After that campaign, I returned to Fort Sanders, Wyoming—remained there until spring of 1872, when we were ordered out to the Muscle Shell or Nursey Pursey Indian outbreak. In that war, Generals Custer, Miles, Terry and Crook were all engaged. This campaign lasted until fall of 1873.
It was during this campaign that I was christened Calamity Jane. It was on Goose Creek, Wyoming, where the town of Sheridan is now located. Capt. Egan was in command of the Post. We were ordered out to quell an uprising of the Indians, and were out for several days, had numerous skirmishes during which six of the soldiers were killed and several severely wounded.
When on returning to the Post we were ambushed about a mile and a half from our destination. When fired upon Capt. Egan was shot. I was riding in advance and ‘on hearing the firing, turned in my saddle and saw the Captain reeling in his saddle as though about to fall. I turned my horse and galloped back with all haste to his side and got there in time to catch him as he was falling. I lifted him onto my horse in front of me and succeeded in getting him safely to the Fort.
Capt. Egan on recovering, laughingly said: “I’ll name you Calamity Jane, the heroine of the plains.” I have borne that name up to the present time.
We were afterwards ordered to Fort Custer, where Custer City now stands, where we arrived in the spring of 1875; remained around Fort Custer all summer and were ordered to Fort Russell in fall of 1875, where we remained until spring of 1876. Was then ordered to the Black Hills to protect miners, as that country was controlled by the Sioux Indians and the government had to send the soldiers to protect the lives of the miners and settlers in that section.
In spring of 1876, we were ordered north with General Crook to join Generals Miles, Terry and Custer at Big Horn River. During this march, I swam the Platte River at Fort Fetterman as I was the bearer of important dispatches. I had a ninety-mile ride to make. Being wet and cold, I contracted a severe illness and was sent back in Gen. Crook’s ambulance to Fort Fetterman where I laid in the hospital for fourteen days. When able to ride, I started for Fort Laramie where I met Wm. Hickok, better known as Wild Bill, and we started for Deadwood, where we arrived about June.
During the month of June, I acted as a pony express rider carrying the U.S. mail between Deadwood and Custer, a distance of fifty miles, over one of the roughest trails in the Black Hills country. As many of the riders before me had been held up and robbed of their packages, mail and money that they carried, for that was the only means of getting mail and money between these points. It was considered the most dangerous route in the Hills, but as my reputation as a rider and quick shot was well known, I was molested very little, for the toll gatherers looked on me as being a good fellow, and they knew that I never missed my mark. I made the round trip every two days which was considered pretty good riding in that country. Remained around Deadwood all that summer visiting all the camps within an area of one hundred miles.