My new frontier historical novel, Bozeman Paymaster: A Tale of the Fetterman Massacre, will be issued by Five Star Publishing in June 2022. I will post a prelude each month before that date to provide historical facts that occur before the story in the book begins. This is the fifth prelude.
During the early months of 1866, Colonel Henry B. Carrington worked to assemble the men and materials of the 18th United States Infantry at Fort Kearny, Nebraska Territory, in preparation for his assignment to defend the Bozeman Trail in Dakota Territory. Carrington’s soldiers, most of them raw recruits, were armed with the obsolete, muzzle-loading, single-shot Springfield rifle musket that had been the standard infantry weapon for the Union during the recently ended Civil War. Carrington pleaded frequently that his regiment be equipped with newer weapons, but he was only successful in obtaining Spencer seven-shot carbines for his 25-member military band.
The 7th Iowa Cavalry passed by Fort Kearny, NT, in April 1866 on their way east to be mustered out following their Civil War service at Camp Rankin (later named Fort Sedgwick) in Colorado. Carrington commandeered their 200 horses and created a small unit of mounted infantry for the 2nd Battalion of the 18th US Infantry. The long-barreled Springfield rifle proved almost impossible to handle in the saddle. It was hard enough for soldiers not trained as cavalrymen to stay on a horse much less handle an unwieldy firearm while trying to do so.