The winter of 1868 was unusually bitter cold as the band of Peace Chief Black Kettle’s Cheyenne huddled alongside the Washita River. Their tipis laid out for a half a mile in either direction along the river. At that same moment the U.S. 7th Cavalry under the command of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer was tracking a set of hoof prints into the Washita Valley. When these hoof prints led Custer to the sleeping village of Black Kettle, Custer set into motion a plan of attack that would surprise the Cheyenne camp. When the firing ceased two hours later, about 40 to 60 Cheyenne and 20 cavalrymen lay dead in the snow and mud.
Today, Washita Battlefield National Historic Site protects the 315 acres that was once the location of Black Kettle’s encampment. Come. Walk the mile and half trail that encircle this historic campsite. Read about the events of that fateful day. Listen to the ‘Dial and Discover’ tour to explore the history of Washita. Contemplate the price of progress. Discover tranquility in the wake of tragedy along the banks of the Washita River.