Winds: slight head
Grades: Up and down
Condition of roads: good
Delays: Bicycles – 30m/Tires – 0/Lunch – 6h 30m /Other – 1h 30m
Actual travel time: 6h 50m
Rate per hour: 7.3 mph
Places & times mentioned: Germantown [left 5:10 a.m.]; Lincoln [9:30 a.m-left 4:30 p.m.]; Firth [camped 8 p.m.]
Experimenters With the Bicycle for the Army Reach Lincoln.
“From Germantown [called Garland today] to Lincoln the roads were exceedingly bad and hilly the greater part of the way and were only good when within five miles of Lincoln. At West Lincoln the command was met by Major Fichet of the U.S. cavalry, acting on the governor’s staff, and who made arrangements for our camp on the statehouse grounds. The procession headed by Major Fichet and followed by the corps, passed through the city and reached the state house grounds by 9:30, where a temporary camp was made, it being the intention to leave Lincoln that same evening. Before the corps had been in camp 20 minutes the grounds were covered with interested sightseers, and it was almost impossible for the men to get around on regular routine duty. At 5 o’clock assembly was sounded and the corps formed into line in the street and started out of the city on their way to Table Rock, which was reached a day later.
Ever since leaving Broken Bow the corps has been averaging over 60 miles per day and this over hilly country and only fair roads.”
SOLDIERS IN TOWN
Experimenters With the Bicycle for Army Reach Lincoln
The detachment of bicycle soldiers from the Twenty-fifth infantry, who are making the trip from Ft. Missoula, Mont., to St. Louis to test the efficiency of the bicycle for making long trips successfully, arrived in Lincoln at 9:30 a.m. today. They camped at Germantown last night, leaving there at 5:10 this morning. They were met at Germantown by Major Fechet, who accompanied them to the city. They will leave at 4:30 this afternoon for St. Joe. They left Fort Missoula on the 14th of June, and have had a pleasant time, although all admit to being pretty tired. The experiment has so far convinced the commandant, Lieut. Moss, that the bicycle has a future in the army. They are encamped on the capitol grounds. They carry with them tents, poles and other paraphernalia used by cavalrymen on march. There are representatives of Companies A, B, F and G of the Twenty-fifth Infantry. Lieut. Moss being of Company G. The men carry extra tires and rims, and each man rides a different make of wheel.
- The Evening News [Lincoln, NE] July 14, 1897
[All of the men rode Spaulding bicycles except Boos, who rode a Sterling- MH]
WARRIORS ON CHARGERS OF STEEL
Regular Army Bicycle Corps Takes a Short Rest at Lincoln
Twenty Colored Wheelmen in Command
of Lieutenant Moss Making a
Test of the Bicycle
The bicycle corps of regular army soldiers arrived in Lincoln yesterday forenoon and remained until 5 p.m. The corps consisted of twenty colored soldiers from several companies of infantry stationed at Ft. Missoula, Mont., under command of Second Lieutenant James A. Moss, Twenty-fifth regiment. Surgeon J. M. Kennedy and Edward H. Boos, a young newspaper man , are members of the corps. The soldiers camped last night at Germantown, twenty miles from Lincoln. They started early yesterday morning and reached Lincoln about 10 o’clock. The men camped on the south side of the capitol lawn while the officers busied themselves about town, getting wheels repaired and hunting for information regarding roads southeast of Lincoln. [p]
The men attracted many people to their camp, especially cyclists, male and female. They were surrounded all the time by persons anxious to ascertain how they stood the trip, the time made and other details. The soldiers reclined on the grass after dinner and tried to get some rest, but the crowd of visitors made rest almost out of the question. Some tired fellows slept, however, with people tramping all around and over them. No tents were put dup. The wheels loaded with equipments were leaned up against one another or against trees. The wheels were all of the same make but eight different kinds of tires and both wood and steel rims are used. All chains are enclosed in oilcloth gear cases. Extra rims were carried ready for use in case of emergency. Other parts and repairs are distributed among the men. Each wheel weighs thirty-one pounds, including gun, cartridges, canteen, parts of tents and disjoined tent poles and all equipments, each wheel weighs seventy pounds. This weight varies with the kind of rations carried, uncooked being heavier than cooked rations. The various articles are attached to every possible part of the wheels. [p]
The soldiers are not gaudy in uniform. They wear blue cotton shirts, brown canvas trousers and leggings. Their hats are the white felt slouch of cavalrymen. Blue jackets are rolled up on the handlebars. [p]
The corps is on the way to St. Louis. The start was made one month ago yesterday and the destination will probably be reached July 25. So far the average distance covered each day is fifty miles. The greatest distance made in one day was seventy miles and the lowest was nine miles. The nine mile trip was made in Montana during a heavy rain in gumbo mud. The men had to walk slowly and stop every few moments to dig the mud off their wheels. In the worst of the sand hill country in Nebraska they made thirty-eight miles a day. The men have not been pushed so that it is impossible to tell how far they can go in a day. Nearly all are men who have had considerable experience wheeling. One man, however, had never ridden a wheel until two days before the start. He is now one of the best in the party. The experienced wheelmen keep up a little better, but so far the inexperienced men have kept pace with the others. [p]
The object of the trip is to test the practicability of the wheel for army service. Lieutenant Moss has had a corps in command for several months and some long trips have been made. At the fort he drills the men on their wheels. He as a drill suitable for movements on the bicycle, but the drill has not yet been made official by the war department. A part of the exercise is fence jumping. The speed with which men can ride at a fence, come to a stop and lift seventy pounds over the obstruction and then start again, is said to be equal to tests made by cavalrymen. No drills are given on the road, but exhibitions will be given every day after St. Louis is reached. [p]
The men take the railroad track in country where roads are bad. They ride in single file. Every other man carries a tent. The others carry an equal weight in blankets, or other equipments. Some carry big frying pans which are made in the shape of frame satchels, two locking together, fastened in the frame of the wheel. Two men carry big camp cans in which coffee is made. The reporter carries a flag and a camera. He also rode a different make of wheel. Rations are sent by the war department to stations along the way and the men call for the packages. The route is mapped out in advance and once determined on is not changed because of shipment of rations. The regular rations are issued no extras being allowed. [p]
Quite a crowd watched the men start last evening and several cameras were there to be leveled at the file, but the sun was obdurate and refused to shine. The route to be taken includes Roca, Hickman, Firth, Adams, Table Rock and Rulo. At the latter point the corps will cross the Missouri river. They will follow along the north bank of the Missouri river as closely as possible until they reach St. Louis.
- Nebraska State Journal [Lincoln, NE] Thursday morning, July 15, 1897
[The writer says, “The speed with which men can ride at a fence, come to a stop and lift seventy pounds over the obstruction and then start again, is said to be equal to tests made by cavalrymen” cracks me up. I keep picturing cavalrymen lifting their horses over a 9 foot fence- MH]
“At 5 o’clock [PM, Wednesday 14 July] assembly was sounded and the corps formed into line in the street and started out of the city [Lincoln, NE] on their way to Table Rock, which was reached a day later…”
Firth. The United States colored troops of the Twenty-fifth regiment came into town [Firth] Wednesday evening about 8 o’clock and camped on the south side of town. They were on bicycles and came from Mt. [sic] Missoula, Mont., on their way to St. Louis, under command of Lieutenant Moss. The trip is an experiment, demonstrating the feasibility of using bicycles in the service of moving troops. In the eastern part of Montana they were caught in a snow storm, and had to walk and carry their bicycles and trappings, weighing 118 pounds, for a number of miles. While passing through the sand hills in the western part of the state they had the same experience, being able to ride only eighteen miles out of 100. They left town at 6 o’clock Thursday morning, following the B. & M. track.
"The 22 soldiers and one reporter who started from Fort Missoula, in Montana, west of the Rocky Mountain range, on June 14, passed through Adams yesterday morning, July 15, on their way to St. Louis... On Wednesday evening [they]...camped at Firth"
- The Adams Globe [Adams, NE] July 16, 1897