In the summer of 1867, Indians were regularly attacking travelers and settlements in Kansas and the frightened citizens of the state demanded military help. The War Department responded by authorizing 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 to protect settlers from attack. The volunteers set out on July 18th for a month of vigorous campaigning before returning to Fort Hays. They then joined forces with the 10th U.S. Cavalry of “Buffalo Soldiers,” making a combined force of more than 250 men led by Captain George A. Armes of the 10th and Captain Horace L. Moore of the 18th.
Armes led his men down Prairie Dog Creek in present-day Phillips County, while Moore scouted upstream. While separated, Armes group was attacked on August 21, 1867, by about 300 Kiowa and Cheyenne under the leadership of Satanta and Roman Nose. As Armes’ troops valiantly fought off the attack, the other soldiers began to make their way to provide assistance.
Captain Armes then gathered the troops and charged the Indians, who then broke and scattered. The cavalry suffered three men dead and 36 wounded; the Indians, 50 dead and 150 wounded. This battled ended the U.S. offensive operations on the Kansas frontier for the year, and in the fall, treaties were signed with the tribes of the Southern Plains.
Today, the 18th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry continues its efforts as the Kansas Army and Air National Guard.
©Kathy Weiser-Alexander, updated October 2019.