18 May 1873; Remolino, Coahuila, Mexico: For years the Kickapoos and Lipan Apaches had been raiding across the Rio Grande from Mexico, but the U.S. forces were hampered in their pursuit by not being able to cross the border. In May 1873 Col. Ranald S. Mackenzie was given an unofficial go-ahead to punish the raiders in their home villages.
Mackenzie led 4th Cavalry Companies, A, B, C, E, I, and M and 20 Seminole scouts, about 400 men, out of Fort Clark on 17 May. Carrying five days' rations, the column forded the Rio Grande, near the present-day town of Quemado, at dusk. That night, because the pack mules could no longer keep up, the troopers took all the supplies they could carry and cut the animals loose. By 6 a.m. they had reached their destination on the San Rodrigo River near the Mexican village of Remolino.
There were three Indian villages of about 50 to 60 lodges each. Mackenzie chose a full frontal assault in a succession of companies. Each platoon charged in, fired, wheeled right, and doubled back for another pass. Time after time they repeated the maneuver, sweeping the length of the three camps. Lt. Robert G. Carter, who had seen attacks in the Civil War, affirmed, "I never saw such a magnificent charge as that made by those six troops of the Fourth U.S. Cavalry."
The attack was devastating. The troopers torched the Indians' homes, supplies, and crops. On the return mach they trekked straight through Remolino, under the scowls of the Mexican inhabitants. Afterward, some officers learned they had crossed into Mexico without orders and told Mackenzie that had they known, they would not have gone, to which Mackenzie snapped, "Any officer or man who had refused to follow me across the river I would have shot!"
Three soldiers were wounded, Pvt. Peter Carrigan mortally. The cavalry killed 19 Indians, wounded about 12 more, and brought back 42 captives. They also recovered 65 horses with Texan brands.
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