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[382] in charge of the detail to finish the trenches and protect the camp, I advanced at double-quick up the ravine toward Big Mound. When opposite the six-pounder on the left of the ravine, where the General then was, I deployed the five companies at three paces intervals, without any reserve. The line extended from hill to hill across the ravine, which was here irregular or closed. Advancing as rapidly as possible, the line first came under fire when it reached the crest of the first range of hills, below the summit peak. The Indians then occupied the summit range, giving way from the highest peak or Big Mound, driven by the fire of the six-pounder, but in great numbers along the ridge southward. Captain Eugene Wilson's company of cavalry — dismounted — passed to my left and occupied the Big Mound, while I charged across the little valley and up to the summit, south of the Mound. We advanced firing, the Indians giving way as we advanced. I crossed the ridge and pursued the Indians out on the comparatively open ground east of the peaks. Their main body, however, was to our right, ready to dispute possession of the rocky ridges and ravines, into which the summit range is broken in its continuation southward. I had flanked them turning their right, and now gradually wheeled my line to the right until it was perpendicular to the range, my left being well out in the open ground over which the enemy's extreme right was retreating. I thus swept southward, and as the open ground was cleared — the Indians in that direction making for the hills, two miles southeast, just beyond which was their camp, as we afterward discovered. I wheeled still more to the right, directing my attention to the summit range again, where the Indians were the thickest. Advancing rapidly, and firing, they soon broke, and as I reached and recrossed the ridge, they were flying precipitately and in great numbers from the ravines, which partly covered them, down toward the great plain at the southern termination of the range of hills.

Colonel McPhail, who, with a part of the cavalry, had crossed to the east side of the range, and kept in line in my rear, ready to charge upon the Indians when they should be disloged from the broken ground, now passed my line and pursued the enemy out on the open plain.

After I recrossed the range I met Major Bradley, and united the seven companies. He, in conjunction with Captains Taylor's and Anderson's companies of the cavalry — dismounted — had performed much the same service on the west slope of the range of hills, that I had done on the east and summit, driving the enemy from hill to hill southward, a distance of four or five miles from camp to the termination of the range.

Happily no casualties happened in my command. Indeed, the Indians from the first encounter gave way, seeming to realize the superior range of our guns — yielding ridge after ridge and ravine after ravine, as we occupied successive ridges from which our fire reached them. The hat of one soldier, the musket-stock of another, gave proof of shots received; other like evidences, and their balls occasionally kicking the dirt up about us, and more rarely whistling past us, were the most sensible evidences of our being under fire.

The Indians were in far greater numbers than I had seen them before, certainly three times the number encountered at the relief of Birch Coolie, afterward ascertained to be three hundred and fifty, and more than double the number seen at Wood Lake. I judge there were from one thousand to one thousand five hundred. Their numbers were more apparent when we had combed them out of the hills into the plain below.

After uniting the battalion at the southern termination of the great hill, I received orders to follow on in support of the cavalry and artillery. The men were suffering greatly for water, and I marched them to a lake off to the right, which proved to be salty. I then followed on after the cavalry. We passed one or more lakes that were alkaline. It was the experience of the ancient mariner--

“Water, water everywhere,
But not a drop to drink.”

We continued the march until nine o'clock at night, reaching a point twelve or fifteen miles from camp. The men had been on their feet since four o'clock in the morning — had double-quicked it five miles during the engagement — had been without food since morning and without water since noon. They were completely exhausted, and I ordered a bivouac.

The trail was strewed with buffalo-skins, dried meat, and other effects abandoned by the Indians in their wild flight. The men gathered the meat and eat it for supper, and the skins for beds and covering. At this point Captain Edgerton's company of the Tenth regiment joined us and shared the night's hardships. We had posted guard and lain an hour when Colonel McPhail returned from pursuing the Indians. He urged that I should return with him to camp. The men were somewhat rested, and their thirst stimulated them to the effort. We joined him and returned to camp. About midnight we got a little dirty water from the marshy lake where the Indians had been encamped. We reached camp at daylight, having marched nearly thirty-four hours, and over a distance estimated at from forty to forty-five miles.

My thanks are due to Major Bradley and the line-officers for steady coolness and the faithful discharge of every duty, and to every man of the rank and file for good conduct throughout. The patient endurance of the long privation of water, and the fatigue of the weary night's march in returning to camp after such a day, abundantly prove them to be such stuff as true soldiers are made of.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

William R. Marshall, Lieutenant-Colonel Commanding Seventh Regiment M. V

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