Doc Ch. 23bykingkey©
Soon after, we sent for reinforcements. We set out again, tracking the renegades and outlaws. We doubled our flank guards, to keep us fully warned in case of an ambush. We knew that it would be at least several hours before help could arrive.
As we were following the tracks of the outlaws I dropped back to speak with Spotted Owl. "This seems to be a large party of mixed white men and Indians. How do you think we should handle this?"
"We need to follow and watch. See how ambushers act. Decide then best way to kill them."
"I think we need to try to get some prisoners. To find out if this is just one bunch or part of a conspiracy."
"Is good idea. Take prisoners. Make prisoners talk before kill them."
"That's going to be a problem. We can't just kill them. Those that we capture will have to have a fair trial and if found guilty will probably hang. The main problem is an uneasy balance between the white men and the Indians. If we just slaughter the prisoners, then in reality, we are no better than they are. So they will need to have a trial, and that leads up to another problem. Since there is a mix of both white men and Indians, and we may have a problem with fairness. That may spark off a new uprising, if it is seen that we are harsher with the Indians, than we are with our own people."
"Is not problem. White man's law judge white men. I am sub-chief Lakota nation. Red Cloud and the other to sub chiefs judge Indian people. Then no problem."
"There is still a problem if it is seen that one race is harsher than the other that could still cause problems."
"Maybe it better if white judge all, and Indian judge all. Then it cannot be said not fair."
"That's a good idea. We'll take all the prisoners to Hill City since Judge Mitchell is the federal judge for this territory. Do you think Red Cloud would consent to be the judge for the Indian people, since he is chief of the Lakota nation?"
"Yes, Red Cloud will want to judge. Renegades go against his orders not to start trouble."
"So if they are found guilty of murdering Reverend Smith, what will be the penalty? If it is not strong enough punishment than the white men will think justice is not done."
"Is not problem. Penalty for disobeying Chiefs' orders is banishment or death. Since others were killed also, penalty will be death."
"That's not going to make it easy to capture them. They'll think that they have nothing to lose by continuing to fight."
"True. They will fight to the death. I don't think many will be captured alive."
At this time the forward scouts came up quickly. They reported to Spotted Owl rapidly in Lakota.
He turned to me and said, "They have found the camp, ahead. There are eight white men and twenty-three renegade Lakota."
He then said something else in Lakota to the scout. After a short exchange, he turned back to me.
"It looks like the white men and Lakota don't trust each other. Many arguments." Just then the scout said something else and Spotted Owl translated. "Leader of the Lakota renegades is Red Dog."
"Red Dog? I don't think of ever heard of him?"
"Him brave that you fix leg for. Have strong hate for white man."
"If he hates white men so bad, what's he doing with these?"
"I think him just using them. Soon him kill them."
"I think so, too. It will probably take until the day after tomorrow before reinforcements are here. In the meantime we have a lot of enemies against us. I think it may benefit us to try to get them fighting among themselves, to pare the numbers down a little before we have to fight them."
"How we do this? Need to keep us being here as surprise."
"What I think we need to do is get them fighting among themselves. After dark, do you think we could sneak a couple of scouts into their camp, and cause a little trouble. Such as take, something from one group that's valuable to that person, and include it among the other group's things. When they awaken to find their valuables among the other group's belongings, it should cause a lot of resentment. Furthermore, if we can locate any of the valuables from the robberies they have with them, we should take them, too. That way they are when they discover that the loot is gone, and they are unable to find it, that should really cause them to start fighting among themselves."
"That can work. But what about guards? If they are alert, it will be much hard to sneak into camp."
"You're right... let's see... I know! How many guards do they have?"
Spotted Owl to spoke with one of the scouts and then said, "They have seen only two guards."
"I have an idea but I'm not sure that will work? How hard would it be to make it look as if one guard killed the other than robbed the rest of the camp, and then disappeared?
"If careful, it could be done easily. One guard is white man the other is Lakota. If it made to look like Indian killed the white guard and stole weapons and horses from the others, it should cause many distrusts and cause fighting among them."
"That could work. However, also since it does not look as if the two groups really mix together much. While we are waiting for reinforcements why don't we stir up a little more trouble? We can let them catch glimpses of us stirring up trouble for the other group, causing unrest, and hopefully start them fighting more among themselves. That would whittle down the odds."
That night the raid on the camp seemed to go off like clockwork. The sentries were easily taken out. Forward scouts slipped into camp and made off with several weapons and most of the horses. While unable to eliminate most of the outlaws, it was hoped that the result could cause distrust amongst them.
Early the next morning, as we were planning our next move, we heard horses approaching us from the other direction. Quickly, we concealed ourselves. We soon saw that it was the reinforcements from Silver City. Included among them, was Doc Williams, the veterinarian from Spearfish. He was probably the only other person in the area with any knowledge of medicine.
I quickly appraised them of the situation in the enemy camp, only a couple of miles down the road. They were at what appeared to be an abandoned mining site. Some of the reinforcements were all for attacking at once, until I explained that there were over forty of them. By attacking now, we would basically be committing suicide. It seemed to stop some of the haste in their attack plans. I then explained that reinforcements were coming from Hill City, and that they should arrive by the afternoon.
When asked how many reinforcements, I explained that I was not sure, but that Red Cloud would be sending a war party to help support us, since the majority of the enemy were renegade warriors.
This caused quite a stir amongst them. They would be fighting alongside and in support of their traditional enemies for years. I explained that the renegades were going against Red Clouds orders against stirring up trouble. I also explained that he would also be sitting in all judgments against all the people.
"How do we know he won't turn of murdering Indians loose to go out and murder more white men? They have been murdering us for years and should have all but wiped out years ago," one loudmouth shouted from the rear of the group.
"I'm sure they'd rather be judged by white man's law. However, Red Cloud will be also judging them. Besides being guilty of the white man's laws, they are guilty of disobeying the chief's orders. On a minor offense, punishment would be banishment. However, since this is a major offense, the punishment is a very painful death. That is a much more severe punishment than any white man's court would sentence them to. To the Lakota, disobeying the chief's order is a much worse crime."
"That's a much worse crime than robbery and murder?" one man called out.
"It is to them. I believe that the reason in the renegades joined the other thieves, is to start a new Indian war. Their leader is well known for his hatred of the white man. It is Red Clouds wish not to promote a war that he knows would be harmful to his people."
"So what is so different about this time? How do we know that he won't just attack us and break his word? Now we received word that he wants us to pay to use the land we already have. That is land that we have already had for the last five years!"
"He is trying his best to be peaceful. But the land you're working was given to the Lakota, in the Laramie Treaty of 1868. You were actually on his land. If you had read the terms of the lease, you would find they are quite reasonable. Instead of trying to just kick you off, he is asking for a minimal payment, and the ability to have a say in the use of the land. He does not want to land to be over-hunted, nor would he want to have all the trees stripped from an area, and be used as mine supports.
"He doesn't say that NO hunting and logging should be allowed, just that it not be overdone. He wants the land to last for future generations. Take, for instance, my family's land. Our lease calls for the equivalent of one head of cattle, for each quarter section, per year. That's to help feed the tribes during the winter. I don't know about you, but I feel that is reasonable. It's certainly not worth killing or being killed over. As I said before, according to government treaties, this is their land."
Another man called out. "How do we know that they won't break their word to us? It seems like every time there is a treaty. They break it!"
"I think if you will look back in history, that you will find that EVERY broken treaty made to the Indians, was broken by the white man, and not by the Indians. The Lakota people take special pride in their word. To them, it is totally reprehensible to break your promise. I would trust the word of a Lakota, long before I would trust the word of most."
"It still feels odd to be fighting alongside the Indians instead of against them."
"If it's any compensation, there are still about thirty renegades mixed with the other outlaws. You'll be fighting them, as soon as the other reinforcements get here. In the meantime, here's what we are doing while we wait."
I laid out our plans on causing disharmony among the outlaws and renegades. Over the next few hours, we proceeded with our plan. We didn't want to just cause a massacre, so in a different direction from where our camp was, we caused several incidents to happen. After observing the results of the night's raid on the enemy's camp, we observed several arguments and fights taking place.
In one such case, after a fistfight between one of the white men and one of the Indians, the white man was put on guard duty. I had one of our scouts shoot him in the leg with an arrow. Besides having one wounded man taken out of the fight, this created quite a rift between the two groups, causing more major distrust.
Furthermore, I caused their scouts to get a brief glimpse of one of our scouts, dressed as the other group, spying on him from between him and their camp. This caused much more distrust.
Throughout the day, we saw numerous fights between them, resulting in several killings. While the Indians outnumbered them, the white men were much better armed.
Early in the afternoon, a large war party of about forty braves showed up, and reported directly to Spotted Owl. After much discussion, Spotted Owl brought the brave who seemed to be the leader, over to meet with me.
"This is Tall Bear. He has brought forty braves, as ordered by Red Cloud. However, he and three of the other braves do not wish to be in the fight because some of the renegades are of their family. It is not right for family to war against each other."
Turning to Tall Bear I said, "That is very understandable. I cannot hold it against anyone who does not want to fight because of family or personal reasons. We are going to try to capture as many as we can. However, undoubtedly, there will be bloodshed. If you wish, the others may either return to Red Clouds' camp, or wait here for us to return."
"Red Cloud said we are to fight and stop renegades. We will fight with you , just understand we will not turn weapons on family and friends. Red Cloud is the leader of the Lakota nation. We do as he says. However, we asked they not order us to kill family or friends."
"That is very understandable. I would never ask anyone to do anything that was dishonorable."
After a battle plan session with the others, it was decided that we would attack just before sundown, while the enemy was distracted by eating supper.
Things started out as we had planned. We easily overtook the guards, and surrounded the camp. Unfortunately, the outlaws had a lot of cover readily available. This was not going to be an easy fight.
I had seen to it that all extra weapons were distributed as evenly as possible. Our best shots would open the attack by taking out many of the enemy as possible, in the opening seconds of the attack.
Things were going quite well until I felt a burning pain in my lower back. Then, suddenly, everything went black.
Edited By TeNderLoin & The Old Fart