The Army of the US Historical Sketches of Staff and Line with Portraits of Generals-in-Chief
The Fifth Regiment of Cavalry
By Capt. Eben Swift
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When Mr. Jefferson Davis, the war secretary in 1855, had secured the adoption of his pet scheme for the organization of two new mounted regiments, he set out at once to make them worthy of his patronage. Much opposition had been encountered from the class of politicians who are inimical to a regular army, who pretended to fear many plans for conquest abroad or reward for favorites at home, so that, among other compromises, about half of the new appointments were made from civil life. Among the officers of the Army, great rivalry existed for the new places, on account of the prospective increase in rank. Mr. Davis then displayed that fine judgment in the selection of men, which has been said to be the first requisite of greatness, and which afterwards enabled him to place the fate of the Southern Confederacy in the best hands from the early days of the war. Out of twenty officers who joined our regiment from the Regular Army in 1855, those who obtained the grade of general officer in the Rebellion were, Sidney Johnston, Robert E. Lee, Hardee, Emory, George H. Thomas, Van Dorn, Kirby Smith, Oakes, Innis Palmer, Stoneman, " Shanks " Evans, R. W. Johnson, Field, Gerrard, Cosby and Hood. Four of them commanded great armies in the field, and many of the others had large independent commands. Lowe was recommended by Grant, Thomas and Rosecrans, but he was pursued to the end by an enmity which prevented his passing the grade of colonel. Van Camp, whose early promise was as great as the best, was killed at the head of a charge on an Indian village. Among those who entered from civil life, Chambliss, Harrison, Royall and others, were worthy of high commands, but were disabled early in the war; O'Hara was the gifted author of the "Bivouac of the Dead;" Jenifer became a general officer in the armies of the South and was the inventor of the celebrated saddle which bears his name. Later came Fitzhugh Lee and Major, soon to be distinguished Confederate generals; and, in the first days of the war, Custer and McIntosh joined, fought themselves to captaincies, and were then detached to volunteer commands, where great honors awaited them. Another of the lieutenants of 1361 was General Richard Byrnes, who was killed in command of the Irish Brigade at Cold Harbor.
The beginnings of the regiment were in other ways worthy of its thoroughbred personnel. The very best horses were obtained, and the result was the only really excellent mount that the regiment has ever had. The average price was one hundred and fifty dollars, which would be more than equivalent to double that amount at this time. The purchase was made
mostly in Kentucky, by officers designated by a regimental order, and after six years of the hardest kind of service most of these horses were left behind with deep sorrow when General Twiggs surrendered to the State of Texas.
There is not much of interest to recall in the way of arms and equipment. Several patterns of carbine were in use, with Colt's revolvers and the inevitable sabre. The carbine was discarded in the early part of the war, but had to be resumed of course, and is now, with the revolver, replaced by a more efficient arm. The "beautiful white weapon" has remained unchanged, and history fails to record the size of its grave-yard, even in the hands of the cavaliers of the Fifth. Changes in equipment have not been radical, and not all of them have been approved by the best experience. For instance, what fate should pursue the snaffle-rein, to drive it out of use, while we keep the carbine-sling after thirty-five years?
There was the close fitting jacket, trimmed with yellow braid; the silken sash; the black hat, looped with an eagle at the side, with trailing plumes of ostrich feathers. Brass scales for the shoulder, to turn the sabre strokes of the enemy, were provided, but only used for full dress. There were no boots or gauntlets.
The first drills were conducted by Major Hardee, the author of the tactics of that day, and the early discipline soon felt the master hands of such men as Johnston, Lee and Thomas, assisted by as good a lot of soldiers as ever spurred steed in fight or foray. There were rollicking times too, and bouts where eager subs would have drained the brimming Council Cup of Rothenberg without a sigh. They tell of many a run after hounds or over the track, and of "Bumble" and "Eagle" and other famous racers, backed by the the [sic] light riders of the old regiment, who always carried its colors to the fore. And there was once a game in which a certain lieutenant waged a thousand dollars and did not hold a pair. He afterwards led the forlorn hope of an expiring cause, and the incident was cited in solemn council, to show that such a man would surely fight on the morrow.
A very poor ranch, such as you may run across now in some distant sagebrush Eden of the now frontier, built of stone or logs chinked with mud, with a clay floor and an earthen roof, formed a palatial residence. To such a home the ladies of the old army followed their lords, and counted themselves happy when it was no worse. In those early Texas days most of the time was passed under canvas, with a certainty of constant scouting and a change of station at least once a year. Articles which we regard as necessities, even ice and potatoes, were unheard of luxuries at many posts, and scurvy was a well-known word in hospital records. The houses of the few married men formed charming social resorts which helped to keep alive the graces and refinements of civilization. Many a jolly party met within the narrow quarters, and the Thanksgiving turkey was nonetheless enjoyed when the guests had to sit on the family beds in order to arrange themselves at table. General Johnston's quarters at Fort Mason consisted of one small room for himself and family.
The early service was well calculated to test the metal of officers and men. In the preceding year General Scott had reported that, in Texas,
Indian hostilites had been more destructive than at other points. Long before the regiment left, the hostiles had been driven far into the interior, and they had been harried in their own hunting grounds and villages. Called to patrol a frontier extending from the Red River in the north, to Fort McIntosh on the Rio Grande, it scouted far into New Mexico, fought in Indian Territory, and defeated Mexican or Indian marauders in old Mexico. Forty well contested engagements were fought with Lipan, Apache, Kiowa or Comanche Indians, and with Mexican guerillas. All who know how hard it is to catch an Indian on the war-path, will appreciate the hard riding, the winter cold, the summer thirst, the quarries trailed but never flushed, the wakeful nights, the heavy days, involved in that brief record. There was no disaster.
The most successful engagements were fought by an expedition to the Wichita Mountains in the winter of 1858-59, under Major Earl Van Dorn. In the two combats of this command over a hundred warriors were left dead on the field ; the villages and ponies were captured. Van Camp, already distinguished in several engagements, was killed at the head of his troop. Van Dorn, Kirby Smith and Fitzhugh Lee, were wounded; six enlisted men were killed, and twenty wounded. One of Van Dorn's wounds was at first supposed to be mortal; he was shot at close range by an arrow which went entirely through his body.
On the first occasion four troops, after a forced march of ninety miles in thirty-six hours, came upon. Buffalo Hump's Comanche camp, consisting of a hundred and twenty lodges, and between four and five hundred Indians. It was a little after daylight, and a complete surprise. The cavalry was formed in line of troops, in columns of twos, guide right, and so they dashed into the village, which lay among some rough ravines well filled with thick reeds and underbrush. The Indians rallied and fought desperately hand to hand. It was several hours before they were completely dislodged and then they fled, followed by the troops. On the second occasion, after much ineffectual scouting, a part of the same band was attacked again some months after, with like result. For these and other actions high praise was given. The pride of the Comanches was broken.
During the great Rebellion the regiment was engaged before the first defeat, and after the last triumph of the Federal forces. At Bull Run a battalion was with the last organized troops who opposed the Confederates; it served as rear-guard to Centerville and bivouacked on the ground where it lay before the battle. It helped to stop the last advance of Lee's army, and it had killed and "wounded at Appomatox on April 9, 1 S65. There were one hundred and twenty-five battles and minor actions in which loss in killed, wounded and missing, was suffered by one or the other combatant.
The cavalry received little encouragement in the early part of the war. It suffered from the well-known ignorance, in high places, of the fit management and proper use of the arm. The war was nearly half over when Mr. Lincoln asked General McClellan "what the horses did to fatigue anything," and about the same time the celebrated remark about "dead cavalrymen " was attributed to General Hooker, but never made. As a matter of fact the Fifth Cavalry performed some of its best service in those days, when
the arm was outnumbered and overworked. The brilliant dash at Fairfax, the capture of two companies of unbroken infantry by Harrison's troop at Hanover Court House, Custer at New Bridge, McIntosh at Sycamore Church, afforded a few of the examples of successful use of efficient cavalry in those early days. With battle records far exceeding that of the infantry, it was not called upon to suffer the terrible losses of foot troops in single engagements. The opportunities for mounted action were few. When dismounted, it was not its duty to fight desperately in attack or defense. But while the infantry had its season of rest the cavalry was constantly exposed, and suffered a large percentage of loss in almost daily fighting and scouting. Many were captured as a matter of course, from the isolated nature of its duties, but capture meant neither defeat nor dishonor; it generally showed that the trooper had ventured and risked too much.
A regular regiment, during the war, was under many disadvantages. Its field-officers, and many others, were commanding volunteers and serving on important duty elsewhere. The Fifth Cavalry, with the exception of a few months, was commanded by captains and lieutenants. The command of the regiment changed thirty-four times, and, curiously enough, it frequently served under men who had been in its ranks not very long before. It was often difficult to get one officer to a squadron. Casualties among general officers and those on detached service were slight, so that promotion was comparatively slow. In the matter of recruits, as the States, and many of the towns and counties, offered large bounties, the volunteer regiments were more easily kept up to their standard. There were ladies' aid societies, congressmen and newspapers, always watching the home organizations, mindful of their comfort, caring for their wounded, and praising their deeds. The regulars were deprived of these advantages.
There was many a tough tussle of outposts and advance and rear guards, where the cost was not counted and the road unexplored. As Private Mulvaney would have stated the case, the word was "hit first and frequent." The roster was greatly changed by the war. In place of the fire-eating Southerners and hard-riding Northerners of a few years before, we find that all the junior officers were now promotions from the ranks, the best of the sergeants and privates who had learned their trade so well in the good school of border war. There were English, Irish, Germans and Americans among them, and they were a brave, stiff-backed set, who got all the law and the prophets out of the blue book and the tactics. They kept up much of the old style and rigidity of discipline and formed an excellent model for the volunteer cavalry.
At the battle of Gaines' Mill on June 27, 1862, the regiment performed its most distinguished service. On that day, it will be remembered, the Confederate Army, reinforced by the corps of Stonewall Jackson from Northern Virginia, made four desperate attacks upon the Federal left under Fitz John Porter, who was occupying an open plateau, with temporary intrenchments, east of Powhite creek, his left protected by the marshes of the Chickahominy bottom. The sluggish creek flowed through deep banks, concealed by heavy timber; the high ground of the plateau was free of obstacles and suitable for cavalry over a strip varying from four hundred to
one thousand yards in width ; and in the breaks of the plateau, in rear of the extreme left of our line, were massed the weak cavalry brigades of Philip St. George Cooke. In front of the cavalry, the batteries of the reserve artillery were stationed.
It was after seven o'clock in the afternoon, the sun had sunk below the horizon, the heavy smoke of battle was hanging thicker over the field, and the last attack of the enemy had been made and won. Only the cavalry and a part of the artillery remained on this part of the field. A brigade of Texans, broken by their long advance, under the lead of the hardest fighter in all the Southern armies, came running on with wild yells, and they were a hundred yards from the guns. it was then that the cavalry commander ordered Captain Charles J. Whiting, with his regiment, to the charge. No one had blundered; it was the supreme moment for cavalry, the opportunity that comes so seldom on the modern field of war, the test of discipline, hardihood, and nerve. Right well was the task performed. The two hundred and twenty troopers of the Fifth Cavalry struck Longstreet's veterans square in the face. Whiting, his horse killed under him, fell stunned, at the feet of the Fourth Texas Infantry. Chambliss was torn almost to pieces with six wounds. Sweet was killed. Only one of the other officers was unwounded. In all, the loss in killed, wounded and missing, was fifty-eight, and twenty-four horses were known to, have been killed. Unsupported and almost without officers, the troopers were stopped by the woods of the creek bottom, returned, reformed, and were soon after opposed to the enemy in covering the retreat of the Federal Army. Two days later the same troops were engaged at Savage Station. The guns which were in condition to retire were saved. The facts of that charge speak for themselves. No action was ever more worthy a poet's genius; no cavalry charge was ever ridden better or against more hopeless odds of numbers. In other lands every survivor of Balaklava has been pensioned and decorated. The German nation will always delight over the record of its cavalry at Vionville and Mars-la-Tour, and the great Chancellor was never so proud as when he embraced the sons who rode in the ranks on that day. The memory of the sacrifice of French cavalry at Sédan is still a balm for many wounds. But while Cardigan, Brédow and Gallifet, each in his own land, received every honor, it is strange to relate that Whiting was dismissed for alleged disloyalty a few months after Gaines' Mill, reinstated after the war, and mustered out of service at the consolidation in 1870. The action of the cavalry received the censure of the Commander-in-Chief and was made the reason for the removal of General Cooke from command. It is not worth while to argue the points of the controversy. The curious searcher after facts will find them in the abundant writings of both Federals and Confederates.
This battle gave a strange instance of the fortune of war. Hood had served as a lieutenant under Whiting in the regiment before the war. Now, at the head of a Confederate brigade, he received the char-e of his former comrades. After the fight, finding Chambliss so desperately wounded on the field, he saw that his old friend had every care and attention. Such encounters were frequent. It was Fitzhugh Lee's own regiment of Virginia cavalry that overwhelmed Royall's outpost at Old Church, captured part of
his old troop and wounded a couple of officers. The Rebellion records show that Confederate commanders took some pride in reporting to the Commander-in-Chief that they had encountered his old regiment.
Several years of reconstruction duty, in small detachments, over almost every Southern State, varied by an occasional scrap with guerillas, and much destruction of moon-shine whiskey, were followed, in the fall of 1868, by orders to the frontier of Nebraska and Kansas. The rapid settlement of these States following the war, and the energetic construction of the Pacific railroads, bad rallied the savages of the plains to the defense of their hunting grounds. What the Comanches had been to Texas, these Cheyennes and Sioux are in the north. They are without fear, without faith, and without mercy, and warriors from immemorial tradition. Killing and stealing form alike their best ideas of earthly honor or of heavenly bliss. In their fight against the whites they have ever displayed a superb courage, which attracts our admiration but does not command our sympathy. It is folly to suppose that contact with white people has made them any more inhuman in their tastes than they have been for ages past.
A quick concentration united most of the regiment under General Eugene A. Carr, the senior major, in western Kansas. Then for over a year there was scurrying over trails hot and cold, along the frontier from the Canadian River in Texas to the Niobrara in Nebraska. The hostiles were often encountered, with varying success, and they were given one crushing defeat. They frequently attacked the troops, and no man's picket-pin was safe from their raids. The most terrible marauder of the lot was Tall Bull of the Cheyennes, and with him were joined the Sioux of Pawnee Killer and Whistler. Against them the efforts of the troops were mainly directed. In July, 1869, General Carr finally succeeded in locating these bands and determining the general direction in which they were travelling. He then marched one hundred and fifty miles in four days, passed around the hostile flank, and by a rapid countermarch approached their village at Summit Springs, Colorado, from an unexpected direction. As the troops moved out of a ravine, formed somewhat as they were at the Wichita village, the eighty-four lodges of the enemy could be seen twelve hundred yards away, and herds of horses peacefully cropping the grass of the slopes beyond. The charge was sounded and away they went like devils of dust over the dry open plain. The attack was so sudden, so terrible and so unexpected that the Indians had no time for defense. Their camp and ponies and many of the women and children were captured. Tall Bull and sixty of his warriors were killed. In the village lay the body of Mrs. Alderdice, a white woman captured in the Kansas settlements some months before. The squaws had found time in the hurry of their flight, to beat out her brains with rocks, and to strangle her babe who lay near by. Not far off was Mrs. Weichel, another white woman, shot through the body, but still living. These poor creatures who had seen their husbands butchered, their homes destroyed and themselves subjected to every human misery, were now struck down while the shouts of their deliverers were ringing in their ears. Mrs. Weichel finally recovered and married the hospital steward of the expedition, who had tended her through her sufferings.
In these campaigns William F. Cody acted as chief guide and scout, and first distinguished himself. For this battle the regiment received the congratulations of the various military commanders and the thanks of the Legislature of Nebraska. It ended Indian terrorism in two States for many years. The regiment occupied stations in Wyoming and Nebraska, and, after more scouting and some fighting, was ordered to distant service beyond the great divide.
And now the scene changes swiftly over rail and water, from high rolling prairie, of buffalo grass, cactus, sage bush, where the buffalo, antelope and prairie dog have their home, to Arizona. There a high plateau and a low plain had been jammed together in some monstrous battle of nature and left a ragged mass of mountain and cañon in wild confusion. There is no rougher bit of country on the continent. Here the Apache made his den, centuries ago, and from here he raided the more peaceful peoples of upland and lowland, far and near. Secure in a stronghold that seemed impregnable, he turned his hand against every other living thing and grew more and more like an animal in his wants and desires. The presence of a few troops had encouraged small settlements, but outside the half dozen large towns and a few posts no man's life or property was safe. The rascality of the savages was encouraged by the attempts of philanthropists to make a peaceful solution of the problem, while the godless Apache laughed at the fool of a white man, fattened his squaws and pappooses at the agencies and sought pastime in getting drunk on tizwin, and killing greasers or white men and stealing their stock. So things went on from the days of Cortez, and the Lord only knows how long before, until General George Crook, lieutenant-colonel of infantry, went to command the Department of Arizona. He obtained permission to compel the Indians to stay on their reserves, and, when they left, to follow and kill them. To do this, troops were put at the agencies, the Indians were counted at stated times and they were hired to track and pursue each other. The Fifth Cavalry arrived in time and was so disposed as to be the general's most important instrument in accomplishing his work. In September, 1872, he reported a list of fifty-four outrages committed in a year, not by any means a complete list, but only such as he was willing to vouch for. One of these affairs affords a fair sample of the lot. Lieutenant Reid T. Stewart, while travelling on a buck-board with a soldier driver was ambushed in Davidson's Cañon and killed. The driver was pursued, captured and tortured to death with lances and knives,—a fate which Stewart himself probably escaped by being killed at the first fire.
Shortly after this affair General Crook's campaign commenced in earnest. Bodies of troops swept over the infested district as with a broom. Major Mason with three troops jumped four rancherias at Muchos Cañons in the Santa Maria mountains and killed forty warriors. Major Brown with three troops, struck the chief Apache stronghold at the caves in Salt River Cañon and killed fifty-seven warriors. Troop "A" with another command fought two engagements at Turrit Mountain, where thirty-six bucks were slain. Lieutenant Michler with "K" Troop corralled a war party on Tonto Creek and killed seventeen warriors. There were many smaller
engagements and on the 7th of April, the department commander announced the first peace to the Territory of Arizona. Twenty-five hundred hostiles returned to their reserves, not concealing their hatred of the whites, but confessing their terror of the troops. The real force of Apache resistance was indeed broken but there were many bands of defiant renegades to be punished. In May, Lieutenant Almy lost his life at San Carlos as a result of an extensive conspiracy there, and probably two-thirds of the fighting and scouting was yet to come. In October, General Crook was promoted a brigadier-general for his services in these campaigns. Unfortunately the Chiricahuas were exempt from his jurisdiction just as their turn came to receive their lesson, and thus the bloody wars of some years afterwards were not prevented. Out of ninety-seven affairs of the Fifth Cavalry in Arizona there are only at my hand official statements of losses on thirty-three occasions: In these there were five hundred and ninety-nine Indian warriors killed, and many hundred captured, and of necessity these figures could only give the minimum loss sustained. These results were reached by the hardest kind of work. "The officers and men worked day and night, and with our Indian allies, would crawl upon their hands and knees for long distances over terrible cañons and precipices where the slightest miss-step would have resulted in instant death, in order that when daylight came they might attack their enemy and secure the advantage of surprise so indispensable in this kind of warfare. In almost every instance they did this with most complete success, almost invariably surprising the Indians and never giving them a chance to rally. There is hardly a space of ten miles square, in the country operated over, that has not some terrible lava-bed, or precipitous cañon with fortified caves, which the Indians could have held against all odds and with terrible loss of life had the enemy been approached in daylight, and assailed when they were on the alert."
General Schofield thanked the troops officially for their "extraordinary service," and General William T. Sherman said that "the services of the Fifth Cavalry in Arizona were unequalled by that of any cavalry regiment during the War of the Rebellion."
Then came the overland march to Kansas in 1875, and brief service there, which though fairly active, afforded no prospect of any serious work, until the great Sioux war in the north assumed alarming proportions. Early in 1876 it became evident that the troops in the field were not strong enough to cope with the hostiles. In the light of subsequent events this may have been owing to the fact that the troops of two departments were in the field under two generals instead of one. At any rate the regiment soon found itself, still led by General Carr, moved rapidly to the north, to serve again in the Department of the Platte, which it had left such a short time before.
Gen. William H. Emory had just been retired, and on the first day of July, on the South Cheyenne River, the regiment hailed its new colonel, Gen. Wesley Merritt, its former brigade and division commander in famous Virginia days. Then up and away to the fight on the War Bonnet, and the chase of the surprised Cheyennes into their agency, and the hurried march to Join Crook's command on Goose Creek. No need to tell again of such recent and oft-told events as those which follow,—of the meet on the Rose-
bud, Custer's trail, the fight at Slim Buttes, the "mud march," "six months without a dime," rations of Indian pony and putrid dried buffalo. In the year most of the troops marched over two thousand miles; ninety-three of our horses died of exhaustion and starvation between Heart River and the Belle Fourche during one week in September. General Crook's tired battalions reached civilization again, after many privations, and although they did not destroy the enemy, they caused him to break and scatter, so that he never again made a formidable resistance. Gordon's battalion returned during the winter from the fight with Cheyennes at Bates Creek, and soon Sitting Bull was across the border, Crazy Horse was dead, and Dull Knife's hard fighting band was destroyed. General Crook had secured peace for his Department.
Short work of tailor and barber, with drills, feed and grooming, soon made another smart regiment. Several active seasons followed, with summers and winters in Idaho after Bannocks; in the Sand Hills of Nebraska after Cheyennes; on the Stinking Water trying to hit a last blow at the Nez Percé's; along the flanks of the Big Horns, patrolling the old hunting grounds of the Sioux; at Omaha and Chicago during the railway riots. These occupations, mingled with well remembered days of song and dance at Fort D. A. Russell, took up the time until the winter of 1879.
One frosty morning of October, news came that Major Thornburgh's command, consisting mostly of our own people, had been roughly handled by Utes in Colorado. It takes little time to put well-equipped troops in the field, so in a few hours a command of cavalry and infantry had made the journey by rail, and were at Rawlins, Wyoming, with all details complete, ready to push on to the relief of the besieged troops and the agency beyond.
The Utes were a powerful tribe, divided among several agencies in Colorado and Utah. They had been at peace with the whites for many years, but were known to be proud and warlike. If the entire nation had joined in this uprising, and gathered recruits, as Indians always do, among the ambitious youth of all other tribes, there was prospect of some heavy work. A month later over three thousand men were in the field against these Indians. The first troops that gathered at Rawlins, consisted of four troops of cavalry and several companies of infantry,—in all about three hundred and fifty men—while the besieged force amounted to nearly half that number. To have waited under such circumstances, until more of the hurrying troops had arrived, would have been fairly prudent, and justified by all recent experience. On the other hand was the pressing danger of the troops on Milk Creek, with one-third of their number killed and wounded, and the only surgeon wounded. No doubts disturbed the serene mind of the officer in command. With entire singleness of purpose, and no thought except for the immediate danger of the besieged troops, he gathered together such force as he could, packed his infantry in some country wagons, and plunged into the one hundred and sixty odd miles of mountain and wilderness that lay between the railroad and the scene of the recent disaster. The march was made in two days and a part of a third, and considering circumstances of time, distance, and good condition of men and horses at the end, it was a remarkable instance of the forced march of a well-conducted command.
It was an exciting ride, the last night particularly, as we forged on through the mountains, expecting every moment to find our slaughtered comrades or to hear the crack of the rifles of Utes in our way. Now the road ran along the edge of a precipice whose black shadows concealed many hundred feet of chasm, where some of the huddling pack-mules slipped and were never seen again; it widens out a little where naked bodies of dead teamsters are shining in the moonlight; two brothers met there, one riding with our advance, the other lying in the trail, with one stiff arm raised as if to grasp your horse's bridle as he jumped aside. Then on until mountains are past, and the guide tells us each moment that we are near the spot. That guide's indecision is exasperating, but at last we get there. There is a challenge and a bugle call, and General Merritt and his headquarter party ride for the rifle-pits at a dead run. Small time for hand-shakings then, for although the Indians have made no attack, the morning sun soon rises and shows them about a mile away, massing as if to defend the entrance to Yellow Jacket Pass, where they had driven Thornburgh back before. There was skirmishing in the morning and the Indians hurried away, leaving the troops to find their dead and care for the wounded. The agency was a short march beyond; on the road were more swollen and distorted bodies of dead civilians, and seven more at the agency, with pigs and fowls and carrion birds feeding on their flesh. The Indians showed their contempt of Meeker's ideas about planting corn, by driving a wooden peg down his throat, apparently while he was alive, and by dragging him, with a chain around his neck, up and down in front of his house. The women were carried away.
After all this, and the massacre of some more of our own people, it may well be believed that the command was in a frame of mind to start on a Ute hunting trip, and submitted with bad grace to the suspension of hostilities ordered at the request of the Interior Department. The troops went back to White River, and dug holes in the ground and lay there, until Ute Jack, wearing poor old Cherry's spike-tailed coat, with Colorao and Johnson, and their precious gang, went to Washington and talked pleasantly of how they had ravished the women and butchered the men, and the Ute war of 1879 was ended.
That was the last Indian campaign, although there have been several big scares, notably in Indian Territory, in 1885, when the Cheyennes became excited over the murder of an Indian by a white man, and were quieted by the good management of General Sheridan.
The season of rest from Indian wars afforded opportunity for instruction of larger bodies of troops than are ordinarily collected in our country. In the fall of 1888, Colonel James F. Wade organized a camp of instruction for the regiment at Camp Rockwell, and again in 1889 at Camp Schofield the same plan was pursued on a larger scale. Two regiments of cavalry, three batteries of light artillery, and sufficient infantry to represent a brigade, in a hypothetical military situation, went into camp upon Chilocco Creek in the Cherokee Strip. The formations for attacks and defense, the dispositions for security and information, and the operations of hostile contact, were practised in accord with proper military principles. After about three weeks of most instructive work the troops departed for their posts,
Here and there the record shows a feat of surpassing valor, as when First Sergeant John W. Spangler killed six Indians in a single encounter. He won the honorable mention of his department commander, and died a captain of cavalry. Another hero, less fortunate, because he fought on the wrong side, was a nameless Comanche Indian. To cover the flight of his squaws and pappooses and friends, he dismounted in the way of the charging troops, and like Horatius of old he held them at bay. He wounded Major George H. Thomas and five enlisted men, one mortally, before he fell, pierced by a score of wounds. Perhaps his conquered race may keep his memory still in song and story, but the annals of the victor do not even give his name. Brief mention only may be made of the way John B. Hood showed the stuff he was made of, in the very first revolver charge fighting four times his number of savages, and killing more of them than he had men in his command; how Harrison, with thirty men, charged a brigade of cavalry to save his pickets; how the Greys went through Fairfax.
Not all of war is made up of death and suffering; where the good soldier rides there are acts of mercy found, and deeds worthy of any day of chivalry. We might tell the story of a trooper who once saved an Indian baby from the wild destruction of an Apache rancheria by Indian allies, shared his blanket at night with the mewling little savage, and carried it many hard miles by day until he could turn it over to its own tribe. Again, did Ash ride out and draw the fire of a brigade so that he might tell a straight story of their numbers? That was war too, but the delighted yells of the enemy when each man of them had fired and missed gave a dash of kindness to war's grim visage after all. Or again, when a village was taken, rich with plunder of the wide border, did not the soft-hearted cavalrymen get together nine hundred dollars that were found there, and give them to the wretched white woman whom the Indians had left for dead?
The history of our regiment is the plain story of an average cavalry regiment in our army for thirty-five years. It has wandered much, and in many scenes of civil strife, riot, and border war its guidons have been found. Its graves mark the spots where civilization has advanced and where disunion has been made impossible. No argument, save its simple record, is needed to expose the fallacy of the speeches of Senators Houston, Benton, Doolittle and others, which contain a fair sample of the views of the enemies of the Regular Army.
Recent years have been years of peace, but the regiment's arms have not been "rusted in a vile repose." Least glorious and most disagreeable of all its duty has been that of enforcing the laws in the Indian country, guarding an empire of land against our poor and needy citizens who have ever trespassed on that forbidden ground. This duty has been gently and well performed. The soldier is nowhere more respected than in the land of home-seekers and boomers. To him all men have turned in days of disorganization and danger, and on the opening of Oklahoma, where much corruption was supposed to exist, no scandal attached to the United States troops. Perhaps this fact may deserve a place beside more gaudy laurels won at Wichita Village, at Gaines' Mill, or at Summit Springs.
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