|Kiowa Chief Satanta|
That took place in early June, 1858, when Danish immigrants Jens Jorgensen and his wife, Jens Terklesen, Christian I. Kjerluf, and John Ericksen were journeying, bel;ieve it or not unarmed, to settle with other Scandinavian immigrants at the Mormon colony in the Sanpete Valley.
On the afternoon of June 4th, they came within a mile and a half of the canyon's opening into the Sanpete Valley when some Indians emerged from hiding places and attacked them. The group was travelling with an ox team hitched to a wagon and another ox hitched to a handcart.
Two of the men were killed and burned with their wagon. Another was killed after running about 50 yards. The pregnant woman was killed with a tomahawk near the wagon. John Ericksen, who had been walking some distance ahead of the others, escaped unharmed, and made it to Ephraim around dark. The attack frightened the ox attached to the handcart, and it fled back to Nephi. The victims' bodies were brought to Ephraim for burial.
There is a Daughters of Utah Pioneers monument (number 11) marking the site of the massacre, between Nephi and Fountain Green, Utah.
The Salt Creek Massacre of 1871
The Salt Creek Massacre was also known as the Warren Wagon Train Raid.
At the end of the Civil War with the defeat of the Confederacy, Union troops slowly began to reoccupy their old forts on the Texas frontier. While that was going on, the U.S. Army also decided to establish three new forts, Richardson, Concho, and Griffin.
However, there was still no fort on the Red River, leaving the frontier vulnerable to attacks from Indians across the border at Fort Sill in Indian Territory (Oklahoma). In addition to the federal troop presence, federal officials also resumed negotiations with the Southern Plains tribes.
In October 1867, they held a summit with Kiowa and Comanche leaders in Barber County, Kansas, resulting in the Medicine Lodge Treaty. For a number of reasons, the treaty was a failure. As usual, many Indian bands did not recognize it as valid. Similarly, the federal government was lax about enforcing the treaty once it was signed, allowing white outlaws to prey upon reservation Indians.
The late 1860s was a time of intense frustration and hopelessness for both white Texans and Indians. For both groups, the frontier remained unsafe and unpredictable.
The federal garrisons that were supposed to protect white settlers, but in reality they were under-manned. Texas wanted to provide rangers to supplement frontier defense but was ruined financially by the defeat in the war.
There was simply no money to wage war, and Texans faced a situation that appeared virtually unchanged from two decades earlier. Despite appearances, however, things were changing, and for the Indians the end was near.
General William Tecumseh Sherman was commander of the U.S. Army, and General Philip H. Sheridan was the commander of U.S. troops in Texas. Both men were legends in their own time, and both were hardened veterans of some of the worst fighting of the Civil War.
During the Civil War, thousands of their troops had fallen in battle to achieve victory. And yes, Sherman and Sheridan had learned not only to wage war on the battlefield but also to break the enemy's will to resist. To this end, they began a policy of encouraging the slaughter of the southern buffalo herds.
A fateful raid marked the turning point.
In May, 1871, a party of more than one hundred Kiowas, Comanches, and others, left Fort Sill and crossed into Texas. Led by Satank, Satanta, and Big Tree, they took up positions on the Salt Creek Prairie.
Hidden in a thicket of scrub in the Salt Creek Prairie, they observed the slow approach of several wagons accompanied by 17 Buffalo soldiers of the 10th Cavalry Regiment, the black troopers. Yes, as relatively easy pickings as it was -- no one moved.
The previous night, an Indian shaman had prophesied that this small party would be followed by a larger one with more plunder for the taking.
History would later record their mistake, because unknown to the Indians, the unit they allowed to pass unmolested was the military escort for General Sherman himself. He just so happens was conducting an inspection tour of Texas.
Of the 12 white men there, the Indians killed seven teamsters. They then looted the wagons, and returned immediately to the reservation. Five men managed to escape, one of which was Thomas Brazeale who reached Fort Richardson on foot - some 20 miles away.
It was well after dark before the white survivors reached Fort Richardson and told their harrowing tale. As soon as Col. Ranald S. Mackenzie learned of the incident, he informed General Sherman. Both Sherman and Mackenzie accompanied units to search for the warriors responsible for the raid.
Sherman traveled to Fort Sill, where he personally arrested Satank, Satanta, and Big Tree and ordered them transported back to Texas to be tried for murder. In the end, 3 of the 4 war leaders involved were arrested at Fort Sill: Satanta (White Bear), Satank (Sitting Bear), and Addo-etta (Big Tree).
The Indian chiefs were eventually paroled, but it would be Satanta's fate to commit suicide in 1878 while serving another prison term at Huntsville prison. Big Tree was more fortunate. When the Indian Wars came to a close, he counseled his people to accept peace. Big Tree converted to the Baptist faith and lived to be 80 years of age.
The Salt Creek Massacre would have far-reaching consequences for Texas Indians. Because of the raid, General Sherman developed a policy of all-out offensive against the Plains Indians.
The next few years would be bloody indeed.
Famous in the American Civil War for the burning of Atlanta and his devastating "March to the Sea" through Georgia, the fearsome General General William Tecumseh Sherman became commander of the U.S. Army in 1869. General Sherman's Indian policy became the turning point that led to the final military defeat of the Indians in the United States.
In Texas, General Sherman had believed that tales of Indian raiding in Texas were exaggerated. After the Salt Creek Massacre, he changed his mind. It was the event that changed everything. General Sherman ordered the Army to wage merciless warfare against Indians in Texas and elsewhere.
Civil and military policies towards the Indians often stood in stark contrast. In 1868, President Grant adopted a peace policy towards the Indians, and selected the Society of Friends (Quakers) to run the reservations in Indian Territory.