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Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on July 8, 1826, U.S. Army officer Benjamin H. Grierson was a music teacher and merchant in Illinois before earning national acclaim in the Civil War for a daring 1863 cavalry raid through Mississippi. Discharged as a brevet major general of volunteers, he was commissioned a colonel in the regular army on July 28, 1866, and assigned to organize the Tenth Cavalry, comprising white officers and black enlisted men.

Grierson's duties in the Indian Territory consisted largely of implementing federal policy toward the southern Plains Indians. As commander of Fort Gibson and the District of the Indian Territory, he participated in Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan's 1868 69 campaign to drive the Plains tribes onto reservations set aside by the Medicine Lodge Treaty of 1867. Grierson selected the site for Camp Wichita (later Fort Sill), which would be headquarters for the Kiowa-Comanche Reservation, and supervised construction of the post. A firm believer in Pres. Ulysses S. Grant's Peace Policy, he worked closely with Quaker Indian agent Lawrie Tatum to distribute annuities and curb incursions into Texas. In May 1871 he supervised the arrest of Satanta, Satank, and Big Tree for their roles in the Warren Wagon Train Raid in Texas.

Back at Fort Gibson in the spring and summer of 1872, Grierson removed intruders from the route of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway and mediated tribal quarrels among the Creeks. After service in West Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico, he retired in 1890 as brigadier general in command of the Department of Arizona. He died at his summer home at Omena, Michigan, on August 31, 1911.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Bruce J. Dinges, "Benjamin H. Grierson," in Soldiers West: Biographies from the Military Frontier, ed. Paul Andrew Hutton (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1987). William H. Leckie and Shirley A. Leckie, Unlikely Warriors: General Benjamin Grierson and His Family (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1984).

Bruce J. Dinges

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