Frenchman Fork

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 Sioux Nation Forts

The following is from the book, Encyclopedia of Indian Wars, by Gregory F. Michno.

After his 16 May battle at Spring Creek, Maj. Carr had little time to rest before the next expedition was planned and ready. He was to take eight depleted companies of the 5th Cavalry, only about 300 men, supplemented with three 50-man companies of Frank and Luther North's Pawnee scouts, on another sweep through the Republican River country. Leaving Fort McPherson on 9 June, they traveled south down Medicine Creek to its junction with the Republican, then headed east to scout the mouths of Short Nose (Prairie Dog), Sappa, and Beaver Creeks, after which they would continue up the Republican.

On the 15th, about eight miles above the mouth of Sappa Creek, Cheyennes jumped the expedition, trying to steal their horses. One herder was it with an arrow as the soldiers chased them off. Luther North and his Pawnees charged off in pursuit, and Maj. William Royall followed after them with some soldiers. North and Royall's men killed two of the marauders.

The expedition followed the Cheyenne's trail south toward the Solomon River, but soon the tracks scattered in all directions. By 19 June, the Cheyennes having apparently disappeared, the men were back following the Republican. On 3 July, Carr found a trail leading up the North Fork of the Republican. Carr sent Royall ahead with three companies of the 5th and one company of scouts. The orders were the same as they had been for the past month: "Try to surprise them," Carr said, "kill as many warriors as possible and capture their families and animals."

While Carr waited in camp, near the junction of the north and Arikaree Forks of the Republican, Royall's party followed the trail north to Frenchman's Fork (Frenchman Creek). There, on 6 July, they ran into a small band of Dog Soldiers returning to their village. Two of the warriors, Shave Head and Little Man, were dragging their wounded cousin, Howling Magpie, on a travois. The rest of the Indians fled when the soldiers appeared, but the two cousins would not leave their injured relative. They put up a good fight but were overwhelmed; Howling Magpie was killed on his litter.

Royall decided the other Cheyennes were too far ahead and returned to Carr's camp. Entering camp on the 7th, the Pawnee scouts, brandishing the three scalps, whooped and hollered so much that for a moment Carr's men thought they were being attacked.

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