Indian war of Kansas (cont.)

Published on February 20, 2013 by Carol

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The Seventh U. S. Cavalry charging
Black Kettle’s village in the Washita Massacre,
Harper’s Weekly, 1868

In the meantime, upon the approach of winter, Black Kettle’s band moved southward to the Washita River. General George A. Custer was sent out from Camp Supply in pursuit, and late on November 26th the scouts came within sight of Black Kettle’s village. There, they made camp for the night, and at daybreak the next morning his bugles sounded the charge. With the band playing the Seventh regiment’s fighting tune of “Garry Owen,” Custer’s men swept like a tornado through the village. Black Kettle was killed early in the fight and the command of the Indians fell on Little Rock, a Cheyenne chief almost as well known as Black Kettle himself. The village was destroyed, but Custer soon learned that this band was only one of many, and that there were in the vicinity about 2,000 warriors — Cheyenne, Arapaho, Kiowa, Comanche and a few Apache.

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He dismounted his men and assumed the defensive. The Indians were led by Arapaho warrior, Little Raven, Kiowa Chief Satanta, and Cheyenne Chief Little Rock. The ammunition ran low, but the quartermaster, Major Bell, charged the line and brought in a wagon loaded with a fresh supply, after which the Indians grew more wary and finally began to retreat.

Custer threw out flankers and followed, his object being to make the Indians think his command was but the advance of a large army, until he could withdraw with safety. The ruse succeeded, and as soon as the Indians were in full retreat Custer started for Camp Supply, where he arrived on December 1st, two days after the Nineteenth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry. Official reports give the number of officers, soldiers and citizens killed during the year 1868 as 353.

From December 18, 1868, to January 6, 1869, the Nineteenth Kansas Cavalry was in camp at Fort Cobb, Oklahoma. It then moved 28 miles southward to Fort Sill. Colonel Samuel Crawford resigned on February 12th, and on March 23rd Lieutenant-Colonel Moore was made colonel, Major W. C. Jones at the same time being promoted to lieutenant-colonel. On March 2, 1869, the command left camp at Fort Sill, dismounted, and moved along the southern base of the Wichita range “to stir up the Cheyenne.” The Salt Fork was crossed on the 6th, and after a hard march, the Indians were overtaken on the 20th. The men of the Nineteenth were ready to open fire, when Colonel Moore received an order from General Custer not to fire. For a short time there was almost mutiny in the ranks. The men begged, argued, swore, and some even shed tears in their disappointment, but the principal object was to recover the two women (Mrs. Morgan and Miss White) who had been captured in Kansas the year before. A parley was held, which resulted in the chiefs Dull Knife, Big Head, Fat Bear and Medicine Arrow being left with Custer as hostages until the women were safely delivered to their friends, which was done on the 22nd. No battles were fought by the Ninteenth and the regiment was mustered out at Fort Hays on April 18, 1869.

Early in May, 1869, predatory bands of Indians began to lurk around the settlements on the frontier. On the 21st they attacked a party of hunters on the Republican River and drove them and the settlers on White Rock Creek, in Republican County, down to Lake Sibley. Five days later B.C. Sanders of Lake Sibley wrote to Adjutant-General W.S. Morehouse that six men had been killed, and that one woman and two boys were missing. On the 30th the Indians made a raid on the settlements along the Saline River, killed and wounded 13 persons, and carried Mrs. Allerdice, Mrs. Weichell and a child into captivity. Mrs. Weichell was recaptured, but the other prisoners were killed during a fight between the Indians and the white troops under General E.A. Carr.

For the protection of the settlers, the adjutant-general mustered a battalion of four companies — 311 men and officers, who were dispatched to. Spiliman Creek, Plum Creek, near the mouth of Spiliman Creek, near the forks of the Republican River and Beaver Creek. The expense of this battalion was a little over $83,800, but its presence in the menaced districts held the Indians at bay and no doubt saved several times the cost in property, to say nothing of the preservation of human life.

The year 1870 was comparatively quiet. According to the report of the adjutant-general, some 20-30 Indians early in May attacked the settlements on Limestone Creek in Mitchell County, and killed three unarmed men. These were the only persons killed in the state by Indians during the year.

No further Indian troubles of consequence occurred in Kansas until 1874. In the spring of that year some roving bands began to molest the settlers in Ford, Barber and Comanche Counties, and Governor Thomas Osborn sent a small body of state troops into that section. In August about 20-30 Osage Indians belonging to Black Dog’s and Big Chief’s bands came into Kansas, under pretense of hunting on their old hunting grounds. Captain Ricker, with some 40 men, was occupying a stockade near Kiowa, Kansas. Knowing that the Indians were off their reservation without permission or authority, he marched out to their camp to learn their intentions. The chief came out and met him a short distance from the camp. When Ricker told him to order the others to come up, the chief gave orders in the Osage language to fire upon the whites.

Lieutenant Mosely understood the order. He promptly seized the chief and informed him that any more evidence of treachery would result in his having the top of his head blown off. The action of the leader probably incensed Ricker’s men to a degree that made them more vindictive than they would otherwise have been in dealing with the Indians. The camp was broken up, the ponies and camp equipage carried off by the whites, and in the fight that ensued, four of the Osage were killed. Edward P. Smith, Indian Commissioner, wrote to the interior department that Ricker acted without authority, but that after the outrage, as he called it, Governor Thomas Osborn had the company mustered as militia and the order of muster antedated, in order to make it appear the act was committed by authority of the state. Governor Osborn commissioned Captain Lewis Hanback to investigate the affair and report. The conclusion reached by Captain Hanback was that “The attempt made by the Indian authorities to fasten the charge of murder and robbery on the whites, is wholly and utterly without foundation. It arises either from a misconception of the facts, or a willful desire to malign and misrepresent.”

Following this event came four years of peace, and then came the last Indian raid in Kansas — the Cheyenne Raid in September, 1878, when Dull Knife’s band of northern Cheyenne, dissatisfied with the rations furnished by the government, decided to leave their reservation in Oklahoma and return to their former home in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The last battle to take place was the Battle of Punished Woman Fork in Scott County, Kansas on September 27, 1878.

Source: Legendsofamerica Unabridged
Based on the collective work of, © 2015 Native American Encyclopedia.
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