Battle of Punished Women Fork

Battle Canyon in Scott County, Kansas 

was the site of the Battle of Punished Woman’s Fork, the last encounter between Native Americans and United States Troops in the State of Kansas. The Northern Cheyenne under the leadership of Chief Dull Knife and Little Wolf were trying to return to their former home in the north after escaping from a reservation at Fort Reno, Oklahoma.

There were 92 men, 120 women and 141 children who came through Kansas, crossing the Arkansas River at Cimarron Crossing. On September 27, 1878, US troops under the command of Lt. Colonel William H. Lewis from Fort Dodge located the Northern Cheyenne families at this location.

The women, children and elderly sheltered in and near a cave at the top of the canyon and sentries were hidden in circular pits surrounded by rock barricades which are still visible today. As the troops advanced on the position from the northwest, Colonel Lewis was mortally wounded in the thigh. He died on the way to Fort Wallace, becoming the last Army officer to be killed in Kansas during the Indian wars.

The Cheyenne escaped by night, crossing the Smoky Hill River and going on to Nebraska where the party split into one party under Chief Dull Knife and one under Little Wolf.  The soldiers continued their pursuit until most Cheyenne were killed or captured.

This 30 acre site has been designated a State and National Historic Site. It is maintained by the Scott County Historical Society.

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