03 July 1997

Day 20 - Rumford, SD to Belmont, NE

Distance travelled: 50.1 miles [GoogleEarth = 30.71]
Winds: Slight back
Grades: up
Weather: Fair
Condition of roads: fair
Delays: Bicycles –0/Tires – 0/Lunch – 6h/Other – 45m
Actual travel time: 7h 30m
Rate per hour: 6.7 mph
- Lt. J.A. Moss Report to the Adjutant Synopsis of the Trip

Places & times mentioned: Rumsford SD [8 AM]; Nebraska state line; Crawford, NE [noon – 5 PM]; Belmont NE [camp 8 PM]

The Crawford Celebration

The celebration at Crawford on Saturday last was a grand success in every particular, the day was an ideal one for such an occasion—cool in the morning and evening and war in the middle of the day—and the crowd in attendance was much larger than anyone expected, at least from twelve to fifteen hundred out-of-town on-lookers witnessing and participating in the festivities and amusements provided.

Early in the morning, after the firing of the National salute, the Gate City band favored the people with several very excellent pieces of music, each of which was highly appreciated. This new organization is fast winning its way into popular favor, and is deserving of the patronage of our home people whenever its services can be utilized for public occasions.

Just before noon the bicycle corps of the Twenty-fifth infantry, which had left Edgemont at 4 o’clock Friday afternoon, arrived here and rode through town from the Northwestern to the B. & M. depot where they camped for dinner. The corps which left Missoula, Montana, near the British line, on the 14th of June for St. Louis is composed of twenty-four men, and is accompanied by Dr. Kennedy, whom the Tribune had the pleasure of chatting with concerning the trip. Lieutenant Moss is in command of the outfit and this long-distance march is made for the purpose of testing the utility of the bicycle for army use. Each man carries his gun strapped to his back and sixty rounds of ammunition, besides his blankets, cooking utensils and accoutrements. A bicycle repairer with a kit of tools is also with the expedition, and the accidents the wheels have met with so far have kept him pretty busy. Lieutenant Moss’s wheel broke down several days before the men got here and he came on ahead. Three of the soldiers’ wheels also collapsed before they reached Crawford, all being repaired here by Ira Dietrick. They have had a pretty hard trip from Missoula, having found great difficulty in riding several days through the snows this side of the divide and through the gumbo country, and men and wheels look rather somewhat worn out. Dr. Kennedy says the men have enjoyed good health from the start and are all in excellent condition physically, while the experiment so far has proven a success, as they had covered a distance of about 1,000 miles in twenty days, an average of fifty miles a day, probably over far the worst part of the road. It was nearly 4 o’clock when the corps started down Second street at a lively gait, Professor Gungl’s Ninth cavalry band greeting them with the strains of Annie Laurie as only that band can play that piece while the thousands of spectators who lined the sidewalks on either side of the street rent the air with the wildest cheers to speed them on their journey. On the anniversary of the Custer massacre the corps camped on that famous battle-field. The result of this trial trip will be watched for with a great deal of interest both by the military and civilians.

All the races and contests of the day were pulled off according to program without an accident and in a very satisfactory matter. All premiums were paid in fall [sic- full] and a happier or more enthusiastic crowd never gathered anywhere to enjoy the ceremonies and festivities incident to the Nation’s great holiday celebration.

The dance at night at Firemen’s hall was not very largely attended by our people, although the boys had given their services without price in opening up the day’s program with several good selections. Only twelve dollars was cleared for the benefit of the band. This is hardly treating the boys right. If our people wish this splendid organization to grow better, or even to exist, it will be necessary to show a more liberal substantial appreciation of its merits.

- Crawford Tribune [Crawford, NE] July 9, 1897


“At 8 o’clock on the 3rd we left our camp and crossed the Nebraska state line shortly after. Very fair roads, although a trifle sandy, were met with and a good run was made until we got within two miles of Crawford where the sand was too deep for travel and we were compelled to walk. At Crawford a number of soldiers from Fort Robinson met the corps and entertained the boys during their stay of several hours.
E.H. Boos
Official Reporter 25th Inf. Bicycle Corps.”
Daily Missoulian Nebraska is Reached [mislabeled Marching On] July 17

[This article was also published in the St. Louis Daily Globe Democrat, July 18, 1897. The head line for that paper was THE MILITARY BICYCLISTS.----- They Find a Hard Road to Travel in Wyoming.]
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"RECEIVED A WELCOME
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Twenty-fifth Infantry Bicycle Corps at Crawford, Nebraska on the Fourth
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A Rest of Half a Day at Marsland
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Through Sand and Over Railroad Track
Land of Rattlesnakes and Jack Rabbits
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Whitman, Nebraska, July --. The Fourth of July celebration was at its height when the 25th U.S. Infantry Bicycle corps arrived at Crawford. The town was full of people and the corps was given a hearty welcome. A number of soldiers from Fort Robinson, four miles distant, were in town and took the men in charge while in their midst.
One day’s rations were received at Crawford and distributed among the men. At 5 o’clock [PM] assembly was sounded and in a few minutes the corps left the town, passing through the big crowds on the main street amid loud cheers. The run for the evening was for Belmont, which was reached about 8 o’clock. Camp for the night was made in a farmer’s yard, who kindly furnished hay for bedding and wood for fuel.”
- E.H. Boos, Daily Missoulian Received a Welcome, [Missoula, MT] July 21, 1897
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"the Twenty-fifth Infantry's experimental bicycle corps pedalled through town on their way from Montana to St. Louis. Thousands of curious spectators lined the street and the Ninth Cavalry played "Annie Laurie" as the black infantrymen rode by."
- Buffalo Soldiers, Braves and the Brass, Frank N. Schubert pg. 113
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"Independence Day brought the most spectacular celebrations. Indian dances, horse races, parades, baseball matches, and even an appearance by "Blue Belle, the diving horse," all contributed to the carnival atmosphere. In some years troopers [from nearby Fort Robinson]added bareback wrestling and steeplechases to the programs. Giant tugs of war--'Tenth Cavalry Against the World'--also drew crowds of as many as four to five thousand into Crawford. During the 1897 celebration, the Twenty-fifth Infantry's experimental bicycle corps pedalled through town on their way from Montana to St. Louis. Thousands of curious spectators lined the street and the Ninth Cavalry band played " Annie Laurie" as the black infantrymen rode by.
Although the Crawford Tribune may have exaggerated a bit in calling one July 4th carnival 'four days of ecstacy," the Crawford festivities delighted most visitors, as well as local merchants..."
- Outpost of Sioux Wars, Frank N. Schubert, pg. 113
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VIEW III.—“The barren, God-forsaken sand hills of Nebraska, and, later on, her rolling hills and immense fields.” Early on the morning of July 3 we entered the State of Nebraska, and about noon were in Crawford. Here the corps had the pleasure of witnessing a typical western town celebration of the Fourth of July. (The next day, i.e., the Fourth being Sunday, the people of Crawford held their celebration on the 3d.) A large number of Indians were lounging around the streets, arrayed in all their “war paint,” while a good many officers and soldiers from Fort Robinson, three miles away, added a military appearance to the occasion. The games, races, etc:, took place in the main street of the town.”
- Lt. Moss, Los Angeles Times The Army A-Wheel, Nov. 21, 1897

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