Teenage Boy Scalped Four Months Before Sand Creek

In July 1864, four months before Sand Creek, Robert McGee, a teenage boy, was among a party attacked and scalped by Sioux Indians.  

Robert McGee as an adult.

The Indians camped with Black Kettle at Sand Creek were Cheyenne and Arapaho. However, “Sioux and Cheyennes have been living together for over 100 years,” George Bent said (Bent to Hyde, 8-16-1911). He said they fought together and were one and the same. It is not known, but it’s possible, that since Sioux and Cheyenne lived and fought together, there could have been Sioux mixed with Cheyenne at Sand Creek. 

The following is printed in our book, We Found the Lost Sand Creek Site

“The two persons that were scalped alive I saw a few days after this occurred. Though it occurred within sight of Fort Zarah, the officer commanding considered his command entirely inadequate to render any assistance. But we think we have related enough to satisfy the most incredulous of the determined hostility of these Indians; suffice it to say that during the spring, summer, and fall such atrocious acts were of almost daily occurrence along the Platte and Arkansas routes, till the Indians becoming so bold that a family, consisting of a man, woman, and two children, by the name of Hungate, were brutally murdered and scalped within fifteen miles of Denver, the bodies being brought to Denver for interment. After seeing which, any person who could for a moment believe that these Indians were friendly, to say the least, must have strange ideas of their habits. We could not see it in that light,” Colonel John Chivington said in his testimony following Sand Creek in 1865. (Report of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War 1865, Thirty-Eighth Congress, Second Session, Congress Of The United States, In The House Of Representatives, January 10, 1865)

“In the matter of Robert McGee, I, Hulbert H. Clark, M. D., a resident of Santa Cruz, Cal., hereby certify that while in the United States service as acting assistant surgeon, being stationed at Fort Larned, Kans., as post surgeon, did, on or about the 16th day of July, 1864, receive into the United States post hospital Robert McGee, a boy about 16 years old, who had been wounded in numerous places, including the almost complete (entire) removal of the scalp, his wounds and injuries being inflicted by the Brule Sioux Indians, led by Chief Little Turtle, in their attack upon a Government supply train, then en route westward, being on the day of the attack which, I believe, was July 14, 1864, at or near the Great Bend of the Arkansas River, from which point the wounded reached Fort Larned two days later. The said Robert McGee remained in my charge about three months, during which time he was visited by General Curtis, who instructed me to give him special care; also gave McGee an order on the quartermaster for such clothing as was necessary for his comfort.

(Video from Legends of the West on YouTube)

When he left the hospital he was very weak, and fully two-thirds of the surface of the skull was not healed, being covered by a very delicate coat of granulation and which bled upon the slightest friction; also a wound of the left elbow and in left groin was still open. How he survived is unaccountable. When he reached the hospital he was unconscious from shock, loss of blood, and want of food. It was several days before he could whisper so as to be understood. He was handled by raising him in the sheet, his many wounds, some fourteen in number, about chest, arms, and abdomen, prevented us grasping in the ordinary manner. I have not seen him since he left Fort Larned.” (52D  Congress,  2d Session Senate, Report No. 1230, in the Senate of the United States, January, 1893) 

This event was indeed a catalyst that led to Sand Creek just over four months later. It’s interesting that General Curtis is the General that gave the orders to Colonel Chivington for Sand Creek. As stated above, General Curtis saw firsthand about this brutality by the Indians when he visited McGee and gave the surgeon instructions to care for him. This event happened in Kansas, and some of the soldiers that fought at Sand Creek were from Kansas. One soldier was named Lant, and you can read about him in our book.

Learn more about Sand Creek and the discovery of over 4,000 artifacts in our book. You can get a copy here: WeFoundTheLostSandCreekSite

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