Title: More About Buffalo Bill's Red Skins

Periodical: Aberdeen Weekly Journal

Date: June 11, 1887

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The Red Indians now at the American Exhibition have communicated many details of stirring events in their history which had before been imperfectly known. In a little book entitled "Red Shirt, Chief of the Sioux Nation," which is just about to be published, the capture of Fort Phil, Carney, [1] is thus vividly described:—

It was just when the United States officers were chafing at their inability to reach their subtle foes that a band of twenty Indians, headed by the Sioux Chief, Crazy Horses, [2] rode up to the settlement at Fort Phil, Carney, mounted on splendid horses, manœvered around the station, firing at and picking off any helpless resident who incautiously exposed a mark for the fatal bullet. The soldiers returned the fire, but the Indians, instead of retiring, drew closer to the fort, galloping around it, as is customary in Indian warfare, firing all the time. It was irritating and galling to the Commander to see a little force like this, not a quarter as strong as his own, openly defying him in the broad daylight, while the people in the fort grumbled at his inactivity. Goaded at last by the persistent attacks of his enemies, he opened his gates and sallied out to drive back the Indians.


There were no signs of any other Red Men. The country for miles around was clear. Yet, though they saw the troops approaching, the Indians, contrary to their custom, retired but slowly, every now and then swooping back to fire a shot at their pursuing enemies. The Whites had already lost some of their best men. They were maddened at having been kept for weeks without a chance of getting at their foe, and they rode their horses at their hardest after the band of Indians, who were now flying from them, and keeping just without range. The road from the fort was a level one across the plain, but about six miles distant it passes between two shallow creeks. Beyond the creeks on either side were steep hills, wooded, and offering complete shelter. In these woods Red Cloud [3] has posted a strong force of his best fighting braves. On either end of the gorge strong parties of Indians lay concealed. It was Red Cloud who had sent the fiery Crazy Horses up to the fort to make feigned attacks, and draw the white garrison in pursuit, and his heart was gladdened at last by seeing the Indians galloping down the road, and the white men charging after them at the most furious pace. On they came, pursuers and pursued, at a break-neck gallop, the Indian ponies flagging, but bravely struggling on, and the white men gaining upon the little band of desperadoes.


Into the gorge they came, flushed with the hope of coming victory. But now a terrible change comes over the scene. From every rock and from behind every tree, in response to the shrill note of Red Cloud, rings out the wild Indian warcry from the warriors concealed at each end of the gorge across the road. On either side of the hills the ambushed Indians on their agile ponies bear down in solid masses, leaping across the shallow creaks, and charging headlong through the startled soldiery. In that first rush the Red Men lost three of their braves, but many of the Whites bit the dust. The soldiers from the front had just been through the civil war. They were inured to campaigning; they had faced dangers without number; and they determined to show the Red Man how the white soldier could fight. Turning their horses loose, they jumped to the ground and formed square—some lying on their faces and rapidly loading and firing, others kneeling and discharging their rifles from that position; and all determined to do or die on the spot. Ten times the Indians charged down those hills upon that devoted little band, but never a white soldier stirred. No artifice of Red Cloud, clever as he was, could break the solid square; each and all recognised that their only chance of safety lay in fighting shoulder to shoulder.


Foiled in their efforts to cause a stampede among the soldiers, the Indians altered their tactics, and kept up a persistent rifle fire until every man of that little group of heroes had fallen. Not one escaped; not one tried to escape. Then, with many a wild whoop, the savage Red Man fell upon his fallen foes, and the scalping knife and tomahawk finished what the rifle had begun. The arms and ammunition were the greatest prizes taken, and many of the tribes who had before fought with a simple bow and arrow, had not the trusty weapons of civilisation in their hands.


Leaving the field of battle the Red Men made all haste back to Fort Phil, Carney. Here the fight was renewed; but the resistance was slight, and the Red Men carried the fort by assault, every White within its palisades being killed. The scalps of two hundred Whites adorned the Red Men's belts. it was a great victory for the Red Man; his spoils were enormous. The ammunition which he had been wanting was now plentiful, and the United States Government began to realise that it was no common foe whom they were fighting, and that the man at its head was one fitted to cope with the best Generals they had in their service.

Note 1: Fort Phil Kearny, established in 1866 in northeastern Wyoming along the Bozeman Trail to protect travelers against Indian attack. [back]

Note 2: Crazy Horse (~1840-1877), Tasunka Witko, Chief of the Oglala Sioux, a visionary leader of his people, committed to preserving the traditions and values of the Lakota way of life. [back]

Note 3: Red Cloud (1822-1909), Mahipiya Luta, a great war leader and one of the most recognized chiefs of the Oglala Sioux Nation. [back]

Title: More About Buffalo Bill's Red Skins

Periodical: Aberdeen Weekly Journal

Date: June 11, 1887

Topics: Buffalo Bill's Wild West in Britain

Keywords: Ambushes and surprises American Indians Firearms Horses Military maneuvers Scalping Sioux Nation Teton Indians Weapons

People: Crazy Horse, approximately 1842-1877 Red Cloud, 1822-1909

Places: Fort Phil Kearny (Wyo.) London (England)

Sponsor: This project is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Geraldine W. & Robert J. Dellenback Foundation.

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