The Non-Commissioned Officers of C Troop, 7th Cavalry

This photograph of eleven non-commissioned officers of Captain Jackson’s C Troop, 7th Cavalry was probably taken in the summer of 1890 at Fort Riley, Kansas. The first sergeant seated in the center likely was Thomas M. Carrigan, who completed his second five-year enlistment that August and left army life settling in Denver, Colorado. The tall gentleman standing center on the step was Sergeant John B. Turney, who succeeded Carrigan as first sergeant and held that position at the battles of Wounded Knee Creek and White Clay Creek. First Sergeant Turney wrote numerous letters home during the campaign, three of which survive today. The other non-commissioned officers of C Troop, but not specifically identified in the photograph, were: Sergeants Adlof J. Thompson, Oscar Dorsner, John J. C. Newport, John Dolan (transferred from L Troop on 12 December 1890), and George Wetz, Corporals Peter Sorenson (on furlough during the campaign), Forest J. Casner, Walter A. Horton (also on furlough during the battles), and Jacob Baus, Trumpeters Thomas Connolly and Emil Renand, Farrier John Jordan, Blacksmith Vaclao Andolik, Saddler Horace Graham, and Wagoner Charles W. Haden.

Note: This photograph was graciously donated by John F. Turney of Alamagordo, New Mexico, with express permission to post to this website.  Further copies of this photograph are not permitted.
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Father Francis M. J. Craft – Missionary Wounded in Battle

Just as the tree can be traced from its smallest branches to its root, just so all this Indian trouble can be traced through all its phases to its true cause, starvation, abject misery, and despair, the cause of which is the outrageous conduct of the Indian Department for many years, culminating in the later blunders and cruelties of the present Commissioner Morgan.

Writing to the Secretary of War from his office in New York City on Monday, 24 November 1890, James R. O’Beirne, the Superintendent of Immigration in that city, sent a letter recommending the services of Father Francis Craft. O’Beirne had served as a Brigadier General and was a recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions during the Civil War. He was well connected politically and familiar with the Honorable Redfield Proctor when the Secretary of War had served as the Governor of Vermont.[1]

Father craft is wearing a crucifix tucked into his cassock and a Sons of the Revolution medal. The photograph is labeled “Father Craft The Hero of Wounded Knee Fight. Copyright Jan. 1st, 1891, N. W. Photo Co., Chadron, Neb.”

I herewith take the liberty of enclosing to you a letter received by me from Rev. Francis M. J. Craft, a Catholic Missionary well-known to me, who has had very widespread experience among the Indians, and speaks the Dakota Sioux language perfectly. Better than this, he understands the disposition and temperament of the Indians and their ways of doing things. Rev. Father Craft in his ten years of missionary service among the Indians at Standing Rock, Rosebud and Pine Ridge Agencies, has learned their character fully. His amiable disposition and the well-known salutary influence of his profession would do much to quiet the Indians, and as an interpreter enable the military representatives of the Government to be fully and accurately informed as to what is passing among the Indians at this critical period. I would like to see him sent by the Department to confer with Gen’l Miles on the situation. If he could be sent from him quasi-officially, and on a confidential mission, under the secret service of the War Department, I respectfully suggest, from my experience in the past, very good results might be achieved, and a good plan worked out to let the Indians know what to expect, and to ascertain exactly what they intended doing. There is so much malign squaw-man and half-breed influence at work in the interests of designing white men that it ought to be quietly checkmated, and can only be so done by some such appliance of outside influence as the employment of Father Craft. He is an American, one of the Sons of the Revolution, a convert to the Catholic religion, most highly connected socially, of one of our best families, and of rare patience, good judgment, and fearlessness, combined with a penetrating and studious way of handling those with whom he has to deal and advise.
Please think this over carefully and see if it is not a good suggestion of a way to do much good in the treatment of the Indian question by the Army. If you approve of my suggestion, please let me know.[2]

Father Craft wrote a letter to the Freeman’s Journal on 20 December 1890, detailing his thoughts on the cause of all the Indian troubles.

This sketch of Father Craft appeared on the front page San Francisco's The Morning Call.  The caption read, "Rev. Father Francis M. Craft as 'Hovering Eagle,' Chief of the Dakotas, addressing the Indians in council."

This sketch of Father Craft appeared on the front page San Francisco’s The Morning Call, on 15 Jan. 1891. The caption read, “Rev. Father Francis M. Craft as ‘Hovering Eagle,’ Chief of the Dakotas, addressing the Indians in council.”

I know what I say, for I have shared their sufferings for many years. In their despair, Gen. Crook brought them hope. Their confidence in him led them to expect that he would be able to realize their hopes. His death was their death blow, and they felt it. Indians are not fools, but men of keen intellect. Reductions in rations increased these fears. Even Indian agents protested against such cruelty. Mr. Lee, who took the census, made grave mistakes, counted less than the real numbers, and made false reports of prosperity that did not exist. It is not to be wondered they believed in a Messiah, whom they at first doubted and listened to every deceiver who promised hope. Interested whites took advantage of this state of affairs and howled for troops. The army indignantly protested against their false statements, but had to go to the scene of the supposed danger. Interested whites persuaded them that entire destruction was aimed at, and the Indians ran away in fear and despair. Father Jutz calmed them and I brought them back to the agency and the kindness of Gen. Brooke convinced them of their safety. The general’s plan to send Indians after those still out was good and would succeed if the general were left alone.[3]

Just as the tree can be traced from its smallest branches to its root, just so all this Indian trouble can be traced through all its phases to its true cause, starvation, abject misery, and despair, the cause of which is the outrageous conduct of the Indian Department for many years, culminating in the later blunders and cruelties of the present Commissioner Morgan. You can see now how the prophesies of the Freeman’s Journal have been verified. If the army had charge this never could have happened, and if it could be kept now in charge, the Indians will have some hope of life and civilization.[4]

During the initial melee at Wounded Knee on 29 December, Father craft was severely wounded, being shot and stabbed.  The severity of Father Craft’s wounds led some to report that the missionary priest had died, or soon would. The day after the battle the papers ran a list of casualties that included, “Father Croftus [sic], Catholic priest, mortally wounded in lungs.”[5] New Years Day reports stated, “Little hope is expressed of the recovery of Father Craft, the Catholic priest who was stabbed at the battle on Wounded Knee Creek.”[6] 2 January reported a glimmer of hope that Father Craft may yet survive. “Gen. O’Beirne to-day received a telegram from Secretary of War Proctor stating that the news of Father Craft’s death in the Indian uprising at Pine Ridge had not been confirmed, and Gen. O’Beirne is encouraged to hope that the report first received is incorrect.”[7]

Writing a letter to friends in New York that was later published in papers across the country, Father Craft assured all that he was recovering from his wounds.  He also determined to exonerate what he felt were unjustified attacks on the troops at Wounded Knee.

My wound feels considerably better, and I may recover.  Am very hopeful.  I authorize you to contradict for me in my name, through the press, the reports in circulation that blame the army for the sad tragedy at Wounded Knee creek.  Those reports do grave injustice to our soldiers, and are instigated by those averse to an honorable settlement to the present trouble, and hostile to the decree of every true friend of the Indian, that they be permanently transferred from the charge of the Indian bureau to the war department.  It is only by such a transfer that the Indians can expect just treatment.  The whole trouble originated through interested whites, who had gone about most industriously and misrepresented the army and its movements upon all the agencies.  The Indians, were in consequence alarmed and suspicious.  They had been led to believe that the true aim of the military was their extermination.  The troops acted with greatest kindness and prudence.  In the Wounded Knee fight the Indians fired first.  The troops fired only when compelled to.  I was between both, saw all, and know from an absolute knowledge of the whole affair whereof I say.  The Indians state the case just [as] I do.  I have every proof at hand, and when able will forward full statement and documentary evidence.[8]

Because of his injuries, Father Craft likely was not called to testify in person at the board of inquiry. His testimony likely came in the form of a deposition with his own map attached.

REVEREND FRANCIS M. J. CRAFT, Catholic Missionary Priest, being duly sworn, testifies as follows:
I am a missionary priest of the Catholic church, and have worked in that capacity among the Indians of the northwest for the past ten years. I came to Pine Ridge Agency in December, 1890, to visit the Catholic missions and schools as a representative of the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions, and also to render what service I could in the settlement of the Indian troubles. On Sunday, December 28th, I learned that Big Foot’s band of Indians had been taken and were in camp near Wounded Knee Creek and that Indians from Standing Rock Agency, whom I knew well, were with them. By permission of General Brooke I went out to see if I could be of any service, as malicious whites on and near all agencies, during the present excitement have, by misrepresenting the intentions of the Army, caused such a state of alarm and suspicion among the Indians as to make it possible for the least excitement or misunderstanding to [precipitate] serious trouble. I hoped to be of some service by going among the Indians and reassuring them. I reached the military camp at Wounded Knee about 11 P.M.
In the morning, while the troops were preparing to disarm the Indians, I learned from several Indians with whom I spoke that they had left their agency, alarmed by the reports of the Indians who escaped from Standing Rock after the death of Sitting Bull. The Standing Rock Indians were not with them, but, as they said, left them on the way down, and went toward the Missouri. I saw that the Indians with whom I was speaking were the worst element of their agency, whose camp had for years been the rendezvous of all the worst characters on the Sioux Reservation.
About 8:30 A.M. General Forsyth called all the Indian men from the Indian camp to the point marked on the accompanying map, P, in order to separate them from the women and children. This seemed to be a very necessary precaution, although no trouble was apprehended. General Forsyth then spoke to the men through an interpreter, kindly and pleasantly, and explained the necessity of taking the arms, and assured them that they were perfectly safe in the hands of their old friends, the soldiers, and that starvation and other troubles were now happily at an end. The Indians answered in a way that showed they were pleased. Big Foot and others, however, denied having any guns, saying they had all been burned up. General Forsyth reminded them, however, that the day before every man was seen to have at least one gun. General Forsyth then began sending the Indians in, a few at a time, to the camp to get their guns. They returned saying they had none. General Forsyth then pointed out to the Indians how plain it was they were deceiving him, and begged them not to compel him to search for the guns, but to have confidence in him and bring them themselves. A medicine man now began praying, singing and walking around the circle of Indians, his words indicating that the Indians were afraid of what might happen to them when their guns would be taken, and going through various ceremonies that the soldiers’ bullets might not hurt them. General Forsyth told him he had nothing to fear, and he was induced to sit down and be quiet. As the Indians did not care to produce their guns, soldiers were sent to search for them in the Indian camp, but returned with very few. At this moment a soldier saw guns under the Indians’ blankets, and informed General Forsyth and Major Whitside. As quietly as possible they directed the Indians to come forward, one by one, from the location marked on the map “P,” to those marked “S” and “R,” and throw aside their blankets and lay down their arms if they had any. Colonel Forsyth spoke very kindly to them, and said he did not wish himself to take their arms, but would rather they would come forward themselves like men and lay them down. The Indians began to come forward as directed, one by one, to lay down their arms. Fifteen or twenty guns had been thus collected, when I heard among the soldiers in the positions marked “O” & “U,” some one cry out “Look out, look at that,” and saw them attempting to fall back to the square surrounding the Indians. I looked toward the Indians in the position marked “P,” and saw that some were taking their guns from under their blankets and others were raising them ready to fire. The Indians seemed agitated, and from my knowledge of their habits, and especially of the character of this particular band, probably affected by the misrepresentations of malicious whites, I am convinced that the movement came from their fear of what might happen when the guns would be all surrendered, as they saw them being given up one by one. I went up to them and tried to reassure them, but very few listened to me. It is possible that nothing might have occurred had not one young man, said to be the son of Big Foot, suddenly fired. His shot was followed by many others from the Indians. The soldiers did not fire until they were actually compelled to, and after the Indians had fired many shots. When the soldiers returned the fire, the Indians broke up into small parties and charged back and forth across the square, firing and trying to break through. Some broke through towards the southwest, and some, I believe, towards the southeast. As they passed the end of the camp, a few women and children ran out and joined them. The Hotchkiss battery opened on them as they crossed the agency road. It is possible that by this fire some women and children were killed. If so, the killing was unavoidable, as the soldiers could hardly have distinguished them from the men among whom they were, who were firing backwards as they ran. Many concealed themselves in the ravine. This ended the main battle, which lasted from one half to three-quarters of an hour. After all was over at least two shots were fired from the Indian camp “C,” but the soldiers did not reply to them. I was wounded early in the fight, but kept up until everything was over, and attended to the dying. After I finally gave out I was carried to the field hospital “J.” I heard a volley of rifle shots fired from the Indian camp “C.” No shots were fired by the soldiers for some minutes, but I heard some one shouting in “Dakota” as if an interpreter was speaking. The rifle shots from the camp continued and the Hotchkiss battery shelled the camp, and also the tents at “K” and “M,” from which Indians were firing upon the soldiers. I afterwards learned that contrary to their usual custom of protecting their women and children from danger, and of respecting the white flag, which they had hoisted over their camp, these Indians had actually managed to get back to their camp and fired from it upon the soldiers. If women and children were killed in the shelling of this camp, the Indians who caused it are to blame. I have heard this act of these Indians severely condemned by Brules and Ogalalas [sic], who denounced them as murderers of the women and children, and exonerated the soldiers.[9]

A few days later Father Craft wrote to his good friend, General O’Beirne, in New York, and indicated that his recovery now looked certain.  He took the opportunity to laud the decision to place the Pine Ridge Agency under control of an Army officer and lambasted the decision to not do the same with all the Indian Agencies.  General O’Beirne ensured the Indian missionary’s letter was published in the eastern press.

I think I am entirely out of danger now. As soon as I am able to write a long letter I will send you a full account of the battle, with a map, and a full account of the Indian situation. I will begin it to-day and finish it as soon as I am able.
For the present there is something I wish you would see carried, with all the force possible. It is this: This agency (Pine Ridge) now has a military agent, and has been entirely transferred to the War Department. This is as it should be.
Had it been done in time enough, before the battle of Wounded Knee, to silence the malicious whites, who were opposing the plans of the army and misrepresenting its intentions, and also in time to enable the officers to mature their plans and carry them out unopposed, there would have been no battle, as you will see when I send you the full account. Now that the transfer has been made, the Indians are all safely in and the trouble practically over, and the good results of the transfer are evident on all sides.
But this is not the case on the other Sioux agencies, the Rosebud, Crow Creek, Cheyenne River, and Standing Rock. In the case of those agencies there has been a disgraceful compromise. A military agent has, it is true, a supervision over each of those agencies, but the civil agent has been allowed to remain. This is very wrong and entirely unnecessary. The only excuse offered is that the Indian Ring cannot afford to lose the plunder it has held so long, and for which it has caused misery, starvation, and bloodshed. Nothing less than an entire transfer of all Sioux agencies to the War Department will be of any use. The compromise is disgraceful, unnecessary, useless, and a ‘dead give away’ of the motives of the Indian Department. Please protest strongly and unceasingly through the press, and by every other effective means, against the compromise, and demand that the transfer be entire and immediate.
Use my name in the matter just as you please. I will write again very soon.
Yours Sincerely, F. M. J. Craft.
P. S.–Red Cloud is here and sends his best regards, and is delighted with the new ‘Soldier Agent.’[10]

Father Craft’s stance against the Indian Bureau certainly created many enemies for the Catholic missionary, with which he would contend over the coming decade.  A little more than a week after this letter, Craft again wrote to General O’Beirne stating, “Morgan (commissioner of Indian affairs) writes me to prove his ‘blunders and cruelties’ or withdraw the charge.  I disdain to give these articles personal notice.  Morgan probably intends to make things unpleasant for me as a missionary.  He will find his hands full.”[11]

A detailed, if not fantastical, account of Father Craft’s wounding at the Battle of Wounded Knee appeared in newspapers across the country in February 1891.

The priest stood in the thick of the fight, robed in cassock and wearing the black cap of his order, while the desperate barbarians around him and the soldiers facing him were dropping like leaves–shot, stabbed and mangled. An Ogalala–it was the Brules who were fighting–threw down his gun and rushing to the priest threw his arm around him and exclaimed in this native language: “Love me, father; I do not belong to their band. I have thrown down my gun.”
“Lie down and you will be safe, my son,” said the priest, but the frightened creature clung to him with a grip he could not break. A Brule passing them could not recognize the priest behind the Indian, and as he passed struck backward and plunged his knife into Father Craft’s back. Not noticing the wound he continued his endeavor to calm the Indians and trying to pursuade the frantic Ogalala to release him and lie down, when a soldier [Private James E. Kelly, I Troop], a young Irishman, came to him and amidst the roar of the guns said, with the most admirable calmness: “Father, I am dying; will you hear my confession?” Four bullets had passed through his body, and bleeding from evey wound he laid his head on the priest’s shoulder and made his confession. Father Craft raised his hand and began the absolution, when the dying soldier began sinking to the ground. “Lean on me,” said the priest. He extended his arm and the soldier clutched it, but Father Craft had been bleeding from his own wound, and had grown too weak to bear the weight of the dying man. Struggling still with the Indian, who clung to him for protection, he and the wounded soldier sunk to the ground, and leaning over him Father Craft finished the absolution and the soldier’s spirit passed away. The Ogalala then grew brave. He lifted the priest to his feet and aided by a soldier bore him through a shower of bullets to the field hospital. “I am shot,” said Father Craft, as they laid him down. the soldier leaned over him and said, “No, you were stabbed by an Indian. I saw him do it and I shot him.”[12]

That same month Father Craft wrote another letter that appeared in part in The Sun in which he identifies the name of the Lakota that stabbed him, declares that he desired to be buried with the Indians at Wounded Knee, and corrects inaccuracies that had been published in an obituary when he was thought to have died after the battle.

Father Francis Craft, who was stabbed in the battle at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, has written a letter to a friend in this city saying he has found out who knifed him. He writes:
“The young man was called Tantanyan-Kutepi (Aimed-at-him). His surviving brother hunted up the facts and found that in the confusion of the fight he mistook me for an officer by my camp coat, and my badge of the Sons of the Revolution, my cassock being hidden by the clouds of smoke and dust. His family came to see me and we adopted each other as relatives, according to the Indian custom in such cases. So I get a mother, brother, and sister, and they get a son and brother.”
Father Craft says further in his letter:
“I see by the Washington papers that Morgan’s friends hint at my removal from the reservation. Let them try it. An American knows Americans well enough to be sure that they will not permit such villainy. I intend to fight it in the press and in the courts, and if I am still further disabled by illness I will have the fight carried on by others.
“I had an alarming setback not long ago. I felt quite comfortable, although weak, but I was told that I was nearly gone. When I got better I wrote a letter to the commanding officer here, to be given to him in case of my death, asking and authorizing him to take charge of the body and have it buried in the trench with the Indian dead at Wounded Knee. I had to leave it to him because Father Jutz declared he wouldn’t officiate if I arranged it so, and seemed to be quite put out because I preferred the Indians to the white dead.”
Father Craft thus corrects some of the inaccuracies in the sketches of his life, published when it was thought his wound was mortal:
“I am in my 39th and not in my 36th year. I practiced medicine as my father’s assistant, and did not abandon it because my ‘health failed.’ I was strong and well at the time…. My great-grandfather was a Mohawk and not a Seneca. Although my early history and private life can be of no interest to the public I don’t object to their knowing it, if they know it as it is, and don’t spoil my public work by falsifying my position and making me absurd.”[13]

Father Craft continued to rail against the Indian Bureau and campaigned for the management of Indian Agencies to be transferred to the War Department; he commented in early April 1891:

The only thing that stands in the way of a speedy and permanent settlement of all difficulties by an immediate transfer of the Indians to the war department is the desire of the politicians to retain plunders.  The army would maintain peace by justice to the Indian because its spirit is honorable and because its interests are for peace; but if the American people prefer to keep the politicians in charge, they must expect the usual results.  I am heartily sick and tired of witnessing miseries that I cannot correct and sharing the sufferings of the unfortunate Indians and brave soldiers who are forced into conflict and then slandered by the cowardly politicians who slaughtered them.[14]

Later that same month another of his letters written from the Pine Ridge Agency found its way into the press:

Everything looks quiet just now, but so long as interested parties have a chance to stir up trouble and the Indians are foolish enough to believe them, it feels as if we were sitting on a powder keg with dangerous sparks unpleasantly near.  We have a military agent here.  Everything may be safe, but I know the situation too well to feel quite sure of anything unless the war department can have complete control of all the agencies.  It is the only sure remedy for all the Indian troubles and the only hope for the Indians.  The Sioux delegation, while at Washington, was thoroughly manipulated by the Indian bureau.  Some of the Indians were made to say what they know to be false about the army, and others claim they were silenced when they wanted to give facts.  Many things were published which they never thought of saying.  Captain Lee called up Hollow Horn Bear, one of the delegates from Rosebud.  The Indian denies all the statements attributed to him and said he never spoke against the army.  The Indians who returned from Washington say they went there to ask for military agents, but were badly treated by the Indian bureau and were prevented from saying what they wished to say.  I got my share of abuse too.  The Indian bureau begins now to realize that in blaming the army they have walked into the largest and liveliest hornet’s nest in the country.  I am entirely well now and will soon leave to finish my work at the mission.[15]


[1] Thomas W. Foley, Father Francis M. Craft: Missionary to the Sioux (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2002), 84.
[2] James R. O’Beirne, Reports and Correspondence related to the Army Investigation of the Battle of Wounded Knee, 208. Hereafter cited as RCAIBWK.
[3] Francis M. Craft, Saint Paul Daily Globe, vol. 13, no. 3, 1.
[4] Craft, in At Standing Rock and Wounded Knee: The Journals and Papers of Father Francis M. Craft, 1888-1890  by Thomas W. Foley (Norman, Oklahoma: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 2009), 293.
[5] St. Paul Daily Globe, vol. 12, no. 364 (St. Paul, Minn.), 1.
[6] St. Paul Daily Globe, vol. 13, no. 1 (St. Paul, Minn.), 1.
[7] St. Paul Daily Globe, vol. 13, no. 2 (St. Paul, Minn.), 1.
[8] Craft, St. Paul Daily Globe, vol. 13, no. 15 (St. Paul, Minn.), 4.
[9] Craft, RCAIBWK, 721-725.
[10] Craft, The Sun, vol. 58, no. 140, (New York, N.Y.), 7.
[11] Craft, Evening Star, vol. 78, no. 18,054 (Washington, D.C.), 7.
[12] The Lafayette Advertiser, vol. 26, no. 24 (Lafayette, La.), 1.
[13] The Sun, vol. 18, no. 170 (New York, N.Y.), 7.
[14] The Wichita Daily Eagle, vol. 14, no. 121 (Whichta, Kan., 7 Apr 1891), 4.
[15] Omaha Daily Bee, vol. 20, no. 302 (Omaha, Neb., 21 Apr 1891), 1.
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General Godfrey’s Recollections of Wounded Knee

I rallied my troop on the hill, dismounted to fight on foot, and posted my men in position.  Large groups were approaching and opened fire on us.

From his retirement home in Cookstown, New Jersey, on May 29, 1931 Brigadier General (retired) Edward S. Godfrey, penned a response to a request from the Chief of the Historical Section of the U.S. Army War College asking for information regarding the engagement at Wounded Knee.  General Godfrey’s letter was printed in full in the January 1935 edition of Winners of the West.  The letter is an outstanding addition to Godfrey’s testimony at the Wounded Knee investigation,  his testimony in the investigation of the killing of a woman and her children near White Horse Creek, and his article, Cavalry Fire Discipline.  Presented below is a portion of the letter in which Godfrey recollects his actual participation in the battle.  I have omitted portions where he summarizes portions of the campaign in which he did not take part.

General Edward Settle Godfrey

General Edward Settle Godfrey

At the time of the so-called “Ghost Shirt” or “Ghost Dance” unrest at the Sioux Indian agencies in 1890, I was stationed at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, as a member of the U.S. Tactical Board.  Our work was nearing completion, and when my regiment, the 7th U.S. Cavalry, was ordered to the field, I made application to be relieved and to join my troop.  The application was granted.

Upon my arrival at Chadron Creek, I found a detachment of recruits from Jefferson Barracks for the 7th Cavalry and a wagon train of supplies for the troops, awaiting escort.  I assumed command of the detachment and supply train, and about the middle of December arrived at the Pine Ridge agency, where I joined my troop….

Late in the evening of December 28, “To Horse” was sounded at the headquarters of the 7th Cavalry.  The 2nd Squadron (troops C, D, E, and G) and Hawthorne’s section of Hotchkiss guns of Captain Capron’s Battery, 1st Artillery, under Col. J. W. Forsyth, arrived at Whitside’s camp at Wounded Knee about midnight.  Captain Wallace claimed me as his guest, and from him I learned the events of the day and the dispositions of the troops on guard for the night.

About 8:00 A.M. December 29, I received orders to take my troop (D) to position.  En route, I passed where there were a number of Indian warriors squatting between two troops (B and K dismounted) and facing inward about a V-shaped formation, the apex next to the Indian village, near which was a small pile of what looked to me like old guns.  My routing took me by two sides of the village, which lay to my left.  On my right was a high ridge overlooking the village, and on this ridge were posted two troops of cavalry and Hawthorne’s section.  I passed down a ravine on a road that led across another and deeper ravine, which I crossed, then turned to the left and reported to Captain Jackson.  I then formed on his left, facing the village and opposite the ridge on which were posted the two troops, mounted, and the artillery as above mentioned.  The deep ravine lay between our line and the village.  Between the ravine and us were Taylor’s Indian scouts and also some dismounted soldiers, who I understood were the night guards not yet relieved.

After we had been there some time, the quiet was suddenly broken by shot, and after a very short interval there came two or three more shots, followed by a continuous fusillade.  At the first shot, I remarked to Lt. S. R. Tompkins, “I’m afraid there has been a mistake.  Too bad.  Too bad.”  The whole village was in commotion, and in a short time the mass of Indians started in our direction.  The troops on the ridge opposite us opened fire on them with small arms and Hotchkiss guns.  As the mass neared the deep ravine, some bullets ricocheted to our position.  I went to Captain Jackson (behind whose troop was a small field, enclosed by a barbed wire fence) and said we ought to change our position and get out of range of our own troops.  Jackson said he thought of taking his troops back of the field.  I told him I would like to take my troop to a hill on my left and rear.  He said, “All right, go ahead.”

I rallied my troop on the hill, dismounted to fight on foot, and posted my men in position.  Large groups were approaching and opened fire on us.  I cautioned the men not to shoot at women and children and gave the order to commence firing.  As soon as firing from the groups ended, I gave the order that firing should cease.  The time between the commands seemed incredibly short–probably not more than five minutes, though some firing continued by Jackson’s men.

During the firing, I had observed some Indians escaping up the deep ravine.  I sent Lieutenant Tompkins w3ith half my men to take and hold the ravine at all hazards.  There were no more escapes up that ravine after Lieutenant Tompkins got there.  A large dismounted group, however, had assembled in the ravine bordering the upper flank of the village and made their escape over a ridge.

Some time after all firing had ceased, Major Whitside came to my position and said a group of Indians had escaped over the ridge, and that Colonel Forsyth sent his compliments and wished me to take my troop and go in pursuit.  I explained that I had sent Lieutenant Tompkins with half of my men, and as there were occasional shots, it seemed to me the ravine should be guarded.  I then asked if I should leave that detachment or take it with me.  Whitside hesitated a moment and then said, “Do as your please.”  I said I would leave it.  I mounted my men (fourteen) and went in pursuit.  I followed the trail for some time beyond the ridge to a wide, open country, but the group had dispersed, leaving no trace.

I marched several miles in the general direction indicated by the trend of the tail toward a partly wooded valley, climbed prominent points for observation but saw nothing to indicate the Indians who had escaped.

My return march was down a partly wooded valley containing clumps of bushes with dead leaves on them.  In the blizzard two days after the engagement, the dead leaves were blown off.  I put flankers on each side on the ground.  As we entered one of these clumps, the advance discovered some Indians running to a hiding place.  I at once dismounted to fight on foot and called out, “How, cola! Squaw, papoose, cola!”  Hearing no response, and finding that the men were becoming anxious, lest we get into a trap, I instructed each man to advance until he could spot an Indian, but not to fire till I gave the command.  I kept repeating my phrase, “How, cola! Squaw, papoose, cola!” Getting no response, I commanded, “Ready,” and the “Commence firing.”

The firing was a volley and was followed by screams and the order to cease firing.  No man fired more than one shot.  I gave the commands, “Forward, march!” and ran to where I heard the screams.  There I found one squaw and two children in the agonies of death and what appeared to be a man, sprawled face down, clothed with civilian clothes and with coat turned over his head, perfectly quiet, and I supposed dead.

Just as I was about to leave, Blacksmith Carey, who was one of the flankers, joined me.  As I turned to join my skirmishers, I heard him exclaim, “This man ain’t dead,” and “Bang!” went his gun.  He had turned back the coat tail, discovered a movement, and shot.  I saw that the body was that of a boy whom I judged to be fourteen or fifteen years old, and that he had been shot in the head.  I told Carey to come along and join the skirmish line.  I was shocked by the tragedy, but thought Carey had acted from fright, and the well-known sentiment in the army at that time was to take no chance with a wounded Indian.  Carey had acted from fright, and the well-known sentiment in the army at that time was to take no chance with a wounded Indian.  Carey was one of the detachment of recruits that I found at Chadron and which joined the regiment with me.  (After stables the next morning, December 30, I had Carey in my tent to question him as to his motive in shooting the boy.  He was very penitent and began to cry, saying he was scared and only thought of self-defense; that he had been warned not to trust a wounded Indian or taken any chances, and that he shot on the impulse of the moment.  Just then “To Horse!” was sounded, and the troop joined the regiment to go to the Drexel Mission affair.  I was perfectly satisfied that Carey was actuated by sudden fear and the instinct of self-defense).

Further search revealed no sight of Indians, and I resumed my return march.  Seeing a group of men and horses on a high point, I directed my march to that place.  I found that it was at the head of the ravine at which I had left Lieutenant Tompkins, about one and a half to two miles from the village, and that the group was Troop C.

As I was leaving Captain Jackson, I noticed a mounted Indian riding rapidly from the direction of Pine Ridge to a high hill a couple of miles away.  He circled his horse, and a large number of Indians were galloping to join him.  Then he started in our direction on the run.  Satisfied that Jackson did not sense the danger, I called to him to get his horses under cover and prepare for defense, since I was certain that the Indians were going to attack.  I dismounted and deployed my men.  As the leading warriors neared, Jackson’s men, getting into position, opened fire, and then my men, at command, also began firing.  There were probably one hundred fifty or more warriors in this attack.  Captain Jackson sent a courier to the regiment for help.  Captain Edgerly, with his troop, came up and joined in the firing, and soon afterward the Indians withdrew.  We had no casualties in the encounter.  I understood later that this attack was made by Little Wound.

On my return to camp, I reported my movements and results to headquarters.  Late in the afternoon, the command and captives started on the return march to Pine Ridge agency.  The captives were hauled in their wagons, and we detailed as rear guard.  Sometime after midnight we arrived at Pine Ridge, where I turned over my prisoners.

In the foregoing, I have endeavored to state circumstances relating to acts and facts connected with my troop, D, 7th Cavalry.

I do not believe that there was any wanton killing of women and children.  I did not see or hear of any drunkenness at any time at Wounded Knee.

Respectfully submitted,
Brigadier General, U.S.A., Retired.

Source: Peter Cozzens, ed., Eyewitnesses to the Indian Wars, 1865-1890, (Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 2004), 615-619.
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D Troop, 7th Cavalry Regiment Muster Roll

Muster Roll of Captain Edward S. Godfrey’s Troop D of the Seventh Regiment of Cavalry, Army of the United States, (Colonel James W. Forsyth,) from the 31st day of October, 1890 to the 31st day of December, 1890. [Names in bold are believed to have been present at the battle of Wounded Knee.  Those annotated with * were wounded in action, those annotated with § were killed in action or died of wounds. There were no soldiers in Troop D awarded the Medal of Honor or the Certificate of Merit.]

Captain Godfrey, Edward S.: On detached service at Leavenworth, Kans., since Apr. 1, 89, as a member of the tactical board, per Special Order #68 Headquarters  of the Army Adjutant General’s Office Mch. 23, 89. Relieved from duty as a member of the tactical board Nov. 28, 90 per Paragraph Special Order #278 Headquarters  of the Army Adjutant General’s Office Nov. 28, 90. Rejoined Troop at Camp at Pine Ridge Agency, S. D. Dec. 6, 90. Resumed command of Troop Dec. 7, 1890.

First Lieutenant Robinson, William W.: In command of Troop from Feb. 2, 89 to Dec. 6, 90. Sick in quarters from Dec. 12, 90 to Dec. 14, 90. Disease “acute bronchial catarrh” contacted in line of duty. On special duty in command of Troop K, 7th Cavalry since Dec. 30, 90 per verbal orders of the Regimental Commander.

Second Lieutenant Tompkins, Selah R. H.: On duty with Troop.

First Sergeant Gunther, Herman: Enlisted on May 29, 1889 at Fort Riley, Kansas, by Lieut. McCormick.  Sick in quarters from Oct. 31, 90 to Nov. 2, 90. Disease “rheumatism muscular” contracted in line of duty.

Sergeant Light, Harry W.: Enlisted on June 24, 1890 at Fort Riley, Kansas, by Lieut. McCormick.  Absent sick at Song Pine, Neb. since Nov. 25, 90. Disease “Typhoid Fever” contracted in line of duty. Rejoined Troop for duty at Camp at Pine Ridge Agency, S. D. Dec. 13, 90.

Sergeant Burnett, Zachariah H.: Enlisted on May 23, 1889 at Fort Riley, Kansas, by Lieut. McCormick.

Sergeant Stevens, Isaac: Enlisted on August 27, 1887 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, by Lieut. Paddock.

Sergeant Conners, Michael: Enlisted on March 12, 1886 at Fort Meade, Dakota Territory, by Lieut. Varnum.  On extra duty in the Quartermaster Department (as Trainmaster) from Dec. 22, 89 to Nov. 23, 90 per Paragraph IV Order #263 Fort Riley, Kans. Series 1889.

Sergeant Gerhardt, Otto: Enlisted on September 10, 1886 at St Louis, Missouri, by Capt. Ellis.

Corporal Gilman, Edward H.: Enlisted on April 26, 1886 at Boston, Massachusetts, by Capt. Ewers.

Corporal Kansky, Joseph F.: Enlisted on February 8, 1887 at Baltimore, Maryland, by Capt. Overton.  Sick at Fort Riley, Kans. Since Oct. 4, 90. Disease “intermittent fever” contracted in line of duty.

Corporal Maxwell, Charles: Enlisted on March 19, 1888 at Boston, Massachusetts, by Capt. Miller.

Corporal McCall, John J.: Enlisted on August 14, 1888 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by Lieut. Scott.

Trumpeter Hast, Charles H.: Enlisted on December 14, 1887 at Quincy, Illinois, by Capt. Thibaus.

Trumpeter Cook, Walter O.: Enlisted on November 3, 1887 at Baltimore, Maryland, by Capt. Huggins.  On furlough for three months under provisions of General Order #80C.8. Adjutant General’s Office since Nov. 3, 90 surrendered his furlough and rejoined Troop Nov. 22, 90. Sick in quarters since Dec. 22, 90. Disease “rheumatism muscular” back and left thigh contracted in line of duty, returned from sick to duty Dec. 25, 90.

Farrier Holles, Richard: Enlisted on October 2, 1890 at Fort Riley, Kansas, by Lieut. Dyer.

Blacksmith Carey, Maurice: Enlisted on August 16, 1890 at Wheeling, West Virginia, by Capt. Barrett.  Assigned to Troop D, 7th Cav. per Paragraph I Order #88, Headquarters  7th Cav. Dec. 6, 90 to date from Nov. 28, 90. Joined Troop Dec. 6, 90 first enlistment. Due U.S. Laundry thirty-five (35) cents appointed Troop Blacksmith from Private to date from Dec. 16, 90 per Order #9, Troop D, 7th Cav. Dec. 16, 90.

Saddler Beidler, Ulysses N.: Enlisted on December 26, 1888 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by Lieut. Scott.  Sentenced by General Court Martial per G.C.M.O. #30, Headquarters  Department of the Mo. Sept. 29, 90. To have retained from his pay under provisions of General Order #63 Adjutant General’s Office series 1889 ten (10) dollars per month for 6 months.

* Wagoner York, George: Enlisted on February 1, 1889 at Newark, New Jersey by Lieut. Carter.  Sick in quarters from Dec. 14, 90 to Dec. 16, 90. Disease “lumbago” contracted in line of duty. Sick in General Hospital at Pine Ridge Agency, S.D. since Dec. 29, 90. Disease “Gun shot wound left shoulder.” Contracted in line of duty. Shot while in action with “Big Foot’s Band of Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee Creek” Dec. 29, 90.

Private Boone, Thomas J.: Enlisted on November 9, 1887 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by Lieut. Scott.

Private Boorse, Daniel W.: Enlisted on September 12, 1890 at Camden, New Jersey, by Capt. Rodgers.  Assigned to Troop D, 7th Cav. per Paragraph I Order #88, Headquarters  7th Cav. Dec. 6, 90 to date from Nov. 28, 90. First enlistment. Due U.S. Laundry twenty-five (25) cents. Sick at Ft. Robinson, Nebraska since Dec. 2, 90. Disease not known. Never joined troop . Laundry due deducted on Nov. payments.

Private Brown, George: Enlisted on December 24, 1886 at New York, New York by Capt. Jackson.

Private Britten, William: Enlisted on May 11, 1889 at Cincinnati, Ohio, by Capt. Ropes.

Private Burch, Archie: Enlisted on April 29, 1890 at Concordia, Kansas, by Lieut. Donaldson.  Sick in quarters from Dec. 23, 90 to Dec. 25, 90. Disease “acute bronchial catarrh” contracted in line of duty.

Private Daharsh, James F.: Enlisted on April 29, 1890 at Lansing, Michigan, by Capt. Nowlan.

Private Daniels, Joseph R.: Enlisted on December 16, 1887 at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, by Capt Bisbee.

Private Deavey, William H.: Enlisted on July 25, 1888 at New York, New York, by Lieut. Wheeler.

Private Flamer, Beirne: Enlisted on January 19, 1889 at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, by Lieut. Sands.  On special duty (as post baker) from Oct. 15, 90 to Nov. 23, 90 per Paragraph VII Order #228, Fort Riley, Kansas.

Private Foley, William C.: Enlisted on October 26, 1886 at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, by Lieut. Andrews.  On furlough for 2 months since Oct. 26, 90, by authority of the Department Commander surrendered his furlough and rejoined troop Nov. 23, 90.

Private Foley, Patrick: Enlisted on December 30, 1886 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by Lieut. Scott.  On special duty (as attendant in the post canteen) from Oct. 15, 90 to Nov. 23, 90 per Order #228, Fort Riley, Kans. Series 1890.

Private Gauntt, William I.: Enlisted on April 17, 1888 at Camden, New Jersey, by Lieut. Heyl.

Private Gerhan, Francis: Enlisted on August 12, 1887 at Ash Hollow Northern Platte, Nebraska, by Capt. Gibson.  On extra duty in the Quartermaster Department (as clerk) since Dec. 8, 90 per Field Order #5 Camp at Pine Ridge Agency, S. D. Dec. 8, 90.

Private Hagmuller, Mathew: Enlisted on April 6, 1889 at Fort Riley, Kansas, by Lieut. McCormick.  On special duty in connection with the post mess hall at Fort Riley, Kans. (as butcher) from June 9, 90 to Nov. 23, 90 per Paragraph IV Order #127 C.8. Fort Riley, Kans.

Private Harris, Jessee G.: Enlisted on April 29, 1890 at Concordia, Kansas, by Lieut. Donaldson.  Sick in quarters from Dec. 17, 90 to Dec. 21, 90. Disease “follicular tonsillitis” contracted in line of duty.

Private Hayward, William H.: Enlisted on April 19, 1890 at Detroit, Michigan, by Lieut. Lockett.

Private Herritt, Elwood: Enlisted on August 4, 1888 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by Lieut. Scott.

Private Hoey, Michael G.: Enlisted on November 2, 1887 at New York, New York, by Lieut. Wheeler.

Private Holt, Charles: Enlisted on March 21, 1889 at Fort Riley, Kansas, by Lieut. McCormick.

Private Hopper, Hatfield: Enlisted on February 1, 1889 at Newark, New Jersey, by Lieut. Carter.

Private Johnson, James C.: Enlisted on August 16, 1888 at Boston, Massachusetts, by Capt. Miller.  On confinement from Aug. 8, 90 to Nov. 18, 90 sentenced by General Court Martial per G.C.M.O.#11 Headquarters  Department of the Mo. Aug. 19, 90 to be confined at hard labor under charge of the guard for 3 months and to forfeit to the U.S. ten (10) dollars of his pay per month for the same period Court Martial fine deducted on Nov. payments.

* Private Kern, William: Enlisted on February 25, 1889 at Newark, New Jersey, by Lieut. Carter.  Sick in General Hospital at Pine Ridge Agency, S.D. since Dec. 30, 90. Disease “Gun shot wound (face)” contracted in line of duty, shot in face while in action with Sioux Indians at White Clay Creek Dec. 30, 1890.

Private King, Walter D.: Enlisted on November 12, 1888 at Boston, Massachusetts, by Capt. Miller.  In confinement since Oct. 31, 90 at Fort Riley, Kans. Sentenced by General Court Martial per G.C.M.O.#35,  Headquarters  Department of the Mo. Nov. 15, 90 to be confined at hard labor under charge of the post guard for six (6) months and to forfeit ten (10) dollars per month for the same period serving sentence at Fort Riley, Kans.

Private Lunsberry, Frank: Enlisted on April 20, 1888 at Newark, New Jersey, by Lieut. Carter.  Sentenced by Garrison C.M. per Order #192 C.8. post to forfeit to the U.S. then (10) dollars of his pay and to be confined at hard labor for 10 days. Tried by a General Court Martial for desertion found not guilty of desertion, but guilty of absent without leave and sentenced to forfeit to the U.S. ten (10) dollars per month of his pay for six (6) months, and to be confined at hard labor under charge of the post guard for the same period except that the first five (5) days of each month shall be in solitary confinement and on a bread and water diet per G.C.M.O. #34, Headquarters  Department of the Mo. Nov. 8, 90 in confinement at Fort Riley, Kansas, serving sentence. Due U.S. for Ordnance and Ordnance stores one (1) dollar for Camp and Garrison Equipage seventy seven (77) cents.

Private Litz, Herman M.: Enlisted on March 30, 1888 at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, by Capt. Drum.  On extra duty in the Quartermaster Department (as mechanic from Oct. 19, 89 to Nov. 23, 90 per Paragraph V Order #210 series 1889 Fort Riley, Kans.

Private Lindberg, Andrew: Enlisted on August 21, 1888 at Portland, Maine, by Capt. Cusick.  Sick in quarters and hospital at Fort Riley, Kans., since Sept. 17, 90. Disease “sub clavicular dislocation right shoulder” contracted in line of duty caused by his horse falling while the Troop was charging on mounted drill Sept. 17, 90 at Fort Riley, Kansas.

Private Martin, James W.: Enlisted on August 12, 1887 at Washington, District of Columbia, by Lieut. Paxton.

Private McCann, Hungh: Enlisted on June 21, 1887 at New York, New York, by Capt. Jackson.

Private McCarthy, Lawrence: Enlisted on March 26, 1890 at Boston, Massachusetts, by Capt. Kendall.

Private McCaw, John: Enlisted on February 15, 1889 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by Lieut. Dodd.

Private McGown, William: Enlisted on November 22, 1888 at Chicago, Illinois, by Capt. Kennedy.

Private McGuire, Thomas: Enlisted on April 9, 1888 at New York, New York, by Capt. Jackson.  On extra duty in the Quartermaster Department (as laborer) from Oct. 14, 90 to Nov. 23, 90 per Order #227 C.8. Fort Riley, Kansas.

Private Moran, William: Enlisted on November 16, 1888 at Springfield, Massachusetts, by Capt. Ropes.  On extra duty in the Quartermaster Department (as mechanic) from Nov. 12, 90 to Nov. 23, 90 per Order #253 C.8., Fort Riley, Kans. Sentenced by Summary Court Martial to forfeit to the U.S. five (5) dollars of his pay per Field Order #1, camp at Pine Ridge Agency, S.D. Dec. 1, 90.

Private Morean, Henry: Enlisted on July 31, 1888 at Fort Riley, Kansas, by Lieut. McCormick.

Private Murray, John: Enlisted on February 21, 1887 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by Lieut. Scott.  On confinement from Aug. 8, 90 to Nov. 23, 90. Sentenced by General Court  Martial per G.C.M.O. #26 Headquarters  Department of the Mo. Aug. 25, 90 to forfeit to the U.S. five (5) dollars of his pay per month for 3 months and to be confined at hard labor for the same period. Court martial fine deducted on Nov. payment.

Private Pratt, James W.: Enlisted on July 30, 1890 at St Louis, Mo. by Capt. Kauffman.  Assigned to Troop D, 7th Cav. per Paragraph. I Order #88, Headquarters , 7th Cav. Dec. 6, 90 to date from Nov. 28, 90. Joined Troop Dec. 6, 90. First enlistment. Due U.S. Laundry fifty-eight (58) cents. $4. per month retained General Order 85, Adjutant General’s Office 90.

Private Russell, Elmer E.: Enlisted on May 26, 1890 at Johnstown, Pennsylvania, by Capt. Gageby.  Due U.S. for clothing overdrawn at date of settlement, Nov. 25, 90, eleven dollars and eighty nine cents ($11.89) deducted on November payment.

Private Rosendahll, Christopher: Enlisted on January 18, 1887 at St Louis, Missouri, by Lieut. Wilder.

Private Sanger, Thaddeus N.: Enlisted on April 29, 1890 at Concordia, Kansas, by Lieut. Donaldson.  Relieved from duty as Troop Blacksmith and returned to duty as a private soldier to date from Dec. 6, 90 per Order #8 Troop D, 7 Cav. Dec. 6, 90.

Private Schmitt, Nicholaus: Enlisted on February 3, 1887 at St Louis, Missouri, by Lieut. Wilder.  On furlough for 1 month since Nov. 14, 90. Reported for duty and transportation to Capt. Moses Harris, 1st Cavalry at Milwaukee, Wisconsin Dec. 13, 90. Rejoined Troop at Camp at Pine Ridge Agency, S.D. Dec. 21, 90. Due U.S. for transportation furnished from Chicago, Ill. to Rushville, Neb. twenty five dollars and four cents (25.04) furnished by Capt. G. A. H. McCauley, Assistant Quartermaster, U.S.A.

Private Settle, Green A.: Enlisted on January 3, 1889 at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, by Lieut. Sands.

Private Sniffin, Frank W.: Enlisted on August 4, 1890 at Fort Riley, Kansas, by Lieut. McCormick.  Entitled to Reenlisted pay.

Private Sweeney, Thomas L.: Enlisted on December 24, 1887 at Fort Riley, Kansas by Lieut. McCormick.

Private Weidmeyer, John: Enlisted on August 21, 1888 at Camden, New Jersey by Lieut. Heyl.

Private White, Frederick: Enlisted on January 6, 1887 at New York, New York, by Lieut. Wheeler.  On special duty in connection with the post mess hall (as night cook) from Oct. 15, 90 to Nov. 23, 90 per Paragraph VII Order #228 C.8. Fort Riley, Kansas.

Private Winans, Albert N.: Enlisted on August 17, 1888 at Davenport, Iowa, by Lieut. Lovell.

Private Winans, George E.: Enlisted on August 21, 1888 at Davenport, Iowa, by Lieut. Lovell.  On extra duty in the Quartermaster Department (as mechanic) from Nov. 12, 90 to Nov. 23, 90 per Order #253 C.8., Fort Riley, Kans. Sentenced by Summary Court Martial to forfeit to the U.S. five (5) dollars of his pay per Field Order #1, Camp at Pine Ridge Agency, S.D. Dec. 1,

Loss  – Died

§ Private Reinecky, Frank T.: Enlisted on January 11, 1887 at Cleveland, Ohio, by Lieut. Vanon.  Killed in action with Big Foot’s Band of Sioux Indians on Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota December 29, 1890. Due U.S. for clothing overdrawn at date of death three dollars and nine cents ($3.09). Buried at Pine Agency, S.D. Dec. 31, 90. Number of Grave 12.

Loss – Transfer from Attached

Sergeant McElderry, Harry W.: Enlisted on October 29, 1886 at Fort Sisseton, Dakota Territory, by Lieut. Ritzins.  Transferred from Troop M, 7th Cavalry to Troop A, 7th Cavalry to date from Dec. 1, 90 per Order #86 Headquarters  7th Cavalry, Camp at Pine Ridge Agency, S.D. Dec. 1, 90.

The Recapitulation and Record of Events Page of A Troop, 7th Cavalry Regiment’s Muster Roll of December, 1891.

The Recapitulation and Record of Events Page of A Troop, 7th Cavalry Regiment’s Muster Roll of December, 1891.

Record of Events Which May Be Necessary or Useful for Future Reference at the War Department, or for Present Information.

From Nov. 1st to Nov. 23, 90 the Troop has performed the usual guard fatigue and other duties incident to the service at Fort Riley, Kansas.

The Troop left Fort Riley, Kansas and proceeded by rail to Rushville, Neb. arriving there at 11:30 a.m. November 26, 90 and marched to Pine Ridge Agency S.D. arriving at the latter place Nov. 27, 90. Distance by rail ___ miles distance marched 25 miles.

From Nov. 28, 90 to Dec. 27, 90, the Troop performed all duties incident to the service at this camp.  The Troop left camp Dec. 28, 90 and marched to Wounded Knee Creek, S.D. Dec. 29, 90 the Troop was engaged in the Battle of Wounded Knee Creek which lasted from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. with Big Foots band of Sioux Indians, Colonel Forsyth commanding the United States Troops. Casualties: One man killed and one wounded, 2 horses killed and one lost.  The command left Wounded Knee Creek at 4:30 p.m. Dec. 29, 90 and marched back to Pine Ridge Agency, S.D.  Dec. 30, 90 the Troop was engaged with Sioux Indians near the Drexel Mission on White Clay Creek, S.D. Casualties: One man wounded. 1 horse killed and one horse wounded. One private horse the property of 1st Lieut. W. W. Robinson, Jr., 7th Cavalry wounded. Total distance marched 52 miles.

Source: Adjutant General’s Officer, “7th Cavalry, Troop D, Jan. 1885 – Dec. 1897,” Muster Rolls of Regular Army Organizations, 1784 –  Oct. 31, 1912, Record Group 94, (Washington: National Archives Record Administration).
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Second Lieutenant Thomas Quinton Donaldson, C Troop, 7th Cavarly

One of these bucks I took a rifle from; he was lying under a squaw’s blanket with her, and had evidently tried there to shield himself while firing ; both were dead.

Second Lieutenant Thomas Q. Donaldson, Jr., C Troop, 7th Cavalry, at Pine Ridge Agency, 16 Jan. 1891. Cropped from John C. H. Grabill’s photograph, “The Fighting 7th Officers.”

Second Lieutenant Thomas Q. Donaldson, Jr., C Troop, 7th Cavalry, at Pine Ridge Agency, 16 Jan. 1891. Cropped from John C. H. Grabill’s photograph, “The Fighting 7th Officers.”

Lieutenant T. Q. Donaldson was one of the youngest officers in the Regiment at Wounded Knee.  The twenty-six-year-old South Carolinian had been with C Troop since joining the regiment at Fort Riley in September 1887 following graduation from the United States Military Academy.[1]  He provided concise testimony at the military investigation of Wounded Knee on 9 January 1891 wherein he detailed his role in the battle and focused on measures taken to avoid killing women and children.

Inset of Lieut. S. A. Cloman’s map of Wounded Knee depicting the position of C and D Troops, December 29, 1890.

Inset of Lieut. S. A. Cloman’s map of Wounded Knee depicting the position of C and D Troops, December 29, 1890.

I was located behind the 1st platoon of G Troop as located on the map on the 29th of December, 1890.  That after this firing commenced my platoon was separated from the other platoon on account of a wire fence which was behind us.  I took my platoon around this fence to a ravine in the rear and dismounted it to fight on foot, and placed the horses under cover of the ravine entirely out of fire, and started my men on foot towards some bucks and squaws who were firing (a number of Indians were firing from this party).  As I did so, there were 6 or 7 squaws came running up to me and evidently implored me not to kill them.  I pointed to the horses in the ravine, and they went down there and I told the corporal left with the horses to take care of them.  After the firing from this Indian line had ceased, I went up there with my men.  I saw a number of dead Indians lying around several bucks among them.  One of these bucks I took a rifle from; he was lying under a squaw’s blanket with her, and had evidently tried there to shield himself while firing; both were dead.  I had repeatedly ordered my men not to fire on squaws, and this order was obeyed throughout the day.[2]

Ernest Garlington in his The Seventh Regiment of Cavalry stated that, “Lieutenant Donaldson was struck by a bullet with sufficient force to penetrate his leather belt and his clothing.”[3]  The bullet apparently did not enter the officer’s body, as Donaldson was not reported wounded at either Wounded Knee or White Clay Creek.

Thomas Quinton Donaldson, Jr., was born on 26 June 1864 at Greenville, South Carolina, the second son of Thomas Q. and Susan B. Donaldson.  The senior Thomas was a native South Carolinian, the son of Nimrod and Sarah (McCullough) Donaldson.  He was a well educated man and became a lawyer in 1855.  In 1859 he married fellow Greenville native Sarah Barbara Hoke, the twenty-three-year-old daughter of David and Nancy (Bivings) Hoke.  Thomas enlisted in April 1861 in B Company, 2nd Palmetto Regiment, where he served as a corporal until May 1862 when he resigned due to failing health.  He served out the remainder of the war as the collector of war tax for Greenville County. Following the war, Thomas ran a private law practice and was elected to the state legislature in 1872.  Thomas and Susan had four children: Augustus Hoke, born in 1860, was a practicing attorney in Greenville and died in 1927; Thomas Quinton, Jr., the subject of this post, was born in 1864; Sarah E., born in 1869, married Albert Barnes, and died in 1949; and Nancy H., born in 1872, married Davis Furman and died in 1960.  The patriarch, Thomas Q., Senior, died in 1912, seven years after the death of his wife, Susan.[4]

Of Thomas Quinton Donaldson, Jr.’s life and career, a fellow West Point alumnus wrote the following necrology:

Young Donaldson attended the local schools of his native town and later went to the Patrick Military Institute in Greenville, South Carolina. After being there some two years, he learned that the students were to be given an opportunity to compete for a West Point cadetship. He entered this contest and won the appointment.
He reported at the Military Academy on August 28, 1883, and was admitted as a cadet to date from September 1. There were thirty-one other “Seps” with him; so he did not lack company during the period of his change from a “Sep Plebe” to a real “Plebe”.
His classmates adopted the abbreviation T. Q. as his nickname soon after his arrival, and this stuck to him throughout his military career.
His life at West Point was much like that of his comrades. He was highly studious and very religious. He had a fine sense of humor and enjoyed to the full the many amusing incidents that happened during the four-year grind at the Academy. He graduated in 1887, number 34 in a class of 64.
His first assignment was to the 3rd Cavalry, but this was changed while he was on graduation leave, and he joined the 7th Cavalry at Fort Riley, Kansas, in September, 1887.
At this time, Colonel (afterwards Major General) James W. Forsyth was commandant of the School for Cavalry and Light Artillery and Lieutenant (afterwards Major General) J. Franklin Bell was his aide. With two such able men at the helm, the school was coming rapidly into prominence and it was amid these scenes of activity and efficiency that young Donaldson began his service in the Regular Army.
Three years later (1890-91), he accompanied his regiment in the Wounded Knee Campaign and, after several engagements, was slightly wounded at White Clay Creek, South Dakota. [This statement is not substantiated by the official record.]
He became [Professor of Military Science and Tactics] of Patrick Military Institute in 1892 and on October 26 of that year married Miss Mary Elizabeth [Willson], daughter of the Reverend John [Owen Willson], D. D., President of Landor College of Greenville, South Carolina. Later, he was appointed [Professor of Military Science and Tactics] at the Clemson Agricultural College, at Fort Hill, South Carolina. He received his promotion to First Lieutenant in January, 1895.
It was not long after the conclusion of his detail at Clemson College that the Spanish-American War came on. Young Donaldson had been assigned previously to the 8th Cavalry, which he joined in time to accompany it to Cuba. The regiment returned to the United States in 1900, with station at Fort Riley, Kansas.
He was Post Quartermaster at Fort Riley at the time he received his Captaincy which was February 2, 1901. He accompanied his regiment to the Philippine Islands and remained for two years, 1905-1907.
Captain Donaldson went in for rifle-firing, even before he went to West Point, and finally became a very distinguished shot. During the period from 1888 to 1907 he was a member of various Department, Division, Army and National Cavalry Carbine and Rifle Teams.
The ideas about military education which T. Q. had absorbed at West Point and later, upon joining the School for Cavalry and Field Artillery had never been forgotten. So in 1908, he obtained a detail as a student to the Army School of the Line. He finished his year there as a distinguished graduate and then took the course at the Army Staff College, graduating in 1910. He received his Majority the next year and then followed several years on troop duty.
In 1915, T. Q. was detailed in the Inspector General’s Department. His long experience with the Line of the Army had well fitted him for this type of duty. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on July 1, 1916, and received his Colonelcy twelve days later.
The World War came on nine months later, and, on February 18, 1918, Colonel Donaldson was promoted to Brigadier General, National Army. Six months after this, he went to France and became Inspector General of the [Service of Supply], at Tours, which position he filled with such distinction that, not only did he receive the [Distinguished Service Medal], but also the French Government decorated him with the Cross of the Legion of Honor.
In June, 1919, he was returned to the grade of Colonel but remained on duty in the Inspector General’s Department. It was the next year that he investigated the circumstances attending the escape of the draftdodger, Grover Cleveland Bergdoll, and his report on that disgraceful affair is a classic.
After duty for a while as a member of the General Staff in the feverish after-the-war atmosphere and, later, with troops, he was appointed a Brigadier General in the Regular Army and ordered to the Philippine Islands (1925). He remained for two years as Commander of the 23rd Infantry Brigade at Fort William McKinley.

Maj Gen T Q Donaldson

Upon his return to the United States, he was assigned to command of the 16th Infantry Brigade with station at Washington, D. C. On December 11, 1927, he was promoted to Major General and assigned to the First Division, Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Later, he became Commanding General of the 8th Corps Area, which position he held until his retirement for ill health in June 26, 1928. [His retirement date is his sixty-fourth birthday indicating that he retired of age by law, not for ill health].  From that time, he was an invalid and spent the greater part of his remaining days in various hospitals. He died October 26, 1934, at the Veteran’s Hospital, Fast Northport, Long Island, New York.
He is survived by Mrs. Donaldson and by two sons and a daughter. One son, Augustus [Hoke] is in business in New York [and Naval Academy class of 1920]. Another son, Thomas Q., Jr., is a Captain in the 8th Cavalry [and Military Academy class of 1918]. [Mary] Sue, his daughter, is married to Major Casper B. Rucker, Infantry, General Staff, San Antonio, Texas.
Another son, John [Owen], served in the Aviation Branch during the World War with distinction. He was the 4th ranking American Ace, having brought down eight German planes and a German balloon. Shortly before the armistice he and his companion were forced down in Belgium and captured by the Germans. After several days’ imprisonment they escaped and, after nineteen days of almost incredible adventures, they reached Holland. The signing of the armistice enabled them to rejoin the American forces in London. [He was a recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross and the Silver Star Citation.] Later, John O. resigned from the Army and entered aviation in civil life. He was killed when his plane crashed about seven years ago.
T. Q. Donaldson was a kind and indulgent father and husband and an active, useful and distinguished officer. His family may well be proud of him. The members of the Class of 1887 who survive him were and still are conscious of his outstanding ability and will remember him always. May he rest in peace amid Arlington’s beautiful hills.[5]

Major General Thomas Q. Donaldson and his Wife, Elizabeth Willson, are buried at Arlington National Cemetery.[6]


[1] George W. Cullum, Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy vol. 3 (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1891), 411.
[2] Jacob F. Kent and Frank D. Baldwin, “Report of Investigation into the Battle at Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota, Fought December 29th 1890,” in Reports and Correspondence Related to the Army Investigations of the Battle at Wounded Knee and to the Sioux Campaign of 1890–1891, the National Archives Microfilm Publications (Washington: The National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration, 1975), Roll 1, Target 3, Jan. 1891, 696.
[3] Major E. A. Garlington, “Seventh Regiment of Cavalry,” The Army of the United States: Historical Sketches of Staff and Line with Portraits of Generals-in-Chief, Theodore F. Rodenbough and William L. Haskin, eds., (New York: Maynard, Merrill & Co., 1896), 266.
[4] NARA, Washington D.C.; U.S. Passport Applications, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Philippines, 1907-1925, Collection Number: ARC Identifier 1244181 / MLR Number A1 542, Box #: 4250, vol. 6; Yates Snowden and Harry Gardner Cutler, History of South Carolina, vol. 5 (The Lewis pub. co., 1920), 257 – 259; NARA, Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Fought in Confederate Organizations, compiled 1903 – 1927, documenting the period 1861 – 1865, Catalog ID: 586957, Record Group #: 109, Roll #: 154; Hunting For Bears, comp.. South Carolina Marriages, 1641-1965 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005, Source: South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research, Vol 11, #2, 4;, 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009, Year: 1850, Census Place: Eastern Subdivision, Anderson, South Carolina, Roll: M432_848, Page: 276A, Image: 558; Year: 1860, Census Place: Greenville, Greenville, South Carolina, Roll: M653_1220, Page: 402, Image: 159, Family History Library Film: 805220; Year: 1880, Census Place: Greenville, Greenville, South Carolina, Roll: 1230, Family History Film: 1255230, Page: 60A, Enumeration District: 081; Year: 1900, Census Place: Greenville Ward 6, Greenville, South Carolina, Roll: 1529, Page: 6A, Enumeration District: 0037, FHL microfilm: 1241529; Year: 1910, Census Place: Greenville Ward 6, Greenville, South Carolina, Roll: T624_1461, Page: 5B, Enumeration District: 0032, FHL microfilm: 1375474Obituary Index of the Greenville News, Greenville County Library System,
[5] N. F. M., “Thomas Quinton Donaldson, No. 3207, Class of 1887,” in Sixty-sixth Annual Report of the Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York June 11, 1935 (Newburgh: The Moore Printing Company, Inc., 1935), 140-142; R. F. Good, The 1920 Lucky Bag: The Annual of the Regiment of Midshipmen, United States Naval Academy (Copyright 1919), 44; NavSource Naval History, accessed 1 Feb 2014.
[6] Paul Hays, photo., “Thomas Quinton Donaldson, Sr,” FindAGrave, accessed 1 Feb 2014.
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