forced marches Fort Atkinson was relieved — in fact they had not forgotten the
sorrel troop since 1846.
Having concentrated the trains and escorted them via the so-called Cimar-
ron crossing of the Arkansas, about where Cimarron station, on the Santa Fe
railroad now is, to about 60 miles southwest of that point, the troop returned,
and went into camp about where Dodge Cit^' now is, and about four miles below
Here the whole Kiowa and Comanche tribes seemed to have concentrated in
one vast camp on the south side of the river, opposite the dragoon camp. Com-
pany D, Sixth infantry, was at Atkinson, Brevet Captain Buckner commanding.
Guard duty was extremely arduous, nearly half the men being under arms,
among the horses or on post, day and night. This constant strain told on the
Addresses before the Society. 95
disposition of the men more in camp than on the active march. They became
tired and morose, and, with the cavase of their trouble constantly before them,
became somewhat reckless, and would have welcomed almost anything for a
There was no active war. Every day some of the head men of the tribes came
into camp to talk with the " white chief," always expressing regret that they
could not "control their young men." One day while this kind of farce was be-
ing enacted, a young buck rushed across the river and reported to the chief who
was talking with Lieutenant Hastings that a few miles away some of the "bad
young men" were attacking a train. Hastings' information led him to believe
that there were no trains within more than 100 miles of him. That a gov-
ernment train and escort was on the way, with which a caravan of freighters had
joined at Council Grove, he knew, and he also knew it to be too strong to tempt
the Indians to attack. The actions of the Indians and the commotion in their
camp made him believe there was something wrong. When "boots and saddles "
sounded the interviewer broke for the other side of the river, and their whole camp
seemed to be under arms. Their horse herds were rounded up and hundreds of
the horses saddled. Hastings concluded that all of their fine talk for some days
had been to gain his confidence, and this report was to induce him to send a
detail to the relief of the "train" said to be besieged, thereby dividing his com-
mand, so that a svidden rush could destroy the dragoon camp and probably wipe
out the detail afterwards. But instead of dividing his command, Hastings made
it more secure by tying all horses to the picket line and mules to the wagons, and
doubling the line of sentinels along the river, thereby plainly indicating that he
understood their little ruse.
And now all grass for the animals was cut with butcher-knives. Fortunately
the grass was abundant, and by moving a little up or down the river it could be
had within convenient distance. This episode somewhat dampened diplomatic
relations between the wily warriors and the "long knife chief," and the effect on
soldiers mowing grass with butcher-knives was anything but soothing. Such
strained relations could not last very long.
Guard-mounting while on campaign was always in the evening. When the
old guard was relieved it was marched to the river below the camp, and the
musquetoons discharged down stream. One fine evening, a few days after the
incident above referred to. Sergeant Cuddy marched the old guard off, and hav-
ing given the command "fire," some of the men deliberately turned their pieces
and tired across the river into the Indian camp, not at the people, but hitting the
tops of some lodges. Cuddy was completely surprised, and exclaimed, "What
the do you mean? " No one answered. Cuddy was a noble soldier and one
of the finest specimens of manhood alive. He felt his responsibility and knew
his duty. Having dismissed the guard he reported to Lieutenant Hastings, and
explained the occurrence. Soon a mounted messenger left camp with a letter to
the commanding officer at Atkinson, presumably to inform him of supposed dan-
ger. Every precaution was taken, and, with the river on one side and a deep
ditch running from it, there was the most perfect confidence in the ability of
that camp to defend itself.
About 9 or 10 o'clock, as the gentle south breeze blew across the river,
the rattling of lodge poles was heard, not loud rattling, as if being carelessly
handled, but an occasional click, as if great pains were being taken to avoid
making a noise. The Indians were surely taking down their lodges. The
sound of "tom-toms," that made barbarous music for the monotonous chant
and dance, the war-dance, the scalp-dance, the squaw-dance, and every
96 Kansas State Historical Society.
other dance that had hitherto made their camp hideous till the wee small
hours, was not heard on this lovely night. Nothing hut the slight rattling of
lodge poles; even the dogs were silent. Hour after hour passed, and silence
reigned supreme — silence that was oppressive. It was like a dead calm when
storm-laden clouds hang thick and threatening. The hours from midnight
to dawn seemed long and tedious. When the sun sent its glimmering rays
up the beautiful valley, not a lodge, not a soul or an animal was in sight.
Where a few hours before had stood a large city in all of its savage grandeur,
with great herds of horses and mules grazing in the vicinity, not a living thing
remained save the prowling coyotes. All had silently stolen away. The dra-
goons were puzzled. They had expected prompt and bloody resentment.
Mounted videttes went to their posts upon the bluffs north of camp; from
there and from the tops of wagons the Indian camp ground was carefully
examined. Peel, Cuddy, and another crossed over at some distance apart,
for fear of an ambush, while a line of men on the river bank stood readj^ to
support them. For more than a mile lodge poles and every kind of Indian
equipage lay scattered upon the ground. Where each lodge had stood more or
less of the family property was left. The poles were all there. In their
haste they had taken their best lodges, and whatever they could pack that
was of greatest necessity to them. In a few hours they had packed hundreds
of horses, and, mounted on others, had scattered in all directions, to meet at
some appointed rendezvous probably hundreds of miles away. Not a lodge-
pole trail led from the camp.
The men were in high spirits, notwithstanding the probability that, after
their families were at a safe distance, the warriors, under the great war
chief, Sautanta, might make it warm for them. It was a change, and they
heeded not the future. In two days everything desirable for comfort or
pleasure had been moved to the dragoon camp and the rest burned. Not a
vestige of the great Kiowa and Comanche camp remained. The soldiers had
killikinick by the bushel and Indian pipes to smoke it in, and buckskin in
every style. Buffalo chips were no longer gathered in sacks for fuel, lodge
poles having taken their place.
But these dragoons were not without sentiment and sympathy. Emblems of
motherly love and helpless infancy were found in abundance. Papoose cribs,
buckskin clothing for infancy, maidenhood and old age, robes, moccasins, and
trinkets of all kinds, told of the terrible sacrifice the women and children had
made, and there was general regret that the helpless ones had left so much of
home and comfort behind.
The Indian movement could only be explained by supposing that they con-
sidered firing into their camp a declaration of war. But the dragoons could not
understand why so many warriors should be so easily bluffed. They had hereto-
fore been very independent and saucy. While very diplomatic and deceitful, the
chiefs who visited camp acted in a patronizing sort of way, leaving the im-
pression that they held the soldiers in utter contempt. They had learned enough
to convince them that the superiority of the soldier was in his arms ; not in his
horsemanship, for the Kiowas and Comanches were the finest horsemen in the
world, nor in his strength and prowess as a warrior. These athletic, sinewy sons
of the plains were from an ancestry that had been warriors since the race was
created, so far as known, and from infancy through every stage of their existence
their normal condition was that of warriors and champions of the chase. From
instinct and education they were alert, cunning, strategic, recklessly brave, and
capable of subsisting where white men would utterly perish. To say that such
Addresses before the Society. 97
men, given equal arms and supplies, are not the equals, as rank and file soldiers,
of any race known to history, is bald nonsense.
Two days after the Indian movement the train and escort heretofore referred
to, including some artillery, came up, en route to New Mexico. Hastings was
not expecting them so soon. It seems that Indian runners brought the news,
and their conclusion was that the troops were coming to help clear them out.
Firing into their camp confirmed this belief; hence their sudden departure. It
was an odd coincidence.
Brevet Maj. R. H. Chilton, captain of "B " troop, joined from a six months'
Two weeks had passed, no Indians had been seen, and the two great tribes
that harassed travel and were a constant menace to the commerce of the plains
were believed to have gone to Texas, and would probably extend their raid into
old Mexico, as was their habit. This had been a bad season for them. They
had captured no trains, no fresh scalps dangled at their bi-idle-bits, and they had
met with some losses. Peace seemed assured for the balance- of the fi-eighting
Owing to the great amount of travel, the buffalo kept away from the road, and
to procure fresh meat it was necessary to go a few miles from it.
One bright morning Sergeant Peel and a comrade got permission to go on a
hunt as far as what Sergeant Ferguson called "Angel spring," the head of what
is now known as the south fork of Pawnee Fork of the Arkansas, six miles north
of camp, it being understood that Sergeant Cook would be out there with a six-
mule team about noon to haul in whatever the hunters killed.
At 17 years of age Langford M. Peel enlisted at Carlisle Barracks as a bugler.
His father was a soldier, and Peel was practically raised in the army. He was
assigned to "B " troop, commanded by E. V. Sumner, and served 10 years. In
the spring of 1846, in a battle at the mouth of Coon creek, heretofore referred to.
Bugler Peel, then not yet 20 years of age, was credited with having killed three
Indians. Three years and a half later, in a battle with Pawnees near Fort
Kearny, he killed two, and a month later one. He was the best specimen of 160
pounds, 5 feet 9 inches, naturally bright, clear-headed^ cheerful, and helpful al-
ways; as keen as any Indian on the trail, well up in every branch of prairie craft.
A perfect horseman, possessing unlimited courage and endurance, he was a man
to be relied on and trusted in every emergency. Half a dozen such non-commis-
sioned officers under a good commander wovild make a troop invincible.
Peel and his companions arrived early, drank from the lovely spring, watered
their horses, and hobbled and picketed them for safety.
Buffalo were plentiful, and seemed perfectl)' at ease on the grazing grounds, in-
dicating that they had not been disturbed, and giving assurance to the hunters
that no Indians were in the vicinity. Waiting patiently for the buffalo to come
to water, in a couple of hours they had two fine ones, within a short distance of
the spring, cut up, ready for transportation. Then they built a fire of buffalo
chips, broiled meat, and feasted as only an Indian or a plainsman can ; smoked,
and recounted their adventures. Noon — and Cook and the wagon not in sight.
The creek from Angel Spring runs a little east of north ; on the east, bluffy ;
in some places, vertical, rocky bluffs from 10 to 30 or 4.0 feet above the level of
the creek : to the west some bottom, gradually sloping to high ground.
Along the creek, which hugged the bluffs pretty closely, were scattered
trees, choke-cherry and wild plum bushes, with numerous wild grape-vines,
forming small patches of dense thicket in some places. Little more than a
mile north of the spring a herd of buffalo lay in the open bottom. The land
98 Kansas State Historical Society.
lay so that it was easj' to approach them, and the wind was favorable. The
temptation was great. The campaign had been one of monotonous care and
drudgery, and no mounted hunting had been allowed on account of the neces-
sity of keeping the horses in the best possible condition, and this was the
first good opportunity to have some real sport. They agreed to make a 10-
minutes run to see which could kill the most in that time, the pending bet
being a good dinner when they reached "America." Such was civilization
called among plainsmen. They approached the herd at a walk, and were
within easy pistol shot before the buffalo saw them. Then each went his way.
Peel to the west, his companion to the east. The latter dropped his first
buffalo in the bottom, the second ran east to the top of the bluff where he fell.
The man was down cutting out the tongue, when the voice of Peel rang out,
as he came up the hill, "Get on your horse!" No time was lost, and looking
east he pointed to 50 or more Indians in a half circle not more than half a
mile away, their left wing so far advanced that retreat towards camp seemed
practically cut off. Consultation was brief. Peel led the way down the hill,
circled around a thicket, carefully selecting the firm buffalo-grass sod so as to
leave no trail, and drew into cover not 20 yards from where some of the In-
dians were sure to come down. Here they sat on their horses, pistols in hand.
They had no future plans; they might have to fight to the death under that
bluff; they would do whatever circumstances seemed to dictate. They had
not long to wait. The Indians came rattling down the rocky trails leading
into the bottom, sending out their blood-curdling war-whoops at every jump.
They seemed to think the fleeing men would try to escape towards camp,
and be enveloped in the circle; did not think they would stop to hide, nor that
they would do anything but run for their lives, which would be sure death.
Their greatest success had been against demoralized men who had given up
hope and lost their heads, which soon made their scalps an easy prey. One
brawny brave drew rein at the foot of the trail where the men had come
down, raised himself in his stirrups and looked sharply towards them. Peel's
ccmpanion, believing they were discovered, and that a signal would bring the
whole pack of howling demons, raised his pistol to shoot, but Peel quietly
reached over, and placing his hand on his comrade's arm gently pressed it
down. In less time than it takes to tell it the Indian was off to the west,
showing by his actions that he had not seen them. Hearing no more noise
from the east, the way seemed clear in that direction. Peel led the way out,
and they quietly walked their horses up where they had come down a few
minutes before, turned south, and gently trotted towards camp, saving their
horses' wind for the critical moment which they knew must soon come.
By this time the Indians seemed confused. The hunters could see most of
them riding helter-skelter and peering from the highest points to the west of the
creek, never dreaming that they had passed the game. More than a half a mile
had been covered, not away from the enemy but directly south, slipping by, when
suddenly they were discovered, and every Indian charged toward them furiously.
But the hunters' horses were comparatively fresh, they were on the high ground,
and as far south towards camp as the most southern Indians, with four or five
miles of nearly level stretch ahead of them, while the Indians had to rise consid-
erably and oblique to the east to gain that level, and they felt that, while the race
would be interesting, barring an accident, they were pretty safe. The greatest
danger was that a horse might step in a prairie-dog or badger hole and fall; hence
they rode with great care.
When fairly under way and all on a level, the soldiers were a quarter of a mile
Addresses before the Society. 99
ahead. Soon the wagon was seen. Cook's horse was tied behind, while he rode
with Matthews on the "lazy board," as they smoked and chatted. Then, to
attract Cook's attention, and not lose a shot, the two hunters turned in their
saddles and fired at the Indians. Quickly Cook was seen to mount his horse,
Matthews turned his team, and Cook "interested" the mules with the "black-
snake." About two miles further and the hunters were close to the wagon. A
vidette on a high point north of camp saw something wrong in the distance and
discharged his musquetoon; then the other vidette on another high point dis-
charged his. In the meantime the Indians had not gained on the men until
within the last mile, and then only because the team impeded their progress a
little. Not half of them had kept to the front — some of them were a mile
behind. Arrived near the videttes, Matthews was allowed to find his way down
the hill. Cook joined the hunters and shooting began in earnest, including the
two videttes, who had been using the musquetoons at long range for all they
were worth. Seeing the hopelessness of capturing their game, and knowing that
a strong force from the troop wovild soon be up the hill, having lost two ponies
and had some of their number wounded, the Indians retreated. At the risk of
their lives they carry off the dead and wounded if possible. When Hastings
with half of the troop came up the steep hill, the Indians were well on the retreat,
and he followed them only a short distance beyond the crippled ponies. Horse-
flesh was too precious to be wasted in a pursuit that could accomplish nothing.
No fresh meat cheered the camjj that night, but it was a jolly, happy camp.
All answered to their names at retreat roll-call. There was something new to
talk about, as men sat x-ound the lodge-pole fires and related the traditions of the
grand old troop.
The next day Major Chilton with 40 men, including those in the excitement
of the previous day, went to the spring, killed more buffalo, and returned with a
wagon-load. No Indians were seen, and the wolves were feasting on the buffa-
loes killed the day before. Of course Major Chilton examined the ground that
Peel and his companion had gone over, including the hiding-place and race-
course. Now when Peel discovered the Indians he was half a mile west of his com-
rade and nearly one and a half from the Indians. He could easily have escaped
by going south towards camp. He had scarcely one chance in 10 to save his
friend, but he took that chance, such as it was, in the face of almost sure death.
He saw the thicket and the steep, shelving bluff as he went up the hill. To hide
there seemed reckless, even to foolishness, but he builded better than he knew.
Until that moment he had no idea how to act, unless the two should get on a
high point and with their revolvers stand the Indians off until help should come.
The latter was all he hoped for, and he knew that if Cook saw the situation that
hero in every emergency would join the two or die. One iota of cowardice would
have induced Peel to abandon his friend and save himself, and how easily Cook
could have left the teamster and rode to camp for the troop, as many a coward
has done, and been counted a hero for the noise he made. But no such weak-
ness troubled his manly soul. Like Peel, he was a born hero. The videttes on
the bluffs could have pulled their picket-pins, mounted their horses, and rushed
into camp after discharging their guns — such were their general instructions;
but they saw their comrades in trouble, and Charles McDonald and Edward
O'Mara confirmed the faith that their comrades had in them. They were brave
and true men.
100 Kansas State Historical Society.
COL. WILLIAM A. PHILLIPS.
Portion of an address in course of preparation by Hon. T. Dwi^ht Thacher, to be delivered by
him at the annual meeting of the Society, January 16, 1894 ; left unfinished by him at his
sudden death, which occurred January 17, 1894.
It is 40 years ago, this month, that the great Kansas struggle began by the
introduction in the senate of the United States by Mr. Douglas of his bill for
the organization of the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, embodying the re-
peal of the Missouri compromise and the enunciation of the so-called principle
of squatter sovereignty or non-intervention. More than the period of a genera-
tion of men has passed. The men of mature life when that struggle began
have almost all passed away. It is startling to read over the list of senators
and representatives who voted upon the final passage of .the Kansas-Nebraska
bill, and to recognize among them not a single name now prominent in public
life, with the exception of the now venerable Galusha A. Grow, of Pennsyl-
vania, who, after a long retiracy from public view, has just been nominated
by acclamation by the republicans of Pennsylvania for congressman-at-large
from that state. Where are Seward, Sumner, Chase, Hamlin, Giddings, Ben
Wade, of the one side, and Douglas, Cass, Atchison, Mason, Slidell, Toombs,
and John Petit, of the other? Gone — all gone! They are mere historic names,
like Washington, Jefferson, and Adams. The young men of that day, who
were just entering upon public life, and who still survive, are the veterans
of to-day, pacing the downward slope of life with their faces towards the set-
ting sun, and with night and darkness not far away. Among them all. Sena-
tor John Sherman, the early and fast friend of Kansas, venerable and illus-
trious man, is almost the only survivor in the halls of congress. With the
lapse of so many years the events of that early period begin to assume a true
historic perspective, and we are enabled to form a more correct and apprecia-
tive estimate of the actors in that great struggle. We can see what events
were forceful, impressive, lasting in influence, and what were temporary, in-
cidental, and ephemeral.
Since our Society last met, one of the pioneers of Kansas — a man honorably
and influentially connected with our earliest history, as well as with our subse-
quent growth and development — has passed away. I need not say that I refer
to the late Col. William A. Phillips, of Salina — a recent President and a long-time
member of the State Historical Society.
Colonel Phillips was a native of Scotland, but came to Illinois when a child
with his parents. He studied and practiced law and edited a newspaper at
Chester, in that state. He seems to have developed at an early age that taste
for literary labors which distinguished him all his life, for, in addition to his ed-
itorial work, he wrote a book or two, and had made for himself a place on the
New York "Tribune" as contributor and correspondent before 1855. In that
year he came to Kansas as the regular staff representative of the "Tribune " — a
position which he held for many years. He maintained close relations with that
great paper all his life, being a frequent editorial contributor to its columns. . His
connection with the "Tribune" gave him great opportunity to assist the free-
state cause in Kansas. That paper then was in the very zenith of its career, and
was beyond all question the most able and influential newspaper in America.
Horace Greeley, one of the greatest and most original men this country has ever
Addresses before the Society. 101
produced, was its editor-in-chief, while Charles A. Dana, the best newspaper
manager that the old school of journalism has known, and who still maintains
his position at the head of a great New York paper — the "Sun "—was his first
lieutenant, assisted by a brilliant staff of thinkers and writers ; the whole organi-
zation producing a journal of unique and tremendous infl.uence.
I suppose there were more men in the United States who "swore by the New
York ' Tribune ' " in the fateful years from 1850 to 1860 and '61 than ever followed
the intellectual leadership of any other newspaper in the world, before or since. It
stirs the blood like a trumpet to read the " Tribune " editorials of those days now.
The youthful Phillips must have been deemed a man of rare power to have been
put in command of such an outpost of the great battle of freedom as Kansas then
was. The whole country was his audience when he spoke through the columns
of his journal; for it was a fact significant of the power and ability of the " Trib-