All Because of a Mormon Cow
On August 19, 1854—a year after his graduation from West Point—Army lieutenant John Grattan led a detachment of 29 soldiers and one civilian interpreter to a large Lakota encampment near Fort Laramie, Wyoming. Attempting to arrest a tribal member accused of killing a Mormon emigrant’s cow, they set off a series of terrible events.
The rash young officer and 28 of his soldiers were killed in what became known as the Grattan Massacre, instigating the First Sioux War and unleashing a generation of fighting on the Great Plains.
Eli Paul, former manager of the Library’s Missouri Valley Special Collections, recounts the seminal event, drawing from previously unknown Indian eyewitness sources. He is co-editor of the new book All Because of a Mormon Cow: Historical Accounts of the Grattan Massacre, 1855-1856.