Defending Home and Hearth
January 8, 1877: Crazy Horse and his warriors fight their last battle with the US Cavalry. The Battle of Wolf Mountain, also called the Battle of the Wolf Mountains, Miles’s Battle on the Tongue river, or the Battle of the Butte was led by Nelson A Miles for the US and Crazy Horse and Two Moons, leaders of the Sioux and Cheyenne. Crazy Horse was the war leader of the Oglala Lakota and was also a leader for the far more famous Battle of the Little Bighorn, fought in June 1876. He was born around 1840 but it may have been as late as 1845. We are uncertain because the Lakota did not keep the same calendar as we use. His parents were from two different tribes of the Lakota division of the Sioux.
After the Little Bighorn win, only a few bands of men filtered back to their reservations. The US Congress had demanded ceding of the Black Hills to the US in order for the inhabitants of the reservations to receive promised food and annuity goods. General Miles led a band of men consisting of infantry, artillery, and cavalry in pursuit of Sitting Bull’s men and defeated them by the end of December. Ranald Mackenzie’s men had also been able to defeat Dull Knife’s Cheyennes. The remaining men traveled across ice and snow to meet with Crazy Horse in the Tongue River Valley. The men knew that with winter’s harsh weather ahead, something must be done and sent out a delegation to negotiate peace. The delegation was killed by a US Army Crow scouting group. The two side skirmished in an attempt to draw out Miles from his post.
Beginning at 7 AM on this day, Crazy Horse and Two Moons began a series of attacks on US soldiers. The US superior firepower led the Sioux and Cheyenne to regroup and try again – several times. They tried a flanking maneuver but it failed when Miles shifted reserves to fill positions. Miles ordered an advance and secured a vital position while artillery shells were fired. As the weather grew worse, Crazy Horse withdrew. The US saw 5 killed and 8 wounded while the Sioux and Cheyenne had 3 killed and an unknown number wounded. It was technically a draw, but the morale among the tribes was affected. This proved to them that regardless of weather, they were not safe from the army.
Crazy Horse and other Oglala leaders came to Fort Robinson, Nebraska on May 5, 1877. Many tribal leaders met with First Lt. William Clark in the first step to their formal surrender. For the next four months, Crazy Horse lived in his village near the Red Cloud Agency. Jealousy among other leaders led to their reporting to the US Army that Crazy Horse was planning an escape. In August 1877, Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce began his flight to Canada and Crazy Horse was asked to help subdue the Nez Perce. He had agreed to never fight again but eventually agreed to help. His words were misinterpreted. General George Crook ordered Crazy Horse to be arrested. On September 5, 1877 as Crazy Horse was being brought to Fort Robinson, the plan changed to take him elsewhere. As he protested and struggled against this injustice, a guard stabbed him with a bayonet. He died of the wound later that night.
Hokahey! Today is a good day to die. (War cry of Crazy Horse in battle).
One does not sell the earth upon which the people walk.
My lands are where my dead lie buried.
Another white man’s trick! Let me go! Let me die fighting! (During the final confrontation in which he was fatally wounded) – all from Crazy Horse
Also on this day: Genius Personified – In 1942, Stephen Hawking was born.
War on Poverty – In 1964, President Johnson declared war on poverty.
Teeny Tiny – In 1297, the Principality of Monaco gained its independence.
Zero Debt – In 1835, the US government was debt free, but just for a short time.