It may have been the last time the cavalry camped in the Jamestown area. The soldiers of the 7th Cavalry who had been stationed at Fort Totten were being transferred to Fort Meade in the Black Hills of South Dakota in July of 1887. About five days into the trip they camped for the night near Jamestown.
None of the names associated with the history of the 7th Cavalry were along for the ride. After all, most had perished along the shores of the Little Bighorn River 11 years earlier.
The commander of the troop was Capt. Nolan who had been acting quartermaster in 1876 but had not been part of the column into Montana.
It seems most of the cavalry troopers were new recruits and the trip across the region was part of their training. They had taken five days to travel from Fort Totten to Jamestown.
Thatâ€™s a progress of just 20 miles a day for a cavalry that bragged it could travel â€œ40 miles a day on hay and beans.â€
But not all the troopers were new to the army. One of the old timers was a farrier, a fitter of horseshoes, who claimed to have been the last person to see Custer alive.
He claimed to have been ordered by the boy general himself to accompany Reno at the last minute.
And Jamestown residents sought him out to hear his tales.
Local residents were also allowed to tour the camp and see the McClellan saddles and Sibley tents of the army. I suppose it was something like the Fort Seward reenactments we hold every fall just on a larger scale and modern for the time.
And while the residents of Jamestown checked out the army at least some of the army was checking out Jamestown.
â€œThe privates made the most of their opportunity yesterday,â€ wrote the Jamestown Alert. â€œFollowing the immortal customs got as much liquor aboard and as quickly as possible.â€
The army officers spent the late evening and early morning hours rounding up their charges and getting them ready to ride west the next day.
The saloons of Jamestown had served the soldiers of Fort Seward from 1873 to 1877. They got another chance on a summer night 10 years later.
And Iâ€™m guessing a bunch of troopers got an early morning ride with a hangover for their trouble. Knowing the legends of the top-kicks, the top sergeant of a cavalry unit, they started them with a mile at the trot, too.