Battle of Prairie Dog Creek, Kansas

Battle of Prairie Dog Creek in Phillips County, Kansas by Ralph Heinz.

Battle of Prairie Dog Creek in Phillips County, Kansas by Ralph Heinz.

The Battle of Prairie Dog Creek, Kansas, took place in Phillips County in the summer of 1867.

Plains Tribes by George Catlin

Plains Tribes by George Catlin

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 July 15, 1867, four companies of the 18th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, under the command of Captain Horace L. Moore, were mustered into Federal service to protect settlers from attack. The volunteers set out on July 18 for a month of vigorous campaigning before returning to Fort Hays. They then joined forces with the 10th U.S. Cavalry of “Buffalo Soldiers,” making a combined force of more than 250 men led by Captain George A. Armes of the 10th and Captain Moore of the 18th.

Armes led his men down Prairie Dog Creek in present-day Phillips County while Moore scouted upstream. While separated, Armes’ group was attacked on August 21, 1867, by about 300 Kiowa and Cheyenne under the leadership of Chiefs Satanta and Roman Nose. As Armes’ troops bravely fought off the attack, the men of the 18th Kansas, hearing the noise of battle, began to make their way to assist.

Chief Satanta of the Kiowa tribe.

Chief Satanta of the Kiowa tribe.

Outnumbered five to one, the U.S. troops dismounted and found refuge in a ravine. They were subjected to a dozen assaults during the afternoon but managed to hold off the warriors due to the superior firepower of their Spencer repeating rifles.

Once joined by the 18th Kansas, Captain Armes gathered the troops and, moving toward Prairie Dog Creek, charged the Indians, who then broke and scattered. The cavalry suffered three men dead and 36 wounded; the Indians, 50 dead and 150 wounded. This battle ended the U.S. offensive operations on the Kansas frontier for the year, and in the fall, treaties were signed with the tribes of the Southern Plains.

Today, the 18th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry continues its efforts as the Kansas Army and Air National Guard.

The battle site is located in northwest Phillips County, Kansas, between Long Island and Almena, Kansas, south of Highway 383.

© Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated June 2022.

Also See:

Indian Battles in Kansas

Indian Wars, Battles & Massacres

Indian Wars of the Frontier West

The Plains Indians

Sources:

National Guard
Phillips County Review