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the spot and make it fairly representative of the time of the battle of the Washita.
The Washita flows down from the West against a high cut-bank, which forms the break of the high prairie on the south as it descends suddenly to the level with the river valley, and then the stream turns northward and flows for about a thousand yards, then returning to the wall-like prairie embankment (the goose-neck spoken of above), and this tract, thus circumscribed by the river, was the place where the village was situated. Northwest of the village ran two ridges between which Custer led his troops, remaining quiescent and concealed until the Osages and scouts had made a more careful survey. They soon reported the undoubted presence of large numbers of Indians and a very large herd of ponies; this report being verified by Custer and his staff, who scrupulously inspected the village (from places of concealment) and its reasonably vulnerable points. Bitterly cold as, was that night, the command rested as best they could on the snow; the while Custer formulated his plan of attack, after which the troops were quietly moved to the various points whence they were to attack the camp.
Captain Edward S. Meyer was assigned to the right to occupy the elevated ground south of the village and to cut off any possible retreat of the hostiles. He cautiously took up the position that he was to occupy, fording the stream close to where a small affluent from the south empties in and following up this tributary for several hundred yards to the higher plateau. Captain Louis M. Hamilton and Captain Albert Barnitz
their detachments into the heavy timber northwest from the Indian camp, while First Lieutenant William W. Cook's sharpshooters were located on the north side of the Washita, and on a level tract of land that is now a cotton field, half a mile north and west of the Indians. General Custer had five troops with him to charge the village at the early dawn, the signal for the charge being the tune of "Garry Owen," to be played by the Seventh Cavalry band, that always accompanied the regiment in its campaigns. Everything is prepared for the slaught, and the preliminary description
may be imagined by the reader as the suspensory time before the fighting commences, when the hearts beat quicker, when the breath comes irregularly and the teeth have a custom of setting hard together. Just as the pearly dawn rifted the darkness, Custer gave the order for the attack, and the tense silence was broken by the crash of the opening bars of Custer's favorite martial tune whirling through the crisp air. The horses, that had been impatiently chafing under the restraint and the bitter cold, sprang forward exultantly, because they were in motion, and so impetuously that many of the musicians were carried into the thick of the melee. The men were also exhilarated at the termination of their frozen inactivity, and shouted jubilantly at the arrived opportunity of having a whack at the Indians. General Custer, as usual, was in the lead, riding a magnificent black stallion, and, clearing the trail crossing the ashita at one jump, was greeted by the Indians shouting "Tse mokh-e ve-yune He-yo-vi-e!" (The Big Chief, Yellow Hair); yellow hair being Custer's sobriquet derived from his flowing hair of that hue. By the side of Custer rode Ben Clark (*Red Neck-Mi-e, red; No-to-wah, neck; from the ruddy hue of his neck and breast, sunburned by exposure), and as the Indians recognized him they warned one another: "Tan-uttse-vome, Mi-e-no to-wah tah-hah-to-om," Look out for Red Neck, he's a dead shot. It has been the pleasure of the writer to meet many scouts and trailers, but assuredly one of the bravest, most competent and unassuming is Ben Clark, now Post Guide and Interpreter at Fort Reno, Oklahoma, and completing the fiftieth year of his service with the Government.
The unpreparedness of the Indians for the assault resulted in great confusion and slaughter among them, and as the troopers swirled hither and thither reaping the harvest of death, Custer also placed a few "good" Indians to his credit. After the primary recurrent charges he occupied a little knoll that commanded a view of the battle-field, and thence issued his orders. On that knoll, a brown sandstone monument, commemorative of the engagement, was erected some years ago by Major Hugh
L. Scott, formerly of the Seventh Cavalry.
As the Indians fled from their village they tried to pass down the river to the camps below, that stretched for miles, and were met by the detachments commanded by Hamilton and Barnitz. The junction of the opponents was the occasion of heavy fighting, during which Hamilton was shot squarely between the eyes and instantly killed, and Barnitz was shot through the lungs, from which wound he never recovered and was retired on December 15, 1870, on account of wounds received while in the line of duty.
The loss to the Indians was their village captured and destroyed, one hundred and three warriors killed, and fifty-three women and children captured, and the pony herd taken and sent to the happy hunting grounds. The soldiers lost one officer and three men killed, and three officers and eleven men wounded.
While this engagement was being prosecuted, the Indians for a distance of fifteen miles down the Washita comprehending Comanches, Kiowas and Cheyennes, assembled in force and attacked Custer, shouting the while: "Shiv-e nah-ho tse mokh-e ve-yun-a," try and kill the big chief; but the big chief turned the tables on them and drove them on the back trail some five miles down the river, until approaching darkness constrained the relinquishment of the chase. During the pursuit, Major Joel H. Elliott, Seventh Cavalry, seeing some young bucks escaping, followed them with the regimental sergeant-major, and fifteen men. bucks were recaptured, but Elliott and his party, on their way back, were surrounded by hostiles and killed. He had followed the young Indians (bucks, in Western parlance) taking a course due south and nearly at right angles to the Washita. After following this direction for a mile and a half, a very small branch of the river was crossed and an open prairie reached; on this prairie the bucks were captured and were being brought back, when the party was attacked by some of the hostiles from down the river, supposedly numbering from one thousand to fifteen hundred warriors. They joyously yelled at seeing the little party, "Shiv-e-ie-vo-tsit tah-nah-ho!"
(Charge on them, kill them!) Elliott fought his way back toward the small creek-since named Sergeant-Major Creek until within rifle range of it, when he was blocked by Indians who had taken position in its bed, whence they leisurely picked off his men. The latter then formed a little circle, prepared to kill as many of the hostiles as possible ere being killed themselves (true soldier fashion), and around this circle their dead and horribly mutilated bodies were found. None of those back with the regiment knew of Elliott's party having followed the Indians; none heard the noise of their contest, and none knew of their precise fate until they were discovered subsequently and then cut and gashed almost beyond recognition.
Ben Clark thus epitomizes the fight from the time of the killing of Captain Louis McLane Hamilton, as it came under his immediate observation:
"In making its sharp bend around the village, the Washita river had cut into its north bank, until heavy portions of the bank fell away and made a natural breastwork in the river below. About twenty men, women and children (Tse-ot, warriors; Ha-a-yo, squaws; Is-sun, boys, and Ik-sun, girls) took refuge in this place. and hid from sight during the heaviest fighting. fighting. When a lull came, they were discovered, and, on their refusal to surrender, were all killed. I saw a Cheyenne (Tsis-tah) woman, the last survivor, kill her child with a butcher knife and then bury the blade in her own breast. Cheyenne babies are almost as fair as white children, hence several of the soldiers. thought she had murdered a white child. and one of them poked his carbine over the embankment and sent a bullet into her brain. Even General Custer shared the opinion that a white child had been killed, and so stated in his account of the battle.
"While standing on the knoll to which Custer had ridden, I saw a large number of women and children near two buttes on the prairie, south of the village, pursued by Meyer's men, who were killing them without mercy. General Custer immediately ordered me to instruct Meyer to stop the slaughter, and the remaining women and children were taken captive and placed in a big tepee under guard.
ten years for the same offense for which the Recidivist (second-termer), receives perhaps one or two years. There should be two prisons, one for first offenders and another for the Recidivist who is the real criminal per se. Short sentence should be the prevailing one for the former, and practical life detention for the latter, and both provisionally, under the Indeterminate sentence. The Recidivist rarely reforms. The way of escape should be made difficult both for his own sake, and certainly as a safeguard to society. His prison experience should not be made onerous. The second-termer should be leniently dealt with, as regards time of service. There is always a breaking point, I have noticed, in the detinue of every first offender beyond which he becomes embittered. He is then likely to become an enemy to society where, if the law had been more lenient, he might have been reclaimed. I advocate hard work, hard fare and strict discipline for these, to inaugurate a wholesome respect for prisonlife, and commensurately for the laws. A
soft snap is the ruin of a prisoner, and an easy way out confirms the habitual and second offender unerringly in crime.
In the meantime, we are entering upon a period of education. The public mind is just beginning to grasp the import of the problem in its varied economic, civie and moral import. Crime costs the United States Government $600,000,000 per annum, or an amount about equal to one-half the public debt. California bears more than its proportionate share of this burden. The criminal wave breaks upon this shore and scatters its spume far and wide. Our congregate system is its greatest crime-breeding center. The criminal impact is appalling. The young offenders are here inoculated with its virus. No prison management however efficient can stem its influence. Only intelligent legislation crystallized into wise and efficient laws are equal to the task. This must be backed by an equally enlightened public sentiment to place us ultimately abreast with advancement along these lines in other States.
THE GIFT OF SONG
BY ALONZO RICE
"The gift of song is such a holy thing,
So bright, apart from wealth or worldly fame,
Men said my days were wasted, and indeed
It seemed I went with empty hands, nor now Is there recalled one furrow that my plow Then made across the broad and fertile mead: And further, I could reap not, if the seed
Were never planted; that the autumn bough Would barren be, nor could they but allow Such days at last to scanty want would lead!
But He who clothes the lilies of the field
And hears the hungry ravens when they cry, Has led me safely down the ways that shield From bitter blasts, beneath a cloudless sky; And song is mine; still passing moments yield That peace the gold of Ophir cannot buy.