Hat Creek Dateline: 1876/12/12
Company I arrives at Hat Creek
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer
Company I of the 14th Infantry arrived here today to replace Company H of the 23rd Infantry. Company I came here from Camp Robinson but had been on the recent Big Horn and Yellowstone expedition and was severely depleted, mustering only 29 enlisted men for duty, and none of its officers. First Lt. Charles Akers Johnson from Company F 14th Infantry was commanding Company I in lieu of its regularly assigned officers, who were either on leave or on detached service.
Captain Eskridge now in command of company H here and Lieutenant Johnson exchanged courtesies today and set out preparing formal letters to Maj. Andrew W. Evans now commanding officer of Fort Laramie. Johnson assuming command of the post and Eskridge announcing his departure. Both of the letters went out under the heading "Camp at Hat Creek." Before Eskridge's arrival this post had been known as "Camp on Sage Creek." (On Dec. 16 the Department of the Platte directed that henceforth this station will be known as "Camp on Hat Creek." The fact that the next camp north of Fort Fetterman, only about 50 miles west of here was also known as "Camp on Sage Creek" probably necessitated this directive to avoid confusion between the two locations.)
Since receiving the orders on Dec. 5, Eskridge had been attending to the assembly of his company and its removal from Wyoming Territory. He was ordered to utilize the baggage wagons bringing the replacement company and to march to the Union Pacific railroad via Camp Robinson and Sidney. Captain Eskridge and his company wanted to march to the railroad at Cheyenne via Fort Laramie, this route was well traveled and had a bridge over the Platte River. He vehemently protested the Sidney route because it was "longer, lacked fuel, and was generally uncharted and difficult between his post and Robinson." The orders were changed, however Company I did not receive them until well after they had reached the railroad at Sidney after marching to Camp Robinson and then south.
(Information sources: Fort Laramie in 1876 by Paul Hedren; John Hunton's diary 1876)