This story is taken from a 1942 issue of the Monitor-Leader and it covers the induction of Jim McDonald and his grandfather (my g-grandfather) - both of Mt Clemens - into the VFW. Jim for serving on the Lexington in WWII and Adolphus Covert as an honorary member for having served in the Indian wars in the 1880's. The reporter interviewed Aldolphus and the story gives a short overview of Army life in the 1880's including escorting Indians to and from Washington D.C, yellow fever attacks, and the asassination of president Garfield. It does refer to the 'red man' and to 'little brown men of Nippon', so I would preface it with a disclaimer to save the politically correct crowd from being offended by 50 year old comments made by a newspaper reporter. Anyways, here it is.
Brothers - in - Arms
Lexington Survivor, 19, Granddad, 83, Join VFW
Old Indian Fighter and Present Day Naval Hero Join Local Post
Robert McDonald, Jr, l9, son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert McDonald, of 18 Smith street, Mount Clemens, survivor of the destruction of the airplane carrier Lexington, will return to duty Thursday, when he leaves for the west coast as the youngest member of Oscar Andreas post No. 1794, Mount Clemens.
Added to that distinction is the fact that at the same time that he took his obligation as a member of an organization whose members have fought on foreign soil the world over for their country his grandfather, A. F. Covert, 133 Smith street, who volunteered for duty in the Indian fighting in the west in 1879 following the Meacker massacre in Colorado, stood at his side to take his own obligation as an 83-year-old honorary member of the same post
Perhaps it is a coincidence that it should have been the forays of the red men of the Colorado Utes that attracted Private Covert into the Army 61 years ago at the age of 21, and the little, brown men of Nippon against whom his grandson has done his fighting all these years later .
Both of them have interesting stories to tell but the older man today has an ancient and mellowed stock of Army tales while his grandson is going back to add his hopes as a member of the crew of another airplane carrier.
In his estimation the airplane carrier is the greatest weapon the Navy possesses against any foe, whether the Japanese of the Pacific or the German of the Atlantic or the Italian of the Mediterranean. He saw the Lexington's airplanes stage a terrific battle against the best Nippon could muster and saw his ship perish under the onslaught of friendly torpedoes after it had been flame-swept from end to end.
His grandfather was an infantryman, long before the advent of the jeep. In those days when the infantry - he doesn't refer to it as "doughboys", either - they traveled on a train or a boat when they were lucky and walked when they weren't. They were more often unlucky.
Private Covert once offered a corporalcy that he turned down -enlisted when he heard that men were needed in the West to quell the Utes who had taken to the warpath. After terrorizing the settlers, they had massacred an Army detatchment headed by Colonel Meaeker in September of 1879.
As a member of the 19th United States Infantry, Covert was one of a group of soldiers detailed to escort the great Ute Chief, Ouray, and 13 sub-chiefs of the tribe to Washington following their surrender to the United States Army sent into Colorado mountains to punish them for the massacre that they had staged. One of the chiefs, known as "Chief Jack" had kidnapped the wife of the Army leader who headed the ill-fated column.
In Colorado the settlers, chiefly ranchers, railroadmen, and cowboys, aside from the residents of the scattered towns themselves, were all for lynching the tribal chieftains out of hand so that it took the Army to protect them. In Washington they were literally wined and dined by the legislators and came home togged out in senatorial and Congressional garments.
The treatment accorded them in the east just enhanced the fury of the settlers. When the detachment guarding them, of which private Covert was a member, arrived with their charges at Pueblo enroute back to the mountains, the 50 men of the company under Captain Charles T. Witherell were surrounded by a mob of mounted men armed with revolvers and carbines who proposed to take the Indians away from them. The captain ordered his men to form a hollow square with the Indians and himself in the center, and to load and fix bayonets. The demonstration was enough to keep things under control and the rest of the trip to the mountains was made safely. However, the warriors scorning the clothing of the palefaced politicos cut the seats out of their trousers burned their shoes and went back to the blanket and their moccasins in the dead of winter.
Later the nineteenth was transferred to Fort Hayes, Kansas. It was stationed there when President James A. Garfield was assassinated July 2, l880. On that fateful morning, Private Covert was orderly for his commanding officer who sent him to the telegraph office at the town of Hayes, Kansas, with a telegram. The operator was receiving a message when the soldier arrived and glanced up with a startled exclamation: "They've killed the President!" The soldier took that message and gave the operator another. A special parade was held at the post that afternoon in deference to the president's passing and "There was quite a lot of excitement, with even the cooks having to turn out and parade" Private Covert relates.
The balance of his stay with the Army, that ended in 1885, was spent at two Texas posts - Fort Brown, at Brownsville, and at Fort Clark. At the former post 20 miles up from the mouth of the Rio Grande, the regiment was swept by yellow fever which took a toll of 25 men one day, 27 another and 28 another On the worst three days. "If you lived through the first 12 hours, your chances were pretty good and I did," Covert related to a reporter.
As long as he did, maybe fate had a hand in it when, Friday evening, he stood with his grandson, veteran of another great epoch of American warfare, to take his obligation as the first oldtime Indian fighter to become affiliated with the local post of Veterans of Foreign Wars.
This article appeared in the June 25, 1942 issue of The Daily Monitor Leader of Mount Clemens, Michigan. Adolphus Frank Covert was born September 20, 1859 in Jonesville, Indiana, the son of Alexander and Emily (Lux) Covert.
This information was provided to the Macomb Genealogy page by Joe Paonessa. I would like to thank him for this interesting contribution.
If you have any questions about Macomb Genealogy and would like to post your Macomb family information please contact me, Margaret Fallone
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