Squint Eyes: Artist and Indian Scout

ne novelty of Squint Eyes' drawings is the identification of the subjects in English captions. These include Colonel Zenas R. Bliss (Fort Supply post commander), Captain Curtis Gilmore ("H" Company commander), Z. W. Bliss, and Major John Dunlop. Scouts are identified as Squint Eyes, Black Wolf, Bob, Fat Wolf, Nibbs (Cohoe), Osage, Sole Leather, White Bird, White Crow, Walk High (Man Who Walks High), White Man, White Skunk, and Little Man. The inscriptions may have been provided by Colonel Bliss (although the handwriting does not match his

signature, which appears with the photograph in the frontispiece of the book). Alternatively, the inscriptions could have been added by Squint Eyes, who had learned to write while he was imprisoned at Fort Marion in Florida, and who later studied at Hampton Institute in Virginia. Another possibility is that the inscriptions were provided by Amos Chapman, the post interpreter and guide, often considered the man who actually led the scouts in the field. Curiously, Chapman does not appear in any of the pictures.

Major Dunlop is depicted with a moustache and mutton chop whiskers. His hunting coat and trousers are a civilian style, and he has added puttees over his shoes up to the knee. (These items were not unlike those worn by the British soldier of this period.) He carries the Army issue M1879 version of the 1873 Springfield carbine, the standard arm of the U.S. Cavalry. It can be identified by the configuration of the front sight (Steffan 1978:158). The carbine is a short-barreled model of the Springfield rifle, which shot a cartridge with a reduced load of powder. Note the carbine slide and ring that the artist drew on the side of the breech. This allowed a trooper to attach the weapon to a carbine sling, a wide leather belt with a swivel snap that was worn across the torso (Steffan 1978:38). The Springfield rifle of the period was a favorite among hunters because of its power, range, and accuracy. The carbine is an unusual choice as a hunting arm, and may have been loaned to him.

Squint Eyes wears a dark blue fatigue coat on which he has carefully delineated the five brass buttons. The coat was probably the 1884 or earlier model with the yellow piping removed (Rutledge 1997:10). The yellow chevrons on the sleeves denote rank as a non-commissioned officer and the cavalry branch of service (McChristian 1995:65-66). The drawing shows only the two stripes of a corporal, although he appears in a photograph of the time with the three stripes of a sergeant. This may have been a mistake, a temporary reduction in rank, or a problem in fitting all the detail into the small drawing.

The Post Returns state that Squint Eyes enlisted on July 22, 1885, and was promoted to Lance Sergeant on August 16, reaching Sergeant in November. Shortly thereafter he was reduced in rank or lost his rank due to some infraction of military code of justice.


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