The Army of the US Historical Sketches of Staff and Line with Portraits of Generals-in-Chief

Fifth Regiment of Infantry

By Military Service Institution

« Return to Table of Contents

The first Fifth Infantry formed in our service after the adoption of the Constitution was organized under the Act of July 16, 1798. At that time a war with France seemed inevitable, but the danger passed away and this regiment was discharged under the Act of May 14, 1800.

The unfortunate affair of the Chesapeake and Leopard, followed by the decrees of the Emperor Napoleon in regard to neutral commerce, and the retaliatory measures adopted by the British government, caused a degree of excitement in the United States in 1807-1808, which bid fair to lead to war and did lead to an increase in the strength of the army. As a part of this increase the second Fifth Infantry came into being under the Act of April 12, 1808. Its first colonel was Alexander Parker, who had been a captain in the 2d Virginia Regiment of the Continental army; but he resigned after a service of a year and a half, and in the next five years had five successors. Evidently the commission of colonel in the regular army was valued at a much lower rate then than at the present time.

This regiment took part in the action at Cook's Mill on Lyon's Creek, Upper Canada (Ontario), October 19, 1814. The successful sortie from Fort Erie which had caused the British to raise the siege and retreat to their old entrenchments on the Chippeway River, had taken place a month before, and the American army on the Niagara now numbered some 8000 men. Hearing of a considerable quantity of grain belonging to the British at Cook's Mill, a brigade was sent out October 18 to destroy it, which camped that night in the vicinity of the mill. The British attacked during the night but were repulsed. They renewed the attack in the morning, but the main body came up, "Colonel Pinkney with his Fifth Regiment was ordered to turn the right flank of the enemy and cut off his field-piece," other dispositions were also promptly made, and after a sharp action the British fell back in confusion, retreating to Fort George and Burlington Heights.

In May, 1815, this Fifth Infantry was consolidated with the 18th and 35th regiments to form the Eighth Infantry, which regiment was discharged the service, June 1, 1821.

A new Fifth Infantry was organized May 15, 1815, under the Act of March 3, 1815, by the consolidation of the 4th, 9th, 13th, 21st, 40th, and 46th regiments of infantry, and this regiment is now in service.

Its first colonel was James Miller, the one who at Lundy's Lane, when asked if he could take a certain work from the enemy, replied modestly, "I'll try, sir," and proceeded to take it in the most gallant style. None stood higher than he. He was brevetted a brigadier general and was given a gold medal by Congress.


The other officers of the regiment, as given by the roster for May 17, 1815, were Lieutenant Colonel J. L. Smith, Major J. McNeal, Jr. (colonel by brevet for Lundy's Lane), Captains J. H. Vose (brevet major for Mackinac), S. Burbank (brevet major for Lundy's Lane), Geo. Bender, M. Marston (brevet major for Fort Erie), W. L. Foster, Peter Pelham, J. Fowle, E. Childs, David Perry, and James Pratt.
First Lieutenants H. Whiting, E. Ripley, I. Plympton, D. Chandler, J. Cilley, J. Ingersoll, Otis Fisher, J. Gleason, J. W. Holding and B. F. Larned.
Second Lieutenants N. Clark, S. Keeler, S. Robinson, J. Craig, G. H. Balding, I. K. Jacobs, G. W. Jacobs, A. D. Dake, P. R. Green, and C. Blake.
Surgeon Sylvester Day, and Surgeon's Mates E. L. Allen and J. P. Russell.

Regimental Headquarters were established at Detroit, Michigan, in December, 1815, and probably remained there until 1821, but in May of 1821 seven companies of the regiment were at St. Peters, two at Prairie du Chien, and one at Fort Armstrong.

In 1825 the headquarters were at Fort Snelling, and from that time until 1845 the regiment occupied some three or four of the following named posts, all of which were within the limits of the present States of Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and Nebraska;—Forts Armstrong, Atkinson, Brady, Crawford, Dearborn, Gratiot, Howard, Mackinac, Wilkins and Winnebago, and Detroit Barracks.

There was undoubtedly occasional field service during this long period, usually to overawe the Indians, but on one occasion the regiment and the Indians came into actual conflict. This was during the Black Hawk War of 1841-42. The Indians had been defeated on the 21st of July, 1842, by the volunteers, and were in full flight for the Mississippi. General Atkinson,

with a force of regulars and volunteers numbering some 1400 men, came up with them August 2, 1842, near the junction of Bad Axe Creek with the Mississippi, attacked and completely routed them, thus ending the war. A part, if not all, of the regiment was engaged in this battle.

General Miller resigned in 1819 to become governor of the Arkansas Territory and was succeeded by Josiah Snelling, a distinguished officer for whom Fort Snelling was named, who died in August, 1828. Lieutenant Colonel William Lawrence, of the Second Infantry, who had been brevetted in 1814 for his gallant defense of Fort Bowyer, Ala., became colonel of the Fifth in place of Snelling, but resigned in 1831 and was succeeded by Brevet Brigadier General G. M. Brooke, promoted from the Fourth, who commanded the regiment until his death twenty years later.

Early in the year 1845 the Mexican minister at Washington had protested against the annexation of Texas to the United States, but Congress finally assented to it, and while Texas was framing her constitution as a future State, the President ordered the concentration of a body of U. S. troops between the River Nueces and the Rio Grande for her protection should she be attacked by Mexico. The Fifth Infantry was among the regiments designated for this duty, and on the 11th of October, 1845, five companies of the regiment, under Lieutenant Colonel McIntosh, reached Corpus Christi, Texas, and reported to General Z. Taylor, who had been


designated to command this "Army of Occupation." On the 9th of March, 1846, the march to the Rio Grande began, and on the 28th the army reached that river opposite Matamoras and there went into camp. General Taylor had with him about 2300 men, including the 2d Dragoons, three light batteries, a battalion of foot artillery, and the 3d, 4th, 5th, 7th, and 8th regiments of infantry.

General Taylor's depot was at Point Isabel—27 miles distant—and the Mexicans were soon reported to be in force on his line of supply. Fortifying the position opposite Matamoras and leaving a small garrison there, he marched the main body of the army to Point Isabel, but met with no opposition by the way. Having fortified that post he started upon the return and encountered the Mexican army in force at Palo Alto on the 8th of May.

The action began at 2 o'clock P. M., and for some time was conducted almost wholly by the artillery. About 3 o'clock " a large body of the enemy's red lancers charged the 5th Infantry with a view to cutting off our wagon train. They were met with the most perfect tranquility, and a discharge of musketry from the 5th told us their fate. They fled precipitately, leaving men, horses and guidons on the field." The action lasted until about 7 P. M., when the enemy retreated.

General Taylor resumed the advance early on the 8th and encountered the Mexicans during the afternoon in position at a sort of ravine, called Resaca de la Palma, which ran obliquely to his line of advance. The Mexican artillery swept the road by which the American army must advance, and their best troops were in support. The battle began at once. May made his famous charge, in which he captured the Mexican guns, but was unable to carry them off; then the infantry,—chiefly the 5th and 8th,—charged the Mexican centre, breaking it and driving the Mexicans in utter rout before them. The American loss in these two battles was three officers and 35 men killed, and 13 officers and about 100 men wounded.

The American army soon afterward occupied Matamoras, and in August and September moved up the Rio Grande to Camargo and thence to Monterey, before which city it arrived September 19, 1846, scarcely 7000 strong.

The Fifth Infantry was in Worth's Division and took part in the turning movement by which the enemy's line of communication was cut, and he was shut up in the city and forced to surrender. It was in the second line and was not actively engaged until the first line attacked Federation Hill and was seen to be threatened by heavy Mexican reinforcements.

"This induced General Worth to order Colonel P. F. Smith forward, with the Fifth Infantry under Major Martin Scott, to take part in the contest. Captain C. F. Smith (commanding a part of the first line) drove the enemy from the battery and breastworks nearest to us, but he then discovered another work called Fort Soldado, several hundred yards further on, and there was great emulation among the regiments to see which should reach it first. The Fifth Infantry won the race and went in over the parapet at one end as the Mexicans went out of the other."

Soon after daylight on the 23d, the suburbs of the city were occupied by the troops of the division and an advance from house to house continued all day. The enemy was now cooped in between Twiggs' Division on one side, and Worth's on the other, and on the 24th of September capitulated,


surrendering the city but marching out with their arms and with colors flying.

This is the last action in which the regiment took part in Northern Mexico, for in January, 1847, it was ordered to the mouth of the Rio Grande preparatory to a transfer to General Scott's line. At this time it numbered 23 officers and 397 men.

The Fifth Infantry did not take an active part in the siege of Vera Cruz, and Worth's Division, of which it formed a part, did not reach the field of Cerro Gordo until the enemy had displayed the white flag. The Division then took the advance and occupied the City and Castle of Perote on the 22d of April, capturing all the enemy's material there.

Eight companies of the regiment were in the thick of the fight at Churubusco, C and D at that time being away on escort duty. Company H also, although present, was detached from the regiment and formed part of Colonel C. F. Smith's light infantry battalion. The regiment went into action with 14 officers and 370 men, losing two officers wounded and 49 men killed, wounded and missing. It was in the 2d Brigade, Worth's Division, and took part in the turning movement which forced the evacuation of the enemy's works at San Antonio, and then followed the fleeing enemy rapidly along the causeway to Churubusco. Lieutenant Colonel McIntosh, commanding the Fifth, became the brigade commander in the midst of the action by the wounding of Colonel Clarke, and Brevet Lieutenant Colonel M. Scott succeeded him in command of the regiment. Arriving before the tête de pont at Churubusco the regiment moved around the enemy's works to the right, and "was among the first to storm them and drive the enemy's troops towards the city."

On this date, August 20, 1847, the absent companies,—C and D,—had just finished a march of 14 days as part of the escort to a train from Vera Cruz to Jalapa, having had four engagements by the way,—at Paso Ovejas, The National Bridge, Cerro Gordo, and Las Animas,—with the Mexican guerillas, who believed that the train contained a large amount of specie.

The battle of Molino del Rey gave an opportunity for the regiment to show its metal which was taken advantage of to the fullest extent. It was represented on the assaulting party by Captain Merrill and 100 men; Company H was still with the light battalion, and Companies C and D were still absent.

Worth's Division was under arms at 3 o'clock on the morning of the 8th September, 1847, and by four o'clock was in position and ready for the assault upon the enemy's works. As soon as it was light enough to distinguish his position the assaulting column moved forward.

"At the distance of 200 yards the enemy opened on us with round and grape shot with considerable effect, the ground being perfectly level. I instantly ordered the double quick step; the line advanced rapidly and immediately came within close musket range. I found the enemy securely and strongly posted within his fort, and lines on either flank extending beyond view. He had extended his artillery, which was placed a little in advance, and with his immense superiority in numbers, and comparatively secure, was enabled to concentrate all his fire upon our ranks, already very much reduced in numbers. Myself struck down with a musket ball, I was unable to see the

state of the contest for a few moments, and was soon after obliged to leave the field, not, however, before witnessing the movement of the gallant light battalion to support the advance. The assaulting column continued the combat, in conjunction with the other corps of the Division, until the enemy's positions were all carried and we remained in possession of the field; after which there being but three officers left and the rank and file very much reduced, they joined their respective regiments."*

The position assigned the regiment was on the left of the Division line, near Duncan's Battery, where it also charged the enemy's fortified line, the great losses sustained testifying to the gallantry of the attack.

"Brevet Colonel McIntosh, temporarily in command of the brigade, was thrice wounded while gallantly engaged in urging on the command. He is happily still preserved to us. Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Scott, commanding the regiment, was very active, as he always was, in leading and urging on the regiment to the charge. When within about 20 yards of the enemy, he received a mortal wound and almost immediately expired. He left no better or more gallant soldier to lament his fall, and met his fate with his face to the enemy at the head of his command. The conscientious, gallant and noble Merrill was detached with the storming party and fell early in the action while waving his sword above his head and urging on his men to the charge."†

The regiment (exclusive of Companies C, D and H) numbered 13 officers and 342 men on the date of this battle, and its loss was 3 officers and 27 men killed; 4 officers and 107 men wounded; and 5 men missing,—a loss of 40 per cent. of its entire strength.

A storming party of 10 officers and 260 men, volunteers, was furnished by Worth's Division for the storming of the Castle of Chapultepec, September 13, and the remainder of the Division was ordered to support Pillow's Division; but the support was called upon early in the day, and the 2d Brigade, mingling with the advancing forces, entered with them into the Castle of Chapultepec. Meantime the 1st Brigade moved along the San Cosme road, followed very soon by the victorious 2d Brigade from the Castle. Arriving at 250 yards from the Garita San Cosme, the 2d Brigade was ordered to take the buildings on the left of the road "and, by the use of bars and picks, burrow through from house to house, to carry the right of the Garita." At 5 o'clock a position was reached from which it was necessary to make a dash for the gate. General Worth says:

"The moment had now arrived for the final and combined attack upon the last stronghold of the enemy in my quarter; it was made by our men springing as if by magic, to the tops of the houses into which they had patiently and quietly made their way with bar and pick, and to the utter surprise and consternation of the enemy, opening upon him, within easy range, a destructive fire of musketry. A single discharge, in which many of his gunners were killed at their pieces, was sufficient to drive him in confusion from his breastworks; when a prolonged shout from our brave fellows announced that we were in possession of the Garita of San Cosine, and already in the City of Mexico."

The City of Mexico surrendered September 14, 1847, and the war was virtually over.

Thirty officers of the regiment had served with it at different times

  • *Report of Brevet Major George Wright, 8th Infantry, commanding assaulting column.
  • † Report of Captain Wm. Chapman, 5th Infantry, Commanding Regiment.


during the war, and of these 7 were killed or mortally wounded, 8 were more or less severely wounded, 1 was murdered while carrying dispatches and 1 died of disease.

Seven were twice brevetted and 11 received one brevet each, while 24 of the 30 are mentioned one or more times as "distinguished in action." Only eight officers of the regiment,—Major Martin Scott, Captains M. E. Merrill, and William Chapman, and Lieutenants S. H. Fowler, M. Rosecrans, E. B. Strong, J. P. Smith and P. A. Farrelly,—served in the field from the beginning to the end of the war, and of these Major Scott, Captain Merrill, and Lieutenant Strong were killed at Molino del Rey, and Lieutenant Smith at Chapultepec.

Peace was declared in May, 1848, and on the 12th of June the last of the American troops left the City of Mexico. The Fifth was sent to the Arkansas and Indian Territories, and on January 1, 1849, its companies were occupying Forts Gibson, Smith, Washita and Towson.

The veteran colonel of the regiment,—George M. Brooke,—was at this time commanding the 8th Military Department, with the brevet rank of major general which had been conferred upon him for services during the war. He died at his headquarters,—San Antonio, Texas,—March 9, 1851. Lieutenant Colonel Gustavus Loomis, 6th Infantry, was promoted to the Fifth in his stead, and continued to be its colonel until he was retired in 1863.

In 1851 the Fifth relieved the Seventh in Texas, and at first occupied posts on the Clear Fork and Red Fork of the Brazos River, finally concentrating at Fort Belknap, on the Red Fork, eight miles above its junction with the Clear Fork,—which post was established June 13, 1851, and named for Lieutenant Colonel W. G. Belknap, then commanding the regiment.

In January, 1854, the regiment was at Fort McIntosh, and later, a part of it occupied Fort Ringgold; but in 1857 it was sent to Florida, with headquarters at Fort Myers. General Scott's G. O. No. 4, series of 1857, mentions the following fight in which a small part of the regiment was engaged.

"Lieutenant Edmund Freeman, 5th Infantry, reconnoitring with a small party in the Big Cypress Swamp, near Bowleg's town, Florida, was attacked by the Seminoles, March 5, himself and three of his men severely wounded and one man killed. Captain Carter L. Stevenson, 5th Infantry, called by express from Fort Keats 20 miles distant, came rapidly to the relief of Lieutenant Freeman's party, attacked the enemy, and, after a gallant skirmish, put them to flight, with an evident loss to the Indians, the extent of which could not be ascertained, owing to the density of the hummock."

The tour of service of the regiment in Florida was very short, for in June, 1857, an expedition to Utah was organized, of which it formed a part, and in September of that year it was at Fort Laramie. On the 4th of October, under Lieutenant Colonel C. A. Waite, it reached Camp Winfield, U. T., about thirty miles northwest from Fort Bridger. Here it remained until July, 1858, when it entered the Valley of Salt Lake with the "Army of Utah," taking position at Camp Floyd, afterwards called Fort Crittenden. Here or in this vicinity it remained without incident of note until


the fall of 1860, when it was transferred to New Mexico and stationed at Forts Defiance, Fontleroy, Stanton, and Hatch's Ranch.

The outbreak of the Rebellion found the regiment still in New Mexico, but in May and June, 1861, it was concentrating at Albuquerque and Fort Union with a view to a transfer East. The remonstrances of the department commander, however, caused a revocation of the order, and in February, 1862, the regiment was still in New Mexico, and five of its companies formed a part of the garrison of Fort Craig. Four of these companies, B, D, F and I, took part in the battle of Valverde, on the 21st of that month.

At first this action promised to be a victory and the enemy was driven some distance, but he rallied and attacked the flank of the Union army, forcing it to retreat. The four companies of the Fifth performed the most valuable service of the day in covering the final retreat. General Canby says:

"The movement of Selden's column (four companies of the Fifth Infantry), in the immediate presence and under the fire of the enemy, was admirably executed, the command moving with deliberation, halting occasionally to allow the wounded to keep up with it, and many of the men picking up and carrying with them the arms of their dead or wounded comrades."

Companies A and G, under Captain Lewis, took part in the action of March 28, 1862, at Apache Cañon, N. M. They formed part of Major Chivington's column, which was sent to attack the enemy's rear. The attack was successful and the enemy's train was captured and burned. To Captain Lewis' battalion was assigned the duty of capturing a field-piece, which it did effectually, "Captain Lewis capturing and spiking the gun after having five shots discharged at him. * * * Captain Lewis had the most dangerous duty assigned him, which he performed with unfaltering heroism."

The regiment took part in the action at Peralta, N. M., April 15, 1862. General Canby had concentrated his forces and on that date drove the Confederates out of their positions in front and in rear of the town. During the afternoon preparations were made for continuing the action, but, that night the enemy evacuated the town and retreated towards Texas. A vigorous pursuit was made, and during the night of the 16th the enemy abandoned a large portion of his train and fled into the mountains.

On the 10th of August, 1862, four companies of the regiment met Genera Carleton's column from California at Las Cruses, and at the end of September Companies D, E, F and G were at Peralta under Captain Bristol, and Companies A, B, I and K, at Fort Craig under Captain Archer.

The regiment remained in New Mexico without further incident of note until the redistribution of the regular regiments in 1866. It was then assigned to the Department of the Missouri, comprising the States of Missouri, Kansas, and the territories of Colorado and New Mexico. Although the companies of the regiment were not called upon to take part in any of the great campaigns of the war, many of the officers who belonged or had belonged to it were found fighting on one side or the other. Generals David Hunter, H. P. Van Cleve, J. C. Robinson, C. S. Hamilton,


J. J. Abercrombie, T. H. Neill, W. W. Burns, A. T. A. Torbert, and R. S. Granger, all held actual rank as general officers in the volunteer forces; and Generals Daniel Ruggles, C. L. Stevenson, W. N. R. Beall, A. Gracie, Jr., and B. M. Thomas were found upon the opposite side. On the 20th of October, 1868, regimental headquarters and two companies were at Fort Riley, and the other companies were at Forts Wallace, Hays, Lyon, Reynolds, and Camps Davidson and Cottonwood Creek, all in Kansas.

On the 1st of June, 1863, Colonel Loomis retired from active service. He had not served with the regiment since July, 1857, after which time he was commanding the Department of Florida, or was absent with leave, until after the Fifth had left Utah. From August, 1861, until the date of his retirement, he had been the Superintendent of the General Recruiting Service for the regular army.

John F. Reynolds, major general of volunteers and lieutenant colonel 14th Infantry, succeeded Colonel Loomis, and just one month later was killed at Gettysburg, promoting Daniel Butterfield, lieutenant colonel of the 12th and at that time major general of volunteers, who remained the colonel of the Fifth until he resigned, March 14, 1870, when Brevet Major General Nelson A. Miles, colonel of the 40th Infantry, was transferred to the Fifth to fill the vacancy.

The service of the regiment in Kansas was far from being uneventful, yet few opportunities were offered for brilliant achievements.

In September, 1868, Colonel G. A. Forsyth with 50 scouts followed the trail of an Indian party to the Arickaree Fork of the Republican River where he was attacked by about 700 Indians. After a very gallant fight he repulsed them, but they surrounded him and held him on the battle field for eight days, until the arrival of a hundred men from Fort Wallace, sent by Brevet Lieut. Col. Bankhead, 5th Infantry "with the most commendable energy" to his relief.

General Sheridan in his report for 1868 says: —"In addition there were a number of movements from posts, especially from Forts Wallace, Dodge, Lyon, and Hays, in which some Indians were killed."

Under the Act of March 3, 1869, the Fifth Infantry still retaining its own designation, was consolidated with one-half of the 37th Infantry, seven captains and fifteen lieutenants of the old regiment remaining with the new. The field officers were all changed, Brevet Major General Nelson A. Miles becoming the colonel; Brevet Major General C. R. Woods the lieutenant colonel; and Brevet Lieutenant Colonel George Gibson the major.

The 37th Regiment of Infantry was originally authorized as the 3d Battalion of the 19th Infantry under the Act of July 29, 1861; but it was not fully organized as a battalion until 1866, its companies having been formed in 1865-66. It therefore saw no service in the Rebellion. In the reorganization of 1869 the 3d Battalion of the 19th Infantry became the 37th Regiment of Infantry.

Early in May, 1870, the Indians raided the line of the Kansas Pacific R. R., and General Pope, reports

"As soon as the news of the raid reached me by telegraph I directed Lieutenant
Colonel C. R. Woods, 5th Infantry, commanding Fort Wallace, to take charge of the region of country along the railroad from Wallace to Denver and to transfer his headquarters to some convenient point between those places. I gave him general command for this service of the troops at Wallace, Lyon and Reynolds. * * * Colonel Woods promptly distributed his infantry force along the line of the roads and sent out four troops of cavalry under Major Reno, 7th Cavalry, in pursuit of the raiding party. The Indians, however, had too much the start and escaped across the Platte. * * * Another attack was attempted soon after, near River Bend, but the troops were at their stations and easily repulsed it."

For several years the Indians were unusually quiet in the region occupied by the Fifth, but in 1874 a band of hostile Comanches and Kiowas attacked the Wichita Agency, and General Miles was sent against them from Camp Supply, I. T., with 8 troops of the 6th Cavalry; four companies of his own regiment, and a section of artillery. At the same time four companies of the regiment and a troop of the 6th Cavalry were sent to the Cheyenne and Arapahoe Agency, to capture all hostile Indians who had been raiding and might seek safety from General Miles movements against them. General Sheridan says:

"August 30th, the column of Colonel Miles encountered the Indians near the headwaters of the Washita and kept up a running fight for several days, the Indians steadily falling back until they reached the hills about 8 miles from Salt Fork of Red River, where they made a stand but were promptly attacked, routed and pursued in a southwesterly direction, across the main Red River and out into the Staked Plains, with a loss Of 3 killed, besides animals and camp equipage captured."

The troops had one soldier and one civilian wounded.

September 9th, Indians attacked Colonel Miles' supply train, escorted by about 6o men, commanded by Captain Lyman, 5th Infantry, on the Washita River, Texas, keeping it corralled there for several days until relief arrived from Camp Supply, I. T. One enlisted man was killed, one soldier, a wagon-master, and Lieutenant G. Lewis, 5th Infantry, were wounded.

"November 8th, near McClellan's Creek, Texas, Lieutenant F. D. Baldwin, 5th Infantry, with a detachment consisting of Troop D, 6th Cavalry, and Company D, 5th Infantry, attacked a large camp of Indians, routing them with the loss of much of their property. Two little white girls, Adelaide and Julia Germaine, aged five and seven years, were rescued from these Indians. The children stated that two older sisters were still held in captivity by the Indians. The story of their woe and suffering in captivity was pitiable in the extreme, not even their tender years sparing them from the most dreadful treatment. Their father, mother, brother and one sister were all murdered at the time the four sisters were captured. At the close of this campaign the other two sisters were rescued from the Indians and all four provided a comfortable home with the army at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. General Miles became their guardian and Congress authorized the stoppage of an amount for the support of the children from the annuities of their captors, the southern Cheyennes."

General Miles' force, consisting of 8 troops of the 6th Cavalry, 4 of the 8th Cavalry, and four companies of the 5th Infantry, was actively and incessantly occupied from July 21, 1874, to February 12, 1875,

"in scouting the entire section infested by the Indian Territory bands, keeping the Indians so constantly on the move that they were unable to lay in any stock of provisions. This active work was continued by the troops upon the exposed and barren
plains of that region during the whole of a winter of unprecedented severity, and as the season advanced the difficulty of supplying the necessary forage and subsistence increased so that no little hardship and privation resulted : but the troops bore everything with fortitude and courage, and without complaint. By extraordinary efforts enough supplies reached the troops to keep them in the field until their work was done, and at length, early in March, 1875, the southern Cheyennes, completely broken down, gave up the contest, and under their principal chief, Stone Calf, the whole body of that tribe, with a trifling exception, surrendered themselves as prisoners of war."

The ringleaders among the Indians were selected to be sent to San Augustine, and on the 6th of April, while shackling "Black Horse," one of them, he broke away and ran towards the camp of his people. He was pursued and finally killed, and some of the shots fired at him passed over into the Indian camp, wounding several persons there. Upon this about one-half the Cheyenne tribe fled to the hills opposite the agency. Captain Bennett's company of the Fifth, with three troops of cavalry, all under Colonel O'Neill, followed,

"but the Indians, well supplied with the firearms they had hidden in that vicinity, occupied a difficult hill and maintained themselves against the troops for several hours until nightfall. By night the troops had forced their way nearly to the crest of the hill occupied by the Indians, but at daylight it was found the enemy had fled during the night. Eleven Indians were found dead and 19 soldiers were wounded. Troops from other posts in the vicinity were ordered to assist in the pursuit, and eventually most of the escaped Cheyennes gave themselves up."

For over a year no event worthy of notice occurred, but in June, 1876, the news of the Custer Massacre aroused the whole country. Reinforcements were gathered at once from all directions to send to Generals Terry and Crook, and the Fifth left the Department of the Missouri in which it had served so many years, for the Department of the Dakota, where, after several long and harassing marches in pursuit of the hostiles, who however, succeeded in eluding pursuit, it was sent to establish a post at the mouth of Tongue River, Montana, which was afterwards named Fort Keogh.

A train with supplies for this post left Glendive Creek, Montana, October 10, 1876, and its escort had a running fight with Sitting Bull's Indians until the 18th, when it was met by General Miles, who, alarmed for its safety, had come out with his whole regiment to meet it. Learning the immediate situation from Colonel Otis, commanding the escort, General Miles followed Sitting Bull, overtaking him near Cedar Creek, Montana, north of the Yellowstone. After several "talks " in which Sitting Bull manifested a strong desire for an "old-fashioned peace" but gave no indication of accepting the terms offered by General Miles, he was at last informed that he must accept or fight. General Sheridan says:

"The Indians took positions instantly for a fight and an engagement followed, the Indians being driven from every part of the field, through their camp ground, down Bad Route Creek and pursued 42 miles to the south side of the Yellowstone. In their retreat they abandoned tons of dried meat, quantities of lodge poles, camp equipage, ponies and broken down cavalry horses. Five dead warriors were left on the field, besides those they were seen to carry away. Their force was estimated at upwards of a thousand warriors. On October 27th, over 400 lodges of Indians, numbering about
2000 men, women and children, surrendered to Colonel Miles, five chiefs giving themselves up as hostages for the delivery of men, women, children, ponies, arms and ammunition at the agencies. Sitting Bull himself escaped northward with his own small band, and was later joined by 'Gall' and other chiefs with their followers. Having returned to Tongue River Cantonment, Colonel Miles organized a force of 434 rifles and moved north in pursuit of Sitting Bull, but the trail was obliterated by the snow in the vicinity of the Big Dry River. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"On December 7, 1876, Lieutenant F. D. Baldwin, with Companies G, H and I, 5th Infantry, numbering 100 officers and men, overtook Sitting Bull's camp of 19 lodges, followed and drove it south of the Missouri near the mouth of Bark Creek. The Indians resisted Baldwin's crossing of the river for a short time, and then retreated into the bad lands.
"On December 18th, this same force under Lieutenant Baldwin surprised Sitting Bull's band of 122 lodges near the head of the Red Water, a southern affluent of the Missouri, capturing the entire camp and its contents, together with about 60 horses, ponies and mules. The Indians escaped with little besides what they had upon their persons, and scattered southward across the Yellowstone. * * *
"On the 29th of December, Colonel Miles, with Companies A, C, D, E and K, 5th Infantry, and Companies E and F, 22d Infantry, numbering 436 officers and men, with two pieces of artillery, moved out against the Sioux and Cheyennes under Crazy Horse, whose camp had been reported south of the Yellowstone, in the valley of the Tongue River. As the column moved up the Tongue, the Indians abandoned their winter camps, consisting of about 600 lodges, and the column had two sharp skirmishes on the 1st and 3d of January, 1877, driving the Indians up the valley of Tongue River until the night of the 7th, when the advance captured a young warrior and 7 Cheyenne women and children, who proved to be relatives of one of the head-men of the tribe. A determined attempt was made by the Indians to rescue the prisoners, and preparations were made for the severe fight to be expected the next day. On the morning of January 8th, about 600 warriors appeared in front of the troops and an engagement followed, lasting about five hours. The fight took place in a cañon, the Indians occupying a spur of the Wolf Mountain range, from which they were driven by repeated charges. The ground was covered with ice and snow to a depth of from one to three feet, and the latter portion of the engagement was fought in a blinding snow-storm, the troops stumbling and falling in scaling the ice and snow-covered cliffs from which the Indians were driven, with serious loss in killed and wounded, through the Wolf Mountains and in the direction of the Big Horn Range. The troops lost three men killed and eight wounded. The column then returned to the cantonment at the mouth of Tongue River. * * * * * * * * * * *
"The prisoners which Colonel Miles' command captured from Crazy Horse's village on the night of January 7th, proved a valuable acquisition in communicating with the hostiles and in arranging negotiations for their surrender."

A scout was sent out with two of the captives on February i, to find the Indians and offer terms, and on the 19th returned with a party of chiefs and leading men. After several conferences 300 Indians surrendered unconditionally to General Miles on April 22, and Some 2000 more in May at the Red Cloud and Spotted Tail Agencies.

From those who had surrendered, Colonel Miles learned that a band of renegades, chiefly Minneconjous under Lame Deer, had broken off and gone to the westward. On the 1st of May he started in pursuit with four troops of the 2d Cavalry, four companies of the 22d Infantry, and Companies E and


H of the 5th Infantry. After a very hard march, with scarcely a halt for two nights and a day, Lame Deer's band was surprised May 7, the village charged in fine style, and the Indian herd cut off and secured. The leading Indians now appeared desirous of surrendering and the firing ceased, but, either meditating treachery or fearing it, they began firing again.

"This ended peace making and the fight was resumed, the hostiles being driven, in a running fight, 8 miles across the country to the Rosebud. Fourteen Indians were killed, including Lame Deer and Iron Star; 450 horses, mules and ponies, and the entire Indian camp outfit were captured, including 51 lodges well stored with supplies. Lieutenant A. M. Fuller, 2d Cavalry, was slightly wounded; four enlisted men were killed and six were wounded. The Indians who escaped subsequently moved eastward to the Little Missouri, and the command returned to the cantonment, where four companies,—B, F, G and I, 5th Infantry,—were mounted with the Indian ponies and continued to serve as cavalry until after the Nez Perces campaign in the following autumn."

Companies A, H and I of the Fifth, mounted, made a long difficult march in July and August, 1877, without actual fighting, but with excellent effect in forcing the Indians into a surrender.

In the latter part of July, 1877, the Nez Perces Indians, pursued by General Howard with troops from the Department of the Columbia, were making their way via the Lo-Lo trail toward Montana. General Miles received information, September 17, of their movements and marched rapidly in a northwest direction to intercept them. His force consisted of 6 troops of cavalry; Companies B, F, G, I and K, 5th Infantry; two pieces of light artillery, and detachments of white and Indian scouts. On the 25th he learned that the Indians had crossed the Missouri, and by very rapid forced marches the column reached the Deer Paw Range, September 29, where it struck the Indian village on the 30th. The battalions of the 7th Cavalry and 5th Infantry, mounted, charged directly upon the village.

"The attack was met by a desperate resistance and every advance was stubbornly contested by the Indians, but with a courageous persistence, fighting dismounted, the troops secured command of the whole Indian position, excepting the beds of the ravines in which some of the warriors were posted. A charge was made on foot, by a part of the 5th Infantry, down a slope and along the open valley of the creek into the village, but the fire of the Indians soon disabled thirty-five per cent. of the detachment which made the assault, and attempts to capture the village by such means had to be abandoned. * * * The Indian herd having been captured, the eventual escape of the village became almost impossible. The casualties to the troops had amounted to twenty per cent. of the force engaged, there were many wounded to care for, and there were neither tents nor fuel, a cold wind and snow storm prevailing on the night of September 30th."

In the first charge and the hot fighting which followed 2 officers and 22 men were killed, and 4 officers and 38 men wounded. Among the wounded were Lieutenants Baird and Romayne, of the Fifth. The Indians lost 17 killed and 40 wounded, and on October 4th the remainder of the band, numbering 87 warriors, 184 squaws, and 147 children, surrendered to General Miles.

In February, 1878, a column of mounted men 300 strong left Fort Keogh to find a large force of Sitting Bull's Indians, reported on the border; but


as they did not come south of the Missouri, and the War Department would not permit them to be attacked while they remained north of that river, the expedition was fruitless.

In August, 1878, the hostile Bannocks from the Department of the Columbia attempted to follow the Nez Perces trail of 1877, and General Miles, with 100 men of the 5th Infantry and 35 Crow scouts, hastened to intercept them. Following up Clark's Fork of the Yellowstone he surprised their camp, September 4, killed 11 Indians and captured 31, together with 200 horses and mules. Captain Bennett, 5th Infantry, was killed, also the interpreter and one Indian scout. One enlisted man was wounded.

In July, 1879, General Miles, with 7 companies of the Fifth, 2 companies of the 6th Infantry, 7 troops of cavalry, a detachment of artillery and some white and Indian scouts,—the entire command numbering 33 officers, 643, enlisted men, and 143 scouts,—moved against a body of Indians reported to be 2000 strong, who were roaming upon U. S. territory south of the British Columbia boundary line. On the 17th the advance guard had a sharp fight with from 300 to 400 Indians who were driven 12 miles when the advance became surrounded, but the main body moved rapidly forward and the hostiles fled north of Milk River. By July 31st the hostiles had reached Wood Mountain, across the boundary. Attention was then turned to the half-breeds who had been furnishing the hostiles with the supplies of war, and by the 8th of August 829 of them had been arrested. On August 14, Lieutenant Colonel Whistler, with a part of this command, captured 57 Indians with 100 ponies who were on their way from the Rosebud Agency to join Sitting Bull.

On March 3, 1880, Companies I and K, 5th Infantry, left Fort Keogh in pursuit of hostile Indians north of the Yellowstone, and on March 8th, after a continuous gallop of 40 miles, Company K succeeded in surrounding the Indians, capturing 13 ponies and 16 mules.

On the 5th of March Lieutenant Miller, 5th Infantry, with a small party attacked a band of hostiles, killing eight and destroying their camp. The remainder of the band was closely pursued and on. March 9, Captain Baldwin overtook them, chased them for 30 miles and captured all their animals excepting those on which they escaped.

In August, 1880, twenty lodges of hostile Sioux surrendered to Company H, and on September 8th, 200 Sioux surrendered to the commanding officer of Fort Keogh.

In December, 1880, as the Indians in the vicinity of Poplar River Agency were becoming turbulent and arrogant, the garrison there was reinforced by five mounted companies of the Fifth, under Major G. Ilges, numbering 180 officers and men, who made the march of 200 miles from Fort Keogh through deep snow, with the thermometer ranging from 10 to 3, degrees below zero. On January 2, 1881, Major Ilges attacked a body of some 400 Indians, located on the opposite side of the Missouri. They fled from their villages and took refuge in some timber, but soon surrendered, the troops meeting with no casualties. On the 12th of February Major Ilges arrested 185 hostiles, 43 of whom were warriors, in the Yanktonnais camp at Red Water. On April 18, 47 men, 39 women, and 70 children surrendered at


Fort Keogh. Many Indians surrendered at other posts, and on July 20, 1881, Sitting Bull, with the last of his followers,—comprising 45 men, 67 women, and 73 children,—surrendered at Fort Buford.

In October Companies A, I and K, marched 175 miles to investigate an alleged interference by whites with friendly Indians.

Hostilities having virtually ceased in Montana with the surrender of Sitting Bull, the regiment was dismounted on the 31st Of October, 1881.

On the 15th of December, 1880, Colonel Miles became a brigadier general, and was succeeded by Lieutenant Colonel P. Lugenbeel of the First, who never joined the regiment but was retired February 6, 1882. His retirement promoted Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Huston of the Sixth, who also never joined, but was retired June 22, 1882. Lieutenant Colonel J. D. Wilkins of the Eighth was promoted to fill the vacancy, and served with his regiment until his retirement, August 2, 1886.

Colonel George Gibson, who succeeded him, retired August 5, 1888, and was succeeded by Lieutenant Colonel N. W. Osborne of the Sixth, who is now commanding the regiment.

There is very little to record concerning the service of the regiment in the years following 1881.

The Crows having become turbulent and defiant in 1887, Companies D, E, G and I were sent into the field in October, and were present at the skirmish at the Crow Agency, November 5. They were not engaged and returned to their stations November 25.

On the 1st of June, 1888, after 12 years of service in Montana, the regiment, under Colonel Gibson, left the Department of Dakota for Texas; Headquarters, with Companies B and E going to Fort Bliss; I and K to Fort Davis; C and F to Fort McIntosh; A and G to Fort Ringgold; D to Fort Brown, and H to Fort Hancock.

Here it remained with few changes until May, 1891, when Headquarters with Companies D and E were sent to St. Augustine, Fla.; B and H to Jackson Barracks, La., and C and G to Mount Vernon Barracks, Ala. Later in the year Company F was sent to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and Company A to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. These are now (September, 1894) the stations occupied by the regiment.

« Return to Table of Contents