SUMMIT SPRINGS, BATTLE OF
The Battle of Summit Springs, on July 11, 1869, was one of the most decisive engagements fought between the U.S. military and the Southern Plains Indians. In retribution for raids on Kansas settlements in 1868 and 1869, Brig. Gen. C. C. Augur, commander of the Department of the Platte, organized the "Republican River Expedition." His orders to expedition leader Maj. Eugene A. Carr were to clear Indians from the Republican River country with eight companies of the Fifth Cavalry and 150 Pawnee scouts under Maj. Frank North. The command was also to rescue two white prisoners, Maria Weichell and Susanna Alderice.
The campaign, which began from Fort McPherson, Nebraska, was directed against the famed Dog Soldier warrior society of the Southern Cheyennes led by Tall Bull. After eluding the soldiers, Tall Bull stopped on the south side of the swollen South Platte River in Logan County, Colorado. On July 11, under the cover of fog, the command advanced on the village of eighty-five lodges. Carr divided his troops into two attack wings and launched the assault about 3:00 p.m. The Pawnee scouts reached the village first, taking the Dog Soldiers by surprise. Guided by Two Crows, women and children took refuge in a nearby ravine. Tall Bull died defending his people, as did the highly regarded Wolf With Plenty of Hair, allegedly the last Dog Soldier to "stake himself out" with a symbolic "dog rope" in warfare. Carr officially reported one trooper wounded, fifty-two Indians killed, and seventeen women and children captured. Susanna Alderice was killed in the attack, and Maria Weichell was severely wounded.
Summit Springs ended conflict with Native Americans in the Colorado Plains. According to George Bent, who later related the history of the Cheyenne people, the Dog Solders were never again an important factor.
John H. Monnett Metropolitan State College of Denver
Grinnell, George B. Two Great Scouts and Their Pawnee Battalion: The Experiences of Frank J. North and Luther H. North. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1973.
Monnett, John H. The Battle of Beecher Island and the Indian War of 1867–1869. Niwot: University Press of Colorado, 1992.