Satanta, Satauk (Satank) and Big Tree Arrested

Jack County, Texas

    May 20, Gen. Sherman, Gen. Marcy, and their escort, departed from Ft. Richardson and reached Ft. Sill May 23. They were visited by Lowrie Tatum, Indian agent for the Comanches and Kiowas. He reported that he had been able to accomplish but very little in civilizing his Indians, that they paid no attention to his injunctions, and continued their forays to Texas where they depredated upon the settlements. He further stated that the Indians must be made to feel the strong arm of government, a policy many people pled for long before the War between the States; and further stated that the Indians should be punished when they perpetrated their atrocities.

    May 27, about four o'clock in the evening, Satanta, Satauk (Satan), Kicking Bird, Lone Wolf, Eagle Heart, and other Indians came to the reservation to draw their rations. Shortly afterwards, Satanta the Bengal tiger of the wild tribe, boasted that he and 100 warriors had made the recent attack upon the train between Ft. Richardson and Belknap, that they killed the seven teamsters, and drove away forty mules. He further said:

    "If any other Indian claimed the credit of it, he would be a liar - that I am the man who commanded." Satanta then pointed out Satauk (Satank), Big Tree, and Eagle Heart, as being participants in the raid. This news was then conveyed to Gen. Sherman, who ordered the chiefs arrested and sent to Jacksboro, Texas, to be tried. Eagle Heart escaped. Satanta, Satauk (Satank), and Big Tree were arrested. When Satanta was carried before Gen. Sherman, he began to feel, perhaps, he made a mistake in confessing the crime, so he considerably changed his story. Satanta, according to reports, in substance told Gen. Sherman that he was present at the fight, but did not kill anybody himself, and that he took no part in the controversy, excepting to blow his bugle; that his young men wanted to have a little fight, and take a few white scalps; and that he was prevailed upon to go with them, merely to show how to make war. He further stated that he stood back during the engagement and merely gave directions, that sometime ago the whites had killed three of his people, and wounded four more, so this little affair made the account square; and that he was now ready to commence anew and be friendly with the whites. Gen. Sherman informed Satanta that it was a very cowardly thing for 100 warriors to attack ten poor teamsters, who did not pretend to know how to fight. He further told Satanta that if he desired to have a battle, the soldiers were ready to meet him any time. When Satanta learned that he was going to be sent to Texas and tried in the court, he said he preferred being shot on the ground. About that time, however, Kicking Bird, another chief, who was not as wicked as Satanta, arrived, and pleaded with Gen. Sherman to release the chief. When they were not released, trouble at Ft. Sill seemed imminent. In fact, some of the Indians rushed for the gates, and when they were halted by the sentinels, one of them wounded a guard with an arrow. The Indians were also told they must return the forty-one mules they had captured. June 6, following, Gen. McKenzie started overland with Satanta, Satauk (Satank), and Big Tree, for Ft. Richardson. Before they proceeded a great distance, however, Satauk, (Satank) became so desperate, he was shot.

    After the chiefs were arrested and before Gen. Sherman left Ft. Sill., agent Tatum told the General that he was glad that Satanta and his associates committed the deed, and made the confession just when he did for it gave Gen. Sherman an opportunity to witness the actual conditions along the frontier. He also stated that he would have been glad if Lone Wolf had been arrested, for he is one of the boldest and most troublesome men in his tribe. Agent Tatum then stated that it had been his opinion for a year, that the Indians must be controlled by force as they had disrespected all treaties.

    Description of the Massacre | Trial

The above story is from the book, The West Texas Frontier, by Joseph Carroll McConnell.

Home | Battles/Massacres | Forts | Road Trip Maps | Blood Trail Maps | Links | PX and Library | Contact Us | Mail Bag | Search | Intro | Upcoming Events | Reader's Road Trips

Fort Tour Systems, Inc.