Saturday, November 04, 2006

Lt. Grattan

It’s ironic that a memorial was erected for Lt. Grattan after his death in 1854. Lt. Grattan is credited with starting the Sioux wars. Having learned that a Mormon traveling past Fort Laramie had had a cow killed by one of the Indians encamped near the fort and waiting for their allotments, Grattan insisted on capturing the guilty party. Together with 30 troops, a drunken interpreter, and two artillery pieces, Grattan set out for the Indian encampment. One Indian offered to make retribution. Such an act wouldn’t satisfy Grattan, however. He wanted the guilty party to stand trial. Someone fired a gun first, and the conflict didn’t end until Grattan and his troops were all killed. Grattan’s body, according to some scholars, was so badly mangled as to be unrecognizable. Perhaps that’s why only a memorial has been erected to remember him.

That behavior exhibited by Grattan, that is, each infraction by the native tribes punished with substantially more force by the military, became common practice in the Great Plains. That behavior can be seen at Washita, Sappa Creek, and Wounded Knee.

That kind of behavior exhibited by the military remains in force today, a hundred and fifty years later, because each ambush or explosion experienced by the American military in Iraq is met with substantially greater force. The American military still hasn’t learned how to engage guerrilla fighters.