THE WAGON BOX FIGHT

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Photo courtesy of Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum

     A remarkable battle in the early days in Wyoming.  One of the most unusual battles in the history of the west was fought August 2, 1867 about five miles west of Fort Phil Kearny.  Here an estimated 1,000 Indians under Chief Red Cloud, attacked a handful of soldiers and civilians and suffered a defeat.

     In the summer of 1867, Indian forces, attempting to repeat the Fetterman victory, attacked woodcutters and soldiers camped about five miles from the Fort.  During initial stages of the battle, twenty-six soldiers and six civilians took cover inside an oval of wagon boxes used as a stock corral.  Armed with new rapid-fire breech loading rifles the soldiers and civilians commanded by Captain James Powell held off the massed warriors until a relief force arrived from the fort.  Three men were killed and two wounded inside of the corral, while Indian casualties were estimated at from five to sixty or more killed and five to one-hundred-and-twenty more wounded.

NOTE: Jerry Keenan's book, The Wagon Box Fight, is available in an expanded version, from the Fort Phil Kearny Sales Desk. It now includes new materials from the archaeological sweeps at the site several years ago, and additional material from the Pioneer Museum in Douglas. It is also the best and most complete account of the fight available anywhere. The book is available for $14.95 plus $3.00 shipping and handling from Fort Phil Kearny, 528 Wagon Box Road, Banner, WY 82832.

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