First Lieutenant James DeFrees Mann, K Troop, 7th Cavalry


I ordered my men to fire and the reports were almost simultaneous.

Lieut. J. D. Mann

2nd Lieut. James D. Mann, 7th Cavalry, in camp at Fort Riley, Kansas, 1888.[1]

On December 28, 1890, First Lieutenant James D. Mann, K Troop 7th Cavalry, was left in charge of his battalion’s camp at the Wounded Knee Post Office while his battalion commander, Major S. M. Whitside, rode out with over 240 troopers to meet and capture Big Foot and his band of Miniconjou Lakota. Lieutenant Mann sent the following message at 1:30 p.m. from the cavalry camp to the Assistant Adjutant General of the Department of the Platte headquartered in the field at the Pine Ridge Agency.

Major Whitside with all mounted men and mountain guns left camp at 12 m. to meet Big Foot’s band, reported to be in camp at the crossing of the Porcupine, having been reported there by Little Bat. We have in camp here two of their men, holding them as prisoners.
I have just been informed by Vespucius, a halfbreed, who has driven from the agency to this point, that he met about 50 strange Indians, who were about 9 miles from the agency and heading in that direction. These, I learn from our prisoners, are from Cherry creek and are trying to get into the agency.[2]

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Private Marvin Charles Hillock–A Lost Medal of Honor Recipient


…for distinguished bravery in action against hostile Sioux Indians, near the Catholic Mission, on White Clay Creek, South Dakota, continuing on duty though painfully wounded.

1862 MOHPrivate Marvin C. Hillock was assigned to Captain Charles A. Varnum’s B Troop sometime prior to the regiment’s departure from Fort Riley to South Dakota in November 1890. Being in B Troop, likely placed Hillock on the ‘V’ shaped angle of sentinels surrounding the council of Indians during the disarmament on Wounded Knee on the morning of December 29, 1890. This position would put him in the thick of the fight at the opening volley. Twelve of the forty-three soldiers in B Troop were casualties that day, including the company’s First Lieutenant, John C. Gresham. Of those twelve, five where killed outright and two more died later of their wounds. This was the second highest casualty rate of the ten line companies at Wounded Knee, including the artillery and Indian scouts. Only K Troop, making up the other leg of the ‘V’, had experienced more casualties, sixteen, including six killed in action and two that died of wounds. Hillock came through the battle unscathed but was not so fortunate the following day at the battle on White Clay Creek. There Hillock was one of two soldiers from B Troop wounded, the other being Private William S. Kirkpatrick. Captain Varnum recorded in the company muster roll that Private Hillock was sick in quarters suffering from a gunshot wound to his left foot received in action on December 30.[1] Continue reading

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Flight of Big Foot’s Band: Lieutenant Colonel Edwin V. Sumner’s Report


I was not aware that Big Foot or his people were considered hostile, and am now at a loss to understand why they were so considered, every act of theirs being within my experience directly to the contrary, and reports made by me were to the effect that the Indians were friendly and quiet.

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Edwin V. Sumner, Jr., circa 1865.

Edwin Vose Sumner, Jr., was fifty-five during the Pine Ridge Campaign of 1890-1891. Perhaps destined to serve in the cavalry, he was born in 1835 at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, where his father had established and was commanding the Army’s school for mounted troops. Sumner began his military service as a volunteer when he enlisted at the outset of the Civil War. During the course of the rebellion, he rose to the regular rank of captain in the 1st U.S. Cavalry, and was serving as a lieutenant colonel of U.S. Volunteers in the 1st New York Mounted Rifles. He received a brevet promotion to major for gallantry in the battle of Todd’s Tavern in 1864. At the end of the war he was awarded a brevet of brigadier general in the volunteers and a brevet of lieutenant colonel in the regular army, both for gallant and meritorious service. After the war he reverted to his regular rank of captain serving with the 1st Cavalry until promoted to major in the 5th Cavalry in 1879. Sumner was promoted to lieutenant colonel in the 8th cavalry in April 1890, the rank and position he held during the Pine Ridge Campaign.[1]

The same month that Sumner joined the 8th Cavalry, Brigadier General Thomas H. Ruger, commanding the Department of Dakota, ordered a camp be established on the Cheyenne River just south of the Indian reservation of the same name. The troops were there expressly to observe a band of Minicounjou Lakota under the chieftainship of Big Foot, also known as Spotted Elk. Captain Argalus G. Hennisee, commanding Troop I, 8th Cavalry, referred to the field site as the Camp on Cheyenne River, S. Dak., or more briefly, Camp Cheyenne. In the first post return, Hennisee wrote: Continue reading

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