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go down into the bottom of the valley, for they would be immediately surrounded by the Indians if they should. They continued to a point opposite to where the apparent cottonwood trees were lying. Captain Ten Eyck sent 20 men to go down and examine the scattered rubbish, and lo! and behold, they were the dead bodies of Col. Fetterman and party. “…the wagons and ambulance were driven down and all of the men, except a very few that was left on a high point to keep a lookout, went down to load up the bodies. The Indians had retreated and did not seem over anxious to renew the combat. The bodies were stripped perfectly naked and horribly mutilated, some had the top of their skulls cut off and their brains taken out, others with their arms out of their sockets, and were mutilated in every shape and way imaginable, and had arrows in considerable quantities stabbed in their bodies. One man, a soldier in Company E, Second Battalion, Eighteenth Infantry, had 165 in his body, another 65, and some had only 5 or 6, more or less. “…the best evidence is that Colonel Fetterman’s party went down into the valley on a charge, and only 150 or 200 Indians were visible. When they had got fairly in the bottom, Indians sprang out from among the ravines and behind the little hills, in immense numbers, and immediately surrounded them, for [the soldiers] had evidently fought to the last man, and, by all appearances, fought well. Their bodies were all in the space of 40 feet square although they were not piled on top of one another. “…The garrison was in a high state of excitement after the dead were brought in, and no doubt the Indians could have taken the fort if they had followed up their success, as they were in overpowering numbers. The general assembly was sounded and the troops formed in line of battle about 4 p.m. Colonel Carrington made a speech and said some encouraging words. Our whole armed force at that time only mustered 111 men in fighting trim. “…At 8 p.m. the same day, the general assembly was sounded again, and the troops again formed in line. Our determination was to fight at the loopholes around the stockade as long as possible, and then fall back in the stockade around the magazine with the women of the garrison and there fight to the last man, if necessary, and then blow up the magazine. The 22nd, 23rd, and 24th passed off quietly. The 25th was not as joyful here as in the States. It snowed quite hard, and the coffins and boxes being finished and numbered (each coffin was made large enough to hold four bodies), the bodies were put in the coffins, and I took their names, rank, company, and number of the box in which each was buried as fast as they were brought out of the building. On the 26th they were buried. “A running guard or night watch has been kept in the company’s quarters every night, and I think it will continue in the future. There was not much sleep that night, every thing quiet, men talking in squads in low voices, guessing if some wounded man had not made his escape and one man left to tell the tale; but none has yet appeared, and all hope is given up.” Carrington’s superiors moved to court-martial him. Instead, General William T. Sherman convinced




them to submit the matter to a court of inquiry, which subsequently exonerated Carrington, as did a separate investigation by the Department of the Interior. But Carrington had been relieved of command immediately after the disaster; his military career was effectively ruined. Like his fictional counterpart Jason McCord, Carrington kept a saber, deliberately broken—a reminder of his glory days and subsequent fall from grace. He did attempt to recover his reputation. In 1868, Margaret Carrington published her story about Fort Phil Kearny in a book titled Absaraka, Home of the Crows. After Margaret’s death in 1870, Carrington married the widow of Lieutenant George Grummond (who also died in the Fetterman Massacre), and she wrote a book about these events. Over the years Professors Richard Banta and Walt Fertig both wrote in detail about Carrington, but later, some at the College forgot Carrington’s pre-Wabash history. A 1978 article written for Montgomery Magazine tells the story of a Wabash prank in 1876 in which several students commandeered a piece of artillery from Professor Carrington and used it to blow up the campus privy known as Little Egypt. The author lightheartedly labeled the incident “the Battle of Little Egypt,” joking that the student mischief was “Carrington’s only major defeat.”

Wabash Magazine  

The Journal of Wabash College

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