Edward Scott (ca.1862-1913)

The Brand Book, Volume 48, No. 1 (Winter 2014). English Westerners' Society.

Corporal Edward Scott (ca. 1862-1913) - Cover of Organization of American Historians 'Magazine of History,' July 2009, Volume 23, No.3. [Note the unfastened button on his tunic! Was he improperly dressed?]]

  • Corporal Edward Scott, Frontier Cavalryman, by Allan Radbourne, The Brand Book, Volume 48, No. 1 (Winter 2014), English Westerners’ Society, London, UK, (BB 48/1) provides an excellent account of the military career of this brave ‘Buffalo Soldier’ and the events that led up to him being severely wounded in a skirmish with Geronimo and his band in the Sierra Pinito, Mexico,  on 3 May 1886.
  • Although an American trooper who had served in both the 9th and 10th Cavalry regiments falls out with my normal area of interest, Scott’s hitherto unknown story (at least to this writer) immediately captured my imagination. I was therefore curious to learn more about his life both before and after his abruptly-ended, promising military career. The purpose of this paper is partly to serve as a corrigenda to the text of BB 48/1 but, far more importantly, to add to our knowledge of this pictorially celebrated but otherwise little known figure in frontier history. Along the way I also came across some quite unexpected connections with the 7th Cavalry, a regiment of which I am rather more familiar, and these are highlighted in red type below.
  • The notoriously unreliable U.S. Army, Registers of Enlistment state that Edward Scott was age 21 when he signed an Oath of Enlistment and Allegiance in Cincinnati, Ohio, on 12 December 1878 and that he was born in Danville, Kentucky. However, neither the date nor his place of birth has ever been established and the fact that he was almost certainly born into slavery leads to the distinct possibility that ‘Scott’ was not his original surname. The well-known abolitionist and former slave, Frederick Douglass, wrote: “I have no accurate knowledge of my age, never having seen any authentic record containing it.” Douglass also changed his surname (though not his forename) several times and, it is said, took the name ‘Douglass’ from a character in Sir Walter Scott’s epic poem, ‘Lady of the Lake.’ Edward Scott and no doubt millions of other ex-slaves would have had a similar surname-selecting experience, though without, I suspect, resorting to such a literary influence.
  • Co-incidentally, the 7th Cavalry officer and a future major general and Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, Hugh Lenox Scott, was born in Danville, Boyle County, Kentucky, on 22 September 1853, and is proudly listed among the city’s most notable residents: to date, no such honour has been bestowed on his less fortunate namesake from the 10th Cavalry.
  • The Timeline of Edward Scott
  • 1857-1870 – No one answering to Edward Scott’s description has been found in the Kentucky Slave Schedules (1860); the Enslaved Persons Mentioned in the Wills of Boyle County, Kentucky, 1842-1870, compiled by Michael J. Denis, Parksville, KY (January 2013); or the Federal Census (1870). In the absence therefore of any evidence beyond his own unsubstantiated army declaration it leaves no alternative other than to say his true name, date and place of birth must remain uncertain.
  • 12 December 1878 – Enlisted in U.S. Army at Cincinnati, Ohio, by Captain Michael Cooney, 9th Cavalry, from Co. Limerick, Ireland, a future Lieutenant Colonel of the 7th Cavalry (see Note 1 below).  Scott was described as having black eyes, hair and complexion, standing 5′ 9¾” tall, previously employed as a ‘laborer’ [U.S. spelling!] On his first enlistment, 4 December 1856, Cooney increased his age from 19 to 21 and further evidence suggests that Scott increased his age by an even larger margin, possibly as much as five years, i.e., born ca. 1862!   He was assigned to the 9th Cavalry, Company D.
  • 11 December 1883 – Scott discharged at Fort Riley, Kansas. Major Frederick Benteen was also stationed at this post and may well have crossed paths with the private of “very good” character.  Note: “In 1866 [Brevet] Colonel Benteen preferred to be a captain in a white regiment [7th Cavalry] rather than a major in a colored regiment [9th Cavalry]. And now the gallant officer has been appointed to precisely the same position he rejected 17 years ago. The Colonel has succeeded in getting over the color line, but it cost him $8,000—in salary he did not get—to do it.— Herald” (The Bozeman Weekly Chronicle, Montana, 11 December 1883).
  • 31 December 1883 (not 21 December as stated in BB 48/1, p. 16) – Enlisted in U.S. Army at Cincinnati, Ohio, by Captain Winfield Scott Edgerly, 7th Cavalry, a survivor of the Battle of the Little Big Horn (see Note 2 below). Scott was assigned to the 10th Cavalry, Company K.
  • 3 May 1886 – Corporal Edward Scott severely wounded in a skirmish with Geronimo and his band in the Sierra Pinito, Mexico and rescued by Lt. Powhatan Clarke with the help of a trooper.
  • 7 May 1886 – Scott’s right leg was amputated above the knee.
  • 11 May 1887 – Scott discharged from the U.S. Army.
  • 19 April 1893 – John T. Hill married Sadie (aka Sarah) E. Price, the future Mrs Edward Scott. Both are described as ‘Black’ in the records (District of Columbia Marriages, 1811-1950).
  • 21 July 1893 – Lt. Powhatan Clarke, stationed at Fort Custer, Montana, drowned in Little Big Horn River, not many miles below the spot where the Sioux killed Custer seventeen years before. Buried in Calvary Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri (see Note 3 below).
  • 21 February 1898 – Edward E. Scott, a bachelor, age 33 and Sarah (aka Sadie) Hill (née Price), the former Mrs John T. Hill, age 35, were married by the Rev. Shelton Miller at 2313 Brightwood Avenue, northwest Washington, D.C. Information taken from marriage certificate (District of Columbia Marriages, 1811-1950). This writer has not been able to access the records of the nearby National Soldiers’ Home of which Scott may have been an inmate after his discharge from the army.  It is most likely therefore that the newly-weds set up house in the northwest of the city.
  • 1 June 1900 – Sherman Avenue, northwest Washington, D.C., Edward E. Scot (sic), age 38, born Kentucky. Both parents born Kentucky. Sadie (sic) Scot, wife, age 26, born Washington, D.C. Father born Georgia, mother born Virginia (Federal Census).
  • 10 June 1900 – First child Edward Price Scott born, Washington, D.C. (U.S. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918).
  • 2 March 1903 – Army Invalid Pension increased to $46 a month (U.S. Veterans Administration Payment Cards, 1907-1933).
  • 1903 (?) – Second child Alice J. Scott born.
  • 21 April 1909 – Army Invalid Pension increased to $55 a month. A note reads: “Gnst wd [Gunshot wound] of left foot and loss of rt. leg above the knee, stump in such a diseased condition as to prevent the use of an artificial limb.” (U.S. Veterans Administration Payment Cards, 1907-1933.).
  • 15 April 1910 – 25 Sheridan Road [not Avenue], southeast Washington, D.C. Edward Scott, age 44, no occupation; Sarah E. Scott, wife, age 35, a Dressmaker (at home). Father born Georgia, mother born Virginia; Edward P. Scott, son, age 9; Alize (sic), daughter, age 6 (Federal Census).  This census tells that Sarah has given birth to three children, only two of which were still alive. It is not known whether John Hill or Edward Scott was the father of the deceased child.
  • 28 July 1913 – Edward Scott. a labourer, age 49, died at 25 Sheridan Road, southeast Washington, D.C. Cause [Primary] Disease of the Heart [Secondary] Cerebral Haemorrhage. Duration 2 years 50 days (District of Columbia Deaths, 1874-1959).

Headstone of Corporal Edward Scott, Arlington National Cemetery - No. 16947

  • 29 July 1913 – “SCOTT. Departed this life July 28, 1913, at 2 a.m. at his residence 23 Sheridan avenue (sic), Anacostia, D.C., EDWARD SCOTT, beloved husband of Sarah E. Scott. The Evening Star, Washington, D.C.
  • 30 July 1913 – Edward Scott’s death reported in The Washington Herald and The Washington Times.
  • 31 July 1913 – Edward Scott’s funeral was arranged by Smith & Adams, undertakers, 604 Nichols Avenue. The service was held at 11 o’clock in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, also in Nichols Avenue (renamed Martin Luther King, Jr, Avenue in January 1971). His mortal remains were laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia – Section 23, Grave 16947, where a standard military style headstone marks the spot (Information taken from death certificate).


  • 9 September 1913 – Army Pensions Bureau notified of Edward Scott’s death (U.S. Veterans Administration Payment Cards, 1907-1933).
  • 6 October 1913 – Sarah E. Scott applies for an Army Widow’s Pension, which was not successful (U.S. General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934, Application No. 1015.435).
  • 15 March 1917 – Sarah E. Scott re-applies for an Army Widow’s Pension, which was successful, backdated to 4 March 1917 (United States Index to Indian Wars Pension Files, 1892-1926, Application No. 11598, Certificate No. 8948).
  • 12 September 1918 – Edward Price Scott, a Labourer, living at 25 Sheridan Road, Washington, D.C., employed by the Washington Steel & Ordnance Company (U.S. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918).
  • 1 January 1920 – Sheridan Road, Washington, D.C. – Sarah E. Scott, 46, Widow, a Dressmaker (working from home); Edward P. Scott; 19, a ‘Helper’ at the nearby Navy Yard (i.e. Crane Driver’s Mate); Alice J. Scott, 16 (Federal Census).
  • 9 August 1920 – Edward P. Scott, age 20, married Catherine E. Simmons, age 19, daughter of Grant and Mary Simmons (District of Columbia Marriages, 1811-1950). The fate of Catherine and whether or not she bore Edward any children is not known to this writer.
  • 21 November 1923 – Alice J. Scott, age 21 married Sylvester Oscar Bright, age 26 (born 25 February 1898), black (District of Columbia Marriages, 1811-1950).
  • 24 September 1927 – Sylvester O. Bright, son of John Bright and Victoria Graham, a Chauffeur, age 29, dies at 1370 First St. NW, Washington, D.C. and buried the same day (?) in Bladensburg, Maryland (District of Columbia Deaths, 1874-1959).
  • 10 April 1930 – 25 Sheridan Road, Washington, D.C., Sarah Scott, 56, a Dressmaker; Alice J. Scott (Bright?); 26, daughter, widow, a Hotel Waitress; grandsons – Edward Bright 8; Joseph Bright, 5; and Albert Scott, 3 (Federal Census).
  • 5 April 1940 – Baldwin Avenue, Detroit, Michigan – Edward P. Scott, age 39, born Washington, D.C. a maintenance worker in an auto factory earning $1100 a year. He had lodged at this address for at least 5 years in the house of Eugene and Hazel Palmer. Surprisingly, Edward is listed as ‘single,’ i.e. not ‘widowed’ or ‘divorced.’ (Federal Census). What happened to his wife, Catherine, and whether this marriage produced any children remains a mystery.
  • 5 April 1940 – Eleventh Street NW, Washington, D.C. – Carl Lewis, 38, born North Carolina, a Truck Driver for an electric company; Alice Lewis (formerly Bright, née Scott), 36, his wife; stepsons Joseph Bright, 15 and Albert Scott, 13; Sarah Scott (formerly Hill, née Price), 65, Mother-in-Law, a Charwoman at a War College (Federal Census).
  • 24 March 1947 – Sarah E. Scott (née Price, formerly Hill), died in St. Elizabeths Hospital, Nichols Avenue, Washington, D.C. (BB 48/1, p. 36, Note 62). St Elizabeths is ‘notable’ for not having an apostrophe before the ‘s’.
  • 7 November 1971 – Edward P. Scott died in Detroit, Michigan (U.S. Social Security Death Index).
  • The fate of Alice J. Lewis (formerly Bright, née Scott), her second husband Carl Lewis and three children is also not known to this writer.
  • Notes
  •  MICHAEL COONEY: Born Muroe, County Limerick, Ireland, 1 May 1837, commissioned from New York.  Private, Corporal & Sergeant, Company A, 1st Cavalry 4 Dec 1856 to 4 Dec 1861; Private & 1st Sergeant, Company M and Saddler Sergeant & Quartermaster Sergeant, 6th Cavalry 18 Dec 1861 to 30 Dec 1864; Captain, 5th Colored Cavalry 1 Jan 1865; honourably mustered out 16 Mar 186; 1st Lieutenant, 9th Cavalry 28 Jul 1866; Captain, 9th Cavalry 1 Jan 1868 ; Major, 4th Cavalry 10 Dec 1888; Lieutenant Colonel, 7th Cavalry 2 Jun 1897, Colonel, 4th Cavalry 9 Jun 1899; retired 14 Sep 1899. He and his family moved to Washington, D.C. following his retirement. He was advanced to brigadier general on the retired list on 23 April 1904. He died on 10 September 1928. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery 12 September 1928.
  • WINFIELD SCOTT EDGERLY – Born in Farmington, New Hampshire, 29 May 1846. Entered military service at the United States Military Academy on July 1, 1866. He graduated 15 June 1870, ranking 50th in his class of 58 graduates. Was 6’4″ in height. He was appointed Second Lieutenant, Company D, 7th Cavalry 15 June 1870, and joined regiment near Fort Riley, Kansas. During the reconstruction period he served at various posts in the southern states until 1873, when he proceeded to Fort Snelling for escort duty with International Boundary Survey Commission. He fought in the Little Big Horn River fight and rendered conspicuously gallant service. Promoted First Lieutenant to rank from 25 June 1876, to occupy the vacancy created by promotion of Lieutenant James M. Bell.
  • He served on frontier duty until 1883, when he went to Cincinnati for duty with the General Recruiting Service. Promoted to Captain of Cavalry 22 September 1883. He joined his troop at Fort Leavenworth in 1884. On duty at Fort Keogh in 1885-86, and then transferred to Fort Riley. He participated in the fight on Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota, on 29 December 1890, where he rendered conspicuously valuable service. He served in Texas from 1892 to 1895, and then for 1 year at the State College, Orino, Maine, as an instructor and the following two years as National Guard instructor at Concord, New Hampshire.
  • Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Volunteers 8 June 1898,and Major, 6th Cavalry on July 9, 1898. Transferred to 7th Cavalry 5 January 1899, which he joined in Cuba. Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, 10th Cavalry on 19 February 1901, and transferred back to 7th Cavalry 20 March 1901. On 7 February 1902, promoted to Colonel, 2nd Cavalry and joined the regiment at Fort Myer, Virginia. The following year he took the regiment to the Philippine Islands. There he received promotion to Brigadier General on 28 June 1905.
  • In 1907 he was in Germany as an observer of army manoeuvres. He retired 29 December 1909, after 43 years of service. Recalled for a short period in World War I and commanded the mobilization camp at Concord, New Hampshire. He died 10 September 1927, at Farmington. He was buried in Arlington Cemetery.


  • LIEUT. CLARKE’S DEATH, Some particulars of the Tragedy at Fort Custer.
  • No particulars of the death of Lieut. Powhatan Clarke of the tenth cavalry, who was drowned near Fort Custer. Mont., on Friday last, have been received either at the War Department or at his late home at Baltimore. A correspondent of the St. Louis Republic at Fort Custer furnishes the following:
  • Lieut. Powhatan H. Clarke, tenth United States cavalry, died in the Little Big Horn river, Mont.. not many miles below the spot on the same river where the Sioux killed Custer seventeen years ago. Lieut. Clarke. with two brother officers rode to the river to swim their horses and enjoy a bath. There were several enlisted men present, a detachment of E troop tenth cavalry, engaged in swimming drill, and others who were there for personal pleasure. In all there were probably twenty men in and near the water.
  • After swimming their horses to and fro across a circular pool in the river not more than forty yards in its greatest diameter and about six feet in depth, the three officers separated, Lieut. Clarke proceeding alone to a pool about the same size only a few rods higher up the river. There he was seen to tie up his horse and go to the river bank, from which he almost immediately dived into the pool. He thought that he was diving into deep water, the average depth of the pool being from ten to twelve feet. He nor anyone else at the time was aware that from the point where he dived a shelving bank caused shallow water for several feet. and that the bed of the stream was there studded with sharp edged stones, some about the size of a man’s head. The water here would not reach higher than Lieut. Clarke’s waist. Diving from a high bank he struck head foremost in the shallow water and on the stones. An enlisted man standing nearby saw him rise from the dive. It was noticed that his hair was discolored at the moment, the man thought by mud. Lieut. Clarke was apparently swimming, but not with regular strokes. The man noticed that the strokes seemed to be almost spasmodic.

Lt Powhatan Henry Clarke (1862-1893) - rescuer of Corporal Edward Scott

  • After being above water for only four or five yards Lieut. Clarke apparently again dived beneath the surface, but came up again very quickly, only to again suddenly disappear. This time the enlisted man was sure that it was blood, not mud, on the officer’s head. The alarm was immediately given and men and officers crowded to the spot. A private of troop E swimming squad leaped from his horse and swam to where the lieutenant had last been seen diving down he caught Lieut. Clarke by the wrist. Lieut. Clarke was struggling in the water. The man could use only the left hand for swimming and by reason of the swift current and struggles of the officer he was forced to let go. The officer then sank out of sight and touch.
  • The two other officers and the men continued to dive and search for their comrade’s body, for it was now felt that the body only could be recovered. It was left however, for Lieut. William L. Johnston, tenth cavalry, who at the time of the accident was in the post, but to whom the word of danger had come, to rescue the body. Within a few minutes after Lieut. Johnston’s arrival this was done. Lieut. Clarke’s head showed three ugly cuts. It is quite evident that stunned by the dive into shallow water and rocks he, by the current and by his own struggles, was swept into deep water, in which he died. Every possible effort was made for his resuscitation, but all in vain. 26 July 1893 Evening Star (Washington, D.C.)


& The Small Print

© Men With Custer 2013. Author Peter Groundwater Russell. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this website’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Peter Russell and the ‘Men With Custer’ website with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Men With Custer