George Henneberg: Immigrant Bugler and Deserter

Kearny to Adj. Gen. Jones, January 27, 1839, Letter Book 410


By the last mail received your instruction of the 8th Inst. to send George Henneburg one of the Principal Musicians of the 2d Dragoons, to Jefferson Barracks that he may be sent over there to join his Regiment in Florida, & for the information of the Com. in Chief I sent to you his history as I understand it.

In June 1836 Henneberg with his family (a wife & 3 children) arrived in the U.S. from Germany. In November (in five months after his arrival) he was enlisted in Baltimore by Capt. Winder, 2d Dragoons. He, not understanding our language was (as he says) promised by the Capt. [through a doctor Hantz?] (who acted as an Interpreter and who he thinks was the Examining Surgeon) that he should not be sent to Florida , but to Jefferson Barracks to serve there during his enlistment as        instructor to both bands. He was sent there; [unintelligible] with his Reg’t., having his family with him; and when it left there in Sep’t ’34 for Florida, he started with it, but on arriving at Shawneetown on the 15th of that month, considering the promise made to him at his enlistment had not been fulfilled, he deserted, went to New Orleans where his family with the Baggage of the Re’t had been sent. He returned with them to Jefferson Barracks, and on the 11th Dec. delivered himself up to Brig. Gen’l Atkinson (without expenses to the U.S.) who in October ’38 sent him under Capt. Perkins to this Post to serve with the 1st Drags. ‘til further orders.

On my return to the Reg’t in December I found him here & assigned him to Co. “B” as a Bugler, as I reported to you in my letter of the 11th of that month. He is now in that Company having with him his wife , two young children and daily expecting another.

This man appears to me like a very respectable German and still understands our language very imperfectly. As I have been thus particular about his family, that the Comd. In Chief may himself judge, & I have no doubt he would agree with me, in crediting his story, that he was deceived in his enlistment when promised that he was to serve at Jefferson Barracks, & not to be sent to Florida where he is most unwilling to go, as it would separate him from those far removed as from the native Homes and dependent upon him. I have now to recommend that he be transferred from the 2nd to the 1st Dragoons, in Exchange for one of the many men that Regt had received the letters. I will detain him here ‘till the decision of the Comd. in Chief is received in reply to this communication.

Bugler George Henneberg re-enlisted in Company F on 16 July 1846. Lt. Phil Kearny, the recruiting officer promised to keep Henneberg with his family. The movement of Co. F to San Antonio, Texas and the replacement of the easy going Capt. Philip Thompson with the wild eyed Lt. Kearny, resulted, on 14 September 1846, of Henneberg’s 2d desertion. This time, having his fill of broken promises, he did not return,

Gossip from Ft. Leavenworth 1845 & 1846

McLean to Love

Fort Leavenworth Mo.

Nov 26th 1845

Dear John

Had you not said in your first letter, that you would write to me on arriving at Dayton, I suppose I would be obliged to commence this with an apology; but as you were so rash as to give one that piece of information be it on your own bead.

You give a charming picture, truly, of the delights and charms of that famous city; what with tableaux, balls, parties and distinguished consideration I suspect the gallant Captain has changed in so remarkable a degree, that Leavenworth would stand mute with astonished admiration, should any circumstance place him suddenly in the midst of it.  But I am glad to see that in all your gaiety and amusements you do not forget those who are sadly doomed to a winter of dull and insipid monotony.  You have made a happy escape I do assume (Barring Miss Joe, of course) for if a man here should laugh heartily, no, all would be astonished, so uncommon a thing has it become.  Each one seems to be impressed with the conviction that something dreadful is before him and that all he can do, is to brace himself up against it as well as he can, and bear it with as much fortitude as he can muster.  The Major has lately introduced an improvement, which perhaps will give a little variety to a few of the subs, and prevent them from positively dying outright with ennui, for he has taken the important step of ordering an officer of the guard, and it only waiting to have the room fixed to keep the young gentlemen from catching cold.  Poor subs!  Don’t you pity them?  I do really and truly!  Only think how sad a change it would be from Captain Love, commander of all the military forces of Dayton, favorite of the ladies, associate of Mrs Sink, the tableaux vivaux, in fine the observed of all observers, to “Mr. Love you will visit the sentinels every hour, and see that they perform their duty, you have leave the guard house to go to your meals but on no other account except on duty”  Throw back your head dear Captain and pity the poor subs—think of that lonely room, when you are in the midst of a brilliant coterie, think of that supperless belly when your are enjoying your [game?] supper, think of those heavy disconsolate eyelids when your only [illegible] is that you have to return.  Oh John you are really a happy dog!

So you think your polka investment is a bad speculation.  By the way, have you and Jack [1st Infantry Second Lieutenant John] Terrett settled the pointed of that dispute yet? Or do you both affirm and stick to it that the other is wrong.  I had a good laugh at that navigate to this site.  [AQM, First Lieutenant William M. D “Issac”] McKissack puts it in his best style; giving to the whole scene the most graphic effect.  But speaking of speculations, the richest I have known or heard of for some time in one I made myself and three weeks since, I bought a filly, and such a filly! Your old [Sen?] would have big [delight?] to have looked upon her, a head so small, an eye so big, a neck so beautiful and limbs so perfectly graceful few such have been seen at the old fort.  Well John I loved it at first sight and bought it for a cool hundred, brought it here, put it in the stable, and next morning it choked to death. Beat that if you can.

Your bay does not appear to thrive some how or other, he looks rather poorly for some time but now seems to be getting better.  I believe I asked Captain B. [1st Dragoons, John H. K. Burgwin] to tell you that the leg which was wounded by the picket pin had broken out, the lower joint swelled up and finally broke; it is now running slightly, but looks as if it were getting better [it appears Love’s bay was on the Dragoon’s 1845 South Pass Expedition, which Love completed just before leaving for recruiting duty in Dayton].  I am keeping him myself, so you will know he has not been rode very hard—Sanderson has the pony and he has recovered so far from his deviltry that Mrs S. rode him over here the other day and swears she never saw his beat for a lady’s horse—Mrs Rich has a bay baby.  Mrs Hammond’s [young wife of 1st Dragoons Second Lieutenant Thomas] Shadow is beginning to increase, and Lady Foot got pups!

[1st Dragoons Capt. Phillip St. George] Cooke did not take his horse and is still here.  He sent [local attorney, recently resigned former 1st Dragoons Second Lieutenant Charles] Ruff to attend to the business in Phila.  I have sold all your things except the guns and horses, at the prices you left.  I tried to keep back the rocking chair but the confounded plebe got his eye of that the first thing. Every thing suited him very well except the bed which he swore wouldn’t keep him warm. Nothing known about your lost horse.

Give that recruit Jessie John.  Don’t let him come it over you.  If you mange that recruit in good style you know not what might come of it.  Hell make you a Major Genl, before your turn.  Did you ever ask him how he came to enlist? Miss Joe would I expect send her love if I were to tell her that you wished to be remember to her but I believe I’ll tell her that you didn’t say anything about her—think it would have a good effect.

Rich is flourishing as usual quite as fat and jovial as he [used?] to was, hasn’t begun to dance the polka yet tho I told him your opinion of his [illegible].  Major had a party last week at which of course all the elite were present.  I enjoyed myself of course.  All the young ladies were there.  How could 200 of them?  John do you know Mrs Ruff [daughter of Indian Agent/contractor John Daugherty, wife of former Dragoon officer Charles]?  If not and you are ever so unfortunate as to have to danced with her let me caution you to load yourself up to the muzzle beforehand with small talk for you’ll have use of it all—ten times worse than Mrs. H. she’s staying the winter at Cookes.

I should well like to tell you some news but there is none that would afford you five minutes amusement.  I had a letter from [Topog on South Pass Expedition, Brevet Second Lieutenant William] Franklin the other day in which he says they will certain recommend a station a Fort Laramie.  Perhaps if they do it will break up the recruiting depot at Dayton and let that recruit see some service.  Capt. M. [Benjamin Moore, Love’s Compy Commander] wants the rest.   Yours truly E. E. McLean

I raised my hands with pious horror to see the insinuations made against me in your letters to Burgwin & M [illegible] but “Mens ribs can [illegible?]” is my motto, & I defy your gross insinuations.  “vox faucibus haesit” [I was dumb with amazement].

Major Wharton


Fort Leavenworth Sept. 21st 1846
Lieut John Love 1st Drags
Dear John
As an express starts out to-morrow I take advantage of it to write you a few lines of what has transpired since my last letter. Tho’ there does not appear top be any thing of any great importance yet almost any thing from here I know will be received by you with pleasure. You see in the first place that we are still here doing peace service, while our “brother warriors” are earning for themselves imperishable fame in the field; and we feel this the more deeply as we appear to be the only company so situated in the whole army; sometimes when I sit down and ponder over matters, I can hardly realize that I am here and every body else fighting, or marching to fight with hearts bounding with hopes of glory and distinction before them. All is here so peaceful and calm; the sad and solemn beauty of the scenery so little like war and its noisy accompaniments that I can scarcely bring myself to think that such a thing is going on. But luck is, nevertheless, the fact, and here are we enjoying all the comforts of a soldier’s life, while you and every one else are undergoing the hardships, fatigues and dangers—I cannot last, I feel as if we could not linger out an inglorious existence here while all our friends are in the field.

A few days ago [Richard] Ewell was here, and tried hard to be ordered out to join you; but it was no use the Lt. Col. Could not take the responsibility.—He says he feels more disgusted  that we can; for we have the consolation of knowing that our company has not been ordered, whereas his is in the field, and he on recruiting service. He feels quite bad about it, and would give any thing in the world to be with you. Did you ever see any thing like the promotion your regiment has had. I’m perfectly disgusted with it I assure you. But did you know that you came very near losing two Captains more by [Pat] Trenor and [Philip] Thompson. The one by delirium tremens the other through the medium of a strike of lightning. Old Pat was very near going when he heard of his majority—he guzzled more rum than you would believe and wasn’t right either for a week or two but he’s well now and you need not calculate on him for a year or so. In think if he had another promotion to go through with, it would carry him off. His limits been extended to six miles and he now can visit Marshes as much as he pleases.

Thompson has been ordered to bring his company [F] here to remain during the winter at which no doubt he will be heartily disgusted as he was making arrangements to join General [John] Wool. Assurances have been given however by the Adjutant General that his company will be the first ordered out if troops are needed in the spring. He has from all accounts a fine company of young men raised principally by [Phil] Kearny who exerted himself in every way to fill the company, which by the way he had scarcely done before he was superseded by Thompson.

We have been engaged for the last month mustering in a regiment of Infantry for your army nine companies have been completed averaging more than 100 aggregate—a fine set of men as you ever saw; much superior I think to those already with you. Two mails ago, however, orders were received from Washington disbanding them; at which of course there was great and furious excitement. They were exceedingly anxious to get out, and if there had not been a difficulty about the election of a Colonel, four good companies would already have been many miles on the road—if started the orders were to let them go on. From all accounts however you will not need them, and as I hear provision are rather scarce in your parts you’d just as lief be without them. By the way John how do you like a hungry belly for a companion. I should think it be damned disagreeable—even if you do have silver plates.

Taylor’s army is on the march for Monterrey. Worth is in advance with his divisions where if has luck he may retrieve his former blunder. They marched from Camargo—all their baggage and so on is taken on pack mules—transportation by wagons being, it is said, impracticable. There is no news of importance further than that they have marched. We expect in the course of a week or two to learn of another battle as troops are said to be collecting beyond Monterrey. The health of the regulars is good but there has been much sickness amongst the volunteers and a great deal of mortality.

On the day that our orders came here for the disbanding of the Infantry regiment [3d Missouri Infantry]  there was another sad occurrence took place here. A sentinel (a volunteer) at the Magazine had a prisoner placed in his charge by the officer of the guard while he went to get a file of men to take him to the guard house. The officer had gone a hundred yards—the prisoner escaped from the sentinel who cried out to him repeatedly to stop or he would fire. He wouldn’t stop and the sentry fired. Down came  the man—dead as Adam. The company to which he belonged then rushed our in mass with a Sergeant at their head crying hang him hang him, and was only prevented from doing violence to the sentinel by the officer of the day Capt. McNair (a bold and daring fellow) rushing out in the from of them drawing his sword and threatening to run the first of them through who advanced. After a good deal of difficulty—the affair was stilled and the men quartered.

If the Regiment had been organized, Daugherty would have been the Col. [Levi] Hinkel ran for Major and if the election had been completed would have been elected I think beyond a doubt.

We are all well and enjoying ourselves greatly. Let me compliment you John on your promotion. My hopes are still pretty slim. Whistler I believe has been cashiered. Thornton acquitted. Wharton is the same old thing. Miss Joe is in fine health. She and Mrs W. have gone to St. Louis for the health of the children. I gave Miss Joe your message. She swears she’s not engaged. Miss Constance sends her love and wanted to know why you didn’t write to her. Mrs. Rich has lost her baby and has moved into the garrison. Report says two companies of the Rifle Regiment are coming up here to winter. Capt. [Nathanial] Boone has got a leave of absence for six months whenever the command of the Department thinks his services can be dispensed with–looks  something like resigning ok? Col. [Richard] Mason is still on recruiting service.

Write whenever you can and whenever you have an opportunity, I will let you know what is going on here. Remember me to all most kindly and
Believe me,
Yours Sincerely,
E. McLean [, Compy A, Ist Infy, Fort Leavenworth AAAdjGenl .]


Oct. 12, 1872—Maj. Levi Hinkle died at his home, north of Parkville.
W. C. White administered. Bond, $12,000. Maj. Hinkle
entered the army as a common soldier. After his discharge, he
was appointed foragemaster at Fort Leavenworth, and dealt
extensively with our people. He purchased a large farm near
Barry, resigned his office, and engaged in farming. He was a farseeing
and successful trader, a public-spirited citizen, and a zealous
Presbyerian. He was an ardent Union man during the war,
and for a time was provost-marshal. He was born in 1823; married
Margaret Campbell, daughter of William, of Clay. Oh.

William McClung Paxton,  Annals of Platte County, Missouri, from its exploration down to June 1 ,1897: with genealogies of its noted families, and sketches of its pioneers and distinguished people, (Kansas City: Hudson-Kimberly Publishing Co., 1897) 532.

REPORT: Dragoon Expedition 1839

ARMY AND NAVY CHRONICLE, Vol. IX, No. 18, October 31, 1839 (Whole Number 263)


Fort Leavenworth, Oct. 3, 1839.

Mr. Editor: During that portion of the year in which the prairie grass will sustain horses, it has been customary at this post to detach squadrons or troops, monthly, on a march of reconnaissance along the frontier, to the vicinity of those Indian tribes whose known propensities would lead to the supposition of their committing depredations upon the property of the whites, or of whom complaints had already been made of outrages actually committed. A short account of a March of this kind, of more than usual interest, made during the past month, to the Otoes and Missourias, may not be uninteresting to some of your readers.

In consequence of complaints made of the evil disposition manifested by the Otoes towards the whites, particularly in their conduct to the employés of the Government living among them. Col. Kearny, in immediate command of two squadrons of his regiment, left Fort Leavenworth on the 5th September, to visit them at their villages on the Great Platte river. The officers of the expedition were Col. Kearny, commanding; Major Wharton, Adjutant Thompson, Surgeon Macomb; Capt. Boone, commanding 1st squadron; Capt. Allen commanding 2d squadron; and Lieutenants Steen, Davidson, Chilton and Bowman.

Following, generally, the old ‘Council Bluffs” road, on the south side of the Missouri river, the troops moved leisurely onward, over a country luxuriant, picturesque, and at some points beautiful; the monotony of the march being varied by, at one time, the necessity of cutting down the abrupt banks of some prairie stream, to allow the passage of the wagons, and, at another, of turning from a direct course to head some hollow whose marshy bottom would bear neither man nor horse. In this manner, by easy marches, Wolfe river, the Great and Little Nemahaw, Table Creek, L’eau qui pleut, and many streams of lesser note being crossed, and the site (a most eligible one) for the new post on Table Creek having been visited, we finally stood upon the batiks of the Great Platte. This river, being low, was fordable by horses, but its bed abounding in quicksands rendered the crossing entirely impracticable to loaded wagons. An opportunity was thus offered of testing the utility of Capt. Lane’s admirable application of India rubber to purposes of military economy. A small box, of little weight, containing a boat capable of transporting about 1500 pounds weight across a rapid stream, having been brought with us, the cylinders were inflated and the boat launched. It is almost superfluous, after the many testimonials in its favor, to say that the boat answered all the purposes of its invention, uniting with an ease of management and a readiness of transportation, which must give it entire precedence over every other kind of ponton yet offered to the consideration of the military public. On the sandy beach of this river we found the bones of one of three dragoons who had been drowned a few months previous, while conducting to their tribe some Omahas taken prisoners by the Sacs. The now useless sword and belt and cartridge-box, lying with their owner’s remains, and marked with the letter of his company, and his number, identified the individual. The skeleton, having been placed in a box, was conveyed to our camp, and that evening buried with the honors of war.

The point of our destination having been reached, the Otoes were invited through their agent, Mr. Hamilton, to a council on the 16th. After a delay of unusual length, though at no time remarkable for punctuality, a long string of warriors, boys and women, gave notice of the approach of the nation. The whole assembly having halted a few hundred yards beyond our chain of sentinels, some twenty of the chief men, having dismounted, approached the encampment, and being led to the commanding officer, took their seats in council; on being told, however, that the whole nation were invited to hear what was, to be said to them, the greater portion of the people came forward, taking their stations in concentric circles around the council fire. Observing that, contrary to custom, the Indians had come into council armed, the commanding officer refused to have any thing to say to them while thus equipped, and directed them to lay aside weapons which he neither feared nor had come to contend against. This being done, Col. Kearnv addressed the council.

He told the Otoes that he was glad to see them ; he said he was the representative of their Great Father, the President, who had placed him in their vicinity to observe their conduct; that many reports of their

misconduct towards their white brethren had reached his ears, that as it would be hard to make a whole nation suffer for the acts of a few individuals, he should only punish the most prominent of those against whom complaints had been made; he called upon Kanzas Tunga (Big Kaw) to deliver to him some young men whom he named. (Three young men having been delivered to him, the commanding officer proceeded,) that as these young men had acted badly towards the whites, he intended to punish them before the nation, that it might be a lesson to them would all for the future not to molest the white man—that should the punishment then inflicted fail in producing the intended effect, and he should again hear com- plaints of their bad conduct, it would be as easy for him to visit them again as it had been them; in con elusion he advised them, in their difficulties, to seek counsel from their agent, who would always hear their complaints and assist them.

Kanzas Tunga, Waronisa, Le Voleur, and most of the leading men replied, generally admitting that

their young men had acted badly, but that they were not able to restrain them,” and two of the old chiefs, Waronisa and Le Voleur, offered themselves for punishment in place of the prisoners.   One fine looking young chief came forward, and under great excitement said, “My Father, I place myself among these prisoners, whatever punishment you inflict on them, let me undergo first.”” Cha-ra-to-rishe, or Chef Malade, the head chief of the Pawnees, who with a few of his chiefs, was present, reproached the

Otoes for their conduct, for their turbulence and internal discord; and for the murder of the only man

among them, Jotan [in April 1837]—told them he could manage his young men, and if the Otoe Chiefs could not do the same, they were unworthy the title.

The agent, Mr. Hamilton, now rose, and requested  Col. Kearny to give to him the prisoners, and not to

punish them: that he would be answerable for their future good conduct, and that he thought the nation

would be as much benefited by what had already passed, as if the punishment had actually been inflicted. To this request, after some consideration, the Colonel yielded, and addressed the Otoes again, saying, that as their peace-father had interceded for their young men, he had given them to him—that his intention had been to whip, not to kill, but to whip them there, publicly, before the whole nation, that all might know that they had been punished, and that should he ever have cause again to visit them for their misconduct, his ears would be closed to all solicitations from their agent.

Mr. Hamilton having then explained to the Otoes the pledges he had made in-their behalf, and restored the prisoners, advised them to conduct themselves in good faith towards the white people sent among them by their Great Father for their benefit, and to remember all that had been said to them. The council then dissolved. The Otoes had been much alarmed, and had probably expected that some of their people were – to be killed, or that some treachery was intended, and had accordingly come to the council prepared for the

worst, to fight if necessary, but with no intention of doing so unless forced by an attack by the troops. They were evidently much relieved by the result, and the lesson they have received in the firmness displayed by Col. Kearnv, together with the contempt for their prowess, and confidence in his own resources which he evinced in the council, will doubtless restrain them within proper limits for at least some years.

On the 17th the Missouri river was passed, the horses swimming it, and the camp for the night was formed at one of the Pottawattamie villages. These Indians having been invited to council on the following day, some dozen of their head chiefs appeared, and the commanding officer spoke to them of the invitation of the Government to enter into a new treaty with them or an exchange of their present lands for others lying on the south side of the Missouri. He advised them to accompany the agent of the Government, Capt. Gantt, to examine these lands, and explained to them the difference between living in a territory under the laws of the United States, and within the limits of a State enacting its own laws, and which would certainly extend its jurisdiction over such Indian tribes as might be embraced in its geographical boundaries: that in a few ???rs such would be their situation in their present residence ; he therefore would advise them, as their friend, to accede to the wishes of their Great Father, at least so far as to examine the country which he wished to give them in exchange for theirs. He concluded by saying he spoke to them as a friend, not as the authorized agent of the Government. The orator of the nation replied, simply, that heretofore their ears had been deaf to all words upon the subject of their removal, but that they had now heard the advice of their Father, they thanked him for it, they were glad to see him, and would always be glad to see him at their towns.

These Indians complain that a treaty has been made with them, which has only been partially fulfilled, and that therefore they are unwilling to enter into any new engagements with the Government.  There is truth and justice in the remark; and if it is really the wish to remove the Pottawattamies to the other side of the Missouri river, the stipulations of the late treaty should, at once, be complied with, or any attempt to institute a satisfactory negotiation for an exchange of lands may be considered futile. The command returned to Fort Leavenworth on the 25th September.