Nebraska September 21, 2016
The Story Behind This Haunted Battlefield In Nebraska Is Truly Creepy
The Battle of Warbonnet Creek was a short, intense fight between the U.S. Army (led by Buffalo Bill Cody) and a band of Cheyenne warriors. There was only one casualty in the battle, but the site is said to be haunted by the spirits of many…and once you hear the story, you may understand why.
In the vast grasslands outside of present-day Harrison, a plot was brewing on July 17, 1876.
The previous month, General Custer and his soldiers were defeated at the Battle of Little Bighorn. Many Native Americans, hopeful after this success, came together to break free of the reservations and fight for their land. Some 200 to 300 Cheyenne warriors left the Red Cloud and Spotted Tail reservations in Nebraska with their families.
Immediately following Custer's defeat, the US Army had begun fortifying their defenses against just such an uprising. Colonel Wesley Merritt, commander of the US 5th Cavalry Regiment, learned of the Cheyenne movement and laid a trap to stop their progress.
Led by a young Buffalo Bill Cody, Merritt and his troops set an ambush along Warbonnet Creek. Approximately 350 soldiers hid in covered wagons while a decoy wagon train set out across the valley. When the Cheyenne saw the vulnerable travelers, they sent six warriors to attack.
Accounts vary as to whether they knew it was a trap and willingly sent the small group to deflect attention from the larger group. Some versions of the story also state that the unescorted valley travelers were not part of the ambush, but were instead vulnerable couriers who needed to be saved.
Buffalo Bill and a small number of the US troops swooped in on the band of warriors. The fight was short, and there were few injuries. The single death was that of a Cheyenne warrior named Heova'ehe, or Yellow Hair. (His name is often incorrectly translated as "Yellow Hand.") Buffalo Bill shot the warrior and then scalped him, proudly proclaiming it the "first scalp for Custer." The showman would later display the scalp and some of Yellow Hair's personal effects in his Wild West Show. The remaining five warriors and the larger Cheyenne group retreated quickly, and the battle was over almost as soon as it had begun.
Although Buffalo Bill's sensationalized accounts would later claim that he killed several Cheyenne that day, official records do not support the claims. Some people have even questioned whether it was actually Buffalo Bill who killed Yellow Hair.
While the details may be a bit unclear, we do know that the battle happened, and we know that Yellow Hair was killed that day. Two memorials were erected on the battlefield. This tall marker, the Warbonnet Battlefield Monument, sits on a hill and commemorates the battle itself.
This smaller marker denotes the spot where Yellow Hair was killed. (You can see the taller monument in the far background.) It is here that many visitors report seeing an eerie green mist at night, particularly on July evenings near the anniversary of the battle. This swirling glow seems to have a sentience, and visitors say it is no illusion.
Other reports tell of hushed whispers and the soft sounds of many feet running through the grass. The voices speak in a language no one understands or recognizes. Ghost hunters have been able to record the voices and identify the whispered language as that spoken by the Cheyenne of Yellow Hair's time.
Reports of the footsteps, whispers, and green mist have been fairly consistent. It seems that, although these souls did not lose their lives on the battlefield that day, they are forever tied to the site…and forever restless.
You can visit the Warbonnet Creek Battlefield Site northeast of Harrison at the intersection of Hat Creek Road and Montrose Road, just north of the Montrose church.
If you’re looking for even more Nebraska hauntings to scare you to your core, take our ultimate three-part haunted road trip:
Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.