Dull Knife Campaign

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DULL KNIFE CAMPAIGN (1878–1879). After the Battle of Little Bighorn, hundreds of Northern Cheyenne were forcibly relocated to a reservation at Darlington, in the Indian Territory, where dozens perished from sickness. On 9 September 1878 the survivors started for their home in Montana, led by Chief Dull Knife and Chief Little Wolf. Fighting off pursuing troops in several skirmishes, they crossed the Kansas border, killing cowmen and hunters as they progressed. The band contained 89 warriors and 246 women and children. Although large forces of troops were sent to head them off, the Cheyenne eluded or defeated every detachment, killing Lt. Col. William H. Lewis at Punished Women's Fork on 28 September and slaying 18 settlers at Sappa Creek, Kansas, on 30 September.

In October the Cheyenne crossed the South Platte River, and the camps of Little Wolf and Dull Knife separated. Dull Knife's people were captured on 23 October by Col. J. B. Johnson and placed in empty barracks at Fort Robinson, Nebraska. Capt. Henry W. Wessells, commandant, received orders on 5 January 1879, to transport the Indians back to Oklahoma, but they refused to go. When, five days later, Wessells arrested the chiefs Wild Hog and Crow, the remainder of the band broke out of the barracks and made a dash for freedom. Troops pursued, but it was not until 22 January that the last of the Indians were killed or captured. Dull Knife escaped to the Sioux. Little Wolf's band, induced to surrender by Lt. W. P. Clark at Boxelder Creek on 25 March, was permitted to remain in Montana.


Boye, Alan. Holding Stone Hands: On the Trail of the Cheyenne Exodus. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999.

Sandoz, Mari. Cheyenne Autumn. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992

Paul I.Wellman/a. r.

See alsoIndian Removal ; Indian Reservations ; Indian Territory ; Little Bighorn, Battle of ; Scouting on the Plains .