THE INDIAN EXPEDITION
(The Army and Navy Journal, June 3, 1876)
A dispatch from camp near Abraham Lincoln, May 15, announces the commencement of the expedition divided into three commands, the first being cavalry, the second infantry, and the third artillery. The cavalry division consists of the 7th Regiment of cavalry, twelve companies, as total mounted force of nearly seven hundred.
The infantry consists of six companies, drawn from the Sixth, Seventeenth, and Twentieth Regiments; companies small, aggregating about 140 men. Three of these companies accompanying the expedition proper; the remainder join the Josephine, the supply boat, at Buford, and act as a guard until a point on the Yellowstone river, at the mouth of Glendive creek is reached, which will become a depot of subsistence to the expedition.
The artillery division consists of four Gatling guns, manned by thirty-two men. The wagon train carrying the supplies is quite large, consisting of a total of 166 wagons. The total available strength of the several commands, including scouts and citizens, is about 1,200 men. Accompanying the expedition is the cattle herd of 110 fine Texas steers; these will be killed on the march; thus affording fresh meat to the troops, the grass along the line of march affording them sufficient nourishment. Forty-five pack mules also accompany the train. These will be used when wagon travel is an impossibility.
General Terry will command the entire expedition, the cavalry being commanded by General Custer. This is the first time since the war that all the companies of the Seventh have been together. Thirty days supplies will be taken by the troops; the same quantity will be sent upon the Josephine, which left last week and thirty days more supplies will be sent by a boat soon to follow the Josephine, making a total of three months. supplies, which length of time it is reasonable to suppose the expedition will be out.
At last accounts the Indians had moved from the Tongue, Powder, and Big Horn rivers to a point near the Yellowstone. Indians in large force are reported on the Little Missouri. General Custer thinks that they will be struck near the Yellowstone, within two hundred miles from Lincoln, but does not know whether a fight at present can be drawn out of them. Reports from up the country say that the Indians claim a victory in the attack on Crazy Horse's camp, as they lost scarcely anything, and succeeded in killing some of the troops, as well as capturing some of the train mules. General Gibbon is operating on the otherside of the Yellowstone, General Custer will operate on this, and General Crook on the south.
The cavalry have been, for the campaign, divided into four battalions, of three companies each. The first is commanded by Major Reno, who will command the right wing of the expedition. The second battalion is under the command of Captain Britton, who commands also the left wing. The third battalion falls to the command of Captain Keogh, and the fourth will be under the orders of Captain Yates. Thus far the movements of the command have been watched by the Indians; their signal fires have been burning every clear day. Indeed, some of the bolder of them have approached within a mile of the post, burning hay belonging to Mr. Gerard, the interpreter of the expedition; and even were so bold as to steal two ponies belonging to the scouts, who were encamped within gunshot of the main camp. They left the "coup" stick, signifying that the persons who stole the ponies were on the war path, and hoped that battle would be offered them.
For the first day's march the weather was all that could be desired. It was cool in the morning, the thermometer registering 50 degr. Fahr. The ground has been rather too soft for speedy travel, as only fourteen and a half miles were made. By two o.clock the troops encamped for the night at a very picturesque bend on the Heart river.
A dispatch from Cheyenne, May 27th, announces that Colonel Royall's column arrived on the north side of the Platte at Fetterman at noon that day. The ferry rope broke and caused a delay in crossing the supplies. The expedition moved on Monday, May 29. Frank Guard, with a scout of eleven men, who attempted to reach Fort Reno, had been driven back by Indians. Captain Van Flint, in command of the companies of cavalry, moved north to meet some Crow scouts, who are to operate with the expedition, and are expected to reach Fort Reno on the 30th. General Crook has ordered two companies of cavalry and three of infantry to be stationed on the road between Fort Laramie and the Hills for protection against Indians.
(The Army and Navy Journal, June 3, 1876)
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