McClellan Creek Wagon Charge

Michael has a BA in History & American Studies and an MSc in American History from the University of Edinburgh. He comes from a proud military family and has spent most of his career as an educator in the Middle East and Asia. His passion is travel, and he seizes any opportunity to share his experiences in the most immersive way possible, whether at sea or on the land.

Part of our in-depth series exploring the forts of Comancheria

8 November 1874; Jericho, Texas: Two days after Grey Beard defeated Lt. Henry J. Farnsworth, his Cheyenne village of about 100 lodges and 200 warriors was hit by more soldiers. Lt. Frank D. Baldwin and Troop D of the 6th Cavalry and Company D of the 5th Infantry, heading to Camp Supply with 23 empty wagons, had permission to attack any hostile Indians they encountered.

Upon spotting Grey Beard's camp on 8 November, Baldwin formed his wagons in a double column, placed the infantry in them, and surrounded them with mounted cavalry. At 8:30 a.m., the bugler sounded the charge and the unorthodox assemblage galloped into the village. Grey Beard's warriors managed to hold the soldiers off for a time while the women and children scattered. Then the warriors fell back, making two stands to give their families more time to escape, as Baldwin chased them about 12 miles across the prairie.

Lt. Baldwin's command had no casualties, but he estimated that the Cheyennes lost about 20 warriors.

When the soldiers returned to destroy the camp, they found two young white girls, age five and seven. They were Adelaide and Julia German, whose parents and brothers had been killed in an attack in western Kansas in September. Their two older sisters, Catherine and Sophia, age 13 and 18, had also been hostages at the camp, but the Cheyennes had taken them during the excavation. The soldiers were emotionally overcome when they learned of the girls' plight. One teamster remarked, "I have driven my mules over these plains for three months, but I will stay forever or until we get them other girls."

Eventually, after the tribes surrendered, Catherine and Sophia were released. Because the four girls had no other family, Col. Nelson A. Miles became guardian of the youngest three and saw to their upbringing and education.

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