Spring Creek

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The following is from the book, Encyclopedia of Indian Wars, by Gregory F. Michno.

16 May, 1869; Oxford, Nebraska: On 14 May, the morning after the battle at Elephant Rock, Maj. Carr's men found the Lakotas' trail, which led out of the Beaver Valley and headed northeast toward the Republican River. With "Buffalo Bill" Cody's dogged tracking, the 5th Cavalry followed in the Indian's' wake. When they reached the Republican, the trail turned east, downstream. At this point they reached the Republican, the trail turned east, downstream. At this point Carr ordered Lt. William C. Forbush to take the expedition's wagons on to Fort McPherson, while he kept two ambulances and all the provisions his men could pack on the horses, and the company pushed on.

The soldiers marched for two more days. During that time, they came upon two buffalo robes laid in the trail, with the heads pointing in the direction the Indians were traveling. The Indians probably believed they had shaken their pursuers and had left the sign for their tribesmen. Carr continued on.

At noon on 16 May, the tired command reached Spring Creek, northeast of present-day Oxford, Nebraska. Here they saw the Indians in the hills. Carr had sent Cody, Lt. William J. Volkmar, and ten men ahead to scout, and, suspecting trouble, he ordered Lt. John B. Babcock and his company to assist them. When Babcock caught up with Volkmar, they were ambushed by 200 warriors. Babcock led his command to high ground and formed a circle. While the bullets flew fast and furious around them, Babcock remained mounted to inspire the men. His action earned him a Congressional Medal of Honor. The soldiers held their position for half an hour, until a relief company under Lt. Bradley came into view, whereupon the Indians rapidly dispersed.

Three soldiers were killed, and three enlisted men and one civilian were wounded. No Indian casualties were reported.

The Indians fled south, back toward the Republican River, dropping much property in their haste to escape. Carr followed with his troops to the banks of the river. Here the trail split up on a dozen directions, and Carr, with horses and supplies exhausted, gave up the chase. He sent Cody to Fort Kearny, about 50 miles northeast, with dispatches, and the tired cavalry rode behind, reaching the post on 18 May.


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