Alonzo Bowman, Medal of Honor        

The Washington Historical Society’s meeting last week hosted Jesse Casas and Don Grinnell for their PowerPoint discussion about native son and Civil War soldier, Alonzo Bowman. Alonzo Bowman was a grandson of John Bowman, one of the earliest settlers of Collomore Ridge, the neighborhood we know as West Washington. The early John Bowman was one of the men who petitioned the State of Massachusetts for the incorporation of the Town of Putnam in 1811 (the name was later changed to Washington). Alonzo Bowman was born June 15, 1848, son of (a second) John Bowman and Eliza Vanner. On April 9, 1864, at age 16, he lied about his age and enlisted for Civil War service in the 8th Maine Infantry. After Alonzo’s enlistment, the 8th Maine saw action in Virginia at Drewey’s Bluff and Cold Harbor, among other battles. He was among the troops at Appomattox Courthouse when Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses Grant.

The 8th Maine mustered out on Jan. 6, 1866, and Alonzo promptly enlisted with the 8th Infantry Regiment. He saw duty in the South during the early Reconstruction Period and eventually in the Indian Wars in the West where he joined the 6th U.S. Cavalry. While stationed at Fort Apache, Arizona Territory, in 1881, he was involved in the Battle of Cibecue Creek when cavalry soldiers were ambushed by Apache warriors and mutinous cavalry scouts who attacked the soldiers. Alonzo helped clear “the hostiles” from the area and in 1882 was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for “Conspicuous and extraordinary bravery in attacking mutinous scouts.” According to official military records, Sgt. Bowman was shot on Oct. 3, 1884, “without provocation by a desperate character.” He died the next day at age 36, having lived over half his life as a military man, far from home. He is buried at Fort Bayard, New Mexico.

Native American Heritage

November 26, the day after Thanksgiving, is observed as Native American Heritage Day, part of the entire month of special recognitions of our country’s indigenous people. They are people who lived on this property for thousands of years before white-skinned explorers came upon the continent. They are hundreds of groups with diverse ways of life, languages, customs and appearance. According to the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), a global human rights group based in Denmark, there were likely more than 60 million indigenous people in the Americas before white contact. In the U.S. today there are about 3.1 million. Causes of the decline include diseases, violence, torture, forcible relocation, warfare and an attitude of fear and hatred toward them.

Alonzo and the natives

Interestingly, the Battle of Cibecue Creek, where Alonzo Bowman’s actions earned him the Medal of Honor, was a pivotal event for Native Americans. (You can search the name — Cibecue — and the bigger picture. Much is omitted to tell this extremely shortened version.) During the westward expansion, there were numbers of Native Americans hired by the U.S. military to act as scouts. The scouts and the tribespeople were careful in dealings with the cavalry and other whites because trust was so often superficial. The native people complained about the poor conditions and disrespectful treatment on the reservation.

Nochaydelklinne (Nock), an educated Cibecue Apache medicine man, allowed some native people to gather and discuss their treatment. Nock was accused by the Army of inciting unrest. Troops and scouts were sent to bring Nock to the fort to “talk.” The natives feared their medicine man would be harmed. And indeed, the soldiers were ordered to kill Nock if anything veered off the plan. As the soldiers and Nock got closer to the fort, Apaches appeared from every direction. The native scouts turned on the soldiers, and a full-fledged battle ensued. Nock, his wife and son were immediately shot. Several soldiers and Apaches died or were wounded. The troops scrambled to get away from their vulnerable location and quietly crept away at night. The battle at Cibecue led to a regional Apache uprising that lasted two years, eventually ending in the U.S. defeat of the Apache.

Pumpkin Vine Farm winter market 

Pumpkin Vine vendors’ products can be ordered every other week through mid-March. To get started, email and ask for the order forms. Customers can place an order on a Saturday and it will be ready for pick-up the following Tuesday, at the Farm, between 4:30-8 p.m., by the barn. The next two pickups will be Dec. 6 and 20, with orders due by the Saturday before. So, request your order forms and follow directions. Vendors include Andrews Farm, B&T Baked Goods, Hawthorne & Thistle, Pumpkin Vine Farm, Wild Fruitings, and Woodhaus.