The Battle of Slim Buttes - 1876

The first victory for the U.S. Army since the Battle of the Little Bighorn occurred in September of 1876. After Custer’s defeat in June of 1876, General Phillip H. Sheridan, in command of the Department of Missouri, ordered General George Crook and General Alfred Terry to pursue the Indian warriors and their followers. Until September they were unable to locate any bands of Native Americans.

With supplies running low General Crook headed toward the mining towns of the Black Hills. He hoped to restock his supplies. Quite by accident Crook’s march took him directly into the camps of the Sioux at Slim Buttes. Captain Anson Mills and a group of soldiers who had ridden ahead to get supplies discovered a village of thirty-seven lodges. On September 9th the soldiers surrounded the village and attacked. Firing indiscriminately the soldiers killed men, women, and children. The troops found food, ammunition, and guns. They took what they wanted and burned the village.

Those Native people who had been able to escape passed the word to other nearby villages and the Indian warriors attacked. By now General Crook and the rest of the soldiers had arrived. Fighting continued the rest of the day. American Horse with four warriors and fifteen women retreated to a cave. American Horse was shot through the abdomen during the fight. Captured by U.S. troops, American Horse refused the help of the army surgeons. He died several days later.

Nearby were the camps of Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, and Spotted Eagle. They were unable to mount a rescue. The bluecoats were once again on the offensive.