Madison, WI: nd [1880's]. 4to. 16 pages [written on rectos only], approximately 2250 words, each sheet imprinted at the top "J.S. McNaught / Special Agent / New York Life insurance Co. / Room 1, No. 23 E. Main St. / Madison, Wis." and eight of them docketed on the verso with a brief description of that page's contents. The account begins with a description of his April, 1869, trip, up the Mississippi River on board the Pauline Carroll and later by rail and wagon, from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to Fort Abercrombie to assume command of that post and staff two others, beginning the trip with six companies of his regiment, the 20th U.S. Infantry. At Fort Snelling in Minnesota, he divided the troops, taking two companies to Fort Abercrombie and sending two each to Forts Ransom and Wadsworth. The balance of the manuscript records, in brief entries, his activities, duties, and travels during his two-year command, with notes on incidents involving Indians, training recruits, legal disputes, bitterly cold winter weather, etc. The manuscript appears to have been prepared a decade or so after the events. Folded twice, the sheets once bound together at the upper corner, now loose. (#6303). Item #58146
Fort Abercrombie, on the Red River south of present-day Fargo, was established in the Dakota Territory in 1857, the first permanent military establishment in what is now North Dakota, its mission to protect settlers in the territory and boat traffic on the river. It also guarded the oxcart routes of the fur traders, the mail routes into the territory, and the stagecoach lines. "Forts Abercrombie, Wadsworth, and Ransom were at that date among the most isolated and inaccessible in the country" (Coe's "History of the Twentieth Regiment of Infantry"). During the Civil War McNaught served with the 11th Infantry and participated in the battles of Second Bull Run, Antietam, Gettysburg, and the Wilderness, where he was wounded. The 11th was reorganized into the 20th Infantry in 1866, McNaught rose to its command, and continued service with the Western army into the mid-1880s at various forts in Dakota, Texas, and Kansas. At retirement, he relocated to Madison, Wisconsin, where he entered the life insurance business.