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Private Gentiles & The Murder of Chief Crazy Horse


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(Illustrations by E. Lisle Reedstrom from article "Who Killed Crazy horse?" in unidentified periodical circa 1970s.)

Private Gentiles was probably born in Ireland September 28, 1828, and entered the U.S. in 1856, perhaps illegally.  He served in Co. K, 10th Infantry from 1856-61, entering Utah as part of Johnston's Army.  During the Civil War he served in various Missouri units, from early 1862 to July 1865.  In June 1867 he enlisted in Co. F, 14th Infantry which eventually brought him to Fort Douglas.  His unit was ordered to Fort Robinson, Nebraska in 1877, where Pvt. Gentiles was absent from his appointed place of duty and subsequently punished by a Court Martial.  Forfeiting $12.00 pay (nearly a full month's pay for a private) he was also sentenced to twenty days hard labor on August 13, 1877.

Following completion of his sentence, he found himself assigned to guard duty at Fort Robinson on September 5, 1877.  .  Although not technically a prisoner, Chief Crazy horse, implicated in the Custer Massacre of June 25, 1876, was being held at the guard house.  Some sort of disturbance broke out.
    Records describe the incident as one in which Crazy horse ran from the guard house "impinging upon the bayonet of No. 1 sentinel, who had instinctively lowered his piece to the charge on hearing disturbance.  I am satisfied that the wound received by the latter was occasioned by the blind recklessness of his wild rush."
    Chief Little Big Man is reported to have pinned Crazy horse's arms behind him, thereby facilitating the fatal bayonet thrust.

Fearing retribution from Indians, Pvt. Gentiles was quietly shipped back to Fort Douglas on the Union Pacific Railroad the following day.   Less than a year later, on May 20, 1878 Private Gentiles died from an asthma attack, and was buried in the Fort Douglas Cemetery.  Another nearly anonymous solider, remembered for killing a famous Indian chief under somewhat murky circumstances.


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Private William Gentiles


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Private Gentiles charging with bayonet as Chief Crazy horse is held by Chief Little Big Man

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Grave of Private William Gentiles

Birth:   Sep., 1828, Ireland Death:   May 20, 1878
Fort Douglas
Salt Lake County
Utah, USA

William Gentles joined the U.S. Army in 1856 and spent over 20 years as a soldier. On 05 Sep 1877, while stationed at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, Gentles was escorting Sioux prisoners to the guardhouse. One of the prisoners was the famous warrior chief Crazy Horse who had led the Sioux to victory over General George A. Custer at Little Big Horn, Montana the previous year. Crazy Horse reportedly attempted to escape and Gentles stabbed him with his bayonet, resulting in the great chief's death a few hours later. Gentles died of asthma eight months later at Fort Douglas, near Salt Lake City Utah.

Fort Douglas Cemetery
Salt Lake City
Salt Lake County
Utah, USA
Plot: Section 4 Grave 16

Note: Find A Grave submitter lists name as Gentles.

Contributor: bgill
Created: June 12, 2007 · Modified: June 13, 2007

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