1890 – The Lakota are massacred at Wounded Knee

Colonel James Forsyth of the US Cavalry led a force of approximately 500 soldiers into the Lakota camp at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation on the morning of December 29, 1890. Their intent was to disarm the Lakota tribespeople there, as there was great concern among the European-descended American population that the Native American ‘Ghost Dance’ portended a revolutionary uprising.

Nothing could have been further from the truth, but after literally centuries of slaughtering, deceiving and cheating the native tribes, the American people and their government found it hard to believe that the Indian’s response could be anything other than violence. Tragically, due to the intransigence and fearfulness of Forsyth’s troop, as soon as a single shot was fired (apparently by accident), it became the signal to open fire without restraint or mercy.

Ninety men of the Lakota, and two hundred of their women and children were slaughtered in the ensuing violence, more than half the residents of the camp. Despite claims that the killings happened due to the chaos of battle (which does no doubt account for a good number of them), the fact that some women and children were pursued as far as two miles to be murdered by cavalrymen undermines the idea that this was just a misunderstanding. Twenty of the 500 cavalrymen were awarded the Medal of Honor for their deeds at Wounded Knee (compare this to a total of three Medals of Honor awarded among 64,000 South Dakotans who fought in World War Two).

The massacre is generally seen to mark the end of the American Indian Wars (although there were a few smaller incidents in the following weeks). Henceforth, the genocide of the Native Americans would be pursued by slower and subtler means.

Referenced in:

Referenced in:

32 CE — Jesus heals the lepers

Jesus actually healed lepers on at least two separate occasions according to the gospels – and that’s assuming that the tale of him healing a single leper, related variously in Matthew 8:1-4, Mark 1:40-45 and Luke 5:12-16, refers to the same leper on each occasion.

He also once healed a group of ten lepers in a single go: this one related only in Luke 17:11-19. Interestingly, the only one of the ten lepers to return and thank Jesus later was a Samaritan. (Luke’s gospel is also the only one to mention the Parable of the Good Samaritan; one cannot help suspecting that Luke may have had something of an agenda.)

Referenced in:

One — U2
Jesus — Queen
One — Johnny Cash

1876 – Custer is defeated and killed at Little Bighorn

General George Armstrong Custer went into battle at Little Big Horn under a number of false impressions.

He was under the impression that he would be facing no more than 800 Native Americans, rather than more than twice that number – Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse had recruited assiduously, knowing that a battle was coming. He was under the impression that his major challenge would be preventing the escape of the enemy forces, rather than defeating them. And finally, he was under the impression, based on these assumptions, that the force under the command of his subordinate Major Reno would be far more effective in battle than it proved.

But with Reno’s forces isolated and routed, Custer’s forces were outnumbered and surrendered. More than 200 men in Custer’s army, including Custer himself, were killed.

Referenced in:

Custer – Johnny Cash
General Custer – Swan
Jim Bridger – Johnny Horton
Little Big Horn – Running Wild
I Love America – Alice Cooper
Custer Had It Coming – Redbone
Custer Song – Buffy Sainte-Marie
The Punch Line – The Minutemen
Custer Died A-Runnin’ – David Wilkie
Some Fool Made A Soldier Of Me – The Kingston Trio
Please Mister Custer, I Don’t Wanna Go – Larry Verne
History is Made By Stupid People – The Arrogant Worms