The Battle of Salt Creek was an ambush by the Kiowa tribe led by Satanta, Big Tree, Satank, and Eagle Heart, against a wagon train accompanied by 17 Buffalo Soldiers in May 1871 in Texas' Salt Creek Prairie. The Kiowa seized the wagon train, losing only three warriors in one of the most famous incidents of the Comanche Campaign.
During the late 19th century, the United States began to rapidly conquer the Old West, making wars and treaties with the Plains Indians to gain territory. In the aftermath of the American Civil War, William T. Sherman, a hardened US General, began a campaign to root out and destroy the Plains Nations in order to finally take over the west, and ostensibly, defend the US' midwest territories.
This brought on the Comanche Campaign, which was a war against the Comanche, Arapaho, Dakota, Cheyenne, Kiowa, and other American Indian tribes. The tribes were led by war leaders Big Mouth, Satanta, Kicking Bird, Big Bow, Black Horse, Satank, Eagle Heart, Woman's Heart, Roman Nose, Black Kettle, Big Tree, and many other warchiefs who dominated the plains.
In May 1871, the Kiowas planned to attack a wagon train traversing the Salt Creek Prairie of Texas. They had a large band of warriors, facing the 17 Buffalo Soldiers (black cavalry troops) guarding the convoy. They waited for three hours, when ten mule-drawn wagons filled with corn and fodder came into sight. The Kiowas then attacked, overwhelming the convoy and killing seven muleskinners, while five escaped. Three of the tribesmen were killed in the ambush. They captured forty-one mules carrying tons of supplies, and they ran off with their reward. The white settlers ran off to nearby Fort Richardson, reporting the event to the General-in-Chief, William T. Sherman.
The Americans moved against the Kiowas and other tribes that opposed US Westward Expansion, finally taking down the Great Plains tribes after eight years of "hard war" from 1867 to 1875. That year, the Sioux were the last tribe to surrender, leaving the white man the master of the Plains.
- Horne, William W.: The Quarterly Journal of Military History: Volume 23, Number 4 (Summer 2011)
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