Child of the Fighting Tenth

Written by Forrestine C. Hooker
Review by Ken Kreckel

This re-released memoir recounts the early life of author Forrestine “Birdie” Cooper Hooker, growing up in the frontier West. The daughter of an officer of the Tenth U.S. Cavalry, she witnessed firsthand the depredations, the beauty, and the savagery of the Indian campaigns and the settling of the West. As the Tenth was composed of black troops, she describes the life of the Buffalo soldiers, as well as the many prominent characters of the time, from Leonard Wood and Custer to Geronimo and Lone Wolf. Along the way we become acquainted with iconic figures of the Old West such as the ruthless gunman, the corrupt Indian agent, and many others.

The book is a sort of Little House on the Prairie meets Fort Apache, to be treasured as much for its descriptions of the minutia of daily life with a cavalry troop, as its depictions of the famous and infamous. Perhaps its value can best be summed up by a news columnist who commented in an interview with the author just before her death in 1931, “Many a historical novelist of the future will study Mrs. Hooker’s books to get true pictures of the West that was.”