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Campaigning against Crazy Horse

By David T. Mears, Chadron, Nebraska USA (1, 2)

Read before the annual meeting of the Nebraska State Historical Society, January 14, 1903.

...In 1875-76 I was in Washington, D. C. In January I received a letter from General Crook, who was then in command of the Department of the Platte, to report to him at Cheyenne, Wyoming, as soon as possible to organize his transportation for a summer campaign against the Sioux and other Indians who were then on the war-path, killing settlers and committing all kinds of depredations. I landed in Cheyenne in due time and went to work at once. My particular business was to organize pack-trains.

Right here is a good place to describe a pack-train. It consists of a lot of medium sized mules on which to carry supplies for the army when we cut loose from the wagon trains. We could then keep up with the command, let the soldiers go when and where they would or travel as fast as they wished. The pack-train was right at their heels, with their provisions, blankets, ammunition, tents, or feed for the horses.

A pack-train generally consists of about sixty pack and ten riding mules, led by one bell horse. An army horse will do, just so he is gentle and is a good kicker. Mules are very playful, and the horse that kicks, bites, and fights them most is the horse that suits them best. Keep the bell horse in hand, and Indians will get very few mules in case of a stampede.

We had eight such trains as above described when we left Cheyenne for the Bighorn country in Wyoming, besides about one hundred wagons divided into four trains, each train under the supervision of a wagon-master and one assistant....


References and notes

1. David Young Mears, Chadron, Nebraska, was born in Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, December 13, 1833, son of John Blair and Martha Young Mears. At the age of fifteen years he went to Pittsburg, and for several years was employed on the steamboats plying the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. In 1856 he went to the Pacific coast, where he engaged in mining and freighting. He later went to Idaho, and thence to Montana, and in 1869 to White Pine, Nevada.

Mr. Mears was with General Crook, as transportation manager, during the campaigns against the Indians from 1874 to 1879. In the spring of 1880 he went to Ft. Niobrara. He was the original settler on the land that now embraces the site of Valentine, county seat of Cherry county, and was one of the commissioners appointed to organize that county. He served as county commissioner there and as postmaster at Valentine. He later located at Chadron, and became one of the first county commissioners of Dawes county and the first mayor of Chadron. He served subsequently as justice of the peace, police judge, water commissioner, and member of the city council.

2. Source: Nebraska State Historical Society Proceedings and Collections. Vol 16, pp. 68-69. http://www.usgennet.org/usa/ne/topic/resources/OLLibrary/collections/vol15/v15p0005.htm