Needing time to catch its breath and assess the situation, the army conducted a series of councils. Plains warriors gladly met with their old trading partners in 1863 and accepted gifts and promised friendship though they made it clear they intended to continue raiding Texas and Mexican settlements.

High Plains Comanches and Cheyenne dog soldiers under Roman Nose didn't attend the councils nor did they feel obligated to stop raiding. They were soon joined by most of the Kiowa bands. General Hancock ordered a punitive response. In 1864, Colorado volunteers brutally attacked a peaceful Cheyenne camp at Sand Creek and Kit Carson's forces were lucky to survive a battle with a large Comanche force at Adobe Walls.

Kit Carson

Another council was called in 1865, as usual the Kiowas did most of the talking though a few Southern Cheyenne and Comanche chiefs attended. The Kiowa fared exceptionally well in these negotiations, the Union granted them the Texas Panhandle and neither they nor the Comanche were chastised for their continuous raiding.

The army still needed time to reorganize and a new treaty was needed to correct flaws in previous agreements. Another council was called 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 Kiowa's continued to act as principal spokesman 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

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

Post-war America was divided on the Indian issue. 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 compelled to bar his army from the reservations and installed Quakers as agents.

 Lawrie Tatum

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. The reservations remained a sanctuary for captured wives, children, and livestock; and a situation that naturally enflamed Texas tempers to the south.

Colonel George Armstrong Custer

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. Soon after, he 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 tribes actions should have merited otherwise.


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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