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Battling in the Little Bighorn (By Alonzo Stringham, formerly of Troop I, Seventh U. S. Cavalry. From Winners of the West, June 30, 1934)
We of the Seventh U. S. Cavalry were ordered to take the field at Fort Abraham Lincoln, D. T., in May, 1877, and hit for the northwestern territory in Montana. We were soon encamped on the Musselshell, about eighty miles north of the Yellowstone and north[west] of the mouth of Tongue River. All of the field units were alert to discover any Indian trail or any sign that might lead to a contact with the hostiles.
In the midst of all of this activity came an order from Brigadier General Alfred H. Terry to [the] captain of I Troop to take his troop and repair to the Custer Battlefield and re-bury the remains of those who had fallen there with Custer. And to disinter the remains of Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer, ten of his officers, and three civilians and prepare [them] for shipment, Colonel Custer having had a standing order that he should be buried at West Point. The battlefield was about as far south of the Yellowstone as we were north of it at the time the order came, about 160 miles.
When we came to the north bank of the Big Horn River and nearly opposite the mouth of the Little Horn, which was about eighteen miles north of the battlefield, we met our first real difficulty which was the crossing of the Big Horn, which was a tremendously swift and deep river and the water ice cold and about a half mile wide with a steep high bluff on the opposite side where we would have to make our landing. We had a bull boat made by stretching a green hide over a framework as nearly the shape of a small boat as possible, and our captain proposed placing five men in the boat, each man to lead a horse with a rope and other men detailed to row the boat. The boat was hauled upstream some distance above where the landing was desired to be made on the opposite bank, which was at the mouth of the Little Bighorn. If a horse or man missed this landing they would strike a stone wall twelve to fifteen feet high. . .
The Fetterman Tragedy, 1866 (By Timothy O'Brien, formerly of Company E, Eighteenth U. S. Infantry. From Winners of the West, March 30, 1933)
On March 29, 1866, in New York City, I enlisted in Company E of the Eighteenth U. S. Infantry and shortly thereafter our command was ordered to [Wyoming and] Montana, going by way of St. Louis, Missouri, Leavenworth, Kansas, and then on to [Wyoming and] Montana [territories], arriving there about May of 1866. At that time the Indians were making raids on different white settlements, stealing horses, cattle, and terrorizing the settlers. Upon our arrival in Montana [sic-northern Wyoming], we built a fort at Phil Kearny using the native pine and spruce trees then growing in the Rocky Mountains. The Indians became jealous of our presence and continually watched our work, constructions, and movements. Colonel Henry B. Carrington was in command of the fort with four companies of about sixty-six men to each company. In building the stockade at the fort, each day we sent out a train of seventeen wagons to the mountains to load and bring in the logs with which to construct the stockade. It frequently happened that the wood train would be attacked by the Indians and some hard fighting was required to drive the Indians off.
At that time it seemed that the whole country was infested with the various and sundry tribes of Comanches, Kiowas, Sioux, Apaches, Cheyennes, Snakes, and other tribes. It appeared that Chief Red Cloud, who always wore a red blanket about his head and shoulders, was a leader of all the tribes, and was chief of the Sioux. Red Cloud was a very brave man and always exercised good judgment in his attacks and skirmishes. I remember to have shot at him several times, but always in a running fight and from which he successfully managed to escape. . .
Combatting Cheyennes at Powder River and the Red Fork, 1876 (By James N. Connely, formerly of Troop K, Second U. S. Cavalry. From Winners of the West, July 30, 1928)
I first enlisted in 1866 in the Fourth U. S. Infantry and served three years, then in 1869 I enlisted in Troop K, Second U. S. Cavalry under Captain James Egan at Omaha, Nebraska. My first experience in Indian warfare was shortly after my enlistment in Troop K. It seems that a large war party of Sioux Indians had attacked the Pawnee Indian Agency on the Loup River in Nebraska and my troop was ordered out to capture the Sioux and defend the Pawnees. It was an intensively hot day and after riding rapidly for more than twenty miles, many of our horses were overheated and died. We did not catch any of the Sioux, but we protected the Pawnees.
From Pawnee Agency we went to Fort Laramie, Wyoming Territory, in 1872, where our chief duties were escorting a wagon train out to Laramie Peak after timber for government use at the post, a distance of forty-five miles. We generally had an escort of thirty-five men under the command of a commissioned officer. On one of these trips, [on February 9, 1874,] First Lieutenant Levi H. Robinson [Fourteenth U. S. Infantry] and Corporal John C. Coleman [Company K, Second U. S. Cavalry] took a short cut from the wood camp to the post and were ambushed by a large war party of Sioux Indians and both killed. The wagon train and escort under the charge of Sergeant Charles Dahlgreen saw many an Indian but were not attacked by them. We camped at Cottonwood Springs that night about twenty-five miles from Fort Laramie, thinking the Indians would attack us in the morning. I volunteered to ride to the fort for reinforcements and left the camp at nine o'clock at night on a good horse and had not gone far when I ran into the Indian camp, but by making a detour I managed to escape the Indians and reach the post. I returned to Cottonwood Springs that same night with reinforcements and we went out to find the bodies of Lieutenant Robinson and Corporal Coleman. There were fourteen arrows in the lieutenant's body but neither of them were badly mutilated.
During the summer of 1874 gold was discovered in the Black Hills in the Sioux Indian Reservation which was held by the Indians as sacred ground. Consequently, the Indians made strong resistance against any invasion on their ground and many prospectors and others were killed. The government took the matter up and made a treaty with the Indians for relinquishment of the Black Hills, and my Troop K and Troop I of the Second U. S. Cavalry were detailed an escort for this commission. A peace conference was held with the Indians on the White River about ten miles below the Red Cloud Agency, where about 15,000 Sioux Indians were in attendance, all mounted and most armed with repeating rifles. The young warriors were violently opposed to relinquishing any of their land and only for the great influence of Chief Spotted Tail and other chiefs, the commission and the troops would all have been massacred. The outcome of this treaty was that many of the sub-chiefs and their tribes left the reservation and went on the warpath against the whites, which ended in the Custer massacre on the banks of the Little Big Horn River in June, 1876. . .