July 11

This Day in History

Old West

Jul 11, 1869:

Tall Bull dies

Tall Bull, a prominent leader of the Cheyenne Dog Soldier warrior society, is killed during the Battle of Summit Springs in Colorado.

Tall Bull was the most distinguished of several Cheyenne warriors who bore this hereditary name. He was a leader of the Dog Soldiers, a fierce Cheyenne society of warriors that had initially fought against other Indian tribes. In the 1860s, though, the Dog Soldiers increasingly became one of the most implacable foes of the U.S. government in the bloody Plains Indian Wars.

In October 1868, Tall Bull and his Dog Soldiers badly mauled an American cavalry force in Colorado. He confronted General Philip Sheridan's forces the following winter in Oklahoma. Near the Washita River, Sheridan's Lieutenant Colonel George Custer attacked a peaceful Cheyenne village under Chief Black Kettle. The Cheyenne suffered more than 100 casualties, and Custer's soldiers brutally butchered more than 800 of their horses. However, Custer was forced to flee when Tall Bull and other chiefs camped in nearby villages began to mass for attack.

Custer's attack had badly damaged the Cheyenne, but Tall Bull refused to surrender to the Americans. In the spring of 1869, Tall Bull and his Dog Soldiers took their revenge, staging a series of successful attacks against soldiers who were searching for him. Determined to destroy the chief, the U.S. Army formed a special expeditionary force under the command of General Eugene Carr.

On this day in 1869, Carr surprised Tall Bull and his warriors in their camp at Summit Springs, Colorado. In the ensuing battle, Tall Bull was killed and the Dog Soldiers were overwhelmed. Without the dynamic leadership of their chief, the surviving Dog Soldiers' resistance was broken. Although other Cheyenne continued to fight the American military for another decade, they did so without the aid of their greatest warrior society and its leader.

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