I composed this song in 1995, when I was on a song-writing kick. It was inspired by a number of battles in the Indian Wars on the Plains, at the close of the 19th Century. For example when the “Captain” shakes his “golden hair” just before charging the Indian village—that was Custer. When the Indians meet the soldiers “head-on” with arrow and gun, instead running or hiding, I was inspired by the Sioux and Cheyenne’s (under Crazy Horse) battle against Gen. Crook at the Battle of the Rosebud Creek (8 days before Little Big Horn.) However, the main inspiration was the Fetterman Massacre in December 1866 (called the Battle of 100 in the hand, by the Sioux). A fool-hardy Captain Fetterman having boasted that with 100 soldiers he could ride through the entire Sioux nation. Crazy Horse gave him the opportunity to do that by taunting Fetterman and getting him to march over a ridge so that he would be out of the view of Fort Phil Kearny. The Sioux had at least 2,000 warriors laying in wait for the soldiers on the other side of the ridge. Fetterman and his men were all killed in just a few minutes of battle. All of the corpses were mutilated by the Sioux—scalped, beheaded, disemboweled, etc. No doubt in retaliation for the massacre and mutilation of Indian corpses by Col. Chivington’s troops at the Sand Creek massacre in 1864. Only one of the corpses of Fetterman’s soldiers was not mutilated—that was a teenage bugler named John Metzger, who had fought to the death using, in the end, just his bugle as a bludgeon. The Sioux respected his courage and did not mutilate his corpse, but covered it with a buffalo robe. The premise of my song-poem is that a young soldier (such as Metzger) was the sole survivor of a similar battle and is retelling the story years later.

“A BRAVE SOLDIER IS HONORED
On this ridge one soldier fought with whatever he could use as a weapon and he fought like a lion. Many arrows began to appear on his body and he finally died fighting. This man had shown great courage and fought bravely in a hopeless battle and he won the admiration of the fighting Indian men. After the battle they found him covered with arrows and they respectfully covered his body with a buffalo robe. Great honor had been extended to this one brave soldier named Metzger.”
(From the Northern Cheyenne History of the Battle of 100 Dead—by Wolf Feathers/Bill Tallbull)