George Crook

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George Crook
George Crook - Brady-Handy.jpg
Portrait of George Crook
Nickname(s) Nantan Lupan, which means "Grey Wolf"
Born (1830-09-08)September 8, 1830
Taylorsville, Ohio
Died March 21, 1890(1890-03-21) (aged 61)
Chicago, Illinois
Place of burial Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Union Army
Years of service 1852 - 1890
Rank Union army maj gen rank insignia.jpg Major General
Commands held 36th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment
Kanawha Division
VIII Corps
Arizona Territory
Department of the Platte
Department of the West
Division of the Missouri

Indian Wars

American Civil War

Indian Wars

Signature Appletons' Crook George signature.jpg

George R. Crook (September 8, 1830 – March 21, 1890)[1][2] was a career United States Army officer, most noted for his distinguished service during the American Civil War and the Indian Wars. During the 1880s, the Apache nicknamed Crook Nantan Lupan, which means "Grey Wolf."

Early life and military career[edit]

Crook was born to Thomas and Elizabeth Matthews Crook on a farm near Taylorsville, Montgomery County, Ohio (near Dayton). Nominated to the United States Military Academy by Congressman Robert Schenck, he graduated in 1852, ranking near the bottom of his class.

He was assigned to the 4th U.S. infantry as brevet second lieutenant, serving in California, 1852–61. He served in Oregon and northern California, alternately protecting or fighting against several Native American tribes. He commanded the Pitt River Expedition of 1857 and, in one of several engagements, was severely wounded by an Indian arrow. He established a fort in Northeast California that was later named in his honor; and later, Fort Ter-Waw in what is now Klamath Glen, California.[3]

During his years of service in California and Oregon, Crook extended his prowess in hunting and wilderness skills, often accompanying and learning from Indians whose languages he learned. These wilderness skills led one of his aides to liken him to Daniel Boone, and more importantly, provided a strong foundation for his abilities to understand, navigate and use Civil War landscapes to Union advantage.[3]

Crook was promoted to first lieutenant in 1856, and to captain in 1860. He was ordered east and in 1861, with the beginning of the American Civil War, was made colonel of the 36th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.[4]

He married Mary Tapscott Dailey, from Virginia.

Civil War[edit]

Early service[edit]

When the Civil War broke out, Crook accepted a commission as Colonel of Ohio's 36th regiment and led it on duty in western Virginia. He was in command of the 3rd Brigade in the District of the Kanawha where he was wounded in a small fight at Lewisburg, VA.[5] Crook returned to command of his regiment during the Northern Virginia Campaign. He and his regiment were part of John Pope's headquarters escort at the Second Battle of Bull Run.

After the Union Army's defeat at Second Bull Run, Crook and his regiment were attached to the Kanawha Division at the start of the Maryland Campaign. On September 12 Crook's brigade commander, Augustus Moor, was captured and Crook assumed command of the 2nd Brigade, Kanawha Division which had been attached to the IX Corps. Crook led his brigade at the Battle of South Mountain and near Burnside's Bridge at the Battle of Antietam. He was promoted to the rank of brigadier general on September 7, 1862. During these early battles he developed a lifelong friendship with one of his subordinates, Col. Rutherford B. Hayes of the 23rd Ohio Infantry.

Following Antietam, General Crook assumed command of the Kanawha Division. His division was detached from the IX Corps for duty in the Department of the Ohio. Before long Crook was assigned to command an infantry brigade in the Army of the Cumberland. This brigade became the 3rd Brigade, 4th Division, XIV Corps, which he led at the Battle of Hoover's Gap. In July he assumed command of the 2nd Division, Cavalry Corps in the Army of the Cumberland. He fought at the battle of Chickamauga and was in pursuit of Joseph Wheeler during the Chattanooga Campaign.[6]

In February 1864, Crook returned to command the Kanawha Division, which was now officially designated the 3rd Division of the Department of West Virginia.

Southwest Virginia[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Battle of Cloyd's Mountain.

To open the spring campaign of 1864, Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant ordered a Union advance on all fronts, minor as well as major. Grant sent for Brigadier General Crook, in winter quarters at Charleston, West Virginia, and ordered him to attack the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, Richmond's primary link to Knoxville and the southwest, and to destroy the Confederate salt works at Saltville, Virginia.

The 35-year-old Crook reported to army headquarters at City Point, Virginia, where the commanding general explained the mission in person. Grant instructed Crook to march his force, the Kanawha Division, against the railroad at Dublin, Virginia, 140 miles (230 km) south of Charleston. At Dublin he would put the railroad out of business and destroy Confederate military property. He was then to destroy the railroad bridge over New River, a few miles to the east. When these actions were accomplished, along with the destruction of the salt works, Crook was to march east and join forces with Major General Franz Sigel, who meanwhile was to be driving south up the Shenandoah Valley.

After long dreary months of garrison duty, the men were ready for action. Crook did not reveal the nature or objective of their mission, but everyone sensed that something important was brewing. "All things point to early action", the commander of the second brigade, Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes, noted in his diary.

On April 29, 1864, the Kanawha Division marched out of Charleston and headed south. Crook sent a force under Brigadier General William W. Averell westward towards Saltville, then pushed on towards Dublin with nine infantry regiments, seven cavalry regiments, and 15 artillery pieces, a force of about 6,500 men organized into three brigades. The West Virginia countryside was beautiful that spring, but the mountainous terrain made the march a difficult undertaking. The way was narrow and steep, and spring rains slowed the march as tramping feet churned the roads into mud. In places, Crook's engineers had to build bridges across wash-outs before the army could advance.

The column reached Fayette on May 2, and then passed through Raleigh Court House and Princeton. On the night of May 8, the division camped at Shannon's Bridge, Virginia, 10 miles (16 km) north of Dublin.

The Confederates at Dublin soon learned the enemy was approaching. Their commander, Colonel John McCausland, prepared to evacuate his 1100 men, but before transportation could arrive, a courier from Brigadier General Albert G. Jenkins informed McCausland that the two of them were ordered by General John C. Breckinridge to stop Crook's advance. The combined forces of Jenkins and McCausland amounted to 2,400 men. Jenkins, the senior officer, took command.

Breaking camp on the morning of May 9, Crook moved his men south to the top of a spur of Cloyd's Mountain. Before the Union troops lay a precipitous, densely wooded slope with a meadow about 400 yards wide at the bottom. On the other side of the meadow, the land rose in another spur of the mountain, and there Jenkins' rebels waited behind hastily erected fortifications.

Crook dispatched the third brigade under Colonel Carr B. White to work its way through the woods and deliver a flank attack on the rebel right. At 11 am, he sent Hayes' first brigade and Colonel Horatio G. Sickel's second brigade down the slope to the edge of the meadow, where they were to launch a frontal assault on the Confederates as soon as they heard the sound of White's guns.

The slope before them was so steep that the officers had to dismount and descend on foot. Crook stationed himself with Hayes' brigade, which was to lead the assault. After a long, anxious wait, Hayes at last heard cannon fire off to his left and led his men at a slow double time out onto the meadow and into the rebels' musketry and artillery fire, which Crook called "galling". Their pace quickened as they neared the other side, but just before the up-slope they came to a waist-deep creek. The barrier caused little delay and the Yankee infantry stormed up the hill and engaged the rebel defenders at close range.

The only man to have trouble with the creek was General Crook. Dismounted, he still wore his high riding boots, and as he stepped into the stream, the boots filled with water and bogged him down. Nearby soldiers grabbed their commander's arms and hauled him to the other side.

Vicious hand-to-hand fighting erupted as the Yankees reached the crude rebel defenses. The Southerners gave way, tried to re-form, then broke and retreated up and over the hill towards Dublin.

The Yankees rounded up rebel prisoners by the hundreds and seized General Jenkins, who had fallen wounded. At this point the discipline of the Union men wavered, and there was no organized pursuit of the fleeing enemy. General Crook was unable to provide leadership as the excitement and exertion had sent him into a faint.

Colonel Hayes kept his head and organized a force of about 500 men from the soldiers milling about the site of their victory. With his improvised command, he set off, closely pressing the rebels.

While the fight at Cloyd's Mountain was going on, a train pulled into the Dublin station and disgorged 500 fresh troops of General John Hunt Morgan's cavalry, which had just defeated Averell at Saltville. The fresh troops hastened towards the battlefield, where they soon met their compatriots retreating from Cloyd's Mountain. The reinforcements halted the rout, but Colonel Hayes, although ignorant of the strength of the force now before him, immediately ordered his men to "yell like devils" and rush the enemy. Within a few minutes General Crook arrived with the rest of the division, and the defenders broke and ran.

Cloyd's Mountain cost the Union army 688 casualties, while the rebels suffered 538 killed, wounded, and captured.

Unopposed, Crook moved his command into Dublin, where he laid waste to the railroad and the military stores. He then sent a party eastward to tear up the tracks and burn the ties. The next morning the main body set out for their next objective, the New River bridge, a key point on the railroad, a few miles to the east.

The Confederates, now commanded by Colonel McCausland, waited on the east side of the New River to defend the bridge. Crook pulled up on the west bank, and a long, ineffective artillery duel ensued. Seeing that there was little danger from the rebel cannon, Crook ordered the bridge destroyed, and both sides watched in awe as the structure collapsed magnificently into the river. McCausland, without the resources to oppose the Yankees any further, withdrew his battered command to the east.

General Crook, supplies running low in a country not suited for major foraging, now entertained second thoughts about his orders to push on east and join Sigel in the Shenandoah Valley. At Dublin he had intercepted an unconfirmed report that General Robert E. Lee had beaten Grant badly in the Wilderness, which led him to consider whether the Confederate commander might not soon move against Crook with a vastly superior force.

Having accomplished the major part of his mission, destruction of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, Crook turned his men north and after another hard march, reached the Union base at Meadow Bluff, West Virginia.

Shenandoah Valley[edit]

The following July, Crook assumed command of a small force called the Army of the Kanawha. Crook was defeated at the Second Battle of Kernstown. Nevertheless he was appointed as a replacement for David Hunter in command of the Department of West Virginia the following day. However Crook did not assume command until August 9.[7] Along with the title of his department Crook added "Army of West Virginia". Crook's army was soon absorbed into Philip H. Sheridan's Army of the Shenandoah and for all practical purposes functioned as a corps in that unit. Although Crook's force kept its official designation as the Army of West Virginia[8] it was often referred to as the VIII Corps.[9] It should be noted that the official VIII Corps of the Union Army was led by Lew Wallace during this time and its troops were on duty in Maryland and Northern Virginia.[10]

Crook led his corps in the Valley Campaigns of 1864 at the battles of Opequon (Third Winchester), Fisher's Hill, and Cedar Creek. On October 21, 1864, he was promoted to major general of volunteers.

In February 1865, General Crook was captured by Confederate raiders at Cumberland, Maryland, and held as a prisoner of war in Richmond until exchanged a month later. He very briefly returned to command the Department of West Virginia until he took command of a cavalry division in the Army of the Potomac during the Appomattox Campaign. Crook first went into action with his division at the battle of Dinwiddie Court House. He later took a prominent role in the battles of Five Forks, Amelia Springs, Sayler's Creek and Appomattox Court House.

Indian Wars[edit]

Crazy Horse and his band of Indians (Oglala Lakota) on their way from Camp Sheridan to surrender to General Crook at Red Cloud Agency (near Camp Robinson, Nebraska), May 6, 1877 / Berghavy ; from sketches by Mr. Hottes.

At the end of the Civil War, George Crook received a brevet as major general in the regular army, but reverted to the permanent rank of major. Only days later, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel, serving with the 23rd Infantry on frontier duty in the Pacific Northwest. In 1867, he was appointed head of the Department of the Columbia

Snake War[edit]

Crook successfully campaigned against the Snake Indians in the 1864-68 Snake War, where he won nationwide recognition. Crook had fought Indians in Oregon before the Civil War. He was assigned to the Pacific Northwest to use new tactics in this war, which had been waged for several years. Crook arrived in Boise City to take command on December 11, 1866. The general noticed that the Northern Paiute used the fall, winter and spring seasons to gather food, so he adopted the tactic recommended by a predecessor George B. Currey to attack during the winter.[11] Crook had his cavalry approach the Paiute on foot in attack at their winter camp. As the soldiers drew them in, Crook had them remount; they defeated the Paiute and recovered some stolen livestock.[12]

Crook used Indian scouts as troops as well as to spot enemy encampments. While campaigning in Eastern Oregon during the winter of 1867, Crook's scouts located a Paiute village near the eastern edge of Steens Mountain. After covering all the escape routes, Crook ordered the charge on the village while intending to view the raid from afar, but his horse got spooked and galloped ahead of Crook's forces toward the village. Caught in the crossfire, Crook's horse carried the general through the village without being wounded. The army caused heavy casualties for the Paiute in the battle of Tearass Plain.[13] Crook later defeated a mixed band of Paiute, Pit River and Modoc at the battle of Infernal Caverns in Fall River Mills, California.

Tonto Basin campaign[edit]

This "0" Mile General Crook Trail Marker is located in the place where in 1871 General George Crook established a military supply trail which connected Forts Whipple, Verde and Apache. The marker is located close to the Fort Verde Administration Building at 125 E. Hollamon St. Camp Verde, Arizona.

President Ulysses S. Grant next placed Crook in command of the Arizona Territory. Crook's use of Apache scouts during the Yavapai War brought him much success in forcing the Yavapai and Tonto Apache onto reservations. In 1873 Crook was appointed brigadier general in the regular army, a promotion that passed over and angered several full colonels next in line.

Great Sioux War[edit]

From 1875 to 1882 and again from 1886 to 1888, Crook was head of the Department of the Platte. Crook served against the Sioux during the Great Sioux War of 1876-77. He fought the Lakota at the Battle of the Rosebud. On 28 May 1876, Brigadier General George Crook assumed direct command of the Bighorn and Yellowstone Expedition at Fort Fetterman. Crook had gathered a strong force from his Department of the Platte. Leaving Fort Fetterman on 29 May, the 1,051-man column consisted of 15 companies from the 2d and 3d Cavalry, 5 companies from the 4th and 9th Infantry, 250 mules, and 106 wagons. On 14 June, the column was joined by 261 Shoshone and Crow allies. Based on intelligence reports, Crook ordered his entire force to prepare for a quick march. Each man was to carry only 1 blanket, 100 rounds of ammunition, and 4 days' rations. The wagon train would be left at Goose Creek, and the infantry would be mounted on the pack mules.

On 17 June, Crook's column set out at 0600, marching northward along the south fork of Rosebud Creek. The Crow and Shoshone scouts were particularly apprehensive. Although the column had not yet encountered any sign of Indians, the scouts seemed to sense their presence. The soldiers, particularly the mule-riding infantry, seemed fatigued from the early start and the previous day's 35-mile march. Accordingly, Crook stopped to rest his men and animals at 0800. Although he was deep in hostile territory, Crook made no special dispositions for defense. His troops halted in their marching order. The Cavalry battalions led the column, followed by the battalion of mule-borne foot soldiers, and a provisional company of civilian miners and packers brought up the rear.

The Crow and Shoshone scouts remained alert while the soldiers rested. Several minutes later, the soldiers heard the sound of intermittent gunfire coming from the bluffs to the north. As the intensity of fire increased, a scout rushed into the camp shouting, "Lakota, Lakota!" The Battle of the Rosebud was on. By 0830, the Sioux and Cheyenne had hotly engaged Crook's Indian allies on the high ground north of the main body. Heavily outnumbered, the Crow and Shoshone scouts fell back toward the camp, but their fighting withdrawal gave Crook time to deploy his forces. Rapidly firing soldiers drove off the attackers but used up much of the ammunition meant for use later in the campaign. Low on ammunition and with numerous wounded, the General returned to his post. Historians debate whether Crook's pressing on could have prevented the killing of the five companies of the 7th Cavalry Regiment led by George Armstrong Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

Crook commanded the Department of the Platte from 1875 to 1882, with headquarters at Fort Omaha in North Omaha, Nebraska. During this period, in 1879, he spoke on behalf of the Ponca tribe and Native American rights during the trial of Standing Bear v. Crook, in which the federal judge affirmed that Standing Bear had some of the rights of US citizens. That same year his home, now called the General Crook House, was completed.

Geronimo's War[edit]

"Scene in Geronimo's camp, the Apache outlaw and murderer. Taken before the surrender to Gen. Crook, March 27, 1886, in the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico, escaped March 30, 1886."

Crook was made head of the Department of Arizona and successfully forced some members of the Apache to surrender, but Geronimo continually evaded capture. As a mark of respect, the Apache nicknamed Crook Nantan Lupan, which means "Grey Wolf". In March, 1886, Crook received word that Geronimo would meet him in Cañon de los Embudos, in the Sierra Madre Mountains about 86 miles (138 km) from Fort Bowie. During the three days of negotiations, photographer C. S. Fly took about 15 exposures of the Apache on 8 by 10 inches (200 by 250 mm) glass negatives.[14] One of the pictures of Geronimo with two of his sons standing alongside was made at Geronimo's request. Fly's images are the only existing photographs of Geronimo’s surrender. His photos of Geronimo and the other free Apaches, taken on March 25 and 26th, are only the known photographs taken of an American Indian while still at war with the United States.[15]

Geronimo, camped on the Mexican side of the border, agreed to Crook's surrender terms. That night, a soldier who sold them whiskey said that his band would be murdered as soon as they crossed the border. Geronimo and 25 of his followers slipped away during the night, costing Crook his command.[14]

Nelson A. Miles replaced Crook in 1886 in command of the Arizona Territory and brought an end to the Apache Wars. He captured Geronimo, the Chiricahua Apache band, and the Chiricahua scouts, who had served the U.S. Army, and transported them as prisoners of war to Florida. (Crook was reportedly furious that the scouts, who had faithfully served the Army, were imprisoned as well and sent numerous telegrams protesting their arrest to Washington. They, along with most of Geronimo's band, were forced to spend the next 26 years in captivity before they were finally released.)[citation needed]

After years of campaigning in the Indian Wars, Crook won steady promotion back up the ranks to the permanent grade of Major General, and President Grover Cleveland placed him in command of the "Military Division of the Missouri" in 1888.

Later life[edit]

Crook served in Omaha again as the Commander of the Department of the Platte from 1886 to 1888. While he was there, his portrait was painted by artist Herbert A. Collins.[16]

He spent his last years speaking out against the unjust treatment of his former Indian adversaries. He died suddenly in Chicago in 1890 while serving as commander of the Division of the Missouri. Crook was originally buried in Oakland, Maryland. Red Cloud, a war chief of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux), said of Crook, "He, at least, never lied to us. His words gave us hope."[17] In 1898, Crook's remains were transported to Arlington National Cemetery where he was reinterred on November 11.

In memoriam[edit]

Bronze of Gen. Crook at Fort Omaha.

His good friend and Union Army subordinate, President Rutherford B. Hayes, named one of his sons George Crook Hayes in respect of his commanding officer. Crook County in Wyoming and Oregon were named for him, as was the town of Crook, Colorado.

"Crook City", an unincorporated place in the Black Hills, of South Dakota was named for his camp there in 1876. Crook Mountain is near there, between Deadwood and Sturgis, SD. Crook City Road also passes through there from Whitewood, SD heading toward Deadwood, SD.

Crook Peak in Lake County, Oregon, elevation 7,834 feet (2,388 m), in the Warner Mountains is named after him; it is near where the general set up Camp Warner (1867–1874) to subdue the Paiute Indians. Crook Mountain, a peak in the Cascade Range, was named for him.

Cañon Pintado Historic District, 10 miles (16 km) south of Rangely, Colorado, has numerous ancient Fremont culture (0-1300 CE) and Ute petroglyphs, first seen by Europeans in the mid-18th century. One group of carvings has several horses, which locals call Crook's Brand Site, as they claim the horses carry the general's brand. The Ute adopted the horse in the 1600s.

Forest Road 300 in the Coconino National Forest is named the "General Crook Trail." It is a section of the trail which his troops blazed from Fort Verde to Fort Whipple, and on to Fort Apache through central Arizona.

Numerous military references honor him: Fort Crook (1857 – 1869) was an Army post near Fall River Mills, California, used during the Indian Wars, and later for the protection of San Francisco during the Civil War. It was named for then Lt. Crook by Captain John W. T. Gardiner, 1st Dragoons, as Crook was recovering there from an injury. California State Historical Marker 355 marks the site in Shasta County. Fort Crook (1891 – 1946) was an Army Depot in Bellevue, Nebraska, first used as a dispatch point for Indian conflicts on the Great Plains, then later as an airfield for the 61st Balloon Company of the Army Air Corps. It was named for Brig. Gen. Crook due to his many successful Indian campaigns in the west. The site formerly known as Fort Crook is now part of Offutt AFB, Nebraska.

3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division is nicknamed "Greywolf" in his honor, in a variation of his Apache nickname meaning "Grey Wolf".

The General Crook House at Fort Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska is named in his honor, as he was the only Commander of the Department of the Platte to live there. At Fort Huachuca, AZ, Crook House on Old Post is named after him as well. The Crook Walk in Arlington National Cemetery is near George Crook's gravesite.

In popular media[edit]

Crook was portrayed in the 1993 movie Geronimo: An American Legend (1993) by the actor Gene Hackman. He was a figure in the television series Deadwood and was portrayed by Peter Coyote.

In the alternate history novel The Guns of the South by Harry Turtledove, Crook was one of the commanders of the United States Army in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War. In this fictional version of history, on May 9, 1864, his army of six or seven thousand men attacked Confederate forces under General Albert Gallatin Jenkins just south of Cloyd's Mountain, Virginia. Though the Union troops greatly outnumbered their opponents, the Confederates were armed with a new type of "repeating" rifle, called the AK-47 given to them by the Rivington Men. With these rifles, the Confederates were able to hold their position, and the Federals were forced to retreat to the north. General Crook ended up getting killed during the battle.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Eicher, pp. 191-92; Warner, pp. 102-04. The website of Arlington National Cemetery cites a birth date of September 8, 1830
  2. ^ Guide to the George Crook Papers 1863-1890, Northwest Digital Archives cites his life as 1829–1890.
  3. ^ a b Magid, Paul (2011). George Crook: From the Redwoods to Appomatox. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 978-0806144412. 
  4. ^ Goodman, Rebecca (2005). "This Day in Ohio History". Emmis Books. p. 274. Retrieved 21 November 2013. 
  5. ^ Eicher p.191
  6. ^ Michael Robert Patterson. "Arlington Cemetery". Arlington Cemetery. Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  7. ^ Eicher p.852
  8. ^ Eicher p.857
  9. ^ "Civil War Archive". Civil War Archive. Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  10. ^ Eicher p.859
  11. ^ Oregon Historical Quarterly Vol. 79 (1978) p.132
  12. ^ Nelson, Kurt. Fighting For Paradise: A Military History of the Pacific Northwest, Yardley, Pennsylvania: Westholme Publishing, 2007, p. 167
  13. ^ Michno, Gregory. The Deadliest Indian War in the West; The Snake Conflict, 1864-1868, Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton Press, 2007, pp. 202-203
  14. ^ a b Vaughan, Thomas. "C.S. Fly Pioneer Photojournalist". The Journal of Arizona History (Autumn, 1989 ed.) 30 (3): 303–318. 
  15. ^ "Mary "Mollie" E. Fly (1847-1925)". Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  16. ^ Biography of Herbert Alexander Collins, by Alfred W. Collins, February 1975, 4 pages typed, in the possession of Collins' great-great grand-daughter, D. Dahl of Tacoma, WA
  17. ^ Schmitt, p. ??.


External links[edit]