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Old December 4th, 2012, 07:57 PM   #11

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oops we need a delete btton.
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Old December 4th, 2012, 09:54 PM   #12

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One of the more interesting facts about Washita is its place in the career of George Armstrong Custer. Prior to this campaign, Custer had only led one expedition into Indian country. It didn't go well for him at all. Custer not only failed to find and engage the Indians, he abandoned his troops in the field while he went on a frolic home to visit his wife. Got court martialed and suspended from duty for a year. Washita was his redemption. The battle that his entire reputation as an Indian fighter was built upon.

The only other significant Indian battle Custer fought in was the disaster at Little Big Horn. Yet, surprisingly, even with the controversy surrounding Washita, Custer enjoyed a celebrity status for the next several years. Quite a myth came to surround him.

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Yes, a heroic slayer of women and children.
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Old December 5th, 2012, 04:23 AM   #13

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Yes, a heroic slayer of women and children.
When faced with that accusation the men of the 7th pointed the finger at their Osage scouts as having killed most of the women and children. Sheridan pointed to the killing of the white woman and white child during the battle as justification. (problem being that event happened further upriver in the Kiowa camp). The 7th would also point to the 50+ prisoners taken as evidence of no massacre against the women and children.

Very notable frontiersman and part-Indian, George Bent accounted for 14 men, 12 women, and 5 children killed at Washita. From what I can tell, he is considered a good source for the Indian casualties at Washita. In his book, Jerome Greene lists some 40 dead Indian men but he admits that some of the men had more than one name. He also accounts for 12 women and 6 children. His numbers for the women and children may have come from George Bent as he does not name them.

The debate on whether it is a battle or a massacre started right away and continues today.
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Old December 5th, 2012, 04:52 AM   #14

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...Sheridan pointed to the killing of the white woman and white child during the battle as justification. (problem being that event happened further upriver in the Kiowa camp)...
And therein is the problem. You can justify atrocities against the people who did the actual killing of the white women and children. But to kill innocent Indian women and children to avenge the deaths of innocent white women and children is criminal. And all it does is encourage another round of revenge against more innocent white women and children.

It was a vicious cycle of inexcusable atrocities on both sides.

Last edited by Rongo; December 5th, 2012 at 05:06 AM. Reason: atrocities
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Old December 5th, 2012, 06:24 AM   #15

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And therein is the problem. You can justify atrocities against the people who did the actual killing of the white women and children. But to kill innocent Indian women and children to avenge the deaths of innocent white women and children is criminal. And all it does is encourage another round of revenge against more innocent white women and children.
How innocent are the civilians? they know who the raiders are. They know the raiders are in the village being protected by their silence. Are these people innocent? We struggle with this same concept today in the war on terror.
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Old December 5th, 2012, 06:34 AM   #16

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How innocent are the civilians? they know who the raiders are. They know the raiders are in the village being protected by their silence. Are these people innocent?
Innocent enough not to be butchered like hogs.
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Old December 5th, 2012, 08:05 AM   #17

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How innocent are the civilians? they know who the raiders are. They know the raiders are in the village being protected by their silence. Are these people innocent? We struggle with this same concept today in the war on terror.
Good points and certainly the tragedy of Sand Creek was poisoned for history from the beginning. This is from the book " The Indians of the Pike's Peak Region", Irving Howbert, Knickerbock Press, New York, 1914.

It includes an investigative letter from the Colo Governor of the day and provides a picture that clashes a bit from the one we usually are presented with today concerning the Battle and suggests that there were political interests and personal vendettas that painted a tilted picture for even the contemporary Americans.

"Few events in American history have been the subject of so much misrepresentation as the battle of Sand Creek. It has gone down into history as an indefensible massacre of peaceable Indians, and perhaps nothing that can now be said will change this erroneous impression of the world at large, notwithstanding the fact that the accusation is unjust and a libel upon the people of Colorado. Worst of all, it was given wide publicity through the reports of two Congressional committees following unfair, one-sided, and prejudiced investigations."

Defense of the Battle of Sand Creek
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Old December 5th, 2012, 08:45 AM   #18

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Innocent enough not to be butchered like hogs.
Naturally I'd like to think that is always true. However, war is a difficult business and, throughout time, civilian populations that harbor combatants have been in harm's way. Sheridan and Sherman considered the tactics of going after villages an extension of their 'total war' concept.

Another very interesting controversy that came out of Washita involved the killing of Major Elliott and his 18 men. Captain Benteen wrote a letter after the battle that placed blame for Elliott's death on Custer. Indicated that Custer abandoned Elliott out of desperation to save his command from the growing bands of Indians downriver from Black Kettle's village.
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Old December 5th, 2012, 09:16 AM   #19

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Good points and certainly the tragedy of Sand Creek was poisoned for history from the beginning. This is from the book " The Indians of the Pike's Peak Region", Irving Howbert, Knickerbock Press, New York, 1914.

It includes an investigative letter from the Colo Governor of the day and provides a picture that clashes a bit from the one we usually are presented with today concerning the Battle and suggests that there were political interests and personal vendettas that painted a tilted picture for even the contemporary Americans.

"Few events in American history have been the subject of so much misrepresentation as the battle of Sand Creek. It has gone down into history as an indefensible massacre of peaceable Indians, and perhaps nothing that can now be said will change this erroneous impression of the world at large, notwithstanding the fact that the accusation is unjust and a libel upon the people of Colorado. Worst of all, it was given wide publicity through the reports of two Congressional committees following unfair, one-sided, and prejudiced investigations."

Defense of the Battle of Sand Creek
Of course there are a couple of problems associated with Sand Creek that the author of its 'Defense' doesn't address. First, they don't seem to have taken any prisoners. Even after the battle portion was complete, Chivington's men went back over the field and executed the Indian wounded. Also, the level of mutilation was really high among the white men with many showing really gruesome trophies back in Denver.

However, even though Black Kettle himself was peaceful and was the leader of the village, there was really no containing the young men of his village. As I understand it, there were some depradations committed by them in the months prior to the Sand Creek Massacre.

Which takes us back to the similarity with Washita. Does an otherwise peaceful village get punished for the actions of a few young men? Has Chivington successfully justified his actions?
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Old December 5th, 2012, 09:37 AM   #20

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Of course there are a couple of problems associated with Sand Creek that the author of its 'Defense' doesn't address. First, they don't seem to have taken any prisoners. Even after the battle portion was complete, Chivington's men went back over the field and executed the Indian wounded. Also, the level of mutilation was really high among the white men with many showing really gruesome trophies back in Denver.

However, even though Black Kettle himself was peaceful and was the leader of the village, there was really no containing the young men of his village. As I understand it, there were some depradations committed by them in the months prior to the Sand Creek Massacre.

Which takes us back to the similarity with Washita. Does an otherwise peaceful village get punished for the actions of a few young men? Has Chivington successfully justified his actions?
This is the difficulty we still deal with today, as you noted, in the Gaza strip, Afghanistan, Pakistan. Our own Drone war today has killed numbers of innocent civilians in sovereign foreign nations, because of where the guilty are located. The dissenting voices here in the US are largely ignored. How will history treat it ?

The hit and run tactics of the tribes ultimately led the fight away from the field and toward the villages, with sad consequences. For Custer too, when they changed tactics and took to the field.
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