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General Carr and command pursue Indians. -- A sharp fight. -- A decisive battle. -- Indians run off horses. -- The pursuit. -- An Indian defeat. -- Fort McPherson during the '70s. -- The bugle call. -- Indians raid Mrs. Cody's kitchen. -- Duke Alexis of Russia arrives at North Platte. -- Goes with escort to hunt buffalo. -- Buffalo Bill as guide. -- Spotted Tail and his warriors. -- Miles of buffalo. -- A hunt. -- The grand dinner. -- Spotted Tail's speech.


      As report of murders and depredations committed by the Sioux came in, General Carr decided to go after them and administer chastisement, and started out in pursuit with several companies of troops and the band of Pawnees just described. Buffalo Bill and six Pawnee scouts set out to locate the horde, which they did on the extent of country between the Platte and Republican rivers; the Sioux



numbering several hundred lodges. General Carr and his command followed slowly, keeping well in the rear, but after the lapse of some hours, Buffalot Bill was seen riding rapidly toward them to inform the general of his discovery, and the fact that the Sioux wee all unconscious of their approach. The general marshaled his forces preparatory to the attack and approached the enemy at the double quick. The Sioux were on the move toward the Platte river, but they no sooner discovered the near approach of the soldiers than they took to flight, leaving their baggage and everything that would impede a rapid march. To puzzle their pursuers, they scattered in small bands, striking out in different directions. The troops also separated, and in companies followed in the direction of the Platte river. Darkness coming on, they camped for the night, but early in the morning, the troops were on the move, each company striking out on a different trail. One company came up with a band of one hundred Indians, who took to flight. After passing a short bend of the Platte river, the tracks wee observed to come together, and the several companies of soldiers also joined each other at the spot. On the third day, Buffalo Bill's di-



vision discovered six hundred Sioux warriors near the Platte river. The soldiers sought to shelter themselves in the ravines, but there was plenty of time to make preparations, as the Indians seemed in no hurry to begin the attack. However, a simultaneous assault was made by both sides, and a sharp fight followed, but the position of the soldiers being secure, the effort to dislodge them failed, and their loss was but slight. Many Indians were killed, and among them the famous Sioux chief, Tall Bull, who fell by the unerring aim of Buffalo Bill.

      This engagement was satisfactory so far, but in ten days after it, General Carr, with his entire command started out in pursuit of the Sioux Indians again. The Scouts, led on by Buffalo Bill, struck a trail, and following it, the soldiers came up with the Sioux, who were in force, at a place called Summit Springs, on Sunday morning, July 11, 1869. The Indians at once put themselves on the defensive, but the soldiers attacked, and a battle was fought.

      There was much determination and bravery on both sides, and although the fight was of short duration, it was fiercely waged, and resulted in the utter defeat of the Sioux Indians. Many soldiers and Pawnees



were killed, and more than six hundred Sioux fell, and among them were many of the bravest warriors. Several hundred squaws were made prisoners, and a large number of ponies captured.

      This engagement was practically the last encounter between the United States troops and Indians in this part of the country deserving the name of a battle. The crushing defeat practically ended war with the Indians, for it broke the spirit of the Sioux, who were a restless horde and always at war with other tribes, and ended troubles along the line of the Union Pacific railroad in Nebraska.

      Although many depredations were committed afterwards, they were confined to attacks on settlers, and to the stealing and running off of horses and cattle. Fear kept the Indians in subjection ever after and any skirmishes that occurred were only of a nature common to an Indian country.

     During the spring of 1870, Indians raided a stock ranch near Fort McPherson and ran off twenty-one head of horses, and with them Buffalo Bill's fast running horse, "Powder Face." The fort being the base of military operations, the garrison was always ready to respond to the bugle call, and when this



raid was made known to the commander, a company of cavalry was ordered out to pursue the raiders and capture the stolen horses. Buffalo Bill acted as guide and led the way to the southwest. The rode thirty miles the first day, and when nearing Medicine creek, where Bill thought the Indians would camp for the night, he called a halt, and went forward to reconnoiter. Finding the Indians where he supposed they would be, he rode back and brought the soldiers to a ravine near the creek the Indians could not very well learn of their presence, and as darkness was coming on, arrangements were made to attack the camp before daylight next morning. Accordingly, at early dawn, the cavalry rode into the Indian camp with a shout, and with pistols and sabers drawn. The Indians were completely taken by surprise and in no shape to offer resistance, but they made a stand, and a short, sharp fight ensued, during which quite a number were killed, but they were soon put to flight, and being pressed by the cavalry, many were overtaken and slain. It is told that during the flight, Buffalo Bill brought down two Indians with one shot. The stolen horses were recovered, but Bill's favorite horse "Powder Face" was not



among them, and although every effort was made to locate it, it was never found.

      Fort McPherson has many association, and tales of Indian raids, and conflicts with the military might be continued, but the atrocities narrated, will suffice. Mrs. W. F. Cody, so well known and respected in North Platte, lived for three years at Fort McPherson, coming there from St. Louis in November, 1870. Her home was a typical log cabin built on the reservation outside the fort, and in it she experienced all the dangers and excitement of frontier garrison life.

      Although the worst days of Indian warfare in the locality had passed, there was no lack of excitement. Scouts were constantly coming and going, and unexpected visits from the Pawnees and Sioux had to be guarded against. Frequent departure of garrison troops equipped for skirmish duty could be seen, and often the fort would be thrown into confusion in the night time by the bugle call, and then would follow the hasty gathering of troops, and the quick sally out upon the dark prairie. The return too, was often saddened by the ranks being thinned, and many weak and weary after a long march, and fre-



quently many suffering from arrow wounds would be brought in.

      Even with all the routine of fort life, amusing incidents cropped up. Upon an occasion, Mr. Cody invited a number of personal friends from the east, and some officers of the fort to dinner. Mrs. Cody exerted herself to have as ample a feast as the limited resources of the fort would permit; but great was her dismay, when after greeting her guests, she entered the kitchen and found a band of Sioux devouring the dinner with seeming relish. Her indignation was inexpressible, but the result was, the guests had to dine elsewhere.

      It was at Fort McPherson that "Ned" Butline of dime novel fame, just from the east with silk hat and broadcloth, "discovered" W. F. Cody, and by writing him up, introduced him to notoriety, wealth and fame as Buffalo Bill, a circumstance that did not only make the wild west show possible, but a success.

      A noteworthy association of Fort McPherson which must not be overlooked, is the grand buffalo hunt gotten up for the entertainment of the Grand Duke Alexis, of Russia, in which Buffalo Bill figured as guide.



      The duke and party arrived at North Platte by special train, about the middle of January, 1872, and were received by Captain Hays, Buffalo Bill, and Captain Egan, with a company of cavalry. General Sheridan introduced the duke to the leaders of the party, and Buffalo Bill tendered him the use of his celebrated horse, "Buckskin Joe."

      General Palmer had established a camp for the occasion at Red Willow creek which consisted to tw hospital tents, in which meals were served; ten wall tents and a tent for soldiers and servants. There was a stock of 10,000 rations each of flour, sugar coffee, to say nothing of wines, choice liquors and other beverages, and also a supply of 1,000 pounds of tobacco to be distributed among the Indians. General Sheridan had sent out two members of his staff, General Forsyth and Dr. Arsch, to visit Fort McPherson and make arrangements for the hunt.

      Buffalo Bill was appointed guide, and he made all due preparations, and General Forsyth and Dr. Asrch conceived the idea that it would prove a source of amusement and interest to the grand duke to induce a large number of Indians to participate in the hunt, and give an exhibition of their peculiar ceremonies and skill with the bow and arrow.



      That such an arrangement might be made, Buffalo Bill visited the camp of Spotted Tail at Red Willow creek, and engaged one hundred of the leading chiefs and warriors, and arranged with them to meet at the camp established for the occasion.

      As the grand duke seemed to be as much interested in the Indians as the buffalo, General Sheridan had a tribe of Brules, consisting of fifty warriors and all the squaws and children of the tribe under command of Spotted Tail, moved bodily into camp, so that the guest might have an opportunity to study them at his leisure.

      From Fort McPherson, the party proceeded to the camp at Red Willow where arrangements were complete, and the Indians waiting. Spotted Tail was attired in a suit of ill-fitting government clothing, which made him uneasy, and showed how unused he was to the clothes of the white man; but upon being introduced to the grand duke, he extended his hand with the customary "How." The exercises of the evening for the amusement of the duke, were sample of Indian horsemanship, lance throwing and bow-shooting. There was also a sham fight to illustrate the Indian mode of warfare, and a war dance, in all of which Alexis took great interest.



      While the fetes were in progress, General Custer sent out scout to look for buffalo, and about midnight, it was reported that there was a herd within three miles. The duke was so elated at this, that he turned in, in joyful anticipation of coming sprot, and was up in the morning when the cavalry bugle sounded reveille, and strolling round, found General Custer on the picket line, inspecting the horse he was expected to ride.

      Before breakfast was over, scouts came in and reported that the main herd was between the Red Willow and Medicine creeks about fifteen miles from camp, and the order to mount was at once given. Before the start was made, however, General Custer announced the following rules for the chase; The first attack to be made by Alexis, accompanied by himself, Buffalo Bill and two Brule Indians, the main party to remain in the back-ground until the Grand Duke had made his first "kill," after which the hunt was to be open to all. An experienced buffalo hunter was assigned to ride beside each member of the grand duke's suit, and to instruct him to the game of getting along side and killing a buffalo.



      On the way out, Alexis asked General Custer a thousand questions, and practiced shooting at imaginary buffalo. His hunting costume consisted of heavy gray cloth trimmed with green, with buttons bearing the imperial arms of Russia, and an Australian turban.

      The herd of buffalo sighted, proved immense, and covered several square miles. The hunters approached against the wind, and halted in a hollow ravine, within three-quarters of a mile of the nearest bison, acting as sentinel. The ravine afforded concealment for another half mile, and then it was an open rush, The grand duke, Custer and Buffalo Bill spurring their horses to the utmost, dashed out of the ravine, and went full tilt for the herd. Alexis had selected a big bull for his victim, and when within one hunfred yards, fired, but missed. Buffalo Bill, who rode alongside of him, handed him his rifle, and with it, the duke brought down the animal.

      A free-for-all chase began, and there was a wild rush of counts and cowboys, troopers and Indian after the stampeded herd. Alexis stopped long enough, however, to cut off the tail of his first victim as a trophy, and then joined the rest.



      Luncheon was served in the field, and several Indian warriors armed with bows and arrows hung about and begged for the scraps of food left. Alexis was in a perfect wonderland, and among other things wanted to know why the Indians carried their ancient weapons, and was told they preferred them to firearms for killing buffalo. Upon the duke expresing doubt, General Custer sent out two Brule bucks with orders to find a buffalo, ran it into camp, and kill it with an arrow in presence of the grand duke.

      Within an hour, the Indians returned whooping and yelling, and chased a buffalo cow straight into camp, and there, Chief Two Lance, circling swiftly to its left with bow full drawn, sent an arrow whizzing into its body behind the shoulder, piercing the heart, and coming out at the other side. The animal fell dead, and so delighted was the grand duke with the exhibition of skill that he gave Two Lance a twenty dollar gold piece, and afterwards as much more for the bow and quiver of arrows which he wished to preserve as a souvenir of the event. On the same day, the grand duke performed the rare feat of killing a buffalo at one hundred paces distant, with a pistol shot.



      There was a grand dinner in camp that night, during which Spotted Tail related remarkable stories of the skill of Indians with the bow and arrow.

      Reminiscence of former hunts were recalled, and stories lost nothing by telling, as liberal libations of champagne and other drinks heightened imaginations. The hunt lasted one week, and is still fresh in the memory of old residents of North Platte.

      Such are a few of many associations that cluster around Fort McPherson. As we have seen, it was a place of military activity in days of yore, but the advance of civilization, and the cessation of Indian hostilities rendered it unnecessary, and in 1880 it was abandoned, and the buildings dismantled and disposed of. The flag staff that stood in the center of the parade ground was the initial point of the original boundary lines of the military reserve, which was two miles east, two miles west, one mile south, and three north. This land, with the exception of what had been set apart for a national cemetery, was sold for agricultural purposes, and in due time, the husbandman subdued the stubborn soil, and the prairied gave place to cultivated, well fenced fields, snug farm yards and comfortable dwelling houses. The



village of Cottonwood Springs is now a memory, and crops are grown annually on the site of Fort McPherson; and the Indian, the squaw, the trader, the trooper and the buffalo are dimly remembered by old residents of Lincoln county, and are now ranked among the traditions of the locality.

     The exact location of Fort McPherson's flag staff was long a source of dispute and inconvenience to surveyors, until excavation disclosed the cedar log socket, and the spot is now marked by a stone on which the letters "F. S." are cut.

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