A Brief Historical Sketch of
The Order of Indian Wars of the United States

During the spring of 1896, Colonel B.J.D. Irwin, Assistant Surg
eon General, U.S. Army Retired, gathered together and organized a group of fellow officers in Chicago and at Fort Sheridan all of whom had participated in the Plains Indian Wars. The purpose of this gathering was to organize “ a Society that should stand related to the Indian Wars of the United States”. The Society would be called "The Order of  Indian Wars of the United States" (OIWUS) and would use as its paradigm other extant military lineage sodalities such as the Society of the Cincinnati (War of Independence), The Aztec Club of 1847 (Mexican War) and the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (Union Army, War Between the States). All of these hallowed societies were formed  by veteran participants with provisions for  descendants. Ab initio the Order was  to  be  a society of veteran officer participants in the Indian Wars and their male descendants. As with those stated organizations, the first qualification for any prospective member of the Order was that he be a patriotic gentleman of impeccable character. The second qualification was military service in any of the myriad conflicts, battles or actual field service against hostile Indians within the jurisdiction of the United States. Providentially, the OIWUS also provided for hereditary male membership. Today the entire membership is hereditary since the last officer participants died many decades ago.

The purpose of the OIWUS was to perpetuate the history of the services rendered by the America
n military forces during the various conflicts and wars within the territory of the United States. Furthermore, the Order was committed to collecting and publishing historical data pertaining to “the brave deeds and personal devotion” of those involved in Indian warfare.  The Charter Members of the Order were: Colonel B.J.D Irwin; Major George W. Baird; Lieutenant Colonel Ruben F. Bernard; Captain C.H. Conrad; General J.W. Cloud; Major Forest H. Hathaway; and Captain Allyn Capron. The OIWUS flourished after the formal chartering of 10 June 1896, claiming as members a number of renowned military men.  General John J. Pershing; Major General Frederick D. Grant; Brigadier General Edward J. McClernand; Brigadier General Samuel W. Fountain; Brigadier General Edward S. Godfrey; Lieutenant Colonel Ulysses S. Grant III; and Major Charles A. Coolidge were all members of the OIWUS.

During its first fifty years, the Order had over 300 Original Companions - participants in the Indian conflicts, over 275 Hereditary Companions and seventy‑five Junior Companions on its membership rolls. The Order held symposiums and published several papers, most of which can be referenced in a tome entitled The Papers of the Order of The Indian Wars compiled and edited by John M. Carroll, The Old Army Press, Fort Collins (1975).  From 1896 until 1910 the Order met informally and left few minutes of its meetings and ruefully published none of the comments of its annual speakers.  From 1911 until 1916 minutes only are extant, then termed The Proceedings of the Order of Indian Wars of the United States.  Nonetheless, from 1917 through 1942, not only are the minutes published, but arguably of greater value, the papers presented to the annual meetings by learned historians and officer event participants were preserved all as part of the Proceedings.  The Order suspended meetings during World War II as it had during part of World War I.  By 1950, almost all of the Original Companions had passed away.  During the early years most of the annual meetings were held at the Army Navy Club in Washington, D.C.  During the years subsequent to World War II, the annual meetings became informal luncheon events held either at the Metropolitan Club of Washington, D.C. or the Cosmos Club of Washington, D.C. 

By the mid 1990's, the Hereditary Companions had dwindled to a handful of loyal but aging members. However, the membership began to once again expand with a new generation of historically aware members.  The Order began holding the Annual Meetings in the tradition of the Original Companions, i.e., black/white tie banquets, period musical entertainment, humorous remarks, and all quaffed down with potables, game, and cigars.

We are privileged to have several current life members who affiliated with the Order in the 1930s as Junior Members.  They are: Brigadier General Michael J.L. Greene USA (Ret) (Badge No. 639); Brigadier General Lawrence Vivians Greene USA (Ret) - recently deceased - (Badge No. 600); and Douglass Greene (Badge No. 674). Brigadier General Michael Greene is a past Commander of the Order. 

The Order continues to preserve the memory of those soldiers, pioneers and settlers who were the agents of manifest destiny, and who, with unyielding bravery and uncommon sacrifice, helped to tame the New World and build the America that we all cherish beyond description.  Today the OIWUS boasts a membership of nearly 200 Hereditary Companions and is considered to be one of the premiere lineage societies in the nation.  Membership in the Order is coveted both genealogically and socially, and its Annual Banquet is recognized as perhaps the most enjoyable and qualitatively impeccable hereditary society function of any in existence.  Patriam Tuens Civilitatem Ducens

6 January 2010

The Order of Indian Wars of the United States