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.

Monday, November 25, 2013

November 25

1867  Fifty three cans of cranberries reported stored at Fort Bridger.  Attribution, Wyoming State Historical Association calendar.

1876.  The Dull Knife Battle.  Col. Ranald S. Mackenzie, 4th U.S. Cavalry, in command of Company K, 2nd U.S. Cavalry, Company H and K, 3rd U.S. Cavalry, Company B, D, E, F, I, and M, 4th U.S. Cavalry, Company H and L, 5th U.S. Cavalry and accompanied by a large contingent of Pawnees, together Arapaho and even Lakota scouts, surprises the Big Horn mountain camp of Cheyennes under Dull Knife.  Sometimes regarded as a somewhat unwarranted attack, Dull Knife's band had been at war with the US during the proceeding summer, and they had recently attacked and defeated a band of Shoshone.  Mackenzie's attack did not succeed in taking the camp whole, but it did succeed in eventually driving the Cheyenne out of it, who lost a great number of villagers in the frozen retreat thereafter.  A large number of the ultimate dead were the old and very young.  The attack is remarkable for having occurred in horrific climatic conditions..  That is, below 0 weather, snow, and high winds.  

Mackenzie is a figure who tends to be much less remembered, in the popular imagination, than other Indian War Army commanders, but he was actually one of the most effective, and consistently so.  He was the son of a career U.S. Navy officer who had risen to the rank of Commodore and his family was very well connected in the military and in politics.  Ranald Mackenzie graduated from West Point in 1862 and immediately entered into an Army career with, of course, the Civil War raging at that time.  During the war he rose to the rank of Brigadier General.  He was briefly mustered out of the service at the end of the Civil War but brought back in during Reconstruction as a Major General.  He thereafter reverted to his permanent rank of Captain.  During the Indian Wars he demonstrated tactical and field command brilliance, commanding both infantry and cavalry, as well as black and white troops.  During this period he rose back up the rank of Brigadier General.

Unfortunately, he began to decline mentally by the 1870s which was manifesting itself as early as the campaign which featured the Dull Knife battle. A poor horseman, he took to the field in terrible conditions with his troops, but in camp he was already demonstrating signs of mental instability and severe depression.  He was ultimately discharged for insanity in 1884, just three years after he had purchased a ranch in Texas and had become engaged.  He died in 1889 at just 48 years of age.  The source of his mental decline is not really known, and remains somewhat debated today, with a possible head injury being one of the suspected causes.

Ranald S. Mackenzie.

The following Congressional Medal of Honor would be awarded for action at The Dull Knife fight:

FORSYTH, THOMAS H:   First Sergeant, Company M, 4th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Powder River, Wyo., 25 November 1876.  Citation: Though dangerously wounded, he maintained his ground with a small party against a largely superior force after his commanding officer had been shot down during a sudden attack and rescued that officer and a comrade from the enemy.

Forsyth was an unusual enlisted man in that he was from a wealthy family and was somewhat a man of means, an unusual circumstance for an enlisted man, let alone a career enlisted man.  He left the service in 1891, the same year he finally received his Congressional Medal of Honor, at which time he had served in the Army for 25 years.  The retirement period for an Army pension at this time was 30 years, go he left earlier than the norm for a full retirement, and I suspect that it may have been a medical retirement, which would also have resulted in a pension.  He held the rank of First Sergeant at the time.  He died in 1908 at age 65.

1889  Scarlet fever caused the public school in Rawlins to be closed.  Courtesy of the Wyoming History Calendar.

1909  Governor B. B. Brooks declared the day to be one of Thanksgiving and Praise.

1916   The Wyoming Tribune for November 25, 1916: Accord reached with Mexico?

An accord was signed with Mexico. . . but that might not quite mean what it seems. . . .
The Cheyenne Leader for November 25, 1916: Peace breaking out with Mexico?

Big news indeed.  The joint commission with Mexico had reached an agreement which should soon see U.S. troops withdrawn from Mexico.

But, before we assume too much, look for the followup post on this topic.
Inez Milholland Boissevain, Suffragist, lawyer, dies on this day in 1916
Inez Milholland Boissevain, a truly remarkable personality, died on this day in 1916.  She had campaigned in Cheyenne during the election only shortly before.

Milholland was thirty years old at the time of her death.  She was born into a wealthy family in which her father had been involved in many progressive causes of the era.  She graduated from Vassar in 1909 with the intent to pursue a career in law, which she did do. Receiving rejections from many of the schools she applied to, she graduated from New York University School of Law in 1912.  She was admitted to the bar in 1912 and went to work for Osborne, Lamb, and Garvan where she handled criminal and divorce cases.

She was involved in many of the causes of the era, including obtaining the vote for women and the cause of African Americans.  A pacifist, she traveled to Italy early in World War One to report on the war but was not allowed to travel to the front.

She married Eugen Jan Boissevain in 1913, after knowing him for only a month. The marriage cost her citizenship as Boissevain was Dutch and the law at the time attributed a woman's citizenship to her spouse.  She nonetheless campaigned for the right of women to vote in the United States. She fell ill on a speaking tour in 1916 and died on this day of pernicious anemia.

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