Before Custer there was Fetterman!
Fort Phil Kearny was one of 3 U.S. Army forts established along the Bozeman Trail in 1866. Named after deceased Civil War General Philip Kearny (pronounced Car-Knee) the fort’s mission was to protect travelers along the Bozeman Trail against Indian attack.
The Lakota Sioux Indians led by Red Cloud viewed the building of this fort in the middle of their sacred hunting grounds as a threat to their very existence. The Lakota also felt the fort was build in direct violation of an earlier treaty that stipulated this land belonged to them. This fueled a war with the Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho Indians led by Red Cloud that eventually led to Captain William J. Fetterman’s entire command of 80 men being wiped out on December 21, 1866. This was the worst defeat suffered by the U.S. Army in the West before Col. George Armstrong Custer’s defeat at the Battle of the Little Bighorn 10yrs later.
Fort Phil Kearny was burned by the Indians when the Army abandoned it in 1868. Today you can visit the fort grounds and enjoy the scenery of the surrounding hills that has changed little in the past 147yrs. There is also a visitor’s center with a small museum with fort and Indian artifacts, and a bookstore.
Fall 2013 Hours: 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday CLOSED Monday and Tuesday Site Fees: Wyoming Residents $2.00, Non-Residents $4.00, Ages 17 and Under: FREE
Fort Phil Kearny State Historic Site is located at 528 Wagon Box Rd., Banner, WY 82832. Exit 44 off of Interstate 90.
The Fort Phil Kearny staff in the Interpretive Center and Gift Shop will introduce visitors to the context of the Indian Wars and Bozeman Trail and can guide them through a viewing of the Fort diorama that depicts, to scale, the complete Fort as it would have looked in the fall of 1866. Visitors can then enter the original Fort site, through reconstructed stockade walls, and experience the expansive grounds of the largest stockaded Fort in the west. Corner posts and signs inform visitors where original buildings would have stood, and stockade sections demonstrate exactly how the wall was built to protect soldiers, civilians (including families), and supplies from Native American warriors, as well as large populations of hungry Timberwolves.
Throughout the Fort grounds, interpretation invites visitors to understand Fort life, the colorful characters that resided therein, and appreciate the contrast of a busy Fort operation in such an isolated location. Pets are welcome on site grounds! Please keep all pets on a leash at all times and pick up after them. No pets are allowed inside the Interpretive Center building.