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Wyoming Indian Battles - Page 6

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Cheyenne Indians on horsesAttacks on the Plains (1868-69) - Early in the year 1868, the Indians showed a determination to keep up hostilities. The desire of the government to hold a big peace conference at Fort Laramie in April had been communicated to all the Indian tribes during the winter. The hostile bands had signified their willingness to come to the conference; however, they were in no hurry to do so, and events proved that they were not acting in good faith. A condensation of the records of the War Department for the month of March that year showed the real condition up to the time the peace commissioners arrived at Fort Laramie.


On March 12, 1868 a mail party from Fort Reno attacked on the Dry Fork of the Cheyenne River. The next day, warriors captured a wagon train between Fort Fetterman and the Laramie Peak sawmill. On the 18th, they captured 29 mules of the sawmill train and killed one man. The same day they also attacked the camp of a man named Brace near Box Elder and ran of 60 head of cattle. On the 24th of March, several ranches were burned and men were killed between Forts Laramie and Fetterman.


Yet another attack was made against four men who were herding stock on Lone Tree Creek, some 25 miles from Cheyenne. The men, including W.E. Talbott, George Spurr, a man named Morse and a Mexican called Joe all survived but, Morse was hit and had an arm broken. Though word was quickly sent to Fort Russell and a detachment of soldiers sent after the Indians, they could not be found.


By all appearances, the Indians were not anxious to conclude a treaty of peace. However, the peace commission arrived at Fort Laramie on April 7, 1868 and proceeded at once to invite the Indians. The commissioners waited at Fort Laramie three months, while a number of bands came in, signed the treaty, and received a supply of provisions, clothing, blankets, firearms and ammunition. However, several chiefs including Red Cloud and Man-Afraid-of-His-Horses, while promising to come in, did not. Red Cloud waited, for the withdrawal of the troops from the Bozeman Road and did not sign the treaty until November 6, 1868. As soon as it was known among the Indians that Chief Red Cloud had agreed to make peace, 600 warriors withdrew from his camp in the Powder River country.


In the summer of 1869, those warriors who had withdrawn from Red Cloud's group made several attacks. On August 22, 1869, a man named Edmond M. Pratt was killed about a mile and a half east of Cheyenne and 34 head of stock were stolen. B. J. Evert, Pratt's companion, escaped and reached Cheyenne. Though a detachment of soldiers was sent out from Fort D.A. Russell to pursue the Indians, they were not found.


On July 28th, the warriors attacked a paymaster wagon traveling between Forts Reno and Fetterman. There were 60 soldiers in the escort, and in the first attack, two of them were killed. A sharp battle took place and the Indians were finally repulsed after a number of them had been killed. The paymaster and his escort passed on without further molestation.


Exactly one month later, on August 28, 1869, the warriors attacked a detachment from the band attacked Laycock's camp of wood choppers. The men fell back and opened fire on the Indians, killing one of them, before they fled. None of the wood choppers were injured. On the same day, it was reported at Fort Sanders that three white men were killed on the Big Thompson River.


On September 15th, a band of Indians made an attack on a group encamped at Cooper Lake, killed one man, and captured two men and a woman. The hostiles went in the direction of Laramie Peak. The commanders at Forts Laramie and Fetterman were notified and detachments were sent out from both places to head them off, but, the Indians slipped through and went into the Sweetwater Country and thus escaped.


On the same day as the attack at Cooper Lake, Lieutenant J.H. Spencer, leading Company B, Fourth Infantry, was attacked by 300 Indians near Whiskey Gap, Wyoming. One soldier was captured and presumed dead.




On September 17th, a stagecoach is attacked and the driver killed at Point of Rocks, Wyoming.


On December 1, 1869, about two miles south present-day Glendo, Wyoming at Horseshoe Creek, about 150 Lakota Sioux attacked a mail stage heading from Fort Fetterman to Fort Laramie. Riding escort were ten soldiers under Sergeant Conrad Bahr. Though the warriors tried to overwhelm the escort, the soldiers fought back, hitting several attackers. Three soldiers were wounded, but the mail got through.


In 1869, the steel rails of the Union Pacific Railroad united the nation from the east coast to the west. Within no time, thousands of settlers flooded into Wyoming and the rest of the American West. With them, came hundreds of buffalo hunters, many drawn solely for the thrill of the kill. During a single summer, one party of 16 men killed 28,000 buffalo. This unregulated slaughter rapidly forced the Indians to depend on government rations, which was often slow in coming, if it came at all. With the railroad, also came more and more prospectors and others interested in the natural resources of the region, once again squeezing the Indian's few remaining resources.

For many, these conditions were unacceptable and attacks continued, leading the military to build several new outposts of Fort Bridger. The first, Camp Auger, later called Camp Brown was established in June, 1869 in present-day Lander, Wyoming. The following year, Fort Stambaugh would be established near South Pass City. 


South Pass City, Wyoming todaySweetwater Mining District (1868-70) - Though digging for gold in the South Pass area began as early as 1842, mining activity was very sporadic until after the Civil War. The rich Carissa Mine was discovered in June, 1867 and shortly afterwards, was attacked by Sioux Indians killed three miners and drove the rest away. However, the trespassers would soon return along with hundreds of others, as word of the gold find spread. In violation of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, the miners continued to flock to the area as more gold veins were discovered and the towns of Atlantic City and Miners Delight were organized.


In May, 1868, angry Indians raided the area and stole an estimated 100 horses and mules. But, this did not scare the miners away. Before long, they had replenished their animals. The following month, the warriors returned, once again stealing the stock as well as general merchandise, and killed four men. Still the fortune-hungry prospectors stayed.

Three Crossings (August 9, 1868) - On August 9, 1868, Indians attacked an ox train bringing in supplies for one of the new mercantile establishments. At what was called Three Crossings on the Sweetwater River, the two freighters, were attacked by Indians. The wagon driver, named Dave Hayes, was seriously wounded and the other man, known as "Uncle Hirst," was hit in the heel. Though they were both injured, they succeeded in driving off the Indians. Hayes was so seriously wounded he could not continue to travel, so, Hirst made him comfortable by wrapping him in blankets under the protection of the wagon and went for help. Hirst returned with two men to rescue the wounded Dave Hayes and rescue the supplies -- William Rose and William Tweed. Also, going in the direction was Major Baldwin, who was going after supplies with a train of wagons.


Upon his return with William Rose, William Tweed, a Major Baldwin, and a man named Leach. When they arrived at Three Crossings, they found the driver dead and the merchandise gone. Retracing their steps, they were attacked by Indians near a place called the Ice Slough. After a spirited engagement, Major Baldwin was driven back, and William Tweed and the man named Leach were wounded. William Rose, who was riding a fast horse was determined to ride for help. But, he wouldn't make it. With the Indians in full pursuit, he was shot in the back of the head and he fell from his saddle. However, the diversion was enough to allow the others to escape.


This attack so aroused the people in the mining district that 27 men, well mounted and armed, went in pursuit of the Indians but, were unable to find them. They buried the bodies of William Rose and David Hayes and returned to the camps. Before long, they were back to looking for gold; though now, they were much better armed.


Raids on the Wind River (Spring/Summer, 1869) - The territorial government of Wyoming was organized in the spring of 1869 and President Ulysses S. Grant appointed John A. Campbell as the Governor of the Wyoming Territory on April 3, 1869.  Only a short time later, four white men  were killed and a number of horses and mules were stolen by Sioux Indians in the Wind River Valley. The raid was reported to the governor by county commissioners, who asked the commander of the military department for troops for the protection of the settlers in that section. Two companies–one of infantry and one of cavalry–were ordered to the valley. With the closest military base at Fort Bridger, over 150 miles away, the U.S. Army established Camp Augur in present-day Lander in June, 1869; but, it wouldn't be enough.


On July 3, 1869, another raid was made by the Sioux and again four white men were killed. The Indians were later driven off by the new soldiers stationed in the area. Later that month, on July 28th, another raid was made upon the mining settlements and three men engaged in mining near Atlantic City were killed. At the request of Governor Campbell, the department commander sent a supply of arms and ammunition to the area to be distributed among the citizens. When the Sioux discovered that the people were being armed they withdrew for a short time.


Then on August 20, 1869, three men were traveling along the North Fork of the Big Popo Agie River. George Colt and William Skinner were killed, and Wiilliam Williams was wounded. Their supplies, money, and seven horses were also stolen.


The very next day, another attack was made on a party of seven men who were traveling along the Big Big Wind River above Bull Lake.  on August 21, 1869. This party, led by Jeff Standifer, an old western explorer, prospector and Indian fighter, left South Pass with to prospect on the head of Wind River. On August 21, 1869, while in camp on Big Wind River near the mountains, they were attacked by a large party of Indians so suddenly that they could not secure their horses, which were near camp and had not even time to make a defense. Hank Lehman was killed in camp and C.T. McAuley was killed nearby.  John Moore and a Mr. Duncan made their escape, for a time by swimming the river, but were followed for ten miles to Bull Lake, ten miles, where they were killed. Their remains were not found for some years, after which they were buried at Bull Lake. Jeff Standifer and John "Portugee" Phillips escaped into the mountains and made their way into South Pass, Standifer slightly wounded in the hand. Andy Newman, after suffering much hardship and exposure, finally made his way to the Wind River Indian Reservation where he arrived in tatters and in very poor condition.


The very same day, the warriors encountered Henry Lusk and Sage Nickerson on Little Wind River, not far from the Hot Springs. Immediately firing upon the men, they wounded Lusk and his horses were taken. Nickerson attempted to save the horses belonging to Lusk, but the warriors were on him quickly. He escaped by riding rapidly to the river, into which he plunged and swam under the water to an overhanging bank, where he remained in hiding until the Indians left, taking his and the other horses with them and killing Nickerson's dog.


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