juhlarik-HR-3Hey everyone! Thanks so much for having me over today! As I write stories, I love being able to weave historical events and figures into my fiction. In my first novella, Sioux Summer, published in The Oregon Trail Romance Collection, I was able to do just that. The Grattan Massacre was the conflict that spawned the First Sioux War, and it plays a part in my story.

In August, 1854, near Fort Laramie, Nebraska Territory (present day Wyoming), one lonely cow wandered away from a group of Mormon emigrants traveling the Oregon Trail. The bovine ambled into an encampment of Lakota Sioux containing roughly 4800 men, women, and children and was killed by a visiting Miniconjou warrior named High Forehead.

Young Bull
Photo credit: Andreas Krappweis.

The cow’s owner who had tracked it down, became fearful at the sight of the Indian encampment, so he went to Fort Laramie and explained the situation to Lt. Hugh Fleming. Fleming approached the Sioux chief, Conquering Bear, to negotiate a solution. The chief offered a horse from his own herd or a cow from the tribe’s herd, but the Mormon man demanded $25 cash. When terms couldn’t be reached, Fleming demanded the arrest of High Forehead. Conquering Bear wouldn’t agree since he had no authority over the Miniconjou tribe, so their negotiations ended in stalemate.

Second Lieutenant John Grattan, a new West Point graduate, took matters into his own hands. With little respect for the Sioux, he, an armed detachment of thirty soldiers, and an interpreter went searching for a fight. They marched into the Sioux encampment, intent on arresting High Forehead. The interpreter, who was drunk at the time, taunted the Sioux warriors, promising that the soldiers would kill them. Grattan demanded High Forehead’s surrender. When he refused, Grattan approached Conquering Bear. The chief once more offered a horse in exchange for the dead cow, but Grattan would accept only the arrest of High Forehead. Again, the negotiations ended in stalemate.

Government Archives

What Grattan didn’t know was that the Sioux warriors had flanked the detachment during the negotiations. As he returned to his horse, one soldier became so nervous he fired a shot, and the bullet struck and killed the Sioux chief. With bows and arrows, the Sioux killed Grattan and eleven others. The remaining men retreated to a rocky outcropping nearby, but the warriors, led by rising war chief Red Cloud, pursued and killed them all.

For days, the Sioux raided nearby settlers, trading posts, and Fort Laramie. Finally, the Indians abandoned the area for their respective hunting grounds, and in so doing, broke the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie. When a burial party went into the encampment, the thirty soldiers’ bodies were found mutilated almost beyond recognition.

Photo credit:Phil Konstantin.
Photo credit:Phil Konstantin.


News of the Grattan Massacre reached the War Department, and a plan for retaliation was formed. On September 3, 1855, a 700-soldier force led by Colonel William Harney descended on an encampment of 250 Brulé Sioux along Ash Creek. The soldiers killed more than one hundred Sioux men, women, and children and took roughly seventy prisoners. So began a long history of attacks and retaliations that continued for many years. And…the Battle of Ash Creek is directly linked to one of the most famous cases of retaliation in all of Indian war history. One of the young boys who witnessed the massacre at Ash Creek grew into the great Sioux warrior, Crazy Horse, who fought and killed Custer twenty-one years later at the Little Big Horn.


I hope you’ll be interested to see how The Grattan Massacre fits into my story, Sioux Summer.

You can find The Oregon Trail Romance Collection at bookstores everywhere, or purchase from Amazon. And to one lucky reader, I’ll be giving away an autographed copy. Leave a comment below to enter the drawing.


Oregon Trail Collection
To order click cover.


+ posts

58 thoughts on “THE GRATTAN MASSACRE & Book Giveaway”

  1. Hello Jennifer. This is my kind of book. For many years most of my reading was about Indians. I think the white men were responsible for a lot of the Indian trouble. They never wanted to see them as real men. I felt sorry for the white men to just take their land away. White men would fight for their land also. In fact, many did just that later. I would sure be happy for your number one commenter to win your book. I’ve been wanting it for awhile. Thanks for you visiting and having a giveaway. GOD bless you.
    Maxie > mac262(at)me(dot)com <

    • Thank you so much for stopping by, Maxie. I agree with you that the Indian troubles were often brought about by the whites who came in and encroached on their land and lifestyle.

  2. Hi Jennifer. Thank you for the great post. And to think it was started by a cow. I think I would have let the Indians keep the cow and not bring anyone else into the situation.

    I love reading Historical Romance novels because I find I always learn something while being entertained. I would love to win a copy of The Oregon Trail Romance Collection. Thank you for the opportunity.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  3. Sounds like an interesting book to read. I´m sure there will be a lot of emotions to go trough while reading this book. It might be a book everyone should read and think about it.

    • Hi Jenna, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. There are some wonderful stories by lots of great authors in the collection. I hope you’ll have an opportunity to read them all.

  4. Good Morning, Jennifer! Welcome to P&P. Thank you for coming and hanging out with us. I loved your blog! Interesting and sad how a simple thing like a wandering cow ended up with so much bloodshed. That stiff-necked Morman man had a lot on his conscience for sure. If not for his stubborn pride it could’ve ended peacefully. I’m sorry and ashamed for the way we treated the Indians.

    Congratulations on the Oregon Trail Romance Collection! Looks like some great romance stories in there.

    • Thank you for the warm welcome, Linda! It would be interesting if we could know just what the Mormon man had to say after all was said and done. I would guess he’d wish he would have done things differently.

  5. How interesting! I learn so much on this blog.. I’d love to read the Oregon Trail Romance Collection.. Congratulations!
    dkstevensneAToutlookD OtCoM

  6. I wonder what happened to the settler who owned the cow. If he survived all of this, I wonder if he realized the role he played in the loss of so many lives?

  7. I really enjoy reading about the American Indian – the real stories and not those told in the history books. Thanks for all your research and making what sounds like a wonderful tale.

    • Yes, Colleen, how very different the history of the American Westward expansion could’ve been, right? Makes me wonder “what if…” to imagine what our nation would look like now.

  8. What a great post. I love reading about all this history in these post. Thanks for sharing it with us today and for the great giveaway.

  9. I love these type of stories. Wish I didn’t believe that the white men caused so many of the problems to our Native Americans.

  10. A little bit of cultural understanding would have defused so many situations. It sounds like the emigrant’s stubborn refusal to accept what the chief could offer was the real cause for all the death and destruction. If the army had understood the chief’s position, it wouldn’t have gotten out of hand. Mutual respect would have done much to “tame” the West sooner and with less bloodshed.
    Thank you for an interesting look into Western history.
    Congratulations on your first novella. I love anthologies. They are a great format for those of us who don’t have a lot of time to read.

    • I couldn’t agree more, Patricia. If only the Army had understood more of the American Indians’ way of life, so much could have been prevented. The unfortunate truth in this instance (and probably many others) was that the men in charge at Fort Laramie were new to the West, new to leading men, and many of them had a prideful attitude and something they thought they had to prove. It was a recipe for disaster…

  11. This blog is so informative I love what I find out on it. Years ago I read Cassie Edwards historical indian romances. I have been looking for more Indian stories like this and have been unable to find them. I am most interested in reading your book. Wow, I just found a new author. I am so excited ! Thank you for the giveaway opportunity !

    • Hi Deanne, my story is not focused on a romance between the Sioux. The characters are white folks, and the Grattan Massacre plays a role in what they go through. I hope that doesn’t turn you off to the story or the collection. (And I’m not opposed to writing an American Indian romance at some point…)

  12. WHY didn’t he take the horse??? Seems like an upgrade, if you ask me…

    What fun it would be to receive a copy of this book! I’ve always enjoyed historical fiction, and novellas are right up my ally lately, with my 4 littles to home school! 🙂

    And, I’ve always enjoyed reading your stories, Jennifer.


    • I completely agree, Cherry. Why didn’t he take the horse? So much pain, bloodshed, and death could have been prevented, if only. Thanks for stopping by, and best wishes in the drawing!

  13. Thank you for sharing this interesting and informative post, Jennifer. I am eager to read and see how The Grattan Massacre fits into your story, Sioux Summer. Thank you for the chance to win a copy of The Oregon Trail Romance Collection!

  14. History continuously shows us how disrespectful our nation has been to cultures/ heritages different than White/Caucasians: Japanese Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Mexican Americans and African Americans. You’d think we’d learn from our past. Unfortunately recent police related incidents show how far off we are and how little history has taught us.

    This Grattan Massacre is another I hadn’t learned about in school.

    I’d like to read your story in The OREGON TRAIL ROMANCE COLLECTION.

  15. I enjoyed reading your article. I learn so much about our country’s history at this site. Your book sounds really interesting. I will be looking for it to read .

  16. I really like reading these kinds of stories, learning more about our ancestors. I have a couple of BFFs who have Indian blood and they love learning more, too… 🙂


  17. I really enjoy reading historical fiction, especially that based on fact. I wasn’t aware of this massacre in our history. Looking forward to reading your book!

Comments are closed.