The Dog Soldiers were an elite group Indian warriors. Originally, they fought against other Indian tribes, but in the 1860s they increasingly became one of the biggest enemies of the United States Government in what became the bloody Plains Indian Wars. Tall Bull was a prominent leader of the Cheyenne Dog Soldier Warrior Society. He was the most distinguished of several Cheyenne warriors who bore the hereditary name over the years. Because it was an honorable name to inherit, the name was passed down many times, to many warriors over the years.
In October 1868, Tall Bull and his Dog Soldiers viciously attacked an American cavalry force in Colorado. The following winter in Oklahoma, they confronted General Philip Sheridan’s forces. Near the Washita River, Sheridan’s Lieutenant Colonel George Custer attacked a peaceful Cheyenne village under Chief Black Kettle. More than 100 Cheyenne Indians were killed, and Custer’s soldiers brutally butchered more than 800 of their horses. However, Custer was forced to flee when Tall Bull and other chiefs camped in nearby villages began to mass for attack. Custer’s attack had badly weakened the Cheyenne, but Tall Bull refused to surrender to the White Man, under any circumstances. He was a warrior and he would fight to the bitter end.
In the spring of 1869, Tall Bull and his Dog Soldiers took their revenge by staging a series of very successful attacks against the soldiers, who were searching for him. Determined to destroy the chief, the US Army formed a special expeditionary force under the command of General Eugene Carr. On July 11, 1869, Carr surprised Tall Bull and his warriors in their camp at Summit Springs, Colorado. In the battle that followed, Tall Bull was killed and the Dog Soldiers were overwhelmed. Without the dynamic leadership of their chief, the surviving Dog Soldiers’ resistance was broken. Although others in the Cheyenne nation continued to fight the US Army for another decade, they did so without the aid of their greatest warrior society and its leader…Tall Bull.