Custer, Black Kettle and the Fight on the Washita
Charles J. Brill
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Using Cheyenne and Arapaho accounts, Charles J. Brill tells the story of General George Armstrong Custer’s winter campaign on the southern plains in 1868-69, including his attack in Black Kettle’s village on the snowy backs of the Washita River. Brill’s searing account details the ruthlessness of the U.S. Army’s efforts to punish southern plains tribes for what they considered incessant raiding and depredation. Brill provides the Indian point of view as he follows Custer into a battle that remains controversial to the present day.
In a new foreword to this edition, Mark L. Gardner discusses the significance of Brill’s history-placing it in context with other Custer and Indian Wars studies-and its Value to scholars and general readers today. Gardner also provides an overview of the career of Oklahoma journalist Charles J. Brill, much of whose life has remained a mystery until now.
desires of Plains Indians was so comprehensive and their mastery of diplomacy and argument so keen that they were able to prepare a pact agreeable to those of the Northern Plains a s well, Sioux, Northern Cheyennes and Northern Arapahoes. This accomplishment stamps Black Kettle, Little Raven, Satanta and their contemporaries a s masters of diplomacy, evidence of intellects in this respect comparable with the greatest white diplomats of that era. Although all subsequent Plains Indian wars were the
that more serious duties were a t hand. Every man flew to arms and almost without command rushed to oppose the enemy. Officers and men provided themsehes with rifles or carbines and soon began delivering a deliberate but ineffective fire against the Indians. The latter, as usual, were merely practicing their ordinary ruse de guerre, which was to display a very small venturesome force and, after having led the pursuing force well away from the main body, to surround and destroy it by the aid of
regions of the Missouri, the Platte and the Arkansas. As the vanguard of white man's civilization pushed westward through Fort Smith and Fort Gibson, military posts followed. Not far from the mouth of the Washita was established a post known a s Fort Washita. Farther north, a t the eastern edge of the Arbuckle uplift near where the Washita pushes its way through a break in this elevation, was located Fort Arbuckle, the farthest outpost of any consequence a t the close of the Civil War. True, a
WILLIAM S. HARNEY This page intentionally left blank Custer, Black Kettle, and the Fight on the Washita This page intentionally left blank FOREWORD BOUT ten o'clock on the morning of November 29, 1868, two heavily armed men on mule and horseback crested a hill in Indian Territory and came in sight of the recently established Camp Supply. They were military scouts California Joe Milner and Jack Corbin, and they carried urgent dispatches for Maj. Gen. Phi1 Sheridan, commander of the
Randolph B. Marcy's "Exploration of Red River," and the same author's "Thirty Years of Army Life on the Border," both published in 1854. INTRODUCTION Captain W. H. Milburn’s “Lance, Cross and Canoe,” 1892. C. B. Walker’s “The Mississippi Valley,” 1880. J. H. Beadle’s “Five Years in the Territories,” 1873. Washington Irving’s “Tour of the Prairies.” Frank A. Root’s “The Overland Stage to CalifGrnia,” 1901. Francis Parkman’s “Oregon Trail,” 1846. Mitchell’s School Geography and Atlas, 1852.