November 1867

Photograph of Albert and Jennie Barnitz
Albert and Jennie Barnitz (NPS Photo)

November 12th, 1867

With the end of the Medicine Lodge Treaty in October of 1867, Captain Barnitz of the 7th Cavalry, who was present during the treaty signing, wrote in his journal a poignant entry regarding all that had transpired in late October:

After the council the Cheyennes were with great difficulty persuaded to sign the treaty. They were superstitious in regard to touching the pen, or perhaps supposed that by doing so they would be ‘signing away their rights’ – which is doubtless the true state of affairs, as they have no idea that they are giving up, or that they have ever given up the country which they claim as their own, the country north of the Arkansas. The treaty all amounts to nothing, and we will certainly have another war sooner or later with the Cheyennes, at least, and probably with the other Indians, in consequence of misunderstanding of the terms of present and previous treaties.”

Medicine Lodge Treaty depiction showing gathering Cheyenne Indians gathered with Peace Commissioners in a circle. In the center is a Cheyenne man with hand outstretched and giving a speech.
Council at Medicine Lodge (From Harper's Weekly)

November 13th, 1867

John Stands In Timber, a Cheyenne man born in 1882, recollected the passed down history of the Medicine Lodge Treaty, which occurred over several days in October 1867:

I suppose all these chiefs were at that council: White Antelope and Black Kettle and Spotted Hawk, Mad Bull, Eagle Bird – I remember several of those chiefs – Little Hand. The government thought they stayed there all the time [during the treaty gathering], but they went back and forth: Comanches, Kiowas, Apaches, Arapahoes, Caddos, Cheyennes – two hundred fifty lodges of Cheyennes. It could be that many Southern Cheyennes, but the northerners never were down there. Maybe a few visiting down there at that time. They gave them so much stuff they couldn’t get it home. More Indian doings going on and they never paid much attention to the big council, maybe just the chiefs.”

In the last sentence, he mentions “so much stuff” - a reference to the gifts given to the Cheyenne by the peace commissioners during the treaty; gifts intended to sway them to sign it. His reference to “northerners” is to the Northern Cheyenne, who were largely absent during the Medicine Lodge Treaty. The most insightful comment he made was that many Cheyennes “never paid much attention to the big council, maybe just the chiefs.”

Elizabeth Bacon Custer, from 1860's photograph
Elizabeth Bacon Custer (Courtesy Library of Congress)

November 20th, 1867

On November 20th 1867, George Armstrong Custer’s wife Libby wrote a letter to her cousin (Rebecca Richmond) from Fort Leavenworth, mentioning the aftermath of his court martial:

Armstrong has received official notice - He had already heard by telegram - the sentence is unjust as possible. Autie merits acquittal. Suspension from rank and command; forfeiture of pay proper for a year. It does not disturb us, for now we can be together for a year and a half, for the next Indian campaign (which he will not participate in) will be over in the summer, it is believed, and by the expiration of his sentence all will be in winter quarters.

Pay proper is $95. a month, but a soldier’s emoluments amount to more than his pay, so that we have enough to live on. We have bought a new carpet for the front room, and put the old one in your bedroom. We anxiously await a telegram announcing your arrival. Autie and I are the wonder of the garrison, we are in such high spirits.”


Last updated: June 18, 2018

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