Robert Edmund Strahorn

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Robert Edmund Strahorn (May 15, 1852 – March 31, 1944) is notable in American history as a war correspondent with the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and the Rocky Mountain News during the Great Sioux War of 1876, a scout and publicist for the Union Pacific Railroad, and a visionary builder of the Pacific Northwest. Strahorn was a journalist and adventurer who shaped images of the American West. No man knew the West as he knew it, and few persons had a more active or important if less prominent part in the building of the West.[1]

Robert E. Strahorn, c.1880. "No man knew the West as he knew it."

Early life[edit]

Robert Edmund Strahorn was born near Bellefonte, Centre County, Pennsylvania, on May 15, 1852. Strahorn spent the first four years of his life in Pennsylvania, and was then taken by his parents to a farm in northern Illinois. Strahorn's educational privileges were limited and he attended school until ten years of age. In his youth he sold papers on the streets, then began learning the printer's trade in Sedalia, Missouri, following that occupation for five years. At the age of 18, Strahorn was advised by a physician to move to the Rocky Mountains for his health, and in 1870 moved to Denver, Colorado.[2] He tried is luck at being a cowboy, but abandoned the attempt when a bronco bucked him off leaving him with a lifelong injury, presumably a hernia. In 1871, Strahorn joined the Rocky Mountain News staff and worked as reporter, editor and correspondent until 1877.[3]

War correspondent[edit]

At the age of 24, Strahorn sought adventure and fame in the Great Sioux War of 1876 as a war correspondent for the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and the Rocky Mountain News.[4] Strahorn was embedded with General George Crook's Big Horn and Yellowstone Expedition for over a year and reported the people and events of the Great Sioux War to the public. "I insisted that I was going in to fight. It was my business as a correspondent to get the news, and I couldn't think of getting it from the rear."[5] At the time, war correspondents rode into battle with the troops. General Cook said, "Strahorn worked as well with his rifle as with his pen."[6] Strahorn was commended by Secretary of War for distinguished bravery and gallantry in action against hostile Indians during the Great Sioux War.[7] Strahorn fought and reported the Horsemeat March, Battle of Powder River, Battle of the Rosebud, Battle of Slim Buttes, Dull Knife Fight and Battle of Wolf Mountain. Strahorn also reported the Battle of the Little Big Horn and witnessed the surrender of Crazy Horse at Fort Robinson on May 6, 1877.[8] Strahorn summarized the rigors of the Great Sioux War.

"In a dozen engagements in which I participated there were only a couple of weeks of real fighting, while the pursuit of the Indians to gain that result involved over a year of continuous and most arduous hunting for them, the various marches totaling about 4000 miles. Much of this was accomplished in blizzards, in far below-zero temperatures, without tents or adequate bedding, alternating with blistering and famishing lack of water. Most of it was fatiguing and monotonous in the extreme, and a lot of it on half and quarter rations, some of it only horse meat, supplied by our worn-out and dying horses."[9]

The Great Sioux War[edit]

On February 8, 1876, The Great Sioux War began when President Ulysses S. Grant ordered the U.S. Army to secure the Black Hills and force the submission of "hostile" Lakota.

On February 8, 1876, The Great Sioux War began when President Ulysses S. Grant ordered the U.S. Army to secure the Black Hills and force the submission of "hostile" Lakota.[10] Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan, commanding the Department of Missouri, thereupon ordered Generals Alfred Terry and George Crook to commence punitive warfare, force the submission of "hostile" Lakota and Cheyenne and take control of the Back Hills in the Great Sioux Reservation.[11] The Big Horn and Yellowstone Expedition was the largest field command to face Indian warriors in combat during the late nineteenth century.[12]

General Sheridan, assuming non-compliance with the ultimatum, planned his military action carefully. A multi-pronged approach was envisioned. General Crook would move north from Fort Fetterman in Wyoming. General Alfred Terry would split his forces with Colonel John Gibbon moving east from Fort Ellis in Montana, and Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer descending from Fort Abraham Lincoln and turning westward. The three prongs would encircle the Lakotas and their Cheyenne allies and destroy them, eliminating the primary opposition on the Plains, including the two men considered the greatest threats to U.S. expansion: Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. In reality, the harsh weather that would have prevented the Indian band from complying with the ultimatum also prevented Sheridan from implementing his plans during the heart of winter, when he hoped to find the bands in their winter camps and more vulnerable to attack. Crook was concerned that as spring progressed and the weather improved, hundreds more Indians might leave the reservations to join the war bands, and he wanted to locate and destroy the camps and villages as soon as possible. The camps of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse were thought to be located in the region of the headwaters of the Powder, Tongue, and Rosebud rivers.[13] Strahorn described the rigors of the Great Sioux War: "In a dozen engagements in which I participated there were only a couple of weeks of real fighting, while the pursuit of the Indians to gain that result involved over a year of continuous and most arduous hunting for them, the various marches totaling about 4000 miles. Much of this was accomplished in blizzards, in far below-zero temperatures, without tents or adequate bedding, alternating with blistering and famishing lack of water. Most of it was fatiguing and monotonous in the extreme, and a lot of it on half and quarter rations, some of it only horse meat, supplied by our worn-out and dying horses."[14]

Ft. Laramie 1876[edit]

Strahorn's first introduction to military life was Ft. Laramie at the onset of the Great Sioux War in early 1876. "Fort Laramie's officers were a jolly crew and its family and community life most appealing. On our first night there the small garrison of two hundred souls trotted out a theatrical entertainment, purely military, that would have done credit to any city. The leading man and lady gave an especially fine performance, and the support was excellent. Entertainment by the officer's families to whom we were always apportioned at the pots, was so charming, that being my first experience of the kind, I was at a loss to respond adequately."[15]

"The night before our departure I had begged to be allowed to do my writing, at which I continued until an early morning hour. While still deeply absorbed in this work, a file of hilarious officers celebrating the morrow's parting entered singing, and proceeded to march around my table with jolly antics and interference with my work, such as scattering my manuscript to the four corners of the room. This march continued until, to satisfy them, I joined the procession and they wound up their marching with "He's a Jolly Good Fellow." Then something awful occurred! During the very cordial "good night" exchange I was introduced to an officer I had not previously met. I had never been among army men and was unaccustomed to the use of their likes. I committed the very grave offense of addressing him as "Mr." He fairly shrieked at me. "Major Johnson, sir! Major Johnson, G-d d__m you!" I replied, "You may have somehow become a major, but you still have some marching to do to become a gentleman!" He jumped for the assault, but was pinioned by the other officers, who finally cooled him down, and all left as gracefully as possible under the strained conditions, but not without freely criticizing him and assuring me that I was entirely justified in my rejoinder. Right here I want to say that I never, except in this case and one other when it was necessary for me to appear at a court-martial against an officer whom I had truthfully accused of cowardice, have I had any other than the most cordial, and often affectionate, treatment by rank and file of the military."[16]

Crook's Horsemeat March[edit]

Crook's "Horsemeat March" marked the beginning of one of the most grueling marches in American military history. Crook's command consisted of about 2200 men: 1500 cavalry, 450 infantry, 240 Indian scouts, and a contingent of civilian employees, including 44 white scouts and packers. Crook's civilian scouts included Frank Grouard, Baptiste “Big Bat” Pourier, Baptiste “Little Bat” Garnier, Captain Jack Crawford and Charles "Buffalo Chips" White.[17] "Although Captain Jack's "yarns and rhymes" would help to relieve the monotony of camp life, Buffalo Bill grew bored by the inactivity and left the expedition to continue his theatrical career in the East. According to one newspaper account, it was on Cody's recommendation that Col. Wesley Merritt subsequently appointed Crawford to succeed Cody as chief of scouts of the 5th Cavalry Regiment."[18] News of the defeat of George Armstrong Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn on June 25 and 26, 1876, arrived in the East as the U.S. was observing its centennial.[19] The American public was in dismay and calls to punish the Sioux and awaited the government's response. War correspondents with national newspapers fought alongside General Crook and reported the campaign by telegraph. Correspondents embedded with Crook were Robert E. Strahorn for the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and the Rocky Mountain News; John F. Finerty for the Chicago Times; Reuben Briggs Davenport for New York Herald and Joe Wasson for the New York Tribune and Alta California (San Francisco).[20]

Soldiers cutting up abandoned horse on Crook's "Horsemeat March"

On August 26, 1876, with his men rationed for fifteen days, a determined General Crook departed from the Powder River and headed east toward the Little Missouri pursuing the Indians. Crook feared that Indians would scatter to seek game rather than meet the soldiers in combat after the fight with Custer. All other commanders had withdrawn from pursuit, but Crook resolved to teach the Indians a lesson. He meant to show that neither distance, bad weather, the loss of horses not the absence of rations could deter the U.S. Army from following up its wild enemies to the bitter end.[21]

Strahorn reported that "all the infantrymen who could ride and who so wished were mounted on mules from the pack train. No circus ever furnished a better show in its mule-riding department than we enjoyed when those two hundred infantrymen essayed their first mount. Many of them had never been astride a horse and many of the mules had never been ridden. Tom Moore, Chief of Pack Trains, and his battalion of assistance, had the time of their lives trying to mount and hold the men in their saddles for the first hours of the performance. Not a few of the soldiers, after being pitched into the sagebrush and cactus a few times, contended they would sooner walk. However, galled but gallant, nearly two hundred stuck to the mules."[22]

An accident befell Strahorn during the advance. During a rainstorm Strahorn became entangled in his gear and his horse bucked dragging him face first through prickly pear and cactus. With the help of surgeons, it took weeks to painfully extract the barbs. He remarked, "I was in good mood for an Indian fight or any other distracting adventure."[23]

"The days soon arrived when, on forced marches after the enemy, all discharges of firearms except at the enemy were strictly prohibited under severe penalty. Being out on the right flank one day, just out of sight of the troops, I came upon a beautiful covey of grouse. They were so tame I could almost knock them over with rocks, but while the contact thus established made me increasingly anxious for grouse for dinner that night, I could not hit them. So finally, in spite of those orders and with growing appetite, I shot two of them and quickly secreted the evidence of my disobedience by rolling them up in the rain coat I carried on my saddle. The right wing of the command was wildly excited by the shots. The skirmishers thrown out on that side soon discovered my lonely presence and hustled me to Colonel Chambers with the news that no Indians were visible. He very sternly asked. 'Mr. Strahorn, did you do that firing?" Upon my answering, "Yes sir," he still more gruffly asked, "At Indians, or what?" "Not at Indians, Colonel, but at grouse," I answered. "I was so hungry for grouse that I just couldn't help it, so I'm ready to pay the penalty. What is it?' Be it remembered that I was in the Colonel's mess, and he replied quietly on the side, 'Well, it will make a damn sight of difference whether you got a grouse.'"[24]

Crook soon began running short of food and supplies and ordered his men to go on half rations. Many of the men were forced to subsist on horsemeat and was thereafter known as "General Crook's Horsemeat March."[25] Without grain and adequate forage, horses and mules had weakened and many collapsed in the steady rain and mud. Crook had already given orders to shoot abandoned animals for food, and for several days his saddened, ragtag army would exist on a diet of mule and horsemeat. "The horses commenced to play out. As fast as the poor brutes fell the quartermaster had them killed and issued as rations, so the soldiers had nothing but played-out horses to eat from there on into the Hills. It looked funny to see a soldier ride his horse until it dropped exhausted, and then get off and shoot it and cut up its carcass up and issue meat to the soldiers of different companies. Gen. Crook would not take any advantage of his command. If they starved, he starved with them."[26] But the soldiers were nearing total exhaustion; wet, hungry, disheartened by constant hardships. One officer wrote that he saw: "men who were very plucky sit down and cry like children because the could not hold out." Years later, Colonel Andrew S. Burt would reminisce with Crawford about the hardships they had shared on this grueling march: hunger, marching in the rain, sleeping on wet, muddy ground, eating horse meat. He vividly recalled Jack squatting on the ground before a campfire, "gnawing at a horse's rib flesh from the coals and glad to get the rib."[27]

Frank Grouard, chief of scouts[edit]

Grouard's early days[edit]

Frank Grouard, chief of scouts, 1876

Frank Grouard was General Crook's chief scout and interpreter during the Great Sioux War. Strahorn became friends with Grouard and journaled his story. Grouard was born in the Society Islands in the south Pacific Ocean, the second of three sons born to Benjamin Franklin Grouard, an American Mormon missionary of French Huguenot heritage, and a Polynesian woman. Grouard moved to Utah with his parents and two brothers in 1852, later moving to San Bernardino, California. After a year in California, Grouard's mother returned to the South Pacific with two of the children, leaving Frank with his father. In 1855, Frank was adopted into the family of Addison and Louisa Pratt, fellow Mormon missionaries of his father. Grouard moved with the Pratt family to Beaver, Utah, from where he ran away at age 15, moving to Helena, Montana, and becoming an express rider and stage driver between frontier posts. In about 1869, while working as a mail carrier, Grouard was captured in a Crazy Horse foray, and taken to a distant camp in northern Wyoming, where he was closely guarded for several years to prevent escape. On account of his dark skin and black hair he was believed by his captors to be an Indian. Meanwhile, being fond of adventure, he gradually fell into their ways. He was not only adopted into their tribe, but was for years a member of the household of Chief Crazy Horse. He was also well acquainted with Sitting Bull and most other noted Indians of the north. Moreover, his many hunting forays with them gave him a familiarity with the whole Sioux country that fitted him perfectly for the demands of the military, if he could be wholeheartedly enlisted.[28]

Recruitment by General Crook[edit]

Frank Grouard, c.1885

One day, Strahorn was in the private office of the post trader at Camp Robinson in the Red Cloud Agency, and a clerk suddenly thrust open the door and excitedly exclaimed: "A strange thing just happened. A man dressed and looking like an Indian was just outside the counter with a band of Indians who are in from Powder River. He was looking at a newspaper lying on the counter. Thinking it strange for an Indian to be reading, I started joshing him in Sioux. "Why are you looking at the paper, you can't read, especially when it's upside down?" He answered in good English, "It isn't upside down, and I can read just as well as you!" "With that he dropped the paper, and acting as though he had not meant to give himself away, quickly rushed out." Strahorn questioned some of the other Indians, and they said that was Frank Grouard, who had just sneaked in from the Crazy Horse camp for ammunition and supplies"[29] General Crook took a lively interest in the matter, and said: "By all means have the man followed quickly and if found brought in." It was no easy job to locate Frank Grouard among 5000 Indians as we found out later, if he didn't want to be discovered. But it was done. He was brought in and proved to be the hero in the opening chapter of a real war romance. He was about twenty-five year old, six foot tall, finely built, with black hair, keen black eyes, and complexion much like an Indian. In fact, when he appeared in a blanket and other ordinary Indian trappings he readily passed for one. He was at first much averse to talking, and when General Crook had to some extent put him at his ease, he was still more averse to deserting his companions to join us. "You know what would happen if I turned against the Indians and Crazy Horse ever got sight of me." "Well," asked General Crook, "with the army behind you, don't you think you would be safer than fighting us under Crazy Horse, who will be subdued and brought in, whatever the costs?" "Maybe, if the army would stay put, but what about it after the fight is over? That is my country. I know nothing else to do but live with the Indians. Crazy Horse would never forget." "You have my word that we will find someway to take care of you if you give us the service you seem able to give." After much parleying, Grouard said: "I'll think it over and let you know." "You promise not to leave the agency meanwhile?" asked the General. "Yes sir, I will see you first."[30]

Grouard's love interest[edit]

Frank Grouard, 1891

Strahorn learned of Grouard's love for a white girl who had been taken to his camp and adopted. Long previous to the capture of Grouard, Indians had waylaid a wagon train bound from Cheyenne to Montana over the old Bozeman Road, killing all but one little white girl, who was taken to their camp and adopted. She had been taken so young and had been with them so long that by the time of Grouard's capture she knew little of any other life. She and Grouard ultimately fell in love and they were due to be wed upon his present return from the agency where, in addition to ammunition, he was to gather up some simple articles desired for their settling down in a tepee their own. Here was a real dilemma, the most appealing solution was immediately return to the bride, which, however, meant war with Uncle Sam. On the other hand, engagement with General Crook meant war with his friend in the wilds and certain burning at the stake if ever captured by Crazy Horse. Grouard had much to "think over" beside the deadly enmity of Crazy Horse. He finally determined to cast his lot with Crook on the condition that the military would support him to the limit in capturing the girl. Then, if his services were found satisfactory, they were to provide some employment for a reasonable period after the war, pending his search for other means of obtaining a livelihood.[31]

Grouard's qualities[edit]

Strahorn admired Grouard. "The acquisition of Grouard as scout and guide proved even more fortunate than it promised. Besides knowing the vast rough and generally traceless country so well that was to be the scene of a most difficult two years' war that he could unfailingly find an objective even at night, he had every other desired quality. Brave as a lion, but never rash, with a physique so powerful as to endure almost unheard-of strain and hardship; a dead shot with rifle or revolver, and so loyal and unerring in his advice that General Crook learned to trust him utterly. Knowing every trait of the Indian as well as he knew himself, he proved invaluable. We later on had many scouts such as Buffalo Bill and others of newspaper notoriety, but never another like Frank Grouard. With it all, he was modest and reserved almost to a fault. We all learned to like and admire him, and at the close of the war, General Crook's promise was made good. He was employed by the government in various capacities on the frontier in connection with Indian supervision, until his death many years later."[32] Captain Bourke said: "Grouard was one of the most remarkable woodsmen I ever met. No Indian could surpass him in his acquaintance with all that pertain to the topography and animal life. No question could be asked him that he could not answer at once and correctly. His bravery and fidelity were never questioned; he never flinched under fire, and never growled at privation."[33]

Captain Mills's assault at Slim Buttes[edit]

Chief American Horse's village[edit]

On September 7, 1876, General Crook ordered Captain Anson Mills to take 150 troopers, riding upon the command's best horses, to the northernmost mining camps in the Black Hills to obtain food and supplies for his starving troops and hurry back. Accompanying Mills's command were civilian scouts Grouard and Crawford, and newspaper correspondents Strahorn and Davenport.[34] Lieutenant John W. Bubb, the expedition commissary, had charge of sixteen packers and sixty-one pack mules.[35] Mills's command left camp that same evening in "a thick mist," guided by Grouard, Crook's chief scout. About 1:00 a.m. the command stopped to rest, then moved on at daylight. On the afternoon of September 8, 1876, Grouard and Crawford and were ranging a mile or more in advance of Mills, and Grouard spied Indian hunters and ponies piled high with game.[36] Further investigation revealed the presence Oglala Lakota Chief American Horse's village of Oglalas, Minneconjous, Brules and Cheyennes, numbering thirty-seven lodges and about 260 people, of whom 40 to 100 were warriors.[37] The village lay compactly in a broad depression of ravines encircled by the spires of Slim Buttes, limestone and clay summits capped with pine trees near present day Reva, South Dakota. Grouard and Crawford also found about 400 ponies grazing near the village. Tipis were clustered about the various ravines and streams that crisscrossed the natural amphitheater and smoke from the tipi fires hanging low beneath the misty clouds obscured the lodges. The village slept soundly in the cold rain.[38]

Lt. Schwatka's charge at Slim Buttes

Battle plan[edit]

Col. Anson Mills

After learning of the village, Captain Mills sent Grouard on reconnaissance mission. Disguised as an Indian, Grouard, went through the village looking for the best point to attack.[39] After consulting his officers and scouts, Mills decided to conduct an assault. Captain Mill's battle plan was the classic "dawn attack" in U.S. Army and Indian warfare. The goal was to surround the enemy, stampede and capture their stock, and kill many of the warriors as possible.[40] On the evening of September 8, 1876, Captain Mills split his men into 4 groups to attack the village. Twenty-five were to remain hidden in a ravine a mile or so back, holding the horses and pack train.[41] Lieutenant Frederick Schwatka would lead twenty-five mounted soldiers in a cavalry charge through the clustered lodges and stampede the Indians and their pony herd, all hands yelling and firing with revolvers to add to the confusion. One hundred dismounted cavalrymen split in two groups would surround the village as nearly as possible, shoot the stampeded warriors as they emerged from their tipis and capture the ponies.[42] Lieutenant Emmet Crawford was ordered to post his fifty-seven troopers in skirmish order north and east of the camp, and Lieutenant Adolphus Von Luettwitz moved his fifty-three troopers east and south of the village. Both groups would open fire on the lodges and close in on foot once Schwatka's cavalry had routed the ponies and cleared the village area.

"On the night before the assault, Strahorn did not even attempt to sleep. Thorough the night he and others alternatively sat and stood, holding their horses in the cold rain and mist. "Never before or since," he wrote in later years, "were hours so laggard or anxiety so great for the coming of dawn when we could do something that would heat the blood and cheer the soul to the forgetfulness of that everlasting soaking patter, patter of freezing rain."[43]

However, before the full plan could be carried out, troopers startled the Indian pony herd and they stampeded through the village neighing the alarm to Indians, who cut their way out of tipis for an escape to the hills.[44] Since all chance for a total surprise was lost, Mills ordered the immediate charge with Schwatka and his twenty-five men.[45] Schwatka, joined by Grouard, Captain Jack and Strahorn thereupon charged and followed the ponies into the village firing pistols into the lodges.[46] "Immediately, the dismounted detachments closed on the south side and commenced firing on the Indians."[47] "The fleeing warriors managed to unleash one or two volleys at the soldiers, and Lieutenent Van Luettwitz's fell almost immediately, a bullet shattering his right kneecap as he stood on the knoll next to Mills. Instantly Captain Jack rushed over, tearing off the neckerchief he wore and fashioning a tourniquet about Van Luettwitz's wounded leg to check the flow of blood."[48]

Taken by surprise the Indians fled. Strahorn recalled, "As usual, I could not be denied the thrill of the charge of the by the gallant twenty-five, and I'm sure that everything worked out as planned, except that many of the Indians escaped into a thicket in the bottom of a narrow gulch running along within a few yards of the nearest tepee, while a few others got away into the hills.[49] The Indians, finding themselves laced in their lodges, the leather drawn tight as a drum in the heavy rain, quickly cut themselves out with their knives and returned fire.[50] Many were seen to fall, and even in the approaching daylight it was often tell whether the burdens carried were children or the slain and wounded.[51] The squaws carried the dead, wounded and children up the opposite bluffs, leaving everything but their limited nightclothes in our possession.[52] Most of the Indians fled splashing through the swollen creek and scrabbling into the heavy underbrush south of the stream bed and up the adjacent bluffs, taking advantage of Mill's failure to secure an effective cordon southwest of the tipis.

Entering the village[edit]

7th Cavalry Regiment guidon found at Slim Buttes fastened to the lodge of Chief American Horse.

After the Indians withdrew, Strahorn, Captain Jack and about fourteen volunteers, mostly packers, entered the deserted village to survey its contents. A mule pack was taken along to secure dried meat found hanging from poles. Immediately, the mule was killed by a shot and the men fired upon from Indians concealed in the bluffs. Drawing cross fire, the men quickly jumped into the bed of a dry ravine.[53] Meanwhile, Captain Mills waited for a time, slowly entered the camp, and troopers were sent in groups through the village to check tipis and collect stores.[54]

"The picture we quickly presented in our movements around the battle field with the skirmishing still in progress, rifles in one hand and ravenously chewing at a great hunk of dried meat in the other, provoked much fun, and, with blessed momentary sunshine, a general forgetfulness of past troubles."

Chief American Horse's camp was a rich prize. "The lodges were full of furs and meat, and it seemed to be a very rich village. Crook seized and destroyed food, seized three or four hundred ponies, arms and ammunition, furs and blankets."[55] In a dispatch written for the Omaha Daily Bee, Crawford described the cornucopia he encountered: "Tepees full of dried meats, skins, bead work, and all that an Indian's head could wish for."[56] The troopers also captured about 300 fine ponies to partly replace their dead horses.[57]

Of significance, troopers recovered items from the Battle of Little Bighorn, including a 7th Cavalry Regiment guidon from Company I, fastened to the lodge of Chief American Horse and the bloody gauntlets of slain Captain Myles Keogh.[58] "One of the largest of the lodges, called by Grouard the "Brave Night Hearts," supposedly occupied by the guard, contained thirty saddles and equipment. One man found eleven thousand dollars in one of the tipis. Others found three 7th Cavalry horses; letters written to and by 7th Cavalry personnel; officers' clothing; a large amount of cash; jewelry; government-issued guns and ammunition.[59]

Messengers to Crook[edit]

Promptly upon taking the village, Captain Mills sent two bareback riders to tell General Crook that he had a village and was trying to hold and needed assistance.[60] When Crook received word from Mills's three messengers he could scarcely contain his anger at Mills.[61] Crook was primarily interested in feeding his men and ordered Mills to avoid a fight should he encounter a large village, and instead, "cut around it" and go into the Black Hills to get supplies.[62] Crook also told Mills that he expected to bivouac his exhasted men and therefore Mills could not expect any immediate support. Crook's Officers debated the propriety of Mills's attack on a hostile village of uncertain size, a controversy intensified by Custer's defeat under like circumstances. The question was especially provocative since Mills had opened the engagement with a small supply of ammunition.[63] Strahorn reported, "Crook was very much disappointed because Mills didn't report his discovery last night, and there was plenty of time to have got the entire command there and so effectively surrounded the village that nothing would have escaped. But the General is also pleased, all things considered."[64] Staff officers in telling the receipt of this news said Crook pushed the cavalry on with all possible haste, the infantry to follow more leisurely. But the tidings reaching Crook so electrified the immortal infantry that they forgot all about hunger, cold, wet and fatigue.[65] Fortunately for Mills, Crook's column was not far behind.[66] Crook assembled a relief contingent of about 250 men and 17 officers, plus surgeons Bennett A. Clements and Valentine T. Mcgillycuddy.[67] John Frederick Finerty, war correspondent for the Chicago Times, joined the advance column. Despite the hardships of the Horsemeat March, the troopers were excited by the prospects of a battle.

Chief American Horse's defiance[edit]

At the onset of the stampede and cavalry charge, Chief American Horse with his family of three warriors and about twenty-five women and children retreated into one of the ravines that crisscrossed the village amongst the tipis. The winding dry gully was nearly 20 feet deep and ran some 200 yards back into a hillside. Trees and brush obstructed the view of the interior. "We found that some of the Indians had got into a cave at one side of the village. One of the men started to go past that spot on the hill, and as he passed the place he and his horse were both shot. This cave or dugout was down in the bed of a dry creek. The Indian children had been playing there, and dug quite a hole in the bank, so that it made more of a cave than anything else, large enough to hold a number of people."[68] Troopers were alerted about the ravine when Private John Winzel, Company A, Third Cavalry, became the first army fatality at Slim Buttes when he ill-advisedly approached the ravine from the front and a Sioux bullet slammed into his forehead. Wenzel's horse was also shot and killed. An attempt was made to dislodge the Indians and several troopers were wounded.[69] "Grouard and Big Bat Pourier crept close enough to the banks of the ravine to parley with the concealed Indians in endeavors to get them to surrender. But the savages were so confident of succor from Crazy Horse and his much larger force, who were encamped only a dozen miles to thee west, and to whom they had sent runners early in the morning, that they were defiant to the last." These Indians felt no urgent need to surrender, for they defiantly yelled over to the soldiers more Sioux camps were at hand and their warriors would soon come to free them. Chief American Horse, anticipating relief from other villages, constructed a dirt breastworks in front of the cave and geared for a stout defense.[70]

Indians regroup[edit]

Mills and Grouard soon realized a mistake had been made; Indians were firing back and the command was surrounded. After the firefight with Chief American Horse at the ravine, Mills sent yet another messenger, the third, to Crook. Mills decided against further efforts to expel the Indians and his men dug entrenchments facing the ravine.[71] As soon as the warriors had their squaws and children in security, they returned to the contest and soon encompassed Mills's with a skirmish-line, whose command was engaged with the wounded and the held ponies. The Indians made several abortive rushes to recapture their ponies, and Strahorn reported that a number of the most gallant dashes were made at them by Lieut. Crawford at the head of ten or twelve cavalry. Observing warriors riding back and forth through the gaps in the buttes, Mills grew worried that there was another village nearby and that Crook may not arrive in time. Captain Mills gave the order to retreat, but Captain Jack told him that a retreat was impossible. Not anticipating an Indian fight, Mills had allowed his men only fifty rounds of ammunition each, and he would wait for General Crook's personal attention to Chief American Horse.[72]

General Crook arrives[edit]

General Crook's relief column endured a forced march of twenty-miles in about four hours and a half hours to reach the village and arrived at Slim Buttes at 11:30 a.m. on September 9. The whole cheering command entered the valley, and the village teemed with activity like an anthill which had just been stirred up.[73] Crook immediately established his headquarters and set up a field hospital in one of the Indian lodges.[74] Crook inventoried the camp and the booty. The camp held thirty-seven lodges. A three- or four-year-old girl was discovered, but no bodies were found. Over 5000 pounds of dried meat was found and was a "God-send" for the starved troopers.[75] Troopers separated the stores to be saved from the greater number to be destroyed, and the remaining tipis were pulled down.

The ravine at Slim Buttes[edit]

Crook soon turned his efforts two dislodging Chief American Horse and his family in the ravine. The defenders had already killed Private John Wenzel, wounded others and threatened all that approached. The deaths and injuries of their comrades inflamed the soldiers who were already distraught from their ordeal. Trees and brush obstructed the view of the interior of the winding dry gully and the narrowness kept the soldiers from firing accurately. Some of the scouts and packers joined in an informal attempt to roust the Indians but met with unexpected firepower and fell back in surprise.[76] "Crook then deployed troops below the mouth of the ravine, crawling on their bellies, firing at random into the hidden ravine without evident harm to the warriors. Before along a multitude of soldiers had gathered near the cavelike mouth of the ditch, somewhat protected from gunfire by sharp embankment. Officers and men joined sending a fusillade into its black depths, and suddenly they received a veritable volley in response that sent them reeling and stumbling away."[77] Then, on Crook's orders, First Lieutenant William Philo Clark led a group of twenty volunteers forth, but the Indians sent forth such overwhelming volleys that the troops scampered for safety.[78] Some of the men crept forward with flaming sticks which they tossed into the ditch without apparent effect. By now hundreds of idlers had gathered in the vicinity of the ravine and they complicated the efforts. "It was a wonder to me," recalled Major John G. Bourke, "that the shots of the beleaguered did not kill them by the half-dozen."[79]

Charles "Buffalo Chips" White[edit]

Crook's scouts positioned themselves on the opposite side of the ravine just above the cave. The bank of the ravine was probably eight to ten feet high, and the scouts could converse with the Indians below without the danger of getting shot.[80] After Lieutenant Clark's unsuccessful assault, Scout Charles "Buffalo Chips" White attempted to get a shot in the cave and was immediately killed by the defenders. Frank Grouard witnessed the incident:

"Buffalo Chips was standing opposite me. He was one of those long-haired scouts, and claimed to be a partner of Buffalo Bill's. He thought it was a good place to make name for himself, I suppose, for he told Big Bat that he was going to have one of the Indians' scalps. He had no more than got the words out of his mouth before he yelled, "My God, I am shot." I heard this cry and looked around, Buffalo Chips was falling over into the hole where the Indians were hiding. Bat was looking into the cave where the Indians were, and about five seconds afterwards jumped out with an Indian's scalp in his hand, telling me that he had scalped one of the redskins alive, which I found out to be true. He had seen the Indian that killed Buffalo Chips, and he jumped down onto him as the Indian was reaching to get White's six-shooter. Bat had jumped right down on top of him and scalped him and got out of the cave before anybody knew what he was doing."[81] "Buffalo Chips" White was a boyhood friend of Col. Cody and also a scout. He wanted to be like Buffalo Bill and acquired the sobriquet "Buffalo Chips" when Gen. Phillip Sheridan said he was more like Buffalo Chips than Buffalo Bill. Major Bourke described him as a "good-natured liar who played Sancho Panza to Buffalo Bill's Don Quixote."[82] Gen. Charles King said he was a good man.[83]

Women and children[edit]

"Crook, exasperated by the protracted defense of the hidden Sioux, and annoyed at the casualties inflicted among his men, formed a perfect cordon of infantry and dismounted cavalry around the Indian den. The soldiers opened upon it an incessant fire, which made the surrounding hills echo back a terrible music."[84] "The circumvalleted Indians distributed their shots liberally among the crowding soldiers, but the shower of close-range bullets from the later terrified the unhappy squaws, and they began singing the awful Indian death chant. The papooses wailed so loudly, and so piteously, that even not firing could not quell their voices. General Crook ordered the men to suspend operations immediately, but dozens of angry soldiers surged forward and had to be beat back by officers.[85] "Neither General Crook nor any of his officers or men suspected that any women and children were in the gully until their cries were heard above the volume of fire poured upon the fatal spot."[86] Crook Grouard and Pourier, who spoke Lakota, were ordered by General Crook to offer the women and children quarter. This was accepted by the besieged, and Crook in person went into the mouth of the ravine and handed out one tall, fine looking woman, who had an infant strapped to her back. She trembled all over and refused to liberate the General's hand. Eleven other squaws and six papooses were taken out and crowded around Crook, but the few surviving warriors refused to surrender and savagely re-commenced the fight."[87]

"Rain of hell"[edit]

Chief American Horse refused to leave, and with three warriors, five women and an infant, remained in the cave. Exasperated by the increasing casualties in his ranks, Crook directed some of his infantry and dismounted cavalry to form across the opening of the gorge. On command, the troopers opened steady and withering fire on the ravine which sent an estimated 3000 bullets among the warriors.[88] Finerty reported, "Then our troops reopened with a very 'rain of hell' upon the infatuated braves, who, nevertheless, fought it out with Spartan courage, against such desperate odds, for nearly two hours. Such matchless bravery electrified even our enraged soldiers into a spirit of chivalry, and General Crook, recognizing the fact that the unfortunate savages had fought like fiends, in defense of wives and children, ordered another suspension of hostilities and called upon the dusky heroes to surrender."[89] Strahorn recalled the horror. "The yelling of Indians, discharge of guns, cursing of soldiers, crying of children, barking of dogs, the dead crowded in the bottom of the gory, slimy ditch, and the shrieks of the wounded, presented the most agonizing scene that clings in my memory of Sioux warfare."[90]

Surrender of Chief American Horse[edit]

Surrender of Chief American Horse to General Crook at Slim Buttes.
Dr. McGillycuddy at Slim Buttes. He worked futilely to save the life of Chief American Horse

When matters quieted down, Grouard and Pourier asked American Horse again if they would come out of the hole before any more were shot, telling them they would be safe if they surrendered. "After a few minutes deliberation, the chief, American Horse, a fine looking, broad-chested Sioux, with a handsome face and a neck like a bull, showed himself at the mouth of the cave, presenting the butt end of his rifle toward the General. He had just been shot in the abdomen, and said in his native language, that he would yield if the lives of the warriors who fought with him were spared.[91] Pourier recalled that he first saw American Horse kneeling with a gun is his hand in a hole on the side of the ravine that he had scooped out with a butcher knife. Chief American Horse had been shot through the bowels and was holding his entrails in his hands as he came out. Two of the squaws were also wounded. Eleven were killed in the hole.[92] Grouard recognized Chief American Horse, "but you would not have thought he was shot from his appearance and his looks, except for the paleness of his face. He came marching out of that death trap as straight as an arrow. Holding out one of his blood-stained hands he shook hands with me."[93] When Chief American Horse presented the butt end of his rifle, General Crook, who took the proffered rifle, instructed Grouard to ask his name. The Indian replied in Lakota, "American Horse."[94] Some of the soldiers, who lost their comrades in the skirmish shouted, "No quarter!', but not a man was base enough to attempt shooting down the disabled chief. Crook hesitated for a minute and then said,'Two or three Sioux, more or less, can make no difference. I can yet use them to good advantage. "Tell the chief," he said turning to Grouard, "that neither he nor his young men will be harmed further."[95] "This message having been interpreted to Chief American Horse, he beckoned to his surviving followers, and two strapping Indians, with their long, but quick and graceful stride, followed him out of the gully. The chieftain's intestines protruded from his wound, but a squaw, his wife perhaps, tied her shawl around the injured part, and then the poor, fearless savage, never uttering a complaint, walked slowly to a little camp fire, occupied by his people about 20 yards away, and sat down among the women and children."[96]

Chief American Horse was examined by the two surgeons. One of them pulled the chief's hands away, and the intestines dropped out. "Tell him he will die before next morning," said the surgeon.[97] The surgeons worked futilely to close his stomach wound, and Chief American Horse refused morphine preferring to clench a stick between his teeth to hide any sign of pain or emotions and thus he bravely and stolidly died.[98] Chief American Horse lingered until 6:00 a.m. and confirmed that the tribes were scattering and were becoming discouraged by war. "He appeared satisfied that the lives of his squaws and children were spared."[99] Dr. McGillicuddy, who attended the dying chief, said that he was cheerful to the last and manifested the utmost affection for his wives and children. American Horse's squaws and children were allowed to remain on the battleground after the dusky hero's death, and subsequently fell into the hands of their own people. Even "Ute John" respected the cold clay of the brave Sioux leader, and his corpse was not subjected to the scalping process."[100] Crook was most gentle in his assurances to all of them that no further harm should come if they went along peacefully, and it only required a day or two of kind treatment to make them feel very much at home.[101]

Prisoners, bodies and scalpings[edit]

One of the two remaining warriors from the ravine was Charging Bear, who later became a U.S. Army Indian Scout.[102] They had twenty-four cartridges remaining among them, and bodies had been used as shields. Finerty wrote that "the skull of one poor squaw was blown, literally, to atoms, revealing the ridge of the palate and presenting a most ghastly and revolting spectacle. Another of the dead females was so riddled with bullets that there appeared to be no unwounded part of her person left."[103] Crook ordered the remaining bodies removed from the cave. "Several soldiers jumped at once into the ravine and bore out the corpses of the warrior killed by Pourier and three dead squaws."[104] "The old Indian Big Bat Pourier had killed was unceremoniously hauled up by what hair remained and a leather belt around the middle. The body had stiffened in death in the posture of an old man holding a gun, which was the way he shot. He was an old man, and his features wore a look of grim determination."[105]

"Ute John scalped all of the dead, unknown to the General or any of the officers, and I regret to state a few, a very few, brutalized soldiers followed his savage example. Each took only a portion of the scalp, but the exhibition of human depravity was nauseating. The unfortunate should have been respected, even in the coldness and nothingness of death. In that affair surely the army were the assailants and the savages acted purely in self defense."[106] Even "Ute John" respected the cold clay of the brave Sioux leader Chief American Horse and his corpse was not subjected to the scalping process."[107] Captain Jack told readers of the Omaha Daily Bee that he had taken "one top-knot" during the Battle of Slim Buttes in which he "came near losing" his own hair. He later regretted the bloody deed and never spoke of it in public performances.[108]

The surrender of Crazy Horse[edit]

Mission to Crazy Horse[edit]

"On May 5, we were advised that the remaining Crazy Horse band, numbering about one thousand, including over three hundred warriors, and also some twenty-five hundred ponies, had encamped at a point some ten miles from Camp Robinson, and would come in to surrender finally the next day. The chief sent in word he would like a representative of Crook to come out and negotiate for the glorifying ceremonies of entrance to the Agency as befitted his boasted rank, and assumed great distinction and arranged acceptable terms for his surrender. Such a mission was plainly charged with dynamite. It was an exchange of courtesies with the most notoriously villainous, treacherous, and vengeful savage, in the midst of a strong force of his most blood thirsty followers before their surrender, and all at a safe distance from our military to kick up any development they wished."[109]

"Crook put it up to his aid, Lieutenant (soon Major) Bourke, whether he wished to undertake it, and as might be expected that gallant officer jumped at the duty, regardless of possible danger. Grouard had endured two years of utmost hardship and risk in relentless pursuit and combat with Crazy Horse to reclaim his bride. Now apparently within his reach, he could not be restrained from going along as interpreter, notwithstanding he knew the temptation it would be for the chief to burn him at the stake. I simply would not be denied the long-sought rapture of this closing and crowning adventure of the Sioux War."[110]

As Grouard, Bourke and Strahorn approached the camp, accompanied by only one orderly, they rode past the surly pickets, and on along the many well-armed young warriors into the valley in which the camp was located. Grouard's years of forays, hunts and companionship with Crazy Horse as a member of his own family, would more bitterly enrage the chief at the author of his poignant woes."[111] "Everything considered, especially his absolutely wild and untamed spirit and our complete helplessness in his hands, what more logical than the appearance of Grouard alone should aggravate him to the sticking point, his one consuming impulse might well be to burn the scout at the stake and, at the best, finish off the balance of us in some more humane manner!"[112]

"His big tepee, located on a knoll in the midst of 150 others, was opened and we were ushered into the circle of a dozen petty chiefs, with Crazy Horse sitting morosely opposite the entrance, and a whole arsenal of repeating rifles at hand. The atmosphere was so unfriendly that I concluded that if Bourke's skill in conciliation was not taxed to the limit, he could surely meet any similar emergency of a long lifetime. The cold glitter in the Crazy Horse eyes as he regarded Grouard, with a sardonic side glance at those guns, was enough to send the shivers through the bravest."[113]

"However, Bourke's reassuring statement, interpreted for the Indians by Grouard, was a masterpiece. He enlarged upon the career of Crazy Horse; how the eyes of the world were fixed upon him as the one man who could forever end the wars and all other troubles between his people and the whites; and how considerably the Great White Father had promised to treat him and his people if he would not settle down to peaceful ways. Then he mentioned the reason for my presence. I was the man who wrote of all of these doings for the outside world and could be of vast assistance in extolling his heroism and setting him right everywhere. As for Grouard, Bourke said he was compelled to do as he had done, that he had been captured by Crook and had willingly pursued the course the Great White Father had commanded as the best and quickest way to bring peace. Then be briefly outlined the program for the triumphal entrance and reception at the Agency, including the surrender by the Indians of their arms."[114]

The dog feast[edit]

"All this brought a series of ominous grunts from Crazy Horse, echoed now and then by some of his staff, but on the whole were interpreted by Grouard as being favorably received, especially after the peace pipe had been passed around and the dog feast was announced. This latter ceremony, be it understood, is a friendly and sacred one with these Indians, as is the animal itself. This goes to the extent of never shedding a dog's blood. He must be choked to death by placing a lariat around his neck and most notable medicine men of the band pulling at either end and gradually strangling him. After being dressed and carved in an indifferent manner as to cleanliness, the meat is boiled in a large pot, very ceremoniously brought into the center of such a circle as we are now formed, and dished out steaming hot by the squaws appointed to this duty, which is esteemed a high honor. The principal chief is first served, then the principal guest and his followers in turn as to rank, and then the other Indians according to priority of rank, and then the other Indians according to priority of rank, and then the other Indians according to priority of rank and deeds of distinction in war."[115]

"When my turn came my dirty tin platter was served with the rear end and the backbone, with part of the tail poorly dressed attached. After looking that large and disgusting offering of high hospitality over carefully to see whether I could detach as much as a mouthful without betting any of the hairy dog skin still liberally decorating it, I fairly sickened. I turned to Bourke and Grouard in such an appealing way as promptly to evoke the appalling information that no worse insult could possible be visited upon an Indian host than to refuse to eat liberally of such sacred offerings under such momentous auspices. Then one fiendish glance from Crazy Horse was enough to induce the swallowing of anything. I can only add that I did my best and can taste that offensively strong, oily dog meat and glimpse its bloody, bristling backbone and tail hairs like a loathsome nightmare to this day. The Indians lapped theirs up greedily to the last rough-gristle, greasy drop, and gleaming hair, and I felt regarded as threateningly for not doing so likewise."[116]

Grouard and Crazy Horse[edit]

The cold glitter in the Crazy Horse eyes as he regarded Grouard, with a sardonic side glance at those guns, was enough to send the shivers through the bravest. Grouard had endured two years of utmost hardship and risk in relentless pursuit and combat with Crazy Horse to reclaim his white bride now apparently within his reach and could not be restrained from going along as interpreter, notwithstanding he knew the temptation it would be for the chief to burn him at the stake.

"These ceremonies completed, it remained for Grouard to receive the great shock of his life in connection with the romantic attachment so long cherished for the captured white sweetheart. Separated as they were on the eve of marriage by the inexorable demands of war, as imposed by Crook's capture of Grouard and use of his wonderful service, and her compulsory stay with Crazy Horse, Grouard never faltered in his attachment or efforts in our battles to capture her. Nor did he ever waiver in his belief that she was loyally awaiting him."[117]

"So here, at the end of nearly two years' fruitless pursuit, he was at last in the same camp with her. With Crazy Horse apparently pacified, he was now free to assume their relations and marry her under Crook's original promise that he should be assisted in so doing, with governmental aid for a livelihood afterwards. Imagine his dismay when informed by Crazy Horse that the girl had formed an attachment for a noted warrior of the band, who had spirited her away only the night before, to one of the more distant Sioux Agencies, well knowing that Grouard would be on hand to claim her upon the surrender of these Indians. Grouard never married. True to his word, Crook saw to it that his valuable services were retained by the Government on the frontier until he was old enough to be pensioned."[118]

Crazy Horse evinced the passing of his bitterness against Grouard by taking his first supper with him after his surrender, and it is said Grouard was the only man he trusted with any cordiality, doubtless on account of his relatives, Chief Spotted Tail and Chief Red Cloud, having turned against Crazy Horse.

The procession[edit]

Crazy Horse and his band of Oglala Lakota on their surrender to General Crook at Camp Robinson, Nebraska

On May 6, 1877, Crazy Horse surrendered at Fort Robinson and Sitting Bull led his remaining followers into Canada. Strahorn reported the long procession of Sioux approach Camp Robinson, Nebraska, On May 6, 1877, and that one of the U.S. Army officers lowered his field glasses and exclaimed, "By-God! This is a triumphal procession, not a surrender!"[119] But it was hardly a triumphal procession. After more than a year of leading the Sioux and the Cheyennes in the Indians last major defense of their land, Chief Crazy Horse was bringing his people to Camp Robinson to surrender. Riding at the head of the file, he guided his 889 proudly arrayed Oglala Sioux into the Red Cloud Agency, where they pitched their lodges. The soldiers took away the Indians' ponies and then their firearms.[120]

Crazy Horse gave his feather bonnet and all his other warpath regalia to Red Cloud, his brother-in-law. Then there was more smoking of the peace pipe, peace chants, giving up his three Winchester rifles, followed by the surrender of about 120 firearms, largely Winchesters, and cavalry carbines of other warriors. Instead of arms, some of the warriors laid sticks upon the ground saying, "Cola (friend), this is my gun, the little one is my pistol. Send to my lodge and get them." Every one of these pledges was made good by the owner, but needless top say, many rifles and other arms must have been hidden before the Indians came in, to be regained later, because they had for years the best of opportunities and ample resources in the way of robes, furs and ponies to trade for them. This barter was carried on clandestinely with cowboys, half-breeds or other Indians on the reservations as well as with the regular Indian traders and itinerant white peddlers. It is safe to say that not more than one fourth of their weapons were surrendered any more than those hundreds more of his warriors who had sneaked into various agencies.[121]

The old scouts[edit]

While the Old Scouts found adventure, glory and fame in the Sioux War, in later years they would not talk of it. All expressed remorse. (left to right) Captain Jack Crawford, Col. Buffalo Bill Cody and Robert Edmund Strahorn.

"Old Scouts" Robert E. Strahorn, Captain Jack Crawford and Col. Buffalo Bill Cody shaped the popular vision of the American West through their images and narratives. At The Wigwam, the home of their friend Major Israel McCreight ("Cante Tanke") in Du Bois, Pennsylvania, they could relax, smoke and talk about the Old West. While the Old Scouts found adventure, glory and fame in the Great Sioux War of 1876, in later years they would not talk of it. All expressed remorse.[122] Old Scouts Strahorn, Crawford and Cody found adventure, glory and fame in the Great Sioux War of 1876–1877. Captain Jack's race with Frank Grouard and perilous ride to tell the news of the great victory at Slim Buttes made him a national celebrity.[123] Strahorn remarked that his service in the Sioux War won him undreamed of laurels.[124] Cody's fight with the young Cheyenne warrior Yellow Hand and "First Scalp for Custer" launched his theatrical career with a force never before experienced in the relationship between the press and the fledgling world of show business.[125]

Battle of Slim Buttes[edit]

The Battle of Slim Buttes and the destruction of Oglala Lakota Chief American Horse's village epitomized the excesses of U.S. Army and Indian warfare of the period.[126] Indian villages were attacked at dawn, sacked and burned.[127] Warriors were killed, captured and dispersed; food, lodges and supplies destroyed; ponies seized or killed; and many women and children killed in the confusion.[128] The major military objective was to hit Indian commissaries and starve them into submission. "Humanistically speaking, the tactic was immoral, but for an army charged with subjugating the Sioux and other dissident Plains tribes, it was justified for the simple reason that it worked."[129]

While the Old Scouts found adventure, glory and fame in the Sioux War, in later years they would not talk of it. Captain Jack and Strahorn were with General George Crook at the Battle of Slim Buttes and expressed remorse. Crawford declined to give any details of his observations at Slim Buttes. He said it was something he neither wanted to discuss or hear of; he said it hurt him even to have to think about it.[130] Captain Jack said he had taken "one top-knot" at the Battle of Slim Buttes during a fight in which he "came near losing" his own hair. He later regretted his bloody deed and never spoke of it in his public performances.[131]

Strahorn was always reticent when attempts were made to get him to relate his experiences while with Crook's army. Like Crawford, he wished that the Slim Buttes affair could be stricken from the historical records; it was too painful for him to talk of it at all.[132] Strahorn later recalled Chief American Horse and the ravine at Slim Buttes. "The yelling of Indians, discharge of guns, cursing of soldiers, crying of children, barking of dogs, the dead crowded in the bottom of the gory, slimy ditch, and the shrieks of the wounded, presented the most agonizing scene that clings in my memory of Sioux warfare."[133]

Buffalo Bill would not discuss the killing of Chief American Horse at Slim Buttes He just shook his head and said it was too bad to talk about.[134] While Cody did not participate in the Battle of Slim Buttes, he took a scalp at the Battle of Warbonnet Creek on July 17, 1876, in a skirmish characterized as duel between Buffalo Bill and a young Cheyenne warrior Yellow Hair.[135] The engagement, often referred to as the "First Scalp for Custer", was dramatized with Captain Jack in their consolidated theater act. Buffalo Bill displayed the fallen warrior's scalp, feather war bonnet, knife, saddle and other personal effects. However, scalping Indians become loathsome to Buffalo Bill.[136]

Publicist of the New American West[edit]

Strahorn reported that the role of the U.S. Army changed after the Black Hills Gold Rush, and that the Indians were provoked by the white invasion of the Black Hills and the breach of the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868). By 1875, the Sioux and the Cheyenne grew more and more hostile and Strahorn was concerned for the safety of the settlers by angry Indians. Strahorn knew a war with the Indians would open the American West and was excited to join the adventure. "The belief was general that, whether this campaign was successful or not, it would be the final opening wedge which would for all time settle the Indian troubles. This would quickly result in the opening up of the Black Hills and Big Horn regions with the adjacent territory, altogether an empire of vast extent and untold resources."[137] With Crazy Horse's submission, the last pocket of resistance was wiped out, and the vast Northern Plains were opened to white settlers. Strahorn "sensed the oncoming tide of settlers and capital" and decided to write a handbook on Wyoming. This decision was his first step toward becoming a propagandist for the West, a step which led to a career as an empire builder in the Pacific Northwest.[138]

The Wyoming guidebook[edit]

In early 1877, after the Sioux Wars, Strahorn aged 25, moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming, to write "The Hand-Book of Wyoming and Guide to the Black Hills and Big Horn Regions for Citizen, Emigrant, and Tourist," the first guidebook giving regional history and a description of Wyoming Territory.[139] "Before that he had traveled widely and explored the vast stretch of country then known as Wyoming Territory, and his impressions of its resources, climatic conditions and scenic attractions were printed in a book which he wrote and published." A Wyoming historian called it the "first reliable publicity literature concerning Wyoming."[140]

Union and Pacific Railroad[edit]

After the first transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869, the Union Pacific Railroad began planning a direct connection to the Pacific Northwest. In Fall 1877, the Union Pacific was reaching slowly out across the Western frontier to connect East with West. Jay Gould, President of the Union Pacific Railroad, was impressed with Strahorn's skills as a scout, a journalist and a publicist and hired him to create the Union Pacific Publicity Department. Strahorn's job was to promote migration by opening of the eyes of the East to the vast possibilities of the West, especially along the line of the Union Pacific. Strahorn was travel throughout the West and write newspaper articles, books and other materials about each of the western states and territories.[141] He also was to scout and gather intelligence for business opportunities in railroads, mining, farming, tourism and the location of new communities. Strahorn's first assignment involved about four thousand miles of stage and horseback travel and writing a book of several hundred pages on the resources and attractions of all the country west of the Missouri. Following this were to be a flood of leaflets, maps, folders, and an eight-page monthly paper, some to be printed in various foreign languages, and later half a dozen other books on as many different territories and state in greater detail.[142]

Dell and Robert Strahorn, c.1880

Carrie Adell Green "Dell" Strahorn[edit]

Robert E. Strahorn married Carrie Adell Green "Dell" Strahorn (1852-1925), the daughter of a prominent Illinois physician and surgeon, on September 19, 1877. Strahorn received Jay Gould's offer to work for the Union Pacific Railroad within a week of his marriage and accepted upon condition that his bride should accompany him on any and all trips through the country he might be called upon to make. In October 1877, the Strahorns, both journalists and adventurers, began a "stage coach honeymoon." The Strahorns fused their interests and skills into a lifetime partnership, and Dell always referred to Edmund as "Pard." The couple traveled by stage, train, steamboat, horseback and pack train throughout the West for over six years, writing books and newspaper articles extolling the attractions and opportunities "Out West".[143]


The Strahorns' many publications had a significant impact on the development of the Northwest in the 1880s and 1890s. Edmund and Dell Strahorn were prolific journalists and wrote seven books between 1877 and 1882, and five books 1888-1889. "The Hand-Book of Wyoming and Guide to the Black Hills and Big Horn Regions for Citizen, Emigrant, and Tourist," published in 1877, was the first guidebook giving regional history and a description of Wyoming Territory. Strahorn's publication about Idaho, "The Resources and Attractions of Idaho Territory, for the Homeseeker, Capitalist and Tourist," published in 1881, was paid for by the Idaho Territorial Legislature, but secretly backed by the Union Pacific Railroad. Three states adopted Strahorn's books as official immigration publicity.[144]

In 1911, Carrie Adell Strahorn published her memoir, "Fifteen Thousand Miles by Stage". Dell's memoir was an "Atlas of the West," containing 48 chapters, 237 photographs and 83 drawings and illustrations by a personal friend, Montana artist Charles Marion Russell. Dell Strahorn reported 30 years of travels of entering mines, helping settlers, building cities and camping on the open prairies or in the woods. She described the couple's travels throughout the West in the 1870s and 1880s, much of it based on newspaper articles she wrote contemporaneously with their travel. The book contains wonderful descriptions of travel conditions and life in those early days of Idaho's history. "Fifteen Thousand Miles by Stage" went through three printings.

Dell also wrote for newspapers describing the romantic history, the social status, pastimes, and conditions of the people already in the New West, and the grandeur of the scenery. Throughout it all she wove the ridiculous and amusing episodes. One year, 45 articles were published in the Omaha Republican as well as in other Eastern newspapers. She used two noms de plume: Emerald for her maiden name of Green, and A. Stray for Adell Strahorn. Dell Strahorn is credited with being the first white woman to completely explore and describe Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, and Rocky Mountain National Park in north central Colorado, and was one of the first journalists to depict the wonders of Alaska.[145]

Carrie Adell Strahorn, c.1911, "Mothering the West"

Pacific Northwest (1883–1890)[edit]

After leaving the publicity job, from 1883–1890, Strahorn made a fortune in railroad building, town building and utilities in the Pacific Northwest. Since Strahorn knew the route of the railroad before the tracks were built, he spent much of the 1880s on ventures to buy the empty desert land cheaply and make large profits from developing new towns around future railroad stations.[146]

Boston and New York (1890–1898)[edit]

In 1891, Strahorn left Idaho and spent the next seven years in Boston and New York working as an investment banker and publicist promoting and raising capital for investment in the Pacific Northwest. Strahorn made contacts with bankers and studied the inner workings of large-scale financing. During this period the Strahorns always spent a portion of each year in Spokane or the Rocky Mountains.[147]

Home in Spokane[edit]

In 1898, Strahorn closed his successful business in the East and settled in Spokane, Washington. The Strahorns were wealthy, bought a mansion and entertained lavishly. In 1911, Dell's publication of "Fifteen Thousand Miles by Stage" contributed greatly to Robert's success in Spokane.

"As a leading example, in creating our Spokane home we far exceeded our own modest taste and mutual needs for comfort, wishing to encourage in large degree these public activities. So, if I had some big gathering of men on hand, their wives luxuriated in the elaborate provision for entertaining up there among the evergreen pines and other rare foliage and flowers of far spread lawns, some gathered from distant lands and carefully nurtured by the ever thoughtful hostess. From billiard room, bowling alley and buffet in the basement every modern luxury through the commodious four floors was wide open for such throngs of eager guests."[148] After returning to Spokane in 1898, Strahorn spent the next 15 years investing in town-site, water, power and other public infrastructure projects in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Because of his secret maneuvers in his many contests for railroad supremacy, Strahorn was known as "The Sphinx".[149] Strahorn developed public infrastructure in the Pacific Northwest building highways, bridges, telegraph lines, irrigation works, water works and electric power plants for the new communities. Strahorn developed the towns of Hailey, Mountain Home and Caldwell in Idaho and Ontario in Oregon. Strahorn built a network of rail lines and facilities including the North Coast Railroad, the Portland, Eugene and Eastern Railway, the Oregon, California and Eastern Railway, and Spokane's Union Station; and constructed the Yakima Light & Power, Puget Power & Light Company and other regional power plants.[150]

Dell's death[edit]

Most of the last five years of Dell's life were spent in San Francisco, although the couple maintained their home in Spokane and returned each September to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Dell Strahorn died in San Francisco on March 15, 1925, at the age of 71, after a year of poor health. The New York Times described Dell's effort in creating new communities as "Mothering the West."[151]

Robert Strahorn wrote of Dell's death: "Here intervened the first real crushing, heartrending sorrow of my life, the sudden death of my deeply loved, superb wife, who had been my inseparable companion, my greatest inspiration and staunchest support for nearly fifty years. The earth, which at times seemed only dangerously slipping before, was now indeed gone from under. How attempt to picture the glory surrounding, permeating, and emitting from such angelic womankind?"[152]

Later years[edit]

On October 5, 1927, Strahorn married his second wife Ruby Shannon Garland (1884–1936), who died in 1936.[153] Strahorn made and lost at least three fortunes.[154] He prospered from his business activities in the Northwest, but at age 75 lost his wealth in the Great Depression, having concentrated his money in San Francisco real estate.[155] In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Strahorn, ever the adventurer with his bullish faith in the New West, worked to raise capital for mining ventures in Oregon and Idaho. On March 31, 1944, Robert E. Strahorn, the last of the "Great Scouts," died at the age of 92 in San Francisco.[156]

Strahorn Memorial Library and Hall[edit]

The Strahorn Memorial Library was constructed in 1930, and donated to Marengo, Illinois, by explorer and railroader Robert E. Strahorn. Strahorn Hall of the College of Idaho, Caldwell, Idaho, was built in 1926 by Robert Strahorn, an officer on the Oregon Short Line Railroad, as a library and memorial to Carrie Adell Strahorn. The exterior of Strahorn Hall was completely constructed of Idaho sandstone at his insistence. Strahorn is now used to house classrooms and many of the faculty offices for the Anthropology and Sociology, English, History, Philosophy and Religion and Political Economy departments.


  1. ^ Oliver Knight, "Robert E. Strahorn, Propagandist for the West," (hereinafter "Propagandist for the West") Pacific Northwest Quarterly, (January 1968), p. 33. See "'Mothering' The West: A Woman's Experiences in Thirty Years of Pathfinding and Pioneering When the Region was in its Infancy," (hereinafter "Mothering the West"), The New York Times, August 20, 1911; and M.I. McCreight, "The Wigwam: Puffs from the Peace Pipe", 'Three Greatest American Scouts', (1943), p. 15.
  2. ^ See "Spokane and The Spokane Country - Pictorial and Biographical - Deluxe Supplement." Vol. II. The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1912, at
  3. ^ "Propagandist for the West", p. 33.
  4. ^ See Oliver Knight, "Following the Indian Wars: The Story of the Newspaper Correspondents Among the Indian Campaigners", (hereinafter "Following the Indian Wars")(1960). Colonel T.H. Stanton wrote on behalf of General Crook and himself a very cordial invitation to join the command in the capacity of a war correspondent. Robert E. Strahorn, "Ninety Years of Boyhood", (1942), p. 116, Strahorn Memorial Library, College of Idaho, hereinafter cited as "Strahorn Autobiography."
  5. ^ Strahorn Autobiography, p. 124.
  6. ^ "Mothering the West"
  7. ^ Earl Alonzo Brinistool, "Troopers with Custer: Historic Incidents of the Battle of the Little Big Horn", p. 30, (1952). See Jerome A. Greene, Battles and Skirmishes of the Great Sioux War, 1876–1877: A Military View, Chapter 1, The Battle of Powder River, March 17, 1876, by Robert E. Strahorn (1996).
  8. ^ Robert E. Strahorn, "The Custer Fight: Capt. Benteen's Story of the Battle of The Little Big Horn June 25–26, 1876 with Comments on the Rosebud Fight of June 17, 1876", (1933).
  9. ^ Strahorn Autobiography, p. 148.
  10. ^ In order to take control of the lucrative Black Hills mining area, Congress passed limited appropriations for the reservation Sioux, stipulating that additional funds for food and clothing would be forthcoming only after the Indians relinquished their right to the Black Hills established by earlier treaties. In the end, the Sioux succumbed to the pressure and The Black Hills Agreement of September 26, 1876, stripped them of the valuable domain. Greene, p. 116. As the deadline of January 31, 1876, passed, the new Commissioner of Indian Affairs, John Q. Smith, wrote that "without the receipt of any news of Sitting Bull's submission, I see no reason why, in the discretion of the Hon. the Secretary of War, military operations against him should not commence at once." His superior, Secretary of the Interior Zachariah Chandler agreed, adding that "the said Indians are hereby turned over to the War Department for such action on the part of the Army as you may deem proper under the circumstances."
  11. ^ Commissioner of Indian Affairs to Secretary of the Interior, January 31, 1876; Secretary of the Interior to the Secretary of War, February 1, 1876; Colonel Drum to Gen. Terry and Gen. Crook, February 8, 1876, National Archives. In order to take control of the lucrative Black Hills mining area, Congress passed limited appropriations for the reservation Sioux, stipulating that additional funds for food and clothing would be forthcoming only after the Indians relinquished their right to the Black Hills established by earlier treaties. In the end, the Sioux succumbed to the pressure and The Black Hills Agreement of September 26, 1876, stripped them of the valuable domain. Greene, p. 116.
  12. ^ Greene, p. xiv.
  13. ^ Reilly, pp. 159–160.
  14. ^ Strahorn Autobiography, p. 148.
  15. ^ Strahorn, Autobiography, p. 102.
  16. ^ Strahorn, Autobiography, pp. 101–102.
  17. ^ Jerome A. Greene, "Slim Buttes, 1876: An Episode of the Great Sioux War", (hereinafter "Greene") (1982), p. 33.
  18. ^ "Buckskin Poet", pp. 55–56
  19. ^ Lynne V. Cheney, "1876: The Eagle Screams", American Heritage 25:3, Apr. 1974.
  20. ^ Greene, p. 15.
  21. ^ Greene, pp. 26, 31, 114–115.
  22. ^ Strahorn, Autobiography, p. 148.
  23. ^ "Strahorn, Autobiography, pp. 149–150.
  24. ^ Strahorn, Autobiography, p. 141.
  25. ^ Greene, at p. xiv.
  26. ^ Joe DeBarthe, "Life and Adventures of Frank Grouard",(hereinafter "Grouard") (1894), p. 307. Greene, pp. 73, 301–302.
  27. ^ "Buckskin Poet", p. 57.
  28. ^ Grouard", pp. 22–23. Strahorn, Autobiography, pp. 118–119.
  29. ^ Strahorn, Autobiography, p. 117.
  30. ^ Strahorn, Autobiography, p. 104.
  31. ^ Strahorn, Autobiography, pp. 102, 119.
  32. ^ Strahorn, Autobiography, p. 120.
  33. ^ Grouard, pp. 22–23.
  34. ^ "Buckskin Poet", p. 57.
  35. ^ Oliver Knight, "Following the Indian Wars: The Story of the Newspaper Correspondents Among Indian Campaigners" (hereinafter "Knight"), (1960), p. 269.
  36. ^ Jerome A. Greene, "Slim Buttes, 1876: An Episode of the Great Sioux War", (hereinafter "Greene") (1982), p. 51.
  37. ^ The number of occupants, including warriors, is a matter of conjecture. Greene, pp. 49, 159.
  38. ^ Strahorn, Autobiography, pp. 202–203. Greene, pp. 50–51, 60. "Buckskin Poet", p. 58.
  39. ^ Grouard recalled that he reported that they had sufficient force to capture the entire village. "Grouard", p. 302. However, it was also reported that Grouard informed Mills that the village was too large to assault. Greene, p. 54. Captain Mills later reported that knew neither the size of the camp or number of warriors.
  40. ^ Greene, p. 59.
  41. ^ Knight, p. 273.
  42. ^ Strahorn, Autobiography, p. 202.
  43. ^ Knight, p. 273.
  44. ^ Greene, p. 60.
  45. ^ Anson Mills, "My Story," (hereinafter "Anson Mills")(1918), p. 429.
  46. ^ Greene, p. 60. John Frederick Finerty, "War-path and Bivouac: The Conquest of the Sioux," (1890), p. 252. Knight, p. 273.
  47. ^ "Anson Mills" p. 429.
  48. ^ Greene, p. 60.
  49. ^ Strahorn, Autobiography, p. 202.
  50. ^ "Anson Mills", p. 429. Greene, p. 63.
  51. ^ Greene, p. 63.
  52. ^ Anson Mills", p. 429.
  53. ^ "Buckskin Poet" p. 59. Greene, p. 65.
  54. ^ "For some time" wrote Mills, "we did not crowd the village." Greene, p. 63.
  55. ^ "We took the horses along and they amounted to three or four hundred head." Grouard, p. 311.
  56. ^ "Buckskin Poet", p. 60.
  57. ^ Strahorn, Autobiography, pp. 203–204.
  58. ^ "During the charge made on the village Private W.J. McClinton, of Troop C., Third cavalry, discovered one of the guidons belonging to the ill-fated Custer command. It was fastened to the lodge of American Horse." Grouard, p. 306.
  59. ^ Grouard, p. 307. Greene, p. 73.
  60. ^ Strahorn, Autobiography, pp. 202–203. "Captain Mills had given the order to retreat, and Crawford had told him that it was impossible to retreat." "Knowing the Indians would have reinforcements before a great while, I tried to send Captain Jack back with dispatches, but he didn't want to go, and one of the packers volunteered and went back." Grouard, p. 305.
  61. ^ "As we were about to break camp, on the morning of September 9, a packer named George Herman rode up in hot haste to General Crook, bearing a dispatch from Captain Mills, which announced that his detachment and attacked and captured, that morning, an Indian village of forty-one lodges, a large herd of ponies, and some supplies. The Sioux were still fighting to regain what they had lost, and the captain requested reinforcements. He was then seventeen miles south, at Slim Buttes, on a tributary of Grand river. General Crook at once selected one hundred men, with the horses, from the 3d Cavalry, fifty from Noyes' battalion of the 2d [Cavalry], and the 5th Cavalry, and, accompanied by his staff and the commanding officers of the different regiments, rode forward to the assistance of his subordinate." Finerty, p. 249.
  62. ^ Greene, pp. 48–49. Mills subsequently disputed Crook's orders and said he was to strike any village he might encounter. "Anson Mills", p. 428.
  63. ^ Greene, pp. 69-70.
  64. ^ Greene, p. 69.
  65. ^ Strahorn, Autobiography, p. 203.
  66. ^ Unknown to Mills and his subordinates, the general had decided against remaining in the camp because an abundance of Indian signs and anxieties about Mills's command. Instead of bivouacing his exhasted men, he drove them onward with "viscous mud sticking to the feet and making advance almost impossible." Greene, p. 67.
  67. ^ Greene, pp. 68–69.
  68. ^ Grouard, p. 307.
  69. ^ Greene, p. 66. "Anson Mills", p. 430.
  70. ^ Strahorn, Autobiography, p. 204.
  71. ^ "Knowing the Indians would have reinforcements before a great while, I tried to send Captain Jack back with dispatches, but he didn't want to go, and one of the packers volunteered and went back." Grouard, p. 305. Greene, p. 65.
  72. ^ Greene, pp. 65–66. "American Horse and his family, with some wounded, had taken refuge in a deep gorge in the village, and their dislodgement was also, from its difficulty, left to the coming re-enforcements." "Anson Mills", pp. 429–430. Knight, p. 274. Grouard, p. 305. John Frederick Finerty, "War-path and Bivouac: The Conquest of the Sioux," (1890), p. 249.
  73. ^ "Anson Mills", p. 430. Finerty, pp. 70, 253. Strahorn, Autobiography, p. 203. Greene, p. 71.
  74. ^ Doctors deliberated amputating Lt. Von Luettwitz's right leg
  75. ^ "Greene, p. 72.
  76. ^ Other casualties were Private Edward Kennedy and Private John M. Stevenson. Finerty, p. 254.
  77. ^ Greene, p. 74–74.
  78. ^ Greene, p. 75.
  79. ^ "Greene, p. 74.
  80. ^ "On the south side of the village I could walk right over the place where the Indians were hiding. It was a very steep bank, probably eight to ten feet high. I could go right up to them without them seeing me or there being any danger of getting shot. Going up to that point and talking to them, I told them if they would come out they would not be mollested, and said everything I could to induce them to come out. Not getting any answer from them, the soldiers surrounded the place and commenced firing into the cave, but the Indians would not fire back. They would not shoot unless they had a chance to kill somebody, either." Grouard, p. 309.
  81. ^ "Grouard, pp. 309–310. "Determined to get a shot into the ditch and just as he raised himself to take aim he was shot through the heart just across the ravine not ten paces from General Crook." Finerty, p. 253.
  82. ^ "Buckskin Poet", pp. 55–56
  83. ^ See Elmo Scott Watson, "Stories of Great Scouts," Roundup Record Tribune & Winnett Times, Nov. 11, 1921.
  84. ^ Finerty, p. 254.
  85. ^ Finerty, p. 254.
  86. ^ Finerty, p. 257.
  87. ^ Finerty, p. 254.
  88. ^ Greene, p. 77.
  89. ^ Finerty, p. 255.
  90. ^ Strahorn, Autobiography, p. 204.
  91. ^ Finerty, p. 255.
  92. ^ Greene, p. 168. Grouard, p. 311.
  93. ^ Grouard, pp. 310–311.
  94. ^ Greene, p. 77.
  95. ^ Finerty, p. 255.
  96. ^ Finerty, p. 255.
  97. ^ Finerty, pp. 255–256.
  98. ^ Strahorn, Autobiography, p. 204.
  99. ^ Chicago Times, September 17, 1876.
  100. ^ Finerty, p. 265.
  101. ^ Strahorn, Autobiography, p. 204.
  102. ^ Greene, p. 89. There is debate as to the name of the other surviving warrior. Grouard, p. 311.
  103. ^ Green, p. 169.
  104. ^ Finerty, p. 256.
  105. ^ Greene, p. 79. According to Pourier the Indian he scalped was Iron Shield. Thomas Powers, "The Killing of Crazy Horse," (2011), p. 449, n. 18.
  106. ^ Finerty, p. 257.
  107. ^ Finerty, p. 265.
  108. ^ "Buckskin Poet", pp. 60–61. In fact, he never portrayed himself as a great Indian killer but rather as a trail-smart scout risking his life in a hostile and dangerous environment."
  109. ^ Strahorn, Autobiography, p. 231.
  110. ^ Strahorn, Autobiography, p. 231.
  111. ^ Strahorn, Autobiography, p. 231.
  112. ^ Strahorn, Autobiography, p. 203.
  113. ^ Strahorn, Autobiography, p. 232.
  114. ^ Strahorn, Autobiography, p. 232.
  115. ^ Strahorn, Autobiography, p. 233.
  116. ^ Strahorn, Autobiography, p. 233.
  117. ^ Strahorn, Autobiography, p. 233.
  118. ^ Strahorn, Autobiography, p. 234.
  119. ^ Mari Sandoz, Crazy Horse: The Strange Man if the Oglalas, (1942), p. 361.
  120. ^ Knight, p. 33.
  121. ^ Strahorn, Autobiography, p. 234.
  122. ^ M.I. McCreight, "The Wigwam: Puffs from the Peace Pipe", 'Three Greatest American Scouts', (1943), pp. 15–18.
  123. ^ Captain Jack was terminated as a military scout on September 15, 1876. "Buckskin Poet", pp. 61–63.
  124. ^ Strahorn, Autobiography, p. 4.
  125. ^ Bobby Bridger, "Buffalo Bill and Sitting Bull: Investing the Wild West", (2002), p. 295. Strahorn knew that war a war with the Indians would settle for all time the Indian troubles, open the American West and was excited to join the adventure. "The excitement over war preparations at Cheyenne was mingled with joy that knew no bounds. The belief was general that, whether this campaign was successful or not, it would be the final opening wedge which would for all time settle the Indian troubles. This would quickly result in the opening up of the Black Hills and Big Horn regions with the adjacent territory, altogether an empire of vast extent and untold resources." Strahorn was sympathetic to the plight of the Indians and reported that the Indians were provoked by the breach of the Treaty of Fort Laramie of 1868 and the white invasion of the Black Hills. "The sudden and wanton destruction of the buffalo, deer, antelope and fur animals left the once opulent Indian virtually a pauper was unquestionably the chief cause of the Indian wars on the plains. Their hunting ground, which the government had sworn by treaty to respect, was overthrown with white hunters, settlers, trappers, gold-seekers and the riff-raff of the plains, who killed off the game without regard to its use or the consequence of such a slaughter to the Indians." Strahorn, Autobiography, pp. 50, 116.
  126. ^ Greene, p. xiv.
  127. ^ From a purely military standpoint the shock of the dawn attack and the attendant ruin of their homes, food and material goods forced the Indians to choose between the grim realities of starvation and ultimate surrender. "Advantage lay with the concept of the strike at dawn: indeed, one army maxim held that any large body of Indians would scatter before a well-implemented cavalry charge." Greene, pp. 57, 115.
  128. ^ "This tactic, though never formally stated, was in part an extension of the annihilation philosophically fostered by Generals Sherman, Sheridan and Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War. On the plains the maneuver of surprise and destruction, augmented philosophically by the "total-war" concept, worked best against elusive tribesmen who seldom stood and fought. The most successful assaults occurred at daybreak, with three or more columns of soldiers striking a sleeping camp simultaneously. Against such disconcerting thrusts defense was futile, and warriors rushed from their lodges only to be cut down in the charge. Tragically, large numbers of women and children often died in the confusion of a dawn strike. Once sacked, the village with its supplies was burned, and the ponies were killed. Tribesmen subjected to the tactic of surprise subjected to the tactic of surprise at dawn experienced psychological shock and abjectly surrendered." Greene, pp. 57–58.
  129. ^ Greene, pp. 57–58.
  130. ^ M.I. McCreight, "The Wigwam: Puffs from the Peace Pipe", 'Three Greatest American Scouts', (1943), p. 15.
  131. ^ Darlis A. Miller, "Captain Jack Crawford: Buckskin Poet, Scout and Showman", (1993), pp. 60–61.
  132. ^ M.I. McCreight, "The Wigwam: Puffs from the Peace Pipe", 'Three Greatest American Scouts', (1943), p. 16.
  133. ^ Strahorn, Autobiography, p. 204.
  134. ^ M.I. McCreight, "Buffalo Bill As I Knew Him", True West Magazine, July–August (1957). M.I. McCreight, "The Wigwam: Puffs from the Peace Pipe", 'Three Greatest American Scouts', (1943), p. 17.
  135. ^ Around August 15, 1876, Cody grew bored by the progress of the campaign, resigned from the expedition and continued his theatrical career in the East. "Buckskin Poet", pp. 55–56. Greene, p. 30.
  136. ^ On a visit to The Wigwam in 1908, Buffalo Bill told McCreight that did not kill Yellow Hair and said earnestly that he had never knowingly killed any Indian. M.I. McCreight, "Buffalo Bill As I Knew Him", True West Magazine, July–August (1957). Paul L. Hedren, "The Contradictory Legacies of Buffalo Bill Cody's First Scalp for Custer", Montana: The Magazine of Western History, Vol. 55, No. 1 (Spring 2005), pp. 16–35.
  137. ^ Strahorn Autobiography, p. 116.
  138. ^ Knight, p. 33.
  139. ^ "The hand-book of Wyoming : and guide to the Black Hills and Big Horn regions for citizen, emigrant, and tourist, Press of Knight & Leonard, Chicago, (1877).
  140. ^ "Propagandist for the West", p. 34; "Mothering the West."
  141. ^ "From the time of completion of my fact-finding trip of 1877 to the Northwest, I became so imbued with its vast and varied resources, and so enthusiastic over the peerless possibilities of the future of the region, that I could not help but bombard my superiors all the way up to Mr. Gould himself." Barbara Fleishchman Cochran, "Dell Strahorn", (hereinafter "Dell Strahorn"), The Pacific Westerner, Vol. 27, No. 4, (1983), pp. 50–55, at Strahorn Autobiography, p. 461.
  142. ^ Dell said his intelligence gathering function outranked his publicity function and referred to him as a walking encyclopedia of the "Far West." "Propagandist for the West", p. 34. "Following the close of the Indian Wars, Strahorn began his business career as a scout for locating new railroads into the Rocky Mountain country and beyond." John W. Lundin and Stephen J. Lundin, "Robert E. Strahorn: Railroad Promoter in Washington and the Northeast", (hereinafter "Lundin and Lundin"), Online Encyclopedia of Washington State Historical Society (2012) at He knew the route of the railroad before the tracks were built, he partnered ventures to buy the empty desert land cheaply and make large profits from developing new towns around railroad stations to be built in the future. Strahorn spent much of the 1880s developing those towns. It was on Strahorn's advice that the railroad located scores of towns and many cities look upon him as their "father." Haily, Shoshone, Mountain Home, Caldwell, Payette, Wesier in Idaho and Ontario in Oregon. "Mothering the West"
  143. ^ The Strahorns lived in Omaha from 1877 to 1881 and in Denver from 1881 to 1883. "Propagandist for the West", pp. 34–35. "With her "Pard," as she affectionately called her husband, they traveled by stage east, west, north and south, from the Missouri River to the Pacific Coast; from the Mexican border to Alaska." "Mothering the West" Strahorn reported his enthusiasm for the West: "From the time of completion of my fact-finding trip of 1877 to the Northwest, I became so imbued with its vast and varied resources, and so enthusiastic over the peerless possibilities of the future of the region, that I could not help but bombard my superiors all the way up to Mr. Gould himself." "Dell Strahorn", pp. 50–55.
  144. ^ The hand-book of Wyoming : and guide to the Black Hills and Big Horn regions for citizen, emigrant, and tourist (1877). Chicago : Press of Knight & Leonard. "Lundin and Lundin" and "Propagandist for the West", p. 36.
  145. ^ "Mothering the West" and "Dell Strahorn", pp. 50–55.
  146. ^ "Propagandist for the West", p. 36.
  147. ^ Nelson Wayne Durhamn "History of the City of Spokane County, Washington," (1912); and "Dell Strahorn", pp. 50–55.
  148. ^ They were wealthy and "moved into the very core of prominent society." They bought a mansion that they remodeled at a cost of $100,000. It had steam heat (the first house in Spokane to do so), and featured a bowling alley, nine bedrooms, and 10 fireplaces. Dell Strahorn entertained lavishly, giving elaborately planned receptions for up to 400 people. "Lundin and Lundin"
  149. ^ "Rail Magnate, S.F. Woman to Wed Tonight: Robert E. Strahorn and Miss Ruby Garland to Take Prolonged Honeymoon," Oakland Tribune, October 5, 1927.
  150. ^ "Propagandist for the West", p. 36. Strahorn sensed that the Milwaukee Road, Canadian Pacific, and Union Pacific Railroads would soon be entering Spokane, at that time served only by the Northern Pacific Railroad and the Great Northern Railway. Believing that the three new lines should use one passenger depot, Bob induced Edward H. Harriman of the Union Pacific to build the Union Station, a magnificent edifice that served Spokane for more than 70 years. "Dell Strahorn", pp. 50–55. "Lundin and Lundin"
  151. ^ "Dell Strahorn", pp. 50–55.
  152. ^ "Lundin and Lundin"
  153. ^ "Rail Magnate, S.F. Woman to Wed Tonight: Robert E. Strahorn and Miss Ruby Garland to Take Prolonged Honeymoon," Oakland Tribune, October 5, 1927.
  154. ^ Daniel F. Stafford, "Robert Strahorn: Railroad Pamphleteer," (1998) at
  155. ^ Shortly before the panic of 1929 he decided to invest heavily in San Francisco real estate, borrowing heavily to do so. He pledged all of his stocks and bonds as collateral for the loans, and when the Great Depression of the 1930s destroyed the financial markets, Strahorn lost everything and signed over his property to his creditors to avoid foreclosure. "Propagandist for the West", p. 36.
  156. ^ M.I. McCreight, "The Wigwam: Puffs from the Peace Pipe", 'Three Greatest American Scouts', (1943), p. 15. A Spokane newspaper said: "Robert E. Strahorn, 92, who died Friday night in San Francisco, was a colorful figure of the Old West, remembered here as a railroad and town builder and early-day newspaperman." "Lundin and Lundin"