Regiments, like individuals, have characteristics peculiar to themselves. One is famous for the smart, soldierly appearance of its officers and men on all occasions and under the most trying circumstances. You cannot tell how they do it, but they always seem to be ready for dress parade and inspection. They are known as "The Dandy Regiment," or "The Band-box Brigade," an epithet which becomes complimentary because it is associated with their well-earned reputation for gallantry. Another becomes famous for its marching qualities and for generations maintains its reputation for measuring greater distances in less time than any other. Then in every service there are "The Slow and Heavies," who, somewhat late in getting into action, never get out, as they are alike unmoved by shot or shell or joke. Nor should we omit the regiment with the Milesian quality of never enjoying life save when in a row with some one.
It may not be out of place to note here that different branches of service bring out different traits of character. We are accustomed to think of the steady foot-soldier; the scientific artillerist; and, as for the cavalryman, perhaps his conventional qualities are best defined by Professor Mahan in his "Outposts" when he says: "The Hussar! that epitome of military impudence of the tavern, who should possess these qualities, in a sublimated form, on the field of battle."
I am sure that no one who has served with the cavalry of ante-bellum days, can read this definition of the Hussar without believing that the Professor must have known the old 2d Dragoons when he wrote it. As individuals and as a regiment, it was that "epitome of military impudence" whether in the parlor, in the tavern, or on the field of battle. Mounted on his well-groomed horse, equipments in perfect order, sitting as if he would be out of place anywhere else, cap a little on one side, with a twinkle in his eye, and the suspicion of a smile about his mouth, our Dragoon reported himself ready to go to —, or any place you might lead him.
"Like master, like man." And we must go back to the early years of the regiment if we would find the reason why. After the settlement of our troubles with Great Britain in 1815, our little army was reduced and reorganized so that we had but four regiments of artillery and seven of infantry scattered along the sea-board from Maine to Florida, along the
See also—"From Everglade to Cañon," by Gen. T. F. Rodenbough. New York, 1875.
Canadian border and the Great Lakes, and occupying a few scattered posts along the western frontier which was at that time far to the east of the Mississippi River. The stream of emigration having commenced, the pioneers rushed to take possession of the rich lands acquired from Spain in the South, and by the Louisiana purchase in the South and West. These lands were occupied by tribes of Indians, who objected to the intrusion and made manifest their objection by killing the intruders. It was the old trouble begun with our first settlement on the Atlantic Coast and not quite ended yet. It was the duty of the Army then, as it has been ever since, to drive back the native and hold the country for the occupation of the white man; for this purpose mounted troops were necessary and, in 1833, Congress authorized the organization of the 1st Dragoons, and in May, 1836, added another regiment which was called the Second Dragoons. The companies of this regiment were organized in New York, Baltimore and St. Louis, and the personnel both of officers and men was representative of the whole country.
Soon after the passage of the act authorizing the organization of the Second Dragoons, the following appointments were announced:
- DAVID E. TWIGGS.
- Wharton Rector.
- Thomas T. Fauntleroy.
- William Gordon,
- John Dougherty,
- John F. Lane,
- James Ashby,
- Jonathan L. Bean,
- Stinson H. Anderson,
- William W. Tompkins,
- Henry W. Fowler,
- Benjamin L. Beall,
- Edward S. Winder.
|FIRST LIEUTENANTS||SECOND LIEUTENANTS|
|1. Thornton Grimsley,||1. William Gilpin,|
|2. Theophilus Holmes,||2. William H. Ward,|
|3. Horatio Groome,||3. George Forsyth,|
|4. Thomas S. Bryant,||4. Croghan Ker,|
|5. John Graham,||5. John H. P. O'Neale,|
|6. Townshend Dade,||6. John W. S. McNeil,|
|7. Erasmus D. Bullock,||7. Zebulon M. P. Maury,|
|8. Marshal S. Howe,||8. Seth Thornton,|
|9. Charles Spalding,||9. Charles E. Kingsbury,|
|10. James W. Hamilton.||10. Charles A. May.|
Wharton Rector declined the appointment of Lieutenant-Colonel, and Major William S. Harney, Paymaster, was promoted to the vacancy.
First Lieutenant Lloyd J. Beall was announced as Adjutant.
David E. Twiggs of Georgia, the first Colonel, unquestionably gave a tone to the regiment, which, subsequently accentuated by Harney and Cooke, gave point to the answer to many a query, "Oh, that's a Second Dragoon." He was somewhat of a martinet but in all things a soldier. The key-note to his discipline was this: on duty, no excuse, no relaxation, no
explanation for failure; off duty, anything for amusement, and especial encouragement given to manly sports. The best rider, the best jumper, the best boxer, the cleanest soldier—had a claim for clemency from the commanding officer that often saved the soldier from deserved punishment for excessive dissipation. Associated with its first Colonel were some subordinate officers who also did much to encourage this spirit in the regiment. Among these none were more prominent than Captain Beall, familiarly known to the army as "Old Ben Beall," of whom at the close of the Florida War General Worth officially reported that he "has met the enemy in this contest, oftener, perhaps, than any other officer—is brave and generous." The foe overcome, the tedious trail retraced, horses and men cared for, and where was the man who made social history more racy or gave entertainment more varied than "Old Ben"?
Besides these individual influences operating upon the newly organized regiment, there was the kind of service on which it was engaged. Immediately after its organization, the assembled troops started on their journey to the Everglades of Florida. There in those deadly swamps, surrounded by a wily and often invisible foe, the "Second" received its first training in endurance. Theirs not the grand privilege of doing and dying for their country, with banners flying, bugles sounding, and comrades cheering, while boot to boot they rode upon the enemy. There was nought of glory here, nor correspondents of pictorial papers ready to make them immortal. There was but the lonely swamp; the small detachment guided by the more or less friendly savage; the fearful strain of physical endurance; the sharp, short, unrecorded fight; the return, the struggle with, and perhaps death by fever. The history of one scout is the history of many until at last the foe is conquered or killed, and what is left of the Regiment moves off to other fields—no longer a new regiment, but a proud, saucy, devil-may-care lot of troopers, thoroughly cemented together by blows and blood and ready to give and take wherever an enemy of their country is found.
The result of the service in Florida was satisfactory to the Government, and cost the regiment two officers and twenty non-commissioned officers, musicians and privates killed in action, and five officers and one hundred and ninety-two non-commissioned officers, musicians and privates, who died from diseases incident to service. Among those who at the close of the Florida War had become prominently identified with the regiment, was the late General Harney, its first lieutenant-colonel. He had gone with it to Florida and there, under his direction, the regiment had done some of its most noteworthy service, against the Seminoles; as it did in after years in the West against Mexicans and the Indians of the Plains. General Harney was a very picturesque soldier. Standing something over six feet in height, he was a veritable Apollo in form, and a giant in strength, excelling nearly all of his contemporaries in all qualities pertaining to physical manhood. As he subsequently succeeded to the colonelcy of the regiment, perhaps his influence and characteristics were more deeply impressed upon it than were those of his predecessor. Harney was thoroughly a dragoon. He would have admitted, doubtless, that there was a necessity for artillery and artillerymen in an army, and even infantry could be employed to advantage in
rough country, but it was the "dragoon bold" who discovered the enemy, charged the enemy, captured or killed the enemy, and only after the action was over and the enemy turned over to the infantry guard, would he rest from a well-earned victory. From Florida to Mexico, with but a little breathing spell in Mississippi and Texas, our brave dragoons carry their fluttering guidons. On the Rio Grande (April 25, 1846) they met for the first time a civilized foe, and as they meet they dazzle the country with the brilliancy of their deeds. The fields of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma are fought, and the names of May and Graham and Sacket and others of the 2d Dragoons become familiar household words all over the country. The reputation gained upon those fields was but the beginning of a series of successes with the noble Army of Occupation under Taylor, and afterwards under the old hero Scott, from Vera Cruz to the City of Mexico.
Harney was one of the most conspicuous figures in Mexico. Sumner, one of the heroes of a later and greater struggle, won golden laurels for himself, which he was to wear until in ripe old age he died in harness. The other survivors of the Florida swamps gave fresh examples of their prowess. The captains and lieutenants found their names in either General Order, list of casualties or of brevets. Inge fell at Resaca, Stevens at Matamoras, Hill at Puebla and gallant Seth Thornton met a soldier's death under the walls of the Mexican capital—marking in his own person the opening and the closing actions of the campaign.
The romantic "War with Mexico" ended, the 2d Dragoons (1848) came back to take its place again facing the Indians. The poor red-skin devil had been driven from point to point, cheated in treaty after treaty, moved from one reservation to another, until there was no hostile element left east of the Mississippi River, and. our line of outposts extended from the Red River of the North to Galveston on the Gulf. East of this line the defenseless settler was coming on faster and faster, and west of it were thousands of savages determined to dispute any farther aggression upon their territory. The few rude posts called "forts," located far apart along this line of more than two thousand miles in length, were garrisoned by a few regiments of troops, one of which was the 2d Dragoons. Between 1848 and 1861, they rode back and forth along this dreary route. To-day pursuing the swift Apache and Comanche over the hot, arid, staked plains of Texas or New Mexico; then, as quickly as horses could carry them, rushing off to the frozen fields of Nebraska to struggle through an Arctic winter, fighting the powerful Sioux of the North. Standing between hostile political camps of their countrymen in Kansas, they preserve the peace because neither faction dare attack or oppose them, while both sides are obliged to acknowledge their impartiality and patriotism.
During these days another great cavalryman has taken his place at the head of the regiment. Philip St. George Cooke has taken command. If in the swamps of Florida, the fields of Mexico or the plains of Texas, there has been little time to devote to the finer points of drill, the defect' is remedied now. On the prairies of Kansas, with new mount and splendid equipment, Colonel Cooke gives a new impetus to the military detail of the regiment. He cannot add to its esprit de corps. There have grown upon
it no excrescences for his keen knife to lop off, but he can and does give them a grand drilling, the like of which they have never had before. For the first time in many years, from four to six companies of the regiment were together at Fort Riley in 1856-57, without a war of some kind to engage their attention. There was no nonsense about the old soldier who had them in charge, and the young officers joining there, learned lessons they found invaluable, and which a few years later, upon the fields of Virginia, enabled them to add fresh laurels to the regimental wreath.
A few short years of pleasant garrison life in Kansas, and (1856) "once more, my men, into the saddle and show the world what you can endure and live." 'Tis the Mormon, that religious barnacle upon the western civilization of the nineteenth century that demands your attention now. Secure in the fastness of the Rockies, in the valley which he has reclaimed and converted from a wilderness to a garden, their prophet, priest and king defies the power of the Government, and practically proclaims his independence. It is unnecessary for the soldiers to analyze too closely the history of the Mormon War. Whether it was, in whole or part, a move in the great game of conspiracy then being played; whether it was a shrewd effort on the part of Brigham Young to get a market for the agricultural products of the Mormons; whether he actually supposed that his position was strong enough to enable him to defy the Government; or whether it was a part of all of these causes, matters not to the Dragoon. "His not to reason why," and he did not attempt it.
In the month of August, 1857, the regiment started on its march overland for Utah. The route was long and weary, but that did not matter. They were used to that, but when the early snows fell upon them at South Pass and the mercury went down into the bulb of the thermometer to keep from freezing, and the starved horses laid down to die on the trail, the light-hearted Dragoon, like Mark Tapley at Eden, began to think there might be some credit in being jolly. Jolly he was not always, but the survivors of that terrible winter all testify to the invariable cheerfulness and pluck of the soldiers; on foot, half starved and more than half frozen, they struggled on as far as Fort Bridger, and, there, passed a winter of suffering.
The casualties reported from 1840 to the outbreak of the Civil War were: Killed, 4 officers and 47 men; wounded, 8 officers and 84 men.
Then was reached the climax in the life and history of the regiment. Those gallant, simple-minded soldiers were called upon to meet a question of divided duty. Heretofore they have ridden and fought, worked and starved with but one thought, one aim—Duty. Had you asked the officer if the cause was just, he might have said, "I do not know, here are my orders." Had you said to the soldier, "You would not fire on your own people, would you?" he would probably have answered with the old artilleryman in Pittsburg in '77, "I don't know sir, that depends upon the Captain." Now, however, the Captain is troubled. If from the South, he has been taught to believe that the Union is a voluntary compact on the part of each State, from which it may withdraw. If this State withdraws or secedes, as a citizen of the State he will owe his allegiance to her and not to the Union with which she has severed her connection. On the other hand, he has fol-
lowed the dear old flag from Florida to Utah, sprinkling it with his blood m many a combat, and how can he ever fight against it? How he hopes and prays that his State will not go; that he will not be obliged to make the choice. But the time comes and he must choose. As he reads and re-reads the letters from the dear ones at home, urging him to come to their protection, and looks at his brothers-in-arms from whom they want protection, who will condemn him whichever way he goes? We have his history for years before and we have all known him for years since. Little more need be said. On the Confederate side "Dick" Anderson and Hardee became lieutenant-generals; Pegram, Sibley, Robertson, Geo. Anderson, Armstrong, Stuart and Field were major generals.
The crisis has come and passed, and another year (1862) finds the regiment in Virginia, a grand old Virginian still its colonel. The vacancies are filled and the regiment is ready once more to enter the lists. In a sketch like this it is impossible to follow in detail its history through such a period as that from '61 to '65. However, it seems proper to take notice of the personnel at the commencement of, what an ancient dragoon always called, "our late lamented circus." The regiment in 1861 was twenty-five years old, and its officers had received their training in its school. Whatever they became as soldiers in the great war, then commencing, they owed to that training. Many were detached from the organization at the commencement of hostilities. Cooke was made a brigadier-general in the regular establishment; Wood, Palmer, Davidson and Pleasanton were starred and assigned to command volunteer troops; while Buford, who was perhaps more than any other a typical 2d Dragoon, first commanded the Regular Brigade and afterward the First Cavalry Division of the Army of the Potomac. One feels inclined to stop at this period, and enter into detail. There is so much of brilliancy in every day life, from the time when Hooker organized the cavalry, until when our horsemen with characteristic impudence hold the way against Lee's retreating army at Appomatox, that a "sketch " seems inappropriate. The scholars of that 2d Dragoon school are now operating on the great war theatre, where history is being made. Some have gone far to the front, like Buford, and Merritt, and Sanders, but they have at their elbows such lieutenants as "Jake" Gordon, Rodenbough, Leoser, Harrison, Blanchard and Dave Gordon, as well as those splendid fellows whose military cradle was a dragoon saddle, like Ball, Mix, Wells, Spaulding, Dewees and Quirk, whose feats on the field of Beverly Ford, alone, should immortalize them. While these old soldiers are still with the regiment, there is hardly an army in the country which has not a brigade, division or corps commanded by some one of those detached. Pleasanton, Graham, Buford and Merritt in the Army of the Potomac, Wood and Davidson in the West, Palmer in North Carolina, while "Doc" Sanders is the hero of the day at Knoxville, where he lost his life. The regiment paid fearfully for its share in the struggle for the Nation; its Roll of Honor is long. Buford, Sanders, McQueston, Canfield, Lawless, McMasters, Selden—all dead on the field of battle. Others survived the War and dropped off one by one, leaving but few of that gallant band remaining. Of them, Harrison—popular, brave, conscientious-is now a citizen in that peaceful city, Philadelphia; Roden-
bough, who made much history for the regiment then, now uses the arm left from that glorious charge at the Opequan, in preserving it; and Leoser, "the cool captain," whose iron frame shows little evidence of war wounds and prisons, is now residing in New York. Space does not permit one to follow individuals farther. The list of combats from 1861 to 1865 shows what the regiment accomplished. Always in front, under Pleasanton, Buford or Merritt, with Stoneman or the brilliant Sheridan, from Bull Run to the Appomatox, there was hardly an affair of any importance at which it was not represented. Its losses during the War were: Killed, 5 officers and 60 men; wounded, 20 officers and 206 men.
- By CAPTAIN EDWARD J. McCLERNAND, SECOND CAVALRY.
How well the work prior to the close of the Civil War was done, is set forth in the preceding pages. The period there treated furnishes tile most glorious pages in our history, but the duty performed was not more arduous than that which has since devolved upon the regiment.
The roster of the officers has been changed since the regiment participated in those stirring campaigns of the Army of the Potomac, and now but one of those gallant men remains with us—Lieut.-Col. D. S. Gordon, who has served continuously in the Second Cavalry since his appointment as a second lieutenant, April 26, 1861.
Within a month after reaching Leavenworth, November, 1865, we find troops marching for the (then) frontier posts of Riley, Kearny, Hays, Lyon, Harker, Dodge, Larned and Wallace. They found the winter of 1865 and '66 one of hard work, not so much as soldiers, as mechanics and laborers, for at several of their new stations it was necessary to construct huts to protect themselves from the severity of the winter. This work was continued into the following summer, except when interrupted by scouting between the Smoky Hill and Arkansas rivers. Having succeeded in making themselves fairly comfortable, the regiment was ordered in September to march across the country, and report to its old colonel, then General, Philip St. George Cooke, commanding the Department of the Platte.
The several troops were scattered about at Forts Laramie, McPherson, Phil. Kearny, Casper, Sand and Sedgwick, and from these stations maintained an almost constant warfare with the Indians.
On December 9, 1866, Lieutenant Bingham, commanding Troop C, met his death in a skirmish near Phil. Kearny, and twelve days later 27 men of the same troop, with 3 officers and 49 men of the 18th Infantry, were killed in what is known as the " Phil. Kearny Massacre." Had the Indians received the chastisement they deserved for this bloody deed, it would have been in the end a kindness. Going unavenged, it only created in the minds of the Sioux a false idea of their power which ultimately cost them dearly.
Gordon, with Troop D, did some very hard scouting and escort duty around Kearny, for the Indians may be said to have held that post and C. F. Smith in a state of siege.
During the summer of 1867 Lieutenant Kidder, a gallant young officer, and ten men of Troop M, were killed while bearing dispatches to General Custer. A brief extract from a report by Captain John Mix of a scout made by his troop,—M,—in March, 1867, will depict the almost insurmountable difficulties under which this struggle with the savages was carried on. He says:
"We left the Republican March 1, in a cold wind and made thirty miles. The next morning a fearful storm of wind and snow was raging. It was only by the most violent exercise the men could keep from freezing. To add to our difficulties we struck a snow-drift which lasted all day, with snow from two to five feet deep. The crust cut the horses cruelly, and left a trail of blood behind us. We could not see twenty feet in front of us. At 3 o'clock P. M., the men and animals were unable to move another mile, and selecting the best shelter that the wind-swept plain afforded, we camped without forage for our horses, and with one wagon tongue, which I had on my company wagon, for fuel."
No one who has not marched in one of those terrible storms common to the northern plains can appreciate the suffering endured by Captain Mix and his men. The Second did its share of such work, and Captains Green, Gordon, Noyes, Mix, Dewees, Thompson, Wells, Spaulding, Egan, and Bates, and their lieutenants, deserve credit for their constant display of those qualities so characteristic of the true soldier.
In the spring of 1869 one battalion (F, G, H and L) under Lieutenant-Colonel Brackett, was transferred to Montana, where it remained for fifteen years and came to be known as the "Montana Battalion." During the following January this battalion, commanded by Major E. M. Baker, by the severe chastisement it gave the Piegans, rendered a service to the people of the territory which they have never forgotten. How well this blow was delivered, let the following extract of an order published by General Sheridan tell:
"The Lieutenant-General commanding this military district takes pleasure in announcing to his command the complete success of a detachment of the 2d Cavalry and 13th Infantry, under command of Brevet Colonel E. M. Baker of the 2d Cavalry, against a band of Piegan Indians in Montana. These Indians, whose proximity to the British line has furnished them an easy and safe protection against attack, have hitherto murdered and stolen with comparative impunity, in defiance and contempt of the authority of the Government. After having been repeatedly warned, they have at last received a carefully prepared and well-merited blow in the middle of winter, with the thermometer below zero, and when experience had led them to believe they could not be reached the blow fell. 174 Indians were killed, 300 horses were captured, and the village and property of the band totally destroyed. The Lieutenant-General cannot commend too highly the spirit and conduct of the troops and their commander; the difficulties and hardships they experienced in the inclemency of the weather: and as one of the results of this severe but necessary and well-merited punishment of these Indians, he congratulates the citizens of Montana upon the prospect of future security."
The officers who accompanied Baker on his memorable march were Captains Ball, Thompson and Norton, and Lieutenants MacAdams, Hamilton, Swigert, Batchelder and Doane. Colonel Baker was severely criticised by part of the eastern press, but was rewarded by the love of the families
immediately concerned, whose knowledge of the situation constituted them the better judges.
The following extracts from G. O. 21, series of 1870, Department of the Platte, show what the troops of the regiment in that Department were doing:
"The Commanding General announces the following creditable encounters of troops in this Department with hostile Indians, as having taken place during the last month. To the officers and soldiers mentioned he extends his acknowledgments for personal gallantry and valuable services.
"At 5 o'clock, A. m., on the fourth day of May, 1870, Brevet Major D. S. Gordon with his company,* D, 2d Cavalry, near Atlantic City, discovered and charged a body of Indians in possession of stolen stock, recovering all the animals, killing two Indians, wounding one, and dispersing the balance. Later in the day, with 1st Lieutenant C. B. Stambaugh, 2d Cavalry, and ten men, he encountered and fought for an hour and a half a party of from sixty to seventy Indians, killing five and wounding several. His loss was Lieutenant Stambaugh killed, and Sergeant Brown seriously wounded."
The same order speaks of a gallant action on the part of Sergeant Patrick Leonard and four men of Troop C, who, while marching along the Little Blue, Neb., were suddenly surrounded and fired upon by a party of fifty Indians. Private Hubbard and two horses were wounded at the first volley, whereupon the sergeant killed these animals and formed a breastwork of them. After a desperate struggle, in which the horses were all killed, the red devils were driven off and Sergeant Leonard, taking a settler's family of two women and a child under his charge, returned to the settlements. It is such conduct as this, often repeated, that has shown many a hero among our enlisted men.
The survey for the Northern Pacific Railroad was commenced along the Yellowstone in the summer of 1871, and Ball and Tyler, with their troops,—H and L,—were sent from Fort Ellis as an escort to the surveyors. In the latter part of November the party started to return, hoping to reach Ellis before winter set in, but in this they failed. A brief description of a storm that overtook these troops will serve to show what the "Montana Battalion" had to undergo in winter campaigns.
One day in the last part of the month the relief party met the returning escort a few miles west of the great bend of the Yellowstone. It was about 2 o'clock in the afternoon, and both commands started for Ellis, intending to camp in a cottonwood grove in plain sight about five miles ahead. After marching about half-way a blizzard struck the command, driving the coarse snow, as hard and cutting as grains of sand, into the faces of the men. Each, officer was called upon to take his turn in leading the column, as the drifting snow quickly closed the eyes of any one peering into the storm. The weather grew suddenly colder, and after two hours of this struggle it was learned that the command had been travelling in a circle. The sensation produced by such a discovery can only be appreciated by one who has been lost on the boundless prairie in the midst of one of these terrible storms. Many men became numb from fatigue and cold, and a few threw themselves from their saddles and had to be lifted back and forced to fol-
* At this perio[d] it was customary to speak of a troop as a company.
low. It was impossible to care for the pack mules, and all efforts to drive these animals along were abandoned. Some men cried and begged to be allowed to lie down and die, while others wandered from the column and were brought back by those who kept their heads. Cries that feet, hands, and parts of the face were freezing, were heard on all sides. The weary horses seemed unable to continue the unequal struggle, and were unmercifully spurred to keep them to their work. The confusion was naturally great, and for a time it looked as if all discipline would be lost and the command scattered in every direction over the vast prairie. There was no hope save in continuing the march, and those who retained their senses fairly drove the others before them. After five hours of this terrible battle with the elements, the column accidentally stumbled on the very grove it had been seeking. Only those in front could see the trees, but Trumpeter Page of Troop G, (afterward killed under General Gibbon at the Big Hole) brave fellow that he was, seized his trumpet and sounded the "rally." Never did a call sound sweeter; it meant life. The thermometer marked 40° below zero, and 53 men had their extremities frozen, many of them seriously.
In the following summer the same battalion, with four companies of the 7th Infantry, all under Major Baker, escorted the surveyors of the Northern Pacific down the Yellowstone. On August 13 camp was pitched on the left bank of the river, and within a slough fringed with trees and brush. Pickets had been posted along the slough, and the wagons, perhaps a hundred in number, were parked in the form of an ellipse into which the mules, left out to graze, might be driven in case of attack. The night was intensely dark, but about three in the morning the pickets discovered several Indians inside the lines trying to turn the mules in a convenient direction to start them into a run for the hills. At first, due to the darkness, the Indians did not distinguish the herders as white men, and the latter quietly guided the head of the herd into the corral, so that when the rush came the animals ran in among the wagons and were secured. At this time a few shots were exchanged between the guards and the enemy, and cries of "Indians, here they come!" were heard as the officers and men were awakened and sprang to arms. At first the confusion was very great as it was almost impossible to distinguish friend from foe, and many, even Thompson, who was officer of the day, thought the pickets were firing at an imaginary enemy. This belief was quickly dissipated by a volley from the Indians, and by their devilish yells and war-whoops. The darkness, however, prevented them from taking full advantage of the surprise given the troops, and their main body was sent flying from the willows at the lower end of camp by a well-directed volley fired by the infantry. The savages, now dashing about on their ponies immediately in front of the line formed by the troops, kept up a most unearthly and diabolical screaming. As it grew lighter they were driven to the surrounding bluffs, and soon after withdrew. Ball was ordered out to observe them, but only learned that their retreat was down the valley. Baker's loss was two killed and five wounded, while the Indians afterward admitted the loss of eleven killed and wounded, and stated they had 1100 warriors present, composed of Sioux, Cheyennes, and Arapahoes. Baker's
number was about 400, and while the small loss on either side was undoubtedly due to darkness, yet the result obtained and the relative numbers engaged are significant in showing that a comparatively small body of troops did defend themselves against a greatly superior force of Indians. As the same Indians had previously shown themselves to be formidable warriors, and repeated this evidence some four years later, we may justly infer that on the occasion just described, the battalions of the 7th Infantry and 2d Cavalry proved themselves to be well versed in the tactics of this peculiar warfare. The survey was renewed at 10 o'clock the same morning, and continued about 40 miles down the valley. Game, in those days, was very plentiful along the Yellowstone and Musselshell rivers, and a great many buffalo, elk and deer, were seen and killed.
In March, 1874, Colonel Smith, 14th Infantry, with six troops of the 2d and two of the 3d Cavalry, and eight companies of infantry under Captain Lazelle, left Laramie and pushed rapidly on to the Red Cloud Agency, intending to punish the Sioux there for their many crimes, and notably for their recent murder of Lieutenant Robinson. Much was expected of this expedition, and had not the "peace policy" been permitted to interfere just when the blow was ready to fall, these Indians would have received a sound thrashing, and much, if not all, of the trouble that afterward occurred, might, and probably would, have been avoided. As it was, they were cowed into a sullen submission. However, the Indians in the Department of the Platte did not entirely escape punishment during 1874, for Captain A. E. Bates, with Troop B, 2d Cavalry, and about 200 Shoshones under Lieutenant Young, 4th Infantry, surprised a band of Arapahoes near Snake Mountain early on the morning of July 4, and won a decided victory. Twenty-five Arapahoes are known to have been killed, and it is believed one hundred were wounded; 200 ponies also fell into the hands of the victors. The Indian allies behaved very badly, and rendered little, if any, assistance. This was probably as complete a victory as was ever gained by a single troop in the whole course of our Indian wars. Lieutenant Young, one of the wounded, and Lieutenant F. U. Robinson, of Bates' Troop, were especially commended for gallantry.
The haughty spirit of the Sioux, Cheyennes and Arapahoes, was destined to be shattered in the years from 1876 to 1879. Many regiments assisted in this work, performed deeds of valor and suffered hardships, but it stands to the credit of the 2d Cavalry that while it was first to take the field in 1876, it was also in at the death in 1879.
In February, 1876, a number of adventurous spirits, who had entered the Yellowstone valley in search of wealth without any definite idea of how it was to be obtained, found themselves besieged in a hastily built stockade near the mouth of the Big Horn. The battalion at Ellis went promptly to their assistance and by a month's hard marching, in the midst of snow and cold, succeeded in saving the lives of these men. It is believed this was the first movement made against the Sioux in 1876, antedating as it did by several weeks Colonel Reynolds' campaign on Powder River, in which Troops A, B, E, I and K participated. Reynolds struck the Indians under Chief Crazy Horse March 17, and Egan, with Troop K, made a successful charge
through the village, which was temporarily held. Noyes succeeded in capturing a large number of ponies, but on the return march of the main command these were retaken by the enemy.
Scarcely had the Ellis battalion returned to its station when it was called upon to join in that memorable campaign in which, without winning a single engagement, if we except the rather indecisive affair at Slim Buttes, our forces broke the backbone of the Indian resistance in the north. In this determined effort to subdue the hostiles, who were known to camp along the lower Yellowstone and its tributaries, the Government sent troops from the Platte under General Crook, and from Dakota under General Terry, in whose column was General Custer with the 7th Cavalry. With General Crook were Troops A, B, D, E and I, 2d Cavalry, and the officers of the regiment who accompanied him on his long and persistent pursuit were Captains Noyes, Dewees and Wells, and Lieutenants Rawolle, Swigert, Pearson, Kingsbury, Sibley and Huntington. The "Montana Battalion " served under General Gibbon, who commanded such of General Terry's troops as came from the west. This column, which also included six companies of the 7th Infantry, left Ellis about the 1st of April and moved down the Yellowstone valley. It was necessary to cross and recross the river several times, and probably no one ever forded this stream without hoping he would never be called upon to repeat the task. On one of these occasions Lieutenant Schofield's horse lost his footing, and both man and horse disappeared beneath the rapidly moving waters. It seemed that both must be lost, but finally the horse regained his footing and men rushed in to the rider's rescue. Schofield, who served against the Sioux for years, was never nearer death than on that occasion.
A courier overtook the command near the Big Horn River with orders to halt, as Crook and Custer would not be able to take the field for several weeks; whereupon General Gibbon established a camp near the mouth of the river just named. While lying here, Troops H and F, Ball and Roe commanding, were ordered on a reconnoissance through the valleys of the Big Horn and Little Big Horn, with a view to discovering, if possible, the whereabouts of the hostiles. This reconnoissance lasted a week, and while the Indian village was not found, it proved to be a very trying march. As a precaution against surprise, two of the four officers and one troop stood guard day and night. It so happened that one of Ball's camps was made on the identical spot where, a few weeks later, Custer fought his last fight.
On June 21, while the battalion was lying in the camp just mentioned, Custer's long line of cavalry was descried winding across the hills on the opposite bank, and the same day the steamboat Far West arrived with General Terry and staff on board. There were now in the field three columns,—Crook's, Custer's and Gibbon's. The former had fought a drawn battle with the Sioux a few days before, a fact wholly unknown to General Terry's command, and had fallen back to his wagons to await reinforcements. It had been learned that the Indian trail led from the Rosebud toward the Little Big Horn River, and General Custer was ordered to follow it, while General Gibbon was to return up the valley of the Yellowstone and cross the river a few miles below the mouth of the Big Horn, and then push
for the Little Big Horn to get below the Indians on that stream, while Custer struck them from above. Gibbon had the longest and roughest route Custer sent a battery of Gatling guns across to him for fear they would de lay his march. The Department Commander—General Terry,—accompanied the Montana Column. These troops crossed the Yellowstone on the 24th, by means of the Far West, and the next day moved a few miles up Tullock's Fork, then turned to the right and ascended the ridge between that stream and the Big Horn. After a tiresome march the Big Horn was reached. General Terry gave the cavalry a short rest, and then pushed on with it, leaving the infantry to follow. The next morning, after a short march, Lieutenant Bradley, 7th Infantry, chief of scouts, discovered on the opposite, bank of the Big Horn two Crow Indians, who, with others, had been detached from Gibbon's command as guides for Custer. These scouts reported that Custer had been badly beaten the day before. While halting here the infantry came up, and the united command moved on and soon reached the Little Big Horn, at which General Terry seemed much relieved, saying, "Well, I have kept my word with Custer. I promised him to be here today." The command halted for a little time on reaching the river. While here a courier was dispatched to Custer's supposed position, but was driven back by the Indians. The march was resumed and continued twelve or thirteen miles up the valley, when, about 6 o'clock in the evening, a few Indians were seen hovering around the head of the column and several shots were fired at Troop F, under Roe, which had been thrown out to cover the right flank. To the left and front, on the hills across the river, were seen objects supposed to be buffalo lying down. As twilight advanced there appeared on the right and front what seemed to be a long line of cavalry, but night came on before anything definite could be learned of the objects seen, or of Custer's fate. It was evident, however, he had not won a victory. About half past eight, the infantry having marched between 29 and 30 miles, both battalions were ordered into camp. Gibbon's command, including the artillery, numbered a little over 400 men, but it was kept well in hand, and was capable of making an excellent fight.
Making an early start the next morning, June 27, the command had proceeded but a mile or two, when it reached a large bottom containing signs of having been occupied by an extensive Indian camp a few hours previously. The fate of Custer was now more puzzling than ever, but soon a message was received from the chief of scouts saying he had counted 196 dead cavalrymen. The objects seen the day before looking like buffalo lying down, were really dead comrades and their horses.
Soon two horsemen were seen dashing down the valley. They were officers,—Wallace and Hare, if the writer's memory is not at fault,—sent by Reno to tell of their desperate fight, and how the Indians seemed determined upon their extermination, until Gibbon's column appeared on the bluffs the day before. "Where is Custer?" was then asked. They replied: "The last we saw of him he was going down that high bluff towards the lower end of the village. We do not know where he is now." They were told, "We have found him."
The line of Reno's retreat to the hills, from his first position in the val-
ley, presented a sickening sight, the dead being horribly mutilated, while on the part of the field where Custer fell the mutilation was comparatively slight.
The burial of the dead, which was of necessity in many instances more of a pretense than reality, having been accomplished, the care and transportation of the wounded demanded attention. Hand litters were first made and their inefficiency demonstrated, when the fertile genius of Lieut. G. C. Doane, 2d Cavalry, evolved a mule litter, and upon these the wounded were carried very comfortably. These unfortunates having been finally placed on a boat in the Big Horn, Gibbon's command, increased by what was left of the 7th Cavalry, returned to the north side of the Yellowstone to await reinforcements.
Let us now turn to the troops under Gen. Crook, and see how they, particularly those of the 2d Cavalry, fared in this savage contest with the Sioux. On June 17, Crook found himself on the Rosebud, searching for the village which he felt confident was not far off. About half past eight in the morning, while the Indian allies were out scouting and the remainder of the command lying in the valley with horses unsaddled, the wily Sioux suddenly appeared, and about the first intimation the troops had of their presence was the panic-stricken return of the scouts, immediately followed by the enemy's fire. The attack was probably a surprise, pure and simple, but both commander and men were too experienced in Indian warfare to be thrown into confusion, and soon presented a bold front to the enemy. The Sioux came on with a rush, numbering perhaps not less than 2500 warriors.* After the first attack was repulsed the enemy rallied, and skirmishing continued for some time, during which the heaviest loss fell on the 3d Cavalry, of which ten troops were present, and Captain Guy V. Henry of that regiment was wounded. As the day wore on Gen. Crook became restive because of the indecisive nature of the action, and ordered Mill's battalion of the Third, supported by Noyes' battalion of five troops of the Second, to move down the creek, through a cañon, to attack the village supposed to be about ten miles distant. The movement was being executed when it became necessary to recall these battalions to the assistance of the troops under Colonel Royall, who was hard pressed. As the command became once more united, the Sioux drew off in the direction of their village, and the combat ended. Gen. Crook's loss, including that of his allies, was 10 killed and 35 wounded. The Sioux left 13 dead on the field, and, it is believed, carried some off.
While lying in camp on Goose Creek, Gen. Crook decided to send out a scouting party to locate, if possible, the Indian village. Lieutenant Sibley of the 2d Cavalry was selected to command, and given 25 men picked from the five troops of the regiment. In his party were also two scouts,—Gruard and Pourier,—in whom the general had much confidence, and Mr. Finerty, a correspondent of the Chicago Times. This little detachment, well supplied with ammunition, left camp on the afternoon of July 6, and by 2 o'clock the next morning, after having marched forty miles, halted a short distance from the Little Big Horn. After a brief rest Sibley was again in
* "War-Path and Bivouac." Finerty.
his saddle, advancing cautiously, as the scouts, who were familiar with the life and camping grounds of the Sioux, believed the village was near by. These keen-eyed men of the plains soon discovered a formidable war party, whereupon Sibley moved his little band toward the mountains, intending to cross them if possible, and hoping that the Sioux, who seldom took to the rough mountain trails, would not follow. The savages, however, found his trail and pursued like bloodhounds. "Men," said Sibley, "the Indians have discovered us, and we will have to do some fighting. If we can make an honorable escape, all together, we will do it. If retreat should prove impossible, let no man surrender. Die in your tracks." "All right, sir," was the soldierly reply. The retreat was continued until some time in the afternoon, and as they had not been overtaken the little band of heroes began to think they had escaped the threatened danger, but it was just at such moments the wily Sioux was wont to pounce upon his prey, and suddenly, as if coming out of the ground, the enemy appeared and poured in a ringing volley. Hastily taking shelter in the edge of some adjacent woods, Sibley dismounted his men, and ordering some of them to fire on the Indians to check their advance, secured his horses after several of them had been wounded. The trees and fallen timber made admirable breastworks, and behind these our heroes fought, and held at bay many times their numbers. The struggle seemed hopeless, and but for the strategy employed would have proved so. As the numbers of the enemy were constantly swelled by reinforcements, Sibley despaired of saving his horses, and leaving them tied to trees Where they could be seen indistinctly by the savages, he cautioned his men to go to their saddle-bags for all their ammunition, and, after firing a couple of scattering volleys, to follow him on foot into the thick woods and among the rocks, where a horseman could not pursue. How this little band pressed on for two days through fallen timber, over rocks and across mountains, without food or sufficient clothing to protect them from the cold at night, would make a thrilling story if space permitted the recital. Suffice it to say that a short time after leaving their horses they heard a heavy volley, followed by war-whoops, and they knew the Indians had made their final rush on the abandoned position. After almost incredible vigilance and marching, they reached Crook's camp on the morning of July 9, and the oldest and most experienced officers in the command concurred in saying their escape from such a perilous situation was without parallel in the annals of Indian warfare.
The death of Capt. Lewis Thompson, who had been an officer of the regiment since February, 1862, occurred in one of General Gibbon's camps on the Yellowstone during July. Thompson was a most agreeable companion; bright, witty, well read, and as a soldier brave to the verge of rashness. He was taken prisoner at the battle of Gettysburg, and the hardships and privations accompanying his confinement of fifteen months in Southern prisons, so shattered his health that he never fully recovered it. Upon his death, which was greatly regretted throughout the regiment, the command of his Troop,—L,—devolved upon Lieut. S. T. Hamilton, who had been a member of the expedition from the start.
In the latter part of July Terry sent three scouts to find Crook. They
returned in a few days and reported his location on Goose Creek. On August 8, Terry's command, 1700 strong, started up the valley of the Rosebud, and two days later met Crook's forces marching down. The latter officer had 25 troops of cavalry and ten companies of infantry. Thus in the two commands there were 36 troops of cavalry. However, rapid movements were not the order of the day, and the united commands moved slowly over to Tongue River and thence down the Powder to its mouth. The distance marched was 120 miles, and seven days were consumed in making it. When finished no one knew where the Indians were. The horses were under saddle the greater part of the daylight of each day, to average 17 miles in 24 hours. Such marching is most trying on cavalry, as it breaks the animals down to no purpose. Much of Crook's cavalry was in bad condition when he met Terry, although he had been encamped for weeks in a fine grazing country, but by the time the mouth of the Powder was reached many horses in each column were hors de combat.
When the two commands united on the Rosebud, the "Montana Battalion" met the five troops of the regiment under Noyes, after a separation of seven years. How they mingled and gossiped can only be appreciated by brother soldiers who have been long separated. The writer recalls how Rawolle, in particular, in the quiet but decided manner peculiar to him, told of their marches and contests.
At the mouth of the Powder the commands separated; Gen. Crook going in the direction of the Little Missouri, while Gen. Terry crossed the Yellowstone and moved over toward the Big Dry, at the Dry Forks of the Missouri. These movements again divided the battalions of the Second; the one under Crook entering on that long and wearisome march, during which such battle was to be had with hunger.
Besides the officers of the regiment previously mentioned as serving under Crook, Lieut. W. P. Clark joined that general at Powder River, and in the skirmish which subsequently took place at Slim Buttes, distinguished himself, as he always did when opportunity offered.
In the early spring of 1877 the "Montana Battalion" again took the field, and reported to Gen. Miles at Tongue River. This officer attacked Lame Deer's camp of the Minneconjou Sioux, May 7, on Little Muddy Creek, a tributary of the Rosebud. He had with him the battalion of the Second under Ball, two companies of the Fifth, and five of the 22d Infantry. A part of the infantry rode captured ponies. The village was taken with a rush, Lieut. E. W. Casey, 2nd Infantry, and Lieut. L. H. Jerome, 2d Cavalry, charging directly upon and through it. Both of these officers were mentioned for gallantry. The Indians retired to the surrounding bluffs and made an obstinate resistance, and during this part of the engagement Lieut. A. H. Fuller of Tyler's Troop (F) was wounded. Among the wounded was also Private D. L. Brainard, Troop L, who afterward won such distinction under Greely in the north, and who is now a lieutenant in the regiment. The Indians left 14 dead on the field, and 500 ponies, together with 51 lodges, and their contents fell into the hands of the victors. Lame Deer is believed to have fallen by the hand of Captain Wheelan. After this engagement the battalion of the Second, excepting Troop L, was kept busy during
the summer and early fall scouting along the Yellowstone, Tongue, Powder and Little Missouri rivers, and that the manner in which the duty was performed was satisfactory, the following letter, addressed to Captain Tyler by General Miles' adjutant, will show:"In relieving the Battalion 2d Cavalry, the commanding officer is pleased to acknowledge its valuable service during the spring and summer operations against hostile Indians. Equally on the most fatiguing and laborious march in pursuit of fleeing Indians, as in action, you have displayed those qualities most commendable to the American soldier, and you will please convey to the officers and men of the battalion his sincere appreciation of the same, and express to them his regrets at being obliged to part with a command whose faithful performance of all duties he could so truly rely upon."
Chief Joseph, of the Nez Perces, may properly be termed the Indian Xenophon. His long retreat in 1877 through Idaho and Montana, pursued as he was by various columns of troops, is worthy of record in the annals of war. General Howard followed him with great persistence, but in vain. Norwood with his troop (L), brought him to stand at Camas Prairie, but being greatly overmatched in numbers, and not receiving the support he expected, was unable to detain the Indian chief long enough for General Howard to come up. The Troop made a gallant fight and reflected much credit upon the regiment. Gen. Gibbon, with part of the 7th Infantry, dealt Joseph a staggering blow on the bloody field of the Big Hole, and General Sturgis, with some of the 7th Cavalry, fought him on the Yellowstone, but all in vain, for the Indian general continued his headlong flight, and had he not stopped to procure buffalo meat when the close proximity of the British line gave him a feeling of security, his retreat would have been crowned with success. This halt enabled Miles with three troops of the 7th Cavalry, several companies of his own regiment, and Troops F, G and H of the Second, to strike the Nez Perces on Sept. 30 near the Bear Paw Mountains, and, after a desperate fight followed by a siege lasting until Oct. 6, to capture the greater part of the tribe. Thus it was that twice in this memorable campaign the Second Cavalry was represented, and upon two far distant fields. In the latter engagement Lieut. Jerome, Troop H, was made a prisoner and held for 24 hours, at the end of which time he was exchanged for Chief Joseph.
After the engagement at the Bear Paw, Tyler's battalion was ordered as an escort to the American members of the "Sitting Bull Commission," and escorted them to the British line. With this duty completed the battalion returned to Fort Ellis, having been in the field continuously for eight months, and having marched about 2500 miles. In the fall of this year the headquarters of the regiment, and the eight troops stationed in the Platte, were transferred to the Department of Dakota, and stationed at Custer and Keogh, with headquarters at the former Post.
In March, 1879, Innis N. Palmer, who had succeeded T. J. Wood as colonel of the regiment in June, 1878, retired, and was followed by Colonel J. W. Davidson. In the summer of 1879 Gen. Miles made an expedition against the northern Sioux along Milk River. On July 17, Lieut. W. P. Clark, with Troop C, under Hoppin; a company of the 5th Infantry
(mounted) under Borden; and a number of Indian scouts, was ordered forward as an advance guard. He came unexpectedly upon the hostiles, and, with his usual dash, rushed boldly at them, at the same time sending a courier back to notify the main column. At first the enemy gave way, but soon rallied and surrounded Clark. Miles pushed rapidly forward with reinforcements, consisting of six troops of the Second, commanded by Majors Baker and Gordon, and several companies of the 5th Infantry mounted on ponies. Rice, of the latter regiment, was present with two pieces of artillery, and these, with the broken hills which the column had to cross, somewhat delayed the progress of the main body for a time, but the soldiers, realizing the importance of the guns, would quickly pull them out of a ravine, no matter how deep. A second courier arrived, his pony panting and covered with foam, bearing a message from Clark saying he was nearly surrounded and asking for speedy help. The main body had now fortunately reached smooth ground, and it went forward at a gallop, with Gordon's battalion deployed as skirmishers, and Baker's and the mounted infantry in column some two hundred yards in rear. Seeing Miles advance the Sioux gave way, but kept up a running fight with Clark, who followed close upon their heels. The command presented a beautiful sight as it galloped forward over the green and gently rolling hills, pursuing a swarm of gayly blanketed Indians. This pursuit was kept up for about fifteen miles, and no one who witnessed that day's work will ever forget the excitement of the chase. The artillery moved with the skirmish line, and in the latter part of the race fired several shots. The enemy succeeded in reaching and crossing Milk River, and escaped under cover of the night.
In March, 1880, the restive spirit of the Sioux induced some of the more venturesome to hover around Forts Keogh and Custer, and gave Huggins, Cook and Brett, with Troops C and E, and a number of Cheyenne scouts under the last named officer, an opportunity to distinguish themselves by making a very rapid pursuit from Tullock's Fork to O'Fallon's Creek, where they overtook the Indians, and, after a sharp fight, captured the camp, several prisoners and over 100 ponies, with a loss to the troops of only one killed. Lieut. Kislingbury, 11th Infantry, who lost his life on the Greely expedition, also accompanied this command. Gen. Miles was so favorably impressed with the energy and good judgment shown in this affair, that more than ten years later he invited attention to it a second time, and recommended that Huggins and Brett, the only surviving officers, be breveted therefor.
During the next four years the regiment was kept busy marching back and forth to overawe the Indians, but their haughty spirit bad been humbled and they were easily held in subjection. The last action in Montana in which any part of the regiment participated was between Troop L, under Norwood, and a band of Cree Indians, near Wild Horse Lake, in which the Indians were defeated with the loss of several warriors. This was in the spring of 1883.
Thus we see that in Montana the battles of the Second commenced with the terrible thrashing given the Piegans in January, 1870, and ended in April, 1883, near Wild Horse Lake. In these thirteen years of toil and
strife, in the very heart of the most hostile Indian country on this continent, the Second alone saw the beginning and end of the conflict. It was seldom its engagements were indecisive; victory generally alighted on its guidons, defeat never. Surely this was not all luck. The lessons gathered in the everglades of Florida and on the plains before the Civil War, and transmitted from one generation of officers to another, bore their legitimate fruit and it was good.
In the early summer of 1884 the regiment was transferred to the Division of the Pacific, with headquarters at Walla Walla. Nine troops went to the Department of the Columbia and three into California. Before leaving Montana the following letter was addressed to the regimental commander, General John P. Hatch, who became colonel in 1881:
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF DAKOTA,
FORT SNELLING, MINN., June 16, 1884.
General:-I cannot suffer the 2d Cavalry to leave this Department, for another sphere of duty, without expressing to you and to your officers and men my sense of the value of the services which it has rendered while it has been under my command, and my respect and admiration for its character. It is now fifteen years since a portion of the regiment came into this Department; it is seven years since the whole of it reported to me. During all these years it has been constantly called upon for duty in the field, often for service in active campaigns against hostile Indians; and in all this service, whether in field or garrison, it has displayed soldierly qualities of the highest order, gallantry in action, patience under hardship, subordination to authority, and a quiet, unassuming devotion to duty worthy of the highest praise, and worthy also of the splendid history which it had made for itself in the past.
I beg you to accept for yourself, and for your officers and men, my most hearty good wishes for your and their prosperity and happiness, and also the expression of my belief that no regiment in the service has ever won a more honorable reputation than that which is deservedly borne by the Second Cavalry.
(Signed) ALFRED H. TERRY,
The service required of the regiment in the Department of California and Columbia was simple. Several long marches were made, but no serious difficulties arose with the Indians. During the year 1885, Lieut. H. T. Allen, 2d Cavalry, made an extensive and important exploration in Alaska. His report added very materially to our previous knowledge of that: distant territory.
In May, 1885, Chief Joseph and his followers, who were, sent to the Indian Territory after their capture, were permitted to return to Washington Territory not far from their former home. It fell to the lot of Lieut. Carleton, with Troop L, to escort these people to the district assigned them. It was this troop that fought these Indians so valiantly at Camas Prairie in the summer of 1877, and now, eight years later, we find it escorting them as a guard against their white neighbors who threatened them.
While enjoying the comforts of that charming station, the Presidio of San Francisco, Troops A and K were, in December, 1885, suddenly called upon to depart for Arizona to assist in the pursuit of Geronimo and his
band. The sands and cacti of that territory were indeed a change from the handsome roads and well kept lawns of the Presidio, but the troopers and their officers,—MacAdams, Doane, Robinson and Brett,—took kindly to their old life in bivouac, and rendered valuable services in the campaign against the Apache, in whose country they remained about nine months. In his annual report the department commander, Gen. Miles, in speaking of a pursuit made by Lieut. Brett, says that officer displayed great energy and determination.
While in the Department of the Columbia General N. B. Sweitzer, who had been a major in the regiment, succeeded General Hatch as colonel, and was in turn followed by Colonel D. B. Clendenin.
In June, 1890, the regiment exchanged with the 4th Cavalry, and took station in Arizona, with the headquarters and two troops at Lowell, and the other troops at Huachuca, Bowie, San Carlos and Whipple Barracks. That summer the order was issued from the War Department discontinuing two troops and two companies in each regiment of cavalry and infantry. In this way Troops L and M ceased to exist, except "on paper." L has since been reorganized as an Indian Troop, and let us hope the day is not far distant when the guidon of Troop M will again take its place in the column. Soon after reaching Arizona we find Fowler, Winn, Brainard, Sargent, Nance, Lewis, Michie, and others, in the field in pursuit of the ubiquitous Kid and his followers. Lieut. Michie, especially, performed most arduous service, and was complimented therefor by the division commander.
In January, 1891, the headquarters and three troops were ordered to Fort Wingate, N. M., where they now (February, 1892,) are, and Troop G, —Wheelan's—took station at Fort Stanton at the same time. The Moqui Indians, who have lived quietly in their pueblos for centuries, were finally so exasperated by having their children taken away to be sent to school, that they were on the verge of open rebellion in June, 1891, and threatened to kill Brett, who, with a small detachment, had occasion to visit one of their villages,—Orabi. This officer with great good judgment managed to extricate himself and men, and then asked for reinforcements. Major Jackson, commanding the battalion at Wingate, promptly sent two troops to the rescue, accompanied by Lieut. Wallace with two Hotchkiss guns. Major McLellan, with two troops of the 10th Cavalry, was also ordered out. When this force arrived before the village, the Moquis quietly surrendered. With this little affair the campaigns of the Second have, for the present, come to an end. How long this peace will last none can say, but in the future, as it has been in the past, it is confidently believed the Second Cavalry,—old Second Dragoons,—will be true to its motto, "Toujours prêt."
Since the Civil War the regiment has lost three officers and sixty enlisted men killed in action, with one officer and thirty-eight men wounded.
Shining through the storms of fifty-six winters, the smoke of one hundred and seventeen combats and the dust of countless weary marches, appears the glorious roster of those men of the Second Cavalry who have shed their blood or lost their lives in service; a grand aggregate of forty-eight commissioned officers, and seven hundred and eight enlisted men.