American Indian History

Information and Facts

Indian Wars Of The Old West:

Wagon Box Fight, Wyoming


On August 2, 1867, Capt. James Powell with a force of 31 men survived repeated attacks by the Sioux near Fort Phil Kearny, Wyoming Territory.


Powell’s defenders, acting as guards for woodcutters, took refuge in a corral formed by laying 14 wagons end-to-end in an oval configuration. The battle lasted five hours with Powell losing 5 men killed and 2 wounded.

Powell reported killing 60 Indians and wounding 120. The soldiers survived the attacks primarily due to the recent addition of breech-loading weapons. The site is operated by the Wyoming State Parks.

Fetterman, Wyoming

Bozeman Trail

The Fetterman battle was fought near Fort Phil Kearny, Wyoming Territory on December 21, 1866.


Angered at white interlopers traveling through their country, Sioux and Cheyenne forces continually harassed the soldiers at Fort Phil Kearny, constructed to provide emigrant protection along the newly opened Bozeman Trail.

On the morning of December 21, Sioux and Cheyenne warriors were able to decoy Capt. William J. Fetterman and 80 men out of the fort and over Lodge Trail Ridge, four miles away. The carefully planned ambush worked to perfection. Fetterman and every man in his detachment died. The State of Wyoming operates the site.

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