August Valentine Kautz

Lt. Kautz served off and on at Fort Steilacoom as a platoon leader and quartermaster from 1853–61. He was born in Germany in 1828 but came to America as an infant.

 He served in the Mexican War as an Ohio volunteer private, but earned appointment to the USMA after the war. He graduated from the USMA in 1852 and was posted to the 4th Infantry Regiment where he experienced several combat engagements with Indians in Oregon and Washington. Kautz was wounded during two firefights in the course of his Indian war campaigning, once in action along the White River near today’s Bonney Lake.

During his time at the fort, Lt. Kautz married, not legally, the daughter of Quiemuth, a leader in the local Nisqually tribe. Kitty and August Kautz had two children, Augustus and Nugent.  Kitty raised the couple’s sons at nearby Simakins Camp or on the Nisqually Reservation.

At times during his service, Kautz took his sons on excursions near today’s Semiahmoo and Chehalis. Kautz was also instrumental in designing and supervising the construction of new buildings at Ft. Steilacoom in 1857–58, four of which remain today. During this time, he also took part in the first attempt by whites to ascend Mt. Rainier in 1857. He returned from the trip suffering from snow-blindness and frostbite.

He took leave in Europe in 1859, but returned to Ft. Steilacoom in October 1860 to assist with the Casey-Hunt wedding. In May 1861, Kautz left Ft. Chehalis for duty in the Civil War but not before stopping at Ft. Steilacoom and arranging care for his family. He bade his Indian family goodbye on June 8, 1861, leaving them in the care of Edward Huggins of Ft. Nisqually.

Back East, Kautz assumed a cavalry troop command in the 6th U.S. Cavalry. During the war, Kautz rose quickly as a cavalry commander to the position of Brigadier General of Volunteers, seeing service in Kentucky and later, the Petersburg Campaign.  

After the war, Lt. Col. Kautz took command of the 34th Infantry , the 15th Infantry, and the 8th Infantry Regiments. In addition, Kautz authored several informative books for military personnel and today’s historians, The Company Clerk in 1863, Customs of Service for Non-Commissioned Officers and Soldiers in 1864, and Customs of Service for Officers in 1866.

Both Kitty and August Kautz remarried after their separation in 1861. Kautz’s son Nugent taught at the Carlisle Indian College while his son Augustus remained as a farmer and influential tribal member on Puyallup Indian land.

General Kautz retired from the Army in 1892 and moved to Seattle where he died in 1895.