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Something better than such a journey awaited me, it seemed, when two of our Seventh Cavalry officers, Captain Samuel Robbins and Colonel William W. Cook, appeared in camp at the head of a detachment of cavalry and a small train of wagons for supplies. The General had told them to bring me back, and an ambulance was with the wagons, in which I was to ride. It did not take me long to put our roll of bedding and my valise in order; and to say anything about the heart in me leaping for joy is even a tame expression to describe the delight that ran through every vein in my body. To ascend such heights of joy means a corresponding capability of descent into a region of suffering, about which I do not, even now, like to think, for the memory of my disappointment has not departed after all these years. The commanding officer of the department was at the post temporarily, and forbade my going. There is a hateful clause in the Army Regulations which gives him control of all camp-followers as well as troops. I ran the whole gamut of insubordination, mutiny, and revolt, as I threw myself alone on the little camp-bed of our tent. This stormy, rebellious season, fought out by myself, ended, of course, as everything must that gives itself into military jurisdiction, as I was left behind in spite of myself; but I might have been enlisted as a soldier for five years, and not have been more helpless. I put my fingers into my ears, not to hear the call "Boots and Saddles!" as the troops mounted and rode away. I only felt one relief; the officers would tell the General that nothing but the all-powerful command forbidding them to take me had prevented my doing what he knew I would do if it was in my power. I had time also to use my husband as a safety-valve, and pour out my vials of wrath against the officer detaining me, in a long letter filling pages with regret that I was prevented going to him.

The Indians were then at their worst. They roamed up and down the route of travel, burning the stations, running off stock, and attacking the stages. General Hancock had given up all aggressive measures. The plan was, to defend the route taken for supplies, and protect the stage company's property so far as possible. The railroad building was almost entirely abandoned. As our officers and their detachment were for a time allowed to proceed quietly on their march to McPherson, they rather flattered themselves they would see nothing of the enemy. Still, every eye watched the long ravines that intersect the Plains and form such fastnesses for the wily foe. There is so little to prepare you for these cuts in the smooth surface of the plain, that an unguarded traveler comes almost upon a deep fissure in the earth, before dreaming that the lay of the land was not all the seeming level that stretches on to sunset. These ravines have small clumps of sturdy trees, kept alive in the drought of that arid climate by the slight moisture from what is often a buried stream at the base. The Indians know them by heart, and not only lie in wait in them, but escape by these gullies, that often run on, growing deeper and deeper till the bed of a river is reached.

In one of these ravines, six hundred savages in full war-dress were in ambush, awaiting the train of supplies, and sprang out from their hiding-place with horrible yells as our detachment of less than fifty men approached. Neither officer lost his head at a sight that was then new to him. Their courage was inborn. They directed the troops to form a circle about the wagons, and in this way the little band of valiant men defended themselves against attack after attack. Not a soldier flinched, nor did a teamster lose control of his mules, though the effort to stampede them was incessant. This running fight lasted for three hours, when suddenly the Indians withdrew. They, with their experienced eyes, first saw the reinforcements coming to the relief of our brave fellows, and gave up the attack.

The first time I saw Colonel Cook after this affair, he said: "The moment I found the Indians were on us, and we were in for a fight, I thought of you, and said to myself, 'If she were in the ambulance, before giving an order I would ride up and shoot her.'" "Would you have given me no chance for life," I replied, "in case the battle had gone in your favor?" "Not one," he said. "I should have been unnerved by the thought of the fate that awaited you, and I have promised the General not to take any chances, but to kill you before anything worse could happen." Already, in these early days of the regiment's history, the accounts of Indian atrocities perpetrated on the women of the frontier ranches, had curdled the blood of our men, and over the camp-fire at night, when these stories were discussed, my husband had said to the officers that he should take every opportunity to have me with him, but there was but one course he wished pursued; if I was put in charge of any one in the regiment, he asked them to kill me if Indians should attack the camp or the escort on the march. I have referred in general terms to this understanding, but it was on this occasion that the seriousness with which the General's request was considered by his brother officers first came home to me.


[H] My father went to Michigan early in 1800, and his long journey was made by stage, canal-boat and schooner. He was not only a great while in making the trip, but subject to privations, illness and fatigue, even when using the only means of travel in those early days. The man who went over the old California trail fared far worse. His life was in peril from Indians all the distance, besides his having to endure innumerable hardships. Those who pioneer in a Pullman car little know what the unbeaten track held for the first comers.