Search billions of records on Ancestry.com
   









Records Relating to Investigations of the Ft. Philip Kearny (or Fetterman) Massacre
Testimony of George B. Mackey
M740 roll 1 of 1
National Archives & Records Administration



George B. Mackey, being duly sworn, testified as follows.

Ques.   What is your name, age, and occupation?
Ans.   Geo. B. Mackey. I am thirty years of age, and now in the employ of the U.S. Government at Omaha.
     
Ques.   Where did you reside on the 21st December, 1866?
Ans.   At Fort Phil Kearney. Was a soldier in Company "E", 18th U.S. Infantry.
     
Ques.   How long had you been there?
Ans.   Had been there since July 1866. I went there with the first troops.
     
Ques.   What was the state of discipline?
Ans.   Very good as far as I was able to judge, among the enlisted men.
     
Ques.   Why do you limit the discipline to the enlisted men?
Ans.   There was ill feeling among the Officers, but the reason for it I know nothing of, to such an extent that the enlisted men knew of it.
     
Ques.   Were there Indian attacks while you were there?
Ans.   There were.
     
Ques.   In what manner were the troops formed and led out to resist the attacks and pursue the Indians?
Ans.   Previous to the 6th of December, the troops went out in a loose manner, each man that chose to go, saddling up his horse and going without any ranks being formed, and each one on his own hook. Captain Brown usually went out with them.

The Colonel issued a very stringent order some time in September, against the men going in this manner. The order was complied with in some respects. The non commissioned officer in charge of the mounted detachments generally formed the ranks after this, and two or three officers, not in command of the troops, generally went along with them. On the 6
th of December, if I remember correctly, there was a regular detail made. The detail was formed on the parade ground, and the Officers detailed took command of them in regular order. After they got out, the command separated, Lieutenant Bingham, of the 2nd Cavalry, commanding the cavalry detachment, and Lieutenant Grummond the mounted Infantry.

Leaving the rest of the troops, these Officers with three or four enlisted men, pursued a single Indian, and overtook him, as Lieutenant Grummond said, in about a mile and a half. They undertook to cut him down with sabres, but could not do it. While they were doing this, the Indians came up and surrounded them. Lieutenant Grummond was mounted on a very fine horse and rode through the lines. This was the last Lieutenant Grummond saw of Lieut. Bingham.

Lieutenant Grummond then joined the enlisted men who had fallen behind, and was then again surrounded by the Indians. While they remained there, two of the men were wounded with arrows.

They finally started to ride through the Indian lines, their loads being expended. Lieutenant Grummond, and the two wounded men succeeded in getting through, but Sergeant Bowers of my company was pulled from his horse and killed.

Lieutenants Bingham and Grummond both went out without ammunition, except the loads in their pistols. Lieut. Grummond then joined Colonel Carrington.

On the morning of the 21
st of December, we had sent a wood train out, with a small escort of soldiers, to bring in fuel and timber. I think it was about 7 o'clock in the morning when the wood train went out. About 9 o'clock, five or six Indians made their appearance on the opposite side of Peno [sic] Creek from the Fort, and told us to come out and fight them, calling us Sons of bitches. The Colonel thought it was only a feint, made to attract our attention in that direction, while the larger body of Indians would attack the wood train, at that time out of sight of the Fort. He ordered Major Powell to take a detachment of Infantry and cavalry and bring the wood train back, no matter whether it was loaded or empty, or whether it had gotten to the woods yet or not.

Colonel Fetterman objected to Major Powell's going. He said that if anyone went except the Colonel, he wanted to go himself, on account of his rank. The Colonel then told him that he could go.

The dismounted part of the command was ready to start several minutes in advance of the Cavalry. Colonel Carrington told Colonel Fetterman to start ahead with the infantry, and he would send the cavalry along as soon as they reported to him. The Cavalry came up a few minutes later, and Lieutenant Grummond was placed in command. He was ordered to report to Colonel Fetterman and take orders from him.

Between eleven and twelve o'clock, heavy firing was heard from the direction of Big Horn road, in a different direction from the wood train and from the direction we supposed the troops were in. What I call the Big Horn road is the road to Fort C.F. Smith.

Captain Ten Eyck was then sent out, with from fifty to seventy infantry, and a few citizens went with him. When they arrived on the ground the fighting was all over. Captain Ten Eyck started about 12 o'clock M. The Indians were still on the ground when Captain Ten Eyck arrived there. One of the men who was out with him, told me they seemed to be taking away their dead and wounded and captured stuff. He said they had a line formed, with their right resting on the ground where the fight had taken place, and that they had their killed and wounded, and captured horses and property, on the left of the line.

The men that went from my company had fifty rounds of ammunition. I don't know what the other companies had.

They brought half of the dead men in that evening, and half the next day. They were buried three days afterwards.
     
Ques.   Did Colonel Fetterman receive the same orders that Major Powell did?
Ans.   I believe he did.
     
Ques.   Was any ill feeling existing between Colonels Fetterman and Carrington?
Ans.   I think there was.
     
Ques.   What was the number of men accompanying the wood train?
Ans.   From forty to fifty, including teamsters.
     
Ques.   Were there not officers enough in the garrison to detail to accompany wood trains?
Ans.   I think there were. It was never done till after the massacre.
     
Ques.   Was there ever any order issued as to the number of rounds of ammunition each man should keep on hand?
Ans.   There was a post order requiring twenty rounds.
     
Ques.   Was there any regular daily inspection of arms and ammunition?
Ans.   There was an inspection at retreat roll call. Ammunition was always inspected whether the arms were or not. The men were, in some cases, punished if they did not have the required number of rounds.
     
Ques.   What was the ill feeling existing among the Officers?
Ans.   Jealousy, partly towards the Commanding Officer. There was not that harmony that should be in a regiment.
     
Ques.   Independent of the attacks, was there any intercourse with the Indians—with what tribes of Indians, and what was the impression generally of the state of feeling among the Indians, towards the troops?
Ans.   The first Indians we met, was party of Cheyennes at Clear Fork, fifteen miles this side of Fort Phil Kearney. Those Indians stopped us, and through an interpreter we talked with them. They showed us papers from the Laramie treaty and wanted provisions. The next morning, before we moved, they came to camp again and said their village was only a short distance off, and we gave them more provisions. They came in every day or two after that, until one evening after they went away, a trader about four miles from us was murdered and a herd of fifty eight mules driven away. They came once after and said it was the Sioux who drove the stock off. They offered to go and bring the stock back if the Colonel would furnish a hundred head of horses for the trip. The arrangement was not made, and they went away again. This was about the last time they came to camp.