On the morning of May 20, 1870, Sgt. Emanuel Stance and a patrol of 10 troopers of Co. F, 9th Cavalry left Fort McKavett for a scouting mission north along the Kickapoo road. These men were sent to determine if any evidence could be found concerning the Kickapoos that were raiding the settlements in the area and to recover, if possible, any of the children that had been recently kidnapped. Fourteen miles north of Fort McKavett, the patrol discovered a party of Kickapoo with a herd of stolen horses. After a brief skirmish, the Indians abandoned the horses and fled. The troopers, and their newly acquired herd of nine horses, continued to Kickapoo Springs where they camped for the night.
At six o’clock the following morning, Sgt. Stance and his patrol started toward Fort McKavett with the horses in tow. The patrol had only travelled two miles when they came across a second party of 20 Kickapoo preparing to advance on two government wagons heading toward Fort McKavett. In his after action report, Sgt. Stance described this skirmish in detail:
…I immediately attacked them by charging them. They tried hard to make a stand to get their herd of horses off, but I set the Spencers* to talking and whistling about their ears so lively that they broke in confusion and fled to the hills, leaving us their herd of five horses. Resuming the march towards Camp, they skirmished along my left flank to the eight mile water hole, evidently being determined to take the stock. I turned my little command loose on them at this place, and after a few volleys they left me to continue my march in peace. I reached camp at 2 pm of the 21st with 15 head of horses captured from the Indians.
Sgt. Stance’s actions at Kickapoo Springs, combined with his actions in four other engagements, led Capt. Henry Carroll of the 9th Cavalry to recommend him for the Medal of Honor.
*Spencers refers to the Spencer carbine, a firearm that the men of the 9th Cavalry were using during the engagement.