Medal of Honor Recipient
ISAAC PAYNE (1854 ~ 1904). Isaac Payne
was born near Musquiz, Coahuila, Mexico, to Caesar and Abbie Payne 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 in the 1840s. In the Indian
Territory the black Seminole were persecuted by pro-slavery Creek Indians and
they eventually migrated to Mexico, where slavery was abolished. The Mexican
government gave them land in exchange for service as scouts for the Mexican
Isaac Payne grew up in Coahuila and immigrated to the U.S. after the 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 October 7, 1871. He married Julia Shields on April 29, 1874, and they had three children; Charles in 1876, Robert in 1877, and Ellen in 1880.
On April 5, 1875, an attack on a stagecoach prompted Lieutenant John L. Bullis to take three black Seminole scouts, Pompey Factor, John Ward, and Isaac Payne, in pursuit of the attackers. Bullis's choice to take only three scouts instead of a larger group of soldiers surprised his superiors. However, 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 by ten 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 a period of 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 and narrow escape to the Devil's River. Bullis recommended all three scouts for the Congressional Medal of Honor, which Payne received on July 8, 1875.
During his time in the Army he also fought in the Remolino Raid into Mexico, the Battle of Palo Duro Canyon, and the battles at Devils River, Lake Quemado, Zaragosa in Mexico, and the Big Bend among many smaller engagements.
Isaac Payne was involved in the New Year's Eve incident in which fugitives Adam Payne and Frank Enoch were killed. Payne himself was a fugitive at the time, accused of stealing Deputy Claron Windus's horse. After a period of time in hiding, the charges were dropped and Payne returned to the Army without incurring any penalties for his time on the run. He was discharged from the Army at Fort Ringgold, Texas, on January 21, 1901. Isaac Payne returned home to Mexico and died at Musquiz on January 14, 1904. He is buried in the Seminole Negro Indian Scout Cemetery in Brackettville, Texas.
Seminole Nation Home