POMPEY FACTOR (1849 ~ 1928). Medal of Honor recipient Pompey Factor was the descendant of runaway slaves who lived with the Seminole tribe in Florida for generations. In the 1840s, the tribe was relocated by the U.S. government to the Indian Territory. Pompey Factor was born in Arkansas in 1849, likely en route to Indian Territory.
The black Seminoles were treated badly by pro-slavery Creek on the reservation and moved to Mexico in the 1850s, where slavery was abolished, and were given land near the Sabinas River by the Mexican government in exchange for military service with the Mexican Army against hostile tribes in Mexico.
Factor grew up in Nacimiento, Mexico, and returned to the United States in 1870 to accept an offer from the Army promising land, rations, and pay to the black Seminoles in exchange for service as scouts. Factor signed up as a scout at Fort Duncan, Texas, on August 16, 1870. He served with the Fourth Cavalry under Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie and participated in the battles at Remolino, Mexico, and Kickapoo Springs.
On April 5, 1875, an attack on a stagecoach prompted Lieutenant John L. Bullis to take three black Seminole scouts, Factor, John Ward, and Isaac Payne, in pursuit. Bullis' choice to take only three scouts instead of a larger group of soldiers surprised his superiors, but 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. Lieutenant Bullis recommended all three scouts for the Congressional Medal of Honor, and Factor received his on March 15, 1876, at Fort Duncan.
In 1877, Factor deserted the Army and went home to Mexico, possibly motivated by the death of scout and Medal of Honor recipient Adam Payne at the hands of Deputy Claron Windus, also a Medal of Honor recipient. Factor later requested a pardon and rejoined the Army, eventually being discharged on November 19, 1880.
After leaving the Army, Factor worked as a farm laborer in Bracketville, Rio Grande City, and Musquiz, Mexico. Eventually a disability kept him from making a living as a farm worker, and since his military records were destroyed in a fire, his attorney submitted his Medal of Honor as proof of service to receive a disability pension.
Pompey Factor died in Brackettville, Texas, on March 28, 1928, and was buried at the Seminole-Negro Indian Scout Cemetery in Bracketville.
Bibliography: "Above and Beyond: The Medal of Honor in Texas." Capitol Visitors Center, State Preservation Board of Texas; Gwaltney, William. "Footprints Along the Border: Story of the Seminole-Negro Indian Scouts." Fort Laramie National Historic Site, http://www.coax.net/people/lwf/ftprints.htm. Handbook of Texas Online, Texas State Historical Association, University of Texas, http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles; Neal, Charles M., Jr. Valor Across the Lone Star: The Congressional Medal of Honor in Texas. Texas A&M University Press: 2002;
"Seminole- Negro Indian Scouts." Fort Davis National Historic Site, National Park Service, http://www.nps.gov/foda/Fort_Davis/WEB_PAGE/About_the_Fort/Seminole.htm;