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.
For the purpose of improving the instruction and raising the moral of the Florida troops, the War Department issued G.O. No. 28, May 20, 1839, permitting such units as could be spared to be sent to camps in the north. At the same time it was decided to start recruiting the Second Dragoons to full strength. Regimental headquarters and band moved to Fort McHenry, Md., in May and there started recruiting. In compliance with G.O. No. 5, W.D., May 19, 1839, and S.O. No. 37, W.D., June 1, 1839, Companies A, E, G, H, I, and K marched to Garey’s Ferry, east Florida, in the early part of June, turned over their horses, and sailed for Fort Columbus, N.Y., all arriving by the end of the month. A few men from these companies remained in Florida.
In the summer of 1839 another council was called with the Indians, the commissioner this time being General Macomb. The Seminoles agreed to remain within certain limits as usual, but insisted upon a trading house being established in their area at Charlotte’s Harbor, on the Caloosahatchie. Lieutenant Colonel Harney, Second Dragoons, was detailed to see that this store was established. He had applied for two companies as a guard at the store but had been refused, and instead twenty-eight men from companies A, C, D, E, and F of the regiment, under Sergeant Bigelow, Company E, were detailed. The Indians were allowed the freedom of the place, as they seemed quite friendly. As he was necessarily absent from the place much of the time, Lieutenant Colonel Harney was not directly in charge of the guard. The soldiers relaxed their vigilance, and at daylight July 22, 1839, the savages rushed into the unguarded camp, taking the troops completely by surprise. No breastworks or stockade had been thrown up, and the soldiers were sleeping in open tents. In a few minutes the Indians massacred thirteen and captured four. The remainder, including Lieutenant Colonel Harney, escaped. Some of these were wounded and all scattered and wandered about in the woods for several days until rescued. The colonel managed to find a small boat and with one of the soldiers escaped down the river. Soon finding some more men with rifles, he returned to the scene of the massacre. All was silence there, with the dead strewn about, their bodies mangled. They went back to their boats and traveled down the river, finally reaching their comrades.