Thursday, October 6, 2016

Chapter Review: The Battle of Wounded Knee: Medals of Dishonor

Taken from Miracles and Massacres: True and Untold Stories of the Making of America, by Glenn Beck with Kevin Balfe and Hannah Beck, Theshold Editions, New York, 2013.

Th Massacre at Wounded Knee is common knowledge to most of us.  But the official Army version is much different from what we know happened.  As a result of the Ghost Dance, the federal forces were on heightened alert.  The intended to arrest Sitting Bull.  However he and two of his sons were killed in the arrest attempt.  Six Native American policemen had also been killed.
Under the command of General Nelson Miles, Major Samuel Whiteside was ordered to find Big Foot and his band and escort them back to reservation.  There worries he might join another group and make a large force together.  Big Foot was not with the original negotiating party.  He was ill.  Whiteside insisted he talk with Big Foot, and he was brought in his sick wagon.  They had no intention of fighting and were willing to be accompanied back to the reservation.  Whiteside put up a loose perimeter, however when he was relieved by Colonel James Forsyth he was ordered to encircle the Indians, and disarm them in the morning.
Disarming was the trick.  At first they asked the Native Americans to bring their guns, and they brought a few.  A search of the tepees garnered about that many more.  Then the started a person inspection and were finding even more.  When a young man who was deaf, was having his weapon taken from him by force, it discharged.  There was a second of silence, then Forsyth gave the order to fire.  That they did, mowing down the warriors, as well as women and children.  The let lose with the Hotchkiss guns, Gatling guns, and the devastation was quick.  However, being in a circle, many of their own bullets his comrades on the other side of the circle.
The frozen bodies left in the snow was a testament to the brutality.  However in the investigation, the government exonerated Forsyth and his men.  Miles brought him up on charges, but the inquiry just said he may have camped too close to the Native Americans, allowing for sabotage, but not giving any clear blame.  In fact, just to prove the troops were not at fault, 20 citations were made for action in this battle.  That is more than are generally given after a battle, let alone a massacre.
To finish the rub, a grandson of Big Foot's actual name (rather than the one given by the Americans) is Chief Spotted Elk.

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