Massacre at Ft. Phil. Kearny

Ft. Phil. Kearny Massacre
New York Times
12/28/1866 Vol. XVI No. 4761 pg. 1
Kansas State Historical Society




Fort Laramie, Thursday, Dec. 27.

A messenger, just in, reports the formation of a grand coalition of twelve tribes of Indians for common cause against the whites in the Territories of Dakota and Montana. The number of warriors is estimated at 11,000, but this must be received cum grano salis.

The names of the killed in the massacre, reported yesterday, will be forwarded as soon as they can be received.

Fort Laramie, Thursday, Dec. 27.

The recent massacre of United States troops by Indians did not occur near the old Fort Kearny, but in the vicinity of Fort Philip Kearny, Dakota Territory. The latter is situated in the forks of the two piney creeks in the centre of the mountain district of the Military Department of the Platte, and in the heart of the region occupied by the hostile tribes, the Sioux and the Cheyennes. Its defence consisted of a well made stockade of timber, pierced with loopholes for musketry. At two of the corners were blockhouses of timber logs eighteen inches in diameter.

It is thought that the post was captured by treachery, as the force there should have been able to stand a siege, and it seems hardly possible that it could have been captured by Indian assault.

On the other hand, the savages have so constantly manifested their hostility that it is difficult to see how the troops could have been beguiled into any relaxation of vigilance. We hope to have more particulars soon; but there is no reason to doubt the full extent of the calamity, as reported yesterday.

The Indian Troubles at Fort Philip Kearny—Slaughter of United States Troops—Eighty-Seven Killed

Fort Laramie, Thursday, Dec. 27.

The Indians are very troublesome, and the troops at Fort Philip Kearny have been almost in a state of siege for weeks past. On the 22nd [sic] a number of Indians came near the post, and Brevet Lt. Col. W.J. FELTMAN [sic], Capt. J.H. BROWN [sic], and Lieut. GLUMMOND [sic], all of the Eighteenth Infantry, gathered hastily 39 men of Company C, Second Cavalry, and 45 men of the Eighteenth Infantry, and went after the Indians. The troops were gradually drawn on until at a point four miles from the fort, when they were surrounded and slaughtered. Not a man escaped to tell the story of disaster. The bodies were stripped of every article of clothing, scalped and mutilated. Thirty bodies were found in a space not larger than a good sized room. Nearly all the bodies were recovered and buried in the fort.

Description of Fort Philip Kearny, the Scene of the Late Massacre

From the Army and Navy Journal, Nov. 24.

This new post, in the centre of the Mountain District, Department of the Platte, and also in the heart of the chief hunting ground of the hostile Sioux and Cheyennes, being also expressive of the first substantial occupation of the new short route to Montana, deserves notice. The expedition which was sent to establish it left Fort Kearny May 19, under command of Col. H.B. Carrington, Eighteenth United States Infantry. Fort Reno was reinforced, additional defences erected, and two companies were advanced to the Big Horn River, that post receiving the name of Fort C.F. Smith. Fort Philip Kearny has been erected by Col. Carrington, under his personal planning and daily supervision. It is in the forks of the Piney Creeks, on a natural plateau 800 by 600 feet, with a natural slope or glacis on all sides.

The stockade is of pine, hewn to a touching surface, pointed, loop-holed, and after the general plan of Mahan. At two corners are block-houses of 18 inch pine logs. The parade-ground is 400 feet square, and was surveyed and laid out before the turf was cut by any wagon-track. Walks 12 feet wide cross the parade, bending around a circle of 15 feet radius, wher a flag-staff of 110 feet displays the national colors. A graded street of 20 feet borders the parade. The additional 200 by 600 feet is a Quartermaster's yard, with warehouses and shops.

East of the fort, and taking in Little Piney, is a corral for stock, hay, wood, &c., with palisade 10 feet high, and quarters for teamsters, citizen employees, &c. Twelve double cabins, a blacksmith and wagon shop, and a portion of the stabling for mules, have been completed.

Two Quartermaster and Commissary buildings, 84 by 25 feet, with ten-foot ceiling, and similar buildings, in point of size, for four companies of infantry, have been completed and occupied. Guard house and band quarters, 60 by 25 feet, are also in use. The hospital, 84 by 25 feet, with high ceiling, is, before this, ready for occupation.

Four hundred and fifty tons of hay have been cut; two steam saw-mills are in operation; over twelve thousand pine logs have been cut, hauled and used, and every part of the work has been done in the face of Indians who have repeatedly attacked hay and timber parties, and have made dashes at the pickets within half a mile of the post.

The work has never stopped except for the Sabbath; and it is not within the power of all the Indians of the northwest to assail the place.

The magazine, on the parade, is 16 by 16 feet, eight feet in the clear, of fourteen inches thickness of timber, water-proof, and thoroughly ventilated, having double doors and turf glacis sloping from the eaves.

The flag-staff is octagonal for eight feet, of eighteen inches diameter, painted black. The next twelve feet has sixteen faces dying out to a perfect round, returning to square at the crosstrees.

The gates are twelve feet wide, of heavy plank, with a small wicket in the right valve, through which one man only can pass, stooping. All have locks, and the wickets are closed at retreat.

Coal is found at the east gate of the wall, and pine, hemlock and spruce are without limit.

We have been thus particular about this new fort, so rapidly approaching completion, as a prominent army officer, who recently made it an official visit, pronounced the stockade the best he had met, except one built by the Hudson Bay Fur Company. The command reached the site of the fort July 15, so that all has been done in three months. So constant have been Indian trespasses that the men alternated guard duty, and had but every other night for sleep; this not unfrequently disturbed by night firing upon the pickets.

The main work of the expedition has been successfully accomplished, and the permanent occupation of the route is a fixed fact. Supplies for a year are in store, and the ground-work is assured for a secure and rapid emigration to this new territory.