- Historic Sites
“Dont Let Them Ride Over Us”
Surrounded, starving, far from help, Major Forsyth and his gallant little band of scouts prepared to face wave after wave of Indians.
February 1967 | Volume 18, Issue 2
SCOUT ELI ZIGLER: … we unsaddled our horses and picketed them out to graze, and built our fires and went to rustling our suppers. … about dusk … we saw a signal light go up south of us … and then we saw more go up in different directions, so we were pretty certain we would have more for breakfast than we had for supper. … the Colonel put on more guards that night and ordered us to be ready at any moment. … and as my horse and Mr. Culver’s were picketed out close to the river, we took our blankets and went out close to our horses and spread them down.
… they came a little earlier than we had expected them and woke us up. I heard the first whoop they gave, but I was so sleepy I thought it was a flock of geese; just then the guards fired. I gave a jump and said to Culver, “They are here!”
As we were dressed and our revolvers and cartridge boxes buckled on and our carbines lying by our sides we were ready for action. … It was not hardly daylight yet, but we … could see the flash of their guns. Culver and I made for our horses as they rode by; they were whooping and yelling and shouting and shaking their blankets to make a stampede.
HURST: Colonel Forsyth gave orders to saddle up, which we did, and were standing by our horses … when some of the men got permission to drive off some Indians that were hiding behind rocks on the side hill north of us. When they got onto the high ground they shouted to us to look up the creek, and by this time the Indians were in full view, and such a picture! All were mounted on their war horses, in war costume, with feathers and plumes flying, shouting war whoops, their horses running at full speed and seeming to have partaken of the spirit of the fray. … We … knew that we would be no match for that army of red men, in the open, and as we were close by the small island … Forsyth gave orders … to move onto the island.
McLOUGHLIN: The island was about three feet above the level of the sandy bed of the creek and was about 40 feet wide and 150 feet long. The upper end was covered with high blue stem grass and small cottonwood trees, none larger than six inches in diameter. The dry channel of the creek was about 70 feet wide on each side of the island.
HURST: We made a grand rush for the island, without order, and tied our horses to the trees. Some ran across to the south side and crouched down in the long grass … and were hardly located when the Indians were charging through us. Comrade Armstrong was close by my right, and another comrade on my left, each one by a tree. John Stillwell and his party were on the east end of the island, and Jack Donovan and his party were on the west end, and some were in the central part, all pretty well hid, and all [were] shooting when the Indians came in close range. … Our bullets coming from all directions seemed to bewilder them.
A warrior coming from the north almost ran over me, and would have but for his horse shying to one side, which saved me. It rather surprised me, as my attention was directed toward the south. … as he rode straight away from me I had a good chance to shoot. … I think I must have hit him. …
Armstrong and the other comrade were both wounded … I was afraid the Indians would get between me and the other men. … Soon [I] saw an Indian creeping through the grass toward our horses. … Well, I did not want to be scalped out there on the island alone, so fired at the Indian … and without waiting to see the effect of my shot jumped up and ran to where some of the comrades were located. Some had dug holes and made banks of sand around them, and some were using the dead horses for protection, and so I dropped down beside an unoccupied dead horse and went to digging. … While I was busy digging, Comrades McCall and Culver came in … and went to work digging. …
Comrades on the inside of the circle shouted, “If you fellows on the outside don’t get up and shoot, the Indians will be charging us.”
McCall and Culver got up to look for Indians to shoot, and some sharpshooter fired at their exposed heads. The bullet grazed McCall’s neck, stunning him, and hit Culver in the head, killing him.
ZIGLER: I saw George Clark and Parley and a couple of others running across the river; they got behind a bank on the north side, so I thought that would be a good place to go. As I started, the Indians made a charge down through that way so I had to stop. I stopped where there was a little bunch of brush and a few horses tied; some of the horses were hit by the flying bullets and commenced charging and jumping, so I had to get away from there. ... Just then the Colonel saw me … he said, “You can come with me, I want you around on this side.”
We went a few steps toward the east; the Indians were making another heavy charge. … we got down on our knees. … As we shot a time or two I heard something strike and the Colonel said, “I’m shot,” and put his hand on his leg. … He turned over a time or two and said, “I am shot again.” … the first chance we got, we carried him farther in, near the center of the bunch.