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Turned Injun, didn't ya?
~ Sergeant Bauer to John Dunbar.

Sergeant Bauer is the main antagonist of Kevin Costner's 1990 film Dances with Wolves. He is a high-ranking U.S. Army sergeant who mistreats John Dunbar and plans to have him hanged.

He was portrayed by Larry Joshua.


Sergeant Bauer is a very sadistic, ruthless, cruel and egotistical soldier who takes great pleasure in mistreating Dunbar and hates all Indians, like other Americans. He also took good pleasure in shooting Two Socks for pure sport. When the other soldiers were under attack, instead of helping, he runs away, proving his great cowardice.


While Sergeant Bauer comes with the U.S. Army to Fort Sedgewick, Dunbar realizes that he left his journal back at the fort, so he heads over to retrieve it in order to prevent the army from learning his whereabouts. However, he notices the fort occupied and the soldiers immediately kill his horse, Cisco as they accuse him of being a hostile Indian. The soldiers knock him unconscious and arrest him as a traitor.

The soldiers take Dunbar to one of the bunkhouses, where Bauer and Spivey guard him. As soon as Dunbar wakes up, Bauer orders Spivey to inform the Major and he does so, while he taunts Dunbar. Elgin and the Major arrive and Bauer interrogates Dunbar to reveal his language. Dunbar answers and the soldiers ask him why he's dressed in his Sioux outfit. Dunbar tells them about the orders in his journal and Spivey claims that he hasn't seen it. Elgin heads out to search for the journal, while Bauer continues to taunt Dunbar for "turning Injun". Elgin returns to the bunkhouse with no evidence and he orders Bauer to take him outside.

The soldiers proceed to shove Dunbar and he retaliates by attacking one of the soldiers, but the others brutally knock him unconscious with their rifles and take him back to the bunkhouse. Dunbar wakes up and Elgin explains that they're charged with apprehending hostiles, to which he replies that there aren't any hostiles. Elgin and the Major offer to give him a second chance and guide him to the Sioux camps, but Dunbar refuses and announces his Sioux name in Lakota, shocking Spivey and frustrating the Major. Elgin orders Bauer to take Dunbar to the river to wash the blood off his face and he takes him down, while Spivey and Edwards watch from the bushes, holding Dunbar's journal. Meanwhile, a group of Sioux warriors arrive at the fort and notice Dunbar being held prisoner by the army, so they head out to warn the other villagers.

Bauer takes Dunbar back to the bunkhouse and Spivey comes in to feed him and checks to see Bauer off guard. Spivey tries to steal Dunbar's pendant off his breast plate, but Dunbar stops him. Dunbar calls for Bauer to help him and Spivey escapes his grasp as Bauer gets up laughing. Bauer proceeds to taunt Dunbar and he retaliates by kicking the bowl at him. Spivey charges at Dunbar, but Bauer stops him. Bauer decides to starve him, but realizes that it won't matter, because the army will hang him back at Fort Hayes for desertion.

The soldiers toss Dunbar on a wagon and they head off to Fort Hayes to have Dunbar executed. While on the journey, Edwards notices Two Socks standing on a hill and the soldiers open fire. Dunbar wakes up and attacks Spivey in defense, but Bauer hits him with his rifle. The soldiers continue to shoot at Two Socks until Edwards manages to fatally wound the wolf. Edwards gets off to retrieve Two Sock's corpse and Spivey beats Dunbar up. However, Elgin arrives and threatens to put Spivey in chains if he continues beating up Dunbar and prevents Edwards from going any further before he could catch the Sioux warriors on the side of the hill, indicating that Two Socks sacrificed himself to prevent the warriors from being caught in their attempt to rescue Dunbar.

The army stops at a river and one of the soldiers checks to see any ambushes, while Spivey and Edwards taunt Dunbar. The soldier confirms that the coast is clear and they continue moving, only to get a surprise attack by the Sioux warriors. Elgin is killed and the soldiers try to retaliate, but Dunbar knocks them off the wagon. One of the warriors throws a spear at Bauer, but misses. When Bauer realizes that the other soldiers are overwhelmed by the attack, he passes off as a corpse in order to make his escape. Edwards calls for Bauer to help him, but Bauer runs away, while the other soldiers are killed. As the Indians celebrate their victory, Bauer manages to escape the scene, only to run into Smiles A Lot. Bauer pulls out his gun to shoot Smiles A Lot, but it misfires. Bauer strikes Smiles A Lot with his pistol and tries to set his horses loose until he notices Wind In His Hair approaching him. He tries to flee, but Smiles A Lot drives his tomahawk into his chest, killing him.

Despite the victory, Dunbar realizes that the tribe is still doomed and parts ways with them as he leaves with Stands With A Fist. The Sioux tribe leaves their winter camp before the U.S. Army and their Pawnee scouts could arrive and capture them. It is stated that 13 years later, the last free Lakotas were forced to surrender to the U.S. Government and assimilate into white society.



  • Bauer was originally named Murphy in the book.
  • Though Lt. Elgin and the Major are the commanders of their army, Bauer is the main antagonist of the film as he had bigger plans than anyone else and is much more ruthless than Elgin and the Major. Plus, Elgin was the only decent soldier of the army who actually treated Dunbar with kindness.
  • When Bauer tries to flee from the river battle, he is holding a Remington Model 1858 Revolver, but when he encounters Smiles A Lot, he is holding a Colt 1860 Army Revolver.
  • Despite being the main antagonist, he only appears in the climax.


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