Sunday, August 2, 2009

Coloradans "Way Down Yonder in the Indian Nation"

I have a particular interest in units that served in the Indian Territory during the war. As I bicycle or drive in the Pryor area, it’s interesting to imagine Civil War soldiers riding or marching along the Texas Road that traversed the broad plains and rolling hills of this vicinity.

For some reason, I’ve always been intrigued by the 2nd Colorado Infantry. I have no desire to “reinvent” the wheel on this blog so I’ll say upfront that the Colorado State Archives has a good summary written by M. S. Elswick of the services of the Colorado regiments during the Civil War. All of the Colorado units, by the way, served in the Trans-Mississippi. Here is a quick look at the service of the 2nd Colorado during the war summarized mostly from the Colorado State Archives write-up:

The first two companies to see action were Company A (Dodd’s Independent Company) and Company B (Ford’s Independent Company). Company A, commanded by Captain Theodore H. Dodd, served at the battle of Val Verde and the skirmish at Peralta. Captain James H. Ford’s Company B fought at the battle of Glorieta and the skirmish at Peralta.

Additional companies were raised with some being stationed in Kansas along the Santa Fe Trail. Several companies of the regiment fought at 1st Cabin Creek, Honey Springs, Perryville, and Webber’s Falls in the Indian Territory. In November 1863, the regiment was merged with the 3rd Colorado Infantry whose organization was incomplete to form the 2nd Colorado Cavalry.

The 2nd Colorado Cavalry participated in fighting along the Missouri border and then were actively involved in the repulse of Major General Sterling Price’s invasion in the fall of 1864. During this campaign, the regiment was involved in actions at Lexington, Little Blue, Westport, Marias des Cygnes, and Newtonia. Following this campaign, the regiment moved to Fort Leavenworth with some companies being mustered out there. The rest of the regiment transferred to Fort Riley, Kansas, where they escorted wagon trains and battled Native Americans until their mustering out.

Good coverage of Company A and Company B’s activities during the New Mexico campaign may be found in:

Whitlock, Flint. Distant Bugles, Distant Drums: The Union Response to the Confederate Invasion of New Mexico. Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2006.

Several years ago I heard that a scholar was planning to write a history of the 2nd Colorado, but I have heard no news of this project recently. If anyone has heard anything regarding the status of this project, please contact me.

I also learned by searching on the web that there is a 2nd Colorado Infantry reenacting group; they are based in Oklahoma, and their website also includes information about the activities of the 2nd Colorado during the conflict.


  1. I too have an interest in the 2nd Colorado in Indian Territory -- so little is known about them during this time. After Perryville, when Blunt moved east to take Ft Smith, the 2nd Colorado went west up the Canadian River but I can find no sources on this expedition. After Price's Missouri Raid, the 2nd Colorado pursued him all the way to the Arkansas near Wilson's Rock before returning to Kansas via Ft Gibson. I would love to find primary sources on their activities in the IT.

  2. "Sterling Price’s troops at Little Blue, Westport, Marias des Cygnes, and Mine Creek in Missouri."

    If they were under Blunt during the whole raid, then they were probably at Lexington (the day before Little Blue), but possibly not at Mine Creek. I could be wrong, but I am currently researching the 15th Kansas, which fought side-by-side with 2nd Colorado in a lot of those battles, and 15th Kansas missed Mine Creek altogether.

    They made up for it at Newtonia, however...

    BTW, Mine Creek is actually in Kansas, about 30 miles north of Fort Scott, and just outside a little town called "Pleasanton." Yes, they spelled the cavalryman's name wrong. Go figure.

  3. Thanks for pointing out the error in regard to Mine Creek; I should have been proofreading more carefully. I pulled out the Official Records plus Ellen Williams' THREE YEARS AND A HALF IN THE ARMY; HISTORY OF THE SECOND COLORADOS (1885) and concluded that they did indeed miss Mine Creek. According to the Official Records, the 2nd Colorado Cavalry was involved in some light skirmishing around Lexington on 17 October. I have edited the post accordingly.

  4. Sami points out that there are few known resources about the 2nd Colorado's campaigns in the Indian Territory. If anyone knows of any unpublished primary sources or obscure published items relating to this topic then please post a comment.