I remained at Fort Sedgwick during the winter, and early the following spring I returned to Fort McPherson, under orders to report to Major-General Emory of the Fifth Cavalry, who had been appointed commander of the District of the Republican, with headquarters at that post. As the command had been almost continuously in the field, it was generally thought that we were to have a long rest. During the fall of 1869 there were two or three scouting expeditions sent out, but nothing of very great importance was accomplished by them. There was plenty of game in the vicinity, and within a day's ride there were large herds of deer, antelope, and elk, which I spent a great deal of time in hunting.

Early one morning in the spring of 1870 the Indians, who had approached the post during the night, stole twenty-one head of horses from a government contractor. They also ran off some of the government animals, and among the number my pony, Powder Face. Company I of the Fifth Cavalry was immediately ordered out after the savages, and I was directed to accompany them as trailer. We discovered their tracks after some difficulty, as the Indians were constantly trying to hide them, and we followed them sixty miles, when darkness set in.

We were within about four miles of Red Willow Creek, and I felt confident the Indians would camp that night in the vicinity. Advising the commanding officer to halt his company and "lay low," I proceeded on to the creek, where, moving around cautiously, I suddenly discovered horses feeding in a bend of the stream on the opposite side. I hurried back to the troops with the information, and Lieutenant Thomas moved his company to the bank of the creek, with the intention of remaining there until daylight, and then, if possible, surprise the Indians.

Just at break of day we mounted our horses, and after riding a short distance we ascended a slight elevation, when, not over one hundred yards distant, we looked down into the Indian camp. The Indians, preparing to make an early start, had driven up their horses and were in the act of mounting, when they saw us charging down upon them. In a moment they sprang upon their ponies and dashed away. Had it not been for the creek, which lay between us and them, we would have got them before they could have mounted their horses; but as it was rather miry, we were unexpectedly delayed. The Indians fired some shots at us while we were crossing, but as soon as we got over we went for them in hot pursuit. A few of the redskins, not having time to mount, had started on foot toward the brush. One of these was killed.

A number of our soldiers, who had been detailed before the charge to gather up any of the Indian horses that might be stampeded, succeeded in capturing thirty-two. I hurriedly looked over them to see if Powder Face was there, but he was not. Starting in pursuit of the fugitives I finally espied an Indian mounted on my favourite, dashing away and leading all the others. We continued the chase for two or three miles, overtaking a couple of Indians who were mounted on one horse. Coming up behind them I fired my rifle, when they were about thirty feet away; the ball passed through the backs of both, and they fell head-long to the ground; but I made no stop, however, just then, for I had my eye on the savage who was riding Powder Face. It seemed to be fun for him to run away from us, and run away he did, for the last I saw of him he was going over a divide about three miles away. I bade him adieu. On my way back to the Indian camp I stopped and secured the war-bonnets and accoutrements of the pair I had killed, and at the same time gently raised their hair.

We were feeling rather tired and hungry as we had started out on the trail thirty-six hours before without breakfast and taking no rations with us; but there was no murmur of complaint. In the abandoned camp, however, we had sufficient dried buffalo meat to give us all a meal, and, after remaining there for two hours to rest our animals, we commenced our return trip to Fort McPherson, where we arrived at night, having travelled one hundred and thirty miles in two days.

This being the first fight Lieutenant Thomas had ever commanded in, he felt highly elated over his success, and hoped that his name would be mentioned in the special orders for gallantry; sure enough, when we returned both he, myself, and the whole command received complimentary mention in a special order. This he certainly deserved, for he was a brave, energetic, dashing little officer. The war-bonnets which I had captured I turned over to General Carr, with the request that he present them to General Augur, whose daughters were visiting at the post at the time.

Shortly after this another expedition was organized at Fort McPherson for the Republican River country. It was commanded by General Duncan, who was a jolly, blustering old fellow, and the officers who knew him well said that we would have a good time, as he was very fond of hunting. He was a good fighter, and one of the officers said that an Indian bullet never could hurt him, as he had been shot in the head with a cannon-ball which had not injured him in the least, but had glanced off and killed one of the toughest mules in the army.

The Pawnee scouts, who had been mustered out of service during the winter of 1869-1870, we reorganized to accompany this expedition. I was glad of this, as I had become quite attached to one of the officers, Major North, and to many of the Indians. The only white scout we had at the post, besides myself, at that time, was John Y. Nelson, whose Indian name was Sha-Cha-Cha-Opoyeo,[67] which interpreted means Red Willow fill the Pipe. This man is a character in his way; he has a Sioux squaw for a wife, and consequently a half-breed family.

We started out from the post with the regimental band playing the lively air of "The Girl I left behind Me." We made but a short march that day, and camped at night at the head of Fox Creek. Next morning General Duncan sent me word by his orderly that I was to bring up my gun and shoot at a mark with him; but I can assure the reader that I did not feel much like shooting anything except myself, for on the previous night I had returned to Fort McPherson and spent several hours in interviewing the sutler's store in company with Major Brown. I looked around for my gun, and found that I had left it behind. The last that I could remember about it was that I had it at the sutler's store. I informed Major Brown of my loss, who said that I was a nice scout to start out without a gun. I replied that that was not the worst of it, as General Duncan had sent for me to shoot a match with him, and I did not know what to do; for if the old gentleman discovered my predicament, he would very likely severely reprimand me.

"Well, Cody," said he, "the best you can do is to make some excuse, and then go and borrow a gun from some of the men, and tell the general you lent yours to some man to go hunting with to-day. While we are waiting here, I will send back to the post and get your rifle for you." I succeeded in obtaining a gun from John Nelson, and then, marching up to the general's headquarters, I shot the desired match, which resulted in his favour.

This was the first scout the Pawnees had been on under the command of General Duncan, and in stationing his guards around the camp, he posted them in a manner entirely different from General Carr and Colonel Royall, as he insisted that the different posts should call out the hour of the night thus: -

"Post No. 1, nine o'clock, all is well!" etc.

The Pawnees, who had their regular turns at standing upon guard, were ordered to call the hour the same as the white soldiers. This was very difficult for them to do, as there were but few of them who could express themselves in English. Major North explained to them that when the man on post next to them should call out the hour, they must call it also, copying him as nearly as possible. It was very amusing to hear them do this. They would try to remember what the other man had said on the post next to them. For instance, a white soldier would call out, "Post No. 1, half-past nine o'clock, all is well!" The Indian standing next to him knew that he was bound to say something in English, and he would sing out something like the following: -

"Poss number half-pass five cents - go to - - ! I don't care!" This system was really so ridiculous and amusing that the general had to give it up, and the order was accordingly countermanded.

Nothing of any great interest occurred on this march, until one day, while proceeding up Prairie Dog Creek, Major North and myself went out in advance of the command several miles and killed a number of buffaloes. Night was approaching, and I began to look around for a suitable camping-ground for the command. Major North dismounted from his horse and was resting, while I rode down the stream to see if there was plenty of grass in the vicinity. I found an excellent camping-spot, and, returning to Major North, told him that I would ride over the hill a little way, so that the advance guard could see me. This I did; and when the advance came in sight, I dismounted and lay down upon the grass to rest.

Suddenly I heard three or four shots, and in a few moments Major North came dashing up toward me, pursued by eight or ten Indians. I instantly sprang into my saddle, and fired a few shots at the Indians, who by this time had all come in sight, to the number of fifty. We turned our horses and ran, the bullets flying after us thick and fast, my whip being shot from my hand and daylight being put through the crown of my hat. We were in close quarters, when suddenly Lieutenant Volkmar came galloping up to our relief with several soldiers; and the Indians, seeing them, whirled and retreated. As soon as Major North got in sight of his Pawnees he began riding in a circle. This was a sign to them that there were hostile Indians in front; and in a moment the Pawnees broke ranks pell-mell, and, with Major North at their head, started for the flying warriors. The rest of the command pushed forward, also, and chased the enemy for three or four miles, killing three of them.

But this was a wrong move on our part, as their village was on Prairie Dog Creek, while they led us in a different direction; one Indian only kept straight on up the creek - a messenger to the village. Some of the command, who had followed him, stirred up the village and accelerated its departure. We finally got back to the main force, and then learned that we had made a great mistake. Now commenced another stern chase.

The second day that we had been following these Indians we came upon an old squaw, whom they had left on the prairie to die. Her people had built for her a little shade or lodge, and had given her some provisions, sufficient to last her on her trip to the happy hunting-grounds. This the Indians often do when pursued by an enemy and one of their number becomes too old to travel any longer. This squaw was recognized by John Nelson, who said she was a relative of his wife. From her we learned that the flying Indians were known as Pawnee-Killer's band, and that they had lately killed Buck's surveying party, consisting of eight or nine men, the massacre having occurred a few days before on Beaver Creek. We knew that they had had a fight with the surveyors, as we found quite a number of surveying instruments, which had been left in the abandoned camp. We drove these Indians across the Platte River and then returned to Fort McPherson, bringing the old squaw with us; from there she was sent to the Spotted Tail agency.

Fort McPherson was in the centre of a fine game country, in which buffalo were particularly plentiful, and though fairly surrounded by hostile Indians, it offered so many attractions for sportsmen that several hunting-parties braved the dangers for the pleasures of buffalo-chasing. In September, 1871, General Sheridan brought a number of friends out to the post for a grand hunt, coming by way of North Platte in a special car, and thence by government wagons to the fort, which was only eighteen miles from that station.

Soon after the departure of General Sheridan's party, General Carr started out on a twenty days' scout, not so much for the purpose of fighting Indians, but more for the object of taking some friends on a hunt. His guests were a couple of Englishmen - whose names I cannot now remember - and Mr. McCarthy of New York, who was a relative of General Emory. The command consisted of three companies of the Fifth Cavalry, one company of Pawnee Indians, and twenty-five wagons. Of course I was called on to accompany the expedition.

One day, after we had been out from the post for some little time, I was hunting on Deer Creek, in company with Mr. McCarthy, about eight miles from the command. I had been wishing for several days to play a joke on him, and had arranged a plan with Captain Lute North to carry it into execution. I had informed North at about what time we would be on Deer Creek, and it was agreed that he should appear in the vicinity with some of his Pawnees, who were to throw their blankets around them, and come dashing down upon us, firing and whooping in true Indian style, while he was either to conceal or disguise himself. This programme was faithfully and completely carried out. I had been talking about Indians to McCarthy, and he had become considerably excited, when just as we turned a bend of the creek, we saw not half a mile from us about twenty Indians, who instantly started for us on a gallop, firing their guns and yelling at the top of their voices.

"McCarthy, shall we dismount and fight, or run?" said I.

He didn't wait to reply, but, wheeling his horse, started at full speed down the creek, losing his hat and dropping his gun; away he went, never once looking back to see if he was being pursued. I tried to stop him by yelling at him and saying that it was all right, as the Indians were Pawnees. Unfortunately he did not hear me, but kept straight on, not stopping his horse until he reached the camp.

I knew that he would tell General Carr that the Indians had jumped him, and that the general would soon start out with the troops. So as soon as the Pawnees rode up to me I told them to remain there while I went after my friend. I rode after him as fast as possible, but he had arrived at the command some time before me; and when I got there the general had, as I had suspected he would do, ordered out two companies of cavalry to go in pursuit of the Indians. I told the general that the Indians were only some Pawnees, who had been out hunting and that they had merely played a joke upon us. I forgot to inform him that I had put up the trick, but as he was always fond of a good joke himself, he did not get very angry. I had picked up McCarthy's hat and gun, which I returned to him, and it was some time before he discovered who was at the bottom of the affair.

A short time after this, the Fifth Cavalry was ordered to Arizona, a not very desirable country to soldier in. I had become greatly attached to the officers of the regiment, having been with them continually for over three years, and had about made up my mind to accompany them, when a letter was received from General Sheridan instructing the commanding officer "not to take Cody with him," and saying that I was to remain in my old position. In a few days the command left for its destination, taking the cars at McPherson Station, where I bade my old friends adieu. During the next few weeks I had but little to do, as the post was garrisoned by infantry, awaiting the arrival of the Third Cavalry, commanded by General Reynolds. They had been on duty for some time in Arizona, where they had acquired quite a reputation on account of their Indian fighting qualities. Shortly after their arrival a small party of Indians made a dash on McPherson Station, about five miles from the fort, killing two or three men and running off quite a large number of horses. Captain Meinhold and Lieutenant Lawson with their company were ordered out to pursue and punish the Indians if possible. I was the guide of the expedition, and had an assistant, T. B. Omohundro, better known as "Texas Jack," and who was a scout at the post.

Finding the trail I followed it for two days, although it was difficult trailing because the redskins had taken every possible precaution to conceal their tracks. On the second day Captain Meinhold went into camp on the South Fork of the Loupe, at a point where the trail was badly scattered. Six men were detailed to accompany me on a scout in search of the camp of fugitives. We had gone but a short distance when we discovered Indians camped, not more than a mile away, with horses grazing near by. They were only a small party, and I determined to charge upon them with my six men, rather than return to the command, because I feared they would see us as we went back, and then they would get away from us entirely. I asked the men if they were willing to attempt it, and they replied that they would follow me wherever I would lead them. That was the kind of spirit that pleased me; and we immediately moved forward on the enemy, getting as close to them as possible without being seen.

I finally gave the signal to charge, and we dashed into the little camp with a yell. Five Indians sprang out of a willow teepee, and greeted us with a volley, and we returned the fire. I was riding Buckskin Joe, who with a few jumps brought me up to the teepee, followed by my men. We nearly ran over the Indians, who were endeavouring to reach their horses on the opposite side of the creek. Just as one was jumping the narrow stream a bullet from my old "Lucretia" overtook him. He never reached the other bank, but dropped dead in the water. Those of the Indians who were guarding the horses, seeing what was going on at the camp, came rushing to the rescue of their friends. I now counted thirteen braves, but as we had already disposed of two, we had only eleven to take care of. The odds were nearly two to one against us.

While the Indian re-enforcements were approaching the camp I jumped the creek with Buckskin Joe, to meet them, expecting our party would follow me; but as they could not induce their horses to make the leap, I was the only one who got over. I ordered the sergeant to dismount his men, leaving one to hold the horses, and come over with the rest and help me drive the Indians off. Before they could do this, two mounted warriors closed in on me and were shooting at short range. I returned their fire and had the satisfaction of seeing one of them fall from his horse. At this moment I felt blood trickling down my forehead, and hastily running my hand through my hair I discovered that I had received a scalp-wound. The Indian who had shot me was not more than ten yards away, and when he saw his partner tumble from his saddle he turned to run.

By this time the soldiers had crossed the creek to assist me, and were blazing away at the other Indians. Urging Buckskin Joe forward, I was soon alongside of the chap who had wounded me, when, raising myself in the stirrups, I shot him through the head.

The reports of our guns had been heard by Captain Meinhold, who at once started with his company up the creek to our aid, and when the remaining Indians, whom we were still fighting, saw these re-enforcements coming, they whirled their horses and fled; as their steeds were quite fresh they made their escape. However, we killed six out of the thirteen Indians, and captured most of their stolen stock. Our loss was one man killed, and another - myself - slightly wounded. One of our horses was killed, and Buckskin Joe was wounded, but I didn't discover the fact until some time afterward, as he had been shot in the breast and showed no signs of having received a scratch of any kind. Securing the scalps of the dead Indians and other trophies we returned to the fort.

I made several other scouts during the summer with different officers of the Third Cavalry, one being with Major Aleck Moore, a good officer, with whom I was out for thirty days. Another long one was with Major Curtis, with whom I followed some Indians from the South Platte River to Fort Randall on the Missouri River, in Dakota, on which trip the command ran out of rations and for fifteen days subsisted entirely upon the game we killed.

In 1876 the great Sioux war was inaugurated. Colonel Mills had written me several letters saying that General Crook was anxious for me to accompany his command, and I promised to do so, intending to overtake him in the Powder River country. But when I arrived at Chicago, on my way West, I learned that my old regiment, the gallant Fifth Cavalry, was on its way back from Arizona to join General Crook, and that my old commander, General Carr, was in command. He had written to military headquarters at Chicago to learn my whereabouts, as he wished to secure me as his guide and chief of scouts. I then gave up the idea of overtaking General Crook, and hastened on to Cheyenne, where the Fifth Cavalry had already arrived. I was met at the depot by Lieutenant King, adjutant of the regiment, who had been sent down from Fort D. A. Russell for that purpose by General Carr, who had learned by a telegram from military headquarters at Chicago that I was on the way. I accompanied the lieutenant on horseback to the camp, and as we rode, one of the boys shouted, "Here's Buffalo Bill!" Soon after there came three hearty cheers from the regiment. Officers and men were all glad to see me, and I was equally delighted to meet them once more. The general at once appointed me his guide and chief of scouts.

The next morning the command pulled out for Fort Laramie, and on reaching the post we found General Sheridan there, accompanied by General Frye and General Forsythe, en route to Red Cloud agency. As the command was to remain here a few days, I accompanied General Sheridan to Red Cloud and back, taking a company of cavalry as escort.

The Indians having committed a great many depredations on the Union Pacific Railroad, destroying telegraph lines, and also on the Black Hills road, running off stock, the Fifth Cavalry was sent out to scout the country between the Indian agencies and the hills. The command operated on the South Fork of the Cheyenne and at the foot of the Black Hills for about two weeks, having several engagements with roving bands of Indians during the time. General Wesley Merritt - who had at that time but lately received his promotion to the colonelcy of the Fifth Cavalry - now came out and took control of the regiment. I was sorry that the command was taken from General Carr, because under him it had made its fighting reputation. However, upon becoming acquainted with General Merritt, I found him to be an excellent officer.

The regiment, by continued scouting, soon drove the Indians out of that section of the country, as we supposed, and we had started on our way back to Fort Laramie, when a scout arrived at the camp, and reported the massacre of General Custer and his band of heroes on the Little Big Horn, on the 25th of June, 1876. He also brought orders to General Merritt to proceed at once to Fort Fetterman and join General Crook in the Big Horn country.

The extraordinary and sorrowful interest attaching to the destruction of Custer and his brave followers prompts me to give a brief description of the causes leading thereto, and some of the details of that horrible sacrifice which so melts the heart to pity.

When the Black Hills gold fever first broke out in 1874, a rush of miners into that country resulted in much trouble, as the Indians always regarded the region with jealous interest, and resisted all encroachments of white men. Instead of the government adhering to the treaty of 1868 and restraining white men from going into the Hills, General Custer was sent out, in 1874, to intimidate the Sioux. The unrighteous spirit of this order the general wisely disregarded, but proceeded to Prospect Valley, and from there he pushed into the Valley of the Little Missouri. Custer expected to find good grazing ground in this valley, suitable for a camp which he intended to pitch there for several days, and reconnoitre. The country, however, was comparatively barren, and the march was therefore continued to the Belle Fourche Valley, where excellent grazing, water, and plenty of wood was found.

Crossing the Fourche the regiment was now among the outlying ranges of the Hills, where a camp was made and some reconnoitring done; but, finding no Indians, General Custer continued his march, skirting the Black Hills and passing through a country which he described as beautiful beyond description, abounding with a most luxurious vegetation, cool crystal streams, a profusion of bright, sweet-smelling flowers, and plenty of game.

Proceeding down this lovely valley, which he appropriately named Floral Park, an Indian camp-fire, recently abandoned, was discovered, and fearing a collision unless pains were taken to prevent it, Custer halted and sent out his chief scout, Bloody Knife, with twenty friendly Indian allies, to trail the departed Sioux. They had gone but a short distance when, as Custer himself relates, Two of Bloody Knife's young men came galloping back and informed me that they had discovered five Indian lodges a few miles down the valley, and that Bloody Knife, as directed, had concealed his party in a wooded ravine, where they awaited further orders. Taking Company E with me, which was afterward re-enforced by the remainder of the scouts and Colonel Hart's company, I proceeded to the ravine where Bloody Knife and his party lay concealed, and from the crest beyond obtained a full view of the five Indian lodges, about which a considerable number of ponies were grazing. I was enabled to place my command still nearer to the lodges undiscovered. I then despatched Agard, the interpreter, with a flag of truce, accompanied by ten of our Sioux scouts, to acquaint the occupants of the lodges that we were friendly disposed and desired to communicate with them. To prevent either treachery or flight on their part, I galloped the remaining portion of my advance and surrounded the lodges. This was accomplished almost before they were aware of our presence. I then entered the little village and shook hands with its occupants, assuring them through the interpreter that they had no cause to fear, as we were not there to molest them, etc.

Finding there was no disposition on the part of General Custer to harm them, the Indians despatched a courier to their principal village, requesting the warriors to be present at a council with the whites. This council was held on the following day, but though Custer dispensed coffee, sugar, bacon, and other presents to the Indians, his advice to them regarding the occupation of their country by miners was treated with indifference, for which, he observes in his official report, "I cannot blame the poor savages."

During the summer of 1875 General Crook made several trips into the Black Hills to drive out the miners and maintain the government's faith, but while he made many arrests there was no punishment, and the whole proceeding became farcical. In August of the same year Custer City was laid out, and two weeks later it contained a population of six hundred souls. These General Crook drove out, but as he marched from the place others swarmed in and the population was immediately renewed.

It was this inability, or real indisposition, of the government to enforce the terms of the treaty of 1868, that led to the bitter war with Sitting Bull, and which terminated so disastrously on the 25th of June, 1876.

It is a notorious fact that the Sioux Indians, for four years immediately preceding the Custer massacre, were regularly supplied with the most improved fire-arms and ammunition by the agencies at Brule, Grand River, Standing Rock, Port Berthold, Cheyenne, and Fort Peck. Even during the campaign of 1876, in the months of May, June, and July, just before and after Custer and his band of heroes rode down into the valley of death, these fighting Indians received eleven hundred and twenty Remington and Winchester rifles and four hundred and thirteen thousand rounds of patent ammunition, besides large quantities of loose powder, lead, and primers, while during the summer of 1875 they received several thousand stands of arms and more than a million rounds of ammunition. With this generous provision there is no cause for wonder that the Sioux were able to resist the government and attract to their aid all the dissatisfied Cheyennes and other Indians in the Northwest.

Besides a perfect fighting equipment, all the Indians recognized in Sitting Bull the elements of a great warrior, one whose superior, perhaps, has never been known among the tribe; he combined all the strategic cunning of Tecumseh with the cruel, uncompromising hatred of Black Kettle, while his leadership was far superior to both. Having decided to precipitate a terrible war, he chose his position with consummate judgment, selecting a central vantage point surrounded by what is known as the "Bad Lands," and then kept his supply source open by an assumed friendship with the Canadian French. This he was the better able to accomplish, since some years before he had professed conversion to Christianity under the preaching of Father Desmet and maintained a show of friendship for the Canadians.

War against the Sioux having been brought about by the combined Black Hill outrages and Sitting Bull's threatening attitude, it was decided to send out three separate expeditions, one of which should move from the north, under General Terry, from Fort Lincoln; another from the east, under General Gibbon, from Fort Ellis, and another from the south, under General Crook, from Fort Fetterman; these movements were to be simultaneous, and a junction was expected to be formed near the headwaters of the Yellowstone River.

For some cause, which I will refrain from discussing, the commands did not start at the same time. General Crook did not leave Fetterman until March 1, with seven hundred men and forty days' supply. The command was entrusted to Colonel Reynolds of the Third Cavalry, accompanied by General Crook, the department commander. Nothing was heard from this expedition until the 22d following, when General Crook forwarded from Fort Reno a brief account of his battle on Powder River. The result of this fight, which lasted five hours, was the destruction of Crazy Horse's village of one hundred and five lodges; or that is the way the despatch read, though many assert that the battle resulted in little else than a series of remarkable blunders which suffered the Indians to make good their escape, losing only a small quantity of their property.

One serious trouble rose out of the Powder River fight, which was found in an assertion made by General Crook, or at least attributed to him, that his expedition had proved that instead of being fifteen or twenty thousand hostile Indians in the Black Hills and Big Horn country, the total number would not exceed two thousand. It was upon this estimation that the expeditions were prepared.

The Terry column, which was commanded by General Custer, consisted of twelve companies of the Seventh Cavalry, and three companies of the Sixth and Seventeenth Infantry, with four Gatling guns, and a detachment of Indian scouts. This force comprised twenty-eight officers and seven hundred and forty-seven men of the Seventh Cavalry, eight officers and one hundred and thirty-five men of the Sixth and Seventeenth Infantry, two officers and thirty-two men in charge of the Gatling battery, and forty-five enlisted Indian scouts, a grand total of thirty-eight officers and nine hundred and fifty-nine men, including scouts.

The combined forces of Crook, Gibbon, Terry, and Custer did not exceed twenty-seven hundred men, while opposed to them were fully seventeen thousand Indians, all of whom were provided with the latest and most improved patterns of repeating rifles.

On the 16th of June General Crook started for the Rosebud, on which stream it was reported that Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse were stationed; about the same time a party of Crow Indians who were operating with General Crook returned from a scout and reported that General Gibbon, who was on Tongue River, had been attacked by Sitting Bull, who had captured several horses. Crook pushed on rapidly toward the Rosebud, leaving his train behind and mounting his infantry on mules. What were deemed accurate reports stated that Sitting Bull was still on the Rosebud, only sixty miles from the point where General Crook camped on the night of the 15th of June. The command travelled forty miles on the 16th, and when within twenty miles of the Sioux' principal position, instead of pushing on, General Crook went into camp.

The next morning he was much surprised to find himself attacked by Sitting Bull, who swooped down upon him with the first streaks of coming dawn, and a heavy battle followed. General Crook, who had camped in a basin surrounded on all sides by high hills, soon found his position so dangerous that it must be changed at all hazards. The advance was at once with Noyes' battalion occupying a position on the right, Mills on the right centre, Chambers in the centre, and the Indian allies on the left. Mills and Noyes charged the enemy in magnificent style, breaking the line and striking the rear. The fight continued hot and furious until two o'clock in the afternoon, when a gallant charge of Colonel Royall, who was in reserve, supported by the Indian allies, caused the Sioux to draw off to their village, six miles distant, while General Crook went into camp, where he remained inactive for two days.

In the meantime, as the official report recites: "Generals Terry and Gibbon communicated with each other June 1, near the junction of the Tongue and Yellowstone rivers, and learned that a heavy force of Indians had concentrated on the opposite bank of the Yellowstone, but eighteen miles distant. For fourteen days the Indian pickets had confronted Gibbon's videttes."

General Gibbon reported to General Terry that the cavalry had thoroughly scouted the Yellowstone as far as the mouth of the Big Horn, and no Indians had crossed it. It was now certain that they were not prepared for them, and on the Powder, Tongue, Rosebud, Little Big Horn, and Big Horn rivers, General Terry at once commenced feeling for them. Major Reno of the Seventh Cavalry, with six companies of that regiment, was sent up Powder River one hundred and fifty miles, to the mouth of Little Powder River, to look for the Indians, and if possible to communicate with General Crook. He reached the mouth of the Little Powder in five days, but saw no Indians, and could hear nothing of Crook. As he returned, he found on the Rosebud a very large Indian trail about nine days old, and followed it a short distance, when he turned about up Tongue River, and reported to General Terry what he had seen. It was now known that no Indians were on either Tongue or Little Powder rivers, and the net had narrowed down to Rosebud, Little Big Horn, and Big Horn rivers.

General Terry had been waiting with Custer and the steamer Far West at the mouth of Tongue River, for Reno's report, and as soon as he heard it he ordered Custer to march up the south bank to a point opposite General Gibbon, who was encamped on the north bank of the Yellowstone. Accordingly Terry, on board the steamer Far West, pushed up the Yellowstone, keeping abreast of General Custer's column.

General Gibbon was found in camp quietly awaiting developments. A consultation was had with Generals Gibbon and Custer, and then General Terry definitely fixed upon the plan of action. It was believed that the Indians were at the head of the Rosebud, or over on the Little Big Horn, a dividing ridge only fifteen miles wide and separating the two streams. It was announced by General Terry that General Custer's column would strike the blow.

At the time that a junction was formed between Gibbon and Terry, General Crook was about one hundred miles from them, while Sitting Bull's forces were between the commands. After his battle Crook fell back to the head of Tongue River. The Powder, Tongue, Rosebud, and Big Horn rivers all flow northwest, and empty into the Yellowstone; as Sitting Bull was between the headwaters of the Rosebud and Big Horn, the main tributary of the latter being known as the Little Big Horn, a sufficient knowledge of the topography of the country is thus afforded by which to definitely locate Sitting Bull and his forces.

Having now ascertained the position of the enemy, or reasoned out the probable position, General Terry sent a despatch to General Sheridan, as follows: "No Indians have been met with as yet, but traces of a large and recent camp have been discovered twenty or thirty miles up the Rosebud. Gibbon's column will move this morning on the north side of the Yellowstone, for the mouth of the Big Horn, where it will be ferried across by the supply steamer, and whence it will proceed to the mouth of the Little Big Horn, and so on. Custer will go to the Rosebud to-morrow with his whole regiment, and thence to the headwaters of the Little Big Horn, thence down that stream."

Following this report came an order, signed by E. W. Smith, Captain of the Eighteenth Infantry, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, directing General Custer to follow the Indian trail discovered, pushing the Indians from one side, while General Gibbon pursued them from an opposite direction. As no instructions were given as to the rate at which each division should travel, Custer, noted for his quick, energetic movements, made ninety miles the first three days, and, discovering the Indians in large numbers, divided his command into three divisions, one of which he placed under Major Reno, another under Major Benteen, and led the other himself.

As Custer made a detour to enter the village, Reno struck a large body of Indians, who, after retreating nearly three miles, turned on the troops and ran them pell-mell across Grassy Creek into the woods. Reno overestimated the strength of his enemies and thought he was being surrounded. Benteen came up to the support of Reno, but he too took fright and got out of his position without striking the enemy.

While Reno and Benteen were trying to keep open a way for their retreat, Custer charged on the village, first sending a courier, Trumpeter Martin, to Reno and Benteen with the following despatch: "Big village; be quick; send on the packs." This order was too plain to be misunderstood. It clearly meant that he had discovered the village, which he intended attacking at once; to hurry forward to his support and bring up the packs, ambulances, etc. But, instead of obeying orders, Reno and Benteen stood aloof, fearful lest they should endanger their position, while the brave Custer and his squad of noble horses rushed down like a terrible avalanche upon the Indian village. In a moment, fateful incident, the Indians came swarming about that heroic band until the very earth seemed to open and let loose the elements of volcanic fury, or like a riot of the fiends of Erebus, blazing with the hot sulphur of their impious dominion. Down from the hillside, up through the valleys, that dreadful torrent of Indian cruelty and massacre poured around the little squad to swallow it up with one grand swoop of fire. But Custer was there at the head, like Spartacus fighting the legions about him, tall, graceful, brave as a lion at bay, and with thunderbolts in his hands. His brave followers formed a hollow square, and met the rush and roar and fury of the demons. Bravely they breasted that battle shock, bravely stood up and faced the leaden hail, nor quailed when looking into the blazing muzzles of five thousand deadly rifles.

Brushing away the powder grimes that had settled in his face, Custer looked over the boiling sea of fury around him, peering through the smoke for some signs of Reno and Benteen, but seeing none. Still thinking of the aid which must soon come, with cheering words to his men he renewed the battle, fighting still like a Hercules and piling heaps of victims around his very feet.

Hour after hour passed, and yet no friendly sign of Reno's coming; nothing to be seen through the battle-smoke, except streaks of fire splitting through the misty clouds, blood flowing in rivulets under tramping feet, dying comrades, and Indians swarming around him, rending the air with their demoniacal "hi-yi-yip-yah! - yah-hi-yah!"

The fight continued with unabated fury until late in the afternoon; men had sunk down beside their gallant leader until there was but a handful left, only a dozen, bleeding from many wounds and hot carbines in their stiffening hands. - The day is almost done, when look! Heaven now defend him! The charm of his life is broken, for Custer has fallen; a bullet cleaves a pathway through his side, and as he falters another strikes his noble breast. Like a strong oak stricken by the lightning's bolt, shivering the mighty trunk and bending its withering branches down close to the earth, so fell Custer; but, like the reacting branches, he rises partly up again, and striking out like a fatally wounded giant he lays three more Indians dead and breaks his mighty sword on the musket of a fourth; then, with useless blade and empty pistol, falls back the victim of a dozen wounds. - He was the last to succumb to death, and died, too, with the glory of accomplished duty on his conscience and the benediction of a grateful country on his head. The place where fell these noblest of heroes is sacred ground, and though it be the Golgotha of a nation's mistakes, it is bathed with precious blood, rich with the gems of heroic inheritance.

I have avoided attaching blame to any one, using only the facts that have been furnished me to show how Custer came to attack the Sioux village and how and why he died.

When the news of the terrible massacre was learned, soldiers everywhere made a pilgrimage to the sacred place, and friendly hands reared a monument on that distant spot commemorative of the heroism of Custer and his men. They collected together all the bones and relics of the battle and piled them up in pyramidal form, where they stand in sunshine and storm, overlooking the Little Big Horn.

Soon after the news of Custer's massacre reached us, preparations were immediately made to avenge his death. The whole Cheyenne and Sioux tribes were in revolt, and a lively, if not very dangerous, campaign was inevitable.

Two days before receipt of the news of the massacre, Colonel Stanton, who was with the Fifth Cavalry, had been sent to Red Cloud agency, and on the evening of the receipt of the news of the Custer fight a scout arrived in our camp with a message from the colonel informing General Merritt that eight hundred Cheyenne warriors had that day left Red Cloud agency to join Sitting Bull's hostile forces in the Big Horn country.

Notwithstanding the instructions to proceed immediately to join General Crook by the way of Fort Fetterman, General Merritt took the responsibility of endeavouring to intercept the Cheyennes, and as the sequel shows he performed a very important service.

He selected five hundred men and horses, and in two hours we were making a forced march back to Hat, or War Bonnet Creek - the intention being to reach the main Indian trail running to the north across that creek before the Cheyennes could get there. We arrived there the next night, and at daylight the following morning, July 17, 1876, I went out on a scout, and found that the Indians had not yet crossed the creek. On my way back to the command I discovered a large party of Indians, which proved to be the Cheyennes, coming up from the south, and I hurried to the camp with this important information.

The cavalrymen quietly mounted their horses, and were ordered to remain out of sight, while General Merritt, accompanied by two or three aids and myself, went out on a tour of observation to a neighbouring hill, from the summit of which we saw that the Indians were approaching almost directly toward us. Presently fifteen or twenty of them dashed off to the west in the direction from which we had come the night before; and, upon closer observation with our field-glasses, we discovered two mounted soldiers, evidently carrying despatches for us, pushing forward on our trail.

The Indians were evidently endeavouring to intercept these two men, and General Merritt feared that they would accomplish their object. He did not think it advisable to send out any soldiers to the assistance of the couriers, for fear they would show to the Indians that there were troops in the vicinity who were waiting for them. I finally suggested that the best plan was to wait until the couriers came closer to the command, and then, just as the Indians were about to make a charge, to let me take the scouts and cut them off from the main body of the Cheyennes, who were coming over the divide.

"All right, Cody," said the general, "if you can do that, go ahead."

I rushed back to the command, jumped on my horse, picked out fifteen men, and returned with them to the point of observation. I told General Merritt to give us the word to start out at the proper time, and presently he sang out: -

"Go in now, Cody, and be quick about it. They are going to charge on the couriers."

The two messengers were not over four hundred yards from us, and the Indians were only about two hundred yards behind them. We instantly dashed over the bluffs, and advanced on a gallop toward them. A running fight lasted several minutes, during which we drove the enemy some little distance and killed three of their number. The rest of them rode off toward the main body, which had come into plain sight and halted upon seeing the skirmish that was going on. We were about half a mile from General Merritt, and the Indians whom we were chasing suddenly turned upon us, and another lively skirmish took place. One of the Indians, who was handsomely decorated with all the ornaments usually worn by a war-chief when engaged in a fight, sang out to me, in his own tongue: "I know you, Pa-he-haska; if you want to fight, come ahead and fight me."

The chief was riding his horse back and forth in front of his men, as if to banter me, and I concluded to accept the challenge. I galloped toward him for fifty yards and he advanced toward me about the same distance, both of us riding at full speed, and then, when we were only about thirty yards apart, I raised my rifle and fired; his horse fell to the ground, having been killed by my bullet. Almost at the same instant my own horse went down, he having stepped into a gopher-hole. The fall did not hurt me much, and I instantly sprang to my feet. The Indian had also recovered himself, and we were now both on foot, and not more than twenty paces apart. We fired at each other simultaneously. My usual luck did not desert me on this occasion, for his bullet missed me, while mine struck him in the breast. He reeled and fell, but before he had fairly touched the ground I was upon him, knife in hand, and had driven the keen-edged weapon to its hilt in his heart. Jerking his war-bonnet off, I scientifically scalped him in about five seconds.

The whole affair from beginning to end occupied but little time, and the Indians, seeing that I was some little distance from my company, now came charging down upon me from a hill, in hopes of cutting me off. General Merritt had witnessed the duel, and realizing the danger I was in ordered Colonel Mason with Company K to hurry to my rescue. The order came none too soon, for if it had been one minute later I would have had not less than two hundred Indians upon me. As the soldiers came up I swung the Indian chieftain's top-knot and bonnet in the air, and shouted: -

"The first scalp for Custer!"

General Merritt, seeing that he could not now ambush the Indians, ordered the whole regiment to charge upon them. They made a stubborn resistance for a little while, but it was no use for any eight hundred, or even sixteen hundred, Indians to try to check a charge of the gallant old Fifth Cavalry. They soon came to that conclusion and began a running retreat toward Red Cloud agency. For thirty-five miles we drove them, pushing them so hard that they were obliged to abandon their loose horses, their camp equipage, and everything else. We drove them into the agency, and followed in ourselves, notwithstanding the possibility of our having to encounter the thousands of Indians at that point. We were uncertain whether or not the other agency Indians had determined to follow the example of the Cheyennes and strike out upon the war-path; but that made no difference with the Fifth Cavalry, for they would have fought them all if necessary. It was dark when we rode into the agency, where we found thousands of Indians collected together; but they manifested no disposition to fight.

While at the agency I learned the name of the Indian chief whom I had killed that morning; it was Yellow Hand, a son of old Cut Nose - a leading chief of the Cheyennes. Cut Nose, having learned that I had killed his son, sent a white interpreter to me with a message to the effect that he would give me four mules if I would turn over to him Yellow Hand's war-bonnet, guns, pistols, ornaments, and other paraphernalia which I had captured. I sent back word to the old gentleman that it would give me pleasure to accommodate him, but I could not do it this time.

The next morning we started to join General Crook, who was camped near the foot of Cloud Peak in the Big Horn Mountains, awaiting the arrival of the Fifth Cavalry before proceeding against the Sioux, who were somewhere near the head of the Little Big Horn - as his scouts informed him. We made rapid marches and reached General Crook's camp on Goose Creek about the 3d of August.

At this camp I met many an old friend, among whom was Colonel Royall, who had received his promotion to the lieutenant-colonelcy of the Third Cavalry. He introduced me to general Crook, whom I had never met before, but of whom I had often heard. He also introduced me to the General's chief guide, Frank Grouard, a half-breed, who had lived six years with Sitting Bull, and knew the country thoroughly.

We remained in this camp only one day, and then the whole troop pulled out for the Tongue River, leaving our wagons behind, but taking with us a large pack-train. We marched down the Tongue River for two days, thence in a westerly direction over the Rosebud, where we struck the main Indian trail, leading down this stream. From the size of the trail, which appeared to be about three or four days old, we estimated that there must have been in the neighbourhood of seven thousand Indians in the war-party.

We pushed on, but we did not seem to gain much on the Indians, as they were evidently making about the same marches that we were.

Soon the two commands were nearly out of supplies, so the trail was abandoned. The troops kept on down Powder River to its confluence with the Yellowstone, and remained there several days. Here we met General Miles, who reported that no Indians had as yet crossed the Yellowstone. Several steamboats soon arrived with a large quantity of supplies, and once more the "Boys in Blue" were made happy.

One evening while we were in camp on the Yellowstone at the mouth of Powder River, I was informed that the commanding officers had selected Louis Richard, a half-breed, and myself, to accompany General Miles on a scouting expedition on the steamer Far West, down the Yellowstone as far as Glendive Creek.

The Far West was to remain at Glendive overnight, and General Miles wished to send despatches back to General Terry at once. At his request I took the despatches and rode seventy-five miles that night through the Bad Lands of the Yellowstone, and reached General Terry's camp next morning, after having nearly broken my neck a dozen times or more.

There being but little prospect of any more fighting, I determined to go East as soon as possible. So I started down the river on the steamer Yellowstone en route to Fort Beauford. On the same morning Generals Terry and Crook pulled out for Powder River, to take up the old Indian trail which we had recently left.

The steamer had proceeded down the stream about twenty miles when it was met by another boat on its way up the river, having on board General Whistler and some fresh troops for General Terry's command. Both boats landed, and almost the first person I met was my old friend and partner, Texas Jack, who had been sent out as a despatch carrier for the New York Herald.

General Whistler, upon learning that General Terry had left the Yellowstone, asked me to carry him some important despatches from General Sheridan, and although I objected, he insisted on my performing this duty, saying that it would only detain me a few hours longer; as an extra inducement, he offered me the use of his own thoroughbred horse, which was on the boat. I finally consented to go, and was soon speeding over the rough and hilly country toward Powder River, and I delivered the despatches to General Terry the same evening. General Whistler's horse, though a good animal, was not used to such hard riding, and was far more exhausted by the journey than I was.

After I had taken a lunch, General Terry asked me if I would carry some despatches back to General Whistler, and I replied that I would. Captain Smith, General Terry's aide-de-camp, offered me his horse for the trip, and it proved to be an excellent animal; for I rode him that same night forty miles over the Bad Lands in four hours, and reached General Whistler's steamboat at one o'clock. During my absence the Indians had made their appearance on the different hills in the vicinity, and the troops from the boat had had several skirmishes with them. When General Whistler had finished reading the despatches, he said, "Cody, I want to send information to General Terry concerning the Indians who have been skirmishing around here all day. I have been trying all the evening long to induce some one to carry my despatches to him, but no one seems willing to make the trip, and I have got to fall back on you. It is asking a great deal, I know, as you have just ridden eighty miles; but it is a case of necessity, and if you'll go, Cody, I'll see that you are well paid for it."

"Never mind about the pay," said I, "but get your despatches ready and I'll start at once."

In a few minutes he handed me the package, and, mounting the same horse which I had ridden from General Terry's camp, I struck out for my destination. It was two o'clock in the morning when I left the boat, and at eight o'clock I rode into General Terry's camp, just as he was about to march - having made one hundred and twenty-five miles in twenty-two hours.

General Terry, after reading the despatches, halted his command and then rode on and overtook General Crook, with whom he held a council; the result was that Crook's command moved on in the direction which they had been pursuing, while Terry's forces marched back to the Yellowstone and crossed the river on steamboats. At the urgent request of General Terry I accompanied the command on a scout in the direction of the Dry Fork of the Missouri, where it was expected we would strike some Indians.

The first march out from the Yellowstone was made in the night, as we wished to get into the hills without being discovered by the Sioux scouts. After marching three days, a little to the east of north, we reached the buffalo range and discovered fresh signs of Indians, who had evidently been killing buffaloes. General Terry now called on me to carry despatches to Colonel Rice, who was still camped at the mouth of Glendive Creek, on the Yellowstone, distant about eighty miles from us.

Night had set in with a storm, and a drizzling rain was falling when, at ten o'clock, I started on this ride through a section of country with which I was entirely unacquainted. I travelled through the darkness a distance of about thirty miles, and at daylight I rode into a secluded spot at the head of a ravine where stood a bunch of ash-trees, and there I concluded to remain till night, for I considered it a very dangerous undertaking to cross the wide prairies in broad daylight, especially as my horse was a poor one. I accordingly unsaddled my animal, and ate a hearty breakfast of bacon and hardtack which I had stored in the saddle-pockets; then, after taking a smoke, I lay down to sleep, with my saddle for a pillow. In a few minutes I was in the land of dreams.

After sleeping some time - I can't tell how long - I was suddenly awakened by a roaring, rumbling sound. I instantly seized my gun, sprang to my horse, and hurriedly secreted him in the brush. Then I climbed up the steep side of the bank and cautiously looked over the summit; in the distance I saw a large herd of buffaloes which were being chased and fired at by twenty or thirty Indians. Occasionally a buffalo would drop out of the herd, but the Indians kept on until they had killed ten or fifteen. Then they turned back and began to cut up their game.

I saddled my horse and tied him to a small tree where I could reach him conveniently, in case the Indians should discover me by finding my trail and following it. I then crawled carefully back to the summit of the bluff, and in a concealed position watched the Indians for two hours, during which time they were occupied in cutting up the buffaloes and packing the meat on their ponies. When they had finished this work they rode off in the direction whence they had come and on the line which I had proposed to travel. It appeared evident to me that their camp was located somewhere between me and Glendive Creek, but I had no idea of abandoning the trip on that account.

I waited till nightfall before resuming my journey, and then I bore off to the east for several miles, and by taking a semicircle to avoid the Indians I got back on my original course, and then pushed on rapidly to Colonel Rice's camp, which I reached just at daylight.

Colonel Rice had been fighting Indians almost every day since he had been encamped at this point, and he was very anxious to notify General Terry of the fact. Of course I was requested to carry his despatches. After remaining at Glendive a single day, I started back to find General Terry, and on the third day I overhauled him at the head of Deer Creek while on his way to Colonel Rice's camp. He was not, however, going in the right direction, but bearing too far to the East, and so I informed him. He then asked me to guide the command, and I did so.

On arriving at Glendive I bade good-by to the general and his officers, and took passage on the steamer Far West, which was on her way down the Missouri.