Turkey Springs

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 September 1878; Camp Houston, Oklahoma: On 9 September, a band of 92 Northern Cheyenne warriors and 268 women and children under Dull Knife and Little Wolf left their agency at Darlington, trying to return to their home country in the north. After crossing the Cimarron River, they moved to Turkey Springs, where Capt. Joseph Rendlebrock, with Companies G and H, 4th Cavalry, out of Fort Reno, caught them.

Rendlebrock sent an Arapaho named Ghost Man, or Chalk, to parley. Ghost Man told Little Wolf that the Cheyennes would have to surrender, but they would be treated well. Little Wolf said no, they were going home, and asked that the soldiers let them go in peace. Just then, Ghost Man spied several ponies that he believed had been stolen from him. He pulled out his revolver and charged at the Cheyennes, shooting a few of them at close range and receiving bullets in the thighs and bowels in return. With that, the fight was on.

The bugle sounded, and Rendlebrock was about to charge when some Cheyenne warriors attacked from the surrounding bluffs. The soldiers were thrown into confusion. Retreating to a protective draw, Rendlebrock was able to hold his own. While some of the warriors kept up the firing, Little Wolf, who did not want to bring on a major engagement, convinced the others to save their ammunition and continue north. His warriors hemmed in the cavalrymen while the women and children fled. The next morning, Rendlebrock finally broke out of his loose confinement.

Five Cheyennes were wounded, mostly from the surprise fire of Ghost Man. Three of Rendlebrock's men were killed, including Ghost Man, and three were wounded.

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