George Custer Encounters The Hostiles
The spring of 1867 brought the 7th Cavalry's 27-year-old Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer to the plains of Kansas. A Civil War hero and one of the youngest generals in the Union army, Custer was nevertheless new to the Plains and the Indian turmoils raging on them. He arrived at Fort Larned on April 7, 1867, as part of the Hancock Expedition, a huge collection of men and animals designed to overawe the Indians and bring them to heel.
On the expedition. and later that summer in central Kansas, Custer would see his first hostile Indian, and his first wild buffalo. His handling of his troops would bring him a court-martial and a year's suspension from the Army. And his mistakes here would influence his later command decisions until some of the same errors would cost him his life nine years later at the Little Big Horn.
Hancock's command marched out of Fort Larned at 7 a.m. on Saturday, April 13, 1867, in search of hostile Cheyenne and Sioux Indians believed to be camped on the Pawnee Fork of the Arkansas. Their route went up the Pawnee on its south side, approximately on the line of the present Central Kansas Railway (former AT&SF) Larned to Jetmore branch. About three miles west of Rozel, in Pawnee County, the line of march was right along the present section-line road where the same ravines and hillocks mapped by the troops can still be seen today.
Hancock's force crossed the Pawnee with the aid of a pontoon bridge established just on the north edge of the present town of Burdett, at a point where the river runs north-south for a half mile. The column then went into camp in the first loop of the Pawnee to the west of Burdett.
The next morning, April 14, the troops had just broken camp and started their march when they had a dramatic encounter with the Indians they were seeking. Today, we can locate exactly where that historic confrontation took place --- George Custer's first view of hostile Indians.
First, listen to Custer' s own description of the encounter:
[We] had proceeded but a few miles [from the camp] when we witnessed one of the finest and most imposing military displays. . .which it has ever been my lot to behold. It was nothing more nor less than an Indian line of battle drawn directly across our line of march; as if to say: this far and no farther. Most of the Indians were mounted; all were bedecked in their brightest colors, their heads crowned with the brilliant warbonnet, their lances bearing the crimson pennant. bows strung. and quivers full of barbed arrows. In addition. . .each one was supplied with either a breech-loading rifle or revolver, sometimes with both. In the line of battle before us there were several hundred Indians. The ground beyond was favorable for an extended view, allowing the eye to sweep the plains for several miles. The infantry was in the advance, followed closely by the artillery, while my command, the cavalry, was marching on the flank. General Hancock. . .sent orders to the infantry, artillery, and cavalry to form line of battle. The cavalry, being the last to form on the right, came into line on a gallop, and the command was given to "draw saber." As the bright blades flashed from their scabbards into the morning sunlight, and the infantry brought their muskets to a carry, a most beautiful and wonderfully interesting sight was spread out before and around us. . . . Here, in battle array, facing each other, were the representatives of civilized and barbarous warfare.
The issue was nearly brought to bloodshed: the famous Cheyenne war leader Roman Nose, who was killed a year later, in September 1868 at Beecher's Island, wanted to kill General Hancock in front of all his troops. But cooler heads prevailed, and after a conference, the Indians retired and the troops resumed their march to the village on Pawnee Fork. George Custer had seen his first, but certainly not his last, hostile Indian; the experience would influence his thinking to the end of his life.
Today, seekers after the footprints of history can follow the route of the Hancock-Custer expedition west of Fort Larned. The site of the troops' first camp just west of Burdett and about 21 miles from the fort (see map below) has been leveled and cultivated. Not much is to be seen there.
But the ridge just to the west, the one that so stimulated the young officer's colorful descriptive powers, still stands out above the otherwise level prairie. From it, north of the section-line road and very near the Pawnee-Hodgeman County line, the view can imagine the confrontation where "not a bush or even the slightest irregularity of ground intervened between the two lines.
Personalities: The Human Side of Fort Larned
Samuel Rockhold, private, Company C, 3rd Infantry, enlisted in the U.S. Army at Fort Leavenworth on April 16, 1867. He was in detached service on picket duty at Fort Zarah from December 15, 1867 until January 15, 1868. He was on duty with Company C at Fort Larned until February 16 when he answered sick call with a contusion. Rockhold's injury kept him in the barracks until March 11.
On March 26 he received a garrison court-martial for "conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline." He was confined at hard labor until April 8. Private Rockhold returned to company duty, and then deserted April 21. He was never captured.
Henry Ross, private, Company C, 3rd Infantry, was born. in Ireland in 1825. He enlisted in the U.S. Army November 1, 1865, at Chicago. During the early part of 1868 he served as company cook. Private Ross answered sick call with a sprain on March 6, was ill in the barracks until March 19.
On May 1 Ross was on extra duty in the post quartermaster department as a laborer, but the next day he went on sick call for constipation. He returned to duty May 4 and was promoted to corporal in June. Ross then served on company duty until he was honorably discharged on November 1. Two days later he reenlisted. On December 23 he was reduced in rank to a private and served a one-day sentence handed down by a garrison court martial.
By 1870 Ross was again a corporal. That April, while in command of an escort for the U.S. mail between Fort Larned and Hays City, he got drunk at Fort Hays. In mid May, a court martial board at that fort found him guilty of violating the 45th Article of War. He was reduced to the rank of private once again and was confined at hard labor until September 30.
Ross left the Army in 1871, but reenlisted for a five-year hitch on August 27, 1875. While assigned to Company H. 6th Cavalry, in Arizona, he contracted malaria.
In spite of his illness, he reenlisted for another five-year hitch. Private Ross was discharged, however, on November 12, 1882 , on a surgeon's certificate of disability, suffering from rheumatism. He entered the Soldiers' Home in Washington, D.C., in late 1883 and died there on January 12, 1892.
Maurice Ross, a NPS employee at Fort Larned NHS, often takes the identity of Henry Ross for the benefit of visitors.
Meredith Helm Kidd, major, 10th Cavalry, commanded Fort Larned from May 1867 until March 1868. He, his wife Millicent, and their children were the first to live in the new stone commanding officer's quarters.
Kidd practiced law in Indiana and prospected for gold in California before joining an Indiana regiment during the Civil War. After serving in the 11th Indiana Cavalry, Lieutenant Colonel Kidd ended his enlistment on the Santa Fe Trail in Kansas in 1865.
Back in Indiana for two years he practiced law and published a newspaper. In 1867 he was offered the rank of major in the 10th Cavalry and was assigned to Fort Larned. From there, Major Kidd served at Fort Wallace and Camp Supply.
After resigning from the service in 1870, he drove a herd of cattle from Texas to Kansas, practiced law in Indiana, and worked with Indian tribes in Oklahoma and Colorado. Kidd died in Indiana in 1908.
1868: A Chronology
In 1868 Fort Larned was nearing the end of its first decade. Temporary sod and adobe buildings had been replaced by several permanent sandstone structures: other stone buildings were soon to be completed. Troops at the fort were assigned duties that ranged from escorting wagon convoys and the U.S. mail, to collecting garbage, and laboring in various post departments.
Plains Indians were anxious to collect the annuities promised them by peace commissioners at Medicine Lodge Creek in the fall of 1867. At the same time, the tribes were reluctant to follow the Medicine Lodge treaty and trade their Kansas hunting grounds for reservations in Indian Territory.
The chronology that follows includes a sampling of events---both mundane and momentous---that involved Fort Larned in 1868. It is based largely on selected letters sent from the fort and preserved on National Archives microfilm. (The first letter is reproduced in its complete form; others are shown without headings and closings in order to save space. With the exception of some added punctuation, no changes have been made in the original text.)
Many of the other dated items were taken from a chronology of Fort Larned based on various post records, compiled by George Elmore and other members of the FLNHS interpretive staff. Additional sources are listed at the end of the article.
January 3 --- Brevet Brigadier General Chauncey McKeever, assistant adjutant general, Department of the Missouri, Fort Leavenworth, directed that all civilian teamsters, laborers and all other civilians "whose services can be dispensed with," be discharged and replaced by enlisted men.
Hdqrs Fort Larned Kansas.
January 13th 1868.
Bvt Brig General Chauncey McKeever
Asst Adjutant General
Dept of the Missouri
I have the honor to represent that, there is a sawmill complete at this Post, including horse power, which is utterly useless here, and for want of storeroom, is exposed to the weather and fast decaying
I respectfully suggest, it be transferred to some Post where it can be made useful, or sold
I am General
Your obdt Servt
Major 10th Cavalry
Second Letter from Major Kidd to General McKeever, Fort Leavenworth:
I have the honor to enclose herewith, copy of report by post Quartermaster of number of civilian employees required at this Post, and the necessity for their employment as also my order in the premises.
It will be observed, none but skilled labor is authorized except three cooks for the mechanics employed, for which purpose enlisted men are not available, and without which employees receiving $85 per month would be required to perform labor which can be had for $35 per month.
January 16 --- Schooling for the officers at the post was ordered by Major Kidd, and was under his supervision. Infantry officers were to meet on Mondays and Thursdays from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. Cavalry officers were to meet on Tuesdays and Fridays at the same time.
January 20 --- Letter from Major Kidd to Brevet Captain Mason Howard, acting assistant adjutant general, District of the Upper Arkansas, Fort Harker:
In obedience to circular No 1 Hdqr Dist of the Upper Arkansas, January 9th, 1868, I have the honor to report that hay in abundance, can be cut at the proper season, within seven miles of this Post, that wood for fuel can be cut within twenty miles.
The Post Quartermaster has three repairable mowers and it is believed to be practicable for the troops to provide the necessary hay; but it is deemed impracticable to furnish the years supply of fuel by the labor of the garrison.
January 31 --- The troops at the fort were paraded for inspection under full arms, in heavy marching order, and with overcoats strapped to their knapsacks.
February 2 --- A letter was received from Brevet Major W. Bell, District of the Upper Arkansas, Fort Harker, stating that "candles cannot be issued to headquarters of a Post but can be purchased by the Post fund from the Commissary."
February 3 --- A board of survey met at 2:00 p.m. to report on the fitness of cattle to be issued to the men at the post. The survey was authorized to reject any part of the fresh beef which appeared unfit. Their final report stated that all of the beef furnished by John Fletcher was totally unfit.
February 5 --- General McKeever, Fort Leavenworth, directed Major Kidd to see that the "saw mill and horse power be transported to Fort Harker by first returning train."
February 6 --- Cavalry officers were required to supply for themselves at least one horse in good condition.
February 7 --- The commissary had an oversupply of fish and meat, and in order to prevent the food from rotting in the approaching warm weather, Major Kidd ordered each man's meat ration to consist of one-tenth mackerel, one-tenth codfish, one-tenth bacon shoulders, two-tenths pork and five-tenths fresh beef. Pickles were to replace rice.
February 8 --- Under the U.S. Army's sutler system, a civilian sutler was allowed to set up a store on a post in return for an annual payment. Theodore Weichselbaum and Jesse Crane, sutlers at several military posts, were appointed sutlers at Fort Larned in 1859. They opened their first store there the next year. Crane sold his share of the Fort Larned store to John E. Tappan in 1866. In 1867 the Army abolished the sutler system and established "post traderships." When Tappan learned Major Kidd had appointed another post trader, he apparently complained in a letter. Major Kidd to General McKeever, Fort Leavenworth:
I have the honor to enclose herewith, communication of Jno E Tappan, in which he claims to be Sutler of this Post, and complains that I have appointed a trader for this Post. I enclose also copy of the order rescinding the order granting him that privilege, copies of which were forwarded when issued.
Referring to the communication of Tappan I beg to leave to state that I have no knowledge of this man having an appointment as sutler here. on the contrary I have evidence that a Mr Stewart was the last sutler appointed for this Post, as appears on the records of the Adjutant General Office and who abandoned the business and has not been here and has held no interest in the business for nearly two years. I beg to state further the permission granted Becker to trade here, was only temporary and intended to continue only until some one was properly authorized
I desire to state further, in explanation, that as sutler had been abolished by act of Congress, published in War Dept Orders No 6. of date January 26th 1867[,] I supposed no one had any right as such except those continued as Post Traders, west of the 100th meridian, under resolution of Congress. I had no knowledge these laws had been changed.
That same day it was ordered that hereafter, no one was allowed to walk on the grass on the parade ground, except during guardmount, dress parade and roll calls. Company drills were to be conducted on the prairie east of the post.
February 11 --- Captain Nicholas Nolan and three men of Company A, 10th Cavalry, escorted Private Major Watkin of Company A, same outfit, to Ellsworth City. Watkin, charged with murder, was turned over to the civil authorities.
February 17 --- Seven of the sandstone buildings at Fort Larned were completed in early 1868. Work on all of them --- the two enlisted men's barracks, three officers' quarters, shops building and quartermaster storehouse --- began in 1867. Captain Almon Rockwell, the only officer from the quartermaster department ever stationed at Fort Larned, was in charge of the construction. Both civilians and enlisted men provided the labor. Pay rates varied: plasterers and stone masons received $90 monthly; carpenters, $85; and laborers, $35. Privates at that time were paid $16 a month, although they were eligible for extra pay at the rate of 20 cents per day after working more than ten consecutive days as a laborer. Letter from Major Kidd to General McKeever, Fort Leavenworth:
I respectfully represent that there are thirty-nine enlisted men on duty in the Q.M. Dept at this Post, fifteen as carpenters, painters and plasterers, and twenty-four as laborers; with a competent person to direct them, much can be accomplished in the construction of buildings
The mechanics are of course, second rate and awkward and require careful supervision to prevent waste of material and secure a tolerable class of work.
I therefore respectfully request permission to authorize the employment of a superintendent.
February 21 --- General McKeever, answering Major Kidd's letter of February 8, stated, "if Mr. J.E. Tappan is not legally appointed Post Sutler, the C O has full authority to compel him to remove from the reservation."
February 24 --- All civilians, except Colonel Edward Wynkoop, Indian agent, were ordered to be off the Fort Larned reserve within 48 hours. Only those civilians carrying written permits issued by post headquarters were allowed to remain.,
February 27 --- Major Kidd ordered all the "accumulated filth" around the post to be taken not less than one mile from the post and buried.
February 29 --- Letter from Captain Nolan to General McKeever, Fort Leavenworth:
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication dated the 21inst in reference to the Sutlership at this Post.
In reply I would very respectfully state that Mr. Stewart is the duly authorized sutler; Mr. Tappan acting, as per power of attorney, only as agent for him.
In conclusion allow me to call your attention to the enclosed statement signed by a majority of the officers at this Post earnestly requesting that for stated reasons, no changes may be made.
March 3 --- Letter from Captain Nolan to the adjutant general, U.S. Army, Washington:
I have the honor to transmit herewith Muster Rolls of Co's "B"C" and "D" 3rd Infantry. "A" 10th Cavalry and Hospital at this Post for January and February 1868.
March 4 --- Acting Assistant Surgeon Marston called the attention of Captain Nolan to the appearance of scurvy among the troops. He recommended the use of "antiscourbutics."
March 6 --- Letter from Major Kidd to General McKeever, Fort Leavenworth:
The endorsement and disapproval of Par 3, Special Orders No 16 Hdqrs Fort Larned Kas February 15th 1868, authorizing the A.Q.M. at this Post to employ one chief clerk and two clerks, is received: the direction to rescind this order has been complied with, and a copy of the rescinding order is enclosed herewith.
My own interpretation of the official information from Dept Headquarters, that two clerks were sufficient in the Q.M. Office at this Post was, that this included the entire civilian clerical force allowed; but Bvt Lieut Col Rockwell A.Q.M. construed it to mean two clerks in addition to the chief clerk, which all A.Q.M's were allowed, and that this force was absolutely necessary to transact the public business.
My lack of experience induced me to defer to his judgement and led me into this error.
I trust this explanation will be deemed satisfactory of an absence of any intent to disregard the instructions of my superior, either in letter or spirit.
March 7 --- A council of administration was convened at Fort Larned. Its purpose was to appropriate company funds to subscribe to newspapers and purchase library books.
March 9 --- Letter from 2nd Lieutenant L. Wesley Cooke, 3rd Infantry, acting post adjutant, to Theodore Weichselbaum and John E. Tappan, post sutlers:
I am directed by the Major Commanding to notify you, that you will immediately cease trading with the troops at this Post. and move your goods from this Reservation, within five (5) day[s].
March 10 --- Letter from Major Kidd to General McKeever, Fort Leavenworth:
I have the honor to invite attention to the subject of a future supply of hay at this Post.
The Reserve as laid off includes no land, or very little, from which hay can at any time be cut[,] the grass being of a kind which does not grow tall enough to mow.
The nearest hay-field is a strip of land a half-mile wide, on the margin of the Arkansas river, six miles south of the Post. the next nearest is on the same stream, above and twelve miles distant.
This land will doubtless be the first to pass into private hands, when it will be quite possible to extort a high price for hay delivered at this Post.
I would therefore respectfully suggest that this Reserve be extended to include the land first above alluded to, or that an additional Reserve be laid off, on the bank of the Arkansas, one-half mile and four miles in length.
March 12 --- 1st Lieutenant B.S. Bassett reported that two mules were stolen from a team enroute to Fort Dodge. He believed they had been taken to Fort Larned by a man named Palmer. and requested that if Palmer was at the fort he be arrested.
March 13 --- The quartermaster supplied one team to transport rations to the garrison at Fort Zarah. The teamster was issued two days' rations.
March 14 --- General McKeever, Fort Leavenworth, forwarded a letter by E.S.W. Drought, applying for the position of post trader at Fort Larned. In his endorsement of Drought's letter, General McKeever stated that "no traders can be appointed east of the 100th meridian of west longitude."
March 16 --- General McKeever directed that Mr. J.E. Tappan, "formally Sutler at Fort Larned Kans[,] be allowed a reasonable time to dispose of or remove his stock of goods."
March 21 --- Letter from Lieutenant Cooke to Captain (Brevet Lieutenant Colonel) Almon F. Rockwell, acting quartermaster, Fort Larned :
Information having reached these Headquarters that Messrs. horn, Dustin and Buck, are keeping horses in violation of General Orders No 30, series of 1867 from these Headquarters, (copy enclosed), you are directed by the Commanding Officer to require the provision of this order to be carried into effect, except, that permission is given Mr Horn to keep a cow.
Letter from Major Kidd to General McKeever, Fort Leavenworth:
I respectfully request permission to authorize the employment of four (4) civilian masons, and four carpenters, to finish building this post.
In case there is no Indian war this season, it is believed this force and the available labor of enlisted men, will be sufficient to complete all the necessary buildings, by November next.
Letter from Major Kidd to Captain Samuel L. Barr, acting assistant adjutant general District of the Upper Arkansas, Fort Harker:
I have the honor to report information of Indian movements, which has come to my knowledge, during the week ending March 21st 1868.
Early in the week, a band of Indians crossed the road between Forts Zarah and Harker, near Coon creek[,] going north: apparently the same band crossed the road near the same place, going south; the only evidence of this is the trails, which indicated the party to be quite numerous; they had no lodges with them.
On the 19th, a party of 35 Arrapahoes came to this post and delivered to me four mules, which were claimed and delivered to a Mr Marshall, who came with the Indians; I enclose copy of his statement in regard to the doings of these Indians --- adding that "Chief Bird" a chief, told me, he had come to deliver up the mules, as they did not belong to them; Col. Wynkoop, their agent, was absent and I issued them a small amount of subsistence. stores. they lingered about the post for two days, and upon his return, called on me in a body and said they were at peace and wished to remain friendly with the whites --- that they were on the war path against the Kaws and Osages; that two war parties of Cheyennes, about their number, had gone down the Arkansas, to patrol the country, not far from the settlements, to discover if any hostile Indians came into their country and, that this was all they were going for[.] They appeared entirely friendly, and their fraternal "hug" was more powerful than pleasant. On the 19th inst, Mr [Theodore R. "Dick"] Curtis, whom I regard as the most reliable interpreter on the plains, returned from the villages of the Cheyennes and Arrapahoes, and reports the most friendly feeling exists among them and that the prospect of peace is better than at any time for many years.
He learned also that the Kiowas and Comanches are going south and are preparing for a war with the Navajos.
Letter from Major Kidd to General McKeever, Fort Leavenworth:
Now that the Indians are moving about and frequently visiting this post, it seems to be necessary or at least prudent, to have an interpreter here for a few months. Should it meet the approval of the Major General Commanding, I respectfully request permission to employ one.
March 27 --- Letter from Lieutenant Cooke to Theodore Weichselbaum and John Tappan. sutlers, Fort Larned:
I am directed by the Captain Commanding to inform you that, you are hereby authorized to reopen your store for the purpose of trading with the troops, until further orders;
March 30 --- Letter from Lieutenant Cooke to Captain Rockwell, acting assistant quartermaster, Fort Larned:
The Captain Commanding directs that you cause a cart or wagon to report to these Hdqr every day at 9 A.M. with a view of removing the filth that accrues at the different mess and cook houses. In removing said filth the requirements of General Order No 4. Series of 1868, will be strictly adhered to.
April 3 --- In view of the fact that companies at the post had not held dress parade for several days, the commanding officer ordered that the parade be held at 9:00 a.m. daily. The order was to be rigidly enforced by the 1st sergeant of each company.
April 5 --- The commanding officer published an order stating that it had been brought to his attention that enlisted men "have sold, bartered, or given away to Indians visiting this Post, Spirit Liquors thereby causing them to appear in a frenzied, and beastly state of intoxication." He went on to state that this practice was against orders and enlisted men caught in violation of the order would be severely punished.
April 6 --- By this date, Major Kidd (post commander since May 1867) had been transferred to Fort Riley. Captain Nicholas Nolan, 10th Cavalry, then assumed command of Fort Larned. Troops totaled 284 men in the 10th Cavalry and 3rd Infantry. Letter from Nolan to General McKeever, Fort Leavenworth:
I have the honour to request that I be furnished for use at this Headqts. with a six months supply of Blank Post returns and one R. Army Regulations Ed. 1863
Letter from Captain Nolan to General McKeever, Fort Leavenworth:
I have the honour to call you attention to a come [correspondence] issued these HdQts. of date March 21st 1868 relative to the necessity of hiring an interpreter for a few months at this Post and which up to date no reply has been received. As large parties of Indians are almost daily visiting this Post on some one topic or another and as there is no person who can be reliably looked to for information respecting them, I would respectfully urge prop[e]n[s]ity of hiring Mr. R.W Curtis[,] the former interpreter[,] employed at his previous stipend and emoluments.
Letter from Captain Nolan to General McKeever, Fort Leavenworth:
I have the honour to report information of Indian movements, which has come to my knowledge during the week ending April 4th 1868. A band of Cheyennes, Dog Soldiers[,] arrived at this Post April 2/68 led by Medicine Wolf. On their way to collect the remains of Medicine Wolfs children, killed on the Smoky prior to the last treaty. Intention's peaceable to all whites. Medicine Wolf came here in the middle of Febr. on the same errand and was advised by Col. W. Cooke to return as some whites might kill him & he has returned now with the above number, to carry out his plans[.] on their way from here, about 15 miles east of Fort Dodge at the mouth of the Mulberry[,] they met Lieut. Sheppard with 6 Soldiers guarding a train[,] when they approached, the Soldiers aimed their guns at them & that he kept his men back and went up to Lieut. S. with a paper which Col. W. Cooke had given him stating his business. to bury his children. Lieut. S. paid no attention in regard to it & said he did not know whether said purpose was genuine or not. The above was reported to Col. W. Cooke. Indians behaved well & left at sundown the same day. 15 Arapahoes arrived here the same day. Chiefs, Young. Bull & Young Crow, who are on the war path, against the Kaws & Osages[,] making a total of 8 different war parties[.] both Araphoes & Cheyennes was in search of the Osages & Kaws supposed to be from 800 to 900 strong, all together.
April 7 --- Lieutenant Cooke, officer of the day, reported the "poor condition of the burying ground" and suggested the propriety of having it attended to.
April 8 --- Letter from Captain Nolan to Captain (Brevet Major) William H. Forwood, assistant surgeon, Fort Larned:
In compliance with letter of instructions from Hdqrs Dist of the Upper Arkansas, of date April 3rd instant. you are hereby directed to turn in to the A.Q.M. at this Post all the Tompkins and Wheel Litters in your possession.
A Board of Officers will be appointed, to fix the value thereof, as soon as practicable.
April 9 --- Letter from Captain Nolan to the warden, Jefferson City Penitentiary, Jefferson City, Missouri:
Enclosed please find Dishonorable Discharges in the cases of Peter G. Baylor and John Morris, Co "D" 3rd Infantry, who were discharged per G.C.M. Order No. 54 Hdqrs Dept of the Mo, March 19th 1868 and who are now undergoing sentence in the Penitentiary.
Please acknowledge receipt of the same
April --- An undated Letter from Captain Nolan to the acting assistant adjutant general, District of the Upper Arkansas, Fort Harker:
Enclosed please find charges and specifications performed against Private Harlin Truesdell & Horace W. Annis, Co. C. 3rd U.S. infantry & with the request that they be returned for trial at the earliest day practicable also against Pvt. Myers [?] Co. (?] 10th Cavalry
April 10 --- Letter from Lieutenant Cooke to Captain Rockwell, Fort Larned:
The Captain Commanding directs, that, you furnish these Headquarters with Two (2) boxes, with covers, of the following dimensions viz: Eighteen (18) by Six (6) by six (6) inches, interior measurements. also three (3) Spittoons.
April 12 --- Letter from Captain Nolan to Captain Barr, Fort Harker:
I have the honor to report that the Ambulance taken from this post by Major Kidd, 10th Cavalry[,] to carry his family to Fort Harker, Kansas, was captured by Lieut. Kaiser, at the scene of the massacre, at the Plum Buttes, in September 1867, it was brought to this Post, and repaired at the public expense.
I would respectfully request that the Ambulance be returned to this post for sale, as I wish to purchase it for the use of my family
April 20 --- Captain Forwood, assistant surgeon, requested that Private John Keppel, Company C. 3rd Infantry, be sent to the "Old Soldiers Home."
May 4 --- Letter from Captain Nolan to Captain CA. Alligood, & M.S.K. (?):
In reply to your communication dated April 20th 1868, I would respectfully state that, at the time I made requisition for the Post Morning Report Book, I was in temporary command of the post and was relieved before it arrived at the post, and consequently cannot tell the date [of] its receipt.
Enclosed please find quadruplicate receipts
May 7 --- Letter from Captain Nolan to General McKeever, Fort Leavenworth:
I have the honor to report in compliance with instructions received. dated Headquarters Dept of the Missouri April 27th 1868. that the records of this post show that it was known by the name of Fort Larned on or about July 1st 1860, having been previously called Camp Alert, and garrisoned by Co's G & H 2nd Infantry under command of Bvt Major H.W. Wessells Captain 2nd Infantry
General McKeever endorsed a letter of Sergeant McDermott, Company D, 3rd Infantry, claiming compensation for his cow killed by the sentinel watching over the haystack. The general referred to Major Kidd for remarks, stating that "the cow appeared to have been killed by the sentinel in compliance with orders which the Post Commander had fully authority to give."
May 16 --- Letter from Captain Nolan to General McKeever, Fort Leavenworth:
It is my painful duty to report the death [due to toxemia] of 1st Lieut Stanley A Browne [Brown] 3rd Infantry (stationed at this post.) at Topeka Kas May 12th 1868, while a witness before the civil court at that place
May 21 --- Letter from Captain Nolan to an unnamed captain. (Note in margin, "Not sent"):
I have the honor to transmit the following report received from Lieut Sheppard Commanding Fort Zarah Ks. viz;
That between the hours of 10 and 11 PM 19th inst. the ranche near Fort Zarah Ks. belonging to Mr. Durfee of Leavenworth Kas, was burned by a party of Indians evidently Cheyennes
Mr [Joseph W.] Douglas[s], [post trader at Fort Zarah and] clerk for Mr [Durfee] had been warned of the intentions of the Indians, by a Letter from [scout] Ed[mond] Guerrier and took refuge in the Garrison
Everything was quiet at Zarah on the morning of the 20th inst
This raid at the Walnut Creek crossing of the Santa Fe Trail was reported to have been carried out by about 25 Cheyennes and a few Arapahoes. The site was excavated by the Kansas State Historical Society and the Kansas Anthropological Association in May 1969. The remains of a large sandstone structure, some 80 by 20 feet, were unearthed. The only artifacts discovered were in a small portion of the building apparently used as a living area. The archaeologists found virtually nothing in what they presumed was a large storage room. This is interesting, for Douglass filed a claim against the Cheyennes for $5,445 worth of lost "merchandise."
May 25 --- Letter from Captain Nolan to General Barr (?), Fort Harker.
I have the honor to report Indian movements at Fort Zarah Kas
On the afternoon of the 19th inst a party of Cheyenne Indians came in the military reservation at Fort Zarah Ks. and proceeded to Mr Douglas ranche & desired to trade with him, but having nothing with them for that purpose. They showed an insolent disposition but offered no violence during the day
On the same night about 9 OClock the Indians went into Mr T[-?-]'s ranche distance 1/2 mile from Mr Douglas and asked for something to eat which having obtained they departed and were seen no more. Between 10 & 11 OClock the same night Mr Douglas ranche was fired while he and Messrs [?] Parker were inside[.] they fled from the ranche and sought protection in the garrison[.] On the next day 9 bullet holes were found in the door evidently fresh & fired from the outside
It is believed the ranche was fired by the Cheyennes from personal motives of hatred toward Mr Douglas
The above report has been delayed in order to obtain full particulars from Fort Zarah Ks
May 31 --- Notice:
The troops at this Post will be prepared for inspection tomorrow at 4:30 P.M. in light marching order. All enlisted men except the guard, sick, one hospital attendant, one cook to each company, one baker, and one man in charge of the corral, will appear under arms. The staff at this Post will report at 15 minutes past 4:00.
Enlisted men and officers at Fort Larned in May: Company A, 10th U.S. Cavalry (88 men), Captain Nicholas Nolan, commanding; Companies B. C and D, 3rd U.S. Infantry (233 men), 1st Lieutenant John Thompson, commanding Company B and quartermaster, and 1st Lieutenant August Kaiser, commanding Company D; Captain Henry Asbury, post commander; Captain W.H. Forwood, post surgeon; and 2nd Lieutenant L. Wesley Cooke, post adjutant.
June 3 --- Letter from Captain (Brevet Major) Henry Asbury, 3rd Infantry, commanding Fort Larned, to the adjutant general, U.S. Army, Washington:
I have the honor to transmit herewith Descriptive Lists of Desert[er]s from Fort Larned Kas during month of May 1868
June 5 --- Notice:
Tattoo and Taps are amended as follows. Dress Parade twenty (20) minutes before Retreat. Tattoo 8:30 P.M. Taps 9:00 P.M.
June. 6 --- Letter from Captain Asbury to General McKeever, Fort Leavenworth:
I have the honor to transmit herewith Quadruplicate Return of Ordnance and Ordnance Stores, appertaining to Co B 3rd Infantry during part of 2nd quarter 1868
June 7 --- Letter from Captain Asbury to Brevet Major E.A. Belger, acting assistant adjutant general, District of the Upper Arkansas, Fort Harker:
I have the honor to report as follows, regarding the Indians; There is at present, about 17 miles up the Pawnee Fork, an Arrapahoe village consisting of [blank] lodges. They are remaining as far as I can learn, quietly in their village.
Several Kiowas were in at the post during the past week, with their squaws, and appearing peaceably inclined.
A few of the Cheyennes & Apaches, have been, and some are still here, for the purpose of seeing their Agent. Col Wynkoop.
"Iron Shirt" and "Crow," Apache Chiefs, with about 150 men, women and children, are still encamped near the post.
The war party of the Cheyennes, which left here some time ago, against the Kaws and Osages, returned to this post yesterday, numbering between 200 & 300, led by their chiefs Little Robe, White Buffalo, and Whirlwind.
They had a skirmish with the Kaws, on the Kaw Reservation a few miles from Council Grove Kas. and drove them from their village, when they were interfered with by the whites[.] They sacked the village, burning two houses and bringing away blankets, kettles &c.
This party say they were in a starving condition, and killed eight head of cattle belonging to the whites, otherwise they have not molested them, although the whites seemed somewhat afraid they would commit depredations.
This morning they started for their camp, about 30 miles up the Pawnee Fork.
The Dog Soldiers are camped about 35 miles from here on the north fork of the Pawnee near the site of the camp burned by General Hancock in 1867.
The Indians had moved out of their winter camps into the area around Fort Larned. By midsummer, several thousand Cheyennes, Arapahoes, Kiowas, Kiowa-Apaches and Comanches were gathered near Forts Larned and Dodge, awaiting annuities promised them at Medicine Lodge. But the treaties signed at Medicine Lodge in October 1867 had yet to be approved by the Senate.
June 8 --- Letter from Captain Asbury to Major Belger, Fort Harker:
I would respectfully report, in reply to communication dated Hdqrs Dist Upper Arkansas May 25th 1868., that, I have seen Mr Guerrier. and he states that his intention in writing the note to Mr Douglas, telling him to treat the Indians with kindness was, that he might get what little trade the Indians might have to give him
The night the ranche was burned, there were but two Indians absent from camp, and in his opinion not in the direction of Mr Douglas' ranche at all
He says, Mr Douglas made no attempt to save his property or goods.
It is Mr Guerrier's opinion that it was not the work of Indians, but that of white men.
Letter from Captain Asbury to General McKeever, Fort Leavenworth:
I have the honor to report that Bvt Brig General Guier Col 3rd Cavalry, and 355 recruits for the 3rd Cavalry, arrived at this post on the 5 inst and departed on the 7th inst, enroute for New Mexico.
June 10 --- Most of the men of Company D, 3rd Infantry, were moved from Fort Larned to nearby Fort Zarah. This ended the practice of rotating of some of Company C's troops from Larned to picket duty at Zarah.
June 14 --- Letter from Captain Asbury to General Belger, Fort Harker:
There is nothing much of importance to report in regard to the movements of the Indians during the past week.
The Dog Soldiers have left their encampment on the north fork of the Pawnee Fork and have gone towards the Smoky, probably on the Forks of the Walnut, there to await the arrival of their goods at this post where they will probably come in. They are quiet and peaceably inclined.
A number of Kiowas and Comanches amounting to 75 or 80 came to the post today for the purpose of seeing about their agency.
The names of the principal chiefs are "Little Heart" ["]Heap of Bears" "The fast Bear" and "Satank" or "Sitting Bear" of the Kiowas and "One eyed ten Bears" and "Iron Mountain" of the Comanches.
"Little Robe" one of the Cheyenne chiefs states that the depredations committed near Council Grove were done by the young men of the tribe and that it was impossible to stop them, that he did all in his power to stop them, by whipping &c.
The Cheyennes are willing to have the amount of damages stopped from their annuity goods as they do not wish to have any collision with the whites, but to remain at peace with them.
June 20 --- Letter from Captain Asbury to General Belger, Fort Harker:
I would respectfully report that the Arrapahoe Indians encamped on the Pawnee Fork about sixteen miles above the post have been in a state of intoxication during the past week and it is supposed they received their liquor from the ranches along Walnut Creek
The Cheyennes encamped on North Fork of Pawnee have also been drunk and it is believed received their liquor from the ranche on North Fork.
June 22 --- Letter from Captain Asbury to General McKeever, Fort Leavenworth:
On account of the limited number of men we have for duty in the garrison, it will be a matter of impossibility for the troops to put up the hay required for the post.
The men of the Cavalry Company on duty at the post cannot of course be used for the purpose and there are not enough of the Infantry to do the necessary duty at the post and put up hay also. The garrison of Zarah having been very materially increased, Fort Larned is left with a much smaller number of men than before, while the necessary duty at Larned is not affected by the withdrawal of the additional men.
I would therefore respectfully urge that a contract be let, for the putting up of the hay, believing, that such a step would be to the best interest of the service.
1st Lieutenant August Kaiser, 3rd Infantry, commanding Fort Zarah, requested "to be informed whether Private James McMullen, Post Baker, be entitled to extra duty pay from the Post Fund at Fort Larned."
June 25 --- Letter from Captain Asbury to Lieutenant Kaiser, commanding Fort Zarah:
The Major commanding directs that you cause the mail couriers to leave your post so that they can deliver the eastern mail at this post by Reveille.
Letter from Captain Asbury to Major Belger, Fort Harker:
Three Cheyenne Chiefs came to see Col Wynkoop on the evening of the 25th of June stating they had come almost from their camp 60 miles N.West of Larned to report that on the night of the 22n [?] June[,] 16[?] Sioux had arrived at their camp who stated that they had just come from the north and that on approaching some place in the neighborhood of Fort Hayes while advancing under a white flag, they were fired upon and returned the fire having a little skirmish. the Cheyennes were fearful of being bLarned with this affair consequently their having to report the facts to Col Wynkoop
The affair occurred on or about the 20th inst. the Cheyenne Chiefs who brought the news were Sand Hill Big Jake, and another unknown
June 29 --- Letter from Captain Asbury to Major Belger, Fort Harker:
I would respectfully request that the balance of D Co 3rd Infantry on duty at this post, be ordered to Fort Zarah Ks., and would respectfully recommend that that post, be made a seperate command from Fort Larned Ks
The troops at this Post will be paraded for inspection and muster for pay tomorrow, 30th at 6:00 A.M. All enlisted men of this command except the guard, sick in the hospital, and one cook to each company will appear under full uniform light marching order.
Payday came every other month, if the paymaster wasn't delayed. In 1868, paydays were scheduled for February 29, April 30, June 30, August 31, October 31 and December 31.
June 30 --- Fort Zarah was made a separate fort, no longer under the jurisdiction of the commanding officer at Fort Larned.
July 6 --- Letter from Captain Asbury to General McKeever, Fort Leavenworth:
The Kiowas and Comanches to the number of between one & two thousand lodges are coming up into the Arkansas and going into camp
The forerunners are already here[.] they number some 70 lodges, they have asked me for rations and the rest also[,] when they get here[,] will want provisions
I have not the rations to give to them & would respectfully request that supply be sent for the purpose[.] It is essential that this should be done if it is the intention of the Govt. to insure peace
The Kiowas & Comanches who have been here have seen rations issued to the Indians of the agency of Col Wynkoop and because they do not get the same[,] a feeling is created which is liable at any moment to result in War
I have told these forerunners of the Kiowas that I would write to Dept Hdqrs, and ask that provisions be sent out here at once[.] I believe it to be the only sure way of preserving peace
I would in view of the circumstances request and urge that more troops be sent onto this line this summer
July 7 --- Letter from Captain Asbury to General McKeever, Fort Leavenworth:
I have the honor to report that the Kiowas & Comanches have all come up to the Arkansas
There are at present within one days march of this post, between 12 & 15 thousand Indians of the Kiowa, Comanche, Arrapahoe Apaches and Cheyenne tribe
I cannot to[o] strongly urge the necessity of sending subsistence stores for these Indians, as they are liable at any moment to break out into open War
In order to preserve peace rations will have to be issued to them. In view of the large numbers here, & in this immediate neighborhood, and their uncertain state[,] I would respectfully urge that additional troops be sent here. & on this line this summer
July 8 --- Letter from Captain Asbury to Major Belger, Fort Harker:
I have the honor to report that the Kiowas & Comanches as well as the Cheyennes Arrapahoes & Apaches are still in the neighborhood of this post
I learn a number of the young men of the Arraphaoes, had started for New Mexico to fight the Navajos & Utes but on learning that their Agent Col Wynkoop had received their annuities returned
When the tribes of Col. Wynkoops agency have recd their annuities they may scatter but it is doubtful what the result will be when they find they are not to receive the arms & ammunition, promised them some time ago, It is probable that they may commit some depredations
I will issue rations to the Kiowas & Comanches & the Commissary of the post can requis[ite] for other stores to replace those issued
July 9 --- Letter from Captain Asbury to Major Belger, Fort Harker:
In reply to your communication of June 30th 1868 I would respectfully state there is no [wagon] train report from Fort Larned Ks for the months of May & June 1868. on account of all the trains that may pass [on the Santa Fe Trail] take the "wet or river" route from which it is impossible to see them
I have however now an enlisted man whose duty it is to collect the necessary data for this report, which in future will be sent punctually
At 3:00 a.m. that morning, frightened whites camped near Fort Larned fired on two young drunken Kiowas. One of the pair was seriously wounded, and when news of the incident reached other Kiowas, a large band rode near the fort and wounded a Mexican. Chief Satanta intervened to calm the situation.
July 13 --- As Indians in the area continued to wait for their annuities, the new commander of the District of the Upper Arkansas, Lieutenant Colonel (Brevet Brigadier General) Alfred Sully, ordered cavalry units to Larned as a precautionary measure.
Letter from Captain Asbury to General McKeever, Fort Leavenworth:
I have the honor to report that Major Elliott 7th Cavalry and five companies and part of the sixth company of the 7th Cavalry arrived at this post yesterday the 12th inst
July 20 --- Congress approved an appropriation of $500,000 to implement the Medicine Lodge treaties. Cheyennes meeting with Agent Wynkoop, were told that because of their June raid against the Kaws, the Indian Department would not issue them any arms and ammunition. In protest, they refused to take goods of any kind. At the same time, impatient Kiowas and Comanches were visiting unscrupulous whiskey dealers.
July 23 --- Telegram from Commissioner of Indian Affairs N.G. Taylor, Washington, D.C., to Agent Wynkoop:
If you are satisfied that the issue of arms and ammunition is necessary to preserve the peace, and that no evil will result from their delivery, let the Indians have them.
July 25 --- Letter from Captain Asbury to Major Belger, Fort Harker:
I have the honor to report, that I have just learned that the Comanches have some white children, which they want to trade to the whites
One of the children was in here today but has gone back to their camp. she is a bright, intelligent child about ten or eleven years old, and talks english very well. says her parents were killed and I understand says that she has some two or three brothers who are also captives
The Comanches said they would bring them in tomorrow, and wanted to know how much I would give for them. I told them to bring them in, and I would talk about trading them
I propose should they keep their word to take possession of the children, and will await your instructions
Please let me know at once what to do
The Indians say they understand that the whites will give two ponies for any white children, and they may possibly not bring the children until they know what you will do.
They are camped with the Arrapahoes above here on the river
July 25 --- Letter from Captain Albert Barnitz, 7th Cavalry, in camp near Fort Larned, to his wife:
Col Wyncoop, Indian Agent, commences, to day, to issue arms to the Indians. Is to issue 350 or 375 rifles to them, by order of the Secretary of the interior, I believe --- maybe they will feel very brave when they get those arms, and will begin to turn their thoughts to war again! Who knows. It is certainly very foolish to fight Indians with one hand, and to make presents, and give them arms with the other!
July 31 --- In his monthly report, Captain Forwood, post surgeon, mentioned the captive children:
The Kiowas and Comanches have brought in several white children --- captives taken in Texas --- which they desire to "trade." Eliza Brisco, aged thirteen, and her brother Isaac, aged six, and another little girl, aged nine years, were bought from them by the Post Sutler at about five hundred and fifty dollars each in goods.
He also wrote:
There are now between twelve and fifteen thousand Indians of the Kiowa, Comanche. Arapahoe, Cheyenne, & Apache tribes within one day's march of the Post. They pretend to desire peace & are expecting an issue of arms and ammunition which was promised to them by the commissioners at Medicine Lodge creek last October, but which are not to be given to them. The indications are that they will go to war as soon as they get these arms and that they will go certainly to war if they don't get them.
Troop strength at the post for July totaled 223 in the 10th Cavalry and 3rd Infantry. The muster rolls of the 3rd's Company C that month listed 66 enlisted men in various work assignments:
|Company quartermaster sergeant||1 sergeant|
|Company 1st sergeant||1 sergeant|
|Working in quartermaster workhouse||1 sergeant||1 corporal||13 privates|
|Working in commissary||1 sergeant||2 privates|
|Guard duty||1 sergeant||2 corporals||9 privates|
|Detached service --- paymaster||1 corporal||4 privates|
|Off post fatigue||1 sergeant||1 corporal||11 privates|
|Post fatigue||2 corporals||4 privates|
|Company tailor||1 private|
|Post adjutant's office||1 private|
|Barracks orderly||1 private|
|Company cooks||2 privates|
|Post wagoner||1 private|
|Post hospital||1 private|
August 1 --- Captain Forwood reported that Sergeant Francis Hughes, Troop H, 7th Cavalry, died in the post hospital of cholera at 5:00 p.m.
Agent Wynkoop and Indian superintendent Thomas Murphy held council with Arapahoes and Kiowa-Apaches near the fort. Arapaho chief Little Raven promised that any arms and ammunition given to them would never be used against whites. Wynkoop then delivered 160 pistols, 80 rifles, 12 kegs of powder and a keg and a half of lead.
August 5 --- Letter from Captain Barnitz, in camp near Fort Larned, to his wife:
I ran a foot race last ev'g with Lieut. [William W.] Cooke, 7th Cav., & Capt. [A.E.] Smith, 200 yards for a purse of $150. Cooke won, of course! It appears now that he was a prize racer before the war, and had really distinguished himself somewhat in that line. The ladies and officers of the post were up to witness the race, and all the regiment was out to see, and we were very picturesque, I suppose, in "tights" stockings, and garters. Capt. Hamilton & Lieut. Robbins put up the $50 on me, and took some side bets, amounting to nearly as much more, and lost! Wasn't it too bad! . . .
The race was got up mainly as a sanitary measure, to furnish some excitement, and encourage diversions of this kind, among the men, in consequence of the fear of cholera, which was becoming somewhat prevalent, as was supposed, in consequence of the death of one man in "H" Troop with symptoms very like those of cholera.
Last night we had a dance on the parade [ground], in front of Head Quarters, all the ladies from the Post were there. We had the "flys" of a large hospital [tent] stretched on the grass, and staked down for a carpet. The music was very fine. The clog dancers of "E" Troop, in their brilliant costumes, gave an exhibition of their abilities during the evening.
Letter from Captain Asbury to the commanding officer, Disciplinary Barracks, Fort Leavenworth:
I have the honor to request if It can be done that Private Hugh Conway Co "B" 3rd Infantry at present in confinement at your Post be forwarded to his Company at this place for trial
That evening, Corporal Michael McGillicuddy, confined to the post hospital since July 9 with an eye infection, was bitten by a rabid wolf. The wolf also bit several others as it made a wild rampage through the fort. Letter from Captain Barnitz, in camp near the fort, to his wife, August 10:
Quite a serious affair occurred at the Post on the night of the 5th inst. Col. Wyncoop, the Indian Agent, was sitting on his porch. with his wife and children, and Mrs. Nolan & Tappan, I believe, and Lieut. [John P.] Thompson of the 3d Infantry, and others, when a mad wolf, a very large grey wolf, entered the post and bit one of the sentinels, --- ran into the hospital and bit a man bring in bed, --- passed another tent, and pulled a man out of his bed, biting him severely, --- bit one man's finger nearly off --- bit at some woman, and I believe one or two other persons in bed, but did not bite through the bed clothes --- passed through the hall of Capt. Nolan's house, and pounced upon a large dog which he found there, and whipped him badly in half a minute, and then passed the porch of Col. Wyncoops house, and springing upon it but Lieut. Thompson quite severely in several places, --- he then passed on to where there was a sentinel guarding the haystacks, and tried to bite the sentinel, but did not succeed --- the sentinel shooting and killing him on the spot! He proved to be of a very unusual size, and there appears to be no doubt that he had the hydrophobia. The Indians say they have never known any one bitten by a mad wolf to recover.
August 6 --- Letter from Captain Asbury to Major Belger, Fort Harker:
I have the honor to transmit herewith Train Report for the month of July 1868.
Unfortunately, a copy of this report does not appear on the microfilm of letters sent from Fort Larned or received at Fort Harker. The count was perhaps lower than in earlier years, for by that time the Union Pacific, Eastern Division Railroad (later the Kansas Pacific) had built trackage into Hays. For several months, mail coaches, along with some military and civilian traffic, had used the Fort Hays-Fort Dodge Road, bypassing Fort Larned.
August 8 --- Approximately 70 civilian employees arrived and began working on the buildings under construction at the post. Enlisted men were cutting, curing and stacking hay.
August 9 --- Letter from 1st Lieutenant (Brevet Captain) G.W. Raulston to Major Henry Douglass, commanding Fort Dodge:
The Commanding Officer directs me to inform you that an Indian was killed at Ft Zarah Ks last night by a citizen named 'Saml Parker"
Agent Wynkoop distributed annuities to Cheyennes near Fort Larned. Tribe members received 12 kegs of powder, a keg and a half of lead, 15,000 percussion caps. 100 Lancaster rifles and other annuity goods. The next day Wynkoop wrote Superintendent Murphy, "I am perfectly satisfied that there will be no trouble with them this season."
August 12 --- A few days before Wynkoop gave out the arms and ammunition, about 200 impatient Cheyenne warriors had ridden north to raid the Pawnees. Between August 10 and 12, many in the Cheyenne war party, along with 20 Sioux and a handful of Arapahoes, raided new settlements on the Solomon and Saline Rivers. They raped several women, killed over a dozen men, robbed and burned homes, and drove off stock. Murphy wrote, "War is surely upon us."
August 14 --- Letter from Captain Asbury to General Sully, Fort Zarah:
I have the honor to forward herewith a dispatch which arrived at this post from Fort Dodge this afternoon addressed to you
August 16 --- Letter from Captain Asbury to Major Douglass, Fort Dodge:
I have the honor to forward herewith Copy of a Letter received this morning from Bvt Brig Genl Sully which he requested should be forwarded to you
August 18 --- General Sully ordered the 7th Cavalry, camped near Fort Larned since mid July, into the field against warring Indians.
August 19 --- Private Frank Lemmons, Company A, 10th Cavalry, was ordered to take dispatches to Fort Harker. He was supplied with rations and forage for three days. On arrival at Harker, he was to report to the commanding officer and then return to Fort Larned without delay.
August 20 --- Letter from Captain Asbury to the acting assistant adjutant general, Fort Harker:
I have the honor to enclose herewith a communication from Col Wynkoop U.S. Indian Agent to Genl. Sully together with a statement of an interview held by "Col W" with Little Rock a Cheyenne Chief. Should Genl. Sully not be there will you please forward these papers to him.
August 21 --- A Letter from Lieutenant Cooke, acting assistant quartermaster. reported that a number of hogs were running "at large" in the post and were destroying considerable government property. In another letter written that same day, Cooke also reported that "it is of frequent occurrence nightly" to have lumber stolen from the area around the carpenter shop.
August 23 --- Letter from Captain Asbury to the commanding officer, Fort Dodge:
I have the honor to inform you that seven (7) Mules were stolen from here last night, Five of them branded "DC" on the left fore shoulder, one branded "DC" on the Hip and one branded U.S.M. on the Hip. If you can find any trace of them please arrest the persons having them in charge.
August 24 --- Lieutenant Cooke asked the commanding officer "to be informed whether he shall issue the old or new Hay to the public Horses at this post."
August 25 --- Lieutenant Cooke requested that a board of survey be convened for the purpose of "fixing the responsibility for a lot of damaged Hay at this post."
That same day, the account of John E. Tappan sutler, was credited with $1,107.65. In July Tappan had given trade goods in that amount to Indians in return for the release of two white children.
August 26 --- Lieutenant Cooke requested that Mr. Samuel Stewart, "a colored Barber," be permitted to remain on the military reservation.
August 31 --- At 10:00 a.m. all the enlisted men, except the teamster in the corral, the guard, the sick, one hospital attendant and one cook in each company, were to appear under arms in full uniform, in light marching order. The troops were to be paraded, inspected, and then mustered for pay.
August --- Although his name doesn't appear in official records until September, it is believed William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody scouted for the 10th Cavalry during August. Both Cody and General Philip H. Sheridan, commander of the Department of the Missouri, wrote of a daring ride the young scout made delivering dispatches in the area. He first volunteered to carry some important information from Fort Larned to Sheridan at Fort Hays. The general's account continues the story from there:
This intelligence required that certain orders should be carried to Fort Dodge, 95 miles south of Hays. . . . Cody, learning of the strait I was in, manfully came to the rescue, and proposed to make the trip to Dodge, though he had just finished his long and perilous ride from Larned. I gratefully accepted his offer, and after four or five hours' rest he mounted a fresh horse and hastened on his journey. . . . At Dodge he took six hours' sleep and then continued to his own post --- Fort Larned[,] with more despatches. After resting twelve hours at Larned, he was again in the saddle with tidings for me at Fort Hays.
By Sheridan's figuring the scout rode about 350 miles in less than 60 hours: Cody's autobiography claims a distance of 290 miles in 58 hours.
September 5 --- Letter from Captain Asbury to 2nd Lieutenant John F. Weston, 7th Cavalry, acting assistant adjutant general, District of the Upper Arkansas, in the field in camp near Fort Dodge:
I send none of the surplus horses of Co "A" 10th Cav[,] as Capt Nolan has them with him at Fort Dodge
You can get them there & the dismounted men can return at this post in the wagons which carry the Infantry to Fort Dodge
I have forwarded the dispatches sent this morning to Zarah & Harker by courier
September 8 --- When sutler Tappan tried to exchange the $1,107.65 "IOU" he had received for the merchandise he had traded for the white children, the Indian Department refused to honor it. Officials claimed goods-for-human exchanges did not come under its jurisdiction.
Letter from Captain (Brevet Major) Daingerfield Parker, 3rd Infantry to General McKeever, Fort Leavenworth:
I have the honor to request that Lieut CL Umbsteatter 3rd Inf be relieved from his present duties and ordered to join his Company "C" at this post.
I make this request in view of the small number of Officers at this post.
September 9 --- Corporal McGillicuddy, bitten by the rabid wolf in August, died in the post hospital. Surgeon Forwood had treated his wound with nitrate of silver, but he recommended the tom finger be amputated. McGillicuddy refused, and succumbed to hydrophobia. The other men bitten by the wolf survived.
September 10 --- Letter from Captain Parker to Lieutenant Weston, near Fort Dodge:
I have the honor to report that I have just had an interview with "Lone WoIf" Chief of the Kiowas who had left Fort Zarah the day previous for the purpose, he states, of placing his band in a position to be protected from the hostilities of Indians now at war with our forces. He, with a portion of his band numbering --- men, women and children, --- 18 lodges, are encamped near the mouth of the Pawnee Fork, about Eight miles from this Post. He further states that in a few days the entire tribe will join him, that they have no other than friendly intentions toward the whites, but asked that as the present state of affairs prevented them from sending out hunting parties, Rations might be furnished them. The Cheyennes he says, are greatly incensed at the Kiowas for not joining them, and threaten to make war against them.
Under the circumstances, I deemed it politic and prudent to issue a small quantity of Rations (Five Hundred) as in my opinion this course would tend to prevent them from joining hostile tribes of Indians; but I would respectfully request instructions as to the course I am to pursue in future regarding these Indians
September 11 --- Lieutenant Cooke, acting assistant quartermaster, requested that a sentinel be placed "day and night" over the new haystacks with instructions "to allow no person to get Hay threrefrom without the written authority" of the quartermaster or property clerk.
September 13 --- Letter from Captain Parker, commanding Fort Larned. to Major Belger, Fort Harker:
As a large number of Kiowa. Comanche, and Apache Indians, are camped in this region of country, and it is, in my opinion[,] highly important to watch their movements.
I have the honor respectfully to apply for authority to Employ two Scouts to be attached to this Post at a salary of $75.00 per month and one ration each.
September 14 --- A report by Lieutenant Cooke listed W.F. Cody as a "laborer, resacking forage" between September 9 and 14, wages, $30 monthly. Scouts were often hired by the quartermaster, some say, to provide "cover" for their missions.
September 17-25 --- Major George A. Forsyth and 50 "first class hardy frontiersmen," were surprised by Oglala Sioux and Cheyenne Dog Soldiers on the Arikara fork of the Republican River northwest of Fort Wallace, just inside Colorado. Although surrounded by six to seven hundred warriors, Forsyth's men managed to hold out on a small brush-covered island for a week. The siege ended when two pairs of scouts slipped away to Fort Wallace and brought a column of 10th Cavalry. Indian losses were reported at anywhere from six to 35 killed (including the Cheyenne war chief Roman Nose) and a hundred or more wounded. Forsyth and 14 in his command suffered wounds; six others were killed. One of first to die was 1st Lieutenant Frederick H. Beecher, Company K, 3rd Infantry, on detached duty from Fort Larned. It is by his name that the fight is remembered --- the Battle of Beecher's Island.
September 18 --- General William T. Sherman, commanding the Division of the Missouri, rejected Agent Wynkoop's plan to locate, at Fort Larned, those Cheyennes innocent in the recent raids along the Saline and Solomon rivers. Sherman, claiming there was no way to distinguish "good" Indians from "bad" Indians, ordered Wynkoop and other agents to move peaceful Indians far to the south at Fort Cobb, Indian Territory. This signaled the end of Fort Larned serving as a base for distributing annuities.
September 19 --- Report in the medical records:
Gen. Sheridan, commanding Department of Missouri[,] and Bvt. Major Gen. W[illiam B] Hazen, Lt. Col. 38th Infantry [on loan to the Indian Department as agent to the Kiowas and Comanches], were here and held a long council with the Kiowa and Comanche Indians to try and induce them to stay out of the war and go south to their reservations. They promised to go and wanted large rewards, but as they could not get these before starting, they went off and have not returned. The Indians infest the country in the vicinity of the post and no one can go out a mile with safety unless protected by an escort. Company B, 3rd Infantry, Bvt. Major Henry Asbury, commanding, was relieved from this post on the 28th and started for the field to join General Sheridan's command operating south of the Arkansas against the Indians.
September 20 --- Letter from 2nd Lieutenant William N. Williams, 3rd Infantry, to Lieutenant Cooke:
The Bvt Major Comd'g directs, that you furnish Mr- Keegan a Post Scout One First Class Riding Mule, Saddle and Bridle[,] taking his memorandum Receipt therefor
Letter from Captain Parker to General McKeever, Fort Leavenworth:
In accordance with instructions received Sep 19th 1868, desiring me to report without delay the names of all Enlisted men at this Post awaiting trial.
I have the honor to make the following report.
|Corpl WH Greene||Co "C" 3rd Inf|
|Mus[ician] Chas Gambia||Co "B" 3rd Inf|
|Priv Sylvester Chamberlain||Co "C" 3rd Inf|
|Robert Diggs||Co "A" 10th Cav|
|Patrick Hinds||Co "C" 3rd Inf|
|Zack Caldwell||Co "A" 10th Cav|
|John Stewart||Co "K" 3rd Inf|
|John Fitzgerald||Co "K" 3rd Inf|
I have the honor to request that a General Court Martial be ordered to convene at this Post as soon as practicable for the trial of these prisoners
Letter from Captain Parker to Major Douglass, commanding Fort Dodge:
I have the honor to enclose herewith Copy of Order issued in accordance with instructions received from Maj Genl Sheridan this day.
I would respectfully request that the necessary instructions be given the non comm officer in charge of the Station at Coon Creek
Robert M. Wright, in his autobiography, related an incident that had taken place near the Coon Creek station a few days earlier.
On the night of September first 1868, I was coming from Fort Larned with mail and dispatches when I met a mule team and government wagon loaded with wood, going to Big Coon creek. forty miles east of Fort Dodge, as there was a small sod fort located there, garrisoned with a sergeant and ten men. These few men could hold this place against twenty times their number as it was all earth and sod. with a heavy clay roof, and port-holes all around. . . . But they were not safe outside a minute. . . . The reason why the men with the wagon whom I have mentioned were going to Big Coon Creek was to take them wood. I told the boys who were with the wagon to under no consideration leave Big Coon creek, or Fort Coon as we called it until a wagon train came by. . . .
I, after parting with them, continued on towards Fort Dodge, where I arrived just before daylight, the morning of September second. After lying down and having a much needed sleep, and rest, I, in the evening, went up to Tap[p]an's sutler store. I noticed the Indians' signals of smoke in different directions, and I knew this foreboded serious trouble. . . . While I was standing talking, an orderly came up to me and said the commanding officer wanted to see me at once. It was nearly night at this time. I at once reported to [him]. He informed me that he wanted me to select a reliable man and be ready to start with dispatches for Fort Larned. . . . I selected a man of Company B, Troop Seven, United States Cavalry, named Paddy Boyle.
When we arrived near Little Coon creek we heard firing and yelling in front of us. We went down into a ravine leading in the direction we were going, cautiously approaching nearer where the firing was going on, and made the discovery that the Indians had surrounded what we supposed to be a wagon train. . . . Instead. . .it proved to be the party we last met at or near Big Coon creek with the wood wagon, and we arrived just in time to save them from being massacred. At this time the Indians made a desperate charge, but were repulsed and driven back in good style. When I looked the ground over and saw what a poor place it was to make a fight against such odds, . . .I suggested that either Boyle or myself try and cut his way through the Indians and go to [Fort Dodge] for assistance. As Boyle had the best horse in the outfit --- a fine dapple-grey --- Boyle said he would make the attempt.
While Boyle slipped through Indian lines in the darkness, Wright and the soldiers pushed their wagon into a nearby buffalo wallow, giving them better cover. With three of the four wood-haulers wounded and their ammunition limited, Wright held out little hope for their survival. They shared his canteen of whiskey, firing occasionally in the direction of "blood curdling yells."
Finally we saw the Indians apparently getting ready for another rush from a different direction, fully expecting that they would get us if they did. At about the same time I noticed a body of horsemen coming out of ravine in another direction. We supposed this was another tactful dodge of the Indians and they would come at us from two ways. . . . What seemed extremely mysterious was when the body of horsemen came out of the ravine, the men. . .seemed to be dressed in white, and as they came on to high ground, deployed a skirmish line. I had seen Indians form a line of battle occasionally, but it was not common for them to do so. . . . This body of men dressed in white halted about three hundred feet from us and stood there like a lot of ghosts. (The reader must remember this was in the night time and we could not make out objects plainly.)
The suspense at this time was becoming very acute. . . .each one of our party was prepared to take his own life if necessary, rather than to be taken prisoner. . . . We knew we did not have sufficient ammunition to resist another charge. I hollered to one of the horsemen for one of them to advance. At once a horseman came riding up with his carbine held over his head, which [in] those days was a friendly sign. After he came up within about fifty feet, I recognized Paddy Boyle, as though he had risen from the dead. The whole command advanced then and it was a squadron of the Seventh United States cavalry. [Boyle and his companions were dressed] in white cotton flannel underclothes, [because] as the weather was warm, no time was taken to put on their outside clothes. . .at the first sound of the bugle which sounded [them to their] horses.
September 21 --- Letter from Captain Parker to Lieutenant Weston, in the field near Fort Dodge:
In reply to your communication of the 19th inst. I have the honor to state, that I have been unable to hire the Kiowa Guides, as directed. The "Kiowas" have agreed to accompany Bvt Maj Genl Hazen to their Reservation near Fort Cobb which, of course, increases the difficulty of procuring Guides.
September 23 --- in order to protect government property at Fort Larned. the commanding officer ordered that each company garrisoned at the post was to form bucket and hook and ladder companies. When a fire alarm was sounded, the men of the bucket company were to grab buckets and camp kettles, while the hook and ladder companies were to take axes and ladders. The officer of the day was to form the men into a bucket brigade from the river to the place of the fire.
September 25 --- Letter from Captain Parker to Lieutenant Weston:
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 22d inst. I send the Howitzer and [-?-] ammunition wagon with 40 rounds of mixed ammunition, as directed.
I have seen John Smith the Interpreter, and he desires me to say that he is unable to leave Fort Dodge before Tuesday next. I think he will accompany the General, when he takes the field again.
Col. Benteen went with a detachment, as escort to Maj Genl Sheridan to Fort Hays on Monday last. He has not returned, but is hourly expected. No orders to move on to Fort Dodge had been received by him up to the time of his leaving this Post. General Hazen writes me from Fort Zarah (Sept 23d 1868) that the issue of rations (including beef cattle) to the Kiowas & Comanches will take place on the 19th inst. The herd has just arrived.
The General expects to return here from Harker on the 28th to witness the issue of rations, and make final arrangements for the departure of the above named Indians, for their reservation
That same day Lieutenant Cooke requested a detail of two enlisted men to herd the beef cattle sent to the post by General Hazen.
September 28 --- The Kiowas and Comanches, given permission to hunt buffalo after their council with General Hazen on September 21, were scheduled to return to Fort Larned within a week to allow Hazen to escort them to Fort Cobb. But the herds were farther south than expected, and the tribes continued to their new agency on their own. When they didn't return as expected, Hazen left Fort Larned, closing the post down as a distribution site for Indian annuities. It isn't known what became of Hazen's cattle.
Order from Captain Parker to Lieutenant Cooke, acting assistant quartermaster, Fort Larned:
The Bvt Major comdg directs that the provisions of G.O. No 29 Hdqrs Dept of the Mo February 25, 1867 be strictly complied with a list of all trains passing by or stopping at this post will be carefully noticed and reported to these Hdqrs every saturday
October 1 --- Letter from Captain Parker to Lieutenant Weston, Fort Harker:
I have the honor respectfully to apply for authority to employ Two more Scouts.
I make this request on account of the number of Dispatches that have to be sent from this Post. Owing to the small number of Soldiers in the Garrison it is impracticable to detail enlisted men on the above mentioned duty.
Letter from Captain Parker to General McKeever, Fort Leavenworth:
I would respectfully request that the allowance of wood at this post be increased during the winter months.
I make this request on account of the present allowance being insufficient for the use of the Garrison.
October 2 --- Letter from Captain Parker to Lieutenant Weston, in camp near Fort Dodge:
I have the honor to transmit herewith Lieut L Wesley Cooke's Report of an Attack on the Post of Ft Zarah by a party of Kiowa & Comanche Indians
October 4 --- Lieutenant Cooke applied for a board of survey for the purpose of investigating and reporting "upon the deficiency in a lot of Commissary Stores."
October 5 --- Letter from Captain Parker to Lieutenant Weston, in camp near Fort Dodge:
I have the honor to inform you that on the morning of the 2nd instr at about day break (7) mules and (4) ponies belonging to a citizen were run off from a ranche four miles below the post by a party of Indians A detail of cavalrymen were sent in pursuit but failed to recover them
On the following evening a party of Indians dashed toward two citizens 2 1/2 miles from the Post[,] one of whom escaped[,] but the other named McInnis was killed
Lieutenant Cooke 3d infantry started yesterday morning before day break with all the available cavalry at the Post and followed the party as far as any trace of them could be seen[,] It is his opinion that these Indians went toward Fort Zarah
Some of the citizens who live at the ranche think they were Kiowas and were led by "Santanta["]
Second letter that day from Captain Parker to Lieutenant Weston:
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 2nd inst just received and in reply would respectfully state that to the best of my ability the provisions of G O #29 Headqrs Dept of the Mo Feb 25/67 and Circular #3 Headqrs Dist of the Up[per] Arkansas Aug 22/68, have been carried out. I did not suppose that I had the authority to detail an escort either from the Two (2) Troops of Cavalry or the one (1) Company of Infantry alluded to in your Dispatch[,] for at the time Mr Butterfield's train with others left this Post and I presume these are the Trains mentioned, these companies were detached from this command[. They] had only received preparatory orders to hold themselves in readiness to move and have not yet got their final orders to proceed to their destination[,] the precise locality of which was only conjecture[.] Co "A" 10th Cavly being detailed by order from Dist Headqrs as Mail Escort was unavailable for other escort duty which left the Garrison with so very few men for duty that it was impossible to furnish a Guard for the Trains. Moreover there were upwards of Fifty (50) Armed men and wagons in the Train which more than carried out the provisions of Par 2 G O #29 Headqrs Dept of the Mo Fort Leavenworth Ks Feb 25/67 and the wagon masters were particulary cautioned to be vigilent and on the alert[.] I learn in addition that Trains are sometimes in the habit of going by the Wet Route traveling at night when their movements can not be seen from this Garrison and not reporting to these Headqrs as they ought to do. I have done my best to remedy this evil by stationing men in a safe position from attack where they may see and report the arrival or passage of these Trains
In another letter that same day, Lieutenant Cooke requested that an order be issued directing him to send a Mr. Kidder to Junction City "for the purpose of procuring the services of 20 laborers."
October 6 --- Letter from Captain Parker to Major Belger, Fort Harker.
As it is difficult to carry out the provisions of existing orders regarding the manner in which trains shall be organized and travel. unless the wagon masters report the arrival of their trains. I respectfully request that all wagon masters in charge of trains which pass through this Post, be directed at the Post from which they are sent, to report their arrival at these Headqrs
Letter from Captain Parker to General McKeever, Fort Leavenworth:
I would respectfully apply for authority to employ Six (6) more Scouts to be attached to this Post.
There is ample employment for the number applied for, and even for a greater number. The Indians are unusually troublesome and daring this season, attacking trains who are guarded by Escorts which ordinarily would be considered sufficient for their protection, Camps, and even Posts.
It becomes necessary therefore to exercise greater vigilence in protecting the approaches to the Corrals, Stables, and the Camps of Teamsters &c in the neighborhood of the Post. and this can only be properly done by constantly keeping out Scouts with directions to report the proximity of any Indians who might be lurking in the vicinity.
In addition to these important duties, the services of Scouts are frequently much needed as Couriers. The Cavalry at this Post is constantly employed in escorting the Mail.
October 7 --- Letter from Captain Parker to General McKeever, Fort Leavenworth:
In my application of yesterdays date I omitted to request that the Scouts applied for might be furnished with serviceable and swift horses, one ration per them each, and compensation at the rate of One Hundred dollars ($100) per month.
The two Scouts who have been on duty at this Post only receive Seventy five dollars ($75) per month. I respectfully request that they also may receive the same pay. One Hundred dollars ($100.) per month, to take effect the date they were employed.
October 17 --- Lieutenant Cooke reported that wood had been stolen and requested that a sentinel be placed at the woodpile.
October 20 --- Brevet Major Henry Inman, assistant quartermaster, Fort Harker, notified the post that several trains had left there headed for Fort Dodge. He requested that an escort of 25 men be furnished from Fort Larned to relieve the troops from Harker.
October 25 --- Letter from Captain Parker to General McKeever, Fort Leavenworth:
I have the honor to furnish the following list of Soldiers in Confinement at this Post with the date at which they were confined and the charges [against] them viz:
|Diggs Robert Priv||Co "A" 10th Cav||Sleepg on Post.||[Confined] July 31st|
|Caldwell Zack Priv||Co "A" 10th Cav||Sleepg on Post.||July 31st|
|Chamberlain Sylvester||Co "C" 3rd Inf||Desertion||Aug 16th|
|Greene William H. Corpl||Co "C" 3rd Inf||Desertion||Aug 16th|
|Hinds Patrick Prtv||Co "C" 3rd Inf||C.P G 0 & M D. [conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline]||July 25th|
|Fitzgerald John Priv||Co "K" 3rd Inf||Desertion||August 5th|
|Stewart John Priv||Co "K" 3rd Inf||Desertion||August 5th|
At the request of their Company Commander based upon the fact that they have been already quite a while in Confinement without being brought to trial, I respectfully ask that the charges against them be withdrawn and the men returned to duty.
October 31 --- Letter from Captain Parker to the Adjutant General, U.S. Army, Washington:
I have the honor to transmit herewith Muster Rolls of Companies "C" and "K" 3rd Infantry "A" 10th Cavalry and Hospital at this Post for the months of September and October 1868.
November 6 --- A post council of administration met to fix prices that were to be charged by the post trader. He was allowed not more than 33 1/3 percent profit. The council also fixed the price for washing done by laundresses.
November 7 --- Letter from Major John E. Yard, 10th Cavalry, commanding Fort Larned, to Brevet Lieutenant Colonel J. Schuyler Crosby, acting assistant adjutant general, Department of the Missouri, in the field:
I have the honor to transmit herewith Requisitions an triplicate) for Twelve (12) Horses, for use of scouts and expressmen, owing to the fact that all the transportation at the Post (except six (6) Teams) have been sent to Fort Dodge. And as none of those can be spared, I earnestly request that the animals be furnished.
November 8 --- Letter from Major Yard to Colonel Crosby, in the field:
I have the honor to request that the pay of the Scouts employed at this Post be increased to $100 per month.
They at present receive $75 with which they are dissatisfied. In my opinion the increase asked for is very reasonable as they have considerable duties to perform[,] being in the saddle a greater part of the time.
November 11 --- Letter from Major Yard to Colonel Crosby, in the field:
I have the honor to request that another company of Infantry be ordered to this Post for duty. Captain Nolan's Company of Cavalry in charge of the mail mute performs only this duty. On the 15th of this month there will be but Four (4) noncommissioned officers and Thirty (30) Privates for duty, a number insufficient to furnish services for the protection of Post property[,] also Hay has to be hauled and also stone to complete the buildings now being constructed[,] and with so few men, I can not furnish escorts for the wagons. and it will be impossible to furnish any to passing trains.
November 12 --- Letter from Major Yard to Colonel Crosby, in the field:
In reply to your communication of yesterdays date that the Major General Comdg directs, that the interpreter Curtiss meet him at Forts Hayes or Dodge.
I have the honor to inform you that he has been sick[,] confined to his bed for the past week[,] but will leave here on Sunday evening for Fort Dodge meeting the GenI there on Monday morning.
November 14 --- About 2:30 a.m., the post surgeon observed "a fine display of meteors." He noted seeing as many as ten per minute.
November 20 --- Letter from an unnamed 1st Lieutenant, 3d Infantry, to the acting post quartermaster, Fort Larned:
The commanding officer directs that you cause to be shot without delay, the two government horses in our possession which are affected with a contagious disease
November 21 --- Letter from Major Yard to Colonel Crosby, in the field:
I have the honor to inform you that three trains consisting in all of Thirty-six (36) Wagons and upwards of Forty (40) armed men were ordered to travel together from this Post to Fort Dodge under command of Thomas Stockstill (or some similar name) the wagonmaster of the largest train of the three. This man had been chosen by them as Captain, and it was mutually agreed that the trains should travel and camp together for safety and moreover, it was by orders and an understood agreement. that the trains were to travel by the river route, as one of the trains (Mr [-?-]bergers) was an ox train, and would be unable to travel the dry route, owing to the scarcity of water and grass. The trains traveled together until they arrived at the forks of the road, about 4 miles from this Post, when [-?-]berger[,] whose train was in lead, took the river road: but Stockstill with the other two trains contrary to orders, went the dry route.
[-?-]berger went into camp about 14 miles from here, on coon Creek, and that evening his herd was stampeded and 36 of his cattle (his own private property) [were] lost. He came into this Post last evening and informed me of the fact, when I sent out a detachment of Cavalry and Scouts, and succeeded in recovering 34 of the lost cattle.
I have requested the Comdg Officer of Fort Dodge to arrest Stockstill, and await your orders concerning him. This man is disposed to be ungovernable, and was confined at this Post a few weeks ago, for refusing to travel with another train, as directed by the Post Commander.
November 25 --- Letter from 1st Lieutenant Charles L. Umbstaetter, 3rd Infantry, post adjutant, to Captain Raulston, acting post quartermaster:
The commanding officer directs that bolts be made for the doors of the Guard House, and that a lock be placed upon the Desk in the Guard Room. --- Also that a Bulletin board 24 in x 18 in be made for use at the Guard House.
November 26 --- Letter from Major Yard to Major Andrew Sheridan, commanding Fort Dodge:
Your communication of the 25th inst requesting me to forward promptly, such mail as may be at this Post for Fort Dodge, was received this morning. In reply, I would respectfully state that no mail has arrived here from Fort Harker, since the 15th inst. Scouts sent for it a few [missing line] are expected back soon; and when they arrive, the mail for your Post will be forwarded without delay.
November 27 --- The plan of Generals Sherman and Sheridan to punish warring Plains tribes and force them onto reservations was carried out with deadly results. Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and the 7th Cavalry attacked Black Kettle's 51 Cheyenne lodges along the Washita River in Indian Territory. The chief, his wife Medicine Woman, Chief Little Robe, and 100 other Cheyennes were killed. The troopers also destroyed food stores, robes, blankets, clothing, weapons, lodges and 875 ponies. Custer lost 22 men, including Major Joel Elliott and 17 men in his command.
November 28 --- Letter from Lieutenant Umbstaetter to Captain Raulston:
The Comdg officer directs that you use all means in your power, to have the hay now cut at the hay camp brought into the Post as soon as possible; and if any citizen teams can be hired for the purpose you will employ them
November 29 --- Agent Wynkoop was on his way to his new office at Fort Cobb after spending several weeks in Pennsylvania. When he learned of the plan to attack Indians in their winter camps along the Washita River, he resigned his commission as Indian agent. It was several more days before he learned of Custer's attack on Black Kettle's village.
December 16 --- Utter from Major Yard to Major Belger, Fort Harker:
As there is a very great irregularity about the reception of the mail for this Post, I have the honor to apply for permission to visit Forts Hays and Dodge for the purpose of making arrangements for a more regular deliver in future.
We have received no mail from Beachs [?] Ranche since the change in the mail route has taken effect, and I feel that by consulting with the Comdg Officers of the above named Posts much irregularity can be avoided.
December 18 --- The country around Fort Larned was covered with vast herds of buffalo and the men of the garrison nearly supported themselves with fresh meat. The buffalo were said to be in better condition than the beef cattle at the post.
Letter from Lieutenant Umbstaetter to Captain Raulston, Fort Larned:
The Comdg Officer directs, that the well In rear of the Quartermaster Co "C" 3rd US Infantry, be cleaned out, and that two (2) wooden well-buckets be attached to the rope.
December 19 --- The curious spectacle of a train of huge wagons arriving at Fort Larned in the midst of a snowstorm had been seen several times during the month.
December 22 --- Thirty-six men of Company C, 3rd Infantry, who signed their names to a complaint addressed to Fort Larned's commanding officer on December 10, were tried before a garrison courtmartial.
They were found guilty of "conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline." All were confined in charge of the guard and placed on bread and water for 24 hours. In addition, they were ordered to walk a swing 30 feet in diameter carrying a log weighing 20 pounds for the same period of time, with the exception of a half hour for each meal. Their original complaint stated that the rations they had been given were unfit for consumption. The men were punished for presenting their grievance to the commanding officer without the knowledge or consent of their company commander.
December 24 --- Letter from Lieutenant Umbstaetter to the post quartermaster, Fort Larned:
The Commanding Officer directs that the tool box at the Guard House be repaired --- Also that a mess chest be made for the Co A 10th Cavalry,
December 26 --- Letter from Lieutenant Umbstaetter to the post quartermaster, Fort Larned:
The Comdg Officer directs, that you allow Mr Tappan Post Trader to have two (2) cords of wood to be receipted for by him, and returned when his wood can [be] hauled.
December 28 --- Letter from Major Yard to Major Belger, Fort Harker:
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated Hdqrs Dist Upper Arkansas Fort Harker, Kansas, Dec 25th 1868, directing the immediate discharge of all mechanics and laborers employed at this Post, except those authorized to be retained; and to report that the order was immediately complied with.
A communication have passed the [-?-] these Hdqrs reporting the compliance of the authorized building, I would respectfully apply for a copy for Me in this office
Letter from Major Yard (?) to the post quartermaster, Fort Larned:
Your communication applying for permission to employ Five (5) men as watchmen for the Hay stacks, corral and wood pile, has been received at this office. The Comdg Officer directs me to inform you that you are authorized to employ them until further orders. Your communication has been forwarded to the Dist Commander and you will be duly notified of his action re[garding] it.
December 29 --- Letter from Lieutenant Umbstaetter to the post quartermaster, Fort Larned:
The Commanding Officer directs that you issue to Mrs Hays Laundress of Co "B" 3d Infty, one (1) cord of wood, as she is now entirely without fuel.
December 31 --- During the month, a "good, substantial wood bridge" was completed across the Pawnee Fork about one hundred yards above the fort. That same day, the commanding officer published an order forbidding owners of horses, cattle or hogs to allow the animals to run at large within the post. All horses or cattle found loose were to be driven into the corral and not returned to the owner except on payment of two dollars. Hogs running loose on the post were to be shot.
Louise Barry, The Ranch at Walnut Creek Crossing," Kansas Historical Quarterly, Volume 37 (Kansas State Historical Society, 1971).
Everett M. Brown, Fort Larned, Camp on Pawnee Fork (n.p.. 1964).
A. Berle Clemensen, Historic Furnishing Study, Enlisted Men's Barracks and Post Hospital, Fort Larned National Historic Site (Denver Service Center, 1981).
Marvin H. Garfield, "Defense of the Kansas Frontier, 1868-1869" Kansas Historical Quarterly, Volume 1 (Kansas State Historical Society, 1932).
William H. Leckie, The Military Conquest of the Southern Plains (University of Oklahoma Press, 1963).
Wilbur Sturtevant Nye, Carbine & Lance, The Story of Old Fort Sill (University of Oklahoma Press, 1969).
Wilbur Sturtevant Nye, Plains Indians Raiders (University of Oklahoma Press, 1968).
Leo E. Oliva, Fort Larned (Kansas State Historical Society, 1982).
Leo E. Oliva, Soldiers on the Santa Fe Trail (University of Oklahoma Press, 1967).
Don Russel, The Lives and Legends of Buffalo Bill (University of Oklahoma Press, 1960).
Robert M. Utley, Frontier Regulars, The United States Army and the Indian, 1866-1891 (University of Nebraska Press, 1973).
Robert M. Utley, editor, Life in Custer's Cavalry (Yale University Press, 1977).
Robert M. Wright, Dodge City, The Cowboy Capital (Wichita Eagle Press, 1913).
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