History, Tales, and Destinations in the Land of Ahs


Indian Battles - Page 2

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Cheyenne WarriorsBattle of Solomon Fork (1857) - Though the exact location is unknown, but thought to be near Penokee, in Graham County, the Battle of Solomon Fork took place along the Solomon River in July, 1857. The skirmish was led by Colonel Edwin V. Sumner, commander at Fort Leavenworth, who had taken to the field in an effort to subdue the Cheyenne Indians. With a force of about 500 men, Sumner and his troops were in what is now Sheridan County, when he received word from his scouts that a large body of Indians was massed a short distance ahead. On July 29th, they pursued the Cheyenne down Solomon's Ford of the Kansas River when they came upon about 300 Cheyenne warriors, drawn up in battle array. Sumner would later write:


"The Indians were all mounted, and well armed, many of them had rifles and revolvers, and they stood with remarkable boldness, until we charged and were nearly upon them, when they broke in all directions, and we pursued them seven miles. Their horses were fresh and very fleet, and it was impossible to overtake many of them."


In the pursuit, the troops killed nine of the Indians and wounded several others. Of the troops, two men were killed and eight wounded. The troops continued to follow the Indians and on July 31st, came upon their village where 171 lodges were standing but all the Indians were gone. Sumner then destroyed the village and continued the pursuit, trailing them some 40 miles, but the Cheyenne had scattered. Sumner did not again intercept the Indians at that point on the Arkansas River nor did he catch them at Bent's Fort as he later hoped, because his command was broken up by an order detaching part of it for service in Utah.


Battle of Punished Woman Fork, aka: Battle of Squaw's Den Cave  (1878) - The last Indian battle in Kansas occurred after Chief Dull Knife and Little Wolf of the Northern Cheyenne decided to lead their people from their reservation near Fort El Reno, Oklahoma back to their former home in the north. The Cheyenne included 92 warriors, 120 women and 141 children attempting to make their way back home. As they came through Kansas crossing the Arkansas River at the Cimarron Crossing, Lieutenant-Colonel William H. Lewis, commander at Fort Dodge, was dispatched to capture and return them.


Hiding from the soldiers during the day, the Indians traveled by night and made their way to present-day Scott County, Kansas where they took refuge in the Valley of Punished Woman's Fork in late September, 1878. For two days they rested, re-supplied their food and fortified their position in what is today known as Battle Canyon. On the afternoon of September 27th, Colonel Lewis and his troops caught up with them, advancing from the southwest.  The women, children, and elderly hid in Squaw's Den Cave while the warriors fought the advancing soldiers. Lieutenant-Colonel William H. Lewis was wounded in the thigh. That night, the Cheyenne escaped, crossing the Smoky Hill River and to the northwest. 

The following day, Lewis was placed in a military ambulance and the soldiers made their way to Fort Wallace, Kansas about 40 miles to the northwest. Along the way, he died of his wounds, becoming the last Kansas military casualty of the Indian Wars.

After escaping from Battle Canyon the tribe continued what has become known as the Cheyenne Raid, making their way through Decater and Rawlins Counties and committing a number of depredations.


The Cheyenne then made their way to Nebraska, split up with part of the group following Chief Dull Knife and the other with Little Wolf. Dull Knife's group was captured close to Fort Robinson, Nebraska while Little Wolf's band remained in the sand hills of Nebraska for the winter and eventually making their way to Montana.




The battle site is located about one mile southeast of Lake Scott State Park. Owned by the Scott County Historical Society, a marker designates the battle site and a monument has been placed over Squaw's Den Cave.


Also See: The Cheyenne Raid


Squaw's Den Cave, Scott Lake park, kansasCheyenne Outbreak of Morris County (1868) - On June 3, 1868, some 400 Cheyenne Indians flooded Council Grove armed and painted for war. When the Indians reached the west end of the town, they divided their forces, one-half following along Elm Creek to the south of town while the other continued to march along Main Street. The people were taken completely by surprise but held themselves in readiness for whatever might happen.


At that time, the Kanza tribe was stationed about 2 miles east from Council Grove, on Big John Creek. The cause for the Cheyenne being on the warpath was a dispute with the Kanza Indians. During the previous year, the Kanza and Cheyenne had lived at peace with each other but a dispute arose over horses.


The two tribes came together about two miles east of Council Grove, where negotiations with the the help of Indian agents took place. However, while talks were being held, some of the more impetuous of the Indians exchanged shots. A full battle soon erupted that was kept up for several hours, in which three men were killed. Afterwards, the Cheyenne left the area moving up the Solomon Valley, where they killed quite a number of settlers and committed other depredations.  


Kidder Massacre (1867)  - Cheyenne and Sioux Indians ambushed and killed a 2nd US Cavalry detachment of eleven men and an Indian guide near Beaver Creek in Sherman County, Kansas on July 2, 1867. See full article HERE.


Love's Defeat (1847) - On June 7, 1847 Lieutenant John Love led a group of about 80 soldiers of Company B out of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas to the Santa Fe Trail. Their orders were to escort a paymaster to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Protecting paymaster, Major Charles Bodine, 12 wagons and about $350,000 payroll, the troops set out reaching the Pawnee Fork Crossing near present-day Larned, Kansas on June 23, 1847. From the time they had crossed the Little Arkansas River, they had spied a number of Kiowa and Comanche Indians and were on high alert.

On the morning of June 24th, the troops crossed the Pawnee Fork in high water which which made for a long and difficult day, though they finally succeeded, making camp on the other side of the crossing.

The following day, the troops caught up with another wagon train headed by a man named Hayden. The two groups encamped near each other next the Arkansas River. On June 26th, the livestock were allowed to graze in the valley, when Comanche Indians attacked Hayden's campsite. Love and his troops quickly mounted up to resist the attack, but not before the livestock were all run off. More Indians then appeared and rather than chasing the livestock, Love and his men fell back to protect the paymaster and the payroll as he had been assigned to do.

During the battle, six soldiers were killed, their bodies mutilated after death. Six more were wounded. Love and his men allowed the wounded to heal before taking off once again on July 2nd. The battle was referred to in the newspaper as "Lieutenant Love's Defeat," even though they had followed orders and protected the payroll.

The battle site is located about 9 miles west of Garfield, Kansas on U.S. Highway 56 and is designated with a marker on the south side of the highway.


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