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After Wounded Knee: Correspondence of Major and Surgeon John Vance Lauderdale while Serving with the Army Occupying the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, 1890-1891

Edited and with an introduction by Jerry Green
Copyright Date: 1996
Pages: 250
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  • Book Info
    After Wounded Knee
    Book Description:

    The Wounded Knee Massacre of December 29, 1890, known to U.S. military historians as the last battle in "the Indian Wars," was in reality another tragic event in a larger pattern of conquest, destruction, killing, and broken promises that continue to this day.On a cold winter's morning more than a century ago, the U.S. Seventh Cavalry attacked and killed more than 260 Lakota men, women, and children at Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota. In the aftermath, the broken, twisted bodies of the Lakota people were soon covered by a blanket of snow, as a blizzard swept through the countryside. A few days later, veteran army surgeon John Vance Lauderdale arrived for duty at the nearby Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Shocked by what he encountered, he wrote numerous letters to his closest family members detailing the events, aftermath, and daily life on the Reservation under military occupation. He also treated the wounded, both Cavalry soldiers and Lakota civilians. What distinguishesAfter Wounded Kneefrom the large body of literature already available on the massacre is Lauderdale's frank appraisals of military life and a personal observation of the tragedy, untainted by self-serving reminiscence or embellished newspaper and political reports. His sense of frustration and outrage toward the military command, especially concerning the tactics used against the Lakota, is vividly apparent in this intimate view of Lauderdale's life. His correspondence provides new insight into a familiar subject and was written at the height of the cultural struggle between the U.S. and Lakota people. Jerry Green's careful editing of this substantial collection, part of the John Vance Lauderdale Papers in the Western Americana Collection in Yale University's Beinecke Library, clarifies Lauderdale's experiences at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

    eISBN: 978-0-87013-921-5
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)
    R. Eli Paul

    In March 1994 James M. McPherson came to town. The Pulitzer-Prize-winning historian and author of the grand Civil War narrative,Battle Cry of Freedomspoke one evening to a rapt Lincoln, Nebraska, audience of academics, history buffs, and students. The subject of Dr. McPherson’s lecture was the motivations of the nineteenth-century warriors for the Blue and Gray, what they fought for and why (see hisWhat They Fought For, 1861-1865,[Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1994]). Describing his research in progress, he detailed his methods and offered some initial conclusions while effortlessly illuminating the master historian’s art and craft....

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Editor’s Notes
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. Chapter One Background
    (pp. 1-42)

    The world of John Vance Lauderdale was that of an army doctor during the last third of the nineteenth century. During his career, he witnessed significant changes in medical practices and army life. He also provided to posterity a view of the daily life in the American West through the writings contained in his journals and letters.

    The majority of his writings cover his career in the military, which began during the American Civil War and lasted until he retired in 1896. His views and opinions were freely expressed in letters to his wife and sister, private letters that tend...

  7. Chapter Two The Letters
    (pp. 43-150)

    Reached Syracuse and found Central Train 40 minutes late. Took sleeper for Chicago. Felt tired and sleepy, went to my berth early. Slept some, but would have preferred my little bed at Ft O[ntario]. Reached Detroit at 8 A.M. Good breakfast feel better for it. Papers contain more particulars of the fight near the Agency at Pine Ridge.¹ There must be a great need of Medical Officers to look after the wounded and my services are needed more [there] than at Ft. O[ntario] in my special lines. I hope this will be a comfort to you during my absence.


  8. Chapter Three After Pine Ridge
    (pp. 151-156)

    Dr. Lauderdale departed Pine Ridge on 2 March 1891, arriving home on 5 March. With the exception of his being snowbound for twelve hours, his journey was uneventful. The remainder of his tour at Fort Ontario proved equally uneventful, his duties those of an army post doctor. Excluding the ongoing disharmony with their neighbors, Dr. and Mrs. Powell, the Lauderdales enjoyed their post and home.

    The doctor relished his family life and shared the various cultural activities of New York with them. He joined the Fortnightly Club of Oswego, as mentioned in his letter of 16 January 1891. On 2...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 157-170)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 171-176)
  11. Index
    (pp. 177-184)