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The Battle of Prairie Dog Creek by Ralph Heinz

Western Kansas, August 21, 1867 -- After the Civil War, settlers rushed to the rich and relatively empty lands of the Great Plains. By mid-1867 the Plains Indian tribes, recognizing the threat to their traditional way of life, were regularly attacking settlers, railroad workers and travelers. When the angry and frightened citizens of Kansas demanded military help, the War Department authorized placing volunteer militia units on active duty during the emergency. On July 15, 1867, four companies of the 18th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry were mustered into Federal service. Under command of Captain Horace L. Moore, the 18th set out immediately for a month of vigorous campaigning. Returning to camp at Ft. Hayes, then in the midst of a cholera epidemic, the Kansans then joined forces with the 10th U.S. Cavalry, the famous black "Buffalo Soldiers." A combined force of 135 men, commanded by Captain George A. Armes of the 10th, rode down the Saline River; Captain Moore, with 125 Kansans, scouted upstream. The two groups had lost contact with each other when Captain Armes' group was struck by 300 to 400 Kiowas and Cheyennes under the great war chiefs Satanta and Roman Nose. As Armes' group of men held their ground through fierce fighting, the men of the 18th Kansas, hearing the noise of battle, managed to fight their way through to Armes. To break the stalemate, Captain Armes formed a party for a charge on the Indians. Led by Armes, the force of about 20 black regulars and Kansas volunteers moved first toward Prairie Dog Creek, and then, turning, charged up the hill toward the main body of warriors. The Indians broke and scattered, ending the day's fighting. The cavalry had lost 3 men dead and 36 wounded; the Indians, 50 dead and 150 wounded. The Battle of Prairie Dog Creek ended the U.S. Army's offensive operations on the Kansas frontier for the year, and in the fall treaties were signed with the tribes of the Southern Plains. The proud tradition of the 18th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry is carried on today by the men and women of the Kansas Army and Air National Guard.

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Taken on March 7, 2004