FIRST ACTION AGAINST APACHES

From:
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.

us5e2cv61During 1849 the non-commissioned officers and musicians of Companies D, E, H, and K were ordered on recruiting service and the privates still remaining after the desertions to the gold country were transferred to the First Dragoons. While attached to this regiment and still under their own designation, thirty men of H Company were sent out under Brevet Major Steen, First Dragoons, on July 5, 1849, on a scout after Apache Indians who had killed several Mexicans at the Placer Mines, forty miles south of Santa Fe. On July 11 Major Steen found two of the captives who had escaped and later came upon the hostiles in the White Mountains near Dog Canyon, killing five and having three dragoons wounded. On the return march the detachment suffered much for lack of food but finally succeeded in getting relief on July 25.

The duties of the companies stationed in Texas consisted of giving protection to the settlers against the Comanches, Apaches, and other wild tribes which wandered about over this vast area. These tribes had never been punished for violent acts under the Spanish or Mexican rule. They naturally expected to continue their depredations under the American rule, and would not give up their old ways without being forced to do so. To quell these Indians the companies in Texas were stationed at the following frontier posts in January 1850:

Company A was at Fort Croghan, B at Fort Martin, C at Fort Inge, F at Fort Worth, G at Fort Lincoln, and I at Fort Graham.

During the year 1850 Company C under Captain Hardee, and G, under Captain Oakes, were especially active in campaigning against the Indians. While returning from an escort to Fort Duncan, a party of four Dragoons was attacked by over fifty Indians near Fort Inge early on the morning of March 3, 1850. An ambulance had been brought back with the detachment to convey a Mexican woman, the wife of a discharged soldier. The Indians were concealed near a water hole, some mounted and some dismounted. When the group stopped, the savages fired upon them, killing one man. As the mules became unmanageable the woman jumped from the ambulance and ran. The whole group finally met another escort on its way from Fort Inge. Captain Hardee immediately took up the trail as soon as the incident was reported and followed it to the Rio Grande. Here he made a raft to assist in crossing, as the water was high, but never succeeded in doing so. Later he reported the incident of the attack to the Mexican authorities at Presidio, who continued the pursuit.

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