Saturday, July 23, 2016

July 23, 2016, Wyoming to Montana, Fort Phil Kearny Historic Site and the Little Bighorn Battlefield

July 23, 2016, Wyoming to Montana, Fort Phil Kearny Historic Site and the Little Bighorn Battlefield in Montana. Today was much nicer temperature wise, it started out at 77 degrees and didn't get into the 90s until we got into late afternoon. We has clear blue sky's and traveled across the norther part of Wyoming. Nothing much here, just grass and rolling hills and an occasional tree.

This area of the west is where a lot of the wars between the Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians and the US Army took place. Today we visit Fort Phil Kearny State Historic Site in Wyoming at exit 44 along I-90, and along the Bozeman Trail. Fort Phil Kearny, 1866-1868, was set up to provide protection for travelers on the trail and to prevent intertribal warfare between native Americans in the area. Almost immediately they were defending themselves from constant Indian attack. On December 21, 1866 a force of 81 men under the command of Captain William Fetterman were lured out of the fort, attacked and killed. Only the battle of the Little Big Horn was worse.  This was also the site of the Wagon Box Fight.

The partially reconstructed fort is located in a beautiful spot and it is an interesting exhibit. I had never heard of these battles so it was very interested to learn about them. They also have a pretty good center. The location is in the middle of nowhere and from reading the material they give you life sounded pretty miserable. Something I didn't know is that 40% of the makeup of the soldiers that were here and with Custer were immigrants from Europe. To think these guys came all the way from Europe in the 1860s and ended up here in the middle of Wyoming is kind of amazing.

Fort Phil Kearny in Banner Wyoming
Bruce standing in the gate for the fort. This is a stockade type fort.
The parade ground inside the fort. The fort was burned to the ground in 1868

After leaving the fort we continued up I-90 a few miles to Montana and the Little Bighorn Battlefield. This is where Lt Col. George Armstrong Custer had one of the most famous battles in US history with his Last Stand in June of 1876.  The site is a National Monument and includes the battle sites, the graveyard and also a graveyard for many of other soldiers who died in other western battles. They have all been moved here.

The site has the Little Bighorn battle field plus the Reno-Benteen Battlefield. There were actually 3 Army companies involved in this battle but is was Custer's that got wiped out. This is a somber place on a hill in the middle of nowhere. Also included here is a very nice Indian Memorial. If you are into any of this history then this site. There is a large monument and then below it grave markers for where the soldiers fell. These markers are scattered over the battle site. They also include some Indian grave markers also. There is also a pretty good interpretative center.

Below the monument are grave markers for the fallen soldiers.
The memorial to the fallen soldiers
Standing inside the Indian memorial looking out.

Leaving here we drove further up I-90 to Columbus, MT for the night.