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Records Relating to Investigations of the Ft. Philip Kearny Massacre
Testimony of Capt. Ten Eyck
M740 roll 1 of 1
National Archives & Records Administration
Transcription by Billy Markland



Evidence of Capt. T. Ten Eyck, 18th U.S. Infy.,
on the Fort Phil. Kearney Massacre



Fort Philip Kearney D.T.
July 5th 1867


Special Indian Commissioner met

Capt. T. Ten Eyck, 18th U.S. Infy., appeared this day before the Commission, was duly sworn and testified as follows.

My age is 47 years.
My occupation Capt. 18th U.S. Infy.
Residence My personal residence at this time Fort Philip Kearny [sic] D.T.

I arrived on this ground July 13th, 1866. I came here in command of a company of the 18th U.S.I. There were four companies that came here, in all, at or about that time.

The companies came here to build a Fort at this point, and two others on the road between here and Virginia City M.T., and Col. Henry B. Carrington of the 18th Infy. was in command of the expedition. Four companies remained here and built the Fort now known as Fort Philip Kearny D.T.

Two companies went above and built the Post that is now known as Fort C.F. Smith ninety five miles above on Big Horn River.

The other Post that was to have been built, higher up, on the Yellowstone River was not built on account of the lateness of the season and serious Indian difficulties; and the companies that were to have built that Post, were divided between Fort Philip Kearny D.T. and Fort Reno D.T.

I was appointed to command this Post, by Col. H.B. Carrington, Comdg. the Mountain District.

The building of the Post was commenced on the 15th day of July 1866, and carried on during the summer and fall, almost entirely by the labor of Soldiers, and was so far advanced by the 1st of Dec. 1866 that the troops were in Barracks, and the Officers in temporary log quarters, and three Commissary and Quartermasters [sic] buildings were erected and enclosed.

In addition to this labor, there were large details made for Cutting Hay, cutting & hauling wood and guarding wood and timber trains, escorting mail to Fort Laramie D.T. and Fort C.F. Smith M.T. and guarding Commissary Trains on the road between Fort Laramie D.T. and Fort C.F. Smith M.T.

The command was composed of Infantry, and about seventy five of whom were mounted.

And there was no cavalry at the Post until about the 1st of Nov. when one company of 2nd Cav., about fifty strong, under Lieut. H.S. Bingham 2nd Cav., arrived at the Post.


Question    What was the condition of the country from the time you arrived here up to the 1st of Dec. 1866. Peaceful or otherwise?

Answer   

Decidedly hostile.

Question    Did you keep any diary of passing events during that period?

Answer I did.

Question    Are you able to state from that Diary the appearance of hostile Indians, and the result?

Answer I am in regard to those that appeared near the Post.

From my memorandum it appears that on the 30th June, while lying at Fort Reno D.T. the hostile Indians appeared in force and drove off twenty eight mules and seven horses, belonging to Mr. A.C. Leighton the Sutler at that Post. They were pursued by about fifty mounted men but the herd was not recovered except one mule. The command returned to Camp about midnight, after a pursuit of nine hours, with eight or ten horses broken down, and several left on the road.

On the 14th of July a White man was sent into camp and stated that he had been sent by a Band of Cheyennes, who wished to come in and make arrangements for peace. Col. H.B. Carrington sent a guide to them stating that the Chiefs with a few followers might come in.

Eight Cheyenne Chiefs and others, twenty seven in all, came to the Post on the 16th of July. Council was held on that day, and safe conduct papers given them by Col. Carrington, and some provisions, they having professed friendship. They left for their village the same afternoon.

On the 17th of July a party of Indians, supposed to be Sioux, attacked the Govt. herd on the flat near the Post, and drove off about seventy five Govt. mules. They were pursued by Capt. Haymond with about twenty five mounted men, but after a short fight he found the Indians too numerous, and was obliged to retreat to the Post, without recovering the herd. On his way back he found that the Indians had murdered an Indian Trader by name of French Pete with seven other white men, his entire party, wounded his cattle and rifled the wagons. His wife being a Sioux squaw was allowed to escape with her children to the Post.

On the fight of Capt. Haymond with the Indians there were two soldiers and one citizen teamster killed and five soldiers were wounded.

On the same day, July 17th, in the afternoon, one hundred and thirty five Cheyenne warriors were allowed to camp within one mile of the Fort.

On the 19th July, forty cheyenne [sic] Indians came in at noon, had a talk and professed themselves peaceable, among the number was the leading Chief of the 135 before spoken of. The Chief of the 135 professed himself satisfied with the talk and arrangement that had been made, and received a protection paper.

They all left the same evening.

On the 20th the hostile Indians stole seven head of mules from a citizen train encamped near the Fort, were pursued by mounted Infantry, but no mules recaptured.

On the 23rd of July twenty Cheyennes came in and were allowed to trade with the Sutler Capt. Beale.

On the 24th July an Indian alarm at daybreak. About midnight information was received that our trains were corralled at Clear Fork of Powder River about 15 miles distant. Bvt. Lt. Col. Kinney was sent out to relieve them. He returned on the 25th with the train, and reported that Lieut. Daniels and one corporal of the 18th Inf. were killed by Indians at Crazy Womans Fork, on the 20th, and that a Wagon Master of one of our trains was killed on the 24rd

July 30rd.  Two alarms from the picket.

On the 5th August, several citizen trains came in to the Post. They reported a great deal of trouble on the way, lost eleven men killed and one wounded by Indians. August 9rd.  a small party of Indians attacked the Wood Train, were driven off without loss except one Govt. mule killed. One Indian reported killed or badly wounded.

Aug. 10rd.  Hay Party reported alarm from Indians the night before.

Aug. 31st.  Indians appeared near the Fort about noon, pursued by about 20 mounted men from the Garrison and one Indian pony was captured.

Private Gilchrist went out hunting without permission, but did not return, his pants were found a few days afterwards saturated with blood, and an arrow hole through them.

Sept. 8rd.  Indians drove off 20 head of mules the property of a contractor freighting Govt. Stores. They were pursued by mounted men from the Fort, without success, having been followed until the horses of the soldiers gave out. Late in the afternoon of this date another attack was made on the herd but without success.

Sept. 10rd.  In the afternoon of this date a party of Indians stampeded the cavalry horses and Govt. mules, and drove them off. All the men that could be mounted were sent out and succeeded in the recovery of the herd excepting 78 mules and 33 horses Govt. property.

Sept. 13rd.  At one and one half o'clock A.M. a courier arrived from Carter and Grary's party, hay contractors for the Govt. with the information that the party was attacked by a large number of Indians on Peno Creek 29 miles distant, and that one man was killed, and over 200 head of cattle driven off, hay machines burned &c. and asking for assistance. Capt. Adair was sent with 40 men in wagons for the relief of this party which was about 100 strong.

On the same day a party of Indians drove off Govt. mule and horse herd and wounded two of the herders. I with a small party of mounted men pursued them twelve miles, but could not overtake them as our horses gave out. Lost on this occasion twelve Govt. mules and 16 Govt. horses.

Sept. 14rd.  An alarm from the night picket. Three shots fired by the pickets at mounted Indians. At 4 P.M. of the same day Sergt. Bowers in charge of hay party reported Prv. Johnson cut off and captured by the Indians.

Sept. 17rd.  Ten Indians attempted to capture our picket on the Picket hill but were driven off.

The body of Grover a citizen employee was found on the wood road, about one mile from the Post, killed, stripped and scalped.

Sept. 20rd.  About twenty Indians attempted to drive off the herd of ponies belonging to a party of miners encamped near the Post but were repulsed with one Indian pony killed and one wounded.

Sept. 21st.  Indians stole two horses from a citizen, James S. Wheately.

Sept. 22nd. Hay train came in escorted by Lt. W.S. Matson 18th Inf. who reported that they had been corralled by Indians half a day, six miles outside the Post.

Sept. 23rd.  Indians drove off about 100 head of cattle the property of citizens, encamped near the Post. Capt. F.H. Brown 18th Inf. with twenty four mounted soldiers and citizens pursued them about ten miles, attacked and routed a large band of Indians supposed to be about two or three hundred Indians, recovered all of the stock, and, were supposed to have killed a number of Indians, and four citizens horses were wounded, and one man wounded.

Sept. 26rd.  Indians made a demonstration on our picket; a party of mounted men chased them a few miles, and met a party of Cheyenne Indians, nine in number who came into the Post with us, and camped near the stockade.

Private Smith of "H" Co. 18th Inf. was killed and scalped by Indians in the Pinery.

Sept. 30rd.  Indians made their appearance near the Post in small party and were chased away by a few mounted men.

Oct. 5rd.  Indians attacked the wood party in their cabin, in the Pinery, in the night [and] wounded Pvt. Wilson of "H" Co. 18th Inf. who afterwards died in the hospital.

Oct. 6rd.  Indians killed and scalped two privates of "A" Co. 18th Inf. who were on fatigue duty in the woods.

I omitted to state that Lieut. Matson on his return from the hay fields as stated under the date of Sept. 22nd, reported that on going to the hay field of the 17th Sept. he found the bodies of three men named [?unz], Woods and Parks about 11 miles from the Post. (They were scalped, stripped and mutilated otherwise,) and buried them where they were found. These men were connected with freight contracts and were returning from Fort C.F. Smith. They started with two teams of mules ahead of the cattle train and intended to reach the Post before the arrival of the Ox train, but were attacked in sight of the train and killed before assistance could be rendered them. 1

Oct. 13rd.  It was reported that the Indians were annoying the hay party of Mess. Carter and Crary about five miles from the Post. Col. Carrington with twenty Officers and men went out to their assistance, returned at dark, and reported that they had seen no Indians.

Oct. 19rd.  About twenty five Indians chased three men into camp and a party from the Garrison drove them back over the hills.

Oct. 27rd.  Lieut. Bradley 18th U.S.I. returned from the Yellowstone River having been an escort for Genl. Hazen Insp. Officer, and reported that James T. Brannan Post guide of Ft. Phil Kearney D.T. detailed with this expedition had been killed by Indians north of the Big Horn River, and Pvt. Brooks 18th Inf. was wounded in an Indian Fight.

Nov. 1st.  Indians fired, on citizens working for hay contractors, in the night wounding three, one of whom has since died and one lost his leg, the other recovering. At the same time they built large fires on the hill, half a mile from the stockade and attacked the herders of a contractors train a mile from the stockade. Capt. F.H. Brown with 25 men went out and brought in the herd.

Nov. 3rd.  An alarm from Indians in the night.

Nov. 7rd.  Bvt. Lt. Col. Fetterman, Capt. T. Ten Eyck, Bvt. Capt. Bisbee and Lieut. H.H. Link, with a small escort went to the Pinery to examine the timber. The Officers in advance of the escort, were fired upon by about 20 Indians in ambush. The Officers afterwards united with the escort and scoured the woods for Indians but found none and returned to the Post.

Nov. 21st.  Indians attacked the herd in the night but were driven off without loss.

Nov. 23rd.  Indians drove off nine Govt. mules, about noon. Capts. Brown and Bisbee with about 30 men followed them but returned in the evening without success.

Nov. 25rd.  The Indians run [sic] off about 18 head of cattle belonging to Weston & Saunders. Col. Carrington with about 75 mounted men pursued them. They returned in the evening, had recovered eight head and found four shot by the Indians.

Dec. 6rd.  Indians appeared on the hills around the Post. Col. Carrington, Lt. Col. Fetterman, Capt. Brown and Lieuts. Wands, Grummond & Bingham with thirty five cavalry and some mounted Infantry went in pursuit and found the wood train under attack and corralled. They relieved the wood train and followed the Indians to Peno Creek about 6 miles from the Post, when they had a fight with about 300 Indians. Lieut. H.S. Bingham 2nd Cav. and Sergt. Bowers "E" Co. 18th Inf. were killed and three soldiers wounded. There were five Govt. horses shot, and three mules in the wood train wounded.

Dec. 19rd.  Indians, estimated about fifty, attacked train going to the woods, and were beaten off by the guard. Maj. Powell with 40 Infantry and Capt. Brown and Lieut. Matson with 25 Cav. reinforced the wood train. Many Indians were seen across the Creek, but they did not advance. Major Powell with his party returned to the Post with the Train, without loss. Dec. 20rd.  Col. H.B. Carrington with a small fatigue party and guard, went to the Pinery, spent the day building a bridge and returned without seeing Indians.

Commission Adjourned Until 9 o'clock This P.M.


 
The Special Indian Commission, met at 9 o'clock P.M. Present, the Commissioner, Secretary and Witness


Question    In your history of events you have reached the 21st of December 1866. The day on which Brvt. Lt. Col. Fetterman and his party were massacred. State as succintly [sic] as possible all the facts within your knowledge, connected with that massacre.
Answer On the morning of the 21st of Dec. a party of ten or twelve Indians appeared on the hills across the Big Piney, within half or three quarters of one mile of the Fort about 10 o'clock. Three shots were fired at them from a Field Howitzer in the Fort, which dispersed them, they taking a northerly direction over the hills, but sill remaining in sight.

About this time Brvt. Lt. Col. Fetterman, with 50 Infantry, marched out of the Fort with orders, as I understood, to protect the wood train, which had started to the Pinery. Lieut. Grummond 18th Inf. with twenty nine Cavalry under his command, a few minutes later, started with orders to join and report to Col. Fetterman.

The road to the Pinery runs over the ridges westerly from the Fort, and almost parallel [sic] with the Big Piney Creek, and from half to three quarters of a mile south of the Creek, for about four miles, after which it gradually approaches the Creek and crosses it about six miles from the Fort.

Col. Fetterman's command did not take the road but went down into the bottom lands near the creek, and was joined by Capt. F.H. Brown, who started from the Fort alone. By following up the bottom land the command could have reached the road, where it crosses the Big Piney, in about the same distance as if it had taken the road. The usual ford across Big Piney, on the Virginia City road, is about one half a mile north of the Fort. The command marched a short distance above this ford, then countermarched and crossed the Creek at the ford, on the ice. At this time a few Indians, apparently lookouts or pickets were visible on the hills on the opposite side of the stream from the Fort and about three miles distant. The infantry marched up the Virginia City road, which follows up a ravine for some miles, being flanked by the cavalry on the ridges. Soon after this the command disappeared from the sight of those in the Fort at a point about three and one half or four miles distant and where the road descends into the valley of Peno Creek.

About ½ an hour after the command left Dr. Hines Actg. Asst. Surg. at the Post and Lieut. W.S. Matson 18th Inf. with two men, all being mounted, rode up on the high lands on the road to the Pinery, and after an absence of nearly an hour, returned and reported that they heard very heavy firing in the direction of Peno Creek valley, which firing was distinctly heard in the Garrison about the time they returned.

At this time I received an order from Col. Carrington, to take command of a detachment of about forty infantry and dismounted cavalry, and proceed as rapidly as possible to the scene of action, and join Col. Fetterman if possible. As soon as the detail was formed which occupied but a very few minutes, I started, following the course which Col. Fetterman had taken, crossing the Creek at the same place, and marching up the road. Lieut. Matson at my request was allowed to accompany me, and Dr. Hines was likewise sent out by Col. Carrington. Several citizens joined my party as volunteers.

My reason for taking the road was that I could accomplish the distance sooner, and with less fatigue to my men, there not being as much snow on the road, the ascent being more gradual, and the ridge being intersected by several deep ravines, that were partially filled with snow.

After proceeding about four miles I came upon the crest of a hill where the road descends into Peno Creek valley, and here I first came in sight of the Indians. This march occupied but little, if any, over an hour. Up to the time we crossed the Creek, we heard heavy firing apparently in volleys, after which very little firing was heard by me.

From the point on the hill where I first came in sight of the Indians I could see a distance of several miles along the valley of Peno Creek. From this point the road descends for near half a mile abruptly, then a gradual ascent for about a quarter of a mile, to the summit of a small hill from which the road follows a narrow ridge for about a mile, and then descends abruptly into the valley of Peno Creek. Upon both ends of this ridge are a number of large rocks lying above the surface and beside of the road. When I first came in sight of the Indians they were occupying the ridge, just described and extending a distance of a mile or more beyond the further point of the ridge. About one hundred, mounted, appeared congregated about the pile of rocks on the ridge nearest to my position. Many were passing backwards and forwards on the road, but no indications of a fight going on.

I could discover none of Col. Fettermans [sic] party. I thought that they might be surrounded near the further point at which I could see Indians, or that they might have retreated to the West and joined the wood party at the Pinery. I dispatched a mounted courier to the Fort, asking the Commanding Officer for reinforcements and artillery. I then marched my men along the crest of the ridge in a westerly direction by which I could gradually approach the nearest point of rocks without losing my commanding position on the higher hills. As I advanced I observed that the group of Indians nearest the rocks named, became much less as I approached, so that when I arrived within about six hundred yards of the rocks, there were but four Indians remaining at that point. I was then enabled to discover a large number of naked bodies lying there. I then fired a few shots at the four Indians remaining who retired precipitately and joined the main body, who were slowly retiring along the road.

About this time I was joined by about forty employees of the Quartermasters Department with three wagons and an Ambulance, who I afterwards ascertained were sent from the Garrison before my courier arrived.

The Indians at this time to all appearance, were forming in line of battle on the high hills across the valley, about two miles distant.

Question    From your experience in estimating the numbers of men, during the late war, how many Indians did you think you saw at that time?
Answer I am sure that there were not less than 1500 and I think over 2000.
 
The Commission adjourned until 9 o'clock tomorrow morning

 
The Special Commission met Present the Commissioner, Secretary, and Witness

   
Question    How long was it after you came in sight of the Indians, before you was [sic] joined by the Citizen Employees which you have mentioned?

Answer About three quarters of an hour.

Question    Did the Indians retire from sight while you were on the hill.

Answer They did not, on the contrary I was expecting an attack every moment until I left for the Post.

Question    After the Wagons arrived did you advance to the point of rocks where you discovered the naked bodies.

Answer I did.

Question    State if you please how many bodies you found there, their appearance, and whether you recognized any of them.

Answer I cannot state the exact number lying at that point as I did not count them, but I think more than sixty. In their appearance they were all stripped stark naked, scalped, shot full of arrows and horribly mutilated otherwise, some with their skulls mashed in, throats cut of others, thighs ripped open, apparently with knives. Some with their ears cut off, some with their bowels hanging out, from being cut through the abdomen, and a few with their bodies charred from burning, and some with their noses cut off. I was able to recognize several whom I was most intimately acquainted with, and among them Capt. F.H. Brown.

Question    State the names of the Officers who were killed on that occasion.

Answer Brvt. Lt. Col. W.J. Fetterman, Capt. F.H. Brown & Lt. G.W. Grummond, all of the 18th U.S. Inf.

Question    Did any of the Officers or men, who went out that day with Col. Fetterman return to the Post alive.

Answer Not one; but all were killed, and their bodies afterwards brought into the Post for burial.

Question    Did you, with the wagons that came out, bring in any of the bodies, and if so how many?

Answer I brought in, I think, forty seven bodies, all the wagons could conveniently carry.

Question    At what time did you reach the Post?

Answer About sunset of the same day.

Question    When were the remaining bodies brought in?

Answer On the evening of the next day.

Question    How, and by whom were they brought in.

Answer There were brought in by wagons, by Col. H.B. Carrington in command, and in charge of the cavalry, and myself in charge of the Infantry, amounting in all to about eighty men.

Question    How far, from the nearest point, where the first bodies were found, was it to the most remote bodies?

Answer About one mile, and at the farthest point of rocks spoken of in my testimony.

Question    How many were found at that point of rocks.

Answer I think five or six, and among them Jas. S. Wheately and William Fisher; two citizens.

Question    Where were the remaining bodies found?

Answer Scattered along the ridge road between the two points of rocks, most of them nearest the point of rocks towards the Post.

Question    Where was the body of Lieut. Grummond found?

Answer About forty rods beyond the point of rocks where the first bodies were found. And the body of Col. Fetterman near that of Capt. Brown, at the first point of rocks.

Question    How many were killed by the Indians on that occasion.

Answer Eighty one. Three Officers, seventy six enlisted men and two citizens.

Question    Do you know what nation or tribe of Indians was engaged in that massacre?

Answer I do not, except from reports received from Indians. It is generally understood to have been done by the Sioux accompanied by a few Cheyennes.

Question    Do you know how many rounds of ammunition Col. Fettermans men had when they left the Post?

Answer I do not positively. From the best information I have been able to obtain, I am of the opinion that the Infantry had from twenty five to thirty rounds each, and the cavalry about sixty or seventy rounds each.

Question    How were the cavalry and infantry armed?

Answer The cavalry with Spencer Carbines, and the infantry with Springfield Rifled Muskets.

Question    Where there any Indians seen on the second day when you went out?

Answer None, and there were no hostile Indians seen about the Post until early in May.

 
Here the examination of Capt. T. Ten Eyck closed.
The Special Indian Commission adjourned.



1 Col. Carrington states the wagon master who was killed was "Mr. Gruell".