In The Steps of Esteban: Tucson's African American Heritage

Go to A Brief HistoryGo to Biographies & Oral Histories
Go to Special Topics & Publications
Go to Photographic Exhibits
To to Lesson Plans & Ideas
Go to Videos
Go to Related Web Pages
Go to In The Steps of Esteban's homepage


John Robert Carter

Summary of an historical overview by Peter Steere; 1996

John Robert Carter was born in Petersburg, Indiana, on November 18, 1890. In 1913, he enlisted in the Twenty-Fifth Regiment, United States Infantry. He served with Company C until his retirement in December of 1943. At that time he had risen to the rank of 1st Sergeant.

As a member of Company C, Sergeant Carter was stationed at a number of Army posts. These included the Scofield Barracks (Honolulu, Hawaii), Yuma (Arizona), Camp Stephen D. Little (Nogales, Arizona), Camp Harry J. Jones (near Douglas, Arizona), Fort Bliss (Texas), and Fort Huachuca, (Arizona). In Arizona, the soldiers of the Twenty-Fifth Infantry were assigned to guard duty and to protect the American side of the border. Sargeant Carter was stationed at Fort Huachuca, Arizona from January 1933 until his retirement in December 1943.

It is believed that he and his wife may have retired near Fort Huachuca or Douglas, Arizona, He died in January 1949.

An historical overview of Sergeant Carter and the 25th Regiment, by Peter Steere; 1995

He enlisted in the Twenty-Fifth Regiment, United States Infantry, at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, on November 5, 1913. He served with Company C until his retirement in December of 1943 and rose to the rank of 1st Sergeant. Sgt. Carter married (date unknown) Georgia Carter (maiden name-unknown). Several other men with the same last name are believed to be relatives who also served in the U.S. Army. One was Everett Carter who served with the American Expeditionary Force in Europe, 1917-1918 and another was Major Louis A. Carter who served as the regiment's Chaplain in Arizona in the 1920's.

The Twenty-Fifth Regiment, United States Infantry, was organized by an Act of Congress on March 3, 1869. It provided for the consolidation of the then forty-five regiments of infantry in the United States Army and the formation of "two regiments of infantry to be composed of colored men." General Orders issued from Army Headquarters in May 1869 directed that the "Twenty-Fifth Infantry be composed of the 39th and 40th regiments and these units be consolidated and stationed in the Department of Louisiana."

During Sergeant Carter's service, Company C of the Twenty Fifth Regiment was stationed at the Scofield Barracks in Honolulu, Hawaii, Yuma, Arizona, Camp Stephen D. Little (Nogales, Arizona), Camp Harry J. Jones (near Douglas, Arizona), Fort Bliss, Texas, and Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

Late in 1912, orders from the War Department directed the Twenty-Fifth Regiment to prepare for service in Hawaii. All companies were at the Schofield Barracks in Hawaii by early January 1913. Their service in Hawaii did not dramatically differ from garrison duty at any other military post. Much of the time was occupied with ceremonies, drills, inspections, guard duty, marches, and maneuvers.

The beginning of World War I in 1914, border troubles with Mexico, and the entry of the United States into World War I, brought many changes to the Twenty-Fifth Infantry. During this time, the Machine Gun and Supply Companies were formed. By December of 1917 the regiment had nearly doubled in size with a compliment of 72 officers and 2264 enlisted men. Many men in the regiment had hoped they would be ordered to serve in Europe, but in August of 1918, the regiment was ordered to move to new posts in Arizona.

Companies B and Sergeant Carter's Company C took station at Yuma, Arizona on August 29th, 1918. Part of Company D took station at Ajo, Arizona on August 29th, while the rest of the regiment took station at Camp Stephen D. Little, Nogales, Arizona, on August 30. By December, 1918, the units in Yuma and Ajo moved to Nogales. As it remains today, Nogales, Arizona, is a split city -- half in Arizona and half in Sonora, Mexico.

Three days prior to the Twenty-Fifth regiment's arrival, a military engagement occurred between units of the 10th Cavalry and the 35th Infantry and units of the Mexican Army and armed civilians. The encounter was severe. Among the 10th Cavalry, two officers, three enlisted men and two civilians were killed. The 35th Infantry suffered two officers and twenty-nine enlisted men wounded. Among the Mexican forces the casualties numbered 129 killed and approximately 300 wounded. It has been suggested that the fight was precipitated by activities of German agents in Nogales, two of them officers whose bodies were found amongst the dead. Upon their arrival, the Twenty-Fifth Infantry was assigned to provide personnel for guard duty and outpost detachments to protect the American side of the border.

During the succeeding years, much of the regiment's time was spent guarding and patroling the border, drilling, marching, holding maneuvers, and summer training camps at Camp Harry J. Jones near Douglas, Arizona. With the closing of Camp Stephen D. Little in 1931, the regiment was stationed at Camp Harry J. Jones until that post closed in January 1933. The Twenty-Fifth Infantry Regiment was then stationed during the rest of Sergeant Carter enlistment at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

Sergeant Carter retired from military service in December 1943 and died in January 1949. It is believed that he and his wife may have retired to the Fort Huachuca or Douglas, Arizona, areas.