Excerpts from the writings of
Captain Charles King

~ ERB's Commandant at the Michigan Military Academy ~
King was a role model for the young cadet
and perhaps the biggest influence on Burroughs' writing style and
his lifelong fascination with the military.

Text References: The Buffalo Bill Historical Centre ~ Cody Wyoming

Major General George Crook
Major General George Crook
Campaigning With Crook and Stories of Army Life 
Captain Charles King. 
NY: Harper & Brothers, 1890.
The first book written by Charles King, Campaigning With Crook and Stories of Army Life, is an autobiographical account of his service in the Sioux Campaign of 1876 as part of the U.S. 5th Cavalry. It evolved from a series of newspaper articles for the Milwaukee Sentinel in 1879 to a separate pamphlet in 1880. In 1890 Harper & Brothers republished it as an actual book along with three of his short stories of army fiction. This historical work has proven to be King's most popular and enduring book.

"In the happiest manner Capt. King tells the story of the Sioux Campaign in 1876, and he shows just pride when he calls his book “a faint tribute of respect and honor at the feet of the soldier who had been our commander in the wild days in Arizona, our leader from the Platte to the Yellowstone, and our comrade in every hardship and privation"

– Brig. Gen. George Crook, United States Army


Savage Warfare ~ Page 36
Savage warfare was never more beautiful than in you. On you come, your swift, agile ponies springing down the winding ravine, the rising sun gleaming on your trailing war bonnets, on silver armlets, necklace, gorget; on brilliant painted shield and beaded legging; on naked body and beardless face, stained most vivid vermilion. On you come, lance and rifle, pennon and feather glistening in the rare morning light, swaying in the wild grace of your peerless horsemanship; nearer, till I mark the very ornament on your leader’s shield. And on, too, all unsuspecting, come your helpless prey. I hold vengeance in my hand, but not yet to let it go. Five seconds too soon, and you can wheel about and escape us; one second too late, and my blue-coated couriers are dead men.

Buffalo Bill Cody and Yellow Hand ~ Pages 37-38

“Now, lads, in with you!”

Crash go the hoofs! There’s a rush, a wild, ringing cheer; then bang, bang, bang! and in a cloud of dust Cody and his men tumble in among them. General Merritt springs up to my side, Corporal Wilkinson to his. Cool as a cucumber, the Indian leader reins in his pony in sweeping circle to the left, ducks on his neck as Wilkinson’s bullet whistles by his head; then under his pony, and his return shot “zips” close by the general’s cheek. Then comes the cry, “Look to the front; look, look!” and, swarming down the ridge as far as we can see, come dozens of Indian warriors at top speed to the rescue. “Send up the first company!” is Merritt’s order as he springs into saddle, and, followed by his adjutant, rides off to the left and front. I jump for my horse, and the vagabond, excited by the shots and rush around us, plunges at his lariat and breaks to the left. As I catch him, I see Buffalo Bill closing on a superbly accoutred warrior. It is the work of a minute; the Indian has fired and missed. Cody’s bullet tears through the rider’s leg, into his pony’s heart, and they tumble in confused heap on the prairie. The Cheyenne struggles to his feet for another shot, but Cody’s second bullet crashes through his brain, and the young chief, Yellow Hand, drops lifeless in his tracks.

Travois ~ Page 134

Frontiersmen are quick to take lessons from the Indians, the most practical of transportation masters. Saplings twelve feet in length were cut (Indian lodge-poles were utilized); the slender ends of two of these were lashed securely on either side of a spare pack-mule, the heavy ends trailing along the ground, and fastened some three feet apart by cross-bars. Canvas and blankets were stretched across the space between; hereon one wounded man was laid, and what the Indians and plainsmen call a travois was complete. Over prairie or rockless road it does very well, but for the severely wounded a far more comfortable litter was devised. Two mules were lashed “fore and aft” between two longer saplings; the intervening space was rudely but comfortably upholstered with robes and blankets, and therein the invalid might ride for hours as smoothly as in a palace car. Once, in the Arizona mountains, I was carried an entire week in a similar contrivance, and never enjoyed easier locomotion—so long as the mules behaved. But just here it may be remarked that comfort which is in the faintest degree dependent upon the uniform and steadfast serenity of the army mule is of most uncertain tenure.

Plains Indian Art ~ Page 84

We moved into a dense grove of timber—lofty and corpulent old cottonwoods. Company “D” (Sumner’s) posted its guards and pickets, and the rest of us became interested in the great quantity of Indian pictures and hieroglyphics on the trees. We were camping on a favorite “stamping-ground” of theirs, evidently, for the trees were barked in every direction for some distance from the ground, and covered with specimens of aboriginal art. Sketches of warriors scalping soldiers, carrying off women on horseback, hunting buffalo, etc., but with the perceptible preference for the stirring scenes of soldier fighting. That had become more popular than ever since the Custer massacre. While examining these specimens, I was attracted by a shout and the gathering of a knot of soldiers around some fallen timber. Joining them, and stepping over the low barrier of logs, I came upon the body of a white man, unscalped, who had evidently made a desperate fight for life, as the ground was covered with the shells of his cartridges; but a bullet through the brain had finally laid him low, and his savage foeman had left him as he fell, probably a year before we came upon the spot.

The Colonel’s Daughter; or,
Winning His Spurs
Captain Charles King.
Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Co., 1883
The Colonel's Daughter was King's first published and most successful romantic novel. Set at a military post in Arizona Territory, King's detailed descriptions of everyday life were based on his own journals from his U.S. Army service there in the 1870's. His writings included so many real life incidents that specific events can be found in the journals of Army officer's wives who lived at the posts. These descriptions also seem to have assisted later movie producers such as John Ford in his cinematic depictions of Army life on the American frontier. King has a great ability to portray action and to move his readers' emotions.

Rescue of Miss Gracie ~ page 188

Ranger, his head high in air, the bit in his teeth, dashing blindly, madly towards him, and Grace—Grace, hat and veil gone, her beautiful hair streaming behind her, still firmly maintaining seat and rein, but powerless to control the wild rush of her steed,—horse and rider came flying down the slope, down towards the pitiless rocks and surges that lay but that short five hundred yards away. Now, Ray, Where are you? Oh, never fear for him! Pluck and skill and grit, coolness and nerve were never lacking when Ray stood by. Quick as a flash he reins his horse to left about. Quick as a flash the spurred heels strike home, and with the shout of “Go, you scoundrel!” ringing in his startled ears, Ray’s horse springs into a charge down the slope, leading Ranger by half a dozen lengths. Well over to the left of the road his rider guides him, looking warily ahead and noting with satisfaction that no boulders or heavy stones mar the track. Then, cool and steady, he turns in the saddle and waves his hand to her with cheery shout, “All right, Miss Gracie! Let him come! Give him his head!” She cannot distinguish the words, but her glorious eyes brighten, and she smiles bravely back…. Now Ranger’s head is close on his quarter, opposite his shoulder, almost opposite his horse’s head. Now Ray! And like flash of feathered arrow the gauntleted hand comes down on the curb, and a grasp of iron is laid on Ranger’s mouth. Well he knows the hand. There follow a few ineffectual plunges, and then, with much crashing of gravel and hoof, panting, heaving, foaming, he is brought to a halt,— ten yards from the turn! Then Ray looks at Grace. She is trying to say something, trying to smile, but the reins drop from her nerveless hands, the words falter on her lips, the smile dies away, and, white as a sheet, she is reeling in her saddle. Quick, quick as ever, his right arm is thrown around her waist, and he lifts her from her seat, swings to the ground on the off side of his horse, then, as he would carry a child, he bears her to the bank of the stream, lays her gently at the foot of a tree, fills his cap with water, which he sprinkles on her face, then, as she starts and gives a little shuddering sigh, he kneels close beside her, lifts her tenderly on his arm till her head rests upon his shoulder, and then with the same old foraging head-gear he fans and at the same time liberally besprinkles the sweet, pale face. Ah! what is he calling her? What is he saying to her as the glorious eyes slowly open? Why do the heavily-fringed lids close so quickly? And that faint color that surges up to cheek and brow, what brings it there?

Jack's Secret ~ pages 308-309

“You’ve bled a good deal, anyhow. Here, Hogan, let me do that.” And, kneeling before his friend, Ray with nimble fingers unfastened the heavy shirt and threw it open at the throat. “Why, Jack, you’re worse than a stuck pig, and bleeding yet. Hogan, get me some water, and tell the doctor to come here.”

“The doctor’s busy, Ray; you can patch it up easy enough. The thing only glanced on a rib, and hasn’t done any harm to speak of.” But even as he uttered the words Truscott’s head drooped wearily and his eyes half closed, a deeper pallor spread over face and brow. Ray threw his arm about his neck and drew the drooping head upon his shoulder. “You must be mighty faint, old man; lie still. We’ll have some water in a minute.”

With that he threw back Truscott’s shirt with his right hand and opened the torn undershirt. All was soaked with blood. Something lying wet and warm upon the broad chest stopped his hand, and Ray drew it forth,—a dainty, filmy, embroidered handkerchief, dripping with the warm current from Truscott’s veins, and in one corner, half crimsoned, half spotless white, was embroidered the simple name—“Grace.”

Grace and Jack ~ pages  438-439

And then on the dark platform, lighted only by the glowing stars above, the red and green signal-lamps up and down the track, Grace Pelham and her lover were alone.

All too soon, far up the line the brilliant head-light of the train came sweeping into view. They were pacing slowly along the platform, her hands clasped upon his arm. She stopped suddenly. “You have never asked me why Mr. Glenham broke our engagement, and I thought it was something you ought to know,” she said, falteringly.

“I never intended to ask, Gracie, nor do I care to question you about any of that wretched experience at Sandy,” he said, tenderly.

“But it was something I wanted you to know, and I cannot tell you unless you ask.”

“Then, I do ask,” he answered, smiling.

“He told me two months ago that he knew I cared nothing for him, and asked me whom I did love?”

“And you told him-”

“That I loved you, Jack.”

Both his arms were round her in an instant, his head bent down over the sweet face now buried on his breast. She had to raise it shyly and glance up into his eyes in answer to his appeal, then his lips sought hers, and their fervent pressure was answered. One moment more and he was eastward bound.

Indian Agents ~ page 60

“If it were not for those d—d army officers,” said one of these shrewd financiers, “a man might live like a gentleman even in Arizona.” But the commanding general had for years of his life been dealing with Indians, and his maxim was to fight like blazes when fighting had to be done, teach them to dread the power of the Great Father, but to promise and insure fair treatment when they surrendered. The general had promised these Apaches fair treatment, and was bound to see his promise carried into effect. This led to his keeping an eye on [Indian reservation] agents, and that led to the agents hating him worse than one of their own inspectors, which, after all, is a mild way of putting it. Nearly all the Arizona agents about this time were doctors of something or other, and bore the title if for proficiency in no other art, science, or profession than that of “doctoring” returns, …

 Between the Lines:
A Story of the Warby Captain
Charles King
NY: Harper & Brothers, 1888.
Charles King served in the Civil War at age 16 as an orderly for Wisconsin's Iron Brigade. His personal experiences are reflected in his vivid battle descriptions, which received considerable critical acclaim from veterans of the war. This romantic novel, set in Virginia during the war, is considered one of King's best novels. The New York Times book review nicely summarizes the book's plot. In 1902, King remarked on this book "..because I am so strong a lover of the American Union that I should like to bury the bitter memories and cherish only those of heroism and chivalry so abundantly shown by both the North and the South."

A Young Girl ~ page 2

Shading her eyes with a slender white hand, a young girl stood gazing eastward over a broad and beautiful landscape. The sun was fast sinking behind the wooded heights at her back, and throwing long shadows over the green carpet of the lawn. It was a picturesque old place, that Virginia homestead. The house was large, two storied, with broad central hallway and heavy wings; dull red brick showing here and there through the thick veil of vines; a wide and sheltered piazza with white wooden railing and chubby balusters; a broad flight of steps leading down to the circular driveway, and flanked by white buttresses ornamented with big florid vases of the same material and ponderous pattern as the sturdy little squat balusters that supported the railing.

KearnyLieutenant Kearny ~ page 38

Not until black darkness settles down upon the bloody field does either side deign to withdraw. Then, slowly and sullenly, without noise of any kind, the regimental commanders post a thin veil of skirmishers along their fronts, and, facing their men to the rear, move them cautiously a few hundred yards away, stack arms, and send out details to gather up the wounded. Nearly one half of that gallant Western brigade is killed or maimed. Scores of favorite officers, hundreds of brave and patriotic men, have fought their last fight; and on the other side, where those dim lanterns are twinkling over the field, there has been equal loss. Grim old Ewell’s leg is gone; Taliaferro is wounded; a dozen field-officers are killed or placed hors de combat, and one daring young Virginia captain, riding about the heaping field in performance of some duty for his corps commander, comes groping beyond his lines, and the flash of a lantern reveals those gray sleeves heavily laced with gold right in among our skirmishers. He whirls about and claps spurs to his horse, disdaining the order to dismount and surrender. A shot rings out on the night air, the horse plunges, staggers, then goes prone to earth, grinding the rider’s leg beneath the saddle. Before he can extricate himself from his predicament, Lieutenant Kearny has leaped from his steed and is standing over him. Two soldiers rush up with levelled [sic] bayonets, but Kearny warns them off, and orders one to hold the struggling horse by the head. In another moment the Southerner stands erect, rescued, but a prisoner of war.

Fierce, Thrilling Battle ~ page 281

There is a moment of fierce, thrilling battle, of vehement struggling, of yells and curses and resounding blows and clashing steel and sputtering pistol shots; a moment of mad excitement wherein he sees, but for a second of time, bearded, grimy, sweat-covered faces, lit up with battle-fire, that live in his memory for years; a moment when every sense seems intensified and every nerve and sinew braced to fivefold force, and in the midst of it all, just as he spurs his charger to the standard-bearer’s side and his sabre is raised to cut him down, and all around him is one wild yell and clamor, there springs between him and his prize a face and form he well remembers; a bearded knight in gray and gold, whose gleaming steel dashes to one side the blow he aims at the standard-bearer’s skull, and before he can parry in return has gashed his cheek from ear to chin. Kearny reels from the force of the blow, but firmly keeps his seat; and though he is half stunned, his practised hand whirls his blade to the point, and sends it straight at the bared and brawny throat before him.

A WAR-TIME WOOING ~ (1888) ~ page 7
The Virginians knew a brave man when they saw one."

The first volley from the crouching gray ranks in those dim woods back of Seven Pines sent the ward politicians in mad rush to the rear, and when Guthrie Warren sprang for the colors, and waved them high in air, and shouted for the men to rally and follow him, it was all in vain-all as vain as the effort to stop the firing made by the chivalric Virginia colonel, who leaped forward, with a few daring men at his back, to capture the resolute Yankee and his precious flag. They got them; but the life-blood was welling from the hero's breast as they raised him gently from the silken folds. The Virginians knew a brave man when they saw one, and they carried him tenderly into their lines and wrote his last messages, and that night they sent the honored body back to his brigade, and so the stricken father found and brought home all that was left of the gallant boy in whom his hopes were centred.

Illustration by Rufus F. Zogbaum

THE IRON BRIGADE ~ (1902) ~ page 222
"The rifle-butts leap to the shoulders." 

Then, wonder of wonders! So far from scurrying at the sight of the "Stonewall," the flower of Virginia, the boast of the South, that somber, black-crested line halts short at sudden word of command; the rifle-butts leap to the shoulders; a crashing volley, driving point blank up the gentle rise, sends its storm of murderous lead square in the "Stonewall's" face. Down go two battle flags. Down goes Neff, colonel commanding the Thirty-Third. Down go dozens in the foremost rank, and to the amaze of Starke and Lawton, the "Stonewall" fairly staggers. "Forward!" is one hoarse-shouted order, "Fire!" another; and with the skirmishers crouching, crawling, rolling away to right and left, Virginia blazes at Wisconsin now ramming fresh cartridges into the smoking tubes, and with never a thought of retreat. So far from sweeping the field, the "Stonewall" is brought to a halt and gets another fierce volley, followed by rasping fire by file that is far more effective than the downward aim of the command, schooled rather to charge than to shoot. For some unfathomed reason the Virginians stand and fire instead of advancing at the double, perhaps because so many leaders are felled by the first deadly volleys of those insolent Badgers, fighting alone and doubtless unconscious of the unseen odds against them.

Illustration by Rufus F. Zogbaum 

NORMAN HOLT: A Story of the Army of the Cumberland ~ (1901) pages 252 - 253
"Straight for the scattering ranks he headed. "

Then, then came the thing that kept the division in talk for a month! Out from the rear of the Kentucky right wing sprang a tall, slender lieutenant, his new uniform dripping wet, his sash, belt, and sword spick-span and gleaming, his dark eyes flashing, his cheeks aflame. A word to the major, as he pointed to the disintegrating blue battalion beyond them, a nod from that appreciative fellow-Kentuckian, and the junior had sprung into the vacated saddle, and away sped a startled, astonished, excited steed under the hand of a practiced horseman. Straight for the scattering, stooping, half "rattled" ranks he darted, heading them as a skillful cowboy heads stampeding cattle. In an instant he was among them, his new blade flashing even through the rain, his voice ringing out about the clash and clamor of battle. Vehemently he drove his horse into the very faces of the foremost, and a sudden cheer went up at sight of him, for those on the right were the Emmets themselves, and he in saddle was the lad they loved.

Illustration by Seymour Stone
General Crook

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