The U.S. Army Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914 shows that Pvt. Calvin “Kau-Lay” was discharged from Troop L on 29 June 1896. Remarks – “Very good”
Troop L: Enlistment of Indians as Soldiers
In March, 1891, the Secretary of War authorized the enlistment of an Indian contingent for each of the cavalry and infantry regiments serving in the west. In pursuance of this plan, a troop was enlisted from among the Kiowa, Comanche and Apache tribes in the fall of 1891 and placed under the command of Lieutenant (now Captain) Hugh L. Scott, and designated as troop L, of the Seventh Cavalry, then stationed at Fort Sill. Of this troop, probably two-thirds were Kiowa and Comanche. The experiment did not prove satisfactory, and all of the Indian companies have now been disbanded. The Kiowa troop maintained its existence the longest, under Captain Scott, who was fitted peculiarly for the position by his intimate and sympathetic acquaintance with Indian habit and belief and his expert knowledge of the sign language. For this reason he has been several times selected by the War Department to investigate threatened troubles among the associated tribes, particularly during the critical period of the ghost dance, and has been selected by the Indians themselves to represent their interests at Washington.
Source: Calendar History of the Kiowa Indians. James Mooney. Classics of Smithsonian Anthropology. 1898. Page 223.
Indians in Uniform
In 1892 the government attempted the experiment of forming several Indian troops of cavalry at various western posts. At Fort Sill was organized Troop L, Seventh Cavalry, commanded by Lieutenant Hugh L. Scott. It consisted mostly of Kiowas, with a few Apaches and Comanches. Quanah and Tabananica prevented the Comanches from enlisting. Quanah gave as his reason the fact that missionaries were teaching that it was wrong to go to war; therefore it was not consistent that the white people should employ the Indians in an organization whose sole business was fighting.
Although Lieutenant Scott, in organizing his Indian troop, used as his principal assistants Sergeant Clancy and Stecker, I-see-o was appointed first sergeant. Since I-see-o could neither speak nor read English, he was only a figurehead, at least as far as dealing with the whites was concerned. In talking to Scott he used the sign language, in which the latter was as adept as the Indians. I-see-o was a holdover from the scout detachment. He was over enlistment age, but Scott got him in. When he came to the table to be signed up as a soldier the recruiting officer asked him his name. “I-see-o,” was the reply. As I-see-o was well known around Fort Sill under his former name of Tahbone-mah, it is reasonable to suppose that the recruiting officer recognized him. But nothing more was said, and Tahbone-mah, aged about forty-two, was regularly enlisted as I-see-o, aged twenty-nine.
The Indians made good soldiers, within their limitations. Their average in marksmanship was high, their discipline good, and they were proud of the uniform. It furnished them as a means to get prestige, and even today the veterans of Troop L are among the most respected members of the tribe. The Indians, like other nationalities, needed something to be proud of. The older Indians, the members of the passing generation, had their war exploits to talk about. But the rising generation, being forced to become farmers, had little to look forward to, and no way in which to distinguish themselves. Agriculture is an honorable and ancient profession, and at times a profitable one. But not for the Indians.
One of the duties of Troop L was to provide turkey and deer for General Miles’s holiday dinners. General Miles, who was department commander in the nineties, was accustomed to send to Sill for venison and other game. Occasionally he came to the Indian reservation to hunt. On these visits he was met by Scott and Troop L. Perhaps it was partly on account of this association that Fort Sill was not abandoned when the War Department considered vacating some of the frontier posts which had outlived their usefulness. Miles was fond of Fort Sill on account of its history and the excellent hunting which the region afforded.
Troop L was quartered on the flat ground immediately north of the trader’s store. Here the Indian soldiers lived with their families in canvas tepees. They spent a good part of their time playing monte, of which the Indians were passionately fond. Their military duties were not onerous.
In 1897 the War Department disbanded all the Indian troops, including the one at Fort Sill, although the latter was considered a success. Since that day a few Indians have served in the army at Fort Sill, but only as individuals. During the World War many of them went overseas with the A.E.F., where they fought bravely.
Source: Carbine & Lance: The Story of Old Fort Sill. By Colonel W.S. Nye. University of Oklahoma Press. 1937. Pages 261-262.