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.
During the year of 1885, the Nez Perce Indians were returned from the Indian Territory to their old haunts in Idaho. There were rumors of threats of violence toward them by the white settlers for murders committed during the uprising of 1877. After arriving in the Department of the Columbia, the Indians were divided into two groups. Troop G, Lieutenant Lewis commanding, conducted one group to the Lapwai Reservation in Idaho, where they were soon absorbed among their friends and relatives. The other party, which included Chief Joseph, was escorted by Troop L, under Lieutenant Carleton, from Spokane Falls, Washington, to the Colville Reservation in Idaho. It was this troop which fought these Indians so valiantly at Camas Meadows, and now eight years later was protecting them against threats from the whites.
Lieutenant Henry T. Allen, Second Cavalry, left Vancouver Barracks, Washington, January 27, 1885, on an exploration to the unknown regions of Alaska. He was accompanied by Sergeant Cady Robertson, Troop E, and Private Fickett, Signal Corps. From Sitka they traveled to Nuchek and thence ascended the Copper River by canoes. Lieutenant Allen’s explorations in this region did much to increase the meager knowledge which existed concerning it at that time.
Troops A and K suddenly received orders in December, 1885, to depart for Arizona to assist in the pursuit of the Apache Indians. Although not with the expedition under Captain Lawton and Assistant Surgeon Leonard Wood, which finally brought about the surrender of Geronimo and his elusive band, the two troops of the Second Cavalry did valiant service in chasing the Indians to their lairs. The following are quotations from the Regimental Returns indicating the type of service at this time:
May 1886. Troop A. Remained in camp at Cochise Stronghold, Arizona, scouting the country for hostile Indians until May 18, when the troop left camp en route for Middle Pass, Dragoon Mountains, in search of Indians said to have killed one man near the pass. The troop found the trail of the Indians where the man was killed and followed it as far as High Creek, sixty-six miles, when it was relieved by Troop M, Fourth Cavalry.
Troop K. In the field employed during the month in scouting the Whetstone, Catalina, Arizona, Santa Rita, and Patagonia Mountains. Also, in Sonora, Mexico, in pursuit of hostile Indians. Marched 398 miles during the month.
After Geronimo was captured, the two troops returned to the Presidio of San Francisco, October 16, 1886. During this same year Troop M was moved from Fort Klamath, Oregon, to Fort Bidwell, California, where it arrived October 27. Troop L was transferred from Fort Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, to Fort Sherman, Idaho, in April 1887. During the fall of 1888, Troops G and M exchanged stations, G going to Fort Bidwell, California, and M to Fort Walla Walla, Washington.