- Bozeman Trail
The Bozeman Trail was an overland route connecting the
Oregon Trailto the gold rush territory of Montana. The flow of white pioneers and settlers through territory of American Indians provoked their resentment and attacks. The U.S. Army undertook several military campaigns against the Indians. The trail was so important for its association with US frontier history and conflict with American Indians that it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
1863 John Bozemanand John Jacobs scouted out a direct route from Virginia City, Montanato central Wyomingto connect with the Oregon Trail. It included trails which American Indians had long traveled through the Powder River country. This route was more direct and better watered than any previous trail into Montana. They also managed to improve the route so that was wide enough for wagons. The only serious drawback was that it passed directly through American Indian territory occupied by the Shoshone, Arapaho, and Lakotanations.
First travelers and Indian campaigns
Bozeman, among others, led the first group of about 2,000 settlers up the trail in
1864. American Indian raids on white settlers grew dramatically from 1864to 1866. This prompted the U.S. government to direct the Army to carry out several military campaigns against the Shoshone. Patrick Edward Connorled several of the earliest campaigns. He defeated the Shoshone at the Battle of Bear River. During the Powder River Expeditionof 1865, Connor defeated the Arapaho at the Battle of the Tongue River.
Post-Civil War travel
1866, with the close of the American Civil War, additional settlers traveled up the trail, mostly in search of gold. The U.S Army called a council at Fort Laramiewith the Indians, which Lakotaleader Red Cloudattended. The purpose of the meeting was to arrange a right-of-way with the Lakota for use of the trail. As negotiations continued, Red Cloudwas outraged when he discovered that a regiment of U.S. infantry was using the route without permission from the Lakota nation. Red Cloud's Warbegan.
The Army established
Fort Reno, Fort Phil Kearnyand Fort C. F. Smithalong the route, but Indian raids along the trail and around the forts continued. When the Lakota annihilated a detachment under William J. Fettermanat the Fetterman Fight the same year near Fort Phil Kearny, civilian travel along the trail ceased. On August 1, 1867 and August 2, 1867, large parties of Lakota were stymied in an apparent co-ordinated attempt to overrun Fort C. F. Smithand Fort Phil Kearny. In the Hayfield Fightand Wagon Box Fight, their attacks on outlying parties failed .
Later, the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie gave the Lakota control of the
Powder River Country. For a time this treaty shut down travel by white settlers on the Bozeman Trail. President Ulysses S. Grantordered the forts along the trail abandoned. Red Cloud's Warcould thus be said to be the only Indian war in which Native Americans achieved their goals (if only for a brief time) with a treaty settlement essentially on their terms. By 1876, however, following the Black Hills War, the Army reopened the trail. The Srmy continued to use the trail during later military campaigns and built a telegraphline along it.
Today, a modern
highwayroute consisting of Interstate 25runs from Douglas, Wyomingto Sheridan, Wyoming. Interstate 90from Sheridan, Wyoming to Three Forks, Montana(30 miles west of Bozeman, Montana) and U.S. Route 287from Three Forks to Virginia City, Montanacover roughly the same general route as the historic Bozeman Trail.
Powder River Expeditions
Red Cloud's War
* [http://philkearny.vcn.com/bozemantrailhistory.htm "Bozeman Trail History"] , Fort Phil Kearny State Historic Site
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=Jc8BAAAAMAAJ Grace Raymond Hebard, et al., "The Bozeman Trail: Historical Accounts of the Blazing of the Overland Routes, Volume II"]
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