Imagine you’re living on the frontier in a fort with your husband who is a lieutenant in the army. There isn’t a week that has gone by where at least one man from your fort hasn’t been killed by the Sioux and Cheyenne. It’s still fresh in your mind that just recently, a friendly photographer from the National Geographic Society was found scalped and dismembered not far outside the fort walls.
One morning, your husband along with 80 men, fail to return from their most recent patrolling excursion. You wait with anticipation as a tug of war plays on in your mind between positive and negative thoughts. Finally, sometime in the evening, a party of wagons carrying what looks like wood approaches the gates. They’ve returned, what a relief! As eyes adjust in the darkness, you hear the woman closest to the gate scream a noise that cuts like a knife in the cold cruel night with a weight that brings you to your knees and you realize its not wood those wagons are carrying.
It was 151 years ago today that the U.S. Army had its greatest military defeat at the hands of Red Cloud and the Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho Nations, until the Battle of the Little Bighorn years later. On this day, Mrs Frances Grummond, among many others became widows, as 81 men of the US 18th Infantry died in what became known as the Fetterman Massacre. The fort was abandoned not long after and gave Red Cloud a strategic victory, that closed the road west for almost a decade and was the only time the US government would concede to defeat at the hands of the Indians.
I spent my afternoon here today on the way up to Sheridan, Wyoming. After reading Frances Carrington’s journal (formerly Grummond) I was able to clearly visualize life here. It made for an interesting day to say the least. NP