Death of Yellow Hand, Cheyenne Chief
(As told by Jules Green, late Scout 5th Cavalry, to the late Ellis T. Pierce, Hot Springs, South Dakota. Original letter now in the collection of Mr. R.S. Ellison, Casper, Wyoming.)
Everything was quiet along the route until we got over on the Warbonnet where Cody and I were riding some distance on the advance. We were going through a narrow valley with a Hogback on the East side: a system of small, narrow gorges led up through this ridge, the walls of which were very rocky and precipitous. Bill was riding on the right, watching that side while I looked the left side over for signs.
Happening to look ahead at the same time we saw the flash of a war bonnet ducking into one of those narrow gorges. An Indian must have ridden out of there, then seeing us he rolled his horse and dashed back in again so we just got a flash of him. Checking our horses, Cody looked the ground over and saw a game trail leading up the Hogback or ridge. He ordered me to take after the Indian and run him up to the head of the canyon while he would take the path and get him as he came out of the head of the coulee.
I spurred my horse and laid low on its side and as the gorge was crooked I did not see him for a few minutes. But finally, there was a straight away and I had a good view of him. He was looking backward, watching to be followed. He did not shoot at me but keep straight ahead evidently looking for Pahaska ( Long Hair) as the Indians called Buffalo Bill. As we neared the top he commenced watching the top south expecting that Bill was up there. But evidently, he sensed danger, for he paid no more attention to me but laid low on the left side of his pony looking over it's neck at the top of the ridge.
I was close enough to have killed him with my Colt pistol. All at once, he sat straight up and fired at the top of the ridge Just then Bill's gun barked and Yellow Hand went over the left side of his pony, stone dead. I then rode up and here came Bill who said that the Indian surely had his number but he (Cody) shot so quick he beat him to it. The Indians bullet having passed close to his head, Bill scalped Yellow Hand and said " Jules, you can have his trappings but run his horse back into our Cavyard." which he did. Green brought a lot of junk he stripped from the Indian and I asked him, why since he had such a good chance he didn't shoot Yellow Hand? He smiled and said, " Doc, have you forgotten what you learned in the army? To obey orders. Bill didn't tell me to kill the buck, but to run him out for me."
When the regiment went into camp that evening Colonel Carr handed Cody a dispatch told him to go over to Red Cloud Agency and report back next day. Bill started and on arrival there found the Indians in an ugly mood, but put his horse inside the stockade paying a man to rub and feed him and to stay up until he called for the horse. After supper Bill went to playing billiards, as he was a fiend for that game.
The officers and he were having a good time when about eleven p.m. in walked Big Buck who, seeing Yellow Hands scalp hanging on Bills' belt said to him " Where did you get that scalp?" Bill unhooked the scalp, gave the buck a slap across the face with it and asked him how he liked it. The Indian drew up his blanket and started trotting for the door threatening all sorts of vengeance. The officer chided Bill for his action, for they expected the Indians would be there, howling in a short time. But Bill passed it off with a promise that he would be there to head the reception committee when they arrived.
They played until two a.m. when Bill told the hostler to get his horse ready, then, after examining the cinches and tightening them up a bit, he instructed the man to keep quiet. But said "When I motion you to throw the stockade open, you throw it wide open quick and jump back so I can make a quick get-away." The man did so and Bill spurred his horse, dropping on one side of him, shot out of the gate and went straight for the White River. Not meeting any opposition he turned up by the willows and was soon in the clear.
Next afternoon he was back on the job with the troops. I asked Bill when he visited me a short time before his death if he had heard lately of Jules Green. He studied a while and repeated " Green, Green, where do I know him, Doc?" I said, "In the Yellow Hand duel." "Oh yes," continued Bill, "why I haven't heard from Green in twenty years. He must have turned in."
Pierce adds, of his own accord: "I
have given the facts as they were sleeps on Lookout Mountain, coyotes given
direct to me. Old Pahaska picked the bones of Yellow Hand over on the Warbonnet
and the game is closed. But, it would be well to put these things down
straight while it can be done. Green was along with Bill when Yellow Hand
was killed and it took both of them to do it."