My new frontier historical novel, Bozeman Paymaster: A Tale of the Fetterman Massacre, will be issued by Five Star Publishing on June 22, 2022. I have posted a prelude each month to provide historical incidents occurring before the story in the book begins. This is the seventh and final prelude.
On June 13, 1866, Colonel Henry B. Carrington led his 18th United States Infantry into camp four miles east of Fort Laramie, Dakota Territory (later Wyoming Territory). In order not to become entangled with two thousand Indians camping near the fort in preparation for a big treaty council, Carrington decided it prudent not to march his soldiers any closer. He received an important Indian visitor soon after his vast wagon train formed into a hollow square. Standing Elk, a Brulé Sioux chief who held pacifist feelings, and was derided by his more warlike relatives as a “Laramie Loafer,” warned Carrington he would have to fight hostile Indians if he built new forts in the Powder River country along the Bozeman Trail.
Carrington proceeded to Fort Laramie with a small escort to join a group of officers and civilians comprising the Peace Commission. The commission had been organized by the Department of the Interior’s Indian Bureau under the chairmanship of E. B. Taylor, an Indian Bureau Superintendent. Colonel Henry E. Maynadier, commander of the District of the Platte headquartered at Fort Laramie, headed the Army contingent of the commission.
All the nearby tribes had been summoned to hear the government officials explain the new “olive branch” policy and to obtain permission from the Indians for whites to travel unmolested on the Bozeman Trail. Chief Red Cloud arrived at Fort Laramie with his Bad Face Oglala Sioux band the same day as Carrington. That set the stage for the conflict that I write about in Bozeman Paymaster: A Tale of the Fetterman Massacre.