THE TENTH REGIMENT OF CAVALRY 1866-1871*
By LIEUTENANT JOHN BIGELOW, JR., U. S. A.,
R. Q. M. TENTH CAVALRY.
[see source at http://www2.army.mil/cmh-pg/books/R&H/R&H-10CV.htm]
SECTION 3 of an "Act to increase and fix the military peace establishment of the United States," approved on the 28th day of July, 1866, provides "That to the six regiments of cavalry now in service, there shall be added four regiments, two which shall be composed of colored men. * * * " The six regiments referred to as already in service were composed of white men.
The colored regiments were to be organized on the general plan of the white regiments, modified in a few particulars. They were each to have a regimental chaplain whose duty should include the instruction of enlisted men in the common English branches. Up to that time all chaplains had been appointed not in regiments but in the Army. The colored regiments were also given two veterinary surgeons each, whereas the white regiments had but one.
Another enactment which more or less affected the composition of these additional cavalry regiments, both white and colored, and which is deemed of peculiar interest, was the following:
"That no person shall be commissioned in any of the regiments authorized by this act until he shall have passed a satisfactory examination before a board to be composed of officers of that arm of the service in which the applicant is to serve, to be convened under the direction of the Secretary of War, which shall inquire into the services rendered during the War, capacity and qualifications of the applicant; and every such appointment when made, shall be without regard to previous rank, but with sole regard to qualifications and meritorious services."
The six white regiments already in the service were numbered consecutively from 1 to 6; the two new white regiments were numbered 7 and 8; the two colored regiments 9 and 10. It was as the 10th regiment of cavalry that the regiment now bearing that designation came into the service and made for itself the record which is the subject of this sketch.
General orders No. 92, A. G. O., dated November 23, but expressly of effect from September 21, announces the numerical designation, the field officers (so far as they have accepted) and the stations or headquarters of the new regiments of cavalry, also of certain new regiments of infantry forming under the same act.
Congress having created the 10th Cavalry in law, the first step towards its creation in fact was taken, it seems, by Lieutenant-General Sherman, commanding the Military Division of the Mississippi, in an order from his headquarters dated St. Louis, Missouri, August 9, 1866, which read as follows:
G. O. No. 6.
I. Commanders of military departments within this division in which colored troops are serving, will proceed at once to enlist men for two regiments of colored regulars, under the Act of Congress approved July 28, 1866, entitled "An Act to increase and fix the military peace establishment of the United States;" one of cavalry, to be entitled the 10th Regiment United States Cavalry, and one of infantry to be entitled the 38th Regiment United States
II. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, is hereby named as the headquarters and rendezvous of the 10th Cavalry, and Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, the headquarters and rendezvous of the 38th Infantry.
III. Commanding-generals of the Departments of the Missouri, Arkansas, and Platte, will detail one or more officers of the Regular Army, who will proceed to canvass the regiments of colored troops now serving in their respective departments, and enlist men for the new regiments above named, the cavalry for five years and the infantry for three years. The men so enlisted will be discharged from their present obligation and grouped into companies under officers to be selected by the colonels or regimental commanders hereafter to be appointed, but will be retained for the present at or near their present station. The number of privates allowed to a company is sixty-four. The men of existing colored regiments not willing to enlist in the new organizations will, for the present, be consolidated into companies under the direction of their immediate commanders, and held to service until the new army is sufficiently organized to replace them.
IV. The field officers of these regiments will, on arrival at these headquarters, proceed to the posts herein named and organize their new regiments according to law and regulations, but will not withdraw the new companies from their present stations without consent of department commanders, or orders from these headquarters.
V. Blanks will at once be sent from these headquarters, to which all reports will be made until the regular field officers are announced and recruitment organized under them. By order, etc.
The first regimental return was rendered on the 30th of September, 1866. It showed the aggregate strength of the regiment, present and absent, to consist of two officers,Colonel Benjamin H. Grierson, and Lieutenant-Colonel Charles C. Walcutt,and gave the number of recruits required as 1092. Colonel Grierson was reported present with the regiment, and Colonel Walcutt absent on regimental recruiting service.
The first commander of the 10th Cavalry is doubtless known personally as well as by reputation to most of the readers of this sketch. His raid through Mississippi in 1863 is the historic operation on which his reputation chiefly rests. It has placed him among the foremost cavalry leaders of the War, and seems destined, as it becomes better known and more justly appreciated, to add honor and distinction to his name. Lieutenant-Colonel Walcutt never joined the regiment, and resigned shortly after his appointment. The recruiting for the regiment was in the main regimental, that is, by officers of the regiment detailed to recruit for it. At the end of the year 1866, the 10th Cavalry consisted of two field officers, one company officer, and 64 unassigned recruits. It was still without a staff or a single organized company. For seven months of the new year the headquarters of the regiment remained at Fort Leavenworth. The work of filling up the regiment went on but continued to make slow progress. This was due in the main to two causes,the want of clerical assistance at recruiting stations, and the high standard fixed for the recruits by the regimental commander. Recruiting officers were not allowed to hire clerks and had extreme difficulty in securing any among their recruits or the members of their recruiting parties. With a view to securing an intelligent set of men for the ranks the colonel had Captain Louis H. Carpenter, who was recruiting at Louisville, Kentucky, ordered to Philadelphia, Pa., to open a recruiting station there. Writing to Captain Carpenter, the colonel says, after referring to the captain's knowledge of Philadelphia: "I requested you to be sent there to recruit colored men sufficiently educated to fill the positions of noncommissioned officers, clerks and mechanics in the regiment. You will use the greatest care in your selection of recruits. Although sent to recruit men for the positions specified above, you will also enlist all superior men you can who will do credit to the regiment."
During its last month at Fort Leavenworth the regiment lost heavily from disease, caused in the main by a cholera epidemic. From a death rate which did not average one a month for the preceding ten months, the loss by death during the month of July, 1867, rose to 23. On the 6th of August, 1867, the headquarters of the regiment left Fort Leavenworth for Fort Riley, Kansas, where they were established on the 7th.
Let us take a general look at the regiment as it existed just prior to this change. We find the field and staff still incomplete, being composed as follows: Colonel, B. H. Grierson; Lieutenant-Colonel, J. W. Davidson; Majors, J. W. Forsyth and M. H. Kidd; Chaplain, W. M. Grimes; Adjutant, H. E. Alvord.
The regiment now comprises eight troops. Their designation, date of organization, original composition and color of horses are as below:
Troop A.Color, bay. Organized February 18, 1867. Captain Nicholas Nolan;
Lieutenants G. W. Graham and G. F. Raulston.
Troop B.Color, bay. Organized April 1, 1867. Captain J. B. Vande Wiele;
Lieutenants J. D. Myrick and J. W. Myers.
Troop C.Color, bay. Organized May 15, 1867. Captain Edward Byrne;
Lieutenants T. C. Lebo and T. J. Spencer.
Troop D.Color, bay. Organized June 1, 1867. Captain J. W. Walsh;
Lieutenants Robert Gray and R. H. Pratt.
Troop E.Color, bay. Organized June 15, 1867. Captain G. T. Robinson;
Lieutenant J. T. Morrison.
Troop F.Color, gray. Organized June 21, 1867. Captain G. A. Armes;
Lieutenants P. L. Lee and J. A. Bodamer.
Troop G.-Color, bay. Organized July 5, 1867. Captain H. T. Davis;
Lieutenants W. B. Kennedy and M. J. Amick.
Troop H. Color, black. Organized July 2 1, 1867. Captain L. H. Carpenter;
Lieutenants T. J. Spencer and L. H. Orleman.
These troops are posted at Fort Hays, Fort Harker, and other points along the Smokey River, Kansas, on the line of the Kansas Pacific Railroad, then in course of construction. They had been put in the field for the protection of the railroad as fast as they were organized. The strength of the regiment, present and absent, amounts to 25 officers and 702 enlisted men.
The first engagement in which any part of the regiment participated occurred a few days before the regimental headquarters left Fort Leavenworth. Troop I, under Captain Armes, numbering 34 men and two officers, fought a party of 300 Indians near Saline River, 40 miles northeast of Fort Hays. The engagement lasted six hours and resulted in the troops being forced to retreat with the loss of Sergeant W. Christy, killed, and Captain Armes, wounded. On the twenty-first of the same month Captain Armes had another fight, the second on record in the regiment. Forty men of his troop, together with 90 men of the 18th Kansas Volunteers, engaged about 500 Indians northeast of Fort Hays. The losses in this fight were one soldier killed and scalped, and 13 wounded; fifteen men of the volunteers and two guides wounded, twelve horses killed and three wounded.
Troops I, K, L and M, were organized from the new headquarters at Fort Riley as here indicated:
Troop I.Color, bay. Organized August 15, 1867. Captain G. W. Graham;
Lieutenant Silas Pepoon.
Troop K.Color, bay. Organized September 1, 1867. Captain C. G. Cox;
Lieutenants R. G. Smither and B. F. Bell.
Troop L.Color, sorrel. Organized September 21. 1867. Captain R. Gray;
Lieutenant C. E. Nordstrom.
Troop M.Color, mixed.* Organized October 15, 1867. Captain H. E. Alvord;
Lieutenants P. L. Lee and W. R. Harmon.
In September, 1867, the field officers were increased in number to their full complement by the appointment of Major J. E. Yard. In the same month the position of regimental quartermaster was taken by Lieutenant W. H. Beck. Thus were filled the last of the original vacancies in the field and staff.
The headquarters remained at Fort Riley until April 17, 1868. The troops were about evenly distributed between Kansas and Indian Territory and were employed in the perfection of their drill and discipline, and in the protection of the Union Pacific Railroad and exposed settlements. The only engagement of this period took place about 45 miles west of Fort Hays. Sergeant Davis and nine men of Troop G were attacked by fifty or sixty Cheyennes. They drove the Indians off in confusion losing one private wounded.
From Fort Riley the headquarters of the regiment went to Fort Gibson, I. T. At this time General Sheridan was in the field directing military operations. The Indians had brought on a war by their characteristic restlessness and deviltry. They were attached to agencies to which they came in from time to time for supplies, but they were not confined to any reservations. General Sheridan determined to put them and keep them on reservations, or, if that could not be done, to show them that winter weather would not give them either rest or impunity. The consequence was the winter campaign of 1867-68, which resulted in the destruction of Black Kettle's band of Cheyennes, the worst lot of Indians in the territory.
* Troop M got all the horses that would not match any other troop and was called the "calico" troop.
The 10th Cavalry was in the field and came in for a good share of hard marching and fighting.
On the 15th of September, 1868, Troop I, Captain Graham, was attacked by about 100 Indians. It fought until dark, losing ten horses killed and. captured, and killing seven Indians.
On the 17th of this month Lieut.-Colonel G. A. Forsyth, A. D. C. to General Sheridan, with a party of white scouts, was attacked and "corralled" by a force of about 700 Indians on an island in the Republican River. Two of Forsyth's scouts stole through the Indian lines and brought word of the perilous situation of the command to Fort Wallace. Parties were soon on the way to its relief. First and last the following troops were started towards it from different points. Captain Bankhead with about 100 men of the 5th Infantry, Captain Carpenter with Troop H and Captain Baldwin with Troop I, of the 10th Cavalry, and two troops of the 2d Cavalry under Major Brisbin.
Captain Carpenter's troop was the first of these commands to arrive upon the scene. It found Forsyth's command out of rations, living on horse-flesh without salt or pepper. All its officers had been killed or wounded. Every horse and mule, too, had been killed. Forsyth, who had been twice wounded, was lying in a square hole scooped out in the sand, within a few feet of a line of dead horses which half encircled the hole and impregnated the air with a terrible stench. Captain Carpenter immediately pitched a number of tents in a suitable place near by, had the wounded men carried to them, and the rest removed to a more salubrious air. Twenty-six hours later Captain Bankhead arrived bringing with him the two troops of the 2d Cavalry.
On the 14th of the following month, two weeks after he had returned to Fort Wallace with the wounded of Forsyth's command, Captain Carpenter was ordered to take his own troop and I Troop of the 10th Cavalry and escort Major Carr, of the 5th Cavalry, to his command, supposed to be on Beaver Creek. On the march he was attacked by a force of about 500 Indians. After proceeding, regardless of the enemy's firing and yelling, far enough to gain a suitable position, he halted his command, had the wagons corralled close together and rushed his men inside at a gallop. He had them dismount, tie their horses to the wagons, and form on the outside around the corral. Then followed a volley of Spencers which drove the Indians back as though they were thrown from a cannon. A number of warriors, showing more bravery than the others, undertook to stand their ground. Nearly all of these, together with their ponies, were killed. Three dead warriors lay within fifty yards of the wagons. The Indians were so demoralized by these results that they did not renew the attack and the troops accomplished their march without further molestation. They were back at Fort Wallace on the 2ist, having travelled 230 miles in about seven days. For their gallantry in the fight, which took place on Beaver Creek, the officers and men were thanked by General Sheridan in a general field order, and Captain Carpenter was breveted Colonel.
Regimental headquarters remained at Fort Gibson until March 31, 1869, when they were moved to Camp Wichita, I. T., where they arrived on the 12th of April. Camp Wichita, an old Indian village, was selected by General Sheridan as a site for a military post and the 10th Cavalry was ordered there to establish and build it. Some time in the following month of August the post was given the name of Fort Sill, by which name it will be designated in these pages.
The military duty of the regiment was now that of an army of occupation, to hold the country from which the Indians had been expelled and to keep the Indians within the bounds assigned them. It gave rise to frequent scouting for trespassers and marauders and occasional reconnaissance and demonstration in considerable force. More than once the garrison of Fort Sill had to apprehend an attack upon the post.
On the 11th of June Camp Supply was alarmed by a party of Comanches charging through it, shooting and yelling, with the object of stampeding the horses on the picket line, and they succeeded in stampeding a few. These were pursued by Troops A, F, H, I and K, 10th Cavalry, and Companies B, E and F, 3d Infantry, commanded by Lieut.-Colonel Nelson, 3d Infantry. The Indians turned on their pursuers and attacked them, wounding three soldiers and killing two horses. Six Indians were killed and ten wounded.
During the 22d and 23d of August the Wichita Agency was subjected to a fierce attack by the Kiowa and Naconee Indians. The Agency was defended by Troops C, E, H and L, 10th Cavalry, commanded by Lieut.-Colonel Davidson. The main object of the attack, as expressed in the vigorous language of the hostiles, was to "wipe out" the buildings and settlement. Attempts were made to do so by setting fire to the prairie at different points, but the tireless and well-directed efforts of the defenders succeeded in extinguishing the flames and saving the buildings. Repeated assaults were made by the Indians in numbers ranging from 50 to 500, at different points of the line, all of which were repulsed with the infliction of heavy losses and great disorder upon the assailants. The decisive feature of the engagement was a charge made by Captain Carpenter's troop. His men routed a body of over 150 warriors, who were about to take up a commanding position in rear of the troops. The loss of the troops was only four men wounded. That of the Indians was quite large, but owing to their well-known custom of carrying off their dead and wounded could not be definitely ascertained.
THE ARMY OF THE UNITED STATES HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF STAFF AND LINE WITH PORTRAITS OF GENERALS-IN-CHIEF
EDITED BY: THEOPHILUS F. RODENBOUGH, BVT. BRIGADIER GENERAL U.S.A. AND WILLIAM L. HASKIN MAJOR, FIRST ARTILLERY. NEW YORK, MAYNARD, MERRILL, & CO. 1896
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