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  1. The Heart of Everything That Is: Chief Red Cloud’s Untold Story, Revealed
  3. Red Cloud (), Oglala Lakota war leader and chief | American National Biography

By contrast, the soldier's Springfield Model muskets had an effective range of yards or more. Carrington and his caravan reached Fort Reno on June 28, and left two companies about men there to relieve the two companies of the 5th U. Volunteers nicknamed the " Galvanized Yankees " , who had garrisoned the fort over the winter. From there two companies of the 18th advanced 91 miles to the northwest, where on August 13, they established a third post, Fort C.

Smith on the Bighorn River. Given the typically early and severe winters of the high plains, the middle of August was very late in the year to begin constructing forts, but Carrington's march had been slowed by having to transport a large mechanical "grass-cutting machine. Carrington was an engineer and political appointee, inexperienced in combat. He spent manpower resources building superior fortifications.

Arriving in the region in mid-July, he tried to prepare for winter. Given the severity of the Wyoming winters, this was reasonable, but many of his junior officers, anxious for battle, were infuriated. Most were Civil War veterans, but they were unfamiliar with Indian fighting and believed the warriors could be easily defeated. They said that Red Cloud was nearby with warriors. Two white civilians were killed that day, and the Lakota campaign against the forts along the Trail began the next day.

Red Cloud's warriors infiltrated the picket lines near the fort and stampeded horses and mules. About soldiers pursued the Indians in a running 15 mile fight, attempting unsuccessfully to recover the animals and suffering two men killed and three wounded. Returning to the fort, they found the bodies of six civilian traders killed by the Indians. Carrington could only be re-supplied with food and ammunition by heavily guarded wagon trains. In the weeks and months that followed, the Indians repeatedly attacked the wagon trains that sallied out of Fort Kearny to cut construction timber in a forest six miles away.

For defense, the wood trains were large, consisting of two parallel lines of 24 to 40 wagons guarded by mounted soldiers on either flank. In the event of an attack, the wagons were quickly drawn into an corral for defense. Carrington's hay-cutting machine was also destroyed. In November , Captains William J. Fetterman and James Powell arrived at Fort Phil Kearny from the 18th Infantry's headquarters garrison at Fort Laramie to replace several officers recently relieved of duty. Unlike Carrington, Fetterman had extensive combat experience during the Civil War. But he lacked experience fighting American Indians.

Fetterman disagreed with Carrington's strategy, reportedly saying it was "passive" and boasting that given "80 men," he "would ride through the Sioux nation. Commanding officer Second Lieutenant Horace S. Bingham was among those killed as he had followed them as they retreated over Lodge Trail Ridge and been overwhelmed. Carrington worried about his officers' tendency to blindly follow such Indian decoy parties. Fetterman was outraged by what he considered the ineffectiveness of Carrington's leadership. He understood the commander of the Department of the Platte , Gen.

George Cooke , to have ordered the garrison to mount an aggressive winter campaign. On the morning of December 21, , the wood train was attacked again. Carrington ordered a relief party, composed of 49 infantrymen of the 18th Infantry, 27 mounted troopers of the 2nd Cavalry, with Captain James Powell to command. Powell had led a similar effort two days earlier and declined to pursue the Indians over the ridge.

However, by claiming seniority as a brevet lieutenant colonel, Fetterman asked for and was given command of the relief party. Another officer of the 18th, Lt. Grummond, also a vocal critic of Carrington, led the cavalry, which had been leaderless since Lt. Bingham's death in early December.

The infantry marched out first; the cavalry had to retrieve its mounts before it could follow and catch up. Colonel Carrington said he ordered Fetterman not to cross Lodge Trail Ridge, where relief from the fort would be difficult, [59] and that he told Grummond to remind Fetterman of his order. Upon leaving the fort, Fetterman, instead of marching down the wood road to the relief of the wood train, turned north and crossed the Sullivant Hills toward Lodge Trail Ridge. Fetterman took the bait; several of the warriors stood on their ponies and insultingly waggled their bare buttocks at the troopers.

Fetterman and his company were joined by Grummond at the crossing of the creek; they deployed in skirmish line and marched over the Ridge in pursuit. They raced into the Peno Valley, where an estimated 1,, Indians were concealed. They had fought the soldiers there on December 6.

The ambush was not observed from the fort, but around noon, men at the fort heard gunfire, beginning with a few shots followed immediately by sustained firing. When the Oglala and Cheyenne sprang their trap, the soldiers had no escape; none survived. Evidence indicated the cavalry probably had charged the Indians; the bodies of the cavalry's most advanced group were found nearly a mile down the ridge beyond the infantry.

Reports from the burial party sent to collect the remains said the soldiers had died in three groups. The most advanced, and probably most effective, were the two civilians, armed with shot Henry repeating rifles , and a small number of cavalrymen who had dismounted and taken cover in the rocks. Up the slope behind them were the bodies of most of the retreating cavalrymen, armed with new 7-shot Spencer carbines , but encumbered by their horses and lacking cover.

Further up the slope were Fetterman, Brown, and the infantrymen. They had nearly obsolete Civil War muzzle-loading muskets; the Indians were armed with equally obsolete weaponry. These foot soldiers fought from cover for a short while, until their ammunition ran out and they were overrun. Carrington heard the gunfire and immediately sent out a man support force on foot under Captain Tenedor Ten Eyck. Shortly after, the 30 remaining cavalrymen of Company C were sent dismounted to reinforce Ten Eyck, followed by two wagons, the first loaded with hastily loaded ammunition and escorted by another 40 men.

Carrington called for an immediate muster of troops to defend the post. Including the wood train detail, the detachments had left only troops remaining inside the fort. Ten Eyck took a roundabout route and reached the ridgetop just as the firing ceased about He sent back a message reporting that he could not see Fetterman's force, but the valley was filled with groups of Indians taunting him to come down.

Ten Eyck suffered severe criticism for not marching straight to battle, though doing so would have resulted only in the destruction of his force, too. Ten Eyck reached and recovered the bodies of Fetterman's men. Because of continuing Indian threat, they could not recover those of the cavalry for two days. By that time, Fetterman and his entire man detachment were dead. Carrington's official report said that Fetterman and Brown shot each other to avoid capture. Army autopsies recorded Fetterman's death wound as a knife slash.

It remains a subject of debate.

The Heart of Everything That Is: Chief Red Cloud’s Untold Story, Revealed

The warriors mutilated most of the bodies of the soldiers. Most of the dead soldiers were scalped, beheaded, dismembered, disemboweled, and often castrated, facts widely publicized by the newspapers. The only body left untouched was that of a young teenage bugler, Adolph Metzler. He was believed to have fought several Indians with just his bugle as a bludgeon. Aside from his fatal head and chest injuries, his body was left untouched and covered with a buffalo robe by the Indians. The evening after the Fetterman disaster, a civilian, John "Portugee" Philips," volunteered to carry a distress message to Fort Laramie.

Carrington's message to General Cooke reported Fetterman's defeat and requested immediate reinforcements and supplies of repeating Spencer carbines. He did not see any Indians during his ride. He arrived at Fort Laramie late in the evening on December 25, during a full-dress Christmas ball.

He staggered, exhausted, into the party to deliver his message. Wessells arrived safely at Fort Kearny on January 16 with two companies of cavalry and four of infantry. One man in his command froze to death during the journey. Carrington left Fort Kearny on January 23 with his wife and the other women and children, including the pregnant wife of the deceased Lt. One half of his soldier escort suffered frostbite. Grant , commanding the U. Army, was not inclined to blame only Carrington. He relieved Cooke on January 9, The Army reached no official conclusion, and Interior exonerated Carrington.

After a severe hip injury, Carrington resigned his commission in He spent the rest of his life defending his actions and condemning Fetterman's alleged disobedience. After the Fetterman Fight, the Indians dispersed into smaller groups for the winter. Conflict subsided for the season. Wessells and his men at Fort Phil Kearny had a difficult time through the winter.

Food was short, most of the horses and mules died from lack of forage, and scurvy was common among the soldiers. He cancelled plans for a punitive winter campaign against the Indians. Stanley , later achieving fame in Africa , said, "Murders are getting to be so tame from their plurality, that no one pays any attention to them. Most serious was the Indian threat to the construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad routed through southern Wyoming. Although army forces had been augmented along the Bozeman Trail and at Fort Laramie in the wake of the Fetterman disaster, resources were still insufficient to take the offensive against the Indians.

Peace negotiations conducted by the friendly Lakota chieftain Spotted Tail with Red Cloud initially seemed promising, but proved to be only a delaying tactic by the Indians. In late July , the Lakota and Cheyenne took two different paths in attacks.


A force composed primarily of Cheyenne and Arapaho gathered for an attack at Fort C. Smith on the Bighorn River in Montana. On July 23, the fort was reinforced by two companies of infantry under Lt.

Red Cloud's War history

Bradley, bringing the complement of the fort up to soldiers. Most importantly, the reinforcements were armed with breech-loading Springfield Model rifles, replacing the muskets the soldiers had previously been issued. The supply of the new Springfields was perhaps the biggest change in the conflict since the Fetterman Fight.

They allowed the soldiers to reload quickly, ending the Indian tactic of charging defenses before the soldiers could reload. With the new rifles, the soldiers could also remain behind cover while reloading.

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The soldiers at Fort Smith were tasked with protecting civilians cutting hay for winter food for the fort's horses. During the course of the day, the Americans repulsed several attacks with their fast-firing rifles. The Indians broke off the attack in the afternoon. American casualties were two soldiers and one civilian killed and three wounded. The Indians claimed they had lost eight dead; the soldiers estimated they had killed 18 to Twenty-six soldiers and 6 civilians were escorting a wood-cutting detail outside the fort. The heavy wooden boxes of 14 wagons had been placed on the ground in an oval corral near the main cutting site, and most of the soldiers and civilians took refuge there when hundreds of mounted Indian warriors suddenly appeared.

Armed with the new breech-loading rifles, the Americans held off the Indians for six hours before being rescued by a relief force from Fort Kearny. The Wagon Box Fight was hailed at the time as the "greatest Indian battle in the world," with Indian casualties fancifully estimated at up to 1, Hyde has said the Indians had 6 killed and 6 wounded and did not regard the fight as a defeat, as they captured a large number of mules and horses. The outcomes of the Hayfield and Wagon Box fights discouraged the Indians from mounting additional large-scale attacks, but they continued harassment of the forts along the Bozeman Trail, killing soldiers and civilians.

This alarmed the government. The successful completion of the transcontinental railroad took priority, and the Army did not have the resources to defend both the railroad and the Bozeman Trail from Indian attacks. The military presence in the Powder River Country was both expensive and unproductive, with estimates that 20, soldiers might be needed to subdue the Indians. Peace commissioners were sent to Fort Laramie in the spring of In August , Federal soldiers abandoned the forts and withdrew to Fort Laramie.

The day after the soldiers left the forts, the Indians burned them.

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The Bozeman Trail was closed for all time. Red Cloud did not arrive at Fort Laramie until November. The reservation included all of South Dakota west of the Missouri River. Northern Arapaho representatives also signed the treaty. The treaty declared the Powder River country as "unceded Indian territory" , as a reserve for the Indians who chose not to live on the new reservation, and as a hunting reserve for the Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho.

These far, southern hunting grounds along the forks of Republican River remained holdings of the United States, as they had been since , when the Pawnee Indians sold this area and other parts of their country to the whites. The Lakotas on their part allowed the construction of "any railroad" outside the reservation. They would give up "all right to occupy permanently the territory outside" it and "regard said reservation their permanent home".

They accepted "not to attack any persons at home, or travelling Although a treaty between the United States and the Lakotas, it had profound consequences for the Crows. In order to realize the Lakota demand to the western Powder River area, the United States first had to buy it from the treaty right holder, the Crow, and then recognize the Lakota tribe as the next proprietor.

Consequently, parallel with the negotiations with the Lakota, the United States had treaty talks with the Crow Indians. On May 7, , the Crows accepted to sell large parts of their treaty territory to the United States. The ceded area included the western Powder River hunting grounds of the Crow, already for years taken in possession by the Lakotas and their allies without consent.

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The Crows also agreed to settle on a smaller reservation right on the south side of the Yellowstone, in the center of their territory. The small Ponca tribe was another Indian nation affected by the new Fort Laramie treaty. By mistake, the United States had given the Lakotas treaty right to the reservation of the Poncas. Similar to "Red Cloud's War" it was mostly fought in areas recognized as Crow country by the Lakotas in , but later invaded and annexed by them.

The peace of forced upon the whites allowed the Oglalas and other Lakotas to turn their focus on the intertribal wars again. In November, chief Red Cloud asked the United States for firearms to fight the Crows after the loss of two band members. After , Red Cloud lived on the reservation. Instead of sending troops to punish the Sioux they sent a commission to make peace with them.

The result of this commission was the famous treaty of In this treaty, the government had a really hard time getting Red Cloud to agree with the terms that they put on the table because he knew that if he held out long enough that the commission would give him what he wanted. Finally they agreed that all of the forts along the trail would be abandoned and the Sioux land would be given back to them. But not long after the treaty had been signed gold was found in the Black Hills and the prospectors started pouring in which violated the treaty that had just been signed.

At first the government tried to stop the prospectors from going into the hills but it was not long before the government stopped helping and just let them go. After the government stopped helping, Red Cloud realized that he was fighting a losing battle but he decided to give it one last shot and go out with honor.

Here are some words from his final speech. I am done with him. This is all I have to say. But the Sioux nation fought bravely. They made absolute refusal to being captured and put onto reservations. But in the fall of , all hope was lost when Red Cloud was captured and was taken into captivity at Fort Robinson, Nebraska. Red Cloud Died in He was known as a hero to everyone who knew him. He had so much pride and was proud to be known as a Native American and he wanted every other Native American to also be proud of their heritage.

Because of all of the pride that he had for his heritage, all that he did for most of his life was try to save his people from the white settlers that were trying to take over their native lands.

Red Cloud (), Oglala Lakota war leader and chief | American National Biography

For this they are eternally grateful and that is why he was a hero of his time. My day is done Darkness is stealing over me. Before I lie down to rise no more, I will speak to my people. Makhpiya-Lata, better known as Red Cloud, was known as a quiet man. In the early 's, the government tried to put the Indians on reservations to gain control of them.