Cheyenne Raid, 1878.When the last of the Indian tribes was removed from Kansas to the Indian Territory, hope was entertained that depredations on the western frontier would cease. But in Sept., 1878, Dull Knife's band of northern Cheyennes, dissatisfied with the rations furnished by the government, decided to return to their former homes. They accordingly left the reservation, moved northward into Kansas, and on the 17th attacked the cattle camps south of Fort Dodge, where they killed several white men and drove off some of the cattle. News of the event reached Gov. Anthony the next day and he appealed to Gen. Pope, commanding the department, but Pope thought it was nothing more than a "scare." The governor sent Adjt.-Gen. Noble to Dodge City with arms and ammunition, but the Indians had moved on northward. Lieut.-Col. William H. Lewis, with a detachment of troops from Fort Dodge, pursued the Indians and came up with them at a canon on Famished Woman's fork. In the fight that ensued Lewis was killed. Telegrams from various points in the western part of the state poured into the governor's office appealing for aid, but still Gen. Pope declined to act.
On Sept. 30 the Cheyennes appeared in Decatur county. Dr. W. B. Mead, in the Kansas Magazine for Nov., 1909, gives an account of a meeting at Oberlin when it became known that the Indians were in in the county. At that meeting a number of men volunteered and were divided into three small companies commanded by W. D. Street, J. W. Allen and Solomon Rees. They went in different directions, scouring the western part of the county, but Capt. Rees' company was the only one that came in contact with the savages. A running fight of several miles followed, in which one Indian was killed, and it was thought several others were wounded. All together, 17 white persons were killed in Decatur county. The Indians were finally overpowered and returned to the reservation. This was the last Indian raid of any consequence in Kansas. Hazelrigg's History of Kansas says: "Of the many Indian raids in Kansas, none was ever characterized with such brutal and ferocious crimes, and none ever excited such horror and indignation as the Cheyenne raid of 1878."
On Nov. 11, 1878, Gov. Anthony wrote to the secretary of war demanding the surrender of the chiefs to the civil authorities to be tried on the charge of murder. The chief, Wild Hog, and six others were surrendered in December, and on Feb. 15, 1879, were taken from Fort Leavenworth to Dodge City for trial. They were finally tried in Ford and Douglas counties, but the evidence was insufficient to convict, and in Oct., 1879, the Indians were released by order of Judge Stephens of Lawrence.
After the raid the government established a cantonment in the Indian Territory, on the north fork of the Canadian river, between Fort Supply and Fort Reno, for the better protection of the settlers in western Kansas. The post was occupied by five companies of foot soldiers and one company of mounted infantry. Steps were also taken by the state to afford security to the western settlements. Gov. St. John, who succeeded Anthony in Jan., 1879, in his first message to the legislature, recommended the establishment of a military contingent fund. The act of March 12, 1879, appropriated $20,000 for such a fund. (See Frontier Patrol.)
The legislature of Kansas in 1909 appropriated $1,500 to the board of county commisisoners[sic] of Decatur county for the purpose of erecting a monument to the memory of the citizens of that county who were killed on Sept. 30, 1878, victims of the Cheyenne raid.Pages 328-329 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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