David.Gettman October 22nd, 2008
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.
By Brigadier-General DAVID S. GORDON, U.S.A.
The garrison at Fort Laramie in the year 1867 was composed of four troops of cavalry and six companies of the Eighteenth Infantry, commanded by the late Gen. Innis N. Palmer, colonel of the Second Cavalry.
It was on Christmas night, 11 P.M., in the year 1866, when a full dress garrison ball was progressing and everybody appeared superlatively happy, enjoying the dance, notwithstanding the snow was from ten to fifteen inches deep on the level and the thermometer indicated twenty-five degrees below zero, when a huge form dressed in buffalo overcoat, pants, gauntlets and cap, accompanied by an orderly, desired to see the commanding officer. The dress of the man, and at this hour looking for the commanding officer, made a deep impression upon the officers and others that happened to get a glimpse of him, and consequently, and naturally too, excited their curiosity as to his mission in this strange garb, dropping into our full-dress garrison ball at this unseasonable hour.
As we were about to select partners for another dance word was passed into the ball-room that General Palmer desired to see me. Excusing myself, I reported to the commanding officer, who handed me a dispatch dated for Fort Phil Kearney, December 21, 1866, signed by Col. H. B. Carrington, commanding post, that Brevet Colonel Fetterman, with a detachment consisting of three officers, ninety-two men and two citizens, had been massacred outside of the post. This dispatch was repeated to Omaha, Neb., headquarters of the department, commanded by General Cooke. I think it was on the 26th that orders to the commanding officer at Fort Laramie were received to send troops immediately to Fort Phil Kearney and relieve Col. H. B. Carrington, Eighteenth Infantry. Six companies of the Eighteenth under Major Van Voast and Companies D and L of the Second Cavalry, commanded by myself, were to get in readiness and march to the relief of this garrison. As the snow was so deep and the thermometer indicated, as previously stated, twenty-five below zero, we were held a few days in the garrison for preparations and moderation of the weather. However, the infantry under Major Van Voast was soon in readiness and marched for their destination. As rumors were currently afloat in the garrison that it might be attacked on account of its depletion, I was held with my command forty-eight hours longer after the infantry left, so as to test the temper of the Indians camping in small parties near the fort; they were evidently spies upon us to watch our operations and the movement of the troops. As this information was developed afterwards the news was known through interpreters, Charlie Garue and Jules Coffee, the second day after the massacre. But nothing authentic until the dispatch was handed the commanding officer by one Portuguese Phillips, who was employed by Colonel Carrington in Fort Phil Kearney and was paid $1,000 for carrying and delivering this dispatch at Fort Laramie. Continue Reading »