Clarence Spotted Wolf’s Last Request
On this date in 1944, the Germans surrounded Bastogne, Belgium, during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. It was also on this date that Clarence Spotted Wolf was killed in operations defending Bastogne.
Clarence Spotted Wolf was a full-blood Hidatsa, born on the Fort Berthold Reservation to Thomas and Susie Hinds Spotted Wolf. Clarence was a cowboy by trade and worked for the T over X Ranch. When the US entered World War II, Spotted Wolf enlisted in the Army, was sent to Europe in August of 1944, and assigned to the 90th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron of the 10th Armored Division.
Spotted Wolf’s unit was in the area of Noville and Foy, northeast of Bastogne, desperately fighting off the German advance when he was killed. The day after Bastogne was encircled, the German Commander demanded that the Americans surrender. General Anthony McAuliffe famously replied, “NUTS!” The Germans were eventually pushed back with Allies regaining control of the area. The Battle of the Bulge officially ended on January 25th 1945.
Clarence Spotted Wolf was temporarily buried at an American Military Cemetery in France.
When Clarence left to go to war, he had a premonition that he may not survive. He left a letter with his parents to be opened if the worst happened. It read, “If I should be killed, I want you to bury me on the hills east of the place where my grandparents, brothers, sisters and other relatives are buried. If you have a memorial service, I want soldiers to go ahead with the American flag. I want cowboys to follow, all on horseback. I want one of the cowboys to lead one of the wildest T over X horses with the bridle on. I will be riding that horse.”
It took 2 years for Clarence’s body to finally be returned to North Dakota. The service for him was held in Elbowoods on January 28th 1947. The Memorial he had foreseen was held in his honor. The ceremony was impressive. The stars and stripes presided over the winter bare hills where Clarence Spotted Wolf’s family and friends carried out his wishes. There were soldiers, there were mounted cowboys, and following behind was an unbroken T over X stallion wearing Clarence’s saddle.
Everyone in attendance knew for certain, Clarence’s spirit was in the saddle, riding that beautiful prancing horse!
Dakota Datebook by Scott Nelson
Clarence Spotted Wolf, find a grave, Memorial Congregational Church Cemetery, Raub, ND
Book: Indians in the War, Issue 1945, United States Department of the Interior, Office of Indian Affairs.
Woody Crumbo’s painting in honor of Clarence Spotted Wolf, https://wyld.gallery/product/spotted-wolfs-last-request/AASA