Mrs Lone Wolfs Narrative

* "I was about sixteen years old. We had camped at the place on the Washita but a few days. When we first went into camp a white cloth about the size of a blanket had been taken and sewed on a long pole, and Black Kettle gave orders that if anyone saw the soldiers they must raise this pole. That night it was very cold, and my father staid on guard until after midnight. The moon shone all night long.

When my father lay down another Indian by the name of Double Wolf took his place. It was so cold that Double Wolf came in and lay down. The day had just begun when I heard somebody hallaring. Double Wolf jumped up and ran outside. Instead of raising the white flag he fired his gun. My father jumped up. Just then several shots were fired. My father and Double Wolf feel dead. Then the shooting stopped for a moment.

We ran out of our tipis and tried to run out through the narrow entrance. We saw white men in front of us motioning to us to go back. I don't know which side began shooting first. I feel on my face in the snow and could hear nothing but guns. At last the shooting stopped, and the next thing I knew a soldier punched with his gun and motioned me to get up. There were several women lying close to me. Men, women, and children lay dead everywhere. I saw many warriors lying dead with their guns in their hands.

The ponies, after being shot, broke away, and ran about bleeding, until they dropped. In this way the snow on the whole bend of the river was mad red with blood. This is the reason we call it the 'battle of the red moon.'

We crossed the river on the ice, and the women and children were put on horseback. We started north toward Fort Supply. I saw Major [Joel H.] Elliott and a number of other men start down the river. I knew Major Elliott, as I had seen him many times before. We camped on the South Canadian, had mad a big fire, and were warming ourselves when bunch of Tonkawa [probably Osage] scouts came in and brought the news that Major Elliott and his entire party had been killed.

We thought, therefore, when we heard the news, that a part of our people would be killed in retaliation for the killing of Major Elliott and his men. So our warriors asked how many were to be killed, so they might prepare to die. They sent me to General [George A.] Custer to find out. I went to the interpreter and told him I wanted to see General Custer. I was taken close to him, and I asked him through the interpreter how many prisoners he was going to kill for Major Elliott. He covered his face with his hands and refused to speak for a minute. One of the soldiers started to drive me and the interpreter away, but Custer raised his head, saw that we were going away, ad made the soldier bring us back to him.

Then he said, 'white people don't kill prisoners.' He told me further that as long as we did nit try to run away, and as long as we behaved ourselves, none of us would be hurt. So we built a big fire, and the smoke went straight up into the sky, so that the old Indians said the great spirit was with us and would deliver us back into our tribe. Then we took meat and ate it, the first we had eaten since the night before, though it had been offered to us before that day. From that time on we had plenty to eat and good warm blankets to ear, and I am sure if Double Wolf had done what Black Kettle told him to do there would not have been a gun fired. Though many of my people deny it, I know that Double Wolf fired the first shot."

1. Richard G. Hardorff, "Washita Memories", pp. 335-337.

* Mrs. Lone Wolf was one of the 56 women and children captives of Custer and the U.S. 7th cavalry after the Battle of the Washita.

Last updated: April 18, 2015

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