ONE HUNDRED YEARS WITH THE SECOND CAVALRY
By Joseph I. Lambert, Major, Second Cavalry
Copyright 1939 Commanding Officer, Second Cavalry, Fort Riley, Kansas
Capper Printing Company, Inc.
The summer of 1889 was spent in making practice marches to unfamiliar regions of the Pacific Division of the army. Much of the country was unexplored at that time, so that the troops combined field duties with gathering information of areas not yet well known. During the year Troops E and L exchanged stations, E going to Fort Sherman, Idaho, and L to Fort Walla Walla, Washington. Troop H was transferred from Fort Spokane, Washington, to regimental headquarters at Fort Walla Walla. In April, Troop F took station at Vancouver Barracks, Washington, the headquarters of the Pacific Division. In October, this troop was transferred to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, at the station of the Infantry and Cavalry School.
G.O. No. 42, War Department, May 7, 1881, organized the school, and a regulation was soon published setting forth the curriculum. It was prescribed that there should be at least four troops of cavalry, four companies of infantry, and one battery of artillery stationed at the school. The instructions included military policy, strategy, tactics, geography, administration, campaigns and battles, military law, field fortification, signaling, mathematics, hygiene, and for the cavalry officers, equitation, hippology, and field service. The student body comprised one lieutenant from each regiment of cavalry and infantry to be selected by regimental commanders.
During the summer of 1890, the regiment exchanged stations with the Fourth Cavalry in Arizona, in compliance with G.O. 22, War Department. The Headquarters, Band, and Troops D, H, L, and M took station at Fort Lowell, Troops A and K at Fort Bowie, Troops B, C, G, and I at Fort Huachuca, and Troop E at San Carlos. After reaching the Department of Arizona, Troops L and M were made inactive in compliance with G.O. 79, War Department, and the officers and men assigned to other troops in the regiment. Troop L was later organized as an Indian troop so that the government would have in regular service sufficient scouts in case of an outbreak. Some of the troops were in the field for several months after reaching Arizona in pursuit of the Apache Kid, who with his followers murdered Sheriff Reynolds near Riverside on the Gila River.
Troop F was sent to Oelrichs, South Dakota, in December, 1890, as a part of the expedition against the Sioux Indians. These tribes were discontented as a result of the reduction in size of their reservation. They also became excited over the actions of one of their members who claimed to be a Messiah and promised to free them from the domination of the white man. The troop remained on this work until January, 1891, when it returned to Fort Leavenworth. Four troops of the Second Cavalry were rushed to New Mexico in January, 1891, to prevent a threatened uprising of the Navajo Indians. Most of the hostility came from a distant village of the Areibe tribe when they refused to send their children to the school at Keam Canon. Lieutenant L. M. Brett, with thirty men of Troops C, D, and H, was sent to the village to arrest the medicine man and principal supporters of the rebellion. He was met at the entrance by Lolami, the chief, who told him the warriors were well fortified in the buildings and would kill all his men if he entered the village. After a thorough reconnaissance of the place, Lieutenant Brett was convinced that he was confronted by at least fifty well-armed Indians. He withdrew to Keam Canon and sent for reenforcements. Troops D and H, Second Cavalry, and two troops of the Tenth Cavalry, under Major McLellan, marched at once to the threatened area. When the united command moved upon the village, the Indians surrendered without a fight and the medicine man and his followers were arrested. Troops C, D, and H took station at Fort Wingate, New Mexico, and Troop G at Fort Stanton, New Mexico.
The Department Commander had the following to say about the conduct of the men of the Second Cavalry at Keam Canon:
The officers and soldiers composing these expeditions performed their duties with intelligence and cheerfulness. My commendations were expressed to them by telegraph previous to their leaving Keam Canon. Lieutenant L. M. Brett, Second Cavalry, deserves special mention for his conduct and the good judgment exercised by him in the performance of his duties at the Areibe village on June 21, 1891.
Troops A and B acted as an escort to the International Boundary Commission during much of the year 1892. Several of the troops were also in the field searching for Kid, the Apache renegade. Detachments were constantly in search of hostile Indians who were guilty of isolated depredations. Troops A, C, D, G, and H accompanied Colonel Huntt on an expedition in December to arrest Zuni Indians charged with murder.
The command continued on similar duty during the year 1893. There were several important changes of station in the year 1894, but it will be appropriate to quote the regimental returns before the troops were moved as an illustration of the duty performed at this period:
Troop H left Fort Wingate, New Mexico, March 24, 1894, for Pintos Camp south of Gallup, New Mexico, for the purpose of assisting the Indian Agent in the arrest of Indian murderers. After arresting the Indians, the troop escorted them to Gallup, New Mexico.
Troops A and D left Fort Wingate, New Mexico, June 16, 1894, en route to the American Valley and vicinity for the purpose of investigating disturbances reported by stockmen and arresting Navajo Indians causing the trouble. The troops investigated the trouble and arrested ten Indians, returning to Fort Wingate, New Mexico, June 23, 1894. The troops marched 262 miles in June.
Troop G left Fort Wingate, New Mexico, July 6, 1894, and proceeded by rail to Las Vegas, New Mexico, for the purpose of protecting railway property from strikers and to assist the U. S. marshals to execute the injunctions of the courts, and to prevent interference with the running of trains.
Troop I left Fort Bowie, Arizona, August 16, 1894, for the purpose of intercepting the Apache renegade, Kid, and other Indians reported off the reservation.
After the beginning of the Cavalry and Field Artillery School at Fort Riley, Kansas, in 1891, under Colonel Forsyth, three squadrons from different regiments were brought to the school for instruction and demonstration. To carry out this policy Troop F was transferred from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Riley, in September, 1894, and Troops A, C, and D were sent to Fort Riley from Fort Wingate, New Mexico, in October of the same year.
There was very little change in the duties performed by the troops until the Spanish-American War. Fort Bowie, Arizona, was abandoned and Troops B and I were transferred from Fort Huachuca, Arizona, to Fort Wingate, New Mexico, in the same month.
During the year 1895, Troop L was again made inactive and the Indian scouts comprising it were either discharged or transferred to other posts in Arizona and New Mexico. As a result of a disastrous fire which destroyed all the barracks and many other buildings at Fort Wingate, New Mexico, Troops G and H were transferred to Fort Riley in August, 1896. Troops E and K saw some hard service during the summer of 1896 when they were sent to Fruitland and Noland’s Store, New Mexico, to prevent threatened invasion of the Navajo Indian Reservation by prospectors.
At the end of 1897, there were twenty-five officers and 504 enlisted men for duty, and an aggregate of 701 members of the regiment, and 569 horses. At this time the troops of the Second Cavalry were stationed as follows:
Regimental Headquarters, Band, and Troops E, K, Fort Wingate, N.M.
Troops A, C, D, F, G, H, Fort Riley, Kans.
Troops B, I, Fort Logan, Colo.
Troops L, M, inactive.
McClernand, Captain Edward J., “The Second Regiment of Cavalry”, Journal of the Military Service Institution, 1892, Volume 13, pages 629-642.
Noyes, Colonel Henry E., “From Arizona to the Antilles With the Second Cavalry”, Journal of the Military Service Institution, 1904, Volume 34, pages 125-143, 285-321.
Richardson, Lieutenant W. P., “Some Observations Upon the Sioux Campaign of 1890-1891”, Journal of the Military Service Institution, 1896, Volume 18, pages 512-531.
United States Cavalry, Second Regiment, Regimental Records.
United States War Department, General Orders and Circulars, 1884-1897.
United States War Department, Reports of the Secretary of War, 1884-1897.