Death at Summit Springs: Susanna Alderdice and the Cheyennes

Death at Summit Springs: Susanna Alderdice and the Cheyennes

6/12/2006 • Wild West

On the afternoon of July 11, 1869, it was hot and windy in northeastern Colorado Territory — typical summer weather for that part of the country. But it was not otherwise a typical day. As the hour approached 3 o’clock, the order was given by trumpet to charge the Indian village at Summit Springs (near present-day Sterling, Colorado). At the sound of ‘Charge, 244 officers and men of the 5th U.S. Cavalry, along with 50 Pawnee Indians serving as scouts, quickly descended upon the village of 84 lodges. Cheyenne Dog Soldier Chief Tall Bull and his people could not have been more surprised.

The attack was swift and successful. In less than three hours, all the fighting was over. The Indians — mostly Cheyenne Dog Soldiers, but also a few Sioux and Arapahos — had been routed. By 6 p.m., at least 52 warriors, including the powerful and troublesome Tall Bull, lay dead in and around the village, and 17 Indian women and children had been captured. Amazingly enough, the cavalry had suffered just one casualty — a trooper slightly injured by a glancing arrow wound to the ear.

Almost as soon as the shooting stopped, a powerful hail and thunderstorm descended upon the village. Everyone took shelter, but lightning killed one horse while a soldier sat upon it. Twelve other horses had died during the fight, most from sheer exhaustion when the soldiers pursued the fleeing Indians for several miles. There were two other casualties that July day. Tall Bull’s village contained two young white women, who had been captured six weeks earlier in central Kansas. At the time of the 5th Cavalry’s attack, the women were at opposite ends of the village. As the soldiers rode in at the northern end, most of the Indians tried to escape to the south and east. Several of them first sought to kill the two captives.

Maria Weichel, shot through the back with a pistol ball, which hit a rib and lodged in the flesh of her left breast, was painfully and gravely wounded. She would recover. Susanna Alderdice, however, was not so fortunate. The mother of four children, pregnant with her fifth, was shot above the eye, and her skull was crushed by a tomahawk. Falling unconscious upon the hot prairie sand, she breathed her last just as her would-be rescuers discovered her. At 8 o’clock the next morning, under clear skies, Susanna was given a Christian burial. Wrapped in two lodge skins and the best buffalo robe discovered in the village, she was placed in a deep grave. Today, her grave remains unmarked somewhere in the desolate terrain of the Summit Springs battlefield.

Alderdice was born Susanna Zeigler in early 1840 in Green Township, Ohio. The first of Michael and Mary Zeigler’s several children, Susanna would grow up in the Buckeye State. On October 28, 1860, she married 20-year-old James Alfred Daily in Missouri’s Clay County. The Civil War was raging when they moved to Salina, a new town in central Kansas. James, taking advantage of the Homestead Act of 1862, had staked a claim. Susanna’s first child, John Daily, was born there on July 1, 1863.

James Daily heeded the call to duty on July 16, 1864, enlisting for 100 days in the 17th Kansas Volunteer Infantry. He was assigned to Company D and sent to Lawrence. On October 5, the month before James was due to return, Susanna gave birth to her second child, Willis Daily.

Just two days before his enlistment expired, James Daily entered the general hospital at Fort Leavenworth, suffering from fever. James was placed in quarantine, and 11 days later, on November 25, he succumbed to typhoid fever. Susanna Daily, called Susan by her family and friends, was left to raise the two young children, with the help of her parents, who had moved to the Salina area earlier.

The widow then met Tom Alderdice, originally from Pennsylvania, who was serving as a drummer in the 2nd U.S. Volunteer Infantry and was stationed along the Solomon River near Salina. But Tom had a secret he kept from everyone. He was a galvanized Yankee, having earlier served in the Confederate 44th Mississippi Infantry. Captured at Chickamauga in September 1863, he became a prisoner of war at Rock Island, Ill., where he remained for the next 13 months until he took the oath of allegiance and enlisted for a year in Union service on October 17, 1864. He was sent to Kansas, where he was less likely to desert back to Confederate service.

On June 28, 1866, Tom married Susanna, and the family settled on a homestead along the Saline River close to Spillman Creek (near present-day Lincoln, Kan.). In 1867 Frank was born, and in early fall 1868, Alice came into the world. Susanna’s family now included four children.

Central Kansas experienced extreme drought in 1868 and devastating raids by Cheyenne Dog Soldiers, along with some Sioux and Arapaho warriors. Settlements along the Solomon River in Cloud and especially Mitchell counties were the worst hit. In a series of raids on August 12 and 13, many settlers were killed. Sarah White, 17, was captured at her home, and her father murdered.

A call to arms went out, and General Philip Sheridan authorized 50 civilian scouts to serve under Major Sandy Forsyth. At least 23 men were from the Saline River valley, several of whom signed up at the Schermerhorn ranch in Lincoln County in late August. The youngest of the Forsyth Scouts was Susanna’s 16-year-old brother, Eli Zeigler. Susanna’s husband, Tom, also served four months in the scouts, who called themselves the Solomon Avengers.

That September, the Forsyth Scouts found themselves trying to fight off the Cheyenne leader Roman Nose and as many as 700 Dog Soldiers, including Tall Bull, along the Arikaree River, a tributary of the Republican River, just past the Kansas border in Colorado Territory. The scouts made a desperate stand on a small island in the mostly dry creek bed, remaining there for nine days. The beleaguered force survived mostly by eating the horses killed at the beginning of the fight. At least 25 men were seriously wounded, but four of the scouts managed to steal away and obtain military help.

Five of the Forsyth Scouts, including 1st Lt. Frederick H. Beecher, died in what became known as the Battle of Beecher Island. The Indians may have lost as many as 50 men, including the mighty Roman Nose, who was killed while leading a charge. In 1898 the site was rediscovered by some of the surviving scouts. A large obelisk erected there nearly 100 years ago bears the names of each of the Forsyth Scouts. Tom Alderdice is the first name listed, and Eli Zeigler is the last. Both men had survived the famous encounter.

Beecher Island, however, did little to stop or even slow down the Indian raids. Within a month, settlements on the Solomon and Saline rivers were hit again and more settlers murdered. Newlywed James Morgan managed to escape despite a serious hip wound, but his wife, Anna, was captured and soon joined Sarah White in Cheyenne Chief Stone Forehead’s village.

General Sheridan now changed tactics and began a winter campaign. Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer, who had risen to major general during the Civil War, emerged from a year’s suspension to command 11 companies of the 7th Cavalry. At the crack of dawn on November 29, 1868, on the banks of the Washita River in Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma), Custer surprised the village of Black Kettle, killing the Cheyenne chief and at least 100 others. More than 50 Indian women and children were taken captive. During the Battle of the Washita, the Indians apparently killed two white captives — Clara Blinn and her 2-year-old son, Willie, who had been taken two months earlier in southeastern Colorado Territory.

Reinforced by the 19th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, Custer continued the campaign. On March 13, 1869, he came upon Stone Forehead’s village on Sweetwater Creek (in the Texas Panhandle) and soon learned of two white captives, Sarah White and Anna Morgan. That kept Custer from attacking. What he did do was arrest several chiefs and threaten to hang them, thus securing the release of the two white women.

Custer returned the captive chiefs to Fort Hays, promising to release them when all Indians of the village agreed to return to their reservation. Many settlers believed that Custer had succeeded in finally bringing peace to the Kansas frontier. Custer himself wrote in a report, This I consider as the termination of the Indian war. It was far from the truth.

In May 1869, Major Eugene Carr and several companies of the 5th Cavalry from Fort Lyon in Colorado were traveling to Fort McPherson in Nebraska when they surprised Tall Bull’s Dog Soldiers. A sharp fight on the 13th near Elephant Rock, along Beaver Creek in northwest Kansas, resulted in at least 25 dead warriors and four dead cavalrymen. The soldiers destroyed 25 lodges. Three days later, a fight occurred a few miles away near Spring Creek, resulting in at least 20 Indian casualties (how many dead is unknown). No soldiers were killed in the second fight, but several were wounded. Carr then proceeded to Fort McPherson, having exhausted his rations.

Once Carr had departed, Tall Bull was free to exact revenge for the deaths of his people. His Dog Soldiers struck in a series of raids in Kansas, beginning on May 21. The worst came in Jewell County on May 25 when six hunters were killed. A seventh, John McChesney, hid in nearby tall grass during the attack and was the sole survivor.

On May 28, Tall Bull’s warriors struck a railroad crew working near Fossil Creek (where Russell, Kan., now sits), killing two men and wounding four. The next day, the Dog Soldiers surprised a hunting party of four Americans and wounded Solomon Humbarger in the hip with an arrow. The hunters, neighbors of Tom and Susanna Alderdice, hid in various creek banks while slowly making their way back to the Saline River valley. As the men came into Lincoln County, they realized they were following the tracks of the Indian raiding party.

On Sunday, May 30, about 60 Indians descended upon a new Danish settlement nestled along the banks of Spillman Creek, about 10 miles above where it joins with the Saline River (three miles west of present-day Lincoln). Susanna’s brother Eli Zeigler and a brother-in-law, John Alverson, happened to be driving a wagon near the settlement when they saw the raiders divide into attack groups. Some of the Indians also saw them, and 15 warriors gave chase. The two white men drove their wagon hard to a creek, where they found some protection. The Indians shot at them many times but were unwilling to charge the creek bed. After taking the horses and disabling the wagon, the raiders departed, leaving Zeigler and Alverson unscathed.

People in the Danish settlement were not so lucky. Erskild and Stine Lauritzen were on their way to fetch their 12-year-old son from a neighbor’s house when they were both shot, scalped and stripped naked. Not far from where the Lauritzens were killed, the Indians also surprised Maria and George Weichel and family friend Fred Meigerhoff. The men were armed, though, and they put up a running fight for four miles. The Indians would not quit, and they moved in for the kill once the white men’s ammunition ran out. To obtain a ring, the Indians cut off one of George Weichel’s fingers. His 20-year-old wife, Maria, was taken captive. Also killed that afternoon was a man who had been living with the Lauritzens, Otto Pearson. His scalped and mutilated body would be found two days later on the west side of Spillman Creek.

The raiders were not through. About 5 p.m. that same day, they approached the house where Susanna Alderdice was staying while her husband, Tom, was in Salina, 35 miles away, fetching supplies with some other settlers, including Timothy Kine and William Hendrickson. In the house with Susanna were her four children, John, Willis, Frank and baby Alice; Kine’s wife, Bridget, and their 2-month-old daughter, Katherine; Thomas Noon and his wife; and Nicholas Whalen. The house belonged to Michael Haley, who had allowed them to stay there for their own protection. Haley, however, had taken his family near Fort Harker, where he figured it would be safer during this time of Indian raiding.

Hearing a noise, Bridget Kine went to the front door of the Haley house and looked off toward her own home. She was startled to see Indians taking her husband’s mare. The Noons and Whalen also saw what was happening and bolted from the Haley house, heading in the opposite direction. Bridget and Susanna were left behind without any weapons. The two women quickly gathered their children and ran for the high banks of the Saline River, about 100 yards behind the house.

Carrying only daughter Katherine, Bridget Kine reached the river first, waded to an overhanging tree branch and hid as best she could. With four children in her care, Susanna Alderdice couldn’t move nearly as fast, especially since she must have been carrying the two youngest ones. Once it became obvious that they could not make it to the river, Susanna dropped to the ground. The Indians showed no mercy to her three boys, who were abused and struck down before her eyes. From her hiding place, Bridget Kine heard the screams of the boys and of Susanna, who, like Maria Weichel, was taken captive. Once the Indians had gone off with Susanna and 8-month-old Alice Alderdice, Bridget and her own daughter fled five miles to the fortified Schermerhorn ranch.

There was one more murderous incident along the Saline River on May 30. Two warriors — one old, one still in his teens — came upon John Strange and Arthur Schmutz, both 13. Speaking in halting English, the old warrior claimed to be a good Pawnee Indian. He touched both white boys on the shoulders, counting coup. The younger warrior suddenly raised his war club and struck John Strange in the head, killing him instantly. Arthur Schmutz ran for his life. The young warrior fired an arrow that struck him and penetrated his lung. Arthur yanked the shaft from his side, but the arrow point remained in his lung. Riley and Marion Strange, younger brothers of John, heard the commotion and boldly came forward to help — one carrying a box of ammunition, and the other shooting at the young warrior. The two Indians departed, and Arthur was taken to the hospital at Fort Harker. The doctors there were unable to extract the arrow point from his lung, and the young patient died nearly 11 weeks later.

At the time of Susanna Alderdice’s capture, G Company of Custer’s 7th Cavalry was crossing the Saline River about a mile to the east. Lieutenant Edward Law and 2nd Lt. Thomas March, who had been slightly wounded at the Battle of the Washita, were in command. About half the soldiers had crossed the river when panicked settlers appeared from the west and told of the murderous raiding.

Earlier, March had heard gunshots but had assumed they came from settlers out hunting. The fleeing settlers quickly informed him of his error, and the second lieutenant took 30 soldiers and several of the settlers to go after the raiders. After riding some five miles, March’s command came upon a small party of Indians grazing their horses. Settler Jacob Schafer recognized a mare and a colt that belonged to Timothy Kine and four horses belonging to Frank Schermerhorn. The soldiers fired at the Indians but didn’t hit anyone, and the chase continued. After darkness fell, March still led his men another 15 miles before calling it quits. They didn’t return to their camp until after midnight.

The next day, May 31, settlers and soldiers discovered raid victims scattered along Spillman Creek and the Saline River. Tom Alderdice, returning from Salina, stopped off at the Schermerhorn ranch, where he learned about his son and two stepsons, as well as the capture of his wife and baby daughter. From there, he rode to William Hendrickson’s house, where the bodies of his son Frank, age 2, and his stepson John, not yet 6, had been taken. Tom’s agonizing cries as he viewed the little bodies would never be forgotten by young C.C. Hendrickson, William’s son. At least Tom’s other stepson, the gravely wounded Willis, was hanging on to life.

Despite his tragic homecoming, Tom Alderdice set out on his own on June 1 in search of his wife and baby daughter. Several miles to the north, not far from the Solomon River, he finally picked up the raiders’ trail. He followed that for several more miles before he spotted several warriors coming and going from a creek unknown to him. He hid in a ravine and watched for a while, soon realizing that the Indians were going off on hunting and raiding parties. I supposed a large camp above, he later wrote. He needed help, so he returned to the Saline River valley and then traveled to Fort Leavenworth, hoping the soldiers would join in his rescue mission.

While at Fort Leavenworth, Tom Alderdice was interviewed by the Leavenworth Times and Conservative. The newspaper account mistakenly said that Tom discovered his sons’ bodies near his house, instead of first seeing them at the Hendrickson place. According to the paper, one dead boy had four bullets in his body and another had five arrows in his body. As for the wounded Willis, age 4, the newspaper reported that he was found with five arrows in his body, one entering his back to the depth of five inches.

Another news story said that Tom Alderdice met with George Custer, who was at Fort Leavenworth to serve as a judge at a horse fair. Tom also met Custer’s wife, Libbie, and she later wrote about the encounter in Following the Guidon:


The man was almost wild with grief over the capture of his wife by Indians, and the murder of his children….The man was as nearly a madman as can be. His eyes wild, frenzied, and sunken with grief, his voice weak with suffering, his tear-stained, haggard face — all told a terrible tale of what he had been and was enduring. He wildly waved his arms as he paced the floor like some caged thing, and implored General Custer to use his influence to organize an expedition to secure the release of his wife. He turned to me with trembling tones, describing the return to his desolate cabin….The silence in the cabin told its awful tale, and he knew, without entering, that the mother of the little ones had met with the horrible fate which every woman in those days considered worse than death.


Tom Alderdice told about his own scouting activities and also provided a written description of Susanna to the officers at Fort Leavenworth, and a copy was then forwarded to Major Carr in the field. Tom described his wife as medium height, light complexion, with light brown hair and blue eyes. He also noted that Susanna had a female child eight months old, with her, when captured. Tom returned to the Saline River valley, but soon ventured out again to the creek where he had discovered the Indians earlier. This time, as Major Carr would later report, Tom came upon the Dog Soldiers’ abandoned camp and discovered a most horrible sight — the lifeless form of his baby, Alice, strangled with a bowstring. His captured wife, Susanna, had been allowed to carry Alice for three days before the baby’s incessant crying had prompted the Indians to silence her forever. Now, there was nothing left for Tom Alderdice to do but pray that Carr and his troopers would find Susanna and bring her home safely.

During these tumultuous times on the frontier, female settlers dreaded being captured by Indians. At the hands of their captors, as Mrs. Custer observed, they were liable to face a fate worse than death. If a woman was rescued, the reassimilation into white society was never easy. Published accounts about Indian captivity were often mere whitewashes of the truth. Consider the account left by Veronica Ulbrich Megnin, written only for the government, regarding her captivity when she was just 13. Veronica was seized in 1867, not too far north of where Susanna Alderdice was captured two years later.


I remember vividly the hot summer day of 1867 when a band of Cheyenne Indians swept down upon our farm, captured me and my brother Peter. They whipped us with their rawhides and we cried bitterly for help. More dead than alive they took us away from home and three miles later they shot my brother off the horse and left him, where I pointed out the location four months later to my father….They compelled me to travel with them, we were traveling from one place to another, some of the band were on the go all the time. I did not get enough to eat, suffered from thirst, had to wash and do other work; sometimes they whipped me, sometimes they wanted or threatened to kill me. Soon one Indian, soon another belonging to the band forcibly violated my body, causing me immense pain and anguish thereby. This was almost a daily and nightly occurrence which would have killed me, if I had not been liberated almost exhausted.


Every woman knew that if captured, repeated rapes were likely to occur, but rapes were not mentioned in popular captivity narratives written by women who were later rescued. Like Veronica, Susanna Alderdice and Maria Weichel undoubtedly suffered horribly during their captivity, receiving little food or water and too much sun. The rapes would go on, night and day. To the end of her days, Susanna would surely remember the screams of her children as they were being killed. Susanna and Maria traveled hundreds of miles in captivity.

On June 9, 1869, Major Carr, commanding eight companies of the 5th Cavalry and three companies of Pawnee Scouts, left Fort McPherson with orders to clear the Republican River country of all Indians. Carr would have several minor encounters with Tall Bull’s Dog Soldiers. Late in the day on June 15, a seven-man party of Cheyennes attacked Carr’s camp in an attempt to drive off the mules. Carr reported that his men fought valiantly and prevented them from getting a hoof. One soldier and one teamster were wounded. I got one of the Indians’ ponies. On July 5, a detachment of Pawnee Scouts, commanded by Major Frank North but attached to Major William Bedford Royall, found several Dog Soldiers. In a sharp fight, the scouts killed three warriors and wounded others. Carr feared this engagement would cause the rest of Tall Bull’s village to scatter and escape to Wyoming Territory.

Three days later, shooting erupted again when several Indians came across a small detachment of soldiers. No soldiers were killed, but two of Tall Bull’s warriors were wounded. Corporal John Kile would later be awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery during the skirmish. On that same night, July 8, Indians attacked Carr’s camp and tried unsuccessfully to run off his horses. Sergeant Mad Bear of the Pawnee Scouts was wounded by friendly fire after he charged the retreating Indians and was about to kill one of the warriors. For that action, along with his killing of two warriors in the July 5 fight, Mad Bear was also awarded the Medal of Honor.

On July 9, Carr pushed his men, hoping to overtake the Indians before they had a chance to cross the South Platte River and escape to Wyoming Territory. On the evening of the 10th, Carr camped at a place where the Indians had camped that morning. He knew that a strong final push was needed because the Indians were aware of his presence. After reducing his command to only those men whose horses were fit for a hard and long ride, he was left with 244 soldiers and 50 Pawnee Scouts. William Buffalo Bill Cody, chief scout and guide, rode with them.

Carr’s reduced force struck out in a northwesterly direction on July 11, seeking to pass undetected around the Indians and then attack from a position that would surprise them. By 2 p.m., the force had traveled 35 miles and was maneuvering into position undetected by the enemy. Rolling sand hills provided good cover and allowed Carr to bring his men to within two miles of Tall Bull’s village. The Pawnee Scouts stripped for battle, keeping just enough clothing on to keep from being mistaken for Dog Soldiers. Three leading companies were placed in parallel columns of two, and the order to charge was blown on the trumpet. The attack was hard and swift. Carr later noted in a letter:


I may add that Tall Bull the chief…was killed. He had started off with his favorite wife and little girl and they were hoping to escape when he looked back and saw the destruction of his village and band of robbers in which he had taken great pride. He told his squaw that he could not bear to live after that and was going to turn back and fight and be killed….The squaw said that he turned back and met the soldiers and was killed and that she sat down facing them with her little girl in her lap and they came up and took her as prisoner into camp — she with all the seventeen prisoners were afterwards sent up the Missouri to their friends.


Tall Bull chose to face the soldiers in the high bluffs just to the south and east of the village. There, after he and 19 other warriors engaged the soldiers in the most desperate fighting in the battle, he was killed. Buffalo Bill later took credit for killing Tall Bull. So did Major Frank North, who, as fate would have it, later toured with Cody’s Wild West and died in 1885 from injuries incurred when he was thrown from a horse at Hartford, Conn., the previous year. But it might not have been either of them. Major Carr wrote in 1901 that Daniel McGrath, a Company H enlisted man at the time of the fighting, particularly distinguished himself at the Battle of Summit Springs, Colorado where he killed the Chief Tall Bull. Given that Cody mentioned in one of his accounts of Summit Springs that McGrath had captured Tall Bull’s pony, perhaps McGrath was indeed the one who killed the chief.

The captured village contained much booty, all of which was destroyed the next morning. The soldiers set 160 separate fires to make sure everything burned. Items found included a necklace made of human fingers, 56 rifles, 22 revolvers, 40 bows with arrows, 350 knives, 47 axes, 17 sabers, 690 buffalo robes, 552 panniers (saddlebags), 152 moccasins, 150 pans, kegs and kettles, 9,300 pounds of dried meat, 340 tin cups and plates, 28 new dresses, 1,500 dolls, 200 coffee pots, 418 horses and mules, and more than 10 tons of various Indian clothing, equipment and food. Tall Bull and his followers had lived well. Almost $886 was found in the village, and Lieutenant Edward P. Doherty gave it to the wounded captive, Maria Weichel. Carr wrote: There was the greatest quantity of plunder in the Indian village, such as clocks, watches, photographs, shawls, kitchen and household utensils, mules, horses, etc., etc., which they had taken from settlers and freighters. Carr’s success, however, was somewhat tempered by the death of the other captive, Susanna Alderdice, who must have at least had hope of rescue before the end.

On the morning of July 12, she was buried, according to Carr, on a little bluff, which overlooks Summit Springs, with such religious services as we were able to perform. Dr. Louis Tesson performed the ceremony. The officers at first called the battle Susanna Springs in honor of the late Mrs. Alderdice, but Carr later changed it when he learned the place already had the name Summit Springs. After the burial, the soldiers marched for Fort Sedgwick.

Susanna Alderdice died without knowing that one of her sons, Willis Daily, was still alive. The day after the murderous raid, a soldier had discovered Willis and his two dead brothers naked under a pile of brush. In addition to many arrow wounds, the 4-year-old had taken two bullets in the back and a spear through a hand. One of the arrows had penetrated deep into his breastbone. For some reason, the surgeon accompanying Lieutenant Law’s company had refused to treat Willis, or even to examine him, and the lieutenant could not order him to do so because the boy was a civilian. This surgeon later would be chastised in a Kansas newspaper editorial for his callousness. Willis remained for two days with the metal arrow point imbedded 5 inches in his back before some settlers removed it at the Hendrickson house. According to C.C. Hendrickson, Willis begged so hard to have it taken out that a man by the name of Phil Lantz said that if someone would hold him down, he could pull it out and a man by the name of Washington Smith said he would hold him. Lantz pulled the arrow out with a pair of bullet molds of my father’s and as luck would have it, the spike came out but no one thought he would live.

Willis survived his ordeal but would walk with a limp the rest of his life. He was raised by Susanna’s parents in Cedron Township, about 20 miles north of Lincoln, and eventually received a pension for the Civil War service of his father, James Alfred Daily, who had died just seven weeks after Willis was born in 1864. Willis’ stepfather, Tom Alderdice, had left Lincoln County soon after learning that Susanna was dead. While living in Iowa’s Clinton County in 1873, Tom remarried and had a second family. By the early 1890s he and his family were living in Milan, Kan., southwest of Wichita, but he would not return to Lincoln County until 1911, 42 years after Tall Bull’s deadly raid. Tom’s motive was to find the unmarked graves of John Daily and Frank Alderdice, but he was unsuccessful and left the county for good. He died in Conway Springs, Kan., in 1925.

As for Willis, he married Mary Twibell on March 25, 1886, and they raised a son (named James Alfred after Willis’ father) and two daughters (Anna and Elsie). In 1893, the family moved from Lincoln County to Marshall County and lived on a farm four miles east of Blue Rapids. About 1917 Willis was experiencing leg problems, and at first his old arrow wounds were blamed. Daddy never talked about it [the Indian raid of 1869], his daughter Anna Daily Watters remembered, but I have seen the five big arrow scars on his back many times. Shortly, though, he was diagnosed with cancer. A series of amputations left him without legs but did not keep the cancer from spreading to his vital organs. He died at his home near Blue Rapids on June 16, 1920. Willis was said to be a well-loved man, never showing resentment or bitterness for the trauma of his fourth year of life caused by the Dog Soldiers’ brutal raid in Lincoln County.


This article was written by Jeff Broome and originally appeared in the October 2003 issue of Wild West.

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40 Responses to Death at Summit Springs: Susanna Alderdice and the Cheyennes

  1. Paul says:

    There’s no evidence, or even reason to believe, that the two women were shot by Indians as you claim, and not killed in the general slaughter. The American soldiers were shooting indiscriminately, and could not have known there were white female captives. This is not good history, it is racist lying.

  2. Mike says:

    Actually it is documented in several historical accounts. Indians standard practise was to kill white prisoners if they were about to be rescued.
    Tall Bull himself dispatched her with the butt of his rifle, caving in her skull. She was not shot. He then attempted to kill Maria, he used his rifle again, shooting her. Fortunately she lived, while he was killed. She lived to recount what happened to her and her fellow female prisoner. It is not a pretty story….
    Let’s not try and whitewash the American Indian. They were in fact quite brutal in their treatment of captured whites. And there is plenty of historical evidence to back this up.
    Sorry you can’t handle the truth. And don’t label someone a racist for speaking facts you don’t like….

  3. Mike says:

    One more correction to your statement Paul, you said the soldiers could not have known there were white prisoners and were shooting indiscriminately. Where did you get THAT little piece of misinformation? The soldiers were actually attacking in an attempt to rescue the white captives… They had scouted the camp out with scouts. They knew full well the women were there and were attempting to rescue them from the living hell of being a captured white female in the hands of the Cheyennes!
    Read a few books on what captivity was like for white prisoners, particularly young, white females.
    Besides being sold to Mexico into a life of slavery once the Indians tired of their fun and games with them, a white female could look forward to nightly gang rape if she was not “lucky” enough to be claimed by one owner.
    Even if she was, her Indian ‘owner’ would often barter or trade out her sexual services, profiting from her forced prostitution. Visitors to the tribe were sometimes allowed to use them.
    One reason why the Cheyenne in particular were more prone to this type of behavior is that Cheyenne females were considered one of the more chaste tribes. They would not sleep with a buck until marriage.
    It was considered bad behavior on a female’s part to engage in unmarried contact. Cheyenne bucks knew full well they were disgracing the white female prisoners. And that makes it even more deplorable on their part.
    They knew it because their own females would not behave as they brutally forced white captives to behave.
    Cheyenne females were quite chaste. Because of that, braves in need/want of a female often traded and bartered with the buck who owned the white female for her “hospitality”.
    Read about the capture of the four German girls (German is their name, sometimes spelled Germaine) and what the girls endured during their months of captivity.
    The two youngest were rescued first, when the soldiers arrived to rescue them, the bucks fled on horseback with the two oldest girls, Catherine and Sophia. The soldiers were astonished to see how one bold brave actually rode back after the bucks had fled and began firing his rifle into a pile of buffalo robes. The robes covered the two youngest girls, both of whom were nearly starved to death. Both girls had been tortured even though they were only small children, by having cedar splints pushed under their fingernails and around their eyes and then set afire.
    Imagine how badly this brave wanted to kill these two little girls that he risked death rather than to allow them to be returned to her white people.
    The two young girls told of how the older girls were gang raped upon capture and then traded about the tribe. The eldest girl Catherine was bartered out so often, that by the time she was rescued, she had been forced to sleep with nearly every male in the tribe.
    There are numerous books which recount tales of Indians trying to kill white prisoners rather than reurning them, or seeing them reunited with their people again.
    No denying Indians were treated terribly by whites as they spread Westward, but in retelling the tales of history, let’s not paint the American Indian to be saints. Many tribes were extremely war-like and fought with rival tribes over land and hunting grounds, well before the whites arrived. Many tribes had the opinion it was a source of pride to raid a rival tribe, steal their women, children and posessions. Taking another tribes women was a method of dishonering him.
    The disputes with whites was partly a continuation of established practices. Fights over lands and hunting grounds with whites, if anything only made them more war-like.
    The American Indians were not hippie flower children. Revisionist history writers have tried to paint this picture to a generation or two from the 1960’s on up.
    As is often the case, the truth of right and wrong lies somewhere in the middle. Wrongs and rights can be laid on both sides.
    That the American Indian suffered greatly from whites is undeniable and only too true. But American Indians were not peace-loving innocents like some would try and paint them.
    Read some real historic accounts. And speak truth even when it hurts…

  4. Jeff Broome says:

    I think Mike responded very well, especially in his first post, to the article I wrote and the comments that you made. I would only like to add, if you are interested, that you ought to find and read my book, Dog Soldier Justice: The Ordeal of Susanna Alderdice in the Kansas Indian War, released July 1, 2009 as a Bison Book with the University of Nebraska Press. I document everything there. If you are interested in knowing what we can best today determine what actually happened back in 1869, then read DSJ. I wrote the article above for Wild West as I was writing Dog Soldier Justice. But, as Mike noted, calling me a racist for documenting the known facts is itself a racist commebnt by you. Also, in DSJ I prove, without question, that the soldiers knew they were attacking the village that held two female captives.

    Maria Weichel was gravely wounded at her rescue and she also said Tall Bull shot her. Is she lying? That interview where she said this was done the night she was rescued and appeared in General Carr’s report written two weeks later. What more proof can one give that the Indians killed Susanna and tried to kill Maria? And, I also found an interview with Tall Bull’s wife (one of them) and she said she witnessed Tall Bull kill Susanna. Is she lying? If she is, then every Indian document should be dismissed. And I guess every military document ought to be dismissed. But that is poor history. Historical documents are to be accepted in the absence of good reasons to reject them. There are no good reasons to reject these primary source documents.

  5. Roxane says:

    As a female, ahem, maybe the issue of rape as a weapon of terror should be addressed regardless of the ethnicity or nationality of the rapists. At some point we have to address atrocities and condemn them even when the perpetrators can be categorized as “victims” themselves. As an American of mixed Native Indian/Hispanic roots I am repelled by the violence initiated against civilians, period. But, having said that, I am also suspicious of accounts that hail the Calvary, I’ve personally seen too many relatively recent papers that describe massacres, like Sand Creek, as “the affair” at Sand Creek! Now that’s revisionist bullshit! However, to deny the terror and horror of what Susanna Alderice suffered is likewise, repugnant. I am more interested in how women of her kind were treated by the “white” settlers when they returned; probably not too well, separated and made to feel utter shame, most likely. And that is also part of the story, or should be.

    • jeff says:

      Roxane respectfully –I am an American of mixed Native and Anglo-Celtic Ancestry–you are correct in your assessment of the whitewashing of US military actions against Native Americans –and also in tht we should not be looking at theseevents in terms of who was the worst—You should however not assume that the horrors endured by European settlers are exaggerations-There are too many accounts of horrific rapes tortures baby murders and the like –the great enemy of Native mericans–Andrew Jackson raised a Native boy–some Indians adopted European children- both usually after there families were brutally murdered–Do not assume because they prevailed eventually that European Americans lied or misrepresented the truth about what settlers endured–why do Europeans singularly among all people of the world have to constantly apologize for their success –people of all kinds migrate conquer and assimilate others–look at the Chinese –the Bantu–the Arabs—Europeans actually whitewashed what was done to their women by Native tribes out of a Victorian sense of decorum–Please do “white” people the same courtesy of respecting their experiences in History as we do othe ethnic groups–

      • Jake says:

        The difference is that they were INVADING our lands. They put themselves in harms way. What if a Native Nation invaded European and “innocent” Native families were butchered for occupying Normandy? I mean, really. Context matters.

  6. ashkan says:

    im not an american . im a persian .sorry for my poor english . when i read indian history im surprised with usa tolerance about indians . if such things happened in my country my goverment slaughtered thousands of them . roman nose and tall bull were real cowards and they get what they deserved .

  7. Sam says:

    After reading what those particular Indians did to little children … I would think they deserved no mercy at all!!!

  8. Tom says:

    This is the most inaccurate thing I read so far on the internet.You have to take account Native Americans during this era are at a population drop of 95%.I’m 18 in high school this is the most uber noobtastic thing written.Get you history facts right old folks.”White men treat there womans like dogs.”..

  9. Tom says:

    Native American History books are all written by the cold callous of a mans one sided perspective.Even in here in American these books are being censored.Native American History is being taught by a teacher who doesn’t know squat about the subject.I am not Native American myself but I do know BS when I see it.
    Heres a fact Gen.Custer and his 7th Calvary paraded with the dead body parts of the Cheyenne.In retaliation of kill there wives and children the Cheyenne Warriors hunted down Custer only to see him dodge and run to a fort.
    Fact:Gen.Custer raped a Cheyenne woman,who he confessed as his lover,over his current wife.The Cheyenne woman bore his child.
    Fact:Stone forehead pour the ashes on Custer’s boot and spoke “If you and the Government go against the Cheyenne again,death will come upon you.”
    Fact:Stone Forehead was camped in Sweet water 300miles away during the up above fictional story book stated.
    Fact:Cheyenne population during this 234.Of that 234 and after massacres remaining of 124.
    Fact:US Gov. is solely afraid of the Native Americans.

  10. Edward says:

    I agree with Tom.I’m a freshman in O.U.The Cheyenne’s are like the Spartans.300 Cheyennes vs 100000000 million and growing.

  11. Edward says:

    Why is Tom’s statement just been deleted?

  12. JOHN says:


  13. uncle joe says:

    I was once introduced to an old cheyenne when I was a young boy my uncle told me that he was a real indian and that he was the last survivor of the sand creek battle (the Chief called it a battle said he earned his first feather there ) I don’t know his real name my uncle and his frends all respectfully called him Chief he used indian medicine on my turtle in the turtle race and I won the $.50 first prize I also remember that all his front teeth were filed down to points I wish I could have met him when I was older I would have had a lot of questions I wish I had asked him JTD

  14. Kathy Penniston-Smith says:

    Yes, it was very interesting because Sarah White was my grandmother’s cousin. Sarah’s father, who was killed when Sarah was captured, was my grandmother’s uncle. He is buried in Fairview Cemetery in Cloud County, Kansas, next to his wife Mary who died in 1913. Benjamin’s tombstone says that he was killed by Indians. Sarah married Erastus Brooks and lived until 1939. She is buried in West Summit Cemetery in Cloud County, Kansas.

  15. Christina says:

    Sad to know and read how something that started out good turned so bad and ugly in the end. When the first settlers set foot on American soil they were helped by the Natives and shown how to live and survive in the New World. There was mutual respect between them and there was peace and friendship. They lived along side each other and helped each other out like only friendly neighbours do. I have read that Thanks Giving Day as we now know it was orginally a ceremony, tradition of the Native Americans by which they gave thanks and expressed their gratefullness to the Great Spirit and nature for all good things received and that the first colonists in the 17th century met with this tradition when they came in contact with the Natives and the latter shared this celebration with them. Only when more and more settlers came, all having to have a place to live and land (which is understandable) and therefore eating in on Indian terriorities (which was regrettable) and with their growing number unintentionally driving the American Native people more and more out of their natural habitat, the scale began to tip over as balance between the two groups got lost. Fear strucked the hearts of bothe sides, fear of losing land and culture on one side and fear of not being able to settle on the other side made Natives and settlers feel thus threatened that it triggered the instinct to survive and soon mutual respect, understanding and peace gave way to misunderstanding, comtempt, hatred and violance in which each party was literally fighting for and defending the lives of themselves and their loved ones, using every (deplorable) means to do so. Whenever people fight each other monstrosities and cruelties of all sorts are committed against one another in order to afflict as much pain and hardship as possible. Man’s darkest and most brutal side emerges, erasing all common sense and noble and honourable feelings, only to sow death and destruction to everyone around them. The things both sides were guilty of doing to each other were gruesome and inexcusable. Sadly, moreover, for it derived only out of the protection and the keep safe of families and loved ones. Violance, striking out to one another is one way to solve an issue, but there are other ways too, but in the heat of the moment thinking clearly is hard, very hard. Finding peaceful ways to settle issues can only be done if and when we learn to live out of our souls, our Higher Consciousness, which is pure and loving.
    But it’s definitely worth trying and keep trying cause we all have so much good to give to each other.

  16. Frank Bodden says:

    I can’t believe some of the postings made by Tom and his lack of knowledge of the subject. Gen. Carr knew there were two white female captives because this was the group of Indians guilty of the raids along the Solomon/Saline Creeks. It was Susanna Alderdice’s husband, Tom, who went out on his own and helped find the approximate location of the village and report back. Mrs. Alderdice was killed by a hatchet/tomahawk that crushed her skull.
    As for Custer raping an Indian, again,fiction, and anyone who reads and studies this part of history knows Custer was a solder’s soldier who in some cases prevented wholesale slaughter, such as at Washita. Washita was no Sand Creek. Some of you folks need to study that of which you post reckless remarks here. Dr. Broome’s book Dog Soldier Justice was well researched, not a work of fiction, and you should read it if you want to find out about the history.

    • Sven Oliver Roth says:

      Hi Frank, I was wondering if you have expanded your knowledge of the post Washita prisoner abuse since you posted this. Greene covers this in his 2006 Washita Book and the source material on this is also covered in Hardorff’s Washita Memories sourcebook collection (2008 I think). We have two independent accounts from within the officer/scout corps giving a detailed account of this, both of them not meant for publication. One is a letter by Benteen, the other interview notes under the headlines “not for publication” that have survived from an interview given by Chief of Scouts Ben Clark, a gentleman and married to a Cheyenne woman. It was Clark who approached Custer and asked him if it was his wish to have women and children continuing to be slaughtered (Myer’s troops), to which an apparently annoyed Custer replied that Clark send his compliments to Myers and respectfully cease the killing of women and children. Clark remained loyal to Custer but Custer had him transferred to Sheridan’s staff and wrote his chief of scouts entirely out of his autobiographical narrative in MLOTP. Custer and his fellow officers continued to use Cheyenne girls and women for sex until summer 1869.

  17. Tammy says:

    How sad and raw history reveals itself to be.

  18. Robert says:

    Agree with Frank, but as far as Tom. I doubt he even remember’s he wrote this post. Kid is barely 18 and shows his lack of education, judgement, and knowledge. Most of your FACTS are actually without merit, you’re tossing out junk with the hope something sticks. When you say “ALL”, this means exactly that…ALL. Which means all Native American Books are from one man’s perspective. Well, yeah, they wrote it. Only they researched it using many resources you can’t even understand. Does this mean books written by Native Americans are from one man’s point of view too? After all, you did say ALL. The whole point of reading them is to understand both sides. Both sides rape, murdered and protected. I am sure if a loved one of your’s was violated, you’d be out for revenge no matter who’s side you are on. I know I would and it’s only human nature. The nation’s leaders screwed over the Indians so many ways we can’t keep up. Yet, there are so many accounts of white befriending and loving red. Still, the Indians responded in many normal ways. Many loved and befriended the white and yet many also went out to do harm againist white. Tom, next time understand more and maybe when you have more years of life under your belt, you’ll understand how ignorant you sound.

  19. Doug says:

    I agree with Jeff and Robert. The notrosities were on both sides. Remember the Hungates and the Minnesota Massacre is just a couple of reasons for the Sand Creek Battle or massacre which ever you prefer. Do some research on a massacre called Mountain Meadows in Utah, thats some messed up stuff it just happened everywhere back then, whites going after indians, indians going after whites, settlers murdering other settlers, it was a rough time in our nations history.

    • Frank Bodden says:

      Mountain Meadows was a case where the Mormons murdered a large number of white folks on a wagon train who were just passing through. They convinced them to lay down their weapons and safe passage, and then slaughtered — can’t recall the number. Probably over 200 men, women and children. Tried to blame it on the local Indians, although some of them might have been involved. I can’t remember the dates of the Minnesota Massacre by the Sioux but was well in advance of Sand Creek and the two weren’t remotely related.

      • Doug says:

        Yeah Frank, they were no where related, this I know, was just making a point of the build up of tensions between the indians and whites. Some were making it a race issue, I was just saying in those times it just wasnt whites and indians, hence the white on white at Mountain Mdows, like I said, rough times. Mid-late 1800s.

  20. Frank Bodden says:

    Thanks for the clarification, Doug. Bad hombres everywhere out there.

  21. marc andrews says:

    Where can I find the panoramic photograph by Larry Finnel of the Summit Springs battlefield that you mention as being in your great book Dog Soldier Justice? It is not in my copy, and would like to see it…somehow.
    Thanks, Marc

  22. Darrell Wood says:

    I taught history at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Co and retired in 1987 (continued teaching part time till 1994). I conducted travel history classes,mostly following western trails and to battle sites and forts, for several years. I wish I had the remarkable “Dog Soldier Justice” by Dr Broome back then, for I just read it and consider it the definitve source of the Cheyenne Dog Soldiers raiding after Sand Creek. I was lent a copy by Mr. Jones who lived not far from Beecher Island.

    I disagree with the post that makes an association with what “Great Sioux Uprising” in Minn. Perhaps some small motivation for Indian activity in Nebraska and Kansas and Colorado, but the Grattan “Battle” and the Sand Creek “Battle” were far more conflict motivating.

  23. Sven Oliver Roth says:

    Concerning the Beecher Island fight and the supposedly at least 50 Indians killed there, it should be noted that Forsyth himself clamed 32 Indians killed and the Cheyennes themselves reported exactly 9 Indians killed: 6 of their own, each one identified by name, one Arapahoe identified by name and two unidentified Sioux warriors. Usually, it makes a lot more sense to rely on casualty reports by the side who suffered the casualties. In fact that rulse is always obeyed when it comes to identifying white casualties. It’s only when Indian casualties are discussed, that, strangely, Indian reports often get ignored and replaced by inflated body counts given by white veterans.

    As for the supposed 52 killed Cheyenne warriors at Summit Springs, that’s the overall number of all Cheyenne villagers killed in this raid, many if not most of them being women, children or elderly people.

    As for the gang rape subject, Jeff Broome writes:

    \Every woman knew that if captured, repeated rapes were likely to occur, but rapes were not mentioned in popular captivity narratives written by women who were later rescued. Like Veronica, Susanna Alderdice and Maria Weichel undoubtedly suffered horribly during their captivity, receiving little food or water and too much sun. The rapes would go on, night and day.\

    It should be noted that there is not a shred of evidence that Maria Weichel or Susanna Alderdice were sexually abused during their captivity. No statement of survivor Maria Weichel indicating such a thing ever surfaced, nor was there any physical trace of sexual abuse. That frontier troops and journalists usually assumed that Indians were all gang-rapists, is another matter. Carr wrote in his report that the women were pregnant and decuced they had certainly been raped. That’s a pretty idiotic deduction though, as the captivity had only lasted six weeks and the women had obviously been pregnant for a much longer time.

    As for the entirely different case of Veronika Ulbrich, it should be noted that upon the prisoner exchange in which she was freed the local newspaper mentioned no trace of sexual abuse whatsoever. It was only years later when her father tried to get the enormous sum of 5,000,– USD in compensation from the US government that a claim was filed in which suddenly the claim of sexual abuse popped up.

  24. joe canales says:

    Is the site of the battlefield directly behind the monuments?


  25. joe canales says:

    What is the exact location of the battlefield. In relation to the markers?

  26. Ben says:

    Your comment is just one more example of the abhorrent attempt to whitewash history. As was already explained, rape was typically not reported in the media because of the shame associated with it and because it violated Victorian sensibilities to even discuss it. But many rapes were reported in diaries and official government accounts, and they are far too numerous and pervasive to chalk up to one or two bad apples. Like many other barbarians, the Indians used rape and torture as routine weapons of war.

    Someone on here mentioned Sand Creek as an example of white atrocities, and it was indeed an atrocity. However, it was also an aberration. A Congressional investigation followed and the officer in charge of that raid was publicly disgraced and called a coward. Rape is yet one more hellish thing that tends to happen in wars, but it was never an instrument adopted by whites against the Indians as a widespread, systemic, or officially condoned policy. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    This is not a racial thing, by the way. The behavior of the Indians was unfortunately typical of many savage cultures throughout history, including some today (such as ISIS). The Europeans/Americans had simply advanced to a degree that such behavior was no longer considered acceptable.

    But we should never pretend that the American Indians did not engage in such actions, because this is a lie. There is a reason settlers hated and despised the Indians to the point that even reasonable people were willing to support brutal military campaigns against them. It is because they knew what unspeakable horrors awaited them and their children if an Indian war party showed up at their doorstep.

  27. Sven Oliver Roth says:

    Ben, respectfully, it appears you haven’t yet heard of the old West adage \Squaws rape easy\?

    It would be helpful if you argue to my specific points instead of ranting in stereotypes. One thing we can clarify right here and very quickly: Since the beginning of our species, rape has been a part of warfare. It still is, also among so-called civilized nations.

    Your claim that \Indians\ (no different between all those tribes? all the same here? Are you expert enough to know that?) would always, habitually rape all white women upon taking them captive is dangerously sweeping. How about the iconic martyr of the Washita (no, of course not the many slaughtered Indian women, of course a white woman) Clara Blinn? Even Greg Michno, in his atrocity tale galore \A fate worse than death\ admits that there is no shred of evidence that she was ever sexually abused. And she went from Arapaho to Cheyenne to probably Kiowa hands before dying.

    In what ways was Sand Creek an abberration? You know what? That’s a pretty good question!

    Was it unique in telling Indians they were safe from attack and then slaughtering them en masse? There have been other cases were large numbers of Indians were slaughtered under a flag of truce or on supposedly friendly occasions.

    Was the widespread mutilation unique? Nope. Future US president Harrison had his soldiers flay Indians and make bridle reins and leggings from their skin after Horseshoe Bend. Just one example.

    Was it an abberration because it was unique in raping Indian women on the battlefield before murdering them? That’s what you’re claiming and I have to tell you that your righteous wrath is built on ignorance. I don’t have the time to educate you, therefore sit down and google each of these battles/fights/massacres with the word rape added:

    Ash Hollow 1855

    Bear Paw massacre 1863

    Killdeer Mountain 1864 (look up descendant comments on if necessary)

    Washita 1868 (sex abuse of Cheyenne hostages over several months)

    That’s from the top of my head to get you started.

    • Sven Oliver Roth says:

      Erratum: Future President Andrew Jackson of later Indian removal fame, not Harrison. Harrison was the opponent of Tekumseh. Different story.

  28. Robert says:

    I am not totally sure where you’re going or trying to say. It feels like you’re saying the American/Europeans don’t find it acceptable to rape and pillage. World War II and Bosnia alone are just two quick examples of horrible things done to women. We know it’s not acceptable, but it always seems to happen during wars. Kind of like Indian women becoming pregnant while being held captive under American soldiers or the slaves giving birth to mulatto children. I can’t believe they were all willing partners, but I wasn’t there. The whole practice is so tragic and heart breaking. Again, I may have missed your point, but it’s been going on since the beginning of time as long as man has been involved in battles and conquering their opponent. I know for me, if I was sitting in my teepee and the army came crashing through my camp in the middle of the morning it would be a less then average day. Along with if I am taking care of my family and my homesteaded land in the middle of the plains and the Indians arrived to due harm. I am just glad I am alive at this time and a American.

  29. Ben says:


    Respectfully, your condescension is only matched by your willful refusal to be intellectually honesty.

    I never said whites did not rape Indians, only that such conduct was not considered acceptable by society as a whole. In many cases, the rapes and tortures conducted by the Indians occurred in their camps with the knowledge and/or participation of tribal leaders. The equivalent behavior on the part of whites would have been if Indian captives had been brought back to Washington, D.C. and raped and tortured under the watchful eye of Congress and the president.

    All of your comments are seemingly aimed at defending and/or minimizing the actions of Indians and magnifying those of whites (Bear Paw \massacre\? Only activists refer to it that way). I, on the other hand, would prefer that the issues be discussed, as much as possible, with a view toward the objective facts.

    \Your claim that Indians (no different between all those tribes? all the same here? Are you expert enough to know that?) would always, habitually rape all white women upon taking them captive is dangerously sweeping.\

    Well, yes, it would have been rather sweeping if I had actually said that. If you are going to fabricate quotes, at least make them somewhat less egregious. What I did allude to, however, is that this conduct occurred in many various places across the continent and was not tribe-specific. Thus, it was apparently a part of Indian culture, like many others, that they tended to share across tribal boundaries. (Funny thing about those who insist on making careful distinctions among tribes: This only seems to apply when criticisms are leveled. When talking about the good attributes of Indian peoples, generalizations are just fine.)

    It is simply a fact that, no matter how much some people want to whitewash it or deny it, the American Indians were cultural primitives. From the lack of advanced cultural and governing structures, the lack of rudimentary technology (animal husbandry and writing, just to name two), and bizarre cultural practices (e.g., human sacrifice among the Natchez and Aztecs), they were not as advanced as the Europeans. Thus, their accepted methods of war (accepted by their leadership and societies) were also primitive. Pretending otherwise is just willfully obtuse.

  30. Sven Oliver Roth says:

    Ben, you claim that an equivalent of Plains Indians raping white women in their camps would have been

    \if Indian captives had been brought back to Washington, D.C. and raped and tortured under the watchful eye of Congress and the president\.

    That implies that whatever rapes of white captives occurred, say, by Cheyenne Indians, would have been done under the watchful eyes of council chiefs or the council of 44 in session. And that’s where your analogy collapses. True, some white captives were taken to camp and were claimed by individual men. Whatever sex under duress happened, happened in the relative privacy of an individual lodge. Well, no difference among the whites here. Just one example: Custer had his favorite hostage Meotzi after Washita in his tent every night, likewise the other Cheyenne hostages were distributed among the officers for the duration of half a year.

    \Bear paw massacre\ – my bad, I meant to say Bear River Massacre. Hope that clarifies things. Shoshonis, body count about 400. Lots of battlefield raping despite arctic temperatures. Those women who resisted rape were murdered right away.

    The main difference between Indians raping white women and whites raping Indian women is one of a lopsided body of documents and propaganda. The captivity narrative is a literary genre in its own right, the first genuinely American one in fact. Indians, on the other hand, haven’t had gotten this media coverage for the most part

  31. I tried to visit the Summit Springs Battlefield a few months ago, but the road had a locked gate. Is it permissible to walk to it from there?

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