Beecher Island Rescue
10th U.S. Cavalry Regiment
September 25, 1868
Below is the After action report filed by Captain Louis Carpenter, Commanding Officer of H Company, 10th Cavalry. After action reports filed by Major George A. Forsyth and the Fort Wallace Adjutant can be accessed by clicking on Beecher Island After Action Reports. Additional information such as the names of the Forsyth Scouts and the equipment they carried into this battle is listed.
(Lt. Col. Carpenter's After Action Report. Big Timbers was twenty
miles west of Fort Wallace.)
Ft. Wallace, Kansas
October 2nd, 1868
1st Lt. Granville Lewis
5th Inf. Post Adjutant
I have the honor to report that in pursuance to instructions received
from headquarters Ft. Wallace, Kansas, on the 21st of September 1868, I
left the Fort with 2 officers and 69 enlisted men, the available force in
Company H 10th Cavalry and 17 Scouts and a number of wagons.
The Command was supplied with 30 days rations and forage and my orders
were to proceed west as far as Kiowa, scouting the country and keeping the
Denver Road clear of Indians. Having reached Fitche's Meadows, 17 miles
from Ft. Wallace, I camped finding good water and grass.
On the 22nd, marched to Big Timbers and hearing that Indians had been
seen lately to the north of that point, moved to the Lakes and scouted in
the vicinity but discovered no signs. 23rd marched towards Cheyenne Wells
on the Denver Road and when about five files west of Big Timbers received
a dispatch from headquarters Fort Wallace, Kansas informing me that two
scouts had arrived from Bvt. Col. Forsyth's Camp asking for assistance
stating that he was surrounded by Indians. I was directed to proceed with
all possible dispatch to his aid to a point on the "Dry Fork of the
Republican" about 75 or 80 miles, North, Northwest from Wallace. Without
delay, I started to the Northward, taking all of my wagons so as to be
able to supply Col. Forsyth's party should I reach them, and progressed
forward until a dark and rainy night prevented further progress. I then
bivouacked, having made about 35 miles to the North, 10 degrees West.
The next day about 2:00 PM, I arrived at the mouth of Whitstone Creek on
the South Branch or Fork of the Republican, finding that it was a dry
sandy stream, supposed that I had reached the right locality, and spent
the entire afternoon scouting the country for several miles around. I
here discovered the signs and trail of a very large force of Indians, who
had encamped the previous night and for several days past in the bed of
the Republican. Several dead warriors were buried in the hills close by
on scaffoldings, on examination I found that they had been recently
killed. One of those was a Cheyenne Chief, not far distant in the valley
a buffalo skin lodge stood, covering the body of one of their medicine
men, with his drum, shield and medicine stone.
In the morning, a party of five men, sent out from Ft. Wallace to
overtake Bvt. Col. Bankhead's expedition, very fortunately stumbled by
accident into my camp. One of these proved to be one of Col. Forsyth's
men, who had escaped from his camp. By his direction, I was able to
push forward with about 30 men, leaving the wagons to follow slowly but
also taking with me the ambulance and a surgeon, Dr. Fitzgerald. We
passed over 20 miles to the Northward, as rapidly as possible, and about
10 o'clock AM reached Col. Forsyth's Command on the dry fork of the
Republican, known generally as the "Bob Tailed Deer Creek" or Arikaree
We found the men living in sand holes, scooped deep enough to keep
each from hostile bullets, with 47 dead horses and mules laying around
them in a semi-circle. In a large square excavation, Col. Forsyth and
two badly wounded men had lain since the 17th, inhaling the foul stench,
arising from the carcasses around and being covered continually by the
loose sand. Lt. Beecher of the 3rd Infantry and A.A. Surgeon Moores
were both dead and buried with 2 others close by. 17 of the men were
wounded, some severely. I immediately selected a camp a few hundred
yards distant and moved the wounded to a more desirable locality and
placed them in tents. Dr. Fitzgerald exerted himself to the utmost in
his efforts to relieve the suffering of the wounded as did every
officer and soldier of the command.
26 hours after my arrival the command of Bvt. Col. Bankhead, Capt.
5th Inf. appeared and shortly after 2 companies of the 2nd Cavalry under
Bvt. Col. Brisbin. On the 27th, we moved 20 miles to the Republican.
28th, marched 28 miles to the headwaters of Beaver Creek. 29th,
marched 40 miles and returned to Ft. Wallace, the remainder of the
command reaching the post on the following morning.
Total distance marched, 204 miles.
I am, Sir,
Very Respectfully, Your Obedient Servant
L. H. Carpenter, Bvt. Lt. Col. USA
Commanding Company "H"
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