Cheyenne War 1878

[ 1878 ]

After the defeat of their allies, the Sioux and the northern Cheyenne Indians were sent south to the reservation of the southern Cheyenne in what is now Oklahoma. They were miserable there, and in September their chiefs, Dull Knife and Little Wolf, respectively, escaped from the reservation with about 300 followers. They made their way north to their former homeland (around the Platte River's headwaters), fighting off army troops that tried four times to stop them. After crossing the Union Pacific rail line, they split into two groups. The one lead by Little Wolf spent the winter hiding near the Lost Chokecherry River. The other under Dull Knife headed northwest, but unexpectedly ran into a cavalry company during a snowstorm. They were captured and taken to Camp Robinson. When they adamantly refused to return south, they were locked up and given no food, water, or fire despite the bitter cold. In desperation, the Cheyenne broke out of the barracks on a cold January night and ran for their lives. For 12 days they were pursued. Many were killed or wounded or perished of starvation and cold. The remaining 30 were cornered in a canyon and annihilated. Dull Knife and his family had become separated from the others and finally made their way to an Indian agency where they were hidden. The ruthless treatment of the Cheyenne caused a rising protest in much of the United States, and when Little Wolf's followers were apprehended and taken to Fort Keogh, they were treated humanely. Later Montana's Tongue River Reservation was established for them, the remnants of Dull Knife's band, and other northern Cheyenne who had not gone south.

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