Wounded Knee Massacre

In the Wounded Knee Massacre, on December 29, 1890, 500 troops of the U.S. 7th Cavalry, supported by four Hotchkiss guns (a lightweight artillery piece designed for travel with cavalry and used as a replacement for the aging twelve-pound mountain howitzer), surrounded an encampment of Miniconjou Sioux (Lakota) and Hunkpapa Sioux (Lakota).The Army had orders to escort the Sioux to the railroad for transport to Omaha, Nebraska. One day prior, the Sioux had given up their protracted flight from the troops and willingly agreed to turn themselves in at the Pine Ridge Agency in South Dakota. They were the very last of the Sioux to do so. They were met by the 7th Cavalry, who intended to use a display of force coupled with firm negotiations to gain compliance from them.

The commander of the 7th had been ordered to disarm the Lakota before proceeding. During the process of disarmament, a deaf tribesman named Black Coyote could not hear the order to give up his rifle. This set off a chain reaction of events that led to a scene of sheer chaos and mayhem with fighting between both sides in all directions.

Wounded KneeBy the time it was over, about 300 men, women, and children of the Lakota Sioux had been killed. Twenty-five troopers also died during the massacre, some believed to have been the victims of friendly fire as the shooting took place at point blank range in chaotic conditions. Around 150 Lakota are believed to have fled the chaos, with an unknown number later dying from hypothermia.

This battle is noteworthy, as it is the battle in which the most Medals of Honor have ever been awarded in the history of all wars in the United States. The Medal of Honor is the United States highest award for bravery.