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Before the Indian unrest of 1868 in Oklahoma, Governor of Kansas, Samuel J. Crawford, resigned his position as Governor to assume command of the 19th Kansas Cavalry, which had 1,200 men on the regimental muster rolls. They mustered into service on October 20th, 1868 in Topeka, Kansas for a six-month duty tour. Joseph Smith Fanning my Great-grandfather who served during the Civil War with the 4th Illinois Volunteer Cavalry, joined the 19th Kansas Cavalry, he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant.

Samuel J. Crawford and his regiment were to fight the Cheyenne, Comanche, Kiowa’s, and the Arapaho Indians on the Indian lands in the Oklahoma Territory.

Also many well-known pioneers during this period had enlisted in to the 19th Kansas Cavalry, Well known David L. Payne, known as the Father of Oklahoma, he was appointed a Captain in command Company “A”. David L. Payne is now rest in Stillwater Oklahoma, county of Stillwater that was named in his honor.

After forming the regiment and completing their drills the now newly formed regiment had received their orders to saddle up, and depart Topeka, Kansas, for Fort Supply in Indian Territory. On the morning of November 5th, 1868 the Regiment began their trip Southward to Fort Supply where Custer and the 7th Cavalry was posted. On the 14th of November, the regiment was to find they had to cross the Arkansas River during a terrible severe winter snowstorm.

After crossing the nearly frozen Arkansas River they began their tracking of the hostiles. The snow being around 12 inches deep, made it very difficult for the men and their horses, to travel, so their travels were very slow. The soldiers of the 19th Kansas found they had no choise but too fight the Indians in the middle of a terrible winter. The U.S. army at this time found fighting in a winter storm not advisable and usually posted camp to winter out the storm, this was a new approach of fighting in the new Post Civil War Army but the 19th Kansas Cavalry slugged through the storm, hoping to meet up with Custer for the upcoming campaign.

Mean while at Fort Supply, General George Armstrong Custer was waiting for the 19th Kansas Cavalry to arrive so he could combine forces and attack Black Kettle’s Village. But Samuel J. Crawford and his Kansas Cavalry arrived at Fort Supply late; Crawford found that Custer and his 7th Cavalry had already gone. They had left the day before without them. Custer finding himself frustrated just couldn’t wait for the Kansas regiment any longer. He decided to give the order for his regiment to saddle up and leave without his reinforcements. (Sounds Familiar?) Custer soon found Black Kettles village at White Rock, so on November 27,1868, without any hesitation Custer ordered his 7th Cavalry to the attack. In doing so Custer was responsible for murder of 103 Cheyenne’s, including Black Kettle and his entire family. The 7th Cavalry escaped suffering twenty soldiers being killed while fourteen received various wounds. Major Joel H. Elliott and Captain Louis McLane Hamilton, (Grandson of Alexander Hamilton). At the time of Captain Louis McLane Hamilton’s death, was the youngest Captain in the U.S. Army. Major Joel H. Elliott is now at rest in the Officer’s Circle of Honor, in the National Cemetery at Fort Gibson, Oklahoma.

Custer had managed to narrowly escape this battle with a victory, let alone with his life, he had attacked in the early morning hours, while night still loomed, riding through Black Kettle’s camp shooting and cutting to pieces the sleeping Cheyenne people with their sabers. Having made his run through Black Kettles camp, Custer and the 7th Cavalry escaped in the early dawn hours of the 28th. Custer and the 7th were extremely lucky because Black Kettle’s Village was larger than Custer had thought, realizing this they retreated from the village. If he had not left when he did, he and the 7th Cavalry never would have shown up for the Great Indian Victory at Little Big Horn.

The Cheyenne were never able to recover from Custer’s attack on their village, so on December 24th, 1868, the Cheyenne along with other tribes surrendered to Custer’s regiments three weeks later. The 19th Kansas Cavalry never took part in Custer’s attack at White Rock, only because they showed up late due to the snowstorm, if they had the Cheyenne death total would have been greater.

After rounding up the various tribes, in the Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas Territory, the 19th Kansas returned to Fort Hays, Kansas. There they were mustered out of service on April 18th, 1869. A few of the members of the 19th Kansas Cavalry are buried in Oklahoma and Kansas. Three soldiers are buried in the Union Soldiers Cemetery in Oklahoma City.

The purpose of establishing of Fort Hays was to protect the Federally franchised railroad system, to guard the safe passage of the white man and to protect their interest. Too insure the safe passage and settlement of the newly required Indian lands of Kansas, Texas, and Oklahoma. Ensuring the trails stayed open for the miners heading for California’s Gold Rush territories.

For Further Study please read: The Book, “Fort Hays Keeping Peace on the Plains”, is a wonderful story of Fort Hays from 1865 through 1889. Writer Leo Oliva brings alive the past of Fort Hays in this stirring frontier book. James B. Hickok, (Wild Bill), William F. Cody (Buffalo Bill) and we have of course General George A Custer, Hero? Were just a few among the famous figures that added color to this area of History?

Ronald R. Wallace


"NEW" Medical Sketches of the 19th Kansas Cavalry

"NEW" The Runyon Letters

Chief Black Kettle

Geronimo's Resting Place

Excerpts from David L. Spotts Diary "Fort Sill"

Task Of Choosing A Name For The New Fort

The No Treaty Chief

Emporia News Paper Articles

Route Taken During The Washita Campaign of "1868-1869"

Governor S.J.Crawford writes to President Andrew Johnson

Major General Sheridan writes Governor Crawford

George A. Custer's greatest victory was a negotiated one

Picture of Marcellus Crum Company "G"

Picture of Leland Webb, of Company "G"

Thomas R Johnson Company "M", by James Richard Johnson

After the Campaign

Officers Rosters

Roster of Company "A"

Roster of Company "B"

Roster of Company "C"

Roster of Company "D"

Roster of Company "E"

Roster of Company "F"

Roster of Company "G"

Roster of Company "H"

Roster of Company "I"

Roster of Company "K"

Roster of Company "L"

Roster of Company "M"

Old Photographs

Visit Capt Pliley Web Site

Captain Moore Letter of Dead

Mount Albert Gordon, Company H