A Day in the life...
First hand accounts from our local citizens
THIS WAS A 3 PART SERIES PUBLISHED IN THE HERALD BY A MAN WHO FOUGHT UNDER GENERAL CUSTER. IT RAN FROM AUGUST 8, 1899 THROUGH OCTOBER 31, 1899. IT IS A TRUE STORY OF INDIAN WARFARE. WRITTEN FOR AND GENEROUSLY CONTRIBUTED TO THIS PAPER IN TOWANDA, KANSAS BY ONE OF ITS READERS. THIS IS AN INCREDIBLE PIECE OF AMERICAN HISTORY THAT WERE WERE SO VERY LUCKY TO STUMBLE UPON DURING OUR RESEARCH THROUGH THE OLD NEWSPAPERS. IT IS OUR PLEASURE TO SHARE WITH THE PUBLIC. DUE TO THE LENGTH AND UNCLEAR PRINT, WE HAD TO RETYPE THE WORDS ON THIS BLOG TO MAKE IT MORE LEGIBLE FOR YOU TO READ.
AUGUST 8, 1889
Among the many triumphs which has crowned the career of the "Herald", we can count the production by one of our subscribers to this paper, of a history of his five adventurous years on the plains fighting "Injuns" under General Custer. Written by himself from notes taken by him at the time and from memory, as among the greatest.
We give the narrative in the author's own language and style, and we feel pretty sure that a more graphic description of this western country and the modes of Indian life and warfare could not be produced; and that the reading will be of the intensest interest to both old and young; and what is better yet, is full of instruction from beginning to end.
The author, in the first place, evinces a desire for adventure on the plains, which is gratified by doing the rands going west to fight the Indians. He is drilled in the company of his own color, and after practicing sword and riding exercises they march west and meet their first adventure which proves no picnic.
The barbaric savagery of the "noble red man" is portrayed in their treatment of captives; and the renegades (white out-laws) are shown to be often the leading spirits in the Indian outbreaks.
The many hair breadth and almost miraculous escapes of the writer are told in the style peculiar to himself, and the reader will readily follow him from the exciting scene to another, as he leads him across the unsettles plains of the western Kansas and Colorado.
Another merit, and no mean one either is the exact truth of these accounts. He gives places, dates and names of parties.He is conversant with the geography of the country over which he has passed; and his comrades, into whose hands this piece of history may fall, will most likely recognize the writer and remember the events he so graphically describes.
it is with the greatest pleasure, and with gratitude to the author that we present our readers with our friend's adventures; and we have every reason to hope that you all will be entertained, delighted, interested and instructed by their perusal.
The first chapter of this narrative will appear next week.
August 15, 1889
As I sat meditating one bright July morning in 1867 the thought came to me that I would like to be a calvary soldier and I said to my partner: "Come Jeff let us join the 10th cavalry that is going out west," and he said agreed; so off we went to the recruiting office then situated at Leavenworth, Kansas, and we enlisted for five years in Co. H 10th regiment of cavalry. We were drilled at the Fort for six weeks and then we had horses furnished to us, and then we drilled two weeks on horse-back and took up our live of march for the far west. Our first days march was a picnic, the second was a little mixed, and the third was, "say Sergeant where are we going?" The Sargeant's reply was, "don't get discouraged boys you are in for it now," and so we were in for it, we made Fort Riley that day and went in to camp and drilled three weeks and then took up our line for march for Fort Harker and drilled there for three weeks and then marched for Denver, Colorado, but met with a band of Indians, they stampeded our horses and pulled the scalps of two white men, got fifteen of our horses. Got up on on a hill and bid us the time of day. Well you see the Captain said, "boys we will take those rascals in," so off we started after them two or three miles over the hills when we came across an old buffalo and fires about 1,000 shots at him at the distance of a mile, we then went back and reported that we killed two of their horses; thus ended our first fight with the Indians. In October 1867 we went to Delver, Col. and stayed there until December. We then came back to Fort Riley and went into winter quarters, where we drilled and laid in guard house part of the time and carried ammunition boxes, knapsacks of sand and were a jolly lot of fellows.
In the spring of 1866 we went to Fort Wallace and business commenced in earnest. The Indians were more than Custer could manage so he took us to help him out. He sent us after old Saturday, Lone Wolf and Big Tree, of the Cheyenne Tribes, we packed our saddles and started for the Republicao River, Col. We struck the Indian's trail one hundred miles from Wallace. Gen. Custer was one who did not want more than 200 soldiers to whip 3000 Indians. So he started us out one hundred and twenty five strong with twelve teamsters. 137 all told. Well we were hungry for blood and we got it too 'on the reverse' so we were on their trail and we followed to the North Platte River Valley, there we camp up with them 1500 strong, and the jig was up, and we that danced had to pay the fiddler and dearly to a; my God, they whipped us out of our boots. "Why the squaws could have whipped us." They shot down 30 horses and men for us quicker than it takes me to write this. They got off with two wagons of hard-tack which was a serious loss to us, we bought them from 9 o'clock in the morning til 3 o'clock in the evening, we then drew off and crossed the Platt River and pulled for better company, which we found 125 miles from there in the shape of a regiment of white cavalry which had just been whipped by 3,000 Indians of Sitting Bulls band; you bet they made us welcome to their hard tack and sow belly to which we did ample justice. I might say here that the Indians got all our rations, therefore we did not get anything to eat while traveling that 125 miles until we got to the 7th cavalry and you bet we were about starved though we did get a few prairie dogs on the way. But that was little among so many. This ended our second fight of April 1868.
May 1868 We were hungry for more Indian blood, but we shaped things a little better this time. We struck Beaver Creek, and roused old Captian Jack in the renegade, we done him up in good shape and took his three squaws and fifty others and 75 old men and boys, ponies, saddles, and wigwams, but the warriors got away, but I would rather fight 5 bucks than one squaw. For they will not give up the fight till they are dead. I will relate an incident that occurred after we had captured them one day. The Captain send out a detail to kill a Buffalo for the captive Indians, and sent the squaws along under guard to where the buffalo was and he went along to give orders, (well you know the officers of the regular army put on more style than the President of the United States) well he walked up to where an old squaw was gutting the buffalo and when she got the entrans out she ripped the paunch open and took it in both hands and made a dive for the captain and emptied the contents all over him, the soldiers did not dare to laugh, but we disobeyed orders that time, which cost us something. Well after we got recruited up and our horses and men replaced, that we had lost, we were in good shape again; as I said we came up with the 7th Cavalry a "a white regiment," and we all went to Fort Wallace, about 800 strong white and colored and we began to prepare for the Grand Campaign back over the same ground. The North Platte Valley where we had been so badly defeated General Custer wanted to divide the soldiers, to cover more country, which was a bad mistake; Co. H and Co. I of the 10th Cavalry went north of Wallace to Beaver Creek and Short Knolls and the 7th Cavalry went north east to the Republican River and big tree country. We were strung out in the find shape for fighting Indians 15,000 strong, we went at it like veterans, September 1868 we landed in the famous Platte Valley, but we found the Indians gone; so we hundred up and found them comfortably encamped about 300 miles up the Republican River, in Colorado. Well as I said my two companies were the first to come up with the gents and we opened the ball with the loss of six men killed. We soon found that our party was too small to hold a candle tor them and General Carr ordered a retreat, which order was at once put in motion, we progressed without any interruption until three o'clock in the afternoon. All day we had seen Indians scattered away off on the hills following and watching us until we got where they wanted us, we had a regard about a mile behind the column, and about 3 o'clock in the afternoon the rear guard came in on the run. We got up on the rise and looked back and as far as we could see the world was alive with Indians. The captain chose his ground and we went for it on the run and made the place we wanted and made corral by placing the wagons in a circle with the tongues under each other and put the horses inside of the circle. The wagons were partly loaded with forage in the sacks, we tumbled them out and took our spades and there sand up against them and entrenched ourselves in behind them, by the time we had done this, and ti was done before I could tell it, the Indians had come up and the medicine man had made his first circle and the captain said boys do not lei him go round three times or we are got up. We began to shoot at this, but he made the second round and had got half way round the third time, we brought him down; let me say here that it is the custom of the Indians to send the medicine man around and if he can succeed in circling you three times no power on earth will save you then, as they think the medicine man has drawn the charm, as I said we shot him before he had completed the third round and broke the charm. Then we made a sally to get the medicine man and that brought on a hand to hand encounter which lasted 30 minutes and caused a good many poor fellows to bite the dust on our side as well as theirs. But we succeeded in driving them back and getting their medicine man, but he was not quite dead and one of our boys went running to him when he made about two moves and pinned his legs together with an arrow, but before he could shoot his bow again, one of the boys shot him. Well the Indians withdrew and left us: so we hurried our dead and taking our wooded with us we pulled out for a better situation, and thus ended one of the darkest day Is ever saw, for we were out numbered five to one; then a runner came to us from Teachers Island which was 75 miles above us; Let me relate here the after we left Fort Wallace there was not any cavalry left at the Fort and the Indians got so bold that the commander took steps to raise a small calvary force; Now there was t the Fort at that time 65 white men who in the employ of the Government and one them one that had been in the war of the rebellion, he had been a Lieutenant by the name of Beecher, well he told the Commander that he could pick out fifty men that would be as good as any cavalry company in the Army and could whip all the Indians that he could show him. Well the Post Commander commissioned him and told him to pick out his men, and the Lieutenant Beecher picked out fifty men and equipped them with horses and arms and pack mules they drew new carbines of the Spencer seven shot and got 5,000 rounds of ammunition, five pack mules well loaded and they started due north and struck an Indian trail of 900 strong and they followed it fifteen miles up the river fire miles below where the 7th cavalry had crossed one week before and the Indians had been watching them from the Tim they left the Fort and as they crossed the river they came down on them. In the middle of the river was an Island about fifty yards square and it was on that island that Beecher and his men made a stand. The first day they chose a man and dispatched him after us, and it took him five days to find us and we were seven more days before we could get to them: now I will just give you a description of the battle field as we found it, can you imagine a plot of ground fifty yards square with fifty dead men, horses and mules all laying in the sun. Some of them had been dead 10 or 12 days, and they were stolen beyond all human shape. The Indians had not left one man, horse or mule alive, all had been massacred: the man they had send to us was the only one left: it was the safest sight I ever saw, the man that came to us, when he got back and saw his comrades that he had left so gallant a few days before, preparing for the fight the next day, he cried out Oh! my friends! and wept like a child. Well they died like hers and the way they fought would have done honor to veterans. After we had buried the dead and rested one day at the island, we started after the Indians and followered their trail and we counted 400 fresh made Indian graves on the route besides 175 dead which we buried on the island. Let me state here that the Indians got all their pack mules first thing and so they had no rations and were nearly starved, they had cut pieces out of the dead horses and laid them in the sun to dry and they lived on that until they were all killed. Reader you may want to know why the Indians did not come and take all the plunder that Beecher had? Well they had suffered so severely that they were all dead and they thought it best to keep out of the way of those deadly Spencer carbines that they poor fellows used so effectively. The island is known as Beechers Island to this day.
August 22, 1889
I will give you a slight description of Beecher and his men; as I told you Beecher was a Lieutenant in the Army during the Civil War and his men were employed by the Government, they consisted of blacksmiths, carpenters, stone masons and mule drivers. Lieutenant Beecher was a clerk in the commissary. They had never been drilled and had no discipline, they were not even good riders and had no idea of fighting on horseback nevertheless they did well; as it appears the Indians had been watching them, and as soon as they got them on the island they knew they were not soldiers, and they piled right into them, the men jumped off their horses and went to fighting and the Indians crowded right down and shot all their horses; they said afterwards that knew that the white men would never get away. About 300 yards below the island there was a natural fort of deep hollows, where if Lieutenant B had kept his presence of mind and led his men to them, he could have whipped them if they had attacked h I'm, or, he could have held his own until night and then slipped out. Let me say here that if they had been drilled as company of cavalry they would have whipped those Indians out of their boots. In the first place, if he had been compelled to give battle on that ground, and to such superior numbers, he would have given the command to prepare to dismount and fight on foot that would have thrown the horses in a compact circle with no, 4 holding them they then never could run, for one horse holds the others and it is impossible to stampede them and the men would have formed a circle around the horses and that would have been a line of battle two men deep all around the horses and the Spencers being long range guns and the Indians really close on such line. But we will pass and leave Lieutenant B. and his brave boys to rest. Thus ends our third campaign, June 1868.
We now left the main Republican River and stared for the north fork of the Republican which was called afterwards, Custers Creek. We traveled west 150 miles and found five companies of the 7th and 8th cavalry which had left Wallace the same time we did, the Indians had eluded them to try us, to see what kind of timber we were made of, they knew what the 7th and 8th were, and after the Beecher massacre and the little lesson we gave them, they thought the whites and black were small potatoes and they did not care for us and them to be in the same hill. Well we joined the 7th and 8th and camped on Custer Creek and had 2 weeks drill which was rather interesting, one regiment in rivalry with another. Well now for a buffalo chase and some beef steak, Lieutenant L, myself and 9 others composed the hunting party, after breakfast Lieutenant L. ordered myself and 9 others to saddle our horse and 'they being the fasted company' and provide ourselves with one hundred rounds of cartridges a piece that he wanted us to go with him after some buffalo that he had seen through his spy glass 5 miles to the right of camp, horses were saddled and riders were up and off, we went like the wind for about 4 miles from camp. The brutes scented us and started out straight for us about 1,000 in the herd. Let me explain here, the supposed reason why they started towards us, "for instance if a herd of buffalo are to the north of you and strong wind from the south, you go toward them, they get the scent of you and they will run toward you trying to get past the scent and the closer they get the faster they will run. This was the position were were in that caused them to run toward us, I tell this for the benefit of some that would suppose the buffalo would run from us in place of toward us, but after they get past and out of scent, they will of't times stop within fifty yards of the hunter, if he is well concealed: so Lieutenant L. said now hold your horses well in the hand and when they get within 300 yards, let them have it as fast as you can. Lieu't L. picked out a large old fellow and made for him, as for myself I began to look a little out for we were in danger of being run down and trampled to death; Lieu't L., now began to take in this fact, so he said boys take care of yourselves. We expected they would scatter when we fired into them, but it didn't happen so quick as we expected, so Lieu't L. said boys follow me. Obeyed orders and soon found that we were on a charge right in front of the buffalo's 1,000 strong, and there was no stopping either; we shot back at them to get them scattered, but with no success, we could not ride to the right or left as they were pressing us so hard: well they dove us three or four miles and we got them separated, but we now ten miles from camp, a small party in an Indian country; remember the Indians were watching us since we had got together and they were watching this hunting party. Lieu't L had orders not to go farther than five miles from camp and here we were ten: after looking for a while through his glass he said men we are in a bad fix, if we get back to camp alive we are hero's; now I want you men to be calm and dent get excited, there is a party of Indians about twenty-five of them between us and camp and we have got to fight to death, we must not be taken or they will burn us at the stake. Our horse had rested a little so we mounted and started for camp, we had travelled two miles when Lieu't L. said, "boys, they are on us." Then putting away his glass he said, "now for that buffalo wallow," which was 300 yards away, we made it in good shape bu by the time we got to it 75 of the powder faces young Bucks were at our heels. Well we dismounted and got down in the hollow and our racket commenced in earnest. Let me give you a description of a buffalo wallow. It is a place on the level prairie where the buffalo have met and fought and wallowed and by fighting, pawing and wallowing, some of those places get to be 5 or 6 feed deep and 75 or 100 yards square. I have seen them cover three acres, but this was a small one, but deep, and had steep banks to it except at one place where they had don in or out, this was our position. Well those young bucks stuck close to us for about 30 minutes, but our presence offend and the faithful Spencer carbines soon taught them that buffalo soldiers were, - as they afterwards said, - made of powder. Well they killed private C. poor boy and wounded B. and D. and shot one of our horses; our fire was so well directed that they drew off, but we knew that they would soon return, so we took our lariat ropes and threw the other horses down to conceal them below the banks of the wallow, which worked like a charm, this done we prepared to fight indeed.
About one o'clock they began to put in an appearance, but seemed disconcerted at not seeing our horses and being very superstitious they stopped at about 600 yards from us and held a council, there were about 100 warriors; Lieutenant L. who was a dead shot saluted them with his Spencer rifle. Down went one of their horses, at the same time the rest of us that were able to saluted them in the life manner, they thought then that would not do, so they came straight for us whopping and yelling, as if that would do any good. So we let them get within 100 yards of us and then weave them a broadside which took deadly effect, still on they came, you bet we piled them in good style. The two boys that were hurt, fought like heroes in spike of their wounds. I must here state that we had taken our iron picket pins and dug hollows in the side of the bank where we could conceal ourselves and when they came close to try to see us, we would get out of sight. Then they would skip back out of sight, and that would draw us out to watch their movements and get a shot at them which we did and caused and Indian to bite the dust every time. Generally an dIndian will not fight an enemy that is hid from view, but our party was so small and theirs so large, and we had a white Lieutenant in command that they wanted so bad to burn, this is why they struck so close to us. Out of 1100 cartridges that we left camp with, we had 300 left. Fate had begun to settle down upon us. The Indians had increased to 200 and they had began to get bold, they were just fixing to make a rush and come over right into our fort, when all at once we heard the hum of a shower of bullets pass over our fort and then all at once we say the Indians scattering in eery direction: Lieutenant L. said those shots were from long range funds, and we raised up to look, and soon caught sight of our old Com. H of the 10 cavalry bringing the Indians right toward us. They had slipped upon them and surprised them and run them over us, we did our part as they passed us.
It will be remembered that when we left camp that were were to be back by noon and as we didn't to turn up, General Custer know that something was afloat and he had stared partied out in every direction to look for us. Out company happened to sight the Indians by the aid of the spy glass; they could see something's up and thought the Indians were having a war dance over our bodies, but Lieutenant L. had no such idea. Neither did his men, but if the company had been one hour later it would have been dark night with us. Well Captain C. was very mad when he came up to where were were and saw no dead horse and rider, but when he heard the facts in the case he cooled down and thought we had done well. we laid our comrade to rest and then took our Cours to camp, thanking heaven for our deliverance from the stake. Well the 4 or 5 buffalos that we had crippled, the company had found on their way to find us, and we now took them in on our way to camp, we had steak any how, tough it cost us dearly. The Indians had gone all except 5 and 3 dead horses which they compelled to leave in our possession.
Well camp was reached and things quieted down once more. Then marching orders came and we prepared to go. We did not know where to, but when we had gone three days march we got to the foot of Thunderhead Mountain, 200 miles south of Denver, Col. And here we were separated Co's, H. and I. went together, and three white Co's went in one batch and two Co's in another. We were in fine shape for a little racket which we got to our hearts content. My Co's H. and I. went straight for the Colorado River and then traveled for Salt Lake City but before we got there we turned south and went to the famous Powder Mountain and Bid Horn River, which six years after proved to be Busters fatal and last battle ground. When we got to the Powder River or mountain we made ourselves acquainted with Captain Jack and his band of Modocs and Utes where are a brace set of chaps. Well then we saw the boys and in such numbers, we send out our scouts to find where Generals Pinro and Custer were , in order to keep up communication. But the Indians got our scouts and took their scalps and left us without any knowledge of where Gen. Custer was. We were 275 strong and with an enemy 1700 strong, we were in a bad fix. It will be remembered that one third of those Indians were renegade white men and they were most of them armed with Winchester rifles and had plenty of ammunition. We encamped at the foot of Powder Mountain about one hundred yards form the river and chose our battle ground. Taking care to keep out of range of the lava beds, the identical place to which General Custer allowed himself to be enticed afterwards when he and his whole party were so brutally massacred.
Well the battle opened about sun rise: this was in October 1868. They came out and saluted us with their Winchesters at about 100 yards and halloo'd, "Oh! you d---d niggers, we will roast your black hides over the fire before night!". We answered back, "Come on you Texas S. of B's!" And they did come on to within 30 yards of our wagons, but we piled them up in such a way that 75 of them were not able to take part in the roasting us. They now went back about a mile and on eat hill stopped and held a council, and with the aid of the spy glass we could see them mustering their tomahawks and lances. Then we knew that we were in for a hand to hand encounter, so we piled our swords out of the wagon and reloaded our revolvers and preparer to see them when they came back. About noon we saw several bands of Indians joining them. Things began to look dark at that time. Where were our scouts? At that time we were in hopes that they had got to Custer and Pinro but we afterwards found that they never got there. I will here state that when these Indians first saluted us they shook some-thing at us but we had no idea that is was the scalps of our good scouts, but it was. And we began to realize that we could have to fight it alone. When we spared into three parties it was arranged that Custer and Pinto took three companies and to travel north, my two companies went north west and the other two Co's went south. Each band had two scouts and the way the scouts had to keep each army informed as to the other was by meeting on the route and each scout would carry the news to his command that he had seen scouts of such company, and they would be at Powder Mountain on such a day. This will show you what we had lost in losing our scouts. We were lost from the rest of the army and they had no means of knowing that we were being pressed by the renegades and Indians. The whole army was to have met at Powder Mountain in 25 days if nothing happened, but as I said, things were looking dark for us. Well at 2 o'clock they got ready and so were we. They separated and came for us in three bands at once. We prepared to receive them, we were buried in the ground and held our fire until they got within 40 yards of us and then we gave it to them. We covered the ground with them, but only made them more blood-thirsty. They came up close enough tot use the tomahawk and lance. We emptied our Spencers and then took our revolvers to them. We grappled with them but did not have to use our sabres. By the time our revolvers were empty the battle was won. I don't relive there was a more sever battle fought intuit space of time the that was. They lost 375 killed and wounded, we lost 13 killed and 26 wounded, also 51 horses and 30 mules. The Indians lost 200 horses, but there was a large number killed that we didn't to get. They went away, thinking that they had a costly roast, out of the number killed, 96 were white men renegades of the rebel army from Texas and bad ones at that.
August 29, 1889
Now let us see what Generals Custer, and Piro, have been doing: They went north and instead of meeting us at the time and place allotted, Old Sitting Bull and 1200 of his braves yanked on to him 55 miles from where he left us and gave
him plenty of employment, 'They kept him there 28 days, and we were left with the Mr. Modoos to make their acquaintance, which we did in pretty good shape.
Custer joined us at last, and we were glad to see him, but sorry to say he was 25 men short. Now about Captain Cloud and his two companies that went south, they met with 600 Crowfeet Indians who stampeded their horses and that left them afoot for the Indians caught most of their horses and their progress was slow, however they came in all right. But some what sorefooted and a little ashamed. So we were all together again and Custer takes command of all the troops and now we prepared to fight five tribes which had consolidated to wind us up or burn us at the stake. Sitting Bull, Captain Jack, Storm cloud, Rain-in the-face, and Powder-face, were the Chiefs of the tribes that we now had to deal with. After we had whipped the Modoes and the renegades they went away and got all these tribes to help to take us, but by the time they could get them all together all the soldiers had got together again. They prepared to try us anyhow as their numbers were so strong they would not give it up. But if those renegade had not been at the head of it, the Indians would not have united their forces to fight as they did. For two of those tribes were at war with each other at the time and fought it out 2 weeks after their battle with us, that we will now record.
About the last of December we received word through scouts that a mixed army of Indians and renegades were preparing to come down and take us and roast us before the cold weather set in. For we were too near their winter quarters.
Well we fixed up for them, but before they got ready, we had a cold storm, and all had like to have been frozen to death. So they did not come; Indians do not fight in right cold weather if they can help it. Well it kept getting colder and so we had to make for winter quarters. Gen. Custer thought it best to go over in the valley and bid the gents goodbye before we started for Fort Wallace. Accordingly, one cold day we were put in motion and travelled 50 miles that day and went in-to camp at 10 o'clock that night. We were about frozen, we got supper and was ordered not to put up tents, which we thought strange. I believe some of the boys did curse Custer behind his back about the tent. At 12 o'clock the bugle sounded, boots and saddles! I don't believe I ever came so near freezing to death as I did that night, but we tumbled out and was on the road in 30 minutes. We went about 25 miles and dismounted with orders not to whisper, but to run around and keep warm. Which we had to do to keep ourselves from freezing to death. We remained quietly here until break of day then we looked down in the valley and it ever my heart sank within me it did at that moment. We were about 500 yards from the Indian village and it extended for five miles up and down the valley, and all the poor wretches sound asleep and thought us 75 miles away.
We will now leave the soldiers and go back to show whether we had provocation for the slaughter that is now to take place or not. You know I said that two companies were sent south and they got their horses stampeded by the Indians? And they had to come all the way on foot. Well their business was to meet a wagon train of supplies for us, that was sent from Fort Wallace to reach Powder Mountain. Well after our party had whipped the Indians they went away and met the train before the soldiers did and whipped the infantry that was escorting it and captured the whole thing 75 strong. And tied the men to the wagon wheel and cut out their tongues and burned them alive, then carried off all the mules, sugar, coffee and hard bread, 5,000obs of forage, 800 suits clothing, they destroyed $100,000 worth of property beside burning 75 men, now judge whether we had provocation or not for the slaughter that we to take place in a few moments.
Now we will go back to the soldiers on the hill; at peep of day we were looking down on the Indian village, well now we prepare for bloody work. We were about 758 strong; so we mount for the fray Custer leads with three companies, Pinro with two Co', and Car with two Co's. We glided silently down the hill until we got within two hundred yards of them we then saluted the village with 800 rounds from our Spencers, then with revolver in hand we charged right in to the camp yelling like ten thousand demons. Then the awful carnage commenced squaws, children boys and girls, young and old running in every direction, we shot them down like birds. They came out naked with their tomahawks and fought bravely, but to no avail we charged one charge after another for six hours. I had thought we had been fighting before, but we were now putting on the cap sheaf little babies that seemed to have been born that night were trampled to death under the feet of our horses. My heart sank with pitty,and I thought -O! cruel Custer hold thy mighty band, those little babes know not why thou art in this land. Little boys and girls came out naked with their bow and tomahawksand fought like little tigers. By this time the warriors began to take in the situation and began to give us an introduction to their Winchesters and old smooth bores. Which turned the tide for a while and caused some of the soldiers to bite the dust, but it was so cold that they could not compete with us in their naked condition and began to try to get away. We surrounded that part of the village occupied by the renegades who were going to roast our black hides and we all shouted: "Hey! you are playing the devil roasting our black hides. Why are you laying up here snoozing at this time of day? Trot out here and take your medicine'. All the time we were talking, we were pouring deadly vollies of leaden bail into their tents and by that time they had taken in the situation we had them foul. But I want you to know that they fought desperate, for they knew that no quarters are shown to renégaden. We cut, and we cut, and slashed until I suppose General Custer got tired of the bloody work, and we drew off on to the hill from whence we came and reckoned up our losses, which were very light, for the reason that it was so cold that the Indians could not fight and they had all their women and children in their way. Of the renegades, we killed all we could find in the camp.
Much has been said about Rain-in-the-face, I will give a description of him as I saw him: I think he was a half breed, large, portly, intelligent, and brave as a lion. He wore a hideous smile on his face and it was said that he wore the scalps of 300 white men about his war dress, which I believe was so. He was the worst Chief that we had to contend with. He and his family suffered severely in the above fight. He lost three sons and eight other children. Also five of his squaws' and for this loss he swore to cut Custer's heart out and drink his blood. Which it is said that he afterwards did. We went back to the village and burnt a few wigwams, which cost me a little more than had been bargained for. I5 miles up the valley was another Indian village that we did not know of, but they had been notified and had prepared a war party and was on us before we knew it. We turned our attention to them and shook them off. By this time, the weather had moderated a little which favored the Indians greatly, and you bet they took advantage of the opportunity. Now the tide had began to turn and we had to a assume the defensive and look out for ground to fight on. We found this too hot and had to get away. We had lost heavily by this time and a great many horses had been killed. Rain-in-the-face had taken command of all the warriors, and for three days we had to fight if ever men did, and if the weather had turned warm there would not have been one of us left to tell where the other one. But we got out of that scrape and shaped things up a little and pulled tor Fort Wallace 400 miles distance on half rations. Before we had got 100 miles, the weather turned warm like Spring and the Indian had fixed up, organized and was on to us 8 to 1 there was nothing for it but fight or burn, and we fought on the run when we could and when we had to stop we gave them the best we could. We had to travel after night to save our scalps. You see General Custer made a mistake by going over it the valley to bid them good-bye. For it cost us dearly in the end; we just got away and back to Fort Wallace with 60% men out of 768. Well no were at Fort Wallace now. Looking back over our journey and telling how each other acted: we were in good warm quarters and plenty to eat and plenty of clothes, drawing new horses, drilling, boxing and dancing. We were having a good time. Captain Onol came down to the quarters to join in the fun. We say to him,"Say B.. heard nothing about marching again?" He said "I don't know, heard Captain say a'while
ago that we would freeze to death. bin weather, my God!" Then he said;
"well I think that we will bare to go in two or three days." You may guess, how our feathers drooped. We had been in only one week, the bugle had sounded for dinner call and we were all seated when the Great sargent came to dining room door and shouted, "After dinner I want every man to form in line, to draw over shoes, gloves, cape of fur, doable suits of under clothing. We are under marching orders, hurry up, est and get out." Dinner eaten, we formed in line the Captain then made a speech something like the following, "Now men we have been out all through the cold weather and have suffered a great deal. We are going to draw clothing and I want every man to have plenty of clothes for we are to start in the morning for a 60 day campaign up in the Yellowstone mountains. The Indians surprised and massacred two companies of the 8th cavalry and are pressing the corps hard up. These and we will join them for the winter."
We have now come to January 1869 when we started on the Yellowstone
campaign. We made good time until we got to where the massacre had taken place and joined the troops operating in that district and made it warm for Mr. Redmun. While he made it hot for us. We stayed with them through January and marched for Fort Wallace to rest a month, which we needed very much. At Fort Wallace we scouted until July and then began to prepare for more work with our red brother. Well this is two years of my experience as a Soldier on the plains, if the printer accepts I will give the other three years.
September 5, 1899