On August 19, 1854, Second Lieutenant John Lawrence Grattan, of the U.S. 6th Infantry Regiment, a recent graduate of West Point and supernumerary waiting for a vacancy in the regiment, led an armed detachment into the Indian encampment to take custody of High Forehead and bring him back to the fort. Grattan was inexperienced and described as contemptuous of the Lakotas' ability as warriors. This was his first encounter with the Sioux.
I have read articles that claim Crazy Horse was present in Conquering Bear's camp and witnessed the events that unfolded on that day. Assuming that most of the forum members are familiar with the Grattan fight.
This would put Crazy Horse as a 14 year old in Conquering Bears camp. This event is considered by most to be the opening stage of the Sioux Wars, and could have been avoided had a more experienced Officer been in command on that day. If it is true that Crazy Horse was there, what are the chances that he took part in the battle, and that what he saw that day shaped his beliefs about the white man? Was this the first time Crazy Horse had seen a white soldier?
Post by natethegreat on Dec 5, 2019 11:06:28 GMT -5
Another thought about it: History seems to remember this event as the "Grattan Massacre". That's what some Books and Articles have given the name of it. It's about 50/50 from what I have seen. Some call it the Grattan Fight, some call it the Grattan Massacre!
I prefer to look a little deeper into things that I read, preferably from first hand accounts in memoirs and reports written by the men and women who lived in those days. Every report I have read says that Lt. Grattan was Inexperienced and Cocky. He did not respect the Sioux as fighting men. He went into Conquering Bears camp ready to take High Forehead in by any means necessary. This tells me that he was the Aggressor.
But, its more than that! Lets look at it without the personal detail of Lt. Grattan and what his mindset was on that day. So, what is a Massacre? To me, a Massacre is when one side is armed and on the prowl to kill without remorse, and the other side are unarmed or non combatants and are defenseless. In the Grattan FIGHT, both sides were armed and ready. The U.S. Infantry Private opened fire and struck Conquering Bear in the sternum, and his warriors took up for him.
Now, lets look at the Legal side of it. Lt. Grattan has NO AUTHORITY to be there to make an arrest. The Indian Agent from the Department of Indian Affairs was only 2 days travel away from the Fort and he was not notified. If he had shown up, things may have ended differently. The U.S. Government used this event and labeled it a Massacre to continue their "Manifest Destiny" march to the sea and taking the land of the natives. How do you do that? With support from the civilians. So they called it a massacre. Lt. Grattan got what he deserved, and his poor leadership got his men killed.
I read Joseph Marshall's book on Crazy Horse ( A Lakota history - the journey of crazy horse) and he says that Crazy Horse was there with lone bear hiding in the trees. It was from there that they witnessed the whole grattan incident. To add injury to insult, shortly after the grattan incident, there was the little thunder massacre in which crazy horse was able to rescue "yellow woman" as the only survivor. (yellow woman could have been "yellow hair") These two incidences shaped crazy horses disdain for the U.S. government encroachment. These two incidences lead to other battles to include the battle of the hundred in the hand as well as the battle at the greasy grass!!
I haven't read the book in a few months. This is a good book as Joseph Marshall recounts oral histories from his elders he grew up with. His history accounts take you back into the Lakota world and it feels like you are there with the old ones 'counting coup'!!lol check it out tho.