Sunday, February 17, 2008


GSCM Reporter 27:1 (Jan-Feb 2008) includes a transcription of articles that first appeared in the Columbia Daily Tribune 15-16 October 1937. The articles by William R. Gentry, grandson of Colonel Richard Gentry, describe the exploits of the First Regiment of Missouri Volunteers in the Seminole War (1837). Colonel Gentry signed notes to help many of the men in his regiment buy horses (men in the mounted regiment had to furnish their own horses). Sickness had greatly reduced the regiment's numbers (and that of its horses) by the time the regiment reached Florida. Once in Florida, the regiment marched fruitlessly with its brigade through about 150 miles of swamp before finally encountering a large number of Seminoles on a raised hammock in a swamp. The Colonel in charge, future President Zachary Taylor, called a conference of his officers. Colonel Gentry advised that the force go around the swamp and then confront the Seminoles, but Taylor overruled him. The bone-tired men then made the charge, and Colonel Gentry was wounded twice- first in the chest and then in the abdomen. He lived long enough to be "treated" by army doctors, who "cleansed" his belly wound by pushing a silk handkerchief tied to a ramrod all the way through his wound from front to back. Needless to say, this "treatment" hastened Gentry's death.

By the way, Colonel Gentry's widow was liable for all the notes he had signed to help some of his men buy horses, so she was left essentially penniless. An appeal to politicians on her behalf resulted in an appointment as postmistress, which allowed her to house, feed, and clothe herself and her children.

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