This is Part One of a two-part series of Frederic Remington's illustration for the piece he wrote and illustrated for the Century magazine issue of April 1889. The drawings owe much to the photos from which they surely much have originated, but Remington had a great interest in detail as well as a canny sense of composition.
His choices of images are superb, as this enlarged detail of a cavalry noncom striking a pose for the photographer. I sense a certain disdain, but maybe it's because I know of Remington's racial prejudices. The entire scene is reproduced below, entitled: A Camping Sketch.
The article began on a page it shared with the conclusion of a serious political piece by renown explorer George Kennan. Click on this image and others following to enlarge them.
Detail from Remington's pen-and-ink rendering of a GI saddle of the time.
"A Packer and Mules." A lieutenant with the 10th Dragoons had invited Remington to go along on a two-week scouting trip in Arizona. "Will you go down to stable-call and pick out a mount?" asked the lieutenant. "You are one of the heavies, but I think we can outfit you. . . ." Remington was said to weigh 300 lbs, but stood only 5 feet nine inches tall. Needless to say, he would not have made it as an embedded journalist today without losing much of that weight.
"A Halt to Tighten the Packs." Mule skinners and troopers adjust the loads the mules must bear over the rugged terrain.
Close up of a trooper of the U.S. 10th Cavalry. Image will not enlarge.
"Trooper in Tow." This is already enlarged from a small spot wrapped around by text and shows a practical way and comic aside to enduring the march. Remington wrote, "The slopes of the Sierra Bonitas are very steep, and as the air became more rarified as we toiled upward I found that I was panting for breath. My horse -- a veteran mountaineer -- grunted in his efforts and drew his breath in long and labored blowing; consequently I felt as though I was not doing anything unusual in puffing and blowing myself." Image will not enlarge more than this.
"Marching on the Mountains." I don't quite understand this picture caption. It doesn't look like marching to me. I would say it was more like gingerly descending a mountain trail. Click on image to enlarge it.
Detail from the illustration above. Click on image to enlarge it.
"A Camping Sketch." Remington wrote, "Officers have often confessed to me that when they are on long and monotonous field service and are troubled with a depression of spirits, they have only to go about the campfires of the negro soldier in order to be amused and cheered by the clever absurdities of the men. Personal relations can be much closer between white officers and colored soldiers than in white regiments without breaking the barriers which are necessary to army discipline." He goes on to admit that black troopers behaved with bravery and valor in fighting Cheyennes and Apaches, but ends the paragraph with: "These episodes prove the sometimes doubted self-reliance of the negro."
To which I would offer the illustration with which we began this posting.