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Records Relating to Investigations of the Ft. Philip Kearny (or Fetterman) Massacre
Testimony of Lt. W.F. Arnold
M740 roll 1 of 1
National Archives & Records Administration



Lieutenant W.F. Arnold, being duly sworn, testified as follows.

Question   What is your name, age, and occupation?
Answer   W.F. Arnold, 1st Lieutenant and Brevet Captain in the 27th U.S. Infantry. I am twenty five years of age.
     
Ques.   Where were you stationed on and immediately prior to December 21st 1866?
Ans.   I was stationed at Fort Phil Kearney. I was Adjutant of the Post, and Lieutenant Commanding a company stationed at the Post.
     
Ques.   State all the circumstances you know, connected with the establishment of the Post at Fort Phil Kearney, the Acts of hostility committed by the Indians, and all the circumstances connected with the massacre of December 21st 1866.
Ans.   I know nothing personally of the circumstances connected with the establishment of the Post at Fort Phil Kearney.

I arrived at Phil Kearney on the 2nd of December 1866. The first Indian hostilities that came to my knowledge, was on the 6th of that month. On that day, a messenger came in and reported that the wood train was attacked, and a force was sent out from the post, of infantry and cavalry, to reinforce them. In the fight that succeeded, Lieutenant Bingham and Sergeant Bowers were killed, and several men wounded. I was sent out with reinforcements but arrived just as the Indians were retiring. From what I saw of them, I could judge nothing of their numbers, or to what tribes they belonged. I should suppose, from what I heard from others, there were about two or three hundred.

About a week after that, the wood train was again attacked and reinforcements were sent out, but no engagement ensued. There was no on hurt on that occasion.

I know of no other trouble with the Indians until the 21st of December. On that day, about 9 A.M. a party of four Indians appeared on the bluffs opposite the fort, about a mile distant, and challenged the garrison, in English, to come out and fight them. Colonel Carrington fired three shots from a twelve pound howitzer, and one of his shots, (I think the second one,) developed about twenty Indians, who came out of a ravine where the shot exploded.

Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Fetterman, with some forty eight infantry, was detailed, as I understand it, to go out and protect the wood train, which had been attacked within about a mile of the post. I did not hear his orders given him.

Lieutenant W.G. Grummond, of the 18th Infantry, with twenty seven (27) of the 2nd U.S. Cavalry, mounted, was ordered to report to Colonel Fetterman and to obey his orders. When next I saw Colonel Fetterman's command, the Infantry were deployed as skirmishers along Piney Fork, in an entirely different direction from that which the wood train had taken. He then crossed Piney Fork, still diverging from the wood train, and took the road towards Peno Valley, and passed over into Peno Valley, which is out of sight of the Post, and about four miles from it. Firing was heard from the direction his command had taken, between, I think, eleven and half past eleven o'clock A.M. but it did not alarm any body, as it was the largest force that had ever been sent out from the garrison.

It could not have been much after twelve o'clock, when Dr. Hines and an orderly, who had been sent out to join this command, some time after it had left the post, returned with the report that they did not think it safe to join Colonel Fetterman's command, as the firing was so sharp. Colonel Carrington then ordered Captain Ten Eyck, of the 18th Infantry, with thirty five men, to proceed to their relief and join Colonel Fetterman's command. The Quartermaster's employees, some fifty in number, were then called up and armed, and sent to Captain Ten Eyck, with three wagons and ammunition. This was about half an hour after Captain Ten Eyck's party had left. About dusk, all the reinforcements returned with some forty nine bodies of Colonel Fetterman's party, all of whom had been massacred and mutilated.

Colonel Carrington, the next day, went out with infantry and a howitzer, and recovered the remainder of the bodies without opposition. The bodies were all stripped of their clothing and mutilated.

There were no further Indian troubles up to the time of my departure, January 23rd 1867. The Officers and men who saw the Indians, estimated their number at from fifteen hundred to two thousand. The words used in challenging the garrison to come out and fight, were "You sons of bitches, come out and fight us". The distance travelled [sic] for fuel and timber was from five to six miles. It could not be obtained nearer, and was not in sight of any part of the fort. On the day of the massacre, at about one o'clock P.M. after all the troops heretofore mentioned had left, there were in the garrison, but one hundred and nineteen (119) men. They were all armed I think. The guard of the wood train, after the attack on the 6th of December, consisted of eighty (80) men. There were that number on the day of the massacre.

Colonel Carrington first learned of the massacre about sun set, after the return of Captain Ten Eyck's party. Dr. Hines judged of the danger from the firing. He could not see the troops.
     
Ques.   How much ammunition did they take out?
Ans.   I can only judge from what they usually had at guard mount, from twenty to forty rounds. There was no inspection of the detachment sent out.
     
Ques.   Were the men composing the command raw recruits, or had they seen service?
Ans.   They were generally raw recruits and had had no opportunity of being drilled, as they were constantly employed in building the post.
     
Ques.   Did you see the bodies brought in, and did they have the appearance of having been tortured before they were killed?
Ans.   I did, and the surgeon of the Post said that there were no wounds upon many of them that were mortal, and I judge from this, some were tortured to death.
     
Ques.   Had Colonel Carrington any Indian scouts?
Ans.   No.
     
Ques.   Did he to your knowledge make any attempt to have any interview with the Indians?
Ans.   Not while I was there, but I know from good authority that he did hold a council with the Cheyennes in July last, but the day after the council, some stock was stolen and after that he would not allow an Indian to come near the post.
     
Ques.   Were the men you saw come out of the ravine, at the time the shell was fired, mounted?
Ans.   They were.

Very few bullet wounds were found on the bodies of the killed. Most of the wounds were from arrows.
     
Ques.   Did any horses return?
Ans.   No.
     
Ques.   Were many horses killed?
Ans.   Colonel Carrington told me there were comparatively few, either ponies or horses, killed.
     
Ques.   Did any of these Indians ever appear in sight of the fort, with any squaws or children with them?
Ans.   Not to my knowledge.
     
Ques.   Were the daily roll calls, prescribed and required by Army regulations, had at Fort Phil Kearney, during your stay there?
Ans.   They were.
     
Ques.   Was there an inspection of arms and ammunition had at retreat roll call, or any other roll call during the day?
Ans.   In a majority of cases there was. There was a great deal of bad weather when the men could not come out with arms at all.
     
Ques.   What number of rounds of ammunition was a man required to have in his cartridge box?
Ans.   I don't remember there was any Post order on the subject. It was generally understood that each man was to have forty rounds but I know a great many did not have that number.
     
Ques.   Did you inspect your company, while Adjutant?
Ans.   Sometimes. Not always.
     
Ques.   What did you do when you found a man did not have forty rounds of ammunition?
Ans.   I required the 1st Sergeant to supply the deficiency. There was great trouble in keeping ammunition in that country, as the men were disposed to trade and sell their arms and ammunition to citizens in that country. Arms and ammunition were very valuable.
     
Ques.   Was there plenty of ammunition at the post.
Ans.   There was.
     
Ques.   What number of Officers was it customary to send out with the escort of a wood train?
Ans.   They were sent out in charge of a non-commissioned officer.
     
Ques.   What number of Officers was it customary to send out with the parties detailed to attack the Indians?
Ans.   Three or four Officers were generally sent with a detail of from forty to eighty men.
     
Ques.   What was the number of the Officers at Fort Phil Kearney just prior to the massacre?
Ans.   I think there were eight Officers, exclusive of the Surgeon.
     
Ques.   Were the Officers who generally went out to attack the Indians, formally detailed by the Commanding Officer, or did they go on their own hook?
Ans.   With the exception of Captain Brown, who was not on duty at the Post, the Officers were generally detailed.
     
Ques.   Was the feeling among the Officers of the Post, harmonious, or otherwise?
Ans.   Some of them were not on the most friendly terms, but never clashed at all. The feeling was not harmonious, but there was no open rupture.