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CARR, EUGENE ASA

CARR, EUGENE ASA (1830–1910). Eugene Asa Carr, army officer, the oldest of four sons born to Clark Merwin and Delia Ann (Torry) Carr, was born on March 10, 1830, near Hamburg, Erie County, New York. In 1846 he entered the United States Military Academy at West Point, from which he graduated on July 1, 1850. His first tour of duty was at the Carlisle, Pennsylvania, cavalry barracks. He received his commission as a second lieutenant in the Regiment of Mounted Rifles (later the Third Cavalry) at Jefferson Barracks, near St. Louis, Missouri, in 1851. From 1852 to 1854, Carr saw frontier duty at forts Leavenworth and Scott in Kansas, Fort Kearney in Nebraska, and Fort Gibson in Indian Territory. Early in the fall of 1854, in response to Indian troubles along the Rio Grande border in South Texas, Carr's company was transferred to the regimental headquarters at Fort Inge, near the site of present Uvalde. On October 1, Capt. John G. Walker and about forty troops, including Carr, set out to follow the trail of hostile Lipan Apaches, who had recently stolen livestock in the vicinity. Near the Diablo Mountains on the morning of the third day out, the mounted troopers came upon "about three-hundred" Indians, whom they charged. In the ensuing skirmish, Carr received an arrow wound and was subsequently commended by Gen. Persifor F. Smith for his "gallantry and coolness."

In the spring of 1855, Carr was promoted to first lieutenant in the newly organized First Cavalry. In that capacity he participated in the Sioux expedition of 1855 and that summer was the hero of the cholera outbreak at Fort Riley, Kansas. During 1856 and 1857, he was involved in the Kansas border troubles and led a company in the so-called Mormon War. After accompanying Col. Edwin V. Sumner's expedition into western Kansas and Nebraska in the summer of 1858, he was promoted to captain and transferred to Fort Washita, in the Indian Territory. By late 1859 he had assumed command of that post. From there, in the summer of 1860, he took part in the campaign against hostile Comanches and Kiowas in Kansas and Nebraska.

When the Civil War broke out, Lt. Col. William H. Emory took over command of the fort. Emory escaped from the Confederate forces and marched his command from Fort Washita to Fort Leavenworth, then joined forces with Gen. Nathaniel Lyon in Missouri. Carr was brevetted a lieutenant colonel for his actions in the battle of Wilson's Creek on August 9, 1861, and a week later was made colonel of the Third Illinois Cavalry. He was soon acting brigadier general under Gen. John C. Frémont, and in February 1862 he took command of a division of the Army of the Southwest under Gen. Samuel R. Curtis. In the battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, on March 7–8, he was wounded three times and displayed such bravery as eventually (in 1894) to be awarded the Medal of Honor. Shortly afterward, Carr was commissioned a brigadier general of volunteers and during the remainder of 1862 was engaged in Arkansas. In 1863 he commanded a division of the Thirteenth Army Corps in the Vicksburg campaign, where he received a brevet in regular rank to colonel. His division led the assault on Vicksburg on May 18 and was the first to reach the Confederate breastworks four days later. Following brief service at Corinth, Mississippi, he was transferred in December 1863 to the Army of Arkansas, where he participated in numerous small actions, including the capture of Little Rock. He joined Gen. Edward R. S. Canby for the campaign against Mobile, Alabama, in April 1865. By the cessation of hostilities, Carr had been brevetted twice more, to major general, and had won national renown as "the black-bearded Cossack." It was during the war, while on temporary duty in St. Louis, that he met and fell in love with Mary Patience Magwire. They were married on October 12, 1865. Four sons were born to them, but only the oldest, Clark Magwire, lived to adulthood.

After reverting to permanent rank of major, Carr spent the next two years on Reconstruction duty in Helena, Arkansas, and Raleigh, North Carolina. Early in 1869 he was involved in the events surrounding the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson and the replacement of Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton in Washington, D.C. That fall he was transferred to the Fifth Cavalry and returned to the frontier. There he campaigned against recalcitrant Cheyennes and played a leading role in Gen. Philip H. Sheridan's winter campaign.

On December 2, 1868, Carr led seven troops of the Fifth Cavalry and one company of the Third Infantry out of Fort Lyon, Colorado. His orders were to join Bvt. Brig. Gen. William H. Penrose, who had left Fort Lyon on November 10 with five cavalry troops, and set up a supply base on or near the North Canadian (Beaver) River from which they could scour the area to the southeast. The column, which included 100 pack mules and 130 wagons, fared well for three days but then ran into a severe blizzard. Thus it was not until December 23, after much agony, that Carr finally reached Penrose's beleaguered camp, with its supplies greatly depleted, on Paloduro Creek in present Texas County, Oklahoma. Pushing on south into the Texas Panhandle, Carr sent out scouting parties and on December 28 established a base on the main Canadian, probably in what is now Roberts County, about twenty miles west of the supply camp set up by Maj. Andrew W. Evans's Canadian River expedition. From there, Carr was able to replenish his stores somewhat, but his search parties were continually dogged by bad weather and were unable to find any Indians. What was more, forty of Carr's teamsters quit and forfeited their pay rather than endure the icy weather any longer. Thus on January 8, 1869, the "Cossack" gave up the attempt and marched back to Fort Lyon, with the loss of 181 animals and two men from exposure. Among the civilian scouts accompanying his "Dandy Fifth" were James Butler (Wild Bill) Hickok and William F. (Buffalo Bill) Cody, whom Carr highly commended after Cody made a ride to Camp Supply in Indian Territory to deliver dispatches and obtain maps; this was the only foray these legendary frontiersmen ever made into Texas as army scouts. One bit of unpleasantness developed when Hickok and Cody reportedly became involved in a brawl with Penrose's Mexican scouts at the Paloduro Creek campsite, where a supply train from Fort Lyon brought back badly needed provisions.

Whatever failures they suffered in the Panhandle were practically forgotten the following summer after the success of the Republican River campaign, which culminated in the battle of Summit Springs on July 11, 1869, and gave new hero status to both Carr and Cody, who remained lifelong friends. In 1870 Carr was stationed at Fort McPherson, Nebraska, and later assumed command of the garrison. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in January 1873 and was placed in command of the Black Hills district. He was one of the leaders in the Big Horn and Yellowstone campaign against the Sioux in 1876. In April 1879, Carr was promoted to colonel of the Sixth Cavalry and transferred to Fort Lowell, Arizona, where he became involved in the campaigns against Victorio's hostile forces. His hero status achieved new heights after his foolhardy stand against Apaches at Cibicu Creek, west of Fort Apache, on August 30, 1881, an episode that caused controversy in army circles. Carr remained in Arizona until 1884, when his regiment was transferred to Fort Wingate, New Mexico, to maintain order on the Navajo reservation. His last Indian campaign occurred in December 1890, when he took part in the sad events leading to the Wounded Knee Massacre in South Dakota. He was in the field helping to restore order in Wyoming in the wake of the Johnson County War when word came of his promotion to brigadier general, effective in July 1892. Carr and his wife moved back east to Washington, D.C., where they maintained a residence after his retirement in February 1893. In addition, he and his son, Clark, owned ranchland in Valencia County, New Mexico. Carr died in Washington on December 2, 1910, and was buried in the cemetery at his alma mater, West Point. Clark M. Carr, who had volunteered for active service in the army during the Spanish-American War and Philippine Insurrection, subsequently became a successful rancher and businessman in New Mexico.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army (2 vols., Washington: GPO, 1903; rpt., Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1965). James T. King, War Eagle: A Life of General Eugene A. Carr (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1963). William H. Leckie, The Military Conquest of the Southern Plains (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1963). Frederick W. Rathjen, The Texas Panhandle Frontier (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1973). Don Russell, The Lives and Legends of Buffalo Bill (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1960).

H. Allen Anderson

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

H. Allen Anderson, "CARR, EUGENE ASA," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fcadd), accessed September 01, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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