White Against Red at the Rosebud (1876)
And the Gameness of Captain Guy Henry
Although after the battle of the Washita the Indians began to surrender upon their agencies in Indian Territory, there were many outbreaks and many other battles in the Department of the Missouri. The Southern Cheyennes, the Kiowas, Arapahos, Comanches and Apaches did not yield entirely until the spring of 1875. Their ring-leaders were sent as prisoners to Fort Marion, near San Augustine, Florida. The plains of Kansas, Colorado and southern Nebraska were in complete possession of the white men, at last.
During the time that the southern Indians had been fighting the soldiers and settlers, the Dakota Sioux and the Northern Cheyennes had been wandering pretty much as they pleased.
All western present South Dakota had been given to the Sioux as a farming country. All the wide land adjoining, as far as the Big Horn Mountains line of central Wyoming, and from the North Platte River of Nebraska to the Yellowstone River of southeastern Montana—one hundred thousand square miles—had been given to them as their hunting grounds as long as the buffalo ran. No white men were to pass through without the permission of the Sioux.
The Northern Cheyennes had been granted no lands. Somehow, the Peace Commission had omitted them. But that made no difference; they went where the Sioux went.
The Sioux farming lands were very poor. They did not know how to farm, white men had failed to make a living there, the Government did not provide the schools and teachers and the food as promised; in April, 1875, the Sioux were eating ponies and wolves. They were buffalo Indians, anyway, and it was a great deal to expect of them that they should settle down and try to be like white people, when the hunting trail was open to them.
The agency Indians saw themselves starving. What was the use in being tame and good, when their relatives in the hunting grounds were free and fat and happy! A number of these Dakotas or Tetons never came in at all. They chased the elk, deer and buffalo; at ration time they sent for their share; and to show how well off they were they emptied the flour upon the prairie and wore the sacks for shirts. They had only contempt for the foolish white people and for the "coffee cooling" agency Indians.
The United States had made a bad bargain. The Crows, the Arikaras, the Mandans, the Snakes complained that the wild Indians raided them—took scalps and horses. The Crows and the others said that when they had agreed to go upon reservations the United States had engaged to protect them. Instead, now the Sioux knew just where to find them, but they themselves had been forbidden to make war. Wagon trains and white settlers on the borders of the hunting grounds also complained.
The Sioux, too, had grievances, as a nation. Breaking the treaty, the Northern Pacific Railroad was being surveyed south of the Yellowstone River, and through their hunting grounds. White miners were trespassing in the Black Hills of the reservation itself—the sacred Pah-sappa or Medicine Land of the Dakotas; the United States was insisting that the Sioux sell their Pah-sappa.
The head chief of the hunting Indians was Crazy Horse. Sitting Bull likewise was out, with a band. He was not a chief, but a medicine worker, and much respected for his powers. He hated the white men with a deep and lasting hatred.
"God made me an Indian. He did not make me an agency Indian, and I'll fight and die fighting before any white man can make me an agency Indian," he said.
He was a Hunkpapa Dakota. Crazy Horse was an Oglala Dakota, but led the Northern Cheyennes also. That name, Crazy Horse, had been given him because when he was born a wild pony charged through the camp. He grew up to be a stern, fierce warrior; at twenty-six he was a war chief, bitter against the white race.
In the early winter of 1875 the Indian Bureau ordered that runners be sent out, to tell the hunting Indians that they must come into the Chief Red Cloud Agency or the Chief Spotted Tail Agency before January 31, 1876, and report; they were to be counted and listed.
None of the Sioux wished to be counted. When their numbers were not known, then they might obtain double rations, and might supply their relatives and friends who were absent.
Only a few of the hunting Indians came in. Sitting Bull already had replied, during the summer when he had been asked to talk about selling the Black Hills.
"Are you the Great Being that made me?" he demanded, of the runner. "Or was it the Great Being that made me who sent you? If He asks me to come see Him, I will go; but the big chief of the white men must come see me. I will not go to the reservation. I have no land to sell. There is plenty game here for us. We have enough ammunition. We don't want any white men."
And this winter he answered again:
"Tell the white chief to come find me. I shall not run away. He need bring no guides."
Chief Crazy Horse answered not at all.
General Phil Sheridan was directed to round up him and Sitting Bull.
General Sheridan had been promoted to lieutenant-general, and appointed to the command of the whole Division of the Missouri. This took in all the Indian country from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains, and from the Mexican border to Canada. There were the Departments of Texas, of the Missouri, of the Platte and of Dakota.
The campaign was to be waged by the Departments of the Platte and of Dakota. Brigadier General George Crook commanded the Department of the Platte. This included Nebraska, Wyoming, north-eastern Utah as far as the Salt Lake, and eastern Idaho, with headquarters at Omaha.
Brigadier General Alfred Howe Terry commanded the Department of Dakota. This included Minnesota, Dakota and Montana, with headquarters at St. Paul.
Nobody in the army or in the Indian Bureau knew how many Indians were off the reservation. They were thought to be not more than five or six hundred. One regiment of cavalry should be able to handle them.
General Crook did try a winter attack, with one thousand men. General J. J. Reynolds and a detachment of nine cavalry companies charged into Crazy Horse's village in southern Montana, much as Custer's Seventh Cavalry had charged into Black Kettle's village; but they were driven out, they lost the ponies, they almost froze to death, and the bitter weather forced General Crook back into winter quarters, again. That stung him.
The reservation Indians heard of the stand made by the Crazy Horse people; they stole away, party after party, to join him and Sitting Bull. Fighting was a more successful life than farming. The white soldiers had struck. Now the Great Sioux and Cheyenne War of 1876 burst into flame.
Brigadier General and Brevet Major-General George Crook had graduated from West Point in 1852. He and General Sheridan had been room-mates and class mates there. Except for his service in the Civil War he had been fighting Indians ever since his cadet days.
As a lieutenant he had been wounded by an arrow while campaigning in Oregon and Washington. As a lieutenant-colonel he had subdued the Pai-Utes and Warm-Spring Snakes of Nevada and Idaho. As commander of the Department of Arizona he had beaten the crafty Apaches.
He was noted not only as a skilled and stubborn Indian fighter but also as a scout; had studied Indians, had learned to read a trail and the sign language, and to take care of himself in the open; was fond of riding alone, ahead of his column, with rifle or double-barrel shotgun, hunting game, picking up rocks and collecting birds' eggs, and viewing the country and the ways of the wild life.
While very strict in discipline, he cared little for show. He usually dressed, upon the trail, in a canvas hunting-coat, old corduroy trousers, and felt hat.
The Indians knew him as a just man and a good friend as well as a stanch enemy. He could go wherever they could go, he drank only water, he never tired and never showed fear. Because of his quiet garb and his shrewdness they called him the Gray Fox.
He waited merely for the grass to get green and the ground to dry, so that his horses might travel and live off the country. Then he organized another column, for a summer campaign into the Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull domain far from military posts and supplies. He was to march in from the south. A column under General Terry was to march in on the north. A third column under Colonel John Gibbon of Fort Ellis in central Montana was to march in from the west.
The Crook column—forty-nine officers and one thousand and two men—assembled at Fort Fetterman, on the North Platte River in Wyoming one hundred miles above old Fort Laramie.
There were ten troops of the Third Cavalry and five troops of the Second Cavalry, all under Colonel William B. Royall of the Third. Colonel Royall was a handsome Virginian, and a veteran. He had a heavy gray moustache, bushy dark eyebrows, keen blue eyes, and a bald head scarred from a Confederate saber during the Civil War.
Major Andrew W. Evans commanded the ten troops of the Third. The Third had served against the Apaches in Arizona, with General Crook, and before his time, too; of late had been stationed in the Platte country.
Captain and Brevet Major Henry E. Noyes commanded the five troops of the Second. The Second had been serving in this Department of the Platte for some years, protecting the Union Pacific Railroad and chasing Sioux, Cheyennes, Arapahos and Crows.
So the Third and the Second understood Indians and could be relied upon.
There were three companies of the Ninth Infantry and two companies of the Fourth Infantry. The "walk-a-heaps" were commanded by Major Alexander Chambers of the Fourth—an old soldier who had earned brevets at Shiloh, Vicksburg, and elsewhere.
Captain George M. Randall of the Twenty-third Infantry was chief of scouts. He was another Crook man, from Arizona; had campaigned there and had been in charge of an Apache reservation.
Weazened, sun-dried old Tom Moore was chief of the pack train. General Crook was the "daddy" of the United States army pack-mule system; had organized it and used it with great success. Tom Moore had bossed the pack trains in Arizona; there was nothing about a mule that he did not know.
Charley Russell, a Government packer and wagon master on the plains, was wagon-train chief. The guides were Frank Gruard, Louis Richaud and Baptiste Pourrier.
Guide Gruard was a Sandwich Islander, dark of skin, with long black hair. He had lived with Chief Crazy Horse—while riding pony express had been captured by the Sioux, who had thought that he was a Sioux, himself. Later in this campaign he was almost captured again!
Louis Richaud was part French and part Sioux. So was Baptiste Pourrier, whom the soldiers called "Big Bat," to separate him from another Baptiste, "Little Bat."
A party of war correspondents went along, by permission of General Sheridan, to write up the campaign for their newspapers. They were Joseph Wasson of the San Francisco Alta California, the Philadelphia Press and the New York Tribune; Robert E. Strahorn of the Denver Rocky Mountain News and other papers; T. B. McMillan of the Chicago Inter-Ocean; R. B. Davenport of the New York Herald; and John F. Finerty of the Chicago Times.
The Gray Fox arrived at Fort Fetterman and took command on May 28, this 1876. He started the very next day, May 29, and headed into the north, for the fastnesses of the outlawed Sioux and Cheyennes.
With its fifteen companies of cavalry, its five companies of infantry, its one hundred and three six-mule wagons and its almost one thousand pack mules, the column was the strongest that had yet marched against the Indians of the West.
The Crows and Shoshonis or Snakes had been asked to help. The Sioux had stolen the Wyoming hunting grounds from the Crows; they had always fought the Shoshonis, to get horses. The Crows now lived upon a reservation in Montana, the Shoshonis in western Wyoming.
Crazy Horse had sent word to the Gray Fox. "When you touch the Tongue River I shall fight you."
The Gray Fox was an old hand at the Indian game. The Third Cavalry knew, and the Second Cavalry and the infantry soon found out. He started with the infantry every morning at six o'clock sharp; the cavalry broke camp at seven-thirty and caught up. In this manner the march was hastened.
They all marched right through the forbidden Powder River country; on June 7 they "touched" the Tongue River, in northern Wyoming about fifteen miles from the Montana line. Skirmish companies had been kept in the advance, bugle calls silenced. General Crook was enjoying himself. Every day he had ridden ahead of the column, to hunt; and he had found some rare birds' eggs.
Crazy Horse was alert. In the morning of June 9 he attacked. The white soldiers' camp had been pitched upon the south bank of the Tongue, at the Montana line. At half-past six o'clock the Sioux and Cheyennes opened fire from the bluffs across the river; they aimed at the army tents and riddled them, but the soldiers were outside.
The infantry replied with their "long Tom" Spring-fields; a battalion of the Third Cavalry under Captain and Brevet Colonel Anson Mills the Texan charged the bluffs. The Indians scampered away. They had done little harm other than wounding two men, killing several horses and mules, and boring a hole through the stove pipe of Colonel Mills' tent. But Chief Crazy Horse had made good his threat.
When the dispatches to the Eastern papers announced that Colonel Mills' stove pipe had been punctured, a Southern editor criticized him for having gone into action wearing a stove-pipe silk hat!
The Gray Fox moved southwest seventeen miles to a better camp, at the juncture of Big Goose Creek and Little Goose Creek, northern Wyoming. Here he waited for the Crows and Shoshonis to join him.
The Crows came first, brought by Frank Gruard and Louis Richaud. They had been afraid that the Sioux had driven the white chief back; now when they were shown the camp they charged in with a great whoop.
They numbered one hundred and seventy-five warriors, each man with two ponies; were well armed with breech-loading rifles. Their hair was bushed on top of their heads, Crow fashion.
In a jiffy they raised their war lodges in the midst of the white tents, and were eating a feast of coffee, sugar and bread. Their chiefs, Old Crow, Medicine Crow and Good Heart, were treated by General Crook to stewed dried apples.
The Shoshonis or Snakes arrived next. They were eighty-six, fully equipped; approached at headlong gallop in column of twos and wheeled left front into line like cavalry. Scout Tom Cosgrove and two other Texans were with them. Scout Cosgrove had been captain of Texas cavalry during the Civil War. He had drilled the Shoshonis. They bore two American flags, and every warrior fluttered a bright pennon. Their chiefs were Wesha and Nawkee, and two sons of Head Chief Washakie.
The Crows and the Shoshonis held grand council with the Gray Fox, and gave a war dance that lasted all night.
"The Sioux have trampled upon our hearts; we shall spit upon their scalps," Old Crow said.
The next day, June 15, the Gray Fox made preparations to march on and strike the enemy. The Crows had reported that the Sioux and Cheyennes were encamped "in numbers like the grass" in the valley of the Rosebud River, just to the west of the Tongue River, southern Montana. The Rosebud River was the Indians' Paradise.
The wagons and baggage were to be left here on Goose Creek, guarded by infantry under the quarter-master, Captain and Brevet Major John V. Furey. But one hundred and seventy-five infantrymen who said that they knew how to ride were mounted upon extra mules.
The Crows and Shoshonis also made preparations. They cleaned their guns and sharpened their lances and tomahawks; cut coup sticks—peeled willow branches twelve feet long, with which to touch the enemy. The first coup counted entitles the warrior to the scalp; and whatever ponies he touches are his.
June 16 the Gray Fox marched, with his mounted men, four days' rations in the saddle pockets, one hundred rounds of ammunition in the cartridge belts, one blanket behind each saddle, and a small pack train bossed by Tom Moore.
General Crook purposed to seize the Crazy Horse or Sitting Bull village, to outfit with the captured meat, and push on to join the General Terry and Colonel Gibbon columns.
The Crows and Shoshonis rode their best war ponies. Their medicine men chanted to them, telling them what demons the Sioux were and stirring them to deeds of valor.
This afternoon the advance scouts came tearing back. There were buffalo ahead, running away from a Sioux hunting party. The young warriors began to race about, in order to fill their ponies' lungs and give them their second wind, for battle.
Beyond the top of a grassy slope all the country before was brown with buffalo, but no Sioux appeared. The soldiers were ordered not to shoot, for fear of alarming the enemy. The Crows and Shoshonis stripped and ran the buffalo, killing so many that the officers objected. But the red allies would not understand.
"Ugh! Better kill the buffalo than have him feed the Sioux."
The chase lasted the whole afternoon. Now there was little chance of surprising any Sioux within ten miles.
"Where you find buffalo, there you'll find Indians," was a plains maxim. This night Captain Sutorius, the Swiss commander of Troop E, Third Cavalry, who had been in the regiment twenty-two years, said to War Correspondent Finerty, as they lay side by side, each shivering under a single blanket:
"We'll have a fight tomorrow; mark my words. I feel it in the air."
The soldiers had to do without fires. The independent Crows and Shoshonis lighted large ones, cooked buffalo meat, and then howled their war songs.
General Crook wished that they had stayed home, but he could not say so, now. He asked them to scout ahead tonight, and find the Sioux. They said that they were too full of buffalo meat.
By daybreak the column was marching down the valley of the pretty Rosebud, in eastern south Montana. Goose Creek had been put forty miles behind. What awaited before? The Crows and Shoshonis were rather sober. Only a few of them would scout in the advance. They did not act at all anxious to find the terrible Sioux.
Hills rose on either side, with the Rosebud flowing northeast through the middle of the green valley. About eight o'clock halt was ordered, to wait for the scouts, in a basin edged by the hills and cliffs. The June sun was hot, here; on both banks of the river, the horses and mules grazed; officers and men not on picket duty dozed.
Then at half-past eight firing was heard, down the valley.
"Those pesky Indians are shooting buffalo again!"
No! Here came the scouts, lashing their ponies and gazing behind. Two Crows arrived; one of them wounded.
"Sioux! Sioux! Heap Sioux!"
The other warriors were pouring in from the northern slopes. Behind them the hill tops were black with the enemy.
The Gray Fox had not been caught napping, in spite of the careless scouts. He was ready.
"Throw the infantry forward dismounted as skirmishers and hold those fellows in check," he shouted. The infantry rail.
"Saddle up, there—saddle up, quick!" barked Captain Anson Mills, to the cavalry.
"How do you feel about this now, eh?" Captain Sutorius asked of Correspondent Finerty, with a grin. The enemy looked to be overwhelming in numbers.
It's all right. It's the anniversary of Bunker Hill. A good luck day."
"That's so. Never thought of it." And Captain Sutorius cried, to the troopers: "It's the anniversary of Bunker Hill, boys. We're in luck."
The troopers waved their carbine barrels. Adjutant Henry Lemly galloped to the Third from General Crook.
"The commanding officer's compliments, Colonel Mills. Your battalion will charge those bluffs on the center."
Away went Troops A, E, I and M, Third Cavalry; through the river, through the bogs on the other side, across the level and up the bluffs in the north.
Captain Guy Henry's battalion, Troops B, D, F and L, charged on the left or west, to check the enemy's right. Troop C of Captain Frederick Van net and Troop G of First Lieutenant Emmet Crawford sped to hold the bluffs in the rear and prevent a surround. The Second Cavalry was kept in reserve, until the battle should develop.
There was little fighting on the east, or right. Chief Crazy Horse had a host of warriors, both Sioux and Cheyennes, at his call. He had launched fifteen hundred, to draw the Gray Fox men on in detachments, and to wipe them out that way; or else to lure them all to the right by leaving it open.
Four miles beyond the camp the Rosebud entered a narrow canyon—the Dead Canyon of the Rosebud. The Sioux and Cheyenne village was at the lower end. If Crazy Horse might get the white soldiers into that canyon he would crush them as they hastened through to attack the village.
General Crook rightly suspected that the village was located there. That was one reason why he had sent the Crows and Shoshonis forward. If they had scouted in earnest, he might have surprised the village—although after the buffalo hunt this was scarcely likely. The scouts had brought the enemy right to him. Now it was white general against red general, in pitched battle.
The Colonel Mills companies charged gallantly, using their revolvers and drove the Sioux and Cheyennes from the first crest; but another ridge appeared in front of them and there the same warriors were, again. They rode back and forth, making insulting gestures. One of the chiefs was signaling with a small looking-glass.
Troop I, of Captain William H. Andrews, was detached to the support of the left wing, where Captain Henry's battalion and Colonel Royall were being hard beset by the bold Cheyennes. The Colonel Mills men charged again; they cleared the second ridge—and were confronted by a third ridge, with the enemy capering and firing and hooting along it.
Hurrah! A shrill chorus sounded; through the intervals between the dismounted troopers the Crows and Shoshonis charged. They had been rallied—they were lashing to meet the hated Sioux.
Major George Randall and First Lieutenant John G. Bourke of General Crook's staff led the Crows, on the right. Orderly Sergeant John Van Moll, a giant of a man, dashed with them, on foot. Texan Tom Cosgrove, chief of Wind River scouts, led his Shoshonis, on the left. Bugler Elmer A. Snow of Troop M rode beside him.
Down from the second ridge they all rushed, Sergeant Van Moll running as swiftly as the ponies. Down from the third ridge the Sioux gladly rushed, to battle them. There was a great fight. The soldiers dared not fire, for fear of killing the friendlies. It was hard to tell one Indian from another. All were stripped to breech-clouts and moccasins, and wore streaming war bonnets.
The Crows fought from horseback—lying low and racing back and forth, shooting and whooping and counting coups. So did the Sioux. Half the Shoshonis fought on foot. For a time it was nip and tuck, while the white men looked on and cheered. But the Sioux increased. Reinforcements bolted in, hot for Crow and Snake scalps. At a signal whoop, the Crook scouts prepared to retire. They picked up their wounded and what dead they could, and carrying double their ponies darted up the slope, for the cavalry line.
Sergeant Van Moll failed to keep pace. He seemed to be left to the Sioux, run though he did. Major Randall and Lieutenant Bourke saw—they turned, to his rescue. But "Humpy," a little Crow warrior with a crooked back, was swifter. He swooped by them, reached Van Moll, clutched him by the shoulder and motioned to him to jump on behind. Holding fast, big Sergeant Van Moll rode into the line behind little Humpy, and the whole battalion shouted.
"There were no insects on them, either, when they passed us on the home stretch," wrote War Correspondent Finerty, who was there.
Now the Mills men mounted and made a counter charge; drove the enemy from the third ridge.
The Gray Fox was at the front, himself, directing the movements. He had grown impatient. His good black horse had been shot from under him. The Sioux and Cheyennes were standing up to him, and appeared to be more than two thousand. The fighting had lasted two hours and he had accomplished nothing, although the battle field extended over five miles. He determined to push matters to a finish. These northern Indians certainly were of different calibre from the Apaches.
He ordered the Mills battalion to fall back from the ridges and reform. That was done. Tom Moore's frontiersmen packers were thrown in, to cover the retirement. Every man was a crack shot, and as cool as a cucumber. On came the Sioux, to turn the flanks of the Mills troopers. At short range they were received with such a volley from the steady packers that "in not more than seven seconds," Lieutenant John Bourke wrote, "they concluded that home, sweet home was a better place."
On the west Major Royall's detachment of Captain Guy Henry's battalion and Captain Henry Noyes' Troop I, Second Cavalry, were being pressed stubbornly, in rough ground, by the fierce Cheyennes. General Crook sent Bugler Snow with orders to Major Royall to fall back, also.
The Sioux almost cut Bugler Snow off, as he galloped full tilt across the open valley. Rah! They nearly had him—no, he was out-pacing them, they dropped behind, they fired—with both arms broken he tumbled from his horse in the Major Royall lines. He delivered the orders.
Major Royall attempted to fall back. The Cheyennes took it for a retreat. They rushed him. The Sioux, checked in the pursuit of the Mills battalion, scoured over, to help. Captain Peter D. Vroom's Troop L delayed a little too long; was caught and separated from the battalion. The enemy surrounded it. Captain Henry led a charge into the furious melee, to rescue his comrades.
A heavy bullet struck him under the right eye, passed clear through his face, broke his nose and tore out under his left eye. It was a frightful wound. He reeled, spat blood in handfuls, but he stayed in the saddle and directed his soldiers; then he lurched to the ground.
The men gave way a little. The Cheyennes charged—a battle was waged right over his body, but fortunately he was not stepped on. A party of brave Shoshonis made a stand, to save him—the troopers charged again, and he was dragged from the danger. Hurrah!
The Captain Van Vliet battalion had arrived, to help Major Royall; the Tom Moore packers were protecting the right flank; dismounted infantry and Second Cavalry filled the gap between them and Major Royall.
Colonel Mills had fallen back, as ordered, into the basin—
"It's time to stop this skirmishing, colonel," the Gray Fox said, galloping to him, behind the line of troopers lying flat and firing. "You must take your battalion and go for their village away down the canyon. I will follow and support you as soon as possible."
"All right, sir," Colonel Mills answered promptly. "Sound cease firing, bugler. Mount the men, Lemly."
In a minute Companies A, E and M, Third Cavalry, had wheeled to the right and at a trot were making for the northeast end of the valley, where the Dead Canyon opened. The five troops of the Second Cavalry, under Major Noyes, were to follow close.
The Sioux saw and yelled. Parties of them streamed around by the south and pelted to reach the canyon first.
The canyon proved to be a mean place, deep and narrow, the Rosebud boiling through and the steep rocky sides grown to evergreens. Captain Sutorius the Swiss and Lieutenant Adolphus Von Leuttwitz cleaned the Sioux from the mouth with Troop E. The three companies, two hundred men, kept on.
In the fore there rode Aide-de-Camp Bourke, War Correspondent Finerty, and Lieutenant Frederick Schwatka who became a famous Arctic explorer. Frank Gruard guided.
The pony tracks were many, showing that this was a much used canyon. Colonel Mills waxed rather dubious. He had ten or twelve miles to go. Major Noyes' five companies arrived. The Indians had not attacked—it was a straw silence, but behind, in the west, the gunfire had swelled. The battle there had been renewed.
At seven miles there were signs of Indians watching him, before and from either side. The village must be almost in sight. So he halted his command at a wider place, where another canyon entered from the left, and he began to form for battle.
Somebody was coming, in the rear, at a gallop. It was an officer in buckskin, his long black beard grayed with dust: Captain Azor H. Nickerson of the Twenty-third Infantry and of General Crook's staff. He and an orderly had ridden the whole seven miles without escort. He saluted Colonel Mills, and spoke in a hurry.
"Mills, Royall is hard pressed and must be relieved. Henry is badly wounded and Vroom's troop is all cut up. The general orders that you and Noyes defile by your left flank out of this canyon and fall on the rear of the Indians who are pressing Royall. The general cannot move on to support you on account of the wounded."
This was true. The Gray Fox could spare only a small detail to guard his hospital and he dared not risk it. But well for Colonel Mills that he had been ordered out of the canyon; and well for General Crook that he had not moved in support. Chief Crazy Horse had arranged an ambush at the lower end. With plenty of warriors to use, he had stationed one reserve near an enormous dam of brush and logs that blocked the end; had made ready to close in behind the column with another force.
The Gray Fox had suspected. His heart had told him and he had recalled the Colonel Mills detachment for the two reasons.
The orders had arrived in good time and at a good place. The Mills and Noyes cavalry took the side canyon out, leading their horses and climbing by heads of companies, so as to operate quickly. They safely emerged upon a level plateau.
"Prepare to mount—mount!"
At a gallop they all spurred to the relief of Major Royall. The Sioux and Cheyenne boys were herding the warriors' horses behind the red line; the Royall men, also fighting on foot, were getting surrounded. Scores of Indians were rushing to the field; soon there might be a grand charge, of five to one.
When the Indian lookouts saw the. reinforcements tearing in, they whooped the alarm; the warriors ran, vaulted into the saddle, and fled before they were attacked in their rear. They left thirteen scalps for the Crows and Shoshonis.
Crazy Horse now withdrew to move his village. General Crook had fifty white and red soldiers killed and wounded; he was almost out of supplies, his men had fired twenty-five thousand cartridges, and his hospital had to be protected. To fight his way through all those Indians, and reach the General Terry column at the Yellowstone, one hundred miles, was impossible; to march around meant a detour of two hundred miles. Therefore he decided to withdraw, also.
The time was two o'clock in the afternoon.
The plucky Captain Henry had been taken to the rear. He lay upon the hard ground; one eye had been destroyed, in fact he could not see at all; a bloody rag covered his face, and the flies buzzed hungrily. An orderly held a horse so that the shadow fell upon him.
"Fix me up so that I can go back, can't you?" Captain Henry had mumbled, to the surgeon.
War Correspondent Finerty bent over him. "That's too bad, captain. Can I do anything for you?"
"It's nothing, Jack. For this we are soldiers. By the way, I hear that you've been in the thick of the firing today, and done well. I'd advise you to join the army. You ought to try for a commission."
"Join the army!" Looking at Captain Henry, Reporter Finerty did not feel very enthusiastic.
Now there was a terrible journey in store for the wounded, and especially for Captain Henry.
First, to Goose Creek, fifty miles. The wounded were carried in travois, or litters of a blanket slung between two poles and dragged each behind a mule.
General Crook tried to pick the smoothest road, but the best proved bad enough. Captain Henry's litter was supported by a mule at either end. He suffered frightfully; he could swallow only broth; the mules objected to the smell of blood and the looks of their burden; the rear mule bit Captain Henry in the head—they turned the captain about and the front mule threatened to kick him. Once the lead mule stumbled and pitched him out. But he never uttered one word of complaint. Yet he was not a strong man, in body; he was slightly built.
From Goose Creek the wounded had to be sent in wagons, to Fort Fetterman, one hundred and fifty miles south. Lying upon grass, they were jolted over hills and ridges, into gulches and out, and across creeks.
Captain Henry should have been dead, before this, the surgeons said; but he was resolved not to die. He had set his mind upon seeing his wife. She was at Fort D. A. Russell, near Cheyenne of Wyoming. She could not come to him—the Sioux and Cheyennes held the trails; she could not get quick word of him, for the Indians had cut the telegraph wires. The captain knew that she would be anxious. He was going on to her.
So they took him across country again, in an army ambulance, one hundred more miles to Medicine Bow station on the Union Pacific Railroad. From there he rode one hundred miles by train, to Cheyenne.
He had been traveling over two weeks. At the end of all, he insisted upon walking from the carriage to the doorway of his quarters in Fort Russell—but he had to be led.
Then at the doorway, when his wife grasped him by the hand, he said, only:
"Well, this is a great way to celebrate the Fourth of July."
What she said, she didn't really quite know; but it wasn't very much, for he was a soldier and she was a soldier's wife.
Captain Guy Vernor Henry did not die. His sheer grit pulled him through. He was bound to live. He already had four brevets, and the Medal of Honor was coming to him. His gallantry on the Rosebud brought him another brevet—that of brigadier general. In a year he joined his regiment; one eye was sightless, his face was scarred, his body somewhat weak; but his nerve all was there. He went into the field against the Sioux; lasted only six weeks, was carried home—and tried again.
In 1890, when the Sioux ghost-danced, as major of the Ninth cavalry he led it one hundred and ten miles in a day and a half, was in the saddle twenty-two hours, and fought two battles; all in zero weather.
Captain Henry died, major-general of Volunteers and brigadier general of Regulars, October 27, 1899, in the service, in Porto Rico where the Spanish-American War had landed him. He had ridden, fought and worked for his country through twenty-three years after he might with good reason have retired. But to him the Indian bullet was nothing; the business of being a good soldier was everything.