The enraged warriors rampaged throughout the night, swearing to kill all other white people. They made a token attack on Fort Laramie the next morning; and on the third day, they abandoned their camp on the Platte River and returned to their respective hunting grounds. A civilian and military burial party went to the scene of the massacre on the fourth day and found that the slain soldiers had been mutilated by the Indians and burned by the hot August sun beyond recognition. Lt. Grattan’s body was identified by a watch he was carrying and was returned to the post for burial, but the remains of his troops were merely interred at the site in the same shallow grave.
This event was called the “Grattan Massacre” by the U.S. press as part of a campaign to stir up anti-Indian sentiment. The fact that Lt. Grattan had instigated the event, as well as the fact that the army should never have involved itself in the situation was ignored in the press. News of the fight reached the War Department and plans were put into motion for retaliation.
William S. Harney was recalled from Paris and sent to Fort Kearny, where he was put in command of elements of his own 2nd US Dragoons. They set out on August 24, 1855 to find and exact retribution on the Sioux. This then led to the Battle of Ash Hollow (also known as the Battle of Bluewater Creek) on September 3, 1855, in which U.S. soldiers killed a number of Brulé Sioux in present-day Garden County, Nebraska. Thus began the nearly quarter-century of intermittent savage warfare on the plains that was triggered by the Grattan massacre.