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Fighting Indians in the 7th United States Cavalry

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Fighting Indians in the 7th United States Cavalry
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Author(s): Ami Frank Mulford
Date Published: 2010/03
Page Count: 164
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-959-6
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-960-2

An American Indian War campaign by a serving soldier

The action of this book takes place within a cavalry regiment no longer under the command of the flamboyant George Armstrong Custer. Little time had elapsed since he, together with most of his command had been wiped out at the battle of Little Big Horn by the Plains Indians under the inspirational leadership of Sitting Bull. In 1876, the young author of this book, out of work, luck and money found himself in the recruiting office of the United States Army at Leavenworth, Kansas and so began the process that transformed him into Trumpeter A. F Mulford, Co. M, 7th U. S. Cavalry. The apocalyptic nature of the Indian victory over Custer's force had spelt their doom and the sands of time of their way of life were now fast running out. Sitting Bull had been captured and hostile bands were being ruthlessly hunted down. Chief Joseph of the Nez Perces gathered together a substantial force of armed warriors and their dependents to effect an exodus to Canada. Miles and his force pursued and this short but significant episode became Mulford's military adventure and the narrative of his essential text. Available in soft cover and hard back with dust jacket.

We passed over the battlefield of 1874, where General Stanley and his command were so badly cut up by Sioux Indians. Bones were strewn on the ground quite thick. Here is the skeleton of a horse and close to it the skeleton of a man, the bare and bleached bones glistening in the sunlight, and the whitened skull looking grinningly up at us as we ride past. Near these bones we notice a dozen or more empty cartridge shells, sure proof that the soldier had died in the line of duty.<br>
“Will our bones ever lie and bleach in such a place?” we wonder as we go on—to we know not what!<br>
We now ride over a beautiful table land, flat and smooth as a barn floor. It forms a point made by the Yellowstone River and High Creek, where they join; then through bad-lands, cut up by deep ravines and gulches. Not a spear of grass or a bit of cactus or other growth relieves the eye. This is a land of desolation. We enter a deep ravine, and along the bottom we go, rock walls rise thirty, sixty, in places a hundred feet above our heads on either side. What a place for an ambuscade! But our scouts are ahead and it is safe to follow them.<br>
Cutting sand and fine dust strike our faces, fill our eyes and make breathing difficult. Look, there are massive rocks ahead that block our way; no, we take a sharp turn to the right, and emerge from desolation directly into paradise! The finest, smoothest, largest meadow I ever saw is right before me—a meadow where a scythe has never been swung. The rich grass brushes the legs of the cavalrymen as they ride through it.<br>
Halt!—sounds the trumpet.<br>
Dismount!—it sounds again, and we get off our horses, remove the bits from their mouths and let them eat and be happy while they can. We are to wait here until the wagon train catches up with us.<br>
General Miles is half a mile ahead of us with his scouts. He is signalling. What does that mean?<br>
Indians!<br>
The trumpet sounds To Horse!—and we quickly put the bits in our horses’ mouths, and are ready.<br>
Mount!—goes the trumpet, and we mount. There is no confusion, no misunderstanding the tones of the trumpet, for it is in the hands of Chief Trumpeter Hardy himself.<br>
Forward!—sounds the trumpet again, and forward we go. We make for that bluff where we can see General Miles.<br>
When we had gone a quarter of a mile, we saw someone leave the bluff and ride full speed to intercept Trumpeter Hardy. The two meet, Trumpeter Hardy bends over in the saddle to receive an order, sent by General Miles, and then as he straightens up there is a bright flash in the sunlight. He has in hand the copper bugle he carried when he was with Custer during the Civil War. See! He raises it to his lips and the tones of the bugle sound out clear and strong. What melody! But what is the order?<br>
Companies Right Into Line!—and putting ourselves into that position in an instant, we ride forward.<br>
Gallop!—is the next call. At last! Aha, this is something like it! Just what we had heard about but had given up all hopes of taking part in.<br>
A trumpeter of each company is with his captain, and another stays by the first sergeant of the company. It is the duty of these company trumpeters to tell what the calls mean and to repeat them.<br>
How our travel-worn horses do pull out, each doing its best.<br>
Deploy Skirmishers, By the Right and Left Flank!—is the next call sounded, and the six companies of the Seventh Cavalry take their positions twenty yards apart, with horses on a gallop.<br>
Charge!—commands the bugle of Chief Trumpeter Hardy. Twelve Company Trumpeters repeat this call, and on we go as fast as we can make our horses travel. We make the top of the bluff, and, whew! about two miles distant are about two score mounted Indian braves, and there may be several thousand more behind that other bluff. On we rush—but will the reds stand? No, they are off! See them lash their ponies! Hear them yell! Uphill and down we keep up the chase, but get no nearer the fugitives. Our horses are flecked with foam and many of them begin to lag. The wagon train and pack mules are out of sight.<br>
We reach the top of a ridge, and on the flat land below, quietly resting on the bank of Cherry Creek, are our savages?those two score Indians we have been trying so hard to catch. We have been chasing our own scouts, friendly Cheyennes and Crows, who had that morning been sent on ahead to scout for hostiles.<br>
Recall was sounded, and Rally by Companies follows. We are soon in proper trim. Word was then passed along, that General Miles wishing to see now the Seventh Cavalry would respond in an emergency had instructed the scouts to make the fake run, and they most successfully complied with his orders.<br>
We went into camp. The wagon train and pack mules came in late.