Post Civil War America- Black Seminole Indian Scouts: From Slaves To Warriors And Experts In Frontier Combat-The Black Seminole Indian Scouts Are Not Widely Known Or Recognized.
Left to right : Plenty Payne, Billy July, Ben July, Dembo Factor (civilian clothes), Ben Wilson (back row), John July, William Shields; John Jefferson, Informant, January 1889.
The Scouts were true frontiersman who played a huge part in securing the American border and taming the west. By the end of the Civil War, the U.S. was having major problems defending the Texas-Mexican border. The border was under constant attack by invading Comanche and Apache Indians, as well as marauding bandits who sought to advance themselves through lawlessness. Many of the Black Seminoles were eager to get back to the United States after the Civil War from Mexico. In 1882, Black Seminole Scouts were recruited to provide security for the Galveston, Harrisburg, and San Antonio Railroad. They also served six years at Nevill’s Springs with troops from Fort Davis, and were stationed at Camp Pena Colorado near Marathon.
In the end, despite the valiant service they provided to the U.S. government, the Seminole Scouts were victims of broken promises. The scouts were promised land grants in exchange for their service, but never received it. Many were forced to steal cattle to provide for themselves and their family when the U.S. military stopped providing rations for anyone who was not a regularly enlisted scout. Even with the endorsements of several high ranking military officials, including Bullis and Mackenzie, the Scouts were left without provisions. Many, including Factor, were denied pensions by the U.S. Army. Without money or land to call their own, the Scouts became squatters on U.S. military reservations. The military fed and housed them for a while, but by 1914, the military disbanded the scouts and they were ordered to leave the military grounds.