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Nebraska Flag - Great Plains Legends IconNEBRASKA LEGENDS

Nebraska Forts of the Old West

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Camp Sheridan

Fort Atkinson

Fort Crook

Fort Hartsuff

Fort Kearny

Fort Lisa

Fort McPherson

Fort Mitchell

Fort Omaha

Fort Robidoux

Fort Robinson

Fort Sidney

 

Crazy Horse leaving Camp Sheridan, Nebraska

Crazy Horse and his band of Indians on their way from Camp Sheridan to surrender to General George Crook at Red Cloud Agency, Frank Leslie's illustrated Newspaper, June, 1877. This image available for photographic prints and  downloads HERE!

 

 

 

Camp Sheridan and Spotted Tail Indian Agency (1874-1880) - In 1873, the Brule Sioux, under the leadership of Spotted Tail, moved from their prior agency near Fort Randall, Dakota Territory to northwest Nebraska, and finally to an agency overlooking Beaver Creek, near present-day Hay Springs. The agency was composed of storehouses, an issue building, a carpentry shop, a sawmill, stables, and other structures. To guard the agency, Camp Sheridan was established as a tent camp in the fall of 1874 about one mile from the Spotted Tail Agency. Permanent facilities were constructed in the spring of 1875 consisting of over thirty frame and brick structures. Following removal of the Brule to the Rosebud Agency in South Dakota, activity declined and Camp Sheridan was abandoned by the army in 1880.

Fort Crook (1894-Present) - Although plans were drawn for the 1888 establishment of Fort Crook (now Offutt Air Base) at Bellevue, Nebraska, no meaningful construction commenced until 1894. Situated along the Missouri River, the fort was first used as a dispatch point for Indian conflicts on the Great Plains. The fort was named for Major General George Crook, a Civil War veteran and Indian Fighter. The first infantry troops arrived on June 28, 1896. The fort became the Troops from Fort Crook fought during the Spanish-American War when the 22nd Regiment, under Charles A. Wikoff, were dispatched to Cuba. The regiment suffered heavy casualties in the Battle of El Caney. Only 165 of the 513 regiment members survived with most succumbing to tropical diseases after the battle. 

In 1918 arrival of the 61st Balloon Company elevated the post to an airfield. In 1921 landing strips were graded, and by 1924, it became known as Offutt Field. Both the airstrip and army post grew in importance, until June 11, 1946 when Fort Crook officially transferred to the 2nd Air Force, and on January 13, 1948, the entire complex was renamed Offutt Air Force Base.

Today, many of the original buildings continue to stand on the active air force base. The fort's old brick barracks, hospital, and other buildings are scattered around Offutt Air Force Base, mixed with more modern structures. The oldest surviving portion of Fort Crook is the parade grounds and surrounding red brick buildings that were constructed between 1894-96.

 

These structures are still in active use today as squadron headquarters, living quarters for high-ranking generals (Generals Row), and Nebraska's oldest operational jail.

 

The base, located south of Bellevue, Nebraska is the headquarters of the U.S. Strategic Command and the Air Force Weather Agency. Unfortunately, access to the base is limited only to members of the military and their official guests.

 

Fort Crook, Nebraska

22nd Infantry Regiment on the parade ground arrived at

Ft. Crook, Nebraska, General's Row in the background.

 

Fort Hartsuff (1874-81) - When white settlers began to populate the North Loup Valley, Sioux depredations at Sioux Creek in October, 1873 and at Pebble Creek in January, 1874 prompted the settlers to request military protection.

 

The fort, originally designated as "Post on the North Fork of the Loup River," was established on September 5, 1874. On December 9, 1874, the post was renamed in honor of Major General George L. Hartsuff. In addition to protecting the settlers, the fort was also responsible for overseeing the Pawnee Indian Reservation, in present Nance County. The fort was composed of nine major buildings, built of concrete and stone, which helped them withstand the passage of time.

 

The fort's major military engagement came at the Battle of the Blow Out in April of 1876. The action resulted in the death of First Sergeant Dougherty when troops commanded by Lieutenant Heyl routed a band of hostile Sioux. The transfer of the Pawnees to Indian Territory, the Army's push of the Sioux into the Dakotas, and the ensuing influx of settlers into the region ended the need for the post and it was abandoned in 1881.


After the Army departed, farmers utilized some of the buildings. In 1961, the property was acquired by the State of Nebraska and today has been  restored as it was when soldiers patrolled the Loup and Cedar River valleys and pioneered a new trail to the Black Hills gold fields in the 1870s. The Park and surrounding district was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Today, the park provides a Visitor Center, several restored buildings, and interpretive displays. It is located in Valley County, on an unimproved road, about three miles northwest of Elyria, Nebraska.

 

 

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