Eagle Talons, The Iron Horse Chronicles–Book One, contains scenes of Will Braddock, the young protagonist, recovering from injuries and eventually “escaping” from the hospital at Fort D. A. Russell. In July 1867, Braddock had accompanied General Grenville M. Dodge into the southeast corner of present-day Wyoming when it was still part of the Dakota Territory. Almost at the same time that Dodge founded the city of Cheyenne on Independence Day, the Army established its new fort along Crow Creek three miles northwest of the railroad depot.
Colonel John D. Stevenson, commander of the Thirtieth U. S. Infantry Regiment, brought his soldiers to Cheyenne to build and man the fort that was created to protect Union Pacific workers who were constructing the first transcontinental railroad. The fort took its name from Civil War Brigadier General David Allen Russell who was killed in September 1864 at the Battle of Opequon (sometimes called the Third Battle of Winchester), in the Shenandoah Valley.
As I wrote in Eagle Talons, Fort D. A. Russell was an “open” fort. It had no stockade wall surrounding it, as we typically think of a western fort. With an entire regiment of infantry and elements of cavalry and artillery assigned to the fort, it held more fighting men than the Indians wanted to attack. The plan shown above reveals the fort in 1888, when it would have been larger than what Will Braddock knew. The hospital appears in the upper right portion of the plan. The panoramic photo at top also shows the fort at a later date. In the foreground, on each side of this photo, are visible the eves of a large building from where the shot was taken. This may be the roof of the hospital in about 1888. The hospital in which Braddock received treatment in 1867 is the one shown in the following photograph.
The fort is now called Francis E. Warren Air Force Base. Many famous soldiers and airmen have served here, including Carl Spaatz, Black Jack Pershing, Billy Mitchell, Walter Reed, and Mark Clark. A museum and several historical buildings can be visited on the air base. For more information visit: http://www.warrenmuseum.com/
Fort D. A. Russell also appears in Bear Claws, The Iron Horse Chronicles–Book Two, and Colonel John D. Stevenson and Will Braddock meet again in Golden Spike, The Iron Horse Chronicles–Book Three, but in a different location.