Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

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SAND HILL FIGHT

The Red River War of 1874-75 was the last uprising among the southern Plains Indian tribes. The bands that had fled their Indian Territory reservations in late 1874 were forced by the U.S. Army to surrender in spring 1875. Cheyenne "prisoner of war" camps were located on the North Canadian River above the Cheyenne Agency at Darlington in present Canadian County, Oklahoma. Selected warriors guilty of depredations were to be imprisoned at Fort Marion, Florida.

On April 6, 1875, as leg shackles were being placed on a Cheyenne named Black Horse, he bolted from his guards and ran toward nearby lodges. The soldiers wounded him and several others. A panic ensued among the camp's occupants, who believed that they were being attacked. The Cheyenne fled across the river to a large, tree-covered sand hill where they had secretly cached weapons. Entrenchments were dug as protection for the fighting men and for the women and children.

Three cavalry companies attempted several dismounted assaults on the sand hill but were repulsed. The only use of the rapid-firing Gatling gun against Indians in Oklahoma occurred during the fighting. Sporadic gunshots continued until nightfall when a thunderstorm allowed the Cheyenne to escape.

SEE ALSO: MILITARY–NINETEENTH CENTURY, WESTWARD EXPANSION.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Donald J. Berthrong, The Southern Cheyennes (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1963). Donald J. Berthrong, The Cheyenne and Arapaho Ordeal: Reservation and Agency Life in the Indian Territory, 1875-1907 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1976). George E. Hyde, Life of George Bent Written from His Letters, ed. Savoie Lottinville (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1968).

Bob Rea

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