Kidder massacre

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The Kidder Massacre of 29 June 1867 refers to the killing of United States Second Lieutenant Lyman Kidder, along with an Indian scout and ten enlisted men in Sherman County, Kansas, near Goodland, by a Sioux and Cheyenne war party. It was during the period of the Indian Wars on the western plains and was an incident in the campaign known as Hancock's War.


Born in Vermont, Lt. Lyman Kidder was a son of politician and judge Jefferson P. Kidder. His family moved to the Dakota Territory, and he served in the American Civil War. In January 1867, he was appointed as a second lieutenant in the regular army. He was an uncle of Jeff Kidder, an Old West lawman.

In June 1867 Kidder and his men were ordered to take dispatches from General William Sherman to Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer, camped on the Republican River in Nebraska. Lt. Kidder's party reached the encampment, but prior to their arrival, Custer had become restless and moved his force to the south, then to the northwest. When Lt. Kidder discovered Custer's force had departed, he seemed to have thought Custer moved south to Fort Wallace. En route to Fort Wallace, Kidder and his troops were killed by a Sioux and Cheyenne war party.

When Custer sent troopers to search for Lt. Kidder's party, they found a dead army horse on the trail, then signs of a running battle for a few miles along Beaver Creek. On 12 July, Custer's scout Will Comstock found the mutilated bodies of the Kidder party north of Beaver Creek in northern Sherman County, Kansas. The Army concluded the men were killed by a war party of Cheyenne and Sioux warriors led by Pawnee Killer.

Kidder's body, identified by his shirt, was taken by his father, a judge in the Dakota territory, for burial in the family plot in St. Paul, Minnesota.[1][2] The bodies of the other soldiers were taken to Fort Wallace and buried. When Fort Wallace was closed in the 1880s, the soldiers' remains were moved to Fort Leavenworth, where they were reinterred.

Numerous artists depicted Custer's arriving at the scene of the fight. In his book, My Life on the Plains, Custer described it in these words: "Each body was pierced by from 20 to 50 arrows, and the arrows were found as the savage demons had left them, bristling in the bodies."

In 1967 "The Friends of the Library of Goodland Kansas" erected an historic marker in honor of the soldiers and scout, on land owned by Kuhrt Farms.[2]


  1. ^ "Kidder Massacre: list of the fallen", Goodland, Kansas Website, accessed 23 October 2009
  2. ^ a b "Kidder Massacre", photo of historic marker, Garry Owen Website, accessed 23 October 2009

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