How To Use This Site

How To Use This Site

This blog was updated on a daily basis for about two years, with those daily entries ceasing on December 31, 2013. The blog is still active, however, and we hope that people stopping in, who find something lacking, will add to the daily entries.

The blog still receives new posts as well, but now it receives them on items of Wyoming history. That has always been a feature of the blog, but Wyoming's history is rich and there are many items that are not fully covered here, if covered at all. Over time, we hope to remedy that.

You can obtain an entire month's listings by hitting on the appropriate month below, or an individual day by hitting on that calendar date.

We hope you enjoy this site.

Friday, July 26, 2013

July 26

1845  The U.S. flag was raised on St. Joseph Island, Texas by a detachment of United States troops. Attribution:  On This Day.

1849   Company C, U.S. Mounted Rifles, arrived at Fort Laramie. Attribution:  On This Day.

1863  Sam Houston died in Huntsville Texas.

1865. On this day two battles were fought in what is now Natrona County, Wyoming, with the first being fought in attempt to avoid having the second occur.

The first battle is the Battle of Platte Bridge Station. Platte Bridge Station was one of a series of posts built on the Oregon Trail through Wyoming, which guarded both the trail and the telegraph line which already ran alongside the trail by that time. It was garrisoned by men of the 11th Kansas Cavalry as well as infantrymen from a galvanized Yankee unit.

Cheyenne, Sioux and Arapahoes gathered out side the fort in the days immediately prior to it, just across from it in what is now Mills Wyoming, in an attempt to draw the troops out. The Cheyenne and the Sioux were at war with the United States as a byproduct of the Sand Creek Massacre the prior winter. As a result of that they had fled north into the Powder River Basin, and had waged a war of raids. The strategy of trying to draw the soldiers out, which failed, is sometime attributed to Crazy Horse who may have been at the battle, although it is difficult to tell.

While the soldiers remained safely in the fort, and the Indians abstained from assaulting it directly (as they usually did) it became necessary to try to move the tribesmen off as an Army wagon train was expected to arrive. When it was in sight, a relief party lead by Lt. Caspar Collins, 11th Ohio Cavalry, crossed the bridge.

The battle was a short one as the troopers were outnumbered and the combined Indian forces had the advantage of terrain. The 11th Kansas attempted to rapidly advance to the trail, but were flanked by tribesmen from the hills, who had been hidden in the area which is now Boatright Smith, a gravel contractor in Mills, WY. Retreat was sounded, but several men were killed in the fight, including Collins. Stories as to Collins actions vary, but his horse is known to have turned into the advancing tribesmen. Some stated that he was attempting to rescue a wounded trooper. Others stated that his horse bolted. The Indian who acquired the horse later gave it away as it was excessively rank.

Collins was not posted to Platte Bridge Station, but had volunteered to lead the relief party after there had been some debate at the post as to who should do it. That has remained an enduring controversy. He wore his full uniform, frock coat and all, on the hot July day, as he did not expect to survive the battle.

The second battle is the Battle of Red Buttes. This occurred within sight of Platte Bridge Station, after the Battle of Platte Bridge Station. This battle occurred when the tribesmen discovered the wagon train that was coming east down the Oregon Trail, on its way in from the stations at Independence Rock and Sweetwater Station. Troopers of the 11th Kansas Cavalry who were posted with the horse herd some miles away, in Bessemer Bend, had attempted to dissuade the wagon train, with men of the 2nd Infantry, from going on as they had seen the large Indian party, but Sgt. Custard, who was in command of the wagon train, insulted the cavalrymen declaring them to be cowards, and proceeded on. Custard, a veteran of fighting in the East during the Civil War, shared the common trait that many with similar experience had, and greatly under estimated the fighting capacity of native inhabitants. When the wagon train neared the post, and the Indians noticed it, they attacked it and killed nearly every soldier save for a few with the train. A very few managed to escape on horseback, cross the Platte, and make their way to Platte Bridge Station.

A grand total of 26 US troops were killed in the combined battles, with 21 of those being at Red Butttes.  The mass grave of those who died at Red Buttes has been lost, and therefore its location is not known today. The town of Mills has undoubtedly grown out towards that location, and now Casper is as well.

A different account of the battle can be found here.

In recognition of his heroism, Platte Bridge Station was renamed Ft. Caspar, with the term "fort" recognizing  the more important and permanent nature of the post, over that of a "station".  Collin's first name was used, rather than his last, as the name Collins had already attached to Ft. Collins in Colorado, named after Gen. Collins, Caspar's father.  The honor was in some ways short lived, as the post was abandoned as part of the agreement that ended Red Cloud's War.  It was revived, however, when the town of Casper was founded a couple of decades later, albeit with a different spelling.

1871  Ferdinand Hayden and his government sponsored team arrived at the Yellowstone Lake and the geyser fields.

1915  The Casper Brewing Co. commenced operations in Casper.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1935  A section of the dance floor at Thermopolis' Washakie Ballroom gave way sending 50 people into the basement, none of whom were injured.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1936  A reconstructed Ft. Caspar is dedicated.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1977  A Thunderbird pilot's aircraft crashes at Frontier Park in Cheyenne resulting in the death of the pilot.

2016  The Wyoming Game and Fish Department reintroduced black footed ferrets to  the Lazy BV and Pitchfork Ranches in Park County after they were first rediscovered there, after they were believed to be extinct, thirty five years ago.

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