Topics in this study will appear over time.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

That Fiend in Hell: Ranks of the Skaguay Military Company

May 1, 1898 Skagway, Alaska parade
Parade participants pose for a photograph
(Center) Jeff Smith's Parlor can be seen decorated with flags and bunting
(Far left) Volunteers hold signs reading "The Skaguay Military Company."
(Alaska State Library, William R. Norton col., ASL-P226-117)
(Click image to enlarge)

At that time it [the legend] states that he organized a grand patriotic parade featuring a number of Skaguay Militia members, which he had mobilized from among the ranks of the sporting element to go off and fight for the United States against the Spanish in Cuba.
That Fiend in Hell, p. 48

Volunteer enrollment list
Skaguay Military Company
Entire 5 page document
can be viewed on the
Soapy Smith's soap box blog
(Jeff Smith collection, artifact #34)
(Click image to enlarge)

A transcript of the originating documents for the Skaguay Military Company (item 34, Jeff Smith collection) is published in Alias Soapy Smith (pp. 487-89). Dated March 19, 1898, the documents include the names of the original eighty-five members.

Names on the roster belonging to known members of the Soap Gang include John Bowers, John Miller, and Ed Burns. Probably most of the officers were fully acquainted with Soapy, but a majority of the men appear to be ordinary citizens and stampeders. I have examined the extensive Skagway names file collected by Skagway Historical Society member Marlene McCluskey. It numbers above eight thousand, but most of the names of Skaguay Military Company members (beyond the three names above) do not appear in this file. Those few who do appear are identified by such as "Theatre Royal owner, Klondiker, Packer." The author of That Fiend in Hell states that members of the Skaguay Military Company were "mobilized from the sporting element," by which one supposes is meant "gamblers" or "sure thing" men whom Soapy knew. This statement is not documented or made clear. Apparently it is an assumption. I undertake in my book to explain why Soapy would have seen major recruitment from his "associates" as a bad idea.

Membership in the Skaguay Military Company continued to grow after the minutes and roster of volunteers had been typed up. These signed documents enclosed by cover letters were sent to District of Alaska Governor John G. Brady and President William McKinley. Names of the several new recruits were added, hand written in ink.

Men lined up outside Smith's Parlor waiting to join.
 These men do not appear to be of the “sporting element.”
Bancroft library, Univ. of California, Berkeley
(Click image to enlarge)