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Old 12-17-2011, 07:42 PM   #1576
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Just wanted to say how much I am enjoying this thread. Makes me want to buy a dirt bike, or at least a dual sport to take advantage of all the riding in Eastern Colorado, which is so close to me.....
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Old 12-17-2011, 11:05 PM   #1577
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Amazing pics everyone. Wow. Though I live and ride mostly up high in the Rockies, I am transfixed with the sights, scenery, and solitude of the Great Plains. So much so, a chunk of the book is dedicated to rides in Colorado's eastern plains. When I cross Nebraska, Kansas, or Oklahoma heading east I take silent highways leading me through manicured I-need-to-stop small towns and deep into the agricultural might of America, and really, the world. Mesmorizing. Anyway...

This wasn't taken while underway. I just stopped. Pulled the cam out of the jacket pocket. No one in front of me, no one behind me...


NW of Ulysses, Kansas...


The historical battlefield sites of the Great Plains Indian Wars are very special, in more ways than one, to ride to. One can't help but pause and reflect, perhaps be silent, and listen for any whispers in the wind of tales told. On my short list is to make it to the Kidder Massacre Historical Site in NW Kansas. Here's the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site east of Eads, Colorado...


Looking the other way. The pic doesn't capture how small my wife and I felt here with the sweeping, to the edge-of-the-earth vistas. The park rangers had just left following the evening close and we were there alone...


In case interest, a short ride video to and of the Sand Creek area...



Then there is the story of Summit Springs south of Sterling, Colorado, where Tall Bull and his maurading band of Cheyenne Warriors met their fateful end when Buffalo Bill and Pawnee scouts discovered their encampment in this shallow valley. See the monument on the left with the leaning timber. That was the location of Tall Bull's teepee where he kept one of two white women kidnapped from Kansas homesteads. Upon awakening to the dawn surprise attack of the U.S. Calvary, he planted a tomahawk in the forehead of the woman (the other survived) and he ran to the cleft in the hillside on the right, along with a dozen of his warriors. They didn't survive. Anyway, I'm getting carried away with the magnificent history of the Great Plains...


It was quite the "adventure" getting here with the supertanker and my wife ...


And the onboard vid to the place...


To be sure, there's all kinds of scenery destinations as well, like the Pawnee Buttes east of Grover, Colorado...
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Old 12-17-2011, 11:13 PM   #1578
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Great stuff, sfarson. Love it out there.
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Old 12-18-2011, 04:15 AM   #1579
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Old 12-18-2011, 06:34 AM   #1580
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sfarson, great pics! If you get over to the Kidder site its a little off the beaten path to the acual marked spot above the massacre site on beaver creek. The historical marker is about 15 miles south of Bird City, Kansas, or 15 miles north of I-70 its pretty easy to find. The headstone is about half a mile east of the marker, and about a half mile north of the road just above and on the north side of Beaver Creek, its a little bit of a hike. Just below the marker is where Custer found Kidder and his men and first buried them, July of 1867. They were moved later on to Fort Wallace 45 miles to the south, where Kidder and his men were riding too that summer. I would imagine that they left the guide Red Bead buried here along Beaver Creek.








Harpers weekly 1867, the Kidder Massacre.

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Old 12-18-2011, 03:16 PM   #1581
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Thanks for the additional Kidder info! How about that Harpers Weekly illustration. I had read that there is a hike, but it wasn't clear to me if the actual site/setting was on private land or not, and if the former, if permission was required to make the hile to the marked spot.
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Old 12-18-2011, 05:12 PM   #1582
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The stone is on private property, I ran into the land owner when I took my pics, and was given permision, thats been a few years back. The pic below was taken from the historical marker looking northeast towards the actual site, the stone is on the ridgeline behind the trees to the far right, where the men were buried in a mass grave. Lt Kidder and 10 men of the 2nd Cavalry with their Sioux guide Red Bead rode over the ridge by the trees on the right down into what little cover Beaver Creek could give them. Pawnee Killer, a Sioux, led the war party of which it is thought there were about one hundred warriors. Some of Kidders men were taken alive, and it was ugly. It had been about ten days after the massacre, under a hot summer sun in July when Custer found the lost patrol. This was a runing battle that started several miles to the north ending here, several army horses were found dead to the north where the soldiers must have started doubling up as horses were shot out from under them. They were all found here together, Red Bead had been scalped but not mutilated, as an insult for guiding the soldiers his scalp was left beside his body.





The burial and battle site is about a mile east of this marker along the road in the back ground, on the north side.





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Old 12-18-2011, 10:55 PM   #1583
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'Preciate the extra info. Will be a great ride and memory one of these days. What's kind of ironic, is Kidder and his detachment were sent out to find Custer... and it was Custer who found them. Additional irony... the commands discovering (Custer) and recovering (Beecher )... both leaders met their demise at the hands of plains Indians. The Battle at Beecher Island, just ten miles from the Kansas border in Colorado is another great historical tale. The Indians call it, "The Battle Where Roman Nose Died". Roman Nose was a great warrior and chief.

Keeping with the theme of the thread, here's the county road to Beecher Island, coming up from the south,,,


The historical marker in the foreground is where U.S. Calvary Scouts first looked upon the siege in the river valley below. Lt. Beecher and his troops held out for nine days on a sand bar in the river, subsisting on horse and mule meat, along with stirred up river water. What held off the superior number of Indians was the new Spencer Repeating Rifle in the hands of the Calvary. 75 Indians were killed. Custer called this "The Greatest Battle on the Plains". Stated before his own, more famous battle...


A 1940 illustration...
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Old 12-19-2011, 10:19 AM   #1584
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Old 12-19-2011, 04:24 PM   #1585
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Beechers Island.



sfarson, loved your videos, good stuff for someone surounded by trees.


Since I'm a windy SOB I have to post some of my Beecher stuff, as sfarson mentioned Lt Beecher is mentioned in the above story of the Kidder Massacre, we might as well take a look at Beechers island. A few years back I met my friend Steve from Denver at Beechers, He loves this stuff as much as I do, the history of the Great Plains, we rode all over Yuma County Colorado, and Cheyenne County Kansas, finding the various historical sites relating to the time period of the plains Indian wars. One of the best ways to see these places is with a friend that has the same facination with the history, to say the least we had a blast. I would like to share some of the sites of that ride. I have probably posted some of these photos before but the naritive is different.

Cheyenne County, Kansas, looking up a box canon into Yuma County, Colorado, just south of the Arikaree River. The route Forsyths 50 Scouts took.





Beechers, relates to this report other than he retreived M Company bodies to Fort Wallace, in that the reason , Col Forsyth, and Lt Beecher, and 50 Kansas scouts that rode up the Arikaree, that late summer of 1868, is very much a tale of the Smoky Hill Trail. The stage stations and ranches burned, mostly caused by the burning of a Cheyenne village near Larned Kansas earlier that summer.Two of the Scouts are still buried at the Fort Wallace Cemetery.






Fifty civilian scouts, to be under the command of Bvt. Col. George Forsyth of the 9th Cavalry, were recruited at Fort Harker (near Ellsworth, Kansas), Fort Hays and Fort Wallace in late August and early September 1868 to help counter Arapahoe, Cheyenne and Sioux raids on the Kansas Pacific railroad construction camps then near Fort Wallace, Kansas, attacks on travelers on the Solomon and Smoky Hill stage routes to Denver and raids on settlers in western Kansas and southwestern Nebraska. Lt. Fred Beecher, 3rd Infantry, was detailed to the scouts to be second in command.
On September 10th the scouts were dispatched from Fort Wallace to counter an Indian raid near Sheridan, Kansas. From the 11th to the 16th the scouts trailed a small party of raiders north and west to what is now the Beecher Island Battlefield on the Arikaree River where they camped the evening of the 16th.


Sheridan Kansas, Sheridan was an end of the track town for much longer than was normal, that is because it was here that the Rail Road ran out of money, the eastern division came to a dead stop at Sheridan for over a year, and it turned in to a nasty little town of out of work rail workers and buffalo hunters, they did all the hanging off the rail trestle just to the west of town, due to the lack of trees.





Sheridan sat about 15 miles straight north of Fort Wallace, the old dug outs are still visible where Sheridan once stood in all it's tent sallon glory.






Sheridan would have looked like the digs right behind the engine.







When the Scouts, marched out of Fort Wallace, Kansas they were lightly equipped and carried Spencer repeating rifles with 140 rounds of ammunition and Colt Army revolver with 30 rounds of ammunition. Ten days into their campaign, they found themselves following an Indian trail that had grown much larger than the war party they had first started following. It was apparent that many villages were on the move somewhere ahead of them up the Arikaree.







On the afternoon of September 16th, the Indian signs were very fresh and Lieutenant Forsyth resolved to go into camp early, rest his men and be ready to strike the Indians the next day. An extra number of men were posted on picket duty to prevent surprise.



The pic above and below is the area east of the battle site just across the Kansas, Colorado, border probably about where the Indian trail started geting heavier.





The Cheyenne war chief Roman Nose was a contemporary of Dull Knife. He was not so strong a character as the other, and was inclined to be pompous and boastful; but with all this he was a true type of Native American in spirit and bravery. While Dull Knife was noted in warfare among Indians, Roman Nose made his record against the whites, in defense of territory embracing the Republican and Arickaree rivers. And it would be along the Arikaree River that Roman Nose would make his last charge.





Cheyenne County Kansas, in the very north west corner bordered by Colorado, and Nebraska, is an area known as the Arikaree Breaks, very different in topography and soil,just west of the Breaks is where the Arikaree runs into the Republican river, just a mile ot two of the river cuts the very north west corner of Kansas.


One of Tobes Zweygardt's markers and sculptures, along Cherry Creek where the Cheyenne and Kiowa camped after the Sand Creek Massacre. Just west of the Kidder site and east of Beechers.


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Old 12-19-2011, 04:50 PM   #1586
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Lt. Lyman Kidder.




Lt. Fred Beecher.





Forsyth, wrote of the plains along the Smoky in his journals. ". . . I find it almost impossible not to rhapsodize somewhat over the freedom of the life we led; the fresh air of the plains, the clearness of the atmosphere, the herds of buffalo, which scarcely raised their heads from their feeding grounds as we passed, the bands of antelope that circled around us . . . the sneaking gray wolf . . . the half haze, half vapory mist that marked the line of the Smoky Hill river . . . the feeling that civilization was behind us . . ."

Just across the Kansas border, in Yuma County, Colorado, looking west, it is about 7 miles west to Beechers from where these photos were taken, with the Indian camps about 20 miles west, you also enter into the sand hills here. The landscape that the Indians and Forsyth's Scouts, were moving through the day before the battle.





Along the trail Forsyth's men found a camping ground where a "great sun dance" had been held at the fork of the Beaver and Short Nose Creeks. This dance, remarked Forsyth, was a prelude to a "war with whites." Forsyth followed the trail until they camped on the 16th of September in the middle of a valley of the Arickaree " . . . on the bank of the stream, opposite of the center of a small island, which had been formed in the sand in the middle of the bed of the stream . . . [the water in summer] dwindle to almost the merest thread of water . . ."

Fort Wallace is 70 miles south of here. And is the only life line for Forsyth's Scouts.





I did mention Hancock's expidition with Custer in which the Cheyenne fled their village along the south fork of the Pawnee, near Fort Larned, Hancock had their village burned, this started much of the trouble and raiding in 67 68 up and down the Smoky. Leading up to the Beechers Island Battle.

During the 1867-1868, the Cheyennes were in schism, with those advocating peace (possibly a majority) retreating south out of Kansas, and the younger, intractable warrior societies continuing to raid. The latter during the summer of 1867 had successfully avoided a large expedition commanded by Maj. Gen. Winfield S Hancock, and in the process had garnered sympathy from Americans in the East who supported peaceful negotiations after Hancock attempted to bully the Cheyennes to submit, and burned their abandoned villages when they did not.






Still following the Indians’ trail on the evening of September 15, they passed through a ravine that led them into a valley some two miles wide and about the same in length. The Arickaree River ran through this valley and the troops camped on its south bank. They felt they were now within striking distance of the Indians and Forsyth surmised correctly that so great a force of Indians would not be running away from his considerably smaller company of scouts.





Around dusk on the 16th, Forsyth and his men arrived in the vicinity of the "Dry Fork of the Republican River" (reported at the time as "Delaware Creek"—now the Arikaree River) and made camp on the south bank.





They were in an extremely dangerous position in the heart of the Indian Country, and Forsyth knew it. Therefore, when most of the company bedded down for the night except for the posted sentries, the young commander stayed alert and watchful throughout the night.





In the Cheyenne camp of Roman Nose, the Indians were well aware of the Scouts that night Roman Nose had accidently broken his powerful medicine the night before. He was visiting the Sioux village and one of the women had served his plate of food using an iron utensil. He later learned of the mistake and he declared that his medicine had been broken. Ice, the medicine man who made his war bonnet had warned him never to eat food that had been touched by a metal utensil. It would require many days to renew the protective power.


Roman Nose.




The Cheyennes, plans revolved around a surprise attack at dawn, as happened often with these warrior bands, patience was not one of their virtue's.

Custer on the Dog Soldiers: "The 'Dog Soldiers' were a band of warriors principally composed of Cheyennes . . . neither they nor their leaders had ever consented to the ratification of any of the treaties to which their brothers of the other tribes had agreed. Never satisfied except when at war with the white man, they were by far the more troublesome, daring and warlike band to be found on the Plains. Their warriors were all fine-looking braves of magnificent physique, and in appearance and demeanor more nearly conformed to the ideal warrior than those of any other tribe . . . " [Custer]


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Old 12-19-2011, 05:09 PM   #1587
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The trees in the valley below run along the Arikaree River, the trees were not as thick then as they are now, Forsyth and the Scouts camped just on the other side of the river, on the bank of the stream, opposite of the center of a small island, which had been formed in the sand in the middle of the bed of the stream . . . [the water in summer] dwindles to almost the merest thread of water . . ."

this photo was taken standing on the north ridge looking south. The island or really just a sandbar was just down below.




An atempt to run off the horse's and mule's by a few young warriors at dawn, and the fact that the scouts knew they were right on top of the Cheyenne and Soiux, saved the Scouts from certain death.

Forsyth and a sentry saw the waving feathers upon the heads of three warriors galloping quickly toward the encampment. The sight was met with rifle fire by Forsyth and the sentry along with a call to the men that they were under attack. It was only a short time later that Forsyth realized that he was overwhelmed by hundreds of warriors and the only course of action was to "lay in a successful defense . . . [horses were led] to the little island . . . to form a circle facing outward." Bullets and arrows rained on the men, horses, and mules. So desperate was their situation that they were forced with the horrible task of shooting the surviving mules and horses upon the sandy island within the river in hopes the animals' bodies would be part of their defense and not stolen to be used against them.


Looking west towards where the first charges came from, and towards the Cheyenne and Soiux camps, these camps would empty as the non combatants gathered on what is now called Roman Nose Ridge, on the north side of the river middle of pic. They say that there were some small willows and some brush along here, but it was not over grown with trees then as it is now.

This is where the sandbar was, this site was later found by some of the Scouts and land owner by the horse and mule bones still visible years after.




During the next few days, four men from the group were killed and two died of injuries. There were at least fifteen other injuries including Forsyth, who was shot in the head, leg, and suffered a broken leg. He survived to write a detailed report of the battle. One of the Indian warriors later claimed to Forsyth himself that over 70 Indians were killed. One of the Indian dead was the great Cheyenne leader, Roman Nose, shot in one of the later battles of the first day.


Some of the Scouts were buried here. Many of the Cheyenne and sioux were buried in these hills, I have read that some of the Indian burial sites were desecrated after the battle. The Kidder site had also been desecrated.

The battle took place just inside the tree line, with the Cheyenne charges coming directly up the river, old Pawnee Killer, from the Kidder Massacre is riding in these horse charges. The building is the G.A.R building.





The trees are really the only noticable difference between then and now.





On the first night, Forsyth selected two scouts to sneak out and walk to Fort Wallace, Kansas in hopes of gathering a rescue party. Understandably, though the prospect was highly dangerous, he had many volunteers and selected Pierre Truedeau (an experienced trapper) and Jack Stillwell (a trustworthy and fit 19-year-old) to take Forsyth's only map. Just after midnight, Truedeau and Stillwell quietly left the river walking backwards in stocking feet with their boots around their necks in hopes that the Indians would not recognize their real direction. The distance to the fort would be approximately 80 miles as the crow flies. They hid themselves during the day to avoid the eyes of Indians as they made their way south, towards the Smoky.





On the third night, fearing Stillwell and Truedeau may not make it to Wallace, Forsyth sent two more men, Donovan and Pliley, with the same instructions. However, these men traveled almost due south approximately 60 miles to Cheyenne Wells in hopes of boarding the eastbound Smoky Hill Stage that traversed along the Federal Road from Denver, a staggering feat that was successfully endured. Suffering cactus needles that penetrated the moccasins they wore to disguise their trail, they laid a course, as Pliley would write, ". . . to hit the Smoky Hill Stage north of Cheyenne Wells and on the fourth night we struck the road at a ranch about three mile east of the Wells. Our feet were a sight, swollen to twice their normal size, festered with thorns . . ." Though both sets of scouts made it to Ft. Wallace, it was Donovan and Pliley, with the help of the Smoky Hill Stage, that made it there first, beating Truedeau and Stillwell by an hour. The Tenth Cavalry led by Col. Bankhead and Lt. Col. L.H. Carpenter were immediately dispatched to Forsyth's camp.




On the morning of the ninth day of the attack, though the Indians for the most part had scattered and lost interest in finishing off Forsyth's men, a set of silhouetted figures dotted the horizon once again. "In a few moments a general murmur ran through the command," wrote Forsyth. "'By the God above us, it's an ambulance!' shouts one of the men . . . a wild cheer that made the little valley ring, and strong men grasped hands, and flung their arms around each other, and laughed and cried . . . When Col. Carpenter rode up to me, as I lay half covered with sand in my rifle pit, I affected to be reading an old novel that one of the men had found in a saddle pocket. It was only affectation, though, for I had all I could do to keep from breaking down . . . sore and feverish and tired and hungry. . ."


A few of the Forsyth Scouts who attended the 1905 reunion. From the left: George Green, J.J. Peate, Hutch Farley and Howard Morton.


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Old 12-19-2011, 05:10 PM   #1588
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Old 12-19-2011, 05:17 PM   #1589
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In a cruel twist of fate, one of the scout survivors of Beecher Island, Thomas Alderdice, returned to his home in central Kansas near Lincoln but his misfortune would multiply into an unimaginable horror. Only a few months after he had laid in the Arickaree, on May 30, four of his children would be tortured and killed by Dog Soldiers and his wife kidnapped, an atrocity that resulted in the Battle of Summit Springs of July 11, 1869. Susanna Alderdice and another young woman of the Lincoln, Kansas area, Maria Weichel, whose husband was killed in the attack, were enslaved and marched on foot nearly a hundred miles into Colorado Territory. They endured abuse for two months until Gen. Carr's 5th Cavalry, led by scout William F. Cody, raided the Cheyenne camp that held the two women at Summit Springs, Colorado Territory, fourteen miles south-east of Sterling in a rescue attempt that was met with mixed results. When attacked the Cheyenne shot Maria and hatched Susanna. Maria survived but Susanna died and was buried at the site. Thomas Alderdice, against all odds, would survive the Beecher Island Battle only to have his entire family murdered months later.

Steve, standing by the Roman Nose Ridge monument. It is here that the women and children, the old folks of the villages all came and cheered on the battle, as they watched from Roman Nose Ridge.




Forsyth's battle and "island" were named after Lt. Fred Beecher who was killed on the tiny sand bar in the middle of the river where the soldiers were trapped. Forsyth said of Beecher that he was "a most lovable character . . . served through the Civil War with great gallantry, and was lamed for life with a bullet through the knee at the battle of Gettysburg . . . a most valuable man in any position requiring coolness courage, and tact . . ."

Looking west up the Arikaree. The small canon to the right is where the Cheyenne would mass their horse charges from.




The "Forsyth Scouts" arrived back at Fort Wallace on September 30. General George Custer, later proclaimed that the Arickaree fight was "…the greatest battle on the plains." To the Cheyenne, the engagement would be remembered as "The Fight when Roman Nose was Killed." In actuality, the fight was a minor engagement of no lasting import whose greater significance, as a model for tactics in successfully combating the Indians, was largely ignored. The location of the battle became a National Historic site in 1976.

Looking east over the sandbar battle site.




I believe the Monument was put up in 1909, it washed out during flooding in the 1930's and was moved a little north away from the rivers edge.








Two companies of the 5th US Infantry, Fort Wallace, guided by Forsyth's chief scout Abner Grover, returned to the battlefield in December 1868 to recover the remains of the five scouts buried in September. The remains of George W. Culver and Louis Farley were recovered. However, the detail failed to recover the remains of Lt. Beecher, Surgeon Mooers and Scout William Wilson. Scouts Culver and Farley were re-interred in the Fort Wallace Cemetery. When the Fort Wallace military post closed in 1882, their remains were moved to the Fort Leavenworth Post Cemetery.

Looking south over the valley of the Arikaree.


age has been resized. Click this bar to view the full image. The original image is sized 1024x204 and weights 69KB.

Sod Buster screwed with this post 12-19-2011 at 05:30 PM
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Old 12-19-2011, 07:33 PM   #1590
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Quote:
Originally Posted by selkins View Post
It's part of a big, random sculpture garden on a farm in (I think) east central South Dakota - on Hwy 212, I think.
The annual running of the Delta 88"s I presume?
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