Mostly Utah, Wyoming, and Montana: 1869 – 1920s. Various. The two highlights of this amazing lot are:
Moore’s file copy of a single-spaced, five-page 1927 typed letter to the Commander of the National Indian War Veterans vividly detailing his combat experiences between 1869-1873 during the Indian Wars in Utah and the Yellowstone-Stillwater Region of Wyoming and Montana including battles at Big Popo Agie, Atlantic Gulch, and Miners Delight. Moore related that he decided to write this memoir because “those familiar with the past have all, I believe, answered the last call and the record may . . . be left out and forgotten.” Just a few abbreviated excerpts from his spellbinding narrative include:
“I was given another detail and to deliver the second train of supplies to Fort Laramie . . . before the Sioux would be roveing the country looking for scalps. The delivery was made all right but not with out much cause for apprehension. . .. When at camp for the night we could hear the continuous beating of their ‘tom-toms’ and their monotonous voice in their war-dance exercises, but to the surprise of all we made the trip without scap. . ..”
“I was detailed to go to South Pass for mail. The trip was made and the mail delivered without the loss of my hair, but wit a bullet hole through the stock of my gun. . .. It was a very close call for my head. I dropped two shots from my trusty Navey into the clump of brush, and laying close on my horse’s neck lost no time in putting distance between us. . ..”
“Our line of march was along the valley of the Little Wind River . . . in order to be sure that no Indians were in that section watching our movements and ready to attack . . . there were some twenty good men and First Lieut. Charles B. Stambaugh . . . was as game as they make them. Fully expecting trouble with the Sioux . . . each man was to carry not less than 40 rounds of carbine cartridges and 12 rounds for their Navy. . .. 7000 rounds of cartridges was carried o pack mules. . .. [I] observed two Indians on their ponys [and the Lieutenant] immediately order 24 men to saddle up . . . we rode on the jump . . .we come in sight of quite a large band of Indians. . .. Seeing that we had been discovered and satisfied and satisfied the fight portion of the band was under cover of a low foot-hill in front of us, we formed a skirmish line . . . when one of our men seen the Indians passing a little opening [to] secure the high ground . . . corralling us in the low ground. . .. they outnumbered us 10 to one [and] kept up a steady fire. . .. We were ordered to lie down . . . and make every shot count. In this position the fight kept up for three hours when the Indians withdrew. . .. [As] the Indians had made no move, we returned to camp. The enemy was waiting for an opportunity to remove their dead and wounded. Our casualties for the day was one man killed, three wounded and 14 horses killed and wounded. The rest of our horses carried two riders on our return to Camp.
At a temporary camp near Atlantic Gulch, “while grooming our horses before breakfast, the Indian alarm was given; combs and brushes were dropped and every man was in the saddle before another sound was given . . . every man dashed out . . . at the Indians the moment he was ready. . .. I made a quick look through the camp to see that no man was shirking, found myself the only occupant . . . and run on to three Indians taking the hoppies off two mules . . . no 65 yards from me. The ball opened [and] the mules were saved, but one red-skin made his get-away by having a faster horse. . .. I immediately joined the nearest squad. [When] the Indians scattered . . . the Boys followed suit, fighting in small squads . . . until dusk. . .. the enemy was licked to a finishs and driven 25 to 30 miles from our camp. Our loss was 1st Lieutenant Charles B. Stasbaugh . . . Sgt. Brown seriously wounded being shot through the face, breaking both jaws, going through the tongue teeth. . .. We had other scrimishes in this section; in fact it was one continuous scouting and skirmishing in an effort to keep them away from the few miners and the little businesses. . .. After this strenuous summer duty we were order to return to Fort Bridger, thence to Camp Douglas [and] Salt Lake City. . ..”
Moore was correct in believing the actions of the 2nd Cavalry in the Sweetwater-Yellowstone region would be forgotten. Any mention of these actions is nearly non-existent in published accounts. Those that can be found—including in official Army records—devote merely a battle title and date. Only one webpage blog entry, “Indian Battles of the Sweetwater Mining District” at Legends of America, online, provides some detail.
Moore’s 1881 diary (transcript will be included), kept while he led one of the last wagon trains up the Montana Trail from Salt Lake City to Bozeman. The Montana Trail, which ran from Salt Lake City well into Montana, was one of the shortest (and most dangerous) of the western trails. Initially used by settlers and gold miners, by the late 1870s (after the fledgling Mormon Utah & Northern Railroad was acquired by the infamous Robber Barron, Jay Gould, who completed the line the way to the copper fields at Butte), it was primarily a freight route for pack and wagon trains led by muleskinners and bullwhackers. (It has received as scant attention as the Sweetwater-Yellowstone Indian War battles. Besides a short Wikipedia, entry there are only two published accounts about the trail, Edrington’s Brigham Young University dissertation, A Study of Early Utah-Montana Trade, Transportation, and Communication, 1847-1881 and the Madsens’ North to Montana : Jehus, Bullwackers, and Mule Skinners on the Montana Trail.)
Excerpts from Moore’s daily accounts suggest that rather than transporting wholesale goods to Montana merchants, he delivered supplies to individual ranchers.
16-20 Aug -" Left Salt Lake at 20 minutes past 8. A. M. arrived in Ogden at 7 P.M. last 12 miles over very heavy sandy road 40 M No grass Departed from Ogden at 1030 A.M. having to layover a while to make repares. arrived at Brigham City at 5 P.M. 28 M Good grass . . . Left Hamptons Bridge at 630 A.M. got to Malad City at 3 P.M. rested 14 M and went on to Kennedy’s Station went in to Camp at 430 36 miles Crossed the dividing line between Utah & Idaho at 5’ to 12. Dillon very sick all night. Some grass . . . Got away from Kennedy’s station at 7 A. M. pulled at the Harknesses Ranch [near Fort Hall] on the Ponntneuf at 4 P.M. 31 Miles No grass
23-30 Aug - Hitched our tugs at 7 A.M. drove to Black foot and stopped 15 minutes to make pancakes moved on to Eagle Rock miles traveled 34 arrived at 4 O.Clock P.M. no grass . . . Took up our line of march at 7 A.M. jogged along till 430 P.M. 30 M. Camped at Williams Junction. Good grass Left Williams Junction at 630 crossed the line into Montana and traveled to Raymonds Stud Ranch at the head of Ruby Valley and went into camp at 630 No grass distance traveled 45 M Cold frost and ice. Road long through rough mountain passes Broke camp at 8 A.M. drove to Black’s Ranch through a driving rain storm stopped 2 times and resumed our march at 1230 got to the Gallitin River a 525 and went into camp Poor Grass"
1-9 Sep –" Left Bozeman at 8 O’Clock passed through Ft. Ellis and drove on through Hoppess Ranch through a hard rain and was compelled to camp 16 m Could not picket our horses on a/a of cold rain Rolled out at 930 on heavy roads drove to a camp on the Yellow Stone River 12 miles below Shields River and went into camp at 5 oclock 29 m. Poor grass Broke camp at 645 drove 28 miles and went into camp on the Yellow Stone 2 miles below Big lumber at 340 23 m. Poor grass. Very sandy . . . Laid over on account of rain. went in company with Mr. H Harrison and looked at some land, took dinner with Mr Harrison, retired to camp about 6 P.M. No grass convenient . . . Broke camp at 745 drove to a camp on the Y.S. River 3 miles below Stillwater and went into camp 5 oClock 28 M good grass Broke camp at 645 drove to Young’s [sic – Yount’s] Point 15 M and took lunch and fed left Young’s [sic – Yount’s] Point 115 P.M. drove to Anderson’s Ranch and went in to camp at 445 16 M Good Grass, no grain Spent the day in looking over the vally, righting letters, cooking and shooting ducks &c." [Although Yellowstone National Park was dedicated in 1872 and hunting was prohibited, there simply was not sufficient staff to prevent it until the U.S. Army arrived to protect the site in 1886. Until then—as evidenced in the entries below—rampant poaching continued unabated.]
10-21 Sep - "This day was occupied in riding over the country writing letters &c, visited Carlson Mr Anderson hitched his horses and drove us up the river to Young’s [sic – Yount’s] Point in order to look at the country returned at 230 and spent the afternoon in hunting ducks Remained in cabbin cooking, cleaning shells and reloading cartriges. Dillon goes a fishing caught none. Anderson rides down the river to Carlson to get some freight to hall . . . All drove to Carlson and spent the day looking at the country . . . Broke camp at 7 O.C. drove to camp on Pompey Pillar Creek 4 miles from Ball Mountain and spent the afternoon in fixing a comfortable camp 20 M. . ..
22-29 Sep - Started to prospect the country for game and water, found water near the mountains and some black tail deer returned to camp about 1 O.C. found some buffalow there gave chase and killed 3. got back to camp at 6. I went into the mountains early this morning & killed one deer and all got back to camp about noon. had dinner. John and I went out to skin a buffalow returned about 5 O.C. saw some buffalos above camp Killed 2 Started out and skinned the two buffalo killed the previous day, went on to the mountains I killed a deer, we then had dinner with some other campers, after dinner we made a scout found some buffalow and killed 5 and then started for camp which we reach in good time . . . Left camp early to skin bufalow, got through with this job and took a little hunt up the canyon I killed a deer we then returned to camp where we remained the balance of the day . . . Left camp in the morning (cold) found some buffalo killed 1 hunted all day found no more game Went out and skinned a bull hunted all day and found no game."
Moore’s trail entries stop at this point, however there are several more pages of random information and shopping lists not related to the journey.
Other items in the archive include:
Moore’s 1871 appointment certificate as a First Sergeant in the 2nd Cavalry Regiment,
His 1873 U.S. Army discharge certificate,
Two 1883-18844 Territory of Utah certificates appointing him as a Deputy Registration Officer in Stockton, Two impressive 1887 Territory of Montana commissioning certificates appointing him as a First Lieutenant and Captain in the Montana National Guard,
A cryptic, code-filled letter received in 1899 from Little Trail Creek (Gardiner, Montana at the north entrance to Yellowstone Valley),
A 1912 appointment and follow-on correspondence as a Department of Agriculture National Forest Examiner at Missoula,
File copies of Moore’s correspondence with lawyers and the Governor of Montana regarding a spurious 1913 lawsuit filed by the widow of a former mining partner,
Assorted papers relating to savings, investments, insurance, cemetery plots, and the resolution of Moore’s and his wife’s estates,
A copy of Moore’s service record obtained from the National Archives, and
On-line genealogical information about Moore from Ancestry.com and the American Civil War Research Database, both online.. Very good. Item #009670
Moore was born in Fleming County, Kentucky in 1848, and during the Civil War, enlisted at the age of 15 as a Corporal in Kentucky’s 1st Capital Guards at Frankfort. In 1868, after a few years of farming following the war, he enlisted in D Company/Troop, 2nd Cavalry Regiment for a term of five years. At the time, the 2nd Cavalry units were not consolidated at any particular post, but rather were dispersed among small forts and camps scattered throughout several western states and territories. During most of Moore’s enlistment, he was stationed at Fort D. A. Russell (now Warren Air Force Base) near Cheyenne, and he regularly patrolled the Stillwater-Yellowstone region of Montana and Wyoming. He rose in rank quickly and was promoted to First Sergeant of his troop in 1871. Following his discharge in 1873, Moore settled in Stockton, Utah where he married and opened a saloon. It would appear that Moore was fond of the Stillwater-Yellowstone region, and, as an experienced Army muleskinner and bullwhacker, was hired to lead the 1881 freight trip up the Montana Trail where he was able to search for possible homesteads. Following his return to Stockton, Moore, his wife, and daughter relocated to Dillon, Montana, where he dabbled in mining, served as an under-sheriff, and eventually became a senior Forest Examiner for the Department of Agriculture. The Moores remained in Montana until their mid-70s when the moved once more to Hayward California to live near their son, Robert Jr. Robert Moore died in 1928, shortly after writing his detailed 2nd Cavalry Regiment
This archive contains two unique and exceptionally scarce personal accounts, each a historical treasure in its own right: a Montana Trail travel diary from 1881 and a detailed memoir of 2nd Cavalry operations, both focused on the Sweetwater-Yellowstone region.
First-hand accounts of freighting on the Montana Trail, are practically non-existant. As noted by the Madsens’, “Very few freighters were literate enough or had enough interest to record the incident of travel on the trail to Montana. Therefore, [the diary of] William Woodward, a Mormon freighter from Cache Valaley, Utah, has some significance. . ..” Sales, auction, and institutional records confirm their rarity. At the time of this listing, besides this archive, no other first-person accounts of travel on the Montana Trail are for sale in the trade. No others have been sold at auction per the Rare Book Hub, and none are held by institutions per OCLC.
All first-person accounts from the 2nd Cavalry during the Indian Wars are scarce. Other than this one, none are currently for sale in the trade. No others have appeared at auction per the Rare Book Hub, and although seven first person accounts (letters and short diaries) of Indian Wars service with the 2nd Cavalry are held by institutions per OCLC, none of them are related to military operations in the Stillwater-Yellowstone region.