Civil War, KIDDER, William Samuel
Sunday, March 7, 2010 at 8:01AM
Jo Giessner

William Samuel Kidder, 30, Single, Preacher and School Teacher, joined the California 7th Infantry Regiment, Company I, (Union) on 10 November 1864, at Marysville, Yuba, California.  As indicated in his letter below, he went in with men from French Gulch where he was living at the time, and men from Trinity County. He served as a private at Fort Whipple, Arizona Territory, mustering out at the Presidio in San Francisco on 31 March 1866. The unit had been ordered back to San Francisco from Fort Whipple in February 1866. Private Kidder spent a good deal of his time marching from Drum Barracks to Fort Whipple and being on guard duty while at the Fort. His unit did not fight Confederates nor Indians. Nevertheless, Kidder served the Union cause the best he could coming from northern California. His three brothers from New York, were much more involved receiving injuries in major battles, with George being killed in the Battle of the Wilderness.

26 October 1864, Letter from French Gulch - Union Cause - John Soater [Souter] elected President and William S. Kidder to serve as Secretary.~

The Regiment -This Regiment was recruited from the state of California at large and was mustered into the U.S. Service from 27 October 1864 - 28 January 1865  for three years. The Regiment served by detachments at different posts in the Arizona Territory during most of its term of service.

In July, 1865, a detachment under Captain Messenger was surrounded and attacked while on a scout in the Guachuca Mountains by between 100-200 Indians. After an engagement of about 1 hour, the Indians were driven off with considerable loss. The loss of the detachment was 2 killed and 1 wounded.

In the spring of 1866, 7th Regiment was ordered to the Presidio, San Francisco where it was mustered out, 31 March to 28 June 1866. 

Company H was stationed at Fort Yuma during most of its term, and was mustered out at Drum Barracks, 1 March 1866.

Battles Fought -21 July 1865 - Skull Valley, Arizona Territory; 22 July 1865 - Tubac, Arizona Territory

1865, W. S. Kidder Letter to Shasta Courier 25 July 1865 from Fort Whipple, Arizona Territory -

Knowing that many of your readers would like to hear of the whereabouts of the boys who left French Gulch and Trinity Centre in November last, to join the service of our country, I send you a few items, which may be of interest to our friends in those localities.

You are aware that the Seventh Infantry, C. V. [California Volunteers] has been assigned to the command of General Mason* in Arizona. At present the various companies are stationed as follows: A, K, F, and H at Fort Yuma; B, D, E, and G at Tubac; C at Fort Mohave and I at this post [Fort Whipple].

Our company, one of the last to leave San Francisco, took its departure on the steamer "Pacific" for Drum Barracks, May 20th arriving at the latter named place on the 22nd. Drum Barracks is situated one mile from Wilmington, or what is better known as San Pedro, 22 miles south of Los Angeles. Here we received orders to march overland to this fort. Our outfit, which consisted of arms, ten thousand rounds of ammunition, clothing, three six-mule teams, ten pack mules, and rations for 19 days being completed, we left Drum Barracks on the 26th. We numbered 100 persons in all.

June 1st we reached Cajon Pass, and then followed the route surveyed by Lieut. Whipple, in 1853. From Cajon Pass to Fort Mohave, a distance of 225 miles, through the county of San Bernardino, there are but half a dozen houses, scattered along the Mohave River. Sand hills and cactus bushes are about all that one sees; in fact, the larger portion of San Bernardino County is but one vast, sandy, barren, uninhabited plain, fit only for rattlesnakes, and, I would like to have said, copperheads, to eke out the remainder of their miserable and detestable existence. Water at this season of the year is very scarce; the longest distance without it was 35 miles. This march we had to make during the night.

June 6th we arrived at Camp Cady, where we found Company C, 4th Infanty, C.V., stationed. Captain B. R. West, formerly of French Gulch, commands this company. The quarters of this camp are made entirely of brush, and intended for shelter from the sun only. Here we were obliged to leave one of our boys, he having the day before accidentally shot himself, the ball entering his left hand, and passing up, came out above the wrist. He has scence died, his arm having mortified, and being 160 miles from any physician, there was no helf for him.

June 12 we reached the Colorado River, but owing to its high stage of water, did not cross till the next day. We were somewhat surprised, on reaching is called Fort Mohave. Strictly speaking, it is nothing but a barracks, the buildings being made of cottonwood poles placed perpendicularly in the ground, and daubed with adobe.

The country around Mohave is quite uninviting, and the land unfit for agricultural purposes. Quite a number of the Mohave Indians, including their chief, Arataba, live near the fort. Arataba has just come in with a scouting party and was clothed in the uniform of a major General, the gift of President Lincoln, when he was in Washington three years ago.

Arataba speaks very highly of what he saw in the East, especially of our lamented President. He intends returning to Washington in about a year, when he will take a number of other chiefs with him upon whose united testimony their tribes agree to rely in regard to the superiority of the white man over the Indian. The report of AratAba they call a "big lie". After a few days of much needed rest, we left on the 18th, having received fourteen day's rations at Fort Mohave.

After leaving Union Pass, which is 25 miles from Mohave, we marched through a fertile scope of country, which some day will yield an abundant return to the toil of the husbandman. Water is not so abundant as might be wished, but still enough for ranching purposes. Timber is rather scarce till we get near this post.

June 21st, one of our men strayed from the command and was lost, probably killed by the Waliopi Indians. On the 25th, Private Whitfield S. Somerindyke, formerly of French Gulch, was instantly killed by the accidental discharge of his own gun, the ball entering just below the left breast, and passing upward through the heart, came out through the left shoulder. We buried him at what is known as the Oak and willows, about sixty miles west of this post. Early on the morning of the 29th we reached Fort Whipple, rejoicing to know that our long and weary march was ended. Distance from Mohave 180 miles, making some 500 miles from Drum Barracks. We saw but three Indians after leaving the Colorado.

Fort Whipple is beautifully located on Granite Creek, three quarters of a mile north of Prescott, the capital of Arizona. There is one small company of cavalry, First New Mexican Volunteers, numbering 20 men, commanded by Captain Thompson, who is commander of this post. Company F, Fifth U.S. Infantry is also here, numbering 15 men, commanded by Lieut. Barr. General Mason is daily expected here, where it is understood he will establish his headquarters.

The climate here is beautiful, indeed, the thermometer scarely ever reaching 95 degrees. Light snows in winter, but do not remain long. Thunder showers frequently during the summer, which vividly remind one of his home in the East. [ W.S. Kidder lived in Otsego County, New York, before moving to California]. The hills and fields are beautifully green during the whole year. Quartz ledges are said to exist in rich quantities, but as yet have not been prospected as desired, owing to the Indians, who are very troublesome at times.

Our duties here are quite laborious, owing to the numerous parties sent out scouting, which makes guard duty on those who remain at the post, as the stock has to be guarded at night. Two of our company were killed by the hostile Apaches while out hunting. Our boys have since killed two of them. There is work sufficient here for four large companies! The Couriercomes regularly to hand.

Signed - W.S.K.

* Reference to Mason means John S. Mason career officer in the U.S. Army, who from 7 March 1865 - 21 July 1865 was commander of the District of Arizona under the department of the Pacific. In the omnibus promotions at the end of the Civil War in 1865, he was brevetted through the regular army grades to that of brigadier general.

This letter appeared in the Shasta Courier on 9 September 1865 and is also reproduced in the Kidder Family History by three of his daughters.~

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