John Rutter Brooke papers
Held at: Historical Society of Pennsylvania [Contact Us]1300 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19107
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
John Rutter Brooke was born in 1838 in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. He attended Ursinus College, and began his military career soon after graduation. He enlisted in the 4th Pennsylvania Infantry division in April 1861, but that division was dissolved early in the war. Brooke reenlisted, and was granted the rank of colonel at the age of 23, when he served as the commanding officer for the 53rd Pennsylvania volunteer regiment. Brooke’s regiment participated in many of the major battles of the Civil War, including Gettysburg and Antietam. Brooke suffered several injuries during the Civil War, but continued his military career in the post-bellum period. He served briefly in New Orleans, Louisiana, commanded the 3rd Infantry division during the westward campaign that drove American Indian people onto reservations, and was later moved to command the Department of the Platte in Omaha, Nebraska.
Under the direction of General Miles, Brooke led the 7th Cavalry in its “Sioux Campaign” in 1890. This military campaign was spurred by the rise of the Ghost Dance religion on the Dakota/Lakota reservations at Standing Rock and Pine Ridge in the spring of 1890. Settlers were threatened by what they perceived to be a preparation for war, and the United States military responded by building up forces around the reservations. Military officials began to pursue numerous tribal leaders, and attempted to force an end to the Ghost Dance religion, which prophesied that the damaged land would rejuvenate, the buffalo would return to the plains, the white settlers would leave Indian lands, and ancestors would return if the followers danced in the prescribed manner. When it became clear that the dancers would not surrender, the 7th Cavalry centered its forces along Wounded Knee Creek, where Lakota families had been camped. Most of the Lakota men had been disarmed, but on December 29, 1890, after an escalation of force, the cavalry killed several hundred men, women, and children in what would become known as the Wounded Knee massacre. Brooke stood behind the actions of the 7th Cavalry at Wounded Knee, and continued to rise in the military ranks. After several more years at the Platte, Brooke was promoted to command the 1st Corps of the Army during the Spanish-American War, when he was appointed military governor of Puerto Rico and, later, Cuba in 1898-1899. Upon his return to Washington, Brooke was made the commanding officer of the Department of the East on Governor’s Island, New York, at the rank of brigadier general, the post from which he retired in 1902. Brooke lived in Philadelphia until his death in 1926.
This collection documents the military career of John Rutter Brooke, primarily in the form of military records generated during Brooke’s service from 1861 to 1902. These papers consist of correspondence, accounts, military directives, pamphlets, invitations to events, commendations, photographs, maps, and books of rules and regulations for military units. The bulk of military papers cover the period of 1888-1902; these documents describe key military campaigns, including two volumes of directives and correspondence issued during the Sioux Campaign, which culminated in Wounded Knee on December 29, 1890. These volumes offer a daily perspective on the military movements during the months preceding the massacre at Wounded Knee, during the conflict itself, and in its aftermath. Also richly documented are the Spanish-American War campaigns in Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Philippines. Brooke’s service as military governor of Puerto Rico and Cuba are the primary focus of these materials, but there are a significant number of letters from Brooke’s son William, who served in the United States Army in the Philippines. Included in this collection is some personal correspondence between Brooke and his wife, and invitations they received for events both military and private
This collection offers an exceptionally detailed view of official military policies and communications during the late nineteenth century. These papers would be of special interest to those conducting research on United States military policies regarding western Indian tribes during this period, particularly the Cheyenne and Sioux nations. Also of great interest are the papers related to Puerto Rico and Cuba, particularly the controversy about deaths from yellow fever in Cuba during the U.S. occupation. Because of Brooke’s position within the United States Army, this collection provides a broad picture of U.S. military operations and policies.
Series I. Printed material, 1861-1901, undated, 2.8 linear feet
Series II. Military papers, 1767-1918 (bulk 1861-1902), 9.8 linear feet
Series III. Correspondence and orders, 1888-1898, 1.3 linear feet
Gift of General John R. Brooke, circa 1919.
- United States. Army. (Handbooks, manuals, etc.)
- United States. Army. (History--Civil War, 1861-1865) -- History
- United States. Army. Cavalry. (History) -- History
- United States. Army. Dept. of Porto Rico.
- United States. Army. Dept. of the East.
- United States. Army. Dept. of the Missouri.
- United States. Army. Dept. of the Platte.
- United States. Office of Indian Affairs. Pine Ridge Agency.
- Dakota Indians--Government relations
- Dakota Indians--Wars, 1890-1891
- Sioux nation
- Spanish-American War, 1898--Campaigns--Cuba
- Spanish-American War, 1898--Campaigns--Philippines
- Spanish-American War, 1898--Campaigns--Puerto Rico
- Wounded Knee Massacre, S.D., 1890
- Historical Society of Pennsylvania
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Cathleen Miller
- Finding Aid Date
- The Digital Center for Americana Project was funded by the Barra Foundation and other sources.
This small series contains pamphlets; reports on military actions; manuals and regulations for military drills, hygiene, and maneuvers; brochures and catalogues; and congressional directories and hearing reports.
The pamphlets and volumes are arranged chronologically.Physical Description
2.8 Linear feet ; 3 boxes, 24 volumes
Making up the bulk of the collection, Brooke’s military papers document the span of his career, and reflect his activities as he climbed the ranks in the United States Army. The first box of materials in this series contains papers related to Brooke’s service as colonel of the 53rd Pennsylvania volunteer regiment in the Civil War, and includes accounts for supply orders, correspondence, reports on wounded soldiers, official reports on the 53rd regiment’s activities, ordinance returns, and muster rolls.
The following eight boxes represent Brooke’s service during the years of 1870-1895, when he commanded several units during the Indian Wars, primarily from the base of the Department of the Platte in Omaha, Nebraska. These papers contain correspondence, orders for troop movement, reassignments to new posts, court martial hearing proceedings, requests for hospitalization of wounded troops, supply orders, assessment of encampment sites, geographical and topographical descriptions of the land, discussions of boundary disputes with the Sioux tribes in the Pine Ridge agency, reports about battles, congratulatory letters on Brooke’s promotions, a journal kept by Brooke during 1890, and some personal correspondence between Brooke and his wife.
The next thirteen boxes in the series cover Brooke’s service during the Spanish-American War, first in Georgia to prepare troops for movement into Puerto Rico, later in Puerto Rico and Cuba, and in his final post at the Department of the East. These letters, orders, account records, reports, and other papers document the outfitting required to move troops into Puerto Rico and Cuba, as well as the logistical support necessary to maintain an army on an island where all goods must be shipped in. There are also statements on expenditures, and reports on the yellow fever outbreak that killed many in Cuba. This epidemic caused great controversy, when some alleged that the U.S. military had covered up the severity of the outbreak and its failed response to the crisis. There are newspaper clippings that document the ensuing investigation into the issue. Also included in this group of documents are letters from Brooke’s son William, who was serving as a major in the army in the Philippines between 1900 and 1902.
The final few boxes contain invitations from a range of years throughout Brooke’s career, and a group of photographs taken in Wyoming of the 3rd Infantry Division headquarters. Miscellaneous materials in the six flat files consist of several maps and blueprints; a large-format stereograph; commissions, appointments, and memberships; a copy of the Puerto Rico Herald that features Brooke; and an application to establish a military base in Santa Fe, New Mexico.Physical Description
9.8 Linear feet ; 24 boxes, 6 flat files
These volumes consist primarily of outgoing correspondence from John R. Brooke to other military figures. Volumes 25-28 contain an index of correspondents and three volumes of brief letters to military colleagues about military and personal matters during Brooke’s command at the Department of the Platte. Volumes 29-32 contain material related specifically to the “Sioux Campaign” in 1890-1891, including a detailed index of the correspondence. These volumes contain letters and orders describing and directing the military escalation in response to the Ghost Dance. The military correspondence illuminates the views and motives of Brooke and other military leaders, the fear that caused settlers to feel threatened by the Ghost Dance, and the decisions that led up to Wounded Knee.
The final five volumes, which were designated by Brooke as “private correspondence,” contain lengthier letters that reveal the planning involved in preparing for a massive military campaign, including requests for supplies and discussions of the quality of those supplies. There are discussions of strategy and minor disagreements between Brooke and his colleagues. This correspondence covers the later years of Brooke’s military career, and discusses ongoing negotiations with Sioux tribal leaders, Brooke’s attempts to obtain a promotion, and the military campaigns into Puerto Rico and Cuba. Some of the correspondence in these letter books is personal in nature, though the vast majority is professional. Several of these books contain letters that are fading, making them difficult to decipher.Physical Description
1.3 Linear feet ; 13 volumes