Camp #44 of the 1873 Yellowstone Expedition


Billings ,Billings Area

Map Location

Things to SeeHistorical Markers/Interpretive Sign
General info

Located near Pompey's Pillar northeast of Billings

In June, 1873, a Northern Pacific Railroad surveying party escorted by 1,500 soldiers, including the 7th Cavalry under the command of George Armstrong Custer, and 526 civilians, left Dakota Territory for the Yellowstone Valley to survey a route for the second transcontinental railroad.

The Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne were opposed to the railroad and dashed with the soldiers on several occasions throughout July. On August 11th, the expedition camped for a well-earned rest at this site. Five days later, shots were fired at them by six Lakota warriors hiding near Pompeys Pillar. One man later humorously reported that in the “ensuing scramble for cover, nude bodies [scattered] in all directions on the north bank. Shirts, pants and boots decorated the area along the north bank for a hundred yards” The soldiers returned fire and eventually drove the Indians away; no one was killed in the skirmish. Perhaps figuring that discretion was the better part of valor, the soldiers thereafter chose to “bear the heat rather than risk another swim in the Yellowstone” It was not reported if Custer was among those caught with his pants down by the Lakota on that hot August day in 1873.

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