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Fetterman Massacre

Old Wagon Train
A wagon train through Fort Phil Kearny site in 1883 on northeast side of Pilot Knob.
Bob Paine is driving the first string. FPK/BTA collection.

In June of 1866 the United States Government organized a great Peace conference with the Sioux and the Cheyenne at Fort Laramie.

Civil War William T. Sherman headed the council with great chiefs like Dull Knife, Spotted Tail and Red Cloud.  Sherman wanted permission for white emigrants to cross the Indian lands as well as for permission to build three forts on the Bozeman Trail.

Red Cloud of the Oglala announced that no such concession would be made especially since he had seen soldiers marching off to build the forts before they even had permission.  He angrily broke off the talks and stormed off.  Red Cloud vowed to defend the territory and shut down the trail.

Fort Phil Kearny was one of three forts on the Bozeman trail connecting the Platte River with mines of Montana.  The government ordered the trail kept open at all costs.

Colonel Henry Carrington was put in charge at Fort Kearny to command the 18th  Infantry Regiment to build the series of posts along the trail.

In November, Captain William Fetterman joined the regiment.  He was experienced in Indian fighting and at handling men.  Fetterman had served with the 18th  Regiment during the Civil War.  He believed that no matter how numerous, a regiment of well disciplined soldiers could subdue the Indians.

On December 21, eighty men rode out of Fort Kearny to support a wood-cutting expedition that had come under attack.  The wood was absolutely necessary to the fort and attacks against the wood cutters were common, but this was the last day of wood cutting for the season.

Carrington's orders were not to pursue the Indians over the ridge.  A thousand Cheyenne and Arapaho warriors led by Crazy Horse and Red Cloud waited in hiding.  Fetterman led the men into a massacre.

The Indians named the battle as "The Battle of the Hundred Slain" and the whites knew it as  the Fetterman Massacre.

Visitors at the Fetterman Monument
Visitors at the Fetterman Monument
FPK/BTA Collection

Soldiers taking up bodies from the Fort Cemetery
Soldiers taking up bodies from the Fort Cemetery, including the Fetterman
Fight dead, in 1888, for reburial at the Custer Battlefield Cemetery.
FPK/BTA collection

Links  (provided photos for site)

Site created by: Carol Henderson


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