DECEMBER 21, 1866

FETTERMAN MASSACRE

In the 1860s, gold miners in Montana Territory using the Bozeman Trail were often attacked by the Lakota in what was known as “Red Cloud’s War.”  In 1866, the 18th Infantry Regiment under Colonel Henry Carrington built 3 posts along the trail, with headquarters at Fort Phil Kearny (now Story, Wyoming).  Red Cloud’s main target were tree-cutting crews & their military escorts.  On this date, Captain William J. Fetterman and 79 raw recruits were sent to protect a crew.  Some say he boasted that with 80 men he could “ride through the whole Sioux Nation.”  He did not go to the wood train as Carrington allegedly ordered, but pursued a group of Indians, including Crazy Horse, acting as decoys.  As mounted soldiers raced ahead to attack, Fetterman led his infantry into a trap.  The Lakota, Northern Cheyenne & Northern Arapaho annihilated them.  The Lakota call it “Battle of the Hundred in the Hand.”  Retaliating for atrocities committed in the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre, dead soldiers were mutilated.

Source:  Shannon Smith, “New Perspectives on the Fetterman Fight,” WyoHistory.org, 11/8/2014.  Retrieved 9/16/2020, https://www.wyohistory.org/encyclopedia/new-perspectives-fetterman-fight
Illustration:  Author unknown, 1867.  Public Domain.  Source: Harper's Weekly, v. 11, no. 534 (1867 March 23), p. 180, https://archive.org/details/harpersweeklyv11bonn/page/180/mode/2up. 

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