The Peace Council of 1866

Between the famous peace treaties of 1851 and 1868 was the lesser known attempt at a peace council in 1866 at Fort Laramie. Colonel Henry B. Carrington came with more than 2,000 troopers and 226 mule teams pulling freight wagons loaded with a few gifts and tons of supplies, enough to stock an entire post in the west.
Fort Laramie today as seen from the Oregon Trail North and West

This meeting, for peace, never had a chance. Red Cloud and Man Afraid of His Horses were asked to take part and did go to the fort. But once there refused all efforts put forth by the representatives of the U.S. Government. Why did they refuse? Because the soldiers were representing business and government interests who wanted to build a new road, the Bozeman Trail, to the gold fields. With trails came forts, the native peoples wanted nothing to do with any of this.

One fort, Fort Connor, also known as Fort Reno or old Fort Reno located in Johnson County, Wyoming near the present city of Buffalo was already in a place unacceptable to the tribes. The fort was in prime buffalo hunting country and an area set off limits by the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851.

Red Cloud stood firm, no roads and no forts. Never the less the treaty was signed, signed for the gifts brought by the white soldiers. The treaty signed by, under chiefs or sub-chiefs who had no power to sign off on anything that affected their entire tribe. Because of this the treaty was never respected and did nothing for peace in the area. Instead of peace it actually increased hostilities and led to what historians later referred to as the years of the bloody Bozeman.

The three forts built or restocked and fortified as a result of this 1866 meeting, Reno/Connor (built 1865), Phil Kearny and C.F. Smith were in a constant state of battle over the next decade and did little to protect gold seekers heading to Montana. Of the three forts, Phil Kearny seemed to be the worst in the eyes of the Indians living and hunting in the area. In one six-month span, the fort or soldiers on detail from the fort were attacked 50 times. All three forts were closed and abandoned by august of 1868.
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