Fort Des Moines

By Joseph I. Lambert, Major, Second Cavalry
Copyright 1939 Commanding Officer, Second Cavalry, Fort Riley, Kansas
Capper Printing Company, Inc.

Early in June, 1907, orders were received to abandon the post of Fort Assiniboine, Montana, and to concentrate the whole regiment at Fort Des Moines, Iowa. The headquarters and first squadron were transferred by rail, arriving at the new station June 13. The second squadron marched from Fort Riley on July 21 to Fort Leavenworth, and then proceeded by rail to Fort Des Moines. The third squadron marched the entire distance, starting June 16, except for Troop K, which did not leave until August 24, and then traveled by rail on account of disease among the horses.

After arriving at the new post, the regiment was sent to St. Joseph, Missouri, in September to attend a military tournament. Soon after the return from this duty, on October 24, 1907, orders came for the second squadron to be sent at once to suppress a threatened Ute Indian uprising upon the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota. The squadron left the next day by rail for Gettysburg, South Dakota, and marched to Thunder Butte Creek, where camp was made October 31. In a few days the rest of the regiment followed and arrived at the same place November 11.

Dissatisfied with conditions on their reservation in Utah, the Ute Indians had fled from that place and later were conducted by the Sixth Cavalry to Fort Meade, South Dakota. From here they were taken to the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in June, 1908, where they were assembled at the time the Second Cavalry arrived. The presence of so many troops at the camp awed the Indians so that they did not make any further threats of an uprising. Captain Carter P. Johnson, Second Cavalry, who understood Indian sign language, was appointed to hold conferences with them relative to going to work. As a result of these meetings, the temper of these Indians soon changed, so that the regiment, except for Troop L, was relieved from this duty and returned to Fort Des Moines in the middle of December.

Troop L remained on duty with the Indians at Thunder Butte until July, 1908, and returned to Fort Des Moines on the 11th. A detachment of ten men from the troop remained with the Indians and conducted them back to their former home in Utah during the summer and fall of 1908.

In the summer of this year the regiment attended a camp of instruction at Fort Riley, Kansas. The trip was made by rail to St. Joseph, Missouri, then by marching to the maneuver grounds.

The following is an account of the march to Fort Riley and return as kept by Chaplain D. L. Fleming:

July 29th. The command left St. Joseph, Missouri, and marched to Atchison, Kansas, with an advance guard and a guard for the wagon train. Distance marched: twenty-three miles.

July 30th. Night march to Commings, Kansas, distance of twelve (12) miles. Problem executed: Attack and defense of a wagon train.

July 31st. Night march to Valley Falls, Kansas, distance nineteen and one-half (19 ½) miles. Problem: Defense of position.

August 1st. Night march to Meridan, Kansas, nineteen (19) miles. Problem: Attack of a position.

August 2nd. Sunday, remained in camp. Divine service held in a grove.

August 3rd. Marched to North Topeka, Kansas, camped at Reform School, distance fifteen (15) miles. Problem: Attack on position across road.

August 4th. Marched sixteen and one-half (16 ½) miles to Rossville, Kansas. Problem: Flank attack against head of main command.

August 5th. Marched twenty-four (24) miles to Wamego, Kansas. Problem: Defense of a town.

August 6th. Marched eighteen (18) miles to Manhattan, Kansas. Problem: Defense of crossroads. While encamped at this place we experienced a severe storm, the only one during the ten weeks’ absence from Fort Des Moines.

August 7th. Marched fourteen (14) miles to the Maneuver Camp Grounds, Pawnee Flats, Fort Riley, Kansas. Total distance marched 161 miles.

August 8th to September 8th, 1908. Remained in camp, performing the usual duties in Camp of Instruction and Maneuver.

The return march by the Second Cavalry to St. Joseph, Missouri, September 8th to 18th, covered one hundred and sixty (160) miles. The regiment formed part of the division commanded by General Morton, comprising representatives of all arms of the service: Cavalry, infantry, artillery, engineers and signal corps, all en route overland to participate in the United States Military Tournament held at St. Joseph, Missouri, September 21 to 26, inclusive.

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