Last of the Great Scouts
Satanta, Chief Of The Kiowas
WITHIN plain view of Fort Larned lay a large camp of Kiowas and Comanches. They
were not yet bedaubed with war paint, but they were as restless as panthers in a cage, and
it was only a matter of days when they would whoop and howl with the loudest.
The principal chief of the Kiowas was Satanta, a powerful and resourceful warrior, who,
because of remarkable talents for speech-making, was called "The Orator of the Plains."
Satanta was short and bullet-headed. Hatred for the whites swelled every square inch of
his breast, but he had the deep cunning of his people, with some especially fine points of
treachery learned from dealings with dishonest agents and traders. There probably never
was an Indian so depraved that he could not be corrupted further by association with a
rascally white man.
When the Kiowas were friendly with the government, Satanta received a guest with all
the magnificence the tribe afforded. A carpet was spread for the white man to sit upon,
and a folding board was set up for a table. The question of expense never intruded.
Individually, too, Satanta put on a great deal of style. Had the opportunity come to him,
he would have worn a silk hat with a sack-coat, or a dress suit in the afternoon. As it was,
he produced some startling effects with blankets and feathers.
It was part of General Hazen's mission to Fort Larned to patch up a treaty with the
outraged Kiowas and Comanches, if it could be brought about. On one warm August
morning, the general set out for Fort Zarah, on a tour of inspection. Zarah was on the
Arkansas, in what is now Barton County, Kansas. An early start was made, as it was
desired to cover the thirty miles by noon. The general rode in a four-mule army
ambulance, with an escort of ten foot soldiers, in a four-mule escort wagon.
After dinner at Zarah the general went on to Fort Harker, leaving orders for the scout and
soldiers to return to Larned on the following day. But as there was nothing to do at Fort
Zarah, Will determined to return at once; so he trimmed the sails of his mule-ship, and
squared away for Larned.
The first half of the journey was without incident, but when Pawnee Rock was reached,
events began to crowd one another. Some forty Indians rode out from behind the rock and
surrounded the scout.
"How? How?" they cried, as they drew near, and offered their hands for the white man's
The braves were in war paint, and intended mischief; but there was nothing to be lost by
returning their greeting, so Will extended his hand.