On this day in history (December 29, 1890): The Wounded knee Massacre

Wounded knee massacre - Mass Grave
U.S. troops posing for a photo beside a mass grave dug for the victims of the massacre at Wounded Knee

December 29, 1890:

Chief Spotted Elk was deathly sick with pneumonia. His band of Lakota set off in the snow from Cheyenne River to seek shelter with Red Cloud at Pine Ridge reservation. They were intercepted by Major Samuel Whitside and a battalion of the Seventh Cavalry and escorted five miles to Wounded Knee Creek.

That evening (just a few weeks after the murder of Sitting Bull), Colonel James Forsyth arrived to take command and ordered his guards to place four rapid-fire Hotchkiss guns in position under cover of darkness around the camp.

The soldiers then came into the camp and began disarming the Lakota at gunpoint. A scuffle broke out between one of the Lakota and a group of soldiers, causing a rifle to go off, and the Army opened fire on the encampment. The families with their children tried to run for cover, but were cut down by the rapid crossfire of the Hotchkiss guns and rifles (and most of the few who did manage to escape were methodically hunted down and killed, or died of exposure). Ultimately 300 people were killed, and were afterwards buried in a mass grave at the site of the massacre.

Twenty of the soldiers that day were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Bodies lying in the snow after the massacre at Wounded Knee