"Hancock Expedition"
"Kansas, 1867"

Indian Village Ness County Kansas
"Indian Village Photo's"



     General Winfield S. Hancock, and Colonel George Armstrong Custer, commander of the newly formed 7th Cavalry, led the 7th on this expedition in the Spring of 1867. The expedition was designed to give the central plains Indians a lesson and to provide a response to the Fetterman Massacre that took place the previous year. Marching out from Fort Larned to the Indian village on the Pawnee Fork just into present Ness County, Kansas.

     On the expedition was a half French, half Cheyenne scout by the name of Edmund Guerrier. He reported to General Hancock on the evening of Sunday, April 14, 1867, that the Indians were leaving the camp on the Pawnee. Hancock gave the order to Colonel George Custer and the 7th to surround the village. Custer's surgeon, Isaac Coates, described the scene:

     "No sound could be heard in the village; the city of wigwams was plainly visible in the bright moonlight, but no dog barked and no human voice or footsteps could be heard. Dismounting, we went from lodge to lodge looking for Indians, examining the numerous curious articles which each contained; it was evident that the majority of the furniture had been carried away; though the quantity and variety that remained will astonish the reader"

     "The Sioux and Cheyenne lodges, numbering about 300, stood close together. They showed unmistakable traces of the haste of their owners to get away, dogs half eaten, untanned buffalo robes, axes, pots, kettles and pans, beads and gaudy finery, newly killed buffalo, stews already cooked in the kettles, were scattered about promiscuously, covering the ground. The chiefs' wigwams were painted in a gaudy manner. A young white girl was found who, according to the surgeon, had been attacked by no less than six Indians. She was taken into the soldiers camp and cared for."

     "On April 19, Hancock's order to destroy the "nest of conspirators" was carried out. Three companies of the 37th Infantry gathered the lodges, Buffalo robes, and the camp equipment into great piles and set everything ablaze."

     "The loss of these articles would be severely felt by the Indian tribes. To rebuild this village would require 3,000 buffaloes to be killed to have enough hides just to rebuild the wigwams that were lost in the burning of this village. Six different stacks were made of the effects taken from the village. Everything in the Indian village that could be found was thrown onto the piles and set on fire. The dry poles of the wigwams caught fire like tinder, and so many burning hides make the sky black with smoke. Flakes of burning embers were borne on the breeze to the dry prairie, setting the prairie grass on fire. The fire consumed everything in it's path in an immence area.

This is but a short history of what happened on that frightful day in April of 1867.

Then you might say "Along Came Another George"!

     The other George had always been interested in the Indian Wars, and finding the site of the Cheyenne and Sioux village destroyed by General Hancock in 1867 turned from a dream to a reality for this modern day George and a good friend by the name of Earl Monger.

     This dream begins to come true in 1975, when George Elmore and his friend Earl Monger decided to find the village, they researched what information they could put together. The two felt it would be best to start their ground search at the closest and farthest possible locations, and then walk the Pawnee River, talking to landowners along the way. The eastern edge of their search took them to just north of Burdett, Kansas; the western edge of the search area was to the north of Jetmore, Kansas.

     Whenever they had a free day, George and Earl would drive out and resumed searching where they had previously left off. In doing this, they discovered many interesting things. One day, a farmer along the route told them that he had found "lots of that old Indian stuff." He took them to a shed where he pulled out a five-gallon bucket, full of artifacts, including a human skull. Upon examination of the artifacts and the site where the farmer found them proved to be much earlier than the 1867 village that George and Earl were looking for. This Woodland Indian village probably dated to be well over 1,000 years old. In a way this was quite a let down for the two Indian Village Hunters!

     But this didn't discourage them, there search continued through the summer of 1976. Then, while visiting with Leo Oliva, he mentioned a group of records in the National Archives with a map of the Hancock campaign. After getting a copy of the map, George and Earl were able to pinpoint the village, along with every stop and feature on the route taken by the Army. In their search, they had worked east along the river to within a mile of the site from the west. From the east end going west, they had just gotten to the place called Duncan's Crossing.

     With this new information and map in hand, they began exploring the village site and discovered it was rich in artifact material. Most of what the two found was found with metal detectors. George and Earl found iron trade items that were used to trade with the Indians, kettle parts, gun parts, tin cups, and cartridge cases. There were also iron objects altered by Indians for uses such as awls, scrapers, points, and knives. They also excavated non-iron items; stone points, pot shards, rubbing stones, clay pipes, glass, and beads. They noted that material was often in groupings or piles of similar items. There were many burned areas.

     In order to confirm the site, Earl contacted the archeology department of the Kansas State Historical Society. In April 1976, one hundred and nine years after the village was destroyed, Tom Witty, Tom Barr, and Martin Stein make test excavations at the site to determine if it would justify a full state sponsored excavation. In July 1977 the state historical society conducted a dig with archeologist Bruce Jones in charge of the project.

     After the dig was concluded, Earl and George decided it was best only to study the site and not remove any more artifacts. This will leave them in place for future archeological investigations. We did, however, excavate an 1880's-era dugout on the village site. Earl then reconstructed it at the Santa Fe Trail Center in Larned, Kansas.

     Up until the time of Earl's death, Earl and his wife Iris enjoyed going to the village site to spend a weekend or longer. They set up their camper and relaxed and watched wildlife while dreaming of how the village must have looked in 1867. They enjoyed the same peaceful and wonderful camping spot that the Cheyennes and Sioux had discovered long before.

     Today, the site still retains the same beauty and serenity. I believe that if you just let your mind wonder just a little, and you listened close, you could still hear the drums or maybe even the crackling of the fires as Hancock and Custer burned the village to the ground. Through the efforts of the Fort Larned Old Guard we the people who love the Old West the most, have the opportunity to preserve it for all time to come!

Now just how is this modern day George going to save the site that the another George so thoroughly destroyed in 1867??


     A 160-acre tract in Ness County, Kansas holds the remains of the large Cheyenne and Sioux Indian Village. Its destruction by the U.S. Army in April 1867 triggered what is often called "Hancock's War."

     The Fort Larned Old Guard, a support group for Fort Larned National Historic Site, is conducting a two-year fundraising program to purchase, protect, interpret, and maintain this important Indian Wars Site. The Old Guard is soliciting your donations, and offer the following premiums:

     $100 donation One year membership in Fort Larned Old Guard (renewal if already a member), and a reproduction 3rd Infantry cup.

     $200 donation One year membership in Fort Larned Old Guard (renewal if already a member), a reproduction 3rd Infantry cup, and a Michael Jilg etching of Fort Larned.

     $250 donation One year membership in Fort Larned Old Guard (renewal if already a member), a reproduction 3rd Infantry cup, and a numbered print of Jerry Thomas' painting of the Indian Village site (numbers will be assigned in the order donations are received).

     $500 donation One year membership in Fort Larned Old Guard (renewal if already a member), a reproduction 3rd Infantry cup, and a numbered print of Jerry Thomas' painting of the Indian Village site (numbers will be assigned in the order donations are received), and a certificate suitable for framing stating that the donor contributed sufficient funds for the Old Guard to purchase one acre of the Indian village site. For each additional $500 contributed, the certificate will add one more acre to the acknowledgment.

The following items may be purchased separately with the funds to be used for the Old Guard's Indian village project:

$100 Michael Jilg etching of Fort Larned.
$150 Jerry Thomas print of Indian village.

Jerry Thomas Indian Village
Jerry Thomas Sketch of the Indian Village Print.
The sketch above is from a picture I took at the 1998 Rendezvous.

"The finished product has arrived"
Jerry Thomas Indian Village
"Bold and Fearless"
"Nah si ha di ma"

The Cheyenne Indians featured in the painting above are from left to right;
Wolf, Roman Nose, White Horse, Tall Bull and Little Robe, Pawnee Killer a Sioux, is the sixth mounted warrior from the left.

3rd Infantry Cup
The picture above
is the 3rd Infantry Cup you will receive
with your donation to this project!

Jerry Thomas Print
Monument Station, Kansas, July 16, 1867
11 1/2 X 33 1/2
The picture above is a print
Jerry Thomas

The address for this project and more information is:
Fort Larned Old Guard
PO Box 354
Larned KS 67550-0354
Help Preserve This Treasure
"Fort Larned Old Guard"

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Larry & Carolyn
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