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Payne, Isaac (1854–1904)

Art Leatherwood Biography Entry

Isaac Payne, Medal of Honor recipient and one of the Black Seminole scouts, was born in Mexico in 1854. He was cited for gallantry in action near the Pecos River on April 25, 1875. Trumpeter Payne was under the command of Lt. John L. Bullis, Twenty-fourth United States Infantry, while pursuing a band of twenty-five to thirty Comanche Indians crossing the Pecos River. The troops dismounted and crept up on the Indians, opened fire, killed three, and wounded another. After engaging the Indians for forty-five minutes, and in danger of being surrounded, they withdrew to their horses. Bullis was unable to mount because his horse was skittish and had broken away, leaving him in grave danger. Sergeant Ward turned back into the Indian fire and mounted Bullis behind him. Payne and the other scouts alternately carried the lieutenant to safety. Payne and the other two scouts were awarded the Medal of Honor for "Gallantry in Action." Payne is buried in the Seminole Negro Indian Scout Cemetery at Brackettville, Texas.

Committee on Veterans' Affairs, United States Senate, Medal of Honor Recipients, 1863–1973 (Washington: GPO, 1973). Kenneth Wiggins Porter, "The Seminole Negro-Indian Scouts, 1870–1881," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 55 (January 1952). Frost Woodhull, "The Seminole Indian Scouts on the Border," Frontier Times, December 1937.


  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Military
  • Native American
  • Soldiers

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

Art Leatherwood, “Payne, Isaac,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 21, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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