MARCH 17, 1876


The 1874 discovery of Black Hills gold caused the U.S. to try and buy the Black Hills. Lakota & Cheyenne bands were ordered to come to the reservations by January 31, 1876, to negotiate. When some bands did not comply, Brig. General George Crook led a force from Fort Fetterman, Wyoming, to bring them “in.” Cavalry under Colonel Joseph J. Reynolds found a Cheyenne village in the Powder River Valley. He sent 2 groups to attack the village, 1 to prevent escape, and 1 to capture their herd of horses. The attack was disjointed. When Cheyenne fled to the bluffs and fired on the troops, Reynolds ordered the village destroyed before ordering a hasty retreat. He left the bodies of 3 soldiers & a wounded man who was later “cut limb to limb.” His men suffered frostbite on the 20-mile return march. The Cheyenne lost 1 man and recaptured most of the horses. Crook reached Fort Fetterman on March 26th and had Reynolds court-martialed & removed. The attack only solidified Indian resistance to selling the Black Hills.

  “Battle of Powder River, Montana,” Legends of America.  Retrieved 6/12/2021, Battle of Powder River, Montana – Legends of America
Photo: John A. Moody & Robert H. Meade, USGS, 10/2012.  Powder River at about bed-full flow. Public Domain.

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