Fort Assiniboine

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Fort Assiniboine

Havre 59501,Havre Area

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Established in 1879, Fort Assinniboine was one of the most strategically placed U.S. Army posts in the northwest. Headquarters for the District of Montana, the fort and military reserve encompassed the entire Bears Paw mountain range. The post was constructed by the 18th U.S. infantry under the command of Colonel Thomas Ruger. When completed, the 51 substantial brick buildings included officers’ quarters, barracks, a large hospital, chapel, gymnasium, officers’ club, stables, and warehouses. The fort was built to protect settlers to the south from possible raids by Sitting Bull’s Hunkpapa Sioux who fled to Canada after Custer’s defeat on the Little Big Horn in 1876. The military’s fears proved groundless, however, as no serious Indian disturbances occurred in the area.

General John J. Pershing served here in the 1890s, earning his nickname “Black Jack” because of his association with the Afro-American 10th Cavalry—the famed “Buffalo Soldiers.” For many years, Fort Assinniboine soldiers worked with the Canadian Mounties to quell smuggling across the border.

In 1911, the War Department abandoned the post. A few years later, the landless Chippewa and Cree Indians found a home on the southern part of the military reserve when it was set aside as Rocky Boy’s Reservation. The State of Montana purchased the fort’s remaining buildings and 2,000 acres for use as the Northern Agricultural Research Center of Montana State University—Bozeman.

 

Location: Rte. 234, south of Havre

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