« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
would or travel as fast as they wished. The pack-train was right at their heels, with their provisions, blankets, ammunition, tents, or feed for the horses. A pack-train generally consists of about sixty pack and ten riding mules, led by one bell horse. An army horse will do, just so he is gentle and is a good kicker. Mules are very playful, and the horse that kicks, bites, and fights them most is the horse that suits them best. Keep the bell horse in hand, and Indians will get very few mules in case of a stampede.
We had eight such trains as above described when we left Cheyenne for the Bighorn country in Wyoming, besides about one hundred wagons divided into four trains, each train under the supervision of a wagon-master and one assistant.
About the first of March, 1876, we left Cheyenne on our Indian hunt. The weather was very cold nearly all the time we were gone on that trip. We went via Ft. Laramie and Ft. Fetterman. The latter fort was close to where the village of Douglas, Wyoming, now stands. From there we went over to the Dry Fork of Powder river, where we had our first alarm from Indians. We had some beef cattle with the command and every few days had one killed. There were about a dozen left, and as Indians are very fond of beef they will run some chances to get the cattle. One night they shot the herder, ran off all our beef cattle, and we never saw any of them since. Our scouts from here were sent out in advance to locate the Indian village. They were to meet the command at the crossing of the Crazy Woman's fork of the Powder river. The scouts returned and reported that they had seen signs of Indians, and after a needed short rest were again sent ahead to locate, if possible, their village. After a few days the scouts returned with what they called good news. They had located a village of about sixty tepees. For two days we had orders not to shoot under any circumstances, nor to make any undue noise, as we had to make a sneak to surprise the Indians. The night before we jumped the Indians was one of the coldest nights I had ever experienced. We left
camp about two o'clock in the morning of March 17, and opened the campaign on St. Patrick's day. Several companies rode through the village, shooting right and left and stampeded the Indians, who soon rallied, returned, and bravely defended their families. A great many people have an idea that Indians are not brave, that they will only sneak on the enemy; but let such be undeceived. Indians will average with white men in bravery. I noticed on this trip that when the troops were surprised in camp, as occurred several times during the summer, they would try to dodge every bullet that came. After the fight in the early morning several soldiers were found killed. How the Indians suffered in killed and wounded we never knew, as the troops never went back to the battlefield, but left their dead in the hands of the Indians.
General Crook decided to return to Cheyenne to reorganize for a summer campaign against the same Indians. We were in rendezvous camp near Cheyenne several weeks and made a start for the Bighorn country well equipped for a summer campaign. We took the same route we had taken before, and arrived by easy marches at old Ft. Reno, Wyoming. The scouts had been sent out a few days previously and soon brought in news that Indians were plenty but they could not locate their camp. We broke camp and moved farther west and located camp on Tongue river. We had not been in camp long when the Indians surprised us by firing into camp. The next day we packed the wagons, mounted the infantry on pack mules, and with four days' rations we left camp for Rosebud, as the scouts had located the Indian camp on that stream. The second day from camp we found the carcasses of several buffalo which had been very recently killed by the Indians. Although it was not more than nine o'clock A.M., General Crook decided to go into camp until the Indian village was definitely located. But the Indians were on the lookout for us, and had come about six miles to attack us, which they did before we got into camp. They were in front, rear, flanks, and on every hilltop, far and near. I had been in several Indian battles, but never saw so many Indians at
one time before, at least not when they were on the war-path. We had about six hundred men, having left about three hundred to guard the wagon train. We also had eighty Shoshones, eighty Crows, and fifty Pawnees as allies. They made good scouts and did good work. They all acted very brave, each tribe vieing with the others to outdo in acts of bravery.
I had a very close call myself at this Rosebud fight. We were half a mile from the creek and needed water badly, especially in the hospital. I started with several canteens, went on foot, and kept well out of sight, going down a ravine. There was a Shoshone Indian who had left his saddle at the creek when the fight started and was going after it. We kept together for several hundred yards. He then left me and went alone for his saddle, as I could strike the creek in a nearer way. The first thing we knew the Sioux had us cut off from the command. There were eight or ten of them who opened fire on us. I got behind a bank and stood them off until some of the troops came toward me and drove the Indians away, but they got my Indian friend. When I saw that the Sioux had him going ahead of them, I knew he would not last long. He turned around and fired at the Sioux, and when they found his gun empty a couple of Sioux ran up so close on him that he had no time to load his gun. The Shoshone jumped off his pony and sprang over a bank of the creek. A Sioux who was at his heels lit upon him and stabbed him in the back with a butcher knife, leaving the knife in the Shoshone's back. After the day's battle I went directly to find my Indian and found him lying on his face, dead, with the knife through his heart. I pulled it out and returned it to its scabbard which was lying in the ground where the Sioux Indian had left it in his hurry to save his own scalp. He did not even scalp the Shoshone, which proves what a great hurry he was in.
The Rosebud battle lasted from about nine o'clock in the morning until near sundown, when the Indians withdrew and were soon out of sight. The battle was fought on the 17th day of June, 1876. The Indians had gained their point, which
was to hold us there until they could get their camp moved about forty miles from the Rosebud, and go into camp again on the Little Bighorn, where eight days after General Custer met them and was utterly defeated by them. We had ten men killed and several badly wounded in this fight. The Indians suffered a good deal as we afterwards learned. General Crook returned with his command to the wagon train, and went into camp on Goose creek to await orders from General Sheridan. We were in camp a long time without hearing from the outside world. The Indians were very brave, thinking they had got the best of it at the Rosebud, and I guess they had as much to crow over as anybody. They would often fire into our camp. At last, about the 4th of July, a courier came from Ft. Fetterman with the news of the Custer massacre, which had been known all over Europe eight or nine days before we heard of it, although we were within sixty miles of where it occurred. General Crook had tried to get in communication with General Terry who was in command of the Department of Dakota, but the scouts always returned with the cry of "too many Indians" between the commands. We were in camp until troops arrived from all points that could spare a corporal's guard, when we broke camp and relieved the monotony by marching through the Indian country with two thousand men and ten days' rations. We went where we wished with a command so large, though the Indians still had the best of it numerically and their knowledge of the country gave them a chance to run or fight. or fight. We soon made a junction with General Terry on the Yellowstone river, but the Indians had scattered and we were not molested much by them.
We left General Terry and started for the Black Hills, thinking to come across some Indians. They had divided up into small bands which would give them a better chance to depredate against the settlers in the vicinity of Deadwood. General Crook scoured the country all he could, but as the rainy season had set in it was very difficult to do much scouting. The next twelve days was one of the hardest marches
United States troops ever made. We came down to horse meat for rations, and that so poor, there was not fat enough on a dozen horses to season the gruel for a sick grasshopper. The horses were not killed until they gave out and could go no farther. With the last meal of beans we had in the packtrain I concluded to have quite a blow-out and invite the General to breakfast. Next morning our cook got all the beans he could get together for one grand mess. He cooked them in the evening, and some soldiers came around camp and offered him $20 for the beans. The cook told me of the offer. I told him not to sell for any money, as I had invited General Crook and staff to breakfast. Well, the next morning the beans were all gone-stolen. The cook swore he did not sell them, neither did he eat them, but I will always think that cook got what he could eat and sold the balance.
It rained every day. The horses were giving out, soldiers walking through mud. In the evening when we went into camp there was not a thing to eat but meat from poor horses, ten or fifteen of which were killed each evening and eaten with no seasoning whatever.
Seventy-five miles from Deadwood we surprised a large band of Indians, about forty tepees, American Horse's band. We kept out of sight until daybreak, when we made the attack. Several were killed on both sides and a great many soldiers wounded. American Horse soon had runners out to other Indian camps. Crazy Horse was soon on hand with all his force and made it very interesting for us for six hours. After this battle, called "Slim Buttes," we fared a little better for something to eat. We had buffalo meat, and besides the Indian ponies were fat and we had plenty of them. I really thought that horse meat was good and wondered why we did not eat more horse at home. We could not follow the Indians on account of lack of rations, and the only thing that I could hope for was, that the man who stole the beans was killed. We arrived at Deadwood and were met by the citizens of that place with open arms and a generous hospitality that only those big-hearted miners know how to give. From there