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had packed our saddles, expecting to move, but must
remain in the mud another night.

May 20th. Another nice rainy night and the
officers cross ; their "A" tents were blown during the
night and men had to turn out and fix them. The
wood is green and covered with ice we cannot make


It burn. We are to remain in this camp for the day ;
as it is so muddy that the teams cannot move the
wagons. What a fine time this would be for an
Indian surprise half the command on each side of

So passes another dreary any and night.

May 21st. It is till raining. Anything dropped
is pretty sure to be lost. It is astonishing how deep
the mud can get and yet hold bottom. We waded
through mud to the river, and had to back most of
the rations and ammunition, as the mud was so deep
that six mules haul a wagon that is only partly
loaded. But as work is the principal part of a sol
dier s job, we do not mind it. After the officers cots,
tents, miscellaneous belongings and heavy chests are
stowed on the boat, we lead our horses aboard and
soon cross the stream. We camp near the Second
Battalion, on high ground, but the rain continues.

May 22d. Still in camp. Mud begins to show up.

By the way, those combination frying-pans and
trench-spades that Uncle Sam so kindly furnished us,
free of cost, are very handy. You place the handle
out straight and remove the cover, and then have a
nice little plate to lay your tark and bacon on, while
the part with the handle on makes a frying-pan that
is large enough for all ordinary purposes. When you
have finished your meal, just place any food you have
left in the frying-pan part of the device, place the tin
plate cover in position on top of it, and then bend
the handle over the top of the plate and fasten in the
catch. The bottom of the frying-pan part is made
oval, shaped so it will not sit down.

We are now " at home " wherever night overtakes
us, happy is clams. We go over a mile from camp
to get wood. Such is our life on the Upper Missuri.


General Call was sounded bright and early, on the
morning of May 23d, by Chief Trumpeter Hardy. At
6:30 we are once more in the saddle, going on our
way rejoicing. I say rejoicing, because it has stopped
raining, and being up out of the mud there is a fair
opportunity for our clothes to dry.

Antelope are seen on all sides. No hunting is
permitted, except by company details.

An Indian scout came in to-day and reported that
General Miles has captured about 200 more Indians,
nearly all of them belonging to the Cheyenne-Sioux
tribe. These he said were mostly old men, squaws
and children, who let themselves be captured that
they may be fed by the Government while their war
riors are on the war-path. Many young braves,
anxious to get a standing among their people as real
warriors, are stealing away from reservations and
joining Sitting Bull. They go armed with rifles and
ammunition, purchased of white traders.

It begins to look as though these Indian scouts
come in and report the first thing they think of, in
order to make the Commanding Officer belief that
they are doing good work.

General Miles is waiting for our Regiment to join
his command, which our men are anxious to do. He
is a success as an Indian Fighter. . We are eager to
get on the trail of Sitting Bull, and if we can force
him to give battle, we will share the fate of Custer
and his men, or capture the greatest War Chief that
ever " dug up the hatchet."

We are camped to-night on the bank of the Yel-
owstone, about twenty-five miles from Fort Buford.
The prairie grass is about six inches high and our
horses enjoy it hugely. We now have a change of
diet ; hard-tack, bacon and coffee for breakfast ; raw
bacon and tack for dinner ; fried bacon and hard bread
for supper. If our hunters have good luck, which


they always do when Neeley is out, we feast on
antelope meat. It is very tender and tastes similar
to pork tenderloin but is a great deal better. The
antelope is a species of small deer of a gray -brown
color. They have a patch of white on their rumps
which they spread out when they run from you, and
this makes them a difficult mark. Their hair is

We are told that we will strike buffalo in a day or
two, if the Indians do not drive them north. We hope
to live high on Indian " beef steak."

Delayed during the day by wagons getting stuck
in the mud, but nevertheless marched 25 miles.

May 24. In the saddle at an early hour. Rained
most of the night.

A Lieutenant and three men arrived from the
camp of General Miles, on Tongue river. They
brought a despatch from General Miles to General
Sturges, to hasten his advance, as the Indians were
increasing their activites. Orders were at once given
for the command to draw extra rations from our
supply boat, the Far West, and then push ahead and
join General Miles, making the 118 miles in four days;
but our boys think this hustle will soon lose its grip,
for our commanding officer does not seem to care to
get in contact with the hostiles. But perhaps he is
working out a plan of campaign that he keeps from
his command.

General Sturges is an older officer than General
Miles, and that may account for " the milk in the

It is enough to provoke a Deacon to see so much
game on every hand, and not be allowed to take a
shot at it. We have strict orders not to fire a gun
without orders from the Commanding Officer. The


scouts keep his mess supplied with an abundance of

We march twenty-one and one-half miles and go
into camp for the night. The distances marched are
measured by a meter connected with a wheel on an

May 25th. Were in the saddle and on our way
early, but were held up again and again by the wagon
train. The pioneers have hard work opening a way
so the wagons could get along at all. We traveled
through a bottom of sage brush and prickly pears,
and again camped on the Yellowstone.

The steamer Benton passed down the river to-day
on her return trip from Post Number Two, on the
Big Horn river. The steamer Far West keeps along
with us, and is having a slow time of it.

"Wash-ta-Cha-Ah," or Good Wood, a scout, to-day
gave me a fine quarter of antelope.

Marched twenty-five and one-fourth miles.

May 26th. After a soaking rain in the morning
we are off, and at night camp on the bank of Glen dive
Creek. Another rumor brouget in by one of our
scouts, is to the effect that 500 Indians have left
Standing Rock Indian Agency and are on their way
to join the hostiles north of us.

Nineteen miles forward to-day. There is a supply
camp here at Glendive, guarded by two companies of
Infantry. This is one of the prettiest spots I have
yet seen, and on the side of one of the bluffs, glisten
ing in the sun, is a large mass of what I am told is
mica, of good quality.

Day after day we march over wild country, where
roaming bands of hostiles w^tch our movements but
keep beyond reach. They have keen judgment as to
the distance our rifles will carry.



Hostile Spies Numerous and Bold Race With a Young

Antelope Elks Appear General Miles Requests Our

Commander to Speed Up Indians Capture Mail.

SUNDAY, but only in name. There was an alarm
last night, given by the mounted pickets. We turned
out in short order, and were all ready for the fun to
begin, when we found that a small party of reds had
tried to creep up on a picket, and on being discover
ed had fired their guns and taken to the bluffs.

No use to try to capture them. They know every
rod of these Bad-Lands, and easily get away.

Broke camp early in the morning and made a still
march. Our route led us through Bad-Lands over
bluffs, across alkali bottoms where the dust from the
grass made breathing a torture and caused eyes to
smart and swell ; but through it we must go. The
horses are thirsty and it is difficult to keep them from
drinking the alkali water. This water is extremely
repulsive, in taste and smell. It stands in small ponds
and the salty vapors that rise settle on the grass
and sage bush all about, forming a coating similar to
frost. It gives great trouble to Indians and whites.
M arched 29 miles and camped on Sunday Creek.

May 28th. We start early on our seemingly end
less march. There was an interesting incident, when
a young antelope appeared along the line of march,
and ran ahead and some of the officers gave chase.
Though only about four months old it gave the horses
a lively race for over a mile, when an officer rode up
beside it and bending over grasped it by the back and
lifted it aboard his saddle. After giving the little
fellow a good ride, it was placed on the ground, and
followed after for some distance, when it turned


We saw three large elk to-day, but the Captain
could not get near enough for a shot. They were big
fellows and had amazingly large spreads of antlers.

We also caught sight of a small herd of buffalo.
After a hard but short run our detail succeeded in
bringing one of them to the ground. We had "Indian
beef " for supper.

Another despatch came in from General Miles for
our command to hurry up. We would be compelled
to make long detours to accommodate our wagons
but by putting in more hours could gain one day in
three. We are only fifty miles from Tongue River
Cantonment, General Miles s headquarters, and one
forced march would land us there in a day ; but our
Commander does not seem inclined to "hurry up !" It
is common talk among the men, that General Sturges
is cranky because he is under orders to report with
his command to General Miles, a younger officer.

A man of Troop E was sun-struck to-day. He was
brought in in the ambulance.

Passed the United States Mail this afternoon. It
was on the way to Fort Buford. The mail train con
sisted of a white man, with long hair, well armed,
and two ponies ; he rode one and the other carried
the mail on a pack-saddle. Think of this for bravery !
For sixty dollars per month this man travels alone in
a hostile country with the valuable mail. These mail
carriers are the best scouts in the country and hardly
ever fail to deliver their mail safely and promptly.
Once in a while a mail carrier is killed and scalped
by reds, who take all he has, even his clothes.

Thirty-five Indian warriors were seen to-day ahead -
of the command They were spies from Sitting Bull s
camp, and watched us closely, and then went to a
distant bluff and started signal fires, to let their head
quarters know our location, our strength, and the
direction in which we were moving. These signal


fires can be seen a great distance, and as manipulated
by the Indians are an efficient means of com

Struck a good camping place at 5 o clock in the
afternoon and up went our tents for the night. Our
march was 18 1-2 miles, to get 10. Wood and alkali
water abundant.

May 29th. To-day General Sturges received word
from General Miles, to the effect that Sturges is to
wait for Miles, who will join him in a day. We then
expect to take pack mules and push ahead, with fair
prospects of getting in contact with hostiles.

Camped in a large bottom, surrounded by high
bluffs, with plenty of wood and good water, and grass
abundant. Our horses are in bad shape. They require
plenty of good feed and potable water. A mount
has a heavy load to carry as it is all a man can do to
throw the packed saddle on the horse s hack, and to
this burden is added the weight of a man.

The following morning my company was ordered
out on a scout. We took one day s rations, and were
soon in the saddle, with rain falling quite hard. We
went straight away some twenty-five miles, and then
took a circle to the left and returned to camp, not
having seen a hostile that day. Our route was
through some of the worst country I ever saw ; over
bottoms covered with prickly pears, cactus and sage ;
through bad-lands ; over and along bluffs where it
seemed that a horse could not keep on its feet, but
at any moment would tumble to the gullies below ;
along steep ridges that looked as though the
earth while in a molten state had boiled over. We
passed through places where masses of volcanic
formation suggested the wreckage of large stone
buildings, torn to pieces, the ruins of long ages gone.
Many of the blocks were as square as though chisel-


ed out, and not a few of them lay in about the same
shapes that sticks of a woodpile would, if piled up
straight and nice, and then tipped over.

Our Indian scout, " John- Climb-the-B luff" as we
call him, was right at home here. He would hurry
and climb to the top of a cliff, and if the route was
one we could get throug he would signal for us to
come on ; otherwise he would wave for us to stop
while he searched for an opening, and when he found
one would beckon us on. It was a day of most inter
esting adventure.

Generally speaking, this is a bad country. It is
a proper place for Indians. Here the reds have game
in abundance. But it has minerals, restricted farming
and range possibilites, and other possibilites that lure
the whites. No decent white man would be content
to live the life of a savage. A white who is a hunter,
is good for nothing else. But, as things have gone
since the frontier line began its westward sweep trom
the Atlantic seaboard, three centuries ago, whites will
continue their drive, until the last frontier has been
wiped out. An out here in the Bad-Lands the
desperate aborigines are making their final stand !

Here s a Wild West Classic, of unknown origin,
that is handed about the camp, keenly enjoyed by the
men, who are mailing copies " to the home folks :"


To the west of Minnesota,

And among the treacherous Sioux,
There you will find Dakota,

Where the skies are never blue !
So, stranger, come and find a home

If bad fortune you d pursue
In this glorious land, of blizzards grand,

Where they fasten clothes on with glue!


It is not a mazy woodland

Where the alligator crawls,
But some level and more Bad Land,

With poor streams and waterfalls,
Where Uncle Samuel gives a farm

To every one that calls
A farm of land, great big Bad Land,

Where the water always falls !

Upon the plains the buffalo

No longer can be found,
And in the streams thin fishes grow

That scarcely weigh a pound ;
From mountains of snow rivers flow,

That in the Springtime rile ;
And impelled by steam, boats ply the stream,

For fifty cents per mile.

Here nature plies her fingers

To portray her darkest page ;
Here no happy boyhood lingers,

The lads are bent with age !
Here nature sends her fiercest winds,

And with sickness you engage ;
A land of stealth, there is no wealth

Here poverty is all the rage !

In Dakota there are mountains

Up near Montana s line,
Where poor water springs in fountains,

And hills will not grow pine.
And, Oh ! tis here the pioneer

His pouch with no grub fills
Black, stern and bold, where the rich are sold,

Is this land of Black Hills!



Food Supply Short Uncle Sam Plays Hide and Seek With

Sitting Bull Urgent Demands for Tobacco The

Trumpeters Tune Up A Birthday Party.

MAY 31st. Very rainy and blustering in the early
morning, followed by clearing, and then a light fall of
snow, and then sunshine. Had to skirmish for fuel ;
the supply was scant. But little stir in camp all day.
Men laid around rolled up in blankets to keep warm.

June 1st. Still waiting for General Miles. We
are to move to a better camping place, to get
wood and water and to give the horses better grazing.

We are now short of rations, but expect a supply
to-day. The teams have been gone two days, and as
they did not have far to go, there is uneasiness on
their account. If they or stuck in the mud, or have
been captured by Indians, we will become desperate.
Two of our non-coms were placed under arrest to-day
for going on a hunt for something to eat. They were
released and returned to duty a few hours later. Dis
cipline must be maintained ! With game so abundant
and near by, it is a shame that hunting details are
not sent out. The men plan to help themselves, if
the food shortage is not soon relieved. That would
be a serious reflection on our commanding officer.

Company M went out to-day on another scout.
We got a thorough soaking before we returned to
camp. Sitting Bull is not inclined to take the initia
tive, but various commands of our forces are ready
to close in on his massed warriors at the first oppor
tunity. He is a crafty red-skin.

June 2d. A splendid morning ; the sun shone out
bright and hot.

Moved camp about two miles to get grazing for
the horses. A scout came in at sun-down, bringing
mail for our regiment. It was received with delight.
I opened a late paper (three months [late), and saw


eggs quoted at 120 a dozen. We would gladly give
120 each for reasonably fresh eggs.

The latest in regard to the command of General
Miles, is that he is on the way and may be expected
at any time, but it is not believed possible for him to
reach us soon, because mud is now so deep that teams
could not get through with necessary supplies.

There are no hostiles in this section now, but they
are reported to be gathering in large numbers near
the Blue Grass Mountains and Milk River, about 60
miles from our camp.

June 4th Sunday again. Weather fine. Two
scouts just rode in, their ponies covered with foam.
They reported a party of Sioux warriors crossing the
river three miles above our camp. General Sturges
has sent a wagon train, under strong guard, to the
riyer, to bring in supplies left there by a stean er.

We hang pretty close to camp, while scouting
parties are out to find out what the Sioux are doing ;
our scouts report that there are no hostiles anywhere
near us.

On the afternoon of the 5th we had mounted
drill ; but to my mind our horses need food and rest
more that such exercise ; many of them are so worn
down as to be unfit for service.

Sergeant M , of Company M, was Right
Principal Guard for Colonel Otis, and on coming to
Battalion, Right Front into Line, got way out in front
of the Battalion, into the position that belonged to the
Colonel. If there is anything that the Colonel dotes
on, it is his position ; that must not be encroached on.
So the expected happened. He exploded !

" What are you doing here in front of the Battal
ion ?" he shouted at the startled Sergeant.

" I was trying to get in position and you crowded
me out !" the Sergeant replied, saluting.


" \V here are you from ; where do you belong ?" the
angry Colonel asked.

" From Boston, Sir," replied the rattled Sergeant.

" I wish you had staid there !" said the Colonel as
he rode off to find another Right Principal Guide.

A very cold evening. As I was Trumpeter of the
Guard, I spent the night on the side of a bluff, nearly
a mile from camp, with the pickets, so I would be at
hand, if we were approached by hostiles during the
night, and could sound the General Alarm and arouse
the camp.

Two Indian scouts came in and reported Indian
trails and a camp of reds a few miles out. Company
H was routed out and at once started on a tour of
inspection, with orders to bring in all Indians they
can find. Captain Benteen started out, delighted
with the order. He is not the man to run away from
an opportunity to have a little fun with the reds.

A team started under guard, for Tongue River,
after tobacco. Most of the men have been without
this ration for three days, and are getting desperate.
This morning a member of Company B, tobacco
hungry, dropped in at Headquarters, and asked
General Sturges for a chew ! The General complied
and asked the man how long he had been out of the
weed. Emboldened by his success, the man replied :

" Over a week, and if I do not get a supply soon I
will skin out and go where I can get it."

He was soon under guard.

I have seen men neary crazy due to their unsatis
fied longing for tobacco. It is often sold for ten
dollars a pound by men who win large quantities of
it at poker.

June 6th. We had Battalion drill this forenoon,
which was immediately followed by rain.


June 7th. More rain ! Continued in camp.

On the 8th of June we broke camp early in the
morning, and were happy to be once more on the go.
It is much more soul satisfying to march through
constantly changing scenery, than to stay in camp
and drill. We had gone a short distance, when the
command was suddenly halted and ordered to camp.
This action is much like that of a man who is not
firmly decided whether to do a job of work ; he
begins, then suddenly throws aside his tools and
sits down.

Luck was with us this time. We soon had our
tents pitched, on the banks of Cherry Creek. This is
an ideal camping place, as far as grass and water are
concerned, but we have to carry wood about a mile.

General Sturges to-day issued an order for all the
trumpeters to practice calls, marches and quicksteps
one hour each day, when in camp.

Snow storm this evening.

June 9th. We had drill by companies in the fore
noon and Battalion drill in the afternoon. Just as the
drill was over, it was our luck to be treated to a nice
shower, so instead of being able to take a nap, we
curl up in our pup-tents and roll from side to side,
trying to dodge the rain that seeps through the thin
canvas. These tents are just heavy enough to shed
the sun, but are not good for anything else, unless it
is good to whip a grass fire with.

June 10th. Sunday, as usual, no religious service.

June 11. In camp. During the afternoon and
evening Colonel Otis gave a birthday party, enter
taining the commissioned officers. The festivities
were held in a hospital wall tent pitched near head
quarters, with all the company guidons stuck in the
ground around it.



Short Marches Numerous Mounted Indians Race Into

Our Camp Mounted Target Practice Fascinating

Pest of Egypitan Locusts Miles City.

JUNE 13. Broke camp at 9 o clock and marched
a single mile. Camped and drilled until the horses
were nearly tired out.

One of our Indian scouts in telling a companion
about the cars he had seen in Bismarck, described
them as " Heap wagon ; no hoss !" and that is about
what this expedition has amounted to so far, " Heap
march ; no fight !"

Company B ordered out on a scout towards Dead-
wood, where hostiles are reported on the rampage.
They took rations for thirty days.

June 14th, rained most of the day. One company
was sent on a scout to Big Horn river.

After Battalion drill on the 15th, just after we got
our horses " on the line," there was a cry of "Indians"
from the pickets, and we saw way off on the prairie
mounted men coming our way, with their horses on
the run. We were quickly formed in line in front of
the officers, and thought that there was a job of real
work cut out for us. On they c^me, past the pickets
and right up to the Command. They were Indians for
sure, but they were our own scouts. They had been
out on a scout and were racing their vigorous and
well-kept ponies back to camp.

Didn t we shout at the discovery ! And didn t the
picket catch it for giving the alarm. But the picket
had obeyed orders to give an alarm on the approach
of a body of Indians.

June 15th, 1877. A fine day but rather cool. We
have Battalion drill and target practice in the after-


noon. Mounted target practice is fascinating. The
target is made from pieces of hard-tack boxes
shaped to resemble a man standing erect. The com
pany is formed in a right front into line, and then the
men file off from the right of the line, with horses at
a walk. They do not stop their horses, but as they
pass the target they try to see how many bullets they
can put through the tack man, firing from the should
er ; that means having the muzzle of your revolver
held on a level with the shoulder, and then firing as
soon as the arm is extended.

As soon as the men get so that they can hit the
target with their horses on a walk, at thirty paces
from it, they go at a trot, then lope, and at last as fast
as their horses can run. It is very exciting, both to
man and beast, and it is considered good shooting to
hit a target and load and hit it again, in a distance of
not more than forty yards, and your horse on a
dead run all the time.

After drilling and taking care of our horses, the

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Online LibraryAmi Frank MulfordFighting Indians in the 7th United States Cavalry : Custer's favorite regiment → online text (page 6 of 11)