I was hit early in the fight.
The first published account of the battle at Wounded Knee from an officer present on the field came from an infantryman that had no official role in the battle and in all likelihood should not have been there. First Lieutenant John Kinzie was the forty-year-old adjutant of Colonel Frank Wheaton’s 2nd Infantry Regiment. The regiment was camped at the Pine Ridge Agency adjacent to the 7th Cavalry. The only indication of Kinzie’s reason for being at Wounded Knee on December 29, 1890, mentioned in the volumes of documents surrounding the campaign and Major General Miles’ investigation of the battle, came from a list of casualties compiled by Miles on January 3. He states that Kinzie was “by permission with Major Whiteside [sic].” A logical explanation of Kinzie’s presence at Wounded Knee would be as a liaison from the regiment to which Major Whitside was ordered to turn the Indians over to at Gordon, Nebraska, after securing the arms and ponies from Big Foot’s band.
Kinzie probably came out to Wounded Knee the evening before the battle with Colonel James W. Forsyth and the 2nd Battalion of the 7th Cavalry. Regardless of the reason for being at Wounded Knee that day, Kinzie was shot at the onset of hostilities. His injury was such that he was returned to Fort Omaha, Nebraska, for recuperation in the following days. It was upon his arrival there that a reporter from the Omaha Bee caught up with the lieutenant on January 5 and recorded the first personal account of the battle from an Army officer. Continue reading