PIONEER HISTORY OF KANSAS
Of late years, since the plains of Kansas have undergone such great changes, arising from a desert to a great agricultural state, there has grown a sentiment to mark the old Overland Trails and important landmarks, thus assisting in the preservation of our eventful history. Several monuments have already been erected during the last ten years to perpetuate the memory of those early pioneers who lost their lives in an attempt to settle the country. Many of these markers have been erected
Lincoln Monument Erected in Memory of the People Killed by Indians,
by voluntary subscriptions taken in the counties where the victims were killed.
This generous spirit manifested itself in Lincoln County, and at an Old Settlers Reunion held in Lincoln October 20, 1907, it was decided to raise funds for the erection of a suitable monument to the memory of citizens killed by Indians in this county. I was appointed on the committee to ascertain the number of victims and their names. To assist in the investigation, as it was known, we made inquiry of the National Tribune of Washington, D. C. , for information about one of the wounded women who had been in a government hospital, expecting to secure her name from the United States hospital records, but they only printed our inquiry as made. This brought a letter from an old soldier named Hercules H. Price, living at the soldiers home in Napa County, California, who took part in the fight, and an interesting correspondence followed. He gave me the names of the officers of the expedition and the locality he gave as Western Nebraska. I made inquiry of the Nebraska Historical Society and finally procured a copy of the report made by Major North to the Nebraska Legislature. From various sources of information I was able to patch out much that had been rather an enigma to me for many years. It was plain that the Indians who left the Saline Valley settlements, traveling in a northwest direction, were the identical ones next heard of on the Republican River, with General Carr and the 5th United States Cavalry and Major North, with three companies of Pawnee scouts, in pursuit. Buffalo Bill (W. F. cody) was a scout on this expedition. Major Inman, in his Great Salt Lake Trail, says:
Next morning the command, at an early hour, started out to take up this Indian trail which they followed for two days as rapidly as possible, it becoming evident from the many camp fires which we passed that we were gaining on the Indians. Wherever they had camped we found the print of a womans shoe, and we concluded that they had with them some white captives. This made us all the more anxious to overtake them.
Quoting from Major Norths report, we find: In the afternoon of the second day after the discovery of the big trail, our command camped at a vacated Indian camp where we found numerous fresh antelope heads, showing that the camp had not been abandoned more than twelve or fifteen hours. General Carr concluded to take detachments of the best mounted men from each of the companies with five days rations and make
a forced march until he overtook the Indians, leaving the wagon train to follow as fast as possible.
Mr. Hercules H. Price, in one of his letters, says Along the trail they came across a piece torn from a womans dress, then a scrap of paper on which was written, For Gods sake come and rescue us.
The advance scouts, when they discovered the village, reported the same to General Carr, who made a detour and surprised the Indians in their quarters. Major Norths interesting account reads in part as follows:
The soldiers and Pawnee scouts, as they entered the village, fired volley after volley to the front, to the right and to the left, causing the greatest consternation on every hand. The Cheyennes made little resistance to the attack, as no opportunity was given them to do so. Many of them fled on foot in various directions. Captain Cushing, in accordance with General Carrs instructions, made an active search for the white captives, who were supposed to be in the camp. He soon found the two white women, one of whom had been fatally wounded, and the other quite seriously. It appears that while Major North was fighting the Indians in the ravine, Captain Cushing, in skirmishing through the village, had entered the lodge of Tall Bull, the noted chief, and there found the two wounded women, who were Germans. (A slight error is here corrected, as Mrs. Alderdice was American.) When the fight began, Tall Bull, seeing there was no hope of taking his captives with him, shot Mrs. Alderdice in the forehead and then shot Mrs. Weichel. When the Pawnees dashed upon the village, Mrs. Weichel thought it was being attacked by Indians hostile to the Cheyennes, and that she was about to escape from one danger, only to fall into another.
When she discovered Captain Cushing with the Pawnees she manifested the greatest joy imaginable. She was sitting on a mat in the tent, suffering intensely from her wound, but when Captain Cushing stepped up to here she seemed to forget her pain, and clasping the officer around the legs, wept for joy. The unfortunate woman could not speak a word of English, and he could not understand what she said, but he endeavored by signs to get her to remain quiet until her injuries could be attended to. About this time, Major North and his brother, with
NOTE: Seldom has a novelist or pure romancer produced anything more striking than the above actual occurrance.
the Cheyenne squaw and child, joined the interesting scene. Just as they came up, Mrs. Alderdice, who lay unconscious upon the ground and weltering in her blood, drew a long breath and expired. The Pawnees then resumed the hunt for the Cheyennes and a running fight ensued for some distance beyond the village. After the Cheyennes had been driven away from the village and the fighting there was concluded, Mrs. Weichel was taken to the surgeons tent where her injuries were attended to.
The result of the fighting was the killing of 52 warriors and the capture of eighteen squaws and children. Besides these captures, there were a large number of Cheyennes wounded. The soldiers at once rounded up the Indian horses and mules scattered over the prairie and on taking count, found they had captured two hundred and seventy-four horses and one hundred and forty-four mules. The village proved to be a very rich one. They had every thing usually found in an Indian camp, and besides a great number of articles they had obtained from settlers they had plundered on the Saline River. Quite a large amount of gold and silver money was found by the soldiers among the plunder.
That night the command camped on the site of the captured village, and at a late hour the wagon train arrived. Mrs. Alderdice was buried on the battle field, the burial services being read by one of the officers, who was a religious man, there being no chaplain with the command. General Carr gave the name of Susanna to the place, that being the Christian name of Mrs. Alderdice as told by Mrs. Weichel.
The name was afterward changed to Summit Spring, as there was a fine spring of water on the summit of some hills between the Platte River and Frenchmans Creek, where no one would suppose there was any water. The next morning after the battle, all the Indian teepees, lodges, buffalo robes, camp equippage and provisions, including several tons of buffalo meat, were gather into large piles and burned by order of General Carr.
The command moved down the river about eight miles, and at this camp General Carr issued an order that all the money captured at the village should be turned over to the adjutant, whom he directed to give it to Mrs. Weichel. She had stated that her father had arrived from Germany only a short time previous to the massacre, and all the gold found in possession of the Indians belonged to him. Major North collected $600 in
twenty dollar gold pieces from the Pawnee scouts, who gave it up without a murmur. This money, in addition to three hundred dollars collected from the soldiers, was turned over to the Adjutant, who in turn gave it to Mrs. Weichel, never questioning the truth or falsity of her statement. It was thought there was about $600 more in the village, but it was concealed by the soldiers. The command now proceeded to Fort Sedgwick, at Julesburg, from which point the first news of the battle was telegraphed to all parts of the country.
Among the passengers on the wrecked train at Fossil Creek Station, Kansas, May 28th, who picked up some of the arrows shot at us, were some old frontiers men who professed to know from the manner in which they were made, that they belonged to the Dog Soldiers of the Cheyennes. Mr. Hercules Price states in one of his letters that they were the renegades of Cheyennes, Arapahoes and Sioux. In regard to the women, he says one of the women was named Susanna, and in honor of her the springs on the rising, or mesa lands, were named Susanna Springs (afterward turned to conform to the name of the battle to Summit Springs.)
The burial of the woman was made a special one. She was wrapped in the best buffalo robe we had and buried on the rise of the hill with military honors. The woman who survived soon recovered from her wounds and was married to a blacksmith in one of the companies, whose name was Kyle. (General Carr, in a letter to Hercules H. Price, says she married a hospital attendant.)
History is subject to many vexatious versions of the same incident. Hon. Washington Smith says the woman married the man who first came to her rescue. This was Captain Cushing, but we know she was not married to the Captain. Major North says she married the hospital steward.
This account ends similar to stories of fiction, in which the villian recieves his just deserts and the heroine is happily married, only one innocent lady had to be killed, which after all, does not differ greatly from the usual story as we find them.
There probably is no question that those Indians who left the Indian Territory were making toward their friends in the north, where they met others on the Republican or Platte country, as the number was much greater than when raiding the Saline Valley. Buffalo Bill gives the number in the Platte Valley as 600.
The wealth of the Weichels, which proved to be much greater than might have been expected from pioneer settlers, had given rise to much speculation. Mrs. Weichel had a number of fine dresses and a fine gold watch, the latter she kept concealed from the Indians during her days of captivity.
Hercules H. Price, Indian Name, Nah-weel-lits-sah-weel,
Recollections of the compaign of the 5th United States Cavalry against the renegade Indians, comprised of Sioux, Arapahoes and Cheyennes, starting from Fort McPherson, Nebraska in the patter part of February and the beginning of March, 1869, when the officers of the regiment elected William F. Cody (Buffalo Bill) as guide and scout at a salary of $125 per month when not in the field and $150 per month when in the field, together with some privileges as Sutler of the command. The whole of the 5th United States Cavalry Headquarters and Band were in this campaign and were assisted by all the Pawnee scouts under the direction of Major North, who, I think, was also Indian Agent. The writer was a member of
A later picture of Hercules H. Price, taken at the Veteren's Home, Napa
Company G of the 5th Signal Corps, under the direction of Lieutenant Adolphus Greely of the 5th United States Calavry, (now Major General Retired.)
We started out on the 2nd with fourteen enlisted men to do this signal work, night and day, but on account of inefficiency of eight men of this detail they were returned to their command and six men only remained. We were in many instances in exposed positions and liable to be cut off by the Indians at any moment. During the night, while signaling, a guard was supplied to each man to hold his horse while using the signal torch, and to guard against surprise.
We had come across many signs and Indian trails and fires and while resting our horses in camp on the Republican River, the teamsters, while watering their mules were fired upon by Indians from the opposite side of the river. A detachment was sent across in pursuit. I think that two teamsters were killed on that occasion. We camped about 2 P. M., the exact date I do not now recall.
On one occasion in the early morning we discovered in crossing a washout near the Republican River, many moccasin tracks, also lodge pole tracks. It proved to be the trail of a large body of Indians, and William Cody, our guide tracked them to the river bank, where there was a crossing by a narrow ridge of rock, just under the surface of the river. We followed the ridge which ran diagonal to the right, the water being shallow and the current swift, and upon gaining the opposite bank we found ourselves in the sand hills.
The tracks were again found and the command went in pursuit and severely punished them. We drove the Indians on that cocasion nearly one hundred miles in thirteen hours and they made a stand at Summit Springs on the western border of Nebraska. At this place we had the celebrated battle named after the Springs. There were over 200 lodges of the Indians. They were so exhausted that they put out no pickets for the protection of their camp. This was found out by some of the Pawnee scouts, who, the night before the battle and in the early morning, observed the renegade camp and reported their position to General Eugene Carr, Commander.
A council of war was called as to the approach and attack, and disposition of troops in the expected battle. The council was held in front of the face wall of a large butte, as we were in that part of Nebraska where those buttes abound, and the
surface of the country averages very irregular.
It was in the early dawn of morning, and the groups of Indian scouts on their poines were wrapped in their blankets in picturesque folds. It was truly a scene for the pencil of an artist. One Indian in particular engaged my attention. I observed him in profile. His nose was Roman, his complexion very dark. He had large black and lustrous eyes and with long ropes of black hair hanging down his back, he was little short of magnificent. With his extended right hand and arm he was gestulating and telling the interpreters what an easy advantage we had in the approach ot the hostile camp, in all looking the earnest and picturesque warrior he was.
We could approach to the camp from the vicinity of the butte, by a ravine and covered way, right up to the head of the camp, which was between two large buttes with nearly perpendicular walls. The distance was, I think, about 8 miles or more. Previous to making our way up this ravine, the day before we came up with a stray mule in good condition, and not far away was a light spring wagon with some old harness in the body of it. It was very shaky and nearly ready to drop to pieces from exposure to sun and elements. This was not far from Frenchmans Fork, or as some called it, Whitemans Fork. While on this trail a piece of cloth torn from the dress of a woman was picked up and later a piece of paper bearing the penciled words, For God sake make haste to rescue us. This was from two white women captives. Now to resume my account of our passage up the ravine toward the Indian camp. We came to some springs, looking toward the valley. These springs were the ones that gave the vicinity its name. At one of these springs we perceived a party of Indians in a compact body. They halted and began to circle around the field, showing they wished to engage us and drive us from the vicinity of the main body.
General Carr ordered four companies to engage them at once and they deployed behind some low ridges. Buffalo Bill was with this body, but the main body proceeded on its way toward the head of the ravine, overlooking the main encampment. The detachment of Indians which were temporarily engaged by the four companies of the command, were probably commanded by Tall Bull, a Cheyenne chief. We arrived unperceived at the head of the ravine and at the position of the Indian camp. General Carr gave the order to blow the charge which
was eventually done by L. Hayes, the quartermaster, the bugler being for some reason, temporarily incapacitated. The chief of the Pawnees set up the war song and away they went down a small declivity to the left, while the four companies previously engaged up the valley on the right and the main body charged the center. I was with the center division. We dashed up and began using pistols with telling effect. We quickly drove them from their lodges and when they realized what a large command was engaging them they got on the run, the entire command in hot pursuit. The chief or chiefs shot the two captive white women first and made desperate efforts to rally the fleeing Indians, with some success at first, but only for a moment and they were in full flight again.
Big Bear and Little Bear, two chiefs, were killed. Some of our men used the sabre, having previously sharpened them. One bold soldier ran his horse directly up to the chief and with a sabre point, ran it through, killing him instantly. The troopers name was Graham, but I do not remember his company. I was in the thickest of the scrap doing my best, but in about twenty minutes I was ordered to report to General Carr. I did so and had my carbine at advance when the General ordered me to replace the carbine in the carbine boot and advance pistol, for he said he wanted me as one of his bodyguard and also to transmit by flag messages across the scene of action to some troops engaged with a body of Indians, which duty I successfully performed.
The fighting commenced at about 12 oclock, and I think it was Sunday, the 11th of July, 1869. It was nearly 6 oclock that evening before things had quieted down sufficiently to permit our bivouacking on the battle field and place pickets for the night.
There was a broken canyon to the right of the butte over beyond the creek, where we discovered later some wounded warriors and squaws and it was from this quarter that an occasional shot came, but we soon quieted them. An officer, in company with another officer, attempted to give a wounded squaw some water, but she dashed at him with a knife and but for his brother officer quickly pulling him back he would have been severely stabbed. Tall Bulls squaw and daughter were made captives on this occasion; also a number of other squaws. The captive women were both shot in the breast at the beginning
Arickaree Battle, Sept. 17 1868; Custer's Black Kettle Fight, Nov. 27,
of the battle. One died from the effects of her wound but the other survived.
The women had only been in the hands of the Indians a short time at the time of the battle. The one who died was an American woman and was recognized as one of the pioneer mothers of a Kansas settlement. Her name was Susanna, but I did not learn her other name. The name of the woman who survived was Weichel. She was a German, unable to speak the English language. The trumpeter of my company, Henry Voss, who was a native of Gestemunde, Holland, and was afterward with the 7th Cavalry (Custers Cavalry) and was probably massacred on the Big Horn. This man interpreted for the doctor who attended to her wounds on the field. He also gave required information to the General commanding.
Her husband was shot while they were walking in the evening near their home, which at that time was the house of Mr. Erhardt, a Kansas Volunteer Cavalryman, residing in Lincoln County, Kansas. After her husband was killed, a ring he had on his finger was cut off, and this same ring was found among the effects of the Indians and given to the widow of the fallen man. The other woman, Susanna, was buried with military honors, as a special token of respect befitting a pioneer womans death. The burial service was read by an officer who happened to have a special prayer book, and the body lowered to her place of eternal rest. The grave was at the upper right hand side of the creek, ascending the hillside, and three volleys were fired over the mound by a detail from the troops.
Mrs. Weichel was taken after the battle to Fort Sedgwick on the Platte opposite Julesburg, the old Stage station. Here the body of an old stage coach was found by us as a relic of former Indian troubles. A great amount of plunder had been collected by the Indians, all of which was recaptured by the soldiers. It consisted of money, jewelry, stock and robes. The money was found on one of the pack animals, done up in a piece of raw hide and gaily painted, such was the strange blending of savage cupidity and wildness. Wads of greenbacks and gold and silver coins were indiscriminately bundled together.
Buffalo Bills horse was an iron grey of good breeding. Among the captured animals were a number of fine American mares and horses, and any amount of fat Indian poines. Eight cream colored ponies with white manes and tails were broken to harness. There was also a fine set of silver mounted harness
fitted to these ponies and four were sent east as a present to some one high in government affairs. It was amusing to watch those savage little animals undergoing their training. They resisted fiercely, but afterwards became quite tractible. I picked up a small Bible and ledger book. An umbrella was lying open when we entered the camp. The Bible was a very small one fastened with clasps. A thin brass marker was clasped to two sheets in the Old Testament at the passage stating: Ye shall go into the land of the Phillistines and ye shall utterly destroy them, and surely enough, we did almost destroy the red scourges of the plains. The ledger contained some crude drawings of stampeded stock and Indians in a recumbent position, showing how many sleeps they had been from one place to another.
There were also some notes written by the son of a New York merchant who was evidently a captive, but of his fate we learned nothing. Doubtless it was death in some horrible form, as Indians seldom carry male captives along. This book I gave up to the General in command. The Bible I kept for some time but it, along with some other relics, was stolen from me some time later. Some of our men got considerable money, and a deserter communicated the statement to his comrade that $38,000 was hauled in by him. This was common talk among us for some time after the battle.
Among other things picked up by the writer was Tall Bulls squaws shirt, an article beautifully beaded in diamond patterns, with thick buckskin fringe at the hips intermingled with tin bells. Another comrade secured a fine bridle with silver dollars beaten out and fastened on the cheek piece, fitted with a Mexican bit and front piece of gold bullion fringe. I also got two buffalo robes and several pair of moccasins of the Cheyenne pattern. The shirt I sold for $5.00. My comrade, who bought it sold it and the bridle and some bows and arrows to a Mr. Potter of Potter Station on the Union Pacific. His uncle, General Slocum, had written to him to purchase all the Indian curios he could get and he bought of my comrade the aforesaid articles for $42.00.
An interesting spectacle I observed upon my way to report to General Carr was a line of dogs belonging to our men on the top of the bluff overlooking the camp. They were turning to one another and watching intently, and seemed fully conscious of the conflict going on, though safe from harm. Our dogs followed us through the whole campaign and shared our
labors and rations, with an occasional feast of wild game. I had a little black and tan terrier that was brought from Atlanta, Georgia. This small animal was with me in the Black Hills against the Utes, and finally in the Apache campaign in Arizona where he died by eating poisoned meat.
My horse was wounded slightly and fell with me during the charge, but he recovered himself and he went on and at the first opportunity I attended to his wound. He was sure footed and would take me over the fallen timber in the bottoms as lightly as if I were a feather. The rascal was not backward in nudging my leg while on the march, for a piece of cracker, which was often given him as we rode along. My little terrier was always welcome to ride on his back. Occasionally the Indians would fire the grass ahead of us and riding through this burned area would make our horses feet very tender.
I have two wounds in my leg, but I received them in the Civil War. During my military career I have had many hard duties assigned me, and many times narrowly escaped death, but tried to always remember the life of a soldier in the field is not supposed to be one of flowery ease.
The Pawnee scouts did splendid work in pursuing and punishing the renegades. One of the Pawnees became quite well acquainted with me and on the march would often find and bring me wild plums and gooseberries. It was he who gave me the name of Nah-wee-lits-ah-weel, which signifies in their language Man who carries a flag. Our signal party was always invited to join the circle to smoke the tomahawk pipe when we halted to rest the horses and men. It was a handsome pipe, beautifully beaded and the steel was kept as sharp as a razor. Some of my comrades would jest with me about the Indians fondness for my society, but I took no notice of this pleasantry, as I always thought there were some good Indians besides the dead ones.
If there is a misstatement in this account I am not aware of it, as the scenes are as vivid to my minds eye as when they transpired forty years ago, but some dates may not be exact, and for this I crave the readers indulgence.
NOTE: A most interesting fact in connection with the battle of Summit Springs is given by Mr. Price in a letter written since the above recollections were prepared for publication. Mr. Price says: One of my comrades, who was member of the band of the 5th United States Cavalry, was present in the charge against the Indians. He had formerly been a European soldier, and was orderly trumpeter on the day of the charge
of Balaklava (Russian War) and was one of the 600 of Tenysons poem. He was in the Third Dragoons. The San Francisco Chronicle interviewed him in 1874, and photographed him and his discharge from the army. He had the Victoria Cross and the Order of Medjideh, the latter presented by the Sultan of Turkey, and the former by Queen Victoria. He afterward went to New South Wales, where he received an appointment as governor of a jail, a position for life, but for some reason he did not remain. He was at one time a member of the Scott-Siddons Theatrical Troupe, traveling with them throughout Australia. I had some very interesting letters from him. He and Siddons went kangaroo hunting, and he wrote me that buffalo hunting was not in it with this royal sport. During the Russian War he was badly wounded and taken prisoner and sent to Moscow. He gave grate praise to the Russians for the kind of treatment he received, especially from the doctors and nurses. His name was Lonnie Duke, and he was born on board a British transport in Bantry Bay, Ireland. It is not surprising that he followed the life of a soldier. On the field of Balaklava he saved the life of McSiddons uncle by parrying a lance thrust made by a Cossack, and afterward shot the Cossack with his pistol.