Historical Details

Hat Creek Dateline: 1876/06/14

Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 12/13/1989

Cavalry arrives to build Fort Laramie out-post
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer

First Lieutenant George Taylor and his command, Company H - 23rd Infantry, arrived here today. He is under orders to establish an out-post of Fort Laramie here. They will build the post on the site that was used last year by some of Capt. Edwin Pollock's troops.

Ironically, Pollock's troops were here last year to keep prospectors our of the Black hills and off of the land north of the Platte River that had been treatied to the Indians. Now Lieutenant Taylor is here to build an out-post that will help position troops at strategic locations on the trail to the Black Hills. Only this time their mission is to protect the prospectors, freighters and others traveling the Cheyenne-Black Hills Route. Attacks lately by Indians and outlaws have nearly stopped travel on the route.

This location had been chosen by Pollock's troops last year because of its strategic location on the route to the Black Hills, and because it had the advantage of open ground for defense, nearby timber, adequate water, and good natural meadows for horse food.

Taylor's troops will be busy for the next several weeks cutting trees in the breaks south of here and hauling the logs in with which to build the stockade and hostelry.

Also arriving today was Major W. S. Collier and his command, Company K - 4th Infantry. However, they proceeded on to the Cheyenne River where they have orders to build an outpost at the mouth of Red Canyon.

NOTE: The name given the Fort Hat Creek station provides great confusion. In 1875, those troops guarding the Hills called the site, the "Camp on Hat Creek." That was certainly a misnomer because in fact they were on Sage Creek. The real Hat Creek was located some 30 miles east of them, and in Nebraska. Then Taylor and his Company H arrived in 1876, they at first called their station the "Camp on Sage Creek." Apparently the earlier name had become entrenched in departmental headquarters however, because notice came in December 1876 officially labeling Taylor's Sage Creek station, "Camp on Hat Creek." And so it stayed.

Another reason the name of "Camp on Sage Creek" was not used could have been because there was already a "Camp on Sage Creek" located about 20 miles north of Fort Fetterman, according to John Hunton's diary and map dated 1876-'77. Two military camps with the same name within 60 miles of each other would certainly have been very confusing for the Army in that critical year of 1876.

(Information source: Vol. VI No. 4 Council on Abandoned Military Posts (CAMP). Periodical winter 1974-75.)

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