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Old 10-18-2011, 10:07 AM   #1
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Massacre

While Yellow Hair was in Grandmother’s country things only got worse for the Sioux on the northern plains of America. There were many other massacres like Whitestone Hill. It was strange that the whites called it a battle when they entered a village at dawn and killed men, women and children as they slept or tried to run for cover. But when Indians killed only soldiers on a field of battle it was called a massacre.

The Fetterman Massacre is a case in point.


As the lone rider nears the fort, the sentry on the walkway just below the parapet calls down to his sergeant, “An Indian approaches.”

“How many?” replies the sergeant.

“Just one.”

“Damn, what could he want?”

The sergeant is rightfully concerned. Just last week there was an attack on the wood train and four men were killed. He then looks up to the guard and asks, “Is he armed?”

“He’s holding a musket, but he doesn’t seem to be in any hurry.”
“Can you see anything else out there?”

“No, he’s the only thing moving.”

So, the sergeant orders the private at the gate, “Open it and let’s see what he wants.”

The massive door swings inward as the Indian reaches it. With a careful and all encompassing look at the interior of the fort, he enters, and after five paces he is met by the sergeant. Tom Bower is his name and he has two weeks to live.

Having had the forethought to send for an interpreter he asks, “What can we do for you?”

“We are camped up at the Tongue up in the Powder River country. I have come to ask for lead and powder so that I may hunt. My family is hungry for meat.”

“Are you a friendly?”

“I am a friend of the White-Man. I do not make war. I hunt.”
Taking a few moments to decide on which course of action to take, Sergeant Bower thinks, “What harm can a little lead and powder do? And isn’t it better to make a fiend than an enemy?”Turning to a private on his right, he tells the man to get a ration of ammunition (forty rounds).

While waiting for the private to return the two men do not speak. However, the Indian’s eyes never stop moving. They take in everything. The thickness of the walls, the number of men on duty and where they are posted. He makes note of the howitzers (the wagon guns) and he counts the buildings.

When the private comes back with the ammunition and it is handed to him, the Indian says, “Now my family will have good hunting.” He then turns his horse and leaves the fort.

He did not mention that his family is six thousand strong, two thousand of them warriors. Now that he has reconnoitered the fort, he can report back to the chiefs and they can decide the best way to kill the Bluecoats that inhabit the hated fort. The fort that is known a Fort Phil Kearny to the whites, and Buffalo Creek Fort to the Indians.

His people are camped at the Tongue and they consist of Northern Cheyenne, Arapaho and Lakota Sioux. And within the Lakota are bands of Minneconjou, Oglala, Hunkpapa and Brûlé. The chiefs are, among others, Mahpiya la sa (Red Cloud) and Míla phé̇ (Dull Knife). A young man also leads, though he is not a chief, his name is Crazy Horse.

Three sleeps later the chiefs and headmen of the tribes are assembled to hear the report of the scout. He tells them of the heavy fortifications and the wagon guns. He tells them that to take the fort would result in the loss of many braves.

When he finished he report, he is thanked and sent on his way. It is time to come up with a plan for taking the fort and rubbing out the soldiers. Each chief, in turn, stands and gives his thoughts on the matter. This process takes hours and when the last chief has spoken there is quiet in the council lodge.

Then a young man stands and says, “I know how we can get at the soldiers.”

The older men look at him, and one says, “You are here because you asked to be, and as a courtesy you were allowed, but we have serious matters to decide today. You young men want to charge the fort and throw your lives away. I ask you, what good is that? Afterward the fort will still be there.”

The young man says nothing in return. But he remains standing, looking down at the old men. There is silence in the lodge. That is until a voice rings out, “We will hear what he has to say. We must have ears for all points of view.” It is Apáhaka (Hump) a Minneconjou chief and uncle to Crazy Horse.

The young man thanks his uncle and then starts to speak. “When we attacked the woodcutters outside the fort I noticed a place that we could hide two thousand braves. If they were there ready for ambush then we could attack the wood cutters again. But this time do it closer to the fort so the gunfire can be easily heard by those inside. And when soldiers are sent out we can decoy them to the place our warriors are hiding. It is a perfect place, steep hills all round and no way out if we surround them.”

When he had finished speaking no one said a word, no one said a thing. Then he was asked to elaborate on his plan, which he did.


The day is 21 December 1866 as the whites count time, it is very cold and there is snow atop the ground.

Colonel Henry B. Carrington sits in his office at Fort Phil Kearny when there is a knock on his door. He puts down the latest dispatch from the War Department and says, “Enter.”

The sergeant looks nervous, but says what he came to say. “Sir, we’re getting low on wood.”

“What? We just had a detail out there last week.”

“No sir, that was three weeks ago. We lost four men”

“I know how many men were killed.”

“Yes sir. But with this weather we’re using up the wood at a faster pace.”

“Then organize a detail and send it out, and I want an officer to lead it. Get that new man Grummond”

“Yes sir.”

Then as an afterthought the colonel asks, “Any Indians lurking about?”

“No sign of any sir.”

“Well, make sure the detail is properly protected.”

“Yes sir.”

Consequent to leaving the colonel’s office, the sergeant makes his way to the officer’s mess where he finds Captains Fetterman and Powel in conversation. As he nears their table he hears Captain Fetterman state, “Give me eighty men and I’ll ride right through the Sioux nation.”

Captain William J. Fetterman is a veteran of the war and he thinks Colonel Carrington’s methods in dealing with the Indians are too passive. He has only been at the fort for a month and has not yet seen an Indian.

The sergeant approaches the table and says, “Excuse me, I’m looking for Lt. Grummond, the colonel wants him to head the escort of a wood cutting detail.” The two captains look to one another and then Captain Fetterman tells the sergeant to get the men together and that he would see to Lt. Grummond.

When the sergeant has departed, Fetterman says to Powell, “I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of sitting on my backside. This may be an opportunity for some action. I’m going to the colonel and ask to take Grummond’s place.”

Captain Powell does not think much of the idea and says, “It’s freezing out there and all you’ll be doing is watching men cut wood and freezing your … your fingers off. They’ll be close enough, if we hear gun fire we’ll be out there pronto. Then you’ll have your action.”

“Maybe you’re right. But I’m going to the colonel and ask to lead the relief party if one is needed.”

“Alright Bill, but I’m going to sit here and have another cup of coffee, and don’t forget to give Grummond the good news.”


Ten miles away, while Fetterman and Powel are having their discussion, in makeshift shelters two thousand braves wait for their scouts to relay the word that a wood train has left the fort.

When Crazy Horse’s plan was adopted by the council, the men readied themselves by painting their faces and tying war ribbons to their ponies’ tails. They left the next day for the three day trek to Buffalo Creek. And there they waited for the signal that would send them to war.

About mid-morning the lookouts see the first mirror flashes. The scouts use hand-held mirrors to relay messages from one to another by flashing sunlight off the mirror; it is as fast as the singing wires (the telegraph). The messages say that the wood train has left the fort.

The braves separate into four groups. The two largest, about a thousand each, go to where the ambush is to take place. The Cheyenne and Arapahos will conceal themselves on the west side of the depression and the Lakota on the east. The other two groups are made up of ten men each. One set will attack the train; the other will be the decoys that will lead the soldiers sent out from the fort for relief into the trap. This is the most dangerous duty.

Within minutes they are mounted and on the way to their appointed positions. Crazy Horse and the other decoys secrete themselves just below the rim of Lodge Trail Ridge, on the far side from the fort. The two main forces spilt up and some take positions hiding in the grass while others, still mounted, hide behind the ridges. The men who are to attack the train go right to the road and catch up with it.

It is a half hour before noon when the first shot is fired. The party that attacked the train did try to kill soldiers, but their priority is to draw out the Bluecoats from the fort.

When the first shot is heard, Captain Fetterman rushes to Colonel Carrington’s office, and without bothering to knock goes in to inform the colonel that a relief party is needed.

“Yes, captain I am aware of that. I heard the shots. I want you to take the 18th Infantry and the 2nd Cavalry and go to the aid of the wood train. They’re both only at half strength, but should be sufficient to chase away the Indians; there’s never more than a dozen or so. But, under no circumstance are you to cross Lodge Trail Ridge. Your orders are to bring the men of the wood train back to safety.”

Looking displeased because he cannot pursue the Indians, he answers, “Yes sir.”

From his place of concealment, Crazy Horse watches Fetterman and the soldiers come out of the fort at full gallop, and then he settles in to await their return.

When Fetterman reaches the train the Indians have disappeared. And that annoys him to no end. “The base cowards! I warrant there isn’t an Indian in all of Dakota Territory who has the courage of one White-Man.”

Riding up to him, Lieutenant Grummond tells him that one man has been wounded and should be gotten back to the fort.

“Alright lieutenant, I’m to bring you all back and then we’ll see what the colonel wants do about the wood situation.”

A little while later, Crazy Horse sees the procession returning down the road. He and the other decoys mount their horses and prepare to antagonize Fetterman and his men.

“What’s that up there on the ridge captain?

“Where Lieutenant?”

“Up there on Lodge Trail Ridge. Wait, I’ll be damned. It’s the Indians that attacked us!”

“Well, there’s nothing we can do about it. I’m ordered not to go over the ridge. They might be out of range, but have your men take few shots at them and let’s see what happens.”

After a few shots are fired and the Indians are still on the ridge, Lieutenant Grummond tells the captain that the Indians are taunting them.

“Those sons-of-*****es, if I could I’d wipe those smiles off their faces. What are they doing now lieutenant?”

“I’m not sure sir. Here is my field glass if you want a better look.”

Putting the glass up to his eye the captain’s whole demeanor changes; his back goes rigid, and he’s half raised in his saddle. He then sits back down and hands the glass back to Lieutenant Grummond without saying a word. Naturally the lieutenant wants to know what Fetterman saw, so he raises the glass and see three of the Indians standing on their horses, leggings pulled down and shaking the bare rear ends toward the soldiers.

That is the last straw for Fetterman, he tells Lieutenant Grummond to see that the detail gets back to the fort. “I’m going to teach those redskins a lesson they’ll never forget.”

“With your permission sir, I’d like to accompany you. I’m itching to teach a lesson myself.”

When permission is granted, Lt. Grummond turns to Sgt. Bower and gives the same order, “See them back to the fort.”

“Ah … ah …”

“What is it sergeant?”

“I’ve got an itch too sir.”

‘What do you think captain?”

“Alright lieutenant, but let’s get a move on before the whole dang detail volunteers. Bugler Metzler, sound ‘Charge.’”

With the acquisition of Grummond and Bower, Captain Fetterman’s command now numbers exactly eighty soldiers.

When Fetterman and company start up the hill, Crazy Horse and the other men retreat a bit. Not too far, just enough to keep the soldiers interested. They stay on the crest of the hill until the last possible moment; bullets flying all around them, but no one is hit.

When they descend the other side of the ridge they keep just out of reach of the soldiers, pretending to be running for their lives.

It is noon as the soldiers come down the far side, and the cavalry overtake the men of the infantry. At the bottom runs Peno Creek, when the Indians cross the creek that is the signal to attack, by then all the soldiers, infantry and cavalry, will be too far in the trap to escape.

As soon as the first Indian crosses the creek, the Arapaho and the Cheyenne pour out of their hiding places on the west. The ones that were behind the ridge top it and come down to join in the fight. On the east the same thing takes place, and before the soldiers know what is happening they are in hand-to-hand combat. The infantry are the first to be wiped out. The cavalry makes it to the protection of some nearby boulders and then turn their horses loose. It is there that they make their last stand. There are so many braves trying to get to too few soldiers that they get in each other’s way.

Near the end when only a handful of soldiers are left, the warriors on the outer edge stop to watch an amazing sight. The young bugler Metzler, who had not yet reached his majority, stands with arrows sticking out of him all over. And every few moments another would pierce his skin. But he fights on. He uses a musket as a club, and when that breaks, he takes the bugle hanging from his belt and starts to clout any Indian that gets near him. One by one the braves stop shooting at him. They respect a brave enemy, and this boy has fought better than any other soldier. He must have at least twenty arrows sticking out of him by now. As they braves pull away from him, he looks about wondering why the fighting has stopped. He does not know it, but he is the last man standing, and the Indians do not want to kill him. But too late, he is already dead; he throws his bugle at the nearest brave and falls to the ground.

The trap was sprung at noon, a half hour later all eighty of the Bluecoats were dead.

The Indians strip the dead of everything and disfigure the bodies. That is all but Adolph Metzler’s. They tenderly remove the arrows and then cover him with a buffalo robe. As the bodies are being mutilated, the Cheyenne think of Sand Creek and the Lakota remember Whitestone Hill.

In irony of ironies, the man who said that given eighty men he would march through the Sioux Nation now lies dead of a self-inflected gunshot. He took his own life rather than face his enemies as his teenage bugler had.

The battle became known as the Fetterman Massacre by the whites. However, the Northern Cheyenne, the Arapaho and the Lakota to this day refer to it by its rightful name, “The Battle of a Hundred Slain.”

It was to be ten winters before the Cheyenne and the Lakota had another victory so complete. And during that time the United States pursued its policy of taking the Indians land. Year after year soldiers were sent out onto the Plains to subdue the Lakota bands that preferred hunting to sitting round a fort accepting the hand-outs of White-Men. To be a hunter was to be labeled an unfriendly, and that meant that not only were the men fair game, but also their women and children.
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Old 10-18-2011, 12:55 PM   #2
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Couple of things,

Can you post your citations for this article? (copyright and all that plus sources are always necessary when trying to spam a board with pseudo-academic authorship)

Can you introduce yourself and let us know what side of the argument you are on? Do you think they are massacres or battles?
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Old 10-18-2011, 01:59 PM   #3
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I think REALITY was massacred by this way too long short story:


QUOTE:

“Those sons-of-*****es, if I could I’d wipe those smiles off their faces. What are they doing now lieutenant?”

Naturally the lieutenant wants to know what Fetterman saw, so he raises the glass and see three of the Indians standing on their horses, leggings pulled down and shaking the bare rear ends toward the soldiers.

END QUOTE

The Old 3 Moons Decoy Trick! That was on page 10 of the Native Battle Manual, I think....

Happy Trails Yellowhar1850 Dude
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Old 10-18-2011, 02:04 PM   #4
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And the teenage bugler with 20 arrows stuck in him....Cliche' deja ju'....

was he wearing his Arrow shirt?


Weave some jokes into your writing, and you might have some success.
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Old 10-18-2011, 03:33 PM   #5
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Thanks ...for reading it ...

You guys (or girls ... as the case may be) kind of wanted to know where I'm coming from ... first of all this is an excerpt of a 300 page novel I've just completed and is in the process of being sold ...

Where I'm coming from should be self evident ... wait until you read my take on "Whitestone Hill" ...

As to citations ... years of research ... no college degree ... I did not want to be forced to remember facts and regurgitate them for a test ... and then soon forget them ... what I learned on my own has stayed with me ...

Every outrage against the Dakota/Lakota that I write about took place ... all I do is add dialogue ...

Last edited by Yellowhair1850; 10-18-2011 at 03:36 PM..
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Old 10-18-2011, 04:06 PM   #6
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As to citations ... years of research ... no college degree ... I did not want to be forced to remember facts and regurgitate them for a test ... and then soon forget them ... what I learned on my own has stayed with me ...
Yeah no one likes to have to cite their references and give credit to those who have done the original work, when you decide to take liberties.

Oh he's an author trying to publish his work? Never would have guessed that (insert sarcasm her) in cased you missed it.
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Old 10-18-2011, 04:14 PM   #7
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You guys (or girls ... as the case may be) kind of wanted to know where I'm coming from ... first of all this is an excerpt of a 300 page novel I've just completed and is in the process of being sold ...

Where I'm coming from should be self evident ... wait until you read my take on "Whitestone Hill" ...

As to citations ... years of research ... no college degree ... I did not want to be forced to remember facts and regurgitate them for a test ... and then soon forget them ... what I learned on my own has stayed with me ...

Every outrage against the Dakota/Lakota that I write about took place ... all I do is add dialogue ...
You do realize that publishing excerpts from an unpublished work may torpedo any efforts to have an agent shop it to a publishing house. You are failing to protect your own copyright as well as by not citing your sources, you are on the side of a copyright infringement yourself. No publisher wants to deal with unnecessary IP issues.
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Old 10-18-2011, 04:20 PM   #8
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Hey guys ...

First of all the book just sold ...

Last edited by Paul G; 10-18-2011 at 04:41 PM..
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Old 10-19-2011, 11:34 PM   #9
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First of all the book just sold ...
Which is more than I can say for the romantically stylized arguments.
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