"Time has dimmed their memories but never their history. There always is a story to be told.
In western Oklahoma, amid the grassy hills that roll beneath the more prominent Antelope Hills and where the tributaries of the Washita River run, a story unfolded 141 years ago.
Many lives were lost in what history called Lt. Col. George A. Custer’s greatest victory in the Plains Indians wars, the battle of Washita.
On Nov. 27, 1868, Custer led the 7th U.S. Cavalry on a surprise dawn attack against the Southern Cheyenne village of Chief Black Kettle, whose tribe was known for its work to negotiate peaceful interaction with the pioneers of the day.
Custer reported about 100 killed, though Indian accounts claimed 11 warriors plus 19 women and children lost their lives, according to the National Park Service, which maintains the site today. More than 50 Cheyenne Indians were captured, mainly women and children.
Custer’s losses consisted of two officers and 19 enlisted men killed. Most of the soldier casualties belonged to Major Joel Elliott’s detachment, who branched to the east and was overrun by Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Kiowa warriors coming to Black Kettle’s aid. Chief Black Kettle and his wife were killed in the attack.
Burial places of many of the victims as well as attackers are secreted by the land. Black Kettle’s grave is unknown, as are the graves of 18 cavalrymen thought to be somewhere in the hills northeast of the historic site. Others were buried at Fort Supply near Woodward."
Get the Story:
An open mind can see history all around us
(The Enid News 10/14)