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Indians !




7th United States Cavalry

Ouster s Favorite Regiment



Member of Company " M."





These chronicles of stirring events were written
since my discharge from the Seventh United States
Cavalry, with both legs paralyzed, due to injuries
received at the time of the final surrender. This
regiment was made famous by that intrepid Com
mander, General George A. Custer, and by the effi
cient service of its units which hastened the end of
Indian hostilities in the Great Northwest

Sitting Bull was the most resourceful War Chief
ever known, at the time of the Custer Massacre he
led the largest and best equipped force of Indian
Warriors that ever attacked United States soldiers
The object of the uprising was to gain, and hold
absolute possession of the lands of their ancestors,
for themselves, for their children and their children s
children, for all time. These hostiles, five thousand
strong, were attacked by a few hundred soldiers led
by Custer, June 25th, 1876, and Custer and his men
were all killed. Not on was spared.

This Massacre marked the beginning of the end
Uncle Sam met the challenge. Hostiles bands were
hunted down, and Sitting Bull was captured.

The next year Chief Joseph, realizing that Indians
could not by force get or hold possession of their hunt
ing grounds, attempted to lead a general exodus of
natives into British America. Joseph had under his
command, for the protection of the mass of refugees,
a fighting force larger and better armed than were
the soldiers under Miles, to whom he surrendered.

The careful preparation of " copy " for this book,
taking the reader from the recruiting office at Fort
Leavenworth, through the Bad Lands of the North
west, picturing the actualities of my soldier life in
the Big Campaign that ended Indian hostilities, has
prevented the tedium of many an hour of unbearable


Late Trumpeter Co. M, 7th U. S. Cavalry.
Corning, N. Y., March 25, 1878.



Arrive On Foot and Alone at Fort Leavenworth, Having

Decided to Join the Seventh Cavalry Become a Soldier

It s Mush, Mush, Mush ! Eyes the the Front !

IN 1876, Leavenworth, Kansas, was a small, dusty,
straggling attempt at a city, and although it boasted
of modern government and did have a Mayor, it was
way behind many smaller Eastern towns in the
matter of push, population, vim, capital, and manu-
facturies that now abound there.

Money was tight and hard to get, and although
there was plenty of work, there were a great many
out of employment, and to make it still worse, also
were out of money which was the case with one
man I will make you acquainted with before we are
through with this history.

There was a poor mud road leading from the city
to Fort Leavenworth, and one mild evening a
young man might have been seen trudging wearily
up the hill. He soon reached the Fort and inquired
the way to the Adjutant s office, and also asked if
there was a recruiting officer at the Fort ?

No trouble to find them, and I soon enter the
office and stand in the presence of one of Uncle
Sam s own officers !

Who can describe my feelings ? I can t ! There
was a hot streak, a cold streak, and twenty-five or
thirty other streaks, all streaking it together !

I saluted in true, formal military style, (or I tried
to) as I entered and found that the Adjutant was
really awake ; I at first thought that he was asleep.

Putting on a bold front, I asked:

" Sir, can I enlist in the army ?"

The officer looked at me a moment, then asked:


" Have you ever been in the service ?"

" No, Sir ; I have not, but I think that I should like
it, if there was plenty to do," I replied.

If I had of known then a tith of what I know now
about the Regular Army, I do not think that the offi
cers, or Uncle Sam, would have ever been troubled
with business on my account.

After looking me over from head to foot, and
quietly smiling, the Adjutant accompanied me to the
door and said to a soldier who was standing
near: " Sargeant, take this man to your mess for to
night ! We will examine him in the morning !"

Following the Sargeant, I soon reached the men s
quarters, but a short distance away. Arriving there I
was shown to a wash-trough, and, after removing a
coating of Kansas dirt, I was conducted to the mess
room, where I was soon taking in with eyes and

It was a long room, no chairs, bare wooden tables,
wooden benches to sit on; a tin plate, with a knife
and fork beside each, arranged in order, are all we
see on the tables.

Soldiers soon march in and seat themselves at the
tables, and then in come the suppers !

What s this dish that is set before us ?

Mush and molasses !

Yes, that is what stares us in the face and makes
us turn pale ! If there is anything on earth we hate
it is mush, and now, after leaving our home in far
away Corning, N. Y., to run right onto such a stack
of ill-smelling mush, makes us feel like saying a bad
word, but as bad words are in the mush category
with us, we only say damn and present a bold front to
the inevitable.

I did not intend to mention this very unwelcome
ration at the start, but I have heard it said that when


one has an understanding at the beginning of an
engagement, he wins half the battle, so I decided to
find out all about this mush question on the start,
and asked:

" Sargeant, how often do you have mush in the
regular army ?"

" Good Lord, man don t talk so loud !" replied the
Sargeant. " I have been in the army for nigh onto
twenty-one years, and during that time I have eaten
mush on an average once a day !"


I summon up all my reserve nerve, and ask
in a low but very distinct voice :

" Do they have mush on the frontier ?"

" No ! I heard that they once issued an order to
that effect, but the men threatened to mutiny, and
since that time they have not dared to mention the
subject west of the Missouri river."

" What regiment is there west of the Missouri
river, Sargeant ?" I asked, a bright ray of hope flitting
across my gizzard.

" The Seventh Cavalry ! The crack Cavalry regi
ment of the whole army ! It was Custer s old regiment,
and they are equal to ten thousand cow-boys ! They
are terrors !"

" Sargeant, if I enlist I am going to join the Seventh
Cavalry, I want no mush on my plate ! "

However, my persistence prevailed, and I manage
to make out a meal on bread and coffee, thanks to
the Sargeant, and soon after roll into a blanket and
soon am dreaming. No rest for me that night.

The bugle sounds bright and early the next
morning, and I hustle out to see the men as they fall
in for roll-call.

After a hearty breakfast of beef stew and bread,
washed down with coffee, I hang around and get a


good many ideas as to the way business is conducted
in one of Uncle Samuel s western forts in time of

After guard mount, I accompany the Sargeant
to the Adjutant s office, and await examination. Soon
the orderly calls me into the presence of that monarch
of all he surveys !

I am sharphy questioned, looked over and jumped
around; my eyes tested, and teeth examined in
much the same manner that horse-jockeys look over
a horse; height and weight taken, and then pass over
to the hands of the Surgeon. He trots me around for
a while in the suit of clothes that I was born in, and
as he finds no spavins or ringbones, I pass examina
tion and am sworn in,

Now I am a soldier, and at once draw a uniform
and a sutler s check !

Now I am expected to, and must do, recruit duty,
and what that duty consisted of is detaileo in the
following chapter. I assure you I da not put it at its
worst; I try to dress it in a smile and put on its best
bib, for that is bad enough to make a man regret
the day he held up his right hand and swore to wade
in gore for the sake of his beloved country.

Everything was new to me, and I kept both eyes
and ears open, resolved to learn all there was to be
known, hoping thereby to save myself many hard
tasks, and harder reprimands, and unbearable lec
tures ! I always hated a lecture of any kind.



Taming the Festive Recruit Kitchen Work and Other

Jobs Drill, Drill, Drill ! Three Quickly Learned Bugle

Calls Marching Orders Much Excitement.

I soon found that life at the Recruiting Depot was
not an eenviable one for newly enlisted men, whether
a work-shirker or one ambitious to learn by routine
experience the ways and duties of a soldier. Invar
iably, the recruit is expected at all times to do the
little jobs and the dirty work ripe old soldiers know
so well how to avoid. The recruit is the one that has
an extra amount of dishes to wash, of wood to cut,
water to carry, potatoes to peel, slops to empty,
floors to scrub, knives and forks to scour, and is very
often jollied into heel-balling belts and burnishing
equipment in fact impelled to do the very work that
the non-coms, non-commisioned officers, should do
for themselves.

If there is any dirt to be shoveled, the recruits are
sure to be on that particular detail.

See him now, when he gets a breathing spell. Say,
don t he look like the ideal soldier ; dressed in a suit
of new clothes Uncle Sam s very best each and
every garment much too large for him.

Notice that complacent, peaceful look on his face
and that serene smile ! He is happy now, and why
should he not be happy !

He is not detailed on fatigue (work), to-day ; he
gets three feeds a day, has a pound of nigger-heel
all to himself, and is not expected to know anything !

Oh, happy lot and lots more.

But, see ! Why the sudden change ? His face
turns pale, the smile has vanished.

Is he sick ?


The Orderly Bugler has just sounded Fatigue
Call, and although he has been a soldier for only two


days, he knows what it means ; and he has also
learned two other calls that he can whistle without a
break. One is Recall From Fatigue, and the other is
Mess Call!

He will be among the first to answer the calls last
mentioned, and if not detailed to wait on table, he
will try to be the first to enter the mess room, and
will make the spuds and beef disappear in a manner
that is truly astonishing.

It often happens that a recruit is detailed in the
Adjutant s Office, and it is then that he is respected
by all the " old hosses," as he now has or thinks he
has a way of knowing the plans and intentions of
all the officers in the whole army.

It is now his time to get even. He does so. When
he comes to mess he will report that so many
men are to be detailed to-morrow for extra police, on
some new improvement that has struck the fancy of
the Commanding Officer, or that the troops at the
Fort are soon to be sent to relieve a company on the
far frontier !

Anything that will cause the most misery to the
old soldiers will be meat for the Adjutant s under
study for the time being,

How they will rave when they find out that they
have been fooled !

But it is when recruits have accumulated to about
a dozen that the life of a soldier truly begins. First
comes the setting-up drill, which is very trying to
one not accustomed to it. It is executed in the
following manner :

The recruits are formed in a line, or as near in a
line as they can be got, with head up, eyes fifteen
paces to the front; then they are ordered to place their
palms together, to step forward, bend over and
touch the floor with the tips of the fingers, without


bending the knees or in any way spoiling the rigidity
of their positions !

Try it, if you think it is easy !

Other physical stunts follow.

Then comes salute, fours right and left, and so on
through the whole school of the soldier.

It is fun to see them, especially if they have a
big headed Lance Sargeant in command.

Finally marching orders come to our relief and
there is no more drill for the present. Wardrobes
are looked over, buttons sewed on, and all must be
got ready for the trip to regimental headquarters.

There is not a bit of regret expressed by the be
ginners at the order to move, as they are now sure of
being on an equal footing with the rest of their
regiment, and free from the many petty persecutions
of the old coffee-cooling Infantrymen at the Fort.

Now all citizens clothing must be disposed of r
and so a pass is obtained, and away we go heel and
toe to the City of Leaven worth A visit is paid to
Our Uncle, the pawn , broker and dealer in worn
clothing, etc., and a new suit of clothes is soon ex
changed for a very small sum of cash.

We take in all there is to be seen in Leavenworth,
not forgetting the stuff in the bottle that cheers and
dazzles, and then again climb the hill that leads to the
Fort, fall in at Retreat and again at Tattoo, and at Taps
we go to bed to dream of being ridden by buffaloes,
hugged by snakes, and scalped by Indians and then
roasted alive, and so on until the bugle calls the weary
one in the morning.

We assist in sorting and transferring an enormous
amount of company property, and with an occasional
wrestle with the rust on the Parrot and Rodman guns
on the parade, pass away the time that intervenes
between the receipt of the order to move, and the time
that we do move.



Gather at Railroad Station to Entrain for Fort Snelling
Bother the Agent Board Excursion Yacht at River
side While Awaiting Train" Inspect " the Craft !

SEPTEMBER 23d, 1876, orders were received at the
Adjutant s Office for all Cavalrymen at Fort Leaven-
worth to be sent, at once, to join their regiments.

There were thirty of us, all for the Seventh Cav
alry and all young and full of what some folks would
call deviltry, and I will now try and give you an
account, of what we did on our way out, and also
how we cooked those ducks, chewed hard-tack, and
amused the people and ourselves on the long journey
to the front.

We fell in on the evening of September 23d, and
after listening to a short but emphatic speech from
Lieutenant Russell, the officer who was to act as our
business manager on the trip, who spoke of how well
he knew we would behave ourselves and what would
be done to those who did not obey orders and keep
quiet, we were marched to the depot, each man car
rying his bundle of extra clothing and kit.

I said we were marched to the railroad depot,
but now that I know what the word march, keep step,
dress to the right, and the numerous other orders,
not so very mildly given, mean, I must own up that
we walked or straggled !

When we arrived at the depot the Lieutenant told
us to break-ranks, don t know what he meant by
that command, as every man of that whole thirty
had a rank of his own in fact, we must have appear
ed like a very rank lot of soldiers !

We spread ourselves out over the depot platform;
haversacks, canteens, bundles and boots, thrown in a
promiscuous heap. Then we amused ourselves for


the half -hour that we had to wait for the train to
arrive by asking the ticket agent and train dispatcher
how far it was to Omaha, and how much it would
cost to ride to the Black Hills on a Government pass !
We bother him until he hardly knows which way the
train was going, and until, at his request, the Lieu
tenant ordered us to keep out of that depot !

This was a deadener on us, so, to get square with
ticket agent and the Lieutenant, and drive away
dull care, we went down to the river s edge where we
had noticed a small pleasure yacht tied up, while the
excursionists were up at the Fort seeing how the
soldiers lived, and putting on " lugs " generally.

There was no one to guard the yacht, as undoubt
edly the parties had decided that it would be perfect
ly safe to leave it alone, being so near the Fort, and
here being so many soldiers around to guard things;
but they were mistaken, in the kind of soldiers that
were around there at that time, or they would have
left some one on the yacht to watch and pray !

It was too much for our feelings to be so near
that yacht and not board her, so, accordingly we
walked across the norrow stage-plank, and at once
formed ourselves into a Board of Inspectors !

We were very careful not to disturb anything.
But we thought there ought to be a little more steam,
and accordingly opened the draft and let her zip, and
she did zip !

Next we visited the cabin and examined lunch
baskets and the ice-box Oh, that ice box ! We were
agreeably surprised to find bottles of different calibre
and color, which, on farther investigation, were
found to contain very good articles of cold tea, por
ter and bottled stout !

Of course the seats had to be turned over, so that
the dust and the smoke would not blow on the cush
ions and ruin them. Pictures on the cabin walls had


to be rearranged and classified. Some of the pictures
looked best when hung bottom-up, or sideways.

A noise that sounded like a connon caused us to
rush to the engine-room, where it was found that the
steam was up in the forties, and still climbing for all
it was worth !

It was almost train time, and as the " Inspectors "
wanted to see the machinery in operation, out came
the go-a-head lever. But the valve did not respond as
we thought it would, and we had^to hustle to get out
of the way of a stream of hot water !

The next lever was pulled with better results.

You should have seen that engine start for the
bank, and of course it took the boat with it !

The engine was only about three-horse power, but
the were big horses, and knew when to get a gait on
them. It did not make much noise, nor drive the bow
of the boat into the bank very far at the first clip, but
it started to dig a tunnel, and was just going out of
sight towards the Fort when our picket reported
danger; and we left the boat to its work. It would
strike and fall back for another clip, and we were
having great fun watching it, when our train whistled
and the gentle voice of the Lieutenant ordered us to
Kail in, and stop your damned fooling !"

The only man that literally obeyed the order to
fall in tripped over a pile of bundles and he did fall in,
and he knocked two other men in in so going !

The " Inspectors " were in such a such a hurry to
get to their proper places in line, that they forget to
stop the engine, but they did securely tie down the
whistle-cord, and we could hear that little whistle
"blowing fog signals long after we were out of sight of
the railroad depot !

After we were rounded up in our car, and were
moving along on our way towards St. Paul, we held
a conflab and after due deliberation, it was unani-


mously decided that the yacht and engine were both
dandies, and that the said excursionists were a most
accommodating aggregation. Furthermore, that they
had our most hearty thanks for the splendid feast
prepared for our benefit, and that we would never
take particular pains to find out how they admired
things as they were rearranged for them during their
absence to the Fort !

We also decided that the engineer would know
how to stop the engine, get the boat out of the bank,
gravel out of the pump, repack the valves and piston,
which we had tinkered with in order to see that they
were in a proper and safe condition, and which our
limited time did not allow us to replace for immediate

It was also concluded that if the engineer did not
stop the engine in less then a week, the boat would
dig a tunnel seventeen hundred feet into the bank,
and be the means of undermining the Fort. It was
further agreed that if ever any of us were so unfor
tunate as to meet the engineer, or any of his crew,
we would ask if there was any reward for the arrest
and conviction of the persons who indulged their
inventive tendencies in this kind of experiment, and
if there was, they should apply for the reward in the
herein before mentioned escapade and when the said
reward was secured it was to be turned into the
general fund for the benefit of the grasshopper
sufferers. We then transacted other business, and
adjourned to meet at the call of the Lieutenant.

After many narrow escapes from the guards who
were stationed at the car doors we arrived at Fort
Snelling, then one of the foremost recruiting stations
in the department. An order was issued for us to
be held there until the arrival of a large party of
recruits, who were expected from St. Louis, then we
were all to go forward together.



At Fort Snelling, Minn. Recruit Disciplined A Trip to

Minne-Ha-Ha Falls On the Move Fun at Fargo

Cars Searched for Ducks Railroad Accident.

FORT SNELLING, Minn., is situated on a high bluff
overlooking the Missouri river, and was at that time
was garrisoned by Company C, Twentieth Infantry,
and I must say that they were the meanest lot of
Regulars it was ever my lot to come in contact with,
or to be connected with in any manner.

They kept us recruits busy from Guard Mount
until Retreat, digging cellars, drawing dirt, grading,
setting out trees, sawing wood, etc.

A recruit " kicked " against doing this kind of
work day after day. He said to the officer in charge
of the work :

" I did not enlist to farm and use the pick and
shovel. I enlisted to carry a gun and march like any
other soldier."

He got the gun, and with it a knapsack containing
about fifty pounds of brick, which he had to carry on
parade for three days, when he was glad to take a
pick and shovel and resume farm work. He never
after that made a " kick " although he ventured a
deal of " cussing " on the side.

Company C, 20th Infantry, was at that time com
posed of dude soldiers, pets of dress parade officers.
I never heard any of them to growl but once. That
was one morning at Guard Mount, when the guard
were marched in review, and the wife of the Com
manding Officer, who was on the porch with their
baby as the paraders passed by, told him to " Trot
them around again, Pa.; it pleases the baby ! Hear
him laugh!"

We lonely and homesick recruits laughed in our
sleeves when we overheard expressions of indignation
among the " baby entertainers " over the incident.


The old wooden block house, where hostile Reds
were once most successfully Penned, is now used for
a wood house.

The old fort is about four miles from St. Paul, and
although it shows the wear and tear of age, it remains
an impressive witness of the bravery of Minnesota s
hardy pioneers.

Near the Fort is an Indian battle ground, where
many years ago the brave Penn and his old-fashioned
soldiers fought and whipped three times their num
ber of as fierce hostiles as ever trod a war path.

Favored with passes, one rainy day, our squad
visited the famous Minne-ha-ha Falls, which are
about two miles from Fort Snelling. The proprietor
of the only hotel at that place, much disgruntled,
promptly treated us to an invitation to " Please to go
back to the Fort, and not do drilling on my lawns."

Such is the gratitude shown the poor, misguided
men, who offer their services and their appetites to
the government, for the protection of the cow-boys
and sutlers on the frontier !

However, we agreed to cut our visit short if the
said proprietor would come across with a bite and a
drink, threatening to put his establishment out of
commission in case our reasonable and friendly re
quest was not complied with.

We got the bite !

Never before did I realize how much cayenne
pepper could be incorporated in a sandwich. Oh, they
were hot but they were worth all they cost. For
the drink, we were given a dipper and told to all help
ourselves to the water.

After climbing over the fence and interviewing
the landlord s fine turnip patch, we concluded to call
the accounts square, and with many thanks, and
to the relief of the proprietor, we fell in for the Fort,


and were soon at that " Government Workhouse," as
we then called it.

Somehow or other particulars of our little time at
the Falls reached our Commanding Officer, and
thereafter not one of our bunch received a pass.

We laid at the Fort about ten days, and no more
recruits coming, we were order forward. We were
glad to get away from that place, and did not address
very kindly language to members of the Infant-ry
who were at the railroad station to see us off.

We were kindly treated by the people along the

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Online LibraryAmi Frank MulfordFighting Indians in the 7th United States Cavalry : Custer's favorite regiment → online text (page 1 of 11)