The 19th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry fought the harsh elements and rough terrain, but never the American Indians.
The Sunflower State found a soldier willing to engage the Indians in Lt. Col. George A. Custer. On November 29, 1868, military leaders learned of Custer and his 7th Cavalry’s victory at the Battle of Washita two days earlier.
So in early March 1869, when Custer requested volunteers to accompany the 7th Cavalry on a new expedition, the Company L unit of the 19th Kansas Volunteers believed they would finally see some action.
The Path to Glory
From the start of the year through the summer of 1868, marauding Indians had murdered 110 whites, raped 13 white women, stolen 1,000 livestock and destroyed private property in Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan’s Department of the Missouri. Many of the depredations were perpetrated in north-central Kansas and along the Kansas-Colorado border by the Southern Cheyennes.
On August 17, Kansas Gov. Samuel J. Crawford offered to raise state volunteers to curb the Indian violence. Sheridan accepted the offer on October 9 and requested the governor raise one volunteer regiment of cavalry to serve for six months. The federal government would pay the regiment the same pay as soldiers in the Regular Army and furnish the men with rations, equipment and weapons.
Crawford recruited a mounted unit of volunteers from the state militia and designated the new formation the 19th Kansas