Robert McGee, scalped as a child by Sioux Chief Little Turtle in 1864. Photograph 1890.
Robert was the son of emigrants. In 1864, Robert and his family decided to migrate west, as was the custom of many emigrants of the day, to seek a better life. The family joined a wagon train heading to Leavenworth, Kansas. Somewhere on the trail, Robert’s parents died, and he was left an orphan. Others on the wagon train cared for Robert on the trail. Once they reached Leavenworth, Robert, a mere child, was left to fend for himself. Desperate for work, Robert took a job with a freight company to take supplies to Fort Union in New Mexico. In July of 1864 the freight company had a wagon train leave Fort Leavenworth bound for Fort Union, and Robert was one of the teamsters working on this wagon train. At about 5 in the afternoon, [their] camp was attacked by 150 Sioux under the command of the chief Little Turtle. The men were caught completely off guard, and the group was slaughtered. Robert was the sole survivor of the slaughter, and he remembered the details of the ordeal. Robert had been dragged by some of the Indians to Chief Little Turtle. The chief first knocked him down with a lance, and then shot him with a revolver. The chief then shot him through with two arrows, to pin him to the ground, and then scalped him. As each of the Indians passed him, they beat and stabbed him, and then he was left for dead. He lived, even though he no longer had a scalp. He is the only person [known to have] survived the horrific experience of being scalped.