The Forty-Day Scout

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In the early summer of 1872, Kiowa or Comanche Indians killed and scalped two white ranchers to steal their sixteen-shot Henry rifles. The Indians spared one man’s Mexican wife and a servant boy, and the survivors reported the murders to the authorities at Fort Bascom, New Mexico. The U.S. Army, including the 8th Cavalry, Colonel John Irvin Gregg commanding, was bugled off on a punitive expedition into the Staked Plains of West Texas, the homeland of the warlike tribesmen.

Colonel Gregg’s impressive Civil War record, for which he had received brevet promotions to brigadier general, U.S.A., and major general, U.S. Volunteers, had ended with his capture by weary Confederates only three days before Appomattox. His subsequent knack for getting lost is reflected in the journal kept by William Edward Matthews, one of his troopers, and a rather jaundiced observer of military life.

Eddie Matthews had joined the Army three years before, at nineteen, after a friend promised him a job if he ever came to Cincinnati and then reneged when he actually showed up, penniless, to ask for work. During five years of cavalry service he wrote steadily to his father, John Matthews, a Civil War veteran born in Cornwall, England, who had left the Army as a gray-haired forty-four-year-old lieutenant in 1865. For five years, Eddie Matthews also chased Indians and rustlers, joined all sorts of bizarre social clubs, observed the frontier Southwest—and counted the years, months, weeks, and days until his enlistment would expire and he could rejoin his family in Maryland.

Eddie Matthews’ extensive correspondence—a look at frontier soldiering with the coating of nostalgic romanticism not yet congealed on it—lay buried in a dusty attic trunk for over a century. His granddaughter, Mrs. Ora Matthews Bublitz, discovered the three-foot stack of letters while cleaning up her attic after her own retirement as a municipal clerk in Teaneck, New Jersey. She remembered her grandfather as a stooped, white-haired old codger who gave each grandchild a dime when they came home from school during the Depression. Her memory didn’t jibe with the description Matthews wrote of himself a few days before setting out to chase Kiowas and Comanches:

“I … only weigh 138 3/4 Ibs., am 5ft. 9in. tall, and going on 23 years old, black eyes, black hair, what there is of it (had it cut short for the occasion) dark complexion (am very badly sun-burned) but taken all in all am a pretty fair piece of human nature. …”

Here is a slightly abridged version of the longest of those letters, an account of nineteenth-century Indian warfare as the soldier knew it .

J.K.

Fort Bascom, New Mexico August 6th, 1872

“To the loved ones at Home”

We leave this Post tomorrow on a forty day Scout and as it will be impossible for me to communicate with you during that time I have concluded to keep a small “Journal” of events. I know it will partly make amends for the long silence.

August 7th, 1872 —Our Command numbering about three hundred men of our Regiment, composed of B., D., L., and M., Troops with forty days rations, left Bascom at 10 o’clock A.M. As General Gregg (our Colonel), was not ready to leave at that time, he gave Capt Bankhead (Senior Captain) Orders to move the Command, and he would join us soon as he could complete his business at the Post.

We moved off marching in an eastern direction over the prairie (not on any road) until about 2 o’clock when came to a road. Close by found wood and water and went into Camp. Pitched the Officer’s tents and was preparing supper, when Genl Gregg came up and gave orders to move forward. Tents had to be taken down, wagons repacked, horses caught and saddled. After an hour’s work, with no end to growling, we were all ready to resume the day’s march. Only marched four miles farther, when went into Camp, found plenty of water, but very little wood. Distance marched 12 miles.

August 8th, 1872 —Left Camp at 7 A.M. still marching over the prairie. Learned that we were taking a short cut to get on the old Fort Smith road, which runs from Fort Smith, Arkansas to Santa Fe, N.M. It was “L” Troop’s turn to fall in rear of the wagon train to act as rear guard. Whenever more than one troop marches together the troop starting out in advance falls in the rear next day. In this way each troop takes its share of what is considered the disagreeable duty of marches viz: guarding the wagon train. …

August 9th, 1872 —Our Cooks (Kind hearted fellows) thought they would treat us to some soft bread. So last night they baked. At breakfast this morning I was handed something which from its color and weight I presumed must be part of a brick, but was told by the cook that it was my ration of bread. Now I believe my digestive organs are about as strong as the majority of the white race and I would no more attempt their powers on that piece of bread, than I would on a 12 Ib. solid shot. I politely thanked our gentlemanly cook, but declined eating any of his fresh bread, preferring “hard tack” which had been baked in some mechanical bakery in the first year of the late Rebellion. We brought some beef cattle from Bascom with us, during the night they became frightened and stampeded, half the men of our troop was sent after them returned with the cattle about 9 A.M. The Command (excepting our troop) left Camp at 7 o-clock. We soon caught up with them after our men came in with the Cattle. After a short march of 6 miles went into Camp, near the old Fort Smith road. …

August 10th, 1872 —B.L. and M. Troops, left Camp at 8 A.M. leaving “D” Troop behind to search for the Cattle, which had again stampeded during the night. …

During the day saw numbers of antelope, first game had seen since leaving Bascom. They were very wild and it was impossible to get a shot at them. It rained some during the past night, also a little this morning. The General rode horseback from the time we left Camp this morning until 2 o’clock P.M. when he returned to his Ambulance. Don’t think he is much of a horseman. … Something resembling a drove of cattle was seen at a distance. The command was halted until the General examined it through his field glasses and pronounced it dust which had been raised by the wind. Marched thirty miles when found water sufficient for the Command, but no wood. Had prepared ourselves before leaving our previous Camp for such an emergency by putting plenty of wood on the wagons. “D” Troop has not come up yet, but will perhaps before dark.

August llth, 1872 —Still in Camp, “D” Troop failed to arrive last night. Our wood has run out. All hands took sacks and scattered over the prairie picking up “buffalo chips” (buffalo manure) to cook by. These chips make a very good fire, but the odor arising after they burn sometimes does not smell as sweet as “new mown hay.” But then soldiers are not particular about the smell, something to appease their appetites is more in their minds than anything else. … “D” Troop came in at 10 o’clock. …

We are now in splendid hunting ground. Antelope are as plentiful as flies in harvest time, but are much harder to Kill, they are very wild. More so than a person would expect, as they seldom see a hunter. One of our troop succeeded in Killing one a little while ago. Their meat is very nice eating. Soldiers prefer it to Army bacon.

August 12th, 1872 —Broke Camp at 6Vfe A.M. found plenty of cedar wood, loaded our wagons, for this will be the last wood we will find for some days. We ascended a high hill when found ourselves on the “famous staked Plains” of Texas. Famous for wild game of all kinds including Kiowa and Comanche Indians. …

What a great pity some poor man could not own about forty miles of this land in some Eastern City. It would then be worth something, but as it is, it is not worth one cent an acre at the present time. And it never will be worth any more. The first buffalo was killed by one of “D” Troop today, from the quantity of meat I saw in the wagon which brought it in, I would judge they must weigh about one thousand pounds. One quarter of the animal was given to us and will be cooked for breakfast tomorrow. I just saw another buffalo, about one mile away, too far to go after. Am feeling confident that I will be able to send you the tip of my first buffalo’s tail. …

August 13th, 1872 —Left Camp at 6 A.M. marching almost due east, in fact have been marching nearly in that direction since left Bascom. During the morning we saw at least five hundred Antelope, but nary buffalo, or red man. The former am anxious to see, but no particular desire to meet the latter. …

August 14th, 1872 —We all woke up this morning rather early from sound slumber by the patter of rain in our faces. We had not sufficient transportation leaving Bascom to carry tents for the men, and would not have brought them if had.… We had two alternatives, one to lie and take the wetting in our blankets or get up and put on our boots (the only part of our clothing which is taken off upon retiring when scouting), roll up the blankets and stand the storm. We chose the latter, standing out taking the rain with mutterings of “hard times.” Eat our breakfast in the rain. Saddled up and left Camp at 6 A.M. in the rain. For four or five hours we rode in a cold and chilling rain, however it cleared up at last, when Old Sol came out in all its glory, making many a heart glad. …

August 15th, 1872 —Struck tents and left Camp at 7 A.M. marching due east. About 9 o’clock we came to a small stream, the water was clear and excellent. We marched along and went into Camp on its banks at 1 o’clock P.M.

August 16th, 1872 —Little did I dream when I closed my day’s diary of the 15th inst. that before the rising of another sun, the most important and dangerous event of our seemingly useless scout would transpire. …

Yesterday’s march brought us to the commencement of very rough looking country, and our Camp was located in a splendid place for a surprise, and night attack by Indians. Danger was not anticipated and was the most remote thought in our minds. Before turning in for the night we as usual squatted around in groups to have an hour’s smoke and talk on the progress of the scout, and the probabilities of seeing an Indian. Many were the ludicrous remarks made by the boys. After smoking and talking ourselves tired, all turned in to sleep, excepting the guard, who paced to and fro his lonely beat. …

About 1 o’clock A.M. I awoke from a sound sleep by the report of several carbines, connected with the most unearthly yelling it has ever been my misfortune to listen to. It sounded to me like all the Devils incarnate, and all the Demons of Hell had issued forth in that one lonely spot to make the night hideous with their orgies. No pen is capable of describing my feelings at that moment. I of course knew that we were “jumped,” (attacked) by Indians, and from those blood-chilling yells, I imagined we had been totally surprised and that the Indians were right in our midst, dealing death on all sides. …

I was only a moment getting a cartridge in my carbine, and with revolver in one hand and carbine in the other with only my shirt and pants on, I ran to the right of our troop and on a line with “B” Troop where the firing and yelling was the loudest. I could see the Indians by the light of the moon riding in a circle near our lines, firing at us as they charged by. I discharged my carbine at the first Indians I saw, and never taking time to notice with what effect I reloaded and fired as fast as I possibly could. By this time our whole Command was up and the firing became more general. The Indians seeing that there was no hope for them, commenced to withdraw. At this stage of the fight a detail of 10 picked men was made from each troop to form a line and advance about one hundred yards from Camp and take station as pickets. I was one of the number from our troop. We advanced at a double quick step, firing at the retreating Indians as we ran. When we reached the prescribed distance from Camp, we came to a halt, and kept up a fire from our Carbines, as long as we could hear a yell from an Indian. Finally all became quiet, when we deployed as pickets. And there remained until daylight relieved us from our unpleasant watch. …

When morning dawned, we found that our loss was very slight. One man, a Sergeant of Troop “B” wounded in the leg, and two mules killed. A number of the wagons bore bullet holes in their canvas, showing that the Indians’ fire was too high. It is impossible now to tell the loss of the Indians, as they left none of their number behind. We are satisfied that from the number of shots we fired more than one of their number was hit. …

Our beef cattle again stampeded at the first shot and we have never seen them since. But this loss, we consider our gain. As we had to guard them every night and had trouble enough with them. We are happy now that they are gone for good.

We left the scene of our late encounter at 7 A. M. … About 10 o’clock we saw an Indian rancharee and charged it, but found that it had only been vacated a few hours before our arrival. Went into Camp at 2 P.M. Camped upon high ground. Guess the General has had enough of Camping in Canyons for some time. Took more precaution in forming our wagon train so as to form a better stockade against the attack of Indians. Camp was laid out in a square. With one troop to guard each side. “B” Troop had been left behind in the morning to search for the missing cattle, as they were in charge of them when they ran off. And as they had not returned yet, ten men from each of the other troops was detailed to guard their side of the Camp. Our troop has only 23 Privates, for duty, and out of the 23, 19 was on guard.

The Officers had been so badly frightened the previous night that they are determined not to be surprised again. Every Camp before we were attacked the Officers all pitched their tents as far from the men as they could possibly do with safety, but tonight all with the exception of Capt Randlett, and Lieut Hennisee of “D” Troop, have had their tents pitched in among the Quarter Master’s wagons and mules, prefering the dust and smell from the mules, to the danger of Camping on a line with the men. …

August 17th, 1872 —Still in Camp, “B” Troop has not arrived, and the night did not pass without another alarm of Indians. Our troop was in Camp in rear of the main Camp. I was first relief over the horses, and having stood my three hours’ guard, went to the outpost and turned in to sleep the remainder of the night. Being very tired and from the loss of sleep, slept unusually sound, and failed to hear a shot fired by one of “D” Troops sentries with the cry of ‘Indians.’ But suppose my mind was on that one subject the most, that I awoke with an indistinct recollection of hearing the cry of ‘Indians.’ I looked around from right to left where there had been men sleeping when I turned in, but could not see a single man, not even the sentries whose beat was right along our front. I confess that I was not a little frightened for the moment. I could not account for the sudden spiriting-away of the remainder of the guard, but when I looked in the direction of Camp I saw by the light of the moon, numerous heads sticking up above the men’s saddles, which had been arranged in a line to form a kind of fortification for the men when lying down. Catching up my arms and blankets I made as fast time getting over those five hundred yards which intervened between our picket post and Camp as ever “Harry Bassett” made at any of the Saratoga Races. …

I crouched down behind my saddle and soon learned what all hands were on the alert for. Two mounted Indians had been approaching Camp in a stealthy manner, supposed for the purpose of reconnoitering our Camp. From the position our men were in sleeping at the outpost in case of an attack from that side and a charge by the Indians, we would very probably be cut off and be subject to the fire from both our own men and the Indians, not a very pleasant situation by any means. Soon as the shot was fired all hands (excepting myself) ran in. I could have been in soon as any of the others, had I only heard the shot. I talked pretty plain to those men who slept near me, for running in and leaving me sound asleep. …

The shot fired by the sentry had no effect, but to drive off the two Indians who retreated in quick order, and failed to put in another appearance. “B” Troop arrived in Camp about 8 A.M. reporting that the cattle had gone back in the direction of Fort Bascom, and had not as we supposed fallen into the hands of the Indians. It made little difference to us whether the Indians got them or not as we had no desire to recover them. The General sent our guides out this morning to reconnoiter. They returned in an hour or two with the information that Indians in great numbers had driven them back and that the Indians were within five miles of our Camp. We were in Camp on the level plain, while the large canyon in which we were attacked ran to our right and about three miles away. This canyon I suppose is full of Indians, it being their home during the winter. It was impassible for our wagon train even if we wished to follow through it, something none in the Command wished to undertake.… Had we have undertaken to pass through this Canyon we could have been killed by the Indians rolling stones down the sides of the canyon, and at the same time would have been powerless to harm a single Indian. When our guides returned with the information of the close proximity of a large body of Indians, orders were issued to form the wagons in such a manner as to be impossible for Indians to get in, and while a few men could keep a large body of Indians off. Soon as this was done “D,” “L,” and “M” Troops were ordered to saddle up at once. Ammunition in abundance was issued to each man. We then mounted and formed in line, when General Gregg rode up in our front and made a short speech, the substance of which was that we were now in the country of a sleepless and untiring foe, whose nature was one of treachery, and who when least expected attacked the white man, and if successful tortured their victims in the most brutal manner. He wound up by telling us, Indians were reported in large numbers near our Camp, that we were going out to meet them and possibly some fighting afoot would have to be done, and in that case he wanted every man to be ready for any emergency. Soon as the General had concluded his brief remarks, the Adjutant rode to the front and gave the Command Attention to Orders. He then read an Order from the General, thanking the Officers and men for the gallant manner in which we met and repulsed the Indians in our late encounter with them. This was more to inspire us with confidence in ourselves than anything else. …

We then marched off in a direction parallel with the Canyon. As we rode along I occupied my mind for a time by scanning the faces of the greater part of our Troop. Some looked stern and resolute, while others were wreathed in smiles called forth no doubt by some humorous remark of some of the wits of the troop, but taken all in all a kind stillness prevailed throughout the entire Command. As regards myself, can’t say that I felt very rejoiced at the prospects of a fight with the Indians, $13.00 a month is not an incentive to throw one’s life away. And as to my patriotic feelings, I candidly say, I have none. I have never been blessed with the inspiration. And while riding along my thoughts went back to little Maryland, to green fields, friends, loved parents, brothers and sisters, and the day I would be free to enjoy the pleasures of my home. My mind was so …occupied with these pleasant thoughts, that I forgot for the time the mission we were on. And was only brought back to reality, by the Command, coming to a halt and the exclamation “there they are” looking in the direction the Command had been marching in. I saw at the distance of about a half mile some twenty Indians, they looked at us for a few moments, and then turned their horses heads and galloped off a few hundred yards, then turned around and took another look at us. In this way we traveled about a mile, seeing no other Indians, or getting any closer to those before us. The Command came to another halt. The Officers held another consultation and the conclusion came to was the Indians were drawing us into an ambush. With this conclusion came the Command “Left About Wheel March” and we turned and marched back to our Camp. …

Sunday August 18th, 1872 —The night passed without an attack and I am sure none in the Command regret it. But had the Indians put in an appearance, they would have met with a warm reception. Every person in the Command slept with his clothing on, and carbine loaded. We left Camp at 6 A.M. After an hours ride we come in sight of at least one thousand buffalo. A party of men was sent out to kill sufficient for the Command. The men started off in a gallop in the direction of the buffalo. In a short time they were in among the huge monsters firing shot after shot into them. Every person became excited with the chase, which was in full view. Not a hill or mound of any kind to obstruct our view. The chase lasted about fifteen minutes and during that time twenty-one buffalo were killed. Three were put in a wagon for our use, the remaining eighteen left on the plains to be devoured by coyotes and other small animals which live in this part of the country. …

We are now seemingly at the end of the Staked Plains, before us is nothing but barren hills, small valleys and miserable looking canyons. In fact about as unprepossessing a piece of nature as a person would wish to see. Will take chances for a night’s undisturbed rest. Distance marched today 29 miles.

August 19th, 1872 —Morning dawned without an incident to chronicle. My sleep was as sound last night, as any part of old Rip Van Winkle’s. Leaving “D” Troop to guard Camp, General Gregg took the remaining three troops at 8 A.M. on an inspecting tour of the largest canyon. We rode down the canyon about six miles following an Indian trail. Rode in single file the greater part of the way. As the trail was very rough and narrow, dismounted and climbed to the top of the canyon, leading our horses. Found the country open, but much rougher than the plains we had been traveling over. I can t see how we are to get our wagons out of the canyon, unless go out the way came in. The General sent our troop to scout along the top of the Canyon until returned to Camp. He took “B” and “M” Troops and rode off in another direction. At this time of writing he has not returned. We saw but few signs and no Indians on our way back to Camp, and got back in time for dinner, traveled about twelve miles.

August 20th, 1872 —Still in Camp in the canyon. The General and party returned about 4 o’clock last evening. His party saw no Indians.

August 21st, 1872 —Broke Camp at 6 A.M. , found a place to get out of the canyon north of the point which came in at. Had some difficulty getting our wagons up to the top of the canyon. Marched during the day in a northeastern direction. Saw so many buffalo, that actually got tired looking at them. …

August 22nd, 1872 —Left Camp at 7 A.M. Marched over very rough ground. Went into Camp at 11 o’clock, after a march of 7 miles. We are camping on the banks of a small stream, the water has an alkali taste, and is not much relished by either man or beast.

August 23rd, 1872 —Broke Camp at 7 A.M. Our Troop was sent to scout along the banks of the stream. We were to follow the stream for six or eight miles and then to rejoin the Command, which was marching in another direction. Saw a few wild turkeys and deer, but no Indians. After marching about ten mile down the river, we started to search for the trail the Command had taken, but failed to find it until had nearly returned to the place we started from. Had then to follow up the trail until came to Camp. The Command had marched about fifteen miles, while we had ridden fully thirty. …

August 24th, 1872 —Before leaving Camp this morning three men from each troop was detailed to hunt buffalo. I was one of the three from our troop and rode out with great anticipations of having fine sport and at the same time fulfill my promise made to you. We left the Command to our right and after a fruitless hunt of an hour a messenger joined us from the Command saying the General wanted us over near the Command, where there was plenty of buffalo, and some Indian ponies, and perhaps some Indians. We soon galloped over where the Command was marching. “B” Troop was left back to help in case we should be jumped by Indians, and it was the general opinion we would be, if we rode over the rough ground where the buffalo and ponies were seen. Capt McCleave, commanding Troop “B” and who is considered one of the best Indian fighters on the frontier, told us to ride fast after the buffalo and if the Indians jumped us, he with his troop would jump them. So off we started as fast as our horses could run. A young, reckless, and daring man of our troop and myself soon found ourselves ahead of all the others, and regardless of danger, we dashed in among the frightened buffalo, who were running as fast as their legs could carry them. If I was excited when watching a buffalo hunt I was a hundred times more so when engaged in it, and now that I was in among the huge-looking monsters I had some trouble to manage my frightened horse. I rode almost on top of a large bull buffalo and with the muzzle of my carbine within five feet of his back, fired and over rolled my first victim. I was too much excited with the chase to stop, dismount and cut off the promised trophy, but dashing after the other buffalo, loading as I rode. I soon rolled another over, and then taking my revolver out I rode along side of a powerful looking one, and fired four shots into his side before succeeding in killing him. Without checking my horse I rushed after the flying buffalo. Again I was in among them firing as fast as I could load, loading my carbine I rode close as could get my frightened horse … to a handsome buffalo calf and succeeding in shooting him through the spine, he immediately fell and died in a few moments. I stopped my horse, dismounted and examined my meat , and while looking at the buffalo I thought of my promise. I took my knife and cut off the “tip of his tail.” And now loved ones, you see I have fulfilled my promise. …

Rowalt, the young man from our troop who was near me, and who led his horse over to where I was standing, said, “Ed, we have ridden too far away from the balance of the party and the best thing we can do is to rejoin them soon as possible.”

We mounted our horses and just as we done so, a man from “D” Troop who had followed us joined Rowalt and I. We were taking a survey of the country to see which was the quickest way of getting out of the rough country, when I saw at a distance of about a thousand yards five Indians riding towards us. I showed them to the two men with me. And as we did not know how many more there might be, we concluded to retreat. So loading our carbines we traced our way as best we could. The Indians continued to follow us, but did not appear to gain on us. We rode slowly back keeping our eyes open and carbines ready for immediate action. After riding a couple of miles through the most miserable looking country I ever saw, we were joined by Lieut. Williams, of “B” Troop who was in charge of us. We reported the Indians to the Lieutenant who thought the best thing we could do was to get on open ground soon as possible, as we were in danger of being jumped any moment. If we could only get out of the rough country we could stand the Indians off in case they attacked us. All the way back we found dead buffalo killed by Rowalt and myself. In this way we were able to retrace our trail until we saw “B” Troop, who, becoming uneasy, were looking for us. You can rest assured I breathed a sigh of relief. …

And now after writing about my exciting buffalo hunt and the dangers escaped, I have the most sad and painful event of our scout to chronicle.

Upon the arrival in Camp, of the Command this evening, pickets were stationed on all the prominent points to keep a lookout for the approach of Indians. It was our troop’s turn to furnish the picket guard. At each station three men were posted. One man had to be mounted all the time, while the two off duty at the time could lie down and rest. One of the men named Hannan, very likely feeling tired, carelessly tied his horse with a lariat and then made it fast around his body, remarking at the time that in case he went to sleep his horse could not get away from him, little dreaming of the truth of his words. We had just finished eating supper, when one of the pickets galloped into Camp, reporting that Hannan’s horse became frightened at a buffalo approaching, and had run away, dragging Hannan after him, and that when found he was dead. The doctor went out in an ambulance and returned with the body. … We undressed and washed him and then put him into a wagon, there to remain until the morrow. … I am sick and tired of this kind of living, but believe if was to die and be buried in this God-forsaken country, would never rest easy in my grave. This thought is too horrible to dwell upon.

Sunday August 25th, 1872 —Remained in Camp to perform the last sad rites of our brother soldier and comrade. His horse which sent him to appear before his God, is now being saddled up for the purpose of following his master to the grave. I will attend the funeral with the troop and when return will finish my remarks. At 10 o’clock A.M. the Command formed into line. The remains placed in an ambulance. On each side walked four pallbearers. In rear of the ambulance, his horse was led by one of the troop, following came the firing party. As the ambulance came in front of the troop on the left of the line the troop presented arms and as soon as the remains passed by, the troop would wheel and march by Company front to the grave. Arriving at the grave, the body was lowered. Lieut. Boyd read the Episcopal burial service. This finished, three volleys was fired over the grave, and soon as it was filled up one of the trumpeters sounded “Taps” over the grave. …

August 26th, 1872 —Struck tents and left Camp at 7 A.M. The whole Command, wagons and ambulances passing over poor Hannon’s grave, the object of this was to leave no trace of a grave for Indians or coyotes to rob. And after all had passed over it, there was nothing to show that one of our number had been left there.

September 6th, 1872 —Leaving “D” Troop to guard Camp, General Gregg, with the remaining three troops started out at 6 A.M. to search for Indians. After traveling fifteen miles we came to a trail made by a large party of Indians, a day ahead of us. Examined and crossed the trail. After marching seven miles farther we came to the main canyon, “Canyon Blanche.” The General examined the canyon with his field glasses, but saw no Indians, took a short rest and then started to return to Camp. When come to the Indian trail, changed our direction to follow it. The General thought we would find something more definite in regard to the number of Indians and the whereabouts of their Camp. Followed their trail five miles but gained nothing by it and was only going farther from Camp. Even now it will be impossible to reach Camp before night overtakes us. Changed direction and set out for Camp. Several horses of the Command showed signs of giving out. One of ours had to be shot as it was impossible to drag him along. Marched until darkness set in without striking our trail. Rode along in hopes of seeing something that would give us an idea of the whereabouts of Camp. After wandering around for a couple of hours the Command halted and we realized that we were lost on the plains. The probabilities were that the farther we traveled, the farther away from Camp we would wander. To make our situation more disagreeable a cold rain commenced to fall. …

So dark did it become that I could not see the man riding by my side who was within two feet of me all the time. About this time several shots were fired in quick succession in rear of the Command. We halted at once, when Captain Bankhead, “M” Troop, dashed up and reported to the General that a number of the men of the Command were back with played-out horses, and he thought it was them firing to find out where the Command was. The General ordered several shots to be fired in the air, and sent some men back with orders to shoot what horses had given out, and for the men dismounted to join their respective troops. Another of our troop came walking up showing that he had left his horse to bleach on the plain.

When all the men caught up with the Command, we moved forward only to become more confused. In this way we continued to wander until near midnight, when the General becoming satisfied that it was impossible to find our Camp, halted the Command and gave orders to unsaddle our horses. Wrapping up in our saddle blankets, half the Command turned in to sleep, while the other half held the horses. “My bunky” and I drew lots for choice of the guard. I won and took first watch. …

At the first dawn of day all were up and in the saddle. After an hour’s ride we came in sight of Camp. We had marched beyond it during the night. If there ever was a lot of happy men it was us. After eating a big breakfast, we all turned in to sleep, for both men and horses are badly in need of rest. During the day and night we marched fully fifty-five miles.

September 7th, 1872 —Have just woke up from my sleep and feel very well considering everything. The rain continues to fall. … Some of the men are still sleeping although their blankets are wringing wet. I imagine that I feel the effects of this exposure in my bones, but suppose it will soon pass away.

Sunday, September 8th, 1872 —I was awake and moving around earlier than usual this morning and am feeling splendid. This morning completes “three years” of my bondage in the service of the United States. Only two years yet remain and when that time rolls around and I receive my freedom papers, my happiness will only require one thing more to be complete and that is to be home with you. …

Sept. llth, 12th, and 13th, 1872 —Marched respectively twenty-seven, eighteen and fifteen miles. Nothing of interest occuring. Only one day’s ride yet to Fort Bascom.

September 14th, 1872 —Broke Camp at 8 A.M. Have only fourteen miles to make before reaching Bascom. As mile after mile was traveled, you could see the men cheer up, while an animated conversation was carried on until we rode up to the post. When the Command went into Camp the .mail was distributed to the men. How anxiously I waited for my share but instead of receiving a letter, I was sent out on picket. Never in all my life did I feel so sad and disappointed.… I had anticipated spending a happy day perusing your letters, but alas, what a disappointment. There is no use trying to describe my feelings as I rode out to the picket station.… I arrived at the station and seated on my horse, I gave way to my feelings. Could not control them any longer. And although I am a man in years, I am not ashamed to cry on such an occasion. A half hour passed in this way when I saw one of our troop approaching (the young man with me on the buffalo hunt, spoken of in another part of this diary), he had both hands full of something, but I could not tell what the something was. He soon reached me and said, “Here, Ed, is a lot of mail for you. I thought you would like to have it as soon as possible, so I brought it out.” My heart was too full to thank him for his kindness, but instead I broke open your letters, devouring the contents like one that had been starved and then set before a repast. …

Little more remains to be said. The Scout as a “failure” was a decided “success.” We accomplished nothing, and the cost of the expedition will greatly add to the “National Debt. ” But this will only be a few more dollars added to the overburdened taxpayers of the country.

And now “loved ones” if you can derive any pleasure from the perusal of these pages, I shall feel happy. …

Affectionately, Eddie