Indian Wars: Battle on the Red Fork (1876)

Battle on the Red Fork


Date:             November 25, 1876.

Opponents:  Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie, leading troops from Fort Robinson and a collection of Native American mercenary scouts


                        Chief Dull Knife and the Northern Cheyenne, led by Chief Little Wolf.

Place:             The Red Fork on the Powder River, Wyoming Territory.

Factors:       * This battle is also known as the Dull Knife Fight.

                       * Colonel Mackenzie was informed of an extremely large village camped on the Powder River.  He set off with 1,000 men to investigate, hoping to find Crazy Horse and punish him for his role at the Little Bighorn.  One third of his army comprised of Native American scouts, working for the promise of any horses they could steal from their traditional Cheyenne enemies.

                       * The army attacked at dawn.  They drove the sleepy, half-naked warriors from their tipis into the frozen countryside.

                       * Chief Dull Knife’s braves offered a fierce resistance but finally had to retreat from their village.  It was plundered and destroyed.

                      * 3 of Chief Dull Knife’s sons were killed.  It was so cold that 11 babies froze in their mother’s arms, and several of the refugee tribe suffered from frostbite.

Results:       * This defeat ended the Northern Cheyenne’s ability to wage war on the Great Plains.

                      * Chief Dull Knife led the wounded, old, and non-combatants to surrender at Fort Robinson.

                      * Many of the warriors fled to join forces with Crazy Horse and the Oglala Sioux.

                      * The soldiers reported 7 killed and 22 wounded.

                     * The Cheyenne took 80 casualties.  They not only mourned the death of 40 of their people, but also an end to their old way of life.


Wikipedia, “Dull Knife Fight,” at, “Dull Knife Fight,” at

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