Just then, a group of Cheyenne men rode up on horseback, letting out their fierce war cries!
It is important to note here that, while most of the Cheyenne tribe’s people were good-natured and stayed home in the camp, living peacefully– There were a few renegade men who spent most of their time away from the camp, riding all over the countryside, making a general nuisance of themselves.
These renegade men surrounded the White home, and peered into the windows, assuring that the women and children inside were alone. Then they barged in, and began thrashing the house, taking whatever items they desired.
During the terrifying ordeal, Mrs. White grouped her children together, and tried to escape, but they were cut off by two of the men, who grabbed hold of young Sarah and pulled her away from her mother. The remaining four men held on to Mrs. White, who was fighting and thrashing with all her might, and trying to hold on to her younger children. But she could do nothing to save her oldest daughter, who was being carried away from the house, by the other two powerful men.
Mrs. White could hear the terrified and agonizing screams of her daughter fading off into the distance, as she was brutally raped by her captors…
The mother attempted to break free with her children a second time, and run to find help. But again, she was detained, and threatened, while the men continued to thrash and clean out her home.
Finally when the men’s backs were turned, Mrs. White and her children managed to escape off into the woods nearby, where they hid until the Cheyenne men left– taking Sarah with them!
Horrified and heartbroken, the mother cautiously led her barefoot children off in the 5 mile search for her husband, checking all around them constantly, for fear of being caught by the Cheyenne men…
They were soon approached by a group of white settler men, who had been out working with Mr. White. The men reported to Mrs. White that they too had been attacked by the same group of men. And while her older sons were safe and unharmed, her husband (who had bravely faced the attacking men) had been shot and killed.
Meanwhile, young Sarah was being carried away by the men, back toward their camp about 5 miles across the Buffalo river. Along the way, they were met by a group of fifteen other (largely peaceful) Cheyenne men, who’d been waiting for them out in the planes.
Here, Sarah was left with a guard– a man on the brow of the hill, and another man at the base, while the renegade men rode out once again.
As she waited there, Sarah cringed with her thoughts of what might have become of her family… She imagined that they had all probably been assaulted the same way she had, and then murdered. And she of course, had no idea of the fate of her father, but hoped that he and her brothers would be safe, having been far away.
Eventually, Sarah’s captors returned to the base, and the entire group picked up once again, this time on a journey that lasted several days, and led them back to the village, where the Cheyenne women and children resided.
When the women saw Sarah, it was quite obvious from her emotional state, what some of the men had done to her. The women were instantly flooded by a motherly instinct, at the sight of such a young girl being torn from the arms of loving parents and subjected to such treatment. They paid very kind attention to her– some gathering around her, caressing her and murmuring, “Poor papoose, poor papoose”.
It had become clear to Sarah at this point that the 6 men who were riding around terrorizing homes were simply a menacing, individual group, primarily separate from the tribe.
In real life, Sara was actually quite timid and submissive, unlike the character in the film. For some time after her abduction, she was rendered unable to speak, because of the trauma. But the kindness of the regular Cheyenne villagers made the ordeal less troublesome.
About 3 weeks from the date of Sarah’s capture, 19-year-old Anna Brewster Morgan was also brought to the same camp. The meeting between the two young ladies was quite emotional. Anna was the first to speak, asking Sarah if she was well, and how she was being treated. But Sarah could not answer. She instinctively knew that Anna had most certainly suffered the same abuse she had, at the hands of the 6 menacing men. And the entire situation was much too overwhelming for her.
Eventually, Sarah did begin to speak again. And with her sweet nature, she soon became quite an adored favorite of many tribe members.
Among the stolen items in the tribe, was a dress that had been taken from the white settlement, and the Cheyenne villagers offered it to Sarah as a gift to wear.
Sarah also found comfort in Anna’s presence, since Anna quickly took on the role of “Tough, protective big sister.”
After Sarah was rescued by Gen. George Custer, she was reunited with her family. She grew into a strong woman, moving on from her ordeal. Although she proudly offered up her story and her photo to journalists. She also wrote many letters to Custer and his men, thanking them for their rescue efforts.
She later became a school teacher, and married a man named Erastus Otis Brooks. Together, they had two sons: Lewis J. and William Elmer.
Sarah built quite a good life for herself after her capture– taking over her homestead, living to a ripe old age, and finally passing away in the early 1930’s. Her surviving relatives today hold tightly to her letters and writings, proudly sharing them with curious inquirers. Mrs. White-Brooks said when she hears people complaining of hardships and hard times, she often thinks their knowledge along these lines is very limited.