Battle of Summit Springs

The Battle of Summit Springs took place on July 11, 1869. On one side, a small Cheyenne Indian campsite, with its occupants armed with bows and arrows. On the other side approached Eugene A. Carr's 5th United States Calvary regiment.

The battle about to take place was a part of the American Indian Wars. It was a tumultuous time in American history in which westward expansion, manifest destiny, and new arrivals to the U.S fanned out across the land, each looking for a new home, and a new life. The problem was that much of this new land was unsettled and inhabited by different Indian tribes. Failures at peaceful resolutions spawned the American Indian Wars and subsequently, this Battle of Summit Springs.

As Chief Tall Bull and his encampment unsuspectingly sat, Pawnee Scouts hired by Carr's forces come across a 15-year-old from the encampment. Testimony from the scouts and army tell us what was to happen next. The young brave man, aware of his followers, lead the army force directly to the Indian campsite where warriors awaited. The Battle of Summit Springs then ensued.

Today, the battlefield looks much as it did nearly 150-years ago when the action was taking place; wide-open, prairie-brush lands with occasional farms and small towns. Visitors to this historic site today frequently marvel at the serenity and unique feel of this mostly untouched landscape.

Visitors can explore the open battle area and imagine the endeavors of the heroes of the day. The legendary frontiersman, William "Buffalo Bill" Cody was also a participant of this engagement, heeding the call of action right at this spot. The commemorative plaque adorning this virtual "Ghost Town" and battlefield lends to the weight of many of the incident's impactful details.

Revenge and future losses were the motivation for this final standoff with the Colorado Plains Indians. Acting on previous Indian raids on American-Kansas, Carr and his forces went mobile in search of the attackers. This is where they were found, encamped among the brush and rock outcrops of this Colorado valley.

Yet another draw to this site is the collective homage paid towards the young Indian brave who lost his life to warn the tribe. According to historians and eye-witness accounts from the time, the heroic, young, 15-year-old had other options had he been only concerned for himself. His heroic actions gave the Cheyenne encampment its only chance at defending the oncoming attack.