Detail View: Bent-Hyde Papers: "Last of Col. Bent's Sons Dead," Article of George Bent's death by George Hyde, November 1918

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Collection Name: 
Bent-Hyde Papers, 1905-1918
Collection Description: 
The collection consists of original maps of Indian and military positions of such areas as Sand Creek, the Arkansas River, etc., and correspondence between George Bent and George Hyde, covering the years 1905-1918.
Work Title: 
"Last of Col. Bent's Sons Dead," Article of George Bent's death by George Hyde, November 1918
Work Agent Name: 
Bent, George, 1843-1918
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Work Agent Name: 
Hyde, George E., 1882-1968
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Inscription Text: 
Geo. E. Hyde 3019 Burdette St. Omaha, Neb. LAST OF COL. BENT'S SONS DEAD George Bent Dies Among the Cheyennes. Had Many Adventures. George Bent, the last surviving son of Colonel William Bent, of Bent's Old fort, died among the Cheyenne Indians at Colony, Oklahoma, on May 19, 1918. George Bent was the most famous of the Bent boys and was widely known and very much hated in Colorado during the Civil War. George Bent was born at Bent's old Fort, near the present town of Las Animas, Colorado, July 7, 1843. His mother was Owl Woman, daughter of Grey Thunder, the most important man among the Southern Cheyennes. Bent's childhood was spent at the old trading-post and in the, camps of the Cheyennes. He had many adventures, beginning with his escape from the cholera in 1849, when he was six years old. On that occasion he was in a large Indian camp on Bluff Creek, south of where Dodge City, Kansas, now stands. He was with his step-mother, Yellow Woman, his grandmother and his baby brother Charlie. When the cholera broke out the Indians—several thousand of them—stampeded in every direction, the cholera striking them down as they fled. Yellow Woman put George and baby Charlie into a travels or pole-drag, drawn by a big mile and with the old grandmother fled to the Cimarron river with a band of Cheyennes and Arapahoes. No sooner had the Indians set up their tepees when the cholera began killing people in the camp, and the Indians fled again, traveling all night through the sand hills. Bent's grandmother died on this march. When they reached the Arkansas, the Indians met another band of Cheyennes fleeing southward with the cholera raging among them. Yellow Woman then took the two children and fled up the Arkansas to Bent's Fort, where they arrived safe but worn out. Old people used to say half the Cheyenne tribe died of cholera that summer. The Indians were afraid to camp together, but broke up into little family groups and hid themselves in out-of-the-way places. When George Bent was nine years old his father blew up the old fort and moved down the Arkansas to the Big Timbers. George remembered this event very well, and used to say that his father said on the morning when he blew up the fort that he did not care to live in the post any longer—all his brothers and his first wife had died there and it made him sad to live in the old rooms. In the following spring, 1853, Col. Bent took his children to Missouri and put them to school at Westport (now Kansas City, Mo.) where he had a fine farm. He then went back to Colorado and built Bent's New Fort at the Big Timbers. George Bent went to school at Westport until '57 and then to an academy in St. Louis, where he remained, till '61. When he went home for vacation in spring, 1861, he found all western Missouri taking up arms for the South. All the boys were enlisting in the state troops, as they were called. These regiments were really intended for the Confederate service. Young Bent enlisted in Col. Greene's cavalry regiment and was in the battles of Wilson's Creek and Pea Ridge. During the retreat from Corinth, he was captured by Union cavalry and while being marched through the streets of St. Louis with other prisoners he was recognised by a boy he had known at the academy. Robert Bent happened to be in the city, buying Indian trade-goods, and on learning of his brother's capture he went to Robert Campbell, from whom the Bents always bought their Indian goods; Campbell went to see General Fremont, who was also a friend of Colonel Bent, and the result was that George was released on parole with the understanding that he should return home with Robert and take no further part in the war. He reached Colorado in the fall of 1862 and lived for some months at his father's stockade and trading-post on the south side of the Arkansas near the mouth of the Purgatoire River. The Colorado men however; had no use for ex-rebels, and they made life so interesting for young Bent that in the spring of '63 he left his father's stockade and went to live among the Cheyennes, where his younger half-brother Charlie was already living. Charlie had returned to Colorado in the fall of '61. Little is known of his movements, and George Bent never would say much about him even to his best friends. George Bent spent the year '65 in hunting buffalo and visiting his Indian relations in various Cheyenne camps. In the following spring, 1864, an Indian war broke out in Colorado. Bent always claimed the whites started the war by harrying the Cheyennes and Arapahoes. However this may be, as soon as the war began Black Kettle led the friendly Cheyennes and Arapahoes south of the Arkansas, to be out of the way of the troops, and George Bent went with him. In Colorado . It was generally stated that Georgia Bent was leading the Cheyenne raiding parties, but this story had no foundation. Bent was in the hostile camp later in the summer, but he did not take any part in the raids. In the fall he wrote a letter for Black Kettle and other chiefs proposing a peace council and this letter was sent in to Fort Lyon and resulted in Major Wynkoop of the First Colorado Cavalry going out to the Indian camp and bringing the chiefs with him to Denver. The chiefs returned from his visit with an impression that peace was soon to be made, and Black Kettle went in with his band and camped on Sand Greek, near Ft. Lyon. Here, in November, Col, Chivington with the colorado cavalry regiments surprised the Indians in camp and killed over one hundred of them. Bent was badly wounded in the thigh, but fought through the whole engagement and got away on a pony one of his Indian cousins gave him. His own herd of ponies was captured by the Colorado men. From a Cheyenne camp on the Smoky Hill River, young Bent slipped down to the Arkansas and reached his father's stockade, where he remained in hiding until his wound had healed a bit. His father told him he could not stay at his place, as his life would not be safe there, so Bent rejoined the Indians as soon as he was a little better. Before the Sand Greek fight the Indians had been settled down in their winter camps, in many small bands; but after the Chivington attack all of the Cheyennes, Arapahoes and Sioux came together in a great camp on the upper Republican, on the Kansas-Colorado border line. Black Kettle was still urging peace, but the Indians were very angry and would not listen to him. Black Kettle was a pacifist, even after Sand Creek, and reaped the pacifist's reward, for in '68 Col. Custer surprised his camp while the chief was engaged in another peace movement, and this time Black Kettle did not escape. When George Bent rejoined the Indians they were preparing for a grand raid on Julesburg, on the South Platte. One thousand warriors took part in this affair and young Bent went with them. He always claimed this was the first Indian raid he was ever in. The Indians set a trap for the cavalry stationed near Julesburg, but the trap was sprung too soon and most of the soldiers got back to their stockade. The Indians then looted Julesburg stage-station, the stage company's ware-house, grainery and store. They had brought women and extra ponies with then and took hundreds of loads of shelled corn, groceries and canned goods back to the Indian camp. In this raid George Bent found a cavalry major's uniform in the express office at Julesburg. He wore this uniform in several fights up north the following summer. After the first Julesburg raid the Indians decided to move north, clean out the Overland Stage line and join Red Cloud and the northern Cheyennes up on Powder River. They started this march early in February, 1865, during bitter cold weather. The main body with the village, the women and children, moved due north and struck the stage road west of Julesburg near Harlow's Ranch. Here they camped on the north bank of the South Platte, the tepees of the great village extending some miles along the river. At the same time a large party of Cheyennes moving northwest struck the road near Valley, Colorado, and broke up all travel, burning stations and ranches, attacking coaches and wagon-trains and running off herds of cattle and oxen. George Bent was with this party. A large party of Sioux moving northeast struck the road below Julesburg and carried out a similar raid in that region. For a week the Indians remained encamped on the South Platte, keeping the road blocked. They broke the telegraph line and cut Denver off from the east. Three large wagon-trains loaded with groceries and other supplies for Denver had been captured by the Indians, and their camp was full of goods of all kinds. Bent was fond of telling how the Indians brought strange articles to him to ask him what they were and how they were used. The canned goods puzzled them greatly, but they soon learned to chop the cans open with their tomahawks and eat the contents. It was some time, however, before they would eat the canned oysters. One old man brought Bent and box to ask him what it contained, and it was filled with fine candied citron. "Scalp-dances were going on in this big Indian camp day and night," Bent said. At night the camp had many big fires in it, around which the dancers gathered, the drums going all night long. When I was out with the raiders at night and we lost our way in the dark, we used to halt and look for the camp to find our direction. You could see the glow of the fires on the sky a long way off, and if anything hid the fires from us we would listen for the drums. On a still night you could heard them beating miles away up the valley. "During these raids along the Platte a Cheyenne war party ran into a party of white men going east and killed them all. These men were ex-soldiers of the Third Colorado regiment, "hundred days men," who had cut up the Cheyennes at Sand Creek. There were eleven of them and the Indians killed them all. In their bagage were many things taken from the Cheyenne camp on Sand Creek and the scalps of two young Cheyennes. These scalps were recognized by the Cheyennes, one by the peculiar "color of the hair and the other by a little shell ornament which was still attached to the scalp-lock." "At this time the Indians went down and raided Julesburg again. This time the soldiers did not come out of their stockade, though the Indians rode up close. I counted outside the stockade the graves of eighteen men killed by the Indians in the first raid on Julesburg. The Indians plundered Julesburg completely this time, and then set fire to the buildings, burning them one by one in the hope of tempting the soldiers out to fight, but there was only, one company at the stockade and the officers kept the men inside, shelling us with their howitzers." From this camp the Indians moved northward before the cavalry could gather in force enough to attack them. They ran into a cavalry column from Ft. Laramie on the North Platte and had a two days' fight with the troops. Col. Collins of the 11th Ohio Cavalry was in command. He corralled his wagons, dug rifle-pits and fought the Indians off. Bent always said they did not get much change out of this officer. From the North Platte the Indians made a hard march up to the Black Hills, then turned west and joined Bed Cloud and the northern Indians on Powder River. In the spring of 1865 small raiding parties began attacking the Platte road. The chiefs told the young men to examine the road and report the best point for a grand attack in midsummer. The young men reported old Platte Bridge, near the present Casper, Wyoming, as the best place, and in July one thousand Cheyenne, Arapaho and Sioux warriors set out to attack this place. Bent went along and used to tell the story in great detail to his friends. The Indians hid behind the hills on the north side of the river and sent a small party of warriors out into the valley, to draw the cavalry into a trap. Charlie Bent was with these warriors. The troops left their stockade at the southern end of the bridge end came across to the north bank after these Indians, but the officers seemed very cautious and refused to be drawn into the hills. They stopped near the bridge and fired a howitzer at the Indians, then returned across the bridge. The next day the Indians tried again, sending a small party down toward the bridge to tempt the troops into the hills. A company of cavalry crossed the bridge, but instead of pursuing the Indians turned west up the road, to meet a wagon-train that was expected from the west. After they had marched a mile the warriors hiding behind the hills suddenly charged down into the valley. They came in a great swarm from every direction, and the cavalry started back to¬ward the bridge at a gallop. Before they could reach the bridge the Indians ran into them from front, flank and rear. The cavalry attempted to cut their way through the mass of Indians; in the meantime more soldiers had left the stockade and rushed out on the bridge. They had a howitzer and opened a rapid fire on the Indians, who were still swarming out of the hills to join in the fight. A few of the cavalrymen cut their way out and reached the bridge, but practically the whole company was annihilated. "When I charged up to the road," George Bent used to say, "everything was covered with a dense cloud of dust and powder smoke. I saw an officer rushing by me. His horse was running away with him end an arrow was sticking in his forehead. He fell a little farther along the road. A Cheyenne got his horse and had it for some months in the Indian camp. It was a hard-mouthed horse, always running away." This officer was Lieutenant Casper Collins, for whom the town of Casper was later named. Soon after the cavalrymen had all been killed, Indians up on the hills began signalling with their blankets, "More enemies, up the river," All the warriors in the valley turned up the river, riding hard. They found another party of soldiers, with a wagon-train. .These men had corralled the train in a hollow on the river bank and were ready for a fight when the Indians came up. The Indians fought them for some time, and just as Bent came up the warriors made a mounted charge broke into the corral of wagons and billed all the troopers. One soldier, or a teamster, escaped by swimming the platte. He had his six-shooter buckled around his head. A Cheyenne swam- after him, but the white man reached the opposite bank first and taking his revolver from around his head shot the Indian dead and ran into the bushes. He got away. In August, General Connor led a cavalry column to Powder River and had some fights with the Indians. He says in his report that one of his officers had a talk under a flag of truce with the Indians, and one of the Bent boys (evidently Charlie) was present. This young fellow told the officer that the Indians were still very mad about the Sand Creek affair and would make peace only on condition that Col. Chivington should be tried and hung. In the fall of 1865 George Bent returned south with the Cheyennes. They raided the Overland Stage road on the Platte and also attempted to break up the new stage line to Denver, up the Smoky Hill river, but the stage-stations on the new line were mostly "dug-outs" built in the form of a cellar with an earth covered roof rising only a foot or two above the ground; loop-holes had been cut under the eaves on the level of the ground and the station-hands standing inside fired out at the raiders. The Cheyennes did their best, but they could neither kill the men nor burn the buildings, and at length they drew off and went south of the Arkansas. Here they learned that Black Kettle had signed a peace some months earlier. George Bent did not see any further fighting. There was peace in 1865, and when a new Cheyenne war broke out in '67 he was living with Black Kettle who was, as usual, friendly. In the summer Col. Jesse Leavenworth, the Indian agent, hired Bent to go out and bring in all the chiefs for a peace council. Bent went all over the plains, visiting the camps and persuading the chiefs to come to the council, which was later held on Medicine Lodge Creek, where a general peace was signed. In that year, 1867, Bent married Black Kettle's niece, Magpie, and in the following year he took his wife to Colorado where he visited his father in the old stockade on the Purgatoire. At that time Kit Carson was very ill at Boggs' place near the month of the Purgatoire. Carson in fact had but a few days longer to live. He was very much depressed and out of money. Someone told George Bent that Carson had a fine horse he wished to sell and Bent went to Boggs' place with Judge Moore (who had married Mary Bent, George's sister) and bought the horse from Garson*. This was the horse Carson rode in the battle of Adobe Fort in 1864. Bent used the animal as a racing-pony, but a year or so later it strayed from the Indian herd and was caught by the soldiers who sold it to an officer's wife, Mrs. Roe. In her book, "The Letters of an Officer's Wife," Mrs. Roe tells of the horse and of its death some months later. From 1869, when the Cheyenne agency was established, George Bent served the government as interpreter and clerk in the agency office, holding the latter position until the time of his death. The cause of his death was Bright's disease, from which he had been suffering for many years. Bent was recognised as the best authority on the history of the Cheyenne tribe and he did much work for men who were engaged in writing about the Indians. George Bent leaves a widow, a son named William Bent, who lives among the Souix up north, two daughters, living among the Cheyennes in Oklahoma, and several grand-children. Among the Indians George Bent was always called "Texan" because he had been in the Confederate army. "Tejanoi" is the Cheyenne form of this word; it means a Southerner, though literally it means Texan—the Indians thinking all Southerners came from Texas. Omaha, Nov. 19 / 1918. The Editor, Rooky Mountain News, Denver, Colo. Dear Sir: I wrote the enclosed article for you at the time of George Bent's death, hut on sending it in, you informed me that the great press of material on the war made it im¬possible for you to use my article. As I understand the stream of material on the war has now let up a little, I thought I would take a chance and submit this article to you once more. The little picture is not very clear, but might serve as the basis for a good drawing. This is the only photo George Bent ever had taken when a young man, and the original when I saw it and made a Kodak copy some years ago, was very yellow and faded, covered with spots and tack~holes. Sincerely yours, Geo. E Hyde 3019 Burdette St. Mr. Farrar—I am a persistent cuss, but if you don't want this stuff this time I shan't bother you by submitting it again. Just making a Last Try. Yours very truly, GEO.E.HYDE — Feb 28 / 1919
Subject Term: 
Cheyenne Indians--History--Sources
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Cheyenne Indians--Wars, 1864
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Arapaho Indians -- Wars, 1864
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Hyde, George E., 1882-1968 -- Correspondence
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Colorado--History--To 1876
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Indians of North America--Colorado
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Rocky Mountain News
Work Description: 
Typewritten article entitled "Last of Col. Bent's Sons Dead," by George Hyde, November 1918.
Work Type: 
letters (correspondence)
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University of Colorado Boulder Libraries Rare and Distinctive Collections
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Box 1 Folder 16
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The organization that has made the Item available believes that the Item is in the Public Domain under the laws of the United States, but a determination was not made as to its copyright status under the copyright laws of other countries. The Item may not be in the Public Domain under the laws of other countries. Please refer to the organization that has made the Item available for more information. URI:
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CU Boulder ArchivesSpace Online Finding Aid of Bent-Hyde Papers, 1820-1918
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digital images
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