Colonel Carrington was in command of four hundred men at Fort Phil Kearney, where they were being tantalized by the Indians.
Chief Red Cloud, ranking chief of the war council, sent about sixty warriors down near the fort to tantalize the soldiers into leaving the fort and start to fighting.
At last Colonel Carrington ordered Captain Fetterman and his company of ninety-two men to go out and run the Indians back into the hills. The Indians kept backing up toward the canon, about a mile from the fort. A scout, who was in the company, thought the Indians had some plot ahead, and tried to warn the captain, but Fetterman was very enthusiastic and anxious that the colonel’s orders should be carried out. The scout said he was not going to be caught in any trap and went back to the fort. The soldiers followed the Indians into the canon, and, as if by magic, sixteen hundred warriors sprang up all around them, and in no time they were all scalped and killed. Colonel Carrington and the remaining three hundred men staid in the fort and heard the shots exchanged, but did not go to Fetterman’s relief.
A short time after this, Chief Red Cloud came, under a flag of truce, into the fort and told Colonel Carrington about the trap and fight in the canon, and said if the colonel had sent the other soldiers out they would all have been killed. Undoubtedly they would have, since the Indians outnumbered the soldiers.
Red Cloud also told of the bravery of the little twelve year old drummer boy in Captain Fetterman’s company. While the fight was going on and men were falling all around him, the boy stood on a large rock and drummed away until the last man was killed.
The Indian spoke so highly of the boy and his courage that Carrington asked him why he allowed the boy to be killed if he so admired his bravery and courage. Red Cloud answered that he did not intend to kill the boy, and as soon as he could he was going to save him, but some of the warriors killed him just before the chief reached his side to protect him.
Other US Forts
Source: True History of some of the Pioneers of Colorado, by Miss Luella Shaw, Press of Carson Harper Co, Denver, Colorado, 1909