John Rutter Brooke papers

Collection 0078

( Bulk, 1861-1902 ) 1767-1918, undated
(13.9 Linear feet ; 27 boxes, 37 volumes, 6 flat files)

Summary Information

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Brooke, John, Rutter, 1838-1926.
John Rutter Brooke papers
Date [bulk]
Bulk, 1861-1902
Date [inclusive]
1767-1918, undated
13.9 Linear feet ; 27 boxes, 37 volumes, 6 flat files
Finding aid prepared by Cathleen Miller
The Digital Center for Americana Project was funded by the Barra Foundation and other sources.
Mixed materials [Oversize]
Flat files 1-6
Mixed materials [Box]
Mixed materials [Volume]
The papers of John Rutter Brooke include correspondence, accounts, regimental reports, military orders, and pamphlets that primarily pertain to his career in the United States Army, 1861-1902. Brooke’s military papers document the activities of the 53rd Pennsylvania volunteer regiment during the Civil War; the 3rd Infantry division and 7th Cavalry during the Indian Wars; the 1st Corps of the Army during the Spanish-American War; and Brooke’s service as military governor of Puerto Rico and Cuba, as well as his service in the Departments of the Missouri, the Platte, the Gulf, and the East. The collection is particularly rich in its documentation of the United States Army’s “Sioux Campaign” during 1890-1891, containing extensive correspondence during the height of the Ghost Dance on the Standing Rock and Pine Ridge reservations, and the ensuing military build-up, which escalated into the massacre at Wounded Knee on December 29, 1890.

Preferred citation

Cite as: [Indicate cited item or series here], John Rutter Brooke papers (Collection 78), The Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Return to Table of Contents »

Background note

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.

Return to Table of Contents »

Scope & Content

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.

Return to Table of Contents »

Overview of arrangement

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

Return to Table of Contents »

Administrative Information

Publication Information

 The Historical Society of Pennsylvania 2009

1300 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19107

Acquisition information

Gift of General John R. Brooke, circa 1919.

Return to Table of Contents »

Related Materials

Related Archival Materials note

At the Historical Society of Pennsylvania:

Brooke, John R., Civil Report of John R. Brooke: special orders: civil orders & c., 1899. (Y 38)

------, Final report as military governor on civil matters concerning the island of Cuba, 1899. (Y 3772)

Philadelphia Public Ledger, War maps of Cuba, Porto Rico and the Philipines [map], 1898. (Y* .39)

United States Adjutant General’s Office, Correspondence relating to the war with Spain and conditions growing out of the same…, 1902. (Tk .71 Un58)

United States Congress, Senate Committee on relations with Cuba, Hearing before the committee on relations with Cuba: statement of John R. Brooke, Jan. 29 1900, 1900. (MS No. 78 Box 1900 (1))

United States War Department, Five years of the War department following the war with Spain, 1899-1903, 1904. (Th 19)

At other repositories:

Perry S. Heath papers (1890-1983), Library of Congress, contains correspondence from Brooke. (MSS 82156)

Return to Table of Contents »

Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • 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.


  • Correspondence.

Geographic Name(s)

  • Puerto Rico--History.

Personal Name(s)

  • Miles, Nelson Appleton, 1839-1925.


  • 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.

Return to Table of Contents »


DiSilvestro, Roger L. In the shadow of Wounded Knee: the untold final chapter of the Indian Wars. New York: Walker, 2005.

Myers, Irvin G. We might as well die here: the 53rd Pennsylvania veteran volunteer infantry. Shippensburg, Pa: White Mane Books, 2004.

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. “History.” (accessed Jan. 15, 2010).

Return to Table of Contents »

Collection Inventory

 Series 1. Printed material 1861-1901   2.8 Linear feet ; 3 boxes, 24 volumes

Scope and Contents note

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.


Pamphlets 1867-1901 


Small Books 1861-1901 


U.S. Army Artillery Tactics 1874 


U.S. Army Calvary Tactics 1874 


U.S. Army Infantry Tactics 1874 


Appendix, Re-organization of the Army 1876 


Congressional Record 1877 


Report of the Board of Officers (1 of 2) 1883 


Report of the Board of Officers, (2 of 2) 1883 


Congressional Directory 1885  


Rifle and Carbine Firing 1885 


Congressional Directory 1888 


By-Laws, Grand Army of the Republic 1890 


Military Hygiene 1890 


Artillery Drill Regulations 1891 


Calvary Drill Regulations 1891 


Infantry Drill Regulations 1891 


"Infantry Fire: Its Use in Battle" 1891 


Compendium of General Orders 1892 


Cycle Infantry Drill Regulations 1892 


Troops in Campaign 1892 


Drill Regulations for the Hospital Corps 1893 


Manual of Guard Duty 1893 


Roster, Military Order of the Loyal Legion 1895 


Drill Regulations for Light Artillery 1896 


The North American Review 1900 


Return to Table of Contents »

 Series 2 Military papers 1767-1918, undated  (Bulk, 1861-1902)   9.8 Linear feet ; 24 boxes, 6 flat files

Scope and Contents note

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.

Box Folder

Correspondence, regimental accounts, and miscellaneous 1861-1870 

4 1-9

Commendatory letters 1862-1891 

4 10

Correspondence, regimental accounts, and miscellaneous 1871-1873 

5 1-2

Correspondence and orders [re: Cheyennes, Bascomb] 1873 

5 3

Correspondence, regimental accounts, and miscellaneous 1874-1882 

5 4-9

Correspondence, regimental accounts, and miscellaneous 1883-1887 

Box Folder

Table of deserters from the 3rd regiment 1878-1887 

7 1

Correspondence, regimental accounts, and miscellaneous 1888 

7 2-5

Correspondence, regimental accounts, and miscellaneous 1888-1890 

8 1-5

Journal {April-May 1869] 

8 6

Correspondence, regimental accounts, and miscellaneous 1891-1892 


Correspondence, regimental accounts, and miscellaneous 1892-1893 


Correspondence, regimental accounts, and miscellaneous 1893-1894   

Box Folder

Correspondence, regimental accounts, and miscellaneous 1895 

12 1-4

Deposit slips 1891-1895 

12 5

Correspondence, regimental accounts, and miscellaneous 1896 

12 6

Correspondence, regimental accounts, and miscellaneous 1896-1897 

Box Folder

Correspondence, regimental accounts, and miscellaneous 1897 

14 1-4

Deaths in the Spanish army in Cuba 1895-1897 

14 5

Efficiency reports 1896-1897 

14 6

Correspondence, regimental accounts, and miscellaneous 1898 

15 1-5

Military intelligence reports on troops in Puerto Rico June 1898 

15 6

Short Bull’s claim 1898 

15 7

Correspondence, regimental accounts, and miscellaneous 1899-1900 


Correspondence, regimental accounts, and miscellaneous 1899 

Box Folder

Division of Cuba 1899, undated 

18 1

Gomez papers--Rehabilitation of Cuba March-May 1899 

18 2

Statements of Cuban funds expended 1900 

18 3

Statements of military and civil expenditures of US Army in Cuba 1898-1900 

18 4-5

Miscellaneous and undated 1767-1898, undated  (Bulk, 1861-1898)

18 6

Correspondence, reports, and miscellaneous January-June 1900 


Correspondence, reports, and miscellaneous July-October 1900 

Box Folder

Correspondence, reports, and miscellaneous November-December 1900 

21 1-5

Correspondence between Major William Brooke and his father J.R. Brooke 1900 

21 6-7

Correspondence, reports, and miscellaneous January-April 1901 

22 1-6

Correspondence, reports, and miscellaneous May-October 1901 

23 1-6

Correspondence, reports, and miscellaneous November-December 1901 

24 1-3

Commissary accounts 1901 

24 4

Correspondence between Major William Brooke and his father J.R. Brooke 1901 

24 5

Correspondence, reports, and miscellaneous January 1902 

24 6-7

Correspondence, reports, and miscellaneous February-May 1902 

Box Folder

Correspondence, reports, and miscellaneous May-July 1902 

26 1-3

Commissary accounts 1902 

26 4

Correspondence between Major William Brooke and his father J.R. Brooke 1902 

26 5

Correspondence, miscellaneous 1902-1903, undated 

26 6

Commissions and decorations 1861-1918 

26 7

Photographs of 3rd US Infantry headquarters [Sioux Campaign] circa 1890-1891 

26 8

Photographs of J.R. Brooke and Edward C. Young 1876, undated 

26 9

Invitations and announcements 1888-1904, undated 


Application to the city of Santa Fe to designate military post 1901 

Flat file 1

Photo of Fort McKinney, WY; Map of Indian Campaign; Distribution of troops 1893; circa 1890s 

Flat file 2

The Puerto Rico Herald 1901 

Flat file 3

Blueprint of soldiers’ kits and uniforms--US, British, German 1895 

Flat file 4

Commissions, decorations, and memberships 1861-1903 

Flat file 5

Map of the battlefield of Antietam 1894 

Flat file 6

Return to Table of Contents »

 Series 3 Correspondence and orders 1888-1898   1.3 Linear feet ; 13 volumes

Scope and Contents note

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.


Index to correspondence (vols. 26-28) 1888-1893 


Outgoing correspondence, Department of the Platte (Omaha, NE) (vol. 1) 1888-1890 


Outgoing correspondence, Department of the Platte (Omaha, NE) (vol. 2) 1890-1892 


Outgoing correspondence, Department of the Platte (Omaha, NE) (vol. 3) 1892-1893 


Field orders, Sioux Campaign 1890-1891 


Index to correspondence, Sioux Campaign (vols. 31-32) 1890-1891 


Correspondence, Sioux Campaign (vol. 1) 1890 


Correspondence, Sioux Campaign (vol. 2) 1890-1891 


Private correspondence February 1893-August 1894 


Private correspondence August 1894-November 1895 


Private correspondence November 1895-April 1897 


Private correspondence April 1897-June 1898 


Private correspondence June-December 1898 


Return to Table of Contents »