SIG Sauer P365

Posts Tagged ‘Frederick Russell Burnham’

Frederick Russell Burnham – An American Scout

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

Although I grew up in Scouting, it was not until just a few years ago that I learned the story of Frederick Russell Burnham.

Burnham’s story is an amazing tale, that could only have happened in the 19th century. He served as an Scout for the United States Army during the Indian wars and later emigrated to southern Africa where he served as chief of Scouts for British Forces fighting the Matabele and Boers. Eventually, he was awarded the rank of Major by King Edward VII and invested into the Companions of the Distinguished Service Order, the highest military honor bestowed upon an American in the Second Boer War.

During this period he worked with Lord Baden-Powell, teaching him woodcraft. Lord Baden-Powell put them to immediate use in his campaign and when he later started the Scouting movement, those lessons became integral parts of the program.

img_6305.jpg

What I find most amazing about their friendship is that Lord Baden-Powell adopted the Stetson and Neckerchief worn by Burnham. When Lord Baden-Powell created Scouting, a multi-use uniform item was the neckerchief. As this was not a common item of British military garb, I had always wondered how it and found itself into the Boy Scout uniform which was initially based upon military clothing. Conversely, during the Indian Wars in particular, you’d find a US Army Cavalry Trooper wearing a neckerchief which could be used for a variety of tasks, on the trail and in camp. Once I learned about the Burnham connection, I realized the neckerchief had come full circle, from the United States, to England, and then back to us.

But he did so much more than give us a neckerchief. Burnham participated in the early Scouting movement and was a lifelong friend of Lord Baden-Powell.

Frederick Russell Burnham: Explorer, discoverer, cowboy, and Scout. Native American, he served as chief of scouts in the Boer War, an intimate friend of Lord Baden-Powell. It was on some of his exploits demanding great courage, alertness, skill in surmounting the perils of the out-of-doors, that the founder of Scouting based some of the activities of the Boy Scout program. As an honorary Scout of the Boy Scouts of America, he has served as an inspiration to the youth of the Nation and is the embodiment of the qualities of the ideal Scout.

— 27th Annual Report of the Boy Scouts of America 1936

I’ve read several books on him, but my favorite is “A Splendid Savage: The Restless Life of Frederick Russell Burnham” by Steve Kemper. Be sure to check it out. And please, share the story of the American origin of the Scout neckerchief.