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.
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.