The Bozeman Trail: A Rush to Montana’s Gold

The Bozeman Trail: A Rush to Montana’s Gold

(reverent music)
– [Narrator] It was
a road less traveled,
an offshoot of the more
heavily used Oregon Trial.
A route that stretched from
near present-day Casper, Wyoming
past the eastern flank
of the Big Horn Mountain,
then westward to the
Yellowstone River
and on to the gold fields
of Montana Territory.
– The Bozeman trail started
in the midst of the Civil War,
(muskets firing)
and ended in 1868,
just one year before
the completion of the
Transcontinental Railroad.
– [Narrator] It was the
last great gold-rush trails,
a shortcut to dreams
of fame and fortune.
– The allure of the
most recent gold strike,
and being there
at the beginning,
hopefully being able
to find a good claim,
was a strong incentive for
these people to move west,
and to move relatively quickly.
– [Katie] You always
will have entrepreneurs
and people interested
in figuring out ways
to get there faster.
And, I think gold
rushes in themselves
have a nature of speed.
– [Narrator] It was a landscape
traversed by a cast
of characters that
are Western legend.
– Some of the most
diverse peoples
of our Western
history were here,
or came through or lived here.
– [Narrator] It was a
terrain rich in grassland,
and teeming with wildlife.
Tribal land.
– So this was prime, prime
habitat for game, for living,
and it was worth fighting
for and dying for.
– The buffalo was
our whole livelihood.
I mean, that was our
home, our clothes,
our shields.
– [Narrator] These
competing aspirations,
traditions, and expectations
would lead to a
clash of cultures.
– The perspective of the
Lakota is this is our home,
and we want to protect it,
and the perspective of the
people on the Bozeman Trail
are we just want to get
to the gold fields,
and then, the attitude of
the federal government,
well, maybe we need to
protect these people.
– [Narrator] As a result,
military forts were built,
treaties were broken.
(dramatic music)
– I have said
three or four times
that the document that
you have before you
is not the document
that I agreed to.
I did not agree to this treaty.
– [Narrator] And war erupted.
– [Sonny] Here, at the
beginning of wars here,
and the beginning of the
real heavy bloodshed.
– [John] They had no idea
there were 1,500 Indians
waiting in a well-staged ambush.
– There’s multiple
yearlong investigations
from the army and from Congress,
and from the Office
of Indian Affairs
trying to figure
out what happened.
– [Narrator] It was the
beginning, for some,
of a bright new future.
And for others, the end of
a traditional way of life.
This road less traveled,
this rush to the gold
fields of Montana,
and the Indian
wars that followed,
is the story of
the Bozeman trail.
Production of “The Bozeman
Trail: A Rush to Montana’s Gold”
Was made possible in part by
The Big Sky Film Grant.
A Grant from Humanities
Montana, an affiliate of
The National Endowment
for the Humanities.
And funding from the Wyoming
Humanities Council
Helping Wyoming take a closer
look at life through the
This project was also made
possible with support of
The Gilhousen Family Foundation.
The Rocky Mountain Power
Foundation, a division of
And grants from the Wyoming
Cultural Trust Fund.
A program of the department of
State Parks and Cultural
The Greater Montana Foundation,
Encouraging communication on
issues, trends and values
of importance to Montanans.
And, the Wyoming Community
Connecting people who care with
causes that matter,
to build a better Wyoming.
On a warm July day in 1862,
(gentle music)
John White leads a ragtag
group of Colorado prospectors
up a creek teeming
with grasshoppers
in the vast Idaho territory.
The Lewis and Clark expedition
had named the
waterway Willard Creek
more than 50 years earlier.
Cursing the hoards of insects,
(insects buzzing)
they rename it
Grasshopper Creek.
The curses soon
turned to jubilation,
washing the creek bed
gravels in their tin pans
they immediately
see color, pay dirt.
News of the strike and
outrageous rumors traveled fast.
People said you could
pull up some sagebrush,
shake out the roots,
and collect a pan’s
worth of gold.
By fall, more than
400 fortune seekers
descend on the place
now called Bannack.
Among them is a tall,
26 year-old Georgian
named John Bozeman.
John Marion Bozeman
had left his wife
and three small children
in Pickens County, Georgia
two years earlier.
Unable to strike it rich at
the Pikes Peak gold rush,
he journeyed further west.
– It was not uncommon
for the head of a family
to leave the family
and go west to seek opportunity
with the goal of
ultimately relocating,
either coming back with wealth
to the family back east,
or having the whole family
eventually relocate.
– [Narrator] But Bozeman would
never see his family again.
Bannack quickly becomes
(ominous music)
the epitome of a wild
west mining boomtown,
a volatile mix of
rough, dirty work,
free-flowing liquor, guns,
gambling, and lawlessness.
– [Emily] I don’t
know how many deaths
have occurred this winter,
but that there have
not been twice as many
is entirely owing to the fact
that drunken men
do not shoot well.
Emily Meredith.
(guns firing)
– [Narrator] By January 1863,
bitter temperatures
and 30 inches of snow
blanket the fledgling
gold fields,
and all mining comes
to a standstill.
As John Bozeman huddles
close to the fire,
he lays out an idea for a
shortcut to the gold fields.
A bulky mountain man
sitting across from him
listens intently.
(mellow guitar music)
Bozeman envisions a new route
that will help
gold-seeking emigrants
reach the mines faster
than by taking the
longer Oregon trail,
than northward past Fort Hall.
Bozeman believes emigrants
will pay hard cash
to be lead up this golden trail.
Certainly, it has
to be more lucrative
than their unproductive claims
and the numbing drudgery
of placer mining.
John Jacobs slowly nods
his head in agreement.
They will start out
as soon as the snows begin
to diminish in the spring.
1,500 miles away,
at a Union Army prisoner-of-war
camp in Indiana,
Henry Beebee Carrington stacks
the paperwork at this desk.
As the Civil War rages on
the army colonel
calculates his next move
up the military hierarchy
once this awful carnage is over.
Opportunities look
ripe for advancement
in the Western frontier.
In a teepee on the
Western plains,
a Lakota warrior bites
off a piece of pemmican
and slowly chews,
deep in thought.
Red Cloud worries about
more white skinned people
rolling across the land again
when the spring
grasses begin to grow.
He remembers the damage that
they had done in previous years
and prays the Great Spirit
will keep out the invaders,
heal the land,
and favor his people
with abundant buffalo.
In time the plans,
thoughts and prayers
of these three
men will intersect
and the consequences
of their actions
will have surprising outcomes.
Over the next five years
one of these men will
fall into disgrace,
another will reign triumphant,
the third will be dead.
And this part of the American
West will change forever.
(gentle music)
In the spring of 1863,
as John Bozeman and
John Jacobs set out east
on their journey to discover a
new route to the gold fields,
another trail worn
group of prospectors
head west towards Bannack.
Among them are Bill
Fairweather and Henry Edgar.
They have been traveling
for nearly three months.
And after many mishaps and no
luck in their search for gold
just want to get back to
some form of civilization.
Camping alongside a
small alder-choked stream
about 60 miles east of Bannack,
Bill Fairweather shovels
some dirt into Edgar’s pan
and says, now go wash that pan
and see if you can get enough
to buy some tobacco
when we get to town.
Edgar’s eyes widen as he looks
at the bottom of his pan.
The contents shimmer back
at him as in a dream.
Returning to Bannack
a few days later
the group try their best to
keep their discovery secret,
but their gold doesn’t look
like Grasshopper Creek gold.
After filing their claims,
huge numbers of miners
follow them back to their site.
Soon a string of nine mining
camps erupt along Alder Gulch.
It becomes known as 14-Mile City
with Virginia City
being the largest.
– We’re at Discovery Monument.
This is the sport,
the exact spot
where Fairweather discovered
gold May 26, 1863.
This find of gold at Alder Gulch
has been claimed by some to be
the richest that was
ever found in the world.
Regarding the size
and value of the gold
found in such a small space.
– [Narrator] As the find
at Alder Gulch unfolded
Bozeman and Jacobs were
struggling to find a pathway.
– [Susan] Indians
approached them,
took most of their supplies,
took their horses,
left them with
nothing basically.
Jacobs and Bozeman
kept going south
and finally made it
to the Platte road.
– [Narrator] They stumbled
into Deer Creek Station
at the end of May,
half-starved and exhausted.
Deer Creek Station, at
present day Glenrock, Wyoming,
consisted of a trading post,
a detachment of cavalry
and a telegraph station.
Ironically, if Bozeman had
never left Bannack that spring,
he could have been
among the first
to strike it rich
at Alder Gulch.
Luck seemed to elude
him time and time again.
(wagons rattling)
After recuperating,
Bozeman and Jacobs
by mid-June of 1863
were recruiting wagons
along the Oregon Trail,
persuading them to take
this new shorter route
to the gold fields,
claiming it would shave
hundreds of miles off the trip.
– [Sam] Some of us are thinking
of taking this new
cut-off to Bannack City.
It is a new route,
a part of which has never
been traveled over in wagons.
But it is from 300 to 500 miles
nearer than any other route.
It is, however, attended
with some disadvantages
in the opening of
the road, etcetera.
It is also more
or less dangerous
being through the heart
of the Indian Country.
At least a month or
six weeks of travel
saved by going through.
Sam Word.
– [Narrator] In early
July Bozeman and Jacobs
put together a wagon train
consisting of about 46
wagons and 90 people.
It left for the gold
fields on July 6th, 1863.
By July 20th, the group had
traveled about 140 miles
to Rock Creek, just north of
present day Buffalo, Wyoming.
– This is Rock Creek.
We believe it’s the Rock Creek
Crossing of the Bozeman Trail
and it is marked that way.
John Bozeman’s
first trip in 1863
stopped here and gathered
here with his wagon train.
A large group of Native
American came to him and said
you need to stop here.
– [Sam] They come, they said,
to warn us not to proceed
further through their country,
that they were combined
to prevent a road being
opened through here,
that if we went on we
would be destroyed,
that they would be our enemies,
but if we turned back
they would not disturb us.
Sam Word.
– [Narrator] That evening
the train held a meeting
to decide what to do.
John Jacobs and the other
guides lobbied to turn back,
believing the small train
would be vulnerable.
Bozeman wanted to go forward.
In the end most of
the emigrants voted
to return to the safety
of the Oregon Trail.
But before they broke camp the
next day, there was trouble.
A grizzly bear
appeared in the brush
and some of the men
took up their guns
and went after it.
– [Sam] In the forenoon
a large grizzly bear
approached our camp,
15 to 20 went out
to give him a fight.
They wounded him.
He charged upon the nearest
of them from the bushes
and hurt two men badly.
Knocked them both down,
gashed one’s head
to the skull badly,
and tore off the underlip and
part of the jaw of one man.
Sam Word.
– [Narrator] But it
wasn’t just a bear
that provided trouble
in Bozeman’s 1863 train,
(dramatic music)
two of the emigrants
were challenging
the morality of a few of
the women in the group.
– [James] There being a
couple in the train who,
according to some
of the matrons,
should long since have
been in wedlock’s bonds.
Bozeman kindly consented
to mitigate the scandal
by tying the nuptial
knot one bright evening
at the head of the corral.
James Kirkpatrick.
– [Narrator] As the
emigrants headed back south,
their camaraderie
began to evaporate.
– [Sam] Our train is getting
more and more split up.
I look forward to divide soon.
It’s like they cannot
agree and work together.
Wished I was back on the Platte.
Sam Worth.
– [Narrator] Adding to the
discord, Bozeman and nine others
chose to continue
to the gold fields,
riding by night to avoid
detection by the Indians.
Instead of skirting the
flank of the mountains,
they traveled through
the rugged Bighorns
to further conceal themselves.
Along the way, they
lost a pack horse
and much of their provisions.
After 21 arduous
days, half-starving,
they finally reached
a mountain pass
overlooking a fertile valley.
The weary travelers were so
happy to have made it out alive
they named it Bozeman Pass
and rode triumphant into
the Gallatin Valley.
The rest of the wagon train took
a circuitous route southwest,
back to the Oregon Trail,
emerging near Red
Buttes, Wyoming.
Disgruntled and angry,
the gold seekers
continued their journey,
now even longer than if
they had avoided the cutoff.
– [Sam] It makes me
sick to think of it.
Lose a month and travel
300 miles for nothing.
Sam Worth.
– [Narrator] They finally
made it to Alder Gulch
and newly-sprouted Virginia
City on September 27,
some 50 days later.
The Bozeman Trail, it
seemed, was a failure.
The route over
which John Bozeman
attempted to lead
that first wagon train
followed ancient Indian pathways
from thousands of
years of habitation.
Rock cairns still exist today,
marking this great
north/south passage.
– The old north/south
Indian trail,
it was a trail that
actually came around
the head of the Rocky
Mountains up into Alaska,
Canada, and then came around
and got on the east side
of the Rocky Mountains.
They went through Canada,
Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico.
– Probably back as
far as 11,000 years,
you’ll find evidence of
continuous inhabitation along,
particularly the
Rocky Mountain regions
and the Big Horn regions.
– Pictograph Cave is right here.
They have documented
human occupation at that
cave 9000 years old.
This is a transportation hub.
This is the super
highway of ancient days.
– [Narrator] Eastern
Eastern Montana
and northeastern Wyoming’s
Powder River Basin
was the home and hunting
grounds of the Crow Indians
for many generations.
They were driven
out to the northwest
in a war with the
Lakota Sioux in 1857,
who along with the
Cheyenne and Arapaho,
established themselves as the
dominant powers in the region.
(poignant music)
The tribes traveled in
unison with vast bison herds.
– The buffalo was
our whole livelihood.
I mean, that was our home,
our clothes, our shields.
The buffalo was
very much revered,
but he was also hunted for food.
– [Narrator] But by the
mid 1860’s these hunting
and cultural traditions
of countless generations
were about to collide with
a powerful industrial force
representing a very different
vision and value system.
– When the Lakota come
into Powder River,
and the Northern
Cheyenne and the Arapaho,
they feel like they have fought
honorably for that land,
and that is their land.
They don’t want
any more intrusion
because they’re very aware
of what wagon trains
and the military do
when they come into a country.
– [Narrator] By the
1860’s, the Oregon Trail
had been established
for more than 20 years.
Hundreds of thousands of
emigrants had journeyed west,
wagons, oxen, mules and
horses grinding down the land.
(wagons rattling)
The lush grasses
grazed down to stubble.
Rivers and streams
fouled and trampled.
Trees and shrubs cut
and stripped for fires.
(poignant music)
The once abundant
game hunted for food
and sometimes left to
rot just for sport.
– [Mary] On several occasions
our wagons had to stop
in order for the
buffalo to pass.
Their low, rumbling tramp
and peculiar bellowing
could be heard at a distance
as the advance of
a herd approached.
This afforded sport
for the hunters
who slew them in abundance,
more than we actually needed.
No wonder the Indian
opposed any encroachment
of whites into this
great game country.
His by right of discovery,
the buffalo supplied
all his wants.
Mary Foreman Kelly.
– The Indians just saw
the natural animal population
really deteriorating,
the poisoning of water holes,
the bringing of dysentery,
typhoid, diseases.
– The perspective
of the Lakota is,
this is our home, and
we want to protect it.
And the perspective of the
people on the Bozeman Trail are,
we just want to get
to the gold fields.
And then the attitude of
the federal government,
well, maybe we need to
protect these people.
– [Narrator] This volatile
mix of competing motives
would come to a head
during the next five years
in the Powder River country.
The Bozeman Trail became the
epicenter of a cultural clash
that reverberated through
the entire region.
A flashpoint that set the
stage for direct conflict,
resulting in startling
victories and crushing defeats.
Besides the Oregon Trail,
there were a number of
routes and
transportation options
already in place to get
to the new gold fields
of what would become
Montana Territory.
But none of them were
particularly fast or cheap.
(cheerful music)
– [Susan] There were
stage coaches that ran
through Salt Lake and then
north to Virginia City,
There were steamboats from
Missouri River up to Fort Benton
and then stagecoach south
to Helena and Virginia City.
There was the Mullan
Road from the northwest,
from the Pacific.
So there were several routes
and ways to get there.
– [Narrator] But of all the
ways to get to the gold fields,
the cheapest and most
popular by far was by wagon.
Buying a wagon and outfitting
it for a family of four
cost about $600 to $800.
Wagons were loaded with food
and supplies for the trip.
Nellie Fletcher,
an 1866 traveler,
described her mobile pantry.
– [Nellie] We have
plenty of everything good
in our large wagon.
We have dried apples,
peaches, prunes and currants,
canned peaches,
canned green corn,
oysters, steamed I believe.
We have sixteen quarts
of tomato catsup.
We have five hundred-pound
sacks of flour,
bacon, ham, and codfish,
potatoes and butter,
plenty of tea, coffee, sugar
and molasses,
vinegar not left out.
We have a little keg of golden
syrup, which is very nice.
– [Narrator] Other
supplies included candles,
cooking utensils,
dishes, pots and pans,
even sheet iron cook stoves.
Tools were also a necessity,
axes, saws, spare wagon parts
and of course, firearms.
(exciting music)
– [Mary] All the men were
well armed with revolvers,
rifles in the front
seats of the wagons,
easily got at in case of use.
Plenty of provisions
in each wagon,
sufficient to last
for six months.
Water kegs and some extra jugs,
some of which I was told
contained snake bite medicine.
I made no further
inquiry or investigation.
Mary Foreman Kelly.
– [Narrator] In
the spring of 1864,
undaunted by the
previous year’s failure,
John Bozeman readied
for another attempt
along his shortcut trail.
He set out from Richard’s Bridge
near present-day
Evansville, Wyoming,
on June 18th, 1864.
But his train of about 80
wagons wasn’t the first.
Prospector Alan Hurlbut,
claiming to have knowledge
of secret gold fields,
left two days earlier
with an even larger
train of 124 wagons.
Abraham Voorhees, a
farmer from Michigan,
was one of the travelers
who believed in Hurlbut’s
golden promises.
– [Abraham] Hurlbut is a man
of considerable experience
as an explorer
and ex-prospector,
having been several
times over the mountains,
and being familiar
with the gold region.
– [Narrator] Famed
guide, trapper
and mountain man, Jim
Bridger was also in the
wagon train to the
gold fields business.
By the 1860s Bridger had been
roaming the Rocky Mountain
region for more than four years.
He was among the first white men
to see the wonders
of Yellowstone and
the Great Salt Lake.
And his tall tales
of their marvels
were laughed at by
fellow trappers.
Friendly with many tribes,
he spoke several Native
American dialects
and took Indian wives
who bore him children.
He knew every inch of
the inter-mountain West
and carried a mental
map of it in his head.
Later he drew that
map on an animal skin
that was copied onto
paper by an Army officer.
– Jim Bridger had
mapped five states
with about four degrees accuracy
with no instruments,
no training,
from what the professionals
later surveyed.
– [Narrator] Bridger
departed for the gold fields
on May 20th with
about 100 wagons
from a point west of Red Buttes,
blazing a trail to Virginia City
on the other side of
the Bighorn Mountains.
– [Franklin] Bridger’s
is much more popular,
probably from the
fact that Bridger is
an old and well-known
having spent his whole life
among the mountains
and the Indians
and having the reputation
of being a reliable man.
Franklin Curcalde
– [Narrator] While
not quite a race,
these shortcuts to the
Montana gold fields
were in full swing that
spring and summer of 1864.
(mid-tempo music)
On July 2nd, Bozeman caught
up with the Hurlbut train,
which had stopped to
prospect for gold.
He had been following
the path blazed by
Hurlbut for some time,
and now as he passed,
he was on his own
to discover the
best way forward.
– [Abraham] Bozeman’s train
was in six miles of us
and passed by.
Good many are wanting to go on
and others want to
stay and prospect.
– [Narrator] Meanwhile,
Bridger’s train
was struggling through
difficult terrain.
– [Howard] Feed and water
were most fearfully scarce
that we crossed what was almost
a desert 70 miles in width
on which we had a tight pinch
to get grass for our stock.
Howard Stanfield.
– [Narrator] On the
other side of the Bighorn
Bozeman’s wagon train grew even
larger at the Bighorn river
as some of Captain
Hurlbut’s train joined.
And estimated 150 wagons
(wagons rattling)
now comprised the train.
– [Man] The captain
told a number of us
that he knew where there
was plenty of gold,
but now we begin to think
he has fooled us some.
And there are number
that will leave the train
tomorrow morning without doubt.
– [Narrator] The
Bighorn River crossing
could be difficult,
especially early in the season.
Sometimes the wagons were
caulked and floated across.
Other times days were
spent building crude rafts.
Later in the year
the flow was lower,
making for an easier crossing.
After the Bighorn Crossing
Bozeman was unsure of the route.
Mountain man John Jacobs
didn’t accompany him this time
and he simply didn’t have
the knowledge or skills
of a Jim Bridger or
even Alan Hurlbut.
So he traced a route northwest
over numerous creeks
and rough terrain.
– We’re just about
halfway between
the town of Pryor and
Fort Smith, Montana.
Right in here is where
Bozeman got lost.
And he lost track of it
and he went off over
here towards Billings.
He wandered around for
two, three days over here.
– [Narrator] Bozeman
finally made it to
some bluffs above the
Yellowstone River,
across from present
day Billings, Montana.
But he couldn’t get his wagon
train down to the river.
– Right now I’m standing
above the Yellowstone River,
in what we call the sow fields.
It’s really rough country.
Bozeman was over on what
we now call Prior Creek
and they took the 11 mile trip
over the top of
this hilly country.
The diarists were remarking
a lot about this country.
They said this was
the roughest country
we think a wagon
train can go through.
It’s this country behind me.
It’s tough, tough.
– [Man] We have been
following Bozeman’s road
and here he took a wrong course
and went out of his way
for nearly 15 miles,
over the worst kind of roads.
– [Narrator] While
Bozeman was struggling
on the east side
of the Bighorns,
Bridger finally led his train
out of the arid west
side environment
and into lusher country.
Now the emigrants
had plenty of water
and grass for their stock,
plus fish and game to
supplement their diet.
– [William] The
boys fetch into camp
from six to 10 antelope a day,
caught a lot of trout, got
a half barrel salted down.
It would surprise the nation
to see the amount of trout
brought into camp every day.
William Haskell
(upbeat music)
– [Narrator] Over
the next few weeks
the Bridger train
crossed the Bighorn,
Graybull, Shoshone
and Clarks Fork rivers
before emerging close
to the Yellowstone
near present-day
Joliet, Montana.
At night Bridger regaled
his fellow travelers
with tall tales of
his adventures in
the Rocky Mountains.
One of his favorites
was about the time
he was chased for miles
by 100 Cheyenne warriors.
He made a wrong turn
and found himself in a
box canyon with no escape.
As the Indians bore down on him
Bridger would pause his story,
finally his listeners could
not contain themselves.
What happened next,
they would ask.
He’d look at them with
a sparkle in his eye
and reply, well, they killed me.
The situation was not so jovial
in the Hurlbut expedition.
(people chattering)
– [Man] There is not
much good feeling
towards the captain
at this time.
His conduct towards the company
has been in the highest
degree censurable
and he has few if any
friends among those
who had first so
readily listened to
and so imperfectly
believed his stories
and golden promises.
He will probably never lead
another train through
the mountains.
– [Narrator] Bozeman, meanwhile,
was trying to figure
out where to go next
to cross the Yellowstone.
He finally encountered
Bridger’s trail
from a few weeks earlier
at Rock Creek Crossing.
(banjo music)
Now all he had to do was
follow Bridger’s tracks
onward to the Yellowstone.
But there were still more
obstacles to overcome.
One was Sandborn Hill.
– He ended up on
the top of this hill
with a whole wagon train.
And that hill is as
steep as a cow’s face.
You know what they did?
They planted a
post in the ground
and they got all
their ropes together
and they hand-let those
wagons down one at a time,
led the horses down
on this hill here.
(river rushing)
– [Narrator] Bozeman
finally descended
to the south side of
the Yellowstone River
and followed it west
towards Bridger’s Crossing,
a diagonal ford
across the river,
nearly half a mile long.
While Bozeman crossed
the Yellowstone,
the remaining members
of Hurlbut’s train
elected Abraham Voorhees
as their new captain.
They then continued
following Bozeman’s trail,
leaving Hurlbut behind.
But another problem
soon erupted.
– [Man] Just as we were
eating our breakfast,
the Indians, about
20 or 25 of them,
(horses galloping,
people whooping)
were seen among the horses that
were a mile away from camp.
The riders were after the horses
running in every direction,
trying to get to camp
and some were lucky
enough to reach it.
One mule came in with an
arrow sticking in its side
while six horses and six
mules were driven off by them
before our men could
get near to them.
There were a good many
shots fired at them,
(muskets firing)
but none were killed.
– [Narrator] On the north
side of the Yellowstone,
first Bridger, then
Bozeman headed west
until they reached
the Shield River,
northeast of present-day
Livingston, Montana.
Here Bridger turned North
and followed the Shield River
before turning south again,
alongside today’s
Bridger Mountains
and into the Gallatin Valley.
Bozeman left Bridger’s
route at the Shield
and headed west to the pass
that was named for
him the year before.
From there he descended
into the Gallatin Valley
and then took existing
roads to Virginia City,
arriving at the end of July.
(wagons rattling)
The portion of Hurlbut’s train
now commanded by
Abraham Voorhees,
arrived in Virginia
City around August 10th.
His view of the mining
enterprise there was simple.
– [Abraham] Not one miner
of a thousand gets rich.
The trader and speculator
and those who have
money to work upon
profit by the excitement.
– [Narrator] As the people
in the former Hurlbut
wagon train dispersed,
Voorhees sold his oxen,
said his goodbyes,
and within a week
booked passage back
home with another wagon.
His four month, 1,700 mile
journey to the gold fields
seemed to be little more
than a sightseeing adventure.
With his earlier start
and more westward route,
Bridger beat everyone,
arriving in early July.
He would lead yet
another train in the fall
and again in subsequent years.
Yet, since Bozeman’s train
was the first to arrive
by traveling along the east
side of the Bighorn mountains,
the shortcut to Virginia City
bears his name to this day.
After guiding his wagon
train to Virginia City,
Bozeman turned around
(cheerful music)
and traveled 60 miles
northeast to settle.
He arrived at a
fledging community
at the east end of
the Gallatin Valley.
It was inhabited
by Daniel Rouse,
William Beall, and William
Alderson, among others.
On August 9, 1864 these
men began the process
of formally organizing a town.
They named it
after their friend,
Bozeman, Montana.
Bozeman and the
others recognized it
as an ideal spot for
wagons to layover
upon entering the Gallatin
Valley via the Bozeman Trail.
They hoped to make some
money in the process.
One emigrant who camped
there later in 1864
was visited by Bozeman and Rouse
who tried to persuade
him to settle there.
– [Davies] They spoke eloquently
of its many advantages,
its water privileges
and its standing right in
the gate of the mountains
ready to swallow up
all the tenderfeet
that would reach the
territory from the east,
with their golden fleeces
to be taken care of.
W.J. Davies.
– [Narrator] Bozeman was
elected recorder of the district
and eventually
became probate judge.
He would lead no more
wagon trains into Montana.
1864 was a big migration year.
(wagons rattling)
About 40,000 emigrants
traveled the Oregon
and California Trails
to western destinations,
including to what had
become Montana Territory.
By contrast, after the
initial forays of Bridger,
Hurlbut and Bozeman,
only some 15,000 people
attempted the Bozeman
Trail later that year.
Fearing Indians,
many people thought it
was just too dangerous.
– [Mary] It was here
that our train divided,
half of the wagons going on
by the way of South Pass,
Green River, Soda
Springs to Montana,
while the rest, going north
by what was called
the Bozeman Cutoff.
It was considered a
dangerous road to travel.
It ran over, through, and across
the hunting grounds
of the Sioux,
who had no love
for the palefaces.
Mary Foreman Kelly.
(introspective music)
– The attitude of the
emigrants toward the Indians
varied from aggressive
hatred and fear
to interested fascination
and even admiration.
– [Richard] This day there
was a motion put forward
and carried in the morning
for the indiscriminate
slaughter of all Indians
what was reconsidered and
acted upon in the evening
and resulted in favor
of letting them alone
so long as they did
not intrude on us.
Richard Owens.
– [Nellie] There are a
great many Indian lodges
or teepees, as they
call them, all around.
We saw a good many Indians,
some of them herding their stock
and some around their lodges.
They have a great many ponies.
We saw some of the
squaws riding horseback,
sitting on the
horse man-fashion,
with their blankets
all around them.
You ought to see
their ornaments.
Some wore large
bracelets of brass
and some had beads of
tin around their arms.
They were dressed in
style, I tell you.
Nellie Fletcher.
– [Theodore] About 300 Arapaho
Indians are camped near here
and came to our camp tonight,
loaded with furs and robes
and some of the boys struck
up a lively trading post.
The handsomest robes I ever saw
were bought for a pair of
common soldier blankets.
A cup of flour bought a
pair of beaded moccasins,
and one man bought a gray
wolf robe for 12 matches.
Theodore Bailey.
– [Margaret] Among all the
tribes of the Northwest,
the Crow stands
first in manliness
and physical perfection.
They also have pride
of race and nation.
They can be trusted as
friends within its boundaries
whenever they are treated
with the consideration
they deserve.
Margaret Carrington.
– [Narrator] For some,
fear of Native
Americans was justified.
Even though outright assaults
on wagon trains were rare,
there were exceptions.
On July 7th, 1864
the Townsend train,
consisting of 150 wagons,
was attacked on the Powder
River in present day Wyoming.
(horses galloping,
people shouting)
The Indians even
lit a grass fire.
(fire crackling)
But the emigrants dug a trench
around the circled wagons
and filled it with water.
After a six-hour battle,
with superior weaponry,
the emigrants were finally
able to fight off the Indians.
(guns firing)
– [Frank] The Indians
only had bows and arrows.
The arrows had iron heads
and were very effective
at short range.
But after they had
made a few rushes
our guns had thinned them out
and they kept out of
range pretty much.
We had some long-range guns
and kept picking ’em off
and got quite a number of them,
never did know how many.
Frank Wager.
– [Narrator] The Townsend party
lost four men in the encounter.
Two were quickly buried and
the other two presumed dead.
As the next wagon
train approached
the site of the battle
a few weeks later
a horrific scene awaited.
(melancholy music)
– [Richard] We moved out
at eight this morning
and some of our advanced guard
came on the body
of the man killed.
He had been buried
by his friends,
but the wolves had taken him out
and devoured much of his body.
We buried him again.
Richard Owens.
– [Narrator] Besides
hostile Indians,
the Bozeman Trail emigrants
experienced other
hardships along the way.
– [John] Passed through among
barren, desolate region.
Grass very scarce.
Nothing but alkali
water with sandy road.
Alkali 1/2 inch thick
all along the creek
and our only chance for water
is to dig through it for water
so strongly
impregnated with soda
to be fit for baking bread.
John Hackney.
– [Mary] I shall
never forget this camp
as the breeding grounds
of the mosquito.
(insects buzzing)
Dense swarms of these
pests attacked us here,
making life almost unbearable.
The children the
greatest sufferers,
swollen hands and faces
from the effects of bites.
The cattle restless,
difficult to keep together
at night, especially.
Smudges has to be made to
keep off the mosquitoes.
Mary Foreman Kelly.
(birds singing)
(hopeful music)
– [Narrator] Yet
all was not misery,
misfortune and social discord.
The land in its abundance,
its unique vegetation, wildlife,
captured the imagination and
curiosity of the emigrants.
– [Mary] The country now changed
from a dry, waterless plain
to well watered steppes.
Beautiful hills where there grew
the buffalo and grama grasses.
Along the banks of
the mountain brooks
we gathered the wild
strawberry and raspberry,
caught many a fine
mess of trout.
Mary Foreman Kelly.
– [John] Went fishing and
caught 30 pounds of fish,
some weighed two pounds.
Two men of our party
caught 25 pounds.
John Hackney.
– [Harry] Prairie dog villages
are scattered thickly,
(prairie dog chirping)
Lyman shot one a few days ago.
They belong to
the marmot species
and as near as I can describe,
they are about halfway between
the common gray ground squirrel
and the American
groundhog or woodchuck.
Harry Burgess.
– [Narrator] By the time the
1864 travel season was over
thousands of people had made
it to the Montana gold fields
via the Bridger
and Bozeman trails,
mostly without incident from
the Native American presence.
These shortcuts to the mines
were beginning to pan out.
Then in the fall of 1864
an even occurred that
would soon impact travel
on the Bozeman Trail.
(dramatic music)
On November 29, 1864,
Colonel John Chivington
leading a ruthless
volunteer Cavalry,
(men shouting, guns firing)
attacked Black Kettle’s
peaceful Cheyenne village
in southeastern
Colorado Territory.
They killed and
horribly mutilated
nearly 200 Native Americans,
most of them women and children.
– [John] Damn any man who
sympathizes with Indians.
Kill and scalp all,
big and little.
Nits make lice.
– [Narrator] As a
result of Sand Creek,
various tribes began attacking
along the Platte River road
the following spring and summer.
Large numbers then moved north
to the Powder River country.
Here they coalesced around
the Lakota Sioux
warrior, Red Cloud.
The seeds of a unified Indian
resistance were sprouting.
Red Cloud was born in 1822,
near the confluence of the
Blue and Platte rivers,
east of today’s North
Platte, Nebraska.
His father was killed
when Red Cloud was young
and he was brought up by
his uncle, Chief Old Smoke.
As a young man
(tense music)
he demonstrated
his fearlessness,
his ruthlessness and leadership
during wars against the
Pawnee, Crow and other tribes.
In one battle he saved a Ute
warrior from a river drowning
only to drag him on shore,
then kill and scalp him.
When he was just 19
he killed one of his
uncle’s rivals, Bald Bear.
By 1864 he’s been in
more than 80 battles.
His growing reputation
as a military strategist,
negotiator and orator
elevated him even more
in Lakota society.
– Red Cloud, he managed to unite
quite a few of the
Lakota bands together,
and also to bring in Cheyenne
and some of the Arapaho.
Without his force of
personality and his vision,
I don’t think the
Indian opposition
would be near as
strong as it was.
– [Narrator] By spring 1865,
with the increase of
continued Indian attacks
The Bozeman Trail was shut
down to emigrant traffic,
but not to the military.
Now that the Civil War had
ended, the U.S. government
increased its forces
along western trails,
including the Bozeman Trail.
Major General Grenville Dodge
had orders for Brigadier
General Patrick Connor.
– [Greenville] Settle the
Indian troubles this season.
Make vigorous war upon the
Indians and punish them
so that they will be
forced to keep the peace.
– [Narrator] In August of 1865,
Connor did just that
with 2,400 troops
of the Powder River Expedition.
– Conner himself comes
up the Bozeman Trail.
He was ordered to
establish a fort,
so he establishes what’s
first Fort Conner,
and then becomes Fort Reno
later that fall in 1865
down on Powder River.
That’s the first of the
Bozeman Trail forts.
And so that’s supposed
to be a permanent thing
right here in the heart
of the Indian country
to keep them under control.
And then he goes off
hunting for Indians.
He’s led by quite a
few famous scouts.
Jim Bridger, again, being
the most famous of them.
– [Narrator] Connor and
his soldiers marched north.
As they approached
the Tongue River,
Bridger saw smoke
rising in the distance
and alerted Connor to Indians.
They attacked a peaceful
Northern Arapaho
village of about 500
early in the morning
of August 29th,
(people shouting, guns firing)
burning the lodges
and winter provisions.
Many of the warriors
were absent,
off on a raid against the Crow.
At least 60 Arapaho were killed,
many of them women and children.
– I think, you know,
when you look at
Connor attacking
that Arapaho camp
that was led by medicine men,
The Arapahos were not
necessarily ready to go to war
until after that.
That just galvanized
them and they said,
We’ve got to join this movement.
If we don’t join this,
we’re going to continue
to see these atrocities.
– [Sonny] It was the beginning
of the Indian wars here,
and the beginning of the
really heavy bloodshed
along the Bozeman Trail.
– [Narrator] In 1866,
the Bozeman Trail
was once again
opened to emigrant
and other non-military travel.
But now many of the wagons
were driven by freighters
and teamsters moving
merchandise, equipment
and livestock.
Fewer prospectors
were travelling,
their places taken by merchants,
professionals, craftsmen
and others wanting to
provide goods and services
to the now burgeoning
mining towns.
Opportunity was knocking.
They were off to
mine the miners.
But by an official order
on February 28, 1866,
all wagon trains were required
to get permission to travel.
Indian trouble was still
on everyone’s mind.
So much so, that
in that spring of 1866,
(Native American flute music)
Cheyenne, Sioux
and Arapaho bands
were invited to a peace
conference at Fort Laramie.
Nearly two thousand showed up.
The peace commissioners
were certain a deal
allowing safe passage on the
Bozeman Trail could be reached.
Red Cloud was one
of many influential
leaders in attendance.
He too was optimistic an
agreement could be attained.
But the Peace Commissioners
and the U.S. military
were not on the same page.
– He’d made up his mind
that he wasn’t going
to fight anymore,
that he really did want
to try to secure peace
and no sooner than
they sat down,
and then the scouts come in
and say there’s a column of
soldiers coming up the river.
– [Narrator] It was
the U.S. 18th Infantry
led by Colonel Henry Carrington.
He had orders to
re-garrison Fort Reno
and build two more forts
along the Bozeman Trail
to help protect wagon trains
and establish a military
presence in the region.
– Red Cloud was furious.
He picked up and he left
and said he would
never sign a treaty
with the United
States government.
– [Narrator] Abruptly leaving
the Fort Laramie
Treaty negotiations
Sioux, Cheyenne
and Arapaho tribes
later gathered at Red
Cloud’s encampment.
At the annual sun
dance ceremony,
they vowed to fight
against white incursion.
Carrington headed north with
700 soldiers, 300 civilians
and 226 wagons filled with
tons of supplies and equipment
to stock and build forts
along the Bozeman Trail.
Most of the troops
were raw recruits
unskilled in Indian warfare.
They were mostly
armed with outdated
single shot
muzzle-loading muskets.
Carrington himself
was an odd choice
as a commander in
hostile Indian country.
But he had connections
within the military
and the government and was
a good engineer and manager.
– Colonel Carrington was from
a very well-to-do family,
an aristocratic family,
Carrington, during
the Civil War,
was pretty much a desk officer.
So he had no combat experience,
and that was one of
the big raps on him
by some of the men who were
veterans of the Civil War,
when he was ordered
to build forts up here
in this country.
– Carrington proceeded
to come north,
and Fort Reno they rebuilt
on that and regarrisoned it.
Then went up to
Fort Phil Kearny.
They built that, and then
in that August of 1866,
another two companies
of troops went up
and built Fort C.F. Smith,
which is 90 miles north
of Fort Phil Kearny.
– When the military started
building forts in this area,
it was kind of like the
last straw for them.
The combination of Sand Creek
and the aftermath of that
just heightened the need
to try to keep these
people out of our land,
keep them out of our territory.
– Once the military committed
to building three forts
on the Bozeman Trail,
the Lakota and the Northern
Cheyenne and the Arapaho,
they saw that as occupation.
(ominous music)
They saw that as humiliation.
– [Narrator] By midsummer,
war parties of Sioux, Northern
Cheyenne and Northern Arapaho
were camped in the valleys of
the Tongue and Rosebud rivers.
Among the warriors were
a young Crazy Horse,
American Horse, and Red Cloud,
who spoke out
against the military.
– [Red Cloud] Here ye, Dakotas.
When the great
father at Washington
asked for a path through
our hunting grounds
we were told that they wished
merely to pass through.
Our old chiefs thought
to show their goodwill,
promising to protect
the wayfarers.
Yet before the ashes of
the council fire are cold,
the great father is
building his forts among us.
His presence here is an insult
to the sprits of our ancestors.
Dakotas, I am for war.
– Fort Phil Kearny
was the largest
of the three
Bozeman Trail Forts.
It was located near Piney Creek
about half way between
present-day Sheridan
and Buffalo, Wyoming.
(cheerful music)
– They arrive in July of
1866 on Friday the 13th
and decide that this
is the best place
to set up the largest
stockaded fort in the West.
It was a massive undertaking.
Carrington does a really
good job selecting
where the fort should be placed.
– [William] This is the most
beautiful place for a fort
that I’ve seen west
of Fort Levenworth.
Its mountain scenery is
most striking and majestic
with its beautiful
range of hills
on either side north and south
as it were throwing
their arms around
and clasping on in their bosom.
William Thomas.
– So the location, while
you can see it’s beautiful
and it gives you a great vista
and a view of the
land around you,
there’s no place
for, there’s no wood.
And so they had
to send civilians,
and ultimately soldiers
to protect the civilians,
miles away to cut wood,
to bring it to be able to build
the entire perimeter of the fort
and all of the structures
inside of the fort.
So that was a real problem.
– 45 wagon boxes
go out every day.
45 full past them.
540 mules, just to
service the wood train.
Massive wood gathering
effort going through.
– [Narrator] At its peak,
Fort Phil Kearny
encompassed 17 acres
and numerous structures,
including officer, enlisted
man and civilian quarters,
a hospital, mess hall, stables,
shops and two sawmills.
400 troops and 150 civilians
inhabited this fortress
on the Little Piney Creek in
the heart of Indian country.
By the end of July 1866,
(wagons rattling)
all wagon trains arriving
at the slowly emerging fort
were required to consolidate
into larger trains
before proceeding.
More military trains
were also on the Trail,
often traveling with emigrant
trains to protect them.
Everyone was much
more alert to danger,
livestock were heavily guarded
and men rarely wandered
off alone to hunt or fish.
– The military moves in
and the Indians knew
there was a war,
so by 1866, the
Indians were attacking.
There was one week in July
when 24 civilians and
soldiers were killed
in attacks all along the trail,
from the North Platte
to the Big Horn River.
(guns firing)
– [Narrator] William Thomas,
traveling with the 1866
Kirkendall wagon train,
was pre-occupied with emigrant
graves along the route.
By the time he reached the site
of the new Fort Phil Kearny,
he was filled with
ominous feelings
about traveling through Indian
country on the Bozeman Trail.
– [William] I am meditating
upon the advantage
that I am about to take,
counting the cost,
summing up the danger,
cold chills run
through my blood.
William Thomas.
– [Narrator] Arriving at the
Bighorn river without incident,
the word around camp was no
more danger from Indians,
for they were now
in Crow country.
So after crossing, Thomas
put his faith in God
and left the small
Kirkendall train
with his 8-year-old son
Charly and hired driver.
Over the next six days,
they journeyed to the
Yellowstone River alone.
(sad fiddle music)
– This site is kind of
a sad story to tell.
William Thomas was a
farmer back in Illinois
and he’d lost his two
daughters and his wife
sometime before 1866.
He and his son
decided to come West.
Can you imagine though,
going through this country
without even one firearm?
He was a religious
man and he thought
the Good Maker was going
to take care of him.
They’d finally made
it to the Yellowstone.
They felt safe.
They built a campfire and
had a little celebration.
Unfortunately Indians
caught him here,
killed he and his son
and the hired man.
Shortly after, the miners came
down with their wagon train,
and they found the bodies.
The Bozeman Trail
has many sad stories
and this is just one of them.
(uptempo music)
– [Narrator] Perhaps
the most daring group
to use the Bozeman Trail
in 1866 was its last.
Nelson Story, a mule packer,
had struck it rich
at Alder Gulch.
Always the entrepreneur,
he saw a need for beef
in the new Montana Territory
and went to Texas with
$10,000 to buy cattle.
Story bought 1,000 head
of cattle at bargain rates
in the devastated post-Civil
War Texas economy.
Then along with 25 hired hands
(cattle mooing)
he drove them up
through Oklahoma,
Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado,
and over to Wyoming
and the Bozeman Trail.
Along the way his outfit
was attacked by Indians
on a dry fork of
the Powder River.
(guns firing)
Two of his men were injured.
One died and about 30 head
of cattle were stolen.
After leaving the
injured at Fort Reno,
Story and his men tracked
down and killed the Indians
(guns firing)
and recovered the cattle.
– They shot the
place up pretty good
and that was something
that years later
he felt a little upset about it,
but it turns out that’s probably
the best thing he
could have ever done,
it probably saved the
life of his entire crew.
– [Narrator] Story arrived
at Fort Phil Kearny
in October 1866 without
further incident,
but was ironically
delayed by military order
because of anticipated
Indian trouble.
After two weeks, he
finally had enough.
In the dead of night,
he left the fort
and continued his cattle
drive up the Bozeman Trail,
fending off two more Indian
attacks along the way.
Stopping near present-day
Livingston, Montana
in December, 1866,
Story eventually sold some
of his stock at a huge profit
and establish cattle ranching
in Montana with the rest.
– Sets up cow camp up between
Livingston and Bozeman
and started running cows
into Paradise Valley
’cause it was actually a pretty
good weather down that way.
But the main his main
operation was out of here,
out of Bozeman
and he also had an
operation, of course,
in Virginia City
and Nevada City.
– [Narrator] Variously described
as a fearless tough guy,
a scoundrel and a robber baron,
he was also said to be generous,
intelligent, and compassionate.
– If he got mad at you,
he might he might
actually pistol whip you.
But at the same time
if you needed help
he’d buy you a house.
– [Narrator] Nelson
Story eventually settled
in Bozeman, Montana
and became its
first millionaire
with interest not
only in cattle,
but flour mills, banks,
stores and real estate.
He was a good friend
to John Bozeman,
who by 1866 had solidly
established himself
in the town that bore his name.
– He was involved
in many businesses,
he was an entrepreneur,
he was involved in
civic activities
and he had lots of contacts.
– [Narrator] In April 1867,
friend and flour
mill owner Tom Cover
talked Bozeman into going
to Fort C.F. Smith with him
to secure government contracts.
Bozeman had serious
misgivings about the trip,
but after much pressuring
he finally agreed to go.
– The Gallatin Valley
is already in a panic
in spring 1867
when John Bozeman and Tom Cover
set out to go to
Fort C.F. Smith.
That spring there were
rumors of Indian threats
that would come
over the mountains
and attack into the
Gallatin Valley.
So John Bozeman was very
apprehensive about this trip.
– We’re standing in Cady Coulee.
The Yellowstone River is
300 yards that direction.
This is kind of an interesting
place in Montana history.
It’s told that Bozeman
had a bad feeling
about what was going to
happen in front of him.
They stop here in this
coulee, right where we are,
very close here, to have lunch.
While they were eating lunch,
five Piegan Indians showed up.
They signaled that they were
hungry and they wanted to eat.
They came into camp.
They were offered food.
At that time the
Indians drew their arms
and killed Bozeman.
(guns firing)
His partner was still armed
and fought his way
and hid in the brush
and escaped.
– [Narrator] Upon hearing
of Bozeman’s death,
Nelson Story sent one of his
men to the scene of the crime
to look around.
He reported that there
were no signs of Indians
or Indian pony tracks
around Cady Coolie.
Cover’s wound was said
to have powder burns
which could have
been self-inflicted.
This led some to believe
Cover himself killed Bozeman.
Others pointed to business
foes or jealous husbands.
But Indian culprits remain the
most plausible explanation.
(somber music)
A burial party soon arrived
and John Bozeman, age 32,
was interred on the spot,
next to the Yellowstone River.
Two years later Nelson Story
had Bozeman’s body dug up
and reinterred at
the Story family plot
at Sunset Hills Cemetery
in Bozeman, Montana.
His marker stands to this day
and the questions about
his death still swirl.
– So he died the tragic
young hero of the story,
which I think has added
a lot to the ambiance,
if you will, the
romance of his persona.
If he had lived on,
it would have been
interesting to see
what he would have
done with his life.
– [Narrator] The news
of Bozeman’s death
on April 18, 1867
served to inflame
already smoldering fears
that an Indian attack on the
Gallatin Valley was imminent,
even though the dominant
tribe in the area
was relatively friendly Crow.
It raised a such a furor
among Bozeman’s new citizens
that the Federal Government
established Fort Ellis
just east of town
in August of 1867.
Purchases of
provisions by the fort
and patronage by
its soldiers in town
pumped more than
$30,000 dollars per year
into the fledging
Bozeman economy.
That’s nearly a half million
dollars in today’s currency.
Without Fort Ellis,
the town of Bozeman
might not have survived
its formative years.
As the travel
season of 1866 ended
Red Cloud’s coalition of tribes
increasingly attacked areas
around the forts that autumn.
They occurred on an
almost daily basis.
– It begins this slow
bleeding process.
You would see Indians
around the hills every day.
(wagons rattling)
You’d send out wood cutting
parties to go cut the wood,
the Indians and them
would clash in the woods.
You would send out parties to
take out stock, to graze them,
Indians would attack and
capture what stock they could.
It was just continual
hit and run tactics.
And those would continue,
really, throughout the fall.
– Although they knew that
these forts had been built,
some of them would
be impenetrable,
but they knew that they could
attack the supply wagons
and they could
continue to harass
anybody who was coming
into the region.
And that was basically the plan.
– And that’s what led, basically
to the Fetterman Fight,
it was also the result of
the Wagon Box Fight later on,
the need for wood.
(bugle call)
– [Narrator] At Fort
Phil Kearny, during
the autumn of 1866,
Carrington’s officers included
Lieutenant George Grummond,
Captain Tenodor Ten
Eyck, Captain Fred Brown,
and Captain James Powell.
Captain Brown was obsessed
with chasing down Indians,
which he did on a regular basis.
Powell was a grizzled veteran
who worked his way
up through the ranks.
He suffered from lead poisoning
with musket balls still in
his body from the Civil War.
Grummond was a hot head who
would dash into any battle.
And Ten Eyck was in poor health
after time spent in a
Civil War prison camp.
These officers were in
charge of an Infantry
and Cavalry comprised of
fairly green recruits,
poorly armed with mostly
single-shot muskets
and untested in Indian warfare.
Even the officers,
good soldiers during the
Civil War, were unprepared
for the guerilla tactics
of the Sioux alliance
in the unfamiliar and
unforgiving landscape
of the Powder River Country.
But they were soon
joined by one more.
Captain William J. Fetterman was
a rising star in the military.
A decorated Civil War officer,
he was in-line for a promotion,
possibly the new commander
of Fort Phil Kearny
or Fort C.F. Smith.
– They were thrilled when
Fetterman showed up at the fort
because that was the
moment when they knew
that they could start to
professionalize militarily.
He was such a high
ranking officer,
had such great administration
and leadership
skills from the war
that they knew that he
would be able to come in
and bring some discipline
to what they felt
was the disorder of
having to build
rather than protect,
which is what they were
gonna have to be ready to do.
– On December 21st, they
sent out a wood train.
It was the last wood train
they were going to send
out for the season.
– [Narrator] On
this particular day
Red Cloud’s coalition would
attempt to decoy the military
over Lodge Trail Ridge
and down into the draws
and gullies below.
There, 1,500
warriors lay hidden,
ready to spring the trap.
– [Bob] The Indians knew
the terrain very well.
And they knew where
they could hide
and the soldiers
wouldn’t see them.
– The signal came from
up in the signal hill
that wood train
was under assault
and so a relief column
was put together
and they took so many
from various companies,
mostly a lot of them from
Fetterman’s personal company.
Then Fetterman, by
right of seniority,
wanted the captainship.
– [Narrator] Under cloudy skies
and fairly mild temperatures,
Fetterman and 49 infantry
moved out on that
winter’s solstice day
to support the wood train.
They were overtaken shortly
by 27 cavalry riders
led by Grummond and Brown.
Two civilians,
Wheatley and Fisher,
accompanied the cavalry,
eager to try out
their new Henry 16-shot
repeating rifles.
The Cavalry carried seven-shot
Spencer repeating carbines.
Fetterman’s soldiers
were armed only
with obsolete Springfield
muzzle loaders.
Before Fetterman
left, Carrington
supposedly gave orders
not to cross Lodge Trail Ridge
because the rest of the company
wouldn’t be able to
support such a move.
(ominous music)
– So Fetterman comes
out with his 80 men.
Fetterman, and
Grummond, and Brown.
All of a sudden, once they
got out of the fort here,
and came around to the front,
they could see the signal
down on Pilot Hill saying,
wood train’s not
under attack anymore.
It’s safe.
Fetterman was a
Civil War veteran.
And whenever there were
changing battle scenarios,
that changed the orders.
And you didn’t have time
to go get permission.
He’s too good an officer
to just disobey orders
because he didn’t like
his commanding officer.
Or because he was arrogant
and a fire eater like
he’s been portrayed.
He was not like that.
– [Narrator] Crazy
Horse, American Horse
and a handful of others
attempted to lure the other
soldiers over the ridge.
Red Cloud may have been watching
the plan unfold from a
high vantage point nearby.
– Fetterman does
go over the ridge.
Grummond and the
cavalry went over first.
So, he hears what’s
happening over the ridge,
likely knew that
there was activity,
great activity happening
over the ridge.
And, in my opinion,
he went over the ridge
to relieve Grummond and the
cavalrymen who were ahead.
– They had no idea
there were 1,500 Indians
waiting in a well-staged ambush.
(guns firing, men shouting)
And they didn’t understand
the Indians’ abilities
to stage an ambush like that,
to create a strategic
and tactical scenario.
– [Narrator] Hearing
gunfire back at the fort,
a relief column of infantry
led by Tenodor Ten Eyck
was quickly organized.
They marched to a ridge
south of the battle
to get a view of the conflict.
– It started to die
down by the time
Ten Eyck reached the
ridge above the look down
and all he saw was Indians
and what they said
looked like white logs,
which were the bodies,
stripped bodies.
It was over very quick,
and in a very complete victory.
– [Narrator] All 81
men were wiped out
and their bodies mutilated
in a perfectly executed attack.
Brown had a bullet
through his temple,
possibly self-inflicted
or perhaps a mercy
killing by Fetterman.
American Horse claimed to have
personally killed Fetterman.
The bodies were mutilated
because of spiritual
beliefs that a maimed enemy
would be weaker when met
again in the afterlife.
Only Adolph Metzger, the bugler,
was left intact and covered
reverently with a buffalo robe.
The Indians later claimed
that he was honored
for his extreme bravery
during the battle,
in the end, even using his bugle
as a weapon to defend himself.
– This was the most
successful strategic plan
that any of the Plains
Indians had ever pulled off.
– [Narrator] As troops went
out to retrieve the bodies
after the Fetterman Massacre,
(melancholy music)
the temperature plunged,
the winds spiked and
snow began to swirl.
A blizzard was on the way.
Back at the fort, it was
feared that the stockade itself
might be assailed
by the Indians.
So a plan was made
should an attack occur.
The remaining soldiers
would defend the fort,
while women and
children would be sent
to the ammunition
magazine for safety.
If a breach of
the fort occurred,
the magazine would be blown up,
rather than subjecting them
to the mutilation seen
on the battlefield.
(hammering on wood)
– Listening to the carpenters
making coffins for the
soldiers while it’s subzero
and just the abject
misery and not hearing,
because they don’t
have telegraph,
not knowing whether anybody
even knows what
their situation is.
I can’t imagine the
tension and stress
of the people who
remained in the fort.
– [Narrator] Under these
dire circumstances,
Carrington asked for
civilian volunteers
to ride with news
of the massacre
and plea for reinforcements.
John “Portugee”
Phillips stepped forward
and later that evening
of December 21st,
began a journey to the
Horseshoe Station telegraph,
near present day
Glendo, Wyoming,
about 190 miles away.
Persevering bitterly
cold temperatures
and driving wind-blown snow,
he arrived on Christmas morning
and sent a message of the
disaster to Ft. Laramie.
Phillips then continued another
40 miles to Ft. Laramie,
arriving late that night
during a festive military ball.
Due to the continuing
foul weather,
full reinforcements didn’t
depart until January 6th.
But an attack on Fort Phil
Kearny never happened.
Phillips, near total collapse,
recuperated in the post
hospital for two weeks.
His legendary ride
lives on to this day.
In January of 1867,
(wind blowing)
there was another ride
through difficult conditions.
Because of army reorganization,
Colonel Carrington had new
orders to report to Fort Caspar.
He was accompanied
by his wife Margaret
and a contingent of soldiers
as they braved their
way through snow,
wind and temperatures
near 40 below.
– Colonel Carrington
(somber music)
and all of his remaining
men from his battalion
have to march
through this blizzard
with their wives and
spouses and families
to get out of the
Bozeman Trail area.
Men lost their feet,
the wives described the agony
of riding in these ambulances,
freezing, trying to burn wood.
– [Narrator] In the
aftermath of the Massacre,
Henry Carrington faced
Courts of Inquiries,
Congressional Hearings
and Special Commissions
all looking into what happened.
There was false evidence and
subterfuge from all quarters.
– There’s multiple
year-long investigations
from the Army and from Congress
and from the Office
of Indian Affairs,
trying to figure
out what happened.
All of these studies started
initially to point at
Colonel Carrington and
his weak leadership.
– [Narrator] Carrington
defended himself
by blaming Fetterman
for disobeying
orders not to cross
Lodge Trail Ridge
and portrayed him as
generally reckless.
Over the years historians
would amplify the story
of an ambitious and
reckless Fetterman.
They would attribute an
infamous quote to him,
“With 80 men I could
ride through the
entire Sioux Nation.”
But whether he ever
uttered that phrase,
or whether that famous order
not to cross Lodge Trail Ridge
ever reached Fetterman’s ears,
is still disputed to this day.
General Ulysses S. Grant
moved to court-martial
but at the suggestion
of his friend,
General William T. Sherman,
a court of inquiry
exonerated Carrington,
and later an investigation
by the Department
of the Interior
found no culpability.
In 1908 Henry Carrington and
his second wife, Frances,
were honored in
Sheridan, Wyoming.
Carrington spoke
at the Fetterman
Massacre site memorial,
still blaming Fetterman
for the disaster.
He died at the
age of 88 in 1912.
– All along he felt like
he was wrongfully blamed.
He spent his entire adult life
trying to clear his reputation.
– [Narrator] The result
of the Fetterman Massacre,
what the Indians called,
The Battle of the
Hundred in the Hand,
made emigrant travel
impossible after 1866.
The threat of attack
was simply too great.
For the next two years,
the Bozeman Trail became a
military road between the forts.
In July 1867, after
their annual sun dance,
Sioux, Cheyenne and
Arapaho warriors
decided to attack soldiers
around Fort C.F. Smith
and Fort Phil Kearny.
Red Cloud was again
instrumental in the planning.
The ensuing Hayfield
and Wagon Box fights
took place just one day apart,
August 1st and 2nd, 1867.
In these fights,
about 30 armed men
fighting from behind barricades
defended themselves against
hundreds of Indians.
Both engagements had
the same outcome.
In the Wagon Box fight,
near Fort Phil Kearny,
Captain James Powell
commanded just 30 soldiers
against nearly 400 Sioux
and Cheyenne warriors,
led by Red Cloud.
(guns firing)
The battle lasted over eight
hours until help arrived.
– The Indians made
their initial charge.
And their idea normally
would have been
to charge the corral and
at about 100, 150 yards
the Indians would duck
behind their horse.
That’s when they expected
the soldiers to shoot.
The Indians would jump up
and then put the gas
on and jump the wagons
and kill the soldiers
inside the corral.
– [Narrator] The
short, stout Indian bow
was primarily used from
horseback during buffalo hunts.
Deadly at short range,
these weapons were not very
effective at a distance.
– The soldiers, instead
of having muzzle loaders,
now had breech-loading
Allin conversions.
All they had to do was
pop up breech open,
insert a new round in and
close the breech and shoot.
So, unlike the muzzle loader,
which could fire about
two rounds a minute,
these could fire closer
to ten rounds a minute.
That was a real shock
to the warriors that
were charging the corral
because they were expecting
the soldiers to be delayed,
muzzle loading their rifles.
Instead they fired again and
they fired again and again.
The Indians broke
off their assault.
– The Battle at the Hayfield,
the Wagon Box Fight,
and I think in
those engagements,
the Lakota people went
away in bewilderment.
– [Narrator] The Wagon
Box and Hayfield Fights
were the last major
engagements of Red Cloud’s war.
The outcome of the battles
discouraged native warriors
from attempting additional
large-scale attacks
against government forces.
And so, for the
remainder of 1867,
the Lakota and their
allies concentrated on
small-scale, hit-and-run
attacks along the Bozeman Trail.
(fiddle music)
– By 1868, with the
completion of the railroad
across southern Wyoming,
the trail was no longer needed.
It was built for a shortcut
and a cheap way to get people
from the Oregon Trail
to Virginia City,
but now they had a railroad
that went clear across
the United States
and they could go straight
north from Brigham City, Utah.
It was a shorter route
and an easier route
to get into those gold fields,
so they abandoned
the Bozeman Trail.
– [Narrator] In
the Spring of 1868,
a peace conference was
convened at Fort Laramie
by the U.S. Government.
Slowly Cheyenne, Arapaho and
Sioux leaders filtered in.
But there were problems.
– They really couldn’t find
any Indians to sign the treaty.
Red Cloud said, I’ll sign
it once the forts are gone.
I’ll come in and sign it.
That was his ultimatum,
close the Bozeman Trail,
get rid of the forts,
and then I’ll sign your treaty
– [Narrator] Finally, the
United States Government agreed.
The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868
called for the abandonment of
all three Bozeman Trail Forts
and the Bozeman
Trail itself closed.
The Indians quickly destroyed
the abandoned forts,
those symbols of
U.S. military power.
Their victory, they
thought, was complete.
But in reality, it was
the beginning of the end.
– The way the treaty read
was that all the land
between Yellowstone River
and North Platte River,
the Big Horn Mountains
and the Black Hills
would become unceded
Indian territory
where the Indians could live
and hunt and continue their
culture as it always had been,
as long as the buffalo existed
to support that style of living.
That was a pretty good treaty,
from the sounds of
it for the Indians,
especially for the Lakota
and Cheyenne and Arapaho.
The problem and the
negative part of the treaty
was that up until this point
the Lakota had not had Indian
agencies or reservations,
and the treaty created those.
– I think the Indians
successfully made their point,
that we do not want any
permanence in our country.
And from their perspective,
you bet they won.
You bet they did.
So in 1868, they think that
they’ve closed
the Bozeman Trail,
they’re rid of the forts.
They thought they
defended that land
and had proved their point,
and it was now theirs.
– This land along the
Bozeman Trail area
would become what they
call unceded Indian land.
That means that it’s
kind of hunting land,
they can use it, but it’s
not part of a reservation.
It hasn’t been given
to the Indians,
the Indians are being
allowed to use it.
For 8 years, from 1868 to 1876,
there was this land was
pretty much unceded.
The legal thing was that
they put in a clause
that said that this was land
that the Indians
could move unopposed
and use as land for
hunting and living
for so long as the game
shall justify the chase.
Well, by the mid 1870s,
the buffalo were getting
pretty well decimated.
And so they basically declared
that the game no longer
justified the chase
and it’s time to
go to reservation.
– Red Cloud was
still adamant about
the changes in the treaty
he didn’t agree to.
I have said three or four times
that the document that
you have before you
is not the document
that I agreed to.
I did not agree to this treaty.
– [Narrator] After his success
in closing down
the Bozeman Trail,
Red Cloud became a spokesperson
and advocate for his people,
traveling to Washington
DC on numerous occasions.
He would fight no more.
Towards the end of his life
he saw the desperation
of his people
and spoke to President Grant.
– [Red Cloud] Now we are melting
like snow on the hillside
while you are growing
like spring grass.
– [Narrator] Red Cloud died
on the Pine Ridge Reservation
in South Dakota in 1909.
He was 87 years old.
He is revered to this
day as a bold warrior,
a superb military
tactician, a gifted orator,
and an esteemed
statesman for his people.
With the discovery of gold
(somber music)
in the Black Hills of
South Dakota in 1874,
a new influx of gold seekers
broke provisions of the treaty
which led to the Great
Sioux War of 1876.
The defeat of Custer at the
Battle of the Little Big Horn
was the final Indian victory.
Soon afterwards,
a reorganized and
re-energized U.S. military
with superior resources
spread out over the land.
They forced the Native
Americans to surrender,
primarily by attacking and
destroying their encampments
and property.
– I think for a while the
Indians thought they could win,
but they didn’t understand
the industrial force behind,
the institutions of the army
was endless, limitless.
– [Narrator] In just 15 years
since the beginning
of the Bozeman Trail,
the traditional
nomadic hunting culture
of the Plains Indians
was coming to an end.
A culture that had
thrived for 10,000 years
was now about to change forever.
(majestic music)
What began with gold,
ended with gold,
a heavy substance
the nomadic tribes
did not consider
useful or valuable.
But this glittering prize
that eluded most miners
motivated John Bozeman to find
a different way to
cash in on the fever.
And in doing so, led not
only to his own demise,
but a stunning Indian victory,
the disgrace of a
military colonel
and the ascendance
of a Lakota warrior.
In the end this ancient
travel corridor,
rediscovered by John
Bozeman and others,
led to a diminished
Indian presence,
a surge in
Euro-American population
and the emergence
of two new states.
Eventually this
road less traveled
gave rise to towns and cities,
roads and highways,
reservations and public lands
that have shaped this
part of the American West
to this day.
Production of “The Bozeman
Trail: A Rush to Montana’s Gold”
Was made possible in part by
The Big Sky Film Grant.
A Grant from Humanities
Montana, an affiliate of
The National Endowment
for the Humanities.
And funding from the Wyoming
Humanities Council
Helping Wyoming take a closer
look at life through the
This project was also made
possible with support of
The Gilhousen Family Foundation.
The Rocky Mountain Power
Foundation, a division of
And grants from the Wyoming
Cultural Trust Fund.
A program of the department of
State Parks and Cultural
The Greater Montana Foundation,
Encouraging communication on
issues, trends and values
of importance to Montanans.
And, the Wyoming Community
Connecting people who care with
causes that matter,
to build a better Wyoming.

100 thoughts on “The Bozeman Trail: A Rush to Montana’s Gold”

  1. gold and greed, too bad we were corrupted into seeking riches of the earth rather than the riches Jesus can give us. i too would risk life for a few dollars more and trade it all for just a little more, but now i understand this path is futile and evil. rather living a moral life leads to riches of spirit and building a family with many children networking together to provide for basic needs. but families don't network for their improvement we go our own way like strangers. truly the family is destroyed.

  2. the native americans did one thing wrong, when in a war footing your most important resource are people and babies lots of babies, (muslims know this truth) so you can have future warriors to put up a fight. but they could not do this because they would need to build farms to feed their children and bide their time gathering resources. when in war your customs and beliefs must be set aside for the war effort. winning is all that matters when facing elites running america and the indians were facing the cold cruelty the rulers of this earth offer up to their enemies. the best the indians could hope for would be a stalemate forcing world rulers to recognize the indians as a people and leave them be.

  3. What a shit video. It's title about gold but this moron tries to make it about some fake heros. What garbage.

  4. Had Sonny as a history teacher at Sheridan CC back in '81. Believe it was his first teaching stint. (He was replacing Steneford who was taking a sabbatical).

  5. The Indians did not live on the plains and follow the buffalo herds for "countless generations." The horses that made plains culture possible came with the white man. Wyoming PBS, what a joke.

  6. Why does this video consistently refer to settlers, gold miners, Prospectors and Trailblazers as immigrants? They are Americans and who knows many of them had how many generations of American heritage. The video points out that the Lakota have driven out the Arapahoe and other tribes… Therefore considering that land I try to belong to them. The video doesn't refer to them as immigrants, Invaders, colonizers or conquerors. The term immigrant implies there was a contiguous Unified Native American nation in which foreigners had come to join. Obviously… This was not the case.

  7. Americans can learn something from the natives in this video. Combat immigration at any and all costs. If you allow a mass Invasion into your nation… You are doomed!


  9. The opening view .. shows a Titan/Giant .. she is lying head left .. with her hair laid behind her .. and her body full length with breasts .. she still has her profile .. she looks peaceful .. do you see her .. ?

  10. Not a huge fan of PBS in general (To libtard) but stumbled onto this channel and subscribecd a few years ago some of the most quality documentries ive seen ever

  11. After the Civil War the army’s muzzleloading Springfield rifle’s were converted to fire cartridges. The troops guarding the Bozeman Trail were being armed with single shot cartridge rifles. Which could fire multiple times a minute. In addition civilians working for the army often had their own lever action repeating rifles.

  12. The plains Indian’s culture center around the mobility of horses. Prior the introduction of horses Indians living on the Plains only travelled on foot. The Horse Culture made the Plains Indians strong. So that culture was 300 years old rather than thousands of years old

  13. 6:20
    "Drunken men don't shoot so well."

    This may explain the reason of high gun related fatality in US compare to other countries.

  14. The history is horrific and just shows how things really are. White man with his big gun slaughters women and children in their home so they can take their land. Greed wins again.

  15. Bozeman was killed by his friend , How can Indians be hungry in their own environment that would be my first instinct kicking in to the danger approaching 5 Indian's, and his friend got away some how . Very good liked the diary of the peoples travels it brought reality to a programme and put you on their spot without the grief and hardship but you could feel for both party's involved . 1 to preserve the land and 2 the other take's from the land

  16. And until this very day white Americans are still full of shit and lies. Why? Because the vast majority of us are decendants of Europeans and they are full of shit and lies too! 🙂

  17. Can anybody give me recommendations for other documentaries like this on YouTube? Maybe you know of a playlist or something. It's super interesting but also great for falling asleep to. I like north American history and pioneering but I'm interested in any good long documentary as long as its not political.

  18. EXCELLENT DOCUMENTARY. In my youth I lived in wyoming and traveled around southern MONTANA. I worked in the oilfield industry in those days. One time as a driver of a rig delivering bentonite used as as viscosity medium in the drilling fluid; I was sent into an INDIAN RESERVATION. Having an innate love, and respect for our NATIVE AMERICANS I was shocked by the intense hatred directed towards me as a WHITE MAN. I LITERALLY FELT LIKE I WAS VERY FORTUNATE TO ESCAPE WITHOUT BEING MURDERED. I WANTED TO TELL THEM I WAS THEIR BROTHER, and I HATE WHAT THE US GOVERNMENT DID TO THEIR PEOPLE, THEIR LAND, AND THEIR BUFFALO, and our brothers the WOLVES. THEIR HATRED IS DEEPLY EMBEDDED IN THEIR GENES. IT WILL NEVER GO AWAY, and rightly so I suppose.

  19. American Natives revered Mother Earth. White man from Europe has dishonored Earth. We must wake up – go Natural.

  20. I’m glad I found this documentary. I’m related to Bozeman – my Great- Great -Great Grandma was David Savannah Bozeman.

  21. The word is “ cavalry”..not “Calvary”. To borrow the description of Indians who claimed a right to the land after winning it honorably…whites won the land with the same process.

  22. Please know that those of us who truly love history and are always anxious to know more treasure an opportunity to learn from a program like this. Thanks to all who participated.

  23. Excellent job by Montana PBS. My 3rd Great Grandfather, Absalom Austin Townsend, was the captain of the Townsend Wagon Train mentioned in the first half of the documentary. I've done a lot of research on the attack that occurred on July 7, 1864 along the Powder River in Wyoming, including three trip diaries from individuals that were among the 400+ people in the wagon train. I believe the director has captured it perfectly. I look at this attack as historically accurate without getting too political, which is a touchy subject. Those in the train were simply trying to get from point A to B, the Lakota were defending their hunting lands. You can make a good case for either side being right, or wrong.

  24. "The last of the great gold rush trails" my keister. comes immediately to mind. "Only" 33 miles, hehehehe.

  25. Hard times to stay alive in back then, very hard winters, buffalo numbers dropping, Indian attacks. Hard on the Indians also, I grew up around Billings and Whitefish, Montana. I was just a kid 3-4 years old but still remember alot, in spring it felt so good to feel the sun, I would just lay back in the snow and enjoy it

  26. The American Indians have never stopped beating their collective chests over Custer's death and the "Battle of the Greasy Grass". Ok by me. I'll drink to that. 1876 By the way, in Montana it is called a crek. Sounds like trek.

  27. This needs to be ; unfiltered; permanently in America ‘s history books. No matter what the ‘Christians’ say. Including all future and previous details .

  28. They came to this land, settled, and when other Indians pushed them back they fought. Indian on Indian. Now we are bad , because we came and won ? That’s the way it works. Always has !

  29. REAL HISTORY: The Bozeman Trail did not go through Lakota (Sioux) land at all. The Lakota were invaders on Crow (who sided with the US Government) and Shoshone land and fought those tribes as well. The Bozeman Trail went through mostly Crow land and Shoshone land. Read some books, learn some real history. The Sioux were invaders of other tribe's lands and when they complain about being taken over, they prove to be hypocrites.

  30. 19:27 – the buffalo ate the lush grass as well and it is a documented fact that Indians set fires to the plains….

  31. 19:56 – and the Indians killed buffalo without purpose as well. Read the book "Son of the Morning Star".

  32. If I was a Crow Indian, I would voice my disagreement with this propaganda. This was Crow land, not Sioux land. Sioux were invaders. The Sioux homeland was further to the east, in the Dakotas.

  33. The City of Bozeman, Montana is being ruined bout out of staters. It is no longer considered Montana by Montanans but 'BozAngelas'.

  34. 43:15 – I will agree about Chivington's disregard and hatred in this documentary. He was a fool and a scoundrel. I detest him.

  35. 49:10 – these photos are not of the Bozeman Trail but of the expedition into the black hills. This documentary has been using photos that are not accurate for what it is claiming. Just thought I would mention that.

  36. 49:28 – that is not even Sioux land. Maybe Cheyenne and Arapaho were even further to the South. This was not their land to begin with as they stole it from other tribes so they should not be so angry.

  37. 101:25 – I do know that Bozeman was killed not by Indians but fellow whitemen because John Bozeman liked to screw around with other men's wives. But it was blamed on Indians.

  38. Much of the destruction of the buffalo and the land was deliberate, designed to force the Native people to move away to find game and undisturbed land. While the Native people had a strong claim to these lands, it must be remembered that constant infighting among the People caused a shifting 'ownership', often bloody and vicious fighting decided who had a right to the land. The 'Whites' were more numerous and better armed, while it doesn't excuse the slaughter and displacement of the locals, it was just a continuation of the traditional way land was 'claimed'. When Native peoples drove off competitors they were satisfied to just take possession, and rarely engaged in genocide…

  39. i would like to watch this but it is by pbs and i have no faith in them so maybe in the future their will be a more truthful history source

  40. Even though I disagree with certain parts of this documentary, I will say that this documentary is the best documentary I have seen about the Bozeman trail. And I am willing to admit that the Natives got screwed in the end. Even thought this was not Lakota land, but Crow.

  41. Sadly it doesn't take the federal government any more to steal away a man's land. Local politicians find any reason they can to increase their tax revenue. They tell private individuals you can't do this or you can't do that but then allow rich developers to any thing they want.

  42. John Bozeman abandoned his wife and children, murdered native men, women, and children, and stole from white settlers. A great American hero.

  43. Oh gee let Me tell my side of the astory.. The Military handed out Prayer and Blessings to the Native Americans and the Native American used Their Guns to Murder Them all. Too bad this Biased Video Report is for the Military and does Not contain very much Truth. Just like a white man to lie because they have forked tongues !!!

  44. Wagon train at 48:57 is not the Carrington Train, as implied, but is the well-known William Illingworth photo of the 1874 Custer Expedition to the Black Hills with the wagon train in the Castle Creek Valley in the Black Hills. If you search on "Custer Expedition Castle Creek," the photo can be found on many sites, including the Wikipedia page on the Black Hills Expedition. It is also the cover of the excellent "Exploring with Custer" then-and-now book by Ernest Graffe and Paul Horsted.

  45. One of the best documentaries I've ever seen. The US government's attitude regarding expansion was part of "eminent domain" (the god given right to own the land from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean)

  46. Such a crock making up a fake biography for Red Cloud. There WAS NO leader of the native people and tribes that brought them together. Not even Sitting Bull could do that. Among the Lakota and Cheyenne, Red Cloud was known to be a malingerer and a loaf about the fort sell out to the white eyes. The leader in each tribe was the tribal holy man. For the Lakota that would be Crazy Horse. PBS always gets their history wrong.

  47. The military CAUSED the "Indian Wars". They were a bunch of blood thirsty bored soldiers with no purpose after the civil war so they went west to drum up some excitement by inciting violence. Just like the 21st Century endless wars.

  48. Stolen land!!! All lies!!! White man destroys everything he comes in contact with. They are the real savages. Lakota Cheyenne land

  49. These events are so critical in the formulation of the USA, it's root values and methods. Tragically the lack of respect for the indigenous peoples has lead the USA to the brink of destruction, as a world power today.
    Today the USA is a parasitic nation, dependent upon other nations, external resources. The forests are long gone, as too the mineral wealth, the soils stripped, buried, poisoned. The air rank with fallout, chemicals and particulates. Industry is truly at fault, becoming a ravenous beast consuming the land, water and air. GDP is not the best measure of civilisation, but is a good measure of decline. The more you chase those figures, the faster you run down that slope. Time to level out and find new ways to meet human needs.

  50. I was born and raised in Western Montana. Since then, I have lived in eleven countries and have worked in at least eighty. I have viewed every major mountain range on earth, and I have breathed the air virtually everywhere north of Antarctica. With that as a basis, I must say that God may get his mail in Heaven, but he lives in Montana.

  51. A good well informed documentary film, thank you.As usual in your aggressive history your a more then a bit one sided "Whiteman sided " that is! Just hope the remaining brave Indian nation people take you all to court for breaking over 20-30 agreements made with you intruders, immigrants and the Indian nations and tribes..with your present nasty government.

  52. 'The tall men', 'Lonesome Dove', 'Caribou trail'. All about the Bozeman trail cattle drives. The story never gets old. btw, spell checker wants you to replace Bozeman with Boogieman, how appropriate.

  53. I have been to the site a couple of times now and once journeyed on to Fort Fetterman historical site. It was managed by a couple named the Fettermans. (no direct decendancy from him, since he had no children. My last name is Ten Eyck. For the first time since 1868 (I'm pretty sure) a Ten Eyck and a Fetterman met in Wyoming.

  54. I'd love to be able to get on a horse and reride the whole trail just like the settlers did back then and see and experience the country back then that would be so cool to do that here

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