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Army Trumpeter Isaac Payne - Indian Wars

USCIS Denver District Office

Isaac Payne was born near Musquiz, Coahuila, Mexico, in 1854. He was a black Seminole, a group which lived in Florida for many generations before the U.S. government moved them to Indian Territory during the 1840s.

Persecuted there by pro-slavery Creek Indians, the black Seminole eventually migrated to Mexico, where slavery had been abolished. The Mexican government gave the Seminoles  land in exchange for service as scouts for the Mexican Army.

Payne grew up in Coahuila and immigrated to the U.S. after the U.S. Army promised the black Seminole land, rations, and pay in exchange for service as scouts. Payne enlisted as a trumpeter at Fort Duncan, Texas, on Oct. 7, 1871.

“With 3 other men, he participated in a charge against 25 hostiles while on a scouting patrol.”
                                                                                                       -- From Payne’s Medal of Honor citation

According to the Texas State Cemetery website, an April 5, 1875, attack on a stagecoach prompted Lt. John L. Bullis to take three black Seminole scouts, including Payne, in pursuit of the attackers. Bullis had served for some time with the black Seminole scouts and knew their value as frontiersmen.

The four men tracked the attackers across West Texas until they were spotted crossing the Pecos River at Eagle Nest Crossing on April 26. Though outnumbered 10 to one, the four men decided the element of surprise was in their favor and attacked, hoping to stampede the Indians' herd of horses and capture them while dismounted.

After intense fighting, Bullis ordered a retreat but was thrown from his horse as the others mounted. The three scouts rescued Bullis and made a difficult escape. As a result, Bullis recommended all three scouts for the Medal of Honor.

Payne was discharged from the Army at Fort Ringgold, Texas, on Jan. 21, 1901. He returned home to Mexico and died at Musquiz on Jan. 14, 1904. He is buried in the Seminole Negro Indian Scout Cemetery in Brackettville, Texas.

This text is from the official citations, military historical records, obituaries and other text posted on the Internet, including HomeOfHeroes.com, and the Military Times Hall of Valor.

Last Reviewed/Updated: 06/29/2011
Army Trumpeter Isaac Payne - Indian Wars