Fort Marion, Florida
|Cause of death||Shot and killed trying to escape|
Grey Beard (b: ?, d. 1875) was a Southern Cheyenne medicine man and chief. Among the Native American leaders and civilians rounded up at the end of the Red River War to be transported as a prisoner of war to Fort Marion in Florida, he is one of two who died during the incarceration.
He was a leader of the Hotamitanco ("Dog soldier") society of young warriors. He was involved in a skirmish with Edwin Vose Sumner's troops at the Kansas River in 1857, and gained recognition among whites in 1867 for battling soldiers under Winfield Scott Hancock and George Armstrong Custer in an attempt to prevent the building of the Kansas Pacific Railroad across tribal lands. He refused to sign the failed Medicine Lodge Treaty, and continued fighting until 1871, when his people settled on a reservation in Indian Territory. In what is known as the Red River War, he and other chiefs began raiding settlements again in 1874 out of frustration with poaching of buffaloes. After participating in the Second Battle of Adobe Walls, Grey Beard and his followers went into hiding in what is now the Oklahoma Panhandle.
In late 1874, Grey Beard's band, numbering approximately 500 warriors and family, received two daughters who had been abducted from a family of settlers by Chief Medicine Water, husband of Mochi, on their way to Colorado. The girls were freed after a military surprise attack on his camp on November 8, 1874, near present-day McClellan Creek National Grassland, after which his band scattered across the plains and was pursued for two days across 96 miles by 120 soldiers from the United States Cavalry before escaping. Facing starvation, he surrendered to the Darlington Agency within a few months.
Because he was one of the ringleaders of the insurrection, Grey Beard was chosen to be among the Native Americans to be taken to Fort Marion, the old Spanish fort near Saint Augustine, Florida. Convinced that he and fellow prisoners were going to be killed by the Americans, he asked his captor, Captain Richard Henry Pratt, to write a letter conveying to his people that they should settle peacefully and cooperate with the United States government. He unsuccessfully attempted suicide by hanging himself during the train convoy. Later, he was shot and killed trying to escape.
Grey Beard was survived by at least one son, Prairie Chief, and through him, descendants presently living.
- H. Allen Anderson. "Grey Beard". Handbook of Texas Online.
- "Rescue of the German Sisters from Grey Beard of the Cheyenne". Winners of the West. 1936-11-11.
- "Gray County Creeks, Lakes, and Rivers". Handbook of Texas Online.
- Deadly Days in Kansas By Wayne C. Lee p. 59-61
- New York Times, Feb. 27, 1875; Surrender of an Indian Tribe:..
- H. Allen Anderson. "Pratt, Richard Henry". Handbook of Texas Online.
- Garland R. Lively (2009). "General Phillip Sheridan's Southern Plains Campaign of 1874 - 1875".
- R. H. Pratt (1875). "Words from "Grey Beard" "Minimic" & co. to their people the Cheyennes (letter)".
- Hilton Crowe (December 1940). "Indian Prisoner-Students at Fort Marion: The Founding of Carlisle Was Dreamed in St. Augustine". the Regional Review (United States National Park Service).
- "Prairie Chief". John Sipes Cheyenne Family Files. 2004.