The fighting became a contest of man against man and man against horse where sabre, pistol, bayonet, fist, and rifle butt, were used with telling effect. The prairie fire added the hellish backdrop of smoke and flame to the desperate hand-to-hand fighting, and often obscured the individual combatants though only a few feet apart. The commander of the detachment, Lieutenant Gardner, was among the first to fall with a shotgun wound to the hip and knee. A rebel soldier swung off of his mount, placed his pistol against Gardners head, and fired. The rebel then proceeded to relieve Gardner of his belt and pistol. A severely wounded African-American soldier lying nearby witnessed the attack on Gardner, and killed the rebel with a shot from his rifle. Fortunately for Gardner, the shot from the rebels pistol only grazed his head, resulting in a painful but not mortal wound.
On another part of the battlefield John Six-Killer put up a tremendous fight, as did all the members of the outnumbered detachment. Six-Killer was credited with killing 4 rebels in the fight, (shooting 2, bayoneting another, and killing a fourth with the butt of his rifle) before falling mortally wounded himself, his body pierced 6 times by rebel bullets.
Sergeant Edward Lowry provided another example of the bravery and tenacity displayed by the African-American soldiers that day. Badly wounded in the shoulder and arm by a shotgun blast, Lowry soon found himself surrounded by three rebels demanding his surrender. Having already discharged his weapon, he replied with the butt of his rifle, knocking one of the rebels from his horse. Lowry finished off the fallen rebel with a slashing blow to the head from his bayonet. Lowrey then took his bayonet to the second horsemen using it with good effect upon both man and beast, and killed the third rebel with the butt of his rifle.