Hayfield & Wagon Box fights August 1, 1867.

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The Ringo Kid
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Hayfield & Wagon Box fights August 1, 1867.

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Post by The Ringo Kid » Wed Aug 02, 2017 9:26 pm

The Hayfield fight took place near Fort C.F. Smith on the Bozeman Train (near the Little Big Horm) and the Wagon Box fight took place near Fort Phil Kearny - also on the Bozeman Trail. The Indians over-all-were led by Chief Red Cloud whom led the Sioux and Northern Cheyenne warriors.

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Fought on August 1, 1867, three miles from Fort C.F. Smith, Montana, Territory, the battle pitted a determined stand of 31 soldiers and civilians against more than 700 Sioux and Cheyenne warriors. Fortified behind a barrier of a low log corral, the combined soldier/civilian force withstood six hours of attacks before relief finally arrived to disperse the warriors. Known as the Hayfield Fight, the site is located about three miles from Fort C.F. Smith, Montana. The site is on private land, marked by a monument and plaque.
The following is from the book, Indian Wars, by Bill Yenne.
On August 1, about eight hundred warriors attacked hay-cutters near Fort C.F. Smith. Lieutenant Sigismund Sternberg, heading a twenty-man 27th Infantry Regiment guard detail organized a defense and returned fire with their new breech-loading Springfields. The Lakota started a grassfire, but it blew back away from the troopers' defensive position. Private Charles Bradley was sent for help, and he managed to get through to the fort and return with a howitzer-equipped relief column. The Lakota withdrew, and the Hayfield Fight ended with Lieutenant Sternberg and one other soldier killed in action.
The following version is from the book, Encyclopedia of Indian Wars, by Gregory F. Michno:
1 August 1867,Yellowtail, Montana: After the annual Sun Dance in 1867, many bands of Lakotas and Cheyennes decided to attack the posts on the hated Bozeman Trail. About two and a half miles northeast of Fort C.F. Smith, on the Bighorn River, a willow-and-log stockade protected the employees of A.C. Leighton, contracted to cut hay for the fort.
On the morning of 1 August, 20 enlisted men of various companies of the 27th Infantry, under Lt. Sigismund Sternberg, guarded 6 civilians cutting hay. At about 11 a.m., more than 800 warriors descended upon the stockade. After a failed decoy, the Indians charged in and were surprised by the amount of fire the soldiers could muster with their new Springfield-Allin Breech-loaders. Falling back, the warriors set fire to the hay upwind. The flames were within 20 feet of the stockade when a providential change in wind direction moved the blaze away.
The Indians attacked again. Lt. Sternberg admonished his command, "Stand up, men, and fight like soldiers!" They were his last words, for just then he caught a bullet in the head. Sgt. James Norton took command, but he too was hit. Then Pvt. Thomas Navin of F Company was killed. By default, civilian Al Colvin took over. Colvin was a whirlwind, firing his 16-shot Henry rifle incessantly from all around the perimeter.
Pvt. Charles Bradley of Company E volunteered to ride to Fort Smith for help. Though knocked off his horse by a blow from a pursuing warrior, Bradley reached the post. Lt. Col. Luther P. Bradley was slow in responding; it was 4 p.m. before he sent out Capt. Thomas B. Burrowes with Company G and a howitzer, and shortly afterward, Lt. Reuben N. Fenton with Company H. The relief force got to the hay stockade at sundown. By then the Indians had given up the attack. Perhaps 450 Indians still hovered on the bluffs, and Burrowes drove them off. In the gathering night, the exhausted defenders rode back to Fort Smith.
Sternberg and Navin were killed, and 3 other soldiers were wounded, as was 1 civilian. About 8 warriors were killed and 30 wounded.

Fort C.F.Smith:
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Fort C.F. Smith History
Three forts were established along the central stretch of the Bozeman Trail to guard about 700 miles of the trail. Fort C.F. Smith (1) was one of the most remote of these forts and came under frequent attack. In the severe Montana winters the fort was cut off for months at a time.
The fort itself was about 125 yards square, two sides being built of bluff adobe and the other two of logs. It was located on the east side of the river on an elevated plateau, 300 yards from the River Bank. The Bozeman Trail crossed the Bighorn River by ferry within 800 yards of the fort.
On 21 Dec 1866 Capt. W. J. Fetterman, while going to the relief of a wood train near Fort Phil Kearny, was himself cut off and his entire force of 81 men and officers slaughtered. After the Fetterman Massacre more troops were sent to Fort C.F. Smith (1) under the command of Gen. John E. Smith and the fort was strengthened.
Chief Red Cloud redoubled his efforts in the spring of 1867 against the three northern forts and travel on the Bozeman Trail was all but cut off. For over a year the southern forts had scarcely any communication from Fort C.F. Smith (1) except from one band of Crows that reported all was well.
As a result of the military reversals and increasing pressure from the Indians under Red Cloud the U.S. Government capitulated and negotiated the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, which resulted in the abandonment of the three northern forts (Fort Reno (2), Fort Phil Kearny, and Fort C.F. Smith (1)) and the cessation of travel on the Bozeman Trail. The Sioux Indians destroyed the three forts immediately after the troops had left the country. The fort was abandoned on 29 Jun 1868 under General Order 80, 19 May 1868, Dept. of the Platte.
Chief Red Cloud: Dakota Sioux Indian tribe Chieftan.
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Wagon Box Fight:
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There is a slight discrepancy of where the wagons were actually circled for the fight. Both sites are at the designated Historic Site and only a few feet from each other.
The Wagon Box Fight took place on August 2, 1867 when 28 Soldiers from the US Army 27th Infantry Company C and 4 civilians circled supply wagons and held off 1,000 to 1,500 Indian attackers. The battle lasted about six hours before the Indians withdrew after an Army relief column with a howitzer opened fire. The US Army had new breech loading rifles and the amount of firepower they were able to lay down perhaps surprised the Indians. Chief Red Cloud is usually credited with leading the Indian forces.
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Wagon Box Fight was an engagement on August 2, 1867, in the vicinity of Fort Phil Kearny, Wyoming, during Red Cloud's War. A party of 26 U.S. Army soldiers and 6 civilians were attacked by several hundred Lakota Sioux warriors. Although outnumbered, the soldiers were armed with newly supplied breech-loading Springfield Model 1866 rifles and Lever Action Henry rifles, and had a defensive wall of wagon boxes to protect them. They held off the attackers for hours with few casualties, although they lost a large number of horses and mules driven off by the raiders.
This was the last major engagement of the war, although Lakota and allied forces continued to raid European-American parties along the Bozeman Trail. The area has been designated as a Wyoming State Historic Site and is marked by a memorial and an historic plaque.

In July 1867, after their annual sun dance at camps on the Tongue and Rosebud rivers, Oglala Lakota warriors under Red Cloud, other bands of Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and a few Arapaho resolved to attack the soldiers at nearby Fort C.F. Smith and Fort Phil Kearny. These would be the first major military actions of 1867 against government forces in the area, following up the Native American successes in 1866, including the Fetterman Fight. Unable to agree where to attack first, the Sioux and Cheyenne force - variously estimated at between 300 and 1,000 men - split into two large bodies, moving against Fort C.F. Smith, and a similar number, mostly Sioux and possibly including Red Cloud, headed toward Fort Phil Kearny.


In addition to guarding emigrants on the Bozeman Trail, major tasks occupying the 350 soldiers and 100 civilians at Fort Phil Kearny included gathering wood and timber from a pine forest about five miles from the Fort and cutting hay for livestock in prairie areas. These jobs were performed by civilian contractors, usually armed with Spencer repeating rifles and accompanied and guarded by squads of soldiers. The hay cutters and wood gatherers had been a favorite target of the local Indian warriors since Fort Kearny was established one year earlier. The Indians had conducted dozens of small raids, killing several dozen soldiers and civilians, and driving off hundreds of head of livestock for their own use.


The soldiers were on the defensive, suffering a lack of horses and trained cavalrymen, and limited by their old weapons, muzzle-loading Springfield Model 1861 muskets. But, the soldiers had recently been issued breech-loading rifles that could fire about three times faster than muzzle-loaders and could be more easily re-loaded from a prone position.[5]
The native population were poorly armed, probably possessing only about 200 firearms and fewer than two bullets per gun.[6] Bows and arrows were their basic weapon. While the Indians used these effectively at short range in a fight against a mobile opponent, whether on horseback or on foot, they were ineffective weapons against a well entrenched or fortified enemy.


To protect against raids near the pine forest, the civilian contractors had constructed a corral. It consisted of 14 wooden bodies of wagons, which were removed from the chassis and placed on the ground in an oval 60-70 feet (20 mts) long and 25-30 feet (8-9 mts) wide. Both soldiers and civilians in the wood-cutting details lived in tents outside the corral of wagon boxes but could retreat to it for defense. On July 31, Captain James Powell and his command of 51 troops departed the walls of Fort Kearny on a 30-day assignment to guard the wood cutters. Until then, the summer had been quiet, with few hostile encounters with the local Native Americans.

The fight:


Wagon Box Fight site, near Fort Phil Kearney, WY
On the morning of August 2, Captain Powell's force was divided. Fourteen soldiers were detailed to escort the wood train to and from the fort; 13 soldiers guarded the wood-cutting camp, about one mile from the wagon box corral. The Indian plan of attack on the woodcutters and soldiers was tried-and-true, similar to the plan used the previous year to kill Fetterman's force, a total of 81 lost. A small group of Indians would entice the soldiers to chase them, leading the men into an ambush by a larger hidden force. Crazy Horse was among the members of the decoy team.


The plan broke down when a number of fighters attacked an outlying camp of four woodcutters and four soldiers, killing three of the soldiers. The other soldier and the woodcutters escaped and warned the soldiers near the corral. The pursuing force halted at the woodcutter's camp to loot and seize the large number of horses and mules there, which gave the soldiers taking refuge in the corral time to prepare for the attack. There were 26 soldiers and six civilians in the corral.


Stone memorial to Wagon Box Fight site, near Fort Phil Kearney, WY
The first assault on the wagon box corral came from mounted warriors from the southwest, but the raiders encountered heavy fire from the soldiers using the new breech-loaders. The attackers withdrew, regrouped, and launched several further attacks on foot. They killed Powell's second-in-command, Lt. Jenness, and two soldiers. The battle continued from about 7:30 a.m. until 1:30 pm. The defenders had plenty of ammunition, and were well-defended from arrows behind the thick sides of the wagon boxes.[9]
The garrison at Fort Kearny learned of the fight from its observation station on Pilot Hill. About 11:30 a.m., Major Benjamin Smith led 103 soldiers out of the fort to the wood camp to relieve the soldiers in the wagon boxes. Smith took with him 10 wagons, driven by armed civilians, and a mountain howitzer. He proceeded carefully and, when he neared the wagon box corral, began firing his cannon at long range. The attackers were forced to withdraw. Smith advanced without opposition to the corral, collected the soldiers, and returned quickly to Fort Kearny. Additional civilian survivors, who had hidden in the woods during the battle, made it back to the fort that night.

Aftermath:
The Wagon Box Fight is prominent in the folklore and literature of the Old West as an example of a small group of well-equipped professionals holding off a much larger but poorly equipped force. The new, faster-shooting rifles are cited as the principal reason for their success.
Estimates of casualties among the Sioux and Cheyenne warriors range from "an unlikely low of two to an absurd fifteen hundred." Captain Powell estimated that his men killed 60, a "wildly exaggerated" estimate in the opinion of historian Keenan.


Wyoming historical marker at Wagon Box site
The Wagon Box Fight was the last major engagement of Red Cloud's War. Possibly the results of this battle, and the similar Hayfield Fight near Fort C.F. Smith a day earlier, discouraged the native warriors from attempting additional large-scale attacks against government forces. "This was the last large charge Crazy Horse ever led against whites occupying a strong defensive position. He had learned that Indians with bows and arrows could not overwhelm whites armed with breech-loaders inside a fortification."[12] For the remainder of 1867, the Lakota and their allies concentrated on small-scale, hit-and-run raids against parties along the Bozeman Trail.
Wyoming has designated the area as a state historic site; a large plaque explains the details of the fight.

Fort Phil Kearny:
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The Pawnee Scouts village attached to the fort:
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"Where Liberty Dwells, Is My Country" Ben Franklin.


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Re: Hayfield & Wagon Box fights August 1, 1867.

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Post by Sniper1946 » Thu Aug 03, 2017 10:12 am

Native American Indian Facts
Chief Red Cloud Facts

Introduction
Chief Red Cloud was a Native American war leader who became an important part of history for his role in fiercely defending his peoples land against the U.S. government. As leader of the Lakota Indians in the 1860s, a time when the United States was attempting to seize Indian territory, he is best known for his long standing opposition to a proposed road through Indian territory. The two year battle with the U.S. government where Chief Red Cloud fought to protect Indian land in Montana and Wyoming became known as Red Clouds War. The below facts about the life of Chief Red Cloud focus on what made him such an interesting leader and why he became such an important historical figure.
Read more: http://native-american-indian-facts.com ... acts.shtml


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A wagon box and a rock monument have been placed at the site of the Wagon Box Fight that took place in 1866. The site is near the town of Story, Wyoming.
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Re: Hayfield & Wagon Box fights August 1, 1867.

#3

Post by The Ringo Kid » Sat Aug 05, 2017 7:35 pm

Chief Red Cloud was one of the best indian chiefs ever. He certainly equalled Sitting Bull, Cochise, Satanta and Geronimo etc.
"Where Liberty Dwells, Is My Country" Ben Franklin.


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