1868 - Sherman and Custer on the Great Plains

George A. Custer

        U.S. Army generals Sherman and Sheridan envisioned a new campaign against the prairie tribes.  Sheridan suggests they start by attacking the Cheyenne, and Sherman agrees.  Sheridan enlists Custer into the scheme.  Custer, anxious to erase the memory of earlier failures, eagerly signs on.

         Sheridan plans for Custer to do most of the dirty work.  They set off in winter, and soon his Osage scouts located a Cheyenne village of fifty lodges.  He had no way of knowing this was Black Kettle's band, encamped on the Washita River, well within the reservation boundaries. 

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        At dawn on November 27, as a white peace flag flew above the chief's teepee (two days short of the fourth anniversary of the Sand Creek massacre), Custer's buglers sounded a muffled charge with their frozen lips and sent 600 mounted soldiers galloping into the camp, guns blazing. The killing of defenseless women and children went on for a half hour. 

         In a report to his superiors, Custer claimed to have killed 103 warriors, including Black Kettle, whose scalp now hung on the lance of an Osage scout.  Cheyenne survivors said only eleven warriors were killed.  The rest were women and children and old men, proof that more often than not, history is written by the victor.