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Wyoming Forts - Page 2

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Fort McKinney, WyomingFort McKinney (1876-1894) - Prior to becoming a full fledged fort, a temporary base called Cantonment Reno was built on the west bank of the Powder River to act as a supply base for General George Crook's Big Horn Expedition. The fort was later renamed Fort McKinney in honor of Lieutenant John McKinney who was killed in the nearby Dull Knife Battle of 1876. In 1878, the well-developed fort was facing water and lumber shortages and relocated 45 miles northwest to Buffalo, Wyoming. With the major battles of the Indian Wars over, the fort's primary objective was to ensure that the Sioux and Cheyenne tribes did not go back on the warpath.


A second task was to to keep the Crow, Arapahoe, and Shoshone tribes at peace with each other, and with new settlers in the Powder River Basin. During the Johnson County War of 1892, troops at the fort were ordered by President Benjamin Harrison to stop the fighting and escort the big cattlemen and their hired Texas gunslingers safely out of the area before the irate citizens of Buffalo could lynch them. Two years later, in 1894, the post was closed. Today, it is the site of the Wyoming Soldiers and Sailors Home. Three of its original buildings still stand.


Fort Phil Kearny (1866-1868) - See Full Article HERE.


Fort Platte (1840-1846) - Lancaster Lupton, an ex army officer turned fur trader, established a trading post called Fort Platte in 1840 one to two miles below Fort Laramie on the right bank of the Platte River. Called Fort William at the time, the post was operated by competing fur traders and was being ineffective managed. Their supply system was inadequate and their attempts at gardening had been unsuccessful. There being little to appeal to trappers, Lumpton, who already had a sufficient supply system, set up Fort Platte to exploit the competitorís weaknesses. Though the post was a commercial success, Lupton sold it to the veteran firm of Pratte & Cabanne in 1843, probably due to losses he had incurred at another trading post called Fort Lupton in Colorado. Pratte & Cabbanne operated Fort Platte from 1843 to 1845. The following year it was abandoned.


Fort Reno/Fort Connor (1865-1868) - On the Bozeman Trail in the Powder River country, Fort Reno was established in 1865. First called Fort Connor after the expeditionís commander, General Patrick Connor, cavalry troops built the fort which consisted of a few crude log buildings and a stockade. Later, two companies of the Fifth U.S. Volunteer Infantry relieved the cavalrymen and served as the garrison until June, 1866. In November, 1865, the post was renamed Fort Reno.


In June, 1866, Colonel Henry B. Carrington and the 18th U.S. Infantry relieved the volunteer units with plans to abandon the site and move the post further north on the Bozeman Trail. However, new orders soon arrived to keep the post active and for the next two years, Fort Reno stood guard over its section of the Bozeman Trail and served as a way station and forwarding supply depot for Forts Phil Kearny and C.F. Smith


Though the fort saw a few small Indian skirmishes in the area, the Indians saw the small post as little threat and focused on Fort Phil Kearny.


In the spring of 1868, the United States Government agreed to abandon the Bozeman Trail forts and close the trail to travel as part of the Laramie Treaty. The forts were abandoned that summer, starting with C.F. Smith, then Phil Kearny, and finally in late August, Fort Reno. Soon afterwards, Indians burned the fort buildings and by the time General George Crook's troops visited Fort Reno in 1876, all that was left were some adobe walls and building debris.


Today, the original fort has returned entirely to nature but a large stone monument and several interpretive signs mark the site. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the site is located approximately 12 miles northeast of Sussex, Wyoming.




Fort Russell, WyomingFort David A. Russell (1867-Present) - Now known as Fort Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, it was first established in 1867 and named in honor of David Allen Russell, a Civil War general killed at the Battle of Opequon in Virginia. When the railroad established its mountain region headquarters at Crow Creek Crossing, later known as Cheyenne, the U.S. Cavalry moved from temporary headquarters in Cheyenne to a point three miles west to establish the fort in July.


Fort Russell was made a permanent post in 1884 due to its strategic location and the following year, the War Department ordered the post be rebuilt to serve eight infantry companies.

The troops then built 27 red brick buildings to replace the older wood frame structures. By the turn of the 20th Century, Fort D. A. Russell was one of the largest cavalry bases in the United States and several more expansions in the early 20th century further increased its size.


In 1919, the airfield became active and soon served as the home field for over 100 military aircraft. The last cavalry units on the post were deactivated in 1927. In 1930, the base was renamed Fort Francis E. Warren, in honor of of the Medal of Honor recipient who served as Wyoming Governor. During World War II, Fort Francis E. Warren served as a training facility for the US Army Quartermaster Corps and a prisoner of war camp was also constructed on the site.


In 1949, the base was re-designated the Francis E. Warren Air Force Base and became part of the Strategic Air Command in 1958. The base became the headquarters for the 90th Strategic Missile Wing in 1963. In October, 1993, the Twentieth Air Force relocated its headquarters to Fort Warren.

Over the years, the base served as home for numerous influential American military leaders such as Carl Spaatz, Black Jack Pershing, Billy Mitchell, Walter Reed, and Mark Clark. The fort is a designated National Historic Landmark. The active air force base, located just west of Cheyenne, Wyoming provides a museum for visitors.


Fort Sanders (1866-1882) - Established in 1882 to protect the traffic on the Overland Trail, the fort was originally called Fort John Buford. Its grounds included wooden buildings to accommodate four companies and a parade ground. It was later renamed Fort Sanders after General William P. Sanders who died at the Siege of Knoxville during the Civil War. In 1868, the fort took on the additional task of protecting the workers of the Union Pacific railroad and its wooden barracks were expanded to accommodate six companies. A stone guardhouse was built in 1869.


Fort Sanders became less important following the construction of Fort D. A. Russell in Cheyenne in 1868, but the War Department maintained it until 1882 when the buildings were sold. Today, all that remains of the fort is the stone guardhouse and a historic marker just south of Laramie, Wyoming.



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