Sunday, June 24, 2018

They Kept Great Notes In The Old West

I've had a number of people take me to task over my searching old newspapers and court and county records for information when writing my articles. Some tell me that newspapers can't be trusted. And frankly, when it comes to the reporting of things such as the Cowboy faction versus the Earp faction by the Tombstone Epitaph, I agree 100%. Some newspapers were as biased back then as they are today.

But aside from that aspect of what was reported, some folks simply don't want to acknowledge that folks in the Old West kept great notes on most everything from who was visiting who, to who bought who's prize winning bull, to Aunt so and so is visiting so and so, was actually written about. And make no mistake about it, if something happened, especially such as a shooting or a brawl or a robbery, and especially if it involved some noted gunman, it's just about a sure bet that you can find it in an old newspaper somewhere. If its not, than the odds are against it ever happening.

Below is a sample of some of the things carried in a newspaper. I found it interesting that this was what they considered newsworthy at the time.


Daring Attempt at Robbery Early Last Evening ON WALNUT STREET BRIDGE

The Footpads Escape, But Are Pursued With Bloodhounds One Man Brought to Bay Under the Buena Vista Street Bridge -- A Nervy Real Estate Agent. 

A bold attempt at highway robbery was made last evening at the Walnut Street bridge, East Los Angeles, a buggy containing two women being held up by a couple of young toughs. Before securing any plunder, however, the footpads were frightened away by the screams of the terror-stricken women, and made good their escape. [Footpad is defined as "a highwayman operating on foot rather than riding a horse."]

Later on a fellow was captured hiding under the Buena Vista Street bridge, and is now locked up in the city Jail on suspicion. 

Shortly before 7 o'clock, Mrs. Fraley and daughter were on their way toward the city, intending to pay a visit to some friend's. Just as they drove onto the bridge over the river at Walnut Street, two young men, roughly dressed and with the dirty, unkempt appearance of tramps, jumped toward the carriage, threatening the occupants with death if they made any outcry. 

Instead of keeping silence, Mrs. Fraley screamed at the top of her voice, and was rewarded by hearing the footsteps of someone hurrying to the rescue. The highwaymen heard them too and hastily dodged back into the shadow, jumped down into the river bed and disappeared. 

The person who appealed upon the scene at such an opportune time was R. Doyle, a real estate agent whose office is on South Broadway and who resides in Glendale. He was on his way home and had just reached the eastern end of the bridge when he heard the shrieks of the frightened women. 

On coining up he was told of what had occurred, and at once acted. Mrs. Fraley was told to drive to the East Side Station and notify the police officers, while Doyle went to the residence of John Belt near by. 

Belt keeps a pack of hounds, which have more than once been used for trailing fugitives, and the dogs were at once taken out and placed on the scent. They picked up the trail immediately and started off straight down to the river bed. The tracks ran for some distance and then separated. 

One of the men had evidently crossed through the water, wading so as to throw the hounds off the scent. The dogs were baffled for a time, but were taken over, and after casting about above and below where the trail had been lost, two of them found it and were off again. Soon their excited braying told that the game had been run down was in eight. When the pursuers came up the dogs were found to have a young hobo about 19 years old cornered under the Buena Vista street bridge. 

Doyle placed the fellow under arrest and closely questioned him. His name was given as Mike Veite and he positively denied having been engaged in any hold-up, or that he had been near the Walnut Street bridge. 

His shoes and trousers were wet and muddy, however, showing that he had been wading In the river, and in general description he tallied with the would-be robbers. Veite attempted to explain his wet and muddy feet by saying that he was washing himself in the river, although he failed to say why he should keep his shoes on while bathing his feet. 

The prisoner was brought to the police station at 9 oclock by Mr. Doyle searched and booked. Detectives were sent to the scene and made a thorough search for the other man, but within a late hour no trace of him had been discovered. The bold attempt of the robbers if the more, audacious when the hour of the hold-up is considered, and the fact that it occurred on the Pan Fernando Road which is one of the most frequently traveled highways leading into the city. 


Petty Offenders Have Their Cases Quickly Disposed Of. 

On a charge of forgery L. J. Laird, who was a couple of days ago brought back to this city from San Francisco, was yesterday arraigned in the police court. 

Examination was set for today and bonds were fixed in the sum of $1,500. Mary Connolly was tried before Justice Rossiter on a petty larceny charge of having stolen a calico wrapper from a line where it was drying in the yard of Lew Sing's wash house on Los Angeles Street. 

The Chinamen did some tall swearing, notwithstanding which Mrs. Connolly was found not guilty and discharged. Once again the old offender, Nellie I Martinez, showed up in court, this time on a charge of disturbing the peace of a woman in the Buena Vista house by fighting and quarreling. Nellie was arrested on a warrant, pleaded not guilty, and trial was set for this afternoon at 4 o'clock. 

The concluding arguments in the misdemeanor case against F. D. Black, accused of selling pools on horse races arid book-making. In violation of law, were to have been heard, but on motion it was ordered that the matter be submitted on briefs, which will be filed within a few days. 

Justice Owens rendered his decision in the old disturbance of the peace charge against L. D. Ham, finding the defendant guilty and ordering his appearance on Friday to receive sentence. 

Conclusion of the hearing of Eugene Gamier on a similar complaint went over until Saturday afternoon at 2:30. Frank Burk arrested several nights ago for drunkenness and carrying a concealed weapon, appeared in court and entered a plea of not guilty to the charge. Today at 1:30 the case will be placed on the calendar for trial. 

John Bryan, now doing fifty days on the chain gang for drunkenness, was arraigned for disturbance of the peace. Admitted at the time he was possessed of his jug. A plea of not guilty was entered and Saturday was set for trial. 

Floaters of thirty days each were given to Frank Libbey and J. H. Fitzgerald, vagrants arrested for sleeping in boxcars. With the disposal of a lot of drunks, the dockets were cleared for the day. 


Lively row on First Street ended in court. Charge of battery preferred by one E. B. Stork. Lyman H. Washburn, manager of the Washburn Land Company, with offices at 115 West First Street, was arrested yesterday afternoon by Officer Sparks and escorted to the police court. 

The trouble between Stork and Washburn grew out of business difficulties. Stork has been employed by the man, he had arrested and has been sleeping in the office. Yesterday morning he started to move out, bag and baggage and had a portion of the furniture on the sidewalk when Washburn came upon the scene. 

Hot words ensued, finally ending in blows. Stork claims that Washburn, who is a cripple, struck him over the head — with his wooden arm, while on the other hand Mr. Washburn denies that he hit Stork at all, but says his son stepped in and did it for him. 

At any rate Stork came to the police headquarters in a bruised condition and, seeking out Deputy District Attorney James, secured a complaint, swore to it in the police court and caused the arrest. 

Washburn was arraigned before Justice Rossiter, pleaded not guilty, had trial set for this afternoon and was released on his own recognizance. 


Mrs. Madigan of Burbank, an elderly woman Inclined to embonpoint, drove into the city yesterday to do some shopping, accompanied by her son by a former husband, Frank White. While driving along Broadway near the corner of First Street at 2:15 in the afternoon, their rig was smashed into by a runaway horse attached to a plumber's wagon. 

Mrs. Madigan and her boy were sent flying alighting on the paved street with more force than dignity. The youth was unhurt, but Mrs. Madigan was taken to the receiving hospital, where it was found that she was only bruised. After an hour's rest, she was able to leave. The runaway horse was captured before further damage had been done. 


Ever since the police inaugurated their crusade upon property owners who rented buildings to Chinese to be used as lottery dens, and thus drove the Celestials out, few arrests have been made of lottery ticket sellers, for the very good reason that few joints were running. 

A few of the heathen are plucking up courage, however, and starting in again on the sly. Yesterday two of them, Ah Sing and Ah Bow, were surprised in the act of selling tickets, were arrested and sent to Jail. Ball of $25 each was soon put up by their friends and they were released, to appear in court today for arraignment." 

-- the above sample was from a Los Angeles Newspaper, December 3rd 1896.

As we can see from the last article, con artists were a problem which the city had set aside a great deal of resources to address. Among those con artists were some very dangerous men.

As for some of the things that I find very interesting in the old newspapers, I like the way they reported things back in the day. For example, in this last article, they say, "A few of the heathen ..." Can you imagine a newspaper calling anyone a "heathen" today? It just wouldn't happen!

Besides such reports as the police and court reports, their local papers were full of what we today call "Social Media". I've included some below so can see it for yourself.

 Fact is, people back in the day wrote about everything. One of my great go to sources for information about the California Gold Rush in the area that I live in is a local man who charted his family's history here.

He copied a great number of the newspaper articles in the Calaveras County archives, and pasted them in book form in chronological order. Initially it was simply an effort to chronicle his family life in these parts. But in effect, he listed down just about everything that was reported in local newspapers here from 1860 and into the 20th century.

His books are copied news clippings of shooting, visitors, wagon wrecks, mining accidents, horrible accidents, great funny stories, and much more. From who was in the camp visiting who to who was hanged. His work proves that they kept great notes back in the Old West, no matter how many people want to deny it. 

That's just the way I see it.

Tom Correa

Saturday, June 16, 2018

How Can The FBI Be Trusted?

Dear Friends, 

In a conversation with a friend lately, we talked about the June 2018 Inspector General's Report which condemned the corruption, the bias, the criminal actions, and the political motivated conspiratorial acts of the FBI. 

In our conversation, we wondered why no one in the FBI has yet to be arrested or at the least fired? We came to the conclusion there will be no arrests because of the political connections and protections from those in charge at the FBI. Most Americans are today learning that those in charge of the FBI don't want to do their job and clean house like they should. 

Since the FBI, and the Department of Justice, and members of Congress, are protecting the actions of the crooked in that federal agency, my friend and I were curious as to just how corrupt could they really be? 

How much bias and looking the other way takes place there simply because members hate President Donald Trump and have openly worked for the Democratic Party today and in 2016 while wanted to see Hillary Clinton become president? 

Of course, the big question is just how corrupt is the FBI since they do so many things pertaining to the lives of everyday Americans? Yes, us "middle class, uneducated, lazy pieces of shit" Americans as people in the FBI have called us. Yes, Hillary's "Deplorables" which the FBI seems to loathe as well.  

According to the FBI, "In 1908, Attorney General Charles Joseph Bonaparte issued an Order creating an investigative agency within the Department of Justice. The Order was confirmed in 1909 by Attorney General George W. Wickersham, who ordered the establishment of the Bureau of Investigation. The present name, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), was designated by Congress in 1935."

According to the FBI's Mission Statement on its website, they state:

"The mission of the FBI is to protect and defend the United States against terrorist and foreign intelligence threats, to uphold and enforce the criminal laws of the United States, and to provide leadership and criminal justice services to federal, state, municipal, and international agencies and partners; and to perform these responsibilities in a manner that is responsive to the needs of the public and is faithful to the Constitution of the United States."

According to the FBI, their priorities are to:
  1. Protect the United States from terrorist attack;
  2. Protect the United States against foreign intelligence operations and espionage;
  3. Protect the United States against cyber-based attacks and high-technology crimes;
  4. Combat public corruption at all levels;
  5. Protect civil rights;
  6. Combat transnational and national criminal organizations and enterprises;
  7. Combat major white-collar crime;
  8. Combat significant violent crime;
  9. Support federal, state, county, municipal, and international partners; and to
  10. Upgrade technology to successfully perform the FBI's mission.
According to them, the functions of the FBI are to:
  1. Conduct professional investigations and authorized intelligence collection to identify and counter the threat posed by domestic and international terrorists and their supporters within the United States, and to pursue extraterritorial criminal investigations to bring the perpetrators of terrorist acts to justice. In furtherance of this function, the FBI designs, develops, and implements counter-terrorism initiatives which enhance the FBI’s ability to minimize the terrorist threat.
  2. Conduct counterintelligence activities and coordinate counterintelligence activities of other agencies in the intelligence community within the United States. (Executive Order 12333 includes international terrorist activities in its definition of counterintelligence.)
  3. Coordinate the efforts of U.S. Government agencies and departments in protecting the nation’s critical infrastructure by identifying and investigating criminal and terrorist group intrusions through physical and cyber attacks.
  4. Investigate violations of the laws of the United States and collect evidence in cases in which the United States is or may be a party in interest, except in cases in which such responsibility is by statute or otherwise specifically assigned to another investigative agency.
  5. Locate and apprehend fugitives for violations of specified federal laws and, when so requested, state and local fugitives pursuant to federal statutory authority.
  6. Conduct professional investigations to identify, disrupt, and dismantle existing and emerging criminal enterprises whose activities affect the United States. 
  7. Address international criminal organizations and terrorist groups, which threaten the American people and their property, through expanded international liaison and through the conduct of extraterritorial investigations as mandated by laws and Executive Orders.
  8. Gather, analyze and assess information and intelligence of planned or committed criminal acts.
  9. Establish and implement quality outreach programs that will ensure FBI and community partnerships and sharing.
  10. Conduct personnel investigations requisite to the work of the Department of Justice and whenever requiredd by statute or otherwise.
  11. Establish and conduct law enforcement training programs and conduct research to provide assistance to state and local law enforcement personnel.
  12. Participate in interagency law enforcement initiatives which address crime problems common to federal/state/local agencies.
  13. Develop new approaches, techniques, systems, equipment and devices to improve and strengthen law enforcement and assist in conducting state, local and international law enforcement training programs.
  14. Provide timely and relevant criminal justice information and identification services concerning individuals, stolen property, criminal organizations and activities, crime statistics, and other law enforcement related data, not only to the FBI, but to qualified law enforcement, criminal justice, civilian, academic, employment, licensing, and firearms sales organizations.
  15. Operate the Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory not only to serve the FBI, but also to provide, without cost, technical and scientific assistance, including expert testimony in federal or local courts, for all duly constituted law enforcement agencies, other organizational units of the Department of Justice, and other federal agencies; and to provide identification assistance in mass disasters and for other humanitarian purposes.
  16. Review and assess operations and work performance to ensure compliance with laws, rules, and regulations and to ensure efficiency, effectiveness, and economy of operations.
  17. Effectively and appropriately communicate and disclose information on the FBI mission, accomplishments, operations, and values to Congress, the media, and the public."
After reading all of this, and knowing that the Inspector General's report has stated that the FBI is crooked, and biased in support of the Democratic Party, how are Americans supposed to trust this law enforcement organization to do any of it's functions in a non-partisan unbiased fashion?

Who knows how many times the FBI has looked the other way and not gone after criminals simply because of their political position or connections? 

How can an utterly corrupt law enforcement agency remain in a postion of authority when it has been proven to conducting itself no differently than the criminals it's supposed to be pursuing? How can American trust a federal agency that acts more like an arm of one single political party, in this case the Democratic Party? 

It's obvious Americans can't trust the FBI at all. That's the way I see it. 

Tom Correa

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Fate of James Joyce 1891

Tom Horn was hanged in Cheyenne, Wyoming, on November 20th, 1903. He was buried in the Columbia Cemetery in Boulder, Colorado on December 3rd, 1903. 

Legends says that no one wanted to hang Horn. Because of that, the people in Cheyenne supposedly came up with a brand new way of hanging him so that no one would have to pull the lever. The fact is, that's all myth.

Fact is there was a line of settlers and small ranchers, including the father of the boy that he murdered who wanted to pull the lever on Horn. But though that was the case, Horn was one of the few people who were hanged through the use of a water-powered gallows. 

Known as the "Julian Gallows," it was said to be designed by architect James P. Julian of Cheyenne, Wyoming, in 1892. The system was set up so that the the person to be executed was positioned to stand on a trap door which was connected to a lever that pulled the plug out of a barrel of water.

As water flowed from the barrel, it caused a lever with a counterweight to rise. This pulled on the support beam under the gallows. When the beam would break free, it opened the trap and the condemned man was hanged.

The uniqueness of the Julian Gallows is that the condemned prisoner actually hanged himself. The first time it was used, it's said the condemned man stood in place for almost 30 minutes before the trap dropped and he was hanged. And in the case of Tom Horn, it's said he dangled and strangled for 17 minutes before he died.

It's said that instead of a "humane hanging" accomplished as cleanly as possible, some of the witnesses there at Horn's hanging were said to have been horrified when the noose failed to snap Horn's neck and he instead dangled from the gallows for those long 17 minutes. Then again, it's also said there were people there who wanted to see Horn suffer for killing a 14 year-old boy. Since a number of executions were public events with large crowds, it's a certainty that there were people there who saw justice carried out in a slow painful death.

Of course there were a number of innovations in the way of executing the condemned. Below is an Aspen Daily Times news article published in January of 1891 regarding a similar device as that of the Julian Gallows which was invented in 1892.

The Fate of James Joyce

Denver, Jan. 17 – A special from the penitentiary at Canon City describes a new and novel plan whereby James Joyce will tonight unconsciously commit suicide on the gallows, thereby relieving the warden from disagreeable necessity of participating in the execution.

The problem has been effectually solved by means of a water gauge. This gauge consists of two buckets, one set above the other. When the cork is pulled out of the upper bucket it pours its contents into the lower bucket and raises a float which regulates a dial in the execution chamber.

At the same time the water foaming out of the upper bucket, at the end of a specified time, releases a ball weighing 20 pounds which falls and pulls the trigger that lets the weight fall and jerks the victim in the air.

The machine is set in operation by a rod which connects with a platform standing in the center of the death chamber. When the prisoner comes in his hands are strapped behind him, he is asked to step upon the platform.

As he does so the platform sinks a little and sets the terrible machine in the closet behind him at work. Suddenly, snaplorahl the weight has fallen and the victim is dangling in the air with three feet and a half of vacancy beneath his feet.

-- end article Aspen Daily Times, January 18, 1891.

This is an example of the attempts made by towns and prisons to look for more humane ways to execute prisoners. Many of the contraptions were also supposed to be ways to relieve the stigma placed on the person having to pull the lever. While some did, some didn't. But then again, such was the life of a hangman.

Tom Correa

Thursday, June 7, 2018

A Cow Started The First Sioux War 1854

So now, can anyone imagine getting your whole unit wiped out over the killing of a single cow? While I can't imagine it, that's exactly what the Grattan Massacre was all about when it took place on August 19th, 1854, just East of Fort Laramie in the what was then Nebraska Territory.

What became known as the Grattan Massacre in 1854 started the First Sioux War. It took place in what is today Goshen County, Wyoming.

From the very beginning of the this, the odds were against the U.S. Army Soldiers and their one civilian interpreter. There were 30 Soldiers. There were at least 1,200 Brulé and Oglala Sioux warriors.

When the smoke cleared, all of the Soldiers and their civilian interpreter had been slaughtered. And surprisingly, only one Sioux was killed in the clash that took just a few minutes by most accounts.

This was the end result of things that spiraled out of control starting in the summer of 1854 when around 4,800 Brulé and Oglala Sioux Indians established a village about 30 miles from Fort Laramie as part of the terms of the Treaty of 1851.

The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 was signed on September 17th in that year. It was a treaty between United States and the Arapaho, Arikara, Assiniboine, Cheyenne, Crow, Hidatsa, Mandan, Sioux, and nine other Indian nations. In the treaty, the United States acknowledged that all of the lands covered in the treaty were Indian territory. The lands were split up and divided between the tribes, and believe it or not the boundaries that were agreed to in the Treaty of 1851 have actually been used to settle a number of claims since then. Yes, including modern day cases.

The treaty was the result of negotiations which the United States government undertook to prevent conflicts with the different tribes. The initial goal was to ensure a right-of-way for Americans traveling West.

Among other things, in the treaty, the tribes agreed to guaranteed safe passage to American settlers heading West on the Oregon Trail. Fact is, Americans heading West passed through the Great Plains on the Oregon Trail and the Santa Fe Trail for a long time before 1851. It was actually the California Gold Rush in 1848 that increased the numbers of Americans heading West. That huge increase caused all sorts of problems.

Through negotiations with the tribes, the treaty allowed the United States federal government to build roads and even forts in return for an annual payment of $50,000 a year and monthly provisions The reason for the provisions is that game, specifically buffalo, was becoming scarce. As for the funds, initially the treaty called for the annuity to go for 50 years but then was changed to 10 years. Of course, what took place later was that several tribes never received the payments, the provisions, or the commodities on time or as promised.

And since there was so many tribes to deal with, all with different languages, it's incredible that the treaty ever took place in the first place. This is even more true since, as you've heard me say in many other articles on wars between the tribes, many of the Indian nations involved in the treaty had waged war against each other long before Whites ever stepped foot on North American soil.

For example, it's said that the Arapaho, Arikara, Assiniboine, Cheyenne, Crow, Gros Ventre, Hidatsa, Lakota, Mandan, and Shoshone nations all took part in the treaty discussions. But the Comanche, Kiowa, and Kiowa Apache, had all refused to send representatives to Fort Laramie because the fort was located on Sioux land. Fact is, unlike what you may hear today about how all Native American nations got along, the Comanche, Kiowa, and Kiowa Apache considered the Sioux their enemy.

Other problems with the location had to do with the location itself. Besides some of the tribes not wanting to show up for the talks on the land of their enemies, the area around Fort Laramie is said to have lacked forage for the Indians' horses at the time. That meant that the treaty was negotiated and signed 30 miles downriver at the mouth of Horse Creek. That's why many tribes still refer to the "Treaty of 1851" as the "Horse Creek Treaty."

As for the treaty lasting, it's said the Treaty of 1851 was broken fairly quickly. No, not by the United States. It was actually the Lakota Sioux and the Cheyenne who attacked the Crow a number of times that same year. Fact is that despite signing the peace treaty of 1851, some tribes refused to respect the peace between tribes. For example, the Hunkpapa Lakota killed four Arikaras in 1853. And again in 1853, the Cheyenne and Lakota joined forces to attack a huge Crow village in the valley of the Little Bighorn River. Yes, right there at the Little Bighorn River where later George Armstrong Custer and the 7th would be slaughtered more than 20 years later.

There's an interesting story about how the Cheyenne and the Lakota had a falling out over a Crow woman. The story goes that Lakota Chief One Bear actually killed the Crow woman after she was taken as a slave by the Cheyenne. It's a mystery as to why he killed her. And while that's the case, there are some who speculate that he wanted her for himself. He didn't want the Cheyenne to have her..

The whole situation in that area was really a matter of gasoline and matches. It seemed everyone there was either the gasoline or the match at one time or another as conflicts between the tribes seemed to be a constant. As for the United States, the Grattan Massacre in 1854 started what would come to be known as the First Sioux War. And yes, it was over a cow.

The cow belonged to a Danish settler who was a recent convert to the Mormon faith. He lived in the East and decided to go West with a wagon train traveling on the Oregon Trail. Most folks really don't know if his cow was tethered to his wagon and simply came loose or trailed behind the wagon and strayed off. There are those who speculate the Mormon settler simply cut it's line and turned it loose to wander off since the cow said to have been lame and half-blind.

The short version of what took place is that some very hungry Indians promptly killed for food when it wandered into their camp. In fact since the Miniconjou Indians were there visiting the Brule while also waiting for provisions per the treaty, a Miniconjou by the name of High Forehead killed the cow and distributed the meat to his starving tribe. a small detachment of Soldiers entered a Sioux village looking for who killed the cow.

That's the short version of what happened. As crazy as this sounds, as soon as the word got back to the fort that the treaty had been violated with the killing of that cow, U.S. Army Lieutenant Hugh B. Fleming who was the senior officer at the fort sent for the Brule Sioux Chief Conquering Bear. He wanted to consult the Chief over what took place. Fleming either didn't know or he simply didn't care that such matters were supposed to be taken up, as stated in the Treaty of 1851, by the local Indian Agent and not the Army.

At that time, the Indian Agent was John Whitfield. He was in route and was scheduled to arrive within days of the incident. Whitfield was said to be bringing the provisions promised the tribes in accordance to the treaty. Some speculate that Whitfield could have settled the whole thing with very little fuss. But sadly, because of the hasty actions of Second Lieutenant John Lawrence Grattan and his taking the side of a greedy Mormon settler -- that's not how things turned out.

In a bit of irony, at the fort Chief Conquering Bear attempted to negotiate with Lt. Fleming even though he was fully aware that the matter did not concern the Army at all. The Chief actually offered the Mormon settler a horse from his personal herd of 60 horses.

While this was going on, it became obvious that the Mormon settler was more interested in monetary gain than he was compensation. The cow is said to have been so lame that her hooves were worn through. It's believed that the cow was worth about $4. So yes, that Mormon settler must have been a very greedy individual since he actually demanded up to $40 for his cow instead of simply taking the compensation that was being offered. While some sources say he demanded $25, most others say $40. Either way, that was a lot of money which the Indians did not have.

Since Miniconjou Indians were there waiting for their already late provisions from the federal government, they were actually starving. So I'm sure when that cow found her way into their camp, it must have felt like Christmas.

Fact is, the Miniconjou were actually there for weeks and provisions had ran out or were terribly low. Even the grass for their horses was thin to none. And frankly, because of the overwhelming number of people there, remember that over 4,800 Indians were at the encampment, any game in the area had already been taken. So yes, they were hungry when they saw that old cow.

Sources say Lt. Fleming had at first dismissed the matter. As with most, he probably thought the matter was foolishness. And as for why he entered into the fray over the cow? Well, some sources say that he was actually goaded into acting by Second Lieutenant Grattan.

When talking with Chief Conquering Bear at the fort, Lt. Fleming actually insulted Conquering Bear when he demanded that the Chief turn over the Miniconjou Indian who killed the cow. In fact, Fleming demanded that High Forehead be brought back to the fort.

Now here's one of those instances in history where you just have to wonder what was someone thinking. What I mean by that is that no one knowns what Fleming or Grattan was going to do to High Forehead after getting him to the fort? That's a mystery.

What we do know is that Lt. Grattan goaded Lt. Fleming into insisting on the arrest High Forehead for killing a cow worth $4. Which of course, was a cow that the Mormon could have been compensated for but refused because he wanted to squeeze more money out of the Indians or the Indian Agent or both.

Conquering Bear refused Fleming's demand to turn over High Forehead. For one reason, he had no authority over the Miniconjou to do such a thing. Besides, the Miniconjou were actually there as his guests. So with that, the Chief had no intentions of violating their tradition of hospitality over such foolishness as killing a lame cow. Especially when he had already offered to compensate the settler.

The day ended with Lt. Fleming very frustrated. The next day, Fleming assigned the job of arresting High Forehead to Lt. Grattan. Second Lieutenant John Lawrence Grattan was a 23 years old recent graduate of West Point. That was his first duty station and he was attached to the 6th Infantry Regiment as an Infantry officer. He is said to have hated Indians for no reason at all.

There is something that I was told many years about the Infantry in regards to Native Americans. While I've never thought about trying to verify whether it's true or not, I was once told that most of the tribes had a greater respect for Infantry Soldiers than they did for Cavalry Soldiers. Their reasoning was that, supposedly, Native Americans saw Infantrymen as being braver than Cavalrymen because the Infantry walked into battle to wage war. I gather that was something they believed applied to themselves as well. We have to remember that the tribes waged war against other tribes while on foot for a thousand years or more before the Spanish ever brought horses to North America.

So now, all of his goading of Lt. Fleming paid off when he was allowed him to lead a small detachment of soldiers into the Indian village to arrest High Forehead that next morning. But as Lt. Grattan will learn the hard way, one has to watch out what you wish for.

Lt. Grattan was authorized a detail of 22 men. Fact is the entire post was only made up of a total of 75 soldiers in all. On that morning, 32 of the soldiers assigned to the fort were off away from the fort on wood and hay cutting details. But even though that was the case, Lt. Grattan took 29 soldiers. That was 7 more than Lt. Fleming had authorized, which of course meant that only 14 soldiers were left at the fort. And since Grattan was looking for a fight, he also took two small cannons with him. I haven't been able to verify what sort of artillery pieces they were.

Lt. Grattan led his detail into the village of Chief Conquering Bear to arrest and take into custody High Forehead. Lt. Grattan had with him a Sergeant, a Corporal, 27 Privates, and a very drunk French-Native American civilian interpreter by the name of Lucienne Auguste who is said to have had been drinking all the way to the village.

As for his troops, it's said most of the soldiers under Grattan were experienced troops. It was Grattan himself who had no prior experience with the Indians. Of coarse, that didn't matter since he was now leading his small force into a major Sioux encampment filled with young warriors itching for a fight with American troops.

Was it all to arrest an Indian for killing a cow? Well, that's the point. I don't believe it was. While I believe it was all about a young officers contempt for all Native Americans, many agree that the killing of the cow was just an excuse for Lt. Grattan to confront the Sioux. Some say it was his opportunity to impose his dominance over those he didn't like. After all, it was known that he treated Indians with contempt. This was even noted later by a senior officer who stated, "There is no doubt that Lt. Grattan left this post with a desire to have a fight with the Indians, and that he had determined to take the man at all hazards."

It was only when Lt. Grattan's detail reached the encampment that he noted that Auguste was drunk and obnoxious. At one point Grattan supposedly became so angry with Auguste that he took his booze away from him and smashed the bottle. It was then that Grattan learned that besides being a belligerent drunk, Auguste was also a lousy interpreter. In fact, it's actually questionable whether Auguste knew more than just a few words when it came to the language of the Sioux .

There are all sorts of "what ifs" pertaining to this event. For example, what if Lt. Grattan had the experience to know better than to march into a hornet's nest? What if Grattan saw the obsurdity of going to battle over a $4 cow? What if Grattan had later listened to the trading post owner James Bordeau who told him to leave the matter to Conquering Bear and leave? What if Grattan had ordered Auguste back to the fort instead of allowing him to insult the warriors in the camp?

The entire village was made up of over 600 Sioux lodges. With a population of some 4,800 Indians, and approximately 1,200 warriors, that was one huge village. Once in there, it's said that some of the more experienced soldiers in Grattan's command quietly voiced their concerns that their tiny force was in a very good position to get slaughtered. It's said that it was only when his Sergeant advised him that leaving the mater be would be advisable at that point, that Lt. Grattan realized the size and scope of the village which he had naively led his men into.

While Grattan left 11 men to act as the gun crews for the cannons just outside of the village, he took the remaining 18 troops with him into the village. When his small detail reached about the middle of the village, it's said that painted warriors were making all sorts of hostile gestures to get the troops to start a fight. One report said that young warriors rode their horses aggressively around the small column of 18 soldiers.

Lt. Grattan stopped his men and asked the advice of the trading post owner who happened to be in the village at the time. His name was James Bordeau, and he had been at Fort Laramie earlier when the incident happened where Lt. Fleming insulted Conquering Bear. Bordeau was the village trading when Grattan's detail entered the camp.

While initially Bordeau didn't know that Grattan actually intended on arresting High Forehead, he watched the entire event take place. In fact, most if not all of what we know that went on in the village is from Bordeau.

He later stated that Auguste, the translator, was drunk and yelling at the Indians. Auguste was telling the village that Lt. Grattan and his troops had come to kill them all. Auguste was calling the Sioux warriors "women" while riding drunkenly around those there saying they had come to fight and not to talk.

While this was going on, Grattan asked Bordeau for his advice regarding how to solve the matter without bloodshed? Bordeau supposedly told Grattan to talk with Conquering Bear, and let him handle it in his own time and leave as fast as possible. Bordeau later said that he was surprised when Gratten wanted to push the matter.

So instead of pulling his troops back, Lt. Grattan led them deeper into the village until he came face to face with Miniconjou High Forehead. Whether Grattan was extremely brave or very dumb could be debated. We do know that instead of taking the advice of Bordeau, Grattan unwisely decided to order High Forehead to surrender to him and return to the fort with him. Yes, he did this with 29 troops and a drunken interpreter in the middle of a village surrounded by well over a thousand warriors.

Grattan's bravery to do this in the middle of 1,200 warriors wanting a piece of his scalp didn't impress High Forehead. He turned his order to surrender around and actually challenged Lt. Grattan to fight him man to man. He also told Grattan that he would rather die than surrender to him and be taken to the fort to die. High Forehead's anger over this was seen as reasonable throughout the camp since all there knew that soldiers killed two Miniconjou just two weeks earlier, and certainly didn't give it as much attention as the soldiers were now giving the killing of a cow.

High Forehead's deviance is said to have angered Grattan a great deal. But obviously, it was not enough to fight High Forehead man to man. Because instead of addressing High Forehead, Grattan turned away from High Forehead to speak with Conquering Bear and accuse him of harboring a criminal.

At that point Conquering Bear asked to get James Bordeau to translate for them since Auguste was drunk and couldn't be trusted. An Indian leader by the name of Man-Afraid-Of-His-Horse retrieved Bordeau. But when Bordeau arrived and saw the tension between Lt. Grattan and Conquering Bear was about to boil over into violence, Bordeau decided to turn back.

There are a few conflicting reports as to what happen next, but this is what I've learned about this. At some point, it is believe that Lt. Grattan decided to order his two artillery pieces turned toward the village. That was not a wise move because as soon as he did, his orders brought hundreds of warriors out to immediately surround all of the soldiers. Yes, both the 11 soldiers at the cannons and the 18 with Lt. Grattan.

Among those there was a young warrior by the name of Red Cloud. He would later become famous in his own right. On that day he led warriors around to flank the soldiers. Bordeau rethinking the situation and deciding to go and see what he could do to stop the potential violence, again decided to go and act as a translator. But when he was about 25 yards away, he was cut off by Red Cloud's flanking movement. He was helpless to help so all he could do was watch as a heated exchange between Lt. Grattan and Conquering Bear took place.

After watching what was taking place, Bordeau again retreated. But this time Bordeau returned to his trading post where he told all of the traders there to load their weapons because the fighting was about to start.

So now, Lt. Grattan and Conquering Bear are arguing. Then Grattan decides that he isn't making progress so he turns to walk back to his troops apparently intending on leaving. At the same time, Conquering Bear turned away and starts walking away heading toward his lodge.

But before Lt. Grattan reached his troops, the story goes that a nervous soldier's rifle went off. Some sources say he fired into some approaching warriors. Fact is that soldier actually shot Conquering Bear in the back and he died nine days later near the Niobrara River. So if it was an accidental discharge, how is it that the trooper's bullet struck Conquering Bear in the back and not someone else since there were so many others around them at the time?

Fact is, some sources report that Lt. Grattan actually ordered his troops to open fire while moving toward his artillery pieces. The first to fall was the 11 men of Grattan's gun crews after being hit by a tremendous volley of arrows. Lt. Grattan was near his cannon placement when he was also struck down by the raining arrows.

The 18 soldiers left at that point band together to try to make it to a rocky area for defense. Running to the rocks on foot to make a stand, they never made it. As they had to cross a part of the open prairie to get there, Red Cloud's warriors rode them down and quickly overwhelmed them. Surprisingly, all my one was killed. That one soldier had initially survived the massacre but later died as a result of his wounds.

It's said that the warriors "rampaged throughout the night, swearing to attack other whites" that night. And in reality, they did ride against Fort Laramie the next morning. Luckily for the fort, they overwhelming number of Indians didn't push it and simply withdrew.

As for James Bordeau who owned a nearby trading post, he watched the whole thing take place. He was a key eyewitness later when the Army wanted to know what took place that day on August 19th, 1854. It's believed that the only reason that Bordeau was spared was because he said to have been married to a Sioux woman. Of course, he being friends with all of the tribes didn't hurt his chances for survival as well. But then again, that didn't stop the warriors from looting his trading post that night.

Three days after what the American Press dubbed the "Grattan Massacre," the Brule and Oglala abandoned their village on the North Platte River and returned to their respective lands set up by the treaty.

A day after they left, Lt. Fleming asked Bourdeau to help him with a burial party. The group went to the scene of the massacre and found the dead soldiers. All had been ritually mutilated. Lt. Grattan is said to have lived through an agonizing death. Accounts described Grattan's face as mutilated and his body dismembered when he was found. Some say he was still alive when the torture took place. Another report said they his body was so badly pierced by arrows that he "resembled a porcupine." In fact, it's said that Lt. Grattan’s body was so disfigured that he was only identified by his watch. '

While Grattan was returned to the post for burial. The remains of the troops were buried on the spot where they were killed in a mass grave. Yes, all 28 men in the same shallow grave. They were later exhumed and reburied at Fort McPherson in what would later become a National Cemetery. Today there is a white marble monument erected there in their memory.

Second Lt. Grattan is buried in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. His remains were moved later to Fort Leavenworth in what would later become a National Cemetery. There is a historical marker about a half mile from where it all took place.

In the American newspapers, accounts conveniently ignored many of the facts of what took place. There were no mention of how American soldiers instigated the end result by shooting Conquering Bear in the back. There was never a mention how Lt. Grattan violated the treaty by entering the village.

Of course, this was the event that many in the U.S. War Department were looking for to justify attacking the Plains Indians. Officially it was "retaliation" to punish the Sioux. Many believe it was the opportunity that many in Washington D.C. was looking for to control of lands that were Sioux territory. Either way, the Army immediately placed the blame for the Grattan Massacre on the Lakota Sioux. And the tragic event, began a series of wars between the Plains Indian nations and United States that would go on for the next 25 years or more.

So now imagine if you would, the event that triggered the warfare and death of both Native Americans and American troops was the killing of an old lame cow worth about $4. Yes indeed. Imagine that.

Tom Correa