstanding
fighting organizations of WW II.
The following comments by General Douglas Macarthur were read to Bushmasters
attending a post war Bushmaster association convention. "The 158th
Regimental Combat Team wrote the book on 'Jungle Warfare' with its own
blood. Any history written about the war in the Pacific would be incomplete
if it failed to mention the many military exploits of the 'Bushmasters'.
You have set records that will never be broken. The 158th served five
and one-half years on active duty and was:
. Continuously in a combat zone longer than any National Guard unit in
all U.S. wars.
. The first Army unit to be trained in jungle warfare establishing the
first Jungle Warfare School.
. The first Army unit to be sent overseas after Pearl Harbor.
. The organization that traveled further in their 5 1/2 years of active
duty than any Army unit in any war
Finally, you have been selected as one of the units to spearhead the invasion
of Japan landing four days prior to the main invasion force on a small
island off the island of Kyushu to silence Japanese early warning stations.
You defeated the Japanese who had never been defeated in modern history.
It is my pleasure to salute you Bushmasters for a job well done."
However, although initially alerted for possible mobilization, the regiment
did not see service during the Korean War. However a considerable number
of officers and men from the regiment and other units volunteered for
service during that conflict. On December 17, 1947, as a result of restructuring
of Army National Guard units, the 158th Infantry Regiment's 102-year history
came to an end. During ceremonies on the football field at Phoenix Junior
College, former members of the regiment watched as the Regimental Colors
were retired and the regiment passed in review for the last time.
However this event was not to be the last chapter in the Regiments storied
history. In 2005, the Department of the Army authorized one battalion
of the Arizona Guard to carry the designation first Battalion 158th Infantry.
On September 17, 2006, thirty-eight years after the colors were retired,
a review was held at Arizona National Guard Headquarters, "Bushmaster
Field."There, soldiers of the new First Battalion 158th unfurled
their colors and campaign streamers and paraded, marking the continuation
of the 158th distinguished heritage and tradition. Soldiers of the battalion
are authorized to wear the distinctive 158th Regimental Crest depicting
a desert Gila monster on a blue shield over the Spanish word "Cuidado."
The Battalion was mobilized for service in Afghanistan in January of 2007,
returning to the home station in March of 2008.
The mission of the III 58th IN BN was to provide assistance to Afghani
villages through Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) throughout the
Country and provided a platoon for the thirteen PRTs north to south along
the Pakistani border. Our Soldiers were also the security force (SECFOR)
for the PRT Forward Operating Base (FOB) and convoys to and from the villages.
The Battalion also provided a maneuver platoon attached to the 158th HHC.
During combat operations as a part of that mobilization, Staff Sergeant
Charles Browning and PFC Mykel Miller were killed in action. Twenty-four
of the Battalion.s soldiers were wounded in action. The unit, as part
of the 29th Brigade Combat Team, continues its training to assure the
158th Infantry will be prepared to serve their country wherever the "Bushmasters"
may be needed.
Oodham warriors have defended this Arizona homeland from all threats from
earliest times and Historical accounts. Next time you are in Arizona,
especially in February visit the Ak Chin Tribal tribute to Ira Hayes,
at the Native American museum, near the Interstate, just south of Phoenix:
FEB 25, 2012-67th Anniversary Iwo Jima Flag Raising, Veterans Memorial
Park at Sacaton, Arizona Click
here for Flier