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.
An extensive expedition into the cypress swamp was begun in November 1841, under Captain Belknap, Eighth Infantry, of which Companies F and K, Second Dragoons, under Captains Thornton and Ker, were a part. Depots were established on the border of the swamp and mules were used to carry the kitchen utensils and rations. In addition the men carried blankets and food for seven days. The Indians were driven out of this area, and a few captured or killed. After two months campaigning in mud and water, the detachment finally brought their wanderings to a close on February 8, 1842. Although few Indians were found, the results were that towns and fields were destroyed and the savages forced to break up into small bands and flee for safety.
Information was received that the Indians were concentrating in the vicinity of the Wahoo Swamp in southern Florida. Scouting parties were sent out in various directions on April 13, 1842, to comb the country. One party reported a solitary Indian track, which the guides assured them was a sign the Indians were spying on the troops. The next day the expedition moved out and camped at Abraham’s Old Town. The trail was soon struck leading to a thick hummock surrounded by water. The companies of the Second, Fourth, and Eighth Infantry charged at a rapid pace. When getting within range they discharged a volley, which was returned by the savages with a war whoop. Colonel Worth, with Company K, Second Dragoons under Captain Ker, assailed them from the rear in order to cut off their retreat. The savages were thrown into confusion upon finding their departure hindered by the dragoons. They soon gave up the fight, and in order to effect an escape, broke up into small parties and slipped away. They abandoned large quantities of supplies, consisting of dried deer meat, dressed skins, axes, kettles, and clothing. The Indians followed the rule that neither dead nor wounded should fall into the hands of the soldiers. Company K lost one man killed and three wounded. In this engagement Captain Ker, Second Dragoons, was complimented by Colonel Worth for his fine support and example in the presence of the enemy. He was also mentioned by General Scott, Commander-in-Chief of the Army, in his annual report.
Most of the Indians had now been killed or deported to Arkansas. There remained a few small bands in the most remote fastnesses of the swamps who were no longer strong enough to be considered as opponents. President Tyler, therefore, recommended to Congress on May 11, 1842, that hostilities cease in Florida. As a result of this action the remaining companies of the Second Dragoons, B, C, F, H, and K, were ordered to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on May 29. After a leisurely march, the companies, except K, arrived at that city July 25. During August, Companies C, F, and H, moved on to Fort Jesup, Louisiana, for permanent station. Company K left Fort Jackson, Florida, September 13, and arrived at Baton Rouge on October 23, where it took station with Company B.