Fort Riley Kansas Nov.3rd 1863
I should have answered
your very welcome letter long ago had not my old
habit of procrastination prevented me.
I was at Kansas City or vicinity when I received
your letter in command of the Johnson county militia
organized for the protection of the border against
bush-whackers. At the time of the Lawrence
massacre I was in Kansas City on business and immediately
started in pursuit with four citizen volunteers well armed.
They were desperate fellows and former members of the
"Red-Legs" or "Forty-thieves" a secret organization
of desperadoes lately disbanded. We met Quantrell
near the state-line coming out of Kansas and
being alone could not fight of course but in the
course of the day killed two of his stragglers
and the next day another of the scoundrels
to his long home and left his carcase decorating the
limb of a tree in the timber. We then joined
the soldiers and although other rebels were killed
by different detachments yet we had no more
good luck and pursued their scattered forces
several days without killing another man.
We then got tired of such incessant riding and my
second horse being very near used up we returned
to Kansas City. My company had then been
stationed at this place which is 125 miles west
of the Missouri and upon the frontiers of civilization.
Two or three months and I became apprehensive
that it would be ordered back to the border on
account of the trouble there existing before I
should have an opportunity of visiting home.
Manhattan where father lives is only 18 miles east
of Fort Riley. I made frequent application to the
General to send me to my company and finally succeeded
in accomplishing my object. I found the folks all
well and the company newly mounted and their thin
ranks enlarged by about 25 recruits.
I have now been here not far from two months
and have enjoyed myself unusually well.
A small party of us have just returned from a
buffalo hunt. Our trip was rendered unusually
agreeable by the presence of several beautiful and
accomplished ladies who enjoyed the sport with
a keen relish and actually wounded several
of the unwildly brutes themselves. Three of
the ladies were under my charge and gay girls they
were I assure you. They are tolerably expert
in use of firearms and can ride, hunt
and swim with rare dexterity.
The ladies mostly rode in the ambulance drawn by four splendid
horse and our tents, forage, provisions, arms etc were carried
in a mule team. We had saddle horses along both for the
ladies and ourselves and men to drive the teams and do the
necessary work. The 2nd day from the Fort we saw a
herd of Buffalo and immediately gave chase and succeeded
in killing one after a hard chase of several miles.
We finally brought him to bay after we had wounded
him about twenty times and shot out one of his eyes.
The ladies soon overtook us and we waited
to allow them an opportunity of dispatching the huge monster.
He was infuriated with his many wounds and stood sullenly
shaking his head as the beautiful Miss Maggie Wilson rode
up at a full charge, her rosy cheeks glowing with excitement
and her long curls floating in the wind. He prepared
to rush at her and we shouted to her to keep away
but she fearlessly rode around him and came up to
where I was standing. We thinking him
nearly exhausted had dismounted and were standing
upon his blind side. I had just handed
Maggie my Enfield Rifle when he rushed into our
midst with the velocity of a small locomotive scattering
us right and left in great confusion. He was
driving directly at Capt. Adams when Maggie very
cooly fired and broke his fore-shoulder at the
same time when the Capt’s wife shot him with a
revolver. The Capt’s dog seized him in the flank
and turned him just in the nick of time. Even then we
had a considerable difficulty in killing the tough old rascal.
One of the girls to show her skill leaped her horse several times
over the dead buffaloes. We had many such adventures
while out and had several narrow escapes from wounded buffalos,
nearly every-one in the party being chased by them at different
times. Evenings are used to sit around the campfire and listen to
beautiful singing discoursed by the ladies. Never was an
excursion more satisfactory to all the participants.
We finally returned to Fort Riley perfectly satisfied
with our trip which we considered a perfect success.
I have never heard before of ladies going upon a buffalo
hunt and participating directly in the chase.
But few women have sufficient courage to do so
for a wounded buffalo is I assure a very formidable
adversary. I would prefer being attacked by
a bear every time. One of the girls while out was
somewhat startled by finding a live rattle-snake in her bed.
We killed the snake and she soon recovered from her
alarm. Life upon the frontier here is very rough and the
lawlessess engendered by the present unsettled state of affairs
is everywhere apparent. Many men have been killed
of late in personal affrays and many horrible murders have
been committed. Pechner(?) who came out with us from Boston
was killed in a fight here and father narrowly escaped in another
by seizing an uplifted dagger just in time to prevent it from
being buried in his bosom. I was engaged on one in Kansas City
and cut my antagonist severely but not dangerously. He has since
recovered. All horse thieves whenever found are immediately hung
or shot and it seems to be the rule of the day that every man
is a law unto himself and acts accordingly. We have
this afternoon put in the guard-house three men for killing
a neighbor a day or two ago. But enough of this disagreeable
subject. Please write as soon as convenient and
direct Lieut Gove Ft Riley KS.
P.S. Love to your husband and children