Army Returns

Picture of Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock
Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock. Photo from the book,
Encyclopedia of American Indian Wars, by Jerry Keenan.

The army still needed time to reorganize and a new treaty was needed to correct flaws in previous agreements. Therefore, they called another council in 1868 at Medicine Lodge. General Sherman replaced Hancock with Sheridan, who at first meeting developed such a low opinion of the Kiowas that he refused to take part in further negotiations. Naturally the Kiowas continued to act as principal spokesmen through the remainder of the conference. Their eloquence, and in Satanta's case, physical appearance, brought them to the forefront of the nation's attention.

Satanta Lecturing Sheridan Picture
Satanta Lecturing Sheridan

Sir Henry Morton Stanley, of "Livingston I presume," rode with Sheridan's column as field correspondent and wrote admiringly about Satanta's appearance and capabilities as well as his intelligence. The chief already had a fearsome reputation on the frontier but was best known for carrying a captured bugle into battle and blowing contramanning orders, throwing the cavalry into chaos.

Sir Henry Morton Stanley Picture
Sir Henry Morton Stanley

Post-war America was divided on the Indian issue. The reservations remained a sanctuary for captured wives, children, and livestock, and this situation naturally enflamed Texas tempers to the south. However, newspapers, magazines and dime novels were full of stories about the Wild West, and though most citizens favored western expansion, many felt sympathy for the Indian's plight. President Grant was even compelled to bar his army from the reservations, and he installed Quakers as agents.

Lawrie Tatum Picture
Lawrie Tatum

Brother Lawrie Tatum was assigned to the Wichita agency. Soon after his arrival, a handful of Kiowas burst into his office and held their weapons on him. Satanta put his hand on the agent's heart to see if he was afraid. He proved brave but completely ineffective at controlling the Plains tribes.

Picture of Kiowa Children

Post Civil War Frontier

Complaints of Indian depredations across the plains poured into army headquarters, and Sheridan ordered Colonel George Armstrong Custer to lead his troopers in search of raiders. In the winter of 1868, he had his only Indian victory at the Battle of the Washita where he attacked the same peaceful Cheyenne tribe victimized at Sand Creek. His Seventh Cavalry managed to kill a few dozen startled, half-awake Indians including Chief Black Kettle and his wife. Custer ordered retreat when his scouts reported thousands of Cheyenne, Arapaho and Kiowa lodges further upstream.

Colonel George Armstrong Custer Picture
Colonel George Armstrong Custer

Soon after, Custer arrested Satanta and Lone Wolf, ignoring their white flag of truce and holding them in captivity for several months. Actually the ordeal doesn't seem to have been so unpleasant. Satanta charmed Custer, and the chief even had his son, Gray Goose, brought in to join them. Custer maintained amicable relations with the Kiowas long after the tribe's actions should have merited otherwise.

Gray Goose Picture
Gray Goose
Photo from the book, Carbine & Lance, The Story of Old Fort Sill, by Colonel W. S. Nye; Copyright © 1937 by the University of Oklahoma Press. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


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