• Along the Washita - 1868 by Gene V. Dougherty

    Washita Battlefield

    National Historic Site Oklahoma

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Where did they bury Chief Black Kettle?

No one knows. According to Magpie, who was present at the battle, Cheyenne women pulled both Black Kettle and his wife's body from the river and carried them up the pony trail that was north of the river to a sandy knoll. There they debated where to bury them. To this day, no one actually knows where the chief is buried.

2. Where were Major Elliott, Captain Hamilton and the other twenty cavalry men buried?

Major Elliott was finally laid to rest at Fort Gibson National Cemetery. His grave site is at the Officers' Circle. Captain Hamilton was first buried at Fort Supply with two other troopers killed at Washita. His remains were later interred at his family cemetery at Pokeepsie, New York. Sergeant Major Kennedy and the other eighteen cavalrymen are buried in an unknown spot, somewhere in the hills northeast of the historic site; probably northwest of Strong City, Oklahoma.

3. Is there any camping allowed at the park?

No camping is permitted within the park. The surrounding Black Kettle National Grasslands (U.S. Forest Service) offer camping at Spring Creek Lake, Skipout Lake, and Black Kettle Recreation Area. Camping is also permitted at the Washita National Wildlife Refuge, 30 miles east of the park and Foss Lake State Park.

4. How big is the actually park?

315.2 acres, in which 2/3 is open to the public.

5. Why did they kill the Indian ponies?

It was part of the total war policy. Ponies were the most significant form of wealth to the Plains Indians, including the Cheyenne. Killing the ponies destroyed substantial wealth. It also kept the warriors from raiding into Kansas and hunting buffalo. The death of these horses forced many Cheyenne onto the reservation.

Did You Know?

Chief Magpie sitting on the banks of the Washita River.

As a teenager, Magpie survived the 1868 attack on the Washita River, and lived to fight Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer once again at the Battle of Little Big Horn.