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After Wounded Knee

John Vance Lauderdale

Publication Year: 1996

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 distinguishes After Wounded Knee from 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.

Published by: Michigan State University Press


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xi

In March 1994 James M. McPherson came to town. The Pulitzer-Prizewinning historian and author of the grand Civil War narrative, Battle Cry of Freedom spoke one evening to a rapt Lincoln, Nebraska, audience of academics, history buffs, and students. The subject of Dr. McPherson's lecture was...

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pp. xiii-xiv

This volume could not have been produced without the resources of many splendid libraries, archives, and other repositories of historical records. These institutions, however splendid, cannot stand alone. The people staffing such organizations make all the difference to the researcher...

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Editior’s Notes

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pp. xv-xvi

The journals and correspondence of John Vance Lauderdale are preserved in the Western Americana Collection of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. The collection totals twenty one boxes of material, covering the period...

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Chapter One: Background

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pp. 1-42

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

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Chapter Two: The Letters

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pp. 43-149

Dear Joe, 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...

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Chapter Three: After Pine Ridge

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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...


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pp. 157-169


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pp. 171-175


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pp. 177-184

E-ISBN-13: 9780870139215
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870134050

Page Count: 250
Publication Year: 1996