Fort C.F. Smith


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General info

Located north of Saint Xavier on Hwy. 313, milepost 23

The ruins of this military post are about 25 miles west of here. In August 1866, two companies of soldiers guided by Jim Bridger established the fort on a plain overlooking the Big Horn River between Spring Gulch and Warrior Creek. It was built of logs and adobe, the third, last, and most northerly of three posts built to protect emigrants and freighters on the Bozeman or Bonanza Trail from the Sioux and Cheyennes defending their hunting grounds.

The “Hayfield Fight” occurred August 1st, 1867, three miles east of the fort when a handful of soldiers in a log corral stood off an attacking band of Cheyennes estimated at several hundred strong. The Cheyenne had not anticipated the soldiers new repeating rifles which were quickly reloadable.

The Sioux under Red Cloud forced the closing of the trail and abandonment of the fort under the Fort Laramie Treaty in 1868. The Indians lost the battle but won the war, though their victory would be short-lived given the ever-increasing encroachment by the settlers.

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