Hat Creek Dateline: 1876/08/03
Five Survive stagecoach attack
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer
Stage driver C. H. Cameron and four passengers walked in here last night after their coach had been attacked by Indians along Indian Creek. One of the passengers had been shot in the cheek; another had his forehead skinned as the brim of his hat was shot away; another had bullet holes through his clothing.
Cameron said that Indians began the attack on the down (southbound) coach along Indian Creek. They pursued the coach for 12 miles. Using long range rifles, they also shot from every bluff along the road. Soon the one-needle gun on the stage went out of order, and the Indians began to close in. When they at last blocked the road in front of the stage, the driver swung the horses out of the ruts and sent them galloping toward a bluff. There he and the passengers took off on foot and hid in some brush. After dark they walked on in here.
Dr. A. P. Frick, acting assistant surgeon for company H of the 23rd infantry here at Camp Hat Creek tended to the injuries of the wounded men. Meanwhile Lieutenant Taylor, commander of the newly constructed Fort here, sent a detail of his 23rd Infantry soldiers out this morning to bring in the coach. They found that the attackers had cut up the harness, bashed in the top of the coach, opened the mail sacks and made off with the horses.
It was probably the same band of Indians that attacked a ranch near Camp Collier (Edgemont S.D.) on August 1. When as Capain William Collier reported it, "his sentries sounded an alarm after they heard continuous firing from a nearby ranch. Collier immediately formed his company, exclusive of the guard, and double-timed it to the scene, where he engaged twenty Indians in a lively skirmish. Collier's men repulsed the attack and the Indians fled, taking tow "American" horses. One Indian was believed killed or wounded." These Indians were also alleged to have stolen other horses and mules from the area earlier that day.
Most of the mail was recovered, with but one piece lost, it was later discovered that it was Captain collier's report of the Red Canyon fight. He subsequently filed a duplicate on August 6.
Dr. Frick had joined Lieutenant Taylor and his company at Fort Laramie on July 23. They had been escorting Colonel Merritt's 5th cavalry supply wagon train since it had left Camp Hat Creek on July 16. They were following the 5th Cavalry as they moved to intercept the Cheyenne Indians that were leaving the Red Cloud Agency, (When they killed Chief Yellow Hand). Taylor and his men had escorted the supply train 141 miles, to Camp Robinson and then back to Fort Laramie. They marched back to Camp Hat Creek on July 23, only six of the company had remained to guard the outpost. With all of the recent Indian attacks in the area it is comforting to have a surgeon stationed here.
(Information sources: The Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage and Express Routes by Agnes Wright Spring. Council on Abandoned Military Posts (CAMP) Winter 1974-1975, Paul Hedren. Fort Laramie in 1876, by Paul Hedren).