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.
Lieutenant Arthur D. Tree was sent out from Fort Belknap, Texas, with twenty men of Company B, on March 8, 1854, in pursuit of a small band of Kickapoos guilty of murdering the Indian Agent and a friend near that post. Lieutenant Tree followed the trail into New Mexico and finally got information of the culprits near Fort Arbuckle, where they were punished. The detachment returned to Fort Belknap March 28 after a march of 360 miles.
A tragic affair took place between Company H, under Lieutenant David Bell, and White Wolf with his band of Apaches on the Cangillon River about seventy miles east of Fort Union, New Mexico. These Indians were guilty of murdering an entire white family in a most brutal manner. When Lieutenant Bell finally overhauled the Indians March 5, 1854, he found they wished to parley. The two parties were drawn up opposite each other about twenty paces apart, the Indians on foot and the dragoons mounted. By actual count it was found that there were twenty-two well-armed savages in line and exactly that many soldiers after a few men had been detached to guard the packs. Bell was an excellent horseman and buffalo hunter, being known to have killed five buffalos in a quarter of a mile. White Wolf and Bell rode out in front of the two lines and held a long, tedious conference. Finally, the chief kneeled and aimed his rifle at the officer. As the latter threw his body forward and reined in his horse, each fired. Immediately both lines fired and at the same time the dragoons rode forward over their adversaries. They turned about and rode through a second and third time but by now the Indians were escaping in a steep ravine, forcing the horsemen to pull up at the edge. Two of the men were killed at once and four severely wounded. Fifteen of the Indians were killed or wounded, including White Wolf, whom Lieutenant Bell wounded several times and finally the soldiers killed.
Discovering another band of Apaches arriving to reinforce those in the ravine, and being encumbered by the wounded, Bell decided to send to Fort Union for help. First Sergeant Lawless, a fine rider and woodsman, was selected to deliver the message to Lieutenant Colonel Cooke. He left camp at 2:00 p.m. and, after traveling over much rough and unknown terrain, arrived at the post at 10:00 p.m., a distance of seventy miles. The Indians having drawn off, Lieutenant Bell started back and met the relieving party about forty miles from the fort.