In the melee that follows, Grummond’s platoon suffers over 50 per cents casualties, with Grummond and 6 others wounded and 5 killed outright.
However, before he falls back with the wounded, he and his men have bought the command 10 precious minutes by their sacrifice.
During that time, the gun crew manning the mountain howitzer in the northeast corner bastion rotates their piece to bear on the area just outside the QM gate and on the wagon being used to climb the palisade. Also, the post commander, Col. Henry B Carrington has ordered a second mountain howitzer from the parade ground into the QM yard, together both of the two reserve platoons stationed on the east and west sides of the parade ground.
Additional soldiers are ordered from the south wall which has no Sioux currently facing them to the lightly defended east wall ( that separates the main fort from the QMY area).
And lastly, civilian employees in the QMY begin hurriedly moving several wagons so as to form a barricade across the QMY. But will these measures be enough?
The gun crew in the northeast bastion loads a canister round that cuts a swath through the crowd trying to make their way though the open QM gate.
A second round of high explosive strikes the wagon that has provided a highway over the palisade, rendering it useless for this purpose. These provide a momentary brake to the momentum that has already carried a 100 warriors into the QMY, but does nothing to those already inside. While the gun crew moving the other mountain howitzer has reached the hastily-created wagon barricade, it will be a couple more minutes before it can be placed into action. It will be up to the two just-arriving reserve platoons, plus the troops and civilians manning the ramparts around the QMY to provide those additional minutes.
As the wounded survivors from Lt Grummond’s platoon stagger back to the post hospital, the officer in charge of these reserve platoons, Capt Tenedore Ten Eyck orders two volley fires, and then “Fire at will!”
Their fire is joined by that of about half of the soldiers and civilian employees manning the QM palisade walls.
While over 20 of the warriors are toppled, the rest of the “wave” surges toward the wagon barricade.
With the outcome still in doubt, Colonel Carrington makes a difficult decision. He orders his adjutant, Lt William Bisbee to escort all of the poor wives and children (including Col Carrington’s own wife and two boys) into the underground magazine.
If the unthinkable happens and the post is about to be overrun, the last surviving officer will be responsible for blowing up the magazine (and all its occupants therein.)
- Part 1: click here
- Part 2: click here
- Part 3: click here
- Part 4: click here
- Part 5: click here
- Part 6: click here