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Robert McGee, the man who was scalped as a child by Native American warriors, 1864

 

Robert McGee is one of the few people in American frontier history who survived by ripping his flesh out of his skull. In 1890, the photographer E.E. Henry took this rare photo of Robert McGee showing off his scaling marks. This is the story of how Robert McGee was dug up by Sioux Indian warriors in the summer of 1864 and lived to tell the story.

In 1864, 14-year-old Robert McGee and his family decided to migrate west, as was the custom of many immigrants of the time, to seek a better life on the American frontier. The family joined a wagon train bound for Leavenworth, Kansas. Somewhere along the way, Robert's parents died, and he became an orphan.

Once at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, Robert applied to join the army, but was not accepted, as he was too young. Desperate for work, Robert took a job with a freight company to supply Fort Union in New Mexico.

In the summer of 1864, the Freight Company had a wagon train leave for Fort Union for Fort Leavenworth, and Robert was one of the teamsters working on this wagon train. Due to the dangers on the trail, the wagon train was escorted by the US Army.

Despite several skirmishes with the Indians, the wagons covered a distance of about 16 miles per day. On July 18, flagged off by the heat, the pioneers made camp near Walnut Creek, not far from Fort Zarah near present-day Great Bend, Kansas.

Being so close to a fort, the team players and their escorts became lax about security, and they were camping about a mile from their army escort.


Around 5 a.m., the camp was attacked by 150 Sioux reportedly under the command of Major Little Turtle. The Indian warriors rode in shooting arrows and firearms, and within minutes the teamsters were shot down, and the group was slaughtered.

The troops in charge of guarding the wagon train were barred and, as a result, the wagon teamsters were completely unprepared for such an attack. Each member of the caravan was brutalized and killed in different ways. Eight to 14 of them died that day.

The events that followed are more of a legend rather than a history. McGee claimed that he was personally scaled by Little Turtle. Facing down in the dirt, McGee suffered multiple arrow wounds, a pistol shot in the back, and a tomahawk wound.

McGee recalled that he was conscious when the leader of the Indian War cut off sixty-four square inches of scalp and hair from his head, starting just behind the ears. It is said that the Sioux warriors took much larger pieces of skull from the head than other tribes.

When the soldiers finally captured the wagon train, they received a horrific massacre, in which everyone was cut off. But as the soldiers picked up the bodies, they found that McGee and another boy had survived.

They were shocked to see the massacre, and were even more surprised to see that Robert was still alive. He was taken to Fort Larned, where post surgeons treated his injuries.


Amazingly, Robert recovered from his wounds. And he lived, yet there was no skin on his head. It's hard to understand how a person could live his life this way, but Robert did, as the photo above shows, taken almost 25 years after the event (in 1890).

The press helped McGee ("the man with 14 lives") use his disfigurement to establish a career in public appearances. Eminent surgeons conducted experiments on McGee, which failed to shed any hair. The legend fostered the fiction that McGee was the only person who ever survived a scalping.

McGee's survival was almost miraculous, but he wasn't the only person who was scaled and alive to tell of it. Josiah Wilberger was founded by the Comanche Indians about four miles east of modern Austin, Texas. He was shot with arrows and killed and left for dead, but the man survived.

Willberger is quoted as saying that being scaled was surprisingly painless, but "while no pain was perceptible, the removal of his skull sounded like ominous roars and distant rumbles," of James de Shields. According to Border Wars of Texas.

Another survivor was William Thompson. During an ambush, he was shot in the shoulder, and his skull was cut off from his skull. During the attack, Thompson fainted, but the heat of the summer stopped the bleeding.

Curiously, the Native Americans left Thompson's skull next to the knock-out Englishman's. After his arrival, he picked it up and headed back to Omaha, where he asked Dr. Richard Moore to reattach it to his skull.

Unable to put his skull back on his head, Thompson did the next best thing: he went back to England and displayed his skull for money.


Scaling Through History

Scalp-taking is considered part of the wider cultural practice of taking and displaying human body parts as trophies, and may have evolved as an alternative to taking human heads, as skull-taking, transportation and It was easy to preserve. Display. Scalping developed independently in various cultures in both the Old and New Worlds.

Specific scaling techniques vary from place to place, depending on the scalper's cultural pattern to the desired size, shape, and intended use of the cut scalp, and how the victims wore their hair, but not scaling. The general procedure of uniform was enough.

The scalper firmly grasped a suppressed opponent's hair, made several quick semicircular cuts with a sharp tool on either side of the area to be picked, and then struck down the nearly severed scalp.


The fourth (and at least substantial) of the five layers of the human skull, separated from the skull, with a layer of connective tissue separated from the skull. Scalping in itself was not fatal, although it was usually applied to seriously injured or dead people.

The earliest tools used in scaling were stone knives made of flint, chert, or obsidian, or other materials such as reeds or oyster shells, which could be worked to carry an equal edge to the work.

Although the historical and archaeological records of the 16th and 17th centuries do not explain how widespread the practice of scaling was in North America prior to colonial contact, it is clear that the bounty on skulls, along with aggression between colonists and indigenous peoples, led to scaling. level increased. As North America was colonized by Europeans.


For example, the governor of the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, Willem Keft, offered a reward to frontline soldiers and soldiers for the skulls of enemy Indians.

Scaling varies in importance and practice by region. Native Americans in the Southeast took skulls to attain the status of a warrior and pacify the spirits of the dead, while most members of northeastern tribes valued taking captives on skulls.

Among the Plains Indians, skulls were taken for war honours, often from surviving victims. As a challenge to their enemies, some Native Americans shaved their heads.

The skull was sometimes offered as a ritual sacrifice or preserved and carried by women in a victorious skull dance, which was then held by the warrior as a pendant, used as a form of tribal medicine. was done, or abandoned.



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