Sioux Campaign Winter of 1890-91
Col. Peter E. Traub
This very exhaustive article by Col. Traub covers the various and several incidents and engagements of that campaign affection:
- Cheyenne River Reservation: Blackfeet, Minneconjo, Sans Arcs and Two Kettle Sioux
- Crow Creek and Lower Brule Reservation: Lower Bruele and Yanktonai Sioux
- Pine Ridge (Red Cloud) Reservation: Northern Cheyenne and Oglalla Sioux
- Rose Bud (Spotted Tail) Reservation: Minneconjo, Ogalalla, Upper Brule and Wahzahzah Sioux
- Standing Rock Reservation: Blackfeet, Unkapapa, Lower and Upper Yanktonai Sioux
We hope at some future time to secure permission from Colonel Traub to reproduce this entire article, which we consider of great historical value, and are only taking the liberty of reproducing herewith a brief extract from the article pertaining to the "Battle of the Wounded Knee," as follows:
At 8:30 p.m., Dec. 28, 1890, Col. James W. Forsythe, Seventh U.S. Cavalry, with four Troops (C,D,G and E) and two Hotchkiss guns (personal note: remember in a previous article we posted the army denied having Hotchkiss guns at Wounded Knee) arrived at Wounded Knee Creek and assumed command. About 7:30 the next morning, after considerable trouble, the bucks of Big Foot's command, number 106, were collected 100 yards away from their camp, Troops K and B being posted midway between. Having explained to them that after surrender, they would be treated as prisoners of war, and that as such, they would have to be disarmed, squads of twenty were cut off and told to bring in their weapons to a designated place. The result of this was very unsatisfactory, as only two broken carbines were brought. Keeping the bucks together, details of soldiers were made under officers to search the Indian camp, which resulted in securing forty-eight guns, the squaws making every effort to conceal the weapons by sitting on them, practicing deception, etc.
While this was going on, one of the Indians in "Ghost Dance" costume, separated a little from the rest, and commenced to harrange the bucks. Forsythe paid no attention to him, that he was telling the Indians to be quiet and submit. Shortly after, however, he changed his address to one for the extermination of the whites, and he was silenced. Just following this, the search through the Indian teepees having been completed, order was given to search the persons of the bucks. The weather was cold, and they had been permitted to wear their blankets; underneath, most of them had their weapons concealed. Shortly after the move to disarm them, an Indian in "Ghost Dance" costume threw some dust in the air, as a signal, and the bucks made a break, opening fire on K and B Troops, so that every shot that failed to hit a trooper or his horse was sent directly through their own camp, where their squaws and children were located. They broken through and around the flanks of Wallace's (K) Troop and reached their camp, from which place they kept up a fire on the troops drawing death toward their women and children. The troops were completely taken by surprise and fully fifty shots were fired by the Indians before a single soldier discharged his weapon. (Personal Note: This completely contradicts all non civilian witnesses at the scene who said firing began 'almost instantly' after the first shot was heard.)
But, recovering, they soon surrounded the Indians with a perfect sheet of flame, through which every once in a while a bounding buck would make his way. Bucks, squaws and children mounted and dismounted, started for the hill up a dry ravine. (Note: This contradicts official army inquiry statements that said the horses all bolted upon the first shots and nobody rode away on any) It was impossible to distinguish buck from squaw, in spite of the care exercised by both officers and men, whose action under the trying circumstances was most praiseworthy. The hot fight, lasted about twenty minutes and skirmishing was kept up an hour afterwards.
Three troops were sent up the dry ravine, and they succeeded in killing six bucks and capturing five others (all badly wounded) and nineteen squaws and children. But they were immediately attacked by 125 Brules, who had gotten wind of the fight and left the agency. (Note: See previous statements that this timing is incorrect as stated)
In the fight that followed between the three troops and the 125 Brules, the prisoners were dropped and the Indians driven off. (Note: Skirmish was miles away, and involved only a small section of troops) The latter returned to the agency, which they attacked, drawing the fire of the scouts and police and spreading the report of the killing of Big Foot to the peaceably inclined ones in the camps surrounding the agency, which resulted in about 3,000 joining the hostiles and assuming a threatening attitude. (Note: Official government inquiry states the agency was NOT attacked, that there was no further trouble or threats and that no other Indians joined in)
The Indians from the Badlands, under Short Bull and Kicking Bear would have camped that night near the agency but on hearing the news of the Big Foot disaster, they turned back and assumed a hostile attitude at No Waters, eight miles from the mouth of White Clay Creek and about seventeen miles from Pine Ridge Agency. The hostile camp now embraced 4,000 Indians, including over 1,000 warriors. (Note: These figures are fabricated. No other Indians came and/or fought)
In this battle Captain Wallace, six non-commissioned officers and eighteen privates were killed: Lieutenant Garlington, Gresham and Hawthorne, eleven non-commissioned officers and twenty-two privates were wounded. Captain Whitney, Eighth U.S. Infantry was ordered to make an investigation of Indians killed. He reports as follows. (Note: He mistakenly gives the impression this was a separate battle, it was not. This was at Wounded Knee and his figures are wrong, see previous official reports in previous section) Sixty-two bucks and one boy killed, twenty-one bucks badly wounded, 40 squaws killed, one squaw wounded, one blind squaw unhurt, four small children and one papoose killed (Bodies of several babies have been counted on photographs taken at the scene) forty bucks and seven squaws killed in camp; twenty five bucks, ten squaws and two children in canyon near and outside of camp. The rest found in the hills. Forty eight horses and one burro found dead.
There was evidence that a number of bodies had been removed. Forty eight guns and 150 horses were secured. After the fight the troops went back to the agency. General Schofield, in his report to the Secretary of War regarding the conduct of the soldiers engaged in this battle, said, in part: "The evidence shows that great care was taken by the officers and enlisted men to avoid unnecessary killing of Indian women and children in the affair at Wounded Knee, and shows that the conduct of the Seventh U.S. Cavalry under very trying circumstances was characterized by excellent discipline and in many cases by great forbearance."
The Secretary of War, Mr. Redfield Proctor, completely exonerated Colonel Forsythe and the Seventh Cavalry. After carefully reviewing the circumstances, he said, "The women and children were never away from the immediate company of the men after the men broken from the circle. Many of them, men and women, got on their ponies and it was impossible to distinguish buck from squaw at a little distance when mounted. The bucks fired from among the squaws and children in their retreat. Cautions were repeatedly given by both officers and non-commissioned officers not to shoot squaws or children and the soldiers were cautioned individually that such and such Indians were squaws. Some were unavoidably killed and wounded, a fact which was universally regretted by the officers and men of the Seventh U.S. Cavalry. The Indians themselves were entirely responsible for this unfortunate phase of the affair."
Note: He fails to address the dozens of bodies of children and women and old ones who were found slaughtered miles away in ravines, being run down by troops and massacred as they ran, miles away from the massacre site at Wounded Knee.