MARCH 17, 1876

BATTLE OF POWDER RIVER STARTS THE GREAT SIOUX WAR OF 1876

The 1874 discovery of Black Hills gold caused the U.S. to try and buy the Black Hills. Lakota & Cheyenne bands were ordered to come to the reservations by January 31, 1876, to negotiate. When some bands did not comply, Brig. General George Crook led a force from Fort Fetterman, Wyoming, to bring them “in.” Cavalry under Colonel Joseph J. Reynolds found a Cheyenne village in the Powder River Valley. He sent 2 groups to attack the village, 1 to prevent escape, and 1 to capture their herd of horses. The attack was disjointed. When Cheyenne fled to the bluffs and fired on the troops, Reynolds ordered the village destroyed before ordering a hasty retreat. He left the bodies of 3 soldiers & a wounded man who was later “cut limb to limb.” His men suffered frostbite on the 20-mile return march. The Cheyenne lost 1 man and recaptured most of the horses. Crook reached Fort Fetterman on March 26th and had Reynolds court-martialed & removed. The attack only solidified Indian resistance to selling the Black Hills.

Sources:
  “Battle of Powder River, Montana,” Legends of America.  Retrieved 6/12/2021, Battle of Powder River, Montana – Legends of America
Wikipedia
Photo: John A. Moody & Robert H. Meade, USGS, 10/2012.  Powder River at about bed-full flow. Public Domain.

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