Black Kettle's hostages

Publié le par custerwest

Proving that the Blinns were held in Black Kettle's village
By Dr Gregory Michno, historian and member of Gregory Michno is the famous authors of several important books on Custer and the Frontier, including Lakota Noon, the Indian narrative of Custer’s defeat, Encyclopaedia of Indian Wars and The Mystery of E company (all published by Mountain Press).
These notes were used for the book A Fate worse than Death, Indian captivities 1830-1885 (with Susan Michno, Caxton Press, 2007), which is the first book that carefully analyses the stories of Indian captivities. 
Michno also wrote an article on Clara Blinn in the June 2007 issue of the Wild West Magazine (Captive Clara Blinn’s Plea: ‘If You Love Us, Save Us’ ) and an article on Chief Black Kettle (Wild West, December 2005).

Two books (Jerome Greene, Richard Hardorff) recently said that the white captives Clara Blinn (19 years old) and Willie Blinn (two years old) weren’t held in Black Kettle’s warriors during the battle of the Washita, but in other Indian villages, six miles away from the battlefield. They would have been slaughtered by their captors there. Does the historical record back such a claim? 
GODFREY Lt. Edward Godfrey (1926) of the 7th cavalry says the next village to Black Kettle’s camp was about five miles away. On return, Godfrey was officer of the day and couldn’t visit the old battlefield.
source: Hardorff, Washita Memories, page 148
BREWSTER. Lt. Charles Brewster (1899), who was riding with Custer, says Indian boys and squaws fought just as hard. “They promptly killed all white prisoners.” A squaw killed a white child.
Hardorff, Washita Memories, page 160
RYAN. Sergeant John Ryan, 7th cavalry, wrote memoirs from 1876 on. He says a white woman prisoner was in the camp and killed during the fighting. On return trip in December, he went back to the battlefield. They collected the bodies of Elliott’s men “and also brought in the body of a white woman who was killed in Black Kettle’s camp.” Back at the expedition’s camp they dug graves for the men, but didn’t bury the woman or Elliott there.
discussion : Source not used by Hardorff, who claims that the Blinns weren’t in Black Kettle village.
Barnard, Ten Years, pages 80, 85.
CLARK. Scout Ben Clark (1899) mentions all the tribes gathered at the Washita, but mentions no Arapahos being there. On (p.209) Clark says Cheyenne killed own child and soldiers mistook it for white child.
discussion : Questions of Clark’s deteriorating memory over the years. The Mexican living with the Cheyennes, whose name was Pilan, was killed during the battle of the Washita, and his daughter, says Clark (1899) lived in Oklahoma but died a few years ago (1896-97?). In an interview (1910), Clark (p.226) says the girl might still be living in 1910.
Hardorff, Washita Memories, 207 + quoted in text
CLARK. On (p.211) Scout Ben Clark says there were four white scalps in the village. Still in the 1899 (p.213-14) interview, Clark says after they found Elliott and his men, a “short distance up the river” they found the naked body of a white woman and nearby her baby. The woman and child were captured during a Cheyenne raid in Colorado. The squaws killed her to prevent her rescue.
discussion : Hardorff notes this is incorrect. He claims she was found in Yellow Bear’s Arapaho camp, and Clark “corrected” himself later—in 1903. Hardorff “corrects” Clark’s statements so much, why is he “wrong” in the 1899 statement, but “right” in 1903? Clark did not say he was amending the statement he made four years earlier. Generally the statement made closer to the event is the more accurate, as can probably be seen in Clark’s statement about Pilan’s daughter.
Hardorff, Washita Memories, pages quoted in text 

CLARK. On (p.220) Scout Ben Clark (1904) again says it was a Cheyenne woman who killed her own child, but several soldiers thought it was a white child.
discussion : why is Clark right, and several other eyewitnesses wrong?
Hardorff, Washita Memories, pages quoted in text
CLARK. On (p.227) Scout Ben Clark (1910) says Blinn captured near Sand Creek about September. Her body and her child’s body were found same day Elliott was found, in an Arapaho village five miles below Black Kettle’s camp. Clark also says that Mr. Blinn came with them on second expedition to look for them.
discussion : Clark is wrong. Clara Blinn’s husband didn’t come with the expedition. Clark’s memory appears to be getting worse through the years. Also (p.230) Clark again says first village below Black Kettle’s was an Arapaho, located five miles away. In 1899 he mentioned Kiowas, Comanches, Apaches, and Wichitas being there, but no Arapahos.
Clark makes several contradictory statements, some known to be incorrect. How can Hardorff select which ones he thinks are true? His “truth” is arbitrary, depending on his predilections.
Hardorff, Washita Memories, pages quoted in text

CLARK. In 1903 letter (p.235) Scout Ben Clark says Blinn and child were found where an Arapaho village was, east side of river, and 4-5 miles below Black Kettle’s village. “It was afterwards said” that in the excitement of getting away, an Indian woman killed her. [It was said, but he doesn’t know for sure.]
discussion : Hardorff again notes that Clara Blinn was killed in Yellow Bear’s camp. He says that Willie was in the way of the Indian women and they killed him. Clara refused to leave his body and they killed her. As a source, he cites an undated KansasCounty Star news clipping.
 Hardorff, Washita Memories, page quoted in text
CLARK. In same 1903 letter, Scout Ben Clark also says “I was out scouting” when the soldiers found Elliott and Blinn, and “understood” that she was buried where Elliott’s men were buried.
discussion : Clara Blinn wasn’t buried with Elliot’s men, and it shows that Clark is just speculating about where Clara and her son were found and buried.
Hardorff, Washita Memories, page 235
KEIM. Reporter Keim, who followed Custer and reported the battle of the Washita, wrote:  “A white woman and a boy ten years of age, held by the Indians, were killed when the attack commenced.”
Stan Hoig, The Battle of the Washita, page 211
KEIM.. Keim (1869) says that on return to Washita, they camped eight miles from Black Kettle’s village. It took a ride of an hour and a half to get from there to the battlefield.
discussion: It makes one wonder what “danger” the Indians believed they were in that they would have had to kill the Blinns in a camp so far away.
Hardorff, Washita, pages 255-56
KEIM Reporter Keim also says (p.262-63) that a detachment moving along the river near the “recent camp of the Kiowas” found bodies of white woman and child. Bodies brought into camp and she was recognized as Mrs. Blinn. Keim speculates that she was captured by Satanta near Ft.Lyon, and kept as his squaw.
Hardorff, Washita, pages quoted in text
KEIM. Reporter Keim (1885) says camp of second expedition was eight miles from battlefield. A detachment found bodies of white woman and child at banks of the river near the old Kiowa camp. Keim says Satanta captured them. They brought in the Blinns and Elliott to camp. They then sent back wagons to get the bodies of Elliott’s men. Keim says farthest camp upriver was Black Kettle’s, then Arapahos under Little Raven, then Kiowas under Satanta, then Cheyennes and Arapahos, then Lipans.
discussion: Which was Yellow Bear camp? If the Blinns were found in his Arapaho camp, why were they brought in on horseback with the body of major Elliott, which was found near the Washita battlefield?  Hardorff (Washita, 262, in note) now says the Blinns were found in abandoned Arapaho camp two miles upstream from Sheridan’s bivouac, and six miles down from the Washita battlefield.
Randolph Keim, Sheridan’s Troopers, pages 141, 148, 150-51.
 JENNESS. Capt. George B. Jenness, 19th Kansas Volonteeer, wrote (1869) that the ashes of the Indian wigwams were along the river. It was there Black Kettle was killed. “Here were the bodies of five or six squaws and that of Mrs. Blinn and her child, lying some rods apart.” Jenness’s story also in where he saw the bodies himself and described how they were dressed.
Hoig, The Battle of the Washita, page 212
Lonnie White, “White Woman Captives”, page 339
RODGERS. Pvt. J. Rodgers, Jenness’s orderly, “contradicted” Jenness by saying the Blinns were found a “short distance” downstream from the Elliott site.
discussion: This means they were held in Black Kettle’s village. The “Arapahos” or other tribes didn’t bring her five or more miles upstream toward the battle to kill her.
Hardorff, Washita, page 262

LIPPINCOTT.. Surg. H. Lippincott wrote in report (1868) that the bodies were found on Dec 11, “near the ground on which the
Battle of the Washita was fought.”
discussion: The Arapaho village would have been six miles away from Black Kettle’s village.
Hoig, The Battle of the Washita, pages 211-12 

STEWART. Capt. M. Stewart, 19th KS, (1868) wrote that on return to Washita, they camped five miles from battleground. Sheridan wanted to ride back and look for bodies. After finding Elliott, they went on a different trail than the one outbound, and along the wooded stream “before we had proceeded far,” they found evidence of more Indian camps for a distance of four miles, when they found the body of a white woman and boy. They reported facts to Sheridan, who ordered the two bodies removed along with Elliott.
discussion: It doesn’t match with what other members of his unit said.
Hardorff, Washita, pages 264-66
SHERIDAN. Gen. P. Sheridan (1868) says mail of murdered express riders was found in Black Kettle’s camp. Also found (p.281) mules, photos, other items taken in KS raids. He says eight miles down from BK camp were Arapahos. Says Black Kettle’s sister said there were three white women in lodges below Black Kettle’s camp. On (p. 278) Sheridan says Blinn and child found in one of the camps six miles down the river.
discussion: Sheridan was not with the parties that found the Blinns, and did not see the bodies until they were brought into camp. They were speculating as to where they were found.
Hardorff, Washita, pages 276-77
CUSTER. In official report (1868) General Custer says they secured two white children. “One white woman who was in their possession was murdered by her captors the moment we attacked.” Also mentions the murder of a white boy by a squaw. Says also that Black Kettle’s sister accused the Kiowas of having abducted Miss Blinn and her child. Custer locates the bodies in an Arapaho village.
discussion: Custer was not with the parties that found the Blinns, and did not see the bodies until they were brought into camp.
Hardorff, Washita, page 63
ALVORD. Capt. Henry Alvord, 10th Cav, says (1874) that Kiowas received their rations in person at Ft.Cobb on day before the battle and could not have been in the fight.
discussion: Captain Alvord was in FortCobb, about 120 miles from the Washita battlefield.
Hardorff, Washita, page 269
 ALVORD. Captain Alvord’s scouting reports (November 22, 26, 1868, before the battle of the Washita happened) expressly state that Clara Blinn and her son were with Cheyennes. On 11-22, “at the Cheyenne camp there is a white woman and her child.” On 11-26, “the white woman held captive at that camp is Clara Blinn.”
discussion: These reports, which are a very strong proof that the Blinns were in Black Kettle’s village, are not used by Hardorff in his book.
Greene, Washita, page 255 note 28
HAZEN. Hazen wrote (1869) that trader Griffinstein’s wife, Cheyenne Jenny, died. Griff sent word to Black Kettle’s camp, where Cheyenne Jenny’s mother lived. Black Kettle himself came to see Hazen about the woman’s estate. The boy who delivered the initial message to Black Kettle and Jenny’s mother noticed a white woman in Black Kettle’s camp. He told Hazen about it. Hazen sent a mixed-blood boy, Cheyenne Jack, to Black Kettle’s camp with pencil and paper, so the white woman could identify herself. The white woman wrote the letter on Nov. 7, identifying herself as Clara Blinn and stating she was “with the Cheyennes.”
discussion: A very strong proof that Clara Blinn was not with Yellow Bear or any other tribe. Hardorff doesn’t mention that Cheyenne Jack came to Black Kettle’s camp to see Blinn.
Hardorff, Washita, page 289.
Gregory Michno, A Fate Worse than death, page 152

SARAH WHITE. Sarah says she was a white captive “down the river a short distance in the other camps.” She heard the firing. “As soon as the battle started the Indians spirited her away and took her farther down the river.”
discussion: Why wouldn’t they have done the same with Clara Blinn if she was also in one of the downstream camps?
Hardorff, Washita, pages 343-44
People who said that the Blinns were killed in or near Black Kettle’s village
E = eyewitness who saw finding of bodies
 E - John Ryan (1876)    
Ben Clark (1899)
George Custer (1868)
E - George Jenness (1869)       
E - Joseph Rodgers
Henry Lippincott (1868)
Alvord’s scouts (1868)
E - Sam Crawford (1911)

 It’s important to note that trader William Griffinstein, husband of Cheyenne Jenny, sent word to Black Kettle’s camp, where Cheyenne Jenny’s mother lived, that Jenny had died. Black Kettle himself came to see Hazen about the woman’s estate. The boy who delivered the initial message to Black Kettle and Jenny’s mother noticed a white woman in Black Kettle’s camp. He told Hazen about it. Hazen sent mixed-blood boy, Cheyenne Jack, to Black Kettle’s camp with pencil and paper, so woman could identify herself. Blinn wrote the letter on Nov. 7, stating she was “with the Cheyennes.” Also, as late as Nov. 22 and 26, Alvord’s scouts reported Blinn was in Cheyenne camp.

Ben Clark said in 1899, that upriver from Elliott they found the Blinns. He told a different story in later years, where we can see other points where his memory faltered.
Was Blinn killed in Black Kettle’s camp? Some eyewitnesses say yes, others no. In any case she was with Black Kettle until the battle or shortly before it. Being found downstream means the Indians were running away with her. They did not have her in a camp miles downstream and ran with her toward the attacking soldiers. White captives Morgan and White, who were downstream in another Cheyenne camp, never did such a move. They also never claimed to have seen the Blinns.
 Weight of evidence points to fact that the Blinns were with Black Kettle’s Cheyennes the entire time, until the time of the battle, or immediately preceding it. She may not have been killed directly in the village, but certainly some distance downstream while the Indians fled, probably during Godfrey’s or Elliott’s downstream moves. 


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