The Battle of the Balcony
For The Madera Tribune
Ben Ducker, left, poses with his son William in 1900, as he holds the shotgun that he used against the U.S, Cavalry in 1902.
On the morning of Oct. 15, 1902, Major Oliver Hein and Captain Daniel Tate led their 68 troopers out of Yosemite National Park where they had been standing guard duty since June 26. Prior to that they had been in the middle of the rugged guerilla warfare in the Philippines. Now on this particular morning, Company E was headed back to its permanent headquarters at the Presidio in San Francisco.
Their duty in Yosemite that summer had not been easy. These battle hardened troopers did not find duty in the park particularly pleasant. There was too much free time. During September and October, two had deserted, six had been court-martialed, and one had gone insane.
Company E rode all day on the 15th and camped that night somewhere between Yosemite and the town of Raymond. By noon on Thursday, October 16, the troopers were camped just outside the little Madera County foothill village.