Major Eugene D. Dimmick - Major Earl D. Thomas

The Provisional United States Court, established by General Order No. 88 on June 27, 1899, was composed of a Law Judge, Noah Brooks Kent Pettingill, and two Associate Judges, Major Eugene D. Dimmick and Major Earl D. Thomas, both of the 5th United States Cavalry Regiment.

Major Eugene D. DimmickMajor Eugene D. Dimmick

Major Dimmick was a veteran of the Civil War, participating in the battles of Gettysburg and Bull Run, the Spanish-American War, and several Indian campaigns. He was born in Albany, New York, in 1840. He was married twice, in 1863 to Mary Caldwell, who died in 1882, and in 1896 to Mrs. Florence Palmer Hazard, who died in 1913.

He enlisted as a Private in Company C, 2nd New Jersey State Militia on April 26, 1861, in response to President Abraham Lincoln's first call for volunteers. On October 7, 1861, he became the First Sergeant, Company M, 5th New York Cavalry. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant on May 9, 1862. Dimmick was mustered out of the Army on November 6, 1863, on account of wounds received. He was again commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Veteran Reserve Corps., on February 3, 1864 and was once again mustered out on June 30, 1866. He commanded the Honor Guard when President Lincoln's body was in Albany, New York during its trip to Springfield, Illinois for burial.

On August 9, 1867 he re-entered the Army, joining the 9th United States Cavalry as a Second Lieutenant. He was promoted to First Lieutenant on January 16, 1876 and to Captain on October 25, 1883. During these years, he fought in many Indian campaigns and won a brevet promotion for gallantry in action against Indians in the Black Range Mountains in New Mexico on September 23, 1879.

On July 13, 1898, Captain Dimmick was promoted to Major in the 5th United States Cavalry Regiment. During the Spanish-American War, he took part in the Santiago de Cuba campaign and commanded the Second United States Cavalry Regiment at Matanzas, Cuba. In 1899, he was an associate judge of the United States Provisional Court at Matanzas, and later, of the United States Provisional Court in Puerto Rico until 1900 when the Foraker Act established the United States District Court and a Civil Government for Puerto Rico.

On February 25, 1901, Major Dimmick was transferred to the 10th United States Cavalry Regiment (one of the original all-black units, whose members were known as Buffalo Soldiers), and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel of the 2d United States Cavalry Regiment on March 1, 1901. He was promoted to Colonel of Cavalry on February 22, 1903, and retired on March 2, 1903. At the time of his retirement, Colonel Dimmick was the Commanding Officer of Fort Ethan Allen in Vermont. In 1904 he was commissioned a Brigadier General, retired, by special act of Congress. General Dimmick died in Palo Alto, California on November 16, 1935 at the age of 95, and is buried in Section 3, Lot 1870, of Arlington National Cemetery, along with his second wife.

 

Major Earl D. ThomasMajor Earl D. Thomas

It was December 28, 1872, and more than one hundred Yavapai - aged grandparents, mothers, children, and several braves - had taken refuge in a cave in the Salt River Canyon in Maricopa County, Arizona Territory. At dawn, General George Crook's 5th Cavalry Regiment let loose a hail of bullets that ricocheted off the walls and ceiling of the cave. The Yavapai fought back, but to no avail. After several hours, some 75 Indians lay lifeless on the floor of the cave. The rest were captured and packed off to a reservation. Today the battle is known as the Skeleton Cave Massacre.

A young First Lieutenant, Earl Denison Thomas, numbered among the cavalrymen who served with distinction on that day, commanding Pima scouts. Born in Woodstock in McHenry County, Illinois in 1847 to General Edwin Eldredge Thomas and Naomi Ruth Patterson Thomas, Earl served in the Civil War from private to sergeant major of the 8th Illinois Cavalry and took part in hard battles with the Army of the Potomac when he was in his teens. He was then appointed to the United States Military Academy at West Point and graduated in 1869. That same year, he married his hometown sweetheart, Clara Medora Church, and joined the 5th Cavalry Regiment at Fort McPherson, Nebraska. Clara may have remained in Woodstock rather than face the hardships of life on the Frontier. The following year, on June 8, 1870, Thomas won a brevet for leading a detachment in pursuit of Indians who had plundered a camp and killed three people near the fort.

Thomas reached Camp McDowell, Arizona Territory in August 1871, joining General George Crook's forces and participating in a number of actions in Crook's offensive operations between 1872 and 1874. By late 1872 he was stationed at Fort Whipple in Prescott, Arizona Territory. In addition to serving in the battle of Skeleton Cave, which earned him a brevet for gallant service, he also took part in an action near Four Peaks and one on Pinto Creek, and others in northwestern Arizona at Music Mountain and in the Cerbat Mountains against the Hualapai.

Earl and Clara's daughter, George Crook Thomas - an unfortunate, even if distinguished, name for a girl - was born in Woodstock, Illinois, on April 15, 1875. Some time after that, Clara and her infant daughter joined Earl at Fort Whipple, where Earl was an aide to General August V. Kautz, the new commander of the Department of Arizona. Earl also served as engineer officer and sometimes as quartermaster, laying out several important military roads. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment was the construction of the road between Prescott and Skull Valley in 1875, during which Thomas was in charge of over 100 soldiers and Prescott civilians who labored for months to complete the task. When this project was completed, Thomas set to work on a road from Prescott to Camp McDowell. A skilled cartographer, he created beautifully detailed maps of Fort Whipple, Camp McDowell, and Camp Apache while serving under General Kautz. He also published an invaluable booklet entitled 'Table of Distances from and to Different Points in Arizona' (1877). His map of Whipple rests today in the Sharlot Hall Museum Archives in Prescott, Arizona.

A little known fact about Thomas and Clara is that while they were at Fort Whipple they acted in amateur theatricals under the direction of Fannie Kautz, the General's talented young wife.

A popular figure at Fort Whipple - active in the Fort's glittering social life and valiant in battle - Thomas left behind a host of admirers. When the Spanish-American War broke out, he served in Puerto Rico, including service as an Associate Justice of the United States Provisional Court from 1899 to 1900, in Cuba and in the Philippine Islands.

The Cuban republic was established after the 1898 Spanish-American War. In 1901, the Platt Amendment, a rider attached to the Army Appropriations Bill of 1901, stipulated the conditions for United States intervention in Cuba that virtually made the island an U.S. protectorate. Under the terms of this bill the United States established - and retains to this day - a naval base at Guantánamo Bay.

A revolution broke out in Cuba in 1906, and a Marine expeditionary force was sent to the island to establish and maintain law and order. In mid-1906, Cuban internal strife caused the United States to invoke the Platt Amendment and send troops to the island nation in an attempt to restore order. William Howard Taft, then the Secretary-of-War, sent his Philippine Insurrection veterans, the experienced 11th Cavalry Regiment then under the command of Thomas, by then a Colonel.

He was made a Brigadier General in 1907 and was placed in charge of operations on the Arizona and New Mexico border with Mexico during the battles of 1910. He retired in January 1911 and moved to Laurel, Maryland. After a long and eventful life, he died in February 1921.