This is the story of a soldier, but it’s also the story of a country. In this pivotal look at our nation’s history, Following Orders uncovers the attitudes of those who gave the orders. Lincoln, Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, Custer, and more. Find out what they were really like as you explore U.S History starting in the Civil War, through political reconstruction of the country and into the “Wild West” of the Indian wars.
The focus is on the people who lived this history in a way you were never taught in school. This is an attempt to get at the real and objective truth of military orders between 1862 and 1884, and beyond, by following a regular army private’s orders during those years he served, more than any other non-comm in history found in this research. You will walk with them into real records of history, and the real people who made the U.S. what it is today.
Who Henry was is not important. What he learned makes all the difference.
Yes, I've been working on this every ding-dong day. I got the indexing done while on my last road trip and now the real fun begins. What if it's too big for Amazon to handle? I often think this is why other publishers rejected it. So the Kindle version will, by necessity, be short of the photos in the book. I hope to get the book printed in color, but heaven knows what that will cost the reader. And whether I'll have to take some out there, as well. Know I did my best on the indexing. There maybe be a page or two off, but I've seen that as the case in every published book with index.
How long before I can submit for publication? It would be great if I could do that by July 11. That's something to shoot for, anyway.
The best thing about doing the indexing yourself - you can catch any errors that might have slipped past you. So glad I could fix that one today. And these errors can take many forms. It could be a typo. It could be wondering if J.W. Powell is the same person as William Powell. It's not. But what William Powell was doing talking to Indians I can't yet figure out. He wasn't anywhere near the Indian wars. And then there's J.J. Reynolds and John Reynolds. Well, John was killed in the Civil War but could J.J. be his son? It's not. This is all fun stuff that I never would have caught if I weren't doing the indexing myself. Yes, it's a tedious process, but so important to the quality of the book. And to the marketing of the book.
I was asked why I don't hire someone to do the indexing. Boy, I sure wish I was the type who could! This is truly hard work! But it's also a process I looked forward to, and it's interesting to see the topics that so completely and concisely describe the book. For historians, this is the most important area that helps us decide whether or not to purchase it. How could I leave that in someone else's hands? I'd end up paying them, and re-doing it! I'm into the Bloody Peace period now, and wow, what a lot of material you can't find anywhere else! When this is done, hopefully by the end of July, I have to format the biblio, insert the index (another challenge) and then off to Amazon to see if I did everything right. As soon as my son is done with the book cover, I'll post it here.
One of the things that's nice about doing it myself at Amazon is I can add some more fun stuff about the people of the day. The details that make history real. It's so odd to think about the rejections I got, some that said it was too "narrowly focused." Guess what. ALL history books are narrowly defined. They have to be. Think about it. Pick up the last history nonfiction you read and tell me the boundaries that author used. I've gotten all the footnotes to match the bibliography and now, after I go through my books to make sure I didn't miss anything cool, I'll have a lot of books to get rid of and a really interesting read. That's the goal, anyway. Tell me what you'd like to know about US History between 1862 and 1884 and I'll tell you if it's in here.
This book breaks my heart. There's so much more to learn about our country writing a book from the viewpoint of a soldier's orders, by combining these three periods of U.S. history in a way that's never been done before. It's heart-breaking and yet so important for all of us to understand. The process of getting this book ready to publish myself is not an easy one. I'm doing the editing of the book now, to make sure your read is clear and concise. Then I have to go through it again and pick out key words to create the index. Then I have to make sure the footnotes are probably formatted and are referenced in the Bibliography. Still I have hopes that I can publish it yet this summer, before my trip to Greece.
It's reading well, thankfully, and I can add some fun material back that was removed because I feared it was too long. I'm going to beef up the Navajo section with more native material, too. The downside of this is that the maps have to be redone because I won't want to have the book published in color. Also the photos and maps will probably not be in the kindle version at all, which is a shame. But I do hope it will remain a worthy read.
Days are not physical days but days that I've had a chance to work. I finally decided the endnote match to biblio can wait. I need to stop putting off the review of the textual material. I first had to make sure the TOC matched the chapters, and again checked formatting. I know I'm putting off actually reading it. What if I don't like it, now that I'm using editor eyes? What if that's why it hasn't found a publisher? I removed any suspect photo, and contacted for permission on an important one. But next up is reading it, and make sure everything that's important is in there, now that I know I have some room to work.
Had to dig out old material from a CD, preface, acknowledgements, bibliography. The Biblio was fun to insert. First I had to reformat for the book--made the print a little smaller which threw the lineage off. Then after I inserted it I had to reformat again because the margins are different. Now I'm trying to decide if I should edit the book before worrying about matching the footnotes to the biblio. That might be smart, right? I'll have a few days to think about it, as I won't be back here much before Monday.
Using a published book to make this appear as professional as possible, I created the table of contents and then did a search on how to add pages below the endnotes. On the toolbar there's a magnifying glass and in the box it says "tell me what you want to do." So I said, in a variety of ways, add text below endnotes. And finally I got the message to convert the document to the most recent format. And that seems to have worked. More later!
Self-Publishing a Nonfiction: Yes, it's official. I've begun the process. Adam has agreed to be my cover artist - for pay, as he deserves because he's so good. He's also working on a new cover for my half-breed novel but that's a story for another time.
So far I found out that the book isn't so big that Amazon needs me to break it into two. It appears there's room enough to make the maps and photos bigger, and maybe even add a little more material, a lot of which I took out to make publishers happy.
I learned I could download a template for setting up the margins and size of the book. That really simplifies things. There's still the issue of getting headers and footers added. But Word does have a header/footer feature that allows for different even/odd pages. It gets a little trickier adding page numbers, however.
The biggest problem, so far, is after converting footnotes to end notes. You can't add anything to the document after that. I'll have to find a way to add the index and bibliography. Indexing - oh, that'll be fun!
I gave up on publishers. I don't know why, but they think my book will not sell. I have to disagree. I performed Henry's stories a number of times and was always asked, when will it be available? I posted that I'm doing it at Amazon myself and have got a number of orders for it already. I promise I will keep the price as low as possible. The goal is to have it read, not to make a million. But also, once it's published, hopefully the IRS will stay off my back! Anyway, publishers, shame on you for being afraid to publish the truth.
Henry Bertrand enlisted into regular army shortly after coming to this country in 1862. Chances are good he’d been a soldier in Germany, because service was considered mandatory in Europe at the time. He was 24. He re-enlisted four more times. He took one year off to explore his options in 1868 and enlisted again, and again, finally earning a medical discharge in 1884 for an injury that prevented him from having children.
Henry kept a journal of his experiences, but that journal has been lost. Who he was is not important. What you’ll find by following his orders is the attitude behind why those orders were given. This is an unusual way to tell history, but you’ll find, at the end, a very satisfying way. Don’t believe me, of course. Haven’t you always felt slighted by trying to learn history and wondered what they weren’t telling you? I hated history in high school. This is not a book of dates and names and places. This is a history of people—with attitude.
What IS important is Henry's military longevity, which allows us to follow his orders for over 20 years at a most confusing and bloody time in our nation’s history, to find out why those orders were given. Finding the “why” is the only way to understand why the U.S. is still so divided today.
Henry was in regular army, in all the major Army of the Potomac campaigns, from Antietam through Petersburgh. He served under Hancock in Kansas against the Indians, to the Little Bighorn campaign under Crook, and beyond.
But, as a provost guard and later infantry soldier, this story is more than the battles—his orders reflect the dirty backside of the military during his service. Never has a book been published from regular army perspective about the darker aspects of following orders. There was true heroism, but there was also true cowardice. And orders were given often for dubious reasons.
Henry most often guarded prisoners, generals, and headquarters, and because of that, this book focuses on what those orders reveal; attitude and ineptitude of military leaders, most often those of Grant, and other generals and soldiers as well. Because of Custer’s role in the Indian wars, we’ll get an early look at him in the Civil War. So you’ll see generals emerge in one half you only expected to see in the other half.
General and later President Ulysses S. Grant started as a simple storekeeper who lived in Galena, Illinois, a little mining town, not far from where Henry’s brother settled in Janesville, Wisconsin; this coincidence is symbolic of their coordinated movements of uniting north and south, and later connecting east and west with the railroad. Grant started in the western theater in the Civil War, while Henry was with the Army of the Potomac; Henry’s first orders were to accompany Grant’s prisoners to Fort Columbus in New York harbor. Grant as commanding general of all the armies joined the Army of the Potomac in 1864. The book also looks a Grant’s western theater engagements, where Henry is destined to play a role.
Much of Grant’s character as a president can be seen in his generalship. Grant wrote about his Civil War years with pride. He had been diagnosed with throat cancer and we could say he didn’t have time to write about his presidency. But would he have? Many historians use Grant’s own words to talk about who he was but how honest is an autobiography?
Instead, by following orders, the reality behind the orders will emerge. You’ll understand why those orders were given.
Henry was my grandfather’s great uncle, and he left behind a statement as his legacy that I used as my master’s thesis. He said: “We didn’t try hard to catch the Indians. We could see they were good people.” An army infantry soldier who claimed they didn’t try hard to catch the Indians? Only the cavalry chased Indians. Infantry guarded the supply wagons. Infantry would drop to the ground and shoot. Infantry were tireless on their feet; the Indians were afraid of “Walks-A-Heaps.”
My goal was to walk the trail between the two opposing sides in the Civil and Indian wars to find the truth about these famous events in history. This is not a disjointed look at separate periods of time, but instead you’ll see the impact that the Civil War had on Reconstruction, and on the Indian wars. You’ll witness the development of the Wild West, right through to its closure.
Henry joined the army in 1862 in time to guard prisoners from Grant’s first campaign, the Union’s first real success a year into the war. This campaign made “Unconditional Surrender Grant” a name Lincoln would remember. Most historians use Grant’s own words to portray his character; they then give Grant a pass as president, someone who was easily pushed around. And it is possible he suffered from a form of PTSD following his regrettable experience at Cold Harbor in May 1864. But we’ll see, Grant’s true character as president wasn’t much different than as general.
Henry Bertrand immigrated from Württemberg in 1862 and first went to see his brother in Janesville. A month later a recruiter came through. Because of the cessation of volunteer recruiting, Henry had no choice but to register in regular army. This cessation led directly into the first federal draft due to dwindling volunteerism. That event receives the emphasis it deserves here.
Much of Henry’s experience was related to the draft, after all; after Antietam, Fredericksburg and Gettysburg, the Eighth U.S. was called to help quell the draft riots at New York City in 1863. We’ll follow this first draft from the difficulties with the volunteer recruiting after the office opened and through the riots to see why so many opposed. Henry remained at New York harbor until Grant called Burnside up for his march against Richmond in 1864.
The Battle of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Courthouse, and Cold Harbor—Henry was there for all of Grant’s “Bloody May” in 1864, during which time Grant was given the nickname “the Butcher” by the southern presses and by his own soldiers. During the siege of Petersburg Henry served under Burnside during the crater explosion fiasco that remains controversial today, until you read about attitude here.
Henry Bertrand’s enlistment was up shortly after the war ended. A month later he re-enlisted. He went west and served under General W.S. Hancock in the first major post-Civil War Indian campaign in Kansas in 1867, while Grant worked with Johnson on Reconstruction. Like John Dunbar in Dances with Wolves, Henry wanted to see the West. He was German, and they were enamored of the Indian culture, but not because of German author, Karl May. May was instead influenced by Germans who’d had these experiences. You might see the potential of German influence that kept the Indians from being exterminated, as some in the military wanted.
But for Grant, the blacks were the ones in need, and the Indians were in the way of the railroad. After Hancock stirred trouble with Sioux and Cheyenne, the Laramie Peace Commission got the signatures needed for the Treaty of Fort Laramie to open land for the railroad. Grant used this treaty for peace on the plains, but later spent a lot of effort trying to water it down or get it negated; this finally succeeded after the Little Bighorn.
This is the Grant you will understand as the man who could win the Civil War; not a weak or patsy president, he will become real to you on this objective path of military orders. I don’t turn him into a villain, however; just by following the events as they happened, the real Grant emerges and the reasons for what happens becomes clear. The same process of attitude made Lincoln real in this book, and not a god.
A lot of Grant’s activity after the Civil War was political, so we can see him veering toward the presidency early on. He became embroiled in Johnson’s impeachment and was appointed Secretary of War after Johnson had Stanton removed. Henry and the 37th Infantry were sent to New Mexico in 1867 from Kansas to guard the Navajos at Bosque Redondo. All during this time Grant tried to get the Indian Bureau under control of the War Department, but the Department of the Interior secretaries asserted that the military was a negative influence on the tribes.
No historian found in this research has given Grant any blame for the scandals in his presidential cabinet, but how can the “Butcher” be innocent? Here was a man used to being a hero, and who was known for butting his head into the wall until that wall crumbled. He learned that this stubbornness would get him the Black Hills, too. He wasn’t about to take no for an answer. We’ll see why Henry called Indians “good people.”
After witnessing the Navajos release from the Bosque Redondo in 1868, Henry took a year off before enlisting again. He had trade experience as a blacksmith but, probably because he could find no work and no spouse, re-enlisted in July 1869. Before he does, we’ll look at Grant’s election as president and how the army had re-organized. The railroad joined at Promontory Point, and peace had supposedly descended on the plains.
Between 1869 and 1874, Henry served with the Fourth Infantry in Wyoming, Kentucky, and back to Wyoming again, with some time at Little Rock Arsenal, while Grant silently approved mining expeditions into Indian lands. In Kentucky for Reconstruction duty Henry protected the first successful black vote for Grant’s re-election, but not without some difficulties as they faced men in disguise out to stop the blacks from gaining any rights.
Back in Wyoming Henry got involved in annuity problems with various tribes and helped supply “secret” expeditions into the Black Hills, as Grant responded to the country’s needs after the 1873 financial panic. When his five-year enlistment ended in 1874, Henry re-enlisted again; this time he got involved with Crook at the Rosebud, one of the three campaigns headed to the Little Big Horn in 1876.
In this exploration of Custer’s defeat, questions are answered; readers are given never-before-known information as events are followed in a step-by-step approach to the Little Bighorn defeat. Grant implemented these events, and Phil Sheridan was his willing accomplice to assure their military than only one of the three columns could handle a few hundred hostiles.
Henry learned firsthand that Indians were “good people” and how the fight in the West was over water and not land. You’ll see, using a blended approach in these twenty years of Henry’s orders, how Civil War tactics were used as the Indians, as the military attacked their society and food supplies, rather than just the warriors.
You’ll see many famous names appear in Henry’s story, men he served under or with, such as George Crook, George McClellan, George Custer, William Sherman, and Phil Sheridan, in their dealings with first General and then President Grant. Their attitudes become clear, and Henry was there.
This military story spans twenty-two years using infantry records, post journals and family history, blended with primary documents and secondary historiography. In recreating where Henry went and why, we make him a figure in his story; not necessarily following his every step, but also looking at what went on around him that impacted his orders.
Grant eyed the presidency again in 1880, and what happened to him in his remaining years influenced Henry’s orders on the Mexican border.
On January 24th, 1883, while on guard duty at Fort Hays, Kansas, Henry suffered an injury that finally earned him an honorable discharge in 1884, a “used up soldier.” Grant died in 1885 of throat cancer, marking two very different ends to this army spectrum.
The explorations of politics intersecting with black and Indian issues continues to the end of Henry’s life by suicide in 1916. You’ll witness how the military and politics continued to impact Indian affairs and black freedom, and racism in people like Theodore Roosevelt.
Because Henry said, “we thought the Indians were good people,” I found the records peppered with examples. Sergeant William Bald, 1st Cavalry, noted: “We thought they (Indians) were not getting an even break—and they weren’t.” An equal number may have felt like this one after the Little Big Horn fight: “The 7th Cavalry … just didn’t like Indians—you can take that from me!” Homer Coon, 7th Infantry private, noted that the Nez Perce “were good Indians but our orders were to go after them.” 1st Sergeant George Neihaus wrote about the Apaches that, “I could always make friends with them, when they were treated right.”
These varying attitudes, while not fitting into the text itself, demonstrate that no story should ever be told from just one viewpoint. This is why you’ll find this book an effort at objectivity—a walk between the two sides to try and see what really happened to our country.
It is easy to feel shame for how this country treated the American Indian cultures. Here we will see how the army exhibited a cautious attitude toward the native cultures. It’s easy to vilify the South for its attempts at secession; here you’ll understand why a little better and maybe even wonder if today’s white supremacists might be looking for absolution.
The Civil War was a complicated time in our country’s history. The Indian war period following is often shown as something that happened separately, or apart, from that period. But the Indian wars were affected by Reconstruction, and by the Civil War, leading to the period we call the “Wild West;” Grant was the dominating connection between all three of these major periods in American history, and Henry had a military service like no other non-com of his day.
These orders of a soldier really demonstrate the story of a country, and I believe we can still love our country, once we know the truth.
Attitude creates history.