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Winged Arrow's Medicine

The Massacre at Fort Phil Kearney

330 pages
Library of Alexandria
Guy Preston was a young and beardless boy fresh from "The Point." He was now attached to the —th cavalry and was one of three hundred men who had been ordered to that faraway country to assist in building the fort, which was named after the lamented hero, Phil Kearney. He had left the fort a short time before, and was out after prairie chickens, being armed with a double-barreled shotgun. The brace of birds which was tied to the pommel of his saddle proved that he was something of an adept at shooting on the wing. He was dressed in the uniform of the cavalry service, with a pair of straps on his shoulders that were decidedly the worse for wear, and his horse, a Kentucky thoroughbred, which, although seemingly impatient to exhibit the mettle that was in him, was obedient to the rein and stopped or went ahead when his owner commanded him. "There do not seem to be many chickens here, Tom, and so I think we will go back to the Fort," said Guy, raising himself in his stirrups and casting impatient glances on all sides of him. "We were told to stay within sight of the fortifications, but that last prairie chicken was too much for me. It made me disobey orders. There does not seem to be any Sioux here either, and I don't see why they cannot let us alone. We could see plenty of fun in hunting if that miserable Red Cloud was out of the way." Guy Preston was not the only one who wished that same thing of Red Cloud. His regiment had been stationed, in the first place, at Fort Robinson in Nebraska, which was the central point from which operations against the hostiles were organized. And what had caused this Red Cloud to go on the warpath? It was simply because the United States government had determined to open a road to Montana by way of Powder River. The way the road was laid out made it necessary that it should pass through the favorite hunting ground of the Sioux Indians, and some of them were fiercely opposed to it. The authorities made treaties with the hereditary chiefs by whom the right of way was granted, but the dissatisfaction that arose on account of it was so great that it led to an open rupture. Red Cloud was not an hereditary chief; that is, he was not a chief of any sort. He belonged to "the rank and file" of the band, but he was ambitious to become something better. The uneasiness among the Indians gave him a glorious chance. He denounced the treaties and their makers, and declared war to the knife against every white man who came over that road or ventured into that country.