On the morning of September 4, 1877, Lakota leaders and warriors such as Red Cloud, American Horse, Young Man Afraid of His Horse, No Water, and Little Wound rode with hundreds of U.S. Army soldiers to arrest the Lakota war chief Crazy Horse at his camp outside the Red Cloud Agency near Camp Robinson, Nebraska. The Indians were attired and painted for war; the soldiers brought with them two Gatling guns.
Crazy Horse had fallen out of favor with the soldier chiefs at Camp Robinson after surrendering there back on May 6th, while Lakota leaders like Red Cloud, and even Crazy Horse’s former friend Little Big Man, had grown jealous of him over his rising status in the eyes of the U.S. Army. After defeating George Armstrong Custer at the Little Big Horn the previous summer, Crazy Horse was a bit of a celebrity, not only with the Lakota people at the Red Cloud and Spotted Tail Agencies but also with the Army.
In a heated meeting a few days before September 4, Crazy Horse’s words were mistranslated when he said, “I will go north and fight until not a white man is left!” The army translator, Frank Grouard, was a former friend of the Lakota war chief, and no one knows if he twisted Crazy Horse’s words intentionally or got flustered in the heat of the moment. Touch the Clouds, Crazy Horse’s friend and leader of the Miniconjou Lakota, would confirm later that Crazy Horse actually said, “I will go north and fight until not a Nez Perce is left!” This was in response to the Army pressuring Crazy Horse to lead a group of Lakota scouts and warriors against the Nez Perce Indians, who refused to move to a government reservation and were now fleeing across Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana to try and make it to freedom in the Grand Mother’s Land, Canada.
Since his surrender at Camp Robinson on May 6, 1877, the Army had been pushing Crazy Horse to head East to have a meeting with the Great Father (President Hayes). Crazy Horse refused until he was given his own reservation back in the Powder River Country of Wyoming, where he had lived most of his life. The back-and-forth between Crazy Horse and the U.S. Army continued through the summer of 1877, the tension between the two slowly rising until finally General George Crook was summoned to Camp Robinson to have a meeting with the Lakota war chief and other Lakota leaders.
On his way to the council with Crazy Horse, a Lakota warrior called Woman Dress told the general that Crazy Horse planned to kill him at their meeting. Crook turned his wagon around and returned to Camp Robinson, where he then summoned Indian leaders like Red Cloud and Spotted Tail to plan the arrest of Crazy Horse on the morning of September 4.
Crazy Horse would have a little more than 24hrs to live.