Killed by “Gunshot wound of chest, penetrating” during engagement with Big Foot Band, hostile Sioux Indians, at Wounded Knee Post Office, S. D. Dec. 29, ’90.
Inset of Lieut. S. A. Cloman’s map of Wounded Knee depicting the scene of the fight with Big Foot’s Band, December 29, 1890.
Sergeant Dyer had been with the A Troop for over eight and a half years when he stood to post at Wounded Knee Creek. He likely formed part of the sentinel cordon surrounding the Indian village and was probably killed while preventing the Indians from escaping up the dry ravine. He was the ranking soldier in A Troop killed that day, and according to his commander, Captain Myles Moylan, Dyer suffered a penetrating gunshot to his chest.
Arthur C. Dyer was born at Ottawa, La Salle County, Illinois in October 1860, the eldest of two sons of Jonathan G. Dyer (b. 1837 – d. 1928) and Jane Ann Whitman (b. 1835 – d. 1911). Jonathan was a carpenter and native New Yorker living with his wife and her family in Ottawa in 1860 when Arthur was born. There was a strong military tradition in the family on the Whitman side. Arthur’s grandfather, Martin Cole Whitman (b. 1789 – d. 1865), served as a sergeant in the 30th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment in the War of 1812, and Martin’s father, Daniel Whitman (b. 1745 – d. 1829), had served as a private during the American Revolution in Mitchell’s Regiment of Massachusetts troops. That Arthur was aware of his ancestors’ service to the country was evident, as his younger brother, Edgar Martin, became a member of the Sons of the American Revolution a few years after Arthur was killed at Wounded Knee. Jonathan Dyer registered for the draft in 1863, listing himself as a twenty-five-year-old cabinet maker, but apparently did not serve during the Civil War.
Picking up the trade from his father, Arthur listed himself as a carpenter when he enlisted in the Army for five years in June 1882 at Chicago. He stood over five feet eight, had grey eyes, dark brown hair and a light complexion. After processing through Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, for about three weeks, Dyer was assigned to Captain Moylan’s A Troop, 7th Cavalry, the only unit with which he served.
He spent his first five-year-term in the Dakota and Montana territories, and in 1887 reenlisted at Fort Keogh as a private, remaining in A Troop. His service under Moylan’s command was not without pit falls. Just a month before departing Fort Riley for the Pine Ridge Agency, and exactly two months before the battle at Wounded Knee Creek, Sergeant Dyer was found guilty at a summary court martial. The unit muster roll does not indicate the charges and specifications but details that Dyer forfeited $15 deducted from his November pay. He did, however, retain his sergeant stripes.
On New Years Eve, 1890 his regiment paid their final respects to Dyer and twenty-nine other 7th Cavalry troopers that gave their last full measure. As with most of the troopers buried in the Episcopal cemetery at the Pine Ridge Agency, his remains were removed and reburied at Fort Riley in October 1906.
Sergeant Arthur C. Dyer is buried in the Fort Riley Post Cemetery.
 Ancestry.com, 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line], Year: 1870, Census Place: Chicago Ward 12, Cook, Illinois, Roll: M593_206, Page: 276B, Image: 555, Family History Library Film: 545705; National Cemetery Administration. U.S. Veterans Gravesites, ca.1775-2006[database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006; Ancestry.com, U.S. Army, Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914 [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007, Original data: Register of Enlistments in the U.S. Army, 1798-1914, (National Archives Microfilm Publication M233, 81 rolls), Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780’s-1917, Record Group 94, National Archives, Washington, D.C.; National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Washington, D.C., Consolidated Lists of Civil War Draft Registration Records (Provost Marshal General’s Bureau; Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865), Record Group: 110, Records of the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau (Civil War), Collection Name: Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865 (Civil War Union Draft Records), ARC Identifier: 4213514, Archive Volume Number: 1 of 5.
 Ancestry.com, U.S. Army, Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914 [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007, Original data: Register of Enlistments in the U.S. Army, 1798-1914, (National Archives Microfilm Publication M233, 81 rolls), Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780’s-1917, Record Group 94, National Archives, Washington, D.C.; National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Washington, D.C., Returns from U.S. Military Posts, 1800-1916, Microfilm Serial: M617, Microfilm Roll: 548; Adjutant General’s Officer, “7th Cavalry, Troop A, Jan. 1885 – Dec. 1897,” Muster Rolls of Regular Army Organizations, 1784 – Oct. 31, 1912, Record Group 94, (Washington: National Archives Record Administration).
 Burial Registers for Military Posts, Camps, and Stations, 1768-1921, (National Archives Microfilm Publication M2014, 1 roll).
About Sam Russell
I am a fifth-generation retired Army officer with twenty-nine years of commissioned service. I have been researching the frontier Army for over eighteen years and am interested in documenting the lives of the soldiers that participated in the battle of Wounded Knee using primarily official reports, diaries, letters, newspaper articles and other primary source documents.
My interest in Wounded Knee stems from my kinship to one of the principal participants. I am the great-great-grandson of Samuel M. Whitside, who was a major and battalion commander at the battle.
I welcome and encourage comments on posts and pages and am always interested in any new primary sources. If you have copies of letters, diaries, etc, from participants and are willing to share, please contact me.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are strictly my own, and should in no way be construed as official Army or U.S. Government positons.