Moving Behind and Corn Stalk Woman

[NOTE: Moving Behind was born in 1854. She was about fourteen at the time of the Battle of the Washita. Moving Behind was orphaned since childhood, and being reared by her aunt Corn Stalk Woman and her husband, Roll Down. The family was well aquatinted with Black Kettle and his family, and used to camp near him whenever they pitched their tepees.]

Praying as she talked, Moving Behind said:

"I have lived all these years, and before this no one has ever asked me to tell the story about how the soldiers approached the Black Kettle camp one morning at daybreak. You should have asked me long ago, before I went blind. Then I could have gone with you to that place and shown you where we camped and hid-if that place is still the same. From what I hear, the place and the river are different now...

* "Someone in camp said that a warning shot had been issued for us to move at once. They planned to have the camp move. But somehow they refused to move away at once. If they only could have listened and done what they were told to do! They did not feel sure about the warning. Not a soul knew the secret plans that were being laid...

The next morning, just before daylight someone must have suspected that the soldiers were near the camp, for many awoke earlier than usual. We heard a woman saying in a low voice: 'Wake up! White men! White men are here! The soldiers are approaching the camp.' We became frightened, and did not know what to do. We arose at once. At that instant, the soldiers let out terrible yells, and there was a burst of gunfire from them...

In the grass we lay flat, our hearts beating fast; and we were afraid to move. It was now bright daylight. It frightened us to listen to the noise and cries of the wounded. When the noise seemed to quiet down, and we believed the battle was about to end, we raised our heads high enough to to see what was going on. We saw a dark figure lying near a hill, and later we learned it was the body of a woman with child. The woman's body had been cut open by the soldier...The soldiers would pass back and forth near the spot where I lay. As I turned sideways and looked, one soldier saw us, and rode toward where we lay. He stopped his horse, and stared at us. He did not say a word and we wondered what would happen. But he left, and no one showed up after that. I suppose he pitied us, and left us alone."


1. "Some Reminiscences of the Battle of the Washita" by Theodore A. Ediger and Vinnie Hoffman. Published in the Chronicles of Oklahoma, Summer 1955, Volume 33, Number 2, pp. 137-141.

2. "Washita Memories, Eyewitness Views of Custer's Attack on Black Kettle's Village" by Richard G. Hardorff, University of Oklahoma Press, 2006.

* Shortly before her death in 1937, Moving Behind (Mrs. Black Hawk), whom the writer had known since he was a child, related an eyewitness account of the historic battle of November 27, 1868. She said was "over eighty years old, blind and helpless, but still able to remember accurately what happened."

Last updated: April 18, 2015

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