My new frontier historical novel, Bozeman Paymaster: A Tale of the Fetterman Massacre, will be issued by Five Star Publishing in June 2022. I post a prelude each month before that date to provide historical facts occurring before the story in the book begins. This is the sixth prelude.
On May 19, 1866, Colonel Henry B. Carrington lead his 18th United States Infantry out of Fort Kearny, Nebraska Territory, and proceeded west on the Oregon Trail. The unit was finally on its way to undertake its assignment to defend the Bozeman Trail in Dakota Territory. Enough recruits had arrived, so the three battalions of the regiment now totaled more than two thousand men.
Prior to the departure, Carrington had personally designed the primary fort he planned to construct someplace along the Bozeman Trail. He would need to select a site where he would have access to timber to cut for construction lumber. Since he knew how many and what type of buildings he planned to erect within the fort, he had acquired prefabricated windows and doors, plus all the tools and implements required to build the fort. Included in the tons of supplies and equipment being dragged along were two sawmills.
“Carrington’s Overland Circus,” as the soldiers called it, commenced the journey with 264 mule-drawn freight wagons, 4 ambulances, 998 mules, 79 steers, and 12 cows with calves. The whole entourage, including marching and mounted soldiers, stretched five miles along the dusty road. The one thing missing when the 18th US Infantry departed Fort Kearney, NT, was an adequate supply of ammunition for the Springfield rifles. Higher headquarters informed Carrington not to be concerned, he could stock up at Fort Laramie, DT.