The Battle of Beaver Creek, Kansas took place in northwest Phillips County on August 22 and 23, 1867.
After the Civil War, settlers had rushed to the rich and relatively empty lands of the Great Plains and by mid-1867 the Plains tribes, recognizing the threat to their traditional way of life, were regularly attacking settlers, railroad workers, and travelers, particularly along the Smoky Hill, Saline, and Solomon Rivers.
With veteran Sioux warriors and Cheyenne Dog Soldiers under Chief Roman Nose and Kiowa warriors under Chief Satanta, the Indians were attacking with a vengeance.
When the frightened citizens of the state demanded military help, the War Department responded by authorizing volunteer militia units on active duty during the emergency. On August 20, 1867, the Eighteenth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry left Fort Hays for the headwaters of the Solomon and Republican Rivers. On the evening of the 21st, Captain George B. Jenness of Company C was sent out with a detachment to ascertain the cause of a light seen at some distance across the prairie. He found the remains of an old Indian campfire, but when he attempted to return to his regiment, he became confused in the darkness, and finally decided to camp on the open prairie. Early the next morning he reached the river, about eight miles below the soldiers’ camp.
Upon reaching the river he pushed on toward the troops, but after going about three miles his detachment was attacked by a large body of Kiowa and Southern Comanche Indians. Forming a hollow square, he managed to hold the warriors at bay. His men were armed with Spencer repeating carbines and each man carried 200 rounds of ammunition, so they were well equipped for a heroic defense. After a short skirmish Captain Jenness again began to move up the river toward the camp, but after going about ½ mile, he saw more Indians. He then returned to the river and threw up a breastwork of driftwood and loose stones, behind which, his little band fought valiantly for three hours. All the horses except four were either killed or wounded; two of the men were killed and 12 seriously wounded. The detachment withdrew to a ravine, where they found water and remained under cover of the willows and banks of the ravine until dark. The Indians then drew off and Jenness and his men, under the guidance of a scout, followed a buffalo path for five miles until they came to the river. The Indians renewed the attack the next morning, but the main command came to Jenness’ rescue.
The event was said to have occurred on Prairie Dog Creek in the northwestern part of Phillips County, Kansas.
©Kathy Weiser-Alexander, updated November 2020.