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On June 1, 1867, Lieutenant Colonel
George A. Custer left
Fort Hays, Kansas with about 1,100 men of the Seventh Cavalry to quell
Indian uprisings which were threatening the area. After patrolling north to Fort McPherson on the Platte River near present-day North Platte,
he and his men headed south to the forks of the
Republican River near Benkleman,
During their patrol, the troops saw smoke signals during the day and flaming
arrows at night, but did not engage in hostilities.
In the meantime,
William T. Sherman,
who was then commanding the forces at Fort Sedgwick near Julesburg,
wished to send messages to
and soon dispatched 25 year-old
Lieutenant Lyman S. Kidder of Company M, 2nd Cavalry, to find
and give him the messages.
The Kidder Massacre, courtesy New York Public Library.
Headed to where
and his men were believed to be encamped on the forks of the
some 90 miles southeast of Fort Sedgwick, Kidder, along with a ten man patrol and a
Guide named Red Bead, left the fort on June
campsite on the evening of July 1st, but found it abandoned. Unbeknownst to Fort
had left the area, scouting further south, then northwest. In the moonlight,
Kidder mistook a trail of a wagon train that
had sent to
Fort Wallace for
own trail. He and his men then followed the wrong path.
About noon the
next day, a group of
discovered Kidder's party north of
Beaver Creek, a tributary of the
then alerted several nearby
and the warriors approached the soldiers. Seeing the
Kidder and his troops veered off to the southeast, making for the valley of
Beaver Creek, about 12 miles north of present-day Edson,
As they fled, some of the soldiers were shot down on a ridge above the creek,
but the rest of them made it to a defensive position in a small gully about 50
yards north of the creek. However, the
dismounted and crept up on foot while the
circled around the gully. Though the soldiers fought valiantly, killing two
horses, they were hopelessly outnumbered. Kidder, all his men, and the
scout were all killed, some having been tortured prior to their deaths, and
their bodies mutilated and burned. Two of the
were also killed in the foray, including Chief Yellow Horse.
In the meantime,
having received no word from
William T. Sherman, as expected, began to
move his troops toward Fort Sedgwick, and upon his arrival at Riverside Station some 40 miles to the west, he
telegraphed the fort for new orders. It was then he learned that he had missed
the Kidder patrol and concerned for their safety, he left immediately and headed back south. On July 12th, they
came upon the decomposed bodies of Kidder and his party in the ravine. The
bodies had been badly mutilated and all had been scalped except the
They were first buried in a common grave on a hill above the
ravine, but were later re-interred at
and after the 1880s at
with the exception of Lieutenant Kidder. Kidder's father, Judge Kidder, came to Sherman County in February, 1868,
identified the body by a shirt his mother had made him and returned with the
body to their home in Minnesota, where his son was
buried in the family plot at St. Paul.
On August 3, 1969, the Friends of the
Library of Goodland, Kansas held a
dedication ceremony for a historical marker and monument situated .
Cheyenne Warriors by Edward S. Curtis
This image available for
Compiled and edited by
of Kansas, updated April, 2010.
the Article: The majority of this historic text was published in Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History,
Volume I; edited by Frank W. Blackmar, A.M. Ph. D.; Standard Publishing
Company, Chicago, IL 1912. However, the text that appears on these page is not verbatim,
as additions, updates, and editing have occurred.
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