Official Edgar Rice Burroughs Tribute Site
Since 1996 ~ Over 10,000 Webpages in Archive
Volume 1927

The ERB / General Charles King Connection
An expanded version of v.1926 Danton Burroughs Family Scrapbook

(October 12, 1844: Albany, NY ~ March 17, 1933: Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

Many of the photos and documents on this page may be clicked on for full-screen enlargement.

Captain Charles King in his uniform for the "Carnival of Authors," 1883.
Courtesy State Historical Society of Wisconsin.
Charles King (1844-1933) never intended to make writing his career; he was bent on becoming a professional soldier. After an initial taste of the military at the beginning of the Civil War when he served his father, General Rufus King, along the Potomac near Washington, D.C., he entered West Point. By the time he graduated, the Civil War was over, and he was attached to the army of occupation in Louisiana, headquartered in New Orleans. Eventually he transferred to the U.S. Cavalry and was posted west to pursue Indians. In 1874, during a skirmish with Apaches at Sunset Pass, Arizona Territory, his right arm was shattered by a bullet. Though the wound healed slowly, he participated in the 1876 campaign against the Sioux, before and after the Battle of Little Bighorn, and the following year against Chief Joseph's Nez Perce.

But by then the effects of his wound forced him to consider retirement. He returned to his hometown of Milwaukee in 1879. At a men's luncheon he overheard some disparaging remarks about the easy life of the cavalryman on the Indian frontier. Fired up, he put together an account of a rearguard action against the Sioux at Slim Buttes, Dakota Territory, in which he  had fought, and presented it as a talk to the same lunch group. Someone from the Sentinel, his father's old newspaper, heard him, asked for a written version, and printed it in the new Sunday supplement. His narrative was well written, graphic, and thrilling. It was an immediate success, and more articles followed. A year later, the Sentinel Press published the popular series, which comprised King's eyewitness accounts of the war against the Sioux, as a book, Campaigning with Crook.

From that point on King used his frontier and military experiences as background for a number of novels and short stories. Unexpectedly, he found writing congenial, and it was something he could do even with his maimed right arm, though with some discomfort. His first published novel, The Colonel's Daughter by "Captain Charles King, U.S.A.," appeared early in 1883, became a best-seller, and subsequently remained the most popular of all his novels. A review at the time noted that "the author's style entitles him to rank among the best of modern novelists." After completing several more books himself, he hired an amanuensis and went on to publish well over sixty books in his active career. More than fifty of these were novels, produced at a rate of nearly two a year; the last, Lanier of the Cavalry, appeared in 1909. In addition, he published some 250 short stories during the same time period. His national reputation persisted throughout, founded as it was on the realism and authenticity of his accounts of army life in peace and war.

Through all of this he maintained his involvement in the military. He served in the old state guard, in the National Guard, and in the University of Wisconsin Military Science Department during the administrations of Governors Rusk and Hoard and into the beginning years of that of Governor Peck, at which time he retired from such duties. In 1895 the newly elected Governor Upham, an old army comrade, named him adjutant general of Wisconsin and promoted him to brigadier general. General King was activated during the Spanish-American War and saw action in the Philippines, then retired again. In 1904 he was recalled by the La Follette administration to head the Wisconsin National Guard. It was largely through his work that the guard earned its outstanding reputation --- so outstanding that it was sent to Texas in the summer of 1916 to protect against border incursions by Pancho Villa, the Mexican revolutionary. The guard was called up again within days of America's entry into World War I, when it was combined with the Michigan National Guard to form the famous 32nd "Red Arrow" Division. General King remained active in state military matters almost up to his death at the age of 88.

Reference: Wisconsin academy review: volume 46, issue 2 (Spring 2000)

Excerpt from Campaigning with Crook by Captain Charles King, U.S.A.
Chapter Nine: The Fight of the Rear Guard

Crook's column on the Tongue River
Ragged and almost starving, out of rations, out at elbows and every other exposed angle, out of everything but pluck and ammunition, General Crook gave up the pursuit of Sitting Bull at the head of Heart River. The Indians had scattered in every direction. We had chased them a month, and were no nearer than when we started. Their trail led in as many different directions as there are degrees in the circle; they had burned off the grass from the Yellowstone to the mountains, and our horses were dropping by scores, starved and exhausted, every day we marched. There was no help for it, and only one thing left to do. At daybreak the next morning the orders came, "Make for the Black Hills --- due south by compass --- seven days' march at least," and we headed our dejected steeds accordingly and shambled off in search of supplies.

Through eleven days of pouring, pitiless rain we plodded on that never-to-be-forgotten trip, and when at last we sighted Bare Butte and halted, exhausted, at the swift-flowing current of the Belle Fourche, three-fourths of our cavalry, of the Second, Third, and Fifth regiments, had made the last day's march afoot. One-half our horses were broken down for good, one-fourth had fallen never to rise again, and dozens had been eaten to keep us, their riders, alive.

Enlivening incidents were few enough, and --- except one --- of little interest to Milwaukeeans. That one is at your service. On the night of September 7th we were halted near the headwaters of Grand River. Here a force of one hundred and fifty men of the Third Cavalry, with the serviceable horses of that regiment, were pushed ahead under Major Anson Mills, with orders to find the Black Hills, buy up all the supplies he could in Deadwood, and then hurry back to meet us. Two days after, just as we were breaking up our cheerless bivouac of the night, a courier rode in with news that Mills was surrounded by the Indians twenty miles south, and every officer and man of the Fifth Cavalry whose horse had strength enough to trot pushed ahead to the rescue. Through mud, mist, and rain we plunged along, and by half-past ten were exchanging congratulations with Mills and shots with the redskins in as wealthy an Indian village, for its size, as ever we had seen. Custer's guidons and uniforms were the first things that met our eyes --- trophies and evidence at once of the part our foe had taken in the bloody battle of the Little Big Horn. Mills had stumbled upon the village before day, made a magnificent dash, and scattered the Indians to the neighboring heights, Slim Buttes by name, and then hung on to his prize like a bulldog, and in the face of appalling odds, till we rode in to his assistance. That afternoon, reinforced by swarms of warriors, they made a grand rally and spirited attack, but 'twas no use. By that time we had some two thousand to meet them, and the whole Sioux nation couldn't have whipped us. Some four hundred ponies had been captured with the village, and many a fire was lighted and many a suffering stomach gladdened with a welcome change from horse meat, tough and stringy, to rib roasts of pony, grass-fed, sweet, and succulent. There is no such sauce as starvation. . . .


Charles King photo dedicated to Ed Burroughs

Brigadier General Charles H. King, U.S.V. and Staff
Spanish American War

Forest Home Cemetery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin


The ERB / Charles King Connection

Five campaign medals ~ Indian Wars Medal ~ Silver Star
King Bio
General Charles King
King Bibliography

The Soldier and the Master of Adventure

Part I

Part II

General Charles King Tribute

Tarzana, California
The Fantastic Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs
ERBzine Weekly Webzine
Danton Burroughs Website: Tarzana Treasure Vaults
Burroughs Bibliophiles
John Coleman Burroughs Tribute Site
Tarzine: Official Monthly Webzine of ERB, Inc.
John Carter of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs
ERBzine Weekly Webzine
Weekly Webzine
Danton Burroughs Weekly Webzine
Weekly Webzine

Visit our thousands of other sites at:
ERB Text, ERB Images and Tarzan® are ©Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.- All Rights Reserved.
All other Original Work ©1996-2008/2010 by Bill Hillman and/or Contributing Authors/Owners
No part of this web site may be reproduced without permission from the respective owners.