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

Story 1

25 September 1864; Ravanna, Kansas: Hoping to "do a little killing," Maj. Gen. James G. Blunt, commander of the Upper Arkansas district, marched out of Fort Larned on 22 September with 400 2nd Colorado Cavalrymen, Companies L and M of the 1st Colorado Cavalry, 2 mountain howitzers, some Delaware Indian scouts, and 10 days' ration. They followed the Arkansas River south to the Cimarron Crossing, where Blunt learned of a large force of Indians (probably Cheyenne) on the Smoky Hill River, many miles to the north. Cutting cross-country, Blunt and his men reached the Pawnee Fork of the Arkansas the next day, 25 September, at dawn.

Blunt sent a scouting party upstream to hunt for a crossing. The scouts rain into a lodge and soon after, Cheyenne warriors. Blunt heard the firing and dispatched Maj. Scott J. Anthony, commander of Fort Larned, and 59 men of the 1st Colorado Cavalry to the scene. Six miles upstream, near present-day Ravanna, Kansas, Anthony and his soldiers collided with a much larger force of Indians.

Anthony sent messengers to alert Blunt but the Indians cut them off. Anthony fell back, firing, for five miles. After 11 soldiers had been hit, he finally formed his men up in a defensive perimeter while the Indians circled around. The soldiers managed to hit one warrior close to the perimeter, and Fall Leaf, a Delaware Scout, went out with a war whoop and scalped him. In Anthony's perception, the scalping "seemed to strike more terror into those Indians that anything else we had done that day."

Having heard nothing from Anthony for an hour, Blunt headed upriver with the rest of the command, arriving just in time to drive the Indians away. The soldiers chased the Indians west for two days, until their horses gave out. The Indians then headed north toward the Smoky Hill River.

In total, the Indians killed two troopers and wounded nine. Blunt counted nine Indian bodies.

Story 2

18-21 August 1868; West-central Kansas: On 18 August Indians attacked a wagon train carrying supplies for Fort Dodge and the upcoming expedition under Brig. Gen. Alfred Sully as it was leaving the Pawnee Fork. The drivers corralled the wagons and fought the Indians to a standoff, but the siege did not break. On the 20th , Lt. David W. Wallingford and 38 men of Company B, 7th Cavalry, rode out of Fort Dodge and dispersed the Indians. During the night, the Indians returned to attack again, but the soldiers repulsed them. Wallingford brought the wagons safely to the fort on 23 August.

Five citizens were wounded in the attack; Wallingford estimated that five Indians were killed and ten wounded.

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