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Little Muddy 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. Please consider reading our editorial policy to understand how and why we publish the resources we do.

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Part of our in-depth series exploring Sioux Nation Forts

The following story is from the book, Indian Wars, by Bill Yenne.

May 7, 1877: On May 1, Bear Coat Miles went in search of Lame Deer. He started up the Tongue River and crossed over to the Rosebud, just as Custer had headed up the Rosebud in the same direction a bit more then ten months earlier.

Miles had with him 471 men, a contingent of the 2nd Cavalry, as well as six mounted companies drawn from the 5th and 22nd Infantry Regiments. As guides, he took with him three men with whom he had recently been at war, the Cheyenne warriors Brave Wolf and White Bull, and Hump, a fellow Minneconjou of Lame Deer's.

On May 7, at a side stream of the Rosebud called Little Muddy Creek, Miles executed a dawn surprise attack, the same sort of attack that Custer had planned for June 26, 1876, but never made. Lame Deer and his nephew Iron Star ran, but found themselves cornered. Hump convinced them to come and parley with Bear Coat, and they did. Miles told them to put down their rifles, and they nervously complied, although they left them cocked and pointed forward. As they began to converse with Miles, a scout made a false move and up came the rifles. Lame Deer fired at Miles, he dodged, and the bullet killed another trooper. A ferocious gun battle ensued and Lame Deer fell.

When the smoke settled over the Battle of Little Muddy Creek, four troopers had been killed in action and nine were wounded. An estimated fourteen Minneconjou were dead, and twenty wounded. Lame Deer had died with seventeen bullet wounds. Miles took forty prisoners, but Lame Deer's son, Fast Bull, got away. His band would remain at large through the summer, but they were a minor annoyance compared to the situation during the previous summer.

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