|The Battle of Beecher Island
Major George A. Forsyth and 50 frontiersmen who had been recruited to help pursue depredating Cheyenne marched up the Arikaree fork of the Republican River, Colorado, in September, 1868. On the morning of September 17, they were attacked by Sioux and Cheyenne and took refuge on a small sandbar island which was later named Beecher Island after 1st Lieutenant Frederick H. Beecher, a victim of the fight.
Three massed Indian charges were broken by the rapid fire of the scout's seven-shot Spencer carbines. The most famous Indian fatality of this fight was Roman Nose, the greatest warrior amongst the Southern Cheyenne. After his death, the intensity of the charges lessened as the Indians slowly dispersed across the prairie.
But the besieged frontiersmen were still in danger. Surrounded by over 600 warriors, all their horses and 5 men dead, and many wounded, they faced not only the warriors but starvation.
Two men, Jack Stilwell and Pierre Trudeau managed to pass thru the Indian's lines and go for help.
On September 25 black troopers from the 10th Cavalry came to their aid.
Forsyth himself had been shot three times and, when found, was calmly reading "Oliver Twist."
Today the "island" is gone. There is a monument which celebrates the fight and one can walk a mile long trail and stand on top of the ridge from where the Indians could view the besieged soldiers. The canyon where the Indians massed their forces before each charge is still there and, from this ridge top, you can imagine them mounting their ponies and, whooping and yelling, charging out of this canyon and right down the river!
Any book that deals with the Indian Wars will mention this engagement.
(See also: "The Battle of Beecher Island and the Indian War of 1867-1869"
by John H. Monnett)