Elkhorn Creek

Michael has a BA in History & American Studies and an MSc in American History from the University of Edinburgh. He comes from a proud military family and has spent most of his career as an educator in the Middle East and Asia. His passion is travel, and he seizes any opportunity to share his experiences in the most immersive way possible, whether at sea or on the land.

Part of our in-depth series exploring the forts of Comancheria

13 August 1868; Lincoln, Kansas: More than 200 Cheyennes, Arapahos, and Lakotas, under prominent warriors such as Man-Who-Breaks-the Marrow-Bones, Tall Wolf, Porcupine Bear, and Bear-That-Goes-Ahead, moved north from their villages in central Kansas and descended on the settlements along the Saline and Solomon Rivers. Some may have been carrying arms and ammunition recently issued to them by Indian agent Edward W. Wynkoop at Fort Larned. On 10 August, they raided the farms along Spillman Creek in Grant County, raping three women.

Capt. Frederick W. Benteen, with Company H, 7th Cavalry, and Lt. Owen Hale, with Company M of the same regiment, were sent from Fort Larned to the scene of the attacks, about 80 miles away. Benteen took a detachment of H and moved rapidly, reaching Fort Harker in two days. From there, he took 40 men from his company and several he rounded up at the fort and moved north.

Benteen's party arrived at the farmhouse of a family called Schermerhorn on Elkhorn Creek, about five miles southeast of Lincoln, Kansas, where 50 Indians were threatening a family. After dropping off ten men with the pack mules, Benteen and his men "were into that gang of astounded reds before they were aware of it."

The 30 soldiers chased what turned out to be nearly 200 warriors down the Elkhorn and up the Saline toward Spillman Creek. The troopers got so close, said Benteen, they were "almost trampling on their 'gee-strings.'" During the 20-mile romp the Indians abandoned two captured girls, Maggie and Esther Bell, who were rescued the next day.

The cavalrymen put their repeating Spencers to work, killing three Indians and wounding ten; Benteen lost not a man.

Join the discussion

Further reading

Recent Comments