Strikes in 1862 by Idaho prospectors in the mountains of western Montana triggered a rush to the diggings at Bannack and subsequently to Virginia City. Since the United States began to be there never was such a post as Fort Philip Kearney, commonly called Fort Phil Kearney From its establishment, in 1866, to its abandonment, some two years later, it was practically in a state of siege. It is believed, however, that his impetuous counsel, due to his good luck in many a brush with assailing parties, which he had several times pursued almost alone, largely precipitated the final disaster. Prominent among them was Captain William J. Fetterman, who boasted that he and 80 men could ride through the whole Sioux Nation. As they approached the main gate, accompanied by the mounted men who had been sent out to meet them, they were halted to give passage to an army wagon from the opposite direction. A spherical case-shot from a howitzer in the fort exploded in their midst, and they vanished. Perhaps it ill becomes us to censure the dead, but the whole unfortunate affair arose from a direct disobedience of orders on the part of Fetterman and his men. Copyright 2012 by The Digital History Project. Last of the Indian Chiefs Geronimo Red Cloud Spott... Thomas Nast American Illustrator and Cartoonist, Prince Albert of Monaco as an Oceanographer, Philadelphia Zoological Park Fairmount Park. Required fields are marked *. It cannot be denied that there was much dissatisfaction among some of the officers at Carrington's prudent policy. In 1865, at Fort Sully, South Dakota, the government concluded treaties with a few Sioux chiefs. . Seeing that all was lost, they had evidently stood face to face, and each had shot the other dead with his revolver. The officers and men were fast becoming undeceived as to the character of their expedition. Although all the remaining officers assembled at his quarters advised him not to undertake it, lest the savages, flushed with victory, should attempt another attack, Carrington quietly excused his officers, told the adjutant to remain with him, and the bugle instantly disclosed his purpose in spite of dissenting protests. His position as quartermaster had kept him on the watch for Indians all the time, and he announced on the day before the battle that he "must have one chance at the Indians before he left." Men and women dressed in furs made from wolf skins taken from the hundreds of wolves which infested the outside butcher-field at night, and which were poisoned by the men for their fur. By that summer the Indians had closed the Bozeman Trail to all but heavily guarded military convoys, but the troops won two victories. Lieutenant Grummond, who had so narrowly escaped on the 6th of December, was not yet accounted for, but there was little hope that he had escaped again. About five miles to its north, along U.S. 87 and about 1½ miles northeast of Story, Wyoming is the spur ridge east of Peno Creek, and the route of the Bozeman Trail, along which Fetterman and his men retreated southward. A telegram by Carrington advising suspension of his march until the council came to some agreement was negatived, and although Sunday he pushed forward nine miles beyond the fort before sunset. On December 21, 1866, a small war party, in a feint, made a typical attack on a wood train returning eastward from Piney Island to the fort. Running north from the Oregon-California Trail along the eastern flank of the Bighorn Mountains and then westward, it linked Forts Sedgwick, Colorado, and Laramie, Wyoming, and the Oregon-California Trail with Virginia City. At that time there were four great routes of transcontinental travel in use: southward over the famous Santa Fe Trail; westward over the Kansas trail to Denver; westward on the Oregon Trail through Nebraska and Salt Lake City to California and Oregon; northwestward on the Bozeman trail through Wyoming to Montana. Fort Phil Kearny was an outpost of the United States Army that existed in the late 1860s in present-day northeastern Wyoming along the Bozeman Trail.Construction began Friday July 13, 1866 by Companies A, C, E and H of the 2nd Battalion, 18th Infantry, under the direction of the regimental commander and Mountain District commander Colonel Henry B. Carrington. His men had evidently fought on the road until their ammunition gave out, and then had either been ordered to retreat to the fort, or had retreated of their own motion probably the latter. TO summarize the first six months of fighting, from the first of August to the close of the year, the Indians killed one hundred and fifty-four persons, including soldiers and citizens, wounded twenty more, and captured nearly seven hundred animals—cattle, mules, and horses. The basically unaltered natural scene of the sites of Fort Phil Kearny, the Fetterman Massacre, and the Wagon Box Fight, despite surrounding ranch operations, are marred by but few modern intrusions. Repeated requests and appeals, both by letter and telegram, for reinforcements and supplies, and especially for modern and serviceable weapons, had met with little consideration. The vast expanse of territory west of the hundredth meridian, extending from the Red River to the British Columbia boundary line, was at the time practically devoid of white settlements, except at Denver and Salt Lake, until the Montana towns were reached in the northwest. Ammunition was running low. Ghastly and mutilated remains stripped naked, shot full of arrows—Wheatley with no less than one hundred and five in him, scalped, lay before them. A messenger was sent to the fort for an ambulance, and the command retired in good order without further sight of the Indians. There may have been a little reserve on the rocks on which they hoped to rally their disorganized, panic-stricken troops, fleeing before a horde of yelling, blood-intoxicated warriors. Within half an hour, at high noon, hundreds of Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho warriors annihilated the small force to the last man. There were at one time only forty rounds per man available. The Sweet Water Country and all east of the Wind River Range, including South Pass and the region west of the great bend of the North Platte, had its prairies and fertile valleys. Fort Phil Kearney, Fetterman Massacre and The Wagon Box Fight. Even heavily guarded supply trains had to fight their way over the trail. Smith on August 1st but suffered heavy casualties. It was escorted by a guard from a wood train, and brought in the scalped, naked, dead body of one of their comrades, a strange welcome, indeed, to the young wife, who, upon leaving Laramie, had been assured of a beautiful ride through fertile valleys without danger, and sadder yet in its sequel two months later. One of my men fell and his horse on him. The wood trains to fetch logs to the sawmills went out heavily guarded. The troops were armed with newly issued breech-loading Springfield rifles—a costly surprise for the Sioux. The firing has stopped. One of the officers, Lieutenant Bingham, was dead. Following the Fetterman Massacre, Carrington hired civilians John “Portugee” Phillips and Daniel Dixon to carry a message for Omaha headquarters concerning the disaster and a plea for reinforcements to the telegraph station at Horseshoe Bend, near Fort Laramie. The massacre itself fills only one chapter out of 11, but it is remarkably detailed and by no means is this a criticism. Fetterman and Brown, unfortunately were the chief of these malcontents. When Red Cloud and the other chiefs learned that their mission was the construction of forts along the Bozeman Trail, they stalked out of the conference and declared war on all invaders of their country. Pursuant to the plan, Brigadier-General Henry B. Carrington, Colonel of the Eighteenth Regular Infantry, was ordered with the second battalion of his regiment, about to become the Twenty-seventh Regular Infantry, to establish, organize and take command of what was known as the Mountain District. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. West Point United States Military Academy Before t... Tanks, Caterpillar Tractor in World War I. Now, trails lead visitors to the sites of the conflicts, and interpretive signs explain the events from the perspectives of both the military and Indian groups. The staff member used the model to explain the location of the fort, the timber, and the battles. The Fetterman Massacre: Fort Phil Kearny and the Battle of the Hundred Slain (ebook) Published October 23rd 2012 by Open Road Media ebook, 242 pages Author(s): Dee Brown. Experience has shown that in spite of treaties, purchases and other peaceful means of obtaining it, there is always bound to be a contest about that land. The commissioners, however, had dealt with only unimportant leaders of the bands along the Missouri River — not the people who really mattered. A portion of the command was mounted from the discarded horses of a cavalry regiment going east to be mustered out. Red Cloud, an Oglala Sioux, the foremost of the young warriors, led the objectors to the treaty, even to the point of fighting, and opposed the more conservative chiefs who deprecated war as eventually fatal to all their territorial claims. He dashed up to headquarters with a message from Ten Eyck, stating that "the valley on the other side of the ridge is filled with Indians, who are threatening him. Pickets were left on two commanding ridges, as signal observers, as the command moved forward. All the dead cavalry horses' heads were turned toward the fort, by the way. They narrowly escaped freezing to death. The Indians gave way before Fetterman's advance, hoping to lure the troops into an ambush, but at a favorable spot they made a stand. More than four decades later, Frances Carrington, Henry’s second wife, repeated the boast attributed to Fetterman almost verbatim in her 1910 book My Army Life: A Soldier’s Wife at Fort Phil Kearny. The war with the Indians was about the ownership of territory, as most of our Indian wars have been. The U.S. government responded by building a series of protective forts along the trail; the largest and most important of these was Fort Phil Kearney, erected in 1866 in north-central Wyoming. As we may read in letters and books written by army wives, it was brought home to them directly again and again. He had the best horse in the command (one of the general's), and he covered the distance between Lodge Trail Ridge and the fort with amazing swiftness. The Fetterman Fight, also known as the Fetterman Massacre or the Battle of the Hundred-in-the-Hands or the Battle of a Hundred Slain, was a battle during Red Cloud's War on December 21, 1866, between a confederation of the Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes and a detachment of the United States Army, based at Fort Phil Kearny, Wyoming. The many rivers which traversed the territory teemed with fish the valleys which they watered were abundantly fertile for the growing of the few crops which the Indian found necessary for his support. Previous Next (For a day tour covering all historic sites, including the Brinton Museum, consider starting your tour early in the cool of the day at Fort Phil Kearny) TO GET TO FORT PHIL KEARNY FROM LAZY R: Take I-90 headed east for approximately 36 miles to Exit 44. Six times in four hours they charged the wagon boxes, but each time was thrown back with severe casualties. To take a stroll outside the stockade on a summer evening was to invite death or worse if the stroller happened to be a woman. The country teemed with game. No one in the command seems to have had the least idea that any force of Indians, however great, could overcome it. Com - the home page of author Nicholas L. Vulich. There were 8 foot high thick log walls that enclosed a 17 acre area. To the eastward of the smaller branch rose a high hill called Pilot Hill. On the eighth of December President Andrew Johnson congratulated Congress that treaties had been made at Fort Laramie, and that all was peace in the Northwest! The youngster accomplished it by lying upon his back with feet braced against the bow, and the general squarely withdrew from the contest, declining to follow the boy's ingenious artifice. The officials in the Far East hugged their treaty, and refused to believe that a state of war existed; and, if it did exist, were disposed to censure the commanding officer for provoking it. "Carrington's book is a riveting portrait of life at a frontier post in dangerous territory, as well as a snapshot of Victorian mores and the lingering influence of the Civil War. The fort tour leads the visitor through the site to building locations, archaeological remains, and interpretive signs pinpointing the surrounding historic landmarks. Herds of beef cattle, the horses for the cavalry and mounted infantry, the mules for the supply wagons, could not graze, even under the walls of the fort, without protection. A little later forty additional men were sent after Ten Eyck. Carrington, saddled with 21 women and children dependents who had accompanied him from Fort Kearny, Nebraska, maintained a defensive stance. The tragic events associated with Fort Phil Kearny, the Fetterman Massacre, and the Wagon Box Fight form one of the most dramatic chapters in the history of the Indian Wars. There was fighting all the time. Few cartridge shells lay on the ground. Sioux efforts focused on Carrington’s headquarters, Fort Phil Kearny, situated between the Big and Little Piney Forks of the Powder River on a plateau rising 50 to 60 feet above the valley floor. 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