First Lieutenant Horatio Gates Sickel, Commander, E Troop, 7th Cavalry

…in remaining with a detachment of Troop “E”, 7th Cavalry, in a dangerous and difficult position in order to protect against possible mutilation the bodies of soldiers of his command already killed by the Indians….
–Colonel James W. Forsyth

Lieut. Horatio G. Sickel - Fighting 7th Officers - J. C. H. Grabill - colorized by Amy Gigliotti

First Lieutenant Horatio G. Sickel, Jr., E Troop, 7th Cavalry, at Pine Ridge Agency, 16 January 1891. Cropped from John C. H. Grabill’s photograph, “The Fighting 7th Officers.” Colorized by Amy Gigliotti.

Two weeks short of his thirty-seventh birthday, Horatio G. Sickel, Jr., was commanding E Troop during the Pine Ridge Campaign while Captain Charles S. Ilsley was commanding the 2nd Battalion. Lieutenant Sickel had served in E Troop for eight years and had been with the regiment since being transferred to it following the battle along the Little Big Horn River just a couple of weeks after graduating from the United States Military Academy in 1876. The troop’s second lieutenant was Sedgwick Rice, a civilian appointee that had been with the unit since transferring to the 7th Cavalry four years earlier. Lieutenant Sickel’s senior non-commissioned officer was First Sergeant Charles M. Clark, a veteran enlisted man with over twelve years in the saddle with the regiment and at least one prior enlistment with the 6th Infantry. E Troop had its full compliment of officers, fourteen of its fifteen non-commissioned officers, and forty-three of its forty-five privates at Wounded Knee, twelve of which were recently assigned from the recruiting depot at Jefferson Barracks, comprising twenty-eight percent of the troop’s junior enlisted soldiers.[1] Continue reading

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Captain Henry James Nowlan, Commander, I Troop 7th Cavalry—Gallant Service

Don’t fire, let them go, they are squaws….
Here come the bucks; give it to them!

Photograph of Henry J. Nowlan from Memorials of Deceased Companions of the Commandery of the State of Illinois, Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States.[1]

At the age of fifty-three–fifty-four according to British records–Captain Henry James Nowlan was the oldest of the 7th Cavalry officers, save that of Colonel J. W. Forsyth, and had commanded I Troop for fourteen years. The Irishman’s distinctive sideburns by 1890 were snowy white. Educated at Sandhurst and a veteran of the Crimean War and the American Civil War, Nowlan had been in uniform for almost four decades. He was cited for gallantry for his actions in leading I Troop at Canyon Creek in 1877, action for which he would eventually be awarded a brevet promotion to major but had not yet received by the time of Wounded Knee.

Capt. Nowlan brought I Troop to Wounded Knee with almost all of its authorized officers and soldiers; he was short one corporal and one private. Of his privates, nine had arrived from the recruiting depot during the campaign three weeks earlier, meaning that 20% of his privates were green soldiers with less than a month in the troop. Nowlan’s first lieutenant was W. J. Nicholson, who had served for six years at that rank and had been with the regiment for fourteen years, joining it a couple of months after the Little Big Horn. During the fight at Wounded Knee, Nicholson served as Major S. M. Whitside’s acting battalion adjutant. The I troop second lieutenant was J. C. Waterman, a thirty-three-year-old West Pointer who had been with I Troop since graduating from the academy in 1881. Jacob Trautman was Nowlan’s first sergeant, a twenty-seven year veteran who had served as the troop’s senior non-commissioned officer for the past decade and had joined the regiment a month after the Little Big Horn.[2] Continue reading

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Captain Winfield Scott Edgerly, Commander, G Troop, 7th Cavalry

Several of these Indians were wounded, and I had my dressers care for the wounds dressing a child’s wound myself.

Capt. W. S. Edgerly

Captain Winfield S. Edgerly, Commander, G Troop, 7th Cavalry, at Pine Ridge Agency, 16 January 1891. Cropped from John C. H. Grabill’s photograph, “The Fighting 7th Officers.”

Captain Winfield Scott Edgerly was forty-four years old at Wounded Knee. He joined the 7th cavalry two decades earlier after graduating from West Point in June 1870. As the second lieutenant of D Company, Edgerly fought in Captain Benteen’s battalion at the Battle of Little Big Horn. Edgerly was appointed the captain of G troop in 1883 while on recruiting service and joined his new troop in the fall of 1884 commanding it since that time. He had with him at Wounded Knee his first lieutenant, Edwin P. Brewer, but his second lieutenant, J. Franklin Bell, had not yet rejoined the troop by the end of December. Edgerly’s first sergeant was twenty-five-year-old Frederick E. Toy, a New York native two years into his second enlistment. G Troop had four of its five sergeants present and four corporals. His troop served as part of the regiment’s 2nd Battalion, then commanded by Captain Charles Ilsley, and formed up mounted on the eastern side of the cavalry camp at Wounded Knee the morning of December 29th.

Writing to his wife at Fort Riley on the evening of December 29 after returning from Wounded Knee, Capt. Edgerly described his and his units actions that day. Continue reading

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