Who Killed Crazy Horse?

Have you ever wondered about the history of the Native American people? It is a long and complex one and one that requires you to understand some key figures in it. One of the most important and the most famous is Crazy Horse. 

Despite knowing his name, how much do you actually know about this highly elusive figure? This article will explain just who Crazy Horse was and more importantly why his death was so controversial.

Battle of Little Big Horn

So, if you have ever wondered who killed Crazy Horse, wonder no more as this article will provide you with the answer. 

Who Was Crazy Horse?

So let’s start by answering the most straightforward question first – who was Crazy Horse? 

Crazy Horse was a famous Native American leader who fought against the U.S. government during the 19th century. He was also known for his role in the Battle of Little Big Horn, where he led his men into battle against General George Armstrong Custer.

The story of Crazy Horse has become part of American folklore. His death at age 38 remains controversial, however. Some historians believe he died from natural causes, while others suspect foul play.

How Was Crazy Horse Killed?

There are several theories surrounding his death. One theory suggests that he was poisoned by a jealous rival, while another claims he was murdered by soldiers under orders from President Ulysses S. Grant.

The reason for the confusion is not over how Crazy Horse died or even who really killed him but rather why he died. 

Crazy Horse had been a thorn in the side of the United States government for some time so his death in 1877 came as somewhat of a relief to the authorities.

This was not just because of his part in the Battle of Little Big Horn which resulted in the death of Colonel Custer but also because he was seen as a significant rallying point for Native American unhappiness with the United States government. 

Crazy Horse was captured in July 1877 by George Crook, a career soldier who had made his name fighting in the so-called Indian Wars – a series of conflicts between the United States government and various Native American tribes over who should govern which parts of the country.

Crook kept Crazy Horse safe for several months until September 1877 when Crazy Horse was being transported from one prison to another. 

Crazy Horse seems to have ended up engaging in a struggle with his prison guards in an attempt to break free with the fatal blow coming, from several accounts, due to the bayonet of a Private stationed at the base.

The private is generally acknowledged to be William Gentles, an Irishman who had emigrated to the United States sometime prior to the 1850s and ended up serving in the US army. 

Given that there is some dispute over the scuffle, there is some questioning whether Crazy Horse’s death was an accident due to him attempting to escape or whether he was deliberately killed. 

One of Crazy Horse’s associates, Little Big Man stated in an account written a year later in 1878 that he had been the one to accidentally kill Crazy Horse when Crazy Horse attempted to escape by taking out two knives he had on his person and attempting to wield them at his captors.

Little Big Man then goes on to say that he joined in the struggle and during the process of the struggle Crazy Horse accidentally stabbed himself. 

The believability of this particular account is somewhat doubtful, simply due to the fact that no one else who was witness to the event, of which there are 17, states that Crazy Horse died from anything other than a bayonet wound to his back.

There is no reason for them to lie about this given that if Crazy Horse had killed himself whilst attempting to escape it would have worked better for the authorities and there would have been no question about this complicity. 

Little Big Horn Graves

Who Killed Crazy Horse?

Indeed, whilst it might be entertaining to imagine that rather than accidentally killed, Crazy Horse was assassinated on behalf of the President, the theory simply doesn’t hold water for the simple reason that he was of more use to them alive than dead.

Crazy Horse could be used to be made an example of and to demonstrate that any Native American who attacked the US government would face the same punishment. 

Therefore, the most likely person to be responsible for Crazy Horse’s death in all sense of the word is Private William Gentles, a young Irish man who had come to the New World expecting excitement and adventure, but one who likely didn’t expect to have a place in history based on his part in the death of an American icon. 

Crazy Horse’s body was returned to his elderly parents not long after his death and he was buried in secret somewhere close to his home. To this day the exact location of his grave remains a mystery. 

Will We Ever Know Who Killed Crazy Horse? – Summary

Crazy Horse is by far one of the most well known Native American leaders, not simply for his part in the Battle of Little Big Horn but also for this continual and unrelenting hatred of the American government.

Crazy Horse never waved in his opposition to the US government, and this has helped his legend to endure. 

Crazy Horse was an iconic figure and one whose death is as important to know about as any other famous American’s death as with his passing much hope that the Native Americans could defeat the US government vanished as well – it was a true turning point in American history.

This is why it is so crucial that you know about the part he played in forming modern America. 

His memory and his deeds will live on for many decades to come and by understanding his appeal and why he stood against the US government can we fully understand and appreciate the complex and fascinating history of the Native American people who have lived across the US for thousands of years.