Battle of Clear Creek, Wyoming


Indian Attack on a Wagon Train by Charles Marion Russell

Indian Attack on a Wagon Train by Charles Marion Russell

The Battle of Clear Creek, Wyoming on July 24, 1866, was another clash with Indians who were resisting travel on the Bozeman Trail during Red Cloud’s War.

After briefly resting at Fort Reno, the two wagon trains that were involved in the siege at Crazy Woman Creek began to retrace their steps towards Fort Phil Kearny. On July 23, 1866, they caught up with two large civilian wagon trains, led by High Kirkendall and William Dillon, that had left Fort Reno the day before. Joining forces, the four trains then consisted of about 200 wagons, stretching six miles across the plains.

The first wagons reached Clear Creek, at what is now Buffalo, Wyoming, on the afternoon of the 24th and pulled their wagons into a corral. High Kirkendall’s wagons, at the back of the six-mile train, had to corral on their own. Before long, they were approached by about 25 warriors who tried to run off their mules.

In the meantime, William Dillon and five other men had left their camp to see what was holding up Kirkendall, were attacked. The six men shot their horses and made a small circle to hold off the Indians. After four hours of fighting, they tried to make a run for Kirkendall’s corral. However, along the way, Dillon was critically wounded. As the men carried Dillon, Kirkendall sent out a rescue party, and they made it to the corral.

At the front of the wagon train, word reached Captain Burrowes of the attacks and he sent soldiers to Fort Phil Kearny for help. He also dispatched 16 soldiers to assist those at the back of the train. Kirkendall was able to move his wagons forward to Clear Creek. Unfortunately, Dillon died that night. The next morning, 60 men and a howitzer arrived from Fort Phil Kearny and the long wagon train moved onward without further assault. Two Indians were estimated to have been killed in the skirmish.

The site is in Buffalo, Wyoming.

By Kathy Weiser-Alexander, updated February 2020.

Also See:

Indian War Campaigns and Battles

Indian Wars Photo Gallery

Red Cloud’s War

Wyoming Indian Battles