Abner "Sharp" Grover
(1825 - February 17, 1869)
Abner Grover's early years are not known. His first appearance in government records list him as a scout-spy for Fort Kearney and as a guide for the same in 1864. Grover certainly had lived on the plains for a number of years since he spoke Cheyenne and Sioux. He was married to a Sioux woman.
In 1868, Abner was hired by Lieutenant Beecher to scout the area north and west of Fort Wallace in Kansas. The year 1868 proved to be a time of uprising with indian raids sweeping through Kansas and Colorado. On one scouting expedition, Abner Grover and William Comstock encountered a band of Cheyenne. After being received coldly, the two scouts left the camp. Unexpectedly, Comstock and Grover were both shot in the back. Comstock died instantly. Using the Comstock's body as a shield, the wounded Grover held off the small party until nightfall. He made his way to a set of railroad tracks where a passing train picked him up.
Orders were given for Major George Forsyth to recruit 50 experienced plainsmen. Using these expert hunters, General Sheridan felt it would be an advantage over unskilled soldiers. Abner Grover was one of the fifty and the head guide.
The group left Fort Wallace and found a trail which they followed. Camping on the Arikaree River, the militia was awakened to horses being stolen and run off by a small band of Indians. As they grouped to try and recapture the horses, this group of fifty men spotted a charging band numbering in the hundreds. The scouts headed toward an island in the middle of the stream under the hail of bullets and arrows. The initial Indian charge wounded or killed half the force.
With no natural defense, some of the men killed their horses and used them as wall. During the scramble, Major Forsyth was wounded and Lieutenant Beecher was killed. The fight would be known as the Battle of Beecher Island. Forsyth placed Abner Grover in command.
Grover could hear one of the chiefs encouraging the warriors to charge again stating the whites probably had little ammunition. Grover yelled back in the chief's native language "send in the bucks, we have plenty and will give it to them."
The Indians persisted in their attacks, but the vigilance waned over 3 days. Being cautious the troup remained on the island another four days when reinforcements arrived in the form of the Black "Buffalo Soldiers" Cavalry. A scout sent the first nite of the conflict for help had retrieved this militia.
On February 16, 1869, a drunk Grover began to harass a man named Moody. Having had trouble with Grover before, Moody shot and killed an unarmed Grover.
Abner Grover is buried in the old Fort Wallace Cemetery which is now part of the Wallace Cemetery near Wallace, Kansas.
Information compiled by Steve Grimm